Monday, August 18, 2014

Menu Monday

Oh boy, here we go! Its time to get serious around here. School is beginning again and here's what's on the schedule for this week alone: We move our first born to college for her second year, school for the other four begins (I have 2 in high school - what!what!), hubs starts his student teaching ... Soccer ... Sports ... Homework ... Routine ... aaannnnd I work full-time!

It's insanely busy. That's why I preplan meals and in this week's Menu Plan Monday I'll be doing some double cooking; cook once, make twice the meals. So far I have 3 prepared meals in my deep freezer after this week will add 2 more.

Here's what the Tribe is eating this week! With links for you to try:

Sunday: French Toast Bake & Crockpot Chicken Wings
(I was out of soy sauce & substituted with Teriyaki Sauce)
Monday: Chicken Parmesan Casserole x2 
(I cooked 2 bags of chicken breasts in the crockpot on Sunday  to prepare)
Tuesday: BLTs because its August and tomatoes are a plenty! 
Wednesday: Texas Toast Turkey Melts
(this open face sandwich is a fav among my kids!) (also, I already have the bacon made from last night!)
Thursday: the Pioneer Woman Pasta alla Ladd x2
(new to my family, hope they like it because I'm making twice the sauce for a future recipe)
Friday: Bread Dough pizza
(we'll make this individual pizzas as I bought dinner rolls)

Also, p.s. stop going through the drive-thru for Yogurt Parfaits! Make these and take these ... they're just as good + you can keep your $ in your pocket!

p.p.s. You don't have to buy Sweet Tea either. Check out this recipe for making a gallon of that delicious southern nectar for your fridge!

Follow me on Pinterest - I have boards for Tribe approved meals, food I want to make and crockpot dishes.
Visit Stephanie Sikorski's profile on Pinterest.

As always, go check out on Mondays. She has the biggest Menu Plan Monday linkup I've seen! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, July 28, 2014

Menu Monday

Here's what our Tribe had on the menu this week! Check it out:

Monday - Chocolate Chips or Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Tuesday - Deli Ready Pizza & Bread sticks (please make these - they are delicious!)
Wednesday - Taco Night! Cheesy Rice and Mud and Chips too!
Thursday - Chicken Strips & French Fries
Friday - Pizza Night (a special treat!)
Saturday - Hamburgers & Squashed Potatoes
Sunday Brunch : Hootinany Pancake (family fav! easy to make!), Scrambled Eggs, Bacon (have you cooked it in the oven? So easy!!), Sausage Links, Doughnuts (my family thinks I'm the bomb when I make these)

Coffee w a friend is my fav!
Beverages: Blueberry Lemon Water &
Coffee Ice Cube Frappe's

(leftover coffee in the pot? No prob. Freeze it in an ice cube tray and throw in the blender with milk, creamer or sweetener ... however you like it! What are the proportions? Who cares? Trial & error, baby! After all, you're using leftover coffee so ... bonus!)

Be sure to follow all my Tribe-Approved recipes on Pinterest
and check out for a HUGE! Menu Monday link up! 

As always, thanks for reading To Write a Better Story!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

My first Wordless Wednesday post.

These photos are my life. My reality. My little surprises. My twins.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Monday

Mom of 5 (thats me!), went to work full time in June.  That's JUNE! The month school got out and our daughter returned home from her freshman year of college. JUNE where DH had a semester off before the final push towards graduation. And yes, JUNE where even the other four kids were released from the confines of school yard only to wander aimlessly between the pool and my pantry.   Yep, everyone got home the same time I went to work. So ......  depending on how one looks at it you could say I have the world's best or worst timing. 

That said, Menu Monday has been a wee bit challenging but no worries! I know eventually we'll find our groove. For summer I tried something different. I relinquished planning menus and transferred that responsibility to my family. 

I ask each member to pick a meal they like, I make a corresponding grocery list and DH (bless his heart) does the shopping. Then each evening, who ever choose the meal for that day, would begin dinner prep for me and in return, I teach them how to prepare that meal. 

It's been great! I get some one on one time with the kids, they learn how to do a little cooking and I'm not slaving away all day and all night! 

Now more than ever I treasure family dinner. It can be a struggle to make it happen but it's worth it as this article from The Atlantic recently reminded me. The stats don't change, folks. Breaking bread together is a tremendous way to keep ourselves mentally, AND physically nourished!

 Here's what we had to eat this week with links!

