When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart.
After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!
Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.
On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.
The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, orwe could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail).
We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.
We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.
We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.
After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding.
We all know there are two sides to every story, but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time; God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!!
There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!
All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. Isaiah 54:13
Sometimes you accidentally stumble onto a family favorite without realizing you have a winner at your messy fingertips. If you need a simple “tried and true” recipe to perk things up this summer, let me introduce you to the wonders of Chicken Packets!
The first time I tried this recipe was way back in our “early married” days when the budget was perpetually tight and our arsenal of recipes was woefully limited. This little gem was hidden deep within my first experience of batch cooking and I didn’t recognize its potential for greatness at the time. (Everything got a little hazy after the vat of spaghetti sauce simmered its tantalizing vapors throughout the kitchen.)
I dare say I was a bit intimidated at the whole prospect of a WHOLE DAY of cooking. My dear friend, Melanie (who also just happened to be a registered dietician), coached me through the marathon cooking day and our husbands were delighted with a freezer full of goodness as the end result.
Since then, I’ve made Chicken Packets for many occasions (the arrival of newborns, moving days, condolence meals, neighbor farewells, family get-togethers, and welcome dinners for visiting friends) yet these tasty chicken packets are treasured for their simple everyday heartiness.
My tattered copy of Once-a-Month Cooking* is a testament to the versatility of Chicken Packets. The original version was for 4-6 servings. I’ve adjusted for our family’s preferences and cranked the amounts up to have plenty for dinner and some for the freezer.
Gather up this cast of characters and let’s get started:
10 cups of cooked chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (a 5-lb bag of frozen chicken breasts, boiled until fully cooked is about the right amount)
3 packages of 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (reduced fat works fine)
4 Tbs of chives (fresh or dried)
2/3 cup milk
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 packages of crescent rolls
4 packages of seasoned croutons, finely crushed
1 1/2 sticks of butter (melt when ready to assemble)
In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese until its texture is smooth. Add chives, milk, and parmesan cheese, then sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
Add chopped chicken and mix thoroughly. The batter is stiff, so use a sturdy spoon (and perhaps enlist a helper to strong-arm it a bit!) and keep stirring until ingredients are well combined.
Set bowl of chicken & cream cheese mixture aside (or refrigerate, covered, if baking Chicken Packets at another time).
When you’re ready to begin the assembly process, preheat the oven to 350 and get out several baking sheets.
Open crescent rolls and unroll gently onto greased cookie sheets or directly onto a silpat liner. Instead of separating into triangles, pinch the seams to form a rectangle with each pair of triangles. You will get 4 rectangles out of each can of crescent rolls.
Place a scoop of the chicken-cream cheese mixture into the center of each rectangle.
Fold up sides and pinch the edges together.
Baste each packet with melted butter, then roll gently through the crushed croutons until generously coated.
Place packets onto cookie sheets and bake 20 minutes in preheated 350 oven. Bake until the packets are golden brown (if lifted with spatula, the bottom of the packet is firm rather than soft).
– – – Ring that dinner bell and get to devouring some yummy goodness!
The great thing about Chicken Packets is that they can be eaten immediately or stockpiled for later in your freezer!
Two options for freezing:
Freeze the chicken-cream cheese mixture and crushed croutons in separate freezer bags. Thaw & assemble later with the remaining ingredients per instructions. Bake, then serve.
OR…bake chicken packets fully as instructed above, allow to cool, and freeze packets for later. On the day you’re planning to serve them, pull the desired number of chicken packets out of the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator all day. Microwave 1-2 minutes until heated through.Bonus touch: put in 350-degree oven for a few minutes to restore the crispiness of the croutons.
The beauty of this winner recipe is its versatility for baking when it’s best for yourdinner schedule.
**Individually, they also make substantial after-school snacks or for a quick on-the-go meal for busy family members.
If you’d like to try a smaller serving size, simply use the triangle of the crescent roll & repeat the same assembly process. (My boys like to experiment with the ratio of filling to crescent roll.)
I hope you enjoy adding this recipe to your Family Favorites!
In the fast shuffle of summer activities and quick transitions from one camp to the next, our landing zones tend to attract odd bits and pieces of our lives, gaining depth and dimension at warp speed.
