Thursday, December 27, 2012

Quick Cheesy Mexican Bake

I love to cook!  I especially enjoy cooking when I am on a break from school.  I don't like to feel rushed.  When working, cooking can be a challenge to fix something quick, simple, and yet delicious for my family.  Plus, with 3 kids in college and 1 nearly out of high school, our money has to be stretched A LOT!  I've been searching for quick, simple, delicious, AND inexpensive meals for our family.  While I've found a few, I just haven't found something that I wanted to cook.  Hahaha!  I guess I'm picky!  While I had time off today, I came up with the following recipe.  It is all the things I've been looking for!  Enjoy!
Quick Cheesy Mexican Bake

1-2 pounds of ground beef (could substitute ground venison)
1 small onion
Ground Cumin
Ground Coriander
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Chipotle Rub/Seasoning
1 package cream cheese
About 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend.  Could use cheddar.)
Barilla Ditalini (Could substitute any small pasta)
Cook pasta according to directions on box.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef with the small onion.  Add seasonings.  I didn’t put amounts because I just eye them to how I think my family will like it.  Stir in cream cheese to beef mixture.  When pasta and beef are cooked, mix together.  Stir in about 1 cup of the cheese.  Pour into a baking dish.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Is Believing Enough?

It has been way to long since my last post.  I would love to have the time to write regularly.  That just doesn't seem to be the case.  Then, when I do have time, words fail me.  Anyway...

so I have spent the last hour or more typing and retyping, then typing some more.  Trying to put my thoughts into words.  The words just aren't flowing.  I have MUCH I want to say.  I have MUCH I feel like NEEDS to be said. 

For now, I'm sticking with a verse from my morning study...
Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
The words I have written and rewritten this morning didn't seem 'acceptable' so for now I'll just not write them. 

(In case you're wondering about the title of the post...that was what I planned to write about.  It just didn't happen this morning.  Maybe later.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

For these boys I prayed

Depending on where you are in the world, today or tomorrow is Blake and Cody's birthday.  If you don't know the story of how God blessed us with our family, it's one of my favorite to brag on the faithfulness of God!

This is a story that begins even before Dougie and I got married almost 24 years ago.  I had always wanted a lot of children.  When we got married, we waited for children so that I could finish my degree.  However, we both agreed that a large family would be great!  I prayed and prayed for God to give us many children.  I also prayed OFTEN for Him to give us twins!  Yes...I prayed for twins...regularly!

In the fall of 1991, we learned that God was blessing us with our first child.  We didn't know and didn't want to know if our blessing would be a boy or girl.  We were simply thankful to be given this amazing gift.  It wasn't twins, but we couldn't have been any more excited!  A couple of weeks later, my sister, Becky found out that she was expecting, too...


wait for it...

she was having twins!

Have you ever had that moment when you let disappointment and jealousy over someone else getting what you prayed for rule your life?  Oh, I was happy for her!  And please don't misunderstand me...I was thrilled to be blessed with one baby!  However, I questioned God.  Why would he give HER twins when I was the one that longed for them?!  Why had he not answered my pleas?

Nine months later (well there about), Brooke was born on June 9.  Oh what a jewel!  She was (and still is) the prettiest baby ever.  She filled me with more joy than I could have imagined!  Nine days later, Becky had Austin and Alex.  Truly, all of them are miracles!  How can anyone look at a baby and not believe in miracles?!

At the time, we lived in a tiny apartment behind my parents and Becky and her family lived next door to them.  When the boys were able to come home, Becky and I spent our days at one or the other house taking care of three babies.  I still smile to think about all three of them lined up in the floor of our little living room or propped up in the recliner at her house so we could take MORE pictures!  Brooke was a big baby.  They were tiny!  It made for some great pictures!  Man...taking care of three babies was hard, exhausting work!

God never took away my desire to have twins.  However, let's just say that I didn't pray for twins quite as often! ;)

Fast forward to the fall of 1993.  It was November.  I had just found out about a week earlier that we were pregnant again.  We were so excited.  Lots of things were happening in our lives.  Brooke was a wonderful little toddler!  We were getting ready to build our house.  And now, another baby!

The morning Doug and a family friend was due to dig the foundation of our house, I woke up not feeling well at all.  Not only was I feeling worse than I had in the week before (my body has always told me almost immediately when I'm pregnant), but there were other signs and symptoms that something was wrong. 

I called my doctor, and he wanted me to come in for an ultrasound.  A close friend agreed to take me to the appointment.  As she drove, she prayed for me.  As she drove, I prayed.  Please God, don't take this baby from us! 

