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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Already There and Green Lightning Shrimp

I love shrimp.  And Bubba is right - there are so many things you can do with it.  You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it.  You can make shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. 
I really hope y'all remember Forest Gump or you just think I'm a freak right about now.

I found a recipe for Green Lightning Shrimp on Pinterest the other day.  It wasn't until I got ready to make it last night that I realized it was for grilled shrimp.  After 10+ years of cooking I have learned to improvise so I sautéed it instead. 

I bought the frozen cooked jumbo shrimp in the freezer section.  I just thaw them out by running cool water over them in the colander. 

I don't have measurements and you don't really need them for a marinade.  Just put as much as you think you would like of each ingredient.

Marinade:
Mix olive oil (extra virgin if going lighter), fresh chopped cilantro, chopped jalapenos, garlic powder, salt, pepper, green onions and lime juice.

Directions:

Thaw shrimp (instructions above) and pull tails off.  Put in a big ziplock bag with the above marinade and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.

 
In a pan melt butter (anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 1/2 stick depending on how healthy you want to be).  Add about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and let it cook on medium for a couple minutes.  Add more chopped cilantro (to taste) and let it cook for a couple minutes. 

 
Add the shrimp (with the marinade) to the pan and cook on medium for about 10 minutes or so.


I served over the Sprouts brand garlic and herb rice pilaf.  Yum!


Already There

I love the Casting Crowns song, "Already There".  It is such a great reminder that we don't always have to have life figured out, because He does! 

 
I am very much a planner and I like to be prepared for everything (to a fault sometimes).  So when things don't go how I planned them or when life throws me a curve ball I tend to freak out a little.  It has taken me a long time to learn that life doesn't always have to be planned.  I haven't quite relented control on the day to day part yet. ;)

God knows what is going to happen in my life and He uses experiences (some painful, some joyful) to prepare me for those times.  It's so incredible how you can look back at some life experiences and realize God was using those to prepare you for something later in life.  My favorite part of the song is the bridge:

One day I'll stand before You
And look back on the life I've lived
I can't wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit


I know I hope I have a lot more life to live.  And I am confident that I will have many, many, many more Why is this happening moments in my life.  But it is so reassuring to know that God knows why.  He knows the reason.  He knows the outcome.  And the best part?  He is with me through it all!


~Jewels*

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stats on the Boys, Family Weekend, Sad News, Oven Fried Chicken with Twice Baked Potatoes (Skinny) and Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

Whew... I'm tired after writing that title so I'm sure you're tired after reading it.  I have a lot to share this morning after not posting since the middle of last week so here we go...


Stats on the Boys

I took both of the boys to the doctor on Friday for their well checks.  Garrison's very first question was, "Do I have to get shots?".  Some things never change.  He was so excited to hear he didn't have to get shots.  That excitement quickly turned to anxiety when he heard the nurse tell me he had to have his blood drawn to test cholesterol and some other things that they like to test after the age of five.  More on that in a bit.

Garrison weighed in at 58 lbs with a height of 50 3/4".  He is right at the 50th percentile for weight and about the 70th percentile for height.  This big boy is projected to be least 5' 11"!  The doctor was so impressed with Garrison's muscle mass and said he doesn't have an ounce of fat on him.  Garrett said that is how he used to be too.  ;)

Ethan weighed in at 19 lbs 7 oz (hey, those 7 oz count!) and 31".  He is in the 4th percentile for weight and 6th percentile for height.  I'm still not sure how that feisty personality fits in that little bitty body but it does!  :)   He is perfectly healthy but we plan on taking him to an endocrinologist when he turns 2 to get a bone scan.  Not knowing much at all about his birth family this will help us to know if he is just delayed in his growth or if there are any other issues we need to be on the lookout for.  Ethan had one shot and only cried for about 30 seconds.  Such a brave boy!

