Friday, May 31, 2013

Favorite Combos Friday

Unique title? I think not. But my creative title brain cells are not working this morning. Must be the good ole allergies clogging up the cells. [sneeze, sneeze, sniffle, sniffle and repeat.]

I've realized my posts lately have not been very fun. Downers actually. So, to remedy that let's have some fun, shall we?

What are your favorite combinations?

Here are a few of mine in no particular order:

1. PB & chocolate. More specifically Reese's PB Eggs. Yes, eggs and only eggs. The makers of this delectable combo struck a PB & chocolate mine when discovering the perfect peanut butter/chocolate ratio. [yes, I have problems and need therapy] 

2. 70-75 degree-partly-sunny-with-gorgeous-clouds-against-a-beautiful-blue-sky-with-a-very-light-wind and a great book. [fun fact: if you put hyphens between words it really only counts as one word...says me]

3. Anything and God's presence. Ever go on a walk and you are just overcome with thankfulness? Ever sit on a beach and watch your family and become overwhelmed with God's goodness, mercy and grace? Yup, that is what I'm talking about.

4. Cold days and warm soup. [don't forget some crusty bread with that soup...slurp!]

5. Blessings of friends and laughter-or-great-talks. [see how I just sneaked/snuck in that hyphen thing again?] [there is a strong debate over sneaked/snuck in the writer grammar world so I'm making everyone happy here...I hope.]

Your turn! What are your favorite combinations? Don't be shy. No wrong answers here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Oklahoma

Monday changed your life. For that, I am truly saddened and sorry.

Mothers, fathers, siblings, Grandparents, cousins and friends are mourning loss of deeply loved lives. The community cries together. The nation can only try to imagine what you're going through.

As a mom, I can only imagine the heartache of not hearing the child's feet rush down the stairs in the morning. The special belly laugh and giggle not being heard. An empty chair at the table just waiting to be occupied. Seeing the child's favorite items scattered throughout the house. I cry with you.

When I heard the news of this twisted storm, I felt sickened. I will admit I thought Why?! Why the children, God?! What are you doing?! You, who have the power to tame storms and move mountains, why?!

I felt His presence and His tears. Tears for the families. Tears for those who have nowhere to go. I heard a still, quiet voice whisper, Faith.

We live in a twisted, dark world at times. We live in a world of 'bad things happening to good people'. We haven't answers. We can only hold on to hope, faith, and show the world God's love in a time when there will be many questioning the faith--wondering if God can be trusted.

This is a difficult post to write when my mind is as twisted as the wreckage when I think about all that has happened. I won't say all the "right" things people say to try to make you feel better. It really doesn't help to hear cliches.

All I can tell you is to hold on to the hem of Jesus when you feel the world caving in. Hold on when your faith is crumbling. Hold on when your child is being lowered in the ground. Hold on as you try to sleep when all you see is that tornado coming for your child. Hold on as you put one foot in front of the other when you only want to stay in bed and sleep the pain away. Hold on. Please, hold on.

Mr. Rogers relays what his mother told him when he was afraid when tragedy struck, "Look for the helpers". (loosely translated) Remember those who have helped you. They are not looking for a reward --they are hurting with you. They are being the hands and feet of God. Let them help you, cry with you, pray for/with you when you can't complete a thought. Friends and strangers want to help. Let them help you get through this.

Prayers are going upward for you. Helpers are coming. God is holding you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

There Once Was A Woman

There once was a woman who lived in a, no, no. That's not it....

A guy walks into a, no, no. Sorry....

An older woman innocently asks, "Are you looking for a job?"

"I'm waiting. Waiting for God to tell me what I should do. I would like to go into missions but God hasn't told me where yet." response a young woman newly graduated from college. She works part-time in a field in which she did not study. 

The older women means well. In her mind, this young woman has much to learn. She shakes her head ever so slightly as she continues the conversation in her head, One cannot just wait on God to whisper what a person should do for a living. This girl should be looking at various mission boards to find out what she should do next or find a full-time job in the field of her degree.

