Game Day Recipe Ideas

If you know me, you know I’m no real sports fan. I’m usually the one day dreaming during the football games and left wondering what happened and why the crowd around me is erupting in applause. My poor husband haha….

However, I am a huge fan of tailgating and all the fun finger foods and festive decor that comes along with it. Grayson and I just so happen to be a part of the best tailgate group in America! The Green’s know how to party, and Jill is one of the best cooks I know. It really is the best part of football season!

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So, with all that being said, I thought it would be fun to share a few fun recipes I’ve found on Pinterest that I think would be perfect for tailgate or super bowl parties!

These “Cracked Out Turkey Pinwheels” from Plain Chicken

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This adorable dessert cheeseball from Belle of the Kitchen

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These savory loaded tater tot skewers from Made With Happy

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Of course, “Walking Tacos” from Neighborhood Food Blog

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These cute “Chicken and Waffle Sliders” from Food, Folks & Fun

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Individual Seven-Layer Dip Cups from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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These cute  fruit and donut kabobs from Greek U

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A Holy Perspective

It’s hard to keep a Holy perspective in a world where we’re so bombarded with distractions from what’s truly important. We live in the world that 2 Timothy 4:3 warned us of:

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

This “feel good Christianity” is dangerous, and although we usually think of it most affecting new Christians who don’t have a strong foundation in the faith, it can creep into even a mature Christian’s life, too. Even if you’re trying to live a Godly life, stay focused on His Word, and grow in your relationship with God, you can still lose perspective and fail to look at every situation, opportunity, and circumstance through the lens of Christ.

A few weeks ago, the Lord began impressing on my heart to keep a Holy perspective. In my quiet time, in prayer, and even in a podcast I listen to regularly, the idea kept coming back over and over again. I began asking Him to reveal His truth to me, wondering how this could apply to my life or what He wanted me to do with it.

To keep a Holy perspective, sometimes you have to flip “feel good messages” around a little. For instance:

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Nope. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have confidence, but that should read, “She believed she COULDN’T, so God did.”

What if we looked at the seemingly impossible feat before us and acknowledged that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5) but with Him, we can do all things because He gives us strength (Philippians 4:13)?

This is a similar example:

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Nope. With a Holy perspective, we would read that, “She remembered WHOSE she was, and the game changed.” As daughters of Christ, we have the belonging and the privilege of sonship that truly changes the game. Because we’re His, He is fighting on our behalf and He is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him!

I try not to get so preachy on the blog, but when God impresses something like this on your heart, you just have to share. I need the reminder more than anybody, because it’s so easy to scroll past a pretty quote on pinterest or instagram and double tap without putting it through the filter of scripture.

I say all this to encourage you, friends. Before you jump on board with something that feels good, ask yourself if it lines up with His Truth, ask Him to reveal any wrong beliefs you may have and ask Him to give you a Holy perspective, and above all else… cling to what is Good!

My Breastfeeding Journey

As soon as Landon was born, he was placed into my arms, but the nurses and doctor soon realized he was unable to cough up what was still in his little lungs and he had to be rushed to the NICU. Evidently, this is fairly common after inductions, but of course, as a brand new Mama, it scared me to death. They were still working on me when they brought him back, so he wasn’t gone too long, but as soon as they put him back into my arms, the first thought I had was is this delay going to prevent me from being able to breastfeed? Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

For months, I had researched and read blogs and watched videos and studied everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. I had asked too many questions to count, listened to the women I’m closest to tell of their experiences, and prayed until I was blue in the face. I didn’t really care about a “birth plan,” I just trusted God to take care of us, and I didn’t have many things that I was just completely heart-set on… but breastfeeding was different. For me, it was the most important thing.

For the last 15 months, I have found myself shying away from sharing too much about my breastfeeding journey for a few different reasons. I would never ever want anyone to think that I believe you’re a better mom if you breastfeed than if you bottle feed. I would never want anyone to think that I consider myself an expert or a know-it-all when it comes to breastfeeding (because even in the last month, I’ve had to seek advice from friends who have gone before me). I would never want anyone to feel bad that they were unable to breastfeed and my story make them feel less-than. You see, one thing I’ve learned from hearing so many women’s stories is that everyone’s breastfeeding journey is so, so different. What may have worked for me may not work for you, and so on.