As I said, I was very early along.  The ultrasound tech had to do an internal ultrasound in order to see anything.  She kept the screen where I couldn't see it.  At one point, she looked very perplexed.  She looked at me and I could feel myself hold my breath.  I could tell she had seen something on the screen that she didn't expect.  But what?  Oh please God don't take this baby from us!

Then came her question...

"Is there a history of multiple births in your family?"

(A much later ultrasound.)

WHAT?  Did you say MULTIPLE?  Well, yes.  My sister has twins.  Doug's family is full of twins!  Yes, there is a history!

She turned the screen to me.  All that was on it were two itty bitty flashes.  She said, "You're having twins!"  WHAT?  Oh my!  Deep breath!  Really?  Are you sure?  She assured me that those itty bitty flashes were two little hearts!  Wow!  I was speechless!  Then...

OH MY WORD!  We have to change the house!  Wait...Dougie doesn't even know yet.  You know that's not really something I wanted to tell him on the phone. 

As we pulled into the lot where they were digging the foundation, I could see them already digging.  Dougie came over to the car.  I handed him pictures and told him we were going to have TWO BABIES!  (He turned a pale greenish color at first!)  The digging stopped.  The plans were changed.  And our life has never been the same!

Now, our twins, Blake and Cody, have just graduated from high school and are headed to college.  If you were wondering why I started the post with the statement "depending on where you are in the world", it's because currently Blake is serving in the Philippines at Gentile Hands orphanage being the hands and feet of our Lord.  That means for the first time ever, Blake and Cody will celebrate their 18th birthday tomorrow apart. 

It has caused me to think on lots of things.  But mostly, it has just been a reminder of God's faithfulness in our family's life.  I prayed for these boys long before they were ever born, but GOD knew His plans for them even before time began!  As I've prayed for them (as I pray for all four of our children) over the years, God has been gracious and merciful to them and to us.  He has protected them from things that should have killed them.  He has healed their bodies.  But most of all, He has saved their souls.  They are young men on fire for the Lord!  Blake has plans to serve somewhere in the foreign mission field.  Cody has plans to serve as a pastor.  While they have plans, the thing that speaks most to my heart is that they long to be obedient to the call God places on their lives.

For now, this momma that prayed so regularly for twins will continue to pray for our twins as they follow God's directions for their lives!

Happy Birthday, Blake and Cody!  I love you both!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hawaiian Chicken

I apologize up front that there are no pictures of this wonderful dish.  My boys devoured it up before I even thought about getting out my camera.  Oh well!  I love when they fully enjoy what I cook for them.

What You Need:
3-6 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 bottle hickory barbecue sauce
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 small can mandarin oranges, mostly drained
1 bag frozen peppers and onions mixture
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2-1 c. dark brown sugar
salt and pepper

What You Do:
Mix barbecue sauce, crushed pineapple, pineapple chunks, oranges, peppers, onions, ginger and sugar.  Pour a think layer into bottom of crock pot.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each chicken breast.  Place on top of barbecue sauce layer.  Pour the rest of the barbecue mixture over the chicken.  Cook in crock pot on Low for about 4-5 hours.  (Cooking time will vary depending on your crock pot.)
Shred or cut chicken into chunks.  Stir chicken and sauce together.  Serve over your choice of rice.  We used teriyaki rice.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Beef Tamale Bake

What you need:

1 box corn muffin mix
1 can cream style corn
1 can mexi-corn
1/3 c. milk
1/3 c. Mexican Shredded Cheese (I used Kraft's with Philly Cream Cheese in it.)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Sour cream, optional for topping

1 jar enchilada sauce
1-3 pounds of ground beef (I used 2 lbs, but you could easily adapt for more or less), browned with 1 chopped onion, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander
1 c. Mexican Shredded Cheese

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the ingredients for the base.  Pour into a greased 9x13 oven-safe dish.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until set.  Remove from oven and poke holes all over with a fork.

Pour enchilada sauce over base and spread around to make sure some goes into the holes you made.  Add ground beef mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 20 more minutes. 

It was a huge hit with my husband, Doug!  He told me several times how great it was.  I also thought it was quite delicious.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you try it.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cody (Part 3)

If you haven't read Part 1 go here first.  Part 2 is here.

As you can tell from the previous posts, God has definitely had His hand on Cody even before birth!  Truly, God had chosen Cody even before the foundations of the earth to use for His glory!  You would think that the stories previously told would be enough.  But God had other plans for Cody and still does!

