Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Be Bold....

My husband invited someone to church this week.

You might be thinking....big deal. You might be thinking.....oh great! Or you might be thinking...don't you live in the Bible Belt; everyone goes to church. 

This was exciting for us. 

Of course we have invited people to church before, and so have you. But, I am going to go on out and say, that I bet you asked someone that was looking for a church, and better yet, a Christian. 

How about the ones that aren't looking??

What about them?

This past Sunday, we ended a 5 part series on Church. The sermon two weeks ago, challenged Tim and I both; and this past Sunday I found my head starting to bob and hear the amens release from my lips. It was oh so true. What a fantastic series! Go online and listen to them ALL!

When Andy preached on Boldness a few Sunday's ago, they handed Black Boldness Bracelets out at the doors;  I immediately couldn't get one certain event out of my mind a whole 48 hours after. 

Sadly, as you read above, I couldn't get ONE certain event out of my mind. It was an event that changed my life. It was an event that my heart was beating so completely hard, that I could feel it breaking through my chest, and when it couldn't get out, felt like it starting to coming out of my throat. 

Have you ever had one of those? It was awful, it kept getting worse......... until I said something.

Let me start from the beginning..... 

About two years ago, one rainy day, I had two people in the store. One customer I knew, the other I didn't. I carried on a conversation in the store with them both, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until they both left literally a minute apart. 

I immediately saw some items missing. Within 5 mins, I had counted and done the inventory of almost $900.00 worth stolen. I immediately notified the police, several stores in town and gave a complete detailed description of  the person, including her make and model of her vehicle ( I was raised with 4 brothers, I can recognize a make and model from a mile away, in the dark ;) ) to my employees, and that was that. 

Six months later, I had just dropped my girls off at Westgate for swim lessons. My employee calls me, I can hear it in her voice; panic, nerves, uncertainty, as she tries to explain in code that she believes SHE is there. I race to my car, and for you locals you know my shop is only 1 min away. As I approach the end of the Rec. Center parking lot placed on a hill, I can clearly see my store front, and parked right in front is her car. As I wait at the stop light, I try to call Tim. Looking back, probably the only time I am thankful for not reaching him. Who else do you turn to when you can't reach your hubby......GOD! (I know, a little backwards on that one!). I used my last 30 seconds to plead with God for direction, guidance and courage. I didn't even know what I was going to say, I mean, who comes back to steal that much in that short of time?? 

This is really when I start to feel sick. As I walk in, there is another customer in the store, my employee rushes to the counter to write something down, flushed, I can see it in her face. I look at the scribble to make out an exact description on something that was hanging up just minutes prior and now, no signs of it. 

I make my way to the woman, we make small talk. She complements me on the store. Then she starts to make way as if she is leaving. She then states that she really wishes I had more of a certain size and gender of clothing. I walk her to the door with small talk, although it all seems like a fog, all I can really hear is my pulse. 

When exiting the building, I look at her and as badly as I wanted to say, "forget this item! It's just one item! She can have it! She'll never come back! ", instead  I say ,"Ma'am?". And she replies "yes". And the next was something I can't even explain with these words.

I told her that I needed to look in her bag. "My bag,"she says. "Why?" "Ma'am, I need to look in your bag, because I am missing (I give detail of item) and I believe you have it." 

She grabs her bag in disgust for me, and starts to hand it over, but I felt pressed to say, "No, then I need to check your stroller." 

"My stroller?? No, you are not going to go through my stroller!"

I look her in the eyes and tell her that I remember her. That I know she stole almost $900 dollars worth of items just 6 mos before. I tell her that she is beautiful, well off and so blessed to have what she has. But that I understand why she is doing this. I share with her that there was a time in my life I had to have "things" to fill a void that was longing in my heart. I had that same empty void and it was so miserable. It was there until Jesus filled it. I told her I would love to get her help. I gave her info on a clinic in town and I urged her to go. I told her she had children that didn't need to see and have their mommy do this. That there is freedom from this. Their is much freedom I explained. 

At this point she bursts into tears, and I asked her if we can just please settle this matter right here.