Speaking of brave we headed to the medical lab after the appointment to have Garrison's blood drawn.  I really thought they would just prick his finger like they have done in the past.  Oh, no... this is serious stuff.  They sat him in the chair, wrapped his arm with the rubber band and started tapping for veins.  I immediately knew where this was headed and it wasn't looking pretty.  Garrison flinched a little when they stuck the needle in but it wasn't until he started seeing the blood run through the tube that he really had the freak out moment.  After lots of tears, all over shaking and many hugs from the sweet nurse he calmed down.  I told him what a brave boy he was!  His response?  "You said it wasn't going to hurt!  And we said a prayer before!"  Yep, it's those moments you wish you could take your kiddo's place.  But I know that was a big moment for him and he was so proud of himself after the fact.  Side note: he lost his third tooth yesterday.  This boy is just getting way too big for Mama to handle!

I really can't take the cuteness of my boys sometimes!  Slow your roll boys... y'all are growing up way too fast!

 
Ethan (around 18 months)

 Garrison (around 18 months)


Family Time

We had lots of family come in town this past weekend to celebrate my Grandmama's 79th birthday.  As always we had a blast!  Here is a picture my sister took of my Grandmama standing on a chair while we all sang Happy Birthday to her.  Oh, how I love this woman!


Two of my favorite girls (Cousin Elisabeth and Sister Kiki) - love it even though it's blurry



And here is a shot of the cousins we took after lunch yesterday.  Can you tell Ethan was super excited for picture time?!


I can't wait to go to Houston (in just TWO DAYS) for Cousin Camp at my sister's house with these cutie patooties!  (Prayers much appreciated for my sister and I have to have energy to last us through five days with these crazy kiddos!)


Sad News

Kidd Kraddick, a local DJ in Dallas passed away this past weekend at the young age of 53, reportedly from a brain aneurism.  Social media has been flooded with comments from listeners and fans of how much he impacted their lives in the last 20+ years he was on the air.  He started a charity called Kidd's Kids where he helped raise money to take terminally ill kids and their families to Disney every year. 

He had such an impact on those who lived here locally and those who lived in many other cities and states.  And it was yet another reminder that this is what life is all about.  We should be trying to touch as many lives as we can while we are here on earth.  No one knows how long they have here and we should all be making the most of it.

It's not just celebrities or people with money that can make a difference in others' lives.  You and me have that ability as well.  And we should all be living every day to the fullest, spreading the love and joy that is in us (from God) to those we know and to complete strangers.  That is something to reflect on and I have been doing a lot of that over the last few days.  Life is so precious.  Life is so short.  Life should not be wasted.  Live it to the fullest and most importantly live it for Jesus.


Oven Fried Chicken and Twice Baked Potatoes (Skinny)

Three words rolled into one - ohmagoodness!  This was by far the best meal I made last week.  I found both recipes on Pinterest.  I modified the chicken a little bit (for the better I think) and am sharing both below.

The chicken is actually called Baked Paprika Parmesan chicken but it tasted so much like fried chicken (without the greasiness) that I renamed it.  :)


Chicken

Ingredients       

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons milk
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (2 breasts split in half lengthwise)
1/4 cup butter melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, parmesan, paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken in the egg, then dredge in the flour mixture. Place in the baking dish, and pour the melted butter evenly over the chicken.
  3. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cheese has browned, and the chicken has cooked.  (It only took mine about 45 minutes so watch closely).
  4. I added this last step.  Turn the oven on Broil and broil the chicken for 2-4 minutes until crispy.  This way you don't end up with mushy chicken.


Potatoes

Per Serving: 88 Calories; 1g Fat; 2.5g Protein; 17.3g Carbs; 2.3g Fiber (Only 2 WW points)
The below is for 6 servings so I cut it by 2/3 to make 1 serving.
 












Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole

This recipe?  Not so skinny.  But it's damn good!  :)
My cousin made this for us when we went to Austin a couple of months ago and I returned the favor by making it for them yesterday.  It is oh so yummy!  It's a great breakfast to serve lots of guests or a few very hungry people!  ;)

Ingredients
                                
2 packages (12 oz each) bulk pork sausage
1
medium bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1
medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
3
cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2
cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
1
cup Original Bisquick® mix
2
cups milk
1/4
teaspoon pepper
4
eggs







~Jewels*

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Southwestern Egg Rolls (Only 2 WW Points Each)

Sorry I didn't post a recipe yesterday.  I made Skinny Cajun Chicken Pasta Tuesday night and have already posted that recipe before.  You can check it out here.

