Perfection & Joy

As I sit here, waking up at 5:30...it's so gloriously quiet. Peaceful. The day is on the horizon and it's supposed to snow today. I typically wake early to do my devotions and read my Bible before the chaos of the day has begun, but this morning I felt the Lord tugging & impressing upon my heart to write. 

{my early morning treat...an extra hot cappuccino...with extra foam & fresh berries}

Every parent understands when the house is a little too quiet, you know you're kids are up to something. Doing something they probably shouldn't be doing. It's similar to us, isn't it? We're quiet before God...not in a prayer of quiet adoration kind of way...but a place of silence, possibly even a place of secrecy. We're not too dissimilar to our children, are we?

I don't think that's where I am with the Lord right now, but it's so easy to be. To sleep in rather than wake before dawn to spend time with Him. To be too busy for Him. That's so easy. Am I interested in a close relationship with Him, or am I committed? I want to be committed. I want to grow into the woman I was intended to be.

I want things clean. Streamlined. Simple. And I desire to take joy in all things.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." That's what we learn in James 1. Take joy. In all trials though? Take joy. Take joy.

The expectation of perfection. Maybe even with a Capitol P. Perfection in all I do. A perfectly clean and organized home, and yet perfection in doing art & other projects with the kids. Those are messy. My laundry needs to be done. The sheets need changing. It never ends. The kids bathroom has dried toothpaste all over the sink and counter. Sigh. I can't keep up. Sports, bike riding, legos. Dolls and books strewn throughout the house. Picking up, always picking up. {but take joy}

Ezekiel says, "All I do is clean. You're so mean to me." Child, you have no idea. But I understand because that's exactly what I feel. "Lord, all I do is clean." Why is life so messy? {take joy}

Ben and I always tell Anton & Ezekiel "It's ok to be sad, mad, or angry. But you may not be rude." And how many times a day am I rude? In my quest of perfection, Ben gets the brunt of any bad mood I'm in {because the perfection that I seek is of course, unrealistic}. At times, likely resulting in an tone of voice I'm not proud of. How do I take joy in all things? How do I remember to?

Laith is now awake at my knees, cuddling me. Asking me to sing the Cowboy Song, which I do not know. His breakfast this morning consists of one bowl of pretzels, another bowl of peanut butter. Not his typical 1st meal of the day, but he asked so sweetly that I couldn't resist. Treats. Memories. I'll always remember him getting up before the rest of the kids every day, giving me hugs and kisses and holding his hands out wide saying "I love you lots 'mawm' I love you as much as a monster truck. Cuddle me, mom." And then beginning a long creative, imaginative story that contains bad guys and how he "gets them."

So how do I keep up? How do I do it all? I don't, I suppose. I can't. You can't. But I can try and remember what's important and Laith now cuddling me on my lap telling me to "type more letters" and how calling out the ones he sees appear upon the screen is an example of what IS important.

Taking time for them. Keeping up with them. The house will get done. Someday. I saw a sign in someone's house once that said something like "Sorry about the mess...my kids are making memories." Maybe I need that. Not that I'll ever let go of the desire for a perfectly clean and picked up home. I'll never stop picking up all the toys, doing the never-ending steam of dishes. But this morning, the Lord has given my heart a reminder that I can only be perfect in Him, by reflecting His character. To graciously give and receive love.

John writes in 1 John 3:18-20, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

{Lord, thank you for your promises. And thank you for not giving up on me! Please continue to open my eyes as I see the quest of perfection to be an unrealistic one. Help me to remember what kind of perfection I seek. Empower me & mature me in character rather than an immaculate home or the flawless execution of a task. You care more about my heart & how I form and mold the hearts of my children. 
Please help today as I take on your challenge. Amen.}

{take joy}


teriyaki salmon w/ sriracha mayo & the best broccoli ever {recipe}

Ok so I don't usually post a recipe until I've made it a few times but this one is so amazing that as I dished it up, 

Ben said "take a picture & post it...I have no idea what it tastes like yet, but the house smells amazing and it looks incredible."

