Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


I am so thankful for my family.
And my friends.
And for moments.... like this. Just being.
Life is good and God is great.

Psalm 30:11-12

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Waiting...

Last night's Esther session was....GREAT as always. I love learning about the origin of words used in the Bible. Here is my favorite point from last night concerning this verse:

Isaiah 30:18

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!


In the original language used, the word "longs" in the first line and the word "wait" in the last line are the SAME!

In explanation: "It isn't a wait without the longing." In all instances of waiting...there is inherently a longing. There is something you are waiting for. Waiting for your turn...you are obviously longing for it to be your turn. Waiting for Christmas...you are obviously longing for Christmas.

Then, to think about it with this verse in mind...God is longing for what you are longing to receive. Blessed are YOU who WAIT for HIM! His longing is also the waiting...waiting for the right time. LONGING for that time to be here so He can answer and give you what you LONG and WAIT for....

Such rich words! I am sad that we only have two more sessions! I learn so much every single week!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Apple Stuffing!

This is the only photo I have. Taken with Corey's I phone. You can't really tell much about it on here though..
(our camera battery charger is currently MIA but probably in my car)

I have never had luck with main meat dishes. I love to make casseroles or pasta, but things like baked chicken and other stuff like that has always just eluded me. I would much rather bake a cake or some cookies!
But, tonight, I have finally found a meat recipe that is easy, replicable (I hope!) and delicious!
AND impressive enough for company!
I made it up off the top of my head while I was in a hurry. We saw a similar recipe on Alton Brown while we were out of town and this is VERY loosely based on it.
Actually the only similarities are pork, bacon, and apples.
I did not write down the amounts of anything! So, here's my best guess...ha ha!

1 (2-3 pound) pork tenderloin

1 box of Stovetop Stuffing
(I used chicken flavored bc that's what I had)

1 Golden Delicious apple, chopped into small cubes
water
(I did not measure this at all! just enough to wet the stuffing and mix up well with the other ingredients to make a "stuffable" stuffing)
honey
(I poured some out of the jar...a reasonable dollop twice, ha ha!)
butter
(about 1/4 of a stick)
1 package of bacon
(I used Gwaltney hickory smoked bc it was on sale for less than $2)

Mix the diced up apple with some water and honey. Mix in stovetop stuffing and diced up butter. Use your hands to mush it all together to a "stuffing" consistency.
Place the tenderloin in a 10x13 baking dish.
Cut the tenderloin longways down the middle, leaving the ends intact. You can cut "up" into the end of the tenderloin to kind of make a pocket for stuffing.
Stuff the tenderloin with the stuffing mixture. Try to get as much as you can. Wrap the tenderloin in bacon by pulling the sides together a little bit at a time while you wrap pieces of bacon over the top and tuck under the bottom.
After you have wrapped all the bacon around the tenderloin, secure with toothpicks or twine or whatever you have. I broke 3 bamboo skewers in half and poked them sideways through the meat to make sure it stayed together while it cooked. It went right through the middle of the meat sideways. Sprinkle some water over the parts that stick out so they won't burn and to also help give some moisture while it is cooking. You can spread the extra stuffing around the bottom of the dish.
Cut the entire thing in half (the short way) so it will cook faster.
Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until the bacon is getting pretty crisp and the meat looks done from where it was cut in half. It will continue to cook when you take it out, so don't over do it.
I served it with homemade mashed potatoes, garlic green beans with water chestnuts, and crescent rolls.
MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm...it was so good!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Lessons Learned


Well, today has been quite an exciting day full of plot twists and turns.
I attended another awesome Bible study tonight on the book of Esther.
I have tried to type several things just now in explaining the incredible message and the things we talked about and learned, but it is simply impossible to do it well. All I can say is, if you have a chance to sit in on this study...DO IT!
You will not be sorry..you will be immensely blessed and it may turn out to be your own peripety in the chiastic structure that will one day be your life! (Google it, but it won't do it justice!)

