Sam is a planner. He likes to get a plan in place and then not deviate from it at all. (Routine is a big deal to people on the spectrum.) We keep that in mind but we also push him a little on that front because he doesn't live in a bubble. He lives in a community with other people whose thoughts and preferences have to be considered as well. Last night was one such instance.

I had an engagement shoot and all the kids were home. Sam and I had talked earlier in the day about watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, his latest obsessions favorite past time. I had told him it would be fine but what I didn't realize was that a movie marathon of some sort was starting at the same time and the girls wanted to watch it.

During a phone conversation I reminded him that we were working on being considerate of other people and no that just because he let his sisters watch something instead of the game shows did not make him a lifetime loser. (Please note that whenever he mention the phrase lifetime loser he does indeed hold his fingers into the shape of an "L" on his forehead.) I tried to talk him through understanding that his shows could be watched another time and they came on every day but the movies didn't. He was pretty convinced I had been brainwashed by his sisters.

"But, Mooooom! We were agreed on this. You are spoiling them!"

Without missing a beat,

"Wait, is this some kind of feminist march?"

I think he is feeling slightly out numbered with his father out of town.

Poor kid.

The other day I had the most surreal experience or rather moment of realization. The stage had already been set I guess by the fact that Rob and I had recently gone away for the weekend and the kids stayed home. Alone. Without even a grandmother to oversee things. We didn't actually do the same happy dance that we did say, when the last diaper was used or when we told everybody to go get in the van and no one needed help, but there was a quiet celebration when we got back home and everyone had survived without us for a few days. (Apparently we do need to establish some contact protocol in case we do it again though. The kids wrote up a rather hilarious desperately-seeking-parents facebook post when we didn't communicate with them as much as they felt we needed too.)

Anyway, last week I was doing a quick mini session for a friend and Emily was sending me text of things she was designing on the computer. She is seriously considering a graphic design college path and it was fun to see her creating and working on something. When I got home Abby wanted to talk pictures with me and we went through some of her recent photographs and talked shop so to speak. She is showing a lot of interest in photography and some talent and skill. Sarah is happy and content with her life and working so hard towards her nursing degree. Sam is working hard as the church janitor and learning to be responsible for a job and tithing and other grown up stuff not centered around LEGOS or the latest episode of America's Got Talent (although both things are still very important to him.) Claire is busy and active and into everything...playing with friends, volleyball camp, reading and puzzles, and painting sun catchers.

We've spent summer so far in and out of the kitchen baking and cooking and trying new things. We're doing new things like leaving them alone and nobody is dying and they are all growing and thriving and suddenly it came to me that we are so much further down the road than I realized. So much closer to where we wanted to go when they were all tiny and we were really hoping and wondering if any of us would survive.

If you had asked us way back then where we were headed and what we wanted for our kids and our family I don't think we could have told you. I'm not sure I can articulate even now but I know they are growing up and maturing in a way that pleases me because I think it pleases Him and it's in part because of the hard work we put into them and all because of the work He has done and is doing in spite of us.

Not that we have arrived or anything. There is the occasional dust up over whose turn it is to clean out the litter box and there may or may not have been a smallish kerfuffle over a chair the other night. But we're seeing landmarks that show we've been going in the right direction. They're living and creating and loving and being and it's wonderful.

As for where we're headed? No idea. But I know it's in front of us and we keep pressing forward trusting that He is making the path straight and leading us right where He wants us.

A couple of weeks ago Rob and I went to Lakeland to visit a sister CREC church. It is a beautiful city with plenty of charm and my goodness, the locations for great photos were abounding! (Anybody want to go on a road trip for a destination session?)

On Saturday morning we visited the historic landmark campus of Florida Southern College. It is the only campus designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and it was gorgeous. The man led quite the life but his designs have always fascinated me. His idea that the building should be a part of it's surroundings birthed what is called organic architecture. I love the lines and his use of glass in his designs.






It really is a beautiful campus and since I didn't have my real camera with me the pictures just don't do it justice.

After our morning spent at the college Rob needed to get some work done so I wandered around on my own. Our hotel, which was just lovely, was located near one of the city's many lakes. Again, the pictures don't really show off the beauty of the place. The grass is so lush and green and there are so many charming details.

Mirror Lake looks like something out of a fairy tale with it's broad sweeping stairs that go right to the water, the lovely arches of the old train station, and it's beautiful old fashioned light posts. The lake itself is huge and there are also restaurants and a really fun children's area.

I must have seen about a dozen different types of water bird around various parts of the lake but the swan seems to be the symbol of the city in the way that pelicans are for Pensacola. Apparently swans were pretty visible in the early 1920's but by the time the 50's rolled around the swans were practically extinct due to predators. The story goes that one Lakeland resident was so sad at the loss of the swans that they contacted the Queen Elizabeth who sent two royal swans in answer. So while Lake Mirror may not be an actual fairy tale land the swans are of royal descent.


