May 14, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies and a Mother's Prayer

One of my favorite pastimes is baking with my eldest son (and eventually with both sons when the younger one is old enough).  I'd like to think it's one of my son's favorite pastimes, too.  He's always eager to roll up his sleeves, get in the kitchen, make a mess, sample a taste here and another one there, and be a help to mom (even though most times it ends up being more of a mess when he helps!).

As we were baking strawberry lemonade cookies over the weekend (inspired by these lemon cookies), I started to think about what kind of man he would become one day.  Would he be nurturing?  Generous? Kind?  Thoughtful?  Artistic?  Adventurous?  Strong-minded?  Passionate?  Would he even continue to enjoy baking?

God-willing, if he should become a husband one day, I pray he'd be a great blessing to his wife and family, much the way his own father is.  On days when his wife may need an extra dose of encouragement, I picture this . . .

One day when his wife is feeling down and out, upset, or exhausted, he'll go into the kitchen, search the pantry, and open up a couple boxes of cake mix.

He'll mix each of the batter in separate bowls with eggs, vegetable oil, and lemon extract.  He'll lovingly shape the lemon and strawberry dough into balls, roll them in confectioners sugar, and lay them out on the baking sheet, all the while praying for his beloved.

He'll bake the cookies by the batches and minutes later, he'll present them to his wife.  Her tears are no more.

A couple days will pass and when my daughter-in-law is feeling better, she'll call me and tell me about the awful day she had.

"I came home, hid under the covers, and cried my eyes out.  I told CJ [or "Nathan" when his wife calls] all about it.  And you know what?  He baked me a batch of strawberry lemonade cookies, kissed me on the forehead, and said a prayer for me.  And I knew everything would be okay."

And quietly in my heart, I'll give praise to God.

Is it crazy to dream up this scenario and get all emotional at the thought of my sons getting married and becoming loving husbands one day???  They're not even 4 yet!  But I know how quickly time passes and that these years will go by in the blink of an eye.  It is never too early, nor too late as long as we continue to take breath here on earth, to pray for our children and the building of their character.

My prayers for you, my beloved boys, is that you will know the love of Christ deeply in every facet of your being and that His love will overflow from your heart and in all that you (I pray this also for myself).  May you become men who love, serve, and give selflessly to others just as God Himself gave selflessly to us.  May you become husbands your wives will lean on and in whose presence will always feel safe, protected, and cherished; fathers your children will respect and admire; and a peer your friends can reach out to in their time of need.  

And if the occasion should call for it, that you'll bake a batch of cookies and bless those around you.  :)

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies
{Makes about 40 cookies; Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 10 minutes per batch}

1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
1 (18.25 ounce) package strawberry cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (for each batter)
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 
  2. Pour lemon cake mix into a large bowl and the strawberry cake mix in another bowl. Stir in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 1 tsp lemon extract to each flavored cake mix until well blended. 
  3. Take 2 rounded teaspoons of lemon batter and roll into a ball. Do the same with the strawberry batter. Combine the lemon and strawberry dough to make one large ball.  
  4. Drop the dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar. Roll them around until they're lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet. 
  5. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until bottoms are light brown and the insides are chewy. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving. 
P.S. They're even better the day after they're baked.


May 8, 2012

Celebrating 7 Wonderful Years

This post is a little late, but better late than never I say (actually, I hate being late but I'll pretend it doesn't matter in this instance).

J and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary this past April 24th.  At the beginning of this year, my fabulous sister-in-law insisted we go away by ourselves in April.  She, herself, was taking two weeks off and offered to watch the boys for us the first week of her vacation (I know - she rocks!).  We hesitated because we know our boys can be a handful, but then we finally came to our senses and took her up on the offer.

So we did some research, found an incredible deal on Expedia for a 4-night stay at a gorgeous all-inclusive resort in Cancun.  We were all over that.

I became very sick three days before our trip, in bed with chills, body ache, and 102-103 fever.  We thought we might have to cancel the trip.  But God-willing, the fever broke the night before and we made our flight (of course the boys got sick while we were away; poor babies and Auntie!).

A few short hours later, we arrived in paradise.  This is just what the good doctor ordered.

Words can't describe how beautiful and breathtaking our accommodations at The Beloved Hotel were.  So I'll let the pictures do the talking.

We got to enjoy the local sights.

But the best part was just spending time alone with mi amor, enjoying good food, drinks, swimming, biking, conversation and being together without the distraction of kids (although we missed our sons like crazy and talked about them every day).

People talk about the "7-year itch".  The year when a marriage can become boring and stale, leading one to go astray or walk out on the relationship.  It seems like a pivotal year for many marriages.  Honestly though, we've had harder years (namely our first) and this one has been the most amazing year for us.  We've been through some difficult times (losing a loved one and having a miscarriage), and we've had the challenges and blessings of being parents and I could not ask for a greater partner, friend, or husband through it all.

There is an "itch" and it's an itch to see what's in store for us (the good, the bad, and the ugly), an itch to know this wonderful, loving man in greater ways, and to continue to grow deeper in our relationship as God works in and through our lives -  refining, humbling, and equipping us in our roles as husband and wife.

Looking forward to spending our lifetime, here and for eternity, together.

If you want to see a relationship that has endured and grown through difficult times, you have to watch this video of Ian and Larissa.  The power of Christ's love is amazing, isn't it?


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