Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Looking for a Cause to Get Behind?

We all want to help, don't we? There's this thing instilled in our hearts that wants to do more...To give more. And when we are serving others, it just feels good, doesn't it? Like we're a part of something much bigger than ourselves, right? Well, I've got something big for you!

There is this sweet couple (Matt & Helen) that my family pretty much adores. A few years ago they answered the call to missionary work! Although Helen was no stranger to missionary work. She had already been very involved before they met. She had a God-given desire to return to it and soon Matt started feeling the tug as well. It wasn't long after that they together as a couple jumped in! They have been to many different places in both the Middle East and Asia...faithfully serving the Lord together through teaching and humanitarian work. We love them very much and miss them often. We praise God for their brave servant hearts!

They've recently answered another call...In parenthood. God sovereignly placed a beautiful little baby girl in their path and very quickly into their hearts. We will call this sweet little one "Baby A". Her fate is desperate. See, her birth-mother feels she has no choice but to leave the country for a better and safer life. Sadly she must relinquish her rights as mother. The birth-mother has already rejected offers to buy Baby A. Selling babies in this part of the world (and into the sex trade) is rampant! She wants instead to find a good home for her. Our friends are praying for the means to be able to adopt precious Baby A. They are trusting our mighty God to move mountains!

This is where YOU come in. Are you willing to help? This is that something bigger than yourself that you can feel awesome about being a part of! Will you open your heart to this cause? I hate to sound like those crazy emotional commercials with the sappy music playing...but this is truly a desperate situation. Please join our family in praying for Matt, Helen and Baby A. Please share their story. And, please give...There is no such thing as too small of a gift!

Here's the link to their story and updates...


Precious Baby A
Just look at that big beautiful smile! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Season of Lent (for the Protestant)


I have quite the mixed up faith background...Haha! My parents, who were "practicing" Catholics (or maybe not really committed in practice, but just went with it) baptized me as a baby. Then during that same year they converted to Protestantism. They sadly eventually divorced and my brother and I stayed with my dad. My dad lived out what Christians call a "man sold out for God" life. We prayed before every meal...even in restaurants. He would read to us every night out of our Children's Bible before tucking us in, saying prayers and kissing us goodnight. We attended a Pentecostal church twice on Sundays, Wednesday evenings and also attended their Christian school. My dad even held bible studies in our home and I'd hear him and others talking well into the long night about God. We were very involved and I loved it! My dad eventually remarried and well, that didn't last so long. When I look back, I think with the now two divorces under his belt, my dad just stopped attending church. He was embarrassed over failed marriages and also frustrated with God. He still loved God very much and he'd still have those wonderful conversations with my brother and I about who God is and why he wanted us to grow in our relationships with Him. We just didn't attend church anymore...It was hard on me and hard to understand why not. That's when I started attending church with my Grandma (my mom's mom). She was a Catholic...So, I guess that's where this story begins...

Growing up observing Lent was fun...Yep, I said fun. Some people might think that's weird, but I was excited and I looked forward to it. My grandma and I used to encourage each other to stay strong and to keep going with our promises to refrain from certain treats or whatever it was that we gave up. We'd remind each other of Christ's sacrifice for us and that we should be able to sacrifice this small thing for him. Lent is a time of renewal and reflection...and time of remembrance. So yes, of course there is a very serious somberness to it...but there's also joy! The word Lent means Spring. When I think of Spring, I think of renewal and growth. I am always so excited to see the new buds on the trees and sprouts of life in the dirt! I am in awe of the changes all around me!

This is what the season of Lent is like. And, it's not just a Catholic thing either. Protestants can enjoy this time too...and should. I would actually argue that it's a Christian thing! Lent is a rich season of preparing our hearts for a huge celebration! It's a time of remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Christ for us. It's a time of reflection. It's a time of renewal. Lent is also a time of self-denial...fasting, giving something up that you enjoy or serving others, etc...

