Goodbye Chicago




With great excitement and a little bitter-sweetness, I am happy to announce we are moving back to Texas. When we moved to Chicago we knew it would only be for a season.We were confident in the Lord moving us here and still stand by those very words. What we didn't know was how our time in Chicago would play out. The Lord said "GO," we obeyed, and then He revealed his plan to us little by little.


This past year has been one for the books...isn't every year?! God has shown up in big ways and if I was being honest there were many times we asked, " God, where are you?"  God has been so good to teach us what it means to be content with our "daily bread."

This is a journal entry I wrote:
"When the waters seemed to be crashing over our heads, when our hearts were desperate, when we couldn't take another disappointment (in the world's eyes), you were there."

As hard as this past year has been, in a multitude of ways, it has been so good. We seem to learn and grow the most in the hard seasons of life. Ryan and I know that first hand. We are thankful for them and at the same time look forward to where the Lord is taking us.


"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." Psalm 107:1



We experienced so much living in a big city. Chicago had its worst winter in THIRTY years and yes we got to be a part of that. There were days upon days that were looong and days that seemed so short. We took the kids sledding several times and they loved it. We drove through the unplowed streets of Chicago in blizzard conditions. We stared at snow for almost three months straight.  Parka's and stroller blankets were a must. And in the midst of the cold we found ourselves loving the winter... but don't get me wrong it was survival of the fittest. I'm sure you can imagine what it was like with two toddlers in a 900 sq ft apartment. When the windchill is -25 you don't get out...period.

This is a journal entry I wrote reflecting back on those long winter days:
"We witnessed the worst winter Chicago has had in 30 years. When the days were extremely long you continued to remind us of your goodness, your unwavering power to cleanse us of all our sins. Through the constant picture of tiny snowflakes we saw purity. We were reminded of the hope we have in Christ."

Even in the long days, in the days that seemed lonely, God reminded us of His promise...we are His. We have been saved by grace and He promises to care for us.


"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow..." Isaiah 1:18


 There is so much to a city that you grow to love.


We will miss the homeless people we passed while walking to the grocery store.

We will miss the train rushing by every few minutes.

We will miss the wind hitting our face when we walk outside.

We will miss the sound of sirens in the middle of the night.

We will miss the snow.

We will miss our community that the Lord blessed us with while we were here.

We will miss the parks.

We will miss our small apartment (maybe). ;) 

We will miss the hardness of this year. The moments when there was no other choice but to give God praise for his provision. 

We will miss the people. 

We will miss our home.


Chicago has been our home for almost a year. We are thankful for the time we had here and look forward to our next place we will call home. 



 









Happy 4th from Chicago


I know its been awhile since I've posted...sorry. We are gearing up for a move back to Texas and things have been crazy traveling here and there for weddings and graduations.

As we sat on our balcony last night and watched show after show of fireworks I couldn't help but think back to the previous years past fourth of Julys and reminisce about each and every one.


Since my mom brain has a hard time remembering before kids I'll start with our first July 4th as a family of three.


2011
Maddox was five weeks old in this picture. We spent the fourth at my in-laws and watched fireworks on the dock. I'm pretty sure I nursed him while we watched them.



2012
M was thirteen months when we celebrated our second July 4th as a family of three. We were on vacation in Florida this year. We put M to bed at his normal time and snuck out on the balcony, which was in his room, to watch fireworks. This was probably my favorite July fourth to date. We had such a wonderful trip and Florida is beautiful! We were able to see several firework shows from our condo.


2013


Last year M was two and EC was six months old. Ryan was traveling for work and the kids and I were at my parents house for the fourth. We let M stay up to see fireworks. My parents live on a cul-de-sac and we watched from their front yard. M was so excited ( not scared AT ALL) and kept shouting " WOW, WOW!" 








2014
This year we celebrated the fourth with Ryan's grandparents in the burbs. The kids had a wonderful time playing outside in the water and eating popsicles. We had a nice dinner before coming home to put the little guys to bed. When you live in a high rise the fireworks come to you, so we just watched them from our balcony. I dipped whatever we had in the fridge/pantry in chocolate and we enjoyed out night reminiscing about the past.





Memorial Day Weekend '14

We had such a great weekend! We spent most of it with friends, new friends the Lord has blessed us with since moving to Chicago. We shared meals, sand toys and laughter and left last weekend with grateful hearts. We are so thankful that we are able to make sweet memories with those around us because of those who have gone before us to fight for our freedom. Thank you to our military, past present and future for all you do and stand for. We are proud to be Americans and proud of you.


Our weekend in pictures.













Mothers Day 2014




Mothering- to love, 
care for, teach, discipline,
 show grace to, pray for, learn from,
 encourage, cherish, lead



I am so thankful for my mother and all of the "mother" figures in my life...it takes a village right?!


