Tuesday, July 29, 2014

FAMILY...the Good, the Bad, and the Nasty


Whenever you open a book that starts with once upon a time…just know you are most likely setting yourself up for comparison and a short stint of believing that everybody else has life better than you and better than that of your family.

Oh how most of us wish that if someone were to look at our families behind closed doors that they, too, would be able to start an account of our family journey with Once upon a time…or do we?  Yes, it sounds good, but as I look back on the parenting years I must admit I would rather have REAL and all that comes along with that than FAKE.

I was reading in Galatians 6 today and if I were starting off now as a young momma, I think I would be tempted to paint the biggest wall in our living room with chalkboard paint and have my bff paint these words as a daily reminder: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 I would also try to make the time to keep a running list of things not to become weary in doing. 

If only we could remember to keep our eyes on the harvest and not at the never-ending-discipline, bad-attitudes that need adjusting, swallowing our pride and saying “I’m sorry”, not keeping score, and loving the sometimes hard-to-love etc. our families may look a bit more like a Disney story-line…but in most cases it is much easier said than done.

Our immediate family happened to be made up of 4 individuals.  We all happened to have very STRONG personalities…to say the least.  My hubby always referred to our personalities as very passionate…a nice word for STUBBORN…but God knows that it was a tough road in our family to fight for the things that mattered and to let other things go.
I sometimes wished I could have been THAT MOM that could have gently reminded my son that climbing a very tall tree at the age of three was not a good idea…but I distinctly remember screaming at him in disbelief that he would even think about it.  And THAT, somehow, was my hubby’s fault!!

There were the holidays where perfectionism seemed entirely more important than that of the reason we were celebrating.  {Spending days on homemade pie crusts and ironing tablecloths, cloth napkins and the late night trip to Oregon Craft and Floral to make homemade candles in tea cups was not worth being grumpy!!}  Again, everything looked good, but my heart was full of anxiety and I needed to keep my eyes on the harvest.  A well-set table and beautiful decorations had nothing to do with nurturing little hearts.  I am NOT over-spiritualizing this, and there is nothing wrong with clean children all.dressed up in holiday attire and an outsider likening your family to that of a NORMAN ROCKWELL painting, but having a bad attitude and compromising the unimportant for the sake of how thing look is not okay.
Gossiping about one family member to another family member is also not okay.  It can be done so very innocently but with huge consequences.  It is always best to go directly to the person than to bring the whole family into it.

I attended a tea one year and a certain somebody pulled my skirt down a bit as I was informed that it was too short to be wearing.  I immediately hiked it up further and let ____ know that until I had varicose veins I would be wearing short skirts!!  Me and my big mouth gossiped about it at home and painted the family member as an old-fashioned school marm.  So not fair to ____who was trying to protect me from what others might have to say about it.

It would be easy to write from now until 20 years from now giving story after story, family-feud after family feud, disagreement after disagreement, arguments won and lost, hurt feelings that needed attention…but I am not going to bore you or air our familiy’s dirty laundry, but I want to encourage you that family is worth fighting for.  It is worth it!! 

The lives that you have been entrusted with are worth taking the time to help shape and mold.  Every family is unique and special.  Families are to be a safe place where we all learn valuable life lessons.  Sometimes the easy way and sometimes the hard way.  Unlike t.v. sitcoms, conflicts and disagreements are not solved in 30 minutes.  Sometimes they can take years to take care of and sometimes they are not remedied, and that is where God’s grace comes in to look at things differently and to have compassion on hard situations…
Families are to be treasured and protected. Forgiveness should take the front seat and not the back seat.  Ask God for patience to take the place of impatience as you watch your children struggle with consequences.  Take in the times when your child demonstrates compassion to flea-infested baby squirrels even though you could have thought of a million and one other ways to have taught a life lesson.
And when bitterness is being harbored and home is tense and you feel like a string is about to break, call a “come to Jesus” meeting.  There is nothing worse than everybody knowing there is something wrong and nothing being done about it.  Jesus set the example in calling His disciples away and dealing with issues.  This should have been our PLAN A…but usually became PLAN B.  :}  And guess what?  This does not end when your children leave home.  I think it is important to keep the family a well-oiled machine that can function as a unit long after the bedrooms have been turned into craft/room/offices and guest rooms.
Now that we have chatted more about the bad and the nasty, let’s talk about the good…the very good…How refreshing it is to be able to look back on the past and see God’s hand even when we made mistakes.  Our children can know what compassion looks like.  They can feel the immediate relief that forgiveness has to offer.  The chores they dreaded as children provided a determination in sticking with it regardless of how many hours it took them to finish…and they assured you nobody else in their class had to spread barkdust all.Saturday.long.  The furniture that needed re-arranging to fit grammy’s wheelchair in the house for Thanksgiving took time away from the family-puzzle…but it will be taught to their children when they have to re-arrange their lives for us as we age.