She lifts up the blanket over her child's lap, the blanket covering up the exact item we were missing. She hands it to me and profusely apologizes and states she will never bother me again. 

As she packs up as quickly as she can, I continue to encourage her to seek help. 

Off she goes.

I can't tell you the peace that was over me. I knew 100% that that was what I was supposed to do. I look back and think of a million smart a#$ things I could've said to her. I drove into my parking lot minutes before feeling the victim, but now stood watching the real one drive away. 

I know that many wonder why I didn't call the police, why I allowed a thief to go steal some more. I can only tell you, that I said what I felt to do, and no more.

I never saw her again. But like I said, this past Sunday and Monday, all I could think about was her. When Andy preached on boldness, all I could think about was pleading to God for courage and direction, just minutes before facing this women. 

Tim was heading out of town that week and I just happened to have his car for the day. Elizabeth and I decided we would surprise him with getting his car cleaned before his trip. 

When approaching the machine to pay for my services, I looked over near the vacuums, and there she was. My heart leaped! I couldn't believe it. I am sure that Elizabeth was talking a few hundred miles a minute about what was about to occur with all the soap and brushes, but all I could do was converse with God. 

Oh God, what does this mean?? Oh, I can't believe I am about to see her. Years have gone by, but surely, you have placed her on my heart these two days for this meeting. Surely you want me to speak to her. 

I look over and see that there are empty spaces beside her.....perfect! I'll park beside her and go from there, I thought.  

I purchased the quickest wash, just to get out asap. The whole time in the wash I was thanking the Lord. Thanking him for setting us up again. Oh, I hope great things for her! Oh, how I hope she has changed and come to know Jesus! Oh, I can't wait to find out!!!

When exiting the wash, I pull around and notice she was gone. Not even pulling out gone, she was G.O.N.E!

My heart sank. Really Lord? Really????? I vacuum, and continually questioned why in the WORLD He would have placed her so heavily on my heart, let me see her, and NOT let me talk to her when I was willing to. I wanted to talk to her. Why?????

And then I look in the side pocket of Tim's door and the Black Bracelet that reads Be Bold is in there. And then it hits me. 

As I put it on, I realize that just maybe, she wasn't ready to see me. Maybe she wasn't ready to hear what I had to say. Just maybe it wasn't the right time. And then, I sat in the car and it was if the Lord said, now be bold and pray for her. 

So with boldness, I prayed. Elizabeth and I sat in a car wash parking lot and prayed. Prayed for a woman I still don't even know her name. And I started to realize that there had to be prayer with boldness. I had always not been very fond of  prayers that said "Lord, please give us opportunity...", for I have felt that there is always opportunity. But I truly now believe that the Lord wants us to pray for boldness, wants us to ask for courage, guidance, love, mercy and even grace, before and during those opportunities. 

I have great hopes of seeing this woman again. I realize, that I just might not have prayed boldly that day for her had I actually spoken with her. I realize that God wants to see her come to know Him and that He wants to use us to pray and be bold in sharing the freedom that is found in filling such a miserable void in our life. 

If all of us were so bold, we just might see God work and the power of His Spirit move in ways we couldn't imagine. 

Tim asked someone to Church this week.............he said yes......that's exciting.

To God be the Glory.

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." Psalms 115:1  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Packing Lunches....

My friend Kathryn inspired this post. Her request....lunches.

For the last 6 years, I have packed my kiddo's lunches. Well, actually, they do a lot of the packing themselves. I do the planning, but if the lunch involves multiple steps then I take over.

It was so easy until a few years ago when they banned "heat ups" in their school, thanks to an event that involved a Hot Pocket and a Firetruck. So with no more microwave options at school, that meant....bring out the cold cuts!

But then, like anyone, my kiddos got burnt out on the ol' PB and J and the like.

Here  is one alternative for a "cold" lunch, for kiddos and adults.

