Friday, August 29, 2008

Food For Friday...

I am so glad it's Friday!!! We made it through our first week of school. Well, almost. Let's just say that my son, Ben won't be receiving a perfect attendance award this year. When I went to pick him up on Wednesday, he was waiting in the nurses office. About ten minutes before school was out, he got sick... in the classroom:( So, yesterday, he was at home with me, doing the things you are supposed to do when you are sick- watching movies, and eating popsicles!

The recipe I am sharing on this FOOD FOR FRIDAY is an appetizer. My sister, Sarah gave me this recipe and whenever I need to take an appetizer somewhere, this is the one I take. It's always a hit. This will be a great one to make for all of you who will be watching football this weekend. GO BUCKEYES!!!

~The Very Best Onion Dip~

12-16 oz. frozen chopped onions
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayo

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thaw onions and roll in paper towels to remove water. Mix all ingredients together and place in a 2-qt. dish. Bake 15-20 minutes or until brown. Serve with Fritos or Triscuits.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Girl...

Let me introduce you to our daughter, Jessica. She is 17 years old and this year she is graduating from high school. I'm sure that I will posting a lot about Jessica in the days and months to come because of the many exciting things that are going on in her life right now. God is working in a huge way in the heart of this amazing young woman.

This is such an exciting time for Jessica and for us as her parents. When your children are young, you see personality traits, as well as gifts and talents that God has given them from the very beginning. Over the years, you see those traits begin to really grow, change and develop. That's where we are with Jessica right now. When Jessica was little, she had the typical strong-willed child personality. She was independent, tested her boundaries, and wanted to do things on her own and her way. To be honest, she wore us out. We were always trying to be one step ahead of her. We read every book we could on child-rearing and discipline. We prayed and prayed and prayed. I'm so thankful and I truly praise God that over the years, He has shown Steve and me how to parent her. The Lord gave us wisdom, patience, and encouragement. We never wanted to break her of who she was. We totally believed that God would use the things about her for His glory.

Jessica is determined, reliable, confident, dedicated, honest (too honest sometimes!) and fair. Loyalty and trust are very important to her. If you need someone in your corner, Jessica is your girl. Her compassinate and caring heart is what guided her to be a student aide for mentally and physically handicapped children the last two years at school. She loved these kids. Everyday she would come home with a story about one of "her" kids, whether it was teaching them how to use a soda machine or teaching them how to make a phone call. I am also very proud to say that Jessica is a leader. Her leadership qualities are being used in school, work, and in the youth group. Again, I know that God has a wonderful plan for her.

One of the qualities that I love the most about her though is that she is your classic example of a true extrovert. I think I admire this so much in her because I am the exact opposite. I really just love to watch her. The love she has for people and to be around people totally and completely thrills her. Relationships are really what make Jessica tick. She is a great listener, encourager, very discerning, and really just wants to be your friend. I know that God is going to use this greatly because of her answering His call to serve full-time in missions. When asked the question on a personality test... "How would you describe hosting the perfect dinner party?" Her answer was, " I would have a huge BBQ and I would want whoever wanted to come to be there." That's Jessica. There is a side of her that can be very serious, but one thing about Jessica is that she wants to have fun, and lots of it. Jessica is funny, very funny really and she can completely catch you off guard with her sense of humor.

Jessica also loves her family, and she loves us well. It's not always easiest being the oldest, and the only girl. Her brothers look up to her very much. She gives them advice, sets a good example, encourages them to love Jesus and live their lives for Him, and accepts them for who they are. There is nothing she wouldn't do for her brothers.

I have learned many thing about myself because of having Jessica as a daughter. We are a lot alike, she probably wouldn't want to admit that, but at the same time, the things that make us alike, are displayed so differently in each of us. This has stretched me and grown me. I've allowed her to be the little girl, and now the young woman that God wants her to be, not what I expect her to be. She is bold, strong, and courageous, and not afraid to try new things. I admire this in her. Over the last several of years I have seen her relationship with the Lord grow and become her own. She is passionately serving Him and trusting Him with the things He has in store for her.

We love you Jessa Bessa. Thank you for the blessing you are. Thank you for your smile, and that thing about you that makes people around you believe in themselves and in a loving God. You challenge us, motivate us, and inspire us. We are SO proud of the young woman you are. You are my wild woman for Jesus! You are our girl. We love you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Day Of School...

