Monday, October 24, 2016

Chicken, Kale, and Wild Rice Soup

I love soup. Especially THIS time of year. Just as the weather begins to have a bit of a chill, we are in need of something to warm our bones. Soup to the rescue!

I had a broth bowl at Panera Bread a year or so ago that I absolutely loved and wondered if I could come close to it at home. I have to admit that I never would have thought of putting kale into a soup.  So, here is what I came up with, and while it is not exactly the same it is every bit as tasty.  It can easily be adjusted for more or less soup as you go.  I wish I had a picture of it to share, but trust me on this one... it is delicious!

Chicken, Kale and Wild Rice Soup
  • 1 to 2 boxes organic chicken (or bone) broth
  • 1 to 2 qts. water
  • 2-3 medium chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 can mild Rotel tomatoes, drained
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1/2 cup wild rice blend (I use Texmati with flaxseed, black lentils, couscous [pictured])
  • Fresh kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Greek seasoning (I use Cavender's)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth and 1 qt. water to a boil in 2 1/2 quart pot.  Add chicken breasts and cook until tender.  Remove chicken breasts and set aside to rest and cool. When chicken is cool, cut into bite-sized chunks.

Add Rotel tomatoes (if you can't get Rotel, most any petite diced tomatoes will work) to broth and reduce heat.  Zest the 2 lemons and add zest to the chicken broth.  Seed and juice the lemons, and add juice to broth.

Bring broth back to a boil.  Add Greek seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Add rice blend, cover, and reduce heat to simmer until rice is done (appx. 15-20 minutes depending on blend).  Add chicken chunks.  Add kale pieces and simmer until tender.


NOTE:  This recipe can be chicken-less... and if no chicken is available, it is also good with a whole boiled egg (this is how it was served to me at Panera). 

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Blessing for You

So, because my last post was a little on the negative side, I am posting something encouraging today.  Here is a scripture we memorized in our ladies group a while back, when we were making our way through the book of Ephesians.  I am posting it here as encouragement for you.  Always remember that you are uniquely special and dearly loved by the One who created you!  There really is no way to truly comprehend His love... and feel free to copy and use this graphic if you'd like to.  We used it to help us memorize, but use it however you'd like.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Speaking of Spinning... and Not Being Antisocial

Does social media make your head spin, or is it just me?  

Photo credit: Hali Newberry Photography
My first foray in the social media world was Facebook.  Ahhh... what a great tool for connecting with all those friends from different eras of my past.  I really do love that aspect of it.  And, now that I have a 3 month-old nephew whom I never get to see in person (seriously, have you ever seen a baseball that cute???), it is a great way for me to "virtually" watch him grow.  But, Facebook really is so here today and gone tomorrow... and even though it saves my things, I have a hard time going back and finding something my friends have posted.  When I check Facebook, one minute something is there and the next it is gone.  I think to myself, "Wait, I wanted to read that."  Have you had a conversation with someone you wish you could go back and reread? I sure have... but, the posts just keep on scrolling ...and scrolling ...and scrolling by.

Then Twitter came along, the place where you can say whatever you want to for the world to see -- or at least your followers -- in 140 characters or less.  I think we can all plainly see why this one didn't work out for me...

Next there was Pinterest... what a great concept: a great visual representation of a link that I want to save.  And, I am such a visual person that it was perfect for me.  You know, the instant recipe keeper for all those delicious looking recipes you see in images all over the internet.  
It was also a great tool for organizationally challenged people looking to improve their organizing skills (me!)  And it was the perfect spot for curating a whole bunch of loveliness in one place.  However, three years down the road half of my image links no longer work.  So that recipe I put off trying for so long still looks great in the image, I just have no idea where the recipe is.  And the organizational site went "poof!" just like my organizational skills.

And then there was Instagram.  Visual instant gratification... "Hey family and friends, look at me doing this or that right now!" ...but with no real conversation (unless you count hashtags... don't even get me started on twentyhashtagsononepicturethaticannotreadbecausetheyallruntogether!!) And again, the images just keep scrolling and scrolling.  If I want to see something from 3 weeks ago I have to 1. remember who posted it, 2. find that person's username, and 3. go look through all their images until I see it.  Too much trouble... I'd rather just move on.

