Friday, May 2, 2014

For all the breakfast planners out there ...

Sometime last year I began asking my friend Elizabeth about her "meal planning".  I'd text her on Sunday nights and ask her what "our" meal plan was for the week.

The first time she answered me I was SHOCKED because her meal plan included breakfast.

And y'all ... I have never given a second thought to what we were having for breakfast before I stumbled into the kitchen any given morning to make something while my people were dressing.

And by "make it" I really mean put out the cereal bowls.

When I called to tell her about my breakfast "meal plan" she said her family rarely eats cereal.

I couldn't believe it.

And while I have yet to embrace an "official" breakfast meal plan strategy ... I have felt quite fancy serving my sausage grabbies.  A friend gave me the recipe and said they can be made the night before and they freeze great and you just pop them in the microwave to heat.  I haven't actually frozen any yet because they get eaten too quickly at my house but for the "freezers" out there ... this recipe totally will work for you.

My friend Janet gave me the recipe and said she grew up having these for breakfast and sometimes even for dinner.  Bill takes them to the office in the mornings and warms them in the microwave there and eats them as he plans out his day.  Jacob has them as an after school snack quite often ... and my dad had one as a late night snack ... so, as you can see, they are very versatile. :)

It's not exactly a RECIPE recipe because it only has three ingredients ... but it's good and my family likes it.  I've given the recipe to neighbors and they've liked it and last weekend I made them while my parents were in town and my dad asked for the recipe. So dad ... here it is, as you requested.

And, BEST PART, they are SO easy.

Here's what you need:

You also need a bag or English muffins but I don't have any and I'm not going to the store before next week so you are just going to have to picture it in your head, ok?

The recipe is called "Sausage Grabbies" and if I was the Pioneer Woman I would make them and take lovely pictures of each step and the photos would make everyone hungry .... but I'm not the Pioneer Woman so what you see is what you get.

Here are the steps (again.... picture them in your head):

1.  Brown the sausage (I use Jimmy Dean reduced fat).  I brown two pounds of sausage and drain it and put in a bowl.  I add one or two jars of Kraft Old English and mash it all together.  (The original recipe calls for one jar of cheese to every one pound of sausage but when I reduced the amount of cheese no one seemed to notice).

2.  Take a spatula and smash, stir, mix the cheese with the sausage until it's melted and distributed evenly.

3.  Open each english muffin and put on a pan.  Spread each muffin half with the sausage mixture.

4.  Place in oven on broil for 2-3 minutes.

5.  Enjoy

Slice up some fruit and you have breakfast!

Tell them it was on your "meal plan".

Monday, April 21, 2014

And then they drove up in a Baylor car

For the first time in years we made it to the early service for Easter.  That is quite a feat for us.  Not lying.  The music was beautiful and it was a packed house.

Kind of like the movie theater the night before.

Saturday night we went to see "God's Not Dead" but it was completely sold out.

So we went home and got ready for the next day where we would celebrate the original "God's Not Dead" story which is SO VERY GOOD.

And after church and after lunch with the Easter bunny ... 

and some Easter pictures (notice the photo bomb over Savannah's shoulder)

and some Easter basket fun (look what a good sport the Easter bunny is bringing Caroline a University of Texas basket!)

we headed back to see the movie.

It was very good.  Totally recommend it.  GO SEE IT.

Afterwards we came home and made pancakes, eggs and bacon for dinner (which has absolutely nothing to do with the story but I love making breakfast for dinner).   I started scrolling through facebook and saw that the Baylor car (that a friends daughter had won at a football game in the fall) was TWO STREETS over from my house.  I mentioned that I would die if that car pulled up to my house ... and guess what?!  Five minutes later it pulled up.

I WAS BESIDE MYSELF.  I rode in it up the street so we could try and take a picture in better lighting.  Then my cute college friend said I could DRIVE IT.  And y'all, I laughed and I laughed.  In fact I laughed so much I hit a curb when I was pulling it up to my neighbors house so she could come out and see it.

It was SO FUN.

And funny.

And the car is for sale.

So now I want to buy it mostly so we can drive up in it to Caroline's dorm at the University of Texas next year for parents weekend.  

Because that would be hilarious.

At least to the Easter bunny.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It was kind of like having facebook ... except they didn't have facebook.

One of my favorite parts of the Easter story ... well you know, besides the part where Jesus died for our sins ... is that He first appeared to Mary.

When Jesus ROSE FROM THE DEAD he could have made himself known to anyone.  He could have stood up on top of that door of the tomb, which was the "rock that was rolled away" and yelled for anyone to hear .... "I'm alive!  What my Father said was true!!!!".  

But He didn't.

He appeared to Mary.

