Healthy Eating

Homemade Tortillas
3 C flour (all purpose or wheat)
1/3 C oil
1 C warm water
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients to form dough. Roll the dough into a big ball and take about 1 to 2 inch pieces off. Sprinkle flour on clean surface and use a rolling pin and roll into circles. Over medium heat, place tortilla on pan and turn once it starts to bubble (I usually poke a few holes to keep from getting big bubbles)

Meatball Soup from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
3 oz whole-wheat pasta (bowties/wagon wheels)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes
¼ C carrot puree
1 ½ tsp salt
3 C beef or chicken
3 slices whole wheat bread cubed
1 egg
¼ C sweet potato puree
¼ C milk
2 Tbs parmesan cheese
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp paprika
½ ground turkey

Cook pasta in large pot until al dente, drain and set aside. In a large pot, add oil and when hot, add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often until onion is softened but not browned (3-4 min). Puree the tomatoes and their juice with the carrot puree. Add mixture to pot with ½ tsp of salt. Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the bread in a large bowl. Add egg, sweet potato puree, milk, parmesan cheese, 1 tsp salt, pepper, and paprika. Let soak until bread is very soft. Stir to break up the bread, add ground turkey and mix until smooth. Form mini-meat balls ½ inch in diameter. Add meatballs to pot. Simmer, covered until meatballs are no longer pink in the center (12-15 min). Stir in the pasta, serve with sprinkled parmesan.

Chicken Nuggets from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
1 C whole wheat, white, or panko breadcrumbs
½ C flaxseed meal
1 Tbs parmesan
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 C broccoli or spinach or sweet potato or beet puree
1 egg
1 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast/chicken tenders rinsed, dried, and cut into chunks
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs olive oil

Combine breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, parmesan, paprika, garlic and onion powder. In a shallow bowl, mix egg and vegetable puree with fork and set bowl next to the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle the chicken chunks with salt and dip into egg mixture followed by the breadcrumb mixture.
Add oil to non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once oil it hot, place the chicken in the skillet in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook until crisp and golden on one side (3-4 min). Turn and cook until chicken is cooked through (4-5 min longer).

Quesadillas from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
1Tbs olive oil
½ lbs chicken, cut, rinsed and dried
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp peeper
1/8 tsp chili powder
½ C navy beans (rinsed & drained)
½ C sour cream
½ C butternut squash puree
½ C cheddar cheese
4 tortillas
½ C salsa or guacamole (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and chili powder and add to the pan. Cook until no longer pink in center (4-5 min) per side.
In a small bowl or blender, mash beans and sour cream. In another bowl stir together butternut squash puree and cheese. Spread the bean mixture over two of the tortillas, then arrange chicken on top. Spread cheese mixture over the other two tortillas and press one of each together to form sandwiches. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the tortillas are crisp (5-6 min). Cut and serve with salsa
Grilled Cheese from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
½ C cheddar cheese (shredded)
½ C sweet potato or butternut squash puree
1 Tbs butter or margarine, plus spreading
¼ tsp salt
4 slices of wheat bread

In a medium bowl, mix cheese, vegetable puree, butter, and salt. Spread two slices of the bread with the cheese mixture and top with other two slices. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Spread some butter on both sides and place into pan, turning after 4-5 minutes per side until crispy and filling it melted.

Brownies from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
Nonstick cooking spray
3oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
½ C carrot puree
½ C spinach puree
½ C firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T butter or margarine
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 egg whites
¾ C oat or all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8×8 baking pan with cooking spray. Melt chocolate in double broiler or over low flame. In large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and creamy (1-2 min). Whisk in egg whites, stir in flour, baking powder, and salt with wooden spoon. Pour batter into the pan and bake 35-40 min. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

No-bake Energy Snack Balls
1 cup (dry) oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients and roll into 1 inch balls. Eat and enjoy!

Fruit Leather
2-4 Baby food pouches,
Parchment paper

Set oven at 170. Spread an even layer about ¼ inch thick on the parchment paper. Put in oven for 6 hours. Leather will be tacky and should peel off easily. Let cool for about an hour.

