December 6, 2013

Christmas To-Do List

The sun beaming in my living room windows lies. Despite the fact my dogs are basking in its pretend warmth, the temperature outside has remained in the negatives all day. In fact, this morning it was -16 when we rolled out of bed! But I'm enjoying the cold with a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream (thanks to my loving hubby) and thinking about Christmas.

I love Christmas. Poor Russell has to endure a browse through the Christmas aisles every time we are in Walmart. I love the music, the busyness, the deliciously guilty way cookies taste after you've already had too many. I love hearing Linus tell Charlie Brown and the gang what Christmas is all about it. I love hearing the story of Christ's birth and I love the reminder of just how much we are loved by Someone who left the throne of Heaven to walk this dusty, sinful earth to bring us joy, life, and hope.

I am so excited that my family will be joining Russell and I this year! We don't know how much long we will be in Wyoming and I desperately have been wanting them to visit. What is a more perfect time for a visit then Christmas anyway? This is a list I've been adding to here and there over the past few weeks and I'm sure right after the holidays are over I'll find some other exciting tradition to add on for next year. I plan on adding some pictures of these as we "complete" them.

Christmas List

1. Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and "White Christmas".

2. Drink eggnog.

3. Get a “real” Christmas tree.

4. Drink peppermint hot chocolate while watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

5. Decorate aforementioned tree.

6. Make a special Christmas morning breakfast for us. (I plan on Swedish Pancakes this year!)

7. Make Christmas cookies and decorate them.

8. Read the REAL Christmas story from Luke 2.

9. Rent a whole bunch of Christmasy Children’s Books from the Library.

10. Wear Christmas PJ's to bed Christmas Eve. (I think we're going to opt for socks...cheaper!)

11. Sing carols.

12. Cut out paper snowflakes.

13. Play a board game.

14. Pick out "2013" ornaments.

15. Candy canes.

16. Take a cute picture by the tree.

17. Go to a candle light Christmas Eve service.

18. Watch our wedding video. (This is only because our anniversary is in December.)

19. Make some cute Christmas crafts.

20. Build a snowman.

What is on your Christmas to-do list for this year? Please share your ideas!


December 2, 2013

Chicken Riggies Recipe

I don’t normally do blog posts like this but I thought it’d be nice for a change. This is a simple recipe for one of my favorite dinner dishes – Chicken Riggies! Having grown up in Upstate New York, Chicken Riggies were pretty much a staple everywhere. My mom got this recipe from a native Upstate New Yorker and then she changed it a little here and there. It was always a favorite at home and now it’s become a favorite in my house! Russell and I both love them! Now, people make Chicken Riggies different ways. You can adjust the recipe however you’d like! Some people add peppers and onions to theirs. Others use less of a creamy sauce and stick to just a straight tomato sauce for their Riggies. I’ve had them spicy too! 

Now, I’m in no way shape or form a great cook. These are so simple though that even I can make them turn out wonderful! If you do try this recipe, let me know how they turned out in the comment box! I realize it may be tougher to make dishes like these once we get to the mission field so I’m going to thoroughly enjoy them while we can!

By the way, all my Upstate NY friends - please share how you make your Riggies! 

Chicken Riggies
1 (16 oz box) Rigatoni Noodles
3-4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I’m cheap though and only use 2)
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream
1 (24 oz.) Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
1 (15 oz.) Ricotta Cheese
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

Cook chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Make sure it is completely cooked through and then cube it. While chicken is cooking, boil water with a pinch of salt. Add rigatoni noodles to boiling water and cook until just done. Don’t overcook!
Preheat oven to 375.

Warm sauce in large pan. When it is warmed through, slowly add in whipping cream.

 I do not use the whole pint of the heavy cream. It is not tomato-y enough for me. SO, this is a little tricky but I usually pour it in until it’s a nice, creamy tomato orange color. About ¾ of the pint normally. My suggestion would be to pour in the cream a little bit at a time, stir, and taste-test to see if the sauce is how you like it!

