Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Google Voice: FAIL

James and I got new mobile phone in May, and we began using Google Voice for our voice mail.  Overall, I've been really pleased with it.  It will transcribe your voice mail and email the text to you, and there will also be a link in the email where you can listen to the voice mail.  It is much easier to discreetly check your voice mail by just reading the text, and I really like that.  The transcription has not been 100% accurate for me, but most of the time it is pretty close.  However, we've both gotten a couple of voice mails where the transcription was totally off.  Off so bad that I was not sure what the call was about.  I don't know what it is that makes some of them that bad.  I listened to the audio message, and I could understand it just fine.  Here is the transcription of a voice mail that I got from my mother-in-law:

"Hey, Yeah this is Fay you don't have to call me back and just been getting those chicks in the mail, that I have a color Monday does that. The tomorrow. So, often you check for 30 announcing the check for 25..., you can use that if you wanna bathtubs for the nanny 30 if you wanna be some of the formula. Something, whatever for the main ether. It doesn't matter and that the it. I've got one getting long. Give me a thing in order to get him We're already prayed about the trio will talk to you guys are going and you don't have to return my call affect me. Mom pop all. We're all going out to not stuff. Love you. Bye bye. "

Wow.  The audio message was clear as a bell and made perfect sense.  She was calling to tell me that she had mailed checks to us to purchase some donations for the orphanage.  Some of the words that show up in the transcription are not in the audio message at all - like bathtubs, trio,  and not stuff. Looks like Google Voice has some bugs that need to be fixed!

Monday, June 27, 2011


This is a recipe that I have tweaked a little.  The original recipe was posted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a while back, and it gave instructions on how to bake the jambalaya.  Yes, bake.  I've never heard of any Louisiana native baking jambalaya, so I decided to cook in a pot on the stove top - as it should be done.  We've both tried making homemade Jambalaya several times with different recipes, and this one is our favorite.

Yield: 15 servings (about 20 cups)

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 clove garlic, minced
2 small yellow onion, diced
8 ribs celery, sliced
2 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 green bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Cajun-style seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s)
2 1/2 cups uncooked extra long grain white rice
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon butter
6 dashes Tabasco sauce or to taste
1 pound cooked dark meat chicken, diced
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
Salt, optional
Ground black pepper

1. Combine olive oil, garlic, yellow onion, celery, bell peppers and blackening seasoning in a large pot. Sauté over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in chicken stock, tomato sauce, Worcestershire and butter; bring to a boil. Stir in Tabasco, chicken and andouille. Return to boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat and cover and walk away.  Do not stir or remove the lid until you think the rice is almost done. Cook for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

This makes enough to fed a large crowd.  If you want to cut the recipe in half, remember to reduce the cooking time after the rice is added.  I made a half-recipe of this on Saturday, and it took about 15 minutes -instead of 30 - for the rice to become tender.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A case of bad translating

I recently ordered an item on ebay from a seller in China.  I got an email from the seller with the tracking information and a word of thanks.  It is obvious that English was not his first language.  I got a few laughs out of it, especially when I read "your cognition is our power to make forward." So here it is, unedited except I removed the tracking number:

Dear Friend

thanks for your making purchase and prompt payment for this item.

Today the postman picked up the package from our office, here is shipping information please view.

Shipping Company: EMS fast express
Consignment No: *****************
Delivered address: Same with you confirmed via Paypal
Tracking website: www.ems.com.cn or www.usps.com

Typically it takes 7-12 business days to arrive in your place, same with we promised on Ebay description, please wait patiently.

Also you may logo on this web to check its status, which will be shown updated shipment two days later, thank you.

We warmly hope that it can arrive in your place and you will be satisfied with our total service and let us have chance of servicing you again. Much appreciate that you can leave a positive feedback and all full 5-Star DSR for this transaction, your cognition is our power to make forward.

Any other questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
Kind Regards.

