Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fond Memories and Chicken Tortilla Soup

Fond Memories and Chicken Tortilla Soup....

This is a max and erma tortilla soup copycat recipe. If you like this soup, then this copycat recipe is for you!

This recipe is definitely going to please your family, especially if you've ever had Max and Erma's Chicken Tortilla Soup. I have special memories of this soup at Max and Erma's. Living near Pittsburgh, PA, there are many great shows/musicals/concerts that come to town. While our men may not be big fans of "Art," my mom and I love to dress up and go downtown for a fun, sophisticated girls night out. For my 16th birthday we saw Phantom of the Opera (o my soul!), for another birthday (I'm getting too old to remember which one :/ lol) we saw Wicked (again, o my soul, is the only way to describe this incredible show). We've also seen The Sound of Music (far exceeded our expectations!) Each time we head downtown we have two required stops: Max and Erma's for chicken tortilla soup and Starbucks. I was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe! The taste of this soup brings back such wonderful memories of birthday dates with my Momma and I love that! 

I have to share this recipe with you~it was so yummy! It was easy to make, I actually made it on a Tuesday night for us to eat on Wednesday evening before we ran out the door to Awana. It's only a few ingredients and you can do a ton of other things while this simmers on the stove~gotta love recipes that encourage multitasking! Since we are on "no spend January," instead of purchasing tortilla strips (which I really wanted because they are so darn cute), I crushed up some whole grain tortilla chips that were in the cupboard...it did the job, just wasn't quite as pretty! :)

Copycat Max & Erma’s Tortilla Soup

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 1 can reduced fat mushroom soup (10¾ oz cans)
  • 2 cans reduced fat cream of chicken soup (10¾ oz cans)
  • 1 can cheddar soup (I used half a bock of Velveeta instead because I had it on hand and didn't have cheddar soup~it worked great!)
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ½ can rotel tomatoes
  • ½ jar or 1 cup picante salsa (medium or hot variety) (Regular salsa is just fine!)
  • 1 can green chilies diced and pureed (I was feeling lazy and didn't puree, didn't matter!)
  • 2 garlic gloves minced
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 8 oz chicken cooked and diced into chunks (smaller is better)
  • ½ lb 2% colby cheese, shredded
  • Tortila strips to garnish (optional)
  • Cilantro to garnish (optional)
  1. In a pan over low heat combine the four cans of soup, whisking together until smooth.
  2. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, salsa, green chilies, onion powder and minced garlic to the pan.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to keep the soup from sticking.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer the ingredients together for one hour.
  5. After an hour of simmering add the chicken breast chunks to the mixture and simmer for another 30 minutes.

I can't wait for you to try this recipe~it's seriously delish! Let me know what you think....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Wait for The One

The Wait for The One

Let me preface this by saying that I am not bashing any of the past "relationships" (used very broadly) in my life, rather, giggling about how different and weird life could be right now! God knew exactly what I needed when He gave me Tim...but it cracks me up when I look back and think, "what was I thinking?!" haha And not because some of them weren't great guys....but they weren't the perfect soul mate given by God that completes me! :) It's so important to follow God's leading, and when He closes a door, to walk away. The happiest place you will ever be is in the center of God's will with His choice of your mate.

I've wanted to share this story and extremely real lesson in my life for a few months. I just want to help someone, even if it's only one girl, if it saves her from settling on a marriage partner and ruining her life, I will be so thankful!

A few months, Tim and I were visiting my family out east, and I saw a great guy (let's call him George lol) that I hadn't seen in quite awhile. He was one of the most spiritually influencing friends in my entire life. God used him in a huge way in my life during my year in Michigan and the timing following, and I am so thankful for his Godly friendship and advice. At one point in my life, I was convinced that he was "the one." Thankfully, he wasn't on the same page, which, at the time, was quite heart breaking...lol but God knew...

Chances are...you've done it to....dated/courted/"talked to" a range of different men...
It starts with the elementary crush....you don't have a clue what that even means, but you know you want to always sit next to him at lunch...Then there's junior high...and high school...and it's drama, drama, drama! :)
There's the bad boy....
The good boy that goes to church...
There's the clinger who you can't get rid of....
The "really sweet kid" that you're really not interested in but you can't say no because he's such a sweetheart and no one gives him the time of day....
The weird coworker turned relationship....
The adventurer....who wants to do life-risking activities....
The over-chivalrous, too perfect to be real, what's going on? guy....
The "older" man (anyone more than 6 months older than you lol)....
The young boy that earns you the name "cradle robber"....
The friend that randomly turned into more and you still don't understand how that happened....
The boy that your parents loved....
The one they hated...
The Christian on a different page than you....or an unbeliever...
The one who smothered you with phone calls and txts....
The one who couldn't talk unless it was in person...
The secret "friend"...
The cowboy....
The one who wanted to be a rockstar....
The one who expected you to support him if and when he ever grew up.... 
The list goes on and on...(and no, Jackie Major, contrary to your constant teasing this is not a personal list of ex-boyfriends! :)) and something from the list probably made you laugh... "Oh ya...I remember that..." Isn't it funny how at the time we are so convinced that this 6th grade, gross and smelly boy is going to grow up into our prince charming? Do you remember how utterly devastated you were each time "forever" didn't work out? Rejection is hard to receive, and whether they believe it or not, it's hard to give.

