Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake...WOW!

This is a recipe given to me by my friend, Suzanne. It is amazing! Two things to know before you start: it's a little time consuming and you have to use a springform pan.

1 3/4 cups crushed chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 (8 oz) cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cookie Dough:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips, divided

In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat just until blended. Pour over crust; set aside.

In another mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add water and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls over filling, gently pushing dough below surface (dough should be completely covered by filling).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. (My oven took a good bit longer. You can tell it's done when the center is almost set and the top begins to crack slightly.) I put a cookie sheet under my springform pan b/c some liquid runs out when it's baking. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Remove sides of the pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips before serving.

Last thing, call me over to enjoy a slice with you!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hope from Despair

We are on Day 11 of South Bay Church's 21 Day Prayer challenge. If you would like to follow the blog with us, click here. Below are my reflections on John 11.

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. John 11:4

As John chapter 11 opens, Jesus gets word that one of his very dear friends is sick. The messenger tells him, "Lord, the one you love is sick." No name is given; no name is needed. It's the one Jesus loves. He knows right away. It's Lazarus.

His response seems so strange, though. One of his dearest friends is sick, he has the power to heal him, and yet he does nothing! Surely Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, were baffled by his lack of action. Why not at least come to sit with them, to provide comfort, to be...a friend? Instead, Jesus stays where he is and Lazarus dies.

Finally Jesus decides to go to the grieving family, four days after Lazarus has been in the tomb. I can only imagine all the emotions that Mary and Martha must have felt when they are told that Jesus has arrived. "Why didn't you come? You could have done something! He was your friend. I thought you loved him. You didn't even come to say goodbye. What was so important that you couldn't leave it to come be with him?" Overwhelmed with grief and perhaps looking for someone to blame, they likely had conflicting emotions when they saw Jesus. In their hearts, they believe he is the Messiah. In their minds, they know he is worthy of worship. But at this moment, stricken with the realization that their brother is gone and Jesus could have done something about it, they're not sure if they should beat on his chest or fall at his feet.

Have you ever been there? Has there ever been a time in your life that you've prayed desperately for something, knowing in full-faith that Jesus is capable of intervening, and yet he didn't? Have you ever asked for a miracle and been left, seemingly, empty-handed? And you're left wondering why, and what now? Where do you go when the One who is supposed to provide comfort seems silent? What do you do when what you've said you believe is called into question and answers are no where to be found?

If you're wise, you do what Mary did. When she is told that Jesus has arrived, she runs to him, falls at his feet, pours out her heart, and weeps. She brings with her all of her disappointment and her broken heart. She doesn't first comb her hair or wipe her runny mascara. She just runs to him. When Jesus sees Mary weeping, verse 33 says that "he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." And as their tears mingle together, Mary is comforted by the fact that her Savior is also her friend. He is not far removed from her pain. He joins her in her grief.

But behind the tears, there is a twinkle in Jesus' eye...because he knows the rest of the story! He knows this momentary pain will usher in greater glory. He is about to blow their minds. Their story will be commemorated for all of history because of this awesome miracle, but they first had to walk through the grief. It had to be bleak. He needed everyone's attention. Jesus' glory is about to shine with ever increasing brightness against this dark backdrop of pain and suffering.

There was no limit to the rejoicing that took place when Lazarus got up out of his tomb and walked out! Jesus didn't want to just heal a fever. That could be explained away by the natural forces of nature. He wanted to make sure there would be no explaining this away. FOUR DAYS DEAD. That's really dead. That's "no-hope-for-reviving" kind of dead. That's when Jesus steps onto the scene and gives hope and life where there had been nothing but despair and death.

I don't know what impossible circumstance you have in your life right now. Maybe you're praying for a miracle, trusting that Jesus will come through. Perhaps he will answer just as you are hoping. But maybe, like Mary and Martha, you are hurting and confused and angry because Jesus didn't seem to show up at all. He could have done something and he didn't. Your situation is far-gone, four days dead. I want to encourage you today to run to him. Fall down at his feet and pour out your heart to him. Allow his tears to mingle with yours as you grieve together. But take a moment to look in his eyes. There may be a twinkle there that you had failed to notice and greater glory is on the way! Jesus never wastes a hurt.

