Monday, December 31, 2007

Goals in 2008


I can't believe another year is about to end and a new one is ready to take flight! The older I get the faster the years seem to appear.


Yesterday, in church, I was listening to the sermon and as our associate pastor was speaking about 2008, it dawned on me that in two more years, 2010, I will have my second child graduating from high school. What really blew my mind was the next year, 2011, our third son will graduate and then in 2012, our little princess will be ready to face the world with high school graduation! As I pondered these things in my heart I became so emotional. I began to wonder if I had prepared them enough for life away from us. I began to feel that overwhelming fear that only satan can impart to ones heart and life. It is all the woulda, coulda, shoulda's that I just did not want to cloud my mind during this wonderful time of worship.


I quickly brushed the thoughts away and knew they were an attack from the enemy. However, I still was in awe that in a very short amount of time I will have an empty nest! I want to make the next few years life changing for my children. They have certainly changed my life.


I have several goals for the next year. I decided to not call them resolutions. My goals for the coming year are:


Strive daily to maintain a quiet time of worship, thanksgiving, Bible study and prayer.


To not sweat the small stuff. I tend to want my home perfect and with our busy lives it all too often is not up to my expectations. This tends to stress me out and in the end cause my husband and children undo frustration.


To exercise twice daily for 30 minutes. I find this works for me better than one hour at the gym.


Continue on my eating pattern of veggies, fruit, and whole grains.


I want to get out our sewing machine and begin to teach my daughter how to sew. Sarah at In the Midst of It has inspired me!!


and finally to spend as much time as I can with each of my children individually and collectively plus maintaining a consistent date night time with my husband.


I pray each of you have a blessed start to this new year. My family is excited to spend time together tonight. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for our family in 2008.

Richest blessings to each of you!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

MPM



Since we are having another holiday week my menu plan is going to be much different than say the next week when I will be back at work and the kids back at school.


This is what is on the menu for this week:


Monday - New Years Eve

Family tradition to have snack food or junk food, which I never keep on hand except for special times in our household. Tonight will be Totinos Pizza Rolls. I will be making a big batch of Queso to have with chips. We usually have snack things like crackers, cheeses, sandwiches, and I make cookies or brownies.


Tuesday - New Years Day

Pot of beans in the crock pot and cornbread


Wednesday - Tostadas with refried beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and guacamole

Served with a salad and black bean salsa


Thursday - Quick and Easy homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Several cooked chicken breast or you can use two large cans of chicken breast meat.

2 cans of Veg-all canned veggies, 1 can Cream of Chicken soup; a little thyme (around a 1/4 teaspoon) and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients together. Crust: I use the roll out crust or you can use a prepared pie crust. We use two of the roll out crust - one for the top and bottom. Fit one pie crust into 9-inch pie pan; pour vegetable mixture into pie crust. Crimp the edges to seal, and prick top with fork. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 375 degrees (on lower rack) or until crust is golden brown and filling is hot. Let the pie to cool slightly before cutting into wedges to serve.


Since we have six people in our family, with three being young men, we always make two of these pies. I just double the recipe. I may try using a Rotisserie chicken this time and see how that turns out. My 11 year old nephew made one by himself a couple of days before Christmas. He did an excellent job and I wished I would have taken a picture of it. It looked like a professional had crimped the crust! My sister was gone to run an errand and he made it to surprise her (with supervision from my brother in law).


Friday - Family night with homemade pizza


Saturday - Turkey Chili


Sunday - Roast Chicken and veggies


For more menu ideas go check out Laura's OrgJunkie.com

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Look what I found today at TJMaxx!

Look at the cute candle holder I bought at TJMaxx today. I need to buy tea lights to place in each bird but my daughter added the red candles for now. There are six little birds and they are 'talkin' to each other. If you look closely you can see the second bird turning to jabber to the first. It is so cute. I have never been a big fan of bird things but I saw this last night and it was so unique looking. I then woke up at 4 this morning thinking I should have purchased it since I thought it would look great on the mantel with my blue and white urns, plates, and our great painting of Texas bluebonnets.



I tend to do this each time I take the Christmas decorations down. I want to re-do everything. Re-purpose items from other areas of the house. There must be a message there. All I know is that I am ready for a change. I am hoping to head to Canton, Texas to the big flea market in the spring. I have never been and today I was thinking it was time to take a little trip down there to load up on some goodies!






My den needs help. It is the only room that we did not do anything major to when we bought our home two years ago. This home my parents built when I was ten. They sold it in 1993. Two years ago I wrote the woman they sold it to a letter and asked if she ever wanted to sell it to contact us first. She called the next day! It is awesome living in this great home that my parents so lovingly built. It is spacious and in a great location. The kids attend the high school near our home that I also attended. It is close to our church, shopping, events, and it is in a beautiful neighborhood filled with huge oak trees. We remodeled most every room but the den. It still has the paneling! I have a vision in my head but have not had the time or money to get it done. I love the cottage look. Hopefully in 2008 we can begin to work on this great room.







Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gift of Giving Challenge

Over on the Bargain Shopper Lady, she shares a precious story of how a stranger blessed her family over the holidays. She has encouraged us to share our stories.

Immediately upon reading her sweet story, I was reminded of a time in my life when things were very tight. I was a single mom and my sweet little boy wanted to go out to lunch after church. It is so hard when you are always denying them simple pleasures, so this particular Sunday I gave in and took him to lunch. We went to his favorite 'birthday' celebration place, Santa Fe Cattle Company, since I had coupons from our Entertainment book that I could use. I dug them out of my purse and off we went!

