Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mexican Stuffed Shells- Easy as making tacos (almost)



I have never ever put a recipe on my blog before, but I made these last night and they were so delicious. 
My husband piled on the seconds and my picky eating son said "Actually I really really like them."  
So I thought I'd share the recipe here. 
My husband, my son and I actually at it all ourselves, so next time, 
when all 5 of us are here eating I will have to double the recipe-
Just a heads up for you bigger families!

Prep time was about 15 minutes
Bake time is 45 minutes

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
4 ounces cream cheese
16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cups salsa (I used medium)
1 cup taco sauce (I used medium)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese


For possible toppings:
3 cut up green onions

olives
Sour cream

Instructions

Heat oven to 350°.
In a pan brown the ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. 

Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. 
Stir together and mix well. Set aside and cool completely.
While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to package directions; 

drain. Set shells out individually on a baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
Pour salsa on bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. 

Stuff each shell with 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture. 
Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Evenly cover shells with taco sauce.
 Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes with the foil removed. 

Top with green onions or olives if desired. Serve with sour cream! YUM!

Hope you enjoy. 
Aside from stuffing the shells, it was pretty much as easy as making Tacos.

I got the recipe from here: Mexican Stuffed Shells 




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Because I Told You So



Proverbs 31:26
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.

As a parent, I question myself a lot. 
I question my husband a lot. Our tactics. Are we carefully parenting? Are we mindful of how our words or actions can affect our children long term? I scrutinize my own words once they hit the air. And I judge myself. Perhaps sometimes too harshly, I don't know.
Those times when I lose my patience.

I really think about the future a lot as a parent. I think about their future.
If I am honest, I would say it is an area where fear has crept in and I have to continually ask the Lord for wisdom,
"Am I doing this right~this mom thing? Am I really the best mom that he (or she) could have?"
My kids tell me all the time that I am the best mommy in the world. Of course they think the world of me, but I want more than that. I want everything for them. I want to teach them to think about the future. Not in 'what do you want to be when you grow up' kind of way. But more of a 'WHO do you want to be when you grow up' kind of way?
And I want them to WANT to be a person of integrity and character. I want them to WANT to love Jesus. I want them to WANT to treat others with respect and kindness. I don't know that I was ever really challenged with that question-who do you want to be? I don't know that it would have mattered to me at such a young age.

Is everything 'because I told you so?'
Is it? Seriously? Is it? Is that just how it is with kids? At what point do they decide to start treating their siblings nicely just because they love them? I mean, DO they love them?  At what point do they decide to do their homework because they are simply motivated to do so on their own? Okay, that second question may have been reaching, because I don't ever remember being motivated to do homework, but I know their are kids more ambitious than I was. How do I make my kids be one of those kids? How do we get our kids to think about their future?
I read this incredible post by Lysa TerKeurst called Before They Go To School...Have This Conversation and it spoke volumes to me. It was all about teaching our kids to pre-decide who they want to be. Who do you want to be when your friends are making fun of someone? Who do you want to be when you come across drugs? Who do you want to be when your mom asks you to clean your room? It's all about WHO you want to be...Decide right here and now what you will do when you come across this, this or this... Decide right now what attitude you will have no matter what when this happens.

(By the way this is just as good for us adults. I'm all about pre-deciding lately)

Does that make sense? Our kids are young. We make them do what we (our family) do, of course. And we will continue to do so. But I also want them to one day choose for themselves to do it because we are instilling it in them to do it the right way and it's something admirable and it's truth. Not JUST 'because I told you so.'  I want to get it into their heads now to choose the right attitude before they become teenagers and choose the wrong one. Make a decision NOW who you want to be and start working on that person. Don't wait until your life is filled with mistakes that you have to go back and try to fix, patching up scars and broken hearts. I want to shield them from the mistakes I made. I want to shield them from hurt. And the only way I know to do that is to teach them to decide WHO they will be in 10 or 20 years and start making their choices now to be that person.


It's so hard to do though with kids. Their world is NOW.
They can't seem to comprehend that choices we make today affect our tomorrow. Their laziness about their messy room may not seem like its a big deal today, but it is the attitude about it that may very well affect their life tomorrow. It's a daily prayer of mine as a parent to get this right. I love the word intentional. It means I do things on purpose. I don't want to parent by default. Some days we can't help it. Toddler meltdowns. Newborn cries. Pre-teen attitudes. Teenager drama. Life doesn't always go as planned. But I can always intentionally look to the Lord for wisdom. And in between all the ins and outs of a sometimes messy momma's life, he can give me the words to say with the patience to say it (not scream it).

I was thinking about this today on our exhausting car ride home from our mini vacation today. One in which ended with my oldest son being grounded from the computer after his complaining followed by disrespect for me followed by public defiance. He kept asking and crying for another chance after we had given him several already. My mind was exhausted. I cried silently "Lord, I don't know what to do. What am I doing wrong?"

