Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Where I've Been and My Top Ten Posts from 2014

What happened?  Where have you been?  That was the #1 question I received this December!!

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, and No, the Rapture didn't occur either!  (Aren't you glad?!?)  No crisis - but a big thanks to those of you who emailed to check on me!  

It all started when I encountered the "screen of death" on my laptop . . .  Fortunately, it was able to be resurrected, but then I realized my problem was some kind of virus.  Thankfully, one of my sons helped me run a special system scan, which identified and destroyed the malware that was attacking my computer.   

So, I thought I was good to go and was eager to share about our granddaughter's first birthday and our family Thanksgiving, when I realized I had no pictures!!  I had gotten a new iPhone, and all of my pictures were on the old phone . . . 

And then before I could figure out what to do, I was blindsided by Christmas shopping and baking and decorating and wrapping and special events . . . and did I mention basketball games and practices??  And trying to keep up with two home businesses???

Yes, December has been a blur!  

Even though there was nothing new here on the blog to read this December, I'm thankful for those who stopped by and read from the archives and left me a few comments along the way.  

Today I took a few moments to look back over the year and discover what my most popular posts were!  After taking a look at my stats, I discovered that these are my top ten most-read posts from 2014:

#10 -- Our Thanksgiving Miracle, part 2

Were any of these your favorites too?

Thanks for reading here this year, and I hope you'll join me tomorrow for my first post from 2015.  :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, Conclusion

If you're just joining in, you'll want to take a moment and read my previous posts, or this post won't make much sense!  Just click on the links below:

OK - now you are ready to read the surprising conclusion to Our Thanksgiving Miracle of 2003!

In the stressful days and weeks following our accident, I was so busy caring for the physical and emotional needs of my husband and nine children, that I didn't have time to think much about myself. I knew I had to stay strong for everyone else, and really didn't allow myself to cry or think about how close we came to being a much smaller family . . .  I just kept going.  

Eventually, I had to face up to the fact that something was wrong with me. I was exhausted and nauseous and feeling horrible!  The more I considered all of my symptoms, the more I realized I had seen this unique set of symptoms before -- nine times before, to be exact! Yet, I simply could not believe that God would allow me to get pregnant at such a time as this!!

After my usual mode of operation -- "ignore it and hope it goes away" -- didn't work, I finally took a pregnancy test.  With my suspicions confirmed, I not only had to deal with this new twist to the plot of my life, but I had to break the news to my husband!  Poor guy! When I told him that he was about to be a father for the tenth time, he just stared at me in disbelief and asked for more pain medicine!  ;)  

This was a huge test of my faith!  Did I still believe that God was in control??  I mean, couldn't He see that this was a terrible time to bring a new baby into our family? Didn't He notice that I was totally overwhelmed??  Did I still believe that children were a blessing from the Lord, even if they were born at a terribly inconvenient and stressful time???

It took me quite awhile to wrestle with these questions, and to come to peace with my circumstances and to accept this as God's perfect will for my life!  For awhile, I cried every single day!  

As I began to accept and embrace the fact that I carried a new life, worry set in.  Since I was actually pregnant at the time of the accident, and had had abdominal x-rays to rule out any internal injuries in the ER, I was terrified that the baby would be born with major birth defects. Thankfully, an ultrasound put my fears to rest.

Even though it was such an extremely difficult thing to accept the news of a new baby back in December and January . . . by the time August rolled around, our lives looked totally different!  Injuries were healed and life was pretty much back to normal.  You can see how nicely Joe's face had healed by this time in this picture:

By this time, we were all truly excited to be welcoming a precious little girl into our lives! After all, we needed another "rose" in our garden with six "thorns!"  :)  

Bethany, our little "rosebud" brought much joy into our lives when she was born in August of 2004!  She was a cute, cuddly, and content little baby! :)

In our eyes, Bethany was nothing short of a miracle, surviving a traumatic rollover accident, my abdominal x-rays, and a highly stress-filled first trimester!  She was a living reminder that God brings good out of bad, life out of death, and hope even in the darkest of times!  She was our gold at the end of the rainbow!!! 

