The Sunday Feast: Chicken Piccata

imageWell here it is folks. Another 7 months gone by, with no blog entries from me. I have come to the conclusion that:

A) I have practically zero time for this blog.(unless I want to give up teaching or cleaning or cooking or outings with friends or singing on the worship team at church or reading or watching movies with my husband or playing  board games with my kids, etc… which, I am unwilling to do!).

B) The technology afforded to me is old, slow and anxiety inducing, so I just as soon go write in my PAPER journal with my INK pen and call it good.

Yet, here I am. Compelled to share with you my musings and inspirations as of late. I guess that is just my personality. Some people are sporty and need the gym or team sports as an outlet. Some like an adrenaline rush and will go bungee jumping or sky diving to help them relax. Me? I must be creative. Almost all the time. Whether it is in the kitchen, in my writing, singing, or in helping my kids with some creative project, being hands on and creating something from nothing is so therapeutic for me.

Today,I would like to tell you about The Sunday Feast.

Growing up in a small city in Kansas, special Sunday dinners were the norm. Usually,mom and dad tried to feed us homecooked meals every night of the week(even if it was sometimes just tuna casserole or beanie weanies).Sundays,however,were just different. More of a production. Sometimes,mom would bring out the good dishes,and almost always a dessert. Dad would usually make his famous roast beef with mashed potatoes and green beans,or simmer a big pot of spaghetti sauce all day long,and serve it with noodles and salad.

When I  moved to Texas with my kids and husband to be closer to my mother in law, we started recreating my beloved family tradition of special dinner every Sunday night. Every other Sunday, we have small group with some good friends from church.There are about 6 families,and we all have a potluck.There are around 20 children playing and grazing,while the parents talk,stuff their faces and study The Word. Such fun, inspiring and and delicious times!

On the off Sundays,my mother in law will come over and we will have dinner. I instill the help of my kids, and we make a big dinner that includes  a dessert  (and sometimes the good dishes!) We are usually in the kitchen from the time lunch is over after church until 6:30 when dinner starts! My kids have developed a love of cooking, since I started teaching them pretty much as soon as they could stand on a step stool, and see over the counter. It  is something I cherish. I am so grateful for these times, bonding with my kids over creating great food.

About two months ago,I decided I have way too many recipes just sitting around my house, and that I would never ever in my lifetime be able to cook them all.  So I am making an effort to try(a’la Julie Powell),and I am cooking through my archives to determine what recipes to keep,and what recipes to chuck.( I will tell you more about this next time!)

The following recipe is one I most recently cooked for Sunday Feast. I have made it only once before,and absolutely love it! It is Ina Garten’s wonderful, crispy  version of Chicken Piccata. This recipe can be found in her “At Home” Cookbook. Have I mentioned my obsession with poring over cookbooks? I may have a problem. Ha!

For you foodie geeks, piccata is the Italian word for “escalope”,which is a French term for a very thin slice of meat. You can also use veal for this dish,however,veal is more difficult to find,and much more expensive. My son Gabriel had a brilliant idea upon tasting this dish,to use white fish in place of the chicken. I may just have to try that next time!

Most piccatas will have a lightly seasoned flour coating,that has been quickly fried in a bit of oil,and served with a beautiful lemon butter sauce. This has all that,and an extra couple of steps that will knock your socks off!

PANKO my friends. Panko is the key to push this over the top. Haven’t heard of Panko? Well,pull yourself out from under your rock  and go buy a canister of this crisp, light,large breadcrumb, hailing from Japan! It is so versatile,and adds a crispness to this dish that is divine folks! (I hope I am not building this up too much).

I love how she cooks it in the oil for a couple of minutes,and then throws it in the oven to finish off,so you can make the sauce and your sides.Very efficient. I am nothing,if not efficient. Who am I kidding? It took me all day to clean my  bathroom today. Multitasking isn’t what it’s cracked up to be ALL the time. I digress.

This dish is simple yet spectacular. Serve it with buttery noodles or potatoes,and a vegetable and you have a Sunday Feast! (don’t forget the dessert and good dishes!)

