Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Growing up in Seminary...

It's been on my mind lately the immense blessing that Judah and Levi don't even realize. I guess I should begin with, God richly blessed us by providing us housing on campus here at seminary. Not only does Joe simply have to walk across the street daily to study and attend classes, but we as a family benefit too. The support from other families surrounding the seminary is truly invaluable. Our children get to grow together in Christ, play together, and love on one another. Even if they are all under the age of 5 :) But in emergencies trusted friends are literally next door to take a little one while you take the other to the hospital or doctor. It's such a blessing.

But for Judah, looking especially through his perspective, this building is home. The retired pastor and handyman is his Papa. The professors are all elders whom he knows and isn't too shy to talk too. The other seminary students are dear friends whom he explodes with excitement to see. He knows that we can go to chapel and worship God daily if we want, and he's learning through family worship and chapel time how to truly worship, not just sit still, on Sundays. For our children, they are growing up surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ teaching them alongside us the amazing unity and diversity of God's Church.

It does make me sad to think because he's so young, Judah won't remember it all. He may not remember his best friend who's family will return to another continent after graduation. Or his love for time with our across-the-hall neighbors, which sometimes is translated "Mommy, you and daddy need to go on a date so the Morelands can come over." Cause dinner with them isn't enough. It may only be a vague memory the faces and places God has enriched us with over these past 2 1/2 years (3 when we're done and move). A part of me prays this time sticks in his memory as it will for Joe and I. I know Levi won't remember. He's too little. But I do pray that Judah won't hold tight to a place, but the blessings that God gave us while we were here. I hate thinking of graduation, when we and everyone in our year will go across the country (and oceans!) to go where God is calling us. Not because I don't want to go. I do with all my heart! But we as a family will greatly miss the people God has put in our lives for such a short time.

Seminary isn't just for my seminarian husband. God brought us all here. And truly... we all are blessed by it.

Monday, 19 August 2013

à la fin...

à la fin: French; at the end.

September 9th begins our final year at seminary. A few Sundays ago, a team from a bible church in Ohio visited our church wanting to research the way other denominations worship and do urban outreach. While talking with one of the team members, she asked why we're in Pittsburgh (after finding out Joe and I grew up in the Midwest).

I simply said, "O! We're here for seminary!"
(Picking up on the "we") "You go to seminary too?"
"Well, no. But we're a team."

Even though it happened so recently, I think it tells of how these past 2+ years have gone. We came as a family of 3. Joe began classes, and I began figuring out what God wanted of me... as a wife, as a mother, as a person.

At first I looked for work because that was the only way I figured we could get insurance with my diabetes. I hated interviewing because what I truly wanted was to be at home with Judah. In one such interview, I was asked point blank, "what is your ideal job?" I didn't lie and tell them exactly what I had applied for, I just smiled and honestly told her, "A stay-at-home mom." I found out that that's what she wanted too, but couldn't do that at that point in her life. After that, I stopped applying places. I picked up a job cleaning one afternoon a week at our denominational publishing house across the street. I figured I felt truly called to be at home with our son, and why should I strive against it? God blessed us with insurance within a month of this decision, and He turned my hobby of graphic design into a job. First it was a book cover, then 3 new business clients all within our denomination. Then it was going by word-of-mouth with logos. God provided amply for us so that I could be at home. He even blessed us with another son, Levi, a year later! So as Judah got older and Levi thrived I began to understand better my role as mother. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deut. 6:4-7). Joe and I work as a team in training our boys. I can't teach them what he can, and likewise he can't do what I can. When I begin to feel the curse of Eve and take over our boys like I'm the only one who knows how to parent, everyone suffers. In the words of Judah's favorite song by Buddy Davis, our marriage "is designed to do what it does do and what it does do it does do well, doesn't it?" Going against God's design for my life creates strife and craziness. And no one likes strife and craziness. Not to say His design is easy, but it IS perfect!

