Thursday, January 31, 2008

'Do-Over Christmas' 2007

I admit, I could not understand why our Christmas in Louisiana did not "work out" for the "planned" weekend in December. Sure, I understood that everyone was sick, and I hated that for them...the misery of illness, especially when during a time of planned family fun and fellowship!! I knew with certainty that this was indeed our Lord's will, but my heart was still yearning for a satisfaction that only HE could give. So, I continued to pray, asking for God's perfect peace to satisfy my soul in this lack of understanding. I was sad and frustrated due to the sudden change in plans and no "head's up." My memory verse at this time was Philippians 4:6-7, which God knew I would need...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Oh, what a reminder that our timing is not our Lord's perfect timing; our plans are not our Lord's sovereign plans! What a reminder to remain flexible in our 'plans,' genuinely seeking out HIS plans...because they really are for our best. In the midst of prayer and re-'planning,' God worked out all of our schedules (Russell's & mine & all of his family's) so that we could celebrate Christmas together in Louisiana this passed weekend. We could not have 'planned' for a better time than He! Although brief in our stay, the quality of time with Russell's family was the answer for which my heart's been longing! Yet another lesson: quantity does not necessarily satisfy as quality satisfies! We learned that Christmas can be 'done' in one day! :) We sat by the most beautiful blazing fire from morning until night on Saturday, sharing and catching up, laughing, relaxing, napping, watching movies, exchanging fun and very thoughtful gifts, snacking on homemade cookies, divinity, seafood gumbo, venison burgers, etc! It was only one day, but it seemed so peaceful and so relaxing and so 'wright' :) that I can remember every detail, as if the day had been in slow motion. It was SO good for my soul! 'Do-over' or not, I choose the Lord's timing any time over my own timing!

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

Christmas 2007 Pictures

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy 5 Month Anniversary, Honey!

This one goes out to the one I love! :)
Happy five months, Hun!
It's been WONDERFUL and it's flying by!!
Thank you for being so sensitive and such an encourager!
I look forward to how the Lord will continue to lead our lives together!!
I love you!


I am so thankful that it's Friday!
Typically, I have my weekend planned from Friday afternoon to Sunday the minute! I LOVE to spend time with my husband when he's in town, and when he's not, I make plans with my girlfriends! Life is so good!
This weekend will be a little different. We're celebrating 'do-over' Christmas with my new family in Louisiana. Everyone was too sick for actual Christmas a month ago, so we're gonna "take two" this weekend! Hopefully, all will be healthy, and we'll enjoy a festive weekend of fellowship, celebrating the birth of our Savior, exchanging fun gifts and delighting in whatever the LORD has in store for us!
I look forward to sharing how it all goes!
Have a great Friday and a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner - YUM!

Russell & I enjoy breakfast food at any time of the day! We got to have a fun, easy and delicious meal this Sunday night with the deVilleneuve's - Cinnamon French Toast. It was yummy, super easy and very inexpensive! You need to try this recipe!! Below is the recipe for two. Just double it for four! We still had left-overs, too!

Anytime Breakfast for Two!

Overnight Cinnamon French Toast
Sugared Strawberries
Baby Link Sausages

½ loaf French bread, cut in 2 inch cubes
(1 c egg sub, 1 ½ c FF milk, 4 t sugar, ¼ t salt, ½ T vanilla)
(FF butter spray, Cinnamon/sugar)
16 oz strawberries (fresh or frozen)
(Sugar, confectioner’s sugar)
1 pkg baby link sausages

Place bread cubes tightly in a sprayed square dish. Beat egg sub, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Pour over bread. Cover & refrigerate 6-36 hrs. Bake uncovered @350, 45 min. Remove, spray top w/spray butter. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon/sugar. Return to oven for 5-10 min.
Toss diced strawberries in sugar. Refrigerate 2 hrs. Serve sugared strawberries over cut squares of French toast. Sprinkle with conf sugar. Cook sausage as pkg directs.

You should be able to make this meal for $5 - $10 easily! Makes a very pretty meal, too, with the red strawberries, browned cinnamon glaze and sifted powdered sugar!

P.S. This recipe is from E-Mealz, who puts ALL of our meals together for $5/month! It's a sweet surprise to find out what will be on our daily menu each week! We enjoy, appreciate and support E-Mealz!! We highly recommend their services!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Marriage Truths - shared by Tim & Christi Kallam

Russell & I attend the Alpha Omega community group at Mountain Brook Community Church. It's a class for married couples, and, out of probably 60 couples, only 3 or 4, including us :), does not have children. So, we're learning a lot about marriage and family life!! It's truly wonderful!