Spiced Butternut Squash Muffins
1 1⁄2 C whole wheat flour
3 tsp whole wheat flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄4 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 C butternut squash puree
1 ripe banana
1⁄4 C honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all dry ingredients in one bowl. Smash banana and mix with all other wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix dry and wet ingredients together. Spray a muffin tin and pour batter into each cup. Bake for 25 – 27 minutes. (Optional: top with powdered sugar, maple syrup, or honey as they cool)

Homemade Guacamole
2-5 avocadoes
½ white or yellow onion, chopped
1-2 roma tomato, chopped
Fresh lime juice to taste
Salt to taste

Peel and mash avocadoes. Stir in chopped onion and tomato. Add lime juice and salt to preference.

How to puree from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Carrots
Prep: Peel, trim ends, and cut into 3-inch chunks
Cook: Steam for 10-12 minutes
Puree: Blend in food processor or blender for about 2 minutes, adding a few teaspoons if needed

Spinach
Prep: No prep for baby spinach; for mature spinach, fold leaves in half lengthwise with the stem outside to strip the steam off.
Cook: Steam for 30-40 seconds
Puree: Blend in food processor or blender for 2 minutes or until smooth

Butternut Squash
Prep: Cut off the stem, cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds
Cook: Roast the halves on a cookie sheet, flesh-side down, at 400 degrees for 45-50 min
Puree: Scoop out the flesh and puree in food processor or blender for about 2 min

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My Challenge to You

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I sheepishly write this knowing I am long over due for an entry. I’ve had plenty of topics to write about, just no time to actually sit down and pour my thoughts onto the computer screen. For the past few weeks I knew time would provide itself as the few days before Christmas seem to empty themselves and likewise various topics have been flooding my mind. A recap of events could be in order, but, well, how boring! If you follow me on Facebook, you’re already up-to-speed with all we’ve been doing anyway. The topic of Christmas and how we’re coping with being away from family is fitting, but just not the topic that’s on my heart. Oh yes, we are missing family tremendously during this season…in fact the song I’ll Be Home for Christmas has never struck so deep a chord the way it has this year. No, I wanted to use this entry, as with any and all endeavors of my life, to bless the Lord, and hopefully you as well. Consider this entry my birthday gift to Jesus…
Over the past soon-to-be four years as a military wife, I’ve realized that the life-style of the military spouse is all about missing something: your husband because of, well, his job, your friends from the previous duty station, and of course extended family and traditions. As you move from place to place and are stuck in the in-between limbo without household goods, maybe you miss that bed, or that couch, or that table where family members and stability congregate. You’d give anything to just feel complete…at home…rooted.
Iwakuni, Japan, has been my first duty station as a wife and it has changed my perspectives on military wives tenfold. Maybe it’s because we’re in a foreign land and everyone is going through the same difficult adjustment. Perhaps we’re so focused and surviving the changes of living here that we forget the simplest gestures. There’s no appreciation here, or at least it’s hard to find. You can’t just walk into a grocery store with your husband and see an elderly couple arm in arm knowing instantly a piece of your life story is similar to theirs. As your eyes meet theirs, its evident from his hat and mannerisms that he’s served, and by the gentle, kind, yet tired eyes, you know the woman has too. The older gentleman doesn’t say a thing—he doesn’t need to—he just holds your husband’s gaze, nods, and continues walking arm and arm with his beloved. It’s a secret code of honor, that nod, which establishes the acceptance of the younger generation to the older in the idea of caring on the mission. For the women, it’s an entirely different code of honor. She only glances at your husband, tilts her head to one side while smiling with glistening eyes as if holding back years worth of tears you both have shared. She whispers “how ya doing?” But what she really means is “I see you. I know you. I’ve been in your shoes, hang in there.. Thank you for your service.” You answer with a steady “Good, thanks,” when for just one moment—even though you know your husband sacrifices so much—you acknowledge the fact that you do, in fact, serve too. She lightly touches your shoulder and continues walking arm and arm with her hero.
These kinds of instances do not occur while living in Japan. I’m not saying we’re entitled or even deserving of praise, but when everyone around you is solely motivated by personal gain, it dampens even the simple every day tasks making them appear trivial and downright pitiful pursuits. When no one is willing to acknowledge the struggle of anyone else it makes life uncomfortable as if trapped in a dark claustrophobic box. You think everyone else is just peachy; that you’re the only one with problems and bang-ups. The truth is we’re all in the same box; someone just needs to turn the light on so we can find the door! I would assume that a simple “thank you” would brighten even the emptiest mission and illuminate even the gloomiest of boxes.
Tonight, as Christmas draws hear and I’m forced to be away from family and friends in the States, would you do something for me? Call it your Christmas gift to me! Tell someone in the military, especially the spouse, that you are thankful for their service. You understand this country could not be as great—flaws and all—without the sacrifices they make everyday, yes even the petty and seemingly insignificant of sacrifices. I do not count in this challenge, so tell someone else, I know you have someone in mind! Maybe a family like ours that cannot be home for Christmas; maybe a wife whose husband is deployed; maybe that elderly couple…
I’m taking this challenge myself and encourage all the bravely serving military wives to do the same. Besides our Lord, sometimes all we have is each other, especially when our husbands are gone. Our Father also commands us to serve and love one another in the faith, so why not now? Why not give Jesus a birthday gift this year? You never know…it may be that’s just what someone needed to hear…

