December 29, 2010

This and That

Let's see...  what's buzzin' around in my brain tonight?

Well, the Love-A-Thon for Kingdom Twindom is almost coming to a close.  We are at 96% with only $37 to go.  I just can't even believe it!  I am so honored that you all would step up and bless Sarah so much.  The Bible speaks over and over about how we as a church are to take care of widows and orphans.  I believe single moms and their families fall into that category, and I am so amazed at how this little blog community has become the living, breathing, blessing, praying and supporting Church.  Ya'll are just awesome. 

(There's that ya'll word comin' out of my Southern California mouth of mine...  sigh. I just can't help it.)

As promised, I have posted the recipes for our Christmas Eve dinner over at

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There, you will find Costa Rican style pork shoulder, a link to Pioneer Woman's creamy mashed potatoes, and the breakfast strata we enjoyed Christmas morning.  I haven't managed to extract the recipe for the rice from my husband's brain yet, but when I do, I'll be sure to share.  :) 

Tomorrow one of my closest friends - she became really close rather quickly in the last several months - is undergoing major surgery.  Would ya'll pray for her please?  I've really got my undies in a bunch over it tonight.  I know.  I know.  I just posted about Freedom the other day.  I'm a work in progress, people.  I certainly don't have it all together.  Anyway, your fervent prayers would be greatly appreciated by her, me and her family. 

And that, I think, is it for tonight.  I'm going to rest this little head of mine. 


Love,

 

P.S.  Oh! I almost forgot.  This blog is gonna get a minor makeover in the next couple of days I think.  Any suggestions, requests or (dare I say) complaints? 

Us Being Nerds

Renee

December 28, 2010

What All The Fuss Sawdust Was About

Last week I posted about how our house became Santa's Workshop for a few days. 


Of course, at the time, I couldn't explain what we were cutting


and carving


and staining


and varnishing.




But now that the gifts have all been received


and opened,


I can!

I've always liked the idea of making our own gifts every year.  We had a blast doing it this year, so maybe we'll repeat the experience... but then again it was a LOT of work, so maybe we won't.  Who knows.  In any case our new found friends, Brooke and Bobby, inspired us and helped by providing us with some Aspen wood.  

As most projects go with us, it turned out to be much more involved and labor-intensive than we expected, but all in all, it was more than worth it.  It will be a Christmas memory we'll hold dear for a long time and we are really pleased with how everything turned out. 

What things made YOUR Christmas special this year?

Freedom

This post has been composing itself in my mind for the past few days and I think if I don't write it down it might not get written.  Plus, I'm afraid that anyone new here might look at my Christmas post and get scared away forever.  I promise, my posts are never that long. 

Anyway, back to freedom. 
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galations 5:1)
So often as Christians, I think we allow ourselves to be bogged down in slavery over the tiniest things without even realizing it.  Freedom from this type of mental or emotional slavery has been a theme in the conversations between my mentor and I for the last several months.  Galations 5:1 is in my bathroom shower and every day I'm reminded of a new way it applies to me. 

As hot water runs down my back the Enemy would try to whisper words in my mind of past failures and mistakes.  It is for freedom Christ has set me free.  My past is over and done.  It has no power over me.  I can begin to be free in this moment, living new thoughts and actions today by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I am clean and forgiven, fully healed, free by the blood of the Lamb. 

I stare at my to-do list that is longer than any one human could complete in a whole week and begin to feel overwhelmed by the impossibility of it all.  It is for freedom Christ calls me to follow Him.  It is only what He calls me to that I am asked to complete each day.  Consistency and peace in my home are achieved by the simple choice of the right activities today.  The rest may fall by the wayside and I am free to release them, knowing that I was never meant to be in bondage to an impossible list. 

A stranger's thoughtless political comment about people who choose this course of action or that when faced with financial crisis send me reeling in anger and muddling in self-righteous stress about my own choices.  It is for freedom Christ died for us.  The only person's approval who I need is my Lord Jesus Christ and I already have it.  I need not concern myself with other peoples' ill-informed and poorly directed opinions.