Mary who, I'm sure in her grief, had gone to the garden to be close to the tomb.

Mary, who was there doing probably exactly what I would have been doing, ... FREAKING OUT.  

"WHERE DID YOU PUT HIM?!" she cried.

She knew his body wasn't there and it was just too much for her.  She had to know where He was.  She had to be thinking ... surely this cannot be happening.

She didn't recognize him at first.  

And then he said her name.  Gently,  I'm sure.


And, through tear filled eyes and a choked up voice she said ... "Rabboni".

I truly think that might be one of the tenderest verses in the Bible.

She knew His voice.  

He called her by name.

And she was overwhelmed, overjoyed and SHE HAD TO TELL SOMEONE.

Because thats what women do, right?

When we have good news, we want to share it.

And Mary ran straight to the men who, I get tickled just thinking about it, probably thought Mary had lost her mind.

But they did what men do ... they ran to see for themselves.

Trust but verify.

And since that day ... SINCE. THAT. DAY. the prophesy that was foretold in the Old Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ who died for your sins and mine .... has been told over and over and over again.

So, had it been today, Mary probably would have been the first to tweet it. 

It wouldn't have taken long before it was a "trending" story.

And this is what is so cool ... it's still trending.

The story, the tweets, the facebook statuses continue even unto this day.  We must tell the story.  The story that our sins "not in part but in whole ... were nailed to the cross and we bear them no more" and "it is well, it is well with our souls".  

Happy Easter!  He has risen.  He has risen indeed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hands down my favorite place in New York City

I love New York.

I love the horns honking and the tall buildings and the theater and the people and really just all of it.  

I especially love Central Park because who wouldn't?  Bill and I have gone running there, rowed around in a row boat, ridden the carousel, eaten breakfast at Tavern on the Green and had lunch from a food vendor (y'all it was SO good) We've watched the ice skaters, ridden in the horse drawn carriages, taken a zillion pictures and spent hours watching people.  

We've done it all.

My absolute favorite place in the park ... and to be honest, my favorite place in all of New York City is just on the edge of the pond.  People don't line up to see it or make reservations to go, but I don't ever miss seeing it.  It's right here:

(It says:  In memory of Jinny and Bob Simons.  They loved this view.)

Isn't that the BEST?!

I have no idea who Jinny and Bob are but I LOVE them because they "loved this view".

They loved it so much that someone bought a plaque and put it on a rock in their memory.

Here is the view:

It is pretty, even in winter.  

It is calming, even in the middle of New York City.

I love thinking about Jinny and Bob enjoying that view.  

I imagine they enjoyed it season after season, year after year.

Here we are enjoying the view (actually we are turned the wrong way but we were trying and it's a selfie so hey ... we did the best we could).  The funny thing is that every time we took a picture in Central Park that day ... EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  .... the snow would start to fall.  When we put the camera down it would stop.  When we would take the camera out, it would start again.  Bill said it felt like we were on a movie set and someone was sprinkling snow out of a box down on us.  

I think Jinny and Bob would have enjoyed seeing that too.
I imagine they enjoyed the view when the leaves were on the trees and when the leaves were off.  Enjoyed it when the sun was shining and when the snow was falling.  Enjoyed it in the quiet of the morning and in the bustle of the afternoons.  Enjoyed seeing the babies in their strollers, the toddlers jump in puddles, the businessman hurrying through the park and the old lady shuffling along.   Enjoyed the tourists and the regulars ... I imagine they enjoyed it all.

And I also imagine that, in their own lives, everything wasn't always as picturesque and beautiful as their view in the park. 

But they had the park.  

And they enjoyed the view.

It's such a reminder to me to pause and look around and ENJOY.  Yes, things may be all messed up in so many areas but there is good and there is beautiful and there is peace to be found.  

Look around.  

Enjoy the view.

Jinny and Bob did.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Word(s) of the Year


Everyone has been busy making goals and resolutions for the new year.  

Well, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people.

Many people have been choosing a theme word for their year.  A word that represents what they are hoping the new year brings.

And don't worry if you haven't made any resolutions or come up with a word yet.  If you are need any grace on not having done that, you will find it with me.  I never start mine until the kids go back to school ... which, by the way, is tomorrow!! 

The other day I asked on my Facebook page what word people were using as their "word" for 2014.  I got lots of responses:  





All good words attached with deep meaning for the person who wrote them.

My funny friend Wendy wrote ... "Word?!?  We are supposed to have a word?  No one tells me anything.  I guess my word would be oblivious".  

Still, while reading their words, I didn't have my own word.

I thought of a few but couldn't settle on one.

Until yesterday.  

I taught a Sunday School lesson on James One.  (As an aside ... read James One.  Lot of good stuff in there. It's kind of like Proverbs.)