It was very nice to sit and listen to my then seven year old son talk about his football team and school. Our food arrived and he wanted to pray. I remember holding his hand as he prayed and being thankful for his sweet spirit. Across the room I noticed a couple from church. They were my parents age and the husband always had candy for Matthew each time he saw him at church. I waved and they waved back.

Later on we were ready to leave and I was getting a little flustered because our server had not come back with the bill. A few minutes later she came to our table all aglow and told me that I did not owe anything and that my bill had been taken care of. I was quite shocked. I burst into tears. My little boy said in a loud voice, "Jesus provided for us Momma!" I was in shock and felt so grateful. I begged her to let me know who did such a thing so I could thank them. She was told to not tell me who had blessed us so. It was on the way home that I remembered the couple from my church. I never really found out who had blessed us but I told my son that one day we were going to be able to do the same thing for someone else.

Now some thirteen years later I am married and have four children. We have since had many opportunities to bless others and in return have been blessed. I want to always be sensitive to the Spirit so that we do not miss out on little chances to be the light to someone else. May God use you this week to be a blessing to another.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Laced with Grace Giveaway




Laced with Grace is having a giveaway. The package has some awesome things to start the new year off right with Christ.


The package will include a Women of Faith study Bible (NIV/Hardcover); Lisa Whelchel’s Bible study tool for busy moms; a coffee mug from “Mugs of Truth“; the DVD “The Nativity Story“; the book “Love and Respect“; and a music CD by Becky Knight, who just released her first CD.
You can sign up to win this package through Jan 1st.


You can sign up to win this package through Jan 1st. Just share the giveaway with your friends and encourage them to stop by. We will announce the winner on Jan 2nd, 2008.


Visit Laced with Grace to enter!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Menu Plan Monday for Christmas Week

I decided to go ahead and post my menu since I will indeed be having to plan meals this week. However, I do get off pretty easy since it is Christmas.
Monday - Attending a Christmas Eve Family party after church services. We will be eating there. I only have to bring ice, soft drinks, and chex mix.
Tuesday - Christmas dinner with my family and leftovers for the evening meal. I am not sure what I am to bring as of yet. Probably a dessert in the form of a pie since my sister in law broke her wrist during the last ice storm. She is our resident pie maker in the family.
Wednesday - Quick and Easy Potato Soup and Salad
Thursday - Night out on the town with my daughter (Hubby and the boys are headed to Dallas to attend the Mavericks and Cavaliers game)
Friday - Homemade Pizza night with Salad
Saturday - Quesadillas with chicken, avocado, and onion plus black bean salsa
Sunday - Chicken and veggies in the crockpot.
For more menus, see Laura at Orgjunkie

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wishing a Blessed Christmas to All




I am going to take the few remaining days until Christmas off to bake with my children and enjoy my time off of work. My husband will be working 16 hour days until Christmas and then will be off for nine days! We are so excited!


There are family parties to attend and catching up with old friends. Thirty-five or so years ago a young couple were members at our church. They had two small boys that I believe were 4 and 5 years of age at the time. This couple was from Tennessee and they had no family in the area. My parents invited them to our home on Christmas Eve to share in snacks, good times, the reading of the Christmas story from Luke, and a ornament exchange. Between the two families there were six children. Today this event has grown from ten people to over 35! All the kids are grown and we all have children of our own. It is a great time of fellowship. My ornament collection has grown by leaps and bounds. Once we were grown and had a home of our home we were given a prized ornament. I have ornaments now that date back to the very early 80s. The next few evenings will be filled with family, friends, faith, and fun.


Enjoy the season. For our family, it is not about the presents we receive, the glorious food that seems to be everywhere, or the frantic shopping ....it is about a little baby that was born in a stable, who came to save the world. Two thousand years ago He was born and is as relevant and alive today.


" 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:10-14, KJV)


Merry Christmas!

Vickie


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Saga of the Exploding Moon Roof!

Today I had something very weird happen to me. I was pulling out of my driveway after lunch and headed back to work when I heard a strange noise. At first I was afraid my pearl necklace had broken and was rolling all over the van floor. Nope, pearl necklace still in tact. Then I hear something on the roof again. I opened the sliding moonroof cover above me to see if I had left something on the roof of the van and to my horror all I saw was a gaping HOLE and blue sky beyond that! Glass started falling in on me so I quickly shut the sliding cover and made a u-turn to head back home. Thankfully, my husband was off today and was preparing to go work out. When I got out of the van it looked like it had erupted from the INSIDE of the van! BIZARRE!

My husband's entire afternoon was taken up trying to find out the who, what, when, where, and how of getting it fixed. Bless his heart it was his only afternoon off and he had a lot of things to do. It is suppose to be fixed on Friday. Naturally, this is our family vehicle. Not likely six people can fit in the Toyota Corolla!

I am so thankful that we keep an emergency fund, since we gave up credit cards seven years ago. It made it not so upsetting, however, the first bid we heard was 1300.00 and two weeks...I was a little upset about that, but we finally came up with somewhere a lot less and the company was recommended by our friend and service guy.

Interestingly enough, many newer model luxury cars have been having the same problem. Ours is a 2001 Toyota Van...so who knows...maybe it is the extremely cold weather we had with the ice storm however, our van was safe in the garage during the storm.