Chicken Piccata*

4 split (2 whole) boneless,skinless chicken breasts (kosher salt and freshly ground pepper)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 extra large eggs

1 1/2 cups seasoned Panko

good olive oil

3 Tbls unsalted butter

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons) lemon halves reserved

1/2 cup dry white wine

sliced lemon, for serving

chopped fresh parsley, for serving

capers (optional)**

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper and use a mallet to pound it out to 1/4 inch thick. (be careful not to beat it too hard or you will have chicken mush, instead of beautifully flattened cutlets). Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper on a pie plate. On a second plate, beat eggs with 1 Tbls of water. Place bread crumbs on a 3rd plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour,shake off excess and dip in egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 2 Tbls of olive oil in a large saute’ pan over medium-low heat. Add  2 chicken breast halves and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan while you cook the rest of the chicken.

Heat more olive oil in the pan,and cook the remaining 2 chicken breasts. Place them on the sheet pan,and allow them to bake 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute’ pan with a paper towel. On medium heat, melt 1 Tbls of butter and add the lemon juice, white wine, reserved lemon halves, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Boil over high heat,until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat,add the remaining 2 Tbls of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves.

Serve the chicken with the sauce,sliced lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Eat delicious to live!:)

*I have a large family of six,and on Sundays my mother in law comes for dinner, so I had to double this recipe. However,I don’t think doubling the sauce is necessary. We had way too much leftover. It would be delicious tossed with pasta though so if you want to keep it for that use, go for doubling it!

**Ina Garten’s recipe does not call for capers. Traditionally this recipe does contain them. If you would like to add them to this recipe, I would start with about a 1/4 cup in the sauce. Add more if you wish!

 

 

 

 

 

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Eat (Delicious!) to Live.

It has been over three months since I last posted. The hustle bustle of the holidays,(which really start in September for us with most of our family having birthdays.) has prevented me from regularly pursuing my creative interests.

This year wasn’t as chaotic as the last. (That is a whole other post!) The short version is,last year came to an end with me in the hospital. Needless to say,I was forced to look at how I was handling my health as a type one diabetic. I started all over in my food choices and portion control. I acted like I was new to this illness and not as if I have had it for nearly 15 years. I had to take it on with fresh eyes.

I went back to the gym,(after a 12 year absence), counted carbs, kept a food diary and returned to my former habit of checking my blood glucose levels 7-10 times a day, and using a mathematical formula to calculate my insulin dosages. I was an absolute stickler. I am pretty sure I annoyed the pants off my family. Oh well. Better than mama dying right?

As of late, the busy has gotten a hold of me again. I am not ignoring my disease per se. I am just not as strict. At the turn of the new year, I found myself slipping back into old habits. We haven’t been to the gym since October because of financial reasons. I still eat well and haven’t been cheating too much. I just need to be a tad more disciplined about exercise and checking my numbers.

Something that helps tremendously is drinking half my weight of water in ounces every day. No supplements,health drinks,or add ins needed. The best thing I can do to help curb those crazy cravings is to drink God’s beverage! I am 140 lbs so I drink 70 ounces of water per day. It is a must for appetite control and overall health.

Another thing that helps is to up my vegetable intake,and not completely cut out those “forbidden” foods, everyone talks about (ie pasta, bread, potatoes, sweets). Veggies (especially complex carbs like green leafy veggies) are filling without making you feel sluggish. They give you energy and vitamins without having to take pills or special diets. God gives us the food that will make us healthy, fit and satisfied. We just have to have the discipline to actually eat these foods.

Completely cutting out “forbidden” foods,always leads me to overindulgence. As a foodie who has had a problem with emotional eating, I will say deprivation isn’t the key to success. It’s moderation. I love food. I love carbs, sweets and grease. I am a Kansan,and come from a long line of mom and pop entrepenuers Fried food and gravy is a staple. Doughnuts and pancakes are like air to a Midwesterner. So I have had to force myself to change my relationship to this food.

I can have a doughnut. ONE doughnut. (Or half a doughnut, depending on my day). I can have pancakes. Two pancakes with fruit instead of a sea of syrup. I need to be ok with these portions and realize that I eat to live. I don’t live to eat. This doesn’t mean my food can’t be delicious as well!