Well long story short, several years later I eventually started attending a Protestant church. Personal stuff...blah-blah-blah...Anyway, I no longer observed Lent. But, my heart just couldn't let go. It was strange to not have that reflection time...I know, I know...Just do it. Why should you need Lent to examine your heart and repent? Do it daily, right? Right...Yes...I agree. There's just something different when a group of you are all doing this together collectively and at this specific time in preparation of Easter...the celebration of our risen Lord!

And so with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I recently started observing the Lenten season again...and I am very thankful for the renewal that has taken place in my heart!

Are you interested or curious? Are you just confused? Here's a cheat sheet...so to speak...

* Lent starts on Ash Wednesday...That's 46 days before Easter. There is a special service (not just in Catholic churches, but also in Protestant denominations as well) where the congregation will receive ashes on their foreheads. The ashes are a symbol of mourning, death and repentance. There is much scripture that speaks of ashes being used as a symbol of mourning and repentance...Therefore the receiving of ashes is done in remembrance of the suffering and death of Christ. To be clear, the ashes are not given as a sign of fasting as in Matthew 6. There is no gloomy or disfigured faces here, just repentant hearts thankful for the sacrifice of their Lord!

* 40 day fast...Why 40 days? Well, the 40 days correspond to the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and preparing himself in the wilderness before he began his ministry. And, not 46 days because you don't fast on Sundays (the Sabbath). Sundays are always a celebration of Jesus' resurrection, so even during Lent there's no fasting on the Sabbath, just feasting! Now, you don't completely fast of all food for 40 days. You are to eat small and simply...basically just enough to give you energy. Meat (though fish is ok) is given up on Fridays. Meat is also given up on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well...and you are to eat two smaller meals with only one fuller meatless meal. Now you understand why those who observe Lent also celebrate Fat Tuesday so heartily...Haha!

* Self-Denial...Along with fasting, people often give something up that they enjoy. Most common is sweets. But it can be anything that would be difficult...fast food or eating out, social media (I gave up facebook this year...Haha!), limiting your cell phone usage, coffee or tea, shutting off the tv...anything. The goal is for this to not be easy. Then when you're tempted or start getting frustrated over not being able to participate in whatever it is that you gave up, instead use that time for God...Pray, sing songs of praise, read scripture, thank Him for His own sacrifice for you! This is very personal and should be just that. Don't feel like you have to give up something just because another person did, this is between you and God. Ask Him to show you what may be taking up too much of your time. What is distracting you and distancing you from Him? He'll answer if you sincerely seek Him and ask...and when He does, let that go. Sometimes what we need to give up for these 40 days is actually something that we just need to give up period. So ask Him to help you grow during this time and to change your old habits by putting on new ones! (Ephesians 4:22-24)

*Service...You don't have to, but there's just something about simply serving others that makes me less focused on myself and more focused on God.

Spending time each year to reflect on our relationship with Christ is important. Lent is the perfect season for preparing our hearts as we reflect on His passion (sacrificial death) and resurrection.

We are not quite a week into this year's Lenten season and I already feel so full...though I'm fasting! My heart is overwhelmed by God's goodness! I am truly looking forward to the following weeks as I reflect on scripture, my Savior and his ultimate sacrifice for me! I look forward to growing in my relationship with him and I encourage you to join me!







Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hungarian Goulash

Just the veggies look yummy...and even kinda pretty too!


Alrighty, so people have been asking for my Hungarian Goulash recipe...Here it is in a nice easy spot to keep and share.

*Oh and just as an FYI goulash is NOT macaroni style noodles, ground hamburger and tomato sauce. OG goulash is all tastiness and no noodles! Just straight up paprika and yummy stuff! 

