Best "Baby Ray" Crockpot Barbecue

Okay, I seriously cannot believe I'm going to post about food right now, in light of my tumultuous tummy.  But I'll try to keep it short and sweet and the pics to a minimum. Ha.  Selah's birthday party was right around lunchtime, so we wanted to serve something that would be generally liked by all, and was fairly easy/inexpensive to make.  We love Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, so I just googled for a crockpot recipe for chicken that I could shred and use for sandwiches.  So the following is what I found.  And we LOVED how it turned out!!! (This is the link to the recipe I used.)

(This pic is from "The Comfort of Cooking," whose recipe also sounds good!)

4-6 chicken breasts (I used 6 per batch, and made two batches for a group of about 25)

1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce (We used original)

1/4 cup vinegar (I used Apple Cider vinegar and didn't quite use the full 1/4 cup, only since I knew we'd be doubling it and I was afraid of it potentially being too strong!)

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (I probably used about 1/2 tsp. for each batch, same reason as above)

1/4 c. brown sugar (definitely used all of this!) :)

1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients except chicken.  Place chicken in the crockpot, and pour the sauce on top.  Cook on low 4-6 hrs. (We did about 6 hrs.)

This is where the website stops, but after the chicken and sauce cooled we shredded it in a large foil pan.  Then we poured the remaining sauce in the crockpot on top of it, covered it with saran wrap, and let it sit in the fridge all night.  It was SUPER moist, and made awesome sandwiches on those little Hawaiian rolls or Hawaiian buns.  We definitely added it to our dinner rotation and entertaining ideas lists!  To round out the party meal we served watermelon, (pink!:), chips, and puppy chow.  Yum.  Hope this adds another easy meal to your list! :)

P.S. (In searching for a picture I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman's recipe, which I'm quite sure is good too!)


Fully Human

A couple nights ago I said to Kevin, "I don't think we can be used by God to the fullest extent until we realize how truly human we are." For the past couple years, Kevin has been pretty intensely studying the life and ministry of Jesus, especially focusing on His humanity. Recently we've been studying the life of Jesus at church as well. I don't know about you, but I think in all the years of learning about Jesus in my life, I've always simply thought of him as God. That's who he is, of course, but that's not how he accomplished his miracles, demonstrated his power and loved so perfectly while walking on this earth. If you look closely into scripture, over and over again you see how Jesus relied on his Father in order to accomplish the work he was sent here to do; yet he did not tap into his deity in order to do it. It takes way more than r paragraph to get into all the intricacies of this, and my husband could certainly do a better job of explaining it and pointing to scripture for support along the way. But for me, this reality does something so powerful in my life.

It shows me that we as humans, God's creation, have access to the very same things Jesus used to accomplish his purpose on earth and glorify his Father in heaven. Everything he did pointed to his Father, and the point of it all was to demonstrate absolute obedience to Him, resulting in the greatest gift ever, salvation and eternal life. And what's our purpose here on earth? I believe it's to have a loving relationship with our Creator and to follow Jesus' example of obedience to our heavenly Father, which will in turn bear much fruit and bring in a great harvest for the kingdom. Essentially, we will enjoy who God is, and our lives will bring glory to Him, while drawing others to salvation in Christ. In the end, he will receive us into an eternal paradise and be pleased with what we've done. Sign me up for that!

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" Phil. 2:5-8

Recently Kevin gave me an article to read called, "The Man Christ Jesus," by professor Bruce Ware from Southern Theological Seminary. One particularly powerfully stated part has played over and over in my mind.
"Jesus did not sin, not because he relied on the supernatural power of his own divine nature or because his divine nature overpowered his human nature keeping him from sinning, but it rather is because he utilized all of the resources given to him in his humanity. He loved and meditated on God's word, he prayed to his Father, he trusted in the wisdom and rightness of his Father's will and word, and very significantly, he relied on the supernatural power of the Spirit upon him, to strengthen him to do all that he was called upon to do."

Seems like a simple truth, yet so powerful in what this means for us. How incredibly gracious is God for giving us the very same access and inviting us to do the same as his very own son? Jesus' power, ministry, fruit, and faithfulness came from his diligent prayer life and alone time with his father, from his serious study and meditation of the scriptures, and his absolute reliance on the Holy Spirit. These are the things that matter to Him.

