Taking a Break

I will be taking a break from this blog for a week or two to be able to focus on my home and my husband. I will be thinking of more posts in the meantime so please be sure to check back later! I am also excited to see Beth this weekend - tomorrow, actually, if all goes well! So be sure to pray for her travels this weekend.

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Practicing Our Patience

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

Oh, the things children say . . .

When I was little, maybe seven or eight, my family and I went up to Tennessee for an extended family reunion. I don't remember much at all about the trip, but I do know that we had planned on doing some fishing.

You see, before we left, my dad had bought my sister and me each a fishing pole. They were really little compared to my dad's--but it was such a neat toy, that I couldn't wait to play with it. I think it was pink. Since my sister and I had never fished before, my dad had us practice in the backyard. He meticulously attached a rubber weight to the end of each line (understandably, no one wants their children to practice casting with real hooks!), and then showed us how to cast and reel the line back in. He left us in the backyard to do some work inside.

My sister and I climbed onto the railroad ties in our backyard, and practiced casting, waiting for pretend fish to bite, then reeling the lines back in.

My dad came back out later, after probably about an hour. He called out to us, "What are you two girls doing?" We were both watching the rubber weights that we had cast into the middle of the grass.

"Daddy," we shouted back, "We're practicing our patience!"

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I just wanted to encourage everyone to head over to Susan's blog and check out her post about the importance of motherhood. An excerpt:

Women are not specially suited for higher mathematics, though many are gifted in this area, myself included, so the need seemed contrived to me. But women are specially suited for another vocation: motherhood. As my professor told me of the great "need" for women in higher mathematics, I could not help but think, but we need mothers far more!
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Finding Lomo

So you have to read the comments in Beth's previous post to understand the title of this one. :-)

I decided to follow in Beth's vein of thought and post my own recipe. This isn't quick and easy per se, but it is a traditional Peruvian dish called "Lomo Saltado". I've only made it myself once, with the help of cooking expert Susan, but it turned out really well. Without further ado, may I present:

Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Style Stir-Fried Beef)
1 1/4 lb lomo (tenderloin) (the flavor depends on this, but any other tender meat can be used), cut into strips
2 Tbsp vinegar (white, OR use red wine)
2 tsp soy sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 large onions, cut in slivers, lengthwise
1 aji amarillo (or yellow pepper) - without seeds or membrane, in slivers
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano
salt and pepper
1 1/4 lb white or yellow potatoes, cut for french fries and soaked in ice water
2 tomatoes, cut in lengthwise slices
chopped parsley for garnish

Heat the frying pan and sear the meat until all the juice is out but the beef is not completely cooked. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, scraping the pan juices. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside or place in dish to keep warm. In another pan, fry the onions, aji, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. When golden, add one tablespoon of vinegar and set aside. Drain the potatoes and dry thoroughly, one by one. Shake in a bag with a little flour. Fry the potatoes. Stir the meat with the onions, add the tomatoes and heat for two minutes. Serve with meat on top of French Fries, or mixed, as you prefer. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsely on top. Serve with white rice. Serves 5-6.
Typical Peruvian meal - has both potatoes AND rice. Hehe. :-) It's one of my favorite Peruvian dishes. To make it easier, I would recommend using store-bought frozen french fries instead of making your own from potatoes. Enjoy!

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Finding Time

Balancing work and home can be such a struggle for me, since there never seem to be enough hours in the day. I plan on addressing this issue more thoroughly at a later point, so I'll summarize for now. Since my biggest desire is to spend more time with my husband and being the wife I am called to be, I try to make time by cutting down on the minutes I spend by the stove or with the vacuum. But this can be so hard when so much of my time is consumed with my job!

To save time, I rely on a lot of quick cooking and cleaning ideas. Here is one of my favorite recipes to use when time is crunched. It uses the slowcooker, which has become one of my best friends! I usually serve this meal with mashed potatoes on the side, since the soup creates a nice gravy. Enjoy!

Beth's Quick and Easy Crockpot Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 Tbls tarragon or thyme (not both)

Place chicken in crockpot. Mix soup and herb, pour over chicken. Cook on LOW for 5 hours, or HIGH for 2 hours. Serve and enjoy!

If anyone has any other great quick recipes or cleaning tips, let us know! We'd love to have them!

