Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Praying Them Home

Like cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a distant land.
Proverbs 25:25

I've been in prayer for several adoptive families lately... I know there are many out there in blogland, but God has laid these families, in particular, on my heart.

These families have adoption court dates approaching:

Court this Thursday, 2/26 Our Life

Court this Friday, 2/27 Wade Whereabouts

Court next Tuesday, 3/3 Megan Quest/ Jadyn Journals

These families have returned recently with their older children and are in the midst of transition:

A Simple Journey (This family adopted Minte's best friend, Yeneneh!)

Ethiopian Adoption

And this family is in Ethiopia now, being united with their precious new baby daughter:

Adoption Memoirs

Please join me in praying for these precious families in the various stages of the adoption journey. You may even want to leave a comment of encouragement on their blogs, I know first hand what a boost that can be! If you know of others who are in a crucial time in the process, please let me know in the comments and link their blogs so more can be praying!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Monday

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. We did. Our first one without basketball games in awhile, a break from Saturday sports until soccer starts. We enjoyed leisurely mornings both Saturday and Sunday (we attend church on Saturday nights) so we had big breakfasts both mornings... biscuits and gravy Saturday morning and pancakes on Sunday. What a treat! (Not sure why I shared that, but this is a food-related post and that was fresh on my mind.) This weekend I added 2 TBS of sugar and a tsp of vanilla to the pancake batter and it made them *so* good. Served with homemade syrup, they were very "yahmmy" as our newest son would say.

I have been taking a break from blogging as much in recent weeks, but not taking a break from menu planning! It's one thing that helps keep me sane! And the new "MPM" graphic at the top reminds me of the Grocery Gadget application I got for my phone. I am a list girl, so this app has been helpful. I'm still figuring it out, though, so if you use it and have any tips, please share!

One thing we had in the past couple of weeks was this Honey Dijon Pork Chops recipe that everyone really liked. Another was an impromptu combination of this Baked Pesto Chicken recipe and this recipe for a simple bruschetta. Dinner was running later than usual one evening last week, so I toasted some bread and made the bruschetta for an appetizer. In the pesto chicken recipe, I substituted bruschetta for the chopped tomatoes. The result was really good! So, it turned into "Baked Pesto Bruschetta Chicken." I halved the chicken breasts and baked them at 400 degrees on foil on a baking sheet, and they were done and perfect in 25 minutes. I think I will always bake chicken that way.
I served it with some pasta with tomato alfredo sauce, peas, caesar salad, and the toasted batard bread we had with the bruschetta. It turned out to be one of everyone's favorite dinners last week. I love it when recipes come together that way! And so easy!

We have a fundraiser at a local hamburger place for my daughter's upcoming mission trip to Mexico, so we have one night out. I've been keeping up my weekly menu planning routine of cooking Monday through Wednesday, leftovers on Thursday, then an easy homemade soup on Friday. Front-loading the week this way really helps me. This way we have left-overs for a YOYO ("You're On Your Own") night and then I don't cook dinners on the weekends (except Ethiopian spicy pasta on Sunday nights!) We go out at least once every weekend after church and the rest of the time we have soup and leftovers.

Here's our week in food:

Monday~ EZ Chicken (Cooking with 4 Ingredients cookbook), rice, stir-fry
Tuesday~ chicken fried steak (Judge me if you must... I haven't made these in just forever, one of my sweet husband's favorites!), mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, peas
Wednesday~ out
Thursday~ leftovers
Friday~ baked potato soup, salad, garlic bread

For more recipes and some great menu links, visit Laura at Orgjunkie. Have a yummy week!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Taste Of Home

It's hard to believe Minte has been home almost 6 months! During that time, he and I have enjoyed our Sunday evenings together. The rest of the family is at church at Awana, and since he has not started attending it yet, he and I stay home. If the weather is nice, we'll play in the backyard or take a walk, sometimes we watch a movie, play card games, or work puzzles. We love that time together, and it has been a treasured time for me because he really opens up and talks to me about how he feels about things, and also tells me stories about his life in Ethiopia. What a gift these Sunday evenings have been!

In the past few weeks, one of our favorite things to do is also cook together. I haven't yet gathered all of the necessary spices to cook many of the dishes from the Ethiopian cookbooks we have (linked at the end of this post) but he was so excited when he found out we had some bere bere spice (Ethiopian chili powder), because he knew how to make one of his favorite spicy pasta dishes. He had seen his Ethiopian mother make it before, and had had it many times in his life. He literally jumped up and down at the thought of having it here.

A couple of weeks ago I asked him if I could photograph him making it and share his recipe on the blog.

First, I have to show you the cute cannister I found for keeping our bere bere spice. He was so excited to see that it is out with the other cannisters, and he can use it any time he wants on pasta, eggs, etc. (It really is a staple!) He seemed genuinely pleased that it is now a permanent part of the "decor" in our kitchen.