It may seem that my story is over, but there was one more little surprise that lay in store for us!  It happened either on Thanksgiving or Christmas the year after the accident.  (Alan thinks it was Thanksgiving, and I think it was Christmas!)  ;)

We had a surprise visit from a man who was a truck driver and had witnessed our accident the year before! He had somehow managed to learn our names and locate us. He came bearing gifts and all kinds of food from his Sunday School class!!!!  He loved getting to meet the family and was relieved to discover that everyone had survived and recovered . . . and was amazed that God had actually protected not just nine, but ten children that day!!!  :)

He was able to provide a missing detail that had always puzzled my husband.  Alan had always marveled that no other cars had plowed into us after the accident, knowing how busy the interstate was the day before Thanksgiving.  Now, we learned in amazement that this man had positioned his tractor trailer in such a way that it blocked all the southbound lanes, so that no one would hit into us after the wreck! He too, had been so shook up by our accident, that he was unable to sleep that night, and spent the night praying for us!  He also asked his church to pray for our family in the days that followed!!

We were once again blown away by God's amazing protection over us, by His provision of our every need, and by His positioning of other Christians around us that day to actively help us and pray for us in our time of need!!  How could we ever doubt His goodness and His sovereignty in our lives???

I don't remember exactly when it happened, but at some point after the accident the Lord caused this verse to jump off the page of my Bible and into my heart:  

"But for this very purpose have I let you live, that I might show you my power, and that my Name may be declared throughout all the earth."  
~ Exodus 9:16, Amplified Bible

Thank you for reading my story and allowing me to declare His Great Name throughout all the earth, or at least as far as the world wide web takes this blog post!   :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, part 4

If you're just joining in, you'll want to take a moment and read part 1part 2, and part 3 before reading today's post.

The day after Thanksgiving my 13 year old son, Taylor came home from the hospital with a sling on his right arm due to the broken collarbone and a cast on his left arm. He was still in a lot of pain and very bruised and weak. We had to do everything for him -- including feed him, which was a full time job! ;)

Then, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my husband came home, wearing a special back brace which he wore constantly for three months until his fractured vertebrae healed. He was also in pain, very weak and needed my help for nearly everything.

That first week or two with all my patients home was quite overwhelmingTheir physical needs were so great! I really had my hands full caring for their physical needs while also caring for the other members of my family (which included 5 children under the age of 10), running after my little Matthew (18 months old), meeting all the emotional needs that everyone had, and trying to keep our household running, all with two of my three oldest ones injured!!  I don't know what I would have done without the young ladies pictured below! 

Tiffany, Bethany and Danielle - my heroes!

I don't know what we would have done without the willingness of others to help us during this challenging time!  I'm forever grateful to a couple families from our church who loaned us their very competent homeschooled daughters for a couple weeks after the accident.  They willingly helped out with everything that needed to be done, none of which was very glamorous!  :)  We often half-joked that we needed one person full time just to answer the phone and the door bell and another person just to keep up with Matthew! (Matthew was one of those little fellows that needed constant supervision and had a way of escaping and getting into mischief when you thought you were watching him!)  ;)  

Tiffany and Matthew

We were obviously very needy during this time.  But . . . 

Even when our needs were so great, God's grace was greater!

It was God that gave me the strength to keep going. He provided the household help we needed. He saw that we had meals provided almost every night right up until Christmas! He provided so many people who helped with our many needs that it was overwhelming! From taking my oldest daughter to replace her broken glasses, to bringing us food of every type, to going and cleaning out the van and camper for us so that we didn't have to sort through the wreckage ourselves, to taking out our overflowing recycling bins, to raking the heavy blanket of fall leaves out of our yard, God provided someone to help with our every need!

God even provided some "comic relief" when we needed it! We had put our golden lab, Jeb Stuart, in the kennel before we left on "vacation" and he was to be picked up on Monday after the accident. Since I am not particularly fond of dogs and had my hands quite full with all of my patients, we asked a lady who worked for my husband if she would mind doing that task for us. She loved dogs and was glad to do something to help out, so she picked up Jeb on Monday and brought him home at lunch time. Jeb bounded from her car, and she shut the car door behind him -- only to discover that she had slammed his tail in the car door!!! This dear lady had to come in and sheepishly tell my husband what she had done to his dog!! That task done, she got Jeb back in the car and headed for the vet. 