Now that my breastfeeding journey has officially come to an end (Landon is 15 months old), I have decided to share my story. I love reading about other women’s stories and have found them so helpful, so hopefully someone will find my story helpful too.

So, from the very beginning:

The lactation consultants at the hospital were so helpful. I have heard a few women say that they felt intimidated by them or that they didn’t like the way they explained things or just barged into their rooms and started “doing their thing.” I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. I called for them in the middle of the night, I asked them a million questions, I let them squeeze and touch and do whatever they needed to do to help me get started. It was so important to me that I was more than willing to lay aside any ounce of modesty I had left (after giving birth… oh dear) to have someone help me. By the time I left the hospital (a day late, but we’ll get to that later) I was referring to them as “the angels in pink scrubs!”

By 24 hours after giving birth, I had started pumping in addition to breastfeeding (a lactation consultant’s advice, to help increase my supply) and was getting about 7ml. I felt like a champion! I would breastfeed every couple hours, pump, and immediately feed him what I had pumped. The day after that, we were supposed to be able to go home, but Landon was very jaundiced, and they decided to keep him another night under a bililight and on a biliblanket. Although I was upset, I knew it was a blessing in disguise because if we had been sent home and then realized that he was jaundice, we could not have returned to the new baby floor; we would have had to take him to the sick baby floor. So, it was really a good thing that they caught it before we were sent home. However, I was heartbroken when they told me that one of the ways to rid his sweet little body of the jaundice was to feed him and make sure he had lots of dirty diapers (to flush out his system) because just the day before, I thought I was doing so well breastfeeding, and come to find out, the measly 7ml I was producing wasn’t even half of what he needed. I cried and cried and felt like such a failure. That, combined with having to watch him lay there shaking, in just a diaper, under that lamp and not being able to hold him or comfort him was just too much. It seemed like a bad dream.

They came in and told me that because it was crucial to flush out his system, I needed to supplement with formula, something I did not want to do. This whole incident made me realize that fed is best. Not breastfed, not formula fed, just fed. However you can. So, my heart ached having to give him the formula, but thankfully, he only had to have it two times… because my milk supply more than TRIPLED by the next day (23ml.). I truly believe that was because the lactation consultants had me start pumping early, and it was part of Jesus’ plan all along. This taught me so much about being flexible, not giving up when I get discouraged, and about trusting His perfect plan.

When we brought him home the next day, I remember feeling like I was being sent home with no manual (which wasn’t entirely true, because I have my Mama, and she’s the best). When you bring a brand new baby home, it’s kind of like you go into survival mode. You just do what you have to do, try to take care of yourself too, and figure things out as you go. My Mama and Grayson were so good to me. They were such a huge help and Mama stayed with us for 3 nights. She would wake me up to nurse, and then make me go back to bed (I was still in a lot of pain, recovering from second degree tears and quite a few stitches).

I had chosen the Medela Symphony electric breastpump from my insurance and if I was giving it a 1-10 rating, I would give it a 7/10. It got the job done, but isn’t top of the line and I had a few problems with it after a few months. However, I’m so thankful for it! I nursed every two hours for 15 minutes on each side, alternating the starting breast each time. The two hour mark was two hours from the last time I started, so really, it was every one and a half hours, because it took 30 minutes to nurse. Then, immediately after nursing, I pumped for 15 more minutes, making it a 45 minute process each time. This left about one hour and 15 minutes between feedings, not including washing the pump bottles or feeding him what I had pumped. This was a big time commitment, but it was wonderful because:

  1. By nursing and pumping in this consistent pattern, I was able to establish a very strong milk supply from the very beginning.
  2. By feeding him a bottle of what I had pumped each time, I was able to KNOW he was getting at least ___ amount (because with breastfeeding, you don’t really know how much they’re getting, you just have to gauge it by their weight gain).
  3. By both nursing him and having him take a bottle from the very beginning, I made my life much easier in the long run (I was later able to send him to the church nursery or leave him with Grayson while I went grocery shopping and then later even let him stay overnight with my Mama or in-laws with no problems).

