Monday, August 15, 2011

On The Move

I've debated about how to tell this story.   Because it needs to be told.  (Especially after my last 2 blog posts about change and being under stress!)  When God does something for us, we need to tell others.  And that's what this story is about.  It's about a God who provides every need we have and about a Father who has bigger and better plans than we do.  This story is just another beautiful testimony of a faithful God who is SO interested in using us beyond ourselves.  If we'll let him.

It's no secret that the American economy is in turmoil.  Everywhere we look, people are losing homes, jobs are being lost, and families are in trouble.  Ryan has been very blessed throughout these last 3 years of the recession.  He's done amazingly well, and that is nothing but a complete testimony of God's faithfulness.  There is no reason, really, in Ryan's line of work (he owns a construction company) for him to be doing better than others.  We've watched friend after friend close up shop and go look for jobs at places like Home Depot because of the economy.  But, God remained faithful to Ryan's business.  Month after month.  These last 3 years. Even this year has been incredible.

Until June. It was like a wall went up that couldn't be broken down.  It literally happened in 1 day.  Ryan came home from work one day and commented, almost under his breath, how weird it was that there was no job lined up for the next day.  But after 9 years of living on complete reliance on the Lord to provide the jobs Ryan needs, neither of us worried.  A week passed.  And then two.  And still, God was faithful. Even with no money coming in and no job, God was faithful to provide every need we had.  After 4 weeks, and after exhausting every contact he had, Ryan made the decision to fly home to Vancouver to see what the Canadian economy was doing.

Before he left, Ryan and I had been praying and fasting about our situation.  We decided to continue the prayer and fasting while he was gone.  So we made a list of things to pray for.  It was a big list, but then again, we had a lot of stuff we needed God to provide for. :)

While he was in Canada, the Lord settled it on Ryan that Vancouver was the answer to many of the prayers we'd been praying.  That he was calling Ryan, us, home.  It was one thing for the Lord to settle it on Ryan.  We both knew it would take a mountain moving for him to settle it on me.

(I must pause for a moment and say that I have always told Ryan that if God said to go, I'd go.  Anywhere.  Any time. But when it actually happens, it's a whole different ballgame!)

So, after Ryan came home from Vancouver, he didn't spit it out and tell me what the Lord had spoken to him.  But I knew.  He had spoken to me too in Ryan's absence.  I could feel it, in every inch of my being, what He was requiring of me.  The Lord was asking me to leave my family, my country, my home...and follow my husband.  For me, that's what it boiled down to.  It wasn't the where.  It could have been anywhere.  It was the fulfillment of a vow I made to the man I married over 8 years ago that I would go where he went, and stay where he stayed.  Even if my flesh was saying "no way."  And let me tell you: it was!

The Elita in me was digging in my heels and screaming out every argument I could find.  The biggest, of which, was leaving my poor parents here with no kids or grandkids.  My boys are so incredibly close to my parents, I couldn't (and still don't want to) think about about pulling them away.  And my parents have been the support system I needed to be a good wife and mother.  My mom is like my 3rd and 4th arm.  Dropping anything she's doing at anytime of day (literally) to help me.  Thinking about losing that just made me weep.  Seriously.  I wept.  I did not cry.  I did some serious Old Testament weeping.  If I had ash and sackcloth, I probably would've pulled 'em out.

But, when God speaks, it is impossible to ignore.  Remember Jonah?  I didn't want to run from where God was going.  And I also didn't want to be a thorn in my husband's side.  I desperately wanted to be at peace with what God was speaking to us.  So that's what I started praying for.  And guess what?  He was faithful in that too.

As soon as Ryan and I got on the same page with where God wanted us, which was last week, things started moving.  FAST. Our house, that's been on the market almost a year, sold the next day.  THE NEXT DAY.  Ryan did get a couple really good remodels here in Mobile that are helping to pay the bills until the move. Another answer to prayer. There are so many little stories I could tell about how God met our needs these last few months.  (Like when I prayed for $500 so we could pay Noah's school fees and God met that need less than an hour later?  That was a fun one!)