I love flowers. Any kind, including the weedy ones. Whether I get them from the store, a florist shop, the hands of children, or friends. I like having them in our home because they add so much cheer and beauty.

Recently some friends were over for  dinner and they gifted me a lovely pink gladioli grown in their own yard. We've been enjoying it for well over a week now but since I know it won't live forever I took a few minutes the other day and photographed it. In the midst of a crazy photography season it was a sweet respite from editing. I did a few of the pictures using the reverse lens macro and they are rather delicate looking abstracts.

I wanted to know a little bit more about the flower itself so I looked it up. I learned that it is actually native to south Africa and it's name is derived from the Latin word for sword and literally means "little sword".  Because of this it often symbolizes strength. It is also an extremely feminine looking flower with it's delicate, sometimes ruffled, petals.

I think because of the close connection between beauty and strength it will symbolize the virtuous woman for me.

Originally there were only seven varieties but now there are over 10,000 cultivated kinds in just about any color you can think of.  They can range in size from two to five feet.

Whether growing in a garden or gracing a vase they are quite lovely, aren't they?

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.


She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.


She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.


She puts her hand to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household 
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently, 
but you surpass them all." 

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Have you ever considered how amazing the process is by which we learn language?

Somehow, just by the process of hearing, we learn to speak.

As parents we talked to our children from the time they were born. (Actually, we talked to ours the moment we found out they existed.)  Those cute little disruptive balls of humanity had no idea what we were saying but we talked to them anyway.

We told them who we were.

Mama loves you.

We told them who they were.

There's Daddy's little man.

We introduced them to people.

Go see Grandma.

Not a word was understood by Daddy's lil' man but we sure wanted them to know of our love and we
wanted them to know who their grandparents were, along with the countless other family and friends we named.

And what did our babies do?

They soaked it all in. It didn't mean much in the beginning but it didn't take long before the weird sounds we made got connected to real tangible things and understanding began to dawn.

The process happened almost unbidden, with no noticeable effort made to learn the ins and outs of language, the subtle nuances of the tongue growing up unconscious with the maturity of the child.

We don't question talking to our children or question this way of learning speech. And we don't dumb it down. I mean we don't require them to give us the chemical break down of water just because they're thirsty and in need of a drink, but they do ask for water and they know it will quench their thirst. And at some point down the road they're going to learn about the chemical make up of water.

The language of the Church, what they are called to believe should be taught to them in the same unbidden fashion.

The liturgy of worship, it's call to come before God, to realize we can't go before Him unclean, the answering confession of our need for forgiveness, the way the Word and sacraments nourish us...this is where the foundation is laid for a righteous vocabulary. 

No, the infant or toddler or child in the pew may not fully understand what is being said on Sunday morning. But they are learning who their people are. More importantly they are learning who their God is and what He expects of them.

We shouldn't underestimate children's capacity to learn, to be shaped and formed, by our church services anymore than we should underestimate their ability to learn and speak language. They are perfectly designed for the task.

In the very beginning of my Pinterest Test Kitchen posts I merely linked to the recipe and shared any changes I made and what our overall reaction was to the recipe. Then for some reason I started typing them completely out and only linking to the original source. Actually I think the reason was because I hate clicking on a link expecting a recipe but then having to click through to another site just to get to it. Terribly lazy of me I know and somewhat hypercritical because I am going to probably start including more of those kinds of posts again.  Why reinvent the wheel, right? I'm sure that upon occasion I will still type out the whole thing but for today I am going to link to a delicious homemade pie from Pioneer Woman.

The only real thing I would change would be not using my large pie plate. As you can see it made for a thinner pie and pie should never be thin.

That homemade chocolate pudding filling?


I've actually bought the stuff to make a white chocolate version. Doesn't that sound just delicious with raspberries on top? I'll let you know how it turns out when I make it!

A few weeks ago we spent a Saturday morning downtown. I didn't carry my big camera with me but when we walked past a place where I had taken the kids pictures before we did a sort of re-create picture. It didn't turn out nearly as good as some other recreations we've done but it was still fun to try and squish them into the same little spot they had all fit into before.

I am going to assume by the lack of coordination in clothing that we hadn't planned on taking pictures that day.

Obviously we hadn't planned to do pictures this Saturday either.

My goodness, how they have grown! Pardon me while I go have a good cry.

A few weeks ago our oldest daughter was accepted into the nursing program she had applied to. There were more than a few tears of thankfulness and great rejoicing all around. The weeks of waiting ended in a pleasant and longed for result. But what if she hadn't been accepted? She had not one but two different contingency plans in place and more importantly she had her head and mind in the right place. She was prepared to submit to a different outcome.

