Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Great Expectations

I have weddings on the brain right now. With only 24 days until my son is married, it is starting to get a little more busy around here. I have a list of deadlines and to-do items. But it is an exciting time and after a 19 month engagement I am ready to boot the little bird from the nest! Seriously, I am excited to watch him embark on a new chapter of his life. Hopefully, the longest and most fulfilling one as well.

I have been blessed with a strong, stable marriage from the beginning. I have been married for 28 years to my high-school sweetheart. We dated for 6 years before our marriage. My expectations going into this marriage were simple. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my best friend, someone I loved dearly, who was faithful and trustworthy. I had no idea what that journey would entail, but I knew who I wanted by my side.

 Did I want children and a nice home someday? Of course! But I also knew that regardless of those things, I already had the person who would be with me no matter how everything else turned out. To have and to hold.

What makes a marriage successful? Well, there are millions of books out there that attempt to answer that question for you. But I think it boils down to two things: commitment & expectations. The first one is a given, right? Everyone knows a long lasting marriage needs commitment. But I think expectations are just as important, especially to the happiness of that union. So many people enter into marriage with a view of bliss and roses. When in reality it is compromise and dirty dishes! They set their expectations so high that failure is inevitable. They see their future together as a calm, beautiful trip down the river Seine, when more likely it will be like Mad Toads Wild Ride at Disneyland!

My son and his fiancée are high-school sweethearts. They have been together for 8 years. They are best friends and love each other dearly. My advice to them? Expect to live the rest of your life with your very best friend...and enjoy the ride!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Let's Go to Joe's!

Joe's Crab Shack that is! I am a HUGE fan of Joe's, and yet the nearest one is a 2 1/2 hour drive away. My hubby asked where I wanted to go for my upcoming birthday and I answered with a local seafood restaurant, and then bemoaned the fact that we don't have a Joe's nearby. 

He suggested we make an overnight excursion out of it and go to the Joe's in Olathe! Yay! Couldn't be happier! Super excited to dive into a big ol' steampot of crab and lobster! Yum! So, where do you like to eat?

Bon apetit! ~Marla

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Not All About You!

It is all about me! Well, admit it, isn't that how most of us feel? I am certainly guilty of this type of thinking. I tend to see things mainly through how they affect me. I want to do what I want, where I want, and when I want! In this regard I am utterly human.

But I am challenged to be more than this. To think of others before myself. To humble myself and to submit to another's authority. A call to obedience. Obedience, many people have a problem with that one? I admit, as the parent of a law enforcement officer I get a kick out of people who whine and complain when they get a ticket. I myself have gotten two speeding tickets. I treated the police officer respectfully and accepted my punishment as well deserved. After all, I was breaking the law. But how many times do people think the law does not apply to them? They are after all, special. The rules are for other people, not themselves! If the police officer was a good person he/she would be busy catching murderers, not issuing speeding tickets!

And so I wonder, how many of us have that opinion of God? Philippians 2:5-8 calls us to be like Christ, who humbled himself before God in obedience to Him. Jesus followed the same laws that everyone else did, He did not see these rules as pertaining only to others, that He was special...when in fact He was very special. In addition He did this without complaint. That is my goal, a goal I realize I will be working on for the rest of my life. I so want to live Philippians 2:14-15....

Do all things without complaining and disputing. that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

I so very much want to be a light.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I have quite a few scars. Scars from surgeries and scars from injuries. Most of the scars from injuries came from when I was young. I wonder, does anyone make it through childhood without a scar to show for it? If so, were they quiet, sheltered children? Or just plain lucky? My scars differ in how noticeable they are. Some, such as the surgery scars, are difficult to see. The wound was made precisely, and then just as carefully sutured by the surgeon. Antibiotics were given during surgery to lessen the chance of infection. I took good care of my incisions afterwards as well. They are hardly even noticeable.

Other scars are quite a different story. They were gained in an injury and often not sutured as they should have been. They are much more noticeable! Still, they were attended to in a fairly prompt fashion, and disinfected so that infection was kept at bay. They cause me no discomfort, they are just unsightly. My son bears a magnificent scar on his calf that falls into this category. He spiked himself while competing in high jump during track season. We wrongly decided it did not need stitches...oh well, he is a makes him look tough!