I will say that his English is worlds better than my Mandarin, but I'm not trying to write letters in Mandarin either. Ha!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cake Balls

These are a rather easy dessert, and they look so fancy!  I made these cake balls for James' grandmother's birthday party.  We went to Louisiana on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate. Here's what you need to make them: 
  • 1 cake mix, any flavor
  • 1 jar of icing, any flavor
  • melting chocolates or almond bark.  The melting chocolates are available at Michael's in a lot of different colors and flavors.
  • whatever the directions on the box of cake mix call for. 
Prepare the cake according to the package directions.  Bake it in a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. Let it cool for at least one hour after it is baked.
After the cake has cooled, crumble it up in a bowl.  Mix the can of icing in.

Place some wax paper or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Using a small scoop, make little balls out of the cake/icing mixture.  Place the balls on the cookie sheet.
I was able to get about 40 balls out of one cake mix.  Place the cake balls in the freezer for an hour or two so they can harden a little.  You don't want them to be warm and crumbly for the next step, or else your chocolate will end up with tiny pieces of cake in it.
Use a double boiler to melt your almond bark or chocolates.  I just used a glass bowl on top of a pot of simmering water.
I didn't take a photo of dipping the cake balls into the almond bark, but it's done the same way.  I used a spoon to lower the ball into the chocolate. 
Then turned the cake ball over and placed it on a fork. Next, I spooned chocolate over the top of the ball.  Place the dipped cake ball onto a sheet of wax paper to harden.
After they have hardened, you can drizzle a contrasting color on top of them.  I just used a fork, but you can use a piping bag if you want them to look a little cleaner.

The finished product!  These are so yummy!  I had some melted chocolate left over, so I dipped some Vanilla Wafers in it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 years ago today

Photo by Kevin Beasley
Ten years ago today, I married my dearest friend.  James, I am thankful that you're my husband.  You have loved me well.  You have loved me when God's love seemed elusive to me. You have stood by me on some very dark days. You have served me and cared for me when I was sick.  You have shared in my joy, suffering, laughter, and grief.  You have prayed for me when I was so spent spiritually that I could not pray myself. You have guided me, encouraged me, lovingly rebuked me, and you've had a hand in my sanctification. You are my husband and my brother in Christ.  You have stirred my affections for my First Love, Love Himself. You have been Christ to me.  May God help me remember that before you were mine, you were Christ's, and one day, we will be united with the rest of the body of Christ to our Bridegroom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Wedding Vows

Photo by Kevin Beasley

Our Marriage Vows

James: I, James, take you Stephanie, to be my wedded wife. With deepest joy I receive you into my life that together we may be one.  As is Christ to his body, the church, so I will be to you a loving and faithful husband. Always will I perform my headship over you even as Christ does over me, knowing that his lordship is one of the holiest desires of my life.  Stephanie, I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion, my tenderest care.  I promise I will live first unto God rather than others, or even you.  I promise that I will lead our lives into a life of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, ever honoring God's guidance by his Spirit through His word and so throughout life no matter what may lie ahead I pledge to you my life as a loving and faithful husband.

Stephanie:  I Stephanie, take you James to be my wedded husband.  With deepest joy I come into my new life with you.  As you have pledged to me your life and love, so I too happily give you my life and in confidence submit myself to your headship as to the Lord.  As is the church in her relationship with Christ, so I will be with you.  James, I will live first unto our God, and then unto you, loving you, obeying you, caring for you, so that we might serve Christ together.  God has prepared me for you so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you.  Therefore, throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a faithful and obedient wife.

Ring Vows

James: Stephanie, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy.  I choose you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.  And I pledge to you my faithfulness to show you the same kind of love Christ showed the church when He died for her, and to love you as a part of myself, because in his sight, we shall become one.

Stephanie: James, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy.  I choose you to be my husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.  And I pledge to you my faithfulness to love you with a Christ-like love, and to love you as a part of myself, because in his sight we shall become one.