In her book, Virtuous, Nancy Wilson shares that her mother-in-law defined Christian contentment as a deep satisfaction with the will of God. This is more, far more, than a grin and bear it attitude. It is much more than a waiting for my ship to come in outlook. True contentment is more than a Pollyanna-esque belief that if God closes one door He will open a window.

Deep satisfaction.

A complete acceptance of circumstances. 

An abiding trust when it just doesn't make sense.

It's the bloom of faith in the midst of hard disappointing circumstances. And that sort of faith doesn't just happen. I mean it's easy for us to be content and fine when the lines are falling for us in pleasant places. And that's okay. We should be happy and thankful when God is pouring a blessing upon our head.

But true contentment isn't the lovely wildflowers that spring up across a field. They're the flower on the cactus blooming among the sharps points and barbs.

That kind of contentment hard fought and won and often times we are even unwilling to see and accept it in others. If a young mother never complains about difficulties with her little ones we assume she doesn't have any. Or we assign some kind of super next level faith to her.

The woman who never speaks ill of her husband is looked upon as being married to a perfect man and having a perfect life. In actuality she has learned that complaining and whining doesn't make her burdens any lighter but rather heavier.

That deep satisfaction with God's will grows in the soil of submission, watered by prayer and fertilized with God's word.

We have to be willing to wrestle through our own discontentment, pain and hurt, plans and agenda. We have to dig in and believe that His timing is perfect and that what He designs for us is far more perfect and good for us than anything we could come up with on our own.

Only then can we say along with Paul that no matter what situation we find ourselves in we are content.

For some reason April and May are busy season around our house. For the family in general and specifically for Rob. I think it has something to do with the end of the school year and the wrapping up of other things that follow a similar calendar.

Whatever the reason I know that there are times when what my husband needs from me is to not need anything from him. The way I can be his helpmeet is to not add much more demands on his time or room in his brain. And this is ok and not a bad thing at all because honestly it is just for a season. I don't mind doing it for him because I know he needs it. Occasionally however, it happens that the season extends itself a little bit further and we fall into a pattern where I get lost in the tyranny of the urgent.

When I say occasionally what I am really saying is not often at all but it has happened this way a few times over the course of our marriage and recently we found ourselves in that place and my feelings got hurt. At no point did I feel as if my husband no longer loved me or wanted to be with me but I felt like it had become too easy for him to put me aside to deal with all the other stuff because he knew I would be there. It wasn't malicious on his part rather it was presumptuous love. He realized it had crossed a line, gave me some room to share what I was thinking and feeling, and asked forgiveness so we're good and all is well.

Later that evening I sat down to work on my Bible study and started reading over the questions.

What do your attitude and approach to your personal Bible study reveal about you and what you expect of Jesus?

I realized I was a few days behind in the reading and questions. Life has been busy and with one thing and another I had let that time slip knowing that it would be there when I got to it.

Can you see where this is going?

It was as if the Holy Spirit put a mirror in front of me. I had let the busy-ness of life take away the time I had been spending in prayer and study knowing that He would be faithful to be there when I got to it.

I was guilty of a presumptuous love all my own without even realizing it.  God isn't standing around with a calendar and a stop watching recording the moments we do or don't come to Him in prayer and Bible study but He does call us to pursue wisdom, to seek Him, every day. Not for His sake but our own because He knows we need that time with Him to function well and to do all the other things of life in a way that is pleasing to Him. It's not just so we can check it off a list anymore than Rob needs to mark me off his list of responsibilities...prepare sermon, visit this parishioner, spend time with wife. A marriage is supposed to be a place where the husband and wife can take refuge from the world, to rest and restore each other. So is our time in prayer and study.

I had a moment where I could have just shrugged off what I was being convicted over. I could have looked past my reflection in that mirror and focused on the pile of laundry that needed folding or the drooping flowers in the vase on the mantle that needed watering. I could have looked past my own sin and continued to focus on what had been consuming my time in the first place. Or, like my husband, I could hear what was being said and seek forgiveness.

I am grateful that God is kind to speak to us in our sin with gentleness. I am blessed with a husband who is willing to humbly show me how to respond.

Rarely do these things pop out at us unexpectedly from no where. God is gracious in drawing our attention to things early on if we will just listen and hear. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love He calls to us before we can wander too far.

May we stand ready, eager to hear from our King.

There are a lot of things you learn to cope with when dealing with autism. When Sam was little we figured out some of his triggers and learned to avoid them if possible. I say some triggers because the thing with autism is that you don't always know what the triggers are and some days it would be something completely normal and common to our life that had never gotten a reaction before that moment. I also said 'avoid when possible' because sometimes you couldn't always avoid the situations. Sometimes you just had to go the grocery store.

