Mike&Sarah

Developing Great Commission Leaders

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Coaching Training

I’ve been doing it for years without extensive training, so why bother going through the effort and expense of earning a coaching certification? Partly for the certification, partly for the training, and partly for the refresher, not to mention the credibility.

Our work in New York City looks very different from what I originally envisioned a few years ago. We now work mainly with marketplace professionals and executives, and while my background includes 15 years of experience helping people develop and take their next steps, it’s all without any official training program or credentialing. Earning a coaching certificate and moving on towards accreditation with the International Coach Federation provides the reputable background to be able to help New Yorkers make a real difference at work, at play and at home.

Just days after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, I spent at week in Atlanta, GA, to attend coaching training with CRM, Creative Results Management. The training was extensive, comprehensive and professional. My cohort colleagues are from all over the globe which demonstrates the world-wide appeal of coaching.

Coaching differs from consulting and mentoring in that the latter two are focused on someone being the expert and having experience to share with the client while coaching focuses on the client, using questions to create awareness and action steps to solve a current and/or future challenge. Unlike traditional sports coaching, an executive coach doesn’t call the plays, the client does.

Coaching is not counseling, which tends to look at the past to bring clarity, healing and understanding to the present. In coaching, the client, not the coach, sets the agenda and drives the action points. The coach doesn’t need to be the knowledge expert in order to serve the client’s needs. The coach just needs to ask good questions.

The opportunities for networking and helping people take their next right steps towards living out their divine calling are a natural expansion of our ministry to people in New York City. Coaching gives neutral ground to build relationships, become an asset in the City and provide helpful conversations with busy people.

I’m working towards graduation now, taking a teleclass and coaching several clients through an 8-session coaching series to gain experience and start to build a reputation.  While it’s been highly rewarding for me to connect with these clients weekly, the self-discovery my clients have experienced is eye-opening.

A west coast client who works in HR for an athletic ministry said, “I never realized how pursuing [my hobby] is tied to my personal calling. It’s encouraging to continue to define my personal calling.”

“One of today’s highlights was recognizing the reality that something has to change so that I can create,” shared an Atlanta-based entrepreneur. “Ideas can be overwhelming but these are tangible action points to get me started.”

Adoption Day

It finally arrived. The only thing that stood in our way was Hurricane Sandy, but once power was restored to downtown New York City, we were able to reschedule the appointment that the Hurricane wiped out.

Good thing, too. The judge who finalized our adoption is retiring at the end of the year and if we weren’t able to get this very important date squeezed into her schedule in this calendar year, then we’d have to start all of our paperwork all over again in 2013.

That stress never materialized despite my efforts at freaking out. We took the 1 train and transferred to the 2 to make our way to the Surrogate Court on Chambers Street where we met up with our lawyer in the beautiful lobby and rode the elevator to the fifth floor. There we waited in an majestic court room flanked by two fireplaces designed by Tiffany & Co. The room also had a gorgeous, wood-carved viewing gallery on the second floor.

After a short wait while the Judge’s staff assembled, we were ushered into her private chambers, which was larger than our entire apartment and had a marble fireplace. It was a grand room to be called a “private chamber.” Sarah’s sister Carrie appeared just as we entered, so she slipped in with us to photo document the auspicious occasion. Thank you Carrie!

In between questions and statements from the Judge, we raised our right hands and swore to be Phoebe’s parents. It was a great way to kick off Thanksgiving.

As of the day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 21, 2012, Phoebe Irene Evers became legally, officially, as recognized by the State of New York, forever and ever OURS. Amen!

With humility we gratefully thank her birthmother for her courage, endurance and bravery.  She chose life and we are forever grateful and forever changed by that decision.

With joy we thank our family, friends, and community for celebrating and supporting us through the swift introduction to parenthood.  Our closets and bookshelves are bursting with your practical, tangible help and our nursery is a reminder of your love.

