Shredded Orange Chicken

Here’s my secret for shredding chicken in the crock pot! 

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And God is Sovereign Still

“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you. And it is well with me.”

Those are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “It is Well.” Lately they have been running through my head because, well, it there is a lot of heartbreak happening right now. I know that tragedy happens every day, but lately many of my closest friends and loved ones have been dealt some horrible blows and burdens.

And God is sovereign still.

When I was 16 years old, Justin (my older step-brother, who was 23 at the time) was killed in a motorcycle accident. After he died, my whole universe and everything I thought to be true kind of imploded. I had always thought that those far off “bad things” only happened to other people, and that as long as you prayed, lived a good life, did the right things, that somehow you and your family would be shielded from it all.

I was wrong.

After he died, I was faced with two choices: Believe in a god who really wanted to save me from heartbreak and pain and tears, but crazy cosmic forces kept him from intervening, and so he watched helplessly from the sidelines as my brother died. Or, believe in a God who absolutely is all-powerful, all mighty, created the universe, and absolutely could have kept Justin from dying, but for unknown reasons simply chose not to. I chose the small god.

I was wrong.

Honestly, I am more comfortable with the idea that God is unable to stop bad things from happening, instead of the truth that God is sovereign and that everything that happens, even tragedy and heartbreak, is under His control. To tell you the truth, sometimes I want answers.

I want to know why a two year old and a twenty-something year old have to die of brain cancer.

I want to know why people die in mass shootings.

I want to know why children are orphaned, die of starvation, are abused, neglected, abandoned.

And I’m not even getting started.

I want to know why. And I don’t know. I don’t have the answers and truthfully I’ll probably never know fully why.

The only thing I know for sure is that God is sovereign still.

Because a funny thing happens when I expect perfect order and fairness in an imperfect, broken world. I start looking for heaven on earth, and folks, it ain’t here. This place was never meant to be all that we hope for and yearn for. This is just a “pit stop” (as my mom calls it) and we expect it to be Disneyland. Through it all, however, we praise God and know that He’s in control even in the midst of our pain.

I can’t wrap this topic up with a bow because I don’t understand how or why things happen. Life is messy, and complicated, and heartbreaking, and we don’t know why.

I’m okay with that, because God is sovereign still.

So today, if I could go back and talk to my 16 year old self, I’d tell her to take heart, because tragedy and heartbreak don’t mean that God doesn’t love her. I would tell her that things don’t always make sense and to get ready, because this world will break your heart sometimes. I would tell her that God is with her and that God will never abandon her. Most of all, I would tell her to choose the Big God. Even though it’s hard. Because that God, the one who sent Jesus to die for our sins, that Big God is sovereign yesterday, today, and tomorrow and always. And He loves her more than she will ever know.

Meeting my Husband Again

My husband and I have been married for seven and a half years. We started dating when we were in college, continued our relationship long-distance during my two years of graduate school in another state, and got married when I moved back to Oklahoma.

During the early days of dating and marriage (the pre-children era) we had oodles of time and were blissfully unaware of how much time we had. Want to go see a movie? Sure! Want to go to dinner? Sure! Want to go to the gym? Sure! Want to go to Dallas for the weekend? Sure! The world was our oyster.

But once someone sees you poop, vomit, pee, and cry (simultaneously, I might add, as I did during childbirth) it tends to change things. Having two babies within two years changes things. The days of longingly staring into each other’s eyes over an evening glass of wine at dinner were replaced by nursing one baby and feeding another, all while cleaning up spills, balancing plates, trays, sippy cups, blankies, and binkies. At the end of the day, when I had a total of exactly four hours of sleep over the past week, my priorities were sleep, sleep, and sleep. If I felt extra fancy I would clean the spit-up off my shirt before collapsing into bed, but truthfully I saved that for special occasions.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, we lost each other a little.

Which brings me to today. Thanks to Fall Break and our children’s preschool remaining open, we suddenly found ourselves with FIVE AND A HALF HOURS of unscheduled, kid-free time. Whoa.

We decided to go to the gym. Actually, my husband decided that and I crankily tagged along with the promise of Starbucks afterwards and the idea that I could at least watch Blacklist on my phone while on a stationary bike or something. Truthfully, I whined the whole way there and rebuffed my husband’s attempts at conversation. Once we were there, on a whim, we decided to play racquetball and I suddenly found myself on a racquetball court with my husband for the first time in roughly five years.