In our experience the triggers are less frequent now that he is older. Not sure if it is just normal (for an autistic kid) maturing or the years of working with and dealing with stuff that makes the difference but I have a feeling it is a combination of both.

But there are still things to deal with. Mostly social things. Sam is no respecter of personal space. A common conversation in our house happens around the hugging of his sisters. First it should be noted that when Samuel wakes up...he is awake. His sisters? Not so much. And Sam is also tall. Really tall. He has a tendency to squish his sisters. Consequently, they are somewhat resistant to his brand of affection. "I just want to love them, Mama!"

So we talked. About how if he wants to hug his sisters because he loves them then he needs to show that love to them in a way that is pleasing and pleasant to them. He needs to be gentle and considerate. He can't just grab them around the neck and squeeze.

He's working on it. It's probably a conversation we will have to have in different forms many more times but he is working on it.

We're working on a lot of things along those lines.

Sam loves to ride his bike. He also likes to visit. There are two families in our neighborhood that we also go to church with. We've had to talk with Sam about limiting his visits because he was stopping to visit every single time he went for a bike ride. Which is probably about four or five times a day.

Visits from Sam can be awkward because, and I say this with much love and joy in my son, Sam is awkward. He tends to enter a room like Cosmo Kramer. And he just wants to poke around and check things out. His conversational skills are less than smooth unless he is talking about his cartoons and comics and he's loud.

Both families have accepted his inelegant visits with much kindness and grace. Sometimes they give him tasks to do or just enter into the clumsy cadence of his conversation. One of our friends shared about one of his visits where he just hung out in the grand kids play room, rummaging around and then she heard him on her elliptical exercise machine.

Both families have made room in their lives for our son. I like to think that, in some ways, Sam is contributing something to their lives that is pleasant and pleasing but the truth of the matter is that Sam requires a lot. A lot of grace, a lot of tolerance, and a lot of room to just be Sam.

I guess the take away from this post, if there is one, is this. If you have an autistic person in your life somewhere don't be afraid to let them into your life. Don't let their awkwardness put you off. Trust me - you may sense the awkward but they don't. They're learning grace from you. They're learning life and family and friendship from you. I'm not saying let them have free reign. Our friends do a good job of welcoming Sam in but also of putting boundaries in place for him. They add their string melody to the percussion rhythm of life we're pounding out for him everyday.

There are plenty of places for us to sound out our solos but our boy needs to hear the sounds of the full orchestra. We all do. And when your community steps in and joins your song right where you are it is the most beautiful sound you will ever hear. It's the sound of grace.

If you're serious about stepping into the song of a family with autism be prepared for some crazy riffs. They don't always know when to let it rest. Case in point, one of the sweet families mentioned above paid Sam to take care of returning trash cans and check the mail while they were on a trip. He did a great job. About a week and a half after they got back though I received a call from Terri asking me to chat with Sam about checking their mail. It seems that he was still checking it and setting it on their front porch. The concern was that it would blow away before they got to it. The other big concern was the fact that he was removing the outgoing mail :-)

The other of the sweet families above went for a walk around the neighborhood the other day, and returned the favor of a pop-in visit. It was a joyful moment, and everybody (even Sam) got the joke.

Recently I was challenged to consider where my mind is when I am in the midst of suffering. The question came in the middle of our study in John dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus.

I can honestly say that I have only faced true suffering two times in my life. Obviously there have been hard times, difficult times, but only two seasons of what I would call true suffering. In the grand scheme of things not much and after really considering those passages of  John, surely nothing that compares to the suffering of  Christ. 

His suffering covered every  realm of humanity. 

Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. No part of Him and no part of mankind was left untouched by suffering. The beatings, the betrayal of friends, the weight of sin and the wrath of God, that perfect fellowship with the Father and the Spirit being broken. While we may suffer in some of these realms at some point in our lives, He suffered in them all at one time in a magnitude that we aren't capable of experiencing.

But when we read of that time in His life it is completely clear where His mind was. 

When Judas was preparing to betray Him, Jesus was washing His feet.

When the disciples could not even stay awake to pray with Him, He was crying out before God the Father on their behalf for protection from the world and the evil one.

As the soldiers pinned His arms down to pound nails into His flesh, He literally asked God to forgive them.

Stripped naked and laid bare before all, with soldiers casting lots for His clothes and the crowd hurling insults, He granted forgiveness to the thief next to Him.

In the midst of such physical agony He looks down and sees His mother and makes provision for her care.

In the midst of His suffering He wasn't thinking of Himself, His pain, the unjustness of His situation but of those around Him, family, friend, and foe.

Remember when Jesus came upon the blind man and His disciples asked if the blindness was the result of the man's sin or that of his parents? Jesus' reply was that it was not a result of sin but rather " that the works of God might be displayed in him..."