Also, another lesson learned today:
Don't count your chickens before they hatch.
You like that one?
I came up with that all by myself today...pretty profound huh? HA!
Timeless, classic, and ever-applicable!
Sleep well!
You never know what God can accomplish while your head is resting on your pillow!
Look what happened in the course of one night of sleeplessness in the book of Esther!

By Your Side


I had the privilege of participating in the sweetest and most powerful communion service that I have ever been part of yesterday morning. We have been in a teaching series on "Fear" over the past few weeks. Yesterday's message was on the fear of betrayal. It was amazing how Pastor Eric connected the fear of betrayal with Judas "THE betrayer" and then led into the communion service. He made the point that Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray Him. Not only Judas, but all the rest of the twelve would desert Him as well. But, he still had this last meal with them, establishing communion. The remembrance. The remembrance that even though He knew they were about to abandon and betray Him...He would not do that to them. He would go and do what He had to do, regardless of the betrayal that was about to happen. And no matter what kind of betrayal we experience, whether we are the "betrayed" or the "betrayer" He is there, waiting...we just have to let him carry us through. He will be by our side.
The band played and sang this song while the communion elements were passed out.
It was not your typical communion song.
It was quite loud, but it was spirit-inspired and
powerful.
Listen and commune.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Caption This Photo!

Comment with your best "caption"
This could be fun!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The REST of the trip (TONS of photos!)

Now that I have the Delaware incident blogged and out of my head, I can move onto the rest of the trip....

On Sunday, Corey was in the music show all day, and we had checked out of our hotel because we wanted to stay somewhere different (ahem!, ack). We headed over to Valley Forge for the morning/early afternoon because it was very near by. In fact, the music show we were there for was in the Valley Forge Convention Center.

The kids and I drove over and on the way into the visitor's center there was this tree that just begged for photos to be taken!









Now, on to the park! We watched a video about the winter at Valley Forge, then started on the drive through the park. It was a pretty nice sized area with replicas of the huts, soldiers in uniform, lots to learn and see!


Katie and Noah were "Park Rangers" for the day! See their buttons?


We got to see them fire their guns! Katie and Noah both loved that!


Cannon!


In the park was a beautiful church! George Washington Memorial Chapel. It is an Episcopal Church that actually holds services. They were letting out when we arrived. It was so pretty! Above is a photo of Katie and Noah with a replica of the Liberty Bell called the "Justice" bell, on display at the church.


After we left Valley Forge it was just mid-afternoon, so we went to see a movie. We saw the new Disney version of "A Christmas Carol." It was pretty intense, especially the last "ghost of Christmases yet to come" but the kids fared okay. They have already seen other versions of the movie that make it funny (Mickey's and Muppets) so they knew what to expect. There were several "jump out and grab you" moments and like I said, the last ghost was pretty dark and scary, but I loved that it stuck so closely to the grown up versions of the story. It was very similar to the theatrical/musical version Corey and I saw at the Alliance Theater a few years ago in Atlanta. Very true to the story and serious. It is definitely on my buy list because it is a great classic version to watch at Christmas every year. NONE of the typical Jim Carrey goofiness!!! I would recommend it for kids over 6 who don't scare easily or kids who are familiar with the story and with a parent nearby :)

