Ducks and Real Persecution

I’m taking a break tonight from funny mommy blogging. This is what’s on my heart….

I’ve read so many blog posts and user comments on poorly written “news” articles this week that make me sad. I keep reading about the “persecution” of Christians in America; about how well-fed, clothed, completely NOT tortured, comfortable American Christians are ridiculed or somehow punished for their faith. I’ve read posts from pastors who I respect and admire that totally, shamefully and without a doubt just miss it. By “it” I mean the big picture, the grand Teton of issues at hand this week. Really, it makes no difference what Phil the duck commander has knowingly and publicly professed to a publication who was less than eager to paint him in a cheery light. It also makes no difference how Phil’s employer has decided to handle these remarks. What does matter is that this is, by no means, “persecution.” Let me paint a picture of what true Christian persecution looks like.

Did you know that just as the whole ducky A&E debacle was starting to spread like wildfire, a family in Iran was gathering the few remaining belongings of their son/husband/father who had been transferred from one of the most violent prisons in the country to THE most violent prison in the country? Did you know that this man has been beaten, robbed at knife-point, tortured and broken almost every single day for the last 430+ days? Can you imagine what it must be like for his wife and two very young children to be preparing for their SECOND Christmas without him? This man, Pastor Saeed Abedini, traveled to Iran from America (his home and citizenhip) to build an orphanage that was APPROVED by the Iranian government. He was arrested as he was traveling by bus across the Turkey-Iran border in the summer of 2012 on allegations of “undermining the government by trying to spread the Christian faith.”  And yet, in the personal items his family collected from the prison, Pastor Saeed had written a makeshift sign for his cell that reads, “Privilege of suffering for Christ.” That, my friends is persecution. That is what truly suffering for Christ looks like. Unless our government does something to intervene or the good Lord comes back soon, this man will likely die in a pitiful cell at the hands of a thug…but, he is true to his Lord. 
Rest assured that Phil Robertson is sleeping soundly tonight. He has family and food and a roof. He knows his Savior loves him and he believes the words he spoke were truth. But, truths often have consequences whether we like it or not. It’s just a matter of if you put your big girl panties on and deal with it or not. Phil won’t have a show for awhile or maybe never again, but this is no reason for Christians to get so up in arms about such a trivial matter. I use to work on film sets everyday. I know Hollywood isn’t a very Christ friendly place and I know that from firsthand experience. I have never been one to hide my faith, but I also don’t believe the way to win folks over is to bash them over the head with the bible. Doesn’t scripture proclaim that we should be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22)? What good does it do to tell people what they shouldn’t do of we are so busy doing other things the bible says we shouldn’t do? That plank in my eye really keeps me from helping you pull out that splinter from yours. So go, DO the Word. Be kind and loving and truthful and be humble about it.
All of that being said, I think the real frustration here for many Christians is the inequality shown in matters of “political correctness” toward believers. I get it! It hurts my feelings, too! I really want to be free to talk about Christ and His teachigs to everyone without getting the occasional snide rebut or a hateful comment. But, it ain’t gonna happen! What makes us think we DESERVE for the world to like us? Where in the Bible does it say, “follow me and you will be super popular.” It doesn’t! In fact it says the opposite. We just need to breathe a sigh of comfortable relief that in this country, with our Constitution and Bill of Rights, we just deal with hurt feelings and the occasional impact on our pocketbook. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time reconciling myself to calling what is going on with Phil Robertson “religious persecution,” when held up against what’s going on with Pastor Saeed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s painful sometimes and I really hate constantly seeing my Lord disrespected, but He expected this. Don’t you think the man who hung on the cross with his insides hanging out FOR YOU, the man who epitomized persecution; don’t you think He knew what He was dying for? A broken world! This world is broken. It’s not a shocker. It’s our job to just try and live as He commands while we are here. And I, for one, will be saying extra prayers of thanks to have been born in a land where real persecution is a foreign concept.

Smiley Stickie

Chuckles is really into “stickies” these days. And painting and crayons and SCISSORS! But stickers own her heart. I’m not sure what it is about that laboratory formulated adhesive on the back of Mickey Mouse or a sparkly smiley face that makes them so much more appealing to my toddler, but it does. She will do anything for a stickie.