In fact, the older woman relates this story to her small group and many in the group laugh agreeing the young woman has much to learn about the workings of this world. This younger generation doesn't know the meaning of work.

Or does this young woman have much to teach the older generation?

James is a fascinating book of the Bible. So much to learn in five chapters. James Chapter 2 verse 17 says, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." click on the above link to read all of chapter 2 so we don't take this verse out of context. The verse before this talks of someone in need of clothing. Yes, our action in physically seeing to the needs of that person is our responsibility. We can give money, time, resources to organizations. We can see our neighbor in need and find a way to give. Is action all about "doing"?

What is action (works or deeds in some versions)? Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the worldview we forget to ask God for His guidance. We mindlessly do what is expected. Go to college right after graduating high school whether or not you know your major, find a job in the field you studied, make lots of money so you will be considered successful, travel and spend all your riches on material objects, and if you have time get married and maybe have children. Success. Or is it?

The girl from the story above is being an active member in society. She isn't sitting at home. She has a job in which she interacts with many. It is difficult finding a full-time job now. Employers have figured out the cost effectiveness of hiring part-time employees.

Is waiting on God an action? I believe it is. Just as I believe prayer is an action to accompany our faith. Many times we want to 'do'. Prayer and waiting are 'doing'.

Sometimes God tells us to wait. Even when every fiber of our being is screaming for something to happen--a clear sign--, God whispers, wait. That is obedience in a world screaming. Obedience to wait to see what God has in store.

Are His Ways always clear? No. There are times when several options are presented and either way one chooses will be in keeping with His Plan.

I personal applaud the young woman in her time of waiting and talking with God. We, mere humans, do not see the bigger pictures. God has her in the perfect place at the perfect time. Society may see her as a slacker since she isn't pursuing the big bucks and fame. God may see it as a time of learning and ministering to those she meets every day. Preparing her.

While we wait for God to say Go!, we are being used. That little girl who fell on the sidewalk as we are sweeping the sidewalk in front of a retail store. She needs our love and help. The man who looks so sad needs our smile. We are being used. That, my friend, IS faith in action.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example 
for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

As Christians, let's carefully weigh our words. Even though the woman never spoke the words of doubt or her opinion out loud, a person can tell in one's reaction what that person is thinking. Let's encourage one another in love.

If you are in a time of waiting, be encouraged. While you are being active in the world, He is working His wondrous plan. You may not see it now. You may not see it later. But He is working. Keep your eyes and heart open.
Let the words I say profess my love. Father, let my heart be after you. In everything I do, for You. ~~ The Garden by NeedToBreathe

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom's Helpers

Happy Mom's Day to all the moms. Just a reminder to be sensitive to those who want to be moms but are unable, those who are single, those who have kiddos in heaven, and those whose moms are no longer with is a tough day sometimes/some years. If you know someone who is "like a mom", let her know how special she is to you and/or your kids.
read my Mother's Day facebook status. 

It seems the older I get as a person and a mom, I begin to realize how Mother's Day is not always a happy day. I even wrote a post about it being hard after email conversations with a relative. 

But, today, I am all the more mindful of how we moms wouldn't be the moms we are today without helpers along the way.

Helpers who encourage, walk with us when we want to pull out all our hair, answer our millionth question about how they 'did it', notice how we are at our wits end and offer to take the kids for a couple of hours. Helpers who know when to call so we can talk to a human being and understand when we start talking about the latest Winnie the Pooh or Veggie Tales video. 

We may think we are super-moms. In reality we are moms who may seem to have it all together but don't. We need our husbands, moms, friends, sisters, brothers, etc. to round out this child-rearing thing. 

If you are not a mom and feel left out on a day like today, just know deep in your heart, you...yes YOU, have made a difference in the life of a mom and children. You are there when we need you. You are there when we need a much deserved break. You are there to love our children and us. You are there to cheer us on.

You are an important part of today. Don't ever, ever forget that. 

If you are a mom feeling down today because of not having your child(ren) near by for various reasons, I am praying for you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sweet & Sticky Chicken

Don't let the title fool you. This chicken also has some kick! 

