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10 for 10 and a WINNER!!!!

So that was fun! I'm 10 for 10! A recap of the last 10 daily posts, in case you missed any:

  1. A Story Only God Could Write
  2. Blood
  3. A Week Ago Today
  4. He is Risen!
  5. PW (And I Don't Mean Pioneer Woman!)
  6. Giveaway Time! Who Wants Ethiopian Coffee??
  7. Video of Abby
  8. Friendship
  9. Foodie Friday
And today is 10!! GIVEAWAY WINNER TIME!! I didn't have time to photograph my drawing, so you'll just have to trust me! The winner of the coffee is.......

Jessica Olivero!

Way to go Jess!! Email me your address!! Everyone have a great weekend!!


Foodie Friday

My friend Lizzy has a awesome blog that I love to read. She is a wonderful writer, photographer, and cook! She does what she calls "Foodie Fridays", and inspired by her, I am doing my own version as part of my 10 for 10 posts!!


Mom's Flank Steak
Roasted Potatoes
Grilled Vegetables
Salad with Rachel's famous vinaigrette : )

Strawberries with Key Lime Dip
Hungry Girl's chocolate cake

First I'll go over the menu items individually, and then give you the more detailed recipes you need at the end. You'll notice, I'm more of a method gal that an exact recipe type, but it is good to have some idea of ratios of ingredients.

Mom's Flank Steak:

My mom used to make this all the time, and it was always one of my favorite meals as a kid. She just marinated the steak, broiled or grilled it, then sliced it and served it. She said the marinade is one she's had for years, and trust me--it is seriously YUM-O. It adds soooo much flavor. (recipe below) My mom is a fab cook, and eating this the other night was such comfort food for me...I love you, Mom.

Roasted Potatoes:

I love to make these and they are so simple (and filling for a family of 7). Cube up some potatoes (I like red because you don't have to peel...I'm lazy), toss with EVOO, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh chopped rosemary. Roast at 400, turning a couple of times, for about 40 minutes or so. Again: yum.

Grilled Vegetables:

Now, normally, I would think the first two things and a salad make for plenty of food, but since I'm doing Weight Watchers, I knew I couldn't have many potatoes,so I decided to throw some veggie on the grill, too. I did portobello mushrooms, small sweet peppers, onion, and asparagus. I just rubbed them down with a little EVOO and my favorite season salt. Done. And how many do I get to eat on WW?! STINKIN ALL OF 'EM IF I WANT!!!! : ) Oh, and you might notice the dipping sauce I have in the very first picture. I love to make that with grilled veggies. It's just fat free plain greek yogurt, a little tahini, a little cumin, salt, and pepper. YUM. (Good on grilled chicken too) (Oh and warm up the leftovers with the sauce on a tortilla for lunch the next day--DOUBLE YUMMMMMMMM!)

Salad with Rachel's famous vinaigrette : )

I am not a big fan of bottled salad dressing, so I make my own. It may not quite be famous (yet: )), but I'm working on it. ; ) I have several variations that I do when I want an Asian twist or southwest flair or more Americana flavor (I even have an easy-peasy fake-out low cal buttermilk ranch), but this is the basic vinaigrette recipe that I use most often. (recipe below) As for salad ingredients, I use whatever I have on hand, but I almost always use: romaine, baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, garbanzo beans, olives, and Parmesan. You can add the veggies you like best. Just toss with dressing right before you serve it.

I also like to have one of these while I cook:

Who am I kidding? While he cooks:

Seriously, I love this kind of meal because I do a little prep early in the day, and then I can just hang with Joe by the pool while he grills. Good stuff.

Oh yeah, and dessert:

Strawberries with Key Lime Dip
Hungry Girl's chocolate cake

The dip is just a key lime cheese ball mix, cream cheese, and cool whip. I use light cream cheese, and it is so good and low in points. The Hungry Girl cake is awesome and low fat: just a box cake mix, 1 cup of nonfat greek plain yogurt, and 1 cup of water. Bake for like 40 minutes at 350. It tastes like a cakey brownie, I just dust it with powdered sugar for prettiness.


Flank Steak Marinade:

1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 T vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, but whatev)
1 T lemon juice (I used lime bc that's what I had)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T paprika (I used smoked paprika, but again...whatev)

Mix in a blender (I use the magic bullet), and pour over steak in a ziploc bag. Marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. You can baste with the marinade while you cook. After you cook the flank steak, be sure and let the meat rest for a bit, then slice it against the grain so it is most tender and juicy.

Rachel's famous vinaigrette:
In a bowl, put about 2T of vinegar, 1-2T of dijon mustard (I use two different kinds bc I like both the plain dijon and the whole grain together), about 2t. salt, 1 T garlic pepper (this stuff makes it), and a clove of grated garlic. For the garlic, I use my micro-plane and grate it into the dressing, so there are no big chunks:

Once all that is in there, I whisk it together and slowly add about 4-5T of oil. It should come together nicely. Taste it--it might need more salt, more pepper, more oil, more vinegar--you'll know. It should be strong in flavor, because remember, it is going to flavor the entire salad. Then right before you serve it, toss with the salad. DONE.