My husband's innocent, but impatient comment leaves me feeling alone and insulted and everything I've learned about giving him the benefit of the doubt flies out my right ear as the desire to rant and rave penetrates my heart.  It is for freedom Christ came into my life.  The only reason a situation might emotionally control me is if I allow it to.  I have the freedom to choose my reaction to respond in kind or to let the issue rest.  I can decide to be right or I can decide to be at peace, knowing he probably didn't mean it anyway, but either way, it is my choice. 

The illustrations are endless and the triviality of many of the examples are ridiculous.  Yet, the incredible peace that comes with the realization that it is for freedom that Christ came to Earth, died for us, and set us free, is more far-reaching than any of us will realize in this life time. I am convinced that when I get to heaven, I'm going to look back at my life and just marvel at all the times I got my undies all up in a bunch over something Christ died to set me free from two thousand years ago.  It sort of relates to my post about frogs

In simpler words, it's just not worth the worry.  There are greater battles to fight - ones that are really worthy of our energy.  There are bigger causes to get behind.  There are more important ways to spend our energy.  And we are just more powerful than that.**

Is there an area of your life or your thoughts that you are enslaved to?  Ask Him to reveal to you the Truth of the matter and to set you free. 

Do you feel like your whole life is wrapped up in bondage and the whole God-thing sounds just like more of that?  Oh, my friend, how I wish for you to taste and know the freedom that I have.  Ask Him to show you what that looks and feels like.  He is a gentleman.  He'll never force your hand.  He is loving and gracious and He longs for the opportunity to show you Truth that will Set. You. Free. 


With Love and Hope,



**By this, I mean that those of us who know Christ possess within us the power of the Creator of the Earth to be conquerers of our thoughts and emotions. 

A Christmas Surprise


December 26, 2010

A Christmas Post

Alternately Titled:  "The Most Ridiculously Long Post EVER"

We had the most amazing two days of Christmas ever.  It was simple.  It was just us three.  And it was fabulous.  Of course, we would have enjoyed being with family, but to be honest, it was really great to make some Christmas traditions and memories with the simplicity of a quiet home and the freedom to have absolutely no schedule, plans or restrictions.  

It started Christmas Eve morning just after breakfast.  We had all slept late, which makes Alejandro and I happy but which makes Danny cranky.  Plus, I swear that this kid knew new toys were coming, because he had been bored with his toys for about a week and was whining up a storm. 

Until *I* finally started chanting "¡Regalos! ¡Regalos! ¡Regalos!" (regalos = presents) Alejandro looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, "Well, why not?"  With a huge grin, I set down the dish I was cleaning and he hopped the baby-gate to the basement and went for Danny's biggest present. 

Well, hey, if you're gonna do it out of order, you might as well do it completely out of order, right? 

Right. 

We plopped it under the tree...


...and let him go for it.







And pretty much from then on

there was

no more whining!


It was SO fun to watch him play!


And if Danny gets a present early... 


...well, Toby should get one too, right?


Right. 
(Just ignore the woman with the really sexy car-print apron on in the bathroom mirror.)

After LOTS of playtime and lunch, Danny went down for his usual afternoon nap. After so much playing, he slept for a solid three hours, which gave Alejandro and I chance to have a good long nap too!  A little too long, actually, because when we woke up, we realized we had to have all three of us out the door on the way to Christmas Eve church service and we were ALL still in our jammies.  Showers and clothes ironed and snack packed in the diaper bag and entertainment for Danny in church because there was no child care and heels and make up all-in-half-an-hour later...  and we made it to church only 10 minutes late.  

It was  


totally worth it. 

Our church does Christmas Eve service like none other.  It was fabulous.  What was even better (and really quite miraculous) is that we only had to take our 1-and-a-half-year-old out of church once even though the service was an hour and a half long.  Wow. 

Then, we headed back home and fed Danny the rest of his dinner (the part he didn't eat during church) and to play a bit before putting him to bed. 

Then began a romantic Christmas Eve evening for the adults. 


After a good long phone call to Costa Rica, we spent about two hours


making


dinner (what did you think I was going to say?)


and


half an hour


eating it. 

(Again, nevermind the really sexy apron.  Why is it that I look like a nerd cooking and he
somehow pulls off the hot-Latino-lover-look in a white t-shirt with food stains?  Not fair.)