Graduation announcements from last month mingle with lingering Christmas cards, awaiting that elusive moment of “getting around to it” for mailing a congrats card or transferring a friend’s address from the cute family photocard into our phone contact list. Our good intentions taunt us from these leaning stacks of paper and unprocessed mail each time we pass by on our way out the door.
That workbench out in the garage for “projects?” Yep, it gets piled high with everything from replacement toilet seats and seed packets of spring flowers that didn’t get planted to athletic shoes that have to be returned because feet have grown too big for them. One season of detritus gloms on to the next and soon you have a mishmash of holiday decor and unrelated sports gear teasing you as you park your car each evening.
These landing zones of our lives naively begin as “planned” triage centers (assess urgency, prioritize level of importance and divert onward) but sneakily become perpetual messes that overwhelm us, nudging us toward stagnation rather than action.
As moms, we often become the landing zone for our family members, too. We gather stories from our kids about their latest interactions with friends, reactions to something Coach said at practice, or quirky things that happened at youth group. We get inundated by requests for new shoes, spending money for lunch with friends, or last-minute items needed for a camp that starts tomorrow.
Requests, logistics, multiple schedules, deadlines, menu planning, and household responsibilities land on us repetitively throughout the day. Demands of family life pile up on us, little by little, until we feel bogged down.
Inertia starts to feel familiar and perhaps even a little cozy. It might be easy to succumb to frustration and exhaustion because we constantly feel like the target zone for problem-solving and distribution central.
Another way to view the chaotic landing zone in our home is to see that it also serves as a launch pad. From this dumping ground of nitty-gritty details of busy family life also springs the data resources to point our crew in the right direction. The schedules, sports agendas, camp registrations, invitations, announcements, and endless stream of college brochures are landmarks for our kids’ journey through childhood. WE are their navigators.
As we absorb the impact of our children bouncing off of us as they hurl themselves into a variety of childhood experiences, we can empower them to launch from us in a healthy way. If we are able to provide some rallying encouragement and emotional steadiness while they are refueling in our safety zone, they will gain confidence in their own trajectory.
Sometimes it isn’t easy being the staging ground for these multi-faceted, difficult-but-necessary tasks to be completed before an impending countdown. Although you feel the pressure tangibly building for launch and feel a little clumsy with all the delicate maneuvers, the outcome can be intensely rewarding for each successful takeoff.
So, hold steady, my friend. Reinforce those buffering systems. Let that striving child take flight in his own way. Breathe.Pray. Repeat.While awaiting his sweet return, clear your landing zone and prepare yourself for the next liftoff phase. Provide that foundation of a strong legacy of faith. Solidify his base now so as he launches farther and more independently, he is clear and focused on his ultimate flight plan. Remain steadfast in this training period so you’re both ready to launch well.
What’s a Random Act of Kindness? Many times it’s a small or large action done for a person to bring them joy. The beautiful by-product of doing a Random Act of Kindness is that it usually blesses the giver too.
Last week my family took out on a 1 week adventure to a Family Camp. It was the 5th year for us to go; we look forward to the play and relax time we have as a family each year in this place. We pick many excursions throughout the week that puts our focus on fun together. But this year we stretched beyond our comfort zone and chose to spend a day serving in a camp nearby that has many sponsors helping to make it happen.We knew very little about Kids Across America when we drove there at lunch time. Our kids had agreed to trade a day of play for a day of work without hesitation, but we all felt the weight of the unknown as we got there.
I can say without a doubt that the afternoon turned into one of ourfavoriteparts of that week! There were things in that experience that were familiar, but there was much that seemed foreign to us. It was good for all of us to break out of our molds and work hard and learn new things and meet new people. It turned out to be a wonderful day of planned Kindness.
The week before Camp, we had stopped at a Sonic for cold drinks during some errands. While ordering, I got 2 extra Cherry Limeades for women we would see on our outing. When we got to the office, they had left for the day, but my boys were concerned on what to do with the extra drinks...in a random act of Kindness we began looking for the first 2 people we could find to share the drinks with.The 2 we found were so happy to receive an unexpected drink! There was joy and surprise and laughter and conversation all over a cherry limeade!! We got back in the car and marveled at how that situation had turned out; it was so random, but really blessed our day.