Once that is heated through, add in your cubed chicken and ricotta cheese. Stir and heat until it is mixed well and heated through. I usually add a few spices like onion powder, Italian seasoning, or parsley, salt, and pepper.
In a 13x9 baking dish, stir in sauce mixture with rigatoni noodles and top with the cheeses! Bake until Riggies are heated through (about 30 minutes). I usually serve Riggies with salad and some bread or rolls.


Here are a few pictures!

                                         Cooked chicken - cubed and ready to go in the sauce!

                                                               Add the heavy cream slowly!

The color of the sauce before the ricotta cheese is added...
                                                                The sauce is ready! Yum!

   Bake at 375 for 15-30 minutes! Enjoy!

October 12, 2013

All I Have Need Of


 I don't blog any more. I miss it. For today - I'm back.

As the life of a missionary becomes closer and closer to being our life, the Lord is slowly teaching both Russ and I the importance of reliance upon God. Even now, all we have and hope to have is in His hands. The bills that always need met, a broken house, and medical issues all are in His capable power. He has never failed us and He doesn't ever plan to. I love that about my God.

 Last weekend we had a October blizzard blow through and hundreds of homes were without power - some still are. Ranchers lost their livestock, some lost their homes due to fires, and others lost all their cold and frozen foods. It made me realize how fortunate we were to only be out of power for a few hours. Though our furnace was still broken (even with the power on) through the storm and our house was without heat, we were so blessed. God is so good.

We just recently sent in our pre-application for Points North Baptist Missions in hopes of someday soon being sent out of them. Eee! Change has never come easy for me but I truly am looking forward to what God has in store for us in the near future. The restlessness that has settled over Russell and I isn't the discontent kind, but rather, an eagerness to be stepping closer toward what God has called us to do.

I'm only bragging on what God has been doing in my life because I know that all things work together for good because of Him. Daily Russ and I are faced with disappointments, loneliness, and struggles and daily His grace is sufficient.

My anthem for this time in life is simply, "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me." Living by faith isn't easy and God never promised us easy. He did, however, promise that the righteous will not be forsaken and that His faithfulness is new every morning and those are promises we can cling to.

What is your anthem right now? What verse or song has God placed in your heart for this time in your life? Please share with me in the comments below!

Keep fighting the good fight, my friends.

July 25, 2013

Vinegar Pancakes

I recently came across a recipe for the “fluffiest, biggest, best ever” pancakes. Of course, much to my husband’s dismay (he is not a pancake fan), I simply had to scratch down the recipe and test it out. I scanned through the ingredients to make sure everything was in order. Flour – check. Baking powder – typical. Milk – yep. Vinegar…what? This recipe called for two whopping tablespoons of white vinegar. In my opinion, the optimal pancake was sugary, sticky, and syrupy and didn’t come anywhere close to tasting like vinegar! Now this ingredient seemed ridiculous to me, so as I read through the comments on the website, I was shocked to discover that popular opinion insisted that it worked. In fact, without the vinegar, the pancakes would be rather flat and bland. As it turns out, the sour substance actually enhances the baking process and causes the batter to rise into a fluffy, delicious pancake.

I tried them. Yes, they really were some of the best pancakes I have ever had. A little bit of vinegar turned something ordinary into something better.

It seems life works in a similar fashion. Often times when “bitter” things come into our lives, we grow angry or upset. We despair at the situation rather than taking a moment to realize that perhaps it is for our betterment. Some of the finest Christians I know have been through some terribly dark times and the Lord used those terrible moments to give them a “better rise” and in the long run, they were able to use those trials as a tool to help others.

