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Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

So July is kind of birthday central around our house. I turned 32 on Monday and Lance turns 35- 9 days later on the 30th– and it’s never fun to confine your birthday celebrations to just one day… therefore we basically celebrate for the last half of July! Which makes August National-get-your-nutritional-groove-back month in our house.  But at some point yesterday I realized the amount of… “treat” food I had enjoyed over the last few days and felt the need to cram my system full of vegetables and nutrients for dinner. So, this lovely Summer Vegetable Soup was born. Never mind the fact that it’s about 100 degrees outside– it was still great for a rainy summer evening.

Some notes: 1. Though this a healthy recipe, it does begin with 2 strips of bacon. The bacon lends a nice flavor and when your husband says, “Is there meat in this?” You can say, “Yes! Bacon!” And that just makes most husbands happy. If you desire to make this vegetarian, just substitute a TBS. of Olive Oil to sauté your veggies in. 2. Also in the slightly decadent category, I finish this soup with 1 tbs. Heavy Cream. Feel free to leave that out. I would not sub anything else but you could add a bit of greek yogurt– just allow your soup to cool slightly so it doesn’t curdle.  Anddd….3. I do not like big chunks of vegetables that can get mushy in soup– so things that tend to do that– (carrots, zucchini, etc.) I shred in the food processor (or on a cheese grater) and it makes the soup have the perfect texture– and it’s just beautiful that way! See? 


Okay for the recipe– You can use just about any vegetables you fancy but here is what I did:


Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 strips of bacon, diced
  • 32 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded and drained
  • 1 small yellow squash, shredded and drained
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 3-4 medium mushrooms, diced
  • 2 ears of corn, removed from cob or 1 cup of frozen kernels (Please don’t leave this out unless you really don’t like corn– it makes the soup!)
  • 1 can of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed. (set aside 3 Tbs. of these beans in a small bowl.)
  • 1 Regular Jar of Marinara Sauce (Homemade works perfect too!)
  • 1 tbs. fresh sage, diced (or 1/2 tsp. dried sage.)
  • 1 tbs. fresh thyme, diced (or 1 tsp. dried thyme.)
  • a pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, sautée the bacon. When it is not quite done, add the diced onion and garlic and allow it to begin to brown. When the onion becomes tender and is translucent, add the chicken broth and then the carrots, zucchini, squash and mushrooms. Add Herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. While soup is coming to a boil, take the 3 tbs. of white beans you set aside in a small bowl. Smash them with the back of a spoon and then add the smashed mixture to the soup. (this helps thicken the soup.) Now add the whole cannellini beans and stir in. Add Marinara Sauce and stir. Add the corn now. (At this point, you need to look at your soup– to see if it is too thick. If it is, fill the empty marinara jar half-way full with water and then add to the pot. Depending on how juicy your vegetables were, you may or may not need to do this. )  

After soup comes to a boil, Lower the heat and Simmer for 10-12 minutes on low until soup is heated throughout.

Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. If your soup tastes like it needs more flavor, you can add a tbs. or two of basil pesto– delicious!

Remove Soup from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add Heavy cream if using. Stir.

Serve bowls of soup with Grated Parmesan– and this Cheddar Zucchini Cornbread is a great accompaniment (and a great way to use up some more shredded zucchini and get more in your kiddos!)

Both the soup and the cornbread make enough for either a crowd, or plenty of leftovers!!!

Cheddar Zucchini Cornbread


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My Mom’s Night Out


About 9 weeks ago, myself and eight of my other Mama friends had a fun night out, we went out for Southwest food, ate way too many chips & salsa and then went to see the movie, Mom’s Night Out. The movie was really hilarious and I throughly enjoyed it! The movie had each of us laughing way too loud, and nodding in agreement at the level of crazy that Allyson’s life with small children contained. We all agreed it was a movie worth seeing and wondered why we waited so long to have a night out together.


Obligatory Coke Icee with my friend Kristy– you just can’t NOT have an Icee at the Movies!

I knew there was a novelization of the movie being written by Tricia Goyer and I was very interested to read it. I’m so very happy that I did.

I’ll be honest, I winced my way through the first few pages.  Why? The book is such a close novelization of the script of the movie and the plot of the movie is such a close mirror of my own crazy mom life (at times) that I found myself getting a tad bit stressed just from reading it! Usually, I would not choose to watch a movie before reading a book, but in this case I was glad I did as I KNEW the movie was going to go beyond the first few moments of Mommy stress. I mean really, what mom wants to escape for a few minutes and read a basic play-by-play of her day? However, the story quickly moves beyond the initial story-setup and into a really funny book. The plot focuses on Allyson, a SAHM of three cute (and lively) kiddos. Allyson, a mommy blogger whose kind husband travels frequently on business often finds herself asking the question that most moms ask at one time another– “Why is this so HARD??!?!”

