The One with the 10 Fave Snack Duos

It’s no secret I love food. I mean, I have an entire blog designated to recipe after recipe. Today I thought I’d simply share my favorite food combinations. There are just some snacks that are meant to pair up. I can hardly eat pretzels without popping in a few M&Ms. I mean really
You have probably thought of all of these. It’s not rocket science. But these are my top 10 favorite food combinations–snacks I eat on a regular basis. I hope you like ’em. 
1) Apples and peanut butter. All time forever-kind-of-favorite. Right now, I’m really into Golden Delicious apples and Krema Natural Peanut Butter.
2) Homemade Granola and Yogurt (1/3 low fat vanilla & 2/3 plain)
3) Chocolate chips & pretzels (semi sweet chocolate plus mini twists, please). I’m a sweet and salty LOVER. 
4) Raisins and Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts. This is a nice alternative to my chocolate chip & pretzel combination. There’s the sweetness of the raisins and the natural-saltiness of the peanuts (even the unsalted kind have that “salty” sense to them) 
5) Hot Cocoa and loads of mini marshmallows (and I don’t have to have fancy-pants cocoa. The little mix packets are fine by me.) 
6) Fresh Bread and (real) Butter. I mean, come ON. There is a reason this is one an age-old staple. NOTHING beats homemade bread and butter. Correction–buttah
7) Old Fashioned Oatmeal and banana. In fact, I think I shared this recipe in my top ten last week. There’s a reason for that. It’s gooood. 
8) Gingersnaps and hot tea. I am a grandma sometimes, I know. But I totally get by my grandma was always eating those crazy-hard cookies with her hot tea. It’s perfection. 
9) Peanut Butter Toast with Milk. I have always been a sucker for the melty peanut butter action that happens atop freshly toasted bread. Dip that sucker in some milk and beauty happens. 
10) Popcorn and Diet Coke. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly (which, oddly enough, I did not mention in this list.) 
yep, I’m linking up with Oh! Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday again! 

The One with the Devil’s Schemes

It’s interesting, this thing called life. Walking day by day in the grace of God brings an even more vibrant perspective. We have those days or weeks (or months, if we’re lucky) of blessing and plenty and overflow. Everything seems almost perfect. We get along with our spouses. Money isn’t an issue. Friends are abundant. Trials seem non-existent. Our prayer lives are rich, and our connection with God, intimate
But Satan doesn’t like it when we Christ-followers are profiting, advancing. No. Satan feels threatened
That’s when the attacks begin. Sometimes they are sneaky and rise up in the form of inner turmoil or a fleeting thought. But other times it seems Satan demands all-out war on our lives. He throws unbelievable trials at one, one after another, in missile assault. Marriages suffer, bank accounts dwindle, friends abandon us, trials seem endless, prayer lives are non-existent, and God seems so far away.
And that is Satan’s goal–to pull us as far away from our gracious God as he can. He wants us to blame God, abandon God, forsake God, curse God. He knows he doesn’t have the power to severe our relationship with God, but he will do everything in his power to bring us to the point of rejecting our Lord. 
How angry he must be when we proclaim through streaming tears, 

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.
Job 1:21

This is the kind of brutal assault Satan has been pouring out on our pastor and his family. Thursday morning, his father passed away. In the midst of the grief and phone calls and funeral arrangements, he gets a second dreaded phone call–his mother has an aggressive brain tumor. 
Why do things like this happen, and in such terrible timing? The questions are endless. 
But the answer is in the thanksgivingin finding God’s grace

It has been a tremendous privilege to be considered as close as family in these painful times. Kevin and I have been blessed by Randy and Sheryl endlessly, and being called on to help is a gift. To be the ones they call–crying with the news, to be trusted to stay with their four children as they rush out the door to the hospital, to know enough about each of them and their lives to be able to step in and carry on in their absence–I didn’t realize how incredible a blessing that would be. Thankful to be a part of this, to be given the responsibility by God to help our friends persevere through this pain. 
This is what the fellowship of believers is all about–trusting each other, taking care of each other, loving each other, praying for each other, mourning with each other. 

The One with the Paperclip Project

My husband’s mind works like no other. I love to sit back and watch the wheels turning. Many of his mannerisms change as he sinks deep into thought–his breathing slows and deepens, his eyes sometimes bat back and forth as if reading line after line of information, he might pull out the “air calculator,” and if he talks to himself it’s in fast mumbles. 
The other day, I witnessed his creative genius at work. We had spent the afternoon hunting around various stores for a miniature plate stand or study paper holder that would hold his iPod touch upright on his desk–you know, for the optimal Netflix-watching angle. No perfect prop was found, however. 
this just in: Out of nowhere, he jumped up from his desk, stopped in the middle of his class work, and I suddenly heard the piano start playing. (Which happens very rarely.) He must have had one of those chord-progression moments that he just needed to release. It happens. 
After eating lunch, Kevin came into the living room. He had found one of those large X-shaped paperclips. I watched as his used his needle-nose pliers and twisted and pulled and fanangled that metal into submission
I had no idea what he was trying to achieve. How would that little ol’ paper clip turn into something strong enough to support his iPod. 
Sure enough, the stand took shape. Kevin, in all his mathematical-angle understanding, had created a fantastic product. 
Check out this little guy: 
I’m so impressed. 
So proud. My husband rocks my socks. 
*please pay no attention to the cracked screen. There was a little accident months ago. 

