When a Crisis Comes

I am a young pastor's wife, and one of the most intimidating facets of ministry for me is helping families in the midst of a crisis. I will never forget the day when my husband brought his new bride to the hospice where a dear sister from our church was dying. When her twelve year old son greeted us on his way through the waiting room, I lost it. The reality that these children will soon lose the one who has nurtured and loved them all their lives completely overwhelmed my heart. I cried so much my stomach hurt. I didn't think that I was going to pull it together enough to see her and pray with her family. When the nurse came to escort us to her room, I managed to gather my composure for a moment, but as we all held hands and prayed, I broke down once again. What a helpful shining example of faith I was!

How can one be a blessing to a family whose heart is breaking? Unfortunately, the "not knowing what to say or do" conflict leaves hurting families without encouragement or support. Since that day at the hospice, my husband and I have entered many homes and hospitals to comfort and pray with the families of those who are sick or who have passed away. Through these times, I have watched and listened for ways to help during a time of crisis.

Death in the immediate family:
1. Take the family a large deli meat and cheese tray and 2 packages of dinner or potato rolls. This gives them a quick bite to eat as well as something to set out for other family members and friends who come to grieve with them.
2. Fill a large cooler with ice, drinks and plenty of bottled water.
3. Lots and lots of paper products. Plates, cups, napkins, toilet paper, trash bags, forks, spoons.... nobody wants to worry about dishes when grieving.
4. Put on a pot of coffee
5. Clean out their fridge. I did this once because I wanted to stay busy and out of the way. They will probably be receiving meals and could use the extra space.

Major Surgery:
1. The family will probably be in the waiting room for an extended amount of time. Take snacks for them to eat or just show up with a bag full of burgers.
2. Most hospitals have coffee available in the waiting rooms, but you have to buy cold drinks. Take a small cooler with some drinks, water, and ice.
3. Just be there to chat the time away. We attended several major bypass surgeries where the family sat in the waiting room for at least 5 hours. Though the mood is very serious, the presence of people helps the time to pass.

This is a quick list, and I hope that it helps even just a little bit. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any more suggestions. We can all keep learning together!


Ever Tried This?

Every Wednesday I cook pinto beans in the crock-pot. Alex loves eating them with a quesadilla and I love to eat them southern style with corn bread and a sliced tomato. Yesterday I resurrected a bean recipe that we both forgot how much we loved. Have you ever tried Bean Burritos Enchilada Style?? They are so yummy and easy. Even if you don't have a pot of beans cooking every Wednesday, you can still make this by popping open a few cans. All you have to do is mash up some pinto beans, wrap them in a flour tortilla, cover with red enchilada sauce (if you like the canned kind-- go for it!), sprinkle with a little chopped onion (0ptional), and top with shredded cheese. Pop it in the microwave for about a minute and half or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

The Wedding (Part 2 of Week in Review)

Yeah! We seized the opportunity to get an actual family picture :) AJ is already showing his enthusiasm for all the wedding festivities.

Jonathan and I practically grew up together. I am the first-born grandchild and he came along 3 years later. He was my "best cousin" growing up, but I consider him to be my brother. He looked so sharp on his wedding day, and Gina looked beautiful. I am thrilled (and somewhat relieved) that he found a great young woman with whom he can share his life. Welcome to our loud family Gina!

This was the sword ceremony. So neat!! Who needs bows and flowers when you have decorated marines lining the aisle?

Little AJ is spending some time with Papa.

Week in Review (Part 1)

We had a wonderful week in Alabama. The purpose of the trip was two-fold: 1. Participate in my cousin Jon's wedding and 2. Show off the babies.
Before I get around to posting pictures of the weekend, I cannot resist showing off our little Valentine. I'm all about making special days special, but with a big trip to the homeland looming around the corner, this mamma had to keep things simple this Valentine's Day. No heart-shaped pancakes or rosy red love parfaits here. We started the day with chocolate chip mini-muffins courtesy of Martha White :) I did accidentally discover that using buttermilk (that's all we had since I didn't want to have milk in the fridge just before a big trip) makes those "just add milk" muffin packets far moister (is that a word?) than regular milk .
Olivia and I (mostly I) made cupcakes to go pass out to the staff and friends at church. She helped with the sprinkles. Cupcakes are somewhat nostalgic for me because they remind me of all those Valentine's class parties of yester-year. The strawberry frosted ones with sprinkles were always my favorite.
Daddy bought a "boon" for Olivia. She loved it so much! It actually travelled with us to Alabama and is still floating above my head as I write this post.
Finally, what says "I Love You" like fish tacos? That is one of my husband's favorites, so I made it for him that evening. I know it doesn't sound too appetizing, but they are pretty delicious (if you like fish to begin with). Just bake up some Gordon's Breaded Fish Filets and serve them on a warm corn tortilla with shredded cabbage (get the angel-hair pre-shredded for coleslaw package), a delicious pico, avocado, lime wedges, and a touch of mayo. It is a very nice combination of flavors.
Maybe next year I'll light a candle or two, but at least the day wasn't completely lost under a pile of suitcases. Dad got dinner, mom got roses, AJ got lots of kisses, and Olivia got her "boon".

