The other day I was craving breakfast for dinner and, more specifically, French toast. But with about 1 1/2 hours until the kids needed to be getting ready for bed I was in no position to make that happen! Not to mention I only had 4 slices of bread….which I think my son alone would've easily consumed! So, I just dove right into "making-it-up-as-I-go-along" mode and this was the result. I'm happy to say that it was a hit with the whole family. (Even my husband who claimed to not be a fan of bread pudding!) Oh, and I even got the kids to bed at a decent hour! Yay!
Ok, so before you turn your nose up at these cookies you simply MUST try them.
In keeping with my family’s unique tastes, I thought I would share another favorite Japanese dish. We almost always have some in or refrigerator for snacking on or any number of other uses.
Many traditional Japanese meals include at least one little dish of “tsukemono”, otherwise known as pickled vegetables or simply a side dish of prepared vegetables. My husband is a sucker for any dish that includes onions. So when my master-of-the-kitchen-mother-in-law introduced us to this recipe my husband made sure she taught me how to make it. It has quickly become a staple in our household, and, true to form, I have found about a million yummy ways to use it besides just “tsukemono”. 🙂
Enjoy!Ingredients:2 medium onions, thinly sliced3 heaping tsp granulated sugar1/2 tsp salt3/4 cup white vinegar3/4 to 1 cup sesame oil1/2 cup mirin(sweet cooking sake)1/2 cup sake1/2 cup soy sauceDirections:Slice onions and let them rest at room temperature for about 40 minutes.(I’m told this is to allow the sulfuric acid/gases escape, the gases that make your eyes water, but I cannot confirm this.)Place rested onions in sealable container and add the remaining ingredients.Carefully mix and slightly compress onions to ensure they are covered by the liquids.Seal container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before eating.Serve as a small side dish or try pouring some over chicken breasts and baking it for a tangy, sweet and very moist chicken dish!
With two small children, a dog, a household to manage, a part time job and ministry to juggle, I don’t have a lot of spare time. And with a limited budget to work with, I have found myself becoming more creative, even adventurous in order to save a few dollars and valuable time I could be spending with my family. I have tried (and since given up on) making my own shampoo and hand soap. I have made the switch from disposable diapers to cloth(and I will never go back!). I have, for the most part, gotten rid of most cleaning solutions and instead use things like vinegar($3 for 2 gallons at Costco…can’t beat it!). And the list goes on!
There are a whole lot of recipes out there but they basically use the same ingredients, just in different quantities. Some people find they have to make adjustments because of hard or soft water. Here’s the recipe I use.
*1/3 bar of Fels Naptha (5.5oz bar). You can use other soap but make sure you aren’t using a beauty bar, which is what most bar “soaps” are that you find in normal grocery stores. *1 1/2 cup arm and hammer WASHING soda (NOT baking soda, although you can add it and some recipes do) *1/2 to 1 cup borax *1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar *1T essential oil or glycerin (optional) *2 1 gal. jugs or other container to store soap. If you have an old detergent container or empty vinegar jugs, that works great. You can also use a bucket, allthough, if you have kids you’ll want to make sure it has a tight fitting lid and is very durable. Directions:
Grate the Fels Naptha soap and put it in a large stock pot with 6 cups water over medium heat; stir constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Heat until soap melts. (You’ll know it’s melted because it won’t stick to the bottom of the pot as much.) Add washing soda, borax, vinegar and oil (if desired) all at once, stirring constantly until all has dissolved. Reduce heat and let it sit for 5 mins. over the heat stirring occasionally. Slowly add 1 gallon of hot tap water to mixture. If lumps appear, stir over heat a few minutes to incorporate.*** Remove from heat and let it cool for a while. Remove any bubbles and stir, slowly, occasionally(every 20mins or so to keep ingredients from separating) until cool enough to touch. Make sure it’s fairly cool because once you put the cap on the jug, it will expand and blow the top off if it’s too hot. If you are using a bucket, it should be fine to pour in after only 5 or 10 minutes. Using a funnel put half the mixture in each gallon jug and shake well. Put aside until cool. This gels up and looks like egg whites. Shake well before each use. Use about 1/2 c. per load, depending on size. It won’t suds up like most detergents but the clothes smell wonderful. ***If you don’t have a stockpot large enough, after dissolving all the ingredients in the 6 cups of water, let cool and stir as above, then add half of the mixture to each jug and then fill the rest of the way with hot tap water and shake well.