So...since I wasn't planning to blog about this recipe {yet} I only have these two pics. 

But click here for the Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha mayo and here for The Best Broccoli of Your Life for more beautiful directions and photos {thank you budget bytes & amateur gourmet}.

teriyaki salmon with sriracha mayo

. ingredients .

. salmon filet {i used 6 precut from costco}
. 1/4 cup soy sauce
. 2 tablespoon water
. 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
. 1 inch fresh ginger {i cannot get enough of the smell of fresh ginger, so fresh & yummy}
. 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
. 2 tablespoons rice wine {i used the dry white wine i had on hand}
. 1 teaspoon corn starch

. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
. 2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce

. directions . 

{step 1} Make the teriyaki marinade by whisking together the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, minced garlic, grated ginger, brown sugar, rice wine, and corn starch {use a vegetable peeler to remove the ginger skin and then grate with a fine toothed cheese grater}.

{step 2} 
Cut the salmon filet into four equal sized portions and place in a large zip top bag. Pour the marinade over top, remove as much air as possible and close up the bag. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, mixing the bag occasionally to redistribute the marinade.

{step 3} Heat a large, well oiled skillet over medium/high heat. It's a good idea to use a non-stick surface here too just to be safe {teflon or well seasoned cast iron}. The teriyaki sauce gets thick and sticky when cooked. Once the skillet is hot, add the fish, face down. Cook on all four sides for 2-3 minutes each side or until the fish has reached your desired doneness.

{step 4} In a small bowl, mix together the sriracha hot sauce and mayonnaise. Serve the fish with a dollop of  
sriracha mayo on top! 

Pure heaven. Trust me.

the best broccoli of your life

. ingredients . 

. broccoli {obviously}
. 5 tablespoons olive oil + 1 1/2 tablespoons later
. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
. 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
. 4 garlic cloves, pealed & sliced
. lemon {juice & zest}
. 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
. 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
. {option} 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil {i didn't have any on hand}

. instructions. 

preheat the oven to 425

Here’s the key to the recipe: dry your broccoli THOROUGHLY. That is, if you wash them. 

I saw an episode of Julia Child cooking with Jacques Pepin once when Pepin revealed he doesn’t wash a chicken before putting it in a hot oven: “The heat kills all the germs,” he said in his French accent. “If bacteria could survive that oven, it deserves to kill me.” By that logic, then, I didn’t wash my broccoli; I wanted it to get crispy and brown. If you’re nervous, though, just wash and dry it obsessively.

Anyway, take 4 to 5 pounds of broccoli {I just got two large bunches}, cut into relatively large floretts. 

Now, it’s easy. Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper & throw in the garlic cloves

Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

When it’s done, take it out of the oven {now the REALLY yummy part} zest a lemon, then squeeze the juice all over the broccoli, add 1.5 Tbs more olive oil, toasted pine nuts, & freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Another option is to also add 2 Tbs julienned fresh basil {i'll have to try that part next time}.

Take a bite...you'll thank me for never doing boring 'ol broccoli again. 

As you know, I'm completely obsessed about my adorable children so here are a couple photos I couldn't resist to put in, though admittedly have nothing to do with the yummy dinner above {though the kids loved it, too}!

Laith is trying to teach Imani how to use the xbox 360. She was way too small for the sensors to see her but she sure was excited about trying, sweet girl.



Melkam Genna : Ethiopian Christmas


In Ethiopia, Christmas is on January 7th because they follow the ancient Julian Calendar. 

We were privileged to spend the evening at Denver's Ethiopian Church in Celebration of Jesus' Birthday. Ezekiel loved teaching us new traditions and games & Ben and I really enjoyed the food, haha.

This game is called Kililibosh & is kind of like Jacks. 

Ezekiel had never talked about it before but was definitely familiar with it and was super excited to play!

From what I've learned, it helps teach the kids discipline, self control, and focus...as well as being a number computation game.

The rules are you do not have to drop any rocks from the start, but you begin to one by one, two by two, & on through ten rocks or more. There's something in there where it's supposed to be an odd number, as well.