About a year ago, Cody came to me after youth group one Wednesday night and told me that he had been saved.  This was a little bit of a shock for me because I truly had believed he had been saved as a young child.  Looking back I realize that was just a Momma wanting to believe her son was saved.  (There's a story here about our other boys, too.  That will have to wait for another time.)  He poured out his heart to me.  God was speaking to Cody in big ways, yet quiet ways.  This time, it wasn't a wish or a hope.  This time Cody was a different young man!  He changed who he spent most of his time with.  He changed his attitude.  He changed how he approached situations.  Well, let's be real here...God changed these things in Cody!  Cody was living to serve his Savior! 

During the summer of last year, our church held its annual Jeru missions focus where we do different types of community projects and block parties...missions right in our backyard!  I happened to be in school training during that week.  I knew all 3 boys were working on Jeru projects.  They were all passionate about participating.  As I sat in a training class at my school, my phone buzzed.  I looked and saw that it was Doug and knew that he wouldn't call unless something was wrong.  His voice sounded shaky.  He went on to tell me that Cody had been hit across the face with a shovel during some landscaping work.  Okay...pause here.  A shovel across the face...I don't know about the images that popped into your mind, but the images I saw that day in my head were horrific! 

Doug told me that Cody was on his way to the ER with the youth minister.  I told him I'd be right there.  Oh car was at my dear friend's house where Brooke was babysitting for the most amazing baby ever!  (I'm a little partial to the sweet boy!)  Jayne (mom of the sweetest baby) came out to check on me and we both left in a hurry to take me to get my car.  We prayed on the way.  I prayed all the way to the ER. 

The shovel had gone right across Cody's nose...right between his eyes!  However, it was a cut that only needed a few stitches.  His nose was not broken.  His eyes were fine!  He didn't have a concusion!  Once again, God had protected him.  That is just exactly the message Cody shared!  (After a little teasing of his cousin/friend who had whopped him across the face with the shovel.)  Cody went right back to the missions projects as soon as he left the ER.

Enough?  You would think!  However, just a few weeks ago, God once again displayed his mighty power in Cody's life.  We were home on a cold night.  Cody was in our bedroom with us talking about how bored he was.  (Famous last words.)  Doug suggested to Cody to go out and start burning the brush pile where Doug had been cleaning out our creek.  Within minutes...


The explosion we heard was so loud it sounded like someone standing in the room with us and shooting a gun.  Our house shook from that boom!  I yelled to Dougie that it had to be Cody!  I ran from my bedroom to our kitchen and Cody was already (within seconds) walking in through the back door.  Understand, our back door was quite some distance from where the fire was.  He was dazed and weak!  I got him on the ground to keep him from fainting.  Took his coat off him to see how badly burned he was.  His hair was black from being singed, as were his eyebrows and the rest of his facial hair.  His hand was badly burned and we could already see where blisters were forming.  When he coughed, we could smell smoke and...gasoline!  Yep...he had accidentally used gas instead of kerosene. 

He kept saying he would be fine.  He wanted to take a shower to get the burned hair off of him.  The smell of gas coming out when he coughed was most concerning to me along with his hand.  When he got out of the shower, his hand was hurting pretty bad and the corner of his eye was tender.  The smell of the burned hair and flesh still hung heavy in the air.  We headed for the ER.

When we arrived at the hospital, they immediately took him back to assess the burns and any other injuries.  Miraculously, let me repeat that...MIRACULOUSLY Cody's lungs were completely clear!  COMPLETELY CLEAR!  The burn around his eye was already feeling better.  However, his hand was hurting horribly.  They dressed the burn, gave him something for pain, and cleared him of all other injuries!  Praise the Lord! 

Yet again, God had protected Cody from what could have meant severe burns all over his body or even his death!  By the very next day, Cody's hand was already healing.  He didn't need pain medicine after that morning. 

Last summer God called Cody to full-time ministry!  While he is unsure of the exacts of it all, he is sure God has a plan for him to reach people with the Gospel!  I don't know what God's plans are.  But one thing I know for sure...

(One of Cody's senior pictures...taken by the VERY talented Rebekah Travis)

God has had his hand on Cody since before time.  He has protected him over and over from injury and death.  I'm looking forward to seeing all that God has in store for our Baby B--Cody!

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?     Romans 10:14


Friday, January 13, 2012

Our MIracle Son (One of them anyway) Part 2

If you haven't read part 1, please go here first to read about the miraculous beginning of Cody's life.