Once there, she explained to the vet what had happened to our family. Incredulously, he asked, "Do you mean to tell me that you have taken the only uninjured member of this family and managed to injure him??" She replied weakly, "Yes." The vet thought that was the funniest story he had ever heard! He ended up keeping Jeb overnight, removing the last two inches of his tail, (at no charge to us!!!)  and then sending him home with another lady from Alan's office for follow up care.  These ladies were so gracious, as they realized I did not need one more patient to have to give medicine to, change bandages for, etc!!  :)

The illustrious Jeb Stuart

As the days and weeks rolled by, our family began to heal. It was a time of great pain and sorrow, but also a time of tremendous blessing!  The support from our community was overwhelming!  We received many, many phone calls, visits, and over a hundred cards, many with monetary gifts!  

A visit from county councilman, Mr. Langston

So many people from our church and community loved us and served us in a variety of very practical ways.  It was a very humbling and emotional time for us, to be so needy and to be given so much, and to be reminded of how undeserving we were of all Christ had done for us!  We were suddenly so grateful for everything -- things we had taken for granted before!

It may seem we have reached the end, but this story doesn't end here . . . there was a twist we never imagined!

Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of Our Christmas Miracle!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, part 3

If you're just joining in, you'll want to take a moment and read part 1 and part 2, before reading today's post.

The next morning was Thanksgiving Day. I was up early -- not to put a turkey in the oven, but to go check on all of my patients! It was to be a day of learning more about God's great love and mercy and provision for our family!!

First, I rushed over to see Taylor in the Greenville hospital. He was doing miraculously well and was going to be moved to a regular room later that day. They were still watching him for possible pneumonia, but he was doing far better than could have been expected! Isn't God's mercy amazing??

Then, I drove over to Anderson (about an hour away) to check on my other patients. Alan was heavily sedated due to pain, but Joe was ready to go home! He had acquired quite a fan club due to his sweet spirit and one of the nurses had even given him a new Hardy Boys book!  They were all ready to adopt him, but, I was quite glad to take him home myself!  :)

There was only one problem -- the poor boy had nothing to wear home but his "birthday suit," because they had cut his clothes off of him in the ER the night before. Would you believe that one of the county councilmen who really loved our family and was there visiting my husband went out to Wal-Mart and bought Joe new clothes to go home in?! It was one of many acts of kindness from this dear Christian man.

When Joe was dressed and ready to go, we decided to stop by my husband's room so he could see his Daddy before he left. While there, the phone rang. I answered it and couldn't believe my ears!! 

On the drive over that morning I was praying that I could find out who the nice Christian man was that helped us
immediately after the accident, because I regrettably didn't know his name or address so I could thank him.  
Would you believe this man was on the line asking how we all were?? He said that he and his family had been traveling from North Carolina (where he was a pastor) to his mother's home in ToccoaGeorgia when they witnessed our accident. He said that they had been so shaken by the accident that they had been unable to sleep that night and had stayed awake praying for our family all night long!!  (The tears are flowing even now as I type this!  We are so indebted to the love and compassion of God's people!)

He was able to tell me many things that I didn't know or remember. He confirmed that when our van came to a stop, both Ashlyn's and Taylor's heads were hanging out of the broken windows on the driver's side of the van.  (It makes me shudder even now to think of it!!)  He also shared that after witnessing the accident, he did not expect to see any survivors. (This was echoed by many who witnessed the accident or saw the remains of our van and camper! We were told repeatedly that the only reason our outcome was as good as it was - apart from the grace of God -- was because everyone was buckled up!!  We also learned that two medevac helicopters had been dispatched immediately after the 911 center received the call, as they expected any survivors to be critically injured and needing immediate transport to a trauma unit.)  

My legs went weak as I was reminded once again of what might have been!!  I was immediately more aware of how *great* God's protection over our family had been! He allowed the accident, yes, but oh, how merciful He had been to us!!

