Sunday, December 14, 2014
Somehow we've created little connoisseurs that think very differently about their preferred menus.
But tonight, a slight miracle occurred. I made a meal creatively, using a couple of recipes as a guide, and I managed to please everyone, myself included. I have no photos, but here's what I did. Simple and delicious!
Turkey, and ham in you preferred, chopped finely
Peas and small cubed carrots (you could also add in some finely chopped celery)
Make a mix of all the ingredients, except the rolls, until well coated in the Ranch dressing.
Get a muffin tin coated in olive oil or butter.
Place an uncooked croissant roll in each hole of your muffin tin, with the larger portion covering the bottom of the tin, and the smaller part hanging out.
Fill with the mix, and close the croissant, tucking it under the bottom.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
There was a beautiful sunset on the horizon as I walked the red clay shore of a lake in East Texas. A lady, a stranger and fellow camper at the park, sat in her camping chair. “Lord, please give me opportunities to meet people and minister while I’m here,” I thought. “Give me words.” So it started with the simplest thing: “Beautiful sunset, isn’t it?” Her response: “It’s amazing what God can do.”
And it’s amazing what God did in the span of a few days on that camping trip. I had a lot on my mind, and this getaway with family was just what I needed to process the events unfolding. I had been friends with Chuck Thier for over 2 years. In that time, I’d analyzed him from every angle. How did he relate to his family? How did he control his temper? Did he have integrity? Did he live by his convictions? He didn’t know it, but he was passing all my tests with flying colors. We were merely friends, and I had worked hard at times to keep it that way. But recently, he’d done something unexpected. He’d held my hand. I knew this friendship was progressing into something more. Confrontation was coming. Was I ready?
You see, I’d developed a litmus test for relationships. Could I marry this man? If the answer was “No” or “Maybe someday?” then I promised myself I wouldn’t date him. Why risk your heart unnecessarily? It’d be easier to be friends. It was a safe plan, fully rational in my mind. Could I marry this man? Well, now the answer was “Yes” which was both exhilarating and terrifying. But the real question to me was “Could I marry?” That’s where it got uncomfortable. My grandparents had gone through divorces. My parents had gone through divorces. Who was I to think I could have a successful marriage? My confidence wavered as I considered the opportunity that lay before me. Surely God wasn’t calling me to this.
That’s where the lady on the shore came in. We began talking about our shared faith. We spent the next few days discussing so much from the Bible and our own lives. She told me how her husband had left her and their children after 14 years of marriage for another woman. “There it is!” I thought. “God’s sign that I need to run.away.right.now! If this lady couldn’t manage, how could I?” I shared with her my conundrum. Her response changed my life.
“Is your Chuck a Christian? Well, then, Honey, he’s gonna love you like Christ loves the Church.”
Like a two-by-four between the eyes, conviction hit me. And my vision suddenly became much clearer. Ephesians 5 is what she was referencing. It instructs men to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church, “and gave Himself up for her.” The Bible says that marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ’s love for His people. No one has sacrificed as much as Jesus for those whom they love. If God was calling us to marry, God was calling Chuck to take care of me sacrificially. And not only was he to have this great responsibility, but God Himself cared that it be good, because it is a picture of Jesus and His love for us. This wasn’t meant to be something we pull off in our own strength. This was much bigger than that.
Suddenly, “Could I marry?” became “Could I trust God to do this? To carry me through, into this new territory? Where I have no wisdom and no experience?” And I knew the answer to that. You bet I could!
I returned home, and we began dating. It seemed a bit silly, since we knew each other so well already. And while it caught me off guard when Chuck proposed a mere two weeks later, I knew the matter had already been settled. Could I marry this man? You bet I could!
I write all this in retrospect. Next week we celebrate 15 years of marriage. And if I had known it’d be this good, I wouldn’t have been fearful. If you would’ve told me that we wouldn’t have a single yelling-match in 15 years, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’ve watched Chuck sacrifice his plans, his desires, and his dreams for what’s best for me and our boys. Did I mention that he washed my feet during our wedding ceremony, to demonstrate that he would use his leadership to serve me?
God has given us the tools we needed to walk in life together. God gave Chuck the patience to learn how to relate and care for me. And He’s done the same for me. I’m not naive, I know that at any moment one of us could walk away from God and everything He’s built here. But that wouldn’t diminish the fact that He’s already given me way more than I could have imagined. And most of all, He gave me hope, strength, and faith that day that He could be trusted. And He’s been faithful to us ever since.
I’m so thankful for the times that God ministers to me when I’m not expecting it. Especially through the lady on the shore. She was absolutely right, It’s amazing what God can do.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
The weather in autumn is always unpredictable. And while the temperatures were starting to dip, I knew the leaves might start changing at Lost Maples park. So we convinced Chance to take a Saturday off from soccer, and we trekked up to the park. It’s really only about an hour from our house. And we stopped at the OST on the way in, just in time to watch a Veteran’s Day Parade in Bandera. I love that little town!
Anyhow, we made it to the park, and as I feared, it was full, but we only waited about 10 minutes before we could get in. From there on it really wasn’t too crowded.
I chose a long and high hike for us, and thankfully everyone did well. In fact, I dare say they all enjoyed the challenge. Chance reported later that he thinks it helped his stamina on the soccer field the following week.
I love this photo that Chuck took.