Here are a couple of pictures. After driving it to the dealership the volcano shaped eruption had blown away and all you can see is the hole. Anyone else have this type of problem?

I am just thankful we were not tooling down the road going 75 and it explode. I read some horrible things about this today. You can see how the glass shattered. Also the gray right underneath the hole is the moonroof cover inside the van.

The last picture was my husband trying to show how the glass was angled up but it is not as clear. I wished I had taken a picture when I first saw it. It reminded me of a science fair project, it was so weird.



Monday, December 17, 2007

Menu Plan Monday










This week is crazy busy at work and home. Here is what my plan is for this week:

Monday – Taco Soup
Tuesday – Mexicali Chicken and Brown Rice
Wednesday – eat at church
Thursday – Holiday party (making Broccoli Salad to take to pot luck meal)
Broccoli Salad
I take two big bunches of fresh broccoli and cut off the flowerets and chop some of the tender stems.
I add ½ of a red onion chopped to equal about a ¼ cup
4 celery stalks chopped
Craisins (I add at least a half cup or more, really depends on my mood)
Sunflower Seeds – dry roasted variety. I add at least a ½ cup but only right before serving
4 slices of crisp bacon but I use a jar of the Hormel Real bacon bits.

Dressing for Salad
Low fat Mayo – ¾ cup
Red Wine Vinegar, 3T
Sugar Substitute like Stevia (the original recipe calls for the 1/3 sugar) but we only use a tiny bit of Stevia (2 tablespoon) to give it a little flavor.
Mix all together and pour over salad and mix well
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Add sunflower seeds and serve. It is crunchy, sweet, tart, and very good!!

Friday – Family Pizza Night
Saturday – Holiday Party
Sunday – Roast Chicken and the fixin’s

For more menu plans visit Laura at OrgJunkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thoughts for the season



This morning I was awakened by my husband gingerly kissing me goodbye on my forehead as I lay all snuggled up under the covers. It was still very early and he was headed out the door to work. I was struck by the fact that in his profession he is always on alert and putting his life on the line each day to serve and protect, and yet he is one of the most tenderhearted men I know besides my daddy. I snuggled down deeper into the bed and smiled inwardly, enjoying the warmth until suddenly the phone startled me. It was our oldest, who was at his grandparents, calling to tell me it had started snowing. I then decided I would get up and see what this day would hold. This morning it was just Sparky and me awake. Sparky is our little dog. Our middle son was still sleeping soundly in his bed. The other two children had stayed with friends the previous evening. I plugged in the Christmas tree and was reminded how difficult this time of year is for our little family.

As I sat looking at the twinkling tree, I wondered how many would be struggling this Christmas season and no one would take time to notice. This time of year, which is filled with such hope and promise, is for many the most painful or loneliest time. Many that sit in our pews each Sunday or that we come in contact with each day are hurting from past painful experiences.

I thought of my own family. This time of year is particularly difficult for my sweet husband and my three youngest children. It was during this time of year that Jennifer, his first wife and their mommy, went back into the hospital, not to return home again. I have learned to not worry or fret when tears fall and to always be there for tender hugs, to be quiet in times of silence, and to tune my ears into their frequency and not so much my own.

I remember being a single parent. I can still remember it as if it was yesterday that first Christmas. It was incredibly painful. During those dark times was when my faith really deepened and I learned to rely on my heavenly Father for strength. I was determined that whatever life had thrown at me I had two choices....to be bitter or better. I chose to be better and let the Lord work and take myself out of the equation. Not an easy task.

I guess my thoughts for today are to impart to each of you the importance of reaching out to those around you. Invite someone over to share in your family Christmas, give gifts and food to a struggling single parent and their children, take a moment to really notice that teller or retail salesperson waiting on you. Do random acts of kindness and have your children join in. Give more of yourself to others this season and be thankful for what you have right this minute. Quit fretting about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.

I know that when my husband arrives home here in a few minutes, I am going to greet him and in my heart feel so thankful for his sacrifices for our family. I am going to hug my children a little tighter, even though at their age they are not so into that sort of thing...but I am going to relish the season and why we celebrate this time of year, our Savior's birth. I am not going to fret that my house is not elaborately decorated this year or that all our lights did not get put up outside. I am not going to get myself in a tizzy because I have not sent out Christmas cards. I am going to take time to be there for my family and enjoy each other instead of being so busy that one day I wake up and they are all grown and gone.

May this Christmas season you find time for peace, quiet, reflection, and family. Bless someone that is hurting and in the end you will be blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Frugal Fridays



Frugal Gifts can be very easy to do, it just takes some time, ingenuity, and patience.

I love keeping a gift closet filled with all sorts of items that I pick up on clearance. The trick is that I do not pick up just any old thing. I keep a running list in my bag of what my friends, family, and my teenagers friends like and enjoy. This is where you really listen when talking to family members or as you are driving your children and their friends from point A to point B. Hear what they are talking about: cd's they are wanting, things they enjoy and make a mental note.