ALL in ALL, I wish I could get up on our HOT roof top today and shout out “Don’t give up!!  Keep on Keeping on!!  It is worth its weight in GOLD!!  Reaping the harvest is worth the blood, sweat and tears that goes into the labor-intensive years of the growing and nurturing it takes to make and grow a family.


And when your children call you to inform you of their  “come to Jesus” meeting they happened to have that night, and they end with "but it was so good!!" you will be able to hang–up the phone and smile knowing that forgiveness and acceptance and unconditional love is on the horizon as yet another HARVEST draws near.
How good it is to be a family.

Do you need to call a family meeting?  Ask for forgiveness?  Love a family member unconditionally?  Do something special for a hurting member of your family?    

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yogurt Pancakes with Lemon Devonshire



With all of the berries we have here in the Northwest it seems a shame to only have breakfast in the morning! So, we had to have pancakes in the evening the other night. Was so easy and so good. Even a bowl of cereal with berries on top would have been just fine with me! That, or a banana/berry milkshake!

Yogurt Pancakes
Adapted from Ina Garten


Stir together:

3 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. sea salt

Whisk in:

1 cup plain ol’ yogurt

1½ cups PLUS 2 Tbsp. milk

4 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Zest from 1 small lemon

Directions:

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients

Stir until well mixed. Do not over mix!

Using about 1/4 cup measure, ladle onto griddle that is heated on medium heat.

Make sure the griddle is oiled.

Allow pancake to cook until small bubbles start popping up.

Flip pancake and let cook for about 2-3 more minutes.

Keep pancakes warm in a 200* oven. {Be sure to keep them toasty and covered!}

Serve pancakes with fresh blueberries and HEAPS and HEAPS o' CREAM!



Lemon Devonshire Cream:

½ cup heavy cream

8 oz. softened cream cheese {room temp}

1 tbsp. powdered sugar

½ cup sour cream {I like Daisy Brand...full fat!}

Zest of 1 small lemon

1 tsp. lemon oil, pure lemon extract or lemon curd to taste

Directions:

*Beat heavy cream until it is well-whipped {not butter!!!} and add the rest of the ingredients.
*Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.
*Keep chilled until ready to serve.


Do you ever enjoy breakfast for dinner? If so, what is your favorite thing to fix or pour?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scott's Grilled Fajita Taco Salad



I feel like we are in the middle of a heat wave and one can only live on salads and watermelon for so long.
This recipe is one of my hubby's most-requested recipes and if you make it...you will definitely know exactly why.

My hubby is still finding all kinds of ways to add flavor to old favorites without the pound of butter and cream while still maintaining great flavor to his meals.
Normally, the chicken was placed on tortilla shells, slathered with shredded cheese and serrano cream.
Now, the chicken is placed on a bed of dark, healthy, oh.so.good.for.you greens, topped with sliced chicken and lots of grilled veggies with serrano cream ~made with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Again, the firehouse recipes are relatively fast.  This one takes a bit more time...but can easily be prepped earlier on in the day and grilled in very little time!

ENJOY this packed-full-of-goodness-meal!


Grilled Fajita Taco Salad

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. liquid smoke

2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 serrano pepper, seeds removed and sliced

Juice of:  1 orange, 2 limes and 2 lemons

3 garlic cloves or less {we just love garlic!}

*Desired amount of greens like spinach, romaine, fancy greens etc.

Grilled Veggies:

1 red onion, sliced

2 red peppers, sliced

2 yellow peppers, sliced

*Place veggies in  ZIPLOC gallon bag with a tad bit of olive oil.  Keep chilled until ready to grill.



Directions:

*Place chicken in ZIPLOC gallon bag along with the liquid smoke, oil, salt, pepper, serrano, juices and garlic.  Let sit for at least 1 hr. and up to 24 hrs. in the fridge.



*Grill chicken on the bbq until juices run clear and it is fully cooked.  Remove from grill and place on a plate covered with tin foil.



*Once the chicken is cooked and "resting" under the tin foil, place the veggies in a veggie grill basket and let it char a bit.  stir it a couple of times and that is it.