As time progressed, the time between feedings stretched, but I continued to pump after each feeding until he was about 8 months old. When his birth weight doubled I stopped feeding him a bottle of what I had pumped the previous time and began freezing the milk in bags to establish a frozen supply. I would encourage all breastfeeding moms to do this in case you got sick and were unable to nurse (although I’ve nursed through the flu) or were in an accident of some sort or developed mastitis (God forbid) or anything happened that prevented you from being able to nurse. Then, when your baby is older, it makes your life so much easier, because you are able to leave them for periods of time and someone else can feed them. One thing I will say, is that when you stop feeding the bottle of pumped milk in addition to nursing (which, like I said, I did until his birth weight doubled), don’t stop giving bottles entirely. It’s important to occasionally give bottles so that they don’t become resistant to the bottle and undo what you worked to accomplish by training them to accept both.

Now, I’m getting a little ahead of myself because there’s one more thing I need to say about lactation consultants. Before I left the hospital, I made an appointment to go back one week later to meet with a lactation consultant again. That way, they could assess how I was doing on my own, answer any questions I might have developed in the course of that week, and make sure I was doing well, his latch was correct, etc. When I went back for this appointment, I was to make sure that it was time for Landon to nurse so they could watch him and see how things were going. I found this experience extremely helpful. At one point, she squeezed my breast so hard that it brought tears to my eyes and she explained that if you get clogged milk ducts, you can develop mastitis (which, if you don’t know what it is… look it up… scary stuff). When I got home, I pumped and freaked out when the pump bottle was filled with bloody milk. I called frantically and spoke with her, and she assured me that it was a good thing because it had prevented build up that leads to mastitis. I was so glad I had gone back, and from that point on, I was very vigilant about checking for lumps and massaging them out so they didn’t develop into something worse.

As Landon grew, I eliminated feedings by gradually moving to every other day, then eliminating it altogether. As he began to eat more and more solids, I eventually only nursed first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, with the latter being the last remaining feeding. It was evident at the end that he was nursing more for comfort than nutrition, and because I never nursed him to sleep ( I always lay him in the crib awake to fall asleep on his own) it was easy to rock him for a while to wind him down before bed instead of nursing.

Over the last 15 months, I have used my breastmilk to cure Landon’s clogged tear ducts, treat eczema (given him milk baths), and treat the one ear infection he’s had. I have used it myself to soothe sore, cracked nipples. As Landon started teething, I used it to make “momsicles” (popsicles made of breastmilk) to soothe his gums.

I have been through cluster feedings and growth spurts where all he wanted to do was nurse. I have been through the painful letdowns. I have gone through the transition off the nipple shield (which I used for probably too long, no shame in my game). I have been through pumping and boiling parts and then doing it all over again an hour later. I have been through the clogged ducts and the painful process of mashing them out. I have spent time away from the crowd to sit in a room alone to nurse. I have left my food on the table at a restaurant to get cold while I sit in the car to nurse. I have breastfed at college football games in the stadium bathroom, standing with my foot propped on the toilet seat and my sweet boy resting on my knee to feed. I have endured through the biting phaze, when Landon’s little gums hurt and he didn’t realize that he was hurting me (until I screamed bloody murder). But I have never ever let it keep us from going and doing and having a great time. I have always viewed breastfeeding as a blessing, not a burden. It’s such a blessing not to have to buy expensive formula; so convenient not to have to measure out powder or warm bottles. Your breastmilk is not only always the perfect temperature, but your body knows what your little one needs and adjusts to help them fight off infections, etc. It’s truly amazing.

It’s been a hard journey but its been 100% worth it. I have never felt a bond so deep, so meaningful, and so precious. It’s hard to imagine what breastfeeding is like until you’ve done it. It’s hard to explain the joy it’s brought me; the intimacy of it all. It’s such a wonder, and I will never cease to be amazed at what God created our bodies to do. No, my body will probably never be back to what it was like pre-baby. I’ll probably always have sagging skin and dark purple stretch marks all over my sides. But, let me tell you, it’s hard to hate your body once you’ve seen what it’s capable of. Giving you child nourishment they need and feeling the love shared in the comfort and safety they feel in your arms makes every late night feeding feel like an honor. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

Even as I sit writing this, big tears are finding their way down my cheeks. I’m sad that my journey has come to an end, but at the same time, I knew in my heart that it was time. It’s so different for everyone, but if I could offer new moms any advice, it would be to listen to other mom’s stories. Find out what works for you and then dedicate yourself to it and don’t look back. You can do it, and you’ll be so glad you did!

The honor of a lifetime. Thank You, Jesus!