After Christmas is the BEST time to stock up on great items that can be given throughout the year. I also keep an area of gift bags, wrap, tissue paper, ribbon and the like and add to this as well after a season ends. Four times in the last month I have had children attending birthday parties or functions where they needed to bring a gift. There is such freedom knowing what you have and heading to the closet and pulling out the gift, wrap, and various items that one needs when giving a gift. My teens have come to expect it and know that I always have cool, cute items in my gift closet. One of my favorite places to stock up is Mardel Christian Bookstore at the Black Friday sales. I have been able to purchase cds for 5.00, best selling books for under 7.00, stationary items, home decor, and seasonal merchandise at great discounts. After Christmas you can be sure I will be visiting Target, Kirkland's, Mardels, Bath and Bodyworks,and Hobby Lobby to hit their sales.

A couple of things to do is take inventory of what you may already have set aside or if you have not started a gift closet purpose to do so in the next year. Make a list to keep in your handbag of those you normally buy gifts for such as teachers, family, friends, and of course your children's friends. Begin to listen when engrossed in a conversation and seek out those items of interest.

Get your older children involved. My daughter loves to help me seek out these items. If you would like more frugal ideas head on over to Chrystal's blog at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Part 4 of Our Story

I was so excited to hear his voice! I had enjoyed my evening, even though it had been so stressful, and I was filled with hope that Saturday morning although I had been up most of the night. As I talked with him, it became apparent to me that the preceding evening had been filled with emotion for Mike. I had no way of knowing that on that particular night, December 15th, would have been his tenth anniversary to Jennifer. When he shared with me that it had been such a blessing to have spent the evening with me, on a night that had been filled with such heartache the past three years, I had no words that would come out of my mouth at first. I was trying to find the words that would be appropriate and that would not sound trivial.

I finally remembered my dear friend at work who was also a single parent but had lost her husband suddenly years before in a car accident. She had given me great advice a few days before. She had told me to be myself, to ask questions, and to not fear talking about Jennifer with Mike. She told me that at times in her life different men she dated would become upset if she mentioned her late husband or his family. She told me to not to feel jealous. She shared that Mike would want to talk to me about Jennifer and it would make all the difference in the world if I could be supportive in this manner. Her wisdom that day gave me the courage to listen to Mike when he shared his story and to have a desire to know more.

We talked a long time on the phone that day and he asked me to join him and his children for lunch after church. I was hesitant at first because I had always said I would never involve my child until I knew it was ‘the one’ but I decided to trust my gut and go.

That first meeting with those three precious children could not have been more perfect. They are very close in age and at the time that I met them Seth had just turned nine; Zachary was getting ready to turn eight, and Hannah was six and a half years old. My son Matthew was twelve and a half. I will never forget that day. I had worn a purple outfit and so had Hannah. She has the most amazing blue eyes and has glossy brown hair and the purple just set off her features. As Mike helped me from the van I felt little fingers grasp my hand and I looked down to see her smiling up at me and hanging on to my hand. She told me she loves purple. I told her, “I do too” and we walked off hand in hand into the restaurant. Inside my heart melted and I knew that no matter what I was going to trust the Lord and that He alone knew what was going to take place. I wanted to let Him guide this budding relationship. To be continued…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweetness abounds


This past Saturday evening was the Winter Ball at the high school two of my children attend. Since my husband had to work I was the deemed the driver on this night. The sweetest thing happened and I just had to share it with ya'll.

There were to be five couples in attendance which included my son and his date. Four of the young men were from a private Christian school in town and at the last minute two were unable to attend. This left two sweet young ladies without their dates. The next thing that happened was a sight to see. The two remaining young men showed up bearing gifts. These two sweet young men had a wristlet corsage for each girl! They were beautiful red roses. At dinner that evening, they paid for all four young ladies dinner and refused any assistance. When I picked up my son, his date, and two of the young ladies they were all a chatter about how wonderful these two young men had been. These young men and their parents need to be commended. I saw first hand how they brightened up the evening of four very sweet Christian girls. It brought tears to my eyes when they pulled out those beautiful corsages.

Today with the culture riding so heavily on the extreme it is often difficult to find the good in a lot of teens pr their choices. Many are misguided or caught up in trying to 'fit in'. These two young men showed the parents in attendance that there are still those Christian youth that buck the system and follow their parents guidance. It was but a small gesture that had a huge impact on all that witnessed it. It was something I will remember always.


Like every Mom I know, I am very busy. Plus I have a husband that is in law enforcement who has a crazy schedule. Add to the mix four very active teenagers and life can get crazy! If you are not organized things can go south rather quickly! I have struggled for years to find the right purse/handbag for work plus ways to keep that bag organized. I have tried them all! I have come across something lately that really seems to be working for me. I have one of those Mom Bag's my kids call them. You know the ginormous purse that holds everything but the kitchen sink. I hate that it is so dark and voluminous that at times I can't find just what I am looking for. But on the other hand I love the bag. It is a beautiful leather bag that my husband bought me this fall and I adore it and it is sturdy, attractive, and perfect. The following is what has worked for me now longer than anything else:

I bought three clear vinyl zippered bags from Wal-Mart. They are all the same size and were under two bucks each! They are clear so you can see what is inside. I also had a small fire engine red zippered pouch. It is perfect for my driver's license, debit card, and cash. It is so easy to spot it in the cavernous purse.




One zippered bag I keep as a mini office: stamps, tiny sticky notes from the dollar store, a nifty highlighter/post it flag notes pen, ink pen, coupons to local places to eat, checkbook, bank receipts, small calculator, teens schedules on a laminated card, and business cards.




Another bag serves as my make-up bag with powder, eyeglass cleaner, lipstick, gloss, floss, even a small measuring tape, etc. You get the picture.