So here I sit, with my belly so big I can barely reach the keyboard and breath at the same time. How is it that time in pregnancy flies by so quickly…until the last few days??? Haha, it’s a silly thing to complain about, but I really miss bending over with ease!
What a journey this has been. It’s easy to forget what miracle this little girl truly is. A year and a half ago, I would have laughed in your face had you told me that I would have such a problem free pregnancy. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just imagining it all…not just this pregnancy, but all the tears leading up to this time of my life. I feel like the woman I was a couple years ago almost doesn’t exist anymore. I have learned infinitely more about myself than I ever thought I would in a lifetime…and even more importantly, I have learned infinitely more about my God than I ever dreamed. There were days that I felt completely rejected and betrayed by God and now there are days that I am in such awe of Him that I can hardly utter a prayer for fear that I will ruin that sense of awe. How can such a huge change happen in such a short time? I still don’t fully understand.
As I look back on it all, I remember a few moments that I’m certain were pivotal and I’m not sure if words can truly capture them, but I’ll try. A Sunday when I knew that the Lord was calling me to stand in front of my church and, tearful and trembling, give an impromptu testimony of what the Lord was teaching me in my bitter and hurt state. I found myself begging the rest of our church family to let go of whatever it was that they were holding against God or each other and to stop allowing fear or anger to control their lives. Uttering the words brought conviction on my own soul that I still had so much to release into His capable hands and yet, it seemed that the Lord was showing me, through my own testimony, that He was going to follow through on His promise to never leave nor forsake me. It was as if He was using my own words to reaffirm His promise of deliverance to my still frail and fragile heart.
Again, about 6 or 8 months later, I found myself sitting in church. This time it was a church we were visiting. I was praying and suddenly felt a fear come over me that I had never felt before. And then, a question. The kind of question that every parent dreads facing. The kind of question that Abraham must have asked while walking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice. “Will you completely release all of your rights to your child’s life into My hands? And if I choose to allow the end of that life, will you still trust Me and follow Me?” It was as if I was sitting there in the church service and my precious son was dying as I struggled with this question. I felt compelled to go peak at him through the window of the classroom door….and in nearly hysterical tears I did and stood watching helplessly yet relieved to see him happily playing and laughing. My answer to the question? I knew I couldn’t go look at my son without first releasing him into the only hands that can truly carry him through any given moment of life, and so release is what I did.
Why would such moments of utter and complete brokenness be so pivotal? I can only imagine that they are moments where I let go of things that were never mine to hold so tightly. What is that famous saying from Jim Elliott? “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Whatever the case, I am so thankful for each day. I am so full of life and freedom. I am experiencing the power of my God in ways I never dreamed possible and I am fully aware that it has nothing to do with me…except that I was willing to let it all go.
Oh the freedom and joy of a life lived for a greater purpose than success or money or even happiness! I am truly free indeed! I am forever broken for the good of my own soul….and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂
Well, I think it’s been WAY too long since I last posted anything so I thought I’d share some of what has been happening in our lives.
I am now 32 wks pregnant and feeling about as big as a house! The other day my Grandma asked me how I was doing and we laughed together over my first response: “I forget what my ankles look like NOT swollen. I’m hardly sleeping at night because I have to pee 4 times every night. I can’t get a nap because every time I lay down the baby gets excited and starts kicking the living daylights out of my hips and ribs, and, oh let’s see….I can’t really eat much because everything gives me heartburn! Oh, and did I mention that I have almost constant leg cramps regardless of how many bananas I eat or how much exercise I get? So, basically, I’m exactly how I’m supposed to be at this point!” (giggles followed)
It’s a journey, that’s for sure, but it’s a wonderful blessing too. So many people have told me that I’m crazy when I tell them that the 3rd trimester is my favorite part of pregnancy. What can I say? Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the time that I start to feel like I’m getting to know the baby’s personality and natural schedule. It’s the time that I truly start to appreciate the simplicity of life that we so often take for granted. It’s that time that it becomes a real and present reality that there is a little tiny person growing and developing…not just the adorable “alien baby” that earlier months reveal on the ultrasounds. She has a personality. She has likes and dislikes. She sleeps. She gets the hiccups. She is truly her own wonderfully created person.