Last night I got brave and made something I have never attempted before - egg rolls.  It took me a good while just to find the egg roll wrappers in Target.  (By the way they are in the produce section because THAT makes sense.) 

Call me a cooking nerd but this was such a fun dinner to make (and SO easy)!  I have tried the Southwest Egg Rolls at Chili's and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who is not a fan.  I was pretty shocked at how much I liked these, especially since they are way less fattening. 

My next adventure will be mastering Chinese egg rolls.  I forsee that being quite a challenge.


Look at that yummy filling!
 



Southwestern Egg Rolls
Yields 24 egg rolls. WW P+:  2 per egg roll
Nutrition Information per egg roll: 108 calories, 18 g carbs, 2 g fat, 6 g protein, 2 g fiber

 
Ingredients:

2 cups corn
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 scallions (green onions), chopped
1 (4 oz) can of green chiles, drained
1 t ground cumin (I didn't have any so I left this out)
½ t chili powder
1 t salt
½ t black pepper
¼ t cayenne pepper
24 egg roll wrappers (1 package)

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly mist two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the egg roll wrappers and stir to thoroughly combine.
  3. Pour some water into a small dish and set aside.
  4. On a flat surface, place an egg roll wrapper, corner facing toward you (like a diamond) and put ¼ cup of the mixture from the bowl on the center of the wrapper. Spread the mixture in a horizontal line from the left corner to the right corner of the wonton wrapper, leaving ½ inch or so of space on each side. Fold the bottom corner closest to you up over the ingredients and give it a 90 degree roll. Fold the side corners in and tuck them as you give the filled section another 90 degree roll. Dip your finger in the dish or reserved water and lightly wet the edges of the remaining top corner of the wrapper. Finish rolling the filled egg roll over the wet corner so that it adheres. Place wrapped egg roll onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  5. When all of the egg rolls are wrapped and on the baking sheets, lightly mist the tops with cooking spray. Bake for 14-15 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the wrappers are golden brown.

Serve with salsa, light/fat free sour cream or guacamole for dipping.  (We used sour cream.)  I served with a side of long grain rice - simple, but it worked.


~Jewels*

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Skinny Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas...that don't taste skinny

Garrett and I decided to try eating healthy this week.  Sunday night he asked what was for dinner and I told him I only had "healthy" stuff to make since I had already shopped for the week.  He gave me an odd look.  I said, "I don't think you understand how this whole diet thing works.  You eat the most unhealthy meal you can think of the day before you start the diet."  (And then we picked up Whataburger for dinner...ha!)  How do guys not know this?! 

 
 


If you know me or have read my blog you know I love to cook.  And you know I love to cook meals full of butter, cream or anything else that would tend to widen one's ass a few inches.  Why?!  Because it's good!  But we realize we can't always eat like that and need to better balance our diets.  So where is a girl to turn when looking for healthy recipes?  Definitely not my Paula Deen cookbook!  ;)   Pinterest to the rescue!  I will try posting one recipe each day this week.

I made these last night and they were amazing!  My husband was not looking forward to this dinner because he's not a big fan of regular sour cream chicken enchiladas so why would he like the low fat version?  We were both impressed at how great they turned out!  My only warning with this recipe is to give yourself plenty of time.  If you work during the week you might want to hold off until the weekend to make these.