And it was while teaching that lesson that I came up with my word ... actually two words.

It will make perfect sense to Bill that I have two words where others only have one.  He has long said it takes me twice as long to tell a story as it needs to take so of course I need TWO words!  :)

My words came from James 1:22 which says:

"Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive          yourselves.  Do what it says".  

Basically it says .... don't just listen to or read God's word and then not act on it.  Do what it says.  

It also says knowing what the word says and not doing it is like looking in a mirror and then forgetting what you look like when you walk away.

In other words ... it makes no sense.

It's like the Nike slogan says ... "Just do it".  

And here's the beauty of it ... the Bible speaks to everything.  It speaks to time management and being healthy and being nicer.

Bible covers it all.

And so my words for 2014 are just this:  DO IT.

Read the Bible and then act on what it says or act the way it says.  

Simple as that.

Now I just have to DO IT.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

An Empty Nativity

Today I am packing up Christmas.  

It's funny how pretty the red and green looks everywhere before Christmas and afterwards it seems to lose it's appeal.  (Is that just me?)  I love the lights and sometimes find that after the tree and the garland comes down and the ornaments are put away the house looks kind of empty.  But then I do like the crispness of January decor.

When I began to pack up our nativity, I realized we never found Jesus.

Not kidding.

You see, Bill loves to go to St. Patricks Cathedral when he is in New York City.  He has gone to mass, lit a candle and viewed their nativity several times.  (He has always said he would make a great Catholic ... he loves liturgy and high church kinds of worship.  And he is a saint for going with me to "not so high" church).  :)

At St. Patricks, he was struck by the fact that there is no baby in the nativity.  The nativity is left empty until Christmas Eve signifying Jesus coming to earth.  So Bill decided to leave ours empty too ... in Christmas of 2012.  And on 12/24/12 he couldn't find Jesus.  Then sometime during the summer of 2013 he found the plastic baby Jesus and thought he would remember this year where he left it.

Only he didn't remember.

And so another year came and went without Jesus in our nativity.

And that means we will look for Jesus again all year.

And there is so much beauty in that sentence that I can hardly stand it.

We "get to" look for Jesus everywhere!!

Jesus is everywhere.  

And yet sometimes I think we miss him.

Maybe we miss Him because we aren't looking for Him or maybe we miss Him because we are looking in the wrong places or maybe we are too busy to notice Him.

Certainly He is in His word and we can find Him there.  

We need to find Him there.  


But don't stop looking for him there!  No, he is in the sunshine and the raindrops, the mountains and the valleys.  

He is in all of us who call Him our Savior and Lord.  

That means people should be able to see Jesus in us! 

And during Christmas ... even though we never found the Jesus to go in the Nativity, we found Him in so many other places.  Some trivial, some more monumental ... but we found Him.

Some of my favorite reminders of Jesus from this season:

On Christmas Eve a little girl sang at Second Baptist Church in Kingwood.  She is the niece of one of our friends.  She sang about Jesus being the real gift of Christmas.  She was backed by the full adult choir and it was beautiful.  The song was "Happy Birthday Jesus".  The words say ... "the presents are nice but the real gift is you". And it was beautiful and sweet and precious.  

But here is the amazing part  .... six years ago that same little girl was left on the steps of an orphanage in Beijing.  It was there she was found/rescued and adopted.  Rescued from no telling what kind of life.  And y'all, THAT IS OUR STORY TOO. That is the work of Jesus.  He found us and rescued us and now we can sing for him.  People can see Him in our lives.

Seeing the video of her seeing truly made my Christmas Eve. If you want to see it, click here.

Another moment was a man who was in a wheelchair.  He was cheerfully calling out to all of us who were heading to the ski slopes ... "Isn't this a beautiful day?  Sunny skies!  Life couldn't be better!".

And how fabulous is that?  He was totally content.  And there was Jesus in that moment for me.  The man had legs that didn't work but was proclaiming that things couldn't be better.  So maybe He wants me to focus less on what isn't right and more on what is right.

He is everywhere.  We must look for him.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 says:

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

I like the Message version even better:

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

Here is hoping that you won't be disappointed in 2014.  Because when you seek Him, you will find Him.  

God's honest truth.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"The Story"

Some of you emailed me yesterday and asked if I would post a copy of the "get to" article.  I have written this story before (and told it many times) but I love to be reminded of this time God so graciously taught me the difference between a "have to" and a "get to".  And trust me ... I need reminding of this daily!

My Story:

When I got married I had a very “Norman Rockwell” idea of what my life and family were going to look like.  You know … all seated around a table in a very “Southern Living” looking home.  Children in cute outfits, delicious looking food on the table, an adoring husband smiling as he prayed over the meal. 