OKAY THEN...on to the next thing.
Of course, Sunday night was not pleasant. When we left Wilmington we were so completely out of sorts that we didn't know what to do. I just wanted to get OUT of Delaware, so we set the GPS for home. The next cities on our path were Baltimore (not Corey's fav. place..kind of rough) and Washington, DC. So we looked on the map and Corey spotted a town he had stayed in many times before where he knew was a nice place to stay and a nice area. It was Sterling, Virginia. It was 1 1/2 hours away..so at 1am we checked into our room and brought in the sleeping kids. It wasn't really till about that time that Corey and I were even settled down enough from our experience to go to sleep anyway...
Upon waking the next morning, we tried to find something fun we could stop and see on the way home.
We did NOT want our week to end on such a horrible memory.
We looked at the Sterling area...nothing.
We considered Jamestown..but it was 3 hours out of the way. :(
Then we noticed and remembered that had driven around Washington, DC on our way to Sterling.
It was only about 25-30 minutes from Sterling!
We quickly confirmed that all the Smithsonian Museums did not charge admission and we were on our way!
It was a 4 1/2 hour blitz of the capitol! ha ha!
3 museums...Smithsonian Natural History, American History, and Air and Space!
A trip to the top of the Washington Monument for Corey and the kids...
beautiful views of the Lincoln Memorial, Capitol building, Smithsonian Castle, and the White House.
A ride on the carousel on the mall lawn... and a 30 minute scenic tour of various buildings while looking for parking when we arrived. Short, sweet, and a fun way to end the trip!


Corey and Katie eating their hot dogs outside the Air and Space museum.


We had to take this photo for Andy and Bethany!


Lovely views and photo ops!







Museum of American History.


A really cool looking building that turned out to be either the EPA or IRS! ha ha!

Natural History Museum.

It cost us $17 to park for half the day! (up to 1 hr was $8.50, 1-17 hrs was $17, 17-24 hours was $37!) ACK! But, it was worth it. We had a great time and ended the trip on a fun note. We spent the night not too much further down the road than the night before and made the drive all the way home yesterday night...arriving home at 10:30pm!
What an unexpected but FUN week!!!!!
After 7 years we finally got to go on a trip with Corey for work. I know I have posted so many photos of our fun times, but it wasn't ALL lolly-gagging. We spent a good 2 1/2 days sitting in our hotel room in King of Prussia. The mall there turned out to be just too huge and overwhelming to navigate with two young children. So, we did some school work and hung out doing nothing. We spent plenty of time sitting in the car... we barely even got out of the car at all in Pittsburgh while Corey ran into music stores and did the "work" part of the trip. But, I am very thankful that we had this opportunity. We are happy to be home in our own beds and ready to rest off the week!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our Night in Delaware

I have to pause in my posting about our trip to share about our experience in Delaware.

First of all, I have to say that I have always wanted to visit the northeast part of the country. Our trip to New York did not work out due to time and money constraints. We decided it would not be worth the headache of hustling both the kids around the city and not having a plan or the funds to do an official tour in the short amount of time we had, so the plan was to come home through Delaware and Maryland and see some of the sights of those states since we had never been. (well Corey has been through all those states to Maine, but the rest of us had not)

ANYWAY. We left out of King of Prussia around 7pm and drove the short 30 miles to Wilmington, DE. I had researched and found a great rate on a hotel there, found some cool things to see the next morning, etc. We were tired of looking at the four walls of our hotel room in King of Prussia and decided to look at another set of walls for that night instead, ha.

None of the shops in downtown Wilmington were open, as it was a Sunday night. We checked into the hotel, went out for a quick dinner, then back to the room.

I would just like to say that when we walked into the place, I felt....something. Truthfully, I rarely get that feeling but I chalked it up to too much sugar and caffeine. This or that person looked shady or creepy. Someone out on the sidewalk looked suspicious. Some of you may know I tend to think things like that anyway, but truthfully...this place looked very nice and well kept...beautifully decorated..but I just felt weird.
We went to the room and started getting settled. Called for extra bedding for the fold out. I was giving baths while Corey got the bed ready. He came to show me the sheets.
There were two tiny blood spots on them. UGH.

Okay...well....
what to do? Some of you probably would have left immediately. Those of you who have ever unloaded over a week's worth of luggage in a hotel room not on the first floor with two kids already in pajamas would have given it another chance. We did. Used a different sheet and then checked out the main bed.

Ugh. I can't even write on here what we speculate was on those sheets.
Corey said, "Okay, we are leaving, start packing things up and I will get a cart."