This is what you will need:

Romaine Lettuce
Caesar Dressing
Parmesan Cheese
Grilled Chicken (your own (left overs), or sometimes I buy the bag of Tyson's Frozen fully cooked grilled chicken strips from Sam's)
Mason Jars with lids (we use pint, but you can go up to quart for the adults)

If you are using the frozen chicken strips then pull them out of freezer before hopping in the shower in the morning. I do not let them fully thaw so they stay cold. Remember they are eating this about 4-5 hours after you prepare this.

In the Bottom of your mason jar add about 1 TBLS of dressing (or more if you like)
Top that with your chopped (washed) lettuce. Top the lettuce with your chicken (I cube it). Then top your chicken with the Cheese. Put your top on and place in the lunch box with ice pack.

Then when it is lunch time, your kiddos can shake the jar to mix it all up. This works beautifully, and doesn't get soggy because of the dressing on the bottom. Don't forget to pack them a fork!

On another note- for taco salad, layer the same with salsa or dressing (we use Catalina) but add Sour Cream after lettuce, then meat, then cheese. We also do the same with pasta salad.

Hope this adds a kick of inspiration to your normal everyday cold lunches!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

From the basement....

Well, not really, because I don't have a basement; but if I did, I would imagine a dark, gloomy place where we store things from the past that would not be brought out into the light very often.

So when searching for this recipe on my blog for tonight's dinner, I also came across this. So in honor of my Basement of Blogs, here's one I think you will deserves the light!


A dream come true........

Sticking with our farm theme {hurry! Artwork due by end of day Monday!}...........

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Many of you have read on this blog before about Gaucho Farms. But in case you are new to me here, you are in for a real treat, and are going to be grateful to me for sharing about this little gem. Jillian and I took a drive out there last Friday morning to take some fresh pics, although some of these pictures will be from my archives from visits out there for the Farm Day event Gaucho Farms puts together throughout the year.

Jorge and Suzanne Sanchez have been friends to our family for the last 5 years. The very first time we met them was at a church fellowship at a local park. At the time, Suzanne (a native of Dothan) was pregnant with their second son Jacob. I will never forget when I asked Jorge (an Argentine native) how he came about on his ventures to the United States.


He told me he came over as a Polo player. Then he asked, "Do you know what that is?".  I think I shocked him when a little south Alabamian woman knew the correct answer. You could tell he normally had to answer his own question!

Even if I didn't know that answer, it wouldn't have mattered. I would have gladly had Jorge explain as you could sense that his humble estate of asking was not "do you know what that is and you better, or you are stupid", but more like "do you know what that is, because I would love to share with you if you don't". From that very moment that day, I realized that Jorge and Suzanne were going to be great friends, because they are great people.


Jorge and Suzanne are the kind of people that you just want to be around. The kind of people that are truly genuine, humble and just plain REAL! The kind of people that when you are to meet for dinner at a restaurant for a fine dining experience, calls to inform you  they are running late because one had to stop off at her mom's to pick up shoes because she left her house in a tizzy over one of those "rushing out the door arguments", meanwhile slipping on her husband's yard work flip flops ..... my first thought was NOT "oh, wow, they have disagreements and arguments?? They must have problems." but more like " YES! They are just like us! They're normal!".

Time and time again they have served our family with countless blessings, like yard work when Tim was away on business for weeks, meals when we were sick or injured. Or just a simple ear to listen when you are having a bad day and when you show your frustrations about wanting to send your computer to He## for the trouble it's giving you (Suzanne is quite the computer techy and has been a great help in my future blogging endevours).

I tell you all this because, they have carried and held on to the same humble like, real servant heart into their very own business. With prayer, inspiration, imagination and a whole lot of hard work, The Sanchez family took a piece of land, lived in a 650sq ft renovated garage on the newly purchased property while building their dream.... Gaucho Farms.

I am honored to call them friends and  happy to share this information about them and their business through the interview with Suzanne below......Enjoy! :)


When did you start loving the outdoors and animals?

I don't remember a time when I DIDN'T enjoy the outdoors and animals, but
when I was 5 we moved to what was then "the country" half way down Flowers
Chapel Road in Dothan. I was the youngest of three and my two sisters were
already teenagers, so I spent a lot of time wandering around by myself on
our little farm and the adjacent property with my dog or on my horse, just
exploring and observing.