I have taken to eating a lot of kale (woah,easy hipster! lol) in the last year. I love it. It is like ambrosia to me. I have always loved my vegetables. Even as a four year old, I would ask my grandma to make me brussels sprouts, when I would visit her. She thought I was weird, since she didn’t even like them. I found Pioneer Woman’s recipe for panfried kale in her 2nd cookbook and I was a goner. It’s recipe gold y’all.

A few weeks ago I was scrounging for lunch. We needed to make a market trip. Our kitchen was practically bare. I found half a bag of kale, some onion and leftover macaroni noodles. I proceeded to cook the best lunch I have had in awhile, basically from scraps. (And my trusty PW kale recipe) It was a loaves and fishes kinda miracle.

My oldest son, Kristofer and I really enjoyed this dish. There were even leftovers for the next day! I am obsessed with carmelized onion and garlic, so it may be a bit of an overstatement to say they are essential to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.(Hahaha. Silly foodies.) If you are watching your carbs, like me, you can absolutely omit the pasta or lower the amount you add. The kale is plenty of carb, but the pasta adds a rich flavor to the dish when carmelized with the onion.

Please make this. You will have a whole new lease on life! Feed youself from God’s bounty. be grateful for the abundance we enjoy. Just say no to the McD’s special and realize that what you eat can prolong or shorten your life! It doesn’t mean deprivation to eat well. Remember to eat (delicious)to live!

Loaves and Fishes Kale

4 tbls olive or avacado oil (divided)
Half a large sweet yellow onion
(Sliced into strips)
1-2 cups cooked macaroni noodles.
Optional
(Gluten free or Whole grain works!)
2 bunches of torn,washed kale.
(Stems removed)
2 cloves of fresh or jarred garlic
Sea or Kosher salt to taste
Fresh pepper to taste

In a large skillet, warm two tbls of oil. Add onion and cook for ten minutes. Add macaroni (if using). Stir until pasta starts to turn slightly golden and onions become carmelized. Add 2 more tbls of oil. and prepped kale. Stit constantly until kale begins to wilt. Add garlic. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove to plates. Enjoy!
(I bet this would be delicious with sliced mushrooms and Parmesan cheese! Be creative!)
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Peace in the Void Part 2 (Seeing the Joy)



I want to tell you something. This is a truth that I have had to learn  through much reflection, study and meditation. I have learned it the hard way thorough many tough life lessons and I share it with you now, hoping to save you some of the trouble. (though the trouble is what grew,deepened and changed me, I will share it nonetheless.) The truth I learned is that GOD IS NOT A GENIE. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset that because God loves us and wants us to have joy that He will just give us what we ask, without reservation,all because we believe He will. Yes the Word holds much that seems to speak those exact  words, however, we must take this in context of the Word  and what we know about God’s character, vision and actions.

In John 14:13-14 it says “And I will do whatever you ask in My Name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”  This is one of the most misunderstood passages in all of the Bible. Does this mean that if we actually fervently pray: “in Jesus name please give me a Porsche, a gorgeous house, a spouse, heal my child, my marriage, my addiction etc…”  that He will automatically deliver with no questions asked? With no action from us other than prayer and belief?  Does it mean  if we pray in His name and He doesn’t deliver, that He either lied and doesn’t want to truly give us what we want, can’t give us what we want, or doesn’t actually exist ? (that last one is a popular one with the atheists). I have come to learn that none of these are even remotely true.

I used to think this verse literally meant that if you ask in His name he will wave his mystical prayer answering wand and everything I ever wanted would come true. I would listen  to messages  from Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (and even Oprah) and drink in the prosperity gospel koolaid with a straw. Even as recently as 5 years ago, did I hold this belief ,that if I wasn’t  getting, I wasn’t   believing it enough. I am not a baby Christian and something that starkly contradicts the Word,  was a forefront of my basic everyday faith code. It was almost my mantra.

