Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Favorites (2/28)

Hey, y'all! I hope your week has been great.

I've been thinking a lot on my spiritual gift of mercy, and how I can use it better. I'm praying that God will give me opportunities to use it. 

Our week has been a little different than usual. Ben has been out of town for work. He travels on and off, but has not had to for some time now. I could tell that the kids really missed Daddy-time in the evenings. When Ben is gone I don't cook as much. I made quiche Monday night before he left; so the kids and I had the leftovers for dinner on Tuesday. I made a super-simple dinner for the kids on Wednesday, which was whole wheat cheese tortellini with "red sauce," as they call marinara, and then whole wheat waffles with chocolate peanut butter and sliced bananas for dessert. We popped popcorn later in the evening and watched the first 20 minutes or so of one of our favorite movies, Horton Hears a Who. It was a sweet time because the kids were pretty relaxed (for them). I planned to cook dinner on Thursday night because that's when Ben was supposed to come home-but he didn't. I cooked anyway. I made a Rachael Ray shrimp scampi with whole wheat pasta. It was good. Enough about our meals, though. This is supposed to be a favorites post. :)

Favorite Moment: (3-way tie)
Laying on a blanket in the front yard in 70 degree weather on Sunday
Eating popcorn and watching Horton with the kids
Ben coming home late Thursday night. (He was in New Haven, CT all week.)

Favorite God-Moment:
BSF lecture on Matthew 19 & 20
Sunday's sermon on sharing our faith with our community.
Did you notice the "note " I wrote to Ben on the top left?

Favorite Meal:
Brittany's black bean burgers and Melissa's sweet potato fries with a side of salsa and avocado. 
Yes, this meal is in a Gladware container. Don't judge- this was the leftovers version and Ben was gone-I had no one to impress. ;)

Favorite Buy:
Racking-up on Bob's Red Mill products at Big Lots again! 

Favorite Treat:
If you like Girl Scout Thin Mints, you'll LOVE these: Snyder York Peppermint Pretzel  Sandwiches. And I found them at Big Lots for $2.50! I haven't seen them in the grocery store for a while, but last time I did I'm pretty sure they were $5.99. 

I'll catch up on blog reading this weekend, hopefully. Maybe I'll do a favorite blog reads on Monday.

We have a busy weekend ahead! It's gonna be a great one, and I hope yours is too! 

Can you believe it's almost March already?!
What has been your favorite thing in February? Mine is all the warm sunny days we've had lately, and catching up on Downton Abbey.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feeding My Husband

I love serving my husband. It brings me joy to "take care" of him. One of the things that I especially enjoy doing is preparing his meals. Since we were first married, I have always made an effort to get his breakfast ready for him. I am anti-cereal-for-breakfast-unless-you-put-it-over-Greek-yogurt, and he is pro-cereal because it's quick. I prefer to have something with more nutritional substance to it, and he is very appreciative of my efforts.

Today I'm linking up with Amy at Gospel Homemaking for Thrive at Home ThursdayThrive at Home Thursday |

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lordy Mercy!

If you're not from the south you may not know the expression, but around here we use it when surprised, caught off-guard, or at a loss for words. It's slang for "Lord, have mercy!" Or maybe if you're close to my age and grew up watching Full House you've heard Uncle Jesse exclaim "Have mercy!" plenty of times.  I was thinking about this phrase the other day because I was pondering the word mercy. What is mercy, really?

First, let me tell you why I was even thinking about mercy. Last Sunday, Ben handed out a spiritual gifts survey (the Lifeway version) to everyone in our class in preparation for a lesson on community. He challenged us to take the survey and think of ways that we could use our gifts to serve each other. As you probably guessed, my highest category was mercy. 

If I had read the possible outcomes before taking the survey, I probably would have picked mercy because I took a different survey in college and my result was encouragement, which I think falls in line with mercy. So, I was not surprised, but what struck me the most was the description of mercy and what characterizes the person who has this gift. Here's the Lifeway survey definition of mercy:
Cheerful acts of compassion characterize those with the gift of mercy. Persons with
this gift aid the body by empathizing with hurting members. They keep the body healthy and
unified by keeping others aware of the needs within the church (Rom. 12:8). 