Often when I think of Jesus as using his deity and being God here on earth, it's hard to really believe I can "walk like he did."  ("Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6) It doesn't seem attainable, and if you're like me, anything that doesn't seem attainable is often not even desirable.  Yet when I hear and realize I can know the same kind of intimacy with the Father that Jesus did, my heart certainly beats a little faster.  I shudder to think of how easy and tempting it is in this life to just get through the days, fill up my time and be working towards nothing of eternal value.  Instead, I sincerely want to know the kind of fruit Jesus knew; I want to know the Father like he did; I want my life to point others to so much more than myself.  Something that lasts.  Well really, the only thing that lasts.  It pains me to no end to see how hopeless our world is right now.  How people are willing to live for nothing and believe they were created for nothing.  The striving and the meaninglessness is scary and exhausting.  And people are hurting because of it.  I am desperate for so much more.

When I made that comment the other night to Kevin about realizing how fully human we are, it was in reference to how often we feel like we're failing, not living up to our potential, or just can't figure out God's "will for our lives."  Yet his will is pointed out so clearly by the way his one and only son lived.  It is from following in those footsteps that the fruit we so desire to be displayed in our lives will be produced.  I think we often feel confused, discouraged, and like we're failing because we're relying on ourselves.  And seriously, we as human beings, "are like grasshoppers," in comparison to God, "who sits enthroned upon the circle of the earth."  If we really give ourselves so much credit, we will always, always be disappointed. 

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers." Isaiah 40:22

We are desperate for a Savior and for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  And God has done some mighty works through people who have acknowledged their humanity and depended fully on him.  I'm saddened by the chance that I've missed out on anything God might have had for me these past almost 32 years, when I haven't run in desperation to be alone with him, to talk to him, to know his Word better than I know anything else; or to call on the Holy Spirit's help before I call on anyone else or try to figure it out myself.  Without him, I am merely flesh and bones, limited to my own humanity.  But through obedience to him in all these things, my life can be so very much more. How else can I ever really know the full fruit I was created for than by doing these things, just like Jesus did. 

I have finally surrendered to the fact that I cannot be patient and intentional with my children, or kind and loving to my husband, or fill my mind with the right thoughts or not judge or criticize or compare myself to others or serve selflessly; I cannot make wise choices with my time and energy, or accomplish anything good in my life, or choose gentleness over anger, or forgive those who hurt me, or love and offer hope to ANYONE on my own.  I can't do any of this without praying diligently to my Father, learning and loving his word, and relying on the Holy Spirit to do the crucial, though sometimes painful work in me.  The Accuser was thrown out of heaven because he thought himself too special and wanted all the glory.  And I just certainly don't want to end up like him. 

My encouragement to you, and to myself today?  "Let us not become weary in doing good," because it's not up to us to be the good...it completely depends on our reliance and dependence on the Father.  Let's admit together how desperate we are individually...and remember how very human and desperate everyone else is as well, for the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in all our lives.  I'm thinking this would help eliminate the crazy judging and hating going on....which bears no good fruit at all.  We are human, we are desperate, and our eternity is dependent on our receiving the amazing grace available to us all, and submitting our lives to the gracious one who offers it.  I am so thankful that we truly can "live as Jesus lived;" I'm thankful he was fully human while he was here...because it gives me so much hope. So how about we celebrate some serious freedom from the burdens we've been bearing.  Freedom from failing at meeting the crazy expectations we have for ourselves and each other as mere humans, and instead invite the Holy Spirit to have his way, getting excited for and believing in what he's about to do.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, bu tthe Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-27

"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I've proved him o'er and o'er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust him more."


I Get To Be The One

We are so excited to officially announce the sweet new baby growing in my belly!!  We are 14 weeks today, and we're due April 11.  Kevin and I love being parents, and are thrilled and thankful that our family is growing.  We've prayed for many months for the perfect timing of this sweet one, and I just can't wait to meet this uniquely created baby, perfectly planned by our loving heavenly Father.