A woman I met just the other day spoke some wise words to me in the brief time I had with her…she paused in our conversation and told me to ponder the word Growth.And so I am; and it is such rich word with many layers. There is room for growth in each day; Random Acts of Kindness will follow. I encourage others to tuck that word into your hearts this season.
On our Bucket List of Fun for the Summer, we have decided to add many more Random Acts of Kindness to our weeks. Both big and small endeavors reap large rewards for all involved. I hope many others will invest in these Acts; they refresh ones Spirit in huge dividends of growth!!
Last week while dropping my son off at camp, I was directed to park in my “place” amidst the caravan of cars parading in to deposit youngsters for the week. Unfortunately, my “place” was in 6+ inches of meddlesome mud. My son & I rallied to embrace this unexpected mire. We changed our shoes and soldiered onward. The mud slowed our pace as we took methodical steps to release the suction clinging to the bottom of our soles.
“Ssschhhhmucckkkk!” “Ssschhhhmucckk!” hissed each shoe, flinging droplets of mud up the back of our legs. As we plowed our way through the sloshy mud, we grinned at each other and aligned ourselves shoulder to shoulder as we arrived at the check-in corral. My son’s eyes sparkled as if to say, “I’ve got this.”
Ok, so there was a little grumbling involved on my part as I had to McGyver my way back to the car & magically transform my mud-encrusted feet back into drivable footwear, but I sensed we had made a memory…and something more.
In the minutes before exiting the dry refuge of the car, we rallied to problem-solve and put our heads together on how to get ourselves and his belongings to his cabin relatively dry (aka: not dropping anything into the mud along the way). These little moments are ways we teach boys how to remain calm, to access resources, and to think quickly about their next choice. It’s an opportunity to establish a confidence foothold…a tiny nudge to show this excited 11-year-old boy a glimpse into being a resourceful adult in a sticky situation.
Each time we are able to model confidence and grace in a stressful moment, we reflect those abilities back to our children so they can see themselves as confident and capable.
As Father’s day approaches, I’ve been thinking about experiences that have been fathering footholds for my boys.
We want our boys to mature into capable adults, faithful husbands, and loving fathers. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but in the minutia of daily life with an added layer of thoughtfulness woven in. If we don’t nudge, cajole, and shape these boys in social courtesy and “gentlemanly” prowess, how do they develop these skills so they’re finely honed and naturally expressed when these young men are adulting out there on their own?
I appreciate the “expectations” certain extracurricular groups set to reinforce these niceties. Learning to tolerate the discomfort of formal concert attire for orchestra performances or wearing business clothes all day for a key club convention is a good life lesson. Learning how to present themselves, make eye contact, and endure public speaking contributes to that young boy “trying on” the weight of adult responsibility in a supportive environment.
As parents we also have snippets of training time throughout our daily activities:
– mentioning a few pointers re: driving etiquette as our teens chauffeur us around on errands
– encouraging them to hold open doors or to return grocery carts for the elderly or frazzled mothers with toddlers
– sitting patiently in the passenger seat, awaiting one of the guys to open your door (and being gracious when it’s clear that you can do it yourself yet patiently allowing your young man to demonstrate this gesture of kindness)
Family vacations that broaden children’s perspectives and enhance an appreciation for things outside their “normal” have long-lasting impact.
I’m thankful for the encouragement and support that my boys have gotten along the way to offer them some fatherly footholds. Each of these positive contacts contributes to these young boys developing a foundation of manly self-confidence.
teachers that have gone beyond the classroom to challenge and mentor them in positive ways
a father that lets them lead, but is available with the backup map when needed
the grandfather that passed along his National Honor Society legacy pin to his grandson being inducted 60 years later
aunts that have repeatedly purchased popcorn and household gadgets through a variety of fundraisers
uncles that have teased and talked sports with the boys, making a big deal of the ones gradually outgrowing them
the kind elementary school principal that greeted each student by name at the door each day
a youth group pastor that meets them for donuts and reinforces their brotherly bonds
work crews that enthusiastically help on Eagle Scout projects
a Grandpa that drives long distances to join in Father’s Day activities and tease them about girls…and the whole nine yards
grandmas that have cheered for them on the sidelines of their chosen sports or clapped enthusiastically after a musical performance
Each time someone SHOWS UP and demonstrates interest in what a young boy is striving toward, that boy gains confidence about the young man he is becoming. It fuels his drive and motivates him along his path. It strengthens his armor, readying him in unseen ways for his future role of husband, worker, or father.