Seconds after the door shut behind him I started hearing blood curdling screams from the room next door.
Shouting. Yelling. Cursing. Horrific words and SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS.
A seriously violent domestic dispute. Horror movie sounds.
I think that God must have shut the ears of our innocent children because they went about their play while I with trembling and as fast as possible moving hands packed up the rest of our things. There is no other reason why they shouldn't have heard. It was so loud and right against our room wall. It was.... truly frightening, as in, it is about to bust through that wall and hurt us all frightening. Someone is about to shoot you or someone else frightening.

I cannot convey in typed words how haunting and terrifying the sounds were that came through those walls. I started praying for the person in that room that was bearing the brunt of that indescribable abuse. I didn't know what else to do. I prayed for us...that we would get out before it spilled out of that room into the rest of the hotel. In completely and total honesty... I was scared for our lives if that person came out into the hallway looking for another outlet. It was horrid. It was real.

Corey came back into the room with the cart. Katie and Noah asked why we were in such a rush. We told them that they had to be absolutely quiet in the hallway and to walk quickly and silently with us. If that man came out the door and something bothered him in the least...like a child singing or talking...I shudder to think of it.
At no other point in my life have I ever felt like just running out with the clothes on my back. We loaded the cart and headed a different way that we thought would take us to the elevator but it was a dead end. We went back to the elevator and waited... I was shaking so badly and my heart was beating so hard. The yelling and screaming and shouting went on and on and on and on and on...it did not cease. At one point it sounded like the door was opening and I thought I was going to throw up right then and there but it didn't. Somewhere on the floor a baby was crying this entire time as well. We are not sure if it was in the same room or not, but we prayed it was not.

We walked quickly and quietly through the very nice lobby past the very nice desk clerk who was checking in another couple that reminded me very much of Pretty Woman, if you catch my meaning.

The desk clerk, whom Corey had talked to a short while and was very friendly, followed us outside to where we had parked RIGHT IN FRONT of the door because he allowed us to when we checked in. Corey then told him what was happening upstairs.

I have never felt such relief as when we had our children in the car with the doors closed and when Corey was sitting in the driver's seat beside me.
We were so thankful to have not had to come in contact with the THING that was in the next room. The timing of everything worked out so well and as we drove to Virginia at 11pm, we were at a loss as to the reason we had been there to begin with.

We could have stayed in our room in King of Prussia and just driven to Delaware the next day. We could have chosen a different hotel. The place wasn't a bad motel. It wasn't a no-name roach coach. It looked nice, the price was moderate and the clerk seemed friendly. But there was just something off about it. Corey had left the room to take the cart back the first time and had gotten in a conversation with the desk clerk. He was gone a longer time than normal and I completely panicked. No reason that I knew of. But I totally panicked. There was something in me that was on edge from the moment we checked in.

We concluded that the reason we were there was to speak up. Corey told what was happening and hopefully the clerk did something about it. Perhaps we should have called the police, but we were so shook up by the whole thing....we could barely catch our breath or think coherently.
I was literally sick afterward. I could do nothing but shake and cry. I was shaking from the anxiety of trying to get out of there with our kids safely. I was crying because what I had just heard was a brutal run in with things I have thankfully never personally heard or known firsthand in my lifetime. I was crying because we could not tell for sure where that baby was that was also crying. I was shaking and crying because we were there and unable to stop it. All we could do was tell someone.
We nervously recounted the events. What he heard. When Corey heard the noise start (as the elevator doors were closing on his way down to get the cart to load up). What we may have forgotten to grab out of the room as we ran out. How we could have done things differently, or what ifs...

We were going to just go to another nearby hotel, but there was no chance of sleep so we drove. We drove as far as we could reasonably go and still get our money's worth of another room. The kids slept. They never knew what happened. In the car they asked why we were in such a hurry and we just told them it was because it was so late we need to hurry to find another place because that one was dirty.
The went to sleep. Peacefully and trustingly.