When I was pregnant for the 4th time, I desperately wanted a little girl. After having 3 sons I was ready to be the mama of a daughter. I prayed and prayed for months and repeated the verse  in John 14 over and over again. I stood on faith and bought girl’s clothes and even pink baby announcements. I “JUST KNEW”  God would deliver.  When the time came for me to get the sonogram that told us the gender of our child, I was so nervous with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to hear the words “it’s a girl”. Lo’ and behold I did in fact hear those words! I was so on fire with joy I cried and cried. The tech looked at me like I was crazy. My oldest son who  was only 9 at the time and had come with  me , was a bit embarrassed at my display, but consarnit, I was happy! I got what I wanted and you  know what the best part was?All I  had to do was “ask in His name”! I had stumbled upon the proverbial wishing well! This was great! Joel Osteen was right! Just believe and keep believing and eventually you will have success in whatever you want!  Like it says in Best Life Now “It’s OUR faith that activates the power of God”! He NEEDS us to believe before He can DO anything! My daughter existed because of MY FAITH!  WOW! How  profound this was for me!

It was profound until my whole world shattered and crumbled all around me ten months later.  It shattered and crumbled and I could do nothing about it. It was a Monday, early in the morning that I got the phone call that shook me to my core. I heard my sister’s trembling, tear-filled voice and her words, but I couldn’t believe it. Our mother was on life support at the hospital. She had suffered some sort of trauma in her sleep and stopped breathing long enough to need the vent. So far the tests concluded she had no brain activity and may not come back from this. I was frozen with fear and shock and just couldn’t process it to be true. Aside from the fact that I was over 500 miles away from the hospital my mother was laying in, she and I hadn’t spoken in over 8 months at this point. We had some issues between us that led to  me making the decision to break contact with her. I immediately started berating myself. ” I am the most horrible daughter”, I said. I kept repeating these words, because I really  felt they were true. How could I quit talking to my own mother? No matter what she had done, she at the very least deserved to know I loved her. She was my mother. I was raised to forgive. ALWAYS. I did not forgive for 6 years, and I didn’t realize until right then that I had made a grave mistake and was so scared that it was too late to make it right!

The next few days were a whirlwind. My church took up donations so I could travel on such short notice. Some friends of my sister’s (whom I had never met), offered to come get my then 5 month old daughter, Eleia and I from Texas and bring us up to Kansas so I could see my mother. The Doctors had concluded zero brain activity with no hope of it coming back. She was basically a prisoner in her own body. My sister and I had to make a decision and I needed to be there soon if I wanted to say goodbye. I spent these few days in a shock-filled, stressed out haze. I had laundry to do, groceries to buy and bags to pack and I also had to somehow come to grips with the fact that my mother was going to die any day.

I couldn’t accept it. I wouldn’t! God wouldn’t let this happen. He would never take my mother so early. She was only 50! She didn’t look  a day over 35!  She was spunky and energetic and had so much life to live and so much to give the world! We had so much time to be able to reconcile! She couldn’t leave before we made up! She hadn’t seen or talked to my kids or husband  in 4 years. She had never even met my daughter. My sister was newly pregnant. If she died now, my niece or nephew would never get to meet her. No. This couldn’t happen. I would not let it.

So while I prepared to leave, I went to my arsenal. I prayed like I have never prayed before. I repeated those cherished words in John 14 over and over. I asked God to please let her stay until old age or at least long enough so I could say I love her and that I forgave her. That I have never ever hated her and that I was grateful for how she mothered and loved me my entire life. WhenI  found out she was near death, I forgot the conflict between us and remembered all the beautiful things about her.

I kept praying all the way to Kansas. My faith would save her. My faith would keep her from dying just as my faith brought my daughter life.  God told me to sing to her. I didn’t understand that. Sing to her? How could I do that?  This wasn’t a joyous occasion for me. I sing when I am happy. When I worship. This was not a time for happiness  or worship. This was a time to go to the throne and make her stay!

When I entered the room I barely recognized my mama. She was so puffed up from fluid they were giving her ,she looked 40 pounds heavier.  Her eye lids were very swollen and there were tubes and machines everywhere. I couldn’t breathe. I thought, how can I leave this room knowing this will be the last time I see her? At this point my faith was quickly dwindling. I had been so sure that if I just prayed and asked in HIS name that her life would be given back to me. That I could ask in His name and He not let her live for even a few more moments would make me go  with her. I couldn’t bear the thought.

