For The Children

Sunday, June 17, 2018



My heart hurts. Our nation must do better for children. The things I am about to say are not pretty, but I hope you’ll read them anyway, and let them sink in.

THIS WEEK, children will be separated from their parents as they cross the border into the United States. There are some logical reasons for this, namely the prevention of human trafficking. If the individuals crossing the border with children cannot prove that the children they are traveling with are their own, they will be separated. HOWEVER, in the meantime, these children will be kept in detention centers for undetermined amounts of time while paperwork and records are located. Have you ever waited on our government to find and/or file paperwork for you? Even to native English speakers, who understand “the system,” and have the time and ability to stay on top of the process, it is challenging. In the meantime, this separation is traumatic. Imagine being taken from your parents – either directly or indirectly – and being placed in a sterile environment, with strangers who don’t speak your language, or know your routines, or have the ability to care for you on a personal basis, for reasons beyond your ability to comprehend.

But wait…

THIS WEEK, there are children here in the US, sons and daughters of legal US residents (if that’s important to you) who will huddle in corners, knowing that things will be better for them if they are neither seen nor heard. There are young children – 5 or 6 years old – who will have to parent their younger siblings, because their “real” parents are too sick or too evil to care for them themselves. There are children who will go to bed hungry, go to bed cold and hurting, or not go to bed at all, because they know that they can’t defend themselves while sleeping. There are children who will DIE this week, because they need to be separated from their parents and taken to safety, but are stuck in dangerous situations because of adults in their life who “look the other way” or because of governmental red tape.

But wait…

THIS WEEK, there are children who are on summer vacation, but there are also children who will go to school. They will have lockdown drills and practice hiding from sociopathic individuals who seek to kill them. They will be looked at as numbers and dollar signs by the organizations that are supposed to be educating them. They will be taught by teachers who LOVE them, and want them to succeed, but whose hands are tied by rulings, and regulations, and assessments.

Why am I saying all of this?

Because THIS WEEK, millions of adults, who could be using their time to DO SOMETHING and help these children will sit around and debate. They will sling metaphorical mud at each other. They will write scathing “news” articles. They will fight with their friends, and families, and co-workers. They will do all of these things because they are prideful, they are determined to be right, and they think their solution is the BEST or ONLY solution.

WAKE UP!

Set aside your political beliefs. This isn’t about parties or answers - it’s about children. CHILDREN. They are looking to us as ADULTS to help them. So, before you make your next post, look at some pictures of immigrant children, of abused children, of foster children, and YOUR OWN CHILDREN… and DO BETTER. DO SOMETHING.


Skinny, Crustless Broccoli Quiche

Saturday, April 14, 2018


I recently found a recipe for broccoli quiche while skimming Facebook, and had most of the ingredients on hand, so I had to try it! I wasn't 100% satisfied with the recipe, so I did a little research and tweaked it to meet my approval. It turned out great!

Now, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure that this is a quiche recipe anymore. It doesn't have a crust, and the ratio of eggs to dairy doesn't match the recommended amount. In fact, this recipe is closer to resembling a frittata. Sort of. Whatever. It doesn't really matter what you call it, because it is so darn delicious.

The great part about this recipe is that it is super versatile! I think next time I make this, I'll dice up some ham and add it in for a little extra protein. Feel free to experiment by switching up the cheeses and "goodies" for whatever suits your taste.

I am looking forward to making this on a regular basis, and keeping it in the fridge for quick breakfasts and lunches!

Ingredients:

10 oz broccoli (I use the "steam in bag" type)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup skim or 2% milk
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 cup mild cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Steam the broccoli, then cut it into smaller pieces using a knife or kitchen scissors.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Place broccoli into well-greased 8x8 baking dish or pie plate, and cover with egg mixture.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.

One More Thing:

Because I'm an obsessed newbie to quiche, here are some tips I found for determining if your quiche is fully cooked:

          1. Gently shake the dish. If the center jiggles, it likely needs a little more time!
          2. Insert a knife into the center of the quiche. If it comes out nice and clean, it's cooked.
          3. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that it is cooked to 165 degrees.

Enjoy!