Skinny Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Nutrition Info: 275 Calories, 8 g Fat, 30 g Carbs, 14 g Protein


Ingredients

• 16 oz. fat free sour cream
• 1 can fat free cream of chicken soup
• 1 tbls. fresh chopped cilantro (I used a little extra because I love cilantro.)
• 2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast (3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
• 1 can Mexican Rotel
• 1 cup chopped onions (optional)
• 8 low carb tortillas
• 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese blend
• 1 can diced green chiles

Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, mix together sour cream, soup and cilantro. Heat through and set aside. Be sure to stir often while heating so it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Combine the chicken, rotel, onions and green chiles in a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Heat a few minutes until onions are transparent.
  3. Warm the tortillas until flexible. (I forgot to do this but the recipe suggested to microwave them for 10 seconds sandwiched between two damp paper towels.)
  4. Fill each tortilla with about 2 tbls. of the chicken mixture.
  5. Top with about 1 tablespoon of cheese (medium sized pinch).
  6. Roll the tortilla up and place seam side down (or they will unravel) in a 8x11 dish sprayed with cooking spray.
  7. Top with the remaining cheese. 
  8. Pour/Spread the sour cream sauce over enchiladas.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes until bubbly.
*The original recipe has #7 and #8 switched but I did it the above way to avoid having browned/burnt cheese.*
 
*Below pictures are taken from the website where I found the recipe.*
 



 
 
 

~Jewels*

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Love



"Walking Her Home" by Mark Schultz is such a great song.  It is a love story from beginning to end.  When I heard it this morning it got me thinking about love and relationships. 



As a 30 year old woman I have experienced so many different types of love ~ love for a mother and father, love for a sister, love for a best friend, love for dogs, love for extended family,  love for a young man who I knew would be my husband, love for countless friends and spiritual mentors, love for complete strangers and love for the children God has blessed me with (both mine and others in my life). 

My absolute favorite verse is: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

In the past 30 years I have learned that God gives us the ability to love (through relationships) so that we can better understand Him and what our relationship with Him should be like.  It has taken me a long, long, long (did I say long?) time to really understand that God loves me so much more than I can imagine. 

I come from an extremely close family.  I have an unbreakable bond with my parents and my sister.  I truly don't know what I would do if anything ever happened to my parents or sister.  I have been married for ten years and I trust my husband with my life and my whole heart.  We have gone through so many trying times but it is through those times that I have learned to fight for, treasure, sustain and hold dear the importance of the love I have for my husband and he for me.  Being a mother is completely and totally unexplainable.  My kids are a part of me and always will be.  I would sacrifice my life for theirs without hesitation.  I would sacrifice again and again so that they would never go without. 

To think that God loves me more than I love these people used to be unfathomable to me.  But it's as if a light bulb went off one day and I realized that He gave me these people.  He gave me these relationships.  He entrusted me with  His children (HIS, not mine).  He gives us this gift that we call love and while it may be completely undeserving it is real.  It is alive.  It is never ending.  It is never failing.

We are to love others like He loves us.
We are to love ourselves like He loves us.
Most importantly, we are to love Him like He loves us.

The bible says this (and so much more) about love.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." ~1 Peter 4:8

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us." ~1 John 4:18-19 (My sister shared this verse in her post from earlier this week.)

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." ~Colossians 3:14

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~John 3:16





~Jewels*


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Sister, My Hero (Guest Writer: Kristin DePue)

I have blogged before about my sister, Kristin.  She truly is my hero, my inspiration and my rock. 


My sister was born with spina bifida and is truly a miracle.  She was asked to share with a group in her church last Sunday and I am so grateful she is allowing me to share her talk with all of you.  It is uplifting, encouraging, miraculous and inspiring.  She is proof that Jesus is real and alive and the love He has for us is never failing.  Feel free to share!


~Jewels*


 
I’d love to tell you a little bit about my story. We all have one. And every story is different. I love that about our world. Anyway, my name is Kristin and I was born with Spina Bifida back in 1980. Even though many have heard the term, Spina Bifida, not many people know exactly what it is.

 

Spina Bifida literally means “split spine.” Spina Bifida happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all of the way. Every day, about 8 babies born in the United States have Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine. It’s much more common than you would think.

 

No one knows for sure what causes it exactly. Scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors act together to cause the condition.

 

There are many different kinds: Occult Spinal Dysraphism (OSD), Spina Bifida Occulta, Meningocele, and Myelomengocele.

 

Myelomengocele is the most severe form of Spina Bifida. It happens when parts of the spinal cord and nerves come through the open part of the spine. It causes nerve damage and other disabilities. 70%-90% of children with this condition also have too much fluid on their brains.