Even as a parent, the first day of school stirs up a level of excitement and anticipation. Yesterday when I sat down to get all the supplies organized and into their respected backpacks, it brought back memories of my first days of school - having new clothes, new school supplies, and wondering who your teacher was going to be that year and hoping that you got the "best" one. You know, the one that was everyone's favorite. I loved getting my school supplies ready. Even then I was an organizer, so I loved the task of getting everything into my school box (remember when they were cardboard?) and into my new school bag. My favorite thing was when my mom would splurge and get me the 64- count Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener. Wasn't that the best?

Today, I welcomed a new school year through the eyes of my children.

Our daughter, Jessica is a senior this year - her final year of high school. I remember when she was finally a freshman, and she would talk about the day she would be a senior. It is here now, and it has come so quickly. I know that she will be counting down the days until graduation, and I will be sharing her excitement. At the same time I will be doing my best to prepare myself for letting go. Her days are going to be filled making memories with her friends, studying, and working. My days are going to be spent making the most of every minute I have with her knowing that before too long, she will be on a new journey of her own.

Sam is a 6th grader in middle school. He wasn't at all the least bit nervous as we stood in the driveway waiting for the bus. I am very proud of my son. He is going to a new school, will have new friends, new classes, and a new level of responsibility. There are going to be situations to deal with that we didn't have to deal with in elementary school. He's with the "big" kids now.

Finally, there is Ben. He is a 5th grader this year, and he too is in a new school. He's a little more nervous and unsure. Ben often has a hard time finding the positive in certain situations. So, when he came to me last night and told me he was a "little" excited about school starting, I knew that he was going to be okay.

Every year we take the famous "back-to-school" picture. Time has gone so fast when I see the pictures that have been taken year after year. It's so easy as a parent to find yourself saying things like, "I can't wait until they can crawl, I can't wait until they can walk, I can't wait until they can drive, I can't wait until..." When I look at my children, I want to embrace and celebrate where they are right now. I don't want to move time faster than it already comes. There's too much to enjoy right now. I want to be a mom that is present, not just physically but mentally and spiritually with my children. I want to know their needs, encourage them, teach and guide them, pray for them and love them well. I'm not saying I don't look forward to the things to come, I do. I know that God has a plan and a purpose for their future, and I eagerly await watching His will unfold in the lives of my children.

I just want to enjoy who they are now, today - to know that this is all part of a bigger picture, and it's just a step along the way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Days of Summer...

What do you do with a big hill in your backyard.....

How about a BIG slip-n-slide.....

For the last several years, the youth group from our church has an event called Hillslide (the name of our church is Hillside Chapel) because the location of the church is obviously on a hill. Our home (we live in the parsonage) sits on the highest point in the county so it's a great location for this. In the summer we have the Hillslide and come the snowy days of winter, we have sledding.

Here comes Sam....

Then there is Jessica...

And finally Ben, holding on for dear life....

If you only knew how fast the kids come down on this. I guess there is something to be said for the baby soap they put on it:) 

School starts tomorrow for my kids, so today we enjoying one last day of summer vacation. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating, so it looks like we will be inside. Maybe I can send them outside to play in the rain? 

Friday, August 22, 2008

Food for Friday...

I am a recipe collector. My best recipes from friends and family are kept in this cookbook. There are recipes that have been passed down to me like Mimi's Caesar Salad Dressing, and Mom's special recipe for a pie crust. I have Nana's Corn Souffle, and of course Nana's Buckeyes. I have recipes that my sister has given me like The Very Best Onion Dip, and Hot Brown Soup. Many recipes are from friends who happen to be really great cooks. Like I said, the best of the best recipes are in this book.

As much as I like to cook, I'm not really an adventurous cook. I really only make dishes that I know are to be good, ones that have been passed onto me from someone else. My mom on the other hand is known for just "throwing things together". She is creative with her cooking and knows what needs to be added or substituted. My sister is the kind of cook that is willing to try a new recipe every week. I'm just not that brave when it comes to new recipes. I guess I owe a BIG thank-you to all the cooks in my life who have so graciously shared their recipes with me. I haven't come across any of those kind of cooks. You know, the ones that when you ask for the recipe the say, "It's a family recipe that I just can't share." Whatever.

Some of my most favorite recipes have come from cookbooks that I'm not at all afraid to try. How could you possibly go wrong with Paula Deen or Southern Living?
Food for Friday is my way of sharing with you my favorite recipes. I'm not one of those cooks. If someone has been kind enough to share it with me, I want to pass it on. These will all be recipes that I've made and are a family hit. I hope you find them as delicious as we do!