{If you don't have a grill basket, just make sure the veggies are cut large enough so that they don't fall through the grates on the grill.}

*Prepare your salad beds and place sliced chicken, grilled veggies, avocado and serrano cream on top...or you can eat them on a tortilla shell...



Serrano Cream

3 Serrano peppers

1 large clove of garlic

½ tsp. sea salt

½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

*Seed, devein and cut peppers into small pieces.

*Combine all ingredients in blender until well blended.

*Chill until ready to use.

Monday, July 14, 2014

And Now You Know Why...


...you will never be the same.  
Not a single day will go by that you will look at your life a you did before.

Once your eyes caught a glimpse of your tiny baby making her way into the joy-filled hospital room...you would not, could not be the same.

Yes, your body is different...but now you know why it is simply okay.  

And now you know why God chose her first nine months to be home nestled right beneath your heart.
And why He chose the perfect spot to be cradled by your arms long before you even met.
And why her tiny ears formed early to hear your soft voice comfort her.

And now you know why and how your heart IS indeed capable of more love, more joy, more compassion and more wonder than you ever thought possible.
And now you know why your somewhat quiet world has been replaced with baby cries, late night feedings, more laundry, and the fact that you are on call now and needed 24/7 without exception and you wouldn't have it any other way!

And now you know why sometimes tears flow for no reason at all while you look down at her delicate, long fingers as they grasp your finger while rocking  her to sleep.

And now you know why mommas hear everything.  Your ears are tuned to her every whimper and move...every sneeze and hiccup and every coo and yawn.

And now you know why baby kisses were never meant to be portioned out.  They were meant to be given out in large doses...just because.

And now you know why I always said that sometimes God uses children to teach us what His heart is really like...and how He loves us unconditionally and shepherds our heart.

And now you know why...
we have prayed for this child.

Welcome Baby Adalynn



Photo credit:  Jessica Lyons Photography

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hummus and Veggie Focaccia Sandwich





We are definitely "re-nesting" here as we plan on welcoming our very first grandbaby and our new daughter-in-love into the Pearson family.. and simple dinners are a MUST!

I know the hummus and veggie focaccia sandwich is a far cry from burgers, steaks and hot dogs or whatever your typical Summer fare might be, but maybe it would be a nice dinner this week as you are sifting through which Summer project to start on first!!  And if you are enjoying fresh tomatoes from your garden or from a generous neighbor...this sandwich will be just dandy!

Don't feel intimidated by the homemade focaccia bread.  It is super duper easy to make or purchased is also GREAT!


Hummus and Veggie Focaccia Sandwich
Lisa Pearson

Hummus

Green pepper slices

Red pepper slices

Orange pepper slices

Red leaf lettuce leaves

Fresh garden tomatoes...YUMMY!

Rings of thinly sliced red onions

Thinly sliced Swiss cheese

Focaccia bread





                                                           Focaccia Bread    


Ingredients:

2 cups warm water

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

3 cups bread flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. sea salt

olive oil

rosemary to taste

Herbes de Provence to taste

salt to taste


Directions:

*In a measuring cup, add yeast to warm water.

*In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Add yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon
until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.


*Cover dough and let rise for 1 hour.


*Pour dough onto Silpat or greased baking sheet.


*Spread out with oiled hands and dimple using your knuckles.


*Brush with olive oil and add chopped rosemary, Herbes de Provence and salt if you like.  Maybe you have a favorite spice you would like to try.  Garlic is also a winner!


*Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

*This may also be made on a well-oiled baking pan for crispier bread.

Sandwich assembly:

Cut focaccia into squares and then slice into half.  This will give you a top and a bottom.

*Spread hummus onto each half.

*Layer on green, red and orange peppers, red leaf lettuce, fresh garden tomato slices, red onion slices and whatever else strikes your fancy.



Enjoy with grapes, berries, pear slices and sparkling apple juice...and don't forget the KETTLE CHIPS!!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Iona's Tribute


Not much pulls at my heart-strings than seeing the relationships between the younger generations and the older generations. 
It is almost as though for a bit of time...two very different worlds meet and the ones who are blessed enough to have each other for any amount of time...be it years or minutes...seem to glean treasures untold!!

Over the years, I have been touched by my Twinsie who has such a tender heart toward the elderly.  She has taught me more than she will ever know...especially when it came to her dear friend, Iona.