There are horrible things that happen in this life. There is pain and suffering that for many of us is unimaginable yet it takes place in the lives of others every day. But no matter how great or how small our suffering may be we are called to take on the mind of Christ and suffer as He suffered. 

What He shows us is that even in the midst of suffering we are to look outward, to those around us, and minister to them so that the work of God may be displayed in us just as it was displayed in not only the blind man but perfectly and completely in Christ, in whose life our lives are hidden. 

There has been something on my mind lately but before I put it out there I am going to make a disclaimer.

This is not directed to anyone specifically.

It is just an attitude behavior something that I really don't want to see be a thing.

It's also something that I expect can ruffle feathers. On the one hand I expect it to ruffle the feathers of those who don't know what God's word says about women and wives and our role in the world around us. So basically if some unbelieving feminist were to stumble across my blog then I expect she would be quite angry.

But on the other hand, to some degree, I expect that there will be believing, church-going women who may stumble across my blog who may also become annoyed at this post. We've gotten very good at baptizing the feminist movement and putting a Jesus spin on it. Womanhood inside the church often doesn't look any differently than womanhood outside of the church. And that is a tragedy. Even if we are going about the same day-to-day activities of tending our homes and raising our children it should look remarkably different below the surface. Why? Because we are doing those things with a eternal Kingdom goal in mind.

So here it is. The thought that has been popping into my thoughts frequently is this.

Wives, you were made to be his helpmeet. He was not made to be yours.

Get over the whining about how hard your life is and how much he should be helping you. Stop manipulating every situation and activity that you have in your life until it is the absolute most convenient situation or activity for you.

Don't complain about never having time as a family to do something fun like go to the beach or walk the farmer's market if you can't get a grip on going to the grocery store with your children without him.

Don't ignore the fact that he is in a conversation with people and just drop a screaming child at his feet and walk away.

Don't wait until he is home from work and basically hand off the children to do the laundry or dishes or whatever. He doesn't come home to you and dump a bunch of his work on your lap for you to do so don't do the same to him.

It's not that being housekeeper, book keeper, chef, laundry doer and nanny makes you his helpmeet because it about far more than that. Those are just some of the things you do because you are his helpmeet. Think in terms of being a believer. We do things, behave in certain ways, because we are christian not because those things make us christian. We are not helpmeets because of what we do rather we do things because we are helpmeets.

Our goal, our job, our joyful God-given task is to assist our husbands in their goal, job, and God-given tasks. We do all that we can to ensure his success - first as the head of our homes, and then in whatever other calling and work he has to do, be it doctor, lawyer, or grocery store clerk.

Obviously there are times when we need more grace, more help, from our men than usual.  Got a newborn?  Then oh, yeah we need all hands on deck to tame the laundry and put something other than pb & j or cold cereal on the table for dinner. But, sister, if your newborn is actually a three month old then get a grip on your day and stop letting your husband carry part of your load on top of his own.

Having a new baby is just an example and not the only time when your husband taking a more active role in things is to be expected. We have five children spanning college age down to fourth grade. There are some days when I am making my bed at five o'clock in the afternoon knowing he is going to walk in the door at 5:15. There are nights when I'm texting to ask if he can stop and pick up frozen pizza for dinner. Still other evenings when I'm doing a load of laundry at nine o'clock so he can have clean underwear the next day.

Life happens. I'm just saying those should be the exceptions and not the rule.

Should a wife be the only one to cook dinner? Do we only have women's work and men's work in our homes? Is it a sin for the husband to do a load of laundry or give the kids a bath? Of course not.

My point isn't to lay out a rigid list of dos and don'ts and household commandments that cannot be broken. My point is that we cannot overlook, skip, and ignore that we were made to be helpmeets.

My point is to evaluate this season of your life. Ask some hard questions of yourself. Have you gotten used to more help from your husband than is really necessary or even right for you to have? Do you need the extra help for legit reasons or because you are slacking off in some areas like good time management and planning? Are you diligently disciplining your children (not just spanking) but training them in the way that contributes to the peacefulness and productiveness of your family? Are you needing more help than usual because you've taken on some responsibilities that are putting your priorities out of order?

Again, this wasn't directed to anyone specifically. It's more that I don't want to see you shy away from or apologize for the role God has given you. And I really don't want you to not step up and meet the challenge of the life He has called you to out of fear. Don't be afraid. He has made you, fitted you,  for such a task as this.

I know I've been neglecting the blog but geeze, I didn't realize it had been since sometime in December since I shared a recipe. But Imma fix that right now. And it's a super easy but oh, so yummy one too.

While I didn't follow a recipe for this I am positive that there are a bunch of really great ones out there for the same thing. Probably better ones. Probably with handmade ingredients and I imagine it would be really great if you were so inclined. But the great thing about this dish, I think, is it's ability to adapt to either option. This is the quick and easy throw it all together and get on with life version.