Then I use the last bag for various snacks that can fit in there such as gum, mints, a protein bar, my favorite tea bags.




I love this! It has worked out so awesome for me! They may not be pretty but I can toss whatever I need in my swanky bags when hubby and I go out and no one is the wiser.

It has helped me feel not so discombobulated and it really works for me! If you want to see more great ideas head on over to Shannon's at Rock's in My Dryer and check out the Works for Me Wednesday!

Monday, December 10, 2007

ICE Storm 2007 UPDATE

Please be in prayer for those in Oklahoma affected by this incredible ice storm. So far we still have power, however, my parents and both of my sister's families are without power. I have not talked to my brother yet to see if they have power. We have huge trees that look like they could fall on our home and have fallen into the street. This is a serious storm that is far from over. We would appreciate everyone in blogland praying for those that are affected.
Blessings to all,
Vickie



Monday - Chili Pasta by request of my children. Since we were having an ice storm yesterday, I made a HUGE pot of my chili. My family loves it when I have leftovers of chili to add it to whole wheat pasta. So today we are having Chili Pasta with lots of great shredded cheese and then a salad to accompany the meal.

Tuesday - Easy Mexican Casserole
2 lbs of ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can chili w/beans
1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 bag taco flavored tortilla chips
8 oz. of Velveeta cheese thinly sliced

Brown turkey with onion in skillet, stirring until it is crumbly; drain. Stir in large bowl the can of chili, Ro-Tel and soup; mix well. Pour meat into the bowl and mix it well. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or deep casserole dish, layer tortilla chips, meat mixture and Velveeta cheese, 1/2 at a time. End with last layer being the cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. 8 servings

Wednesday - Roasted Chicken in the Crockpot with carrots and potatoes, salad

Thursday - Cheesy Potato Soup

Friday - Vickie's Crock Pot Enchiladas
1 lb Hamburger (We use Turkey meat now and I increase the meat to 2 lbs)
1 Onion, chopped
1 4 1/2 oz Can chopped chilies
1 can Mild enchilada sauce
10 1/2 oz Golden mushroom soup
10 1/2 oz Cheddar cheese soup
10 1/2 oz Cream of mushroom soup
10 1/2 oz Cream of celery soup
1 package Doritos chips
Brown hamburger and chopped onion, pour off grease. Put all ingredients in crock-pot except Doritos chips. Mix and cook low 4 to 6 hours. Last 15 minutes before you are ready to eat, add Doritos chips and stir.

Saturday - banquet to attend

Sunday - Out to lunch with friends

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ice Storm 2007

UPDATE: My Mom and her friends made it home slowly but safely and it appears they did just in time. Tomorrow is going to be rather nasty. My place of work is closed tomorrow but my children so far have to go to school. I know by this late evening that will change as well.

I am up trying to stay warm and praying that our power does not go out. We have had so far several waves of thunderstorms that is pouring ice onto our area. I have opted to stay home from church, since most in our area have cancelled, except our church.

My husband is in law enforcement and is at work. No telling how long he will be stuck at work.

Right now I just heard that my Mom has taken a trip with two friends to Dallas. They are coming back today. Yikes! It scares me but in another sense I am excited about her trip. My Mom and Dad have been inseparable for nearly 49 years. My Mom has never been the type of mother to have her friends and spend time with them. She has always spent her time with her husband and children. She is the most loving Mom and we all know how much she cares for us. Imagine our delight as a family when we heard she is going on this girls weekend!!! But my heart is anxious. My Daddy just told me to not worry. Funny words coming from the one that worries like I do! So far the road conditions are okay until they get into the Central part of Oklahoma. If you are reading this, please be in prayer for them.

It is going to be tough for me to not stare at the television screen all morning since all three local news channels are on CONTINOUSLY monitoring this ice storm. It has not stopped raining ice for over one hour and just now it has started up again big time with lightning and thunder.

Many of you may remember several years ago the ice storm in Oklahoma that left many without power in the rural areas for at least two months. Prayers would be wonderful right now.

I better log off now. The lightning is getting worse.
Blessings to all from a very icy morning in Oklahoma!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Through Her Eyes

This morning I was going through some of my digital photos and came across a few that really prick my heart when I see them.

In 2006, I took my daughter on a Mother-Daughter trip to Northern New Mexico and Colorado. She was nearing the teenage years and I wanted our time to be special as well as informative. We talked, sang our favorite worship songs, and listened to cds. We also listened to James Dobson's "Preparing for Adolescence" series.

My daughter had never been to the mountains before. Seeing the beauty that God created inspired her but also caused her to feel fearful. She is afraid of heights. I wanted her to face this fear and we would do it together.

I pointed out the ski lift and approached the topic of us riding it to the top together. She would have nothing to do with it. However, after dinner that evening, we were on the main street watching everyone stroll by and enjoying the cool mountain air. She kept staring up at the immobile ski lift and posed this question to me, "Mom, have you rode it before?" I told her that I had many times. She then asked if I had felt scared too. I told her, "many times". I related to her that when I ride on that particular ski lift in the summer at a certain level all you hear is the whispers of God. Truly the silence that rushes through ones ears is awesome and the beauty that He created is surrounding you. She decided that the next morning would be 'the day' to face her fear.

The first picture shows the look of awe on her face. I just love it!