Also, as always, I'm linking my Menu Monday up with orgjunkie. She has the largest linkup I've
seen! Its a great resource if you love gathering recipes.

Sunday - Chili Sauce Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli Salad & Cheddar Biscuits
Monday - Blue Cheese Burgers & Potatoes on the grill
Tuesday - Fettuccine Alfredo 
Wednesday - (Family Fav!!) Cheeseburger Wraps & Tator Tots
Friday - Chicken Patty Sandwiches & Macaroni & Cheese

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest! All our Tribe approved recipes are on my 'For My Recipe Box' linked below. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Does God Use People?

Image courtesy of
Simon Howden/
I used to believe something.

I used to believe that the pain or suffering I experienced was allowed by God for the primary reason of helping others in similar circumstances.

I used to believe God wanted to create opportunities for his love and mercy and grace to be on display therefore, sometimes, one of His children had to be made into an example. And if you happened to be one of those children, going through a difficult time, rejoice! because "God is using you!"

Except, think of this: I don't treat my own children that way. Can you imagine if I withheld help from my son when he is struggling to learn algebra so that his sisters can learn a lesson about the value of studying?

That doesn't seem right.

Granted, I can admit that God probably doesn't parent like me, yet my sensibilities just won't let me get past the notion; does God really use people?

Recently, as our 12+  years in ministry was coming to an end I had a personal crisis of faith. Essentially much of what I had constructed about God came crumbling down as my present experiences failed to match my previous beliefs.

It was a very dark, confusing and lonely time.

While in the midst of that journey, a well meaning loved one said to me, "Take heart! Watch and see! God is using you and someday you'll be able to help others!"

While I have no doubt these words were meant to be an encouragement to me, the truth is that upon hearing that I became very, very angry.

If my dark times could help save someone grief during their hard times, did that mean God loved someone else more then me? How could He do that? And if He does operate that way, where was my person? Where was someone to walk beside me? How come He didn't send someone to lessen my pain with their stories of God's goodness?

Huh? Huh? Huh?

Just the other day, a dear friend of mine revealed over a cup of coffee that she's not so sure about God anymore. As the tears spilled down her cheeks she spoke of her fears:  afraid her church community will reject her, afraid she'll lose her faith-based employment, afraid that she's alone.

As I listened,  I nodded and I knew just as surely as my name is Stephanie that the story of my experience walking through similar questions would bring hope to my friend. 

But wait! Don't I reject the notion that God uses me?
Yet didn't my pain provide a nugget of comfort my friend?
While it may appear so listen closely....
Pain exists. Period.
And I have a will. I, you, we, probably have more agency in our lives that we exercise.
It's true, I don't believe God inserted troubling times in me for the benefit of someone else. I'd like to think He loves me too much to use me. I'm not a puppet in some universal production of grace. 
And the more I think about this I don't see that using people is even really in His nature. In fact, His very name, Emmanuel, means God with us. Not God uses us or God forces us. 
God with us.
I'm not something to be used.
I'm a soul.
I'm on a journey and He promises to be with me.
And He promises to be with my friend.

As  the very words of my journey tumbled from my lips that day, I was painstakingly aware that, by all appearances, it seemed as if my story was for her benefit.
Yet I am certain I had not been used.
How? Instead - and this is the best way I can describe it - I had an offering.
I chose to offer her my story.
As the two of us sat there, broken and vulnerable, sharing things we've never even dared speak aloud, I knew Emmanuel was with us.
In that moment, sharing my story with her, didn't feel like it had a predetermined purpose. Instead it felt like the most precious, sacrificial offering I could give. I humbly and nervously identified with her pain, shared my own and was utterly aware that no one did this to me - I gave it away.

It was my choice what I did with my story. It has been my choice all along. What kind of character will I be? How many hurdles can I overcome? And what, if anything, will I do when I meet other sojourners finding their way?
The choice is mine. This is my journey. The pages are being written. That's why it's my quest to write a better story. 

p.s. thanks to Sarah Bessey who's piece "In Which God Does Not Want to Use Me" and Dave Henson's piece on Patheos "I am Not a Drug: Why God Isn't in the Business of Using People" for their thoughts on this same subject. This particular idea had been churning in my head for awhile. Reading their thoughts gave me the bravery needed to put my fingers to the keyboard. 

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear ... Does God use people? Have you been used by God? Was it a good experience?

AddThis Smart Layers