I do have one scar though that is very different from the rest. It is hidden...on the sole of my foot, in the arch. If I step on something just right it is still painful...44 years later. At the age of four I stepped on a piece of dirty glass out by where we burned our trash. I still remember the pain and all the blood...a lot of blood. My mom washed it under the water at the sink and finally determined that nothing was embedded in my foot. She applied a dressing to it along with good old Campho-Phenique. Thank goodness my dad didn't get hold of me and douse it in Merthiolate! The foot was painful for days, in fact I was unable to put my foot down at all. Any pressure caused intense pain. The rest of my family quickly tired of seeing me hopping around on one foot. In fact they began to suspect it was all just a ploy for attention. To say I was not treated well during that time is an understatement. The fact I can still remember it all so clearly speaks for itself. Finally, about one week after the incident, my mother took me to see the doctor. An x-ray showed a 1/2 inch piece of glass that had worked its way right up to the bone in my foot. I promptly had minor surgery to remove the glass and my poor mother received an earful from the doctor on how lucky I was not to have sustained any permanent damage. He concluded that the fact that I had refused to put weight on the foot had kept the glass from causing more harm. Still, the damage that had already occurred to the tissues, along with the additional scar tissue, have made this a tender spot ever since.

I often do we see someone struggling in life, limping along, and say "They are fine. Nothing is really wrong, they just want attention."? Just because we cannot see the source of the pain, does not mean it isn't real. They may be limping along because the full weight is unbearable for them. At what point do we step up and ask if we can help? To simply offer support and acknowledge their pain? Without an x-ray into their soul, we cannot always see that which is hurting them. Even injuries that are old and healed can still cause tender spots. Spots that if just the right amount of pressure is applied, can still be quite painful.  

Empathy is a gift that not everyone is born with. The ability to recognize and share another's pain is the precursor to compassion. You cannot have one without the other. But empathy can be grown, simply by changing the way you see others. Allowing yourself to see things from a different, more humble perspective. Something we all need to work on perhaps?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Lifter of My Head

I love music and I love to sing. Sometimes hearing words set to music opens my eyes to the message far more than the original reading of it does. I love the book of Psalms and since it was actually written as songs, it obviously lends itself to some beautiful music based on the scriptures found within.
One of my favorite chapters is Psalm 3. I was introduced to a song in choir a few years ago that made this chapter come alive. It has spoken to me ever since. When I am tired of the struggles of this world, tired of feeling beat up by circumstances out of my control, this is the Psalm that soothes my spirit.

Psalm 3 (NKJ)
A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.

 1 LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!
         Many are they who rise up against me.
 2 Many are they who say of me,
         “There is no help for him in God.”  Selah
 3 But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,
         My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
 4 I cried to the LORD with my voice,
         And He heard me from His holy hill.  Selah
 5 I lay down and slept;
         I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
         Who have set themselves against me all around.
 7 Arise, O LORD;
         Save me, O my God!
         For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
         You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
 8 Salvation belongs to the LORD.
         Your blessing is upon Your people.  Selah

Blessings ~Marla

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Duggar Tater Tot Casserole

Whether or not you are a fan of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's method of family planning, you have to try this recipe! With 19 kids they ought to have some insight on good, inexpensive meals. I have made this on several occasions, with a few changes for my family. I use more meat and less potatoes, better for us diabetics. I also use 1/2 turkey and 1/2 super lean ground beef, I just like the added flavor the beef brings to the dish. In addition I sprinkle liberal amounts of Morton's Nature's Seasons as I go. For more Duggar recipes click here!

Today I am introducing you to Holly Loft! She has a great recipe blog called Life as a Lofthouse, and she was kind enough to share her pictures and blog post featuring the Duggar Tater Tot Casserole! Thanks so much to Holly, and please check out her blog for other great recipes!

Bon appétit ~Marla

Tater Tot Casserole

          I want to dedicate this post to my oldest daughter Kelsey :)  This is her favorite meal I make! She asks for it all the time. Kelsey is very special to me. I have basically raised her since she was 2 years old. I can remember the first night I met her like it was yesterday. Kale came over to my apartment and was holding her in his arms. I remember her looking up at me, and giving me a big smile and then hurried and turned back to Kale and buried her head in his shoulder. She was so cute! She could barely talk at the time. I remember asking Kale, "What did she say?" .. when she would try and tell me things.. And it seemed like he always knew exactly what she was saying. Kale was raising her on his own. Watching him take care of her and seeing the way he adored and protected her was one of the many reasons I think I fell in love with him. I knew one day if we ever had our own kids he would be such a great father! 
      Kelsey is so smart! She is one of the top students in her class. Ever since she was in Kindergarten, and now in 2nd grade, every teacher has told Kale and I how amazingly smart she is. We have a brilliant child on our hands! I am very proud of her and am so proud to say that she is my daughter :) I love you Kels! Here is her favorite dinner:

Tator Tot Casserole
Recipe by: Michelle Duggar

1 lb ground turkey
1 (2 lb) bag of frozen tater tots
1 can evaporated milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup

     Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and then spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
     In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown your ground turkey until thoroughly cooked. Drain the grease, and then pour the turkey into the baking dish. Then pour your bag of tater tots on top of the turkey, spreading them out evenly.
     In a medium bowl, mix your soups and evaporated milk all together. After well mixed, pour the mixture evenly over the tater tots. Pop it in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 55 minutes!!   Easy and delicious! 