I was surprised at the diversity of the landscape. The boys thoroughly enjoyed throwing rocks up into the mouth of “Monkey Rock.”
Toward the end, we were racing the last minutes of daylight as we tried to get down the hills and back to our car. It was a little difficult at the end, with tired boys, but overall, we quickly decided it was worth the trip, and we’d do it again soon. Also, a little more OST for dinner seemed to set everybody back to happy.
Friday, November 28, 2014
I want to include this on our blog because it was such an honor to be a part of something so special for our friends’ family.
The Carlins have been our friends for a few years now, and we have watched them go through foster training, then receive 2 children and adjust from having 4 kids to having 6. What a journey! It was awe-inspiring to attend their official adoption day. It was held in a conference center because they were officiating 80+ adoptions at one time. What a celebration! If you ever get a chance to attend something like this, do it. You’ll be glad.
The Carlin kids posing with their grandma.
The judges are reading off the charge to the Carlin family and they are saying “I do!” as a family in response.
That night, they had a fabulous party to celebrate, complete with cake and outdoor movies! They even had a slideshow of their journey over the past year. So much fun!
Thursday, November 27, 2014
The day after Halloween, the family went out to cheer on Chance at his next soccer game…
And enjoyed the rest of the day together. The next day we had family from far and wide come in, and friends join us as we celebrated a momentous occasion for two Thier boys: their baptisms.
As it usually goes, they came from completely opposite directions.
Chandler astounded me a few months before his 5th birthday, asking to be baptized. I thought he surely didn’t understand what that meant. When I asked him why he wanted to be baptized, he said, “Because I want people to know that I love God.” This is very much in line with his personality. He is so sweet and so trusting. He has a child-like faith, no doubt. I held him off for another 2 years before finally conceding that he was ready.
Charlie came from the other end of the spectrum. He’s a thinker and he’s been analyzing this from many angles. We’ve had many discussion on apologetics and the like. My emphasis has been that faith is their decision alone and in no way do I want them to feel any pressure from us. Charlie began taking steps in the direction of faith in Christ in June. I have truly seen his mind and even his attitude transformed. It’s been a great delight to watch.
So, here are the baptisms:
And afterwards, friends and family joined us for lunch to celebrate. I was SO thankful for a beautiful day and a chance to truly enjoy our deck!
The family that came from Austin: Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Mel, Uncle Jason, Cousins Kaylie and Kaleb.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
This year’s Halloween was low-key and laid back, just like I like it. Chuck painted these Steve Heads for the boys so they could go as the Minecraft characters.
Chandler and Chance.
Charlie already had the Enderman head, so that was his preferred costume. The Enderman are one of the monsters / enemies in the game.
Once we got through school, we didn’t even trick or treat at all this year. Granny and family arrived, then we headed over to the Jones’ party. The boys played out in the cold, running like Banshees (which kept them quite warm) and wearing themselves out playing games with their friends. A perfect Halloween if you ask me. Thanks, Sarah J, for the group photo. We cherish these friendships!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
It’s our yearly tradition, and I still enjoy every minute of it. This year, it was also our school field trip for the first graders. Love Creek Orchards is not only beautiful and fun, I learn something new each time that I go. It’s well worth the time and money (although it’s affordable, too!).
Chance enjoyed the petting zoo.
And the music tent. Silly boy!
I enjoyed the tour yet again. This time I came with questions, and received some good advice. We planted our own apple and big tooth maple trees this year, just like the orchards does. And they were so kind to lend me their wisdom.
This year we actually managed to skip pumpkin painting, and do some scarecrow dressing instead. This is Chandler’s Alien Cowboy.
And I only have this photo of a new event: the apple eating contest. They get the kids sorted into an age range, give them two pre-weighed apples and 60 seconds to eat as much as they can. Then they reweigh them to find the winner. Chandler won for his category!! With as much as Chance loves apples, I’m surprised he didn’t win in his, but he had a lot of competition (and Charlie’s age was in his bracket.)
Monday, November 24, 2014
One thing I have learned about boys. If you’re having a party and you want it to succeed, there must be some sort of ball game, or at least some sort of warfare offered. One of Charlie’s classmates threw a party that had both. It’s been weeks since, and the boys are still talking about it. Chuck’s wanting more property just so we can do this sort of thing on a regular basis. What’s a woman to do?!
So the party was a Camp His Hill, where Josh lives. The boys already think that’s super cool. But then you give everyone a sling shot and take them down into a canyon with paintballs, and suddenly the boys are in awe. Personally I think giving kids sling shots instead of guns is pure genius. No one was injured or even bruised.
Rallying the troops.
This child slays me with his cuteness. How could an enemy possibly not surrender to that face?! (Spoken like a true mom, huh?)
Can you find Chandler in this photo?
Chance, however, was nervous. He’d been warned that paintballs can hurt. So anytime the enemy aimed, he surrendered.
The fella enjoyed himself just as much as his boys!
As if that wasn’t enough, it was on to the gaga ball pit. Gaga ball is this new kind of game when you get into the “pit” and hit a ball around and try to not let it touch you (basically). It’s all the rage at the moment.
Chuck enjoyed this one, too…
Here's a short demonstration:
And this is how Chandler felt when it was over.
Worn.out. Which is what I call “a successful party.”
Thank you, Stamness family, for a fabulous time!