Since Mother's Day is fast approaching, this would make a great meal for dear mom. Very easy and yummy! I've actually made it twice and I have some tips for you. 

First, the recipe. It is a Rachael Ray recipe from her daytime show. Click here for the recipe and video. Now, don't be afraid of the unpronounceable words. I was scared at first but then I did what I told our kids when learning to read or when a test overwhelmed...take one word at a time. ;)

As with any recipe (with the exception of baking...well, sometimes), a recipe is only a map. See the recipe below for my variation. 

Picture from Rachael Ray's website. Not my kitchen...sigh.


  • About 3 tablespoons Tamari (aged soy sauceor liquid amino I used Coconut Liquid Aminos (does not taste like coconut!) found in health food stores. If I wouldn't have had that on hand, I would have used Braggs Liquid Aminos (better than regular soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup I used honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed I did not use this because it just sounded blick! 
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes My family had differing views on this amount. Our son and I thought it was too spicy hot. The rest of the family said it was perfect.
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon I had lemon juice in the refrigerator and used two quick squirts of the bottle.
  • About 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 to 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs I used a bag of boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins
  • Scallions, very thinly sliced on an angle I didn't have but I would imagine it would have made a pretty presentation
  • Harissa, thinned with olive oil or hot water or Sriracha sauce, for garnish Again, didn't have; didn't use.
Whisk together Tamari, balsamic, honey, garlic, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice and olive oil. Place chicken in marinade and preheat grill to medium-high. Marinade chicken 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Grill chicken for 12 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill asparagus to mark evenly, 3-5 minutes. Slice chicken and layer with asparagus tips; top with scallions and drizzle with thinned out Harissa or Sriracha, and serve.

Since our grill is out of commission, I just put the breast on a griddle pan I have. They cooked quickly and tasted great!!!

Rachael Ray paired this with asparagus as you'll see in the original recipe. I didn't have any....aka I was unprepared and this recipe sounded really good since I didn't have anything else planned and I had most of the ingredients...but there are many things you can serve beside it. Rice, Quinoa, lo-mein noodles, mashed potatoes, stir-fry veggies and the list could go on. 

Let me know if you try it and what you think. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kiss Me Awake Winner and 25 Years

May I just take a moment to tell you how I enjoyed your comments on the Kiss Me Awake Giveaway post? Your comments stating your favorite place to read were just plain fun to read. I admit I was jealous by a few of the places and inspired by other places. No matter where you read, as long as you have a great book you'll be happy.

Speaking of a great book [see what I did there?], the winner of Kiss Me Awake by Julie Momyer is........yes, why yes you do hear a drum roll in your head at this very're very welcome for that................................. Cassandra MacDonald!!!!

Cassandra's "favorite place to read...oh man I carry a book with me at all times so I can read when I have down time or am waiting. My all time favorite spot to read though is in a lounge chair outside on a nice spring/summer day, just relaxing and reading. Love that someone mentioned a hammock, I would love to have one!"

Congratulations! Check your email right now and reply with your mailing address so I can ship out your signed copy. Please respond in 48 hours or less. If I don't hear from you, I'll pick another winner.

If you didn't win, wipe away those tears and can always purchase it on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle form. If I were you I'd buy it. Yup, sure would.

Once you read Kiss Me Awake, which is awesomeness-in-a-book, think about posting a review on Amazon. But, I'm not the boss of you.

In other news: Hubs and I hit the 25th wedding anniversary mark this week. Obviously, we were both 10 years old when we married. Obviously, time really does fly. Obviously.

Ahhh, 25 years ago .... insert music as we enter the flashback portion of this post.....

He had a mullet...don't judge, it was in style way back then. I had a perm...I already had wavy hair. I don't know why I paid money for a perm. I.just.don't.know.

He wanted a small radio in his tux with an earphone to check on a baseball game score...ummm, no. Just no. All I could hear as I walk down the isle with my dad was my heart pounding in my ears...eyes on him, eyes on him.

We had a beautiful spring day 25 years ago. Blue sky, sun shining, perfect temperature and barely a cloud in the sky......snap back to the present day music inserted here.....