So, we wade through the mud with our children. We engage them in face-to-face conversation. We cultivate a love of our own alma mater, yet also release them to choose their own school that fits them best. We celebrate their wins and comfort them in their losses.
Each day in small, ordinary ways, we offer our boys little fatheringfootholds and entrust them to their ultimate Father figure, praying for guidance and growth.
As we celebrate the Dads around us this weekend, let us also be mindful of the young boys observing the fatherly traits all around them. Each interaction matters.
In honor of Father’s day, here’s to my grandfather who was a “gentle man and a gentleman.”
If you were to ask me what Ordinary Threads is all about, my heart longs to share with as many women as I can; as many women as my voice can reach in my small pond, but with the Lord’s ripple effect, to help them understand what an amazing gift God has given women when it comes to family and children. In this generation especially, with media pressing in and pressing hard on the minds and in the hearts of our youth.It is still within the home that the Lord is crying out to women to hang on, hold tight and layer your family with prayer and love and tradition.Don’t blindly let them be taken away in what the enemy would so easily love to inflict: a hook-up with the world and a non-connect in the home.
Ordinary Threadsand this blog is about sharing with women how to live each day with purposeful intention in every single thing that we do. From cooking and cleaning, to tucking in our children at night, loving our spouse well and all the while focusing on our Lord. When we write weekly, our hearts are pressed in to share with women how to take things like menu planning and errands and chores, and to layer them into the growth of our family instead of pushing the family aside as we plow on.Ordinary Threads is a step of Faith for us, and each time we take that daily step out of our comfort zone, the Lord shows up!He continues to flood our hearts with so many beautiful things to share with women, that its sometimes hard to even keep. But it is exciting and it is a process, and our Lord never rushes His design.
Right now we are taking this journey ofBible Quilting. We have been honored to share it with many of you already, and the fruit that is growing from seeds planted is tremendous! We give God all the glory for what He is doing with this plan.It has not been easy, and we have felt spiritual attack and residue that comes with it.At Ordinary Threads, our hearts want to impress on women to cling tight to the Lord when these storms arise.We are seeing more fruit then we could have imagined on our own rising out of hardships that we have weathered together.
As I am currently packing my house up and about to move my family into another house, my heart is reflective of the layers that are here. I feel tears start to come at different parts of the day as I walk through these rooms. It’s a flood of mixed emotions as I jostle the thoughts of excitement in setting up a new space and making it our own, and continuing the layers of our home.
The ordinary threads that we all are, when woven together under the Creator’s workmanship, produce a beautiful quilt that brings layers of warmth, security and assurance to where our children belong. God gives each woman the threads to weave this masterpiece with Him. It is called a Home, and there are many wonderful layers within it.
Our writing has always been intentional in showing families how to use the layers of life in a Christ-like way. Cooking, Laundry, Sports, Church, Homework…all the glorious and the yuck of a day interwoven.
When we began this blog, it was from a stirring in my heart to share the layers of life with other women. My sis-in-law came beside me, and we continue to walk it out weekly with the Lord.
Daily life can get swept up in weeks, months and years. I’ve heard many times the phrase, “looking forward to when they can do that!” in reference to children. When mine were all itty bitty, I remember wanting to work on my art but deciding it would have to wait till my kids were grown… and that’s when the Lord impressed upon my heart to, “paint in the mess”. If I waited, I would miss out on the growing process of my own Faith while watching the literal growth of my babies. He wanted me to have both. It’s hard to layer both in my life;its messier, but I’m reminded that this world is messy. If God was waiting for perfect, we would miss out on sunsets, and wildflowers mingled with the weeds.
In the mundane of each day that is necessary: cook, clean, school, appointments… at Ordinary Threads, we work with purpose to infuse layers between the ordinary. It’s with love, music, stories, milestone markers, generations, outreach, traditions…that we weave it all together. We are looking forward to sharing so much more life together with you.
So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35-36
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.