What’s hard is suddenly realizing how little time we have to take care of all the details of preparing our home for her to come. It’s been rough to be so busy with crazy and unexpected life situations that I feel like we haven’t been able to just enjoy the pregnancy and the miracle of this little blessing. I just keep reminding myself that, after she comes, her newborn fragility will necessitate a month or so of slowing down and focused family time. (Which, for me, also usually means a MAJOR case of cabin fever!)
What’s amazing is not feeling all of the anxiety about how this will change our lives or how we will be able to afford all that comes with a new baby in our home. I still have anxiety about giving birth(seriously not a fun part of the whole deal) but at least this time I have an idea of what to expect. I still know that my husband and I will be paranoid about her health through her first Winter season, but at least we know how to handle just about anything normal that flu and cold season can throw our way.
This time around I think I have more anxiety about how in the world to help our 3 year old through the whole process. I’m not the most patient mom and I wonder how the early days of total sleep deprevation will affect my ablity to patiently guide him through this major transition in HIS life. I wonder if he will be as excited to “help” as he is now? I wonder if we will get lucky and avoid him trying to hurt her out of pure jealousy or even from trying to “help”? Or will we be among the lucky ones who have a child so protective of the new baby that the only thing we worry about is him hurting someone else! 😉
*sigh* I guess the worrying and wondering of parenthood never really goes away, but rather, it just shifts and changes as the journey continues.
As for past miscarriages and heartaches regarding having children? God’s healing has been complete. My fears aren’t linked to that history, but to the normal emotions of welcoming a new family member. Have I forgotten? Nope, but I think that is God’s way of reminding me of the great and miraculous healing He has accomplished in my life. I know that He doesn’t always choose to bring about that healing by giving another child, but in my case He did….and I am thankful. Those whom He chooses other ways of healing have a much harder road in some ways, but no less blessed or full of wonder. I still can’t claim to begin to understand why these things happen. Nor can I begin to think that I have all the answers. I’ve hurt people along the way. I’ve been angry with God and man. I’ve screwed up and made a fool of myself and others. But I also know that God won’t waste any of it. (Though I am certain I’ve given Him a little more work because of my foolishness.)
So, to those I’ve hurt or wronged along the way, I truly apologize. I pray that you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I am but a foolish little girl with only very little wisdom and I pray that you will be able to look beyond me to see the amazing Savior who has saved and redeemed my junk.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for leading me even when I tried to get away from You. Thank you for healing me and helping me to learn what it truly means to “praise You in the storm” and to praise you in the sunny days. Please continue to grow me and make me into a tool that is useful in Your amazingly capable hands.
This journey isn’t over….just moving on to a new chapter! 🙂
So now what do I do? How do I take this new challenge to expect life and health and wholeness and walk forward in faith?
As we went to bed that night, my husband and I prayed again. We reminded ourselves of what we had learned and we asked for much of the same healing and wholeness that my friend had prayed and proclaimed. What was this??? With our hands on the little “bump” I had already begun to grow I felt something I’ve never felt before. My tummy was hard as a rock, a few inches bigger for a brief moment and then warmth…warmth that seemed to come from somewhere I can’t explain with simple words.
And it was complete. I knew it in my spirit. My body was different again…different meaning pregnancy “sensations” returned. Where hours ago I wondered if there was life, I suddenly KNEW that life and wholeness had been restored. This baby would be fine.
The next morning as we got ready to go to the doctor, my husband asked me if we needed to get a babysitter for our son. My response shocked even me, “Nope. Everything is going to be fine. He needs to see his new baby sister or brother.”
Wow! Where did that come from??? I don’t know, but it was fun watching the ultrasound tech’s response to the same tentative type of questions. Then, as if to reward our faith, it took only a split second to find and clearly see the tiny beating heart.
Life. A new, tiny heart beating strong as an evening wind.
Newness of heart. A new kind of faith, consuming the depths of me like I never dreamed possible.
A renewed spirit. A hope for the future without fear or doubt. And joy like I have never known before.