**Note: Ive also cooked this by adding cheddar cheese on top too! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bye Bye Balusters!

Major changes at my house today! The balusters are gone! In case you are not familiar with what a baluster is the spindle thing between two rails, or in our case, wall openings. (You can see them in the background of this picture.) These were quite the rage in 1978 when our house was built. I have hated them the entire 10 years we have lived in our home. My husband liked them. I finally won!! There were two half walls between the dining and living rooms with these, and one half wall dividing the eating area in the kitchen from the family room. The worse part was the three doorway sized openings between the living room and the family room. Ugh! Filled with the nasty balusters it just really dated the house.

So today I finally convinced my husband they had to go. We are painting our woodwork white, and I was not about to paint those things as well. It took our son and him about an hour to remove all the balusters, and the hardware used to secure them. Reading up on them it talked about how they are screwed into place...well not these...instead they had pounded three or four nails into each end of them...what a mess!

Now I have to decide how to handle this open space. The half walls are a non-issue, they will be left as is. With the balusters gone it really opens up the area. But the doorway sized holes are another matter. It is a little much to leave these open, and I don't want to completely wall them up either. Our house is dark and we need the light to be able to pass through or it will be darker yet. So I am wondering...if you had 3 door size openings spaced about 8 inches apart along your wall (the 4th opening is an actual doorway)...what would you do? I may not take your advice...but I would sure like to hear it!


Update 8/29/11 
Here is what I REALLY want to do...after I finish painting the trim white.
 How would those look in the spaces?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sending Them Home

God's plans are so much bigger than my own. Earlier this week I decided what I would write about today. There was something on my mind that I was eager to put into words. But God had different plans. Instead a friend lost her elderly father and I saw this post going a totally different direction...a direction He led.

I cared for my own mother for many years before God ended her pain. Out of the three parents of my husband and I who have died, she was the only one taken slowly. I watched over a 15 year period as her body slowly deteriorated. Her vision, her ability to walk, her control over bodily functions. All changing her from the strong, active, self sufficient mother I had grown up knowing, into a woman who depended on me, and others, more and more for her care.
I wish I could say that care was always given with a cheerful heart...but it wasn't. It was hard work, and resentment and anger often accompanied the sacrifices I, and my family, had to make. I loved my mother dearly, and she saw little of the impact this had on me. She already felt like a burden, and I tried desperately not to add to that feeling. My feelings were hidden from her, but often my family saw the anger that was pent up there.

I was a true sandwich generation. An ill mother in her seventies and young children at home. My daughter getting her drivers license was a celebration because she could help with driving Grandma around! They grew up learning that caring for an elderly relative was simply a way of life. I hope that is a gift that will serve them well in their own lives.

Mom came to live with us in 2001. We had to purchase a larger home to accommodate her, but she paid us room and board to offset the financial burden this put upon us. I wish we did not have to take that money...but mom was financially well off and I only worked part-time to help care for her, so it made sense for us. I remember receiving praise from others about what a wonderful daughter I was. I didn't feel wonderful. I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I was doing what I felt I had to do in the circumstances I was given. 

By the time my mother died we had moved her to a nursing home. Not what I wanted, but it was necessary. My brother and I visited nine homes in one day to find ones that we liked. That was a almost year before she actually had to enter one. I highly recommend doing this in advance, without the stress and urgency that comes with last minute decisions. Mom died two days after her 80th birthday celebration. For her birthday we hosted an open house for her, and people wrote cards and letters filled with remembrances about what she had meant to them. We read all these to her that day. All of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were present, as well as several nieces and nephews. She died knowing how very loved she was.

To my friend...your dad too, died knowing how much you cared for him. You are not a saint. You are simply a good daughter. A daughter who shared his pain and struggles. A daughter who at times felt so very overwhelmed by the challenges caring for your father brought. A daughter who loved him unconditionally and was willing to sacrifice for him. A daughter who at times cried into a pillow or even punched it when you didn't know how you would continue to cope. A daughter who gave her father the dearest of all Today as you mourn his loss, I hope you also weep with tears of joy. Tears that know he is in His presence, dancing with joy.

I Can Only Imagine

God Bless ~Marla

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Travels: Goodbye Millennium

The worst thing about a cruise? They end. I have yet to take a cruise where I was ready to return home. Maybe I should just start taking longer cruises! Ha! 

