Monday, September 28, 2015

::this month::


(thank you elizabeth lafargue photography for our beautiful recent family/ baby bump photos)

it's been about a little over a month and a half since my last update so here's about 45 days worth of updates on us...


(thank you sarah becker photography for some sweet hospital photos of us and baby zeke!)

ezekiel "zeke" jeremiah was born friday september 4, and him and i are both doing great and recovering well. this recovery has been harder for me than the births of our other 2 sons but now, by 3 weeks post arrival i am in fairly little pain and am easing back into our normal routines of seeing friends, running errands and getting out of the house. zeke is absolutely perfect and is so far a fairly laid back and flexible baby. the boys are completely obsessed with him and want to see him, hold him and touch him all of the time.

most of the last month has been spent preparing for and adjusting to life with a new baby, so we haven't had too much extraneous stuff going on. jeremy's next book is mid-editing and cover design process right now though, and we hope to have it out in october or november so we will be busy finalizing that and getting ready to release it.  here's the blurb from the back of the book to give you a taste of what is to come;

So you’re free! 
That’s great!
Now what?
You’ve been swept into new realities of grace and freedom. You’ve grasped the truth that you now possess absolute liberty in the unconditional love and grace of a truly wonderful God. You’ve dipped your toes in the abundant pool of new possibilities. But you know this is only the beginning. What does being free really mean? Where do you go from here? How do you even begin to define the possibilities? Are there limitations? What barriers stand between you and realizing true greatness? There’s clearly a lot more to life now, and you long to experience all of it.
So come on. Dive behind the scenes into one man’s divine expedition. Follow Jeremy far into this land of discovery. Learn with him to tap into the greatness of God, to face longstanding fears, and to emerge on the other side owning a life which absolutely bursts with abundance. You can explore the very heart of God and, discover the full measure of your own true identity and calling. Together with God, you can co-create a vibrant, rewarding new life.


that zeke is here and that me and him and are both healthy and doing well and our family is adjusting well to our new addition.

god's faithfulness and answers to prayer. i've seen several "smaller" prayer requests answered over the last month in my life and the lives of friends. god has been so faithful to provide for the needs and desires of me and so many others and i am just so grateful to know a personal, relational god who is always present, who hears prayers and answers them, and for whom no request is "too small" or "trivial".

for our continued adjustment to life as a family of 5.
for god to provide financially, physically/ skillfully and relationally for our desires (that we believe are from him) and the upcoming projects that we've been working on.


psalms,  john, ezekiel, galatians, philippians, colossians, ephesians, savor, fringe hours, scary close, for the love, love does

thankful for:
i am still thankful daily for our home that we fought and prayed for over the course of so many months. i look around regularly and am humbled and grateful that we get to live here. that all of our needs and many of our desires were provided for and exceeded. that we have such a perfect space for our family to settle, make memories and host others. this house is such a gift and i hope that i never start to take it for granted.

family, friends, community, the body of christ. i am utterly grateful for all of the ways that people have blessed us over the last month with gifts for baby zeke and us, with prayers and encouragement, with thoughtful acts of service, with a months worth of cooked meals being delivered to our house daily and more. i have felt so loved and cared for. i am incredibly grateful for the thoughtfulness and generosity of others. for the way god loves us through his people. for each of these tangible displays of love of such a perfect heavenly father.

the beginning signs of fall appearing in stores and restaurants. although it won't feel like fall here for a while, and it will definitely not be scarf/ sweater/ boot season for a while here, i am enjoying seeing and tasting fall inspired items as they pop up and give hope that some cooler weather is in our future.

lots of sweet baby snuggles. sweet baby grunts and sounds. new baby smell. hours spent nursing and snuggling this little one making me slow down, sit still, and the numerous books that i have already enjoyed during said nursing time.

for my "job". the fact that i get to spend my days with my boys outdoors playing and exploring.


