God Wink

I recently heard someone refer to those special moments we as believers share with God when we know He is speaking to us through noticeable, and many times, tangible things in our daily lives as a “God wink”. Last year, a dear friend of mine found a silver bow in a parking lot during a time in her marriage when she and her husband were meticulously going over their life together, thus far, to share with others in a testimony. Needless to say, it was a heavy task. She was very touched by another couple’s marriage testimony who closed with the statement that their story was not tied up in a neat bow. She felt that was true of her marriage as well. Silver was the color she had chosen for her wedding years before and she felt the Lord was giving her this bow to keep as a reminder of this time. A “God wink”.  I know I’ve had lots of these but today was a particularly sweet one.

Back in March of 2017, my life was undergoing a massive change. My youngest had turned 12 in December and my oldest, almost 19, was graduating high school that May. They way they need me was changing forever. What in the WORLD was I going to do with my time?! I felt a strong pull to dive deep into understanding my Lord; to give all that extra time to Him, let Him guide it. I started with prayer and eventually He laid in on my heart to really study the scriptures and to start with Romans. It’s been an incredible journey with ups and downs, victories and frustrations, but I’ve grown and learned and most importantly……changed. Lately, when I pray and study scripture, I listen to a beautiful song by the group 2Cellos. The song is titled “Benedictus”. Today I was stopped by the thought, “What does Benedictus mean?” The music feels so appropriate for the time we share. It doesn’t distract at all but moves with our fellowship perfectly. Well, Benedictus means, or more accurately, is, “1. an invocation begging ‘Benedictus qui venti in nomine Domini‘ (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord) Matthew 21:9. 2. A canticle beginning ‘Benedictus Dominus Deus’ (Blessed be the Lord God) from Luke 1:68-79.” Ok, but what is an invocation and a canticle? Invocation, “the act or process of petitioning for help or support, specifically, often capitalized: a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship). Canticle, “SONG; specifically, one of several liturgical songs (such as the Magnificant) taken from the Bible.” So, it’s a prayer, song! A song for prayer! God wink! What a sweet, kind and gracious confirmation that He’s been guiding my steps down to the last detail all these months! Truly, I can play this song on a loop and not tire of it. It’s that beautiful!

I have come to KNOW that He cares about EVERY aspect of my life, of who I am. My likes, dislikes, needs, desires, dreams, struggles and VICTORIES. How often do I share joy with Him?! It seems so much more common to come to Him in my pain, fear, trials and struggles, but that’s only one part of the relationship. Can you imagine your husband, wife, children, family, and friends ONLY coming to you in those heavy life moments? He revealed to me that I’d been keeping joy, celebration and outright fun segregated from our overall fellowship. Do I dance with Him in the triumphs HE brings me to? Do I laugh with Him in the fun HE blesses me with? I confess, there was this strange idea that it wasn’t reverent, or dignified to do so. I think this is a more serious lie from the enemy than it seems. The verse Matthew 21:9 “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” is being shouted in a triumphant celebration as Jesus entered Jerusalem surrounded on all side by these worshipers. These people got it! He showed me I was pouring out only the hard things to Him but when the good times came I was saying, “Thanks Father! Oooooh, I am so guhratefuuul! I’m gonna go have fun now. See ya when it’s hard again!” I can be very intentional with bringing Him my struggles, but what about bringing Him my joy? I pray to grow in the truth of this. Today I rejoiced with Him in the truly miraculous, intricate detail He revealed to me. He didn’t have to, and He would still be just as worthy of my adoration and worship, still ultimately right and good if He hadn’t, but He gave me that thought to ask about the meaning of the name of this beautiful song and in doing so, spoke a message loud and clear that I’ve been asking to unmistakably hear, “I love you, Emily.”

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Occasionally?……

middle eastern dinnerSo it’s been over a year since my last entry. Occasionally may be a bit of a fib; oh dear. My job has kept me busier than I thought it would, but that’s ok. I really am grateful for it. Soooooo much has happened since my last post. Tall Dark and Handsome started his own business. Boo Bear (oldest daughter) turned 16 (look out drivers of America!) and Pookie (little daughter) started golf lessons with our homeschool sports association. Boo Bear finished her second season on a competitive club level volleyball team and then went on to make the high school homeschool varsity team!club ball So proud of her. Her hard work and perseverance inspires me. Pookie made great leaps in her golf skills and is her daddy’s golf buddy now. She was in a stage production of Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” and she had a great time doing that. She played a goblin and did some “dwarf surfing” opening night. dwarf surfin'  She is growing into such a wonderful young kid and has a deep sensitivity towards the Holy Spirit.

One of the coolest things that happened to us was our first family vacation and the Lord let it be Disney World! 7 action packed, fun filled, adventurous days! It was such a gift. We drove and had a blast just the four of us in our car. There were times I didn’t think we’d make it to Florida. From car issues to a possible ankle injury, there seemed to be no end to possible obstacles in our path to vacation week. God being the wonderful, faithful Father He is, always provided a way through these everyday life happenings. So where are we now? Finishing school during the summer…..sigh. I tried to do a 9 month school year, but alas it seems this may not work for us. Onward!