However, the reality was much different.  I did have an adoring husband and four cute children … but after that, the expectations that I had were much different from my reality.  Dinner was usually whatever I could throw together, there was ALWAYS laundry on the couch to be folded, the kids …. Well, let’s just say they didn’t sit at the table quite as nicely as the kids in the pictures did.

And as the days and years wore on, I became .... like most (all) moms …. Tired.  Exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Burned out.  It felt like as much as I did there was always so much more to do.  I would share this with my husband but he didn’t really know what to say or do to bring me out of the state I was in.  He tried.   He offered suggestions and he helped … and yet still … I felt in over my head.

For a couple of years we had heard about “family camp” and how wonderful it was.  My husband suggested we go but honestly I wasn’t sure how fun “camp” sounded.    But we signed up for Week Five and headed to camp.

Our family of six sat around a table at dinner the first night and a counselor I will never forget named Southern Belle joined us.  The children were all hungry and ready to eat and my husband and I were frantically trying to cut everyone’s food up on their plates.  Southern Belle asked if she could help and, like most moms, I said … “no, no … I can do it”.  As the children got louder though, I relented and said “yes, help would be great”. 

Once everyone was eating and peaceful I turned to thank Southern Belle and she replied , “Oh, thank you for letting me do that for you. It was a blessing for me to get to do that for you”. 

Tears stung my eyes as I thought of how beautiful her words were to me.  And you better believe I asked her to join us at every meal.  J

We enjoyed camp so much and I loved that I didn’t have to think of what to fix my family to eat (and the food was good!), they brought us clean towels and swept the dining room floor after we ate.  It was awesome. 

But the truth was I was dreading going back home.  I knew ALL those responsibilities awaited me and I dreaded it.  DREADED it.

Wednesdays at family camp are “free days”.   They children have activities until 3:00 and the adults are on their own.  My husband went to play golf and so I decided to go to the ladies Bible study.  We read some scriptures and then we each went around and shared a prayer request.  They started at the other side of the room and people around the room shared big things.  Like REALLY big things.  Financial problems and marital problems and health problems.  So many big problems that it made my problems feel silly.  I almost didn’t share but I knew that if it mattered to me it mattered to God and so I told the ladies in that room that I was tired.  That I wasn’t finding the joy I thought I was supposed to find in being a wife and a mom because there were so many things … like the laundry!!! … that kept me from ever feeling like I could enjoy my family or be the person I was supposed to be.  And I told them I just didn’t know how to get it all done.

And as we left … I have to admit, I felt a little stupid.  Because I was sure that they all wondered how that prayer request could be answered.  Seriously … unless the Lord sent Merry Maids on Monday morning to my house, I didn’t see how He could answer my request either.

But here’s the thing.

He did.

And mightily.

And if I could tell that no situation is too big or too small for God and that He wants us to bring our requests to Him, I would.  Because He so is faithful.

My prayer was answered just a few hours later … I mean God was ON IT.

At 3:00 I went and picked up my son from his class.  He had been with his sweet teachers for almost 6 hours.  SIX.  I thanked the counselor, whose camp name was Hollywood, and said I was going to put sunscreen on my son and take him to the lagoon to meet the rest of our family.

After I got his suit and sunscreen on I put him in his stroller and went down to the lagoon.  When I got there, unbelieveably, I saw that same counselor … Hollywood …. on the lifeguard stand. 

I called up to her and said … “Hollywood, what are you doing?!”.

She said … “I’ve got life guard duty today”.  (This same girl who had 2 year old duty for six hours just before).

I asked her … “Do you not get a break?”.

And this is what she said:

“This is my get to … I 'get to'  do this”.

And so I asked her .. “but do you 'HAVE to'?".

And this is what she said:

“Yes, we are assigned these jobs but we call them "get tos” because we look at them as opportunities where we “get to” serve the families that are here.  Because I am watching your family, you “get to” enjoy them so it’s a blessing to me”.

And right there … on the side of the lagoon, through a camp counselor named Hollywood, God spoke to me.  Tears were streaming down my face (I figured I really freaked her out!)  J  because I knew that God had answered my prayer from a few hours earlier and He was saying to me … “Darla, you are looking at everything in your life like a “have to”.  Those aren’t “have tos” … those are opportunities to serve your family.  And when you are serving them, you are serving me.  I gave you that husband and I gave you those children … they are your “get tos”.

And in that moment, God used Pine Cove and that precious counselor to change my heart forever.

I went home with a new heart … one committed to having a “get to” attitude.

Now trust me … laundry and cooking and cleaning …. It still gets old.  But I do it with a different attitude now and truly not a day goes by that I don’t look around … chaos and all …. And think … “I get to”.