My first shared recipe is the one and only Poppyseed Chicken. For all you "southerners", I'm sure you are well acquainted with this dish. It's comfort food at it's best. Enjoy!!!

6-8 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese
50 Ritz crackers ( 1 sleeve)
2 T. poppy seeds
1 stick melted butter

Place chicken in casserole dish. In saucepan, combine cream cheese and soup. Melt and pour over chicken. Crush crackers and add poppy seeds. Pour better on top of crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sorry I don't have a picture of this dish. We had it for dinner (at 9:00 PM!) one night this week and we were so hungry that there wasn't time to get a picture!

* Here is a time-saving tip for you.... I plan my meals a couple weeks at a time. I have done it for up to a month at a time. I will spend a couple of hours cooking all the chicken and hamburger I will need for upcoming dinners. I then place it into a labeled freezer bag according to the recipe I will need it for. It is then put into the freezer for when I will need it. That way, when I'm ready to prepare that particular recipe, all I have to do is pull the cooked meat out of the freezer and let it thaw. No need to waste time cooking the meat. This saves SO much time and I've found that I don't dread making dinner as much. It's time on the front side but really worth it.

So, when I made Poppyseed Chicken all I had to do was pull out my already cooked and shredded chicken, let it thaw and it was ready to go!

I also shred chicken (instead of dicing it) because I think it makes it go a little farther. Maybe I just have myself convinced it does, I don't know.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

***Tassel Update***~ see post below

I've been asked where I am hanging my tassels, so let me show you...

This a little wrought iron shelf  that is in one of our bathrooms.  I love this shelf but it is kind of an awkward size to set things on. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want to put on it but I thought I tassel sure would like nice hanging from it....

The other tassel is just hanging from the switch on the lamp...

The possibilities really are endless. Tassels love any kind of hook, knob, or handle!

A Tassel Here and a Tassle There...

Your comments that were left yesterday for Sam were so sweet and encouraging. Thank you. I will be posting about our daughter, Jessica, on Tuesday. I have some other posts that I'm working on so make sure you come back to visit!

For today, I wanted to show you what I received in the mail last week from Susie Harris over at Bienvenue...

I love this one with the little squash on it...

If you haven't visited her yet, you need to. You won't be disappointed. Not only does she make these wonderful tassels but she has great decorating ideas as well. Thanks for my tassels Susie and for the little surprise that was inside my box...

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Then There Is Sam...

Thank you for all your sweet comments that were made to Ben yesterday. He read each and everyone of them and totally enjoyed it!

As a mom, you know that I can't talk about one of my children without talking about the other two. So, for today let me introduce you to Sam, our second born. Sam has recently just turned 12 and will be starting 6th grade next Tuesday. Words that best describe Sam are disciplined, serious, balanced, dedicated, and compassionate. We often refer to him as "Steady Sam". Life with Sam is simple, predictable, and organized.  It's not uncommon that when someone in the family has misplaced something that Sam knows exactly where it is. Sam is an early to bed, early to rise kind of guy. 

Sam wanted me to do the commenting for now. That's Sam. Quiet and reserved. 

Here is a glimpse of more of who he is...

If there is any place Sam loves to be it is outside. He truly is my "outside boy" in every sense of the word....

Whether it's the in the snow...

Or the sand... 

When it's time for play, Sam spends hours (literally) building with Legos...

Or with G.I. Joes...

One of Sam's biggest passions is his love for history. When he was 4 years old he wanted to be a fighter pilot so that he could serve our country. This love of history has developed into a knowledge that is really quite amazing for someone so young. He devours books about military history, American history, and his all-time favorite Civil War history. Normally, Sam is a pretty quite boy but get him talking about this stuff and he'll talk for hours. 

Some of Sam's most treasured possessions are his grandfather's dog tags, and uniform from when he served in the Navy, pictures of his great-grandfather serving in the second World War, and metal soldiers that his grandfather played with as a young boy. Last year, through family records we found out that Sam is the 19th cousin to our 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. What God does with this deep love and loyalty of his country will be neat to see.

It wouldn't surprise you then when I tell you that Sam's favorite vacation (besides Sunset Beach) was when we went to Washington D.C. and to Gettysburg....