 

Tater Tot Casserole for Dinner

No, it’s not breakfast for dinner (or “B4D” as we called it in college) or a side dish for brunch. It’s a meaty, cheesy, filling main course that is sure to be loved by husbands, children, and church potlucks alike!

I combined a few different recipes I found for this dish to make it my own and I’m certain it will be a new “go-to” in my house. This is one of those dinners you can just whip up without much work and everyone is full and happy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken) soup
  • 1 bag tater tots
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

Instructions:

  • First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brown your meat and onion; drain grease.
  • In a large bowl, combine milk, 1 cup of cheese, and can of soup. Mix well.
  • Add browned meat and onion to mixture and combine.
  • Spray a 2.5 quart baking dish (which is a little smaller and deeper than a 9×13) with cooking spray and line the bottom with a single layer of (still frozen) tater tots.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the tater tots.
  • For the next layer, pour in the meat and soup mixture evenly.
  • Top with a single layer of (still frozen) tater tots.
  • Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving. The tater tots will be crunchy and golden brown.

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Enjoy!

LETTERS TO LANDON: I DIDN’T KNOW

My little Landon,

It was early October almost two years ago when I found out that you were growing inside my belly. I fell in love with you before I ever heard your heartbeat or saw your profile on a grainy, black and white ultrasound machine. Before your Daddy and I announced that our little family would be growing, I remember being in a crowd and smiling to myself over the sacred secret I was carrying, wondering all the while what it would be like to hold you in my arms.  I didn’t know.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wake up thankful that Jesus chose me to be your Mama. He could have chosen anyone. Yet somehow, He chose me – and it’s my life’s greatest honor. I knew that I would love you, Landon. I just didn’t know how loving you would change my heart.

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I didn’t know that seeing the way your Daddy loves you would heal a brokenness in my heart that I never thought possible. I didn’t know that I could have a peace that truly passes all understanding in the midst of much sacrifice. I didn’t know that you would be the best thing I’ve ever done, and that loving you would be a treasure and privilege I’ll never stop thanking Jesus for. I didn’t know what it meant to be needed, to feel little fingers wrap around mine, to hear the sweet sound of you calling me “Mama,” or to rejoice over the way your eyes light up when you discover something new.

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I didn’t know how much you would teach me. You’ve shown me the little world we share with new eyes, my love. Because of your sweet sense of wonder, your joy, your curiosity, and your laughter… I’ve seen Jesus’ goodness in a way that I never have before. You’ve taught me to be present, to take in the world around me, and to be braver than I’ve ever had to be before.

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I’m so thankful for you, my boy. It’s so crazy to think that I always pictured myself with all girls, because now that you’re mine, I can’t imagine a world without you.

I’ll love you forever, and always more than the day before.

Love,

Mama

The Pleasure of Sonship

Are you familiar with the parable of the prodigal son? It’s a story I’ve read many, many times, but always somewhat struggled with. A few weeks ago, my pastor taught on the passage again and since then, I’ve found myself going back to it time and time again.

 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke 15: 11-32

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

The son who was angry when his brother was welcomed home with open arms (despite the choices he’d made and the way he had hurt his father in the process) wanted the pleasure of sonship without the responsibility of brotherhood.

Isn’t that good? It really resonated with me, because I find myself with that same attitude more often than I’d like to admit. My pastor has a gift of teaching familiar texts in a whole new way, always leaving me searching my own heart and hungry to study His Word more and more.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing the best parts of yourself to the worst parts of others. It’s a slippery slope that distracts us from focusing on Jesus, allows us to ignore the areas that we need to work on in our own hearts, and makes us forget that the only person we should be comparing ourselves to is the person we were yesterday.

When I think of the pleasure of sonship, I think of His promise of eternal life because I’ve asked Jesus to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I think of the comfort I have, knowing that my God is for me, that He has a plan for my life, and that He loved me enough to send His only Son to die on the cross for me. I think of my Abba Father, who will never leave me or forsake me, who is the greatest example of unfailing love.

But it can’t stop there. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” With love comes understanding. With love comes forgiveness. With love comes grace… the same kind of grace I’m so thankful for each and every day, because Lord knows, I need it. The responsibility of brotherhood is love. Jesus didn’t suggest it, he commanded it.

Studying the way the father in this parable celebrated the return of his lost son is so good for my unforgiving heart. It’s something I have to work on every day, because we can’t truly enjoy the pleasure and blessing of sonship without striving to embrace the responsibility of brotherhood.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.”