The description of the thoughts and feelings fits me to a T. I am very sensitive to others feelings and empathize naturally. BUT, I do not often take action any further than a smile, a hug, or a simple "I'm so sorry and I'm praying for you." Of course, none of these actions are bad, but if I am going to use my God-given super-sensitivity to minister to others, then I need to step it up. 

Oh, God, motivate my heart to not only feel along with the hurting people around me, but to take action in their cause- for your glory. May I "seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." {Isaiah 1:17} May gentleness of heart be evident in my life. 

From now on when I hear someone say "Lord, have mercy," I will be reminded that God has gifted me with the ability to show mercy. 

Have you ever taken a spiritual gifts survey? What was your result?
What gift would you like to improve your score on? Mine are wisdom and evangelism.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Favorites (2/21)

Hey, hey! It's Friday! I love weekends, don't you? Since Ben works fairly long hours Monday through Friday, we relish our time together from the time he walks in the door on Friday evening until he leaves Monday morning. 

Here are some of my favorite happenings from this week:

Favorite moment: 
Going out to dinner at El Paso for my birthday with Ben and the kids. I had the tacos de carne asada. Sooo yummy!

Favorite read:
Teachings of Jesus in Matthew on marriage and divorce. 

Favorite Workout:
I've been kinda lazy this week, but I did get 3 miles in at the gym yesterday and felt great. 

Playing outside ALL afternoon on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! The weather has been incredible! Rush is in heaven- he's been going shirtless! 

Favorite meal:
Ham and Swiss croissant casserole (NOT healthy) with orange poppyseed spinach salad. 

Favorite blog reads:

Healthy Living: 
The MOB Society's post on How Not to Raise a Godly Man (can't wait to read the free e-book). 

I shared earlier this week that we are going for a family hike tomorrow, and I am super excited! Hiking is possibly my favorite thing to do with Ben.
Photo from 2011- same trail that we're hiking tomorrow
Because of our plans tomorrow, I am planning to do my long run late this afternoon into this evening. I do not typically have good results when I run late in the day, but this is really my only opportunity to get it in. The marathon is just 5 weeks away!

Ben is teaching on the importance of community within the church this Sunday. I'm so proud of how is he growing as a leader/teacher. I'm learning that our spiritual gifts may not be what we would expect based on our natural personalities (post on this coming soon).

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Do you get excited for weekends?
What's your favorite family activity?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sweet Somethings

The last few days have been really fun. We've been celebrating Valentine's Day since Friday, and started my birthday celebrations yesterday. Here's a quick re-cap:

Friday night dinner at home with my three favorite valentines. We had quiche, and I pulled out the homemade cheesecake after the kids went to bed.

Ben and I watched Pride and Prejudice. 

Saturday morning we went to the gym, and I did not do my 16 miles. I only did 8. Oh well! 
We had our close friends, Chris and Buck and their kids over for dinner and I made my mom's spinach lasagna recipe and a new recipe for cauliflower soup. It was good! Chris (my best friend and running partner) made a chocolate cake covered in strawberries for dessert. It was yummy! I made some of my brother-in-law's decaf to go with it. Yay for fresh-roasted coffee!

Sunday afternoon was when Ben had made his secret plans for our Valentine's Day. After church, his parents took our kids and we went to the Melting Pot with my sister and her husband and their newborn baby girl. We had a great time. The conversations were goofy, serious, Biblical, and fulfilling. After evening church, we put the kids to bed and I turned on the TV to watch the Olympics. I wasn't into what was on, so I flipped it over to PBS because I knew Downton Abbey was on. We have been HUGE fans of the show in the past three seasons, but we missed the first episode this season (no, we don't have DVR, nor do we have cable or satellite), so we haven't been watching it. I had just changed the channel to PBS and Ben walked in to the room. I said, "I can't take it anymore! I have to watch it even though we haven't seen any other episodes!" Ben said, let's go in the bedroom to watch it. I reminded him that we do not have any TV watching capabilities in our room except DVDs. But he persisted, and I started to get the hint. I suddenly heard the theme song playing in the bedroom, and then I knew- he had bought season 4! Yay for husbands who like Downton!!! He also gave me a sweet card and an amazing Lindt dark chocolate-cranberry-almond bar. Such a great ending to a sweet day! I love that Ben Mills so much!