Olivia, Lamby, and her "boon"

Helping with the sprinkles for daddy's cake


Oh Be Careful Little Heart...

-------------------------(Olivia and Daddy heading to church)

One of the first songs that I sing to my babies is "Oh Be Careful Little Eyes..." I'll take their little hands and do the motions for them. The sweet coos and smiles make me want to drag the song out as far as it can go, so I'll add my own verses. "Oh be careful little mouth what you eat and Oh be careful little nose what you smell" are among my personal additions to the original song.
Yesterday, I extemporaneously added another verse: "Oh be careful little heart what you love....." Those words replayed again and again in my mind the rest of the day. What does my heart love at this very moment? Are my affections set on things above? Little ones are taking note of what mamma gets excited about.


Valentine's Eve

This a picture I took last year on Valentine's Day of Olivia with her beloved little friend Lamby. Olivia had to go to bed tonight without Lamby because she stuck him in the potty just before bed. This was very distressing to her. In fact, we could hear her crying in her room "Lamby why potty?". Of course, the Valentine Fairy will see that Lamby gets a bath tonight so that Olivia and her beloved are reunited for Valentine's Day.

Fresh Air and Sprinkles

Perhaps this picture I took this morning should have been an indicator of how my day was going to go. O.K. say what you will, maybe I was a bad mommy because I didn't resist the urge to take a picture of one of Olivia's naughty yet funny moments. On the menu this morning: OATMEAL, something that Olivia is not very fond of. Her method of protest: burying her head in Lamby and hoping that mommy and the big bowl of gooey goodness would disappear.
Without delineating all the details, after "a day of it", I tucked little Miss into her bed, handed AJ to daddy, and set out to go get a doughnut. Still, sprinkles have their way of making everything better. Sometimes a mom needs to "come apart" before she "comes apart". It's amazing what 30 minutes of fresh air, good music, and pink frosting can do to perk up a weary mamma.


A Prayer

Alex and I recently celebrated our third anniversary, and for my (belated) anniversary post, I want to share with you the words to one of the songs we had in our wedding. I have no major insights or advice about marriage -- just a simple prayer that we sincerely share as husband and wife.
May our lives be a testimony
To who we are in You, to who You are in us.
Lord Jesus, may the ones we touch be touched by you.
Oh may our lives be a testimony.
May our lives be a tribute to Your name
May we seek first your smile not men's applause nor fame.
Lord Jesus, if it means for You we suffer pain
Oh may our lives be a tribute to Your name.
May our lives be a symphony of praise
A song of hope and joy that fills our nights and days.
Oh grant that we may never cease to always raise
Oh Lord to You a symphony of praise.
May our lives be a mirror of your grace,
Reflecting love that goes beyond all time and space.
Lord Jesus, may men see not us but Your dear face
May our lives be a mirror of your grace.


Fiery Enchiladas

I have learned over the past few years to make some pretty yummy Mexican dishes, and I am particularly proud of my enchiladas. Since Taco Bell seasoning and canned enchilada sauce are no-nos in the Millan kitchen, I actually make my enchilada sauce from scratch by boiling the dried chile pods, blending them, adding seasonings, thickening it with a rue, and so on.
Apparently, I was due for a bit of humbling tonight. We invited some friends over for dinner, and I decided to really show the love by making the best Mexican spread I could set before them. I needed to double the recipe so that we would have enough for everyone. Then I thought "Alex loves these, so maybe I should make some extra for us to have leftovers". Stupid me just tripled everything, including the chile pods. Hindsight is 20/20, and I now see that that was not the smartest thing to do. When the enchiladas came out of the oven, I thought that they looked a little darker than usual. Plates were served, and everyone started eating as I finished getting Olivia situated. Then I sat down and had a bite. They were soooo spicey! No, they were downright HOT! I felt horrible. Our guests were sitting there politely eating the fiery dish. When Alex came out and said "honey, these are pretty hot", I knew that they were off the charts. I think I'll just do cheesy chicken next time.