Lets encourage one another today, friends!

 

 

Landon’s First Haircut

Grayson and I have gone on several fun little day trips this summer, the most memorable being our trip to Mount Airy, NC last weekend with my Mama. The last time I went to Mount Airy, better known as “Mayberry” from the Andy Griffith Show, I was in middle school and since then, I have developed a whole new appreciation for it’s charm and nostalgia. I’ve always been an Andy Griffith fan, but in the weeks following bringing Landon home, Grayson and I watched all eight seasons (that’s 249 episodes, in case you’re wondering), which was lighthearted and classic – perfect for new, exhausted parents.

We left home around 9:00 on Saturday morning so we could take our time and make it there in time to eat lunch at Snappy’s, a little spot that’s famous for their pork chop sandwich. Snappy Lunch was not only mentioned on the Andy Griffith Show, but Andy also ate there when he was a little boy and it is is Mount Airy’s oldest restaurant, circa 1923. The pork chop sandwiches and cheeseburgers were delicious, and we were so glad we made it our first stop!

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While waiting in line for our Snappy’s pork chop sandwich, I tried to convince Grayson to get his haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop, which was right next door on the little downtown strip. That’s when we got the idea that it would be SO COOL for Landon to get his first haircut at Floyd’s. We had been talking about getting Landon’s hair cut for a while, but my mama heart kept putting off the grown up look that inevitably comes with a boy’s first haircut.

I’ll be honest, I did shed a few tears when those first few blonde curls fell to the ground, but I couldn’t ask for a sweeter memory! It was such a great experience, and the staff at Floyd’s treated us just like family. I can’t wait for Landon to grow up watching the Andy Griffith Show, and to be able to tell him that he got his first haircut in that same chair! The only thing that could have made it sweeter is if my Paw could have been there. He would have loved it and been just beaming!

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Doesn’t he look so handsome!? I think she did a great job, and I’m so glad we made another spur-of-the-moment that will be a sweet memory for years and years to come.

It was a great day and the weather was perfect!

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If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday, I’d definitely recommend making a trip up to Mayberry!

Homemade Fudgesicles

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This tasty summer treat is so easy to make and better than any store-bought fudgesicles you’ve ever had! All you need is a small box of (instant) chocolate pudding. Make the pudding (according to the package directions) and just pour into your popsicle molds (they have these and these at Walmart). Let them freeze overnight and enjoy!

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Easy Peach Turnovers

If you’re looking for the perfect dessert that’s easy to make, doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, and just tastes like sweet summertime… you need to make these bad boys TONIGHT! You’ll be so glad you did!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we found the most darling little peach stand right across the border in Filbert, SC. Since then, we’ve made several more trips there to get peaches, produce, and ice cream!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large peach
  • Sugar
  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Milk, water, or liquid coffee creamer

Instructions:

  • First, preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  • Spray the tin foil with cooking spray (these will stick if you leave out this step!).
  • Peel and slice your peach into small pieces and sprinkle with sugar (as much as you like).

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  • Lay out your crescent rolls flat and put a small piece of butter on the large end of each one.

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  • Next, spoon a few of the sugary peach slices onto each one, right on top of the butter.

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  • Roll them up, sealing any openings as best as you can and place on prepared baking sheet.

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  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until crescents are golden brown.
  • Make a glaze of powdered sugar and either milk, water, or (if you’re feeling spunky) flavored liquid coffee creamer. I used vanilla caramel creamer and it was DELICIOUS (it gave just a hint of flavor that complimented the peaches really well).
  • After the turnovers have cooled completely, drizzle glaze over them and enjoy!

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He is still good

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“God, when You choose to leave mountains unmoveable, give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul.”

I sat in the congregation yesterday with tears rolling down my cheeks listening to Grayson sing those words. You see, for the last 10 weeks, we’ve been waiting for an answer, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that our God is able, but having to trust His perfect plan and His timing more than ever before. There’s more to this story than even we can see, and we are confident that no matter the outcome of this trial we’re in the midst of, our Savior will be glorified in the end.


Thanks to my friend Jessica over at Grace While We Wait for this sweet reminder on my arm (from Daniel 3), it means more now than ever. You can check out her Etsy shop to see more beautiful, meaningful pieces.