INGREDIENTS

- 4 lbs. chuck beef (cut into chunks/cubed or cheat and the buy pre-cut cubed stew meat)

- 2 med. onions (more if you love them) cut into chunks

- 4 carrots (cut into chunks or cheat and buy those tiny carrots in a bag)

- 2-3 parsnips (cut a little thinner than the carrots)

- 4-6 potatoes (we like the small red ones best...cut into chunks)

- 3 big tomatoes (cut into chunks or cheat and buy canned diced)

- 3 nice sized green bell peppers (cut into chunks)

- 3-4 tbs. paprika (this will be used during the actual cooking time) Sweet Hungarian Paprika is the yummiest...More or less depending on your own taste (Note: DO NOT FORGET THIS VERY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT if your Mother is Hungarian, or she will throw a temper tantrum and criticize your cooking efforts! Hahaha!)

- "Meat Seasoning Mixture"...flour, paprika, salt & pepper (to taste)

- 2-3 tbs. Vegetable Oil

DIRECTIONS

- Place meat in flour and seasoning mixture (salt, pepper & paprika)
*NOTE* If you put it all into a zip lock baggie it will be easier.

- Pour oil in a frying pan and sear the meat a little bit on all sides.

- Throw in the onions and gently brown...not to much...just until tender.

- Then put the meat, onions, and all other ingredients into a large crock pot.

- Season with more salt, more pepper, & yep, more paprika...Lots of it! (About 3-4 tbs. depending on your own taste)

- Cover meat & veggies with about 4 cups of water, or just enough to cover everything about an inch. Add water during cooking if needed.

- Cook until the meat is so stinkin' tender it practically melts in your mouth (about 4-5 hours).

- Eat & Enjoy! (I like to serve with some crusty bread)

I hope you love it...Let me know how it turns out! :o)






Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016




Dear Family & Friends,

I have always wanted to do one of those “year end” Christmas letters that give you a rundown of how that family’s year went. They’re pretty cool and I look forward to getting them each year from those that I receive them from. I told myself that I was going to start doing them...like almost 10 years ago...Hahaha! I always had the excuse that I was just waaay too busy...maybe one day. Well, I figured I’d start today since I haven’t purchased any Christmas cards yet (since we’re always pretty much last minute over here) and it’s too cold out to go to the store anyway ;o)

Please bear with me as this is my first one and I’m just flying by the seat of my pants with this idea...Haha!

2016 has been very good to us. We’ve had our ups and downs like everyone else, but God is always faithful! To start off the year, as a surprise to us, we found out that we were expecting another little one! We were nervous...Not just because of my heart stuff, but because we’re getting stinkin’ old...Haha! Right away though, we had a terrific medical team and I knew that God had placed us in good hands.

The next big thing to happen was that Gary (my Babe!) officially became self-employed. This was something that he had been working towards since 2014 and to see it actually happen was truly awesome! But with big exciting things sometimes bummers can happen as well. During this transition from employee to self-employed he lost close friends, but in God’s kindness we also gained new friends! Gary works very hard and our family is so very proud of him...I am very excited to see where this still very new adventure will take him! Ok wow, that was a lot of very’s...Haha! If you wouldn’t mind praying for him, I’m sure he’d more than appreciate it!

Hmmm...Let’s see...Oh yes! We also took a much needed trip to visit my family in California! I finally got my Babe and babies waaay over on the other side of the country to see where I grew up and to meet some family. Unfortunately it was only a week (including drive time) and we didn’t get to visit like we really wanted, but it was still a wonderful time! Looks like a Summer 2018 is being planned! You know, even getting stranded in the Utah mountains for almost 5 hours cause the truck broke down was wonderful...Long story, but God is good!

Ok, onto our kiddos…

Victoria ~ She turned a whopping 18 years old and graduated from high school!!! Ahhh...Way to make me feel really old! Right now she is taking a year off...I say taking a year off, but I don’t think this girl has been any busier! She is working at our local movie theater, volunteering as a leader with the girls’ scouting troop, all while taking religious education classes at our local church...Plus some! She is pretty sure that she will be returning to school in Fall 2017 and is considering Special Education. She is fantastic with kiddos and has such a sweet patience with those that need it! Please be in prayer for this too...That if this is God’s will, His will be done!