With deep thanksgiving we praise our God who gives every perfect gift and does all things well. Thank you Jesus for building our family in this redemptive way!

Boxes of Love

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

The power of modern technology ends when the lights go out and batteries die, and Hurricane Sandy sent that message loud and clear to many people in New York City and the surrounding area.

Our NYC apartment was fine, we never lost power, and our neighborhood only suffered a few fallen trees branches.  

But as you know, the areas surrounding us suffered far more damage.  Our friend took pictures in the NYC neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Breezy Point and the Rockaways within days of the devastating storm highlighting some of the drastic effects.  I posted three of his pics here, and you can see more on his photo blog Aemiessence Fine Arts.

With so many people still hurting and trying to dig out, Mike and several executives and marketplace professionals involved with Cru spent hours at the Here’s Life Inner City warehouse in Queens cleaning up hurricane damage and packing Boxes of Love™.

The assembly line at the HLIC warehouse in Queens to pack Boxes of Love for needy families and Hurricane survivors

Each box feeds a family of 6 physically and spiritually.  In partnership with local churches, individuals and other ministries, the act of compassion by giving food to a family in need opens the door to telling people about Jesus. As Pastor Andrew Jagessar from The Worship Center of Queens in New York explains, “Being able to distribute something as needed as a Box of Love has helped position us as a church that is involved in the lives of our neighborhood.  It is invaluable.”

For the New York executives we minister to, being able to serve in a tangible way helps them connect with what’s really important in life: loving God and loving others.

In addition to helping to pack the Boxes, we gladly fed 3 families in need by giving a special gift towards Boxes of Love™ for Hurricane Sandy survivors.  You can, too, at www.HLICNYC.org.

 

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Conference PIE

“This is a new phase in my life in ministry,” I thought as I noticed the VP of Cru’s US Leadership Development walk by while chuckling at us.  I was in the middle of leading a feedback session with one of the City Directors for Here’s Life Inner City, affirming what I’d seen in his character, competency and capacity over the last six months of coaching his Action Learning Team, and offering ideas for further growth, development and stretch opportunities.

But what made this chuckle-worthy over other feedback sessions I’ve been part of was that I had PIE strapped to my chest and falling asleep in the Ergo carrier and I was wearing a dress and heels.

It’s been a busy month in family and ministry, stretching me when it comes to planning, preparation and walking in step with the Holy Spirit.

Seminar on Walking with God for a Lifetime

Last week I spoke twice at “Unmasked,” the south western PA/Jersey Cru student fall retreat, once in a seminar to equip students to walk with God for a lifetime and then later that day during their Women’s Night.  It was a tremendous time, the students were really receptive to God’s words on Hebrews 12:1-3 and fixing our eyes on Jesus, and the staff women pulled off one of the best overall programs I’ve been part of for a women’s night in 15+ years of campus ministry.  It was fantastic, gut-level honest, honoring to Jesus, and overflowing with mercy and grace.  It exemplified the kind of open, caring, passionate community that I long to be part of on a regular basis.

The next day I met Mike and Phoebe at the Newark airport where we flew to Orlando for the third module of SLI4 (Senior Leadership Initiative, Cycle 4), a 2-year intensive leadership development program designed by Cru to help senior ministry leaders from Cru’s ministries across the country (like The Military Ministry, Here’s Life Inner City, The Campus Ministry, Cru High School, Athletes in Action, The JESUS Film Project, and The Office of the President, among others) increase their capacity and competency while growing in Christ-like character.  I was a participant in SLI1, and Mike and I have helped lead aspects of SLI3 and SLI4.

Developing current leaders and helping people stretch to reach their potential is vital in the life of any organization.  According to a recent Fast Company article:

U.S. companies spent an estimated $67 billion on training in 2011. Some have been more creative about it than others. P&G CEO Bob McDonald, for instance, says he invites 150 leaders each year to a training center like West Point or the Center for Creative Leadership. General Electric spends about $1 billion annually on training through its corporate university in Crotonville, N.Y. PepsiCo enrolls its high-potential leaders in a program that includes a week at Wharton Business School and an immersion experience in an emerging market. General Mills has described one of its leadership courses as “a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga and dialogue.”