Everything–The Journey of Motherhood


The journey of motherhood begins from the very moment we learned we were pregnant. Maybe it was a total surprise or maybe decades of dreaming had transpired before the significant event. No matter when or how your decision to embark on the adventure of motherhood began, I’m sure we all can agree that the experience of a positive pregnancy test has forever changed your life. I know it has for me. Today I’d like to share a brief story on how my children have changed my life—each having a distinct impact on the direction of every step of the journey.
I pause here to give a warning: my story isn’t pretty—in fact I wouldn’t even rate it PG. My intent is to be real and honest with you; to take ownership of my mistakes, trials, and pain without dwelling on or graphically detailing them. The reason I feel compelled to share is that as your coordinator, I want you to feel comfortable approaching me with anything—the truth is that I may have been in or am in your shoes! Another reason is that the theme of this MOPS year is A Beautiful Mess. I promise you my story is messy, but also beautifully orchestrated by none other than our Creator and Redeemer.
Before Caleb, my oldest son, I was in a very rebellious time of my life. After high school, life didn’t go the way I had planned: break up with a boyfriend, fighting with my parents, and no finances to go to the college of my dreams. While some of this may not seem so bad, it left me angry—furious even—that God had said no to me. Instead of dusting it off and letting go of the hurt, I held on to it. I let myself become so angry that I was convinced God was punishing me. I decided to turn my back on God and fill my life with things that I thought would bring me solace and peace. I made conscious choices to please myself in any manner rather than worry, care, or even pay attention to others. Alcohol and sex were my drugs of choice. Alcohol numbed the pain and sex distracted me from it. I never would have admitted it at the time, but I allowed men to use me in the hopes that if I gave them all of me maybe this one would truly love me; maybe this one; maybe this one; maybe…
At 21 I was pregnant, jobless, in debt, and evicted from my apartment with a physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic boyfriend. I lived in the delusion that once the baby came everything would get better—it didn’t—it got worse. Thankfully, my parents allowed me and my then five month old boy, Caleb, to return home. I was very ashamed and depressed from the decisions I had made. I had brought a son into the world and had nothing to give him, nothing. It was there in the house that I had lived in since I was three years old, I found my Refuge. A friend whom I had lost a relationship with due to my careless and selfish actions, was suddenly back in my life, reminding me that there was a moment on the cross when Jesus saw me, watched me turn my back on Him, and knew my son would be born out of scandalous circumstances. He saw all this and still said “yes, I will die for you and your son.” In that moment, as I fully understood what true love looked liked, I gave up the fight against the world and against myself because Jesus had already won that battle.
I’d like to tell you the struggles ended there, but they didn’t. For the next two years I found myself a single mom trying to somehow balance raising a child, school, work, and some kind of social life. Yes my life had changed; I no longer desired alcohol or sex to distract me from the pain—I now had Jesus to give all my worries. But I still wanted a man, even more so as my son grew and had no father-figure in his life. As I prayed, I knew God would bring the right guy for the job on His time, not mine. Just before Caleb turned two, I met a young Marine named Drew. To be honest, I wasn’t instantly attracted to him, maybe because I was timid about relationships or perhaps because he was so different from any guy I had dated before. His kindness, honesty, and attention to me and also my son were so profound that it wasn’t long before I was head over heals. From the very beginning of our dating relationship, we were in it for the long haul, marriage was our purpose for dating—possibly a mistake that allowed us to venture off the path God had had for us. After two months of dating, I was pregnant again. My husband and I are not happy about the mistake we made, but even with our mistakes, God can use them for His glory. The moment we discovered the pregnancy, we called the court house and were married two weeks later. A month passed and I found myself full-swing into being a military wife as a six month deployment to Afghanistan began. While it seems the odds were against us, the separation actually brought us closer because we were forced to put God first in our own lives. I remember moving into our apartment just days before he deployed and not having a table, couch, bed, dresser, cooking utensils—you name it, we didn’t have it! But within two weeks of his deployment, our apartment was completely furnished by donations and help from our church group. I physically witnessed God provide everything we needed through the people who love and serve Him. The deployment ended and we enjoyed life as a family. We were financially blessed enough to purchase a house in San Diego. For the most part, life was going fairly steady. October of 2011 was Drew’s EAS date—we had to make the decision to stay in or get out. That entire year we prayed and prayed and prayed that God would give us a sign, that somehow He would answer our question whether to continue as a military family or not.
Eliana in the Hebrew language means “God has answered.” Two weeks before the decision had to be made, we found out we were pregnant—Eliana. With the decision to reenlist, we knew it meant a move to Japan. The only reason I am standing before you today is because of Eliana. Moving here has been one of the most difficult situations our family has been through yet, as I can assume it has been for you. Leaving labels in English, leaving Target, leaving right-hand sided driving have taken there toll on my psyche! But more than that, missing holidays, missing family events, and missing home have made this place an every day battle.
I don’t know why God has me here, maybe to be with you all and share my story. Maybe it’s to learn that it’s not all about me, or maybe; just maybe, to allow me to experience something new. Whatever the reason, that’s beside the point—it’s the journey. It’s enjoying, learning, and reflecting on every step of the adventure. In reflection of my story and the events that brought me up to this point, I am reminded of Psalm 103, saying that God is the one “who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, and 5 who satisfies you with good so that you are renewed like the eagle.”
Tell me friends, my sisters in Christ, His beloved princesses who are crowned with love and mercy, what has He done for you? What has He changed in you? Will you let Him? Maybe the shear fact that your sins are separated as far as the east is from the west, earth from heaven is enough for you to praise and be in awe of Him. Maybe He relieved you of some pain, addiction, illness, depression, anxiety, loneliness—or so on. Maybe He allowed you to finally forgive the wrong done to you. Maybe He hasn’t, but let me tell you beloved, He sure wants to!

