A well deserved gift...

Over the last 2 weeks, plans were made, paint was purchased, and secrecy covered a surprise remodel for two of the sweetest people on the planet.

While our dear friends Paul and Bethany were on a mission trip, a group from our church invaded their home and painted, put down new floors, installed new appliances in some areas, and fixed anything we could get our hands on.

This couple exemplifies what it means to give to others, so it just made sense to give a little something back to them.

As they returned and we surprised them with our version of a reveal, the look on Bethany's face was priceless.  She was in total shock.

The sacrifice these two have made for others, and for advancing the Kingdom, is one that we can only strive for.  I can tell you it would be so hard to even come close to the level of love they pour into others.

Paul's mom was so sweet to help too.  I love this picture of him hugging his mom. 

Their two boys had a hay day with their new rooms.  They are so funny.  They got bean bag chairs.  And they were a hit!

As I was going through taking pictures of the completed reveal, I saw their hymnal on their piano, with certain songs tagged.  I flipped to one of the hymns and it just completely sums up Paul and Bethany.

While passing thro' this world of sin, and others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure without, within; Let others see Jesus in you.
Let others see Jesus in you, Let others see Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true; Let others see Jesus in you.

Your life's a book before their eyes, They're reading it thro' and thro'
Say, does it point them to the skis, Do others see Jesus in you?
Let others see Jesus in you, Let others see Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true; Let others see Jesus in you.

Then live for Christ both day and night, Be faithful, be brave and true,
and lead the lost to life and Christ. Let others see Jesus in you.
Let others see Jesus in you, Let others see Jesus in you.
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true; Let others see Jesus in you.

We love you Paul and Bethany!  You are such a light in a dark world.


Clip, Prune, Grow...

I've professed this before, but I'll say it again.  I'm not a gardener.  I really don't enjoy working outside, where there are bugs and dirt.  And I really don't enjoy sweating.  Because of this, I have quite a bit of clipping back I need to do in the front flower bed.  I'll spare you a picture.  It's close to embarrassing.  But then again, I can still use the pregnancy card.  So there.

It got me thinking though.  Pruning and clipping back is so important.  Those little plants and bushes are meant to be trimmed back.  It's sometimes scary clipping off what seems to be a healthy branch, but the result will be an even better branch, or two, in it's place.  It allows them to grow fuller, stronger, healthier. 

Isn't this the case for our own lives?  It's important for us to prune back and trim areas of our life that are maybe dead, or going wayward.  Like the small plants in my front yard, which haven't been trimmed.  They all have one spire on them that just keeps growing upward.  That one spire has no purpose.  It's growing out of control, and provides no beauty to the plant.  It actually takes away from the rest of the plant, hogging most of it's nutrients. 

John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  

Just like my little plants in my yard, the Lord is constantly pruning and cutting off branches in my life.  Luckily, he tends to me and doesn't let me go wayward.  His pruning and trimming is perfect and needed.  I will say though, that pruning and cutting off branches isn't always pleasant.  Right now, the Lord is definitely pruning my life to be more fruitful for him.  He's growing me so that I can better handle certain situations.  He's removing some things from my life that I rely on too much, that I take for granted.  He's showing me that through Him, all that I need is provided.  He is our provision and will continue to take care of His flock, no matter the situation.

He's also finding in me branches that are not bearing fruit, and while those areas are the most painful to remove, in the end, those will be the moments that draw me closest to Him.  He's showing me that I need to focus in the areas that do bear fruit, and not waste time on the areas that aren't.

John 15:5-8 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.   If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.   This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

I am so glad to be part of the Vine as a producer of fruit for the Lord.  I know that apart from Him, I can do nothing.  I want to bear much fruit and continue to be pruned back again and again so that each time, I grow stronger, thicker, more abundant.  With each clip, I become more and more the person He longs for me to be. 

Bernardus, Carmel Valley Vineyard

And I am so privileged to have the Lord as my gardner.  His tender care and attention to detail is one that gives me peace and comfort, even in the midst of trials and moments of pruning.  He will sustain me.  He will provide comfort.  He will bring peace.



I haven't been very prompt on my blogging lately.  I think when I get home and put my feet up, the last thing I want to do is open a computer.  I literally zone out, write thank you cards or make to do lists which some how seem to disappear daily, hence why I'm re-writing them on a weekly basis.