Cru’s intentional leadership development program for senior employees is one of the places where I (Sarah) feel like I’ve been able to make my best contribution to the Kingdom of God so far.  We haven’t spent $35million like Starbucks recently did to create a passionate experience to turn their employees into Starbucks evangelists, but our 2-year long program which meets every six months for a week of training, challenge, stretch experiences and spiritual input also includes bi-weekly one-on-one coaching with business leaders who are friends of the ministry.

Whether in her stroller, sitting on the floor or a new friend’s lap, or enjoying a nap in the Ergo, PIE attended a good bit of Cru’s Leadership Conference.  When she became more vocal, Mike and I took turns going for walks or finding a dark conference room where she could settle down for a snooze.

As I embrace my new role as PIE’s Mom, there are still opportunities to contribute to the mission and ministry I love so much.  Naturally I can’t dive into everything; a good bit of flexibility is required, especially as her needs change and as (we pray…) God adds to our family.

I’m motivated to help people take their next step in their faith journey to live out their God-given calling.  Sometimes that means taking a back-scenes approach by caring for PIE and our NYC apartment enabling Mike to offer his best and minister without distraction.  At other times it means taking a more visible role to reach out to people.  Finding that balance at each of PIE’s developmental stages is the goal, and my heart wants to be grateful for each day as I live out what God has for me… Even if it invites more chuckling.

 

NOTE: To prepare for the trip I read a ton of parenting blogs and asked lots of moms for tips on traveling with a baby.  One of the best tips: pack blue painters tape.

It serves some very practical uses like taping the hotel room curtains closed so sun light doesn’t stream into the room, securing toys to the seat-back in front of you on the plane to entertain your young one, taping shopping bags or light blankets to the car windows as a sun shield so the Sunshine State doesn’t blind your baby in the car, covering the sides of the pack-and-play or crib with towels to create a dark, cozy place for Baby to sleep, and it also becomes a great toy when rolled into big balls.

My Whole30

No wheat, no flour, no grains, no milk, no cheese, no yogurt, no black beans, no added sugar, no preservatives, no pre-packaged food for 30 days?  Someone was surely off their rocker.  When my dear friend told me what she wasn’t eating during January 2012, I thought it was an unrealistic way to live for 30 days.

But then we spent a month on the road this summer eating more fast food than we normally do in a year.  Hubs and I were both ready for something with guidelines, boundaries, and fresh food.  We felt lethargic and I simply felt.. gross.   The Whole30 came back to me we started on August 14, 2012.

The Whole30, designed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, makes an audacious claim: “change your life in 30 days!”  “Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.”  Sounded good to me.

After 30 days of eating fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry, I lost 12.7 pounds, and Mike lost 11 pounds.  Did you catch that?  I’m not gloating but seldom do women lose more weight than men, even on The Biggest Loser!  Now, a month later, I’ve kept that weight off.

My Homemade Ketchup and Mayonnaise!

Was it easy? Well, it wasn’t terrible.  Nor was it really hard.  But it did mean more time in my kitchen preparing food and washing dishes, as well as more time planning meals and making shopping lists.  Every weekend I’d search the internet for great recipes and then create my shopping list.  We ate (mostly) scrumptious home-cooked meals.  As a result, I now make my own mayonnaise and ketchup, as well as my own ranch seasoning.  I think my versions taste better, and since they don’t have added sugar or preservatives, I think they are healthier for me than the store bought versions I was accustomed to eating.

Once the Whole30 was over, we started slowly reintroducing our favorite off-program foods.  Mike noted that certain dairy products made him feel like his allergies were returning, I noticed headaches with greek yogurt and sweet treats.  Food really does matter!

