The Birth of a Story

Today’s post comes from a friend of mine, Allen Madding. Allen just published his first novella – and I had the privilege of being his editor. The book, Shaken Awake, is the story of a downtown church that has been forced to shut down the majority of their ministries. When a huge ice storm comes to town and a homeless man is found frozen to death on the steps of their sanctuary, the church begins to re-examine their mission and priorities. Here’s a glimpse into how the story came to be. Continue reading


CSA Adventures – November Week 1

CSA Bounty Week 7
It’s hard to believe it’s already November! This is week 7 in our 10-week Fall CSA, and surprise surprise – we received more greens in this week’s box! This time we have collard greens … which I’ve only had once in my life – and I was not a fan. But – we’ll try them again this week in a new and creative way. My Whole Foods paper bags tell me that collards are the new kale … so they must be good, right?

Here’s what we brought home this week:
2 pounds Sweet Potatoes
1 big bunch Collards
2 Watermelon Radishes
2 bunches Napa Cabbage
1 head Buttercrunch Lettuce
1 bunch Arugula
6 small eggplants
A bag full of Sweet Peppers
20 (or so) Jalepenos
4 Cayenne peppers
1 Radish bunch (with greens)

And here’s what we did with it: Continue reading

Living Life As Invitation #shereadstruth #hospitality


Love your neighbor as yourself…~Matthew 22:36

This has always be an interesting verse to me, because in order to love your neighbor as yourself, you have to first love yourself. Really love yourself. I can’t help but read this study and think about how I mother my children … probably because I’m still living in that “new mom of two” stage. Trying to figure out what that looks like – and how to do it in a graceful, peaceful, gentle way.

Loving myself doesn’t mean being selfish. No – it means accepting myself for who I am … for who God created me to be … rather than wishing I was the person society might want me to be. It’s only when I do that that I can truly accept others for who they are. Once I accept – and embrace – the person God has created me to be, then I can reach out and accept others for who they are. Continue reading

Hospitality and the Little Ones #shereadstruth #hospitality

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me …”

SRT-Hospitality_day1This verse smacked me on the face today. It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I just can’t keep up as mom of two. More than once the last couple of weeks I’ve felt like I was a better mom to an only child. The honest truth is – before E was born, I really loved being a mom – at least most days. But lately … lately I just want to disappear for a while and let someone else mother these two.

Particularly when it comes to nap time. E has mostly been a dream when it comes to sleep – but now we’re getting to the stage when she has just about outgrown her miracle blanket and she hasn’t quite figured out how to fall asleep without it. And A … well A is a terrible sleeper. And she hates sleep. And what works to help her fall asleep one day doesn’t work the next. There’s no consistency … no matter how hard I try … and it drives me batty.

So today I was in the midst of a mental breakdown when I looked over and saw my new Hospitality journal. I took a deep breath, made a new pot of coffee, cut a piece of apple cake and sat down with my Bible and journal and took a break. And wouldn’t you know that this passage from Matthew was one to be read.

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CSA Adventures – October Week 4


Since we started our Fall CSA, we’ve been meal planning based on what we get each week. It’s getting difficult to come up with creative recipes using greens – but we successfully didn’t make any soups the last two weeks!

Two week’s worth of CSA goods:
1 lb Okra
Hakurei Turnips (& the greens) – 2 bunches
Buttercrunch Lettuce
Arugula – 2 bags
Red Russian Kale
Hot Shot Spicy Mustard Mix
8 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms
1 bunch Celesta Radishes
Shishito Peppers
1 bunch Vivid Choi Pac Choy

Here’s what we did with it: Continue reading

Meal Plan – October Weeks 2 & 3

Fall is here and the crockpot is working! I always love to use my crockpot, but especially during the cooler months, when daylight is shorter and bedtime comes earlier. For some reason, my toddler is crankier in these fall and winter months and we do everything we can to have dinner ready early so we can get her to bed!

I missed giving you a meal plan last week – mostly because I didn’t do so well at planning it myself. We got a great CSA box and I tried to creatively wing our meals each day. We ended up with not such a bad week of meals on the table, and I didn’t have to buy many groceries either!

This week you get double the inspiration – with last week’s menu as well as this week’s plan.
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Meal Plan – September Week 5/October Week 1

We’ve been out of town all weekend and I don’t want to lug two kids back to the grocery store, so our meal plan this week is an experiment in eating what we already have. We did get our CSA box before we left, so we have some veggies to work with – and our freezer is still stocked with meat – so here’s hoping we’ll have a successful final week of September/first week of October!