Have all our days since been sunny, bright and perfect? No. Not by any means. But in those messy bits of life we grow. Yes, I admit I've wanted to shake that man and I know he's felt the same with me. I really hope our children, who have seen the frustration and heard our arguments along with the love and laughter, have figured out marriage isn't for the faint of heart. Messy bits are work. Hard work. In that hard work, there is love. Love that is a choice. Some days we do better at choosing love than others. It's worth it at the very end of the day. I wouldn't want to go through life without him. Who else will get on my very last nerve just for the fun of it because he knows it will make me mad? ;)

So, 25 years. What are we doing for this major event? Ummm, well.....I'll get back with you on that one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kiss Me Awake & Giveaway

I have a secret. Come closer. Closer yet.

Glances to the right, then left. Looks under the desk and behind.

I am a very picky reader.

Shhhhh! Not so loud with your "wwwhhaaaat?!"

I have been known to keep a book as an example of how not to write. I judge a book by its cover. Phew, admitting that was scary. If I'm not 'into' the story by the second chapter (at the most), it is bye-bye-bye book. And sometimes when I see a book published the non-traditional way...well, I promptly skedaddle.

I know, I know. I'm a book snob. Are there recovery programs? Wait. I'm not sure I want to recover. I love to read. I love to be fussy, picky, snobby and all those other adjectives about the books I chose to spend my time reading.

All this to say one book has me shouting from the rooftop. All in a good way, of course.

Kiss Me Awake is that book.

Kiss Me Awake is Julie Momyer's first novel. In fact, it was a finalist in a popular Christian writing contest a few years ago. And, well, you see...I know Julie. Which makes this all the more fun! Please don't let that little fact stop you from reading this review. Trust me; if I don't like a book I will honestly let you know. In the same regard, if I like a book I will gush on and on about it. Get ready for some gushing...

If you are a lover of mystery, suspense, real life hurts, real life love, guessing 'who done it',  you will absolutely adore this novel.

Julie brings the characters to life. No one dimensional characters here. Let's not talk about how I wanted to reach through the book to wring a few necks along the way. I may or may not have yelled at a character or two...but let's pretend that never happened, shall we.

The life-long hurt of the main character, Jaida Martin, effects every move she has made in her personal, professional and spiritual life. This hurt numbs her; closes down her ability to love. And, let's be honest, she may or may not have been one I was yelling at a few times...and no, I'm not proud of it. How many times have we readers been hurt and shut down our hearts. It is a defense mechanism that haunts me a little too often. I found myself, in a way, relating to Jaida with that one aspect of her personality.

We travel along with Jaida and Spencer as they deal with some very real life issues. Spencer's faith in our God is commendable as he has a world of hurts to work through and at times wants to give up. God doesn't allow him and He guides Spencer along the way.

I had a difficult time putting down Kiss Me Awake. Mystery, danger, suspense, betrayal, secrets, love, forgiveness, redemption; all words describe Kiss Me Awake. The plot is well thought out and the author, Julie, keeps the story moving with the right amount of twists and turns along the way.

The story is so beautifully shown it felt as though I was watching the story unfold as if watching a movie.

Giveaway is over. Thanks for everyone who entered. Love the comments of your favorite place to read. See the next post to see who won Kiss Me Awake!
Have I whet your appetite enough to want your very own autographed copy? Well, aren't you the fortunate one? I just so happen to have an autographed copy to give away.

All you need to do is.....
  • Reside in the lower 48 states of the USA. No other countries, Alaska or Hawaii are eligible due to postage cost. Sorry guys!
  • Leave a comment stating your favorite place to read.
  • Also, include your email address so I can contact you...this is a must (ex: imadorbs AT provider DOT com).
  • Deadline is Tuesday, May 7 at 9 PM ET just in time for Mother's Day! Hint, hint. And as long as the postal system is on the ball.
  • If you are the winner, you must reply to my email with your mailing address within 48 hours or I'll draw another winner.
  • I will determine the winner by using
Hurry! Spread the word and tell all your friends who love to read, who know someone who loves to read or just know people who know how to read.

