I’m all about using what I have on hand. I’m also all about saving every dollar possible. Some might call me cheap. I call it thrifty. I like to think of myself as The Frugal Wanna-be Gourmet. So on on tonight’s menu: dinner for the whole family for a whopping $1.58.

Now that I have your undivided attention, I shall reveal my magical goddess of the kitchen secrets to you. 😉 The other night I didn’t feel like putting a lot of effort into dinner, so I grabbed a rotisserie chicken, some fresh asparagus, and some new potatoes (my personal favorite). Mashed up the potatoes, grilled up the asparagus and called it dinner. And delicious it was. Only one problem. Whenever I buy a rotisserie chicken, I always end up throwing some (or lots) of it away. We just don’t finish it all before I’m over eating it. I’m food ADD, I readily admit it. But I hate to waste. (My father literally saves every possible scrap of food that comes through his house into baggies for my sister’s dogs. He wastes nothing. Not even a morsel of food. I have inherited this compulsion with one problem – no dogs within a 100 mile radius that I could feed.) So we end up with a lot of well-intended leftovers.

But thanks to some ingenuity (and a few pins on Pinterest) I’ve come up with a delicious way to savor all the flavor of all of our rotisserie chickens from now on. I plan on trying other recipes, this is just the first. I used the leftover rotisserie chicken, spices I had on hand, and picked up a pound of carrots and some celery for $1.58 at the farmers market. Sweet!

Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Soup
1 leftover rotisserie chicken (carcass, skin and all) (I just used the traditional flavor)
Carrots (as many as you like), diced
Celery (as much as you like), diced
Fresh Garlic (as much as you like), minced
Dried Onion
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Salt
Pepper (all spices to taste)
Water

1. Separate the chicken meat from the carcass and skin and place into a bowl for later (you’re just going to have to get your fingers in there and get after it. So wash your hands and get over it). Place the bones and all the skin and gristle into a large stock pot. Cover with water and season with rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to your liking. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes over low-medium heat.

2. Strain bits out of your new amazing broth and discard. Add chicken, diced carrots, diced celery to your broth. Add some dried onion and fresh minced garlic because nothing in life is as good as it could be with garlic. Bring to boil and then simmer your soup until the veggies are tender.

Serve warm with your favorite bread, or if you want to get old school, butter a few slices of Mrs. Bairds, cause you know you did it when you were a kid and it was delicious.

Enjoy!

*Mmmm and just FYI, the broth is simmering in my house as I write this and it smells like heaven!

**It should be noted that even if you bought all of these ingredients at once, the soup is still exceptionally economical considering that a rotisserie chicken in generally around $5. You’re looking at a $10 dinner here, folks. That’s delicious!

***If the way I cook drives you crazy (i.e.: no measurements), the best approach to this soup is to taste along the way. Get your carcass, etc in the water, season it up and once it has boiled, give it a taste. Add a pinch of salt, a dash of oregano until it tastes good to you. Taste the soup again once you add the chicken and veggies. The best way to cook is to season as you go, in layers. That way the flavors develop to your taste. And that makes the most delicious meals!

I was in my room putting on my make-up at my dressing table – my typical morning routine. My son was playing around the house, in and out of my room with random toys and gadgets he found impressive – his typical morning routine. He walked up to me with his winning smile, the one and only remote control to our precious, smart 3D HDTV in his hand. That was the last time I saw the remote control.

Honestly, I have looked everywhere: the toilets, the closets, under beds, in drawers, in trash cans, in toy chests, in nooks and crannies all over the house. That dad-blamin’ remote is nowhere to be found. Nowhere.

So I have to ask myself… how does a twenty-month-old hide something so perfectly? What possible nook or cranny has he found in this house that I haven’t thought of? I looked in the bathtub, for goodness sake! I looked in the acoustic hole of my guitar (where to my shock I found another remote control I didn’t know I was missing. The little stinker…)! I will never, ever again underestimate his abilities. And I will also never, ever again let my son nonchalantly walk away with something so prized as the remote control…

Addendum: I want to be mad, but did you look at that face? How can I be mad?

, , , For everything, there is a season

Recently, my husband and I made a huge decision. After several years (yes, years) of praying, considering, questioning, and praying some more, we decided that it’s time to say goodbye to the band, Lately. I’ve been playing in a band since I was sixteen years old, starting off in my little youth band at the Baptist church I grew up in. A band is a lot like a marriage – a lot of ups and downs, a lot of good times, a lot of struggles, where communication is crucial and emotions have to be the caboose, not the engine. We have had a lot of fun over the years and learned a lot of lessons along the way. But after ten years as a band, it is time to say goodbye.