The Office Lettering Challenge

Friday, March 23, 2018

Recently, I participated in a Gilmore Girls Lettering Challenge hosted by Chalkfulloflove. I had an absolute blast, and I wanted to recreate some of the magic. Since Dustin and I have been binge watching The Office lately, and since there are SO MANY great lines, I decided it would be the perfect material for the challenge.

Here are the details:

  • We will start April 2.
  • All levels of experience and styles of lettering are welcome. 
  • We'll keep it to Monday, Wednesday, Friday so that it's not too overwhelming. 
  • You can participate as many or as few of the days as you choose!
  • To participate, post a picture of your lettering on Instagram.
  • Hashtag your posts with #MTLOfficeLetters.

Here are the quotes for the challenge:

  • April 2 - Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
  • April 4 - I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.
  • April 6 - It’s never too early for ice cream.
  • April 9 - It’s like my life is buffering.
  • April 11 - I feel God in this Chili’s tonight.
  • April 13 - Well, well, well. How the turntables.
  • April 16 - Scranton! What? The Electric City!
  • April 18 - I’m not one to be truffled with.
  • April 20 - Jim. James. Jimothy.
  • April 23 - I don’t want Garbage! I want Sprinkles!
  • April 25 - I'm public speaking. Stop public interrupting me.
  • April 27 - Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam.
  • April 30 - Identity theft is not a joke, Jim.

Have fun!


My Noonday Collection 'Why' Story

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Earlier today, I went live on my personal Facebook with a little video on why I chose to join Noonday Collection as an ambassador. I had a bunch of notes on things that I wanted to share, but then I got so nervous that I forgot to USE my notes. I have no problems talking to a group face-to-face, but technology, man. It gets me every time!

Anyway... I thought I'd type up a better explanation, since I'm not nervous here! ;)

A few months ago, I discovered the beautiful jewelry offered by Noonday Collection. Anybody who knows me well could probably tell you that I wear statement necklaces pretty much every single day (#likemotherlikedaughter). In the past, I've purchased them from all of the "usual" stores, but recently it occurred to me that EVERY piece of jewelry or article of clothing I wear has a person behind it. A real live person, with a soul and a story.

Then, like the anxious person I am, I started worrying.

Were the people who make my jewelry paid a fair wage? Were they working in sweatshops? Were the men and women making my jewelry being taken advantage of? What if children were being forced to make my $5 necklace?

So, I decided to buy some fair trade, socially responsible jewelry from Noonday Collection. However, I decided in advance that I definitely WAS NOT going to become an ambassador. I had sworn up and down that I would NEVER do direct sales again. So, when temptation struck, I did some research in an attempt to talk myself out of it. After all, I was NOT going to fall into the trap.

... but the more research I did, the more I fell in love.

You see, Noonday Collection is more than a jewelry business. It's an opportunity to show women - both here and around the world - that they are loved, chosen, and desired.

Here are the three main reasons I chose to join Noonday Collection:

1. Noonday Supports Social Justice

Did you know that at any given time there are an estimated 24.9 MILLION people in forced labor around the world? To put it in perspective, that is 5.4 out of every 1,000 people in the world. People often end up in forced labor due to limited options. They are taken advantage of due to their vulnerability. Noonday Collection works with the most vulnerable communities to offer them REAL, fair work opportunities.

2. Noonday Empowers Women

Through Noonday Collection, women are empowered, both as ambassadors and artisans. They offer pathways out of poverty that not only enable women to care for their families, but KEEP their families by giving them a means to provide for their children.

3. Noonday Supports the Adoption Community

Noonday Collection was actually started by Jessica Honegger as a way to fundraise for her family's own adoption, and they've remained true to their roots! Since its founding, Noonday Collection has supported over 3,500 adopting families by raising over $550,000! As I hope to someday become a parent through adoption, this truly resonates with me. I would LOVE to be able to help other families bring their children home.

I hope that you will follow my journey and join me as a world changer as I share some of the incredible stories that have come from Noonday Collection artisans!


25 Lessons I've Learned in Therapy

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Now that I have four months of therapy under my belt, I thought I'd take a few moments and reflect on the lessons I've learned. Some of these lessons are new, and others are obvious lessons that I'm just now allowing myself to put into practice. For the sake of easy reading, I've divided them into three categories: lessons in healing, lessons in life, and lessons in coping.