 “Chuck, it’s time to brush your teeth.” “NO!!” “You want a sticker? You have to brush your teeth.” Absolute compliance! 
“C, please get in your carseat so I can buckle you.” Followed by the plank position, kicking and tears. “Ok, fine. If you don’t get in your seat, you don’t get a stickie.” All of a sudden she’s a pliable little angel.
Whoever thought of stickers is both the best friend and worst enemy of mothers of toddlers everywhere. While I love their bribery value, I hate finding them EVERYWHERE in my house. On the wood floor? Check. In the laundry? Uh huh. On the dog? Yep! In her mouth? Always. 
We are doing lots of arts and crafts in this house right now. It is Christmas Pinterest idea season after all! So, while mama is whipping out ornaments and gifts for grandparents, little nugget head is creating beautiful masterpieces of her own. These usually include watercolors, construction paper and some variation of stickers. Because she has been known to attempt to eat the shinier foil stickers, I always count how many I give to her at a time. That way I can expect it when there’s a gold winky face staring up at me in her poo the next day. 
Yesterday, she was working on a particularly lovely painting for her Gran and I gave her exactly five smiley face stickers. She stuck them to her hands, to her face, to the table. Finally, they ended up on the beautifully painted sheet of paper. All but one. Call in the search party. The usual line of questioning ensued. “Did you eat it?” “No!” “Did you put it on your belly?” “No!” “Did you feed it to the doggy?” “Doggy no!” You see where this is going? I searched everywhere around the table where she was sitting. I combed through the dog’s fur. I even swept. Shocking, I know! It never turned up so I figured she must have swallowed it at some point. Good. Smiley would be in good company down in her gut with the blue crayon she managed to chomp while I was cooking lunch. LUNCH, kid! You were that hungry? You couldn’t wait five minutes? Sheesh. But, I digress. 
Before dinner I decided we would run a few errands. We ran to the grocery store for some salad and to Walmart for a birthday present for a friend. I should add a side note here. Chuck HATES her carseat. She will do absolutely anything to get out of having to be buckled in. Since she has been potty trained, she now realizes if she shouts that she has to potty, mama will immediately release the straight jacket straps so she can get out to pee. Until yesterday I had been running her back into whatever store we happened to be patronizing just for her to barely eek out any tinkle and sometimes none at all. Little punk. So, yesterday I had had enough! When she pulled her predictable antic I said no. “You just went. I don’t believe you.” And I kept driving. Well, folks…she did. A LOT! I mean the whole darn seat was soaked. She kept whining, “eww, peepee! Peepee ucky! Stinky. Shoo!” For the whole ten minute drive home I alternated between giggling to myself at her funny expressions and lecturing her on why she was writhing in her own filth. I win the awesome mom of the year award!
When we got home I silmultaneously stripped my peepee baby and ripped that stinky seat out of my car to be washed. That is no easy feat, let me tell you! After disrobing the kid and the carseat, everything went into the wash and I went in to address the naked child. 
At this point I passed the giant floor-to-ceiling mirror in our living room and what to my wondering eye should appear? But, 1 tiny foil smiley sticker…on my REAR!
Through all the errands, all the shopping, all the searching the house for it, that dang sticker was securely affixed to my hiney through everything. Perhaps that was the reason for the wry look from the old man in the check out lane. Who knows how many people giggled to themselves at my misfortune or maybe at a memory of their own similar toddler encounter? One thing is for sure, though. Not many things say “happy Christmas” like a sparkling smile, so hopefully the smiley face on my rear end spread Christmas cheer for all.

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Rice Casserole

We had chicken. We had rice. And, of course, in this house we always have SOMETHING creamy! Tonight it was cream cheese. I bought fresh broccoli at the store yesterday because they happened to have organic and it looked delicious! So, what could I make? I figured any variation of chicken and rice casserole usually turns out pretty good…and tasty! Here goes…

You’ll need:

3-4 chicken breasts
8 oz package of cream cheese
about 1 cup of chicken stock
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup rice
1 package of ranch dip mix (or make your own here)
2 1/2 c water
1/3 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

First I pre-cooked my rice for about 10 minutes. Combine your rice and 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. I like to do this because rice never seems to cook as fast in the oven as the other ingredients. This will make it nice and fluffy.

 While your rice is cooking, pre-heat your oven to 375 and grease your 9×11 baking dish. Next, combine the chicken stock and cream cheese in a pot and wisk together until it reaches a creamy consistency. 

