Grace in Every Breath

Wow, our Hillbilly Days Food Guide got more traffic than almost every other post I have written in the past 5 years combined. As a result, Andy and I are considering leaving everything we know to become traveling fair food reviewing vagabonds. Just kidding, but you could do a lot worse in life.

I am mostly just popping in to say that this space is going to be pretty quiet for the next three weeks as I finish up my semester, but I also wanted to share a little reflection from our 20 week ultrasound yesterday. This is the first time I’ve mentioned our pregnancy on the blog mostly because until last week, I am pretty sure all of the readers also knew us in real life.

Anyway, yesterday I was thinking about how crazy it is that we all started so small. To be honest, I can’t really wrap my mind around it. You, me, we all started as a tiny cell and simply sustained by God’s grace, we survived 9 months in the womb and started the journey to become the person we are today.

It is so easy in this world to feel like you haven’t really achieved anything or to feel like you’re all alone. I know I’ve had those moments. As I reflected on life in the womb, not just our child but all of us, and how some of the most critical moments in our development had nothing to do with us. There is a profound peace in knowing that our life is not really about us.

There is grace in every breath, simply because you are able to take it. 

Now, I’m certainly not trying to minimize the reality of the deep pain and suffering experienced in our world but I do want people to know that even in those trials God is there. He knows the depths of your sorrow and pain. He’s been there. He’s still here with us; giving us to the grace to make it through each moment until he calls us home.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)

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HBD Food

Hillbilly Days Food Guide

Andy and I have only been in Pikeville for 2 years, so you might still call us Hillbilly Days novices. However, both years we have hit ‘Billy Days hard. I might have mentioned before that our unofficial family motto is “Go Hard or Go Home”. Anything we do, we tend to do it hardcore whether it is eating healthy (Paleo February) or enjoying the best fried food Eastern Kentucky has to offer. Last year, I was off of work and had plenty of time to explore. This year, we only took a day but we had an intentional plan of attack. So if you don’t have a lot of time, and just want to hit the highlights, here it is.

The official french family
hillbilly days food guide

One important note before you get started with the Hillbilly Days food: $$$$ 

Either decide how much you are going to spend beforehand and only take that much in cash and stop eating when it is gone OR simply ignore the large amount of money flying out of your hand with each stand you walk by. There is no middle ground. Continue reading

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Hillbilly Days, yes it is a real thing.

Our little corner of the world isn’t known for much. (Well actually, I just thought of several things after I typed that…)

If you were making a list of things that Eastern Kentucky is known for, here are some of the things that might be on the list…

  • Coal
  • Cut-Through
  • Hatfield-McCoy Feud
  • Medical School
  • Snake Handling Churches
  • Breaks Interstate Park

… and something that shouldn’t be left out is HILLBILLY DAYS. Today is the first day of the 2015 Hillbilly Celebration. It is the second largest event in the state of Kentucky. Second only to the Kentucky Derby (seriously!).

Basically, it is a state fair in the middle of a city. It is set up all over every nook and cranny of downtown. Everything is shut down and school is cancelled for three days of more fried food than you can eat. There are also concerts, carnival rides, and more. It was started by Shriners to raise money for the children’s hospitals.

People come from all over to enjoy the festivities and fried food, but I love that some of the proceeds go to a good cause. The Shriner’s hospitals do a lot of awesome work to help kids regardless of their ability to pay.

Last year, my parents and grandparents were in town for the festivities and we had a lot of fun. My Dad and Granddad are Shriners so I think they enjoyed getting to be a part of it. Here are a few pictures of our adventures last year.

We are only on the first day but Andy and I have managed to find plenty of things to eat already. Andy is heading out of town tomorrow :'( so we are attempting to fit in all of our hillbilly food before he leaves. We might regret that later. The best purchase so far was a cookie dough cupcake. We bought it at the booth that benefits the medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic Andy, Mom, and I went on last summer. You can follow along on instagram for real time updates, I’m sure there will be plenty.

Happy Hillbilly Days, ya’ll!

Update: Check out the fruit of our adventures in my Hillbilly Days Food Guide.

Philanthropic and delicious.

Philanthropic and delicious.

meatball

Easy Meatball Subs

The other week I was trying to come up with as many meals as I could for the week that didn’t require buying many extra ingredients. We had some leftover spaghetti sauce, frozen meatballs, and provolone cheese *ta-da* this meal was born. All we had to pick up was the canned french bread dough at the store. We loved it so much that I thought I would share it here. In case, you know, for some reason you are clueless on how to make a meatball sub out of the leftovers in your refrigerator.

Ingredients:

  • Pillsbury French Bread loaf in a can
  • Frozen Meatballs
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Provolone Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut each bread loaf in thirds (or in half depending on how big you want the subs to be.)
  2. Bake according to package directions.
  3. At the same time, heat the frozen meatballs in the oven. You may actually need to start them first depending on their package directions.
  4. Heat the spaghetti sauce on the stove.
  5. Once it is all baked and warm, assemble into a sub. (Don’t forget the cheese!)

So easy, I almost feel silly for typing it all out. On Saturdays, we like to go all out and make things from scratch when we can, but on weeknights we are looking for something fast to break up the normal meat + raw veggies plan. Enjoy.

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good fri (1)

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (John 19:28-30)

I really think that the Scriptures speak for themselves today, but I will add just a short reflection for you to ponder as you read the passion narrative.

Last weekend, our pastor mentioned a painting called the Raising of the Cross by Rembrandt. Everything is as you would expect in a crucifixion scene except for one person prominently featured at the foot of the cross. It is Rembrandt. He is one of men raising Jesus to his death and it made me consider where I see myself in today’s story. Do I see myself alongside Rembrandt, raising Jesus to die with my sin? Am I Peter, once so close to our Lord, but in a time of great trial denying that I ever knew the man? Or maybe the Centurion, who after seeing Jesus suffer realized that he was indeed the innocent Lamb of God. Do I find myself with John, Mary, and the other women weeping at the foot of the cross as my Savior dies?

What about you? Where do you see yourself in the Passion story? What does your role tell you about your relationship with God at this moment?

raising-the-cross