Thursday, March 27, 2014

Focusing on Their Strengths

The other day I found myself focusing on some of my 8 year old's weaknesses.  As I read that back it sounded pretty harsh.  But we all have weaknesses.  That is part of being human.  That afternoon he was being argumentative, over sensitive and not focusing on his homework.

However, later that evening...
Garrison asked me if he could help me cook dinner. 
When he was eating dinner with Ethan, who was not really eating, he coaxed him to eat more by saying, "Mmmmm, this is so good!" and taking a big bite.  Little brother promptly followed suit and repeated these words followed by a few heaping spoons full of food. 
Garrison played toys with Ethan that night and then made him laugh during bath time. 
He gave me an extra long hug at bedtime and told me how much he loved me.

I felt so ashamed when I went to bed that night.  How can I choose to focus on a few weaknesses of my son when he has SO many strengths?!  And do I not have many, many weaknesses of my own?  And what good will it do to focus on someone's weaknesses anyways?!  I decided right then and there to start focusing on my boys' strengths. 

Garrison is compassionate, kind, helpful, handsome, empathetic, loving, caring and hilarious.

Ethan is feisty, strong willed, independent, adorable, loving, smart and funny.


Instead of worrying I will pray.  Instead of discouraging (which I hope is rare) I will encourage.  Instead of complaining I will praise.


And I think this is something we can apply to all relationships in our life.  While it is important to speak truth in love to those we care about, it is equally important to build them up, encourage them and show them the grace and mercy God shows us.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Gouda and Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops

I found this recipe in an AllRecipes magazine and it was ridiculously good.  I decided to make it on Sunday night to give myself extra time since it was a new recipe but it was so simple it could have easily been a week night dinner.  The hubs loved it too!

  • 4 (6 ounce) thick cut pork chops (I used boneless and they were about 1 inch thick)
  • 8 slices smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach, rinsed and torn
  • into bite-size pieces (I left mine whole)
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish mustard (I used egg wash instead - 1 egg and about 2 T milk whisked together)
  • 1 cup panko crumbs or breadcrumbs
  • Creole-style seasoning to taste (Tony Chachere's seasoning)
1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2.Lay each chop flat on cutting board, and with a sharp knife held parallel to the board, cut a pocket into the pork, leaving three sides intact. Stuff each chop with spinach, and then with cheese.

Spinach I used
Gouda Cheese I used

Stuffed Chops

3.Place panko crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat each chop with a thin layer of horseradish (I used egg wash), and then roll in crumbs. Arrange chops in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning to taste.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until brown and crispy.  Mine only took about 30 minutes so check around then.  (Make sure chops are white, not pink at all.)

I served with mashed potatoes!  YUMMO!



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Love Story in Photos...15 Years and Counting!

I can't believe that tomorrow Garrett and I will have been together for 15 years!  That is half of my life!  Just mind blowing.

I wanted to capture some of my favorite memories of our last 15 years together in my blog, so here they are...

High School Twirp Dances

High School Prom
 Crazy 18 year olds in South Padre - I can't believe we seriously thought this was cool.
Life Changing Choice for Garrett and our future family

He asked me to marry him in September and we were married in February (five short months later)!

 Honeymoon - Puerto Vallarta

First Move (Navy Housing in Connecticut)

2nd Move (Virginia) and our Two Fur Babies

September 23, 2005
Garrison Robert Thomas
This boy gave me the greatest gift ever - being able to experience motherhood.  He continues to bring me joy every single day with his humor, sensitivity, compassion and love for others.  He is such a blessing!

3rd Move (Wylie, TX)
Finally settled (and still settled after 8 years here)!

 Such a fun Daddy

 We were a family of three for a while...

 A long while... :)

Our family just didn't feel complete and God had great plans for our family.  Experiencing adoption was truly life changing!  I was amazed at God's favor through the entire process.  I will never forget watching Garrett hold our 2 lb 15 oz baby boy in the palm of his hand for the first time. 
December 25, 2011
Ethan Gregory Thomas 
True Love!
 Family of 4!
Mama and the Boys!

Daddy and the boys - my whole world!