“SING.” was all my Father in heaven would say. I prayed and begged and shook my fists at the sky and nearly screamed through my tears  right there in the ICU. I resolved to obey, because I could not move. It was as if I was paralyzed. Finally I stopped begging God. I held her hand and said I was sorry. I said I loved her. I asked her to stay. I started singing. It was part of the chorus of a song I had started writing a week before I got that fateful call:

stand beside me now when I’m awake when I’m awake

stand beside me now, when I’m asleep when I’m asleep

Don’t you know when the weight of the world is coming down around you

you don’t have to bear the weight anymore because He died for you

I had no idea when I got this melody and these words from the Lord the impact that they would have or what they meant. I was having other issues in life at the time and assumed that was why He was sending me this message. Clearly the message was meant to get me through this moment. To help me see that she would be ok. That I would be ok. That I could walk out of that room knowing that I would see her again and that even though she didn’t open her eyes we DID have a reconciliation because of the blood of Christ. Because He died, she would live again and I would see her again. He said sing because singing is my spiritual gift, and I believe it was the way He could make her hear me. It wasn’t the answer I wanted. It wasn’t my wish granted or my prayer answered. Praying those verses in John didn’t get me the desires of my heart.

This doesn’t  mean HE didn’t have a plan or know what he was doing. It didn’t mean that He could NOT do what I was asking. It definitely didn’t mean that He wasn’t real. It meant that His ways are not our ways and I was not seeing the mosaic picture. I was merely seeing one tiny piece of marble. I was meant to find the peace in the earthly void of my dear mother. I was meant to see the joy in the sorrow.

I still don’t see the full mosaic, even 4 years later, but I surely understand it much more and catch glimpses of it here and there. He shows me little flashes of light to let me know He is there and in control of  ALL things, even in the darkest moments. He sent healing through the gift of song writing. Since her death he has direct downloaded almost a dozen songs (included the completed song they i sang in my mother’s ICU room)This has been monumental in my healing. It has been the answer to the asking in His Name, the light in the darkness, the joy in the sorrow. His ways are not our  ways.

I don’t believe that our prayers mean nothing or that they are all said in vain. I do believe He WANTS us to ask.  I just know that prayers  hold the power that GOD and ONLY GOD gives them. I don’t have the power, HE does. I don’t know the plan. HE does. My job is to trust in my God through faith. Not use my faith as a tool to get my all my needs met, then get angry at Him when He doesn’t meet my needs. I must be ok with God saying “Not this time my child.” Even if I am not ok (because let’s be honest, sometimes His “Not this time my child” hurts like crazy)  I must trust Him. It is no longer I. It is HE that runs the show. (see Galatians 2:20)

I tried for so long to do this thing called life on my own without even knowing I was doing so. Let’s face it I still do it. It doesn’t ever work. Anytime I step in without Him it ALWAYS fails eventually.  I have seen friends have terrible losses,shattered dreams and huge betrayals and it makes me wonder how I could have ever had the mindset and been so presumptuous to think that praying harder and believing bigger would have got them what they wanted every single time. GOD IS NOT A GENIE.  This is a slap in the face to the suffering believers  of this world. That starving child, that childless mother, that divorced couple, that cancer patient. He tells us in that profound book of the Bible I stood on for so long  for an instant fix: ” in this world  you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).I believe this with all of my heart.

I know the power of prayer. I have seen marriages restored, sicknesses healed and finances repaired. I have seen so much something come from so much nothing because God’s people gathering and prayed. I believe in it. I also believe in God’s powerful loving arms. His comforting words when the answer is “not this time my child.”  I often hear and read the common thought that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” This simply isn’t true. The world constantly gives us more than we can handle. He could stop it but doesn’t  always do this. It is HE who is bigger than our problems. HE can make victory from our suffering. Not us. We can’t always handle it. I will go as far to say as we can’t EVER handle it. Not without Him. He will help us my friends. HE will help us find peace in the void and see the joy.