Which brings me right back to where I started ever having conversations online.  I am back here hoping for some meaningful dialogue (or even monologue, should no one care to read it!) interspersed with images and links that hopefully will be more (or less) permanent.  And I am thankful that there are still a number of you who feel the same way!

Not really antisocially,

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spinning Right On Its Axis...

So, has it really been three and a half years since I last posted? It's just hard to believe that, but in some ways it seems even longer. With my children grown but not gone, I am still in a very busy stage of life.  Yet, I miss the blog world, my friends made here, and the writing and photos that go along with storytelling.  So, I am going to make a renewed effort and try to not be hard on myself when I go for (what seems like) ages between posts. I can hardly believe that when I started this blog over eight years ago, I posted every day! Whoa, I don't know how I managed that and everything else. But, realistically I know that I have too many things going on right now to post everyday... but I can post sometimes.

Since that first blog post in May 2008, so much has happened in our lives as well as in the world of technology.  We have a lot of visual "instant gratification" these days through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and all the other social media sites.  Yet, my writer's heart longs for a space like this to just ramble on about whatever is on my heart... and for something that's not here today and gone tomorrow.  I love being able to look back at the old posts here and see what God was doing in our lives then and how far He has brought us and our families.  I am using the word "our" because as I look back at the comments, I was not doing this alone. I have tried to stay connected to a number of you by popping in every now and then to read your posts and comment (sparsely, I know.) I am thankful that some of you faithful ones are still at this blogging thing!  It just makes my world feel that it is spinning right on its axis to be able to go visit your beautiful blog homes on the web.

I am still doing art along with graphic and web design, all of which keeps me quite busy.  I am currently in the midst of a very interesting commissioned piece of art for a young man who is about to get married... the piece will be a wedding present for his bride as a remembrance of the spot where he proposed to her.  It is such fun getting to be in on secrets like that.  I just rolled out a brand new website last week for a local small business in town.  I also took on the role of president of one of our local art associations this year, which has added to my already long list of tasks.  But, it has also given me the opportunity to become immersed in the local art community, to get to know some local artists whose works I have admired, and to learn many, many things about techniques, materials, shows, etc.

For those of you still connected here, THANK YOU for not giving up on me. I have always felt like our blog community was a bit of a "small town" on the internet, as those of us with common interests found one another early on.  For now, I am jumping back into this blog with both feet!  There is so much loveliness to be shared, and I want to be a part of the sharing.  I hope to see you around this great big world (wide web)!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Art As Ministry

Recently, I had the opportunity to use my artwork for ministry.  It is truly a blessing to be able to do that.  One of my dear friends who lives in the community that was devastated by the tornadoes of April 2011, had rescued a few shards of lumber from some of his friends' houses after the storm.  He is also a carpenter, and he makes beautiful frames for artwork.  He asked me if I would draw pictures of the houses that had been destroyed, while he set about making frames from the wood he had rescued.  What a privilege to be able to restore a bit of joy to those who lost so much.  Once they were done, the first one was presented to one of the neighbors at the dedication of his new home... a home that had been rebuilt by volunteers of a ministry organization called L.O.V.E. (Locally Organized Volunteer Effort).  L.O.V.E. has been working in the community in the aftermath of the storms to restore the homes of those who want to rebuild where there homes had been.

The second drawing (above) was done for some close friends of both our families.  The husband was actually in our wedding, and my husband was in their wedding.  They lost their home in the tornado, lived 20 miles away for many months, and finally bought a home and moved back into the community.  They are happily settled into their really beautiful new home.  My friend (who makes the frames) took some of the undamaged wood he had rescued from the pile of rubble that had been their home and crafted a beautiful frame for the drawing.  This was truly a labor of love.  They were touched beyond words at the gesture... and now the artwork, the drawing of their home that was destroyed combined with the frame made from the wood taken from it, hangs as a reminder of God's blessing of their first home and His faithfulness to them in the aftermath of the storm.