What you'll need:
One package of your favorite stuffed ravioli, prepared according to package directions
(I've used the Rana and the Buitoni brands. Plus one from Sam's Club that I can't remember the name of but it was stuffed with a smoked good!)
2 jars Alfredo sauce
1 8oz fresh mushrooms, sauteed
1 large or 2 medium size boneless chicken breast, boiled and shredded
green onions or scallions, chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese

What you'll do:
Mix all ingredients except the ravioli together in a large sauce pan. 
Cook until heated through.
Gently stir in pasta until ravioli is completely coated.
Pour into a 9x13 pan.
Top with the cheese.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Serve with either a salad or steamed green beans or asparagus.

"Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." John 19:19

When a person was sentenced to death by crucifixion it was customary for a sign of some sort to be made and posted detailing the crime of the condemned.  Pilate went a few extra steps and had those words inscribed three times,

 "...and it  was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek..." John 19:20

Needless to say the religious leaders were less than thrilled with Pilate's diligence and demanded repeatedly, to no avail, that the sign be changed to say that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. Pilate stubbornly declared, "What I have written I have written." His proclamation of the Kingship of Christ was declared before all of mankind and recorded for all time. 

It's been noted that Aramaic was the language of the Jews and as such represented the covenant and God's law. 

Latin was the official language of the Romans, denoting human government, power and conquest. 

Greek was the language of wisdom, art, and commerce.

The inscription in these three languages insured that absolutely any person who happened by at the time of His death would know what crime Jesus had committed and for which He had been sentenced.

It also left no aspect of humanity untouched by the declaration that Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews.

Three days later an empty tomb would also bear witness and attest to His Kingship over everything, even death.

Tonight we'll gather for Maundy Thursday. Simply put it means we will be exhorted to love one another, and we take part in the Lord's Supper.

Tomorrow evening we will join with a sister church for a Good Friday service and we'll sing psalms and hymns and read Scripture. At the end the lights will symbolically go off and we will leave the room without speaking, a way of marking the darkness that fell as Christ, the Light of the world, took on the wrath of God.

But on Sunday...

On Sunday we will rejoice in the risen Savior! We will feast and celebrate that which should govern everyday of how we live.

Christ the Lord is risen! Indeed He is the King of Kings.

It's been some years since I started blogging during the month of April about autism. In the beginning it was really easy sharing about the early years of our journey but as Sam has gotten older it has been more difficult for a variety of reasons.

The first being a desire to protect Sam's dignity. He may have autism but he is still a typical teenage boy and he doesn't enjoy having his business out on the street so to speak. When he was little he was unaware of the telling of the amusing stories and when he was aware he was unaware of any need to be embarrassed. That unawareness has given way to a more mature self awareness that in the long run is a good thing and a milestone of growth. (One that thankfully has not shown up in his dancing I am happy to say. He is still blissfully unaware that he dances like a six foot skinny all elbows and knees white boy and that makes me happy. Not because I relish him looking like a fool, because somehow he doesn't, instead his pure enjoyment in music and movement and the freedom to enjoy both fully is just plain fun to see and somewhat contagious and almost a dare to let go and enjoy something so completely as to forget ones self.)

The second reason it is harder to blog about it now is because he is older and that means that autism itself is older and different. The challenges we faced when he was little seemed so big and difficult then and yet, just as in parenting in general, those now seem to be small and lacking in the complexity we face with a teenage boy smack in the middle of puberty.

I used to wonder why I couldn't find much out  there about autism and teenagers/adulthood. But now I get it. Or at least I think I do.

It's not pretty or romantic.

I realize those are the last two words that you hear in conjunction with autism but bear with me a second.

The best way I can explain what I mean is to point to something else and say "That's what I'm talking about" knowing full well that those kinds of statements usually fall apart rather quickly if looked at too closely. So don't try to look too far into this but take it at face value, ok?

The beginning of  a marriage carries a certain essence to it...the honeymoon phase if you will. But after a while things settle into a more natural frequency. It should still be beautiful and romantic but the definition of those things changes to include the reality of life with another person. The reality of dirty socks, chores, bills, and day to day sin.

Life with autism is the same in the sense that what we lived with and experienced with Sam when he was little is different than what we live with and experience with him now. The reality of autism, of having a son with autism, is broader and heavier.

But that doesn't mean it is without beauty. Just as the depth of love experienced by the couple who has been married for twenty five years is far richer and more rewarding than the couple who has been married for twenty-five days so is life with a sixteen year old autistic young man as opposed to that sweet chubby faced toddler.

Harder to describe and share about but it is definitely more mature, more robust. The struggles and battles are at times heavier but I still wouldn't have him any other way. Autism is still a gift. He is still a gift.