{click on the words to see the recipe}
not too much, a few odds and ends before zeke arrived or extra items as our schedule permits. mostly we are just enjoying a month of having other people cook for us.

slow cooker pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin french toast, chai bars, pizza with rosemary whole wheat crust, curried chicken pasta salad, huevos rancheros, chicken sausages on buns with sautéed peppers, caesar pasta salad, parmesan tilapia, {turkey} sausage and cheddar breakfast casserole, linguine with clam sauce, carbonara, vietnamese iced coffee, sweet potato and black bean quinoa bowls, fried rice, gumbo, whole wheat pumpkin oat chocolate chip muffins, white chicken chili, cornbread, fish tacos, refried black beans, chocolate fondue with fruit, cilantro lime slaw, chana masala, red beans and rice, jill's salsa, pumpkin gingersnap cookies, mexican rice bowls
some low key decorations for noah's upcoming october dinosaur birthday party. seeing as how we have a newborn, this may be one of the more low key parties that i've thrown, but it has still been fun to plan, brainstorm and create some ways to make my dinosaur loving boy's birthday special.

not too much. we are taking things a lot more slowly around here this month without many commitments or activities as we settle into life with our newest addition. i like the slower pace of life that we settle into when we have a newborn around. we're soaking up many evenings of our whole family all being home together and tinkering around the house.

we've still been regular with our weekly community group and worked in a few coffee dates for me and j and a few playdates and dinners with friends. noah started soccer again this month so we will be spending monday evenings at practice and saturday mornings at games. and this month our new mother's of pre-schoolers group launched in lakeview, at which i'm a table leader, and i am super excited for the meetings and playdates over the course of this year with this community of mothers.


i have been thinking a lot about self-care over the last month. about how i am not good at asking for help or communicating my needs. about how as a wife, mother, ministry person, friend {and more} i am often faced with the reality of meeting the needs of others rather than considering my own. about how sometimes (especially as an introvert) that leaves me worn out and needing time alone to refuel and recharge. and i'm left wondering if this whole self-care concept is biblical or cultural or both. in our society and time we have such large focus on the individual, on our personal wants/ needs/ desires/ dreams. there are many benefits of these lines of thinking but there are also passages in scripture that seem to point us in a very different direction;
philippians 2:3-4 do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
and here it sounds clear. clear that we are to look to the interests of others, not our own. this sounds like the opposite of the idea of "self-care".
but does our cup first need be full to overflow? do we fill up our cup by focusing on it and intentionally pouring into it, or as we go about life, not focused on our cup, do we ultimately find that in the act of not focusing on our cup that our cup has become full. that we have been filled through the pouring out, through the serving and blessing of others, through the laying down of our own desires and needs.
we already have the source of all hope, joy, life and love living inside of us. it is only natural that our cup be full and overflowing with those attributes. it shouldn't be work to overflow but should be effortless.
and i wonder if the whole battle isn't possibly in our mind. in our perception of whether we are "full" or "dry". i wonder if the solution isn't found in the renewing of our mind mentioned in romans 12:2 and ephesians 4:22-24. in the meditating on god in and with us always. in the remembering that we have been given living water and that we should not ever have a thirst or hunger again as we have been fully satisfied in him. and as we remember these truths our "needs" fade into the background and the needs of others become more urgent.
and i also remember how jesus took time to be alone and pray. how he would withdraw from the crowds at times. how old testament prophets took lots of time to be alone with god and communicate with him. how after paul encountering god and receiving the revelation of the gospel of christ then took 3 years before embarking in public ministry. i think about how for my relationship to thrive with my husband, or kids, or friends that i need to regularly invest time one on one with those people in order to connect with them in a way that is deeper than how I would connect with them with others around. and so, there's an element of our relationship with christ that must be nurtured/ developed/ deepened/ built in a place of intimacy, where we set aside all other priorities and distractions and focus on him. and in this focusing on christ, on him in us and with us, we should become aware of his fullness in us. we should be aware of how he has given us all things and made provision for every need that we have. he is the fulfillment of every need that we have.

and still, god has given us each passions and desires to pursue. he has uniquely and purposefully formed and created each of us. and maybe by calling the activity of the passions and talents that he has given us "self-care" it makes them sound more selfish and less spiritual, but everything is spiritual, and in fully tapping into our passions and talents we are fully living as who he created us to be, fully displaying him in us to the world around us

so perhaps my whole discomfort with the idea of "self-care" in in the term itself, and the connotations that i've attached to it, but a life of thriving in our giftings and of purposeful times of intimacy with our maker is not selfish or something to be avoided in the name of serving others and putting them over ourselves. so maybe this whole self-care idea isn't an either/ or. maybe it's not a choice of putting myself or others first. maybe it's a both/ and built out of a life of intimacy with christ and knowing who we are in him.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mexican Rice Bowls

Mexican Rice Bowls

This is an easy dish to set up a buffet for that can easily please meat eaters, vegetarians and even gluten-free eaters since everyone gets to assemble their own combination of ingredients. Choose your choice of the toppings below, set up a bar and give guests big bowls to fill up. This also offers you the chance to go easy with store bought ingredients like canned beans or packed guacamole and salsa or you can click the links below for my favorite recipes for these items.