 

Normally it is treated with surgery within a few days of birth.

 

Just a few of the issues associated with Spina Bifida are: mental, social problems, problems with walking and getting around, latex allergy, skin breakdown, learning disabilities, bowel and bladder problems, depression, and many more! Most kids are in wheel chairs or have to use walkers. Also a lot of them have shunts because of the fluid that retains on the brain.

 

Medicine has advanced – tests can be done before birth, but back in 1980 – they didn’t know too much about it, so lots of people didn’t survive and most of those that did were severely handicapped.

 

I was born to amazing parents who had no insurance and were very young. My mom was 20 and my dad was 23. They didn’t have the tests they do now, so they found out at the birth that I had Spina Bifida. The doctors weren’t all that optimistic and told my parents to make the most of it, because they didn’t know how long I would live or what kind of life I would have. There was a top neurosurgeon in town that week and she heard about me. She approached my parents and offered to do the surgery for practically free. So, she did a major 5 hour microscopic surgery on me when I was 9 days old - with no guarantees. She was hopeful and because of that, she gave my parents a little bit of hope. My parents couldn’t even hold me until I was about 3 weeks old. I can only imagine what that and the whole process must have been like for them.

 

Grandmama and my parents wouldn’t hear of it. The whole idea of me not making it – so they met often to pray for me.

It was a waiting game though – crawling, walking, talking, growing… no one knew what was to come… and isn’t that the scariest part – the unknown??

 

Anyway, I had a pretty “normal” childhood. I was in dance, drill team, rollerbladed, jumped rope, and went to the hospital once a month for checkups. I really didn’t feel all that “different” from everyone else growing up.

 

My senior year in high school, I was in dance class and we started a unit on ballet. When they were asking us to stand on our toes, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even know anything was wrong, but I knew I couldn’t stand on them. Well, they thought I was smarting off, so they sent me to office. After a call to my mom, a trip to the doctor and a few weeks later, we realized something was going on neurologically.  My spinal cord was tethering (which means that the scar tissue was wrapping itself around my spinal cord causing a lot of pain and in turn causing my left leg and foot to draw up). I ended up having a few surgeries that year – 2 foot and one spinal surgery.

 

After my surgeries, it was the first time that I felt physically limited. My left leg and foot had gone numb in certain areas, which was weird. I had to wear a cast for prom and graduation… not that cool when you’re trying to fit in with everyone else! I was slowly learning I didn’t have to be like everyone else, but it wasn’t easy!

 

I grew up in a Christian home, but it wasn’t until I graduated that I saw how God was with me during all that. God made Himself so clear to me in different situations (through hospital stays, relationships, etc.) and it was the beginning of an incredible journey with Him!

 

One example of God making Himself known was right after my spinal surgery in 1997 – I was lying in the hospital bed on my stomach and it was my dad’s turn to stay the night with me. They had to move my legs and arms for circulation, because I was pretty medicated. Well, at one point in the night I felt someone touching the scar on my back – and that was a real no-no! Everyone knew that you just don’t touch my back. Ever since I was little, it was the most sensitive part of my body. Even the shower water would make me cringe as it hit my back. But that night, I thought my dad had gone crazy – rubbing his fingers up and down my back. So I yelled at him to stop! And told him to turn off the super bright light above the bed. I think it’s called the observation light or something. But anyway it was the middle of the night and my crazy dad had the light on and was messing with my back. Two very uncomfortable things when you’re stuck on your stomach in the middle of a strange hospital room! Well, the next day I was telling my friends all about my dad and how ridiculous he was during the night. Apparently he overheard me, but didn’t say anything. He told my grandma and about 2 months later after I had the staples removed and was recovering, I was visiting with her and she told me about that night. She said that she woke up at exactly 2:06am and felt the strongest sense to pray for God’s angels to rub my back and to heal it. My dad apparently told her that I woke him up at exactly 2:06am yelling at him about turning off the light. He said it was pitch black in the room and he thought I was crazy! Isn’t that something?? In the midst of all the pain and confusion of that hospital room and without us even knowing what God was doing – He was in the process of answering prayers. He was transforming my body. He was present! Since that day, I am able to touch my scar – it’s still a queasy feeling for me, but definitely different than before. And that’s just one story of so many…

