Category Archives: traditions

baked apples

Happy October!!  
(2 words this warm-blooded girl thought couldn’t go together, but it’s growing on me 🙂 We’ve been bundling and venturing and taking full advantage of soaking in all the fall we can, welcoming in October with our annual Fried-Yer apple orchard trip III.  Our family has gone for 5 years now, and 3 years ago we invited some dear friends to join in the fun.  Although, the fun is not so much in what is offered, as much as it is in the sake of tradition, of loading up the kids to make the trek to the middle of nowhere to see the bees and for their annual flavored “honey-stick” and to wind around the corn maze and really…that’s about all.  But, there are always lots of laughs, memories made, caramel apples, apple cider and more apples.  

This is what we do.  

And, this is what our apples do.

Warm apples filled with cinnamon-sugar, butter and walnuts.  Topped with homemade ice cream.  Drizzled with dulce de leche.  Pure delish-ish-ness. 

Baked Apples
5-6 apples 
1/4 cup sugar (I use sucanat)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
5 teaspoons butter
Preheat oven to 325 F.  Mix cinnamon and sugar and nuts (if using).  Core the apples, making sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples so that the juices will remain. Remove skin from 1/2-inch around top of apples at the opening. Fill each apple with the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture. Top each with a teaspoon of butter.  Place in a casserole dish and pour 1/2 cup apple juice, or water around them.  Cover pan and bake 30 minutes-ish.  

Eat as is…OR, top with vanilla ice cream and dulce de leche.  
You won’t regret it.

wishing you a *Happy October* as well!

day of rest

I’m not referring to the law-locked-traditions of what it means to keep a day holy.  But our modern-day-Sabbath… A day that is far too often tacked on to the end of the week as fitting everything in before another week creeps up on me.  A day that {for us} can become the busy-est of them all.  

So, tonight I plan.  lentil soup on the stove.  clothes laid out.  dishes washed.  Prepare for a day of gathering.  worship.  rest.  I’m not always this intentional about it, and I don’t know that I always can be.  But I want to learn to live quieter in this world.  More simple.  Less distracted.  Unplugged.

And what better day to practice His presence than a day of rest?  Not that much is restful about having 3 boys, but that my focus is different.  
My goal is slow.

To still my heart.  To know that He is God.  To remember that I am not.  
So, we light a candle.  Asking the Light of the world who pierces through the darkness to shine bright in our lives.  To reflect on worshiping Him alone.  None other.  But our Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls.
All the while doing so, aware that little eyes are watching, little minds are shaping.  How I want for them to know where rest comes from.  That they would learn alongside us to kindle the flame of peace in our hearts.  
And where else can we find that than in the quiet?

Be still and know that I am God.
psalm 46.10

findin’ our groove.

These are busy days at the house.  

Andy took vacation time last week to replace the windows, all 35 of them…
He is such a trooper.  He is carrying a lot right now, and managing it all with such grace and diligence.  He continues to amaze me.

We. have. WALLS!  I have never seen a better looking wall in my life.

It’s the first week of summer break!!! 
(We rang it in Friday night with our 1st annual school’s out bonfire!)  

I have been reading and re-reading Joyful Parenting Manifesto.

Focusing on saying YES! as much as I can these days.  
YES! to blow-up shark pools.  YES! to eating on dinner on bikes.  YES! to riding tricycles outside butt-naked (if you’re potty-training 🙂  YES! to chocolate ice cream cones on the blanket.  YES! to spending the afternoon in the lake with friends.  YES! to pushing them high on the swing.  YES! to another round of tropical smoothies (our latest addiction – recipe coming soon)  YES! to joining in on coloring, hunting for bugs, scavenger hunts, eating outside, lots of dirt and mess and good-ole-fashioned FUN!  

These days are still very much full of things to say NO. to.  Squabbles, disrespect, disobedience, pooping in the shark pool are a definite NO.  
But, there is so much to say YES! to…and the more you practice it, the funner it becomes!  
My grandma always said “The kids will never remember how clean the house was, but they will remember the time you spent with them.”  I’m coming to realize I won’t remember if the house was clean; and if I do, what does it matter if the house was spotless on June 4th, 2011?  
But how much better to look back on a summer spent saying YES!

I can hardly believe it is time to pack up these clothes.  
In 4 days, our Jack-son will be turning 7!

He has been planning a bug party for some friends (grandma and grandpa included in that list 🙂  So far, he has requested a bug hunt, hanging jars of bugs from string for each of the guests to take home, and dirt cake.  