It's been a totally uncomfortable time in our life.  Especially for me. It's been a dying-to-self experience.  My dreams for our family, my desires for our future...all laid down.  But I know that's where God gets to us.  In our weakness, he is made strong.  He never strips us bare just for the fun of it. He does it to get at something in us.  And man, oh man, he's gotten to me. His joy is my strength.  When I think about not knowing where we will live or how we will live in such an expensive city, the Lord gives me peace.  When I think about trying to find new friends, new Kelli's, new Jessica's, new Katharine's and Katherine's, new Johannah's...(breathe Elita!) the Lord gives me peace. And even when I think about moving my boys 3,000 miles away from 2 people who love them and have helped raise them these last 6 heart is at peace.  I didn't say it doesn't hurt.  It's just at peace.

It's a strange, funny place to be. It's right where he wants us. And that's good enough for me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Recipe for Stress

When I am stressed I don't clean, which is what a lot of my girlfriends do.  Cleaning stresses me out entirely on its own.  I bake.  I cook like a mad woman. My kitchen becomes a disaster area and I love it.  LOVE IT.  There is something incredibly gratifying about bringing together ingredients that, on their own are okay, but when matched with others, are amazing.  

So these past 4-5 weeks, my kitchen has taken the brunt of my stress.  My husband and kids, however, have enjoyed the results that come from my time chopping, kneading, grilling, frying, and just doing anything I can in the kitchen.  So, because I am hungry, because I have nothing better to blog about it, and because I can, here are some yummy things that have turned up in my kitchen these last few weeks:

Lemon Blueberry Muffins. Delish.

Flat Apple Pie. Of course, I snagged a bite before I took the pic.  It's totally imperfect and rustic. Just the way I like it!

We went to a local pick-it-yourself farm about 10 minutes from our house and came home with, among many other things, a giant zucchini.  It was literally almost the length of my arm.  Here it is:

After I grated that bad-boy up, it turned into a lovely (actually, 2 lovely) zucchini loaves (see below).  My husband was in Heaven.  (Oh! You've never had zucchini loaf? It sounds totally disgusting and horrifying, I know. But once you taste it, you'll never go back. I promise! Plus, if you have 3 picky eating sons who would otherwise not eat zucchini, this is a good trick.)

Please don't judge me for eating a bite of every item I bake before taking a picture.  It's just who I am. 

Oh!  Here's one of those picky eaters now.  I have weird kids who like me to make their peanut butter and banana sandwiches into faces.  But because I do it in the kitchen, it falls into my stress-free zone.  (yah right!)

Back to the topic at hand! Here's blueberry cobbler (using blueberries we picked at the farm down the road):

And pico-de-gallo using tomatoes from our garden:

And chicken tetrazzini. ( I have to say that I've had a lot of chicken tetrazzini's in my day.  But this one is by far the best.  One of my best friends, Jessica, brought this to us after having our first baby and it's been a favorite of mine ever since.  Thanks Jess!)

See the bottom left corner? That's right. Ate it. Loved it. Don't regret it.

I made cupcakes and and a jello cake dessert-thing for the 4th:

Here's Mollie as I work in the kitchen.  She helps out in any way she can.  She's great like that.

I'm not done yet!  I've been very stressed!

Up next? Homemade stir-fry.  Which is definitely not a throw-together-whatever-you-have-leftover-in-your-fridge type of stir-fry.  But I guess, if it had to be, it could be.  It uses sherry to marinate the meat. Sherry always makes meat better.

Buttered Rosemary Rolls and Scalloped Potatoes.  Both are thanks to PW. She's my best friend, she just doesn't know it.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza and Vegetable Pizza (using all veggies, except the broccoli, from our garden!):

Homemade bread. YUM:

I made a few cranberry orange scones.  Only a few mind you:

And the epitome of all baking days included 50 cinnamon rolls, made completely from scratch.  My kitchen looked disgusting but smelled amazing.  The icing is a maple-espresso icing. OMG.

See that bottom pan?  How there's a section missing? Guess who ate it? 

Of course, after every baking escapade, I then have to clean it all up. I don't mind that kind of cleaning at all because I am the one who made the mess in order to provide something yummy for my family and/or friends.

I get hot in the kitchen, ok? That's why the giant fan is sitting on the counter.

My kitchen has seen better days. But as long as I remain under stress, the cookies will keep a-comin'.  And the 4 males in my house all said an amen.