Yesterday was my birthday. Ben and the kids and I went out for Mexican food last night so I had the night off from cooking and cleaning! When we got home Ben handed me a small package and some papers. I opened the papers first, and I saw that they were downloads of the soundtracks to Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music. The package was the DVD of the original TV airing of Mary Martin's Peter Pan!!! It was my childhood favorite, and Ben has been wanting to get it for me for years! I can't believe I finally own it! So sweet of him!

We are going out for breakfast with all of family to celebrate my birthday on Saturday morning, then going for a family hike. The weather is supposed to be perfect! I am really excited about being in the mountains!

Speaking of our families, I have been reflecting on how blessed Ben and I are to both have parents with marriages still in tact. I'm so grateful for this heritage. 

So much in my Bible studying lately has been about marriage. I definitely believe that when coincidences happen, they are not just that- it is something God is trying to get my attention on!

In BSF, we are in Matthew 19; and I shared that Ben's lesson last week in Sunday morning Bible study was on our marriage to Christ and how earthly marriage is meant to be a reflection of it. A couple of things have really struck a chord with me:

  • How serious God is about how much he hates divorce.
  • How our union with Christ is so much more important than anything else, even our earthly marriages. 
  • How marriage is not just something you do once. It's something you choose to do every day. 

I would love for any of you to share any insight or Biblical/spiritual knowledge that you have on these points. 

I hope you're all having a great week!

I want to know:
What's your favorite musical?
What was your favorite childhood movie?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Favorites (Valentine's Day edition)

Happy Friday, y'all! This is my 100th post!

I hope you've had a great week. I don't know where this week went. Maybe writing this post will help me remember. ;)

I'll start with last Saturday:

Got my 15 mile training run in that morning. Went great!

We all went to my sweet niece's 5th birthday party! I made cupcake toppers with my silhouette cameo.
Ella Claire

Sunday was... different... in a good way. I shared a little but about it last week, but I did not know exactly what to expect then. We had a church-wide fast in preparation for a renewal service; a renewal of our commitment to Jesus individually and corporately. The services were reverent, meaningful, and moving. 

Rush and Lottie are growing!
It seems like both kids are in a huge learning phase right now! Lottie is making full sentences and showing so much personality. She is smart and funny. Rush is really into counting and reading letters. We do flash cards multiple times a day. I am excited for when he starts reading! I am trying to encourage "sounding out" words, but he's not very interested in that yet. I know it will come to him in his own time. He is eager to learn, but very independent. (Just like his Dad.)

Great coffee!
Our brother-in-law, Jared, roasts his own coffee as a side business. It is awesome! I love to wake up for my quiet time and have a pot ready. 

Valentine's Day!
I have always loved this holiday, mainly because it is four days before my birthday. So it's the perfect excuse to eat sweets for four days to a week straight. I always make an extra effort to make one of Ben's favorite dinners and a special dessert.  This year I am making quiche (no surprise) and my famous (to Ben) homemade cheesecake. It's in the oven right now. :)

Ben has something up his sleeve for Sunday afternoon. I am excited to find out what he has planned. 

I hope you have a great Valentine's Day full of love. 
In case you missed it, here's my post on love and marriage:

What's your favorite recipe to make for your husband on a special occasion?
What are your plans for Valentine's Day this year?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Growing Love

There's a super-well known book out there called The Five Love Languages. If you haven't read it with your spouse, you should. In a nutshell, the author, Dr. Gary Chapman, has studied all the ways that can make a person feel the most loved and put them into five categories. The book helps you understand what makes your spouse feel the most loved, and as a result, grows your love for each other. 

The biggest eye-opener for me personally was realizing that, often, if I am focused on trying to love my husband in a particular way, it is actually what I am wishing what he would do for me. Realizing this has been great for our marriage because now we are sensitive to it. If I am suddenly searching on Trip Advisor for weekend getaways while Ben is at work and sending him emails about said searches, then he knows I need quality time. If I am telling him more than usual how handsome and visually appealing he is, he can probably guess that I need to hear something similar (but of course not necessarily). 