So that's my easy, healthy, family friendly meal.

By the way, the dessert would be AWESOME with some Ethiopian coffee. : ) Last chance to enter my giveaway!! Drawing a winner tomorrow!

Happy weekend!


"Two are better than one."
Ecclesiastes 4:9

Friends are such a gift. I say that with such personal, heartfelt belief in that truth, because I am not very good at making friends on my own. Be it my shyness, my insecurities, or my lack of availability with the business of raising kids--friendship is something that usually happens by chance to me. When I look back over my life, my dearest friends, even over the span of time and distance, are ones God literally dropped in my lap. Soul sisters that I have been granted the privilege of doing life with, almost in spite of myself. And so I know, actually, it was not chance at all, but rather my friends are divine provisions in my life, gifts from my Father.

And as a mom, there is nothing sweeter than seeing God provide, in the same kind of divinely ordained manner, friends for my kids. Their closest friends are kids I love like my own, and it brings me such joy to watch their friendships grow and develop through the years.

And I feel no less grateful--in fact, maybe more so, for Abby's friendship with Zahra. With so much newness, so many new experiences, so many reasons Abby could feel alone and different and insecure--- Zahra is a precious gift for my daughter.

Zahra and Abby were friends in Ethiopia. They lived together at our agency's transition home. They are so close in age, and while their stories are very different, their experiences are parallel. Zahra will understand things about Abby that her siblings may never be able to fully grasp---because she's been there. She's living it, too. She knows.

And, at least for now, they are growing up 4 miles away from each other. A provision for each other in a time of transition and change, as they adjust to life in our families. What an amazing blessing.

in Ethiopia Jan 2011

so sweet

Abby has been waiting for Zahra to come home

so happy to see each other again

both Abby and I are blessed

beginning to make new memories together

such joy.

Thank you, Jesus.


Video of Abby

I had every intention of doing a monthly post on Abby and her transition into our home and into our family, but you know what they say about best laid plans.... We are fast approaching her 4 month anniversary home, and I can hardly believe it. I do plan to still address some of your questions about her adjustments in future posts--as it will also help me remember all the little milestones that are part of our everyday living.

But for now, I wanted to share a video of Abby. I filmed it last week on a rare occasion when I actually had my flip charged and with me (note to self: do that more often). Abby and I were in the car on the way home from the doctor--just her and me. And as she often does, she was singing and talking pretty much non stop. It will give you a taste of her personality, how she blends her Amharic and English, and how she still continues to absorb so much around her as she sees thing, recognizes things, and processes her experiences.

You'll hear her sing a couple worship songs in Amharic, segue right into a song she's had stuck in her head since her first week in America (Nothin on You...Bruno Mars...I have no idea where she heard it), and sprinkle in some observations of things she sees out the window (picture the dog in Up: "Squirrel!").

So without further ado, here's a taste of life with Abby.

(And hey, don't forget to enter my giveaway!)

GIVEAWAY TIME!! Who wants some Ethiopian coffee??!!

Well, folks, we're halfway through my promise to post daily for the rest of April, and so I think it's the perfect time for a giveaway!!!

I have a bag of Ethiopian coffee from Tomoca Coffee, our favorite coffee shop in Addis Ababa. The beans are from the Sidamo region of Ethiopia, where much coffee is grown, and also where Abby is originally from.

Here's a photo of Joe and the owner of Tomoca from our trip back in January.

And I'm also going to throw in some berbere spice, the primary spice used in Ethiopian cooking. So you'll be all set with a little Ethiopian flavor, to either enjoy yourself or give to someone special! Mother's Day and Father's Day are right around the corner, and these would be fun to gift to an adoptive momma or daddy!

OK, so here's the giveaway details:

  1. You must be a follower of my blog, so if you aren't... join us. : ) We're a fun crew.
  2. You must share about this giveaway on facebook or twitter or your blog (one entry for each--up to three per day)
  3. Leave me a comment here on this post, letting me know how many times you have shared, and answer this question: "Why do you want to win this giveaway?"
That's it! Entries accepted through Friday, April 29th midnight EST. I will draw a winner on Saturday, April 30th. Good luck!

PW (And I don't mean Pioneer woman! : ))

I know on here I mostly talk about our family in light of our adoption, so you may or may not know that I am a pastor's wife. That "title" doesn't say a whole lot about me--as I don't really fit the mold of a stereotypical PW--I'm really just another gal who serves in the church alongside some pretty awesome women.

But what it does say is that I have the unique privilege of serving in ministry alongside my husband, a man I have watched God use in amazing ways through the years. And it also means that, in some ways, I have been forced to be involved in church community. I say that because I am by my nature, very selfish and self-centered. I am a little shy and not always comfortable in a crowd. It would be very easy for me to turn inward, create a cocoon in my home with my husband and kids, and isolate from people. I could easily be one of those people who never really plug-in in a church body.

Frankly, people are difficult. Lives are messy. Relationships can be hard. At times, it seems easier to just keep things shallow and people at arms length.

But you can't do that as a pastor's family. You must get your hands dirty, open up your lives and hearts and home to people. As a result, there can be much pain and hurt in ministry.