Losing weight wasn’t the only benefit, but it certainly was something I had hoped for.  While on the Whole30 my skin looked great, my energy was consistent throughout the day, and my sleep was deep and restful.  Who knew I could drink and enjoy my coffee black?  Now I’m figuring out my new food lifestyle, and am very hesitant to return to some of the former foods.  I simply don’t need them anymore.

About ten days into the Whole30 I had an all-day video conference call.  My confession: I was so distracted by how great my skin looked on camera that I had to block the self-view option!

My mom did the Whole30 with us, and now two of my sisters are doing it, as well as a few friends around the world.  It was great to have companionship and Mom and I texted photos of our healthy and delicious meals to each other.  We both signed up for the Whole30 Daily emails and thought they were worth at least three times the subscription price!  So helpful, encouraging, and full of great ideas for recipes, eating out, and staying on track.

Today I don’t feel enslaved to my food cravings, I have the ability to resist formerly tempting foods, I’ve discovered how much I enjoy eating vegetables (so many of which I’ve never had before), and I’m experimenting with more spices and seasonings.  I’m inventing yummy recipes and sticking with a surprisingly healthy diet.  I’m happy, I don’t feel deprived, and I think twice about my food choices before eating.  Did I drink the Kool-Aid? No, because it’s not Whole30 approved (haha)!  My sister just sent me the new book It Starts With Food, and I’m eager to finish reading it. If I can do this, then seriously, anyone can do it.  The Whole30 is only a month, and I think the Hartwigs are right, it really can change your life!

BONUS

I pinned the recipes I used on Pinterest, and even made up a few of my own.  Here are my weekly meals if you’re interested in doing the Whole30 (I’m sorry for the unattractive formatting. I’m not sure how to fix it!).

Week One

Breakfasts

– Egg and Sausage Frittata: 1# sausage, 1 pepper, 1 onion, 1 container egg whites, 1 container liquid eggs.  season each serving to taste with hot sauce
–  Southwestern Frittata

Lunch

– Tuna on Salad with carrots and EVOO
– Leftovers
– Chicken or Turkey on salad

Dinner

Ina’s Chicken with cauliflower “rice”
Fish “Tacos” with broccoli
Blackberry (or Blueberry) Glazed Pork Chops with cauliflower mashers
Meatloaf w mushrooms with leftover mashers
– Steak with mushrooms and baked sweet potatoes
Baked tilapia with strawberry salsa and salad greens

WEEK TWO

Breakfasts

– Egg casserole: 1# ground meat or sausage, any veggies, 12 eggs, salsa

Banana-almond pancakes (**NOTE: I later learned that while the ingredients are Whole30 approved, the concept of a “pancake” isn’t [emotional and mental food addictions].  This is terrific for AFTER the Whole30, but isn’t encouraged DURING it.)

Lunch

– Tuna salad with homemade mayo

– Egg salad with homemade mayo (see link above)

– leftovers

– Salads

Dinners

– Southwest Turkey Sliders with Avocado Slaw with homemade Simple ketchup and Mashed Sweet Potatoes (w vanilla and coconut oil)

– Balsamic marinade Steak with cauliflower “rice”

– Cuban Mojo Pork Chops with mashed cauliflower and cooked carrots

– Coconut and Herb Salmon with broccoli seasoned and carrot and cauliflower puree (Whole30-ified):

– Chicken stirfry chicken chunks with veggies and cauliflower “rice”

– Crockpot Mexican Chicken Stew over Cilantro lime “rice”