I want to make it clear that this is by no means an indication of issues or problems. We didn’t split up because we just couldn’t take it anymore. Quite the contrary. As I said before, we prayed over this for two years because on our selfish side, we didn’t want to give this up. It is a lot of work and lot of thankless hours, but it’s awesome, believe me. But we knew that God was leading us somewhere else in each of our personal lives. As for me and my family, it’s a new season for us – a season of diapers and bottles, family time and precious memories. It’s a time to focus on the new challenges God has placed before us – namely parenthood and its accompanying mysteries.

I will still be writing music (I can’t help but to write). I will still be releasing music. I will still be leading worship. It’s just not going to be the driving force behind every decision I make. It’s going to be something I do as the Lord leads, when the Lord leads, how the Lord leads. The easiest way I can put it is this: previously my focus was God first, music second, family third. It’s time to prioritize to God first, family second, music third. That’s how it should have been all along.

So here we are, facing a brand new chapter of life. And I can think of no more fitting scripture to commemorate this exciting moment.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Here’s the to the future,
Morgan

, , Just Believe, Somehow

A few years ago I lost my dear friend, Stacy, to a blood clot that led to her sudden passing during childbirth. This is America. Things like that just don’t happen very often thanks to modern medicine and all its marvels. So needless to say, we were all shocked. We wondered how something like this could happen, especially to someone who was bringing an innocent little baby into the world – a baby that will never know his own mother. It was a tragedy to say the least, and in the midst of it, I wrote the song Somehow. You see, Stacy was a born again believer in Christ. And she wasn’t one of those “go to church on Sunday because I’m supposed to” kind of Christians either. She was a died in the wool, sold out, all or nothing kind of believer. So I knew that in the midst of my tears and questions, she would be saying to me, “don’t worry about it, just believe.”

I want to share with you that song and the story behind it as a little piece of encouragement. We have all experienced loss in some form. My prayer is that this will touch your heart, bless you, and pass on to you a little piece of the legacy of faith Stacy left behind for those who knew her. It’s what she would have wanted, after all.

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Somehow
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“Somehow” Devotional
From Here to Eternity

My sweet grandmother passed away this week. We knew it was coming soon. Two and a half months ago, she fell and broke her hip. (I mentioned it in my previous post.) She went downhill fast from there and after what seemed like an agonizing two months, it was over. Just like that. It was all over.

I’ve been reminiscing a lot the last few days. I keep looking at the picture of her (above) and thinking about her life. After 88 years, she must have seen a lot. She lived through the Depression and World War II. She worried while her brand new husband fought over Japan during the war. She wondered if he would come home. Thankfully, he did. She lived through the death of her only son. She saw her family grow and grow with five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. She lived through the ups and downs of life, deaths, births, tears, and laughter. And through it all, she remained one of the most beautiful ladies both inside and out that I’ll ever know.

I miss her already. But I keep thanking God over and over again that I had the opportunity I had to be with her just a few hours before she died. I was with her by her bed – just the two of us. I had my hand on her forehead, stroking her beautiful white curls, telling her how glad I am that she was my grandmother. How much she taught me. And how we would carry on her legacy. I told her she did a good job and that it was okay to go. When I said goodbye to go home, somehow I knew it was the last time I would see her breathe.

Death is never easy, but if we understand the afterlife, we understand that it’s not over for those we love who had Jesus. It’s only just beginning. And I cannot tell you how happy I am that my sweet Mimi is now reunited with the love of her life, my Pop. Theirs was a timeless love. A love that will carry them through eternity.

What a legacy they left us with. I am blessed.

Heaven Is a Little Closer Now

My husband and I have been trying for another baby. We are so madly in love with our first (Virgil) and it only seems fitting to add another little angel like him to the mix. He will make an awesome big brother. So when I found out last month that I was pregnant, I was stoked. I had a sense that I was pregnant a week and a half before I finally tested positive. Starving, nauseous, tired, cranky, crampy – all the regular symptoms. I took a pregnancy test the day I was supposed to have gotten my cycle, but it came back negative. I was a little bummed, but when my symptoms wouldn’t go away, I kept up hope that I was pregnant despite the negative test result. After all, they say you can have a false negative, just not a false positive.