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Aliens on Earth

"...And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one..." Hebrews 11:13-16
“Where are you from?”

It was an innocent question, but I struggled with how to answer honestly. How do you define "from"? Where you were born? Where you live now? Where you've lived a majority of your life? Where your parents are from? How can you sum up your life's background in one answer?

My answer is complicated because I have moved many, many times in my life. I have lived in four countries, six states, and countless cities. My best friends in high school were French Canadian, Venezuelan, Korean, Chinese, Peruvian, Guatemalan, and American. I have spent most of my life in a country where the national language is not my mother tongue. I have experienced the beauty of God's world, and the people He loves - all races, all nationalities, all cultures.

"But where are you from?"

Oh right, you probably want a more specific answer than "Earth". For a long time, I have struggled with my identity as a missionary kid trapped in the feelings of not belonging anywhere. This started my ponderings of what exactly is home, and whether I would ever find a satisfactory answer.

The best way for an artist to answer a question is to ask it visually. The result is my senior art show two years ago, where through 8 pieces I explored all the different ideas of what "home" is to people. I learned a lot of interesting things. My conclusion: I probably will never find a true home on this Earth, because my home is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16).

During the opening reception of my show, a lot of people came up to me and explained how they, too, don't know where to call home. Some are missionary kids like me, others military brats, and still others have just moved a lot. I think a lot of us are in the same boat, and it's comforting to know that Jesus understands, and promises to provide that home in Heaven. A Home that will never go away, where we can worship Him forever. While I might still desire to have an earthly home, I know that I can always answer, "My home is still to come."
"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come." Hebrews 13:14

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Dumpster Diving: A Lesson in Frugality

Last night, while taking out the trash for my dear husband, I spotted them--4 beautiful picture frames, leaning against the side of the dumpster. I inspected them closely, not sure that someone would be willing to throw the beautiful frames away. But there they were, and in almost pristine condition. One was taken apart, but all the pieces were there, and the glass for it was all in one piece. I brought them home.

All 4 are the same style--very simple mahogany-colored wood, about 11"x13" in size. These would cost $30 dollars a piece at a home decor store. I think I can make a gorgeous arrangement with them above our couch, filling them with black and white pictures of my husband and me. I want to make our apartment a home, not just a place to sleep and keep our stuff.

I've not always been frugal--in fact, if you had talked to me a month ago, I would have been convinced that the best thing is to just go ahead and spend the money on stuff I "need," instead of being creative and finding cheap solutions for things that are really actually "wants." For me, this encompassed everything from clothes, to shoes, to home stuff, to the best and healthiest food. I was so focused on looking great, having a home that could grace the cover of Southern Living, and all the other "joys" that money can bring (meaning earthly joys that only satisfy for the present)--that I was neglecting my life with my heavenly Father. God has since convicted me that we should try to be more careful with the money He has given us. My husband has forever been encouraging me to focus less on the material and more on the eternal. I hope it's finally clicked. I've been so focused on money and what it can do for me, instead of focusing on the greatness of our Father.

I know in my heart that it will still be a struggle for me to focus on God and not money. I'm far from perfect, but I know that I'm a baby step closer to surrendering my all to Him.

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Ecclesiates 5:10

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"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24
Welcome to Onward and Upward! Our name is inspired by the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis. At the end of the book, the characters have been met with defeat and have left Narnia, in pursuit of Aslan's country. As they travel, up waterfalls and on land, they cry joyfully "Onward and upward!" We both desire that to be our cry - keeping our eyes on our Lord Jesus and pressing onward towards Heaven, until we hear those coveted words - "Well done, good and faithful servant." We strive to encourage other young women around us to do the same thing.

We are two young Christian wives who have been best friends since 7th grade. We no longer live in the same state, but we enjoy writing and working together. We both love being wives, taking care of the house and serving our husbands. Neither of us have children yet, but we both can't wait to start our own family when the time is right! We both work full time - Beth as a research assistant and Ashley as a graphic designer. Neither of us desire to climb the corporate ladder, but for now it is best for our families that we work. We are always on the lookout for ways to juggle work and taking care of our household and husbands, without sacrificing either. And of course we continually strive to honor God in whatever we do! We know the secret to a blessed life is a close relationship with Him.

We hope you come back often to read and comment on our thoughts, musings, and ideas!

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