In an effort to step outside of her stress a bit, Allyson plans a night to unplug with her friends. The three harried moms (in three very different stages of motherhood) embark on what promises to be a relaxing, stress-free night out. Minutes into their outing, the night begins to unravel one tiny thread at a time. Soon, they find themselves going all over various parts of town on a wild-baby chase, which evolves into a wild-van chase (oh yeah, their mom-swagger-wagon is allegedly stolen– Nice, huh?) and ends with every last one of them in Jail. Throw in a random tattoo parlor, an eccentric cabbie, a missing bird named Mama and the Pastor’s wife getting tased… and you have the makings of a hilarious “Momedy-Book” worthy of your time. Even having seen the movie, I found myself snickering out loud at certain parts and shaking my head at poor Allyson’s view of herself as a mom. Because, really, who of us have not felt that “it’s not supposed to be this hard!!!??” — and wondered what we are doing wrong?!

I really did enjoy this book. Lately, I’ve been reading through a stack of more serious, non-fiction pieces and though I’ve enjoyed them all, this was a welcome break as a book that offered plenty of good, clean humor with a nice measure of underlying encouragement. 

If you’re looking for a light bit of fun reading with a nice heavy dose of “Me too” for Mamas– you might enjoy it as much as I did! 

You may find the book Here  (amazon affiliate link)
and you can also pre-order the Moms Night Out DVD!!!

**I was so honored to receive a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing Company to review. I am grateful for the book, but the opinions are completely mine. 


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Fighting Rest.

I have this little girl Abby. She is small and very funny.

(Yes, we watch a lot of Charlie and Lola around these parts.)

She loves life and fun and laughing and playing.

But she hates rest time.

I mean, truly– I almost have to sneak up on her to get her in the direction of upstairs before I tell her it’s rest time.

Because that girl– she will run and hide. No matter how tired she is.

She will ask for a drink. (she just had one.) A snack. (She just finished one.) She will ask to go potty. (She just did.) She will want some obscure stuffed animal that neither of us have seen in months. (her bed is full of them.)

And she will go from a snuggly two year old to a rabid porcupine as I try to carry her upstairs.

Upon nearing her bed, she’s even been known to say on several occasions lately and I quote, “I don’t want that cozy bed!!!!!!” “I don’t NEED a nap!!!! *huge yawn.”

She usually has to be distracted by the “animals marching two by two” poem and the drawing of an imaginary kitty face on her own little round face before she realizes she, is, indeed in her own bed.
And then I can see it on her own face– “Oh wow… this is comfy… maybe I’ll just lie down for a moment…”

By the time I get back downstairs and switch on the monitor, she’s out cold. And she stays that way for at least 2 1/2 hours.
But the IDEA of taking a nap? Taking a break from all the fun? No Way is she interested in that.

And then there’s me.

I know I mentioned this before, but this summer has not been a “break.”

Not by any fault of anyone’s but it’s just been super full (of wonderful, amazing things!) but somewhat like a Carousel going a little bit too fast and never stopping for very long at all.

And about some point during each week, I find myself with an hour and no pressing deadline– and I just sit. And stare. Sometimes at the wall. Sometimes at my Instagram feed (because lately it’s been all precious new babies and pictures from where all of you are going and where you’re traveling to and what you’re eating.. and a few cats. There’s always a few cats, of course.) But it’s refreshing to just zone out in silence for a few minutes.

Often in the staring I think– I should really get up and do…..

And I probably should. BUT. there’s something to be said for REST.

And being REFRESHED.

And maybe I’m not kicking and screaming and having someone force me to rest… but that might just be what I need.

So here’s my plan. Since Summer is clearly almost over and I have a few deadlines that won’t come until the last few days of summer’s end– I propose something.

Perhaps, we shall make FALL a season of purposeful REST.

Can anybody out there use an Autumn with a return to a little bit of Margin?
I know I can.
So if you’ll humor me–
I am planning a few more posts dealing with this topic.
Rest. Quiet. Whitespace. Margin. Room for Whatever.

I won’t commit right now to how many or when–(because I might just start hyperventilating!) but–  just Fall and a few!
Hope you’ll join me.