In the months leading up to Christmas 2012, I had the privilege of doing a large commissioned piece for a church in Columbus, Georgia.  The church had moved about quite a bit in their time together meeting first in a home, then in a hotel, next in a school, then in a theatre, next in a car dealership, and lastly in a daycare facility.  And now they have finally built their own new building.  They wanted a piece of artwork that would commemorate their journey, and I was asked to do the art.  This is the result...

I am so thankful to the Lord that He has allowed me to find ways to use the gifts He has given me to bless others in His name.  Architectural artwork may seem a bit on the boring side, but churches and homes are structures where some of the most important parts of our lives take place.  What a joy to be able to bless others by sharing the gift of memories.

I know it's been a while... I have a LOT of catching up to do here, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I have visited some of you and either left a comment or not (in most cases not), but I am still thankful for my blog friends and think of you all often.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Where are you, Springtime?

Gloomy, dreary days, of late, have me pining away for the warm beauty of sunny springtime days.  Many of the trees in our area are already budding... which makes me realize just what a mild winter we have had.  It also makes me think that another frost is probably imminent.  How's that for optimism?

My son who is a senior this year has wrapped up his basketball season, and so the end of high school is in sight for him.  After 20-plus years of homeschooling - first three babies and then two - we will now be down to one.  It's really hard for me to believe.  I call them babies because... well... isn't that how every mother thinks of her children?  They will always be my babies, no matter how old they are.  (Think "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch). They are each such immense blessings and in such different ways.  It has been amazing to see them sprout their wings and begin to fly.

The oldest is soaring and finding his place in the world with many irons in the fire at the moment... working two jobs and taking college classes from two different institutions, simultaneously.  And, all of this on top of his non-paying, at the moment, (but highly satisfying to him) work in the field of SEC sports media.  He is constantly meeting with someone or doing work for someone in the media... actually spent the morning at a local radio station... and soaking in as much knowledge as he can on his way to who knows where... (God does!)

There are so many "i's" left to dot and "t's" left to cross with middle son that I hardly know where to start.  I am so proud of him, yet not quite ready for him to be at that age.  But, ready or not, here graduation comes.  The cap and gown are sized up, and the invitations are ordered.  He is the one who delights in seeing how many different ways he can bring a smile to his mother's face.  What a gift.  It's when I think of things like that, that I truly understand the very familiar Biblical line, "but Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart."

And then there's my daughter... soon to be old enough for a driver's permit... and I just think, "Where did the time go?"  I am not the first to feel this way, nor will I be the last.  But, life is marching on whether I like it or not. As you can see from the pictures below taken nearly 10 years ago, she's always had a flair for the dramatic.  So, I cannot wait to see what God has in store for her.

And so, on this gloomy, not-yet-spring day, I am thankful.  I am treasuring.  I am pondering.  And I am knowing that God is good and that He is the Giver of all these good gifts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Has Passed....

Okay, that is a tongue-in-cheek title. I hope all my blog friends are well and enjoying something cozy in the afterglow of Christmas this week. I am hunkered down in the bunker of home trying to fight off the last vestiges of a particularly nasty cold and sore throat. I thought I would do a little catching up and sharing in what seems to have become a bi-annual posting.

The fall and Christmas season seems to run like a train on greased rails and ...just like that... it is over. I am enjoying the pace of this week, which for me has slowed considerably. Thanksgiving is such a beautiful holiday full of fond reminiscence and family. What a great start to any holiday season. The Christmas rush was on just after Thanksgiving was over, and I completed three Christmas commisssions in time to send them off to new homes for the holidays.   Here are two of those:

The Tudor cottage was great and the second one is a London townhome... such fun to draw.  I am looking forward to a new commission in the next few months of a newly built church surrounded by six of its former locations.   I am also hanging thirteen of my art pieces at a local hospital's art gallery during the month of January.  I am praying for fruit from this show.

One of the most enjoyable times for me during the holidays was seeing my daughter perform with the ballet company she was invited to be a part of at the beginning of the school year.  They are one of the two performing groups at her ballet school and are called Immanuel (photo above of their feet).  They performed on pointe before several thousand at a local church to "Sing We Now of Christmas" and "Once In Royal David's City." It was a very meaningful time and meant so much to me to see her years of hard work bringing forth such beautiful fruit.  I hope that your fall and holiday season was filled with joy and family love.