-slow cooker chicken taco meat
-taco meat
-slow cooker pork carnitas
-black beans
-chopped avocado and/ or guacamole
-homemade salsa
-chopped cilantro
-sour cream
-shredded cheese
-cooked rice
-hot sauce
-pickled jalapenos, banana pepperes and/ or red onions
-shredded lettuce, chopped romaine or your choice of salad greens

Caesar Pasta Salad

Caesar Pasta Salad

With each of my pregnancies I have craved caesar salad big time. This pasta salad replaces the traditional croutons with cooked pasta making it a more hearty side dish than your traditional Caesar salad. This is a great side dish or bring along for picnics and potlucks. By using mayo (or yogurt) I eliminate the traditional egg yolk in a Caesar dressing and give this version a longer shelf life.

-romaine lettuce, torn or chopped
-parmesan cheese, either shredded or shaved off of a block using a veggie peeler
-desired cooked pasta (I used whole wheat penne)

-1 clove garlic
-1/2 c olive oil
-1/2 c mayo or yogurt
-juice of 1 lemon
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp Dijon
-1 Tbsp parmesan
-dash hot sauce

To prepare dressing, mince garlic in a blender or food processor. Add remaining dressing ingredients and puree until smooth. Chill dressing until serving, will keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Toss salad ingredients with desired amount of dressing and serve.

Parmesan Tilapia

Parmesan Tilapia

This is such a quick and easy dish to prepare and Jeremy and I both loved it. Serving with fresh lemon wedges is a must because the extra squeeze of juice really brightens the dish and makes it pop.

-tilapia fillets (thawed if frozen)
-lemon pepper (or salt and pepper)
-olive oil
-chopped fresh parsley
-shredded parmesan cheese
-lemon wedges for serving

Sprinkle fish on both sides with lemon pepper. Drizzle each piece with about 1 tsp of olive oil. On a separate plate or shallow dish combine parsley and parmesan, stirring to mix well. Dip both sides of fish in parsley/ parmesan mixture, patting to cover fish. Place fish on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then pop it under the broiler for 5 minutes to brown. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges for squeezing over the fish.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Four Corners Lentil Stew

I made this Four Corners Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice. Jeremy and I both loved it and thought it provided a great balance of acid, heat and flavor, especially with very few ingredients and in a fairly nutritious meal.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bowls

We have been eating a lot of quinoa bowls and salads lately. Quinoa is such a nutritious grain that packs protein and my hubby just happens to love the texture of it. Set up an assembly line with the ingredients and let each person assemble their own according to their taste.

Sweet Potatoes
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in bite sized pieces
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-1/2 Tbsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne

Stir olive oil and spices in a bowl until well mixed. Toss with sweet potatoes. Roast sweet potatoes at 425 for 20-25 minutes (until browned and tender), stirring half way through cooking time.

Prepare 1 c quinoa according to package directions. After prepared stir in 1/2 tsp salt and any combination of 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp lime juice and/ or 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

-1 avocado
-1/2 c sour cream or yogurt
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-1 handful cilantro
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp hot sauce
-1/8-1/4 c water, until desired consistency is achieved

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until pureed and combined.

Additional desired toppings
Set out any assortment of the items below for guests to add in their bowls
-corn, either cut off of the cob or drained canned corn
-chopped cilantro
-hot sauce (I like the Tabasco brand Chipotle or Jalapeno hot sauce varieties)
-goat cheese
-black beans

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

::the last 3 months::

it has been almost 3 months since my last {monthly} update. those three months have been very busy and have been filled with many emotional and situational ups and downs (i am 8 months pregnant, so everything feels like an emotional up and down right now!).