Back to the point....

As I stood there on a farm, smelling pigs and avoiding where I stepped, holding Caylie Grace who kept wrinkling her nose and saying, "Dis-gus-ting" [high-maintenance, city girl voice] and she's 2 years old (haha!) talking to "George" I almost got the giggles as I stood there chatting about our lives....and not that I wasn't thrilled for him and his fiance, because I am!, but the thought of me on a farm in the middle of nowhere was just so hilarious to me. I mean, literally hilarious. haha I would not say that I am a high-maintenance girl, and I'm a lot less maintenance than when I got dropped off in the middle-of-nowhere Michigan, but I'm definitely not low-maintenance. And I definitely wasn't meant for the farm or manual labor. :) 

As we got back in the van to leave, and I'm in my mind still chuckling over how ridiculous I would look in boots and flannel, avoiding cow patties in the pasture, my aunt Jess says to me something along the lines of, "Wow. That could've been your life. Can you imagine?" We both had a good laugh over the thought. Again, I want to reiterate that "George" is an extremely talented, fun, and Godly guy, and had he or someone like him been God's choice for me, I'm sure, somehow, God would have helped me adjust to the country, but that's not what God had for me. What God had for me was an accountant named Tim who loves God with his whole heart, who lived a short distance away, who challenged me to grow my faith, who would ask me to marry him, share his life with me, we'd have a townhouse, matching cars, family right down the road, and he wouldn't whine if I made vegetarian meals sometimes.... :)

Over the last several months this thought has come to mind several times, and I even contacted "George" and asked if he'd mind if I shared this story, and he graciously agreed~I want unmarried girls to just stop and think. Too many times we try to tell God what would be best for us, and then we get bit in the butt instead of getting blessed. When I look at my life, I am amazed. I cannot believe that this is my life. I can't believe that Tim is mine. I can't believe he wanted to marry me. I can't believe how God has provided for us with two great jobs, a loving church family, this great little townhouse to spend our first few months, and a great house that we are in the process of buying....I can't believe that this awesome life is mine. 

I hope that what you are picking up from this post is not "don't settle for someone until it's your dream life," but rather "don't settle for anything (even if it seems awesome at the time) if it's not God's will." The tears I cried over thinking George and I should live "happily ever after" were so painful, it was the most painful time I've ever gone through, but there are two things that comforted me and I cried these out to God many times....

1. Dear Jesus, You know that I think George is the most incredible man I've ever met, and if he  isn't the one you have for me, Jesus, I know that the guy you do have for me will be an even more incredible fit. I am trying to seek you in this and I know that you aren't going to trade George for someone that is going to make me wish things had gone differently. Help me to trust you that you have a different and better plan for me. 

And God did! There's not been one moment since I met Tim where I have wished God had listened to me instead, not one. And I would bet money that George's fiance feels the same way. :) God is so awesome like that!

2. Psalms 56:8-9 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee,... As I sobbed tears in pain over the situation, I begged God to hear my wanderings (situation) and to put my tears in His bottle (care about my pain and comfort me). I love the picture of Jesus wiping up my tears and caring about each tear drop that falls in anquish. This is literally one of the most comforting verses in the Bible to me. I love the image that I get in my head of Jesus comforting me in my pain. I just wanted to know that Jesus loved me and cared about the pain in my heart.

And He did. :) God taught me so much over that time. He taught me that while George was a great spiritual influence in my life, and God used him greatly to give me Godly advice, I needed to seek Christ for myself and by myself. I had leaned too easily on George's help for that.

Girls, I've mostly shared my experience with George because of how his friendship influenced my life, but it's never fun to feel rejected. It hurts. Every single time.  Even if you weren't really sure how you felt about the guy, it still doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy when he says, "I never really liked you anyway." Even if you respond with "I wasn't in to you either, but I didn't know how to tell you that because I felt bad for you because you had a rough life and I felt like your life was so sad and I didn't want to hurt you," (and yes, I've been there) it still doesn't make his "I DIDN'T LIKE YOU" feel okay. 

I've had my fair share of heartaches--goodness, one relationship got me sent to another state to regroup at a Bible Institute; I had never felt so alone in my life. And that was the most life-changing experience of my life! God used it to change my life forever! I've cried myself to sleep many times, I've been embarrassed by everyone else knowing before I did, I've been mad when I found out a creep was taking someone out behind my back, especially when I realized it was because she didn't have the same standards as I did about maintaining my purity and that was why. Creep. lol Bad relationships stink (don't get me started on the genius idea behind books like "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" lol) but all of that fades away when you stand at the altar looking into the eyes of a gift from God that is more special and incredible than you could have ever dreamed.