In case you missed it on Facebook here is a video of Sam dancing in all of his white boy glory.


The catching up part...

It started with Rob's computer dying.

The following week it was the refrigerator.

The next it was his car going into the shop.

Not to be left alive and well and missing all the fun,  my computer committed suicide.

We've had allergies, head colds, and mono.

We've also been preparing for a class trip to New York. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you have searched for a pair of modest appropriate jeans for a five foot nine inch one hundred thirteen pound teenage girl.

Oh, and did I mention that we are homeschooling Sam again? We were kind of sure this would be his last year at Trinitas but we didn't expect that having a few months of preparing and planning would suddenly be reduced to four days.

It's been a real tilt-a-whirl life lately.

Buuut, and I hope I am not speaking too soon, I think this is where the slowing down part begins.

Rob is all settled in with his new computer.

A brand spanking new fridge is in my kitchen.

His car, and all other Hadding vehicles, are running just fine. (May it continue to be thus.)

And I am adjusting to a new keyboard and the maternity session, retirement party, and 50th birthday party have all been reloaded and editing has begun again from scratch. Double the work but grateful everything was backed up onto my external hard drive.

The mono patient is on her way to a full recovery and the assorted other ailments and afflictions are all being tended.

Emily's jeans are packed and she is on her way to the Big Apple as we speak read.

Sam's transition to homeschooling is going well. Trinitas is still wonderful and the girls still attend but it became clear to all of us that as great as the education is and as loving a community as it is, that Sam needed something else. We're incredibly grateful for his time there and the rich blessing that his classmates were to him. We're looking forward to a wonderful journey with him.

Which brings us to the Samtoon part...

Sam has always had a bit of an eclectic taste in music. The last season of America's Got Talent broadened his taste to include an affection for opera. It was just a matter of time before it bled over into his cartooning. Those silly ol' Vikings!

A few weeks back I joined a ladies Bible study that meets weekly at an area church. Having been raised in church first as a preacher's kid and now as a pastor's wife (going on twelve years!) I freely admit that I was hesitant at best and skeptical at worst. Mainly because through the years I have seen how ladies "Bible studies" can quickly descend into a complaint session about husbands, children and life in general or be an exercise in emotionally manipulative me and Jesus naval gazing.

This BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) has been pleasantly refreshing. Our small group leader is really good at keeping us on track and has shown that albeit gently, she will question positions or thoughts that get shared that may not be very clear. What I have also really enjoyed is the lecture time. The woman who leads that aspect of our weekly time does so in a very non preachy manner and I don't feel like she is trying to elicit a particular response from me.

All in all it has been really good for me and I am enjoying studying Scripture in a way that I haven't before. It's on the book of John (which was the final push for me to join since Rob was beginning a new sermon series on that same book.) The group had already been meeting for a while so I picked up in chapter twelve and I am pleased with how the time line is flowing naturally with the church calendar.

Today we begin a new season on the Church calendar, that of Lent. We're basically toddlers interacting with this particular time frame. We're still coming to an understanding of what it is and how we participate in it. As today has drawn closer (Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season) I've been spending time considering this time of preparation for Easter. It's a time that we remember the darkness that the Light came to dispel and how much we needed that Light.

John chapter 13 has been coming to my mind again and again. Two parts in particular. The first is the beautiful imagery we see when Jesus washed the disciples feet.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments...

Up to this point Christ, who has existed in perfect union of fellowship with The Father and the Spirit, would empty Himself and take on the full weight of mankind's sin and feel the full wrath of God

and taking a towel, tied it around His waist...

He who was perfect and eternal took on flesh.

Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him...

How can one read that and not immediately be reminded of the blood and water pouring from his side as He hung on the cross? How can we not be reminded that we are washed in the water of the Word and then remember that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us?

The other thing that really stands out to me is a conversation Jesus has after telling the disciples that one of them would betray Him.

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He spoke...So that disciple, leaning back on Jesus, said to Him, Lord, who is it?

They simply had no idea who among them was the betrayer. And this astounds me because Jesus did. He knew what Judas was going to do but He treated Judas just like the other disciples to the point that they had no clue who was going to turn away. They were utterly clueless.

And I realize how quick I am to let my annoyance show over even the slightest offense, real or imagined. How easy it must be for everybody to know when I am upset and why I am upset and who I am upset with.

As the Lenten season begins it is clear just how much I need Good Friday. And how incredibly humbled I am by Resurrection Sunday.