Wishing all my blog friends a happy, healthy, blessed 2012!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthing Another New Website...

I am in the process of birthing yet another website for another very creative lady. This one had a very good job working away from home, but in recent days has quit that job in order to pursue her "bliss" in the paper and printing business. (I will share more once we launch her site, but the new logo I created for her is below.) I can recall those Victorias that contained features about women pursuing their "bliss" in regard to their careers or work. There is even a book I have, published by Victoria's editors, called The Business of Bliss which tells the stories of a number of women who did this.

This is something that I have also had the opportunity to do. When I graduated from college with a degree Advertising and Graphic Design many moons ago, none of the layout work was done on computers. It was all meticulously hand-done with rub-on lettering or movable typesetting and gum paste. These days, it seems everything is done via computer. It is really an amazing thing to think about. I have had the opportunity to learn all of this amazing technology as it has evolved. It has gotten incredibly sophisticated through these recent years, and the software will do almost anything that you can imagine.

When I began building websites over 10 years ago, it was all very new and primitive. Since I am a very VISUAL designer, the "coding" required to build websites then was very off-putting to me. But the newest software is so friendly to those of us who are visual designers that it is truly a pleasure to be a web designer this current environment. It is almost like completing an unbelievably large painting, (except that it almost feels like you are never really finished.)  There is always a change here or a tweak there that will inevitably have to be made.

In that past few years I have also had the opportunity to learn to incorporate these new and very popular methods of "quick communication" -- now so affectionately known as Social Media -- into the design of these new websites. I have customized backgrounds and logos and color schemes for Blogger and Twitter, and I have become co-administrator on many a Facebook page.

I am thankful for being able to pursue my bliss and being able to do that from my home. I do not take lightly the privilege of being with my precious family each day, and I am asking the Lord to keep me busy doing what I love, whether it is drawing someone's home, creating a painting, or designing a website. Since these are hard economic times, I must also be wise about what financial contribution I am making in our family. But for now, I am so thankful to be a "worker at home"...

Titus 2:5 " be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Any Way the Wind Blows

IMG011(Photo above taken just after Hurricane Katrina in Pascagoula, MS)

These days you can never tell which way the wind will blow.  It may just bring a tornado to your doorstep.  People in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia found this out the hard way on April 27th.  People in Joplin, Missouri, found this out the hard way on May 22nd.  And in last week’s latest round of tornadic activity even the people in Springfield, Massachusetts, where tornadoes are fairly rare, got a taste of their fury.  Then there is the outbreak in California, also historically a fairly tornado-free area.

So, what is really going on here?  Some would say that it is caused by “global warming” … I wonder if that is why we had the coldest winter on record in quite a while this past year.   Maybe Cheryl ( >>wink<< with her vast study of and fascination with the weather) could help us understand better.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, tornadoes… just what does it all add up to?

(Photo above taken after April 27th tornadoes in Alabama)

If you are like I am, you have been thinking about and pondering  what all this strange weather activity really means.  I think of Jesus’ words when He told us in Matthew 24, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  Birth pangs slowly and increasingly get harder and closer together; and so it seems these strange weather patterns are doing.  It is a constant reminder that this earth is not only an unpredictable place and one we will never be able to control with our man-made schemes, neither is it our permanent home.  No matter how hard we try to stay here or how much effort we put into living longer, one fact remains:  no one gets out of this life alive.   And these recent storms are such a vivid reminder that we don’t get to choose when our final day will be.

(Photo above taken after AL tornadoes shot a splintered two-by-four through a picture in a child’s bedroom)

So what can we do with this knowledge?  Well, there are really only two options… we can live with the conviction that Jesus is Lord, that He paid the penalty for our sin, and that He will come back and redeem all those who truly know and love Him.  Or we can choose to ignore Him, living exactly as we please, without regard for His love or sacrifice.  We really must choose, and ignoring His love and sacrifice is really a choice against Him. 