This concept reminds me of the story of Naomi. She had been dealt a good share of “vinegar” in her life. She lost her sons, her husband, and was living in poverty with her daughter-in-law. Her bitterness was so overwhelming that she changed her name to "Marah" which literally means "bitter"! The pancake recipe only calls for two tablespoons of vinegar mixed in, but if those were swallowed on their own it would be a large enough amount to make for an unpleasant taste. If you look further on in the book of Ruth, we discover just how those sour situations in Naomi’s life turned into something beautiful. She received a great blessing through her daughter-in-law Ruth’s marriage, son, and her family is traced to the lineage of Christ.

Ruth 4:14-16 says, "And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.”

My dear friend, next time you find yourself in a bitter situation, remember that the Lord’s hand is at work and He will mold and make you to be more like Him. As the Pastor of my church says, “No matter how bad things may get for the Christian, they can never get that bad.” Because we are bought with a price and children of the Heavenly Father, we can peer through the clouds of adversity and look forward to the sweetness of the refined product of our life through Him.

P.S. - On a more personal note, my husband and I leave tomorrow for a 4000 mile journey around our old stomping grounds! Please pray for safety in travels and that our vehicle will continue to chug along on God's grace! Also, if you would like the actual "vinegar pancakes" recipe, leave a message in the comment box and I will get it to you!

June 19, 2013

Love Through Lilacs


It has been ever so long since I sat down to write. I truly have no excuse other than a lack of motivation and the discipline to push myself. Somehow I don't think a forced post is worth reading anyhow.

Life has carried on with both monotony and enough change to keep me sane. Wyoming seems to skip right over spring and jump head-long into summer. Day light arrives before five in the morning and the night doesn't settle in until after nine. The summer breeze brings many many memories of summers spent with the people I love. People I miss tremendously. There are days my heart aches for the kindness in a cherished, familiar face and for true godly friendships near by. Next month, Russell and I will be making a journey back east (about 4000 miles round-trip) and I am thoroughly looking forward to it! We will be traveling twelve states and visiting with friends and family in Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Wyoming does have its comforts though. One of them being the massive lilac bushes on every single corner of this sleepy town. They remind of childhood, simple times, and the familiarity of home. I am ever so grateful to the Lord for the reminder that no matter how far a child of His journeys, if they are in His will, He will bring peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. Often times, He gives us reassurance of His love through the simplest things like lilacs. As for our trip east, already I prepare myself for the onslaught of questions like, “Why are you in Wyoming?”, “Don't you miss it here?” or “Are you planning on being out there for a while?”. My answer simply is (and I pray it always will be) that we are where God wants us to be and when He moves us, we will follow. I truly believe that this is God's way of preparing us for the solitude of the mission field. On a positive note, the mountains out here have a way of sneaking into the soul. I love walking out my front door and seeing pine-covered mountains on every side. Creation truly shows off God's creativity out here! If any one ever visits Wyoming or South Dakota, they should definitely come in the month of June.

My dear hubby gave in to my pleadings and in May we brought home the newest addition to our family – Cosby! He provides endless amusement and frustration but he wiggled into our hearts without any difficulty. The little monster tears through the house like he owns the place and despite that he tries to be obedient, he often lets his short attention span get the better of him. I truly do adore him and the excitement he brings.

June marks six months that Russ and I have been married. It truly still amazes me how the Lord worked in our lives to bring us together. His way is always perfect! There is no one in this world who knows and understands the inner workings of who I am better than the man God gave me and I am so grateful for him.

Please pray for us! We ask that the Lord would continue to give us the vision for the future He has called us to and that we would keep our focus on Him. Russell has been given several opportunities to serve in the church here, and I must admit, he is the best looking choir director I've ever seen, ha ha.

I leave with a verse that has been a comfort to me the past few weeks. Our Saviour says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Be of good cheer, my dear friends!

February 27, 2013


In my first year of Bible College, a dear friend of mine was giving our “dorm devotions” and passed out to each girl a small slip of paper. It said something along the lines of: “I steadfastly refuse to gratify the devil by being discouraged.”