This Mother's Day I would like to thank my husband who has graciously made it possible for me to stay home with our children. It has always been a desire of mine to be a stay-at-home mom, one the Lord placed on my heart when I was a little girl. It is a desire and now a reality that comes with great sacrifice and great joy. It is a task that I fall short at every single day and by the grace of God I get back up and try again. It is a decision that I would never go back and change and one I will always find much to celebrate in. Thankfulness is my motto, humility is my posture and God is my rock.


Happy Mothers Day!

Easter 2014 {a little late}




 The kids first Easter egg hunt was held a local park. I was happy to find out that NONE of the eggs contained candy...they had things in them like stickers, beads, dinosaurs, balls, etc... EC had NO interest in collecting eggs and M only did when he found out there was loot inside. :) The moms group that hosted the event provided snacks and I'm pretty sure this was their highlight. Apple juice and cheese sticks for the win!





 Friday night we attended a Good Friday service at our church and then celebrated afterwards with friends at a local restaurant. The fish was fantastic!




 Easter 2014 pic

We had a church wide breakfast before service on Easter and an egg hunt afterwards. It was so great to be in community with so many believers as we celebrated the resurrection of our Savior!



After naps we took the kids to the zoo. M had a staring contest with an alligator!




Happy Easter!

The cross, plastic eggs and a prayer

I decided to use a little creativity and more money to make the kids an Easter basket this year. 

Easter is a special time for our family to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Our focus is Jesus and with that we also believe in having fun! We participate in egg hunts and buying the typical Easter goodies to enjoy. I'm sure we will add more activities to our Easter celebration as the kids get older but for now we will stick with the cross and plastic eggs...one obviously holds much more value than the other.



I bought the baskets at Target for $1.50 each and collected some supplies from Michaels.






I made tulle bows for her basket, hot glued the flowers on and painted her letter backing and glued it together. It was super easy!


I wanted M's basket to be masculine so I decided it would be fun to allow him to decorate it with stickers that he loves. He did a great job! I also painted and glued his letter on and there you go!




Our deepest desire is to see our kids put their faith in God. When M was little I started praying this prayer over him at night. I now pray it over both our children. It is an honor and our duty to point our kids to Christ.

Prayer


Father, I thank you for Maddox.
I ask that you would save his soul,
May their never be a day he does not remember knowing you.
Please watch over him as he sleeps tonight,
Please give him dreams of you.
Father, may he run to you in all that he does, may he desire you over anything else on this earth.

Amen

a healthy meal


 I posted this meal a couple of weeks ago. I apologize for the duplicity but thought it would be great to share with Kelly's Show Us Your Life- healthy meals.



I am always looking for healthy, yummy meals to cook for dinner. We eat healthy in general but dinner is always my push to get good wholesome food in our bellies to sustain us through the night.

Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Potatoes and Green Bean Bundles

I'll share the recipes and how I tweaked them. 

I rarely follow a recipe and always use what we have or do without, as long as its not a key ingredient.




Pork Tenderloin
The recipe I used is from addapinch.com.

Ingredients
  • 1 2-3 pound boneless pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place pork tenderloin into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over pork and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low)
  2. Once pork tenderloin has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs into a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then ladle about ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over pork tenderloin.
  3. Store remaining gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.
 This was super simple to prepare. I did not have soy sauce so I did without. I used dry garlic instead of fresh and did not use pepper flakes. It turned out great! We added cilantro and Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce to it. You could also wrap it up in a tortilla. We are big torilla fans and found a huge package at costco we love!

                                                       




 Roasted Potatoes
My mom introduced me to this recipe and it makes veggies taste like candy...seriously! Its from allrecipes.com 


Ingredients
1 small butternut squash, cubed
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, and Yukon Gold potatoes. Separate the red onion quarters into pieces, and add them to the mixture.
3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
 This recipe is easily adaptable. It calls for a variety of different veggies but I only had a sweet potato, a few red potatoes and half of a purple onion. I tossed them with olive oil and rosemary before roasting them in the oven. (The original recipe calls for additional ingredients that I did not have.)



Green Bean Bundles
This recipe is from rachelshultz.com

My sweet mother-in-law, Julie, loved this idea the first time she came across these bundles. We had them at a corp dinner way back in college and thought they were the neatest, yummiest things! This recipe is simple and delicious.


Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Boil green beans until slightly tender.
  3. Meanwhile, fry bacon until it is about ¾ cooked, keeping it soft rather than crisp.
  4. Wrap the bacon around 4-5 beans and lay on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat butter, garlic, and brown sugar in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Drizzle sauce over green bean wraps and serve.
 I decided to make these more healthy by leaving out the butter and using a little olive oil. I also would recommend blanching the green beans for a few minutes before assembling and cooking in the oven. It makes the green beans a little more tender. 




I hope you will try out these recipes!