The ride was not without a little scare factor thrown in but isn't that all about being refined in the fire? The ski lift stopped suddenly to let on a mountain biker. I knew this but my sweet girl did not. She immediately clung to me and started to cry. I admit that the chair was shaking a little more violently than I remembered and in my heart, I was very nervous, but I soothed her and once again the lift began moving again.





The second picture says it all. I love the sign that she was standing next to, 'The Easy Way Down'.














For those of you that have teenage daughters, you understand how important the PHONE is to them. This is right after we got off the lift and she wanted to call her Daddy. She borrowed my cell and believe it or not we had reception 10,500 feet up on top of a mountain!





















Finally on our way back down I snapped this picture.










This picture is what prompted my post. The look of excitement, joy, and delight. She had met her fear. The Lord met her on that ride and was at the top to welcome her with soft breezes. We rode that same lift two more times before we headed to Denver. It was a sweet time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


















Ya'll Boomama is having a Soup-Tacular today! Could not have come at a more perfect time for those of us in Oklahoma since we are expecting a significant ice storm! Since our home sits on a lot that is full of tall, beautiful, towering Oak trees I am a little nervous, especially since one is over 40 feet tall! Okay, on with the soup but if you want to get in on the fun, head on over to Boomama's site and join in!

I have a couple of standbys and a new one that I posted earlier this week. These are large quantities for a large family.

Here you go:

Vickie's Secret Ingredient Award Winning Chili

2-4 pounds of Ground Turkey (we have given up beef for the most part)
Williams Chili Seasoning NO Salt Added - 1 packet
2 cans of Tomato Sauce
1 Can of Black Beans, drained
2-3 cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained
1 can of Tomato Soup
1 onion, chopped
chopped or minced garlic to taste
around a 1/2 cup of Ketchup (I never meaure it I just squirt it in the pan until I like what I see but I imagine it is around a 1/2 cup or so.)

Saute the chopped onions. Brown the meat. Add onions to the meat as well as the garlic and chili seasoning packet.
Add all the canned goods and ketchup. At this point if it needs a little water I add a can or so to the pot. You have to judge by the thickness of the chili.
Turn down the heat and simmer for a while to blend the flavors.

If you want to really turn up the heat add a can of the infamous Rotel Tomatoes. Four in my household are born and bred Texans...from South Texas so the hotter the better for them...for me...not so much!

Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips or Fritos, and at our house they love Jalapenos. Sometimes we use crackers but usually we use crushed tortilla chips in the chili.

It would be remiss for me not to mention something that my family loves if I have chili left over, which is usually never, but if I do, four people in my household love to heat up the leftovers and add it to their eggs in the morning. Yuck! They do say it is mighty tasty with the Jalapenos. I am more of a Southern girl who prefers bisquits and gravy or grits instead of chili and eggs. But my 13 year old daughter that eats Habanero peppers is telling me to put this in my blog about the chili so there ya go.

The other recipe for a soup can be found at the link below. I am a little typed out at the moment. Forgive me!

Quick and Easy Potato Soup

Be sure and visit the Soup-Tacular!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Part Three of Our Story

During my singleness I had been very active in singles leadership and had the chance to attend many conferences. I also read whatever book I could on Christian single parenting, healing, and various other Christian books that really ministered to me during this time of my life. One conference that really impacted my life was the Song of Solomon conference with Denton Bible Church pastor, Tom Nelson. I first attended the conference in 1999. It was a cold February day as I sat in the back of the church and listened to this awesome pastor/teacher. I wept numerous times. The conferences are based on the book of the same name in the Bible. It is God’s view of love, sex, and marriage. I had only wished that I had known some of the information and what to ‘look’ for the first time around. I had grown up very sheltered and na├»ve. I later found out that there is more than the man going to church, being raised in a Christian home…so much more. Anyway, this conference changed my life in how I viewed my situation. I wanted to have what Tommy shared about his relationship with his wife Teresa. I was willing to wait on the Lord for that. I had NO idea how much this conference would impact my life! One thing that really stuck in my mind that day was Tom telling a story about a young man with three small children. He choked back tears as he spoke. He told a story of marrying this young couple and how several years and three children later the Mom had died of cancer. He asked that we pray for this young man. It had been a year since her death and they were having a hard time. I remember sitting in the pew sobbing for this little family that had lost so much.

The night of the Christmas party it was time for Mike to drive me home. We had not really had much of a chance to talk to one another. It had been uncomfortable because everyone was assuming a great deal and giving us a hard time. I had no idea, however, that Mike had already been talking about me when he left my office that day over a week ago! There had been a conspiracy to introduce us but the Lord had the final say. We had even been at the same football game but never crossed paths. I am so thankful for the way we met because it is just another reminder of how the Lord orchestrates our lives.

As we were driving home that snowy evening I began to get more comfortable. He was easy to talk to and the conversation flowed. Imagine my surprise when he was sharing about his past and told me about the man that had been his mentor and spiritual father. I will never forget him asking me, “This great man pastors a church in Denton, Texas, maybe you have heard of him, Tommy Nelson?” I about jumped through the roof of the car! Have I heard of him? Oh my goodness his tapes are playing in my car. I have read his books, attended his conference, and been to Metro Bible study in Dallas to hear him!!! We went on to talk forever that evening. I had a great time and he walked me up to the door and that was it...no hug, no kiss, just a great big smile. I was reeling from excitement and could not wait to call all my friends. My son commented when I came in that he liked him and so did Sparky. Sparky is our little dog. He hates strangers. Well, for that matter he can’t stand most of my extended family. When Mike came to pick me up earlier in the evening he reached down to pet him and my son and I both said, “NO” but too late…he was already petting him. Sparky never even barked at Mike! It was so strange because he barked at everyone.

