Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring then onto summer!!

I love this time of year! The sun is shining and the birds begin to sing, and the weather is warmer; for the most part at least!

When spring comes it means that it's time to start planning for the summer. While we do have groups and retreats who come to enjoy the beauty of Pennsylvania at His Thousand Hills over the winter; our busiest time is during the summer months. This will be the fourth summer that my mom and I have been at HTH. Each year the Lord shows me new things and allows me to grow while working at the camp. I do enjoy it and look forward to the summer/fall months!

One of my favorite delights during summer is all the fresh produce. I do enjoy having a garden, but I've learned that we've gotten so busy during the summer that I have no time to keep up with it! So I usually try to get some fresh fruit and veggies from the store or the Mennonite stand just down the street from us.

Here is a recipe I was able to try for the first time last year. It's quickly become a favorite for my mom and me. It's great for a full meal or just a side dish.

White Bean Orzo and Asparagus Salad

Oil- I use Grapeseed, Coconut or Olive oil

2 cups White Beans- I use 1 can of Cannellini beans

2 Cups cooked Orzo pasta

1 1/2 Cups Asparagus- raw & cut to the size you want

1/2 Red Pepper

1/4 sweet white onion, sliced thin- I've used regular yellow onion and the flavor is really great

1/4 Cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

1/3 Cup Balsamic vinaigrette

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Saute onion and red pepper. Add asparagus and cook until desired tenderness. Rinse beans. Add beans basil, parsley and balsamic vinaigrette to asparagus mixture. Heat through. Add the orzo pasta, heat through and serve.

I sometimes add a few different ingredients to this dish depen
ding on what I have on hand. Mushrooms is a great addition as well as some nuts like almonds.

Sometimes I'll drizzle or substitute this basting oil in place of the regular oil. It is grapeseed and canola oil with garlic and a few other seasonings. It's delicious and adds some flavor. The only downside is that Wegmans is an hour I try to use it sparingly!

It's a pretty simple dish and as mentioned earlier you can add whatever you want to make this dish more to your liking!

Time to eat!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Remember...Testimony Behind The Song

Since I was nine or ten years old I've always loved to write songs. As the years have gone by, the Lord has given me music to help get me through the challenges in my life. When I'm going through a time of doubt, trial and difficulties I generally sit down and play the piano as a way of relieving that stress. It's not even necessarily a song that I know. Often it's just music that comes to me in the moment. Then the words will begin to flow. For a long time I've wanted to record and share that music with others. The doors never seemed to open...until this year.

As some of you may know in October of 2002 the Lord took my dad to be with Him. The years since have been very trying and difficult. Many times I've wondered why God has chosen for my family to travel this path. Sometimes I've even felt bitter about the way my life has been. I've asked God why He couldn't have allowed me to have my father here. It would have made things so much easier. Perhaps, I wouldn't have been so lonely and my heart wouldn't have a huge empty place that my dad used to fill.

The following song, Remember, was written in March and May of 2009. The verses are basically me crying out to to the Lord and the chorus is the reminder that we must trust and remember that God is with us even through those dark and confusing times.

Sometimes when I feel all alone in the dark,
Shadows that come and flee as a lark,
My heart starts to tremble to tremble in fear,
Then I remember You are always so near!

The first verse comes from the moments where I would lay awake at night feeling alone, missing my dad or maybe it was just the daily challenges that sometimes just get to overwhelming. I would often cry and just look at the shadows that lined the walls. In those moments my heart would be crying out and asking the Lord to be with me.

Sometimes when it seems life is going awry,

No hope just sorrow and tears dim your eye,

Should I go? Should I follow?

Lord, what should I do?

Father you know that I'm depending on you!

Life always has little surprises that seem to just creep up in the most inopportune moments. It's then that the questions begin to flow. What should I do? Often I've felt so lost as to what direction to take. But I know that God is leading in my life and I must stay focused and trust that He has a plan for everything that happens.

God is always with us and His reply to all our questions and fears is simple.

Remember, God is always near,

Remember, He takes away our fears,

So lift your hands and shout out a loud song of praise,

For He has saved us by His grace.

The Lord can turn all our fears and all our doubts around to a song of praise that will give glory and honor to Him. He already knows each of the steps we have to take and He's always by our side. We just need to remember to turn to Him.

One of the greatest blessings that happened during the writing phase of this song was the bridge part at the end. My mom often hears me playing music. She never really has any idea what the songs are about until I sing them for her. So all she had ever heard was the piano part. Words came into her heart as she heard the music and finally she wrote the words down. She came to me and said, "Every time you play that one song these words come into my mind. I don't know if it will work or if you can use it but here it is."

The words fit perfectly. It was as if after all the struggles (the verses) and the reminding of God being there (the chorus) the words for the bridge where an affirmation. A statement that one would say to keep on running the race to the finish.

I will not give up, I am not afraid, I will not give into defeat.

I will stand upon the Word of God whereon He sets my feet.

I love it when something like that happens!!! Isn't God great!

My goal is to continue to share music God has given me and I pray that it will be a blessing to all who hear it.

Catching Up

It has been well over a year since I've last posted. A lot has happened and it's time to finally get a new post out there.

I've been very busy in the last year! Last summer we had camp at His Thousand Hills (HTH) as we do every year. I believe it was the busiest summer since I've been at HTH. We had 11 groups in 10 weeks. Everyone was exhausted by the end of summer camp, but it was a great time! I was able to do a few new things too! For the first time I went canoeing! I didn't have a camera so I don't have a picture, but I will always remember the fun of that day! I was also able to try out the bungee run. What fun that was! Of course the camera was not around for that either...but once again I'll remember the great time spent with friends!

Dress-up dinner for Junior camp.

In September, Mike came home from Korea! He stayed in PA for two weeks and then treated my mom and me to a vacation in Saint Petersburg, Fl.We were down there for two weeks! It was amazing to just relax after such a busy summer. I did get sick through almost the first week with a cold, but it was so nice I didn't have any responsibilities...I was able to just lay in the sun or relax in the pool! Such a difference than being at home and think of all the stuff I'm not able to get done because I'm sick in bed!

We visited Fort Desoto, attend a Southern Gospel concert, went to a Yankees game and had an awesome with old friends and even made some new friends.

Mom and I were able to enjoy the Cold Stone Creamery for the first time!

Mike left on October 10th for his next station in Germany. He'll possibly be there for two it may be a while before we get to see him again.

Saying goodbye to the girl dogs

In November I had my 26th birthday. It's hard to believe time is going by so quickly! I sometimes wish time would just stop so I can get more done!!!

Christmas was great as we were able to talk with Mike for a few hours using Skype. We were also able to get to spend Christmas with my sister too! She usually has to work and the last few years she's had the 2-10 pm shift. Therefore we'd wake up open gifts and she'd have to run to work and have no time to spend with us. Well, this year she was able to get the morning shift and was able to spend all afternoon and evening with us. It was wonderful to be able to still have Christmas as a family despite all the distance and business of each of my family members!

Well, that's the update! Hopefully I can be more diligent in the future and not have such a long period before you hear from me again!