This dear man asked about each of the injured ones but he especially wanted to know how Ashlyn was doing. Apparently, she had touched his and his wife's hearts. His wife had stayed by Ashlyn's side, praying for her and ministering to her until the paramedics came. When the paramedics began to take Ashlyn away, Ashlyn (age 16) turned to her and said, "May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. . ."  She couldn't get this out of her mind! 

(I was blessed to learn later that Ashlyn had her Commands of Christ pocket journal in her pocket at the time of the wreck so she could work on her memory verses, and she pulled it out in the ambulance and asked one of the paramedics to read it to her during the trip to the hospital, which he did!!!)  Wow!

So, back to Thanksgiving Day -- it makes me cry even now (11 years later) to share some of the ways that God provided for us and blessed us on Thanksgiving Day!! 

First of all, two men from our church spent the entire morning going over to the two wrecker services where they had towed our van and camper and cleaning out what they could and bringing it home for us. (Before it was over, I think 4 men made as many trips to our camper and van bringing stuff back for us. It was their desire to spare me the overwhelming and traumatic experience of sorting through the broken glass, twisted metal, blood, etc. in search of our belongings. Is that not an overwhelming act of love on our behalf???)

Alan's sister, Janet, and her family arrived that day to help out. When they heard of our accident, they dropped their own Thanksgiving plans and drove through the night to be there with us, helping out any way they could!  Ralph was one of the men who sorted through the wreckage!

I was also able to get all my children (except Taylor) back at home that day.  It was a blessing and comfort to have my children home and to be able to love on them! Little Joe was also glad to be back home!

Then, an unbelievable thing happened -- a friend of mine who lived an hour away and had nine children of her own, spent the entire afternoon at our house preparing us a huge Thanksgiving feast! She had cooked our turkey the night before and had de-boned it and put in a crock-pot, so her own family's turkey could cook in her oven that day. She even brought candles for the table. Can you believe such sacrificial love???

I was so overwhelmed by the unselfish love shown to us that day and by God's provision of our every need! What a blessing it was "to gather my chicks about me" and sit at our table for a Thanksgiving meal that evening. We had everyone there, except my husband, Alan, and son, Taylor, but were comforted to know that they were going to be OK.  We were so blessed!!! We had never had so much to be thankful for!!!!

Come back tomorrow to read part 4 of Our Thanksgiving Miracle!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, part 2

If you missed part 1 of this story, you can read it here.

Finally the whole family was together in the Emergency Room where we began to be x-rayed and treated for our injuries. The staff was so gracious and compassionate to us! We were treated like royalty! They even set up a room for those with minimal injuries and gave the children coloring books, crayons, dolls, trucks, etc. and eventually fed them all supper, which included Lasagna and Chocolate Cake!  :)

One nurse took a liking to my little Matthew (17 months old) and carried him all over the ER as she did her work! Everyone was astonished that we were all one family and that all the children had the same mom and dad!!  ;)  One nurse told my Mom that they were all amazed because they had never seen a family like ours before. 

My mom responded, "Do you mean with so many children?" 

The nurse answered, "Not just that, I mean the love they have for one another. No one is complaining about their own injuries, but they are all asking about each other, wanting to know that their brothers and sisters are OK." 

It brings tears to my eyes even now just to type this!

Soon, the ER was spilling over with not just our family of eleven, but with my parents, some of our neighbors, friends from church, our pastor, and four of the county councilmen which my husband worked for. We learned that our accident had been on the evening news and that word was traveling fast! What a blessing it was to be surrounded by so much love and support!

Once I was cleared from any back or neck injuries, I relished the opportunity to check on all of my children and my husband, but I couldn't be by everyone's bedside at once and it was such a blessing to have others there ministering to each one. 

While I was still waiting in x-ray, they wheeled my son, Joe, by the x-ray department so I could speak with him before they took him to surgery. Because his facial laceration was so deep and extensive and also so close to his eye, they wanted to put him to sleep and have his stitches put in by a doctor who was on call for facial trauma. He ended up getting 13 stitches in his forehead down to his eye and 21 staples on the top of his head!