Lanterns

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Yesterday was the Yanai Goldfish Festival. It was quite an event! Even though it was very crowded, extremely hot, and somewhat of a hassle, those things did not bother me in the least. And I say that honestly, not like I had to trick myself into thinking so. Let me explain why. At the beginning of what was supposed to be a three week deployment, I insisted on refusing to do or experience anything new while Drew was away. Now we’re going on week twelve with no homecoming in sight. It’s safe to say a retraction to my statement from two entries ago must be made—we’ve waited far to long to say no to such an event.
A very dear friend of ours who is an American but is, well, literally married to Japanese society, invited many of us military moms to the event—she is my personal gem not only because she is my connection to the Japanese culture and customs, she’s wholly devoted to the Lord and gives me so much encouragement in the daily tasks, especially those MOPS related! During my intake of the decorations and absolutely stunning kimonos adorned by the beautiful women, I was curious about the meaning of the festival. This time of year is a popular time for lanterns around all Japan. Almost every city or prefecture has their own festivities. My friend told me that most festivals like this one involve the carrying of a “god” inside a lantern to and from the temple. Fortunately, the Yanai Goldfish Festival was not this kind of celebration. It was more for fun; a party and parade for the city of Yanai—the goldfish being its symbol, or mascot.
Yanai is about an hour away from base. I was vehemently excited because, for one, we were going to experience something totally new, and for two, I had no intention of cooking dinner—dinner was on whatever vendors were present at the festival! Our meal began with shaved iced because, yes, it was just that hot!
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Next, we had meat sticks, which I’m sure have some type of Japanese name, but for the purpose of this blog, we’ll just call ‘em kabobs! I’m assuming they were pork, very expensive, but very tasty and tender. As you can see, David and Eliana loved them!
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Then we had the Japanese version of fried chicken or chicken nuggets. Very greasy, not so flavorful, but at least Caleb got something besides ice in his stomach!
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Finally we had French fries because what goes better with food than fried potatoes?! Needless to say, we did not, by any means, have a well balanced meal. And that’s ok, I’m sure we sweated out most of that stuff anyway! For my San Diego loves, let me try to paint a picture with words in how brilliantly hot it is here: imagine walking into a steaming sauna fully clothed. You breathe in hot, musty water vapors as your entire body releases sticky, salty sweat. A light breeze surrounds your limbs and for a moment, one millisecond, you think “ah, this isn’t so bad.” Then the waft is gone, and once again, your trapped in that cramped, boiling sauna. Only, its 8 o’clock at night and you’re in the middle of an empty street. There is no such thing as the coolness of night, no marine layer, a light jacket? Ha! And the bugs! Oh they love this weather! You can hear them hissing in the trees, feel them whip past your face, and see them shimmer under the sparse street lights. Well, at least someone gets a thrill out of this heat!