 

So then, I moved to Houston and started working as a youth director at a church. I could see God working in my life then too. He was growing me in ways I had never dreamed of. As I was ministering to people and was able to share my story, I was starting to understand how much of a miracle my life really was. It all became real to me – for the first time. God was showing me in new ways how He had been with my family and me and carried us through those hard times as a child. He was showing me that He has a plan. It was stuff that I had heard my whole life, but never really experienced or understood.

 

Then a couple years later, I had to have another spinal surgery… this was a big one, because I was in chronic pain and could barely move half the time. So I had the surgery and of course – you have to sign your life away like all medical procedures these days… and once I woke up from that surgery I couldn’t feel from the waist down. Talk about scary! I went through major physical therapy while I was in the hospital and they told me that I would never walk again. Well, I had been taught that you just don’t accept things because someone says it. So, we prayed a lot! And being that I was as stubborn as I was – I refused to believe it. So, as you can see, I walk now – still not really feeling much of anything with my legs – and it’s a really confusing thing to tell people. Because how can you walk but not feel your legs?? I don’t know! I could try to describe it as my brain telling my body what to do…

Granted I trip and fall quite a bit! But I’m mobile and I’m not really complaining.

 

One of the coolest things is the fact that I was able to marry an incredible man, my best friend - who loves me regardless of all the things I have to deal with. He is the most supportive and understanding person I could have ever asked for.

 

And then there’s our children – oh my!! Talk about a miracle. Now my pregnancies were a whole other story, but to sum it up – I couldn’t feel contractions – which you would think is an awesome thing – except you don’t know when the baby is coming. And then there’s that whole thing of genetics – and with having Spina Bifida that can be a scary thing to maybe pass on to your child. So talk about fear – that is pretty much when I really understood the passage about fear and love not living together:

1 John 4:18 tells us: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 

Amazingly enough – after being put under general anesthesia and our babies being delivered c-section, they were all healthy and beautiful! I can’t tell you how relieved I was. But God used each of those pregnancies to grow my trust in Him. It was definitely a time of spiritual dependency.

 

I have had times of darkness – times when I feel all alone. Times when I compare myself to others. Times where I don’t feel like I fit in – I mean, I’m not “normal” like “normal” people and I’m not severely handicapped like most people with Spina Bifida, so I kinda fall into a category all my own. I have lots of issues that people don’t even know about. There are also time when I feel I’m just not good enough – I mean, I can’t run around with my kids, I can’t do things like other people… and for a long time, I tried to prove to myself, my family, my friends, and even God that I could do it. I tried to make it look like I was just the same as everyone else. That I was strong enough and could do anything. Working at a church with teenagers, I had to keep up – and that’s what I did. I planned Bible studies, went on mission trips 7 months pregnant – 3 different times J, went camping and hiking, slept outside and on the ground… pretty much proving to myself and everyone else that I could do it. But I’ve come to learn that I can’t do it all!! And I don’t have to! God wants to show His strength in my weakness. It’s such a simple thing that we hear all the time, but a really, really hard lesson to learn – at least for me. God has allowed me to experience this life for a reason. I know He wants me to be whole, and I know that we all have weaknesses, whether they are physical or not. It’s His strength – LITERALLY - that allows me to get out of bed and walk every day.

 

Through all this time – God keeps revealing Himself to me. I have had my “why me?” moments and God doesn’t let me stay there very long… He always says back to me “Why not you?” I have learned that this life is not about me – it’s really not about any of us. We are here because of the incredible love that God has for us– for the Love that He is! Our whole life is about Him. He uses us and what an honor that is!