We've had a lot going on lately.  Reno projects, a trip to Dallas, and my family visiting.  So here is a little catch up on life this month ;)

After we removed our 1940's oven, there was a cabinet still to be removed, so we can put in our free standing gas range.  While it might have looked simple, it was no simple job.  These cabinets were meant to withstand a tornado or atomic bomb.

But Super Stephen came in and took no prisoners.  His new tool helped ;)

Cabinet removed.  Check!

We then took a little trip to Dallas, which was a nice little baby moon.  We spent a ton of time shopping, but did find time to visit with some family and friends.

Puggy Wug at the Lindstroms.  He loves me.

My favorite little (although not so little any more!) friends.  I can't wait for Annie Beth to meet them and for Sophia to come and babysit. 

Stephen's first visit to In and Out burger after a LONG trip to Ikea.  It was our treat.

We were able to stay with Stephen's cousin and his family.  We love them so much.  And I love being around these girls!  Such a treat every time!

Sweet Princess Lily!

Little Miss Georgia... staring at someone silly....

He's good at the silly faces.

I had to document Stephen's order.  I believe this was a chili cheese hotdog.  I can't imagine the heartburn I would have after eating that.  I lived vicariously through him that day.

Next door to where we had dinner with his cousin, was the place we had our first date.  Sauce in downtown McKinney, TX.  We'll take Annie Beth there someday and I'll tell her all about our first date, and how much fun it was ;)  And how I knew then and there that he would be my husband (when you know, you know!)

 Downtown McKinney holds a very special place in my heart ;)

Next up was my parents visit!  It was so much fun to have them here.  We started the weekend off with a little visit to the Dr. and a trip to the sonogram room.  I have the camera, mind you.  Hence the blurriness.  Sorry.  I was so excited to see her little face.

Don't mind me.  I'll just document this.

There she is!  Sweet little chubby wubby faced girl.  I can't wait to kiss those cheeks.

I think he cheeks are big as she's squished in there with no room to swim.  Poor thing.

We worked hard on the kitchen while they were here (more on that to come) and celebrated with a nice dinner at Giuseppe's.  Where we saw Gerard Butler and the rest of his film crew eating, as he's filming his next movie here in Shreveport.  Apparently, his group likes to eat here. Who wouldn't?

PS- I loved my mom's top and cardi so much I went out and bought it at Target the next day. 

My belly looks almost fake I think.  I don't think I look big until I see pictures like this. 

My pretty parents.  (yes dad, I think you're pretty too... but mom wins)

So that's the latest wrap up.  I have one more fun post to do, which is my last baby shower, which was so much fun.  I can't wait to share photos from it!  You'll be so shocked at some of the details Molly went to, for our sweet little AB.

I'm down to 44 days.  How is that possible?


Open-Faced Prosciutto and Plum Sandwiches

I know this recipe might sound a little "weird".  But trust me.  It's fabulous.

And no, I didn't come up with it all by myself.  I found it here.

Start with a loaf of ciabatta bread, and slice on the diagonal, so the slices are pretty.  Mine didn't end up pretty, but it was the thought that counts...

I then took the slices, with a little olive oil, and toasted them under the broiler.  (remember, we're sans oven right now, but toaster ovens work wonders!)

While you're waiting for the slices to get toasty, mix together the following:

1 TBSP lemon juice (I cheated and used the little plastic lemon rather than a real lemon.  Don't judge.  It's less messy for me.

1/4 cup of fig preserves (I had never bought this.  It's like the stuff inside fig newtons!)

and 1/4 tsp of fresh grated ginger (not in the picture)

Stir stir stir until it's a smooth consistency that you could drizzle. (I microwaved mine for just a few seconds, as the fig preserves are really thick and it seemed to help.  I might have also added a little more lemon juice to make it more juicy.)

Take your crustini's out of the oven once they are golden brown and let them cool for just a moment.

Then spread a layer of goat cheese on each slice. (don't worry, I bought pasteurized, so I think I'm good to eat it)

Then layer sliced plums on top of the goat cheese.  (I know!  Crazy isn't it?)

Then, take some arugula (which I normally don't care for, but this totally works with this dish) and layer it on top of the plums, followed by a slice or two of prosciutto.

Tip:  Rather than buying the packaged prosciutto, go to your deli counter and ask if they have some they can slice for you.  You'll get more and you can have them slice it really thin, which is what you want.  I found Boar's head prosciutto and it was great.

Once you've done this, drizzle away with your fig/lemon/ginger mixture.