Cody was an energetic, loving toddler!  He adored the Lion King and Spider Man.  He carried a little Simba action figure with him everywhere he went.  EVERYWHERE!  When he liked something you knew it!  When he didn't like something, you knew that, too!  He hated getting his hair cut and having his nails clipped.  He would scream to the top of his lungs, "IT HURTS!!!  MOMMY, IT HURTS!"  No amount of consoling would change his feelings on the matter, either.  He was a passionate child.

Fast forward to the spring semester of first grade.  At this time, Blake and Cody were 6.  (Dale was 5.  That means Brooke was 8.)  Needless to say, our house was always buzzing. 

We live out in the country on ten acres with a wonderful creek that meanders around our property.  There are lots of trees!  There are many things for young boys to get into.  Our boys were climbing trees by the time they could walk...or at least it seemed that way.

It was the week of Spring Break.  At the time, I worked for a private preschool that was on the same schedule as the public schools.  We were all home for Spring Break.  This particular day (the Monday of break) was a beautiful day...perfect temperature, sun shining.  It was a great day for the kids to be outside playing.  The boys often roamed around behind our house while we would go in and out to check on them.

Late that afternoon, one of the boys (I don't remember if it was Blake or Dale) came running into the house and said that Cody had fallen out of a tree.  We raced out the back door and Cody was limping toward the back deck.  Just the relief that he was up and walking flooded over us.  However, when we got him in the house he couldn't breathe and was crying because he was hurting.  He couldn't tell us exactly how he was hurting.  He knew his foot hurt, but he basically was hurting all over. 

My parents rushed up to our house.  I was trying to soothe Cody and at the same time telling Doug that we needed to go to the hospital.  Doug (being the man that he is) said something like, "Oh, he'll be alright!  After all, he walked to the house."  Doug went outside to see where he fell.  When he came back in he told us that Cody had fallen 12 feet out of the tree and another 6 feet into the creekbed.  My tiny little boy had fallen 18 feet!  My mother and I had decided we would go to the hospital with or without Doug.  It ended up that Doug and I took him to Kosair hospital and my parents stayed with our other children.

The staff at Kosair immediately took him to a trauma room.  They ran x-ray after x-ray after x-ray.  He had broken his foot right at the growth plate.  He would have to put no weight on it for some time.  At that point, we were once again relieved and thankful that his injury, while serious, was so much less than it could have been.  The doctors decided that Cody should stay overnight for observation. 

That night, Cody would cry out in extreme pain everytime he moved.  Something wasn't right and this Momma knew it!  It really makes no sense that I thought something else was wrong when the doctors were saying there wasn't anything else.  After all, Cody was going to hurt; he had fallen hard and a long distance.  The only explanation is that God prompted me to know something more was wrong.  I pestered and complained to the attending physician until he finally relented and said they would do a scan of Cody's spine from top to bottom.  He said to me, "I'm only doing this to prove to you that nothing is wrong."  I said, "Great!  I hope you are right!"  Grrrr!  That still gets under my skin when I think about it.  Anyway, I digress.

Becky, my sister had come to visit Cody and told Doug and me to go get something to eat.  We went downstairs to McD's and came right back to Cody's room.  We weren't gone 20 minutes.  Becky met us at the door and told us that the doctor had come in and told her that Cody had to lay flat on his back and couldn't move.  The scan showed that he had broken his back.  I can't even type this without crying.  A broken back?!  What would that mean?  What will they need to do?  How can we control his pain?  If he moves, will he end up being paralyzed?  Oh so many questions. 

Of course, we were praying through all this, but the urgency became even more intense.  Cody had to lay flat on his back for several days in that hospital bed until they could make a custom turtle-style back brace.  He had so many prayer warriors interceding for him.

We spent a full week at Kosair's.  Cody would come home in the back brace, wheelchair, and a walker.  He could not get up at all without the brace.  He could not put any weight on his foot so he had to be in the wheelchair.  The walker was for moving small distances around the house.  We moved his bed into the living room to care for him 24/7.  Cody finished his first grade year home-bound.  He spent from April through the end of July in the brace and the wheelchair.

It wasn't until we were past the initial shock of his injuries that we realized how God had protected him the day he fell from the tree.  Cody probably didn't weigh 35 pounds at the time.  (Our boys have always been tiny.  That is until they started getting taller and taller.)  He fell 18 feet into a rocky creekbed hitting branches on his way down.  He walked to the house on a broken foot and with a broken back.  BUT GOD protected him!  Cody could have just as easily been killed that day.  Beyond the initial fall, Cody could have been paralyzed because of a delay in the diagnosis of the broken back.  BUT GOD had other plans for Cody.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11 

Part 3--coming soon.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our Miracle Son (one of them anyway)--Part 1

The events of this past week have found me pondering on the life of our 'middle' son.  Really, Cody shares the first son position with his twin brother.  It just happens that Cody was born 2 minutes after Blake, thus the middle son title.  As I thought about Cody's life...from the time in my womb until now at almost 18 years old, I realized more than ever that God's hand has been upon him in mighty ways and know that God has wonderful plans for his future.  Let's back up to the winter of 1993 or a little before.