 

My physical battle isn’t quite over yet – and I’m ok with that! I have issues – some that are really hard to deal with and will never go away. No matter what, I know Who my Healer is and I know He has a plan for my life. He is the One my life is about and if it takes me going through the struggles I have to deal with, then so be it. If my life can bring glory to Him, it’s all worth it! Again, it’s not pretty all the time – right now I’m dealing with a wound that won’t close!! On my “good foot” of all places! The bone structure in my foot is messed up. It’s been 6 months and I’m pretty sick of it, but I know my weaknesses do not define me and I know that I am not defeated. I trust in the One who has my heart and my life in His hands!

 

And I pray that you will too! Whatever it is in your life – whatever your weakness is – He is bigger than it. He is stronger.

 

So I’m reading a book right now and the author starts out with this quote:

 

“Why does this keep happening to me?
It’s not fair. I never asked to be treated this way.
I did nothing to deserve this.
And yet
Every moment of every day, completely unprovoked,
God pours out His love on me
He blesses me in unexpected ways
His mercies are new every morning
No matter what I do I am powerless to stop Him.
Even in the worst situations His goodness prevails. He is relentless.
I am a victim of grace.”
 - Robin Jones Gunn (Victim of Grace)

 

So, just to close, I want to encourage us all to stop and look at what Christ has done for us. He has blessed us more than we deserve. We are not worthy of His love and yet He gives it freely and abundantly. I pray that we would feel His presence with us, even in the darkest times. Because He has promised that He will never leave us. Never!!
 

 

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Worn

Do you ever feel worn out, worn down, just plain worn?  I know I do.

I blogged about the song "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North a while back but the song was so new at that time I could not find a video anywhere online to share with y'all.  Guess what?  I found it!  Watch it below.


Oh, how I love this song. 

I looked up the definition for the word "worn" and I found it interesting that one of the definitions is damaged.  Ain't that the truth?  We are ALL damaged in some way.  We all have imperfections and at times feel like a failure.  Sometimes our failures, our disappointment in others, our broken pasts or broken dreams for the future can wear us down to the point where we feel like we have nothing left.

While this song may sound like a downer I think it is so encouraging because it shows us that everyone goes through these times in their lives.  Even Christians with deeply rooted faith sometimes get to a point where they feel like they have no fight left.  There are no perfect people and there are certainly no perfect Christians. 

I'm sure all of us can identify with this part of the song:

My prayers are wearing thin
I'm worn
Even before the day begins
I'm worn
I've lost my will to fight

I definitely have times in my life where I get so worn down I feel like I don't even have the strength to pray or the will to fight for something I know God wants for me.  But God always reassures me of His unconditional love, grace and mercy.  And my faith is renewed knowing that He will give me the strength I need to persevere.

So I will pray:

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead can be reborn


~Jewels*

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Days of Fun (Pictures and Recipe Included)

What a long, relaxing four day weekend!  I was beginning to think reality was having my boys sleep in until at least 8 am every single day but I was suddenly snapped back into real life after my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning.  Sigh...I enjoyed it while it lasted!

Wednesday night the hubs and I had a date night and went to see Lone Ranger.  I loved it!  Him?  Not so much.  Then we went to this awesome place out in the country to shoot off fireworks with some friends.  The big boys had a blast!  And since I was just referring to the dads I guess the big kiddos loved it too! ;)  Us moms stayed behind with the little ones in the truck bed watching an awesome fireworks show for close to 2 hours!  What a fun night!  And yet again I'm kicking myself for not getting any pictures.

Garrison looking very patriotic (and stoic).


On the 4th we headed to my parents' for a relaxing day by the pool.  It pretty much included this:


along with some of this:

And I love this silly shot of Grammy with the boys.


On the way home we decided to make a last minute stop in Richardson to watch their fireworks show.  We went to a school parking lot and had an awesome view!  Love these shots of my boys!





There was lots of relaxing mornings and I caught this sweet moment of my boys on the couch Saturday morning.


We went to a family baby shower on Saturday and it was SO much fun!  I mean, have you ever played chug the beer out of the baby bottle at a shower?  These must have been level 1 bottle nipples because it took them for.ever!  And some of them did more spraying than drinking.  Ha!




And Ethan found another use for a doggy door.