Yeah.  Be jealous.  It was scrumptious.  It was pork shoulder marinated and baked according to his mom's Costa Rican recipe (which she has only in her head but which I now have on paper - ha!).  It was yellow rice that somehow tasted more like Costa Rica than usual.  It was Pioneer Woman's creamy mashed potatoes. Yep, I'll be sharing those recipes shortly. 


It. Was. Amazing.

And extra special.


In Costa Rica, Christmas is celebrated from about 8 p.m. until about 2 a.m. starting Christmas Eve, pausing at midnight to toast the arrival of Christmas Day and give thanks in prayer, ending when everyone passes out on the couch full of food and drink.  It's a par-tay so we enjoyed making a really big deal of the evening, just the two of us.


Then we migrated over to the couch, sat end-to-end with our feet squished under each other's thighs and enjoyed the food coma.  Sorry for the poor picture quality.  We were NOT about to get up for the real camera.


The evening sort of fizzed out from there.  The magic of the Christmas treee lights and the music lulled us to sleep.  Oh and I got to have a nice Facebook chat with a great friend.  Around midnight we got up and placed presents under the tree before heading to bed. 


After so many pictures the night before, I sort of dropped the ball Christmas morning.  I didn't take many at all.  I came downstairs first to put this


in the oven.  (Yep, I'll share that too.)  Then Danny opened a present.  Then breakfast was ready so we ate.  It was mmmm-mmmm good.  Then we opened the rest of the presents and ooh-ed and aaah-ed over how blessed we are.  Really, we are SO. BLESSED.  Wow.  Just Wow. 

Alejandro took a while to notice that I had stuffed his stocking with a bag of kettle-corn.  Then he ate the entire bag by mid-afternoon. 

I did manage to think of getting this picture of the after-math of the morning...



After Danny played some more and we layed on the couch some more, we put Danny in his new Christmas outfit


and took a walk.  (I love this look.  He does it a lot!)


After that... lunch (leftovers from last night) an afternoon movie in bed while Danny napped, and then we went over to our friends' house to hang out, eat more, and watch another movie. 

It was a wonderful wonderful day. 

Sometime in the midst of it, I was reflecting about how much we really have to be thankful for.  We have had some big challenges this year and yet, we still have SO much.  Most of all, we have each other and we have Jesus.  He redeemed us at the Cross and He redeems us daily from our mess-ups.  He got in our mess and died in it so that He can be in the midst of our mess with us now. 
Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5)
If you don't have this Hope, there is nothing I want more for you than to know that there is so much more than what is here on this earth.  If you know your heart belongs to Jesus but He seems distant and only available to the most holy... if He seems like an unavailable distant god who wants you to obey rules but doesn't help you flesh it out... I want you to know that you're missing something.  We are intended for Heaven but we are also intended to bring Heaven to Earth.  That is what he landed in a manger for.  If you don't know that, simply pray and ask Him to show Himself to you. 

Last of all--I know this post is ridiculously long--I just want you all to know how much YOU, my readers mean to me.  You have no idea how much joy I get from sharing here and that doesn't happen without someone to share with.  So, thanks.  Thanks for reading.  For being you.  For listening. 


Merry Christmas,

December 24, 2010

The Unveiling

It was a fall afternoon. It was grocery day. We were making our menu plan for the following two weeks and I was searching through various cookbooks, bunches of scratch pieces of paper with scribbles on them, recipe cards, Word documents on my computer, and bookmarked websites online.

"This is ridiculous," I muttered in frustration, "I need it all in one place."

And then the idea was born... I needed an electronic archive of all of my recipes. Then began the search for how to do it. It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted something I could organize and categorize myself and access from anywhere. My bloggy brain went into action and soon a new blog was born: "Mi Querida Cocina," named after my other blog. I was going to keep it private, but I changed my mind when it was easier to share my recipes by just handing over a url rather than emailing or copying something. So here you have it... my "recipe box" for all to share and use.

I might as well warn you now. The majority of the recipes are not healthy in the slightest. Or maybe they are. I really have no idea. I just don't pay attention. Also, I am a simple cook. If it has more than 5 ingredients (not counting spices) I probably won't try cooking it. If the ingredient list includes more than one item I haven't used before, I probably won't try it. And if it doesn't knock my socks off with how yummy it is, I might not post it.

So with that said... roam freely and let me know what you like in...

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