Those Days…

I found myself in the hospital today. The same hospital that Xander was born 3 years ago today. The memories and emotions of his birth and placement swept over me. The walk from the car to the hospital, the smell of the hospital, sitting in a meeting…there was a likeness there reminiscent of those 4ish days we spent coming and going from the hospital. The days between Xander being born and being placed with us.

Those days. Never have I experienced such days where the outcome was more out of my control. The plan…the plan was this beautiful 7 pound 12 ounce baby would be called my son. The plan was we would walk out of that hospital 72+ hours after he was born filled with joy and excitement….

The reality was…at that moment he wasn’t “ours.” While He had captured our hearts…

He had also captured his biological family’s hearts…

And they had captured ours.

Those days. Those days in the hospital loving and pouring out on a family that were virtually strangers….they were hard. There wasn’t time for “surface” talk or “peeling the layers of an onion” in a get-to-know-you-conversation. Time only allowed for complete vulnerability.

I reminisced on those days today. Ruminated on them.

I had a vision.

I saw a hurricane. As I looked down, from above, the trajectory of the hurricane was clear. It was fierce and powerful. Controlled but uncontrolled. It’s path of destruction was wide and long.

But in the middle…in the middle was a calm. A knowledge of what was going on and what was to come. A breath of freedom, peace, and grace. It was as if the hand of God had reached into the middle of this storm and created a moment, if even for a minute, of clarity, of victory, of grace. In the middle of this storm…one he didn’t create or want or hope for….He was there.

He was there.

In the storm.

And he redeemed the destruction of its path.
HURRICANEVIEWFROMSPACE

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A Year Ago Today…

A year ago today….

I stood in the kitchen as Noah ate his breakfast before leaving for school. We had celebrated my birthday the day before and it was clear it was still on Noah’s mind.

“Mom, we prayed yesterday and asked Jesus to bring us our baby girl. I’m bummed that we didn’t get a sister on your birthday.” I paused for a moment wondering how to respond…I’m sure I said something trite about God’s timing and being patient.

He wasn’t satisfied saying, “Mom, I think she is coming soon.” I responded saying, “Well, maybe she will come today, like a belated birthday present.”

“Yes, yes, I think that is it. Let’s pray again,” Noah exclaimed.

So he prayed.

Later that afternoon I sat in Noah’s classroom for a Halloween celebration. I felt my phone buzzing in my purse and knew I was missing a phone call. I ignored it, obviously. Minutes later I felt it buzz again, a text message. I took a peak at my phone.

A text from Brett read: Call me as soon as possible.

Knowing Brett doesn’t send texts very often, especially an urgent one, I was a little concerned.

I checked my missed calls.

I recognized the number. It was an adoption agency.

I glanced at the time. The Halloween celebration would be over in 7 minutes. It seemed like an eternity.

When the program was over I hurriedly told Noah he did a wonderful job, kissed him on the head and shuffled Georgi and Xander out of the room.

I was calling Brett back before we got to the car.

“Ang, the agency called, there is a baby girl, she is 6 weeks old and has Down syndrome. They need a family. Call the agency and get more information.”

My heart raced. I got excited. I got scared. I began to dream and wonder, could this be our girl?

Our belated birthday gift?

The next few hours were a blur as we spoke with the agency, prayed, talked and put our “yes” on the table.

We would wait over the weekend before we would hear if the birth family wanted to meet us….

The wait was long.

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“My (church) Kids”…when tragedy strikes.

I spent the better part of a decade serving a church as the children’s and youth director. I moved across the country, alone, for the job. The people in that church were my family, they anticipated my arrival, welcomed me, fed me, fixed my junky car, they loved me.

I watched many grow from children to young adults. I traveled out of country with some, all over the country with others, served our area with many. I sat around campfires with them, cried with them when they lost a friend, prayed with them to accept Christ. I have seen them graduate from high school and college, work dream jobs, go on mission trips to Africa, get engaged, get married, have babies.

I left that job 3 years ago this week. And yet, I still think of these “kids” as “my kids.”

I love them.

So when tragedy strikes one of them I mourn.

I cry.

I get mad.

I hurt with them.

I pray for them.

One of the first family’s that had me over for dinner when I moved across the country for the job was the Ehrman family; Sandy, Daniel, and Spencer. Sandy had cooked an alfredo pasta meal with green beans on the side…and probably something else…but it was 11 years ago.

I sat at their dinner table and learned about their lives. What they liked, where they had come from, what their dreams were. I distinctly remember how thrilled they were to be in their home. I’m not sure how long they had been there, but not long.

The road to getting this home hadn’t been paved in gold. It was work. It was sacrifice. It was a dream come true.  Memories were made. They shared holidays there, gathered with friends there, the boys poured over homework in that home, sharpened their piano skills and grew into young men there.

It was home.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday morning that home burnt to the ground. No one was home, which is a great blessing, but the home and everything in it is a complete loss.