That afternoon I went over to my parents' house for a little bit while my oldest was at a movie with his Nana.  I caught these hilarious shots of Ethan.  He's single and ready to mingle ladies!




It was nice to get back into the swing of things Saturday night by cooking a normal dinner at home.  And this one was delicious!

Chicken a la Gloria with Parmesan Spinach Orzo Pasta




I previously posted the recipe for this yummy chicken dish and you can see that by clicking here.

If you have never had orzo pasta you have to try it.  It's a pasta but shaped more like rice and makes a great side dish.  I would type out the orzo pasta recipe but since this post is already pretty lengthy I will just send you to my Pinterest link.  Click here.

Yesterday we had a great family day at church followed by lunch with some fam!  The message at church was about God's vision for your life and pressing on toward that vision instead of focusing on your past.  I wanted to share some highlights from the message with y'all because they are too good not to share.
  1. Looking back and focusing on the past deprives us of our future.
  2. Satan wants to keep you from God's best for your life.  Don't let him.
  3. His grace is sufficient for me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)  I love this scripture because when I feel like I am off track or like Satan is interfering with my relationships or God's purpose for my life it reminds me that His grace IS sufficient and it will sustain me.
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:12-14

Even though I have been getting about 9 hours of sleep every night I still decided to lay down for a short nap yesterday afternoon.  That short nap turned into 3 hours of blissful sleep!

I am really loving this new John Frieda product.  I already use the Go Blonder shampoo but this root touch up spray is rocking my world!  You have to use it several times before really noticing a difference but it's definitely helping me delay getting my hair colored.

 

I forgot to post these last week, even though I did put them on Facebook.  These are some pictures of Garrison being silly in Old Navy (and scaring the crap out of some shoppers).  I have no idea where he gets it from! :)




I hope y'all have a great week!

~Jewels*

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Family

I used to spend a lot of time with my aunt Melanie and two cousins, Morgan and Riley when they were little.  They loved Barney and I remember we used to always listen to the CD in their car so naturally I know all of the Barney songs.  Does anyone else remember the "Family" song?  If not, don't worry, I have a gem of a clip right here for you.  Check out the 90's clothes while you're at it!



I can't believe these are the boys I used to listen to Barney with.  I feel SO old!


I never thought I would refer to Barney in my blog but there is so much truth to that song.  Family IS love!  I am convinced God has us living in this temporary place to experience the love of relationships and family.  And I have come to learn through life experiences that family is not just blood.  It is formed in the beautiful process of adoption, it is formed in your faith community, it is formed in the deep bonds of friendship, it is formed in relationships that God creates and strengthens.

Last weekend was full of family and so much fun!  My cousin Jacob got married and it was such a beautiful wedding and a beautiful night filled with tons of love!  Just look at these two lovebirds! 

 

Welcome to this loud, crazy, loving, ridiculously large Gerber family, Kristi!


Here are some other pictures from the night that I wanted to share with y'all.  All of the photo credit goes to my amazing cousin, Kaitlyn.


My godson and nephew, Will
 
Love this one she got of us praying
 
 

My heart is so full when I see these cousins together
 

My beautiful parents who taught me the importance of family.  Side note - they "won" the prize for longest married couple at the wedding and offered words of wisdom to the bride and groom.  I think they have plenty to share seeing as how they just celebrated 35 years!
 
The cutest flower girls and ring bearer ever!


My gorgeous sister and her hubby

 
The beautiful woman who has held this family together for years and years!  I have no idea what I would do without her wisdom in my life.

 Me and my cousin Em Sue 

Me and my cousin Kaitlyn (obviously she does not get photo credit for this one)!  :)
 
Me and the hubs
 
Me and my cousin Elisabeth.  Oh, how I love this girl!
 
Cousins I have not seen in far too long (and have missed oh so much)!  I'm sad Brittany and Billy couldn't make it.
 
 
 
Gerber brothers and sister - I'm sure the brothers not pictured (in heaven) were looking down on us all and celebrating with us from heaven that night!

COUSINS! 
Can you believe this is minus a few?  I know!




"Family is not an important thing.  It's everything."
~Michael J Fox


~Jewels*