And then the last few years of back-to-back pregnancies, childbirth, weight gain and loss, sleepless nights, fatigue-fueled fights, potty training, endless poop clean-ups, financial stresses, etc, etc, etc kind of melted away.

And suddenly I was back on the court with the boy I fell in love with.

I realized who I had been missing and who I had forgotten to be. I realized that the man I now depend on to lovingly lead our family still has shades of the handsome boy I fell in love with almost ten years ago. And I realized that if I could choose whether or not to marry him all over again, I absolutely, 110% would. And underneath all of the exhaustion, fatigue, stress, and worries that parents sometimes face, underneath it all we are still just a boy and a girl who are madly in love. And that’s a good lesson to remember every now and then.

Why I Deactivated Facebook – And Why I’m Back

A lot of you have been asking me why I suddenly quit Facebook. It’s a valid question since I used to be a type of person who posted about Every. Little. Thing. And then without warning, I was gone. Poof. Actually, a lot of people thought I had just unfriended and then blocked them, which wasn’t the case. Here are, are in no particular order, the reasons why I (temporarily, as it turns out) deactivated Facebook- -and why I’m back.

1) I was addicted.

Yes, I was that person who would check Facebook before getting out of bed in the morning (as it turns out, I’m in good company, according to recent statistics). And again in the car at a red light (bad Kathryn). And again before my classes started. And again…you get the idea. Facebook was consuming me. I realized that I didn’t want my Facebook notifications to be the first thing that I thought of in the morning. So I went cold turkey. And it was everything I thought it could be.

2) I was envious.

It’s been said to never compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. It’s dangerous. It’s easy to do. But it creates a false sense of thinking that there is something wrong with you, when everyone else looks so darn happy. All. The. Time. Envy started to creep into my heart, and instead of celebrating when my friends posted cute photos or proud moments, I started to think that their accomplishments started to mean that I was missing something in my own life.

But guess what? We are all broken, we all struggle, and we don’t all have good hair days every day of the week. The danger of social media is thinking that someone else’s best moments are their everyday experiences, and that’s simply not true.

3) I was playing the game of Mommy Competition

I was tired of snapping pictures of my kids with the sole intention of posting them to Facebook. I was tired of feeling hurt when not enough people “liked” their photos, or commented saying how cute they were, etc, etc. Guess what? My worth as a mom is not tied to how many Facebook likes my kids get. I think that the Facebook competition between moms is huge, and it’s unhealthy. We barely survived the “Back To School Chalkboard Era” (by the way, am I the only mom who missed the memo about the chalkboard photo on the first day of school? Sheesh), we are now in a season of Pumpkin Patch photos, followed by Christmas/Santa/ twinkle lights/etc and the insanity will never end! It’s madness, I tell you, madness! Okay, I exaggerated a little. But seriously y’all, I can’t keep up. So I won’t.

4) Mommy. Guilt.

Logging onto Facebook meant that I saw everything that everyone else was doing that I wasn’t (see point above). Did I give my babies all the love I could, feed them, bathe them, clothe them, rock them, sing to them, make sacrifices for them? Yes. Would I lay my life down for them if I needed to? Absolutely. But somehow, because I didn’t take cute monthly photos with their milestones marked on chalkboard next to them (seriously, what is it with the chalkboards lately?) I felt like a failure. It’s the Mommy Comparison Game that led to the Mommy Guilt Game, that led to the Mommy Exhaustion Game, and I was done playing. The only way out was to unplug.

5) It was a distraction.

Particularly during the 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. time frame. That last hour of the day before Daddy gets home is the LONGEST and I was escaping via Facebook instead of connecting with my kids. I was checking Facebook before asking my husband how his day was. I was living through everyone else’s life instead of being present in the moment of my own life.

Why am I back?

Quite simply, I missed my friends. I missed seeing how y’all were doing, I missed sharing funny things my students said, the cute stories about my kids, and the recipe disasters I encountered in my own home (beef stew with sweet potatoes, anyone?). I missed laughing with you, crying with you, and sharing life with you. So I decided to come back. And I hope you’ll welcome me.