Favorite Baby Toy

Look at this…two posts in two days!  Madden is 10 weeks old and just recently began enjoying some of our baby toys.  The kids love getting to dangle toys above his head and watch him smile.  Once again, the favorite is the Lamaze cube that Molly Kate absolutely loved when she was a baby.   Madden can look at it over and over and we receive some of the biggest smiles as he gazes at the various animals and pictures.  Just thought I would pass it along for any of you expectant moms or friends just needing a good gift for your next baby shower!  This will definitely be my go-to gift from now on…until babies can sit up and grab for toys, this cube is just awesome!  Click the picture to view the Amazon link.

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Oh, How Time Flies!

I can hardly believe how fast the days are moving right now.  And because time is moving so quickly, I struggle to find the hours to squeeze everything in…including this blog!  I enjoy writing and that was one of the reasons for starting a blog in the first place. But by the time I read the Word, run on the treadmill, nurse my sweet little man, change Miles’ diaper for the millionth time, read a book to Molly Kate and Mikias, wipe the kitchen table, sweep up all the crumbs again and fold just one more load of laundry, time is up and I know I have to get some sleep so I can do it all again the next day!  While most days, the Lord is gracious to give me joy in the mundane tasks that come with being a mom and a homemaker, I really do miss the time I used to have for reading and blogging…these two past times are just completely lost right now, and may be for a while longer.

At any rate, here I sit, with twenty-five minutes until I feed Madden and get the rest of the crew up from nap/rest time and I really don’t know what to write about!  I know many of you are wondering how we are doing and the answer I give most frequently is “so much better than I thought we would be at this point.”  The children seem to be becoming better friends with each passing day, which means more laughter and less screaming and I certainly won’t complain about that!  Molly Kate, who obviously had the hardest transition of them all, seems to really be coming around and is always trying to include one or both brothers in her imaginative play.  Next week begins our first official week of home school (Mikias will be starting kindergarten and Molly Kate will be working on some pre-school), so any bits of free time I do have are spent planning and preparing for this endeavor.  Kevin and I are constantly discussing the way God has used all of the changes in our life to uncover deep sin…I feel like the depravity of my heart is always on display as I seek to mother these four little ones.  I’m so very thankful for the women’s group I just joined…as we study through the book of John, I’ve been encouraged to keep looking to Jesus, my righteousness and the One who obeyed perfectly for me.

But, if I had to name the thought that comes across my mind most each day, it would be the wondering about the place of ministry God is preparing for us.  Kevin and I have begun praying often for our future place of ministry (the kids and I also pray for this each morning at breakfast) and Kevin is actively searching for where God might lead us.  We’ve both begun to sense our time in Louisville will be coming to a close soon and I’m so excited to see what the Lord has planned for us.  So, while time seems to be flying right now, I also feel the need to make the most of what time we might have left in this place that has been such a great temporary home.  May the Lord continue to help me prioritize well…a prayer I lift up continually throughout each day!

Spaghetti with Sausage and Simple Tomato Sauce

This has become our new favorite way to do spaghetti, except I sub turkey sausage for the hot Italian sausage.  Very easy and very cost effective, but certainly not boring!! Recipe also found here.

Ingredients

  • 8  ounces  hot Italian turkey sausage links
  • 8  ounces  uncooked spaghetti
  • 1  (28-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  cup  torn fresh basil
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Arrange sausage on a small baking sheet. Broil sausage 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pan from oven (do not turn broiler off). Cut sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Broil sausage slices 2 minutes or until browned.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

4. Place tomatoes in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crushed red pepper and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick. Add sausage and cooked pasta to pan; toss well. Top with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Happy Birthday Mikias!

Monday our oldest son turned 6 years old!  We began celebrating his birthday last Friday evening with cake (his request this year was Spiderman) and then opened presents as a family on Monday, but his bike didn’t make it here until yesterday!  So he got to really stretch his birthday and I think that was quite fine by him!!  It was such a joy to make his birthday special given that I’m sure this was his first time to experience a special day that simply celebrates his life.  And he was so thankful for it all…he must have thanked me a hundred times for making his birthday cake and when he awoke to doughnuts on his actual birthday, he wanted to call Daddy right away to thank him for picking them up the night before.  What a special child the Lord has blessed our family with…I love him more and more with each passing day.

