Archive | September, 2015

A Recipe for Hunting Season

30 Sep

Hunting season is in full swing here in Minnesota, and Travis’ family’s annual elk hunting trip to Colorado is coming up in just a week. This recipe for elk chili has been a staple at elk camp for the past 5 years or so, AND it won our church’s chili cookoff twice. The first time it won was the first time I had ever made it! So it started off as a great recipe, and after making it three dozen times or so, I’ve made a few tweaks that have only made it better. I almost always use elk meat, but this chili can be made with any ground venison or even ground beef. It’s a great thing to serve hungry hunters after they’ve been out searching for their prey, or a tasty way to cook the fruits of their labor. Best part, it can be made in a crockpot or on the stove. Enjoy!

Elk Chili
Adapted from this recipe
Serves 4-5 hungry hunters


1 lb ground elk meat
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp butter (only if cooking on stove)
30 oz tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar


1. Brown elk meat in a large skillet and drain excess fat.
2. (Skip this step if using a crockpot.) In separate pan, melt butter over low-medium heat and saute onion until tender.
3. Combine drained meat, onion, and remaining ingredients in a crockpot or in a large pot on the stove. Stir well.
4. If using a crockpot, set temperature on low and cook 6-8 hours. If cooking on the stove, bring to a simmer and cook 1-2 hours.
5. Serve hot and enjoy! We like to eat ours adorned with sour cream and cheese, with a side of yummy cornbread, but it’s delicious on its own too!

Happy Hunting!

Evangelism Is a Means, Not an End

23 Sep

Last Sunday in church, one of the songs we sang was about building God’s kingdom here through evangelism. One of the lines said, “We are the hope on earth.” While I understand the idea, I emphatically disagree. Jesus is the hope; we are not. We simply relay the message of hope found in Him.

I realize that I’m probably more sensitive to this kind of thing than most people, because I spent years dissecting my Christian faith down to nuances and colloquialisms. However, I can’t help but comment on this phrase — because even though when I heard it now, I could put it in its proper context, if I had heard it then, it would’ve sent me into a massive tailspin of guilt, failure and despair.

Why? Because it confuses people like me about who is responsible for what.

Nothing sends me into guilt-trip, “I need to do better” mode faster than a sermon on evangelism. I’m guessing that a lot of people feel the same way. What ends up happening is that we feel the responsibility to bring others to know Christ and see how we fall short. In an effort to bridge the gap between what we “should be doing” and what we are actually doing, we determine to be bolder in sharing the gospel. We share with a few people but over the course of a month or two, fall back into our old habits. When the next evangelism message comes along, we get pumped up again and resolve to share the gospel. We do for a bit, but again gradually fade back into our old habits.

“So what?” you say. “At least the gospel is being proclaimed!” Yes, that’s true, it is. And it may even be that some of those people who heard the gospel came to know Jesus, and that is something to rejoice over. But is that ALL that God cares about? Is He only about the bottom line? “The only thing that matters is that people hear the gospel.” After all, in Philippians 1, the apostle Paul didn’t care that some were proclaiming the gospel out of faulty motives – he only cared that it was being proclaimed, right?

I believe that God cares about more than the bottom line. We are not just His pawns in the game of world domination. The Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Or as John Piper would say, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” It is possible to focus so much on the mission of evangelism as an end that we forget it’s really just a means of enjoying God.

When evangelism becomes an end, it’s often used as a gauge for how seriously we’re living out our faith, or for our success as a Christian or a church. If that happens, we will quickly find ourselves defeated and suffocated under a fatal burden of guilt and legalism. We are not strong enough to shoulder the weighty responsibility of growing God’s kingdom.

And the good news is: We are not responsible for growing God’s kingdom. We are not responsible for people coming to know Jesus. God is.

I wholeheartedly agree that God uses people – like us – to accomplish His purposes, and that we have a role in evangelism. But it’s far smaller and more personal than most people realize. Our role in evangelism is primarily in being faithful to God’s leading.

It’s not our responsibility to share the gospel; it’s our privilege. Telling someone about Jesus isn’t something we do for God; it’s a gift He gives to us. It’s for our benefit. We get the grace!