Years ago, far more than I was comfortable with when I realized exactly just how many years ago, I worked at a Montessori day school. We had a method of tracking the progress of our students that was pretty basic but effective. It involved a side meant that the activity had been introduced to the student. Two sides meant that the student was actively working on that particular task or skill while a completed triangle meant the child was proficient at the task from beginning to end. They didn't receive a completed triangle the first time they did the whole activity either but only after they showed themselves consistently completing the task. From beginning to end included a lot of steps. Like, a lot of steps. I think our dish washing station had something like seventy-five steps including choosing the work on the shelf, bringing it to their table, all the stuff involved in the activity itself, as well as the clean up, and lastly pushing their chair under the table.

I've tried to make the same effort in training our children in a similar way at home with chores in the sense that the job is not complete until, and unless, you have completed the whole task and not just part of it. If you have been tasked with cleaning the kitchen and dishes have been washed but are left drying in the sink then you really aren't finished. You've done a good thing, certainly, but it isn't done.

I feel much the same way right now viewing the political landscape, in particular on the pro-life front. I am surprised, shocked really, at how incredibly fast President Trump has moved to change things on the pro-life front. There is much to celebrate and rejoice over. Much to give thanks to God for.

But, I don't want us to view it as a time to let up. Our work is not done. The laundry is getting washed but it will still need to be dried, folded and put away. And while the President may be turning the washing machine on it is our honorable task to complete the work. The White House can do their part moving legislation along in the right direction but it will be us, the people in the streets and on the ground as they say, that will be doing the rest of the work.

God willing pregnancy centers will begin to see an uptick in client numbers as women who previously sought abortion now come to them for counsel and help. They are going to need more money and more hands than ever before. Rejoice that Vice President Pence will speak at the March For Life in Washington. But know that it won't be his face that greets a confused, frightened, or overwhelmed mother-to-be as she walks into a pregnancy resource center.

We are beyond excited that our own Pregnancy Resource Center in Milton is making a long prayed for and anticipated move to becoming a medical resource where women will have access to an ultrasound. This is a big deal since we know that the odds of an abortion go way down when a mother can actually see her baby's heartbeat. Be a part of that work. Find out how you can help that happen sooner rather than later by visiting their website.

But even giving your support to Milton PRC or Safe Harbor in Pensacola won't close that triangle. We must be more than pro-birth.We need to be pro-life at all stages. One of the greatest arguments used against pro-lifers by pro-choicers is that we only care about the babies, not the mothers and not about people in general.

People, all people, are made in the image of God. It is cracked and marred by sin, but it is intrinsically stamped upon everyone of us. It is present on the baby in the womb and the street thug on the corner with the baggy pants. It is a part of the junkie, the whore, the refugee, the homeless, the mentally unstable, the protester, the political opponent, the crack dealer, the school teacher, the movie star, neighborhood kid, the grocery store clerk, and your bank teller.

Get involved in things that restore the dignity of humanity. Volunteer with a literacy program. Find out the needs of the women and children's shelter in your area. Do you know that there are churches with clothes closets designed especially for people needing something to wear to a job interview? I heard of one church that hosted a car health clinic every couple of months in their parking lot. They would change the oil and check fluids and simple vehicle things for single mothers and the elderly. One church hosted a play day for foster families to come relax and have fun. You can bake a cake for your fire and sheriffs departments. Take your kids to the park on a sunny day and pass out popsicles to everybody. Hang out and get a basketball game going each week. Let people see your face enough that they recognize it and associate it with good things, with safety, with hope.

Although good things, really good things, are happening in some quarters of the pro-life movement we cannot act as if the work is done. Our task is far from finished and if we truly want to push back against those who oppose us then we must not give them room to say our way doesn't work, that it isn't enough.

Rejoice, but roll up your sleeves, because the dishes still need to be put away.

Every year at the beginning of that year my beloved bemoans the fact that he still doesn't have the jet pack society was basically promised in his childhood.

Me? Not too concerned.

But you know what would be neat?

An ink pen that would let you set a radius of usage and gave off a little jolt of electricity to anyone trying to leave the usage area with your pen. Like a shock collar only made for writing instruments.

You know what else would be seriously neat? And incredibly helpful?

A peanut butter container made in a box shape so that when you get down to the very last bit of peanut butter your hand doesn't get smeared with the creamy goodness as you try to scrape the jar clean.

Oooh, you know what else would be pretty neat?

A bumbrella. A clip of some sort that connects your umbrella to your car that allows both hands to be free as you load children or groceries into your vehicle so that your bum doesn't get soaking wet in the process.

Hey, you know what I just thought of? Hair brushes! I have three sisters and when we were kids we were always loosing the hairbrush. So one day my poor long suffering father drilled a small hole into the end of the brush and attached a really long stretchy rubber band that he then hooked to the ceiling. Our hair brush was effectively on a leash.

My girls are constantly losing their hairbrushes. We've tried everything short of my Dad's trick. But maybe if the little shock collar-esque thing worked on a pen it could work on a hair brush too, no?

Looking for something?