I so wish I could have grabbed more pictures of this festival—especially when night fell. There was a flurry of goldfish lanterns along a small bridge. My camera had enough battery to allow me to get everything the kids ate, but not this one dazzling shot. Man how I regret not charging it enough! The lanterns glittered off the water, there was a humming quietness as the parade had just ended, and a stillness unlike anything I’ve seen. They hung there and glowed. And glowed and glowed.
Throughout this unbelievably extended deployment, people have mentioned they don’t know how I deal with it all; three kids, a deployed husband, being the MOPS coordinator, cooking, cleaning, potty training, sleeping, errands…I get tired just writing it! The thing is, and honestly the one lesson I’ve been forced to learn from being a military wife, is that I don’t do it—God does. Just like those lanterns were still, I am still (some days more than others). I am still and knowing, trusting, obeying that He is God. There have been moments when the anger, frustration, loneliness, and sadness have overwhelmed me to the point of deep weeping for hours upon hours. All the while, I know my cries don’t fall on deaf ears. I know He’s catching all my tears to throw them away in eternity. I know He’s here. In some way that I cannot see right now, He is and will work this for good and for His glory. Zephaniah 3:17 really encouraged me today:
“The Lord is in your midst,
A victorious warrior,
He will exult over you with joy,
He will renew you in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
The term “victorious warrior” in Hebrew means “a warrior who saves.” I read this during our morning devotions and Caleb understood saying, “That means we’re like a princess who God saves.” Once again, out of the mouth of babes, the Lord reminded me that I am His princess, a daughter of the eternal King, to inherit all that is His. Say what?! The glories and riches of this earth cannot amount to the riches He has waiting in Heaven, and I’m an heir?! This thought alone is enough to keep me glowing and going for Christ—just like those lanterns glittering over the water—even though circumstances, well, suck. I am redeemed. I am loved. I will live forever with the Creator of the universe. I will see His face, hear His voice, and physically know His comfort. How can I not shine for Him now?! As much as I love the Japanese people, they got it wrong. It’s not just some “god” inside a lantern; it’s the GOD, YAHWEH, JEHOVAH JIREH living inside us!

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Six months

July 9th will mark six months here in Iwakuni. I thought it’d be fun to make a list of things I never would have experienced if not for Japan. Maybe in six months I’ll have a completely different list…

1. Driving on the left hand side. Yes, it’s as difficult as it sounds, especially when the roads you drive on are hardly big enough for one car, but yes, it is a two way road. Unfortunately I have no pictures of these roads because when I’m driving on them, I’m otherwise occupied!

2. Okonomiyaki. I’ll let the picture do the talking! Yum!
okonomiyaki

3. Teach Japanese students. I love it, and really miss it since I’m not teaching while Drew is gone. I teach both children and adults and while the adults speak more English, the kids are so energetic and fun! My favorite part about teaching is that my bosses are Christians, so there is no fear in sharing the gospel with the students. In fact, they encourage it. (See my facebook videos for a fun demonstration of a typical day of teaching!)

4. Experience rain, I mean real pouring down, drench-you-in-a-moment-rain. Compared to here, San Diego has never experienced a rainy day. It’s funny because I’m even learning how to tell by the look of the sky when the rain will hit!