Snacks

– Coconut Chips

– Sweet Potato Hummus

– Fruit and Nut bars

WEEK THREE

Lunch

– Meat and Spinach Muffins

Dinner
– Ranch Turkey Burgers with roasted cabbage and baked sweet potatoes
2# ground turkey (or beef, lamb, pork, bison, etc)
1 grated yam
1 diced onion
1 handful of kale, chopped
2-4 T homemade ranch seasoning
– “Best Whole Chicken with a Crock Pot” (and the i can make chicken stock!) with baked carrots
– Asparagus, Broccoli and Bacon Soup  (uses some of that chicken broth from the crockpot chicken) with Ranch “Fries”
– Beef Stir fry
– Pork Loin in Cuban Mojo marinade
Snacks
– Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars
– Carrots and celery sticks
WEEK FOUR
Dinner

An Evers Nursery

Mike assured me that we needed to take steps of faith to move towards preparing our home for our Sweet Baby Girl, but I was hesitant.  What if the birth mother changed her mind?  Then I’d have this beautiful but empty room as a constant reminder of another painful loss.  But just like Mike was right about the faith risk to create a baby registry, he was also right about setting up a nursery.  And we had to hurry!  We met our birth mother on February 5, 2012, and she was due eight weeks later at the end of March.

I hurried to Pinterest to start searching for nursery ideas but quickly discovered that if I set up a pin board then everyone could see it, possibly creating curiosity in my friends and questions I wasn’t prepared to answer.  Our lawyers cautioned us to keep our news private until it was final, so creating a board was out.  And time was ticking away.

Unassembled crib (with attached play-aquarium) from my sister Chrissie. Waiting for assembly and a baby!

My sister Chrissie gave us her crib and cushy glider with ottoman (hooray!) so at least we had that.  My mom drove up with the crib her in car and it sat unassembled in our second bedroom.  The glider would come later when a family SUV was available for the drop off.  But I didn’t know what to do or what to get next.  I was in New York City without a car or a clue.

Cue the hero music, and enter Joe.  Joe is one of our church small group leaders and he has a knack for finding amazing items at estate sales, the Salvation Army, and even on the side of the road.  Joe offered to help out so he came over to take room measurements, listen to my ideas and offer a few of his own.  And then he was off on a treasure hunt in our great city.

Future diaper changing area

A week later I met Joe at the Salvation Army on 46th Street and he pointed out all the pieces he thought would fulfill my nursery wish list. With some vision and creativity, I knew he brought me to the right spot.  I agreed with him, and then went to arrange payment and delivery.  The good news: The Salvation Army couldn’t deliver the furniture for nearly two weeks, and the day they were in my neighborhood was the day my younger sister was moving out of our future nursery.  Perfect timing.  Simply perfect.

Remove glass hutch for future storage and window seat

(Thanks Lord!).  I gladly paid my money and nearly skipped out of the thrift store with Joe.

I bought the bottom half of a hutch (the top wasn’t available) which had metal trim, and a low china cabinet.  Joe would remove the glass hutch and repurpose that for himself, and I would end up with the bottom part with the storage and drawers.

Now for the paint color and fabrics!

Not a Peep bedding

I fell in love with a grey and yellow color scheme after looking at bedding at Land of Nod. It was pricier than many other stores, but through some sweet connections we were able to buy a few of the Not A Peep bedding pieces at a discount, which made Mike much happier, too.  It was back-ordered, so I had to do my best to color match using my computer screen (usually not a good idea). A trip to Home Depot in Midtown resulted in stacks of paint chips to try to find the best one.

Four fabrics from Mood and Ikea fabric curtains

Then Mike and I went to Mood (“Thank you Mood!”) to pick out some fabrics.  What a wonderful place I felt empowered and creative looking at all those beautiful and crazy fabrics, textures and patterns.  After returning home with tons of swatches, we finally settled on four fabrics for pillows, the seat cushion, and lining the top of the diaper changing area.  We re-used the grey curtains that I’d made with my MIL’s help and Ikea fabric when we lived in Orlando.  We ended up with a color scheme of grey and yellow with pops of purple.  I love it, and I think it will work with any gender should God give us more children (yes, please).

