Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful for a grown up recipe that everyone will eat!

I found this recipe on the pioneer woman website.  I usually brace myself for the complaints I get when trying a new recipe, especially one that is "fancy" and not specifically geared toward kids.  Well, let me tell you this one surprised me.  I had no complaints and it is now one of Jacob's favorite dishes.  We call it...

Three Cheese Pasta Shells


  • 8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
  • 30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 8 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Parsley

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serve with crusty French bread.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful no matter what...

~thankful that I am lonely when Ryan is gone.  It means I know real love.
~thankful when I am sick.  It reminds me that one day I will never be sick again.
~thankful when I repent to my kids after being a grouch (sin).  It reminds me I am forgiven in Christ.
~thankful for sleeping alone.  It creates in me a compassion for my daughter in China that leads to prayer for her.

The Spirit is opening my eyes to see a reason to always, always give thanks and see beauty in ashes.  Thankful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thank God for Sick Days

I'm constantly refining and relearning the purposeful act of giving thanks at all times and in all circumstances.  The Lord reminded me just yesterday in 1 Thes 5:18 that it is His will that I give thanks in all circumstances.  I am thankful to be thankful, that He is giving me eyes to see Him in all things.  Truly, eucharisteo, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for undeserved grace, brings joy!

Yesterday I was sick, Hallie was sick, the boys were sick...sick, sick, sick!  Let me tell you how thankful I am for sick days...

~slowing down
~Hallie home from school, snuggling on the couch
~painting toenails
~her hands playing with my hair
~each of us doing devotions on the couch together
~reading our books together on the couch in quiet
~Her book choice, "Little House in the Big Woods"
~cleaning out her closet together
~laundry done (all of it, for at least 4 hours)
~Zac's bravery at the dentist.  Two teeth pulled without a tear
~medicine to lessen pain and an amazingly skillful dentist
~Jacob's attitude.  He rarely complains.
~Watching Jacob construct lego masterpieces at the after school club
~Our home.  Quiet, safe, peaceful
~Phone calls from Ryan throughout the day.

I keep thinking that God is training my heart and mind to think about things above, not earthly things so that I might keep the faith no matter what this life throws at me in the future.  I am thankful he is training me to rejoice, be filled with joy and celebrate Him even on sick days.  Yesterday sure was great!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marathon Analogy

Last weekend I ran the Omaha Marathon in honor of my dear daughter, Melia. It's no wonder Paul compares life and faith to running a race. It's no wonder the pastor at our church used a marathon to describe parenting. It's a great analogy, and running that race has really impacted my perspective on life. So, here goes...

First, you have to decide to commit to the training and the race. Isn't this the first step in making anything happen. Committing to something that you know will be hard and painful at times (like parenting, adopting a child with a heart condition, marrying someone, following Christ, being a friend....) is difficult. But, setting your mind on things above and not on earthly desires and fear enabled me to make the commitment to run the race.

Second, is the training. Ugh! 12 miles, 16 miles (in the humidity), 18 miles, 20 miles (with shoes that hurt my feet)...this is the hard part. Staying the course and following through when life is uncomfortable, hot, humid and you are running on and on by yourself. I am thankful that most of my training was done with friends that were incredibly encouraging and motivating but there were hours that I was thankful to have Jesus with me when I otherwise would have been all alone. And, isn't that important. When I am faced with challenging parenting moments or frustrated relationships or health is good to have Jesus and friends that will listen, encourage, motivate, pray and run alongside me. One of the greatest encouragements was when I was headed out for a run in the rain at 5 a.m. and Ryan says from bed, "Wow, you are amazing. I am so proud of you." (Then, he returned to his slumber :)

Third, the taper. Ahh. The calm before the storm. Isn't it sweet when life calms down for awhile and we can really bask in the rest God gives. The two weeks before the run I was tapering and still concerned about my leg hurting but I also enjoyed more relaxed runs with my friends and a physical therapy friend gave my legs some treatments. During this time I really valued the knowledge from Kelly, a marathon trainer and from my PT friends. It reminds me that we need to stop and listen to the wisdom of others instead of barreling on ahead with our own plans and ideas. Their advice helped me to have a successful race and I am grateful.

Race Day! The start of the race was exciting. I had my tribe of running buddies with me and we all ran the first 13 miles together. They kept my mind off my legs and were a constant source of encouragement. They were in there running the race with me. We all need people that will sweat and run the race of life with us.

After mile 13, I continued on my own but not for long. My family, all wearing pink shirts for Melia, cheered me on at mile 6, 12, 15, 20 and 26. They woke up early, the kids dressed in the car and they tromped all around downtown Omaha, just to support me. Do I have an amazing family or what? This reminds me of the importance of family. No matter what, they will always be my family and they will always cheer me on in life.

Then, at mile 16 another friend, who left her family for a few hours on a Sunday, joined me to run 6 grueling miles. I felt my legs slowing down, but her physical presence inspired me to keep running. She jumped in with me when I was feeling tired and worn out. I can remember feeling this way many times with my children, sometimes with my job or other relationships. This is the point at which you want to slow down or maybe even quit, but then someone comes along and makes all the difference in the world. At one point I almost tripped over her but she still stayed right by my side to run with me. Do you ever do that? When someone tries to help, we push them out of the way because we really don't want to keep running the race, but a true friend doesn't let us quit!

Then, came mile 23. At this point I was by myself and due to a bathroom break my family could not make it to mile 23. And then, a HILL! Seriously! I am hot, my hips and feet hurt, I am all alone and I have to climb a hill! Yep, sometime life is like that. So, I ran (if you can call it that) up the hill and you know what awaited me at the top? An encouraging spectator. I don't know who she is or anything about her, but God knew I needed her kindness at just that moment. Don't you just love it when God drops unexpected blessings in your life in the midst of trials and pain?

Mile 25, a surprise! One of my running buddies was still around and even though her legs were hurting she ran 25-26 with me. She did not let her pain stop her from encouraging me. This is a good reminder to me that even when life is not perfect I need reach out and be a blessing to those around me.

Finally, 26.2 The finish! Cheers, hugs, a medal. That is the welcome home we will get from Jesus when we run the race of life faithfully~He is waiting with cheers from angels, hugs and a reward. Oh, what a day that will be! (And, I imagine my knees won't hurt the next day either.)

So, there you have it. Life as a Marathon.