Thursday, December 26, 2013

Year End Book Review 2013

Well, it's that time of year again to reflect on my reading material from the past year and try to convince you to read some of it.  The tradition continued this year and I was able to meet my goal of 5 books this year, so still batting 1000!  In fact, I actually read 6 books this year but my wife says that one of them was too short to count, but I'm counting it anyway.  And despite what some may say about meeting and exceeding my goal and that it must be too easy so you should increase your goal; to you I say not a chance.  I like have attainable goals because they breed habit and consistency.  So without further ado, my reads for 2013!

Shepherding A Child's Heart - Since Laura and I have a youngin' running around, I started off by trying to increase my parenting chops.  This is a wonderful book, however, if you are looking for a "how to" manual this would probably not be for you.  Instead, the author of this book, Tedd Tripp, provides a Gospel centered framework on raising your child.  He effortlessly and effectively highlights that all parenting (discipline, love, teaching, and ultimately shepherding) is for one purpose.  And that purpose is not just good behavior for your child but that in everything they do/don't do, they would see their need of the Gospel.  The author provides many entertaining stories that highlight this idea which makes the book fun.  I would highly recommend this book to any young couple/parent looking into the purpose of parenting.  As we shepherd our children in their need for Jesus, they will hopefully see Him and turn to Him.  That is the goal and this is a great book to give you that kind of kingdom perspective of parenting.

Thinking, Loving, Doing: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind - This book has several authors including John Piper, Francis Chan, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Al Mohler.  Needless to say, it is a powerhouse of information and practical challenge.  The basic idea of the book is that there are different facets of the Christian life including the analysis and critical thinking of our faith and how that relates to the world around us; the command that we are to love those around us despite cultural/social backgrounds; and ultimately that if we really believe the Bible to be true there is a command to do what it says.  This book is broken up into three sections with many of these authors brilliantly making their points in individual chapters.  Despite the different authors in the book, it carries a very coherent thought.  This book contains many of the authors I like to read and are challenged by so I am glad to have this book on my shelf as a reminder to think, love, and do.

Next up on the list is a short book to kind of catch my breath with the first two.  But while it may be short, it is none the less challenging.  The book, is called Pastor Dad and it's author is none other than outspoken and sometimes controversial Mark Driscoll.  Controversy aside, he makes very biblically based arguments about what being a man, father, and husband entails in his very upfront, vocal manner.  He makes a call in this book for men to be men and he does not hold back which, for me, makes the book entertaining and we sometimes need a slap in the face to help see our failures and laziness.  His ultimate goal is to get men to realize that they are the head of the household and need to let Jesus lead their lives, so that they can lead their wives and children to establish and Godly and fruitful legacy.  There is lots of practical application in this short read and I would encourage any man to read this book.  I actually gave a copy of this book to every guy in our Sunday School class to read on Father's Day this year.  We had some good discussion and challenge from it.  So I would encourage you to read it as well.  And since it is a FREE PDF, you can start right now by clicking here!

Crazy Love - Written by one of my favorite authors/teachers, Francis Chan provides a chillingly powerful and convicting book on the meaning of being a Christian.  Words really can't describe this book.  But it will make you think.  It will make you look at our life and as Paul says in Corinthians, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.  He starts by outlining the grandeur of God and the greatness of the Gospel and then wraps up by providing a very clear cross road question.  Are you in or are you out?  This was my second favorite book I read this year and it really lights a fire underneath you to continue the work of the Kingdom.  I would highly recommend this book.

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias - In this book, the intellectual author and speaker explores issues of God' sovereignty and how we fit into God's plan.  Everything from our existence to our talents to our purpose is all logically discussed in an effort to highlight the fact that "we are God's workmanship, created by Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we might walk in them." Eph 2:10.  This book provides a very thought provoking (it is Ravi after all) look into how we fit into God's meta-narrative and what that means for followers of Christ and non-believers.  This is a great book but be prepared to spend some time, especially if you've never read anything by Ravi.  He is thorough.  He is academic. And you may have to read some paragraphs a few times but I am sure glad that God made Him and that God weaved him into our team on this earth.

Crucifying Morality by R.W. Glenn - Well, I saved the best for last.  This was my favorite book of the year.  And it is probably one of the best books I have read.  The author tackles the Beatitudes that Jesus gives in Matthew as he opens his Sermon on the Mount.  And in a way you might not expect, R.W. Glenn utterly destroys the fluff and somewhat false teaching that we have come to accept regarding the Beatitudes to brilliantly reveal that Jesus is really outlining the crux of the Gospel.  He breaks down the notion that these are a barometer of our "goodness" and points to the fact these Beatitudes drill right to the heart of every person.  This book is a challenge as it rocks your thinking in a good way, but is beautiful because of the way he highlights the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus.  You must read this book and uncover the "counter-intuitive gospel logic" that we all desperately need.