Our team work stretched itself into our second year, as we expected Levi right after presbytery exams and right before finals. And as we knew I'd most likely have a c-section, we also had to expect a long recovery for me. But God kept our ship afloat. Right on schedule, Joe passed his presbytery exams (license to preach!), Levi was born two weeks later (praise the Lord for bringing my parents in to watch Judah!), and 2 weeks after that Joe finished finals week. God provided meals, sorely needed rest during winter break (we didn't really have one during Thanksgiving break), and a blessed love between our boys from day 1. I'll admit, I prayed often for patience and energy. I could not get my head above water with being a seminary wife, mom of 2, helping at church, and leading weekly bible studies with other wives at the seminary. I was super-mom and I was seriously floundering. Why? Because I was relying on myself. "Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold" (Job 8:13-15). Joe, my true leader, saw this and knew the cure. He got us on a daily bible reading plan and was my accountability partner. And being in God's word daily was exactly what was needed. It was hard at first to make it a habit, but now, I need it. I yearn for it. I love when God recalls things for me and helps me to see the beautiful plan He has made since Creation and before! God is so good. He also taught me the error of HOW I was praying. "God, I need patience." "I need energy." "I need wisdom." What I realized is that even though I'm asking for good things, I'm asking for them so that I can use them in the way I think I should use them. Did you see how many times I said "I"? So I began praying "God? Be my patience" cause God's way of being patience is infinitely better than mine. "God? Be my strength" cause all the strength I have is futile. God will always have enough of what I need. Isn't that amazing?

Beginning year 3 makes me look back on all God has taught me that I can bring to the team when we are called to the pastorate. People may think, "We're calling Joe," and it's true. I'm not gonna preach, even if Joe is sick suddenly Sunday morning and I know his sermon by heart. But we're a team. We come as a packaged family of 4, as I keep trying to explain to Judah. So God cultivated me alongside my husband during our time here. I learned how to run a bible study purely from scripture. I learned how to lead a bible/book study. I am learning what it means to "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19). How to have better, more fruitful hospitality. Ways to teach our boys to serve at an early age. How to be content in all things. I'm learning at seminary too, even if I'm not taking "Doctrine of Human Nature". God is so good to humble me, and teach me alongside my husband. He is so gracious to provide for us during this time. He's merciful as He teaches me what it means to sit in the pew by myself with 2 wiggles as Joe preaches. He's infinitely wise, infinitely just, infinitely holy. His word is truth and a light to my path (Psalm 119). I'm learning from the man God placed as my head and enjoying Joe's company on the straight and narrow way.

Praise You Lord for what You have done these past 2+ years! It might not be exactly what Joe is learning, but we're a complimentary team, designed to do what we do and what we do together we do well, don't we?

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Three Convictions...

Conviction #1: Bible Reading
At the beginning of this year, Joe challenged us as a family to read through the bible in a year. Our family worship would consist of the New Testament readings and our personal devotions would be in the Old Testament. I've tried numerous times before to "read through in a year", but favoring the New Testament because it's easier to apply, I've always failed. That's why, at 27 years old and in a year going to be a pastor's wife, I haven't read through the entire bible. I think I've read most of it, excluding a few prophets, but never connected it all together and read through it like the book it is. I haven't devoured it like the life giving food it is, and most days in personal devotions I look at the amount I have to read and sigh because I have other matters to attend to. I think that's why the Lord is leading me through the Old Testament.

Israel was a rebellious nation. In the book of Hosea, God has His prophet marry a prostitute to give an illustration of what His relationship with His bride, the church/Israel, is like. They (we) are faithless, whoring after idols (gods in their case, money, materials, and people-pleasing in ours), always saying they'll be faithful, but the next chapter revealing they have turned once again away from the God of their Deliverance. The book of Judges begins and ends with telling how the people did what was right in their own eyes, and what happens because of that.

So, when I read through 1 Samuel, and see that the people have asked God, their Ruler, Deliverer, and Savior, for a king because they wanted someone to fight their battles for them (what?!), I can't help but stop after my readings and pray. God... I have been rebellious. I have forgotten that You fight my battles. I have tried to do things on my terms and by my abilities. Needless to say Lord, I failed. I couldn't even focus on You today, Your Sabbath day, because I was too distracted. I didn't seek after you. Please Lord, forgive me. Thank you Lord for Your Son, through whom I am redeemed and washed as white as snow. Thank you Lord that today we sang a psalm talking about how we are by faith assured of Your salvation (which of course is found in Christ). You are so good and merciful to remind me. Lord, You brought Saul before me in my readings. He wanted to rush through Your sacrifices. He wanted to get it done because he had things to do. So he didn't wait for Your servant Samuel to come and do it right. And for that he was rebuked by Samuel and his rule was prophesied to be shortened by the coming of David. God... forgive me my hastiness. My thinking that my things are more important than Yours. Again... You are good to humble me and set me back on the straight and narrow path. Keep me, in Christ, from turning to the right or to the left. Teach me to follow You so that I may walk in Your Way. Teach me to be more like Christ, who IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My King and Savior. Amen...