Months earlier I saw a show highlighting Sarah Richardson’s design for a nursery which knocked my socks off.  I can’t paint our apartment walls, nor can I put wallpaper on the ceiling (sigh!), but I loved her use of color and pattern, and that made me feel better about the variety of swatches we had for our nursery, plus the curtains and the fabric for the bedding.

By now we were getting much closer to the delivery and our sweet birth mother gave us regular updates after her doctor appointments.  Her doctor thought this Sweet Baby Girl would arrive early, so Mike and I packed up and left the City to be closer to the birth hospital. Good thing, too, because Sweet Baby Girl was born just three days after we left the City, and two weeks early!

Meantime, our church small group (co-led by “Can-Do” Joe) volunteered to finish our nursery while we were away!  My jaw was on the floor when two of the women approached me with the offer and asked for keys to our place.  Joe assembled the crib and painted the Salvation Army furniture the color I had chosen while the rest of the group hemmed my curtains, sewed pillows, purchased a mattress for the crib, made the seat cushion, received packages, unpacked boxes, and arranged and rearranged the room as more baby items were delivered.  They forwarded a few things to us (like the Moby wrap and Mike’s diaper bag), and had everything finished and arranged for our return.  Amen!  It certainly does take a village (or a small group) to create a nursery  They did such a fantastic job, and I’m humbled by their generosity.  I think it’s simply beautiful!

Sweet Baby Girl (P.I.E.) testing out her crib

First peek at the nursery

The old china cabinet is now a reading bench

Since our return we’ve added a few decorative details to the room, like a chandelier wall decal (on clearance at Babies-R-Us), some little round mirrors above the changing table (under $10 at Target for stick-on wall mirrors), and a funky Flensted mobile over the crib (a splurge from 2Modern).  When the glider arrived we had to rearrange the room, too, to accommodate more furniture.

Without the generosity of our church small group, and the kindness of so many friends and family to give us gifts, our nursery would not have come to together!  With a humble and grateful heart I thank the numerous dear people who have cheered us on to an unexpected parenthood.  Thank you.

Back in the Kitchen

I’ve returned to my kitchen with joy, glee and curiosity.  I’ve tried new recipes, discovered new super-foods, and experienced both success and failure.  Here’s a peek into my recent culinary adventures.

KALE CHIPS

A few weeks ago one of the people I admire and respect posted a status on Facebook about making kale chips.  “Kale chips?” I thought.  “How odd. I wonder what that’s like.” But I responded with a more polite “interesting” with my wheels of curiosity spinning.

Kale. Photo from Wikipedia.

Kale is a new-to-me super-food, a dark green leafy vegetable related to cabbage.  According to Wikipedia, “kale is very high in beta carotenevitamin Kvitamin Cluteinzeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium.  Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.[3][4] Kale is also a good source of carotenoids.[5]

Kale chips are more like toasted, ruffled lettuce than round, flat potato chips.  They are light, crunchy, crispy and surprisingly tasty.

The last time I was at Trader Joe’s I bought a bag of pre-washed and pre-cut kale, ready to try out this curious recipe.  (Toss kale in 1T of olive oil, spread into a thin layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 8-12 minutes.) But that first foray into Kale Chip baking was not a success!  I had a thick layer of kale, which meant the top layer was toasted and the bottom layers were soft, damp and a bit mushy.

Determined to give it another go, I bought whole-leaf kale, cut the center rib out of each leaf and then cut the leaves into pieces about 1-2″ square.  I tossed them with a little bit of olive oil and spread them out on my cookie sheet.  Then I sprinkled sea salt on top and popped them in the oven at 350 for about 12 min. And these were GOOD.

The up-side: They are unexpected yummy, and a great way to crunch on a serving of veggies.  Who knew?  Toasty leaves are delicious.

The down-side: They shrink up in the oven, so what looks like a lot of kale turns out to be not enough for the two of us (we wanted to eat more!).

They burn (turn brown) easily, so keep an eye on the oven when the time starts to run out.  My friend Christie suggests getting them off the cookie sheet immediately so that they stop cooking and don’t turn brown.  Sounds like a good idea to me.

