Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tea Eggs!

My kids love boiled eggs, and they really love Tea Eggs (a common snack in China)!
They're like boiled eggs with enough flavor that you don't need to salt them.
So it would be a shame if I didn't share the recipe.  Here's my revised version.

Tea Eggs
6 eggs
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 black tea bags (or 2 Tbsp of black tea leaves)
1 tsp Anise
1 stick cinnamon
Several grinds of black peppercorn
Place the eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 2 minutes
Remove the eggs from the water, and using a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shell in several places.
Return the eggs to the saucepan of water, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding additional water as necessary.
I let the eggs sit in the water till it's room temp, and then refrigerate them.
Peel, rinse and enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

This Time is Different

We are smack in the middle of the journey to bring home our 9th treasure from China. 

Although the process has changed since we first adopted 10 years ago, the thing that’s changed the most is ME!

I’m a take-charge kind of gal.  Give me a task and I’m on it.  Give me stacks of paper work, no sweat.  Ask me to sit quietly and wait patiently…fail.  But that is changing, ever so slowly.

I have orchestrated fundraisers, tried to make crafty things (in my severe un-crafty-ness) , held garage sales and whittled our budget to the bone in order to raise adoption funds.  Usually the entire journey is one fundraiser after another, frantic that we will fall short of our goal.

We’re still raising funds and working overtime to cover the expense of the adoption, but this time is different. 

Over the past year the Lord has dealt with my heart in so many ways.  First, that He would allow us to adopt again is incredible.  But I am recognizing His sovereignty.  And I’m learning to abide.

Abiding doesn’t mean I’m sitting on my hands.  But I am seeking Him, soaking in His truth, and instead of plowing my way through things, I’m content to follow Him.  I’m learning that as I fix my gaze upon Him, I am less likely to become distracted. 

The adoption process has many milestones, each culminating hopefully in the homecoming of a child.  In the past I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the destination that I couldn’t enjoy the journey.  And the Lord has so much to teach me in the journey.

This time I want Him more than I want the things I ask of Him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When I Lost My Smile

My optimistic attitude and faith have served as great companions in supplying endurance in the most difficult circumstances.  Even when my first response is of the flesh, the Lord always gives me new perspective and changes my heart on the matter.

Sometimes He removes the obstacle, sometimes He walks me around it, and sometimes He allows me to struggle, chin-deep in the quicksand of the matter.

No matter His method of leading me, He has never left me to fend for myself, and He’s always brought me through the fire refined.

During the past five years our family has danced with the flames of darkness, grief, loss and incessant turmoil.  No matter how upbeat or how great a sense of humor I once had, somewhere along the way I succumbed to the flames and lost my smile.

I knew from the depths of my soul that the Lord had not left me and that He had much to teach me.  He brought me face to face with my own sin of selfishness and independence.  Yet I couldn’t break the chains of my flesh.  Or rather, I wouldn’t.

Each day brought more chaos, more pressure and required more action to bring resolution.  The burden to try to keep the wheels of our family of 12 running smoothly are lofty under normal circumstances, but add the medical needs of five precious children, the daily in-your-face battles, and I became resentful and bitter.  I’d lost my emotions and even forgotten how to laugh.  

Each opportunity the Lord gave me to trust Him, no matter to what degree I tried at first, I would ultimately cave to my own need for control.

Please understand that I’m not proud of this, but my prayer is that the Lord might use my transparency to minister to your heart in the midst of suffering.
Oh, I continued to put one foot in front of the other.  I performed all the necessary duties of a wife and mom, and  I traveled back and forth to numerous medical visits without a problem, but when it came to the biggest thing the Lord was using to change my heart, I dug my heels in every.single.time, which meant about a thousand times a day.  Fail.

And yet, His mercies are new each morning.  His grace is sufficient, His patience is unimaginable, His presence is constant, and He is the Source of love.

Each time I shook my finger at the situation was as if I were looking in a mirror reflecting my own black heart.  I was convicted of how the Lord drew me to Himself and Jesus brought me from death to life.  So what was wrong with me?  I’m a Christ follower!  The Spirit dwells within me.  He has given me a new heart.  He continues to diminish my desire for the things of this world and long for Him.  I kept hoping, praying and waiting for Him to change the situation.  Otherwise, it would require changing ME, and apparently I was running from that, unwilling to repent.  

To this day I am amazed at His patient pursuit of me.
The situation is not entirely resolved, but the Lord is doing an amazing work in my heart.  He has brought me to a place of brokenness and complete dependence upon Him.  There is a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  Only by His grace. 

The bitterness was hurting my family, and the need for control was driving me further away from those I love.  The Lord brought me to repentance and complete surrender.  I still battle the flesh, but I have an arsenal of Truth as my first line of defense.

Have you lost your smile?

Fear not!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel  11:19b 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

More Lovely Letters!

We just found out today our dossier was logged in on October 9!

Though we still have several acronyms to go, this is cause for celebration!
The next step, LOA, could come in 30 days or 90 days or 150 days...
How's that for nailin' it down?
One thing we know for certain: the Lord's timing is perfect!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homemade Favorite to Go

We are that family.  You know, the family that has a separate cabinet for storing Ramen.
It's ridiculous how much instant MSG my kids consume.
But, it's so handy before a game or after a game.  Ah, who am I kidding?  We even feed it to them for supper.
Maybe you've already discovered this, but being a bit slow, I've just now figured out that I can make a healthier and tastier version of my people's favorite!
The key is variety.
And making it your own.