I just can’t buy the fact that this world just “happened” as an accident of the cosmos.  It would take much more of a leap of faith to believe that, than it does for me to look at the magnificently crafted human body, see its intricate design of systems and organs, and believe it must have had an awesome Creator.

(I mean seriously, can you look at that precious face and think it was an accident of nature? I don’t actually know this little fellow, but a friend of mine snapped his picture while on vacation.)

To use a quote that I hear frequently, “I would rather live like there is a God only to find out that there is not, than to live like there is no God only to find that there is (and, I might add, that He is truly not only Creator, but Judge of the universe.)” 

Storms will come…  so what will you do when they come? As for me, I will lift my eyes to the hills and realize again just where my help comes from:  my help comes from the Lord, Creator of heaven and earth.


And as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Storms of Life

[Prologue]Since I had started the previous post ("November? Really?") a month ago, I decided to go ahead and post it just like I had left it the last time I was editing it on April 6th. (And even though Blogger had a severe glitch yesterday, the post was saved because I created it last month.  So, I just re-posted.) I couldn't get the "Publish Post" button to work that original day in April for some reason, and so I just got busy again and forgot about the post until I came here yesterday... determined to post something since I have been away so long.  [end]

God never promised that this life would be easy, and He knows just how awful it can be from walking this earth in human flesh. So, why am I surprised when the storms of life come? I guess it's because I would really like to live in the fairytale world of happily-ever-after NOW, instead of when I reach heaven. Our hearts long for that, and we do everything we can to bring love, beauty, and even perfection (whatever our version of that happens to be) to our little corners of the world. But, sometimes the storms of life come, and we have absolutely no control over them. We may be doing EVERYTHING right and still be staring devastation in the face.

Such is the case here in Alabama, in the aftermath of the tornadoes of April 27th.  When the Federal Government declares 39 out of 67 counties to be Federal Disaster Areas, you know that it was bad. I have personally never seen with my own eyes destruction from the elements like I have witnessed in the wake of this latest group of storms. When someone mentions the word Supercell Tornadoes in the future, you can be sure we will take the appropriate safety measures. Unfortunately, in this storm many did just that, yet they still lost loved ones and homes... whole communities destroyed.

The community in which I lived and ministered for over 20 years was utterly devastated. I have lived about 20 miles away from this community for the past 6 years, but there are four families in our current church family who live (or lived) there. Two of our four families lost their homes. As we drove through the area on our way to help these families salvage what they could, I could hardly recognize the town I had lived in for so long. How does that happen... and all in about 5 minutes? It is too much to try to wrap your mind around. In some places, for as far as you can see in front and back of you, there are NO tops of trees. Can you imagine that? Would you want to have to walk out your front door to that each day? I know I wouldn't... yet, some of these people (i.e. the ones who didn't lose their homes) will have to continue to do just that. Why, you may ask? I certainly have, and there are no easy answers.

This Supercell spawned 308 tornadoes and killed 243 people in Alabama alone. The most devastating of these tornadoes ravaged a path of destruction spanning the entire width of the state of Alabama, and at times it was a mile wide. The Super Cell was so devastating that it now has its own Wikipedia page which states, "An extremely large and violent tornado outbreak, the largest in United States history[citation needed], occured from April 25 to 28, 2011, affecting the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama."

Those words do not begin to describe what I have seen with my own eyes. It destroyed both Pleasant Grove (the place in which I lived and ministered for 20 years) and my beloved college town of Tuscaloosa. So many have lost so much.

And yet, I have seen God's people at their very best. The faith community has gathered around these people and tried to provide for every need. Our particular community has first-hand experience at this, having been some of the first to get into the Gulf Coast (and still ministering there) after Hurricane Katrina. So, God has His people ready, prepared to show His love, to be hands and feet in a devastating and rapidly deteriorating world. No matter how much we would want to bring our idea of perfection, beauty, and love to our corner of the world, only He can really do that. And for now, He is choosing to use His servants to minister and bring hope into a place for which -- from all outward appearances -- there is no hope.

If you think of it, pray for us as we strive to bring His love, His hope, and His healing to a very broken place. We are clinging to His promises...

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33