Once creamy, add your ranch mix and chopped broccoli. By this time, your rice should be precooked enough. Add the entire contents of the rice pot (including any remaining water) to the creamy mixture pot. Add additional water as necessary (approximately the 1/2 cup left in the ingredient list.)Yummy! It’s starting to smell really delicious! Now, pour your well-mixed ingredients into your baking dish and place your chicken breasts on top. Be sure to put your fattest breasts toward the outside of the dish so they cook through without a doubt. Lightly salt and pepper the top of your concoction, cover with foil and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. About 10 minutes until done, sprinkle the cheese on top and place back in the oven uncovered for the remainder of the time. Voila! You have a delicious, homecooked meal that is toddler-approved and easily reheats for lunch tomorrow!

Tips for a healthier version: You could use free-range chicken breasts…if you find where they sell a bag of organic, free-range chicken in the frozen food section, will you please let me know?! I usually end up buying a whole chicken and using it for days, but tonight we only had the frozen breasts on hand. You could also sub organic heavy cream or organic, low-fat cream cheese. As I have said before, you can make many alterations to “healthify” your family meals. You just do the best ya can and sometimes that means that you use something that’s NOT organic, something that’s NOT all veg or something that’s NOT low sodium. Just find your absolutes (for me it’s non-gmo corn/soy, and organic veggies) and work around the rest. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to take shortcuts, but once you find a healthier way that works for you, do that!

Now, eat up!


Monogram Yarn and Jute Christmas Ornaments

I just had to write a quick post because I am so excited! Last year my sister-in-law and I decided to introduce the first annual  “cousins’ day of crafting and Christmas movie watching.” Long name? Sure. Hours of entertainment for littles as well as adults? ABSOLUTELY! We artistically decorated foam balls into snowmen and Popsicle sticks into snowflakes. We sat the kids in front of classics like “Rudolph” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with their hot cocos in hand. Chuckles was only 10 months old last year at this time, but even she was into it! We have an adorable photo of her watching movies in her fuzzy footie jammies with her compadres. So cute!

So, needless to say, SIL and I have been pumped for this event and have been preparing for weeks! I brought sparkly pom poms and pipe cleaners, ribbon and google eyes. We hit up the Joanne Fabric Black Friday sale to round out our supplies with all kinds of festive goodies. While trying to conjure inspiration in those delightfully creative aisles, I remembered a pin I had seen a few times on Pinterest for yarn wreaths. I found some pressed wood letters, 4.25in, and some beautiful maroon yarn. Perfect! I could totally do something with this, though I hadn’t completely worked it out yet. 
When the time had finally arrived to call on our inner Marthas, my brother-in-law brought out his addition to the lot. Score! Real acorns, burlap and his copper stamping skills. 

It looks like chaos, but really, there was a method.

Once the supplies were spread COMPLETELY over the table and the hot glue gun was heated to volcanic temperatures, we were ready to begin. 

I started by placing a dot of hot glue on the back of my C, put the end of the yarn in it and the just started wrapping. Just kept wrapping. All the way around. Forever. Then I filled in any holes with random pieces of yarn. My C turned out pretty good! Then I got to go through the button box! SIL has a button box with beautiful antique buttons which I am sure were treasures to some grandma’s littles at some point, but she found them at a garage sale and now they are OUR treasures!

My “C” turned out pretty good I thought! Next up was Hfoe’s “B”. I decided to use jute twine for his to represent his ruggedness. He liked that. Twine is little more difficult to work with, but totally worth it because it looks amazing! 

Finally, I rounded out our little trio with Chuck’s “C.” Then, my brother-in-law offered to stamp out some copper plates for them and that really finished them off!

Seriously, y’all! I’m in love! This is exactly what I wanted to represent my little family’s 2013. We have gotten back to our roots (burlap), submersed ourselves in refined, fancy culture (lace) and through it all, we have all gotten a little wiser (old buttons.) Am I silly for assigning symbolism to craft supplies? Well, I do and they’re perfect! 

No, I didn’t use any of the pipe cleaners or sparkly pompoms I contributed, but the kids did and plenty of snowmen were brought to life. Chuckles soaked in another year of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and we all enjoyed another dose of left over Thanksgiving pie. My little niece, Loo Whoo, even said “today was the best day ever!” Second Annual Cousins Day of Crafting and Christmas Movie Watching…Success! I already can’t wait for next year, although, we may need to work on the name.