Millan Happenings

This post is dedicated to my mother who is irritated that I havn't posted any pictures of the kids. "I don't care about pizza dough..." Love you mom! :)

Our anniversary was Jan. 31st (yeah-- I'm a little late on my anniversary post, but it's coming) and Alex suprised me with a trip down to Savannah to eat a Paula Deen's restaurant! Yummm! Maybe that's why I've had food on the brain lately. You have to get there and sign up at 9:30 a.m. Our lunch was at 11. It was buffet and it was sooooo delicious! Fried chicken, pot roast, pork chops, mac and cheese, cheesy biscuits, collard greens, mashed potatoes... Yummm! (no-- I didn't get to see Paula)

We had a birthday party for little Danielito this past weekend. I made salsa, guacamole, and flautas (chicken rolled in corn tortillas and fried).
OLIVIA!!! If she has an "I think I did something I wasn't supposed to do" expression on her face, that's because she just pulled the table cloth off our little buffet/cabinet, and brought the whole cake down with it! Fortunately, the cake landed right side up and suffered minimal damage.
Alex turned down an invitation to go to a Super Bowl party after church because he thought that it would be too much for me and the babies. We drive separately to church since he picks people up for the service, so I usually get home about an hour before he does. I scoured the fridge and pantry and put together our own Super Bowl party. On the menu: hot ham and cheese crescent rolls, a block of cream cheese covered in pepper jelly (very delicious!) and some of Olivia's crackers (thanks Olivia!), popcorn (duh), coke a cola, and peanut butter cups.
Brother and sis are excited about the game!
It looks like we have another finger-sucker :)

I took this picture today. Olivia wanted to wear her sunglasses around the house today. She's one cool cat!


Sunday Lunches

I would love to know what you all fix for lunch on Sunday afternoon. Going out to eat is a thing of the past for us now that we have two little ones in desparate need of naps by the time church is over. On one hand, cooking a big meal and cleaning up the mess is the LAST thing I feel like doing after a full morning at church. On the other hand, I know that it is a blessing for my family to come home to yummy Sunday comfort food :).

Our favorite is the classic pot-roast and carrots, mashed potatoes, and rolls. You can peel the potatoes the night before as long as you keep them soaked in water in the fridge. The meat goes in the crock-pot that morning with a can of beef broth, one package of Lipton onion soup, an onion roughly chopped, and baby carrots. I also buy Rhodes frozen dinner rolls. I set them out on the pan that morning so they rise by the time we get home from church.

I'd love to branch out and find some more meals that can wait in the fridge or the crock-pot until we all get home from church. What's cooking at your place?



I am an average cook, and as much as I appreciate the many cookbooks that seek to elevate my kitchen experience to that of a gourmet chef, I still prefer making all the classics and making them well. My husband bought the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for me a few years ago (I guess I can take a hint when it passes my way), and I love it! So far, every recipe I've tried has been a winner, and it also has alot of reference material that makes for an interesting read. Every woman needs a trusty cookbook, and this is mine.


Pizza Night!

Oh that my children will not grow to think that all bread comes from a refrigerated tube!

Bread baking can be an intimidating endeavor, but pizza dough is a great place to start. It is very simple and forgiving. Our young little family hasn't nailed down too many traditions yet, but Pizza Night is definately now a part of the Millan brand.

So... in order to further the cause of Pizza Night, I will go ahead and post the step-by-step instructions. The basic pizza dough and sauce recipes come from my favorite cookbook in the world "America's Test Kitchen".

Basic Pizza Dough:
1 envelope Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 3/4 cups warm water (just nuke it for about 1 min and 30 sec or so)

Start making this dough about an hour and a half or two hours before you want to start making pizzas. Whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together. Add the water and olive oil. Stir until the dough looks "shaggy". Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes (I was always taught that the dough is ready when it feels like a baby's bottom). Put the ball of dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it rise for the next hour and a half or two hours. It should double in size.

An hour and a half later.....

Preheat the oven to 425, and move the wire rack the the lower-middle position. Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion out onto a 12 in pizza pan and bake for 6-7 minutes. Take it out of the oven and add toppings. Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until desired oooeeyy gooey crispy goodness is achieved.

Basic Pizza Sauce:
1 big can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt (more or less-- whatever makes you happy)
2 tbs minced garlic (I have the humongo jar of minced garlic from Wal-Mart. It lasts forever and I am always using garlic)
2 tbs olive oil

Simmer the garlic in the olive oil on med-high heat for about one minute and add crushed tomatoes and salt. That's it!! This is a delicious sauce!

TO FREEZE: Let the pre-baked crust cool, then wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. When you are ready to pull it out again, just take it out of the freezer, unwrap it (I know that's a no-brainer but it would be irresponsible of me not to include this important step), add toppings, and bake at 425.

CUTENESS NOTE: Olivia thinks that everything I put into or pull out of the oven is "pete-si"