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Beautiful Feet in Madagascar

“How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Isaiah 52:7


Many of you may remember my friend Amy. She’s the one who sends me encouraging texts at 5:30AM when we’re both trying to get up the motivation to drag into our work-out clothes for spin class. She is one that I can call for a last minute Starbucks date and it’s always pretty certain that our time together will end in loud, snort-laughing. What you may not know about her is that she has a BIG heart for missions. Last February, she left her family and traveled 7,987 miles to Cape Town, South Africa to love on little ones and help spread the LOVE of Christ. She came back with an even bigger heart for missions, and God has opened another beautiful door for her to walk through.

This time, the door will open into Antananarivo, Madagascar, where there are 88,000 Deaf Malagasy that are unreached and unengaged. There are many barriers to be prayed through but God has called them to this mission, and He will equip and provide. Read Amy’s own words describing the ministry that will take place–

“Our prayer is to bring them hope through guided Bible stories and Scripture, both through interpreters in Madagascar sign language.                                                                                          Our goal is to teach them the love and grace of Christ so they can learn it, love it, share it and apply to their lives. “


Want a part in this great mission? Two things you can do.

PRAY. A few prayer needs are: Spirit-led communication, wisdom and development of the team and also for financial provision.

Secondly, you can buy a raffle ticket for $10.00!!!! Amy has purchased a Brand-New iIPad Mini and is holding a raffle on the last day of July. The tickets are $10.00 a piece. Buy one or buy five but the money goes straight to her trip and straight into this mission. 

If you are interested in buying a ticket and you don’t happen to know Amy personally, you can email her at helpsendamy@gmail.com

I’m sure she would be happy to sell you a ticket to be entered to win the IPad Mini!


Belong. (FMF)

Last year around about this time I was given the best birthday gift ever. The gift of… a space that was all mine in which to write, and perhaps even better— the gift of support.

On the morning of my 31st birthday, my sweet husband presented me with a newly purchased domain name complete with the new logo we played around with— I was giddy. I was breathless. I was.. terrified.

Because it had become real. And I knew that this was just one more bit of gentle nudging from God to “do it.” To write more. To write for HIM. To write and so give of myself.

Three months later, I packed up my Soft, Brown Target riding boots and way too many cardigans and I went to the Allume conference. I knew He was nudging me to go there, too.

I went with many thoughts. Many concerns. Many general wonderings. One over-arching concern— “will I even belong with all these REAL writers?”

20 minutes in and I was still kind of a nervous wreck. I was working one of the registration tables— because really, what better way to jump into an unknown situation but by hiding behind the table that gives out the awesome swag bag, right?!

I saw lots of women. Many looked familiar. Some did not. Many I even read on a regular basis— but they all seemed to know each other. They all seemed to belong, and for one fleeting moment I considered maybe I shouldn’t be here…

But somewhere between that first cup of Just-Love Coffee and five minutes into the first keynote, I took a moment to look outside my paralyzing tentativeness and just look around.

And I saw so much. From those catching up with online connections that now had beautiful, real life faces to those shifting their stuff around and nervously hoping someone would want to make a connection with them. (Nervous Shifter, party of One right here.)

But in my momentary alone-ness, I saw what we all need to know so desperately.
The only reason any of us can “belong” is because we belong to Him.

The good news? Yes, I did make connections. Many whom have been chief encouragers in this writing space over this last year.

But the really great news… that one small step of STEPPING OUT into a world I wanted to belong in, found me face to face with a God who took that time to confirm what He had been growing in my heart for a long time.

I came with a passion and a desire to write. But I left with a community. A belonging. A brand-new understanding of what living out art as worship means—

And the GIFT of being known- both by my creative Creator

and REAL writers who are such because they are REAL people.

Writing this lovingly for my Five Minute Friday crew — We are at Crystal’s place this week!! Love her! I also to encourage you to join some of us at Allume this year! I’m also going to Declare in just about a month! Anybody want to save me a seat and cup of coffee??


Mommy-Fail, Croutons and the “Incident.”

Here are some random, mildly humorous or interesting things that have happened recently– You’re welcome.

I took Lucy to school (She and Abby are going to a fun, MDO summer program a few days a week.) wearing a cute orange dress. I picked her up wearing this…

IMG_0390Note: NOT what I took her in. APPARENTLY, there was a Splash Day at the pre-school and I had failed to see the note they sent home. She had no sunscreen, no swimsuit, no towel, nothing. Thankfully, they lent her this cute purple t-shirt and a towel and a friend of mine lovingly put sunscreen on her. (And the sun visor was a craft project.) But, oh my word I felt like Jen Hatmaker in that blog post when she talks about the end of the school- year mom. Except, well… this isn’t the first time this has happened. Sometimes I just fail to read the notes. And bring the swimsuits.. and remember to have Lucy bring a stuffed animal that starts with the obscure letter of the day. When school let out for the summer, I thought I was getting a nice, shiny “failure-free” ticket for the next three months. But alas, I did not. It seems that I’m still very much in a position to bomb out big time– even in the summer. HA!