I had a huge list of people to call that night. They all had to hear about my big evening. I was on the phone most of the night and then when I went to bed I could not sleep. I got onto my computer and typed my heart out. That is what I usually did when my heart and head had so much going on.

Earlier in my singleness my parents and siblings had made me vow that if the Lord brought someone into my life again that I would agree to not go out or marry them if anyone in my family had felt it was not right. I had agreed because we all had been so hurt by what I had endured. I wanted their wise and Godly counsel. The very next morning after our date my youngest sister headed to my parents home and told them that ‘He has arrived, the man for my sister is here!’ "God has brought him to her!" Ironically, Mike's late wife Jennifer was from my hometown but had moved to Texas after graduating high school. In an even more interesting twist my youngest sister had known her through her high school boyfriend, who happened to be Jennifer’s best friend. I just could not believe that there was a connection between my family and this Texan. I was wondering if he would call me or see me at church the next day and then the phone rang, with anticipation I picked up the receiver and heard, “Hi, Vickie, this is Mike”….to be continued

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

WFMW










Today, Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer is having a themed WFMW edition. What do you do when you are worn out, busy, haven’t been to the grocery store and the kids are all hungry? Pull a quick meal together. That happens more often that I like to admit in our home. Most of my best meals are the ones that I fly by the seat of my pants after a long, hard day. That is why I keep a kitchen diary nearby to write down what I use so that I can re-create it again if it is a winner with the family. I am a pinch of this and pinch of that kind of cook. You may have to play around with the amounts since I did not measure out the potato flakes but poured them from the box. I have tried to be very accurate on the other measurements. I am a huge proponent of having a well stocked pantry so that great, easy meals can be created in a flash. When you have a husband who works a law enforcement schedule, two high school athletes, a college student, and an active middle school student you learn really quick how to get a meal on the table in a flash. KEEP A STOCKED PANTRY!

Quick and Easy Potato Soup
Three cans of Chicken Broth (I had the store brand on hand)
6 cups Water (I used a large stock pot and filled it halfway with hot water. I measured it out tonight and it equaled about six – seven cups of water)
¾ stick of unsalted butter
A heavy sprinkling of Garlic powder. I guess it would be around a ½ to 1 tsp.
Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning (season to your families taste) This is the best seasoning!
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 jar of Hormel Real Bacon Bits
1 ½ - 2 cups of cheese ( I had fine shredded Mexican blend on hand)
2 – 3 cups of Instant Potatoes. I stirred in the flakes until it started getting a little thick and then stopped. (I had Wal-Mart brand on hand in the pantry)

Bring water, chicken broth, and butter to a boil. Add seasonings and bacon bits. Turn stove down so that soup will not boil over.
Add instant potato flakes, which I am guessing was around 2 cups or so, until the mixture begins to get opaque and thickens. Add the cheese. Turn down the heat and serve.

I served this with garlic/cheddar croutons on top which I had in my pantry.
It made the house smell so good! My 16 year old son said it was better than my baked potato soup that takes several hours to simmer.

We are a family of six with three teenage boys that eat a lot. We not only had this for the meal Sunday but had enough for my husband and I to take to work for lunch.

One more quick meal:
2 boxes of Whole Wheat Rotini
2 Steam and Fresh broccoli in a bag
Canned chicken (2 cans shredded) or Rotisserie Chicken (I happened to have two cans of great white chicken meat that I used – they had been 99 cents each)
2 Ragu Alfredo Sauce in a jar or Wal-Mart brand works too
Kraft Parmesan cheese to taste
Italian Seasoning and Rosemary: around a tsp each

Cook the Rotini as directed on box. Cook the broccoli in the microwave as directed. Open up the chicken, drain, and shred with fork. Add seasonings. Mix with broccoli. Drain pasta, add back to hot pot and add chicken mixture as well as the Alfredo sauce. Stir and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Add a big salad along with some fruit for dessert and you have a great, satisfying meal.

For more quick and easy meals head over to Shannon’s Rocks in My Dryer and Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Menu Plan Monday










Monday Rigatoni with Red Pepper, Almonds, and Bread Crumbs (I use whole wheat spaghetti instead of the rigatoni. My teenagers love it! This is requested at least once every single week. I have used packaged Italian bread crumbs that I had on hand in the recipe instead of the croutons. My grocery store regularly has awesome garlic croutons on sale for under $1 as well as the Italian blend bread crumbs. I have used both.)

Tuesday Turkey Chili with cornbread
Wednesday Rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes and green beans, salad
Thursday Tostadas, Salad, black bean, corn, and tomato relish with avocado, fruit
Black Bean Relish
Drained black beans, drained whole kernel corn, Can of Chili Tomatoes with Onions, about a teaspoon of Cumin ( I use the palm of my hand to measure), slice and chop one Avocado, splash of Lime or Lemon juice, liberal amount of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning (depending on your families taste. I have four Texans in my family and they love things spicy)
I usually double this and use two cans beans, corn, tomatoes since my family loves it so much.
Friday Pizza Night
Saturday Black beans and brown rice w/cilantro, pineapple salsa, salad
Sunday Potato Soup with fresh whole grain bread
For more dinner ideas and Menu Plan Monday participants, please visit Laura of I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Date

I went about my busy life and never really gave the man with the disconcerting smile another thought. About a week later, I instant messaged a friend from church and she asked me if I was attending the party I had been invited to earlier. I told her I did not think I was going to go. I, then for some reason, asked her about the man I had met since I knew she was friends with the couple he was sitting with at church. I asked her what ‘his story’ was all about. This is when she told me he was the brother in law of my son’s football coach. She went on to say that he was widowed with three young children. I really could not believe I was even asking about him. She went on to say he was really nice and had only recently moved to Oklahoma.