Jordan ~ He just turned 16 whole entire years old this month!!! He’s now a Sophomore in high school and very involved in band. Band is pretty much his life...Haha! He plays the trombone and is First Chair in Symphonic Band, which he had to audition for to join! He is also learning Dad’s business...It’s cute watching those two and listening to them talk on and on about computer stuff that I have no idea what any of it even means...Haha!

Kaylie ~ She will be 14 in just a couple months and is in her very last year of middle school (8th grade). She loves listening to music, painting and drawing...and her phone...and sleeping...Haha! She’s basically 13 going on 24!

Grace ~ She is going to be 12 in just a few weeks and is now a middle schooler (6th grade). She also loves art...but more drawing than painting. She likes cooking and baking...and singing...loudly...very loudly...Haha!

Isabella ~ She is 10 and in the 4th grade. This girl is probably one of the most coolest chicks you will ever know! She’s always busy! She’s played softball since Kindergarten and is also involved in scouts. She has this humble confidence that is unheard of! She loves to love and has such a servant’s heart! She aspires to be a professional skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder and drummer...Oh, and she also wants to be the President someday too!

Joshua ~ He is 8 and in 2nd grade. This little guy is sweet and sensitive...But also, wild and crazy! He’s been playing baseball since Pre-K, but you’ll often find him playing in the dirt or cloud watching out on the field...Haha! He loves being outside, trains, nerf guns and drawing.

Bryanna ~ This little pumpkin is 5 years old...Oh, I mean 5 AND a half...Haha! It’s VERY important to her that the ½ is included! This girl is our little firecracker! She’s a feisty little thing who I’m sure won’t take any junk from anyone or be a pushover...Haha! She’s such a girly girl princess while dancing in her dance class, but also a sporty star out on the softball field! She loves climbing trees, coloring, tea parties, Barbies and our cat Nacho who she carries around like a baby.

And last but not least, Little John Russell ~ He’s now 4 months old and 18 pounds of adorableness! He’s our beefcake already wearing 6-9 months clothing! Such a sweet and happy little guy...as long as he’s in Mama’s arms. Right now he’s snuggling up in my lap as I type this one handed...Haha! He’s our surprise blessing! He came at a time in my life when I was trying to figure some stuff out about faith. He is a much needed gift that has completed our already large family...Haha! His pregnancy was such whirlwind and his birth was absolutely incredible! Every birth is miraculous...life is so precious, but his was such an amazing moment. God provided...in every way. May I always remember God’s faithfulness and goodness to me!

Oh wait...Me! Haha...Well, this baby is starting to lose patience with my attention being divided so I’ll try to make this short...I’m good. My heart health is good. I’m so in love with and very thankful for my family...every day! And, I am thankful for all of you! I love my Lord in whom all blessings flow!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas & a wonderful New Year’s!

With Lots of Love,

~ The Morris Crew
Gary, Christina, Victoria, Jordan, Kaylie, Grace, Isabella, Joshua, Bryanna and Little John






Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Justice For Harambe?