Having "two kids" has already proved to add some crazy to my life.  Much like pregnancy number one, I have been seriously sick...actually worse in some ways this time around.  And I'm super duper tired.  Of course, I hate to focus on the crummies, as we are beyond thrilled and grateful, and don't for a moment want to take this sweet one for granted.  (Though I've had my fair share of days where I've struggled to stay positive)  And I know by Thanksgiving I should (hopefully) be feeling awesome!

A few weeks before Selah's birthday, before we had revealed the news to anyone, my brother and his sweet girlfriend introduced me to a JJ Heller song that fits my feelings perfectly.  I can already hardly wait to hold and snuggle this new sweet one.  It truly brings me to tears to think that I get to be the one to love on these incredible children.  Thank you God for this amazing gift!

"How does someone so small hold my heart so tightly;  I don't even know you, but I love you completely."

He Said Yes!

(I wrote this post on September 3, about a month after we found out!)

After praying, waiting, and asking God since earlier this year, I am overjoyed to say He has said yes and is graciously knitting together our second baby!  It's so crazy to even type that...I can say with honesty that we were shocked when we found out, and probably still are to some extent.  Probably mostly because after reading 'NO' on some tests, it was especially sweet to finally read YES.  And it always seems overwhelmingly generous and amazing that God would allow us to add another precious one to our family.

We found out on August 5th, Sunday afternoon right before we were heading up near Cincinnati to hear my brother preach.  So it was especially difficult not to tell him!  I had taken the test kind of in a hurry, as we were all getting dressed and ready to leave, then left it on my bathroom counter and went to get Selah ready.  Kevin was ironing a shirt in the laundry room.  I hadn't told him I was taking it, because the times before we had gotten excited and looked at it together, and if it wasn't a yes this time, I didn't want to get his hopes built up again.  I had peace in my heart because although I get super nervous and excited every time I take a test, it's never easy to get a no, and I told God I was surrendered to His plan and trusted He knew the perfect timing for the growth of our family.  So I took Selah into the bathroom, my heart pounding, and I just peeked at the test....and saw that it said YES!  Wow.  My mouth dropped open, I grabbed it and nervously said, "Kevin, where are you?"  He commented on how he thought I sounded sweet in asking, (ha:), and then said, "I'm in here."  So I walked in, and laid the test right down on his shirt on the ironing board.  His eyes got big, and he said, "Is that real?  Is it true?"  Then we both just stood there with our mouths hanging open in shock, and Selah looking back and forth between us...it was hilarious.  Then he hugged me and said, "Page!"  Then he said a quick prayer and thanked God so much for this gift and for granting our request.  I didn't even have the frame of mind to capture the moment very well, simply because I was so wrapped up in it!

This is the day we found out...my brother took this after our visit.
Needless to say, the drive to Cincinnati was a funny one...we were kind of speechless and in awe.  I love that the service we went to at my brother's church was the one for the older crowd, as we sang several classic hymns, which I (not so secretly) love.   We sang, "Count your Blessings, " and I love the lyrics..."Count your blessings name them one by one.  Count your blessings see what God has done."  I love that with both babies we have found out on a Sunday and I have been able to go to church afterwards and worship.  It always feels so emotional and so appropriate.  I'm just so, so thankful to be a mom. 

Several months ago, as I was carrying Selah on my hip and changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer, I remember thinking how peaceful and quiet our days were, how simple life seemed at home with one baby.  (That day at least!) I also was thinking about how I imagined my life with a house full of children...and wondering how that would all play out.  Now I am learning...it happens one by one.  (Well, theoretically. :)We cannot plan or know the exact timing, but God's writing promises to be perfect.  And I know most of my friends with multiple children will be at the ready to tell me to get prepared for this to rock my world....and while I'm sure it will, I look towards it with joy and faith in the Father to lead and carry me through.  He has definitely done that this past year, which has been filled with plenty of difficult moments.  No matter how crazy it gets or how many tears it sometimes takes to get through, these are the days and the years I will look back on and treasure for the rest of my life.  I'm sure I'll stand amazed at how the Lord walked us through.  Being a parent is certainly no small responsibility.  But it is most definitely one that I choose to treasure...and I seek to honor with my whole heart.  I know Kevin feels the same.