When evangelism stops being an end, and becomes the means to glorifying and enjoying God that it was meant to be, we can stop focusing on all the ways we’ve failed, stop resolving to Do Better! and instead, walk through today in faith, as God’s chosen ones, forgiven and justified by the blood of the Lamb, expectantly awaiting the Spirit’s prompting.

We are not the hope on earth — Jesus is. Come, Lord Jesus!

I Write, Therefore I Am (A Writer)

4 Sep

20150904_063656I’ve done 6 sprint triathlons and 1 Olympic. But I’m not a “triathlete.”

I’ve ran 6 half marathons, 1 full marathon, a 15K, a 10 mile, and a slew of 5Ks and 10Ks. But I’m not a “runner.”

My first-ever blog post was on January 15, 2008. Since then, I’ve written over 850 posts. I even have my own domain! But I’m not a “blogger.”

All my life, I’ve dreamed of writing and publishing a book. Growing up, I spent my free time writing short stories and novels. Majoring in Journalism and Spanish meant I did a LOT of writing in college. After graduation, I settled into being a marketing copywriter. But I’m not a “writer.”

Why do I not consider myself a triathlete, runner, blogger or writer? Isn’t the definition of a triathlete “a person who competes in triathlons”? Isn’t a runner “a person who runs”? A blogger, a person who blogs? A writer, a person who writes?

I’m hesitant to assume those titles for the same reason I feel the need to dispel any notions of my athletic prowess with the caveat “But I’m slow.” To describe myself as a triathlete, runner, blogger or writer, I feel like I should be doing those things in a big way. I should be winning age group awards, making money through endorsements and affiliate links, and publishing articles or books. Instead, I’m consistently in the last third of finishers, have a small (but wonderful!) blog following, and haven’t published anything.

I’m 99% okay with all of that. Admittedly, there are times when jealousy rears its ugly head. But I do think this mode of thinking – go big or go home – might be holding me back, especially in the area of writing. I don’t take writing seriously because I still just view it as a “hobby” that probably “won’t ever amount to anything.” When I tell people I’m working on a book (very, very, very part-time), I feel like a kid telling an adult that I want to be an astronaut when I grow up, expecting them to pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh, that’s nice, Kathy.”

Just the other day, I was talking to my aunt’s sister at a birthday party for my cousin’s daughter and she said to me, “So you’re a writer?” I fumbled for a response and ended up saying, “Um…yeah…sure.”

But that stops now. I may never be a published author (though I hope to be) or earn money from my blog (eh, whatever) but I am a person who writes. Therefore, I am a writer.

For a while now, I’ve been convicted that I need to carve out time for writing my book. I need to prioritize it – obviously not over taking care of my family, but over other stuff I do during naptime. Or wake up early. Stay up later. Writing with little kids can be done! And I’m going to do it. Because this book about what practical faith looks like isn’t just my dream. It’s my calling from God. I honestly believe that other people are meant to benefit from this book, that this message needs to get out there. If it helps even just one person, it has accomplished its purpose.

I’m on Day 4 of working on my book and let me tell you, getting my thoughts aligned and rolling together is a heck of a lot easier when I don’t take 3 month breaks in between each session.

I’m letting you know this 1) Because I’ll probably be blogging less 2) You will be the first to know about my book when it’s done! I may seek publishing (that’s a LOOOOONG way down the road, and a total LOOOOONG shot) but I plan to offer my blog readers the eBook for FREE!

Here goes nothing.

Annabelle Lyn: 5 Months

1 Sep

Annabelle was 5 months (22 weeks) on August 27. At her well-child visit on August 11, she was 17 lbs 2 oz (90th percentile) and 25 inches (59th percentile), with a head circumference of 17 inches (99th percentile!). To compare, at 6 months, Emma was only 16 lbs 6 oz and 26 inches. Annabelle is a cuddly little chubbers!


This little girl is so smiley and happy. It seems like she loves everyone, though if a bunch of toddler strangers surround her carseat, she’s not afraid to voice her disapproval!
This past month, Annabelle had a few ‘rough’ evenings of not wanting to go to sleep. She usually nurses to sleep for naps and bedtime (I think it’s mostly just a comfort thing because she nurses plenty of other times too) and every once in a while lately, she is too squirmy or distracted to nurse. I chalk some of it up to her age and just being more interested in what’s around her. But other times, it seems like something’s bothering her. I remember one night, I couldn’t get her to nurse anywhere except when I sat on the floor, so I thought maybe she didn’t like feeling cramped. But the next day, she seemed fine with nursing in a chair where her feet touch the side, and has seemed fine since then, so who knows.
Speaking of nursing to sleep, that’s the main way she likes to go to sleep. Emma wouldn’t fall asleep nursing to save her life, but Annabelle prefers it over bouncing, rocking, anything. She doesn’t have to nurse to fall asleep, but does about 90% of the time. Proof that the child’s personality and temperament really make a difference!

I am slightly embarrassed to admit, though, that Annabelle still sleeps in her swing with the vibration on for her naps and bedtime. My plan had been to get her used to sleeping in the swing without the vibration first and then transition her to the crib, but she hasn’t liked that idea much. Plan B was buying a vibration pad to put under her crib mattress to see if we could get her to transition that way, but she hasn’t been a fan of that either (she’ll wake up after only 15-30 minutes). We’re going to keep trying because I just think she’s too old to still sleep in a swing. Seems like she might be missing out on some developmental benefits or something. She has ditched the swaddle, so at least there’s that. (It helps when they find their hands.)
These days, Annabelle usually wakes up around 7, takes an hour nap around 8:30, take a longer afternoon nap (1.5 – 3 hours) around 1, sometimes takes a short catnap in the evening (depending on how long her afternoon nap was), and goes to bed around 8:30. She sleeps straight through the night 99% of the time. A few times, I’ve had to nurse her around 5 am, but that’s not typical. I have appreciated her going to bed earlier because that means I can get her to bed and then focus on getting Emma to bed. Putting them both down at the same time is usually a disaster!

Annabelle has gotten better at tummy time — she can hold her head, neck and shoulders off the floor — but has only rolled over from belly to back once. She hasn’t rolled the other way (back to belly) at all. I’m trying to be more intentional with mat time but it’s hard with a toddler! That’s another reason I want to move her out of the swing.
We like to joke about how mild Annabelle’s crying is. She just has the cutest, most pitiful little cry, and it takes a LOT for her to get worked up. She’ll be woken up from a nap early, kept up an hour past bedtime, wait 45 minutes to eat, play by herself while I chase Emma for a diaper or clothes change, chill in the Bumbo watching me make dinner, swing in the infant swingset swing while we go down the slide with Emma and just take it all in. She squawks a lot (especially when she’s getting tired), laughs and coos at Emma’s antics, and reacts with surprised disgust when anything plastic or rubber goes in her mouth…

Which means she won’t take a bottle. Her only flaw. We’ve tried a handful of times now with a few different bottles — no luck. Since I stay home full-time and she’s on the verge of starting solid foods, I’m not too worried about it. I gave Annabelle a taste of mashed banana while making banana bread one day and she revolted. So I might try baby cereal mixed with breastmilk in a few weeks.
One other notable thing, we finally bought an Ergobaby. Zulily had them for half off, which motivated us to pull the trigger. So far, I love it. It’s comfortable to wear (no more hurting shoulders!) and Annabelle seems to like it fine. It’s a little tricky to get on by myself, but I think I’ve figured it out. I didn’t get the 360 version because I didn’t think that being able to wear her on the front facing forward was a big enough reason for me to pay more (the Classic still has 3 different positions).

At 5 months, Annabelle:

* Watching Emma and the dogs
* Swimming / taking baths
* Sleeping in her swing with vibration, or in the baby carrier
* Sticking her tongue out
* Squawking and cooing
* Grabbing whatever’s in her reach
* Sucking on her fingers
* Drooling

* Spending very much time in her carseat
* Being left alone (in a safe place) for very long
* Getting her feet tickled, nails trimmed or face/neck washed
* Tummy time, for longer than a few minutes
* Sleeping flat on her back