I had always wanted twins and had prayed and prayed that God would bless me with twins!  When I was pregnant with our daughter in the winter of 1991-92, my sister was also pregnant.  I knew I was having 1 precious baby and I was so thankful!  Then, my sister found out that she was having twins!  While it didn't decrease my thankfulness for our baby on the way, I must admit that my heart sank!  I thought some not-so-nice thoughts.  After all, I HAD PRAYED FOR TWINS!  I wanted twins.  I really thought she got pregnant just because I was pregnant!  (Yes--I'm the spoiled baby of our family!)  Oh my, the battle that waged within me about the twins!  Once our beautiful babies were born, I helped daily with Alex and Austin, while we also cared for Brooke.  Those were some difficult but amazing days!

Fast forward two years to the winter of 1993...November to be exact so really the fall, I suppose.  I had recently found out that I was pregant again!  What a blessing!  We always knew we wanted a large family.  Doug and I were so excited!  So much was going on in our lives at the time.  We had bought land several years earlier and the time had come to start building our house.  The night before the foundation was to be dug, I started bleeding.  I was devastated even before knowing what was causing it.  I worried and fretted all night.  I called the doctor and he told me to wait until the morning and see what happened and then go straight to his office.  We already had plans for Dougie and a family friend to start digging for the foundation, so he couldn't go with me.  A dear friend from church said she would go with me.  We waited and she was such an encouragement and comfort.  At this point, I was only a few weeks pregnant.  (I always knew almost at conception.  I was blessed with morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night, and even middle of the night sickness!) 

The doctor had decided to go ahead and do an ultrasound to see what was going on.  The technician doing the ultrasound was so sweet.  She started the procedure and turned the screen to look at it closely.  This scared me to death!  Then, she looked at me with a perplexed expression.  She turned the screen to me and asked..."Is there a history of multiple births in your or your husband's family?"  By this time, my friend's eyes were as big as saucers!  I said,  "Actually, yes.  My sister just had twins about 1 1/2 years ago."  The technician went on to point out two teeny tiny blips on the screen.  I was so early on that all that was visible were two amazing beautiful, awe-inspiring, blips on the screen.  There were TWO heartbeats!  I WAS EXPECTING TWINS! 

We rushed to the property where Doug was working and shared the news!  He turned as pale as a person can turn.  I thought he might pass out!  Then, the digging of the foundation stopped!  We needed to add more room.  :)  Isn't God's timing perfect?!

Fast forward a few months into the pregnancy.  Expecting twins in 1994 meant that I was privileged to have multiple ultrasounds unlike with Brooke when I had only 1.   During an ultrasound appointment, the technician abruptly left the room.  When she came back, she had a doctor with her.  Once again, my heart sank!  The doctor explained to me that Baby B (Cody) had something wrong with one of his kidneys.  He explained that I needed to follow-up with my OB/GYN and also consult with our pediatrician.  He then went on to strongly suggest that after those consultations, we come back to the hospital to have selective reduction counseling because of all that the kidney 'malformation' could mean. 


(Ultrasound later in pregnancy...2 heads)

Well, I did talk to my OB/GYN and told him point blank that the only choice to be made is leaving this baby in my God's hands and trusting that God has a plan for him!  Thankfully, my doctor completely agreed!

We continued through the pregnancy, having ultrasound after ultrasound.  Each time, the kidney problem seemed to either stay the same or be a little worse.  Doug and I took the concern to our church family at the time.  Our church family prayed over my sons, even while I was pregnant.  When Blake and Cody were born, they immediately started doing tests on Cody's kidneys and other things, as well.  Both babies seemed perfectly healthy, except Cody's kidney still wasn't quite developed the way they said it should be.  All those "birth defects" the doctors were concerned about...NONE!

(Cody on left; Blake on right)

Again, we took our concerns to our church family.  This time, the church prayed over Cody.  I still get chills when I remember that day.  God's power that flowed through those believers was overwhelming!  At Cody's next check-up, his kidney showed no signs of any malformation!

These were the first things God did for Cody.  Psalms 139:13 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb."  God was at work in the life of Cody even before time began.  God also had big plans for Cody as he grew.

Part 2 coming soon.