Lately that simpleprinciple has been floating around in my head and I am truly grateful for the reminder. While being a newlywed is amazing and I wouldn't trade the life God has given me for anything in this world, it also has been a new test of faith. The only option to defeat discouragement is trust. And's kind of hard. Trusting God to provide, to sustain, and to give me the patience I need to deal with situations is a daily battle. Giving over to discouragement and worry only succeeds in giving the devil (and my flesh) the victory and rejecting the peace and blessing that comes from believing God.

Getting married is an adjustment. Moving 1700 miles away from all that is familiar is an even bigger adjustment. In the process of being adapted to these things, I frequently find myself frustrated. By being frustrated, I am trying to do these things in my own power and this powerless self can truly do nothing aside from Him. In turn, my frustration and discouragement is then only frustrating my husband and as you can imagine, it is nothing but disaster and tears...lots of tears.

But God is faithful! And every day I seek Him, He gives me a reason to praise Him all the more. Something as simple as a text from a friend, sunshine amidst the winter drear, or my husband discovering a place with cannoli not too far away are enough to brighten my spirits. Every good and perfect gift is from above and the breath in my lungs and the start of a new day are plenteous reason to proclaim “To God be the glory!”

After all, without Him, I can do nothing. Without His light, I have no light to shine. Without His grace, I have no reason to sing. He has blessed me tremendously and I cannot even being to thank Him enough. The Bible instructs to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us. If I hand him frustration, worry, and discouragement, He gives me back peace, comfort, and joy. The Saviour can do that for you too!

Perhaps today, we should be steadfast in refusing to gratify the devil by being discouraged. Instead, allow the peace of God that passeth all understanding to fulfill us completely.


The moon on our way to church last Sunday evening.

Just a couple of wedding pictures...because I can!

January 6, 2013

Adventures: Married!

Four weeks. I have been officially a “Mrs.” for one month. Saturday, December the eighth, this nervous girl walked down the aisle to become a married woman and I have loved every single second since then.

It truly has been an adventure already. After our honeymoon in a perfect little cottage on a lake, we trekked across five states over three days and twenty-four hours of driving in a borrowed truck hauling my entire life and car. Don't even ask about our search for a Starbucks in a congested little college town at rush hour. The important part was that my dear husband managed to maneuver our truck-trailer-car through streets far too narrow and full of traffic and no one died. We miraculously made it back to the highway with relief and without coffee. Oh, and Elk Horn, Iowa? The term “middle-of-nowhere” now holds the picture of a tiny town with a windmill, sketchy hotel, and lots and lots of nothing surrounding it.

It was my first Christmas and New Year's away from home. I do miss my family, friends, and the familiarity of the Eastern lifestyle. It's exciting, though, to wake up to blue Wyoming skies and the sun glittering on the mountain snow. Everything is sort of wild and rugged here and already I am increasingly fond of the mountains. Seeing bald eagles perched on fence posts, groups of buffalo and cattle on the hills, and being able to cuddle up inside a cozy apartment we can call our own are all just little pieces of my new life with my best friend.

Russell? Well, he is the finisher of every half-full drink around the house. I set my tea down intending to finish it later only to find it is his duty in life to make sure no drink goes to waste. He is tortuously ticklish (don't tell him I told you), never gives up on anything, and he is teaching me to like bologna. While he plans everything three steps ahead, he is still open to God's leading and taking little leaps of faith. Every single day I am learning something new about him and from him and every single day I thank the Lord for putting him in my life. Most days I cannot wrap my mind around how incredibly good God's plan is and how insanely blessed I am to have Russell.

It will doubtless take a lifetime and a half to discover all there is to know about my husband. It is amazing to think how much more there is to learn about God. Just when you think you know Him, His character exceeds expectation. He changes not, and yet, His thoughts and ways are unfathomable to the human mind. How precious a marriage relationship is when it is filtered through an on-going relationship with the Heavenly Father. It is constantly learning and growing. How grateful I am to have a God who molds me to Him.

Thank you to all my dear friends and family who have shared in my adventures and who read about this new chapter in my life. Your love and support have not gone unnoticed!