The One with 10 Wintertime Recipes

Top {Ten} Favorite Winter Recipes
It’s that time of week again! Top Ten Tuesday! And this Tuesday I have decided to share with you all some of my most favorite cold-weather recipes. Bon appetit
1) Rich Hot Cocoa. If I didn’t know how caloric this drink was, I would make it every single day. It’s that good.
2) Banana Nut Oatmeal. This may or may not have been our breakfast for the past 2 weeks. And we’re not even tired it. (Here’s a secret–we like to use a Tbsp or two of peanut butter to add to the goodness. And I haven’t had walnuts, so I just skip that part.)
3) Fresh Homemade Whole Wheat Bread. Nothing beats this stuff. We could probably devour the loaf and call it a meal. But I have some sense of rational thought and typically try to serve it alongside a well-balanced meal. 
4) Slow cooker Chicken Noodle Soup. Cheap, fast, and easy. And ridiculously comforting. 
5) Creamy Butternut Squash and Chicken Soup. Not your typical soup, but so creamy and so good-for-you, you won’t stop at just one bowl. I know I didn’t. 
6) Leftover Ham and Potato Soup. (Are you sensing a theme here? We love soup.)
7) Sweet Heat Chili. Did someone say “chili”? I am so there! 
8) Challah Bread (Jewish Egg Bread). This stuff is too good to never experience for yourself. So delicious, it’s almost dessert (and that’s saying something coming from Miss Sweet Tooth.)
9) Homemade Pizza Dough (which automatically means PIZZA FOR DINNER, right?!) We have this every single Friday night for dinner–whether it’s 100 degrees or 10. You should too. :) 
10) Zesty Oven Roasted Potato Wedges. These are our favorite accompaniment to our almost-weekly burger night. De-double-lish. 
Subscribe. why don’t ya? :)

The One with the Super Fast Sleds

Last minute plans are sometimes the best kind! 
After an absolutely lovely Saturday of book reading (The Help), birthday girl visiting (one of my beautiful Sr. Teen girls), and biology studying (with another one of my girls), I joined Sheryl & the kids for a date to Friendly’s. We were all in the mood for ice cream (when are we not?!) and Friendly’s was giving away FREE 12 oz Fribbles (shakes)! Awesome! 
The five of us downed our shakes in time to hit the slopes. Ok, the hills. I had brought my camera along for the sled-riding activities, but I didn’t expect to find myself zooming down the hills with the kids. So much fun! It was incredible how fast we flew down the gradual grade of the sledding hill–especially given that the grass was poking through.



Maddie and I had three or four speedy rides–all the way into the trees. I tried my darndest to dig my heels and hands into the snow to slow us down, but nothing seemed to work. Luckily, Miss Maddie didn’t let much scare her. we just laughed and laughed as we skidded to a stop amongst the shrubs time and time again.



My mitten-glove hybrids didn’t seem to perform very well under pressure and I had to wimp out and head for the car earlier than the kids. Fingers so frozen they burned. I wish I could find my ski gloves. 
By the time we packed up and headed home it was dinner time and I had zero plans for feeding my poor husband. Thankfully, the kids starting begging me to come over for dinner and a movie (Ramona and Beezus), and Sheryl was more than willing to have us join them.

And that night it felt like we were family. Last minute plans. Dinner around the regular table–not the fancy one. Laughing, talking, sharing. No pretense. Just being ourselves, together. After dinner, we all enjoyed the movie and popcorn, as well as corralling the littlest one who has become quite the entertainer in her second year.

Thanks for a great night, family! :D 

The One with His Vivid Will

Today’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is:


At times the will of God seems mysterious, unknown. We have trouble handing our futures and our dreams and our pains over to his trustworthy hands. As if He has somehow failed us in the past
But He has never me failed me. And He never will.
But you know what? Sometimes, the plan of God for our lives becomes vividly evident. As if, all of sudden, the blinders were removed, the lights turned on, and the color surrounds us in brilliance. We look back and recognize his hand in every step that led us to this moment of vivid understanding. For just a little while we see how his plan is so good, so full of purpose, so much more than anything we ever could have asked or imagined. 
When we receive those glimpses into his will for our lives, it is a gift, sustaining us through the next many months of traversing the roads unknown. Cling tightly to the memory of those vivid reveals of God’s plan, and journey with him through the valley to come. One day, you will see clearly on another mountaintop.  