So, as always, go forth and read!  All of these are good but I am excited to see what next year will bring.  I know I will be reading some biographies this year but I am excited to see how God will challenge me over this next year with both old and new authors!  If you've missed the other reviews you can access them by clicking these year links! 2010, 2011, 2012

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce


  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • I took two boneless skinless chicken breasts, marinated them in a chipotle lime marinade for about 3 hours, then baked them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. At the time I was doubling the recipe, so it may take less than 30 minutes if only using 2 chicken breasts.
  • When the chicken is done, I cut each chicken breast into sections, put them in my KitchenAid mixer with the flat beater and beat it until they were shredded.
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or a little more! :))
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6-8 oz. diced green chilies (sold in a can)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan
  2. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
  3. In a sauce pan, melt butter and onion together until onion is translucent, stir in flour, quickly add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
  5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

I serve it with Mexican Rice and a can of refried beans heated on the stove. This is one of our favorite dinners and makes leftovers as well!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lucy is 16 Months Old!

Dear Lucy -

You are 16 months old and have changed quite a bit since my last post. Here are some things I want to remember about you at this age:

During bath you mainly hang out by the water spout. You love your stacking cups and fill them up and dump them out over and over. Recently you started getting creative and getting your hair wet (see pic), trying to drink the water, filling up cups and drinking the water, etc.

Recently you started submerging most of your body, except your head in the water. You lay on your tummy with your head sticking out and just get really happy that the water feels so good. We also had two close calls this month where you getting so confident in the tub that you flipped over into the water and we had to rescue you. I will have to watch you extra carefully from now on!

You started to shut doors on yourself. You have been really intrigued by doors but now you will enter a room, mostly your room and shut the door on yourself and promptly start crying for us to let you out. Another funny think you do is always make sure our two closet doors in our bedroom are closed. This is especially funny because I am "Type-A" and also close those doors when I'm cleaning up. I think that you have seen me do that enough times that you are trying to help out and close them for me. You have also seen me move your pack n' play into the far corner of the room when we are done with it, and you will now push the pack n' play all by yourself into the corner too!

Our routine hasn't changed all that much recently. I think you are really getting into the groove of the 1-year-old schedule that was hard for you to adjust to when we first moved you to daycare. You get up around 7:30 in the morning and I go and get you from you bed, give you a sippy cup with milk, and then read to you in bed while daddy takes a shower. I try to snuggle with you but most of the time you are a wiggle-worm and are super awake. You are only happy in bed while you are drinking your milk, then you want to get out and go explore! So most mornings you are the one that really gets me out of bed! Then I or daddy gets breakfast for you and you eat breakfast while daddy packs his lunch and I take a shower. You are a really slow eater unless you are really hungry or we give you your favorite foods (canned fruit or string cheese). Daddy normally leaves for work and puts you in the pack n' play which is where I find you when I get out of the shower and dry my hair. Then on some days I'll straighten my hair while you play in the tub. By this time it's around 9:00 and we will either read some more books or turn on some morning TV. Then I'll clean up the house while you play until around 9:30 or 10:00 when I take you to daycare. Then I work from about 10:00-3:00 and pick you up. You have lunch at daycare at 12:00 and sleep from about 12:30-2:00 there. When I pick you up you are always playing happily, I have never picked you up when you were crying and they tell me that you never cry! I guess you save all your crying for home because you do cry here! Especially when you get tired or hungry. From about 3:30-5:00 we run errands, play outside, or do chores or cooking in the house. Recently you have gotten really interested in artwork. You love to color at your little table and it is so cute to see you so focused on your drawing. You are still little enough that you put everything in your mouth though and you have pretty much chewed all of your crayons. Sometimes we will put an old t-shirt on you and let you paint and you love it! You even like to taste the paint! From 5:00-6:00 we normally eat dinner as a family and then sometimes go on a walk - if I'm feeling up to it. After dinner we clean up and play with you. You get really tired by around 7:30 and we put you to bed at 8:00 by giving you a sippy cup with milk - although you have started to drink less and less of that recently. For that reason we switched you to 2% since that is what we drink anyways.

We announced recently that you are going to be a big sister! It is pretty funny because you have no clue about this and it is going to change your life so much! I am very excited that you will have a sibling to grow up with!

You are really starting to show us just how smart and observant you are! Recently I have seen you: wipe your hand with a wipe, wipe your nose with a tissue, and  wipe the table off with a wet rag after you eat.  Also, one time when I spilled something on the floor you grabbed the nearest towel and started cleaning it up.