Our crew before the party!
The Cake!
He blew out his candles so fast, I missed the picture...so this is take two!
Spiderman on a motorcycle...the present he requested over and over!
Mikias opened presents way too slow for Molly Kate's style...here she is begging him to open the next one!

A Chapter Closed

This week a chapter of my life is coming to a close and I sense a new one on the horizon.  When Kevin and I first began visiting Third Avenue Baptist Church (where we are now members), one of the first couples we met was Brad and Erin Wheeler.   They greeted us with a cheerful, sunny “hello” and I remember thinking that they seem like people with whom we could become good friends.  They were really the first two people I had met in Louisville who reminded me of Mississippians…warm, hospitable and ready to hug you the first time they meet you!  A few months later, once we became members of Third, Brad asked Kevin if he wanted to start meeting regularly for discipleship and Erin did the same with me.  At the time, she was God’s lifeline to me.  I struggled so much through our first year in Louisville…the transition of a new place, being a seminary student, being newly married and the cold, dreary winter were almost more than my 24-year old self could handle.  Erin faithfully walked with me as I battled depression, constantly lifting me up to the Father and pointing me to the Truth.

Over the next six years, the Wheelers became our very best friends, so much so that they feel more like family and the word “friend” just doesn’t hold enough meaning for how special these two people are to us.  We spent numerous holidays together, held each other’s babies as they entered this world, enjoyed some of the best date nights, carried each other’s burdens as God’s hand was heavy upon both of our families at different times and rejoiced in God’s faithful mercy and love through it all.  Brad’s constant wisdom and direct confrontation at times has shaped Kevin into a sensitive husband and a discerning shepherd for our family.  Erin opened her whole life and heart to me and God used the witness of her life to mold me into the wife and mother I am today.  Their children are dear to our children (and to me!), especially our Molly Kate and their “Sizie” (nickname for Eliza).  We have never taken for granted how wonderful it is to have friends where the husbands treasure one another as much as the wives and the added bonus of how much our children enjoy time spent together.  All of eternity will not be long enough to thank God for this family and the way the Lord has used them in our lives to refine our faith over and over.

This morning we stood beside our friends as they loaded up their van with the last remaining belongings and with tears pouring, waved good-bye as they headed to their new home in Washington, D.C.  Brad will be on staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and they will begin a new chapter of their lives and ministry.  All of my heart and soul has been dreading this day and the closing of this most sweet and precious chapter of my life.  So far, the day has passed my expectations in terms of sadness.  I am going to miss my friend so very much and my heart breaks every time I try to picture my daily life without the Wheelers.  I know the Lord moved us to Louisville to prepare us for a life of full-time ministry and this family was one of the greatest tools in that preparation.  As they depart, I sense it is time for Kevin and I to step forward and see where the Lord might call us to pour out our lives.  In some ways, I feel like the time has come for us to stand on our own two feet and that the Lord must think we are finally ready as He removes this family that has been such a rock for us.  Its scary and hard and exciting and sad all at the same time.

I challenge you to pray that the Lord would gift you such a friendship and then when He does, pursue it with all of your might.  The Wheeler/Cuthbertson friendship to me represents exactly the beauty of the body of Christ that is so often portrayed in the New Testament.  To encourage each other as long as it is called today, to bear each other’s burdens, to rejoice in our trials, to be unified in spirit, mind and purpose, to forebear with one another and forgive each other, to love as Christ loved…we did all of this and more, and I am more like Christ today because of these two people in our life.  Beg the Lord to bless you with such a friendship…I have known few things sweeter in this life.

Best of Friends
Double Trouble! Can you imagine them in high school together?!?!
Wheelers + Cuthbertsons = One Dozen!!
Brad Manley and Madden Manley (we wanted Madden named in honor of our dear friend!)