Sam is now taking over the commenting. I told you when he sees or hears about history he's got something to say...

Here I am on Little Round Top where Joshua Chamberlain led his regiment in one of the most successful battles of Gettysburg. I've learned so much about the Civil War because of my all time favorite movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals and reading. My favorite people from the war are Joshua Chamberlain, and his brother Thomas Chamberlain. From the south, Jeb Stuart and James Longstreet.

One of my favorite sports is doing swim team. I'm on the Greene Valley Gators. My favorite strokes are all the strokes. The picture below is me swimming the butterfly, my least favorite but it's o.k. I like swimming because it gives you a chance to show how fast you can swim. Over the past two summers I have about twenty five 1st and 2nd place ribbons. My swimming idol is Michael Phelps.

I don't play football right now on a team but when I did I played for Beavercreek. My number was 47. I played almost every game as linebacker. One of the reasons I don't play is because you get banged up really bad!! 

The only thing I liked about baseball is that my dad was one of the coaches.

Something else my mom forgot to mention is my love of geography. When I was about five I could say my states and capitals because of Leap Pad if you know what that is.

So now you've officially met Sam. We love you Sam and God has blessed us by having a son like you.

Me and the boys...

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today It's All About Ben...

Prior to my blogging days my children would RUN when I would get my camera out. If they weren't able to get away fast enough I would hear grumbling and complaining about why I take SO many pictures. They funny thing is how much they love to look at the pictures. I remind them that this is my way of making and keeping memories and that one day they WILL appreciate the boxes and albums of pictures we have. 

Since I've been blogging, I'm on the look out for anything else I can take a picture of. I hear, "Why are you always taking pictures of food and stuff in the house?" Or the famous question, "Is that going on your blog?"

My most favorite subjects are my children, they always will be. As a result of a conversation I had with Ben and about what I'm NOT showing many pictures of (that would be him), I promised I would do a post in honor of him.

So, this is all about Ben...

Ben is 10 1/2 years old and our youngest child. This year he will be in the 5th grade. Ben is an encourager, and has a great sense of humor. He is smart, creative, serious about his passions, sensitive, witty, and knows how to make you laugh. He is dependable and a hard worker, well, as long as there is fun involved. Ben is ALL about the fun.  Ben loves to stay up late and doesn't like mornings at all!  

Here are some pictures of Ben. By the way, I'm letting Ben come up with the comments for these pictures.

I swam for the swim team of the pool we belong too. I never got anything lower than 2nd place. I swam 25 meters backstroke, 25 m freestyle, and the 50 m freestyle and I loved it and I'm going to do it for a long time.

When we were at Sunset Beach, Sam and I got fake tats that lasted a very, very long time. They looked real. The store we went to get the tattoos was in Myrtle Beach.  I look fly in barbwire. FYI... fly means cool.

I love corvettes. They are my favorite car. When I grow up I want a '67 Stingray Corvette that is white with blue racing stripes. 

My mom just HAD to put this picture on.  I got Big Bird when I was one and he looks very well loved. My Uncle Mike calls him a chicken because he sort of looks like one. 

I snuck these Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing pretzels into the shopping cart when I was with my mom. I ate these in two days. They are delish! I love spicy foods. These aren't on the top of my list though. The #1 hottest thing I've ever had is my Paw Paw's Rattlesnake Bite Hot Sauce. It has habanero peppers in it.

This is Charlie, my Aunt Say Say's dog. You can go to her blog Nesting In Pleasant View.  I love him very, very much. When I was there I played with him all the time. Charlie just got a haircut so that's why he looks like this. FYI... he looks way better furry. I call him "Chuck".

At Sunset Beach, I bought a skim board. You throw it in like the 1" deep water, then you run and catch up to it, jump on, and just go. I can to a 360 turn without falling, unlike some people in my family (dad). My Dad hurt his wrist from falling off and it still hurts him today.

My Uncle Mike is a Cubbies fan so I am too!

A couple of things I love to do are...


And play the guitar.

We are proud of you Ben and love you very much. Thank you for the blessing you are to our family!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Deliberate Pursuit...

Life has come in and just completely taken over. This was said to me in a conversation I was having with someone last night. I can't get it out of my mind. I know it's because I relate. That's where I am right now. Days of feeling like I don't know which end is up. Last night I found myself over-reacting to a situation here at home. I've been quick to react in ways that aren't loving and kind. I am worn out and tired. Tired of doing, of thinking, of being.