 I am so thankful for the last 15 years.  We have fought and laughed.  We have loved and learned.  We have grown up together, grown in our faith together, grown as parents together and grown closer as husband and wife.
Here's to many more years of love and laughter!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Do Something!

There are many days I wake up and wonder what is going on in our world.  Today was one of those mornings.  I saw an article about a man in his late teens who is wanted for producing child pornography.  I will not go into details but it involved him and an 18 month old baby.  It's moments like these that I am completely heart broken for what our world has become.  We can ask "why" all day long.  We can ask God to fix it.  We can hope that "they" find him and "justice will be served".  But why are we always relying on other people to fix our broken world? 

I think sometimes we underestimate ourselves and the power WE can have in this world.  YOU can change this world.  You may not be able to change every person or the entire world single handedly but YOU can change a day (or a life) for one person or two people or a community.  That is huge! 

Are you tired of the way our kids' generation is behaving?  Do something.
Raise your kids to have morals and values.  Raise them to have kindness, love, compassion and to understand that they should love like God loves them.  Raise them to be Heroes for their families.

Are you tired of seeing children being raised in orphanages and bouncing from one foster family to another?  Do something.
Adopt.  Or become a foster family that can provide true love, support and a faith filled home to a child in need.

Are you tired of having a failing marriage?  Do something.
Reconnect with your spouse.  Make an intentional effort to work on your marriage.

Are you tired of not being happy?  Do something.
Make a conscious decision every day you wake up to be happy.  No matter what your life circumstances are it is a choice.  It is your choice.

Smiling at someone in the grocery store could completely change their mood.  Your smile and joy might make them realize that life isn't so bad.  And what if they go home and pass that joy onto their family instead of going home angry and frustrated?  What if they smile at someone else?  We don't realize that one small act can cause a huge domino effect.

I love the song "Do Something" by Matthew West.  The video below is simple but so is doing something.

We have to stop complaining and start doing something, no matter how small.  It's the only way to affect change in this world.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dating Your Spouse

There are so many articles out there about how to date your spouse.  I don't think we need to know how to date our spouses though.  I think it's more important to know why.  And to keep in mind that our goal should not be to change our spouse but to remember why we married them in the first place.

I have been married for 11 years and I know it is incredibly easy to get caught up in the chaos of every day life - work, kids, sports, finances, church, friends.  You feel like you are pulled in so many directions and a lot of times I think we put our spouse on the backburner.  We "see" them all the time since we live with them so why do we need to set aside special time for them? 

I have come to learn that the more effort Garrett and I put into setting time aside for just each other the closer we become.  A date night or a weekend getaway can do wonders for your marriage.  A family date night does not count as a date night.  I'm not saying family time isn't important or that you can't find sweet moments with your spouse when you are with your family but when conversations and events revolve around the kids how are you really spending quality, intimate time with your spouse?

Our pastor said something a couple months ago at church that really stuck with me.  We tend to make excuses for not having date nights - no time and no money being the biggest two excuses.  Yet we find time for our kids to play sports (among many other things) and have no problem shelling out hundreds of dollars for the team fee and equipment.  That really  hit close to home. 

I realize we only have 18 years (some of you might be laughing at me as your 30 year old son sits on the couch watching TV next to you right now) with our kids and that we need to give them our best.  But that doesn't mean we need to give them our all.  I don't want my husband to have a completely drained (physically, mentally, emotionally) wife.  In 16 years when we are empty nesters I don't want to look at my husband in awkward silence and wonder, Now What??  I want to spend these years growing with my husband and making each other better.  I want to look forward to seeing him every day.  And what I have to keep reminding myself is that our boys will benefit from us having a happy, healthy, intimate marriage.  I want them to see love first hand.  I want them to see that Garrett and I are important to each other and that we make time for each other.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Garrett and I, being goofy or just being us:


I think one of the biggest mistakes us women make is clinging to our friends when our marriage hits a rough spot.  Girl time is always fun but constant venting to our friends about our husband's flaws and a lot of girls' nights out are not the answer, in my opinion and experience.  Instead of putting so much time and energy into our friends why don't we reinvest that time and energy into our marriage?  I don't think you will be disappointed with the result.

Some funnies for you...