Peace in the Void Part One (Seeing the Real World)

The last year or so, I have (as mentioned in my first ever post) been very put off by social media. Do I use it? Yes. Do I love it? Lately,not so much. You see I am a child of the last generation that grew up without all this tech. For kids, teens and young adults today, all the tech is the norm.(Ya know like color tv and VCRs were the norm for kids of my generation). I hear myself sounding like my parents once did (they warned me). I say things like “when I was your age, I didn’t have a phone that wasn’t plugged into a wall” or “you don’t need that gadget, it’s too expensive”, or “shut that thing off, you’re gonna rot your brain!”

We have major rules in this house about media use. No more than two hours total per day on all media. That includes DVDs (we have no cable), the Wii and computer use. (Unless there is a school project needing more research than our home and public library can provide). Our kids don’t have phones,(Not even the teenager) so texting and constant attachment to the cell isn’t an issue. I view this as I viewed pacifiers: don’t give them the chance to form the habit and you won’t have to drive yourself mad trying to break them of it.

There is a big reason we are so strict about media use. It’s not because we are behind in the times fuddy duddies with no concept of the “real world”. Quite the contrary. We believe the real world is what happens when the screens are no where to be seen. I saw a quote a few weeks ago that drives this point home. “You’ll never come to the end of your life and regret not having watched enough tv”. Well Amen. You know what you may regret? Not getting down on the floor with your kids and pretending to be a horse while they ride on your back. Not tickling them enough. Not reading to them. Not cooking with them. Not running, jumping and laughing enough with them. Not listening to them becasue you had to send one more text or read one more blog or like one more post. Not playing board games with your spouse. Not talking to them everyday. (Really talking not just texting). Not writing them love notes or making them feel like they are the most important adult person to you. When the phone is in your hand more than your guy or gal’s hand is in your hand, it’s a problem.

I realize the irony in me saying these things while sitting behind a screen. That is the paradox of our world. It’s how we can be heard now. It’s the platform from which people listen and love and share and fight and move forward. I can’t begin to imagine how different life would be, however, if for we all decided to go dark. Would you take this challenge? Would you put down the screens? Even for one day? One week? One month? More?

Last summer, I participated in the 7 Experiment by Jen Hatmaker, with my women’s group at church. The experiment was to abstain completely from 7 areas of life for one full week.(The author did 7 weeks for each area) This.Woke.Me.Up. The area that I struggled the most with was food. No brainer right? I am a foodie, amateur chef/baker and I read cookbooks as a hobby. We had to eat only 7 foods for 7 days. Brutal. Media was not much of a problem for me, however,abstaining from media opened my eyes to how much I used it and missed out on real life.

How often was I on the FB while drinking my morning coffee and missed something my husband said? How often was I responding to an email and half heartedly hugged one of my kids? How often did I chose a favorite tv show (thanks Netflix) over reading my bible? How often was I in a texting marathon while complaining I didn’t have enough hours in the day to get all the housework finished? The list goes on. I realized my fun and harmless little iPhone hobby was interfering in the quality, connection and experience of my life.

Did I really need to inform everyone of every move I made? Did the world really care that much about what I made for lunch everyday. Did I really need to pin 57 recipes when I have a cupboard filled to the brim with cookbooks? Was it necessary to share a hundred photos on Instagram when I could just have the photos for myself? These habits are fun and they are common but what are they truly doing for us? They are teaching us to go to our phones first when we should go to our people first. There’s a popular phrase: “moderation is key”. This is a truth that is being lost. We need to take stock and really pay attention to the people to tech ratio. If our time with people is not outweighing our screen time, we need to do something different. We need to find peace in the void of the electronics. You won’t die. I promise. People can live without your vast knowledge, beautiful pictures and wild opinions about everything for a bit.

If you find yourself to be a person of enormous integrity and just have to express or you may implode,then a break from media may be a good thing for you. If you tend to want to prove yourself to the naysayers and are a highly sensitive person who gets hurt if you are misunderstood, a break from media may be a good thing for you. If the state of the world and today’s modern society effects your spirit throughout the day to the point that you feel burdened, a break from media may be for you.