after a 7 month long process of having our house under contract, and having the closing date pushed back month after month we were finally able to close on our home. we had to be out of our rental several weeks before closing, so this complicated process involved us moving twice, putting our stuff in storage, and our whole family of 4 staying with family and sharing 1 bedroom while we were waiting to close. but now all of those months of uncertainty as to whether or not the deal was going to work out and all the months of unknown about where we would end up living have finally come to a close and we are in our home and settled and so incredibly thankful that it is finally ours.
we have been doing some traveling this summer also. due to the generous gift of a friend, jeremy and i were able to spend 4 days away alone together in seagrove beach. after all of the difficult circumstances that we've encountered this year it was wonderful to have some good quality time away together to focus fully on each other rather than the distractions of life. we also took a weekend long trip as a family to lafayette to visit friends and really enjoyed having some time away as a family. jeremy has also taken several trips out of town this summer for speaking engagements.
we have been busy and trying to re-establish some rhythm and routine in our new home before our baby boy arrives the first week of september.

noah also started his first day of school ever (pre-k) on july 29. we are all still in the process of adjusting to him not being around during the day and adjusting our family schedule and rhythms accordingly.
in addition to all of the changes, travel plans, nesting/ settling/ home projects we have been working on some ministry and business related things. jeremy has finished the rough draft on his third book, which is now in the editing process. he is currently working on drafts and outlines for a few other books that have been waiting in the wings. he also has a business project that he has been working on for the last few months. i also have a business project that we have been working on this year, and hope to be able to launch sooner than later.
seeing as how we are not strangers to having lots of change in our lives or taking on lots of new stuff in one year it is no surprise that so far this year we are working on and taking on so many major life events including; buying a home, having a baby, building and starting two businesses, starting a few new monthly and weekly groups, writing and editing multiple books and more.
this year sure has been a busy one so far, but we wouldn't have it any other way. i shouldn't be surprised at that though, because right at the beginning of the year god had made it very clear to me that i/ we were stepping into a period of lots of activity and doing and making real many dreams, visions and ideas that had been ignited within us. he had spoken to me at the very end of 2015 through mark 6:33-44 and said highlighted the words "you give" from jesus telling the disciples to feed all of the people who had gathered to hear him speak. he was telling me that it was time to take action on many desires and passions that had been birthed in my heart and to stop passively watching and waiting for these things to happen, but to use the gifts, talents, desires and resources that he has already given me and to move forward with them. it's also pretty interesting that all of this is very similar to the message of jeremy's newest book that will be released within the next few months. we have spent this year really learning, living and developing this message that the book covers of moving beyond freedom with god, to being a commander and using what he has already placed in us as individuals to co-create with him in a way that is not micro managed, but in which we have a lot of freedom and creative room to make decisions and dream.


that the 7 month long saga of having our house under contract and having complications with the deal is finally over and we have moved in, are mostly settled and are loving it.
that me and baby boy are both doing well and healthy, without any complications.
god's faithful, abundant provision that has been so timely lately with so many things that we needed, right when we needed them over the last few months. items including the finances to be able to buy our house, to a car, to furniture that we needed to an unexpected check to our ministry from a donor, and more.

for our continued adjustments as a family to all of the recent and upcoming changes. mainly noah starting school and the soon-to-be addition of a baby to our family.
for a smooth entry into the world for our boy and that him and i continue to be healthy and recover easily from his arrival.
for god to provide financially, physically/ skillfully and relationally for our desires (that we believe are from him) and he upcoming projects that we've been working on.


psalms, 1 corinthians, acts, john, savor, unbroken, the storyteller, kinfolk table, l'abri, the gifts of imperfection

thankful for:
the bountiful gifts that god has provided us, through his vessels/ his people, that have truly blessed and humbled us over the last few months. gifts of finances to complete the sale of our home, to donations to our ministry, to a car that will easily hold and transport our growing family, to furniture including our bedroom set, a couch, a chair (and more), to a much needed beach trip for me and jeremy, to so many thoughtful housewarming gifts from friends. i have felt so utterly loved and provided for in this process and have experienced god's love and goodness through the hands of so many people that have stewarded these gifts to us, bringing fresh reminders of hope, encouragement and god the provider at times when i needed it most.
all of the friends and family who supported and helped us through the process of moving twice, cleaning out our old rental, and getting settled in our new home, not to mention providing places to stay while we had no where to live. there were people who did our laundry while we had no washer or dryer for a few months. people who contributed to this by watching our kids while i packed and bringing us paper and plastic plates to use when our dishwasher gave out due to a fire. there were people who spent part of their weekend moving our stuff, and cleaning our old home. i am beyond thankful for the thoughtful acts of service from so many friends and family. one of the ways that i most see and experience god is through friendship and connection with people, and i was so honored to be a recipient of so many tangible acts displaying divine attributes.
our home. not a day goes by that i don't look around exploding with gratitude for a home that we love so much. there are so many little things that i am so grateful for. for having 3 bedrooms now. for having a separate laundry room (and no longer having our washer and dryer in the midst of our kitchen. for the first time in over 6 years having a garbage disposal. for the first time in many months having a working washer, dryer and dishwasher again. for having separate bedrooms, each with it's own lock on the door (after several years of living in homes with shotgun floor plans). for having a closet in each bedroom (especially after only having 1 closet in each of the 3 prior homes we had lived in in new orleans). for having plenty of room and storage place to put stuff meaning that for the first time in the 8 years that we've been married we don't have clutter anywhere and everything has it's own spot. and the fact that our home is new so we don't have the typical problems surfacing constantly like we have the last few years from living in 100 year old homes. yet the fact that our home is very pretty and has beautiful historical and architectural details. is it perfect, of course not. had we built it ourselves there are many things i would have changed or done differently. but that doesn't stop me from being so very grateful for all that we do have and love about it.