Conviction #2: The Poor and Needy
This doubled with today's sermon, did you ever think upon the fact that we will stand before the Judgement seat of God. That He will judge us for how we have walked. Because of Christ, we will not be burned in the fire and we will join Him in glory, but our deeds will still be looked at. I've felt the most convicted and feared God when I see people (most of them are men) on the side of the road with homeless signs. Now... I recognize that not all men are being honest, and that is for God to judge them, but they are seeking aid, and so I ask how I can give it. A few weeks back, it was a meal with a man named Tony who doesn't get anything to eat from 6am until almost 8pm. The man at the gas station, it was a quarter for bus fare. But one man stumped me. I saw him as I took the boys into Sam's with me, so we got an extra hot dog, chips, and water for him with the intention of handing it off as we passed. But when we got close with the car, and I stuck my head out to talk with hot dog and chips in hand, he said he couldn't eat flour, meat, etc. etc. because he had cancer but he was grateful for the water and dismissed me on my way. Okay... I thought the entire way home how I could have handled that better. How I could have offered to take him to get a salad, or brought him home and cooked for him as he showed me what he could and couldn't have. So when I was out that way again, and again I saw the same man at the same corner, I turned the car around so I could once again offer help since his sign said he needed it. Again, he went through what he couldn't eat, and so I offered to drive him to get a big salad (seemingly "okay" in his list of dietary restrictions). But he said that wasn't nutritious since it was only lettuce. Stumped, I saw him walk away after saying that, walk up to a truck that offered him money, and happily go and count it. Ah. It was the reminder of what my heart had been hardened so long against today's poor on the streets. I had met and read an article about a man in KC who sat outside of a bookstore downtown and begged for a living. His living did him so well, he took a yearly vacation to the Rockies for skiing. So how do you help in a world that doesn't know it's true need? You pray. You pray that your heart wouldn't be hardened. That you would have ample opportunities to share Christ, and help find work. I thought on how Cush4Christ, a mission in south Sudan, came not offer schools or food, but instead offered Christ and a work ethic that the people are beginning to thrive on. They were shown the resources they have at their disposal if they would just USE them.

I feel as though I should be armed with a list of shelters (for men and women), soup kitchens, and other services around the city. But then realize that the church should be giving those things. So instead, I need to be armed with the phone numbers of my church session, and secretary.

Dear Lord, keep me and my children safe as we minister. Lord, I know You go with us because You ask this of us in Your Word. What we do for these people, we do to You. Thank You for Your servants in Kokomo, Indiana who shared how You worked in their congregation to teach them how to care for the poor and needy around them. Help me to know better how to do it because You ask it of me. Amen...

Conviction #3: Taking a Call
As we're hitting our last 2 weeks of our 2nd year in seminary, I realize that as Joe goes out to preach at various places, we may be called anywhere this time next year. I weigh the various places that have (or will have) open pulpits. I think of the congregations themselves, I think of their distance proximity to our families, I think of their histories within the denomination, I think of the ministry opportunities they've sought in the past or could do in the future. I think... a lot. But one day, after Joe and I talked about a congregation, I realized that weighing all these things seemed wrong. Granted, I'm sure there are fits that are necessary between a pastor and his congregation (and I need to study and learn them BEFORE next year!), but aren't we called to administer the gospel everywhere? Jesus doesn't say to go where you feel more comfortable, or where you like the climate, or where you can be close to people you know. He just says to GO. So what's the difference if one place is urban and the other is rural? If one place is small and the other nearly ready to church plant it's brimming over? If one is a church plant and will take work and the other is established since the early 1900s? I need to be content wherever Joe is called because that is where the gospel in needed. That is a flock that needed a proxy-shepherd to the Good Shepherd, to lead them in His ways. Jesus went to the people wherever they were, and I shouldn't shield my family because one place is outside my comfort zone. I should rely upon God, and maybe get a big dog if necessary. God WILL provide, as He has always done so for us in the past. I needn't worry about insurance, finances, or security (well, I need to be a good steward of those things, but I don't have to worry about them) because God has and WILL care for His people wherever He places them. So the congregation that we go to this time next year will be just right, because God called us to them.