That's why we woke up in Virginia Monday morning instead of Delaware. I will never forget hearing those sounds of emotional and physical abuse. I will never stop being thankful for the life I have and the life my kids have. I will never stop being thankful that we were gone before whatever else happened that night. I will never forget my first visit to Delaware.


This is the only photo I took in Delaware...as we were driving into Wilmington.
I just noticed the motto on the bottom of the sign. It says: "A place to be somebody"
.... hmmmmmm.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Vampire Tour

(This is not my photo)
We made a last minute decision (seeing a pattern here?!) to do the vampire tour of Philadelphia last night. We were driving around trying to find a place to eat dinner. We had already done a mall food court a few times, and it was looking like we were going to have to do McDonald's or Chili's... We made a rule earlier in the trip after having had KFC and Steak n Shake, that we wanted to try our best to eat at places we do not have at home.
Since Corey will be busy the next two days all day at the music show, we decided to go ahead and drive into Philadelphia to eat a Philly Cheese steak. With several recommendations, we decided to eat at Pat's King of Steaks. Our photos didn't turn out well so I found this one online.


We brought our food back to the car because there was no indoor seating and it was COLD!
Katie and Noah had hot dogs.

Corey got his "wit whiz" (with onions and cheese whiz)

I got mine "wit widdout" (with onions, without cheese whiz, provolone instead)
We got plenty of cheese fries too! Mmmmm!
The cheese steaks were good!
Since we were already downtown and SEPTA still on strike, we decided to just go ahead and see what we could see together! We saw...Washington Square...a beautiful park with memorials.
Here is the tomb of the unknown soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

After MUCH walking around and seeing other sights, we finally found the Liberty Bell!
They were doing construction all around it and it turned out we had actually parked RIGHT beside it but we didn't know. We were actually getting in the car to leave and Corey went to check out one more place...and there it was!
(all my maps were in the hotel room!!!)
This is through the window because of course the building was closed for the night.
You actually can't get super close to it inside anyway.
There was a fence outside the building with a brick ledge.
I suggested we put the kids on the ledge so they could get another good look (they had already seen it up close from the side and heard the automated narration).
When we put the kids up there a guard across the street blew his whistle really loudly a few times and yelled something.
It kind of startled us!!!! We really didn't know you couldn't do that, there wasn't a sign at all!!
Oh well..we got down and left. ha ha. It is funny now, but not at the time.
There were policemen on every street corner and especially around the monuments.

After seeing the Liberty Bell and many other big and awesome buildings around the city, we decided to go ahead and find the "Rocky Steps."
IT WAS SO HARD to get where we wanted to go! We accidentally got back on the interstate headed back to King of Prussia accidentally because the lanes were so confusing! But, we were determined, since this was the last thing on our "must-see" list.
FINALLY, we found it!

We took so many pictures here! These are just a few.

Katie and Noah "running" up the steps. Corey and Noah really did go all the way to the top but those photos didn't turn out well because of the lamps.
Katie wanted to go to the top but we got up the first flight and when I turned around I got really dizzy from looking down the stairs so I know I couldn't have come down once I got up there!

Here is one more shot from our night tour. This building had lights to make the Phillies emblem!
Now we had seen and done the "big" things we wanted to see in Philadelphia. AND we got to do it together! I am very happy about that. It was cold, but the kids were thrilled to see the Liberty Bell in person and we had a cheese steak! Check, check, and the Rocky Steps...check!
Today we plan on seeing Valley Forge.
We will get to spend much more time there than we did in actual Philadelphia, but with the schedule being what it is, this is just the best plan for us.
At least we got to come! We had never seen any of it before, and now we have.
Driving around Philadelphia was a MAZE and now that we have seen most of what we really wanted to see (that is free!) there is no reason to pay for a bus pass even if they do end the strike.
Valley Forge is less than a mile from our hotel. I can drive there myself!
I would NOT want to drive around Philadelphia by myself...it was SO confusing! (plus it costs to park anywhere!)
Between Valley Forge and the King of Prussia Mall, we have plenty to keep us busy until Monday (New York New York!)
Oh, and there is also all the schoolwork I brought as well. We spent several hours yesterday on bookwork and have plenty more of that to do too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Impromptu Fall Break!