Having read this book together opens conversation too. We can easily ask each other, "What could I do for you today that would make you feel loved?," and it isn't awkward. From day to day, and even minute to minute, the answer to that question could change. But most people have one or two "biggies" that keep their "love tank" (a Dr. Chapman phrase) full. Mine is a melding of gifts and acts of service. If I know that Ben has been thinking about me, I feel loved. So when he sends me a random text just to say I love you, or swings by a drugstore to grab a bag of truffles my heart is confident in his love for me. The bonus for Ben is that when I feel loved, I am more motivated to show him love- and I'm not necessarily consciously aware of it. 

When Ben willingly, without any hints from me (hints are OK sometimes) does something like this, he is loving me unselfishly. He is making some kind of sacrifice on my behalf (it may feel like a sacrifice when you do something for your spouse that does not come naturally). He is proving his faithfulness to me and confirming our pure love for one another. He is reflecting the pure, unselfish love of our sweet Savior, Jesus. There is no greater love than this! "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

In case you haven't heard, Valentine's Day is Friday. If you have ever been frustrated that your spouse does not understand how to love you, I highly encourage you to read this book together. Since you probably won't finish it by Friday though, I challenge you to go ahead and ask your spouse the question "What can I do to make you feel the most loved?" And then gently and lovingly explain what would make you feel loved (it's likely to be whatever you've been doing for your spouse). 

Honest heartfelt conversations like that can really grow your marriage. But more than that, you must ask for God's help. After you have the conversation with your spouse, pray together and ask God to help you love each other in such a way that builds each of you up, to perform these acts of love wholeheartedly and unselfishly, and to help you be that reflection of our union with Christ as individuals. 

I pray that your love for your spouse grows as you seek God's help in serving each other this Valentine's Day. 

Have you read The Five Love Languages?

What are you doing for your spouse this Valentine's Day?

If you're looking for ways to spice up the romance this Valentine's Day head on over to To Love Honor and Vacuum and check out today's steamy post on sex. I'm linking up for today's Wifey Wednesday. Christian Marriage Advice

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hope Springs

Happy Friday!

This week has really flown by for us, because we were on our ski trip on Monday and Tuesday. The trip was great. I had a bit of mommy-guilt leaving behind our two kids with their double ear infections. But of course, they did great for their grandparents. The skiing was not so great on Monday as it had rained that morning so the slopes were covered in ice and there was fog everywhere. But we had a fun dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant that night, and then we picked up a delicious cannoli that the restaurant claimed to be straight from Carmine's in New York City. It was delicious! Skiing was great on Tuesday. We only skied until lunchtime though because we had to drive back home. Before we left town, we stopped by a great local whole foods type restaurant called The Dish Café. Their lettuce wraps were amazing!

I finally got to get back on my routine of BSF on Wednesday morning. We had missed the week before because of snow and the previous week to that because of Lottie's RSV. I truly do love the growth that I'm experiencing because of this Bible study.

Rush finally got to go back to school on Thursday, and while he was there Lottie and I went to the church to begin setting up for an event that I have been planning for over a year. It was a Valentine's Day-themed couple's dinner for the mom's ministry that I am the director of. The dinner was last night, and it was a great success. Our speakers shared an amazing message of hope in Christ, and how when we make him the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment of our lives, marriage becomes what it is supposed to be.
We sent everyone home with a box of chocolate covered strawberries. Oh. My. Heavens! Raise your hand if you love chocolate covered strawberries!

Even though it has been a good week, my heart is still heavy because we have so much hurt going on around us. We have several friends who are sick or have close loved ones that are sick, and others who are experiencing great hurt at the moment. As I'm growing spiritually, I'm realizing that we cannot control our circumstances, and we probably will not understand them most of the time. But when we call out to God, He brings us comfort and peace that is unexplainable. Ben and I have been working on adding to Romans 8:28 verses 26 and 27, which has been a great reminder for me as we have so much to be praying for at the moment. The verses say,
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches out hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." 
How amazing is that?! We do not have to have the words to say except "God, I do not know what I need right now, but you do. And I have faith that you will give me what I need."