God, please be preparing our congregation for us. Open up their hearts to us and ours to them so that wherever You lead us it will be a fruitful ministry that fears You above all things and desires to give glory to Your name. Be preparing that congregation, whomever they may be, so that our names will already be in the back of their minds as a possibility, and may prepare us so that we may serve them as Your servants. Thank You Lord, for caring for our each and every need. I know with confidence that You will take care of this one perfectly, because You are perfect. You are just. You are faithful. Thank you Lord. Amen.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Unknown

Well... an early morning is here again, and as usual, inability to go back to bed affords time to blog. My mind is racing with things I want to do before Judah or Levi wake up, which means I find myself in the middle of one thing and realize I was doing another. My brain is in a fog, but not of tiredness. I'm wired. I drink decaf coffee, maybe with an occasional flavoring of 1/4 caffeinated. So coffee isn't the excuse. I'm just overwhelmed with thinking lately.

Our little family has reached the "over half way done" mark of seminary, and the future looms ahead. Where will we end up? What's left to do? What SHOULD we (or I mainly) do before seminary's over? How are our finances? Will they hold steady for another year? What can we cut back on? What should we go ahead and do? Judah's getting older. What should we be starting with him? Is 15-30 minutes of school time enough each day? Levi's getting bigger. What should I be doing to make sure he's developing on track? What did Judah do at this age? Joe's got a lot on his plate. What can I be doing better at home to make sure he can do all that he needs to do?

Seriously. My mind is everywhere. I find myself often staring at our map of the RPCNA US churches (which was created in 2010 or 2011 and is no longer up to date) and going over and over in my head where empty pulpits are. Where church plants are being made. Where church plants are being researched. The unknown is daunting. Will we be on the west coast where things are growing and exciting? The east coast/eastern Midwest where some pulpits have been empty for a while and need nurturing or will be opening up soon? The Midwest where faces are a bit more familiar and family is closer? Then I find myself thinking, "Well... I can't do much. Joe will have to preach at those various places, pass "license to receive a call exams", and then candidate." Then I realize it goes beyond that. We can't do anything without God's pre-ordaining it.

And that's where peace can be found. "... the Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:5b-7). He's taking care of it. Not just a small portion either. All of it. Down to Judah's future potty-training skills. He's got it covered.

"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart... But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:17-24).

God has called me to "put off and put on", to trust fully in Him and keep my focus on eternity knowing He will lay every stepping stone perfectly before me. And further more, He will give me the strength to do it. I could cry in relief right now. "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:3). Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Out of... Wherever...

To me... there's no such thing as a severe diabetic. There's diabetic. And not diabetic. Granted, some do better on a schedule, and some dangerously fly by the seat of their pants. But that's another discussion. Post-maternity, it is difficult to get a handle on it. Nursing makes you low, and then exercising in general only adds to it. I joked with my endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) that having children is the cure for diabetes because I hardly needed (or need now post-Levi) any insulin!

This afternoon I "woke up" on the couch. I say "wake up" because I was probably talking or at least laying with my eyes open for some time before I was conscious of it. I remember sugar water, Joe and I's cheap form of juice when we're out. And I have a splitting headache from the surreal effect I had of the low- everything shifting slightly right. If that "sight" doesn't give you a headache, I don't know what does. I remember feeding Levi, and Judah not listening to Joe as he raced around the apartment. I remember Joe reading. Thankfully, I remember laying Levi down in his bed, thinking "I'll see you around 4pm!" But everything is mixed up and mashed. No clear order to the memories, just knowledge that they happened.