You always get compliments on your hair. It keeps getting longer and curlier and it so cute! I love it!

You really love to help out. You have helped me put away your blocks and also helped me put all of your bath toys in the bath toy container.

She's holding a sock in this one... :)
You are pretty fascinated with the dishwasher and will put things in it and take things out of it. I can't decide whether to let you keep doing this or draw the link and start telling you "no" - ahh parenting.... You also like to close the dishwasher and then try to press all the buttons on it like we do.

Although you don't say many words yet (right now you can say mama, ball, book (sounds more like ball), hi, bye-bye, uh-oh, and bubble), you show us what you think in so many other ways. For example I was filling up my water bottle at the fridge one day and you found your sippy cup and ran over and held your sippy cup up to me so I would fill it up also!

You are getting really good at bye-bye and you wave good-bye and say bye-bye to daddy most mornings now. When you first learned this phrase, you would only say it and wave after people had already left. We also had a pretty funny experience at Walmart right when you were learning uh-oh, you probably said it 100 times for an hour straight while we were in the store! :)

It is getting harder to clean up after you because you now can open drawers. I was reading in my book about how kids at your age learn best by exploring so I'm trying my best to let you wander around the house and learn and explore. As a result we will find your toys all over the house, in random drawers and other places. It is pretty funny and at times annoying, but we love you anyways!

One of your favorite things is to put on your shoes, it may be because you really like to get out of the house, especially if we have been home for awhile. I can be anywhere in the house and if I tell you to go get your shoes you will go running to the laundry room to find them. You also like to help with the velcro straps.

One day we were playing and you spun around in a circle three times! We have seen you do this a few times since then.

You got really excited one day when I let you drink out of a water fountain for the first time at Walmart - haha I guess all my stories this month revolve around Walmart!

You have a little play purse but sometimes you wear your bib like a purse - so cute!

You made the mmbpth (trumpet noise) sound with your lips at Daddy over and over and would just laugh and laugh. Then he did it back at you and you thought that was hilarious! There is nothing better than hearing you laugh! You also recently started wiggling your tongue on top of your upper lip to make this really funny noise. You do it all the time.

You are getting a lot better at using spoons and you can pretty much eat an entire bowl of applesauce or oatmeal that we give you. You even ate fruit with a fork at Panera during our Destin trip.


You can also turn on and off the lights if I'm holding you so you can reach them and you are starting to find all the power buttons on your toys. You like to feed your baby doll a bottle and you feed me and daddy one of your toy bottles too.

You love pushing around your baby in the stroller and will often give her a blanket or a baby bottle.

The two items that you ALWAYS want are the two items that I ALWAYS have with me: my Camelbak and my iPhone. On rare occasions I will let you play with my iphone and you always have a HUGE smile on your face the entire time you get to play with it. You even hold it up to your ear to talk and have finger swiping down pat.

You love playing with your outdoor play set. You can pretty much climb up the stairs and go down the slide by yourself and you always want to do this over and over when we get home in the afternoons. I was really shocked when you went down the big slide at my parents house while I held you but was even more surprised when you went down by yourself! It really surprises me what scares you and what doesn't scare you. Today we took you to the Warren Fall Festival and you burst into tears when we put you in a bounce house with balls in it that only had a few other babies in it - go figure!

This fall I started helping out in your nursery class at church. I've discovered that compared to the other kids you are very adventurous, very aggressive (you will just barge in and take someone's toy if that's what you want), very energetic, and you have TONS of hair! :) I really do love getting to see you interact with the other kids and I enjoy helping out.

I was supposed to go on a business trip to Washington DC the week of my birthday and your dad was going to take of you all by himself. However, due to the government shutdown, the meeting got changed from in person to online and I got to stay home!

I love you baby girl. It is one of the great thrills of my life to watch you learn and grow. I am so blessed that I get to hug and kiss you every single day. I cherish all of our moments together, even though I have been super tired this last month!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lucy is 14 Months Old!

Lucy, you are now 14 months old, what's been up with you since your first birthday? (if you make it to the end of this post there are some funny videos to reward you! ;)
  • You are now saying "Mama" and "Dada" pretty frequently and can understand what it means. We are trying to be patient but have to admit that we can't wait for you to say more! We love hearing your sweet little voice! 
  • You learned how to go up and down one step at the Lake House over the 4th of July, you started by holding onto the doorjamb and walking from the kitchen to the back porch. 
  • At the beach (at the end of July), you learned how to go up and down the stairs. You LOVED it and practiced over and over! 
  • You got a hand-me-down kitchen from Aunt S, and love playing with it and the plastic food, pots, pans, and plates it came with. At first you were frustrated because you couldn't open the doors and cabinets on it, but you have since figured that out. 
  • You started daycare at the beginning of July which also meant a transition to one nap a day. You now nap from about 12-2, go to sleep at around 7:30 and wake up around 7:00. That's if we are lucky, during the beach trip, you woke up at 6:00 am every day! 