Lord Jesus, help us to run to you in our pain. Help us to know that you are right here with us, offering inexpressible comfort and strength. May we praise you in the midst of our suffering, even if it is with tear-streaked faces. And may we always possess the hope that You have greater glory on Your mind!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parent Training

A few weeks ago, during "Potty-Training Boot Camp", I was allowing Caedmon to have some type of treat/prize every time he successfully used the toilet. I had a big basket of prizes including little plastic dinosaurs, an assortment of juice boxes, and some food snacks. His favorite prize was a packet of the Spiderman fruit snacks. The problem was that he was getting multiple prizes a day and he always picked the fruit snacks. The result was bright green poop...looked just like a green tea frappuccino from Starbucks! Caedmon thought this was fantastic!

Eventually the fruit snacks ran out and Caedmon reluctantly resorted to picking the other prizes. But he was absolutely devastated when his poop was no longer green. As he cried, he kept saying a certain phrase over and over. Andy and I both listened trying to determine what he was saying. Then Andy busted out laughing when he realized that Caedmon was saying, "I want my green crap back! I want my green crap back!"

I'm not sure which one of us referred to Caedmon's poop as "crap" (I'll let you take a guess at that), but there has been a new filter installed on both of our mouths as to what words are appropriate to be used around children! They pick up everything!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Humidifiers and Mold

Caedmon is just getting over a cold / congestion and we've been using a humidifier in his room while he sleeps for a couple of weeks now. Our pediatrician recommended it and it really seems to have helped. However, we noticed that all of the moisture in the air is causing some kind of mold/mildew to grow on the walls and around his window. Andy and I scrubbed it all really well and got as much of it up as we could. But I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for how to clean this and how to prevent it from happening again. We're no longer using the humidifier but what if he gets sick again?

PS- I've only specifically asked for comments a couple of times because every time I get like 1 reply! How embarrassing and disappointing!!! I'm counting on you to make my day by leaving a comment! :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Believing God

South Bay Church is on Day 5 of a 21 day emphasis on prayer and Bible reading as we lead up to our Grand Opening on February 8th. We have asked everyone on our Launch Team to spend 15 minutes a day in prayer for the church and to read one chapter of the book of John each day. We are keeping a blog of our reflections from our Scripture reading. Today it was my turn to share my reflections on chapter 5 so I will just copy what I wrote below. If you would like to join us in this focused time of prayer or in reading the gospel of John, check out the blog here.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

Did you realize that the word "believe" is used seven times in John chapter 5? Believing God is what the entire Christian life is built upon...believing what God says about himself and believing what God says about us! Not just a vague and general acceptance of the truth, but a present, active, all or nothing kind of belief upon which you're determined to build your life.

At the beginning of John 5, Jesus interacts with a man who has been an "invalid" (most likely paralyzed) for 38 years. 38 years! That's longer than I've been alive. 38 years of watching others walk around him and not being able to move himself. 38 years of being completely dependant on other people to get him where he needed to go, to feed him meals, to help him to the restroom, to change his clothes...38 years of frustration and pain and embarrassment, and the only hope that he had that his life could ever change was to lay by this pool of water that was said to have healing powers.

Then, one unsuspecting day, Jesus walked by and changes everything.

When Jesus saw the man laying there he asked him a question with a seemingly obvious answer. He asked, "Do you want to get well?"

The strange thing is, the man does not respond with a resounding, "YES!" He responds with an excuse for why it could never happen.

What an incredible parallel to many of our lives! We're paralyzed by fear, in bondage to sin, suffering from a chronic case of "I need to change but can't." And when the Healer walks by offering us a chance at freedom, we offer him some pathetic excuse for why we're stuck in our current condition.

Can I just be blunt? When the Healer asks you if you want to be healed, you should say YES!!! Don't offer him your lame excuses and uncertainties. Don't question if He has the power or means by which to set you free. BELIEVE HIM!

Jesus, right now, as you read this post, is offering you abundant life. He's offering you peace in the midst of uncertainty, hope for all of eternity, and joy even during trials and hard times. Will you allow Him to step into your circumstance and bring the healing and life that only He can give? Will you BELIEVE?

Dear Jesus, I pray that you would give each of us the faith to BELIEVE you are who you say you are and will do what you say you will do! We want to live the lives that You have intended for us to live.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


A couple of days ago Caedmon did something that he's never done before. He and I were getting ready to go somewhere and, as I was walking into my bedroom to turn off the light, he opened the front door. (That's not unusual, though it is off limits.) I just said, "Caedmon, close the door and wait for Mommy," and proceeded to walk in my room to turn off the light. When I came out (literally 2 seconds later) the door was closed and Caedmon was not standing by it.