5. Planning out my shopping. The commissary is not only ridiculously small and lacking in several essential items on a weekly basis, its also closed two days a week. Fortunately, this has led me to my sixth experience:

6. Shopping at Japanese stores. My favorites are Max Valu which is a regular grocery store, only with way more fish and seafood than any American grocery store I’ve ever been to. Nafco has been a great store to help with setting up the house. Some say it’s like a Home Depot, but I think it’s more like a small Walmart with a huge garden and home improvement section. Finally, Diaso, the Japanese version of the Dollar Store, because who wouldn’t like finding Japanese treasures at a super low price!
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7. Kodomokan: an in door play place for preschoolers. The kids love it and it’s great to experience a little bit of Japanese culture with the songs the workers perform. It’s also great to have a place to go to get out of the house and away from the heat and rain!
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kodomokan

8. Japanese castles. There are so many to see as typically each major city has their own. This one is in Iwakuni. Even though it’s on the small side, it’s absolutely breath taking. I can’t wait to see others around the country.
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9. Become the MOPs coordinator. I came to Japan ready to be used by God. And boy is He! This task is so great, so complicated, so exhausting, that I have no other option than to whole-heartedly lean on Him. At the same time, the task is so rewarding, so encouraging, so enlightening I am enjoying and praising Him every moment of the struggle. I want to stop here and share a little insight the Lord has given me. In my devotions the other day, I read Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The author of the devotional book wrote a short response to this psalm saying that as we give more attention to the Lord, He will give us the things we want. I had to slightly disagree with the author. While I believe the Lord wants to give us good things, I don’t think these good things are based on a give and take or a rewards system; as if we have to read so much of our Bible a day to get that thing we really want. The Lord knows our heart, and I believe that as we selflessly seek Him, obey Him, serve Him, our desires will change to reflect the things that are most important. That’s how He gives us what we want or need. I know this is true for me. If you had asked me five years, maybe even a year ago, what my heart really wanted I may have said things like to graduate college, to be successful, to feel accomplished. Had you dug a little deeper I may have revealed my desires to loose weight, have a fashionably decorated house and wardrobe, to be physically attractive. While I still would like to have these things and while they are not bad in and of themselves, I can honestly say that my main desire has changed. The one thing my heart truly desires is for my children to come to know the Lord as their personal savior—I can live a very happy and abundant life without those previous desires. The only reason for this change has been my growing relationship, maturity, and obedience to Christ. I know my kids do not have a chance at developing a relationship with God unless I love them the way Jesus loved us; unless I model to them what a relationship looks like—even the ugly failures and bumps along the way. This is something I hope to portray to my children as they see me involved with MOPs: that even when the odds are against you, you stand firm in the Lord, knowing He has created you to do good things in His name and for His glory. We are His workmanship.

10. Surviving (barely) an extended mini-deployment. I keep telling myself, “Thank God this isn’t a six month deployment,” but really, the past few weeks have been so exhausting it feels like a full deployment! I am so thankful for the friends the Lord has given us here who have truly helped and taken the edge off those stressful days. I am so thankful that the Lord has revealed His power and made His hand so real to me. He has answered unimaginable prayer, comforted in countless ways, and given me peace beyond understanding in the most un-peaceable circumstances. To be completely honest, I kinda don’t want this struggle to end for fear of loosing the intimacy with the Lord. Isn’t it during our most difficult and darkest times that the Lord shows Himself so strongly? Oh that my selfish pride would continue to praise Him even in the happiest and brightest moments!

…here’s to another six months of leaning and learning…

Somebody’s Baby

I wanted to share a revelation that God gave me recently. In the beginning of this blog, I admitted my struggle with loving discipline. Over my research of a few godly child-rearing books, prayer, and trial and error I’ve come to understand the definition of loving discipline—something I can honestly say I had not known or had at least acquired a false impression. My epiphany came by chance, although I know everything is the Lords doing. I just happened to turn on the TV after my nightly workout session. A documentary similar to the show Intervention was on, only the main subject was the rapper DMX. Ok, I’m not a total fan of his, but I at least knew who he was and danced to many of his songs in my middle-school years. I kept watching with the intention that at the next commercial break I’d turn it off. But something struck a chord me. He told a story of abandonment and that all he wanted was to be known as “someone’s baby.” This abandonment was the root of his drug addiction and criminal behavior. The show continued with an interview of his son in the hopes of reuniting with his father and ultimately pleading with him to become clean. While his son does not have issues with drugs or the law, he does carry on the same harsh anger towards others and the feeling of neglect from his father—something he was not aware of until an expert came in.