Our vows came from samples that used to be available for free on Dallas Theological Seminary's website.  I tried to look for them today, and it seems that they are now charging $15 for a Wedding Planning Kit that you have to purchase if you want to see their sample vows.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crawfish Boil & Vow Renewal

It's hard to believe it, but our tenth wedding anniversary is this week!  This past Saturday, we had a crawfish boil for our community group from church, and we decided that since it was going to be so close to our anniversary that it would be a nice time to renew our vows.  A friend of ours Jason Polk, who is the worship pastor at Grace PCA Church led us through our vows.  Jason and his wife, Liz, were some of the people that we met after moving to St. Louis, and they are dear friends.  We were so glad that they could be with us to celebrate our anniversary! They are in the process of moving to Ethiopia as missionaries, which thrills my heart. You can read about their work here: On the Ground.

 My friend Jamie made these fabulous cupcakes that were reminiscent of my wedding cake.  The butterflies were made out of chocolate, and they were edible!  She is so talented.

 The little boys were intrigued by the crawfish, and I don't think they were convinced that they were food and not bugs.

 Daisy found a place to hang out, but Lily had to stay in the house.  Lily, our little Sheltie, is not fond of crowds.  We should have kept  her in the house in to begin with, but I wanted to see if she could cope with the company.  She could not.  She almost caught herself on fire.  She got freaked out by something harmless and ran to James just after he had gotten the gas lit on the burner for the crawfish.  She got too close to the burner, and her fur got singed.  I'm just glad she was not hurt.  James put her in the basement after that.
 James wanted to see how boiled shrimp would be with the crawfish.  He put them in with the crawfish after they had finished cooking.  The shrimp were really good!

We asked Jason to read Ephesians 5 and he talked about what a covenant means and he and some of our friends prayed with us. He also gave us some words of wisdom regarding parenting as we prepare to bring our daughter home.
It was a great evening!  We both meant our vows the first time we said them, but it was sweeter this time because of the history that James and I had together.  James has been with me in the good times and bad times, in sickness and in health.  As we said our vows on Saturday, I had memories of James staying by my side in a hospital and caring for me and encouraging me going through my mind.  I'm delighted to be his wife.  It was wonderful to share the evening with friends who have prayed with us, grieved with us, and rejoiced with us.  Thank you to everyone who was able to be there!  I'll post our vows later this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Court Date!

I woke up to good news this morning.  I checked my email shortly after I got up, and I had an email from our social worker with our court date!  Our case will be heard in court on July 14th.  This is a wonderful answer to prayer.  We - along with many of our friends and family - had been praying that we could appear in court before the courts close for the rainy season.  The courts usually close in early August and reopen at the end of September.  If we had not been able to get a court date before the closure, not only would it have meant that it would have taken that much longer for us to bring our daughter home, it would also have meant that we would have to re-do our entire dossier. It took me a couple of months to get our dossier together the first time, and I'd rather not have to do it again. Most of the documents from our dossier are dated at the end of 2009.  Dossiers expire after two years in Ethiopia.  As long as our case is approved by the court before November, we will not have to re-do it. We are so thankful for this news.

The only downside is that I'll have to miss work at a time when I need to be there to help cover vacations.  The manager knew that might happen though and understands our situation.

We are so grateful to everyone who has been praying for us and for Baby M.  Please keep them coming!  There are still a lot of things that could go wrong that could delay our case.  Here are some specific things that we will be praying for, and we would greatly appreciate it if you would join with us:
  • Baby M's birthmother will have to appear in court before we do to terminate her rights.  Sometimes the birthparents will reclaim custody of their children at that time.  Pray that all goes well if God does intend for Baby M to be our daughter.
  • Pray for all of our documents to be in order when the judge hears our case, and for our case to be approved while we are in Ethiopia.  There are several documents that have to be obtained from the area where Baby M was born.  Some families with our agency have recently experienced delays both with the court and the US Embassy because these documents had not been obtained.
  • Continue to pray for Baby M.  She is doing well, and she has gained a few pounds.  Pray for her needs to continue to be met and for her to stay healthy. 
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10