If you are not chosen as the winner, grab some tissues and cheer up. You can purchase your very own copy by clicking here to order a copy or two or twelve. Available in Kindle and paperback.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

When Your Mother's Day is Bitter-Sweet

Sometimes Mother's Day is hard. As a mom, you may have lost a child to death, kidnapping, run-away or strained relationship. Or your mom may have passed away when you were at a tender age, young adult or an older adult.

I don't claim to know what it is like to lose a child. If you've lost a child, I am so, so sorry.

I only know the pain of losing a parent. And, when you're missing someone, holidays occasionally suck.

Over thirteen years ago my mom died at the young age of sixty-two. She never woke up after her mitral heart valve replacement surgery. My mom and our family knew her chances of survival were slim because of other health issues. Issues which plagued her most of her life. With her health history and due to complications during the surgery, mom was under anesthesia too long.

Those were difficult days. I was thirty-two and we had three young children at home. When I received the 3 a.m. call from my brother saying the family was being called back to the hospital, which was almost an hour away, I felt torn. I needed to be at the hospital yet it was 3 a.m. and my husband had to be at work in 3 hours. Who would watch the children. I certainly was not going to entertain a 7, 5 and 2 year old in a hospital waiting room. I waited until 6 a.m. to phone my mother-in-law. I woke the children and got them dressed and over to her house as quickly as I could. By the time I arrived at the hospital, they had already taken her in and out of surgery...again. The prognosis was not good.

Our family made the unpleasant decision to let her go after her body shut down and brain damage occurred. As soon as her IV of adrenaline was turned down, she left this world and entered her Heavenly home. I can't begin to tell you how awful it was to make the life/death decision yet we knew she was ready to be in arms of Jesus. Bitter-sweet.

To this day, it is difficult for me to watch movies and TV shows in which a character is on life support or is just barely hanging on to life. It is agonizing to watch a family say good-bye. And, when it happens in real life, I pray for the family in the most urgent way. It is so terribly hard.

"She's better off now." "She can 'breathe' better now" "It's better for her to go now than to suffer." And, even though I agree(d) with some of those statements made by well-meaning friends, it doesn't help. It really doesn't. I know she is in a much, much, much better place. But, the person is grieving and just an "I'm sorry" and meaningful hug work wonders to a mourner. It is a lesson I learned and hope to carry out to others mourning loved ones.

The year that followed was a blur. I felt terrible for our children. They wouldn't remember their grandma. They wouldn't remember how much she loved them. They wouldn't remember her funny pronunciation of certain words like 'purdy' or 'flutterby'. 'I'm going to hang you by your nose and tickle your toes' when the kids were outside running through the towels she had hanging on the clothesline. The oldest two wouldn't remember the time they had a sleepover at Grandpa and Grandma's house. We have pictures. We have stories. But, sometimes that just doesn't seem like enough.

I remember the first time after her death it really hit me she was gone. It wasn't her voice still left on the answering machine. It wasn't going over to my dad's house and her not there. Or not seeing her standing at the picture window waving as we left their house. It was when our then 2 year old son had an uncapped marker in his hand.

I could see him eyeing the ink end of the marker. He had been told before not to touch it with his fingers. Only paper is allowed to touch it. Curiosity got the best of him that day. Ever so slowly his free hand floated toward the marker. I was standing behind and off to the side waiting to see how this would play out. Lo and behold, his thumb and index finger mysteriously found their way to the marker tip.

I startled him by speaking the words, "The marker is for paper not fingers." He looked at me as innocently as any two year old could and said, "My fingers just wanted to see it." Melt my heart and God bless that child.

Guess who was the first person I wanted to call and relay this marker story. I even had the phone in my hand before I realized she wasn't there to call. I couldn't talk to her and tell her what funny thing that boy of ours just did and said. I remember sitting on the stairway with the phone in my hand fighting back tears. It wasn't fair to the kids. It certainly wasn't fair to me. I called my dad and relayed the event, but it wasn't quite the same.