I am looking forward to the weekend, especially Sunday. It is the most important Sunday in the life of our church as we are renewing our commitments to the Lord and to the church corporately. I am privileged to be sharing a song this Sunday done originally by Nicole Nordeman called "Every Season." I'll leave you with the lyrics of the last verse:

"And everything that's new has bravely surfaced teaching us to breathe. And what was frozen through is newly surfaced turning all things green. And so it is with You as You make me new with every season's change. And so it will be as You are re-creating me: summer, autumn, winter, spring."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tips for Getting Your Toddlers to Eat and Munchkin Meals

Hey y'all! I'm excited to be linking up with Brittany over at A Healthy Slice of Life again. If you've never visited her blog, let me just warn you: don't do it while hungry! Her food is drool-worthy for sure. She has also done a great job with her 2-year-old's eating habits. I know she would be happy to give you some advice on getting toddlers to eat well, but I thought I would share a few tips of my own: ;)

1. Feed your kids a variety of foods from the get-go. I'm talking about puréed foods. From the time you start adding fruits and veggies to your munchkin's diet, try different things often- never assume they won't like it. 

2. Feed them the same thing you eat at any given meal. If it's purée-able (I just made up that word), put it in your food processor or blender with a little water (to desired consistency) and offer it your child without saying anything like "I don't know if you'll like this." Obviously, as they grow, you can just cut up the food with a knife to appropriate bite sizes. 

3. Set the example. If your kids see you eating colorless meals or never see you eating veggies, they will not be so willing to eat them either. Talk with them about healthy food and how it helps them grow and prevent sickness. 

4. Never say "You may not like this" to your child (unless it's a food that could hurt them, like something loaded with raw jalapeños). I cannot stress this enough. If you seem hesitant, they'll hesitate too. 

5. Don't give up on a food. My kids are SO wishy-washy at times. The first time I made asparagus for my son, he loved it. The next time I offered it, he gagged! Both of my kids can't decide if they like potatoes (which is not a huge deal since I don't make them often). If you munchkin rejects something once, try it again in a couple of weeks; you never can predict a toddler's tastes. 

So, there's my bit of advice on toddler feeding. I know very well how unpredictable they can be, and that we cannot force anything on a toddler. But I also believe that consistently offering a variety of healthy and setting the example can help tremendously. 

Here are a few of my munchkins' (2 and 4-years old) meals lately:

Here's a classic example of a child making a choice based on the parent's example: quiche is my husband's hands-down, number one, favorite food; and so it is my little guy's too! I usually make a very simple spinach-mozzarella recipe that's super yummy!

Recipe for two- pie crust
8 eggs
1 cup milk
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper

Make the two crusts and press them into two pie plates. 

Whisk the eggs and milk with salt and pepper. 

Stir in the spinach. Pour egg-spinach mixture into the pie plates. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes. Let the top get nice and golden-brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. 

Crockpot barbecue chicken thighs, steamed broccoli and sweet potatoes. 

Black bean and spinach quesadillas. 

Veggie-full meatloaf with mac n' cheese

Dessert: whole wheat waffle with chocolate peanut butter, sliced banana and chopped walnuts

So, there you have it! A peek into Rush and Lottie's meals. Thanks for stopping by!

Do you have a picky eater or an easy-to-pleaser?

What's your munchkin's favorite meal currently?

munchkin meals

Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday is...

Hey y'all! I'm writing a quick post here after sleeping in {cue the angels singing} on a mini vacation with just my sweet husband. We're skiing- one of our favorite things to do together. 

On to my Monday...

Monday is: recovering from the experience of taking two toddlers to Urgent Care on Sunday morning based on instinct. Diagnosis: double ear infections for both. 

Monday is: having awesome in-laws who wanted to keep the kids anyway. 

Monday is: having a church that offers live streaming so that the Holy Spirit can speak to you in your dining room when your kids are sick. 

Monday is: praying for a dear friend's dad who is undergoing major heart surgery today. 

Monday is: praising God for His grace and protection in my life! I have such a long way to go in maturity as a Christian, but I have so many wonderful resources- Godly husband, family, friends, church family, Christ in me- to push me forward (in a good way). 

Philippians 1:6 says, "And I am sure of this: that he who began a work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

I am so thankful that God encourages me by letting me know that His work is ongoing in my life. 

Have a great week!

What are some of your favorite activities to do with your spouse?