Last Friday, Corey came home and reminded me about his upcoming trip to Pennsylvania.
I asked, "Can we come?"
I have often asked that question but then we usually both decide pretty quickly that the timing wouldn't work or something. BUT, this time...there wasn't a reason to not go, so there I was planning for an over a week road trip with only two days to prepare!
If you know me at all, you know I am kind of an obsessive trip planner! ha ha!
Laundry, packing, and quick research and we were on our way, early Monday morning!


Our kids have been FANTASTIC road travelers!

Our first stop "of note" on our drive from Adairsville, GA to Pittsburgh, PA, was at the Sanders Cafe in Corbin, Kentucky. Here they are sitting with "The Colonel."
(by the way....not too impressive of a stop, ha!)
We made it all the way to Wheeling, WV on our first day's drive! Talk about great timing! About an hour from Pittburgh. (if that) Here they are enjoying their favorite feature of traveling with Daddy, especially to the north where most pools at hotels are indoor!

Riding on the cart...another fun activity! ha!
We spent that next day around the Pittsburg area. I have to say, the view when you go through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel and come out onto a bridge and see THIS view...is breathtaking! My photos don't do it justice and it is impossible to get the affect because you go through this really long tunnel and then see that view...amazing! Click on that link to see someone else's better photo! ha! We got out at a mall in Pittsburg while Corey drove around to see some music stores. Then the next day, Wednesday...we spent part of in Hershey. Of course in between all this stuff we are stopping at music stores (the purpose of the trip so far).
Hershey was pretty fun. They have a free chocolate factory tour..well, it is a simulated "ride" that shows how chocolate is made from the beginning to the end.
Here is Katie enjoying some chocolate barbecue sauce. It was really delicious. Not sweet chocolate, but made with a tad of cocoa. Mmmmm.
We stopped outside Hershey while Corey plotted out the next stores and places to see on our way to the Lancaster area.
They played on a playground and wrote postcards. I have to say that the GPS has been amazing for this trip. We just searched for "park" and went straight to the closet playground!
Yesterday, Katie and I decided to be twins for the day. I curled my hair like hers.

Here we are in Lancaster County...Amish country!
It rained.
We had lunch at the Bird-in-Hand Family restaurant. DE-LI-CIOUS! Homemade food and desserts. I had to get this photo for my Beverly Lewis loving friends! So cool!
The horse and buggy carriages were everywhere. We didn't take a buggy tour because we are trying to save up our money so we can do everything we really want to do that we have to pay for (more on that later). It was neat to drive through, even though it was raining the whole time.

These are our church t-shirts. Everyone who travels gets their photos made to put in our bulletin to show where all our "shirts" have been. It is a fun thing to do! It was so cold and rainy that we just threw Corey's and my t-shirts over their coats to get a photo!
My husband..the Amish farmer.

I thought this sign was so funny! The photo was actually taken at a Wal-mart parking lot. They had a separate parking area for horses and buggies. One had actually just backed up and pulled out but we missed getting the photo! :(

SO....I am sitting in our hotel room right now. We are in King of Prussia, PA for the weekend for a music show. Katie and Noah are enjoying another perk of hotels rooms...cable! ha ha! We have our schoolwork to work on when we have time.

When Corey is finished with set-up today we hope to head over to Philadelphia or Valley Forge. The plan was for me to take the local bus system and see some things on my own with the kids, but the local transit is on strike! Total change of plans! I do NOT feel comfortable driving over to Philadelphia by myself. It is about 20 miles from where we are.

Now...for the really fun news! We hope to take a train from New Jersey to New York City on Monday!!!! We found out it would cost about $60 round trip for the four of us...so that is why we are being very frugal with what we choose to do! I have never been there and being so close I am very excited about the idea!!!!! New stuff to research! ha ha!