The One with Dream Supporters

You know what’s amazing? Having a friend who believes in you. I mean really believes in you. 
It all starts with a random brainstorm a few moments before the head hits the pillow. The kind of thoughts that keep you thinking, writing notes down in the dark, hoping the letters are actually forming words on the page.
You keep your vision, your awesome idea, to yourself, mulling over the details, the ins and outs of possibility. And then again, maybe it’s not that big of a deal. Maybe it wouldn’t work out anyway. Maybe it was a stupid idea. Too hopeful, too idealistic. Just get over it. Put the idea aside and move on. 
Then, out of nowhere and with no forethought whatsoever, you share the vision with a friend. You’re all blasé about it, as if you wonder why you are even sharing the thought with anyone. 
But her response baffles you. She comes back with words of meaningful belief, encouragement, spurring on. “Don’t give up on your vision,” she says. 
And maybe she’s right. It is possible that your vision was not a random thought formed out of exhaustion or lofty dreams. Maybe those plans were set there by our good God who has greater plans for you. And for them
Do not allow yourself to be so easily discouraged. Those visions of community, passion, health, wholeness–they are good.

The One with Glimpses of Grace

Every once in a while I have an “off” week. You know the kind, don’t you? I just feel “blah” for no apparent reason. The couch becomes my best friend, and I can’t motivate myself to move more often than necessary. I watch too much tv and feel guilty about it, but I can’t seem to do anything else. Even reading seems like a chore. Every afternoon I become overcome with tiredness, and I slept for an hour (or 3). I am emotional, but could find no roots to my moods. 
That was me, two weeks ago. Thankfully this type of experience is completely atypical for me. Most days, I’m up-beat, energized, and motivated. I spent much of that week in prayer, asking Jesus to take from me the weightiness, the burden. I prayed and prayed some more, even hoping that I might discover a few of the roots of my behavior. 
At the end of the week, I finally had that “aha” moment. It was (of course) filled with an abundance of tears. A release. And it felt so good. The pain, the problem, was now at the surface, ready and willing to be handed over. And He was faithful to deliver me. Once again. And I feel a bit more refined, as if that week of darkness and pain was another moment the Lord was spending with me, refiner’s fire style. Growth never occurs without pain, a dying to self. Feet are shuffled, tears are shed–but so are shackles. Thank you, Jesus. 
And I give Him all the glory for the past few days of encouragement after encouragement. Many of those moments of joy may have been missed, forgotten, ignored, if I hadn’t spent an entire week wrestling over those exact issues with the Lord. He opened my eyes to see beauty where I was just feeling frustration. He gave me hope, where I felt defeated. He filled me up, though I was depleted
He is faithful. Be on the lookout. 

The One with the Still Mornings

so pleased to be joining up with Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday challenge. The starting concept is-

These past two weeks have been beautiful. Awaking early in the morning, before the sun rises, all because I have an 8am “devos” date with my husband. 
I have always been a morning person. I enjoy the thrill of early morning runs, watching the sun peek over the horizon, knowing so much of the town still sleeps. Those few days over the Christmas holiday were especially peaceful. Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse – surprisingly accurate depiction of small town America on the mornings of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not one car passed me. No one was out to get the newspaper. No garage doors creaking open to reveal cars packed and ready for the work day. Here or there a light shone in a window, a chimney released its warm smoke, but mostly all was still
I feel peace in the mornings, as hard as it is to pull back the warm covers and peel open my sleepy eyes. It is quiet. A new day, ready to be written. Will I follow obediently in the path God has laid out for me, holding his hand and following his lead? Or will I try to maintain control and guide my steps on my own? 

The One with my New Bracelet

Before Christmas Kevin told me he had ordered a gift for me that might not arrive until after the holiday. I would remember this occasionally as the days and weeks passed, but overall didn’t think too much about it. The past few days, though, I had been teasing him about whether or not I believe he had actually bought me this so-called gift. :) 
Saturday evening, as we arrived home from a day long Bible Quiz meet, we found a package in our mailbox. It was a large envelope, and Kevin thought it might be gift. I still had absolutely no idea what it might be. He had done an amazing job keeping it a secret. (And evidently, I had done a not-so-impressive-job keeping up with our monthly financial records or I would have seen the expense. oops.) 
As I tore about the seal, a small package appeared. And then I saw it. A business card from The Vintage Pearl. Already I was thrilled and I hadn’t even seen the gift. I had been admiring TVP’s jewelry designs and commitment to Christ for years now and sent Kevin a link to the website probably a year ago. I said, “If you ever need gift ideas, look here.” Of course I had completely forgotten about that. (I’m obviously not so great on the memory-thing.) 
In the midst of excited gasps and squeals the most elegant bracelet fell into my palm. Out of pages and pages of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and more, Kevin had chosen this gorgeous freshwater pearl bracelet, with an adorable heart-shaped toggle clasp, and a silver hand-stamped charm with a message from his heart. The words read–

more than rubies: proverbs 31

Be still my heart. I was stunned, thrilled, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. The tears came quickly, flooding my cheeks and running onto his shoulder as he is accustomed. This was was the most intimate, heartfelt, meaningful gift he had ever given me, and I will cherish it forever
I haven’t taken the bracelet off of my wrist since Saturday, and every time I hear the gentle tinkling of the pearl against the charm, my heart is filled again. Reading the echo of his deepest thoughts in those precious words means more than I can express. I have always know my worth to Kevin. But now I have that reminder on my wrist, every day. 
Thank you, darling. I love you.