When you were a little girl what did you want to be/do when you grew up?

Definitely a vet - don't most girls consider that at some point?! I never
really considered farming. My dad was an organic hobby farmer in the '70s,
and I had my fill of digging potatoes and shoveling compost.

What was your college major?

Zoology with a pre-vet emphasis from Auburn (War Eagle!) and then later, I
went back and earned a second degree in Wildlife Biology from the University
of Montana. All that biology has been beneficial to understanding the
production needs of livestock, and the health benefits of growing grass-fed
meats and pastured poultry and eggs. It's also helped me understand things
like soil fertility, and a holistic approach to farming.

When did you meet Jorge and share a little bit about how your
relationship started?

When Jorge and I met he was playing polo in Columbus, Ga., and I had just
finished college at Auburn. We became friends and I enjoyed learning about
his Argentine culture. I knew he had grown up working on ranches, but it
was much later that I understood he had grown up as a real Argentine Gaucho
(or cowboy). 




Share with us a few passions you and Jorge share together....

Jorge and I both love the outdoors, and the farm and ranch lifestyle. It's
been an enjoyable mission for both of us to take this run down little piece
of property and turn it into a productive homestead. We both enjoy natural
meat production, but probably for different reasons. I like to learn about,
and practice, sustainable farming and I'm interested in the health benefits
of grass-fed meats and pastured poultry. Jorge just wants a great-tasting
steak or lamb chop that he raised himself, and he loves to care for the



Jorge has a history of ranching. Besides knowledge of cattle; what are some of his other expertise with farming?

Jorge first worked on a dairy farm. Then with sheep and cattle. And, of
course, he's an excellent horseman. We lived on a cattle ranch in Montana
for years and the old-time, die-hard cowboys in Montana said Jorge was the
best stockman they'd ever seen. He's kind of an all-in-one
horse/cattle/sheep/chicken whisperer! He can also build a great fence and
"MacGyver" anything.

How did Gaucho Farms start? And what was the inspiration behind it?

We had wanted to farm for about 10 years. I had done the numbers a million
times and couldn't figure out how to get started without it costing a
fortune. There's a joke in the West: "What will you do if you win the
lottery? Answer: Ranch 'til the money runs out." Let's face it - farming
is a low-profit to no-profit endeavor. Then I read this fantastic book by
Joel Salatin called "You Can Farm." It inspired me to look at
diversification as a viable option - how different species of livestock and
poultry can compliment each other.

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When choosing your land for your new home and farm, tell us why you chose where you are?

When I look back on how this came together, I can see God's hand in every
stage. One day I took a drive out Hwy 52 and there was this tiny realtor
sign pointing down a dirt road. I drove out the dirt road a little way and
turned around thinking, "I'm not living way out here, no way." But it kept
nagging at me. Another day I drove all the way out to the property and I
loved the way the house sat off the road and I loved the pond. I went home
and told Jorge I thought I had found our property. When he saw it he
agreed. And things just lined up. The house on the property had to be torn
down, but a neighbor showed up and did it for free. That same neighbor
discovered an old well on the property that could have been terribly
hazardous. The garage was in good shape and became our temporary apartment
and now a guest house. We loved the diversity of the property: pasture
land, wooded land, pond, and wetland.

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You and Jorge have two sons Daniel and Jacob. Do they have certain chores assigned to them on the Farm?

They are pretty young, but Daniel has the responsibility of closing the
chickens up at night and collecting eggs. Jacob is great at picking up
sticks and working in the garden. He loves to pull weeds, plant and
harvest. I'm trying to cultivate his weed interest!

What are some of your children's favorite things about the farm?

They love the pond for fishing and looking for alligators and turtles. They
love running around and climbing trees and swinging on the rope swing.
Daniel found a Native American scraper buried in the road and both of them
have found huge nails from an old railroad track, so they love to treasure

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How was it living in the one bed room unit altogether?