I'm so done...I pray the Lord returns quickly or stops us from acting like the fools we are. Here we have a mother who is receiving death threats because she loses sight of her child for a moment. Her child falls into a gorilla enclosure. Her 4 year old son is dragged around like a rag doll through the water. Mom starts to panic...As would any of us. People are saying the gentle giant (an over 400 pound silver back gorilla with 10 times the strength of a man) was just trying to protect the child and that they were even holding hands for a brief moment and shared a touching look into each other's eyes and that the child wasn't even scared. Ummm...Ok sure, maybe that happened. Or maybe that's just fantasy we only want to believe happened. That child was terrified, come on, let's be honest here. Maybe the gentle giant didn't want to hurt him, but he was indeed hurting him, and he could have crushed him and killed him in a second, even if it would have been unintentional. The zoo had to make a split second decision...Sit around to see if this ginormous gentle giant would get bored with dragging the 4 year old boy around and let him free or should they save the boy from any further injuries and possibly even death by unfortunately taking the gorilla's life? They were sadly forced to choose the latter. All these self righteous people out there saying this mom deserves to pay for the death of the gorilla are being ridiculous. If they are not parents, then they should really just stop talking. If they are parents, do they always know where their children are every millisecond of every day? Probably not. Just because their child hasn't fallen into some animal enclosure doesn't make them super parent of the year and entitled to throw stones at this woman. Do I know if this mother was watching her child as she should have been? No, I don't...But how do you all know that she wasn't. And again, stop pointing your high and mighty fingers unless you have super human abilities to always be in the know of where your children are at all times of the day. Our 5th child was accidentally left at church one Sunday when she was 8 years old. This was the first and only time something like this has ever happened (as of current...haha!). My husband assumed she had gone home with me. She told one of her older siblings that she had to use the bathroom real quick and to tell dad. Well when dad got in the car said sibling forgot to tell dad. My 8 year old was left at church...Sigh. Friends brought her home and we all joked about it...Cause you know? Large families. Was I a bad mom for leaving her after she said that she wanted to ride with dad? Nope. Was dad a bad dad cause he left after getting in the car? Nope. Was older sibling a bad sibling for not remembering to tell dad? Nope, but she did learn an important lesson that day. Was my 8 year old bad for having to go potty? Nope, but she also learned an important lesson that day too. The point is, things like this do happen. Maybe not to this extent, but they happen...to both big families and tiny ones. Animals losing their lives is very sad...especially in this type of situation. But, this child's life was in danger...maybe unintentionally, but in danger none the less. What has happened to this world where we view the life of an animal more important than the life of a child? Now please don't get all crazy on me and twist my words into something I didn't say. I did not say that animals are worthless, or unimportant. I LOVE me some animals...But, human beings have a distinct place above them. Don't like that? Well I'm sorry, but it's true. Imagine how you would feel if this was your child. Just for a moment, imagine that. Your child walks away from you and falls into a gorilla enclosure. You are now about 15 feet above watching this HUGE animal drag your young child around by his ankles. Are you going to calmly say, "Oh it's ok, this gentle giant is just curious." ? I'm guessing probably not. You'd want someone to do everything they could to save your precious child...even if that meant the gentle giant lost his life. You'd feel regret, but thankfulness at the same time, right? Of course you would, and if you say otherwise, then I beg you to please not have any children. Human beings are going crazy and humanizing our pets. Hey, I'm very guilty of it too. My family literally carries our cat around as if he's a baby...and he's sooo stinkin' spoiled! But I promise you, if he started to hurt my family, I'd have no choice but to put him down...with a heavy and broken heart. So now we're screaming justice for Harambe the gorilla's death. We want this mom to pay for his life being lost and for being an irresponsible negligent mother. Real justice would have been for Harambe to be released into the wild, not held in a "cage" for 17 years. Real justice would have been for those that are screaming for justice for his death, to have been angered about him living without his freedom. Captivity isn't justice for wild animals...It's cruelty. Real justice for Harambe now would be to remember him and his life. He is said to have been very gentle. He lived a long life and was loved by many...including the zoo that had to make the tough decisions of ending his precious life. It's ok to cry about his untimely death, it's tragic and very sad. But let's be careful to not glorify him to the point of human or even god-like status. In a way that almost diminishes what has happened. You take a way the tragedy of what took place. He was a wild animal held in captivity behaving like a wild animal, a child fell into his world, he was curious and became confused and agitated by all the commotion, he reacted as he should, the child's life was in danger (even if unintentional) and unfortunately a decision had to be made. A decision that deeply saddened many...and rightfully so. A terrible accident took place here and hopefully things that went wrong will be corrected so that future accidents don't repeat themselves. I am hurt with the majority over Harambe's death, but I also praise God for sparing that poor child's life who will probably always remember this terrifying event.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Faith of A Child

Last night while tucking my little 5 year old Bryanna into bed, we talked about the day and what she learned in Bible Club. She said that they learned about kindness and that Jesus wants us to be kind. But then she looked down at her blankets kind of sad-ish.

