Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spur of the Moment Black Bean Soup

Sometimes I see recipes that sound really really good.... and then I realize that I don't have a lot of stuff that it calls for and I really don't feel like going to the store just to get ingredients for one meal. (Seriously, I'm almost 39 weeks pregnant. I never want to battle my way through Walmart.)

So then I go through my cabinets and see the meager amount of things that I have and make up my own somewhat similar version of a recipe I found, or one that I might vaguely remember seeing sometime in the past. Or I just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and hope it turns out OK!

Tonight, I remembered a black bean soup recipe I found by accident earlier this week but instead of trying to find it and realize that I don't have the called for ingredients, I thought I'd just wing it! So, this is what I did, and if I do say so myself, it's pretty darn tasty!!

Spur of the Moment Black Bean Soup

1 can beef broth
1 red potato (skin on) washed and diced
2 medium carrots peeled and diced
about 1/4 cup frozen peas
about 1/4 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
about 2 tbs fresh garlic (we use the kind in the jar but you could do a clove or two of fresh chopped)

Bring beef broth to a slow boil then add potato, carrots, peas, corn, and garlic and let boil till potatoes and carrots are soft - shouldn't take long since they're diced. Stir in black beans. Transfer entire mixture to blender or food processor and puree for about 10 seconds. Transfer back to pot over medium-low heat. Add about 2 tbs cream cheese and stir to melt in.

Optional: Add ground black pepper and lime juice to taste.

All of this was just stuff I happened to have on hand so if you're trying to make this, don't think you need to have all the ingredients exactly as I listed them. I rarely measure out stuff when I cook like this. It's more fun that way! Also, this only makes about 3 servings so I'd definitely double (or triple) it if you want leftovers or if you're feeding more than a few.


Friday, January 28, 2011

My First Inductive Bible Study

I did my first inductive Bible study last night and considering the fact that until last night I didn't know what an inductive Bible study was, its obviously not horribly complicated or intimidating. You should try it. I really enjoyed it.

My friend Kristen branched off from her first blog (which is great) to start a second one about Bible study and thoughts on God and scripture. Earlier this week she issued a challenge to all of us out there in the blog-verse to participate in an inductive Bible study and then post their thoughts on their own blog so that the other participants can read and get others' perspectives.

So without further adieu...

2 Timothy 4:1-8

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

My interpretation:

I'm giving you advice and guidance but this isn't just coming from me - these are things that God wants from you, too.

Share the Gospel, the good news, the Word of God. Know it so that you'll be prepared when someone needs to hear it - and not just when its most convenient and comfortable for you. 

Comfort people, teach them, encourage them, give guidance, even correct them when necessary, but always have patience and love when you do. 

Don't wait, act now. People won't always be receptive to the Word, or to you. Instead, they'll rely on themselves and focus on people and things that tell them what they want to hear, whether its the Truth or not. 

Don't allow yourself to slip into that way of thinking and living also - be aware and alert. Don't let your faith waver if you happen to encounter hardship. Be diligent in your work for God and His calling for you. 

I'm not always going to be here to guide and help you. I've lived my life for God to the best of my ability and I've been diligent in my faith. God is faithful to us if we are faithful to Him. For living my life for God, He will reward me with a place next to Him in Heaven. He does and will do the same for everyone who truly loves and obeys Him. 

Personal Thoughts:

Stop coasting. Stop waiting for the "right time". Stop assuming someone else "more qualified" will take care of spreading the Word. Stop thinking EVANGELISM is some intimidating endeavor taken on by only the most mature, sober-minded, well-equipped Christians. 

Listen to people. Encourage them. Give advice when you have it. Comfort people. Be a friend, a confidant, a companion. Really truly love people and take interest in them and their lives. THAT is evangelism. Share your faith. Live in a way that shows God through your actions. Don't be afraid to ask people about their faith and their relationship with God. Pray for people. Pray with people. Don't put it off. Don't hope the subject will come up "on its own". Don't wait for someone else to bring it up first. 