Jesus, come and make yourself known to me. Right now, right here. I need peace and rest and the assurance that you are near.

I don't want life to just come and take over. I don't want life to just happen. I want to be a woman that lives an intentional life. I want Jesus to come and take over. I want my relationship with Him to affect everything about me. I want it to affect the way I live.

I want to thirst and hunger for God and God alone. There are so many things in the world today that are competing for the attention that I can only give to Him. I've learned that "things and stuff" can't satisfy my soul the way He can. One of my constant prayers over the years is for Him to give me a hunger and thirst for Him and His Word. I have been on my knees begging for a passionate heart and a desire to know Him more. I've learned to pray until He comes. Jesus always, always comes.

The most necessary and vital part of living an intentional life is the deliberate pursuit of knowing God. Sure, there are days, more than I would honestly like to admit, that I just don't feel like it. There are days when it's hard, where He feels so far away, and I feel disconnected. This has been a lesson learned of how I can't base my faith on my feelings. The truth is, it's an ongoing lesson. I have to go back to knowing what I know to be truth, of knowing the One who is Truth and what He says and thinks of me. His love for me, His compassion, His acceptance of me never changes. This I know to be true.

Pursuing God is when I am surrendering to Him and giving all of me to Him. Not just a little here and a little there. It's not just the parts of me that are doing well. It is ALL of me. The parts of me that are totally falling apart.

Pursuing God is worshipping Him for who He is, what He has done, and for what He will do.

Pursuing God means that I am cultivating spiritual disciplines in my life that are growing and changing me.

Pursuing God means that I am in fellowship with Him and learning more of who He is. It is desiring intimacy with Jesus and loving Him more.

Pursuing God is loving Him with my whole heart and accepting His steadfast love that draws me in and holds me close.

Psalm 73:25-26

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Life does happen. It's overwhelming, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and always changing. The truth is Jesus NEVER changes. That I can believe and find rest and peace in.

Living an intentional life requires that I am choosing to pursue God-passionately. It's saying "yes" to Him and letting other things go. An intentional life doesn't just happen. It requires work. It's about my relationship with the Lord and doing my part. It's living a life of purpose because He is my heart's true desire.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Moments...

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. ~ Psalm 62:1

Friday, August 15, 2008

Before and After...

Don't you just love a great before and after picture?

Here is one for you...

This is Anabelle. She is a four-year old West Highland White Terrier. Let's just say she wasn't having a bad hair day... she's been have a bad hair week...

Sam and I decided it was long past time to pretty her up. 

After a nice bath and haircut... 

And just like any other woman (or dog) she has a whole new outlook on life now that she is feeling pretty!

I also want to thank all of you for your sweet comments. Don't forget that if you end up doing a 5 minute project to please let me know about it. I would love to see it!

Have a wonderful Friday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5 Minute Project...

This project is inspired by Joy from JOYS OF HOME. Let me just say that the decorating ideas and crafts she comes up with are amazing!

For this project you will need: a piece of unfinished wood, a wooden letter, spray paint, decorative paper, and spray adhesive.

Step 1~ Spray your piece of wood and letter with the spray paint. I used black paint. Make sure you spray the back if it's going to be in a place where it might be seen!

Step 2~ When the paint is dry you are ready to apply the paper. Cut your paper to fit the front of the wood. Spray the paper with the adhesive and place on wood. Then use adhesive on back of letter to place the letter on top of the paper. You can also sand the edges of the paper a little to give it more of an antiqued look.

And then you will have this...

This was SO easy and a very quick project. I spent $4.99 for the adhesive, 50 cents for the paper, 59 cents for the wood, and 99 cents for the letter.

Please share with me your finished projects and then also share it with Joy over at Joys of Home because all this week she is having show and tell!

Also, here are a few highlights from our anniversary yesterday...

We went to the Hammel House in historic Waynesville, Ohio for lunch. Steve had a rueben sandwich and I had a turkey florentine sandwich. It was delicious!

After lunch, we did some shopping. I've really been wanting one of these...

I've seen these in other antique stores and they have been at least $40. This one cost $9.95. Maybe next year I'll go for the jewelry:)

That evening we went to an Italian restaurant and finished the night off with a movie. I can't even remember the last time Steve and I saw a movie! It's a good thing we passed on the dessert because when we got home this is what was waiting for us from Jessica, Sam and Ben...