A quick search online for recipes turns up videos and seasoning variations like adding parmesan cheese or seasoned salt.  I still have a bunch of kale, so perhaps I’ll try one of those tasty variations.

KALE SALAD

Why not continue riding the kale super-food wave?  The TODAY SHOW had a chef feature kale the other day, so I looked up those recipes and tried one: Raw Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad, which resulted in another yummy use for Brussels Sprouts (click here for my other winner-of-a-recipe for Brussels Sprouts).  I over-salted the dressing (bad news!), but I will certainly make this recipe again.  It was rather easy and unexpectedly tasty.   (Hm, just about any recipe with vegetables seems to be “surprisingly tasty” in my book!)

The TODAY SHOW’s featured Chef on June 18, Chef “Souper Jenny,” also had a salad with red quinoa and dried cherries. I’ll probably make that with my typical substitutions and adjustments using ingredients I already have for their specialty ingredients (regular quinoa for the red; dried cranberries for dried cherries).  Check back to my RECIPES page in a few days.  If it’s a success, I’ll post it there! In the meantime, click here to find the recipes from the TODAY SHOW on June 18.

AWESOME TURKEY BURGERS

Dinner happens every night, yet it often catches me by surprise.  The other night I had a pound of defrosted ground turkey that needed to be used.  My first plan was to brown it and add it to the left-over baked ziti which was languishing in the fridge.  But then I went on Pinterest and discovered inspiration! I read several recipes and then made some of the *best* *turkey burgers* *ever.*  

Here’s how I did it:  To that mushy, pink, uncooked ground turkey I added 1/4 of an onion (chopped), some shredded mozzarella cheese, some Montreal Steak seasoning, and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce. I patted them into burgers and cooked them on the grill pan.  They were SOOO good.  I’ll cook that again!

I snapped a pic of my awesome turkey burgers while they were cooking.  But let’s be honest: raw meat is not attractive or tantalizing to look at.  I’m not posting those pics.

 

Thank You

“Thank you.” It seems like such a little phrase, but it comes from my heart.  I’m so humbled by the kindness and generosity people have poured out on us to celebrate our Sweetie PIE’s arrival.

My family bent over backwards to help us settle in: Chrissie and her 5-year old daughter made room in their home for us and we all lived together while we waited for some of the legal paperwork to be approved so we could legally return to New York with PIE.  They were inconvenienced, but didn’t complain!  My other sisters came over to “ooh” and “ahh,” and they even watched PIE for a few hours so Mike and I could go out for lunch to celebrate our 4th anniversary.  My mom was a happy grandmother for the second time.

Mike’s parents drove out to meet PIE on her first day.  They stayed for several days and brought gifts and sweet love for their seventh grandchild.

Our NYC church small group assembled our nursery so that when we returned to the City with PIE we walked into a the joy of a completed nursery.  They painted furniture, assembled the crib, washed the linens, sewed pillows and seat cushions, and arranged gifts and furniture.  Our nursery is gorgeous (I hope to write about it soon)!  Thank you Best Fellowship Group Ever!

Dear friends provided us with a quick “baby moon” get away in the midst of so much secret running around for fingerprinting and legal paperwork.  How delightful to escape to the beach for a looong weekend together.

Many people sent gifts and cards and gift cards to celebrate PIE and settle us into our new life as a family of three.  PIE’s closet overflows with new and hand-me-down clothes and we are quickly going through containers of formula and boxes of diapers.  Everywhere I look I see your gifts: tangible expressions of love and excitement about our “insta-family.”

I’m so grateful for each kind word and encouragement, though I’m not up-to-date with my handwritten thank you notes yet.  No, I’m not simply “grateful,” but I’m also overwhelmed, appreciative and humbled.  Your generosity has left me in unexpected awe again… which is a great way to describe this year: unexpected.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!