She abruptly said she needed to go but would call me later. Only a few minutes had past when she called me back at work. She said she had talked to Mike and had told him I was going to the party and that he needed to go too! He wanted to attend and next thing I know they had worked it out so that he would pick me up….it was going to be a date…well sort of a date. I had not dated in the nearly ten years I had been single again. I did not want to date. I only wanted the Lord to bring to me the one that He had for me. If that ‘one’ never came, then I was content with being single the rest of my life. It was a LONG process to get to that place of contentment. Only after many years of struggle, denial, and finally sweet surrender had I come to the place I knew as long as the Lord was guiding me I could handle anything that came my way.

So now here I am on the phone with my friend, being told that I am going to the party with this man, and all I could think about was, “How did this all happen?”

The rest they say is history. This story that I am sharing impacts me each time I remember it. The intricacies of this story and how it all fits together is testament to God's faithfulness and redemptive love. There is still so much more to share and I will another time. One thing I know the Lord truly restores what the locusts have eaten. His promises are fulfilled. It is almost certainly never in our time frame but His ways and timing are perfect. I have come to realize that His weaving the tapestry of our lives is so beautiful. It may not always be so to our own eyes but when the piece is finished it reflects the glory of what Christ can do when one is completely and totally sold out to Him.

We did go out that night. I met the whole crew. It was a little uncomfortable at the party since all these people, his brother and sister in law included, were watching our every move and were all SO excited for what was taking place. Some were people that I had known for a long time. We had shared in our singleness the sorrows and pains we endured. I had seen each one of these couples come together and marry over the years. Now here I was in front of them all on this date with someone that I did not know. It was all very surreal. It was not until we left the party and he began to drive me home that I was able to see more of his heart. to be continued

Saturday, December 1, 2007

More of 'our' story

My work day ended and I drove to pick up my little boy at school. Our usual habit on Wednesday evenings was to eat at church before worship and children’s activities.

I am a creature of habit. I sit in the same pew, park the same place, walk in the same entrance, etc. That is how I feel most comfortable. This particular evening I pulled in the lot a little concerned about my son since he appeared to be wheezing and I was worried we would be making yet another emergency room visit. I almost turned around to go home when he reached over and touched my hand and said, “Mom, I am okay don’t worry.” Upon that statement, and feeling immense relief that he was not in distress, I did not notice that I parked in a completely different area of the parking lot.

Next, we walked into the building from a completely different set of doors. I would now have to walk all the way across the gym and around the bend in order to pay and get our meal. If I had not done so I would not have seen him. As we walked in the gym I looked across the room to see who was already eating and then I saw him...the man from my office earlier in the day! He was sitting with a couple that I knew. The man he was sitting with was my son’s football coach. I would later find out this was the football coach's brother in law.

I started telling my son that the man from my office is here tonight. He did not understand why I was acting so weird. He told me to take a chill pill and went off to be with his friends. Great! I did not know where to sit and now my son has decided to exert some pre-teen attitude! I found one of my formerly single friends and sat down with her. I was very nervous and told her I had to go say something to someone. I jumped up and went over to the table where this gentleman was sitting. I walked up and asked him if he had been in my office that day. This was highly unusual for me to do this, especially with it being a man. I am very friendly but this was a risk that I normally did not take. He replied that it was indeed him. He also had this very disconcerting smile on his face. Normally, I would have extended my hand in order to shake their own and welcome them to the church. I had grown up in this church and was very active. I knew I had not seen him there before. This time I did not extend my hand but kept them firmly behind my back. I walked back over to sit down and then I realized I had not told him what I had intended to say when I went over there in the first place! My friend Debbie could tell I was very flustered. I really could not understand why I was so frazzled. I went back over and told him that the Athletic Director is a member of the church and that I had known him for over 30 years. I then went back to my seat. I felt like a goober!

As I returned to my seat, I was asked to attend the blended families Christmas party which was being held in one week. I had known all these couples in the singles department so it was not too odd of an invitation. I said that I would try to attend.

Later I watched this man leave and asked my singles pastor who he was. I had not understood him when he said his last name and I wanted to know more. This request was not too strange since I was in singles leadership. I was not interested in him in a relationship sort of way, but he seemed to be a visitor and if I needed to send a welcome card by golly I was going to do so. The first response from my singles pastor was "His name is Mike XXXX and he is a single dad with three or four kids". He then put his arm around me and smiled really big. I told him that I was not interested in him that way but was wondering what his name was because I could not remember it. He told me that he had custody of his children. Well if I was interested at all that sealed it for me…..I had prayed that if I was to remarry it would be someone who had either never had children or who had been widowed with children. I had seen too many marriages fail because of both parties being divorced and how the back and forth with former spouses and pulls on the children caused constant conflict. I knew that I could love someone elses children but hearing those words from my dear friend and pastor, I never gave it another thought, at least until…to be continued