{click on the words to see the recipe}
huevos rancheros, whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni, grilled cheese and tomato soup, taco meat, steak, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, mexican quinoa, asian quinoa salad, white chicken chili, cornbread, salad with mexi-ranch dressing, vietnamese noodle bowlslasagna, red beans and rice, fish tacos, quick refried black beans, cilantro lime slaw, peach cobbler, sesame noodles, dark chocolate sea salt toffee, lemon bars, spinach artichoke dip, hummus, veggie tray with curry dip, rosemary curry sweet and spicy pecans, cream cheese stuffed bacon wrapped jalapenos, pasta with goat cheese and asparagus, four corners lentil stew over sesame rice, goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates, curried chicken salad sandwiches, buffalo chicken dip, curried chicken pasta salad, chicken sausages on whole wheat buns with sautéed onions and pepper, salad with ginger peanut dressing, korean beef, chicken gyrosd with tzatziki sauce, tabbouleh, curried quinoa salad, chai bars, thai coconut tilapia red curry, jerk chicken with red beans and rice, cold brew vietnamese iced coffee, picadillo, chili mac, spicy chicken enchiladas, baked tortilla chips
baby update:

we have 1 month left until baby boy will be here. everything is going well and me and him are both healthy. although there are no complications i'm starting to be over this whole pregnancy thing and am feeling a little uncomfortable overall and tired of not being able to comfortably bend over to pick things up or strap on a pair of sandals. 
we have decided on the name ezekiel jeremiah and are planning to call him zeke.
my cravings have been pretty much the same throughout this entire pregnancy. i have eaten copious amounts of watermelon, orange juice, caesar salad and anything pickled.

baby shower decorations
baby shower gifts
some refinished furniture projects

all the usual activities; weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, radiant monthly ladies gathering, weekly community group, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.

lots of packing, moving into storage, a quick beach trip for me and jeremy, moving out of storage and into our new home, lots of unpacking and home projects, a trip to pa for jeremy to speak and lots of adjusting as a family in our schedule because noah has now started school for the first time ever.


i've been thinking about relationships a lot lately. friendship/ relationship/ community is one of my biggest passions and pursuits. i very tangibly experience god through his people; through acts of service, words of encouragement, through the diversity of his people and how creatively he made us. i learn so much about relating with him through relating with others (and vice versa). over the past few months i have had some relational struggles though. whether i have said the wrong thing, there has been a breakdown in communication, or hurt feelings for someone on the part of someone else, it has been all too real to me that relationships are difficult. that they take work. they require grace (for ourselves and others), forgiveness, communication, investment, time, energy and more. at times i've entertained the idea of moving into the woods and never talking to or seeing anyone again. but then i have had moments that remind me that relationships are worth fighting for, worth putting ourselves out there for, worth risking being hurt ourselves or hurting others, worth the work it takes to clean up the mess when someone has been hurt. i remember that i have been created in god's image, and that he is in his core a relational being, 3 beings in 1. that my main purpose is to relate with him and his people in love. if i were to close myself off from others i would feel as if something was deeply missing. i would be missing out on who he created me to be and selling myself short on the experiences he wants me to have in life. and so i continue to put myself out there, to engage others, to risk hurting others and being hurt by others so as to not miss out on one of the sweetest gifts available in life.