It has always been a great fear of mine that I would make the same mistakes as my parents. This fear was the driving fear behind my desire to complete my degree. It is also the fear that I will permanently damage my children. Perhaps many parents share in my fear—second guessing everything they say or do around their children.

While I do feel it is vital to think before we speak, I think it is so important to listen to our children and to be slow to anger as we listen. Really, they all go together as the wise writer of James (1:19) encourages us. This is the context of the epiphany I had—loving discipline is not about rules and regulations, its not about punishment, it’s not even about fairness. It’s about telling and showing our children that they are a valued part of our family; that they have responsibilities and will be held accountable if those responsibilities are not up held. It’s about real life consequences and not being afraid to let our children make mistakes. One day they’ll enter the real world, and what a world it will be if we have done and fixed everything for them!

On the other side the coin, just as DMX craved the acknowledgement of another human being, so our kids crave from us. This feeling of belong can occur in a number of ways. Setting up boundaries is one of the ways we show them we love them. Another is asking them how they feel about events—something I was convicted about having neglected with Caleb in this move to Japan and with Drew’s absence. Certainly encouraging their unique talents, emotions, and attitudes with activities and stimuli that will cultivate that gift. I can tell you right now that David needs movement and music to feel appreciated; Caleb needs challenging mental experiences and deep conversation. I’m still learning about Eliana, but she’s only one, so I think she’s still figuring it out…for now hugs and snuggles work just fine!

I’m not there yet, dear friends, so please keep me in your prayers! But I am progressing and leaving the parenting up to me, Drew, and God. And in case you’re wondering, at the end of the show DMX refused a relationship with his son because he was unwilling to give up the drugs and lifestyle. Such a powerful example of how the hurt of abandonment, whether physical or not, goes deep into the frame work of our thinking and actions.

Just Because

Just because Drew and I have been through a six month deployment doesn’t make saying good-bye any easier. Yes, he’s only an island and a phone call away and he will only be gone a few weeks, but we cried just as much today as the first day of that pervious deployment. (Don’t tell Drew I said so, but I wasn’t crying until I saw him crying!) of course, we only had one kid then, weren’t in a foreign country, and didn’t have family hundreds of thousands of miles away. The saddest part was the Caleb understands what’s happening, unlike the last deployment. He cried as we drove away, which only fueled my tears.

Just because Drew is gone, doesn’t mean I can be self-loathing and lazy. Although I may indulge in a bowl of ice cream later tonight, I plan on increasing my workout routine and maybe take the kids to the co-op workout room. Anything to keep my mind off missing him and to get the kids out of the house!

Just because Drew is gone, doesn’t mean we won’t be busy. Thankfully, Drew and I pretty much dived right into a full routine of Bible studies, ministry groups, and fellowship. Due to our business, I never got the chance to really decorate the house. Yes, beds and furniture are in their rightful place, but I’d like to dedicate these next few weeks to make this house feel like home. Maybe a little paint, a few decorative shelves/artwork, and some plants. I’ve never been much of a gardener, and of course we have no backyard in an apartment, but some potted flowers and herbs could really brighten up the place!

Just because Drew is absent, doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. My only pre-requisite on this idea is that I refuse to go anywhere completely new since Drew won’t be able to experience it with us. Lucky for us, both Japan and the base is full of parks. Even though we are at the beginning of rainy season, we’ll get out as often as we get a break! I have plans to get a water table/sensory bin for our balcony and have a plethora of ideas on my Pinterest board for fun indoor activities. Heck, if we’re that stir crazy, maybe some puddles will just have to get splashed!

Just because I’ve planned and prepared, doesn’t mean I won’t have bad days. Of course the rain showed its face today, making it that much more depressing. I’m sure I’ll have many more dark days during the husband’s time away. But that’s ok, because God tells me “wait for the Lord, be strong and let my heart courage; yes wait for the Lord” Ps 27:14.

I made some chocolate chip cupcakes to brighten up the day, just because.
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