I can assure you, for me, nothing is more fearful than the "wake up" and knowing children were in the mix. Where's Judah? Where's Levi? Is Levi okay? Is Judah okay? Then ask again for assurance. Maybe a third time. Then shed tears of joy that they are safe, and then tears of fear that they needed to be safe from me. I remember when we were in the hospital with Judah, he was just 2 or 3 days old when I had a bad low. I "woke up" eating and sitting in the bed and very unsure of my surroundings. I knew Judah was mine, but I didn't remember the c-section. So I eyed him with fear thinking, "they are entrusting this little man to me?! I'm not even sure he's mine!" When Judah was 2, I "woke up" with Judah and Joe at my bedside, Joe having given me sugar during my low. They walked me downstairs to the dining room table to eat something, Judah holding my hand tight. I eyed him then too, thinking, "he's mine?" I cannot explain how fearful it is to realize you have children, and you just had a low black out. You want to check on them every few minutes afterwards to be sure they've survived YOUR low. And then praise God they're alive.

That said, I have never been alone when any of this happens. Someone (normally Joe) has always ALWAYS been there. God foreordained that in my incredible weakness, my husband would be there, before we had kids and now that we have 2. My least favorite non-Joe rescue was Costco, pre-children. I ran to get a few things and could feel myself going low while pushing the cart around. I decided I could make it, buy a soda, sit for a bit to regain myself, and be fine. But the Lord humbled me greatly by sitting me down mid-isle, so close to being done, and had me sobbing to a random woman, "really... I'm okay... I'm diabetic... I need a soda or sugar please." She ran for the manager (either believing my story or thinking me drunk), and by God's grace his daughter was diabetic and he knew just what to do. It took me 2 months before I set foot in that Costco again I was so embarrassed. But in my shame, I am humbled and beyond grateful never to be alone. Other than that time, lows for me normally swoop in like a bat in the night, unseen and unheard, just waiting and lurking around the corner. There's a reason why my doctor in KS highly recommended a glucose sensor for me, that my insurance here in PA doesn't allow. I don't feel my lows til I'm ridiculously low, like low 50s, 40s, sometimes an unlucky 30 something (to give you an idea, I'm supposed to be between 70-120). I remember being 29 once and talking to Joe like nothing happened, never blacking out, never feeling it until I noticed my vision was blurred slightly. Even now, coming up from a low, my vision is blurred slightly. Within the past year, double vision and going cross-eyed has been a fun new symptom for me. Praise the Lord for a clear outward sign that my husband can see.

I apologize for the rant (that's what blogs are for right?). I just wanted to give those who don't know about diabetes a "taste" of lows. Because my blood sugars have been so tightly controlled, I can feel a high blood sugar when I'm just 150 or 170. So for me, lows have always been more dangerous. Like I said, they just kind of come out of... wherever they come from.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Refocus...

Often when I feel I'm veering off track, I refocus with strict black and white lines. I'm harsh on what I do and have a "take no prisoners" attitude. Burn out from this kind of refocusing comes quickly. I fall back into bad habits with a sense of comfort in mind, and I drift to the wayside once more.

As we prepare for the birth of our second son, I'm realizing what I haven't been doing with our first. God calls me to train Judah up in His ways (Eph. 6:4). To teach him diligently and talk with him about the matters of God daily (Deut 4:6-7). Lately, I've had a good day if I was consistent with him in discipline, not even getting close to in depth conversations. I find it hard to focus on Christ in my daily grind. Instead, my mind is churning out the next to-do, what needs to get done each day, and how I can incorporate some fun for Judah a midst it all. But where's my focus? I'm Martha in the kitchen and not Mary at Jesus' feet (Luke 10:38-42). But I can't stop what I'm doing. I can't push aside all dishes and laundry, letting the house and child my husband entrusted to me while he's in class become buried and neglected. How can I change my focus to a Christ-centered life without throwing the toddler out with the bathwater?

The Proverbs 31 woman (found in Proverbs 31:10-31) does it all. She's a diligent worker for her household. She's praised by her husband and children. She's intelligent, frugal (but generous), and careful (but not unwilling to stick her neck out). But why is she all these things? What is her foundation that causes her to be fruitful in all she does? "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (vrs. 30). She fears God. She is generous because she knows God has given her much and calls her to give of herself to others. She's wise with her possessions and household because God calls her to good stewardship. She doesn't worry about the future because she trusts in the Lord to care for her and her family. She is the focused housewife, and she is called a rare jewel because of it.