Our week on the ship was filled with new places, new foods and new adventures. We had a wonderful time together as a family, an experience that surpassed my greatest expectations. It was worth every penny spent, and more. I knew this would not be my last cruise.

The highlights of this particular ship were many. It was a beautiful ship, tastefully decorated. The crew was the most attentive and friendly I have encountered. 

The food was wonderful! Our waiter, Manuel, was heads above any I have encountered since. After the second night my husband always had his coffee brought without having to order it, and Manuel would simply look at my son and ask, "Chocolate?", at dessert time. 

Celebrity service and
food is simply fantastic! It was a wonderful ship on which to begin my cruise experiences.

Bon Voyage Millennium! ~Marla

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Marked up Bible

I have been blessed with meeting some wonderful Christian women where I volunteer. Some have been through unimaginable struggles in their lives, but God has used those to grow them into loving, giving people. Any one of them could be an inspiration to others. I am truly humbled to know them. One woman in particular has a gift of reaching into God's Word and sharing those words in a way that really makes one aware of His glory. She leads a short devotion before we leave to serve, and it never fails to lift me up.

A fascinating thing I noticed during my first devotion with this group, was her Bible. I have never seen a more marked up Bible in my life! Different colors of highlights, areas underlined in different colors, circled, bracketed and notes to the side. It is amazing to see! Yes, I mark my own Bible...but it is more the occasional scripture...though James does appear a little more marked up than the other books. James...that is telling, isn't it?  I began to realize the difference lies in how we read and study God's Word. She is digging deep, looking at how each passage relates to her life, how she can incorporate His Message into her everyday walk. I, on the other hand, am skimming the surface, latching onto verses that are easy to understand and apply to my particular situation. Verses I can easily bring to mind and find quickly as I scan through my Bible.

My way of using my Bible is fine...for a newer Christian. But I am over 34 years old in my Christian walk. And this is as far as I have come? It has been a wake up call for me. No, you do not have to have a marked up Bible to be a mature Christian, to be deep into the Word. But I am a marker, and my Bible should reflect that. I want to open my Bible and see the colors and markings of a well used, worn friend. Not marks meant only to lift me up or speak to me occasionally. And so, I am challenging myself to dig deeper, to search more thoroughly the wonderful gift God has given us in His Word. 
Thank you dear friend for sharing your marked up Bible with me.

Blessings ~Marla

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Beer Can Chicken

Awesome!!! I just stumbled upon a great new site! Visual Recipes. It is great!Beer Can Chicken recipe picture It has tons of recipes with step by step instructions including pictures! Check it out! I chose the following as it is one of my all time favorite ways to cook chicken. If you don't like the idea of using beer, any canned soda will work just fine.

Bon appétit! ~Marla

Beer Can Chicken

May 08, 2008 by Average Joe Cooking | 5 Comments

2 ratings


  • Prep: ~30 mins.
  • Cook: 2 - 3 hrs.
  • Serves: 4

Filed Under


1 - 4 pound or more Whole Chicken

1 Can of beer

1 Small Onion or Potato

Basic Rub

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika

2 tablespoons black pepper

2 tablespoons salt

Kansas City Style Rib Rub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

Step 1

Preheat the grill for indirect heat. With a gas grill this is easy just turn on one side to medium. If you are using a charcoal grill you will have to move all of the coal to one side of the grill. Next it is time to prep the chicken. Take your spice rub and sprinkle it over the chicken and begin to rub it in every where. You can even rub some underneath the chicken for a bit extra flavor. You can use either of the spice rubs I have provided above. Either the Kansas City style one for a bit of extra kick or the basic rub.

Step 2

Now open up your can of beer and you only want it to be half full so drink half and enjoy. Next take a can opener and go around the edge of the can and open it up so that it is easier to pour in the rub. Pour in any remaining rub. Now take the beer can and insert it into the cavity of the chicken. I used a beer can chicken stand that I got at Walmart for 4 dollars. It makes it easier and you don't have to worry about the chicken tipping over. But if you do not have a stand just use the legs and the beer can to form a tripod to stabilize it. 5. Important step: After you have your chicken on the beer can remember to take your small onion or potato and stuff it in the top or neck area of the chicken. This will prevent the moisture from escaping.

Step 3

Now take the chicken and place it on your baking sheet and place it on the grill over the side of the grill that is turned off. After about an hour rotate the chicken so that each side get done evenly.

Step 4

It should take about 2 to 3 hours to cook your chicken. You can check to make sure it is done by placing your meat thermometer in the thigh of the chicken and it needs to be at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. There you go that is your Beer Can Chicken. Now be careful when removing the can from the chicken remember the can and liquid inside will be hot. Once you have the can removed you can begin to carve up your chicken. Be prepared it will be juicy! Enjoy!