As you can imagine the devastation is breathtaking and the need is great.

Would you prayerfully consider giving to the Ehrman family as they put the pieces back together?

Donations can be made here.

Thank you for your gift and for your prayers.

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Spiralized…. Pad Thai

More spiralizer love!!!

My second spin with the spiralizer was to change out standard or rice noodles for spiralized squash or sweet potato noodles.

I used a combination of the two.

This was a hit with the whole family! it will be on regular rotation on our dinner menu.

The Goods:

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 Red Pepper, thinly sliced
  • Green Onion, chopped
  • 4-5 Chicken Breast
  • Good Quality Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • One Jar Wildtree Pad Thai Sauce

Preheat oven to 400*

Peel the potatoes and squash. Cut the large end of the squash off and spiralize the rest. Spiralize the potatoes.  Lay the noodles out on a baking sheet drizzle with olive oil and toss to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, flipping the noodles half way through. Check the noodles at this point to see if they are soft. You don’t want to over cook them but you also don’t want them crunchy.

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Season the chicken breast as desired and bake for 20 minutes.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in pan. Toss in the red pepper and sauté until tender. Add the noodles and Pad Thai Sauce. Stir it all together. Remove from heat once everything is warmed through.

Top with chopped Cilantro and green onions. Serve with chicken.

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Spiralize or Bust….Fresh Zucchini Noodle Salad

Awwww…..the Spiralizer! My mother’s day gift. It is revolutionizing our food around here.

When I took the Isagenix plunge in September it became clear to me that my diet was heavy on simple cards….wheat and gluten in general….and they make me feel and act like a slug…among other things. (Not interested in an argument about gluten. It doesn’t treat the body good, end of story.)

But who doesn’t like noodles?

Spiralizer to the rescue. It’s simple, fast and fun!

This first recipe has been a huge hit!

The Goods:

  • 2-3 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Medium Red Onion
  • 1 Cup Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 Cup Crumbles Feta Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Good Quality Olive Oil….cheap olive oil tastes bad…if it is in a clear glass bottle you can assume it is cheap….and will taste bad
  • Salt and Pepper

Spiralize or shred, if you don’t have a spiralizer, your zucchini. Place your noodles in a strainer and sprinkle with salt to help draw the water out.  Let sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze gently to get as much water as possible.

Spiralize your red onion. Throw everything in a bowl and chill for at least two hours. Stir before serving.

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The Boys Snickered

A class of second graders strolled by me as I sat in the hard plastic chair waiting for Georgi to finish her assessment. The kids must have come from the school library as they each carried tattered books in their hands. My focus was taken from the class to the girl who walked alone about 20 feet behind the rest of the class.

I recognized her almond shaped eyes and suddenly the distance between her and her classmates punched me in the gut.

She was wearing trendy jeans, a cute top and pink striped scarf. She clutched her books close to her body so not to drop them. She had straight, dark hair that hung half way down her back and bangs that covered most of her forehead.  I glanced at her eyes again, they were blue and I wondered if they glistened with brushfield spots like Lucy’s do.

I flashed her smile and got a wave in return. I wanted to get up and walk with her to class and tell her how beautiful I thought she was and that she reminded me of my Lucy. Instead I got up and walked the other direction in hopes of shaking the hurt that boiled inside me.

I returned some 10 minutes later to see her once again walking towards me. A group of 5-6 elementary aged boys stood between the girl and me. As she approached the group of boys their attention shifted from their boy like horseplay to the girl. One of the boys piped up and said “Hey, XXXX say “Monday.”

She grinned and “Monday” innocently rolled off her lips. She carried on towards her destination, naïve to the cruel reality that just took my breath away.

The boys snickered.

My heart ached.

___________________

Teaching your kids to show love and respect to children with special needs

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Cilantro and Lime…all the Thyme

Haha…ok, there isn’t really any Thyme in this recipe….I was just trying to be clever and funny. It’s funny to me…sorry if you think it is lame.  (not really)

This is what we served for our mothers day gathering. It was so, so good. Full of flavor, color, and the best part was that we (Brett and I) did all the prep the day before.

Let me just say a little something about Mother’s day, Father’s Day and holidays in general….

I LOVE THEM!!!! I love celebrating them. While we don’t go over the top (by my standards…ha!)…I’m ok with some hoopla. I’m excited about forming traditions, blessing family and friends and being a voice of joy and encouragement in these celebrations. Setting aside extra thyme ;) to make things extra special, It’s a joy for me…

anyway…

This conglomeration of recipes is from pieces and parts of a conglomeration of recipes  I have found on the World Wide Web. (Note: my sister says using colossal words raises ones IQ….so there you have it…I can feel mine soaring…even if the sentence structure itself is poor)

Cilantro Lime Chicken….Devine.