Since we do have to finish school this summer, I thought I’d try to make it as interesting as possible. So, a couple weeks ago I decided to start “International” dinner nights. Here in the Houston area we have every type of ethnic food you can think of; from French to Ethiopian. A very good friend of ours is Lebanese. He and his family took us to a wonderful Mediterranea/Middle Eastern buffet and I fell in love. Tabbouleh, falafel, pita bread fresh from an open stone oven, baba ganoush, hummus and soooo many other options. I decided right then I’d have to learn to make some of these delicious and healthy dishes. I went to work researching recipes and setting a menu. The aforementioned friend also told me about a Middle Eastern market in downtown Houston, so the girls and I made a field trip of it. What a FUN place! More different spices, products and baked goods than I’d ever seen. We made our purchases and headed home; that was on a Tuesday. Here I should stop and state that I have two “light” days at work, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The following Thursday, I set to work and the results were great! I made falafel (from a mix but still awesome), tabbouleh and hummus. We wrapped our falafel in pita that was freshly made right there in the market. Let me tell you, I’ll never buy that kind sold in mega-marts again. Everyone loved it and we had a spectacular thunderstorm that cut our electricity off for a good few hours. We had a great time laughing and enjoying each other’s company by candlelight; another blessing.

On the menu this week? Southern Soul Food. Not International you say? Yes I know. Maybe I should have called these special dinners “Cultural Culinary”. Oh well. Pictures of both meals to come! Have a great week!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup

1 – 4 lb whole chicken (can be skinned prior to boiling if desired)

water to just cover (okay of chicken is a little out of the water)

3 TBS. Kosher salt

1 small yellow onion diced

3-4 large garlic cloves pressed or minced

3 TBS vegetable or olive oil

1 small can of no sodium tomato sauce

1 can Rotel

1 can fire roasted diced canned tomatoes (undrained)

¾ regular sized bag of frozen corn

2/3 regular sized bag of frozen cauliflower florets

2/3 regular sized bag of frozen sliced carrots

1 whole regular sized bag of frozen sliced zucchini

1 small bunch of cilantro chopped (I just tear off the top with my hands, rinse and dry well and finely chop it stems and all)

 

Spices to taste

cumin (I use McCormick’s roasted ground cumin)

chili powder

oregano

Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate (if it needs more salt flavor. You can completely omit the salt when boiling the chicken or back it way off to 1TBS and compensate more with the Caldo de Tomate. Just add a tsp. or two at a time and stir to disolve then taste to make sure you’re not over salting. It can happen easily using the Knorr.)

 

Place chicken in a deep pot and cover with water, add salt and place a lid on the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer chicken, covered, until leg meat begins to pull away from the leg bone. Remove chicken and set aside to cool before taking off the meat. Remove meat and shred and/or chop. At this point you can refrigerate the shredded/chopped chicken and broth separately and allow the fat to solidify on the broth over night. You can make the soup the next day. I don’t always do this; it’s to your personal preference. When ready to make the soup, start with the oil in a pot and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the broth, tomato sauce, Rotel and diced tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Add the frozen veggies (except the squash) and bring to boil then back heat off to a strong simmer. Add spices (not the Knorr yet) and cilantro. Simmer until veggies are to desired tenderness. Add cooked shredded/chopped chicken and the squash and simmer until squash is done to your liking but be careful not to overcook it. NOW taste for seasoning and adjust with more spices (if you wish) and Knorr.

 

Serve with fried corn tortilla strips, diced avocado, pico de gallo, extra cilantro, lime wedges and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Enjoy!!

Told Ya!! Occasionally On Top of Things

oops!!Well, six months. Maybe that’s a little less than occasionally on top of things. Much has happened. I began working for my MIL’s online marketing company; loving that!! Celebrated a 15th wedding Anniversary, experienced another great volleyball season (both coaching and occasionally watching my big girl play) and received an amazing financial provisional gift for my big girl that allowed her to play club ball. Now for those who aren’t familiar with volleyball, club ball is a big (expensive) deal. To make it on to a club team is a big accomplishment and honor. My Big Girl was blessed with both of those and the Lord provided the funds in one lump sum for the whole season. I am still very grateful, humbled and so overwhelmed by His clear direction. My little one is also doing great; another year older and just as sweet as ever. I hope to place her in a drama/acting program in the fall…. it’s right up her funny, energetic little alley!! She’s been sick off and on but the Lord brought us to a great pediatrician, at last, and we got some counseling on a bad call made by her previous group of doctors. Now before you go thinking that there is some chronic ailment with her, let me assure you there isn’t. I suffer from anxiety when it comes to the health of my children so at times a bout of strep (like we’re dealing with this week) can at times seem awful to me. The Lord is working on me and with me in this area. A few years ago after a bad upper respiratory tract infection that caused her wheeze I was immediately told she could have asthma and to take her to a specialist right away. She was 5 and had NEVER wheezed a day in her life, not even when she had RSV at 3 weeks of age. Long story short, our new pediatrician told me I was in the right to stop treatment without more definitive proof but that he would be monitoring her for signs of a tendency to wheeze with colds and such. He told me if she could make it through this winter (apparently it’s a bad winter for illness…we’ve sure had our share) without wheezing then he felt sure the other doctors made a mistake and would not say she has asthma. So far the Lord has kept that from happening. I pray for what I want but know He’ll carry her though no matter what. Like I said my anxiety tends to cause me to see these things as much bigger and scarier than they are.