And immediately upon returning home, THIS was on the table– right there in plain sight:



There it is, ladies and gentlemen. Written proof that sometimes I unpack her backpack the MORNING of the next school day instead of the afternoon after the last one.


IMG_0607Moving on to important topics like carbohydrates. I never was a crouton eater. They have always been, in my opinion– a waste of calories. Unless homemade of course, those I can deal with. BUT, my dear Courtney (Charlie’s Mama. :) casually mentioned one day that they had been making Caesar salads at home a lot lately.. using Romaine, and.. drumroll please– Texas Toast Sea Salt and Black Pepper Croutons. Okay so I never was a Salt AND Pepper fan– mainly the pepper I don’t like. But I tried them and WHOA. So good. So simple and not overpowering.

So I kept inventing reasons to have Caesar Salad. We would blacken shrimp and have them on Caesar Salad for dinner, and then I’d just happen to make a salad for lunch…and then again for dinner, and before you picture me in sweatpants and a bag of Texas Toast Croutons, watching some ridiculous reality TV marathon, that’s NOT at all what I’m doing. I’m keeping track of portion control all right– I’m just INVENTING reasons to have salad at random times during the week. Right? 

BUT, then we ran out of them… and we had to have salad without them. And it was so sad. So then this morning after my spin class I went by the grocery store and they were BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!!!! So I bought four bags and promptly brought them home. And I felt all, Scarlett O’Hara and “As God is my witness– I will never be without croutons again…” And yes, I admit I may have a small problem. Spin Class should not equal FOUR BAGS OF CROUTONS. But, they will last awhile…right?


Okay so…. last and final piece on this lo—ong debrief. We had one of those “potty moments” with Abby on Saturday. And when I say potty moments, I mean the ones you laugh at. The four of us were out to eat at a Ruby Tuesday’s and Abby announced that she needed a diaper change. (I know. She is SO almost ready to potty train.) And I got the feeling she was speaking in future tense… like, “Hey mom! I’m about to need a diaper change…” So I asked her if she could use the bathroom and she said yes, so we ran to the restroom and we waited and she did…and we celebrated! And then I went, and she said (to the other restroom patrons’ delight-) “Mommy! You’re a BIG girl!!! I’m so PROUD of you!!!” Haha. But wait there is more.

We washed her hands, we stepped outside the door and were about to head for our table– which was CLEAR across the restaurant, mind you. And I made the mistake of saying, “wait until we tell Daddy!!” Well. She decided to tell him right then and there. Correction. She decided to YELL the useful piece of information about how she successfully placed her bowel movement in the potty. Thankfully, many of the people in the restaurant were parents and thought it was funny. Except for one ill-tempered man who looked at my cherubic toddler with utter contempt after she forced him to hear the word, poop, as he ate his salad. But I’ll think he will survive the ordeal just fine. At least I hope so.



No Longer Waiting to Exhale (FMF)

I’ve been sighing all day long. In the last 18 hours, I’ve exhaled many times.

I exhaled when 47 minutes into a 5 hour drive, she asked, “where are we going?” for the 11th time.

I breathed out deep when our lunch-time detour took all four of us to unexpected river-front meal and a few minutes off the interstate did us all a little bit of good.

I exhaled down to my painted toenails when we drove across the rocky driveway of my parents, the same home I once drove away from for college– the home I love to go to sleep in and wake up in and drink coffee in and be someone’s kid in.

Two hours later and another short drive gave way to another familiar home. And the sweet family of two has become a family of three in just the last five days. And he’s perfect. And healthy. And so. very. small. And his parents overflow with all-of-a-sudden HUGE love and just a little bit of exhaustion. And I hold the tiny little image bearer in my arms and look up at her–his mama (!) and she did it! And he’s here! And we exhale together in unbelief and thankfulness. And the exhale squeezes out a few tears of utter and complete relief.

And it is SO good to exhale. And so needed. And I’m so in need of more of this in my life, in my summer.

I need less and less running and more of this stopping to notice the beautiful rhythm of the day.

Stopping to breathe in the gifts and breathe out the Thanks. 

There are so many reasons to exhale all of this grace. So many reasons to be grateful. So much Thanks to give.

 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”  –John 1:16

Linking up to Five Minute Friday HERE.


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