I must admit there were times I caught myself rolling my eyes as she would describe the plans she had for Iona for the day.  There were certainly times I felt like she should just stay home and take a nap while her baby napped as opposed to having tea with her friend. There were moments when I thought that maybe she was giving too much and needed to slow down in the "taking care of department".  BUT, was I ever wrong. 

The friendship grew and became a blessing neither would be willing to give up on...not for a second.  What an incredible gift they shared as Iona so willingly shared her life with that of a young momma and her baby.

Iona is now celebrating LIFE in heaven as my sweet sissy misses her daily.

I say, if you are needing a new friend...pray about it.  Maybe a lonely, gramma lady is praying for a new friend who will include her in the life of her younger family.  What a lovely thought for them to be sought after and needed.  After all...friendships that are unexpected are the ones I believe are gifts sent from GOD.  Do you know how I know?  They are tenderly gift wrapped by the hands of the maker of the universe.  A very unique gift indeed! 

This is her reflection:

"As Landen and I sit down to write this letter to you, we are awed at the deep imprint of friendship you have left on our lives.

I'll never forget the day we first met. We had just moved out to Scappoose and were your new neighbors at the duplex. I was eight months pregnant with Landen, and feeling overwhelmed with life. You immediately took me under your wing, and endeared yourself to me.
We started out with daily early morning walks around the block that by the end of summer had turned into two hour “walk-a-thons”. 
We laughed, shared stories, talked about childhoods, exchanged recipes, and you never failed in helping me prepare for the arrival of Landen.

We always enjoyed you retelling the story of your first glimpse of Landen. He was on his blanket, and as soon as he heard your voice, he moved his head to look at you, and your eyes met. That was all it took. From that moment on, you two shared a bond! We still took our daily walks, no matter the weather. You reassured me that it really was okay to take Landen out into the cold and rain. Oh, what a a sight we must have been as we walked the streets in our  mix-matched sweatshirts, coats, sweatpants, and a baby in the stroller with garbage bags over the bottom part of his blankets to keep him from getting soaked!!

As Landen grew, you would come get him and take him next door to your house so I could nap, and then you would feed him most evenings while I was getting dinner ready. You spoiled us!

At the age of 18 months, I started in the care giving of my grandma, and that was another adventure which you shared in. You became a friend to grandma, and were always available to help in any way you could. She too loved you!!

One day when Landen was talking about how many grandmas he had, I was trying to explain that you weren't his “ real” grandma.  After hearing my explanation, Landen looked up at me and emphatically proclaimed  “ But Mommy, Nona is my real grandma! ”. That was the end... in his mind and heart, you were his grandma. End of discussion. Never again was it a matter of question... you were his!!

At the very essence of this letter, it is our desire to express the gratitude our family has towards you, and the legacy with which you graced us in the sixteen years we knew you.  In everything you did and said, it was in the true gift of time and unconditional friendship that you gifted us.

Never were you too busy to encourage, listen, and invest in our lives. We each felt that when we were with you, time stopped, and we were given your undivided attention.


We love you Nona, and are thankful for you and the time God granted to us to be a part of your life."

Laura Stroh

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Count Your Many Blessings


Hymns.  They reach down to the deepest part of your soul.  No matter how many years it has been since you have listened to them, it seems a mere impossibility to forget the strong words of Truth and Faith.
I think every hymn is my favorite...but there are those that are my favorite.favorite!

How very easy it is to feel lost in this world...keeping track of wrongs, having lack of purpose and direction, busyness and a sense that the good days are forever gone and have regretfully been replaced with the bad days.  This is so far from the what God has for us!



When upon life's billows
You are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged,
Thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings,
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done.

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one
Count your blessings,
See what God has done
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

Are you ever burdened
With a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy
You are called to bear?
Count your many blessings,
Ev'ry doubt will fly
And you will be singing
As the days go by.

When you look at others
With their lands and gold
Think that Christ has promised
You His wealth untold
Count your many blessings,
Money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven,
Nor your home on high.


So, amid the conflict,
Whether great or small
Do not be discouraged,
God is over all
Count your many blessings,
Angels will attend
Help and comfort give you
To your journey's end.

Words by:  Johnson Oatman, Jr.

I hope this encourages you today!!
If it is hard for you to list your blessings...maybe you can take a short walk around the block and talk to Jesus and ask Him to bring blessings to your mind as you hum a hymn of old.

This picture is a hint as to what is going on in our little family.  There is much more to come.

Photo Credit:  Jessica Lyons Photography