At this point I didn't know if Caedmon had run back to his room or if he had gone outside. Once or twice he may have gone outside, but he's never wandered far and always gets a good scolding when I get him back inside. Well, this time he had wandered far. When I opened the door he was not there. We live on the first floor of an apartment complex with lots of windy pathways, fountains, and hiding places. My heart immediately went into panic mode as I took off in a dead sprint around our fountain area all the while yelling his name. He was not there. I ran back inside thinking maybe he had gone back to his room. He was no where in the house. I am about to run to the phone to call Andy and I hear a giggling 2 year old running up to my front door. This entire episode maybe lasted 2 minutes, but adrenaline was pumping through my blood for a good 2 hours afterwards.

Clearly the incident hit on one of my deepest fears because that night I had a nightmare that I had lost Caedmon. I was searching all over for him with the same feeling of panic, only in my dream I never found him. At one point in my dream I just fell to the ground and began sobbing...heaving, really. Absolute terror. Weeping uncontrollably and there was nothing anyone could do to comfort me. That is how I woke up. I woke up because I was crying so hard.

My first thought was, "It was just a dream. It was just a dream." But the second thought that popped in my head was, I believe, from the Lord. He seemed to be saying to me, "That is how I feel about my lost sheep." I began thinking about the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. The shepherd abandoned every other responsibility to go after this lost sheep. Nothing else mattered. It could all wait. Only one thing was important.

I wonder what it would take for us to feel the same urgency that Christ feels when it comes to bringing home the lost sheep in this world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Laborers

Last night our team of 6 had the privilege to host another team of 6 people (3 couples) who are planning to move to the Bay Area to start a church in 2010. The 12 of us crammed in our little apartment (with 3 sick kiddos) and enjoyed an encouraging and inspiring evening together. For all the kids to be a little under the weather, they did an amazing job.

I have such respect for people who are willing to risk it all and move their families cross-country to start a church in a region where there have been very few successful church plants (and more than one or two failed attempts). As I talked with the wives, it was obvious that they were 100% committed to this vision...that they were coming because they, too, felt called. Not just because their husbands wanted to come. These were women who are passionate about ministry and seeing the darkness of our city pushed back with the light of Jesus Christ! Thank God for women like that in our world!

These next 18 months will be intense for them as they transition out of their current ministries and say goodbye to life as they know it while preparing to dive head first into a culture far removed from what they are used to . Because we just went through that ourselves, the memories and emotions are still so fresh to us. They will have a million questions and fears. They will face insurmountable odds but will witness countless miracles as God provides for them each step of the way. They will meet people who discourage them by saying what they're attempting can never be done, and they'll meet others who will all but worship them for the courage that they display. Their excitement and anticipation will grow with each passing day, but the work it takes to get here will be hard.

Team Mission Bay, if you read this blog, let me just say to you "It is all worth it." Following the call of Christ at any cost is worth it. There are hundreds and thousands of lives who will be saved for all of eternity because of your obedience to follow the call of Christ on your lives. We are so thankful that you are coming. We have been praying that you would. Before we knew who you were, we were praying for you to come. Before we even moved here ourselves, we prayed you would come. And we will continue to pray for you, and the countless other laborers that are needed to come into the harvest field of the Bay Area. We look forward to partnering with you in the advancement of the Kingdom in the Bay!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sick of being sick

I feel like ever since December 28, someone in our family has been sick. We each caught a stomach bug (I will spare you the details which would be much grosser than my previous post about potty training!) and last week Caedmon got a wretched cold which he lovingly shared with both Andy and me. The combination of sickness and potty-training has made my interaction with the outside world quite limited and I'm a little stir crazy.
We did venture out today to run a few errands. This was my first time to run errands with Caedmon since beginning potty training, and I was very excited that he stayed dry AND went pee pee in a public restroom! Major breakthrough for us. That's all for today. My head feels foggy...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ready for Potty Training?