Someone may be in desperate need of a friend to talk about God with and He might put you in their life for that reason - why not reach out? Don't let opportunities to show and share God slip through your grasp. They may not come again. 

Even when people are unreceptive - and they will be, make no mistake - even when you're turned down and you're struggling, stick with it. Be persistent. Don't get discouraged. Continue to love, comfort, encourage - Trust God. He won't give up on you. Don't give up on Him. He keeps his promises. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Child in Need of a Family

Matthew 25

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

A very sweet family that I was blessed to get to know while in college recently adopted a beautiful, precious little girl from Ethiopia. They have such beautiful, God-centered hearts and are constantly thinking of others. Please go read their blog post about a little girl in need of a loving adoptive family. Even if you're not financially able, emotionally able, or have the heart for personal adoption, you can help spread the word of this child's need and say a prayer on her and her future family's behalf.

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What I've Overcome

Fireflight has a lot of great music but this is one that I keep going back to.
I love this song.
It makes a nice "new year - new leaf" sort of song.
Hope you enjoy it, too.

I've got this passion
It's something I can't describe
It's so electric
It's like I've just come alive
I feel this freedom
Now that my past is erased
I feel the healing
I found the meaning of grace
(I found grace)

If only you could see me yesterday
Who I used to be before the change
You'd see a broken heart
You'd see the battle scars
It's funny how words can't explain
How good it feels to finally break the chains
I'm not what I have done
I'm what I've overcome

I know I'll stumble
I know I'll still face defeat
These second chances will define me
So I'm moving forward
I'm standing on my two feet
I've got momentum
I've got someone saving me
(Got someone saving me)

I'll make mistakes and I might fall
But I won't break
I've got someone saving me

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Little Light Reading?

The closer and closer I get to Owen's estimated due date (31 days to go, in case anyone was wondering) I have more and more little freak outs about whether or not I know enough yet, or if I'm prepared enough. Am I really READY for this?

So that made me rush to the library.... ok maybe not rush, because, really, I waited till I was about 33 weeks along before I went research crazy..... but anyway I wet to the library and browsed over every pregnancy, birthing, and parenting book I could find.

For every woman who is pregnant, has babies or small kids, or is thinking about getting pregnant and is wondering if she is or will "do the whole mom-thing the RIGHT way", I strongly encourage you to read Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Mead-Ferro. It's a quick, funny, honest read about a mom who worried at first but then realized the importance of less is more, the fact that you can't (and probably shouldn't) protect your kids from everything, and that there is no perfect, fail-safe parenting method. And that's ok! Really! I seriously enjoyed this book, and not just because Muffy is delightfully snarky the whole way through. This book helped me relax and stop worrying whether or not I was going to be a "good" mom. Parenting is about so much more than always knowing what to do, what to say, being perfect, having all the answers, being the perfect role model, etc. It also reminded me that how much I hate piles of STUFF sitting around that I, we, no one really NEEDS. I actually logged on to my baby registry and deleted about 23 items that I neither have the room or the need for. Less really is more. Especially when you live in a tiny two bedroom apartment like I do where the nursery is also the craft room and the husband's office. Seriously, read this book.

I think what I'm most nervous about overall is the actual birth. Well, maybe not so much the birth, but rather that I'll get to the hospital and all my intentions of having as little medical intervention as possible will go out the window as doctors and nurses swoop in and insist that IVs, monitors, drugs, and who knows what else are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! This freaks me out more than anything.

I do not want an epidural. I do not want an IV. The possibility of an episiotomy scares me to no end. I do not want forceps or that crazy vacuum thing used to extract my child.

I realize that some people may be reading this and thinking that I'm out of my mind for not wanting any drugs or interventions during my labor. That kind of all-natural, drug-free stuff is for hippies, right? Uhm, no. And I don't feel this strongly about it simply because I hate needles (which by the way I do). Most of the reason I want as few interventions as possible is because every drug they pump into me not only effects me and my ability to labor normally (which is bad enough) but it will also effect Owen and his immune system, his vitals, his ability to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, our mother-child connection.... drugs mess with so many things! I mean, think about it - doctors are so strict about what medications you can and cant take while your pregnant because everything you take in, your baby takes in. But then, they want to give you an epidural, pitocin, and IV, demerol and any number of other "necessary" drugs during your labor? Why is it suddenly ok? Just because you're in labor doesn't mean drugs suddenly, magically don't effect your child anymore.