I say this not because I am trying to be Ms. Self righteous bossy-pants, but because I am all of the above and I have benefited from what I have come to call the media fast. In January of this year, I realized I was spending too much time on my iPhone. I decided my New Year’s resolution was going to be to axe the Words with Friends and Candy Crush and to take a one week break every month from all social media and texting. (Except for in emergencies or basic inquiries of course). I still checked my email once a day to stay in the know about our activities, however, media was not a forerunner of my day. No more fb marathons with my morning coffee. No more pinning for an hour a day. No more reading a dozen mommy, homeschooling, food blogs a day. No more Instagram. God and my family are first and I needed to act like it. I am not saying social media and the like is evil or bad, just that it doesn’t have the importance we have put on it. I enjoy peeking into my friend’s and family’s lives. Especially being so far away from my hometown. It helps me to stay connected. However, I don’t want that connection to become priority over real time connection.

I am passionate about my family and I want to show them that they are the priority. We can say this with our mouths but when we put our media needs ahead of them how are we showing them that? We must be ok with just sitting in silence with each other, listening to a book being read,a song being sung, eating a meal, playing a game or going on a date without feeling the need to always post to fb about it. We must be ok just laughing at something someone said or agreeing heartily with them instead of just liking something they posted. If we don’t, we will end up not really knowing each other. We will end up knowing only diet versions of each other. I don’t know about y’all but I want the full fat version of life! During the time we aren’t media socializing, think of the wonderful things we could be actually doing! We must become content and at peace in the void of media. There we will find true and REAL joy.

The New

This is the new. The start. The beginning. This is a years in the making attempt to finally get into words the fun, the complex, the crazy, the simple, the hilarious, the heartache, the redemption, the joy and the love that is my story.

I must admit that as of late I have been superbly jaded about social media, bloggers and the internet as a whole. I feel the disconnect that has happened in our longing to be connected. I feel the unauthentic communication that comes with the “likes” and the “shares”. I feel like it’s time to simplify and get back to really talking to one another. So ironically I sit here typing, hoping to glean out some kind of inspiration for myself and for others. I hope this helps to begin a conversation into the real world. I long for letters and more visits. I miss the phone calls and the group outings. I get a bit of this from my beautiful church but as a homeschooling stay at home mom it’s not as frequent as I would like. I do realize that my main focus is my family and though I have wanted to be a real writer my whole life, hope this creates an outlet to create something good for the Lord.

Some beginnings are tough. Some starts are the end. Some new journeys reach nothing. Do I know what will come of doing this? Not at all. Do I hope to gain a following that makes me famous the world over? NO. I am not one for the pretentious, but I do hope to give light and inspiration to people. I hope I can find a connection with those with similar stories and we can lean in and teach one another!

I thought long and hard about what to call my blog. At first I thought I would call it the “All Things” blog referring to one of my favorite verses, Philippians 4:13 ” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”. I would blog about all the things in my life and all He is doing. After praying and thinking about what I wanted to share, and the journey I have taken, I kept getting another favorite verse repeated to me. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your Paths Straight”. Then the kids’ VBS theme song back in June were those exact words sung to a catchy tune. I knew I had my title. Echo Factor reached. I hear you Lord.

I just think back to my story and how many times He has straightened my (and my family’s) path! How many times has He pulled us out of the mire and set us upon a solid rock? How many times when life seemed hopeless did He bring unfathomable joy?

This blog will not be a daily spewing of my events (that would get boring to most of you I think!). I plan to share my testimony from beginning to end. I plan to share whats He is doing in our lives NOW and what He continues to do. I will sprinkle my blog with things that make me passionate: food/cooking, homeschooling, marriage, my kids,music/ministry/worship, books and anything else that may inspire. The ongoing theme,however, is that GOD is at the center of ALL of this. Everything is spiritual (as Rob Bell says) and HE is in charge of the new, the starts and the beginning. Most important HE is in charge of the finish and HE wins in the end. HE is our victory in this life and that my friends is something we can always take solace in.