I wanted to write this post because I want you to know that:

1. If you are hurting because of a lost relationship/friendship, trust God that He has something different for you, and His plan is going to be better because it's HIS plan! He's basically a match-making genius, so it's a guaranteed win!

2. Jesus knows your pain. He sees your tears. He knows your heart, and he know that your desire to be married is constantly on your mind. He hasn't forgotten about you. "His strength is perfect" and your patience in following Him will be rewarded with a beautiful and blessed life!

Don't think that you are alone. You aren't. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable to your close friend and just share your heart. Let that friend wrap their arms around you and help you through it, and if you don't have that friend handy, remember that the being that loves you more than anyone in the world, is just a whisper away. 

In summary, I just want to say that no matter how long God asks you to wait for THE ONE, just wait. Strive your hardest to be patient, stay in God's word, maintain your Godly standards, and just run toward Christ. I've heard this quote in variation many times, and I love it every single time:

"Run fast as you can toward God and if someone keeps up, introduce yourself."

Praise God that we don't have to guess. We just have to patient and wait on the still small voice to say, "He's THE ONE for you." It's harder than it sounds, but so much better than guessing on our own and being wrong. I never believed the silly phrase "When you know, you know." And then I met Tim. lol And less than 6 weeks after meeting him, I knew. That was God. He gave me a desire for and a peace about this intriguing servant of God. Don't you dare settle for anything less than that peace. You won't regret waiting for God's choice. 

I don't want to sound braggy or pretend like life is perfect, but I have the most incredible life. It's not because I got lucky or because I created this wonderful surrounding, but rather, I waited (surprisingly enough-PTL) for God's "That's him" and my life is forever changed for the better. Give God your heart and see if He doesn't direct you in His timing to a soul mate that far exceeds your dreams.

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” Dr. Seuss

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Praying for the Godly women who desire a Godly husband. Praying that God would give you a patient heart and kind spirit, that He would protect you from a bitter heart, and most importantly that you won't settle for less than His best!

Sending you big hugs!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What to expect in 2014....

is up to you!

There's nothing magical about the ending of a calendar year and the start of another. Because of this, there are some people who decide to ignore "new year's resolutions" as a silly waste of time. I don't necessarily write out a long list of things I want to accomplish or change (especially things related to how I look or how to get more for myself), but I do think it is a natural stopping point for us to reflect on the past year~the blessings, struggles, celebrations, and tears~and develop some personal goals on things that we would like to improve in the new year.

So this year I took a few minutes to stop and think about some things I would like to work on, not just because it's a new year, but because I stopped and evaluated my life. I'm going to share a few of those things with you, and I hope you'll share some of your thoughts with me!

In the coming year (and forever after) I want to:

Be more patient and loving to my husband. This past year I married my best friend~how fun is that?! And while I love him sooooo much, it's easy to get lazy in the relationships that are closest to us. I want to redouble my efforts to show more patience and kindness to him. I have no problem being kind to other people all day long, but when I come home at night I'm tired and sometimes I expect a break from "being nice." How horrible to treat the person I love the most this way! It might be the same way with you and your sibling or parent...we mistreat those we love most, and we need to stop doing this!

Be more understanding and open to the way other believers serve God. I joined a new and very different church from the one I spent the last 20 years in, that was a very hard transition because everyone doesn't do things the way "we always did it." It's so easy to judge people that don't do things exactly like I do, especially when it's the "way I've always done it." Over 2013, I learned a lot about how others can serve Jesus differently within Biblical perimeters and it's okay...I want to continue learning this in the future.

Spend more time in God's Word. Life is busy. This is a constant resolution in my life. I fail and have to start again. I fail again and have to ask forgiveness and try again. I want to get up and start again. I don't want to fit God in when it's convenient, but rather give Him my time first.

Learn to better manage my home. Again, life is busy and time feels short all the time. I LOVE being married, and I want to continue to learn how to balance a happy and peaceful home while working full time and sometimes long hours. I am enjoying learning to cook and am thankful for the home God has given us. I try to remember this while I'm cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. :)

Be flexible with my time and money and service. It's easy for us to get distracted by US~our wants, our desires, our ideas. The world tells us that it's "all about me." Well, that's not what God says. I want to be more aware of those in need around me and open to God's leading to do things for others. All that we have, time, money, love is a gift from God, and is not ours.

So, this is what I want to improve in 2014 and all the years to come! What about you? What can you do to better serve God and those you love in the life to come?

Wishing you a happy and blessed New Year!

HD happy new year wallpaper 2014

A Year In Review *2013* Pictures


Spent time with family
Married my best friend
Progressed in my cooking endeavor
Visited family
Spent holidays with those we love
Served God through our local church together
Got a new incredible job
Started the Peasant Princess
Celebrated my mom's 50th birthday with her
Had a honeymoon in Florida

Thanking Jesus for the best year ever! <3