It really wasn't as bad as you might think. I joked about it a lot, but the
only time the four of us were in the 650 sq. ft. cottage together was in the
evening. When we moved to the "big house" the children cried.

What was the plan for the farmhouse and did it stay close to plans or were some big changes made during the process of building?

The farmhouse design was a collaboration between my sister, Denise, who is
an interior designer, and me. I wanted a large laundry, and functional
kitchen, big porches and an affordable size, and she delivered.

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What are some of your favorite details about your home and what inspired them?

My three favorite details are the true barn doors that separate the dining
room from the kitchen, the reclaimed pine flooring, and the five panel doors
throughout the house. My sister Denise helped me realize a vision of modern
meets traditional farmhouse. I love it when people say, "Your house looks
like it was born here. - Yes!"


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Tell us, what your services/product you started Gaucho Farms with, what you have grown to, and what some of the future plans are?

We started with all-natural 100%grass-fed beef and lamb and have progressed
to pastured chickens and turkeys and pastured eggs, along with vegetables
and value-added products like jams, jellies and sauces. This year we're
growing heirloom vegetable plants for sale - at the farm in April!

What is your favorite part of Gaucho Farms?

I absolutely love the people I'm meeting through this new venture, and I
absolutely love that they are enjoying the products. But my very favorite
thing is the realization of a dream and sitting on the back porch with a cup
of coffee listening as the sheep and chickens wake up.

For more information on Gaucho Farms, their products and the Sanchez family please visit their website here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

meal on the go..

We literally inhaled our food last night. If best, Tim arrives home at 5:15pm. We had to have the big girls on one end of Dothan for play practice and Elizabeth in another town for Karate Belt ceremony. Both at 6:00pm.

I had to think fast and easy. Not just preparing, but clean up as well.

I am not much into boxed or packaged foods. Literally, the 10 for 10 mac and cheese, Campbell's soup and chicken nuggets does nothing for me.

But sometimes, not always, for quick and easy, you have to go with a few shelf products.

I am a stickler for meal time together as a family. I am normally plating food as Tim walks in the door. Sometimes, those night time practices drive me insane. I would rather have a crazy 15mins all at the table together then a "shift" dinner throughout the evening.

So, I opted for fish tacos. Never made them, but figured I could wing it, and it was good.

here is what you will need....

Get your Mexican saffron rice cooking on stove top (according to package directions). And start another pot with some heat for your black beans.

 Drain your black beans and add to hot pot, you'll hear a little sizzle. Add your can of Green Chili's.
 Give it a stir and let it simmer on med- high heat for about 15mins and then cut down heat to medium until serving.

Lay your Tilapia (I have never bought frozen, but Publix seems to have it going on and so I gave in. And it met my standards for quick and easy) on a large platter or cookie sheet (they don't take long to thaw, so pull them out of the fridge about 45 mins before you start this meal. Mine were actually still just a tad bit frozen in center when adding to the biggie, it will thaw quickly). Chop about 1/2 cup of chives (I am not a big fan of Cilantro. This is definitely when the cilantro lovers step in) Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt. Top with Chives and grate the rind of one lime over the top evenly.

 Squeeze 1 1/2 of lime juice over all fish.

Drizzle with Olive Oil and let it hang out for the next 15-20mins. Meanwhile, get your toppings ready. Peel and chop your Avocados and squeeze the last 1/2 of Lime over it and give it a toss.

Add your Talapia herb side down in a screaming hot pan. (no oil necessary since you drizzled it over the fish).

Your kitchen will now smell like the best Limey Citrus-y yummy-ness, your kiddos will BEG to eat it right then.. :)

 Depending on size of Fish. Cook about 8mins on first side and 3-4 mins after flipping. My heat stays between Medium High and High the whole cooking time. Fish should start to flake with fork to show it is done cooking.

We plated it up on Paper Plates, because it was going to be a late night and we needed to trash it and run!

This grub will make it to our dinner table many more times in the Pilcher household. It is two thumbs up for sure! It made this Chick smile even before she earned her Green Belt later that evening....

Happy Valentine's Day! We are working on some easy crafts and treats today. Pictures to come!
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