In my mind, she does it all without stopping idly because she's focused on God DURING it all. For example, I wash dishes 3+ times a day. Takes me 10 minutes or less (depending on the meal). What if, instead of idly letting my mind wander or even letting it complain about the chore, I sang psalms? What if while I ironed instead of grumpily thinking Joe wears too many button-down oxfords, I thought over that week's sermon? What if while I went up and down the steep basement stairs doing laundry I reminded myself of memory verses that remind my heart of the reason I should have joy in suffering? When I go to my bi-weekly NST's (non-stress tests/aka fetal monitoring) what if I prayed in the car or in the recliner they put me in? My heart would be ready. It would be guarded and at peace when times of trial come. And I would continue to work, to enjoy time with Judah (and soon his brother too!), and still run a tight ship. I would be ready with verses when loved ones ask for counsel. I wouldn't feel like an impostor when I come to bible study seemingly steeped in the Word when really I just worked on it yesterday. My worn bible would be a little more lovingly worn and my Psalter would stop looking new and have water-stains on it from being too close to the sink when I was washing dishes. Judah would understand a bit more as he grows what makes mommy tick instead of me assuming he understands it all.

This kind of refocusing is joyful, and doesn't burn out quick like a firecracker. It doesn't leave room for guilt because I didn't get my 10 minutes with God today cause I chose to do laundry during naptime. God is eternally with me. I can't just come to Him whenever I feel like it because God is EVERYWHERE at ALL TIMES. I can't place Him in a keepsake box and take Him out when I have time and put Him back in when I'm done so I can work. He is in my work. He is in my actions. When I call myself a Christian, I am an ambassador for the Lord in ALL that I do, even if I don't leave the house that day. So, I need to refocus, but not in a harsh legalistic way. This refocusing is one that lets God seep into all matters of my life, so that like a tree by the river I am fruitful because I fear and trust in the Lord (Psalm 1:3).

Friday, 21 September 2012

Adventuresome Cooking...

I'll preface quickly with the fact that I'm not a "foodie", a "gourmet", or any other fancy name for loving cooking and wishing I could do it all day. In fact, when it comes to cooking, I'm often staring at my full fridge thinking I can't make anything. Baking on the other hand... Baking I always have the time, energy, and ingredients for.

But this summer, I decided I needed to change my mindset. Our family, at this point in life, eats 3 meals a day together. That's correct: breakfast, lunch, and dinner are had around our table, situated in the corner of our kitchen, everyday. Our son is 2, so we don't have sports or lesson schedules to compete with. We have a hot breakfast (except Sundays when we eat cereal), normally a small lunch of sandwich/raw veggie/fruit, and then a hot dinner that mommy tries not to start making past 4:30pm so it can be ready by 5:30 or 6pm. That's our life at the moment. So instead of grumbling, this summer I took action.

We spent the summer away from home at an internship, and I came with my Betty Crocker cookbook in tow. The one that I received 5 years ago from my sister at our wedding and now has pages glued together from use. But really, only in the baking sections. I came determined. This summer, I spent each week planning meals. Looking for things I've never tried or made before. I'll admit, the resident 2 year old missed the tried and true things (which we still enjoyed occasionally). But my goal was to open up my repertoire of cooking from a few pages containing mainly simple Italian, slightly Asian, and American dishes to Moroccan, Italy that we've never had before, French, etc. Things that would take thinking to do when we were at the grocery store, and a little more prep. I'm not talking about spending the day in the kitchen (cause what mom, or non-chef can do that?). I'm just talking about spending a bit more time consciously thinking about dinner. That was my goal.

Since coming back home, I'm less afraid of random vegetables I see on sale that I've never cooked before. I understand what meats work better with what meal. I better comprehend how to mix and match multiple Nationalities into one meal. I became adventuresome. And in the midst of this, I've come to appreciate cooking more, feel more comfortable doing it, and I even think Judah likes all of mommy's "dishshush" dinners. Who knew American 2 year olds could like spicy food (he has a special place in his heart for all things curried)?

So I invite you to share your adventuresome side! What are your recent discoveries that are now a family favorite (like butternut squash has become for our family)?