One other explanation for my vacation from blogging that I forgot to mention yesterday (how could I forget this?!) is that we have been potty training for about 2 weeks now. Caedmon is doing really well (most days) and having relatively few accidents. Still not too sure about public restrooms or how to forewarn me when he has to poop, but all in all, it's not been nearly as difficult as I was expecting.
In fact, I was quite UNMOTIVATED to begin potty training. I just kept having nightmares of endless loads of laundry and cleaning the carpet like I just got new puppy. But I rapidly found my motivation thanks for a certain "Sign of Readiness" that Caedmon was giving me...
For several weeks before we took the potty-training-plunge, Caedmon began taking off his diapers whenever they were messy...which, of course, made the mess all the worse! One time, Caedmon was playing in his room when I started smelling poop. As I walked down the hallway, the smell became more and more intense and I started hearing him say, "I cleaned it, Mommy. I helping." I walked in to find his poopy diaper on the floor, wipes (some clean/some dirty) strung all over his room, and poop smeared into the carpet! Nice.
Another time (at South Bay Church's Christmas party of all times), Caedmon momentarily went missing. Andy and I found him in the bathroom with his poopy diaper in the toilet and, yes, once again poop and toilet paper all over the place. I made Andy go bobbing for diapers while I cleaned up "Pooperman".
With each instance I was becoming more and more motivated to teach my son what is the appropriate thing to do with poop.
This happened several more times in the course of a couple of weeks...I'll spare you all the details. But one instance was so classic that I couldn't pass it up. One morning as I was getting ready, I put Caedmon is his pack-n-play as was our usual routine. Only on this particular morning, when I came back to get him, I was greeted by a child with no pants and no diaper and poop flung all across our living room! And let me tell you, this kid's got an arm. He chucked this poop with such force that pieces of it were actually stuck to the glass on our entertainment system. I'm not lying. I knew you might think I was exaggerating, so as evidence, I took pictures which I am entrusting to you this day! Don't worry, I will hang on to copies of these in order to thoroughly embarrass Caedmon with in front of future girl friends and, hopefully, at his Rehearsal Dinner as well!

The Culprit, guilty as charged.
Notice the diaper on the floor by the blue block. That's poop to the bottom right.

A close up of the poop. Please don't miss the chunk right by the elephant's tusk or down in the corner by the CD rack. I lovingly and joyfully cleaned all of this up, and then reported directly to Walmart to purchase all of my "Potty Training Supplies." I was officially "MOTIVATED" and thus we joined the ranks of millions of others in potty-training-world!
This blog is officially posted in honor of my brother, who will get more of a kick out of it than anyone, and who can relate in ways that I will not reveal in such a public forum!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Better late than never!

I took an unintentional vacation from blogging. Probably because the last month for me looked like this: Preview Service #2, computer crashed (kind-of), follow-up, Christmas, stomach bug, New Year's, Preview Service #3. I'm very sorry (especially to my family who loves to stay updated through my blogs). I'm back now...hopefully!

I know it's a little late, but I wanted to show you a few pictures from our Christmas. This was our first "California Christmas" and our first Christmas to NOT be with one of our families. It was quite different, but it was very special nonetheless.

My favorite part of Christmas was seeing how much of the Christmas story that Caedmon could understand! We bought him a children's book that explained the Christmas story and read it (what felt like) multiple times a day. By the time Christmas arrived, he could practically read it himself! It is so wonderful to have the privelege to teach your children about Jesus!

Caedmon's stocking. CC & Pops gave Caedmon that awesome little
table as their big Christmas present.

Andy's sister, Danielle, gave us both journals for Christmas.

My mom found a devotional book for Caedmon entitled, "His Mighty Warrior." It is so perfect because the name Caedmon Elliott means "a wise warrior who is near to God." We pray almost daily that God would grow this little boy into a mighty warrior for His Kingdom!

Caedmon got a firetruck from Mimi and Papa. They also gave him the firetruck pajamas that he's wearing. If you notice he's wearing a different pair of pajamas in the first picture, but when he opened the firetruck pajamas he started immediately taking off the other ones to put these new ones on! It was pretty cute! He is SUPER into firetrucks right now.

Uncle Teve & Aunt LaLa gave Caedmon a Bubble Machine. Spits out like a
million bubbles a minute. Super cool.

Best picture of the day! Our friends Rebekah and Archie came over and we played Wii all afternoon. This is Andy doing Yoga! (He was actually pretty good!)

I also have some super cute vido footage that I wanted to post but I don't know how yet. One of the videos is Caedmon opening his Elmo Live from Grandma Marcy. He was pretty excited!