I was then taken to see my oldest son, Taylor (13), who was going to be air-lifted to the Greenville hospital (an hour away) due to the suspected seriousness of his internal injuries. Taylor's injuries included a broken left arm, broken right collarbone, concussion, bruised right lung and some unidentified internal bleeding, which they thought might be from a damaged aorta. That was scary news! A neighbor offered to fly with him, but there wasn't enough room for anyone to go with him. We learned that our Pastor was going to drive over to the Greenville hospital ICU waiting room and be there when Taylor arrived. 

My daughter Ashlyn (16) had a broken arm, some gashes behind her ear that had to be stitched up, and a mild concussion.  She was released later that evening and went home with her best friend and her family. Another family from our church took six of the basically uninjured children home for the night and ministered to them in their home.

My husband, Alan, had a deep gash in his left hand which had to be stitched up and he had two fractured vertebrae in his back -- T-11 and L-1. He was admitted to the Anderson hospital that night.

I waited until Joe was out of surgery and in a regular room before I left. That was the second hardest thing I had to do -- leave my 9 year old son to spend the night in the hospital by himself!  (Not to mention leaving my husband!)  But, the nurses told me I needed to go to the Greenville Hospital (an hour away) to be with Taylor, because his injuries were more life-threatening and I might need to make crucial decisions and sign consent for treatment forms, etc. 

It nearly tore my heart out to leave Joseph that night! He was so sweet about it and said weakly, "I'll be fine by myself, Mom. Go be with Taylor." 

His nurse was such a sweet woman and she told me that after she finished with her other patients she would go sit in Joe's room to do her paperwork so that he wouldn't be alone! Wasn't that precious??  It was a soothing balm to my hurting mother's heart!

So, I left the Anderson hospital (and my husband and 9-year old son) about 10:00 pm and rode with my pastor and his wife over to my house, which was about 45 minutes away.  Unfortunately, my house keys were lost in the wreck, but I had my husband's key for his Expedition. It was hard to get in that big vehicle and drive over to the hospital in Greenville, but I had to do it, and the Lord gave me grace.

By the time I got there, Taylor was doing great! He was even asking what was for breakfast! :) All internal bleeding had stopped, and a test of the aorta showed no damage!  So, he just had the mild concussion, bruised lung and broken bones!  He was actually moved from ICU to a regular room the very next day! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!

Now, I had to make a plan for the night. I could not stay with Taylor because he was in ICU, but I was an hour away from my husband and Joe in the Anderson hospital, and I had no house keys! Therefore, my Dad encouraged me to go home with him.  It was comforting to go home with my Mom and Dad, and I even slept in bed with my Mom that night!  :) Well, I didn't actually sleep much, as the entire accident kept swimming through my mind and my banged up head and shoulder ached -- but I was alive and my family was all alive and going to be OK and for that I praised God and thanked Him continuously through the night!

Come back tomorrow for part 3  . . . 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, Part 1

Reading this story on Facebook this past week unleashed a host of emotions and painful memories for me, prompting me to share about a life-changing event that happened to our family 11 years ago.  

Stick with me, as I will be sharing this story in parts over the course of this week, using notes from a journal that I kept during that time.  

Here is part 1 of Our Thanksgiving Miracle.

In November of 2003, my husband, Alan, decided we would do something different -- we would spend Thanksgiving in ChattanoogaTN, camping, sightseeing, and just spending time together as a family.  Our extended families had other plans that year, so it was the perfect time for a family vacation vs. celebrating Thanksgiving at home, as was our usual tradition.

Alan had recently sold our little camper that only held half of our family and bought a large travel trailer with slide-out that would fit all of us. His plan was to make this our "motel room on wheels" so that our large family could afford to go places together. (As many of you know, it is cost prohibitive to have to get two motel rooms and eat all meals out whenever you travel with a large family!)

We left our home near GreenvilleSC about 1:30 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. About 45 minutes later, we were traveling down a hill on I-85 when a tractor trailer flew past us at a very high speed, causing a surge of air that sent our camper into a fishtail. My husband began to struggle to gain control of the van and camper as we weaved from one side of the road to the other. Immediately, I thought, "Cry Out!" and I began to cry out in a loud voice for God to help us and to protect us!! 

Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. ~ Psalm 50:15

Despite my husband's best efforts, he could not regain control of the van. As our van swerved sharply to the right, we bounced off the guard rail and according to witnesses, our hitch tore loose from our 15-passenger van and the camper crashed to its side. We were then catapulted across the road into the grassy median. Seeing that we were headed for the oncoming holiday traffic, my husband steered sharply to the right, but as we came back up on the road, our van began to roll. . .  It rolled over twice and then somehow skidded around so that we ended up on the right shoulder of the road with our van facing toward the interstate but right side up, praise God!!

My door was jammed, but when I saw smoke rising from the engine and looked back and saw Ashlyn with her head hanging out of her broken window and Joe with blood streaming down his face, my adrenaline kicked in and I somehow managed to force my door open! I immediately began helping the children out and was soon joined by others who stopped to help. One man in particular stands out in my mind, as he rushed to cut children out of their seatbelts and carseats with his pocket knife.  When he saw that 9-year old Joe's head was laid open and bleeding profusely, he put me to work holding it together and applying pressure. That kept me busy, but how I longed to be at ALL of my children's sides -- I could see a couple of the older ones laid out on the grass with people tending to them and my little ones were sitting in the grass sobbing, and my heart broke.  I couldn't go comfort them, because I had to stay with Joe!  They appeared to be OK, but one question haunted me --  where was my husband?? He was no where in sight! :(

This precious Christian man who had stopped to help (and I later learned was a pastor) began to pray with each of us, even crying out to Abba Father, as he compassionately tended to our needs while his wife was on the line with 911. Wasn't God gracious to go before us and arrange for a Christian family to minister to us immediately after the accident?? We later found out that a host of people stopped to help, but I mostly just remember this one man! 

Eventually, a physician stopped and began to help administer basic first aid measures as we awaited the arrival of the ambulances. He took over with Joe, allowing me to search for Alan, whom I had not seen since the accident. It turns out he was on the ground by the driver's side where he had fallen as soon as he tried to step out of the van. He was in extreme pain, and told me he thought he had broken his back. :(

When the paramedics arrived and began to administer treatment to the injured, the pastor began to search through the van for each child's comfort items, bringing out teddy bears, dolls, fleece blankets, eye glasses, etc.  He was such a compassionate man! Also, many of our belongings had flown out of the van and were scattered everywhere, even the contents of my purse and wallet -- library cards, keys, cell phone, etc. -- were all over the grass beside the interstate. My daughter and I were wearing clogs, which had flown off our feet and were also scattered among the debris. So, this thoughtful man began to gather up what he could and bring it to us.

After the four most severely injured were taken away in ambulances, they came to me and wanted to strap me on a back board and take me in the ambulance with Luke, who was 5 years old. I argued that I was a little beaten up, but fine, but they claimed that I might have internal injuries that I was not aware of and insisted on putting me on a back board and taking me to the hospital.  I'm telling you -- that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, because five of my nine children were still waiting in the grassy area beside the interstate and how could I leave them????  The paramedics kept assuring me that they were not in the business of losing children and that they would get all of them to the hospital! 

So, here I am lying flat on this back board with my head taped down, not liking it one little bit, and all I could do was look up. It was then that I noticed it -- right above my head, in the middle of a clear blue sky, stretching between two white fluffy clouds was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen!!  I exclaimed, "Look -- there's a rainbow!! God is telling me everything is going to be OK!" The paramedic didn't respond, but the Christian man walked over to me and said,"Yes, I saw it too! I have never seen a rainbow like that before!"

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of Our Thanksgiving Miracle.

Friday, November 21, 2014

From my Front Porch ~ November 21, 2014

Welcome back to my weekly series, From my Front Porch, where I share updates from my home and family. My hope is that you'll fix yourself a cup of coffee or tea and imagine us sitting together on my front porch, chatting about life and catching up on the latest news!  I hope you'll join me each Friday on My Front Porch!  

Today is a special day -- my little granddaughter, Sarah, turns one year old today!!! :)  It seems impossible that a year has passed since her birth!!  :)

Want to admire her cuteness??  ;)

To read about her Birth Day, click here.