I know...I {obviously} don't really get it either. But the kids did. Guess they're smarter than me. 

Can you see those crocodile tears on her cheeks?? Definitely did not want mom. 

The boys all wanted to wear their ties. Love.

Injera {enjera} and Wat, amongst some other YUMMY Ethiopian food!
Shhh...I had seconds.

Of course the boys headed quickly outside for a pick up game. Never mind it started snowing while they played. Obviously didn't deter any of them.

Can you see sweet little Anton in the red sweater? He got right in there with the big kids.

After tiring of soccer, Anton & Laith spent a ton of time with these kids playing this marble game.

The objective is you shoot the marbles down and try to knock out the other marbles that are lined up on the other side.  If you knock out certain marbles you get all the marbles in the group. 


Ezekiel always tells us of making Injera with his mom so it was fun to finally see how it was made here! We had a little tutorial and though it seemed easy, some of the other adoptive moms said it's deceiving and is actually rather hard to make it turn out perfectly.

Isn't he handsome?

They served it in a way I'd never had before...whether in Ethiopia itself or Ethiopian restaurants. 

The ladies stirred a chili sauce together and drizzled it over the top of the steaming hot injera. 
I'm a wuss when it comes to spicy food {getting better though} and absolutely loved it.

Ben said it wasn't spicy. It was. 

I forgot to mention with the games that all the Sunday School classrooms were converted into game rooms {also a variation of chinese jumprope & duck, duck, goose}

This classroom was turned into a beauty salon! The ladies who own Ezekiel's new hair salon {Comfort Salon & Spa}, attend the church and set up shop, twisting, braiding, cornrowing {is that a word?} all their beautiful hair. The little girls were in heaven. 

Wish Imani's hair was just a tad bit longer. 

What a blessing to be part of this community. 
Can't wait to get to know these folks even better through the years.

...maybe it'll even get Ezekiel to speak Amharic again...



Singed Fabric Flower {tutorial}

How darling is this hair flower??

I recently added Joyfolie's button to my blog. I am in LOVE with her little shoes and the fabric flowers she makes. So...I decided to try and make some of my own!

{maybe someday I'll attempt the pattern to make her shoes}

Here are all the items you will need:

. satin fabric used for lining {100% polyester is best}
. scissors
. thread
. needle
. beads, buttons, etc
. hair clip, pin, shoes, etc 
. glue gun

Oh yes...and of course, a lit candle

Cut out several circles, varying in sizes. Mine begin at approximately 2 1/2 inches

Do as many layers as you like, have fun and play around with it. 
I did some with 3 layers, some with 4

Here's the fun part:

Hold your cut pedal above the candle. NOT into the flame, simply a few inches above it. 
The heat from the flame will begin to melt the edges. Careful though, it can get hot. 

Keep turning your pedal as you get the desired amount of curl as it singes the edge. 
The longer {or closer} you are to the flame, the more curled it will be.

Now you're ready to put it together!

Go ahead and start stitching whatever you've decided to put in the center of your flower. 
I chose little clear beads and a fantastic hand made looking gold button 
{a vintage looking button or brooch would be really cute, too!}

If you use beads, experiment with how many you want to stitch into place. 
As few as 3 would be really cute or more for more sparkle.

I'm not sure if I'm liking this one yet. I used gold paint on the edges. 
It's cuter in person but I think I'll just have to keep experimenting. 
I'm just loving pink + gold right now.

These are Imani's favorite shoes {though they're getting a tad small}. 
I'm so excited how cute it is with the flower detail added to it!

Perhaps not quite Joyfolie but certainly darling. Maybe next time I'll add little felt leaves.

I know you can't see much of it, but isn't Imani's little room so cheerful??

I think she liked our little photo shoot

I just had to end with this photo. 

Imani is really into dress-up and loves wearing her brother's firefighter hats 
{my brother is a firefighter so we have a lot of fire stuff}. 

Sweet little girl kept putting it on, yelling CHEEESE!

{hope your little girl loves your flowers as much as Imani does!}