In this experiment I just used what I had on hand:
Spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
Ringwood Gold cut corn (of course)
Chicken base
Carrots, chopped
Onion, finely chopped
Jars with lids

This is the mix, ready to refrigerate or pack in your lunch!
Add boiling water, seal the lid and let sit for 4 minutes.
I use chicken and beef base in so many of my recipes to add flavor!
*hint* use a low sodium chicken or beef base, or you'll end up with nearly the same thing as you find in the bag or cup of ramen.

Homemade Ramen to Go
Chicken or Beef base (low sodium)
Vegetables (shredded carrots, sweet peppers, scallions or onion, corn)
Seasonings (cumin, crushed red pepper)
Noodles (thin spaghetti, rice noodles - the possibilities are endless!)
Dried or diced meat of your choice

In a clean jar, add 1 Tbsp beef or chicken base.  Add vegetables and seasoning to your liking, then top with cooked noodles.  Refrigerate the jars if you're not using them immediately.
Add boiling water to the top of the noodles, seal the lid and let sit 4 minutes.  Stir and enjoy!

You're welcome :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Celebrating "Lasts"

If you ask me what we've been up to, I'd say in addition to physical therapy, surgery post-ops, making more wedding plans, fundraising and paper chasing for Kohlby, we are celebrating 'lasts'.

I'm a bit sappy about this being Kenzie's senior year, but having 3 to 4 softball games each week has kept me busy enough that I don't have time to pout :) 
Last night our Lady Devils represented at the Cherokee Strip Conference awards and game.  The Ladies are conference champions!
Kenzie was selected to play as 2nd baseman.
And I realized this might be the last time I see her catch for the out.

Senior power!
 Selected to the Cherokee Strip Conference:  
Kenzie, LS, KS, KR and CF! 

I've really enjoyed watching these gals play!

Cherokee Strip Champions!

 Making memories on the field.

Tonight the gals play again in the Tri-County Conference game!
More pictures, more 'lasts.'

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yumilicious Black Bean n' Rice Burritos

I have several friends who've got a knack for cooking for a crowd.  Sometimes they don't even use a recipe!  But when I ask them to put it on paper so my people can enjoy it, they always oblige :)

Kim made these while we were in China last year, and my big kids love them!
I make a batch, wrap each in Press n' Seal, then store them in the freezer (in a freezer bag), and we've got an energy-packed snack after 2 minutes in the microwave.

It wouldn't be fair for me NOT to share this one, and since she agreed, here goes:

The prep looks something like this...

First, I rinse, soak and cook my beans.

When they're done, they'll go in this concoction to finish up!

While that's finishing up, I'm heating the sauce mixture.

I'm cooking the rice and getting the tortillas and cheese out.
 Then we're ready to make something beautiful!

Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Black beans (2 cans of Bush's Best, drained and rinsed or cook your own)
16 oz Red Enchilada sauce, mild
16 oz tomato sauce
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked riced (cooked in 4 cups chicken broth)
Burrito size tortillas
Shredded cheese
2 Tbsp salsa
2 Tbsp bacon drippings
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
First, prepare the beans.  When they are ready, place them in a sauce pan (or I use a cast iron skillet) with 2 Tbsp bacon drippings, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cumin and 5 Tbsp salsa.  Heat through.  You can also add diced bell pepper, jalapeno, onions, crumbled bacon or finely chopped cilantro.  Make it your own.
Meanwhile, cook or steam your rice in chicken broth.
To make your red sauce, in a saucepan, add 16 oz enchilada sauce, 16 oz tomato sauce, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp chili powder.  Cook that on low heat until warmed and seasonings have blended.
To assemble burritos:
Warm tortillas in microwave to make soft.
Lay out Press 'n Seal for each burrito.  On your tortilla, add 2 heaping Tbsp rice, 2 Tbsp beans, 1 heaping Tbsp sauce and top with a handful of cheese.  You can add ground beef, shredded chicken or pork too!  Roll the burrito and wrap with Press n' Seal.  Store the wrapped burritos in a large Ziploc freezer bag.
Pop frozen burritos (still in Press n' Seal) in the microwave for 2 minutes and enjoy!

Thank you, Kim!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

No Hands But Ours

I want to share a secret with you.  

Disclaimer:  It may change your heart.

Are you praying about adoption?
Are you saying, "No way, not me," to medical special needs?
Have you adopted a precious child with needs beyond what you expected?
Would you like to connect to real families who have adopted children with medical special needs?
Do you need resources to best serve your child and your family?

Have you checked out the new No Hands But Ours site?!?

"Replacing fear with knowledge; Replacing isolation with community; Replacing defeat with hope."  
That pretty well sums it up!

You will find so much good stuff!
*Family stories
*Breakdown of medical special needs with links
*Links to family blogs
*Lists of waiting children
*Lists of adoption agencies
*Mentor moms

No Hands But Ours is an amazing resource to add to your bookmarks, and I am excited and honored to be a teeny tiny part of it.

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