  • Another transition was from formula to whole milk. We now just give you a bottle in the morning and when you are going to sleep, sometimes you drink some, sometimes all, and sometimes none. I think you will transition out of bottles on your own pretty soon.
  • You are wearing 12-18 months clothes and got your first pair of sneakers and water shoes this month. You know that you have to wear shoes when we leave the house and will hand us your shoes for us to put on you. 
  • Along with daycare has come with a lot of sickness. At the beginning you had a cold that lasted a little over a week which felt like a REALLY LONG time! It is so horrible when you have a cold because we can't give you any medicine. You are just either really congested and can't breathe through your nose or are really runny all the time. The problem is that you only sleep on your tummy with your thumb in your mouth, therefore when you have a cold, you can't breathe at all in your normal position. You are adamant about sleeping in your normal position, so when you can't fall asleep you just cry. So what we have to do is strap you into the jogging stroller which forces you to sleep not on your tummy. We also use vapor rub (which is so funny because you are extremely ticklish under your neck), a humidifier, the blue nose sucky thing we got in the hospital and also occasionally if things get really bad we squirt saline up your nose. Of course you don't like any of these things, but they are the only ways you can go to sleep. We were so happy when you finally get better.
  • In late August you got an ear infection, but after one really bad day, with a very bad trip to the doctor and CVS, you were better. We always know when you are sick because you aren't your normal happy go lucky self. We are so happy that you are feeling better. 
  • We got you a little grocery cart to go with your kitchen and although it is a little too big for you (you can't reach some things you put in it because it is too deep), you do love pushing it around the house - it is so cute to watch! What's funny is that you push it from the front, push it from the back, walk backwards with it, etc. You are even learning how to turn it. 
  • You love to babble but really aren't forming many words. However, you are able to communicate what you want remarkably well with only being able to say two words (mama and dada). Normally you show your displeasure with cries and wimpers, and your excitedness with giggles. 
  • You have been getting in trouble lately for trying to open all the cabinets that we have child locks on, you just pull and shake on them until they are about to break! You also pulled a little boy's hair in you Sunday School class. Luckily I am now one of the helpers in your class so I now at least have an opportunity to show you that that is BAD! 
First haircut August 30, 2013
  • At daycare they have told me that you bit a kids hands when they took a toy from you. That is one of the hard parts about daycare, that they can't really punish you. So I hope that you can learn what is right and wrong at home so you don't go around biting kids! Luckily that is the only time that has happened in awhile. 
  • You are still an avid thumb sucker and always suck your thumb when you are a) tired, b) bored, or c) scared. It is a great self-soothing mechanism now and was really handy when you were younger. We aren't going to worry too much about it now, but in a year or so we will have to teach you how to sooth yourself another way. 
  • You started off not being a very picky eater and would pretty much eat anything. Now, you are a fruit-i-tarian. You LOVE fruit. You're favorite thing is a fruit cup. If you could have it your way you would only eat fruit. The only other things that we have gotten you to eat that you really gobble up is cheese ravioli and mac-n-cheese. You will eat other things but it is really surprising the things you like and things you don't like. For example, we were at Chick-fil-A the other night and you didn't want any chicken nuggets, but love the fruit cup, and even ate some pickles! Go figure! We are trying to get some meat on your bones because at 14 months you are still only 19 lbs and 14 oz. - still not even 20 lbs! This is one of the main reasons I always give you whole milk before bed. Also, we do give you ice cream as a special treat which you love. 
  • In August you did these things for the first time: helped me put towels from the washer to the dryer, started handing us your shoes when it is time for us to go somewhere, hand me my shoes when it is time to go somewhere, waves goodbye to cars and people (one time when we were in the Babies R' us parking lot you waved good bye to every car that passed by!), walked all the way from the car into the house yourself - this included walking along the stepping stones and up the deck stairs. 
  • You are more interested in our things than your toys these days. You love to open the drawer beside our couch and take the flip camera out of it. You learned pretty quickly to be careful with your fingers after getting them slammed a few times! 

Lucy we love you more and more every day (didn't think that was possible!). You are winning our hearts with your personality, charm, and crazy love for life. I recently started calling you little miss personality because you are such a little character! I love discovering who you are and I love every moment I get to spend with you. I love your happy fun-loving moments, and I even love the nights like tonight when I got to calm you down and rock you to sleep. I love you baby girl. 
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