Asian Pho Noodle Soup (our favorite recipe)

I love soups.  Soups make my world go round.  Simmering, savory, sublime....soups.  

I would serve soup for every meal.

But my family would not be so thrilled.  It's rare that I find a soup everyone loves.  So imagine my complete excitement when all seven of us finished off every lost drop and begged for more.  I was ecstatic people.  And my family is in LOVE with this absolutely delicious, warm, fragrant, pho noodle-y goodness of a dish.

It would be cruel not to share.


So here's the recipe...

Asian Pho Noodle Soup
Time: 35-40 mins

Boil bone-in chicken breast (or leg, whatever's handy) in large pot with about 4 quarts water 
2 tsp freshly minced ginger
3 pods minced garlic

Bring broth to boil and let simmer for about 20 mins.

Remove chicken. (You can save this chicken for another recipe and add sesame chicken with directions below) 

Add to broth:
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
A dash of sesame oil
1 Tbs natural sugar

Let this simmer while you prepare the chicken:

Sesame chicken:
Slice one chicken breast into thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long
Add to skillet with 1 T sesame oil
Cook until chicken is no longer pink and add to the broth, scraping pot into the soup
(this was my husband's idea and he sauteed it while I worked on the soup--it turned out delicious!)

Finally add to soup:
2 Tbs chopped green onions
1/8 tsp salt (test soup first to see if this is necessary)
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 c. thinly sliced strips of Napa Cabbage
1 box flat rice noodles 

Let flavors mingle and noodles soften for about 10 mins.  
Then turn off the heat and let it set and do it's magic for another 5 mins. or so
Serve with cilantro and wedge of lime.  
I also served mushrooms in a separate dish for those of mine who like their flavor.

And then prepare to fall in love...


i give up...

Dear Jesus,

I    G  I  V  E    U  P .

I give up...on living safe,
on not taking any risks when Your Word clearly tells me that to play it safe and love my life is to lose it.  Nothing hinders my soul as much as being comfortable.  I want to love you more than my life.

I give up...on holding on too tightly to anything other than you, Jesus.
Things...dreams...expectations....opinions....the admiration of others...my own self-image.  If it's hard--painful even--for me to let it go, than it just might be what's keeping me from embracing the dreams you dream for me, the places you long to take me, the lives you want to love through me.

I give up...on excuses.
I've become overly accustomed to their ease of use.  When confronted with a flaw in my character, how easy it is to exclaim, "But God..." and to blame it on my personality or "the way I was made".  Yet you are the very One who created me and you know me inside-out.  And the goal of this life is not to become the "best version of myself" but to be full of you, Jesus-- to allow your life to be exalted in me--to become less as You become more.

I give up...on becoming so absorbed with my own problems, my needs, my wants, my insecurities...my self...that I fail to see what you're doing around me.
Your Word says it best, "obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn't pleased at being ignored.  But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about.  But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells - even though you still experience all the limitations of sin - you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!  So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life." Romans 8: 6-13

I give up...on trying to be good enough (trying to earn grace).
Grace is a gift.  And it's something I will never deserve and cannot ever earn.  It's not about rules or religion...."don't touch that"..."don't do this".  We love to make rules only to feed our pride in keeping them.  Jesus, you are never as concerned with our rules and rituals as you are with our relationship with you and with each other.  It's not about trying to earn your favor.  Your favor, love and forgiveness are freely given to me based on what you, my Lord and Savior, have already done and "all my righteous acts are as filthy rags" compared to the sacrifice you made.  It's not about me.  It's about what You've done for me.  It's about living life according to your Spirit, walking in step with You, and responding to Your leading, Lord.  It's about obedience.

"Obedience is better than sacrifice." -1 Samuel 15:22

And so I give up...give everything up to You.

And I give in...to life according to your Spirit.

"God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us - an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!"  Romans 8:14-17

So, what's next, Papa?

I'm "adventurously expectant"!

Giving up is only a beginning.

Your girl


An Art Party...and the twins turn six!

Well, the twins didn't technically have a birthday this year.  There was no 29th of February.  But my leap day babies turned six anyway even though for once I wished the calendar was right.  I love watching these two become such wonderful individuals.  They've always been unique.  And even from birth we could tell they were polar opposites.  From that first night we held twin babies in our arms, amazed at God's grace and the miracle gift they were, we noticed and celebrated their differences.  Boston's eyes rarely closed, big and bright and expressive, he studied our faces intently.  Astair was content and peaceful, relaxed and trusting in our arms.  And now at six, those birth traits have not changed.  Boston is all heart and passion and fierce determination.  He's an expressive extrovert who has never met a person he didn't love and has a knack for remembering everyone's names.  He loves big and deep.  Astair is sunny, soulful, and quietly confident.  She's independent and creative, strong and kind.  She has such a warm and easy manner and quickly befriends people.  Every now and then I'll see glimpses of the womb bond they share.  Boston will always be Astair's champion.  He encourages her, loves to brag on her.  And Astair will always be his faithful friend.

For their birthday this year, we decided to have an Art Party.  These two love art (and their mama does too) so it was the perfect idea.  I let the kids paint the backdrop for the party on a white sheet I bought from the thrift store.  And as a tradition, they each got to choose their cake design and I baked my heart out all day long.  They helped me make the rice krispy paint brushes and the marshmallow paintbrushes, too.   And their daddy cut and whitewashed boards to use as 'canvases' for each guest to paint.  It was the perfect day for painting on the lawn.

I really love making memories like these for each of my children.  And while I'm still a fan of low key, relaxing family b-days, my kids love parties and I really enjoy decorating and baking and all out celebrating these wildly precious kids of mine.  I just recently read a quote that "we have only 940 Saturdays with our children before they graduate" and it makes me treasure these fleeting weekends, weekdays, week-moments with them all the more.

I love you, Boston and Astair!  God dreams big for you!  Don't ever forget that you're His masterpiece.  His work of art, His labor of love.


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