I heard this. You are more.
You are more than a strict mom and more than a too permissive mom. You are more than a mean mom and more than a not enough mom. You are more than a mom that yells too much and more than a mom that doesn't discipline enough. You are more than an exhausted mom and more than lazy mom. You are more than a tired mom. YOU ARE MORE. I gave you THESE children and I gave you the ability to handle them, care for them, nurture them, teach them, discipline them, instruct them, love them & play with them. YOUR kids were given by ME to be blessings to YOU. I trusted YOU with these precious lives because I knew with my grace and my strength you are MORE than what you see or feel.
You have ME living on the inside of you to guide you and lead you through their different life transitions. Keep asking me and I will keep instructing you...and don't be afraid of their future. My word says "Start children off in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not turn from it." `Proverbs 22:6

The Lord just reassured me that its not by my strength, but by his strength that lies in me. 

As parents, we should never ever hesitate to ask God for his wisdom. Cry to him & reach up asking him for a refreshing of strength each day. Commit your day to him before it even begins. Commit those little lives to him each day. If they are more His than ours, then He will be there to instruct you how to love them. Being a mom is hard. It's lots of work. It is a life of selflessness and patience, endurance and never giving up. We should never have "had enough" of them, nor should we give up on ourselves. We can do this.

Linked up with Mommy Moments.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Chasing After God's Heart


May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart 
be pleasing in your sight, LORD, 
my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalms 19:14

If you would have asked me 5 years ago what my favorite books of the Bible were, I would have answered with confidence "The Epistles."  What I love about the epistles is they are chalk full of instruction on how to get things right in life. Everything from marriage to friendships to parenting to church structure to respecting leaders to loving others to obedience, you can find pretty defined answers of what we should do to live this life gracefully. Sometimes we need structure and definition. Some of us don't like it and we want life to be a free for all, but as for me, a little (or a lot of) instruction is helpful. Life is chaotic and hard enough without always trying to figure out what to do on my own. I gleam from the wisdom of God's word. I want to know what I can do to honor God. Not what I can get away with in dishonor to him. He deserves more. And frankly, so do we. Instruction is better for us...and He knows that.

But something interesting changed in me when I started writing 2 years ago. 
I became more about the heart.
I seem to connect with Gods word with my heart now more than ever before.
Something deep inside me grabs a hold of each word and intently & carefully listens for the heart of God. Where is his heart in these words? His heart is to love me, to give me a better life.
However, I don't just want instruction to want to get my life right for me. It's not all about me. But I want  to live my life for God's glory. Why? Because I love him so...

With me, His word doesn't seem quite so point blank. It's so much more than that. Sometimes I hear people quote or debate scripture and I wonder where the heart is in all those words. Without having intimate fellowship with Jesus, those are just words. Religion. There are certainly guidelines and commandments and such, but if you are a loving participant of your relationship with him, suddenly those things which he asks of us aren't just rules. It's not only about instruction on how to live, but it's communion.
Every act we do in this life as a Christian is (or should be) in response to our love for our Savior. Respecting our spouse is suddenly an act of love to our Heavenly Father, instructing our kids or spending time with them is now an act of love to our Savior, honoring our leaders is honoring the Lord.  Every act of obedience is an act of love and intimacy. And the list goes on. 

Which brings me to say this. I love love love the book of Psalms. I love David. The heart felt in his words get to me. His cry is so desperate and dependent on the Lord. 
I love his honesty with himself and with the Lord. He was honest in his fears. Honest in his failures. Honest in his hurts. Honest in his questions. AND he was honest in his assurance in the Lord. He knew there was hope above and beyond what looked so real and felt so hard to him. And he voiced both to the Lord. There is something about authenticity that invites the reader or listener to grab a seat, sit on the edge and want more. You know what I mean?

It is interesting that when God placed David in the seat of a King, He called him a man after his own heart. He said 'he will do everything I want him to do. We all know David made some big messes after that. Yet he was all about heart.
It was both his love for God in an intimate way and his obedience to 'do what God asked him to do' that made him the man after God's own heart. When you are all about heart, you are all about being candid and genuine. David spoke & loved from his depths. And least that's what I get.

The Bible isn't a mountains of words to memorize or rules to obey, but it's an affection between the Lord and his children.  (And included in every affectionate parents heart for their child is instruction. Yes? Because we want more for our kids. The best in fact.) And I love that place with the Lord. That candid place. That place of genuine love for Him. That place where instruction and obedience is synonymous to intimacy between us and him. It brings life and refreshing.  He is the ultimate person + creator of authenticity,creativity + reliability. He is the King of Kings. He is the life giver. He is the lover of my soul. He's not words we memorize. He is so much more.

If we chase after his heart as David did, we can understand who God is. When we can begin to get real with God, when we get down to the nitty gritty and unmask ourselves to Him (He knows us anyways), his heart is revealed in return. It's not that He doesn't reveal his heart through the Bible or his spirit with us, but so many times we don't understand it. Not really. Even in all our study, if there is no fellowship, it still is just words or rules.

I want to be more like David. A girl chasing after the heart of God.  I want to chase after God's depth like he did. When I talk to God, I try to be candid. I try to be honest with myself about what I am feeling and fearing and loving and disliking so that I can be honest with God. I have fears and questions and failures, yes~ right here and now, not just 5 or 10 years ago... but when I lay them at his feet, He is able to reveal to me each time afresh that He is more than it all.

His heart longs for ours to beat side by side with his. To know him more.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls
all your waves: and breakers have swept over me
By day the Lord directs with his love-
At night, His song is with me
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalms 42:7-8