I was already nervous about going into the hospital and being bombarded by medical staff wanting me to give into birthing "standards" of medically assisted labor before I started educating myself. But since I've started reading more about natural birth and what labor should be as opposed to what the medical community has turned it into, I'm even more sure I want to avoid medical assistance unless there's some sort of emergency.

Two books that I've found extremely helpful already even though I haven't finished reading them yet are Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and Homebirth in the Hospital by Stacy Marie Kerr, MD.

Your Best Birth is great because it honestly analyzes all the possible options for how and where to give birth. Medical assistance in the hospital, scheduled c-section, unmedicated but doctor assisted in the hospital, midwife assisted in the hospital, midwife assisted homebirth, etc, etc! It's really nice having it all there in one book so that you can compare and contrast all the different options. The whole point of the book is to inform women of their choices and to remind them that it is, in fact, their choice! As a pregnant woman, it should your choice how and where you labor and give birth. If you want drugs, there are plenty of medical professionals out there who'll hook you up before you can say "please". If you want a drug free birth, that's your right and your choice should be respected and supported!

Homebirth in the Hospital  is similar to Your Best Birth in that it wants the mother to be as informed as possible about her options, but they strongly encourage unmedicated, natural childbirth conducted in a hospital just in case there is an emergency and medical assistance is needed.

A number of my friends over the past few years have mentioned The Bradley Method of childbirth and it's always sounded really interesting to me but I couldn't find the book for a while. Thankfully, a sweet friend of mine got it from the library for me (I couldn't check it out over inter-library loan because I'm not a resident of that town, phooey) and I've only read a few chapters in the day that I've had it but I really love what I've learned so far from reading, skimming, and friends telling me about it.

Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon starts out by comparing and contrasting the Bradley Method to the widely known, or at least heard of, techniques of Lamaze and explains that they are nothing alike and that the training of Lamaze can actually interfere with natural labor. The Bradley Method itself focuses on relaxation and natural breathing to reduce stress and remain calm during contractions. The Bradley Method is also referred to as Husband-Coached Childbirth and emphasizes the importance of the husband's (or birthing partner, in the case of no husband) role in labor and delivery. Laboring mothers have enough to focus on while they prepare to help their child enter the world, the husband's role is to be the calming, supportive, constant figure that mommy needs. Hubby is there to reassure wifey that she's doing a great job, rub her sore back, support her or hold her during contractions, fend off pushy nurses who might want to stick mommy with a needle during a weak moment, and remind mommy that she's almost done and she'll soon get to see and hold that sweet baby. This is a great read for the husband so that he'll feel confident and prepared to support wifey when the time comes!

I love, love, love this book so far. but

Ok, I know I've already written a small novella here ... but I have just 2 more, promise!

Everybody and their mom has heard of What To Expect When You're Expecting but I'll still say a quick little blurb about it. It's a great overview of everything from trying to conceive, to looking for a doctor, to eating right, exercise, sex during pregnancy, health concerns, low/high risk pregnancy and how to deal, miscarriages, bed rest, etc, etc, etc. There's a ton of info in this book, some you'll love, some you'll find wonderfully helpful, some things you've never heard of or thought about, and maybe a few things you might read and decide to ignore. It's a great read for first time moms who might feel completely lost or who have a ton of questions. A very helpful table of contents and glossary make it easy to look up specific concerns in the midst of an abundance of info.

Now for one of my favorite books so far. My wonderful mother-in-law got me The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International for my birthday and I can't get enough of it. I never knew just how beneficial breast milk is for a baby. I mean, obviously its perfect for them. They received all the nutrients they needed from mommy while they were still in the womb so it makes sense that the milk mommy produces would be the perfect food for newly born baby, specifically formulated to their exact needs! But really, there are so so many specific benefits that babies derive from mother's milk that they wouldn't get otherwise. Immune system fortification, IQ development, improved intestinal function, etc etc! One thing I love about this book is that it emphasizes the fact that breastfeeding isn't just about supplying food for your child. It's an amazing mother-child bonding experience involving skin-to-skin contact, eye contact - such a special connection that you can't and won't get from formula feeding.