CSA box:
1 cup Rattlesnake Beans (dried)
1 lb – Sweet Peppers
1 lb – Japanese or Globe Eggplant
1 lb – Okra
4 oz – Arugula
6 oz – Hotshot Spicy Mix

All other ingredients in the recipes below will be found in our pantry, but here’s your grocery list in case you want to follow along. Remember to include the veggies listed above when you head to the store! Continue reading

September Meal Plan – Week 4

September Meal Plan – Week 4
You’ll notice this week our grocery list is very short, and our pantry list is very long. That’s because we came down with an awful stomach bug last week, so several of our planned meals went out the window. The good news is we still have all the ingredients – so we’ll be recycling them into our meal plan this week. We also started a Fall CSA this week, so most of our meals utilize those ingredients in some way. You should be able to find similar ingredients at your farmer’s market or grocery store. Continue reading

A Lesson in Disappointment

A Lesson on Disappointment
We had been talking about it all morning. My sweet, rambunctious toddler was so excited to head to the botanical gardens for a playdate with friends. I loaded up the car – the double stroller, the diaper bag full of diapers & clothes for the baby, an extra change of clothes just in case we had a toddler accident, snacks to hold us until lunch, a wrap in case the baby didn’t want to ride in the stroller, water bottles, a coffee mug, a toddler (who, I might add, was wearing cookie monster in a ring sling), and a baby. Climbed in, exhausted, and turned the key, only to discover my car wouldn’t start.

“$hit” was all I could think. I don’t think I said it out loud, but who knows – I might have. Tried it again. No dice. So I turned to my excited toddler and broke the news – “Munchkin, I don’t think we can go to the botanical gardens today. Mommy’s car is broken.” Enter toddler meltdown.

You can’t reason with a toddler on any normal day – much less when they are in full meltdown mode. But I tried anyway. “Punkin … we can’t go to the botanical gardens, but we can go to the zoo instead. Would you like to walk to the zoo?”

“Noooooooooooooooo! Want to go to the tanical gardens!” she cried in the saddest cry I might have ever heard. Continue reading

September Meal Plan – Week 3

Well, we were mostly successful this week on staying out of restaurants. We did end up eating out Wednesday night because I didn’t plan our schedule well and we were out of the house from late afternoon until bedtime. But I was successful in packing (and sticking to) picnics the days we were out of the house for lunch!

This week, I signed up for the “Eat Local” challenge through our local farmer’s market. I picked the ultra lenient path – simply because I need to use up what’s in my freezer and not buy more groceries than necessary. I tried to plan seasonal meals this week so that whatever I need to buy, I can buy from a local source – whether that be the farmer’s market or the grocery store. Luckily our grocery store sells quite a bit of local products!

Last week someone asked me if I stuck to a budget when I make my meal plan. I typically try to spend less than $150 at the grocery store each week. Sometimes I’m more successful than others. I try to keep my freezer pretty stocked with meat and frozen vegetables and our pantry stocked with essentials like canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, etc. I buy a lot of those items when they go on sale, and I try to create meal plans around the meat in our freezer. I also try to use up everything we have. There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money on food and seeing it end up in the trash can or garbage disposal!

I’ve included a pantry list this week as well as a grocery list, to give you an idea of the kinds of things we always have on hand. To help you in budgeting, I’ve also put the price next to the items we bought, and whether or not we were able to find it locally sourced. The trick in eating at home is to make sure you always have your favorite items on hand!
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Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot PieChicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite meals. When I first lived on my own, I would buy the frozen chicken pot pies – simply because they were easy … and I thought they were oh so delicious. Then I tried my hand at making my own – and the frozen ones just don’t taste the same.

Now, I’m super picky about my pot pie. I don’t like it to be too oniony – and I hate big chunks of onion in it. I’m not a huge fan of green beans in my pot pie either, so I stick to the frozen veggies without them. If I’m feeling super adventurous (or I don’t have the veggies in my freezer), then I use fresh veggies instead.

We typically use phyllo dough instead of pie crust in our pot pie. It gives it a terrific crunchy aspect, and lightens it up just a tad. Once you try it this way, you may never go back to “real” pot pie again!

Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup onion (chopped very small)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
1 package (10 oz) frozen vegetables (or 3 cups of fresh vegetables, chopped into small pieces)
5-10 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

Heat butter over low heat until melted. Blend in flour, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and frozen vegetables. Remove from heat. Pour chicken mixture into a 9 x 9 x 2 pan (or something similar).

Cut your phyllo dough into half-sized sheets. Scrunch up one half of one phyllo sheet and put it on top of the chicken mixture. Continue with half sheets until your mixture is totally covered with phyllo dough. I like to start in the corner and work my way to the other corner. Place dish on a baking sheet, just in case there’s any runover.

Bake at 375° for 30-45 minutes or until top is golden.

September Meal Plan – Week 2

Eating out for dinner is rare in our house (although I have to admit we ended up going out to dinner last night!) I’ve been a meal planner for years now, and I use cooking dinner as a creative outlet. Most nights D takes the girls and I enjoy the kitchen alone. Other nights we make cooking a family affair. Regardless of whether it’s just me or it’s the whole crew, I typically enjoy cooking and eating dinner at home. We find it’s just easier with little ones.

It’s lunch that I struggle with. I am not a huge fan of leftovers, and it’s incredibly hard to put together lunch for a toddler as well as myself. So the challenge for me this month is really to eat at home for lunch – or pack a picnic when we go on outings.

Starting this week, I’m expanding my meal plan to include lunch ideas. Hopefully this will help me stay out of restaurants during the week!
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