Our pastor and his wife, Tim & Christi Kallam, have shared two of three parts to a "Marriage Truths" series, so far. Here are some notes, if you so dare to entertain yourself! Be sure to share with your spouse! :)

Marriage Truths:

1-2 years - Young Love/Romantic Love
3-10 years - Realistic Love
11-25 years - Comfortable Love
26-35 years - Renewing Love
35+ years - Transcendent Love

Part I:

Realistic Love:
-differences are pronounced - ex: she reads instructions; he does NOT
-travel - ex: she wants to stop & go shopping on the road trip; he just wants to get there!
-cooking/organization - ex: she likes to clean as she goes; he lets it piles up, waiting to clean it all when finished!
-meals - ex: he ventures out; she gets the same thing every time
-making the bed - ex: her perspective: you have to! his perspective: why bother? you're just gonna get right back in tonight.
-shopping - ex: her perspective: let's make an entire day out of it...we can eat brkfst, lunch and dinner out! his perspective: let's just get it done! we can make it home by kick-off at 11:00!

Ask yourselves these questions, as individuals and as a couple:
Ultimately, what really matters in life? What are our values? What are our goals?

-Life stressors:
-finances/budget-we can let less or more income affect our values
-sleep deprivation
-other challenges...

-1 person + 1 person = conflict
-1 person in love + 1 person in love = conflict... you can't get around's always there.

*Goal: Getting to Transcendent Love: walking in step with each other in the Lord, regardless of the circumstances of life; appreciating your spouse's idiosyncrasies (the things you thought were so cute when you were dating but then became obnoxious after marriage). BUT to get to Transcendent Love, you've got to go through all the other phases of love...God will use all the phases to bring us to the ultimate transcendence in our marriage.

How are our marriages affected by life's stressors?
-Quality Time
-Emotional & Physical State of Being
-Conflict Resolution

*We want to not merely survive, but thrive!

A Physical Perspective often perceived by marriage counselors:
Wife's perspective on sex: "We do it ALL the time! Two times a week!"
Husband's perspective on sex: "We NEVER do it! Only two times a week!"

Realistic Love can lead to drifting and boredom in your marriage, characterized by 'just living day by day,' just 'makin'' it.
Tim mentioned a book here, Tender Warrior, by Stu Weber, which alludes to how life can become when you lose vision.
(Russell has read this book several times, and we just started reading it together this week. We're trying to do a chapter/night, and it's really great. God's opening my eyes in new ways to who a man in Him really is! Russell's thrilled to see me delighting in it.)

Steps to take:
1-Accept your mate - Romans 15:7
2-Trust God

Part II:

2 Peter 1:3 - God has give us all that we need for our marriage to thrive, not just survive.

Principle of Acceptance - brings confidence & security
Gen. 3:22 - statement of acceptance of Adam to Eve
1-Appreciate & embrace each other's differences (ie, "irritants")
2-Accept Reality - adjustments are inevitable; pray for wisdom in how to love 'this other person' vs. trying to change him/her (you cannot change anyone!)
3-Set aside our personal agendas - women can tend to manipulate
Principle of Affirmation - builds respect
-Proverbs 18:21 - we have the power of life & death in our word choice
-Eph 4:29 - be sensitive to what your spouse needs to hear in this moment, not necessarily blurting out whatever you may want to say.
-Keep date nights special
-Plan retreats - set goals for marriage, for family...
-Love Languages:
1-Words of Affirmation - genuine, sincere; specific, not vague
2-Quality Time - UNdivided attention
3-Receiving Gifts - don't wait for a special occasion; think of these gifts as investments into your spouse & marriage!!
4-Acts of Service - doing something your spouse would appreciate.
5-Physical Touch - not for selfish reasons; give him/her a back rub, cuddle...

Principle of Preference -
-Philippians 2:3-4 - prefer your spouse's interest first; the greater the sacrifice, the greater the love communicated.

Principle of Anticipation -
-Jeremiah 29:11 - that's the Father's heart for your marriage, for you as individuals...a desire for us to prosper, not fail; plans for a hope & a future!!