Three days passed and I decided to test again. By this time, I still thought I was pregnant, but my symptoms seemed erratic. They say every pregnancy is different, so I just chalked up the erratic behavior of my symptoms to that fact. I took a test again. This time, it took a little bit of time, but finally the faintest little line appeared. The package says no matter how faint the line, if it’s there, you’re pregnant. I was stoked! I knew it! I couldn’t wait to tell my husband. But somewhere in the back of my mind, something didn’t seem right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I assumed it was just the trepidation of getting too excited too early. I decided to brush off my doubts and celebrate anyway. Two days after I tested positive was my thirtieth birthday. It was on Good Friday and my band had a gig that night. I remember feeling a little worried at my gig that I didn’t feel nauseous anymore and that I wasn’t too exhausted to stay up late for the show as I had anticipated I would be. I was still hungry though, so that seemed to give me a bit of consolation.

The next day, my family surprised me with a party for my birthday in downtown Fort Worth. We had a great time and postulated on whether the baby was a boy or a girl. It bothered me that I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. But I powered through and celebrated with my family anyway.

That evening we all went back to my parents’ house to spend the night, and as we typically do, we all gathered around the kitchen table to swap the same stories we always swap. My grandmother sat at the table with us and laughed right along until she was too tired to do so anymore. She excused herself from the table and said it was past her bed time. We all told her goodnight and that we loved her.

That was the last pleasant memory of the evening.

After a while, the rest of the family retired to the living room to proceed with asking Siri stupid questions like “will you marry me?” and “how much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” We were laughing hysterically when I noticed my husband froze as if he was listening for something. Finally everyone quieted down long enough to hear someone yelling for help. It was my grandmother.

We jumped and ran to her room to find her laying on the floor in agony, her hip very obviously out of place. We called 911 and within minutes the emergency techs were there wheeling her out of the room into the ambulance. A wave of adrenaline came over me and I was shaking uncontrollably. I felt so sick. Sicker than I had felt from the pregnancy. I thought to myself, “You better calm down or you are going to lose this baby.”

My sister and I accompanied my mother and father to the ER to be with my grandmother. We were there until 3am just waiting. Sure enough, she had a broken hip. When we finally got home, I went to bed, so keyed up and still feeling sick that I couldn’t sleep a wink. My parents got home about 4am. I greeted them and asked if anything had changed regarding my grandmother’s condition. She was sleeping now, waiting to be scheduled for surgery. We all decided to retire to bed and get what little sleep we could. Once again, I couldn’t sleep, but sleep must have come over me finally because I woke up to the sound of my family gathered in the kitchen in the morning light. I looked at the clock. It was 8am. As exhausted as I was, I didn’t want to sleep anymore so I decided to get up.

I went to the bathroom. When I was finished, I turned to flush the toilet and froze right where I stood. A wave of shock and “I told you so” came over me all at once. Those little fears I had deep down all along had come true. I had miscarried.

I just stood there in silence. I don’t know how long I was there before I started crying. My mother and sisters heard me and rushed to the bathroom. They didn’t have to ask – they knew by where I was and what I was doing exactly what had happened.

That was Easter Sunday morning. I will never, ever forget that weekend as long as I live.

When my husband, son and I got home that evening, I felt empty and weak. I decided to take a bath. It was in the bath that I just started crying and asking God what I did wrong. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had let my little baby down, that this was all my fault. I cried and cried and as I wept, I heard a voice say to me, “She’s okay. She’s with Me now. And she loves you.”

That was it. A wave of calm came over me and while I was still heartbroken, I knew it was going to be okay. In that moment I remembered the little boy’s experience in the book Heaven Is For Real. While he was in heaven, he met the two siblings his mother had miscarried. The siblings she had never told him about. They came up to him and told him they were his brother and sister and to tell their mother they love her. I knew my baby was up there now too. In the arms of Jesus. And she was okay.

In the days and weeks that followed, I felt the pain of the loss weaken, while the love of my baby grew. I had moments of sadness when I walked by the baby clothes in stores, but in those moments I was immediately reminded that God was still in control.

I will not say to you that knowing that God is in control of all of this made it easier for me, pain free, or without sadness. But it did give me wave after wave of peace and assuredness that it would be okay in the end.

As I write this, it has been a month since I lost the baby. I named her Baby Easter. I wrote a song for her. And while I’m sad I didn’t get to meet her on this side of Heaven, I can say that I am all the more excited to get to meet her someday in Heaven. Losing her made Heaven seem so much closer. It’s no longer just some place I’ll get to go when I die. Now it’s some place I feel somehow closer to. Like because my baby is there, a piece of me is already there too.

I am blessed beyond measure. All of this has made me realize even more how precious my son is and how I should never take him for granted. We got pregnant with him so easily. He’s been such an easy baby, and now as a toddler, he’s such an obedient, sweet, kind-hearted little boy. Thanks to all of this, I will never EVER take that for granted again.