I'm telling you, while this is a strange concoction, it's really good.  I imagine you could make mini ones for a party that are bite size, or like Stephen and I did one night, we each had 3 big slices and called that our dinner.  It does require a knife and fork if you have a bigger size, only because of the prosciutto.

Hope you enjoy! 


Pregnancy brain DOES exist...

One thing is for certain... I've learned a lot over the last 33 weeks.  I've learned that it takes WAY more than I thought to care for a baby.  A lot of preparation goes into getting ready.  I've learned my body can accommodate a small human being (which still totally freaks me out, yet I think it's so beautiful at the same time!) and I've learned that pregnancy brain is very VERY real.  (and so are swollen feet, which I swore I'd never get).

I know there are many people out there than think pregnancy brain is something we pregnant people come up with to explain the stupid things we say or do.  Or that we use it as an excuse to get out of doing things, or explaining things.  But I tell you, it's real.

I find myself not knowing words like "book" or "computer" and find myself saying "You know.... the thing....that you use.... to make your hair straight.... oh ya, a straightener."  It's maddening.

But over the last 2 weeks, I've had it really bad.  Worse than it's been since the beginning.  One time was funny.  The other was not.

First bad instance was standing in line at Chick-fil-A.  I just love their chicken sandwich sans pickle.  And Stephen introduced me to Chick-fil-A sauce and my life has changed forever.  I walk up to the counter, place my order and then blurt out the words:

Can I have some Arby's sauce with that?

Yes, I asked the Chick-fil-A lady for some Arby's sauce.  Fortunately, she had pity on me, and as I corrected myself, she smiled and said "Honey, I understand.  I have 4 kids.  I've had pregnancy brain 4 times."

As if that was bad enough, the next instance was worse.

Stephen and I went to pick out some things we needed for the house at Home Depot.  As we're walking through, and I will admit, I was really tired.  I had waddled through the entire store and was ready to go home.  As we were about to leave, Stephen says to me "Hey!  Why don't we look at their selection of back doors?"  I froze in my steps.

I couldn't picture our house.  I couldn't picture our current back door.  I was suddenly in a time warp where I had no idea where I lived or what I was doing in the home depot.  I looked at him, with tears in my eyes and uttered the words "I'm so confused.  I can't picture our house"

While it was a really scary moment, he immediately comforted me, reminded me of our home without making me feel stupid and told me he thought we should call it a night and go home.  I cried all the way to the car, as I was so scared and embarrassed that I couldn't remember our sweet little house that we've made together.  I did snap back to reality within a minute or two, but for a few seconds, I was so scared that I had literally lost my mind.

In those moments I am so glad I have a loving husband who doesn't make fun of me even though I can't remember the simplest of things.  The whole way home I told him "See!  See!  Pregnancy brain really does exist!"

And even if you don't agree with it, I'm living proof that there's something crazy that happens to perfectly normal pregnant people. 

So if I see you out in public and I can't remember your name, or the word "Shoe", just forgive me.  In a matter of 7 weeks, I'll be back to normal, so to speak.  Hopefully I'll regain my mind so I can at least walk up to order a Chick-fil-A sandwich with confidence.


The Superb Dishwasher...

This week has been a week of renovations.  I guess that's what happens when you save up gift cards from Christmas and birthdays, and there's a sale at Lowes.  And you have a baby coming.

This was our dishwasher.  The Kitchenaid Superba by Hobart. 

This week, we said goodbye to her.  While she may not be that beautiful, she sure was a fighter.

We looked up how old it was, and while it was younger than the oven we removed from 1947, we found it to be exactly 40 years old.  And would you believe it still worked great? After 40 years... it was still running strong.

I guess the upper rack was on the wrong tracks.  Didn't notice until this picture! 

I added it up and on average, doing 2 loads a week, it has cleaned 3,840 rounds of dishes.  I call that getting your money's worth.

So why did we get rid of something that worked?  Well, it's just time.  Our little kitchen needs to enter this century.  And our dishwasher, while it worked great, sounded like a train was coming through our kitchen.  Might not be good when there is a sleeping baby.

One thing is sure.  Stephen and I will no longer debate on whether or not the handle should be up in the locked position, or down.  I'm glad those days are over with our new flat front unit.

It was evident when the dishwasher man came to take it out, how well these units were made, compared to the units today.  It took him 2.5 hours just to take it out.  Once out, it was wrapped in a steel box.  This thing could have withstood an earthquake and tornado.

So, goodbye sweet dependable dishwasher.  You really lived up to your name.  You were Superb to us.