I'll try to get notes for Part II posted...should come toward the first of February...stay in tune!

Girls' Night Out!!

When Russell goes out of town, I'm very intentional about getting together with 'my girls'!!
Russell left for a week-long salesmeeting with his company to Charleston, South Carolina yesterday morning. He left the house at 4:00am! I was definitely still in sleep mode, but that didn't stop him from leaving me with a sweet kiss before departing!
"Muah, Honey!" ;-)
He made it safely to Charleston, and he's been enjoying getting to know his company team, while sitting through hours of meetings! I'm proud of him, and, I admit, I would not be eager to be there!
I got to spend last night with some great girls over a great dinner at Panera Bread! My best girlfriend, Ashley Matteo, just below, in the turquoise sweater just announced that she's pregnant! 10 weeks! Baby Matteo is developing beautifully with a healthy heartbeat that Ashley and Dan could both hear & see at their Dr's appoinment yesterday afternoon! "Ashley, you're right...God is so good to us! Congratulations, guys!"
Stacey Picardy, to Ashley's right, is 7 months pregnant! She's completely finished with Baby Sarah Kathryn's nursery, and she and Thomas are prayerfully discussing parenting and raising her up to know our Lord!
Life is so exciting for these girls and their hubbies! Many upcoming changes...for the GOOD!! We praise our GOD!
Carrie Tyson is another best girlfriend of mine, since the day we met about 3 years ago! We've been through so much together...definitely laughing until crying lots of times (like last night, at the wonderful news of Ashley's pregnancy) all the way to bearing one another's burdens in times of hardship. "Carrie, I love you, girl!" She's a special young lady. Her hubby just joined the army, and the Lord has taught me a lot about His strength and confidence as I've watched her spend months without him, fairly newly married, too. I see that God truly does give us all that we need for any circumstance, as I've gotten to spend more time with her, while Dave's been in training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Carrie's a strong young woman, who seeks to honor our Father in every thought, word, action...everything that she does! I'm grateful for her constant witness.
If you've read any of my previous posts, you know how important friendship is to me. It fills my heart because it is a gift from our Lord! My cup is indeed overflowing!
I praise our God for these women, who so desperately desire to live for His glory and Kingdom purposes!
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tiramisu Surprise Delight

We've been introduced to an all-new favorite dessert...thanks to the deVilleneuve's!

1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
3 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
48 NILLA Wafers
1/2 cup brewed strong coffee, cooled
1/4 cup (or more!) Kahlua liqueur (the added surprise!)
2 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, coarsely grated
Optional: Raspberries

BEAT cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mixes; mix well. Stir in 2 cups of the whipped topping.
MIX kahlua & coffee in a bowl.
LINE bottom and sides of a 2-1/2-qt. bowl with half of the wafers, as you dip them quickly into kahlua-coffee mixture. Layer half of the pudding mixture over wafers, and then top with half of the grated chocolate. Repeat all layers starting with the wafers dipped in the kahlua-coffee mixture. Top with remaining whipped topping and chocolate shavings.
REFRIGERATE at least 2 hours. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Supposedly serves 16, but not if your portions were as big as ours! :)

Serve with some TLC (Tender Care & Love) and enjoy!!

Weekend Warrior Recipe

-4 men, wild at heart, hungry for a challenge
-high adrenaline rushes
-willingness to muscle failure
-frigid temperature tolerance
-determination, endurance, perseverance
-full support from wives & children, safely at home
-full-body wet suits
-one 2-man canoe
-two 1-man kayaks
-drinking water
-survival kits
-MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat)
1-Pack up.
2-Head out.
3-Follow your hearts.
4-Have FUN!
5-Praise God!
Russell, Ryan, Chris and Derek finally had enough city life and headed to Locust Fork, Alabama! They had a great weekend experience...just enough to "wet" the appetite. Above, Derek & Ryan paddle hard & fierce through the rapid white waters!
(Look at Ryan's face...could he be any more excited!?!?)
Below, Russell & Chris high five just after Russell practices his kayak role.

After a hard day's river run, the guys set up camp for the night, ready to relax and catch up over a great camp fire and the delightful sounds of nature!

More Weekend Warrior experiences to come!!