Whatcha (IQ dropping) need:

  • 16 chicken breasts (we were feeding a crowd and left overs are good)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, I used greek
  • 1 cup(ish) chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Garlic Galore Season
  • Salt to taste

Throw it altogether. Let it marinade overnight.  Grill.

Spicy Mango Strawberry Salsa

The Goods:

  • 2 ripe mangos (should “give” when pushed with thumb…don’t get a mushy one it will be stringy and gross).
  • 1 quart strawberries.
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey (local is best)
  • salt to taste

Dice the mango into bite size pieces. Chop the strawberries. Dice the Jalapeno…leave the seeds in for more heat…remove for less. :) Throw it all together. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Serve with Guacamole, veggies, chips (preferably organic, non GMO), and/or a side salad.

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Guacamole…it’s a food group around here

I have several recipes to share! Our family journey to health and healing has been a crazy good one. We have changed many things regarding how we fuel our bodies (instead of feeding our bodies.)

While the coffee, soda, potato chips, cheeze its, and boxed dinners have vacated the house (for the most part) tasty, exciting, satisfying food certainly has not!

We eat guacamole a lot. I whip this up more than once most weeks. It is crazy healthy and loved by all.

Here’s the goods:

  • 3 ripe avocados, cubed (when ripe the avocado will have a little “give” when pressed with the thumb)
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup Salsa (either make your own or find one without added sugar or corn syrup)
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro
  • couple dashes of mexican style chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Cut your avocados in half, remove seed, cut the the avocado meat into squares. Throw everything into a bowl, mash together. We like our chunky, so we don’t over mash. Chll at least 2 hours before serving.

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Enjoy!!

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Crustless Quiche

This recipe is a favorite of ours. It is great because you can throw whatever you have on hand….or about to go bad into the quiche. Today we did onion, orange pepper, spinach and Swiss cheese. Other things you could throw in….mushrooms, swine flesh…er bacon or ham if that is your bag, tomatoes, any color of pepper, different types of cheese, asparagus…whatever! Crustless….for years I made this with a premade pie crust. But alas….the crust isn’t healthy, is Gluten and junk loaded…so we skip it now. If you want crust throw a crust in the bottom of your dish. Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk. I use a higher fat milk…nothing less than 2% or your quiche will be runny.
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I use swiss)
  •  3ish cups of toppings
  • salt and pepper

Preheat over to 375 degrees Grease your pie dish/pan….I use butter. Beat your eggs and milk together at a medium high speed for about 2 minutes….you want it frothy. Add salt and pepper. Dump the egg mixture into your dish. Layer your other ingredients into the egg mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until it sets. That’s it! So easy! Enjoy!!! Oh, this freezes wonderful

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Food Talk and Fish Tacos

I’m a pretty decent cook. Really, I am. I know that’s a not a terribly humble thing of me to say..but, well…I enjoy cooking…probably because I am good at it…ha!

So as we have totally flipped our eating habits up-side-down in the past 6 months I have been forced to find new recipes…and I think it is FUN!

This past weekend I had Fish tacos at The Cheesecake Factory (and yes I had cheesecake too…) and they were good…but I knew I could make something better.

And after pursuing Pinterest and combining a few different recipes…I managed to pull off fish tacos that were better than what I had this weekend.

After posting a couple pics of my Fishy food on Facebook and having the crowds go wild I decided I would share the recipe…

Recipe first…then pics….because I loathe scrolling through all the “how to cook” pics on food blogs. Just gimme the details.

Fish Tacos with a Spicy Flare

The Fish:

  • 2 Tablespoons Wildtree’s Jalepeno Grapeseed oil (Extra Virgin Olive Oil could be substituted)
  • The juice of 1 lime. Must be fresh! No bottled lime. I insist.
  • A palmful of salt. I used Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. But go with whatever is in your pantry.
  • 1-1.5 pounds of a white fish: Cod, Halibut or Tilapia.

Throw all of those things in a container and let them marinate for a few hours.

The Slaw:

  • 4 cups of slaw
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
  • The juice of 1 lime. Must be fresh! No bottled lime….
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil….good quality…it really does taste better.
  • 1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil…don’t overdo sesame oil!! And refrigerate it after opening or it will go rancid
  • 1 small thinly sliced red onion

Throw that all in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablspoon of sourcream
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 2 pinches of salt and a couple shakes of pepper

Throw that all in a bowl…and let it chill for a couple hours.

This meal is great because the prep is easy and you can throw it all together in the morning and head out for the day.

Cooking the fish….you could grill it or bake it or cook it on the stovetop. I cooked mine on the stove top. Medium High heat 2-3 minutes per side.

Make your tacos on the “wrap” of your choice…corn tortilla, flour tortilla, gluten free tortilla (my preference) or just make a pile on your plate and eat it with Tortilla chips.

Garnish with Verde Salsa and avocado slices. Seriously people don’t skip the avocado…your body needs the good fat.

Enjoy!

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