But there is also great, great joy.

I think we as Christians often have a wrong view of the church. We approach it as consumers, looking to find things that "fit" our desires and "serve" our needs. Church is not for us, friends. It is for Jesus-- it is HIS bride, HIS glory, HIS crown. It exists to serve the King and do His bidding. And we are commanded to find one (a local body), link arms with others, and pour out our lives in a combined effort to further the Kingdom as a united front.

And as we avail ourselves to this "life on life" kind of living-- hands to the plow and faces set like flint--serving and working and worshiping and growing together-- we look up and suddenly see as we look around us that God has given us a great gift in each other. A family of brothers and sisters.

Meet my church family. Meet my dearest friends: I get to do life with them, share myself-- the good and bad--with them , and serve my King beside them. What an incredible privilege.

And Easter, on the beach, celebrating the Risen King with my family---what a taste of heaven!

I love you LifeBridge!!

(Thanks to Lizzy, Erica, and Mel for some of these pics.
See my entire album of pictures from our Easter here.)


He is Risen!

On this Easter Sunday, may you encounter the God who became flesh, died, was buried, was raised again, and is now seated on His throne. May His love, sacrifice, and power lead you to gratitude and repentance. May you embrace the only source of true life. In Christ alone.

The tomb is empty! Jesus is risen!
Happy Easter!

(Not my favorite video, but most certainly my favorite song. Enjoy.)


A Week Ago Today

We are all called to serve the Lord, worship the King, and live lives of humble obedience. But sometimes, there's a person--or in this case, a family--that takes it one step further. They not only follow that calling in their own lives, but they become a catalyst for Kingdom building in others lives as well.

The Shubins are one such family. Their impact on our lives and on the lives of the families in our church in undeniable. God has used them in an amazing way, and as I've said before, they will forever be a part of our story in bringing Abby home.

A week ago today, we welcomed them home with their daughter, Zahra. I will never forget that night. It had been a looooong month of them being gone, and I was filled with relief to have them all home, together.

It is a blessing to call Erica my friend, to know our daughters have each other during these coming months as they adjust to their new lives in our homes... I get emotional just realizing how amazing this is--all God has done in the last year and a half, the way we couldn't even begin to anticipate all He had designed for our families. It's more wonderful that we could have ever planned ourselves. And to think I could've missed it, if we had not--by God's holy push-- taken that first step of faith.

For the record--no one should adopt just because someone else has. I hope I never portray adoption as a "cool", "neat" thing that everyone should do. Make no mistake, we are ALL called to care for orphans and widows--so you better find some way to do that in your life! But I know adoption is a calling--one that God has to clearly define for both you and your spouse--and you must know that is where He is leading your specific family before you dive in.

That being said--let me now say this with boldness: many of us could--even should--adopt, but don't because it is too hard, or because we like our little tidy family, or because it would cost us too much- now and in the future, or maybe simply because we don't know where or how to begin. I know not everyone is going to agree with me on that, but when I read scripture, I see a high calling of self sacrifice that many of us avoid because of the safety and security that we cling to as God-given rights in this country. And I think adoption is one of those things we quickly dismiss as something someone else can do.

Time is short. Life is short. There are children growing up with no moms, no dads, no homes to provide security and love and nurturing . About 147 million of them. What else would we do, church? Why are more of us not burdened-- as we look around our lives full of God's grace and hearts full of love and our homes full of provisions-- why are we not burdened to share it with a child who has none of those things?? YES, it's hard. Yes, it's often costly. Yes, it can be very, very messy. I am not trying to sugarcoat adoption to be easy or problem free...but it is worth it.

I don't know everything that lies ahead with Abby, what she will face as she continues to discover who she is in this family and in her Father's eyes. But I know this--God will equip us for each moment and each trial because that's what He does! Abby is His child first, and His plan for her is bigger than me, or Joe, or the Walser family. HE can handle it--even if I sometimes feel like I can't.

I know I've tangent-ed a bit from the Shubins and their personal story, but I can't think of anything Erica would want more than for her story to motivate one more person to PRAY, one more person to INVESTIGATE, one more person to STEP OUT in they seek to bring God glory in caring for orphans.

One week ago today is forever seared in my memory.

waiting...with signage : )

Mrs. B gets the best sign award!

wonderful friends and mammas to Ethiopian babies
Ashlie and Jessica

Where are they??

wonderful reunion

this one of Mel & Erica always makes me cry

Joe sneaks in his Zahra lovin'

Mrs. B, overjoyed

sweet friends, together again

The Shubins, together at last

Five pretty awesome kiddos


I love that the men in our church
are just as excited as we women are!

what a welcome!

Lucky me.

Little miss Zahra, welcome home. Ms. Rachel loves you dearly. We are so happy you are here, and Abby can't wait to play and play and play some more with you. Your family loves you so, and we have prayed long and hard for you. I can't wait to watch you grow and blossom as you discover you are not only the forever daughter of Dave and Erica Shubin, but a daughter of the King. Ewedechalu, Princess.

pictures taken by Lizzy Grant, Ashlie Fulmer, and any of the really good ones by me : )