This wonderful book not only points out the mind-bogglingly awesome qualities of breast milk but also helps mothers who struggle at breastfeeding. They have answers, advice, and even support numbers to call for mothers struggling with latching problems, painful nursing, low milk production, and countless other questions and concerns. They even have advice for mothers who couldn't or didn't know how to nurse their first child but want to try again with their second!
In my personal opinion, every single pregnant and nursing mother should read this book!

Ok, as promised, I'm finally done with what may end up being my longest blog post ever. I just really wanted to share all of these great books with all of my mommy friends out there as well as anyone else wanting to educate themselves about pregnancy, birth, and nursing.

New Year's Resolutions - Or something like that...

New Year's Resolutions have always seemed like a really neat idea to me. Until I get about 2 weeks into them.... then they seem like a burden. I think it's because I often set resolutions or "goals" that aren't as realistic for me as I think they are. Perhaps I make them too specific, too structured. Maybe I need to give my self a little break. Even though I more often think that I need to give myself I nice little kick in the pants to be more productive, get things done on time, do this, do that, live up to this, stop doing that....
Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about things that I'd like to see happen, to help happen, to make happen, to change about myself, etc... in 2011. I think I am going to leave them a bit vague and open ended though so I'm not too hard on myself as the year goes on for not achieving some arbitrary goal that in the long run may or may not have a life-altering effect on me. Here goes:

1. Take better care of myself, emotionally and physically.
2. Go outside more often.
3. Stop freaking out about whether or not I'm going to do this whole mom thing "the right way".
4. Finally learn to play the guitar.
5. Be more organized.
6. Find ways to earn/save money for a down payment on a house/paying off debts.
7. Correspond with long-distance friends/family more often.
8. Get back into my art.
9. Blog more often.
10. Use my time more wisely.
11. Stop being so hard on myself when I don't use my time wisely.
12. Let Ian and Owen know every day how much I love them.
13. Read my Bible more often.
14. Read to Owen frequently, even though I know he can't understand it yet.
15. Notice, respect, and share God and what He's doing in my life as often as possible.

Happy New Year. I hope you look at this year and each and every day that we're blessed with as an opportunity to do, to be, to change, to influence, to learn, to love, to listen, to obey, to seek, to challenge, to find, to explore, to wonder, to dream...... whether or not you choose to make actual resolutions.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Heard this song randomly the other day and it's really stuck with me ever since. Natasha Bedingfield has a great pure, slightly edgy voice and I love the passion she puts into this song. 

La la la la la la
Everyday I fight for
All my future somethings
A thousand little awards
I have to choose between
I could spend a lifetime
Earning things I don’t need
That’s like chasing rainbows
And coming home empty
And if you strip me,
Strip it all away
If you strip me,
What would you find
If you strip me,
Strip it all away
Ill be alright
Take what you want
Steal my pride
Build me up
Or cut me down to size
Shut me out
But I’ll just scream
Im only one voice in a million
But you aint taking that from me
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 

Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
I dont need a microphone
To say what I been thinking
My heart is like a loudspeaker
Thats always on eleven
And if you strip me,
Strip it all away
If you strip me,
What would you find
If you strip me,
Strip it all away
I’m still the same
Take what you want
Steal my pride
Build me up
Or cut me down to size
Shut me out
But I’ll just scream
Im only one voice in a million
But you aint taking that from me
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 

Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Cos when it all boils down
At the end of the day
Its what you do and say
That makes you who you are
Makes you think about,
Think about it
Doesn’t it
Sometimes all it takes is one voice
Take what you want
Steal my pride
Build me up
Or cut me down to size
Shut me out
But I’ll just scream
Im only one voice in a million
But you aint taking that from me
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 

Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me 
Oh oh no you aint taking that from me