Being busy as a stay-at-home mom raising our children and having said yes to too many volunteer positions at church, I realized roughly nine months into the grief process I was too busy to really grieve. That next church year I declined all but one volunteer position and gave myself time. Time. Time to allow myself to grieve.

During the first years after mom's death there would be times of unexpected sadness and crying in the tub. The tub is the best place to cry, by the way. There is something about the water. I remember the first time it happened I couldn't figure out why I was feeling that way. Then I realized a holiday was fast approaching. It happened over and over again and I realized I just had to go with these feelings yet not dwell so long in it or it would turn into 'poor-pitiful-me'.

One Sunday, years after mom's passing, we were sharing in Sunday School recalling the events of the week. It was Mother's Day. Hubs and I were the youngest in our mixed-age Sunday School class. Every single person older than me had a mother still living. As others shared around the circle, they talked about how they called or visited their mom. I sat there thinking how unfair it was to not have a mom at my age. Or our children's ages. I was actually angry. I don't know why or where the anger feeling came from but it was there. Oh boy, was it there. That was an extremely rough Sunday filled with tears.

Mother's Day does not send me into a tailspin like it did that year. I think I just needed to grieve her death that day. Grieve it in a way I never had before then. Accept life isn't always fair and remember God is ultimately in control.

We all grieve differently. Several years ago, my mother-in-law passed away. My husband handled his grief in a totally different way than I did with my mom. But, that is okay. Don't compare mourning stages with another person. God made us differently for a reason.


To those with fresh pain of loss, if I could sit down with you and look you in the eye I would say,

"This really stinks. I know you're missing her and it hurts not to see her in the familiar places. I know you're afraid you'll forget her voice. You're wondering how to get past today. At moments you wonder what you'll do without your mom to guide you; care for you.

At times, it feels like you're climbing a mountain. A mountain you did not choose to climb. A mountain draped in fog and only a few peeks of sunshine trying to break through. Some days the fog is thick and suffocating. Other days you see those beautiful streams of sunshine beaming within reach. This climb of grieve is an exhausting climb filled with deep ruts and root-filled paths. But, don't give up.

Just like anything in life, you need the good and the bad. The valleys and the mountain tops. Keep your eyes on the Son-shine and that mountain top. That is the thing about this thing we call life. We are always climbing. Always working our way toward the beauty.
You're not alone though. Let your family, friends and those closest to you see the real you. Be real with them. Don't hold back. Tell them about your hard days, your not so hard days and, yes, the good days. There will eventually be good days, trust me. If you friends and family don't want to hear it, find someone who will listen.
You knew her in a way no one else did. No one else had the same relationship. Your dad, your brother, your sister, your aunt, uncle and cousins all knew her in their own individual ways. Your grief shouldn't look any different. Give yourself that permission. Don't compare yourself to others grieving and think you should be "over it" or in a certain stage of grief. You're never 'over it'. It's just not as raw as time goes on. 

Don't live in ' what if ' and guilt mode. Please don't do that to yourself. And, one last thing. It's going to be okay. It really is. 
There is hope. She is in the loving arms of our Savior. You will see her again in Glory. Better brush up on your dance steps for your reunion on the streets of gold."

Over thirteen years have passed. Grief isn't as raw. Do I miss her? I do, but as I said, it isn't as raw. Just the other day I found myself thinking of her when I wasn't sure about a recipe. Sure I was sad but it wasn't the hold-back-tears every-time-I-thought-of-her feeling. I still have those times of hold-the-tears-back when it comes to our children; like how proud she would have been to see her grandchildren in various activities, graduations, baptisms, and other accomplishments.

Our life on earth isn't always how we envision it. Many times, the hard messy bits of life make life more servant focused as you walk with others in times like this. Try to be on the look out for opportunities to minister to those hurting from a major loss.

But, always remember we all grieve differently. Our stories and feelings are different. My story isn't going to be the same as your story. It's ok. Just listen, use words when necessary and pray for and/or with the person fresh in pain.

Until we meet in our Heavenly home, better start brushing up on those dance steps. I know I am.