“The Lord on high is mighty.” (from Ps 93)
…and mighty is HE!!!!!! 🙂
Cold winter months are slowly turning into warm Spring afternoons…and I’m not just talking about the change of weather.
The end of February brought news that has both warmed my heart and soul, and challenged my faith to new depths. A baby. Yep, I’m pregnant again! Now I’d love to tell you that the news brought immediate joy and excitement but that would be a lie. The first month I was in constant turmoil. Do I want to cry or allow myself to smile? Can I start planning for this baby or should I wait? Torture. Pure, emotional and physical torture. ….or was it simply an exercise I needed in order to grow and trust the Lord…to TRULY trust Him?
So everything was going well for a few weeks. I successfully kept myself emotionally detached from the baby. No signs of problems, nothing that reminded me of any past miscarriages. Then, just like when the last precious life slipped into eternity, at 10wks I suddenly stopped feeling sick, food tasted good again and I had more energy…as if overnight. Most might call this a blessing, but to me, it meant something was wrong and something in my spirit told me that something truly was wrong. So, where do you start? Call the doctor. Spend some time praying. Call a few friends and ask them to pray. And then simply wait and “hope for the best.” But something told me that simply “hoping for the best” was not going to be enough this time.
The doctor couldn’t fit me in until the following day so that meant 24 hours of heart wrenching waiting and each hour brought me to a place of feeling like I was no longer pregnant. I was trying desparately to hold my emotions back and not allow myself to feel anything for fear that the emotions would overtake me and I would go to a depth of despair that I might not recover from. Five hours into waiting and I could no longer hold back the fear….or the flood of tears.
“I’m scared.” I confessed to my husband through a tidal wave of emotions. “I just can’t help but feel that something is just not right with this baby and all of our hopes for growing our family are gone.”
What is a husband to say??? “Just try to trust. Try to give it up to God.” He was trying to hold it together so that I could have a rock to lean on. What I would learn in the next couple of hours would remind me that there is a greater Rock to lean on and He has the power to change anything…and everything, but He needs me to exercise the faith He created in me.
I couldn’t stop thinking about a dear praying sister-in-Christ from my Bible college days and was compelled to try and contact her to ask for her prayers. Desparate for ANYONE who might have more faith than me to ask for the ridiculous. And so I found her and “hoped for the best” without expecting to hear from her directly. Then the phone rang and I KNEW it must be her.
“Can I pray for you guys? How are you? What is going on specifically? How are you feeling?”
Then she went on to explain how she felt led to pray:
“Look at this situation with eyes like a dove; fresh, pure and untouched by past pain.”
“Focus so hard on Jesus and His cross that you even forget about the baby.”
“Remember that we have been given power on this earth to reclaim God’s territory and to walk in His victory without fear or doubt.”
“Remember that this generation has a great calling and the enemy of our souls knows it, and hates it. The enemy wants death but God never intended for the womb to be a grave. God desires life and health.”
….and so she prayed. She asked for my fear to be completely gone. She asked for the pain of past miscarriages to be healed entirely. She asked for victory and proclaimed life and health and wholeness. She prayed for vision and hope for the future and joy in the meantime.
…..and moments after hanging up, the flood of healing began. Suddenly my fears were gone. Suddenly I knew that, although something still didn’t feel quite right with the baby, that by the time we saw the ultrasound the next day that the baby would be fully right, whole and healthy. Suddenly, I had hope for the future. It was almost as if I could feel my spiritual healing in my physical body. The Savior of my soul was bringing life and a new heart of faith into the very fiber of my being. He was mending the brokeness of my spirit and showing me how simple it can be to take Him at His word so much so that I am willing to be a fool if I am somehow wrong.
Faith to move a mountain??? I thought that was for those people who were radical in faith by NATURE…not nurture. Faith to believe for physical healing and spiritual wholeness despite past trauma? Isn’t that for those people that live in some wild jungle and encounter funky diseases and stuff like that??? Or could it be? Could it really be true that God might want to give me that kind of faith to live out in suburbia? To live out as I homeschool my 3 yr old boy? To live out as I rock the babies in the infant room during Sunday worship services? And the answer came as clear as a July afternoon sky….YEEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want that for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wow! What’s next was amazing!……………………