I asked her what was wrong and she looked up at me and said, "Mama, you were angry at me today."

I actually forgot what she was talking about and asked her what she meant.

She said, "You got angry when me and Bella and Joshy were fighting with each other."

I said, "Oh yes, I remember..."

She interrupted me and with lots of tears she said, "I wasn't being kind to them."

She then hugged me tightly and said, "Mama, I'm so sorry for not being kind."

I hugged her tightly back and with tears in my own eyes I said, "Oh sweetie, I forgive you."

I asked her if she wanted to pray and ask God to forgive her too. She nodded, yes.

We prayed and asked God to forgive us when we aren't kind, we asked for patience with each other and loving hearts. We thanked Him for His kindness and forgiveness to us. We thanked the Holy Spirit for showing us when we do things that we shouldn't.

She looked up at me and smiled. I hugged her, gently played with her hair and kissed her goodnight...

When I laid down I thought about my anger that day, the anger I had forgotten about but my Bryanna remembered. Was I too angry? Was I harsh and impatient with my words? Was I unkind to my children who were stressing me out to the point of anger?

I asked God to forgive my unkindness too...I thanked the Holy Spirit for using the precious repentant heart of my little girl to pierce my own. I thanked Him for His laborers willingly serving and teaching His little ones in Bible Club. I thanked Him for His kindness.

I pray the Lord continues to draw my little girl...as He continues to draw myself.



"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
~ Matthew 18:3-4

Saturday, February 13, 2016

And Baby Makes 10

I haven't blogged in awhile...I have been sick...VERY sick. But don't worry, I'm not contagious...you can't catch what I've got. See, we're pregnant...By "we're", I mean me...as in just me...Only me. Cause you know, husbands can't be pregnant...or sick with pregnancy sickness...ALL...DAY...LONG sickness! Nope not we're...just lucky lil me.

We've been holding onto this secret for a little more than 13 weeks. For a few reasons...

The first and main reason is that we just lost a little one a few months ago this past summer, and we really didn't want to have to bring everyone through that with us once again...just in case. His story can be read here.

The second reason is my heart...We understand completely that everyone who knows the story of what transpired will be concerned. We truly don't want others to be anxious, stressed and worried. My heart dr has already given me two huge high flying thumbs-up and says that my heart is strong and healthy! He sees no issues with this pregnancy on his end and from his viewpoint...I am good to go. Just as a precaution though I am seeing a high-risk pregnancy dr, a regular pregnancy dr, and have extra appointments set up with my heart dr. I feel like I am in good, competent and caring hands and that the Lord has provided greatly! Right now we are really just not in any need for lectures, negative opinions or panic from those we love so dearly...But instead need your love, support and prayers.

The third reason is...Well honestly, we've experienced some serious negativity with the announcements of our last two little blessings and just weren't quite ready to hear it all again so soon this time around...Hahaha! We get it...We have lots of babies! You all think we're crazy! You all wonder if we've figured out yet how this happens...And obviously we have, or I certainly hope so by now since we've been here a time or two...or lots more. And then the biggest wonder from all of you is if one of us is going to get fixed. I'm not even really sure what that means exactly, cause I'm pretty sure things are working rather well and don't seem to be in any need of "fixing". And although we do truly appreciate your concern for our personal fertility parts and the activities that go on with them, we'd greatly appreciate even more your shared happiness along with us.

Soooo...Now you all know...Well all two of you that actually read my blog. Well maybe just one of you since the other reader is my hubster and I'm fairly certain he knows all too well that we're having a baby. Will you do us the pleasure and please join us in celebrating this new little life that God has so richly blessed us with?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, 
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, 
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man (and woman) who has his (and her) quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed
~Psalm 127:3-5
Our 3 youngest (of our 7) taking a family homeschool field trip to the dr to see baby for the first time! They were in such awe, wonder and amazement! God is good!