Today I remembered 7 years ago today when we took our 1 year old to the zoo.  If I look at all uncomfortable, I was – it was 94 degrees and my due date (and my dear husband thought I should pose by the penguins because we both were sporting the waddle 🙂  

I had no idea at the time how much I would learn from this little life inside me.  He has a zeal for life and a curiosity that keeps me on my toes.  He has an inquisitive mind that wants to know how *everything* works.  He plans for ways to be generous: storing up candies and trinkets and prizes to give to his friends.  He has such a sensitive, tender-heart with a strong sense of justice.  He just melts when I kiss his forehead.  He is adventurous and wild and carefree.
And, I love my little man for all he is!

chicken tortilla soup

But FIRST!!!
Last week, I saw this idea.  The result has been most eye-opening, humbling, freeing, healing.  So, I had to share…
The idea is to make a “sorry box,” a box of repentance, where we write or draw things we want to say sorry for.  I told the boys this is just between them and God, but they have chosen to share some.  As I was explaining, one boy lunged for a pen and paper and wrote “I stol a cat” and stuck it in the box.  Now that happened 4 months ago (a stuffed cat from Goodwill :), but that is a burden he has been carrying.  Something he wants to erase, but can’t.  So, we confess. We name.  He already knows.  But when we uncover our sin to Him, He covers it over with His grace.  With His forgiveness.  With His love.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, we can have…get this…peace with God.  
By His wounds, we are healed!

We will keep adding to the box until Easter, when we will throw it away to symbolize it. is. finished.  Our sins are forgiven, and God remembers them no more!

To share this idea with the boys, I spent some time looking up verses to explain this to them.  Here are some that have brought me to tears.  I hope you will take the time to read of His amazing love for you.  

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep me from deliberate sins!  Don’t let them control me.  Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.  Psalm 19.12-13

People who cover their sins will not prosper.  But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.  Proverbs 28.13

When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long.  Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them…and You forgave me!  All my guilt is gone!  Psalm 32.3,5

If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.  1 John 1.9

He personally carried away our sins in His own body on the cross so we can be  dead to sin and live for what is right.  You have been healed by His wounds!  1 Peter 2.24

You were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away.  Then God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave all your sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us.  He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  Colossians 2.13-14

I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins.  Hebrews 8.12, Jeremiah 31.34

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us.  Psalm 103.12

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who could ever survive?
But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You.  Psalm 130.3-4

But He was pierced for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.  Isiaiah 53.5 

All praise to Him who loves us 
and has freed us from our sins
by shedding His blood for us!  
Revelation 1.5

Because I promised…There are so many variations to this recipe you could do.  Use rotisserie chicken if you don’t have to be GF.  I put *another chicken option* below.  Red peppers would be delish.  You could leave out the corn and add another can of black beans.  You can add in corn tortillas cut into strips.  Use what you have, and have fun!
Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Grilled Split Chicken Breasts (Meat taken off bone and shredded – I did this the night before when we had leftover grilled chicken)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Diced Onion
1/2 cup Diced Green Bell Pepper
Red Bell Pepper would be amazing too, just didn’t have any.
3 cloves Garlic, Minced

2 teaspoons Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1 can (10 Oz.) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies (FYI: I used the Aldi mexican diced tomatoes and the can was 14 oz. 🙂
32 ounces Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
4 cups Hot Water
1 can (15 Oz.) Black Beans, Drained

1 cup Frozen Corn
1 cup Chopped Cilantro
FOR THE GARNISHES:  Sour Cream, Diced Avocado, Grated Monterey Jack Cheese, Cilantro

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.  Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, black beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.  Add cilantro.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed.  Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced avocado, grated cheese, more cilantro – whatever you like.

*Another Chicken Option*
2 Whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice on both sides.  Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. 

We enjoyed this for a few lunches this week, along with some grilled corn quesadillas.  By enjoy, I mean yes it’s delish.  But, I love my lunches with these little buddies, and find joy in any shortcut to be more here.

our gift for the King

One gift wrapped under the tree.  It’s not for any of us.  But we will all unwrap the gift and read what’s inside together on Christmas morning.  Notes that we’ve written.  Telling of kindness we’ve seen in others.  A brother lending a hand.  A father spending his day working to provide.  A son giving a hug.  Ways that we’ve seen each other carry out exactly what Jesus came to do, to serve and give our lives for others, what He asks us to do.  This is our gift to Jesus.  Yet what can I give Him?  I’ll give my heart.  Sarah McLachlan’s lyrics reminded me this week of this tradition we would do as kids.  We still laugh over my brother writing “mom let me take a bath.”  I can’t wait to read what our boys will write.  But most of all, I want God to be honored.  He’s given so much.  His only Son.  As a ransom for many.  
And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it (fed the hungry, gave the thirsty a drink, invited a stranger into your home, clothed the needy, cared for the sick, visited those in prison) to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’  Matthew 25.40

our thankful tree

Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, 
so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.  
Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done. 
Colossians 2.7

Reading through Colossians this time last year inspired a new tradition in our home:  the thankful tree.  Rooted in Christ, drawing up nourishment from Him, we grow in faith and truth, overflowing with gratitude for all He has done.  

Thanksgiving should be a mark of the Spirit in our lives.  We are set free in Christ, no longer slaves to outward expressions of religion and tradition, rules and regulations.   But, thankful for His Spirit’s inner renewal of our mind, heart and soul.  We’re thankful not just for a house ‘cuz baby, it’s cold outside.  But, we’re thankful for ALL He has done.  If we fully understand what Christ has done for us, our lives should be characterized by thankfulness.  The final sacrifice was made at Calvary when Christ bought our salvation with His blood.  From here on out, it is privilege!  {Rabi Maharaj taught me that this week.}
We are truly blessed.  
Let our lives overflow!

These are last year’s pics.  Our thankful tree is going up tonight, as soon as I find the unpacked box with the colored paper in it…

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson