Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reflections

2011 has given me much to be thankful for.

2011 has brought me to 4 years of marriage to my amazing husband, Colin.

2011 has provided me with amazing love and support from family and friends across the globe.

2011 has graced me with a new music therapy job working with hospice clients.

2011 has chosen for me plenty of waiting that has helped me to trust and put my faith in God.

2011 has taught me that blessings can come from our deepest aches and disappointments.

2011 has blessed us with a beautiful path to follow--adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia!

2011 has renewed in us a steadfast faith and hope for what is to come.

Never be afraid to trust
an unknown future
to a known God.
~Corrie ten Boom

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas Friends!

We pray you joy and peace as we celebrate the birth of Christ. We are pretty excited that we will be having a white Christmas after all!

Enjoy the video below--it is of a Christmas flash mob at a mall. Really make me want to be a part of one someday! I heart Christmas.

With Love,
Colin and Jessica

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ethiopian Chickpea Stew

I have started experimenting with Ethiopian and African recipes! I adore cooking and trying new flavors, and this recipe does not disappoint. It is fairly simple to create and has many spices without being 'spicy'. This recipe was found on the Whole Foods website. Your home will smell amazing with Ethiopian aromas!


1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Flatbread (optional)


Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together paprika, salt, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cayenne, fenugreek (if using) and ginger in a small bowl; set spice mixture aside.

Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Roast chickpeas, stirring occasionally, until somewhat dried out and just golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and chopped ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in reserved spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted and very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in broth, potatoes, carrots and reserved chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer until stew is thickened and potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes more. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with flatbread on the side.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Got Jewelry?

Hi Everyone!

Over the last week we put 4 new items on Etsy. We are excited to be able to use our creativity to help raise money for our adoption!

We ship out all our items within 48 hours of purchase. If you have any requests for personalized jewelry, please ask.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears

One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

Now, which of these two women are you the product of?
Both, my darling, both, just two different types of love.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

8 Years

8 years ago, on December 11, 2003, Colin and I connected for the first time. Most of you know the story, but some of you may not.

I was a freshman in college, sitting in my Wisconsin dorm room. Colin was in Gig Harbor, Washington. What persuaded us both to sign up for a free two-week trial to Christian Cafe online at the same time can only be described as God's arrangement.

Colin was about to close out of his account at the end of his trial, when he saw I had written a quick, "Hi, how are you?" message. Yes, you could say I made the first move!

The first month was purely a simple friendship, with short notes back and forth. But we soon got into handwritten letters and cards, and very long phone calls within the next couple of months. Ah, new love.

I am fairly certain our families thought we were a little bit loopy, and the long distance was difficult to cope with for the 2 1/2 years we were apart, but 8 years later, I love the man with all of my heart. He is a true gentleman and makes me so happy. The hardships we have endured do not compare to the blessings and memories in the making.

Now, 8 years later, we are making plans to begin our family through adoption! We couldn't be more excited.

Our sweet Christmas ornament! It has on it tiny paper beads and a painted Africa. Makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Less

Music gets to me. It gives me shivers, produces uncontrolled emotion, gets me thinking. If I could choose just one song to sum up why we have chosen adoption, it would be One Less by Matthew West. It speaks to me. 

I found this video of Matthew's song...I don't think it is his original music video, but it is powerful. Please take a moment to watch it and say a little prayer for all the orphans around the world.

*Remember to pause the music at the bottom of my page if you are going to watch the video!

There’s a child
Been abandoned out on the street
Now she’s waiting for someone to be her miracle
There’s a wife
Somewhere halfway around the world
Begging God for a little girl she can call her own
Well, worlds collide, and colors fade
And a man and wife brought their little girl home today
And there’s one less
One less
One less broken heart in the world tonight
Yeah, there’s one less
One less
There’s one less broken heart in the world tonight
We are called
To the widows and the orphans
But it’s easy to ignore their silent cries
Oh, but every single time
Somebody reaches into the darkness
Makes a choice to help the helpless
They let mercy save a life
Well the truth is we are all the orphans
But love has left the ninety-nine
Just to find the one
One less night alone
One less child without a home
One less birthday gone forgotten
One more soul rising from the bottom
One less
One less
There’s one less broken heart in the world tonight

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Pathways is the church Colin and I have been going to in Appleton. It has been wonderful for us--we just wish we lived closer so we could get more involved. We are about 50 minutes away! 

Our church put on the production, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". It was great! Here is Wikipedia's explanation:

It tells the story of six delinquent children surnamed Herdman. They go to church for the first time after being told that the church offers snacks. Despite protests from other church members, the Herdmans are given roles in the Sunday school's Christmas play, in which they tell the Christmas story in a nonconventional fashion.

Sometimes telling a story in a 'nonconventional fashion' gets the point across better than a typical run-of-the-mill play, you know? Seeing the children act was a highlight!

It was announced during church that there would be a table set up with someone selling jewelry made in Africa! Wow! Perfect for me and for a husband doing his Christmas shopping. ;) He told me to pick out a necklace--don't have to tell me twice! ALL the proceeds went towards Heshima Children's Center, which cares for children with disabilities in Kenya.

While we were looking at the jewelry, we got to meet a mother who had adopted a girl from Ethiopia in the last few years. I loved speaking with her about her adoption journey and experience in Ethiopia.

I think God is so good for arranging these connections!


Each of us is an Innkeeper who
decides if there is room for Jesus.
~Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp water
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
5 tbsp oil
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, minced
2 small dried chilies, (optional)
1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots, minced
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, minced
1 package cellophane Chinese rice noodles, prepared according to package

Cooking Sauce:
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Iceberg lettuce "cups" leaves OR Bibb lettuce for the wraps

Cover mushrooms with boiling water, let stand 30 minutes then drain. Cut and discard woody stems. Minces mushrooms. Set aside.

Mix all ingredients for cooking sauce in bowl, and set aside.

In medium bowl, combine cornstarch, sherry water, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly. Stir in 1 tsp. oil and let sit 15 minutes to marinate.

Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 TBSP oil, then add chicken and stir fry for about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Add 2 TBSP oil to pan. Add ginger, garlic, chilies (if desired), and onion; stir fry about a minute or so.

Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts; stir fry an additional 2 minutes.

Return chicken to pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to pan. Cook until thickened and hot. Break cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces, and cover bottom of serving dish with them. Then pour chicken mixture on top of noodles. Spoon into lettuce leaf and roll.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Thank You


I want to give a huge, much-deserved THANK YOU to all of my blog readers! The emotional support, the etsy purchases, the uplifting comments, and the prayers sent out are so incredibly meaningful to me and Colin. I will never be able to describe in words how much we both need this faithful network and how thankful we are to you all for being here for us.

I want to say THANK YOU to Colin's family over in Washington (hi!). His family owns A Taste of Eden Bakery in Chehalis, WA. Over the last weeks they have graciously been taking our jewelry and tambourines to shows they sell their delicious baked goods at, and now have our crafts in their storefront. We feel very blessed that they are excited to help us in this way. Thanks!

We also have plans for a cookbook in 2012! It's gonna be great, 'cuz we all love to cook and bake!

I want to say THANK YOU to Mama Z's Bakery and Java Hut here in Waupaca, WI. The bakery (where we get our espresso fix and yummy sweets) is just down the road from us. I think they are the first place we stopped in when we first moved here October 2010. The ladies are just the sweetest and have asked us to bring our necklaces, etc. in to be sold for the Christmas season. It has been a wonderful addition to our adoption fund. Thank you for your generosity!

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26