So tomorrow we go to our first Dr.'s appt. for this second precious child of ours...one whom I love so dearly already.  We are REALLY excited about the appt., as it definitely makes it all feel more real.  Well, that and the 24hr. a day nauseousness that has plagued me since 5 weeks.  Whew.  It's funny how I'm already saying, "I don't remember it being this bad."  That and the fatigue have definitely hit me with some serious strength!  We are 9 weeks along, and according to my calculations I'm due around April 5th, though I realize when we go to the doctor they might change that up a little bit because of some of our details in trying.  (The doctor did change this to April 11...making us 8 weeks when I wrote this) I'm so looking forward to having a Spring baby, while I'm also planning to treasure these next several months when it remains just Kevin, Selah, and me.  She is absolutely lighting up our world more and more each day.  So crazy how that can happen...as she's had me in 'overwhelmed with joy' tears since her first breath.  Even that day I said to Kevin, "I can't wait to do this again!"  Now we are prayerfully going to get that experience!

So that is the start of the story of Baby Love #2.  One other fun detail with this sweet one is that we are going to find out what we're having...yay!  We did love the surprise with Selah, but we want to experience knowing with this one.  I'll finish by quoting another song I'm pretty sure we sang that night at my brother's church..."Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice; praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice.  Oh come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give him the glory great things he hath done."

We are so very thankful and we give God all the glory.  And we would appreciate and be grateful for any prayers you might offer for the health and safety of our little one as he or she grows.  We're having a baby!!!


A "Baby Love" First Birthday

I decided around Valentine's Day of this year, as super cute heart decor was popping up everywhere, that I wanted to do a "Baby Love" themed birthday for my sweet girl.  This seemed like an obvious choice as that had become my instant nickname for our little one, pretty much right after we found out we were pregnant.  I got a little overwhelmed with all the inspiration out there, but in the end we loved Selah's first special day, and had so much fun celebrating our firstborn.

The week of Selah's birthday my mom, Kevin and I managed to pull off what I felt was a sweet and simple party on what turned out to be a beautiful day in September.  Here are some of my favorite pics from our Selah girl's first birthday. (As I was posting these I realize I have way too many...I'll have to do a separate one for cute pics of the cousins and grandparents!)

I made a special banner for Selah - but we had to move locations at the last minute due to rain...so we lost our trees to hang it on. This photo is staged...our brothers are holding it up! :)

She wasn't too entirely interested in blowing out the candle...probably because she was fascinated by the crowd staring at her and cheering her on!

I made Selah a cake from the wholesomebabyfood.com website.  It
definitely tasted healthy.  Ha.


(This is Selah's cousin Braelyn...they share the same birthday!  Crazy and sweet:)

Special thanks to Kevin for being an awesome husband and daddy...
and for being patient with me during last minute party prep!

(My mom entertained the kids with balloon animals...she's the best!)

My grandma with Selah's cousins, Kaydance, Chase, and new baby Harper

Cousins Jallen and Jaxon watching Selah open presents

Selah was blessed with so many sweet gifts from family...and one from mommy and daddy...

Daddy handed us the "special pink box" we had wrapped...

This was a gift everyone especially liked...

We are so excited to announce Baby Love #2! (Due April 2013)

My family...

and Kevin's family.

We had a special blessing and prayer time for our birthday girl.

 Selah was happy and proud to stand and practice her walking for the crowd!

My mom bought this super cute seersucker dress for Selah in Franklin, TN during
our girls' week back in May.  I cut out and stitched the heart on it for the party.

Being silly with Papa Paul.

I could not have gotten everything done without my mom...
ESPECIALLY in light of my current condition. :)

So glad my grandma could make it!

Later that day Selah practiced for her new role...I think she'll do quite well. :)

 We love you Selah girl!  It has been our joy and honor to be your parents this very first year of your life...God has changed us forever through you, and we are so, so grateful.  We look forward to many more celebrations and memories made with you as we enjoy the adventure of our growing family!  You, my precious daughter are a treasure, and I'm thankful beyond words that I get to be your mommy.