. : H E A L I N G : .

1. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others.
2. You are worthy of a therapist's time.
3. Don't expect a doctor to do a therapist's job.
4. Sometimes anxiety manifests itself as anger, frustration, and/or annoyance.
5. It is possible to be clinically depressed and not know it.
6. Needing medication does not make you weak.
7. Mental illnesses are just that, illnesses. They do not make you a bad person.
8. Sometimes God answers your prayers for healing with doctors and therapists.

. : L I F E : .

9. Don't give in to self-deprecating humor. You'll start to believe it.
10. Sometimes if a person doesn't like you, you don't want them to like you.
11. Sometimes your weirdness makes you "delightfully charming."
12. Struggling doesn't make you weak. It's part of the process.
13. Healing takes time.
14. We are in control of very little in this world.
15. It's not normal to cry for days with anxiety about going on a vacation.
16. It's possible to make it through a holiday or vacation without an anxiety attack.

. : C O P I N G : .

17. Rocking helps anxiety, buy a rocking chair and sit in it regularly.
18. Breakfast food cures sadness. (...oops, that was actually Ron Swanson!)
18. Look your anxiety in the eye and ask it "so what?"
19. Do things that make you feel uncomfortable sometimes.
20. Draw boundaries in your relationships.
21. Exercise.
22. Breathe deeply.
23. Don't look for things to be anxious about.
24. Write your anxieties down and cross them off as you tackle them.

. : L A S T   B U T   N O T   L E A S T : .

25. Your illness does not define you.

Have you ever been in therapy? What lessons did you take away?


Perfectly Pumpkin Chili

Monday, November 27, 2017

I'm not going to lie, most of my favorite meals are made in my crockpot. There's something about leaving your house in the morning for work/errands/a day full of shopping and fun (in my dreams!) and knowing that dinner is waiting for you at home with little to no prep left. Am I right?! :)

One of my most favorite recipes for this time of year is chili, and it's given a new twist in this recipe. Give it a try!

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 bag frozen tri-color pepper mix
1 bag frozen corn
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 15 oz can solid-pack pumpkin
1 14 oz can Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Directions:

Brown ground beef on the stove.

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker and stir.

Cook on low for as few as 4 to 6 hours. The longer your chili simmers, the better it will be!

Serve over tortilla chips, spaghetti, or corn bread and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

(Makes 8-10 servings.)

Enjoy!


On Being a Mess

Friday, November 24, 2017


There are some days that I'd rather not admit that my chosen profession is writing.

After all, I studied writing in college. I teach writing classes. I write homeschool curriculum.

Still, sometimes I forget to write on my blog for weeks in a row. I make spelling mistakes on the board in front of my students. I submit drafts of my books only to find out that I made a bajillion grammar mistakes.

My life is a lot like that, too.

I make an awful lot of mistakes. There are some days that my temper is short, my attitude is negative, and I just want to be selfish. I've made more than my fair share of bad decisions.

On those days, I would rather not admit that I am a Christ Follower.

Thankfully, being a Christ Follower doesn't mean that I have to be perfect 100% of the time... Being a Christ Follower means that I am forgiven.

When I make mistakes, when I react too quickly out of my frustrations and anger, and when I make poor decisions... His forgiveness is always there. All I have to do is admit that I need Him and ask his forgiveness and healing. How beautiful is that?

But honestly, friends, that's not the best part. The best part is that God takes those broken and messy places and after he heals them, he uses them for His Glory.

Romans 8:28 says "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."* I especially love the way that it is written in The Message: "we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

Or, as Lysa TerKeurst states in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, "a MESS, when touched by the MESSIAH, can become a beautiful MESSAGE."

Can I get an AMEN?!

I am so thankful that God doesn't give up on me. I am so thankful for God's mercy and forgiveness. But most of all, I am so thankful that He doesn't let a single moment of my life go to waste.

Lord, I make so many mistakes! I am so thankful for your amazing forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Thank you for your promise that you will take the broken and messy places in my life, touch them, and turn them around to be used for your glory. Help me to be a shining light for you, even in my messy moments. Amen.

*English Standard Version


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