I was privileged to be at her birth, and here is a picture of Sarah and me taken exactly a year ago . . . 

And here is a picture of us taken a couple weeks ago:

Sarah is a little sweetie and has brough a lot of joy into our lives!  :)  Josh and Kristi are planning a big birthday bash for her on Saturday, and her Baby Dedication is on Sunday!! That means our adult kids are coming home for the weekend to join in the celebration, so it's going to be a Big Weekend at Our house!

Which means my To-Do list for today is at least a mile long!  :)  Some of the things I need to do today are plan menus and go to the grocery store, take one of my sons to get a haircut and buy some needed clothing items, go to the post office and mail out a couple Lilla Rose flexi clips and some Plexus 3-day trials, tackle a pile of ironing, and catch up a bit around the house!   Which means, I better get busy!  :)

I'll post a few pics from our week before I run!

Bethany and Matt enjoying lunch at Chick-fil-A!

Chris and Angel - shopping at Ross!

Bethany and Smith (our neighbor) making Gingerbread cookies!

A gorgeous sunset from last night!

I hope you've had a good week!  Have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by my front porch for a visit! I'd love for you to take a moment to "sign my guest book" (leave a comment!) so I can know that you stopped by and enjoyed your visit!  Please join me again next Friday on my front porch!  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What's Cooking? Thai Chicken, Kale and Butternut Stew Over Jasmine Rice

Looking for something different for supper tonight?  I thought I'd share the recipe I created a few nights ago!  It was really, really good!  In fact, I sort of feel like The Pioneer Woman or something!  ;)

First, I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into chunks and browned them in some olive oil in a large pot.


While the chicken was cooking, I diced up a sweet Vidalia onion and added it to the chicken.  I also tossed in some minced garlic, because everything's better with a little garlic!  :)

Meanwhile, I worked on my squash.  This is definitely the year of the Butternut for me!  I don't know that I've ever cooked a butternut squash before  . . . and I've used at least four of them so far this fall!  They are so yummy!  This is what I did -- I peeled that big boy with a vegetable peeler and then cut it into thick slices, scooping out the seeds where needed, and then cut each slice into rows horizontally and then vertically, creating large chunks.

By this time my chicken and onions were cooked to perfection, so I tossed the butternut chunks into the pot and poured in some Thai Ginger chicken broth and some Taste of Thai coconut milk!!  Yum!  I added some freshly ground sea salt and pepper.

While this was coming to a boil, I tossed three hand fulls of fresh kale into my food processor and chopped it up into small pieces and added it to the pot.  Once my masterpiece came to a boil, I turned down the heat, put on the lid, and let it simmer until the butternut and kale were tender.

While my stew was simmering, I made a batch of Jasmine rice.

In twenty minutes, both were done and I was ready to serve my savory Thai Chicken, Kale and Butternut Stew over the Jasmine Rice!  :)  Delicious!!!  :)

Let me know if you give this a try!  :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: A Tip to Make Kitchen Clean Up Go a Bit Faster!

It's that time of year again when we find oursevles in the kitchen a lot -- preparing the annual Thanksgiving feast, baking Christmas cookies and treats, and making food to take to various parties or to give as gifts to neighbors and friends. 

Yesterday I shared the "secret ingredient" to a successful marriage!  Today, I want to share a time saving tip that will help kitchen clean up go a bit faster!  (Cooking is always a lot more fun than cleaning up, don't you think?!?)

I spray just about every pan and baking dish and even the insides of my crock pot with Pam cooking spray before I fill it with the food to be cooked.  It makes clean up so much easier!!

If you do end up with stubborn baked on junk to scrub out, try soaking your pan overnight with some dishwashing powder and water.  You'll be amazed the next morning when the baked on stuff just rinses right out!

So, there you have it -- two tips for the price of one!!  ;)  I hope these tips help you clean up more quickly after holiday cooking and baking sprees!  ;)  

Note: We avoid as much canola oil as possible in our house (Nasty Stuff).  I usually use Olive Oil Pam . . . . but imagine my excitement to discover new Coconut Oil Pam!!!  AWESOME!  :)
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