I found this one and a bigger one just like it recently at a Ross discount store in our area. In case you can't see it, here's a closer picture, so you can see the African women on it:

When he saw the women with baskets on their heads he said, "Ees Ee-tiopia!" Love it.
Here's what bere bere looks like. Like I said, it is a chili powder and it is VERY spicy. I was able to take his "recipe" and measure it out, and it comes out very spicy, so you may want to tone it down. He laughs because his pasta makes Mommy sweat. LOL

Here's the recipe:

Minte's Favorite Spicy Ethiopian Pasta

2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 (half) a large white onion, chopped
2+ tablespoons canola oil
3 1/2 teaspoons (or less!) of bere bere spice
pasta of your choice (we usually use spaghetti)

Saute the onion in a bit of oil, then add the tomatoes. Saute together for a few minutes, until onions begin to look clear and tomatoes are soft.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and bere bere, 1 teaspoon at a time (Minte likes up to 3 1/2 teaspoons of it. I cut him off there, but he says that's not "too spicy." You be the judge.)
The result is a sauce the consistency of a paste. Sometimes he adds a bit more oil.
He likes just a small amount on his pasta, then he stirs it all to make a thin coating on it. A little goes a long way!

Every Sunday evening I also love how it makes the house smell, and I wonder what memories that aroma might be bringing back to him. Judging from his smile, they must be good ones.
I keep the rest of the spaghetti noodles in a ziploc bag next to a small container of the bere bere sauce, and he eats it for lunch during the week, or whenever he wants/ needs a "taste of home."

Here are a few cookbooks I have found. Minte loves to look through them, and I hope to be cooking from them soon.

Exotic Ethiopian Cooking: Society, Culture, Hospitality & Traditions

Foods Of Ethiopia

Discovery of a Continent
The Recipe of Love

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Keepin' It Real

So many blog posts, so little time! Honestly, some days it seems I don't even remember I have this blog, which is a good thing I guess. Lots has been going on lately in our lives and in my mind... several of which are blog-post-worthy, but somehow I haven't managed to sit and take the time to write like I have in the past. I've noticed that several of the blogs I read are the same way... lots of posts for awhile, and then a period of time with not much new. I guess that's good. You've got to live it before you can write about it. And that's what I've been doing.

I was unspeakably blessed by those of you who emailed and commented to let me know you were praying for my husband's trip to Ethiopia. That was a challenging week for us here. I had a calmness coupled with excitement about where he was going and what he was doing, but then, as is always the case, there were some major tests for us leading up to the trip. That's always the way it is before a mission trip! Prior to previous trips we have had our washer break, then our dryer, major car repairs necessary, air conditioners go out... well, basically all manner of house repairs. Some of you were instrumental in praying for me just before my last China trip in '07, when I ended up wearing a heart monitor for some wonky heart issues. This past summer before we went to Ethiopia to bring Minte home, I was going to the chiropractor for 3 visits a week up until the day we departed, just to be able to move my head from side to side. What was THAT??? Not to mention that I had to have 2 root canals. I felt like I was falling apart! So, it was no surprise to me that while Luke was gone we had the major stomach bug that everyone got. That wiped me out for longer than just the couple of days that it was at its worst. I feel like it's been a week or so of getting back to normal. So, the blog took a back seat.

In the interest of "keeping it real" on this blog, and not always painting too rosy a picture, I will share that there was a time of intense spiritual heaviness for both Luke and I just before he left for this trip. It was tied to something very unexpected that we were made aware of in the few days leading up to his departure. I don't know when I'll ever share what it was in this forum, but believe me when I tell you that for a time we felt sawed off at the knees. On the one hand, he wondered if he should leave, and on the other hand we both took it as a confirmation that he absolutely should! I believe we have a very real enemy, and I also believe he didn't want Luke to go, so he struck a low blow. So, to me it was all the more to God's glory that Luke went and God was able to accomplish through him (and the team) what He did. We still have a battle on our hands here, but I have never felt more like God is near.

Here's an interesting side note that I've shared with a couple of friends and actually told them I wouldn't put this on the blog. So, of course I'm about to. One day a few weeks ago when we were dealing with the issue to which I alluded above, I had had it. Absolutely had it. I decided I needed to not just kneel in prayer, but completely lay down in prayer. Face down. I was in my bedroom, in front of our bay window, and just decided then and there to completely humble myself before the Lord and cry out to Him for wisdom, for forgiveness, for this issue for which we were so burdened. I felt like I couldn't sink any lower, frankly. All I could do was lay down. So I did. And as I did, crying out to the Lord and thinking I couldn't be any more humbled or burdened, it went down to another level I had not anticipated. As I pressed my face to the floor in prayer, I smelled... it. A old, obviously unnoticed doggie "accident." Oh my word!! So, there. Anyone who's ever expressed to me (or to someone who has relayed it to me) that my blog paints to "perfect" a picture of me... there you go. What did I do? I simply pivoted myself around like the big hand on a clock, continued my outpouring to the Lord, then got up, washed my face and then got the carpet cleaner. Humbling, indeed. But such is life in a Genesis 3 world, right?

I have other "keeping it real" thoughts that I would like to share, particularly involving our adoption and the adjustments that have been involved. I will save that for its own post, though. I can sum it up by saying that our precious new son is a hurting, grieving, broken little boy. He's resilient and and nothing short of a trophy of God's grace, but he has been through things that are unthinkable. So, he has bad days. He's had them since he got here, and he continues to. (In fact, one of his worst was the last day Luke was gone.) Every time he does, I feel an extra measure of God's grace to get us (and him) through it. Those bad days are becoming fewer and farther between, though, praise God. I feel like I can finally share about it, not only for other adoptive families to benefit from, but also as another way to give God glory for what He is doing on a day-by-day basis in our lives and in our precious son's soul. His mercies are new every morning, and it's always morning somewhere! One day more.

So, hopefully I'll have more time in the days and weeks to come to post more, but just wanted to pop in and "keep it real." I wouldn't want it any other way! God is so good!