I am so grateful for the blessing of friendship! The Lord has blessed me and Russell with some great couple friends! When I first met these girls, I was single, and they were recently married! NOW, just a few years later, we're all in the same community group in our church, I am now married, and they are each mommies! Time flies!
We got to meet up for lunch on Saturday at a local favorite, Cafe Iz/Iz Too...the BEST chicken-salad-fruit plate in town!Above, Mommy Cori & Baby Daniel Dillon.
Below, Mommy Jenn & Rollins DeVilleneuve.

Mommy Kathryn and Georgia Kate Hipp.
Look at those gorgeous blue eyes!Cori, thank you for bringing your camera!!!
Love you girlies!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dessert Blues...

Sad news on the dessert front yesterday...
As I pulled up to my very favorite dessert retreat - TCBY - oh, yes, The Country's Best Yogurt! - I placed my typical order, a kid's cup of White Chocolate Mousse, with exact change in hand - $1.47!! Going to TCBY is such a treat to me because it is quite expensive for the quantity of frozen yogurt you receive. So, I go on occasion.

Upon placing the order, the man at the drive-through window responded, "That'll be $1.95." I'm pretty sure he just stated it, but it was MAGNIFIED in my mind!! My shocked response: "What?!?! The price has gone up! You know I just wanted the kid's cup, right?" I thought surely he was charging me for the wrong size.
Nope. He was correct. He explained that due to the incline of dairy and milk prices, TCBY's prices have gone up. Ugh, I was devastated. (Still am.) I literally drove off in shock, looking at my little kid's cup of White Chocolate Mousse as though I'd never see another one again...I just know how frugal (financially prudent!) I am!

I choose to continue making my own soft-serve frozen yogurt at home. Now, I wonder how to get that White Chocolate Mousse flavoring! Hmmmm....

Stockings For Two!

This blog entry is way late, but I still wanted to share...
Although Christmas didn't go quite exactly as "planned," Russell and I did get to start the stocking stuffer tradition as a married couple! It was fun!
I bought our new stockings to blend with the colors of our and red. I was proud of the purchase, and Russell liked them, too, which is certainly important!
Well, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't realize, even at 30 years of age, that they're not supposed to be stuffed until Christmas Eve! Whoops! I took advantage of Russell's drill weekend in early December to go shopping for our stockings. I wanted to surprise him and excite him that we already had little surprises awaiting us for Christmas! So, my intentions were so sweet, but it was spoiled when Russell got home from drill and eagerly but mischeviously went over and started feeling what could be in the stockings! He guessed every little thing! I was crushed but not permanently! :)
I know to wait until Christmas Eve for future stocking stuffing!
I was excited that Russell and I were "on the same page," as far as what to stuff our stockings with!! I'm so frugal, and I wanted to use this as an opportunity to surprise each other with functional items, things we actually use year-round! Russell was right on with this! Yeah! So, we got gum, new Smartwool socks, yummy citrus cough drops, facial cleansers and creams, mouth wash, hand lotions, Purell hand sanitizer, Burt's Bees Lip Balm, his favorite...Andes Mints, and my favorite...dark chocolate Hershey's assorted miniatures. He surprised me with a diamond and pearl necklace on a white gold chain. I'm wearing it over my green sweater above! I put it on immediately! What a sweetheart my man is. "Thank you, Honey!"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ringin' in 2008 in North Carolina!!

Russell and I were invited to North Carolina to ring in the New Year!
Michelle, Russell's cousin, and very much one of my best girlfriends and prayer partners, is married to Keith, and they have two children, Emily and Kevin.
Emily's "Sweet 16" birthday party was New Year's Eve night, starting at 9:00pm, with a house full of teenagers showing up for food and entertainment, and the party still going strong at 2:00am! We were actually very impressed with the level of maturity of Em's friends, but we must admit, Emily's an especially diligent and honorable young lady! I wish I'd thought to take pictures of the party! This is sweet Emily...
Kevin had just celebrated his 11th birthday in early December! So, Russell and I got him a bow and arrow! He was so excited! He immediately wanted to go practice! Russell was so patient! I snapped some quick shots then ran to the car for cover! Not from the arrows...from the WIND! I was freezing out there! So, we girlies...Emily, Michelle and I took refuge in the car under the sun. Kevin was our entertainment...Doesn't he look so great! Now, you may have noticed Russell in his military dress uniform above. Kevin and Michelle requested that we come up to visit early enough to make it to church on Sunday morning. Their church was recognizing military servicemen. This was my first time to get to see Russell all decked out like this! Wow! What an honor to stand by my man!