Just two days ago I became an auntie for the second time. My baby sister had her second little bundle of joy, another beautiful baby girl. In May before I started blogging my youngest brother got married to a wonderful, sweet girl and they seem to be very happy. His wedding was also a great opportunity to see my big, little brother (I’m oldest, he’s next in line but bigger than me…. get it “big, little brother”?). I got some great pictures with him and the girls and shared a dance with him. Love that guy so, so much. He’s a tattoo artist and one of the greatest guys you’d ever want to meet; funny as all get out too!! If the tattooing things ever gets old, the world will gain a GREAT stand-up comic :oD His wife, my other “sister-from another mister” (that’s like “brother from another mother…. guess you had to be there) has a great truffle making business she runs out of their house and they are awesome!! I’ve only seen pictures of her bacon truffles but sincerely hope to try them soon. Baaaacoooonnnn…mmmmmmMMMM!!!

Well, this has gone on long enough. I’m posting a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. It was a big hit on Christmas Eve so I hope your family enjoys it too.


I want that…..I want that?

good friendsThis morning at my bible study, our speaker was a woman who has and still is losing weight through the freeing of her spiritual strongholds. I have heard various women for the past 6 weeks come and give similar testimony. What struck me today was the woman who introduced her. Obviously a good friend for many years, she honored the speaker with praise of a very holy nature. The introducer spoke of the kindness, gentleness, honor and giving spirit of our speaker. One of her main points was that hard as she might try, she could NEVER remember a time when this speaker had gossiped. The introducer stated how she worked in the same office as the speaker and didn’t hear any gossip from the other 14 or 15 women who also worked there. The introducer believed it was due to the fact that our speaker and another friend ,who were the leaders at this office led by example in this area. I was amazed by the humble yet exuberant accolades lavished upon our speaker. The introducer knew her at her heaviest and now at her healthiest and said our speaker was STILL as generous, kind and compassionate as before. I kept thinking to myself, “I want that!” then in shock thought “I want that?!” and then again in joy “Yes! I want that!!”. I want to be compassionate, kind and honorable. I don’t want to tear down others with my words EVER ,in any situation. I want it said of me that I never have an unkind word to say about others, no matter what. If you are reading this and you know me, know now these are all things I will strive for. I will not be perfect at them but through God’s grace, teaching and renewing of my mind I will get closer to these goals. The fact that my heart cried out to be like this woman is a HUGE deal for me. For years I sought to be skinny, beautiful with plenty of money and respected for what I had (stuff). God is changing my wants and I LOVE it!! What an amazing creator. I never dreamed  this is where my thoughts would be a year ago when I started my recovery journey, but that’s a story for another day.

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Occasionally Girly!!

blue plumbagoI love to write, cook, enjoy time with friends and family, grow closer to my Savior, entertain, celebrate, vege-out, exercise, read, learn….on and on. I married my high school sweetheart in November 1997 and love him more all the time. I live in the Spring/Woodlands area north of Houston. I’m happy as long as I can see trees, even if there are rooflines protruding into my view. I was raised in The Rio Grande Valley very, very south in South Texas. 45 min. from South Padre Island (oh how I miss that place) and rough 20 min. from the Mexican border near Reynosa. In all honesty, in the 15 years I’ve been married to Tall, Dark and Handsome, I’ve grown to love the more urban lifestyle. I mean, I do love to shop and have cool stuff to see and do close by. This is still Texas after all and in my neck of the woods, the outdoors are pretty much everywhere you look. I homeschool two of the most wonderful children on earth,coach volleyball for our homeschool sports association and work from home via a social media marketing company. Next to being a wife and mother, coaching has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Being able to earn some cash from home while learning a new skill has aso been a bigger blessing and teacher than I realized. The Lord has grown me so much and I feel free to re-visit one of my first loves, writing. There was a time I seriously considered a career in literature. I am thankful that things like blogs give individuals like me a chance to be expressive with words. The name of my blog is “Occasionally Girly” for a reason. I feel more talented at being creative through writing and cooking than say through scrap booking, home decorating…..heck even self decorating. Don’t get me wrong, I like do to look GOOD. Since one of the things I love is learning, I’m determined to learn how to improve in these areas. So I may be occasionally girly, occasionally stylish, occasionally crafty and occasionally on top of things but I am always amazed and blessed by grace, the kindness of others, and Christ’s everlasting love.  Thanks for reading.