Author Archives: Heidi St. John

A Union of Two Forgivers

two-forgivers-heidistjohn

It’s been said that “A good marriage is the union of two forgivers.” I couldn’t agree more. I know that my husband forgives me every day. Little things that I could’ve said better, mostly. :) It’s amazing to me how I can be the most inconsiderate to the ones I love the most.

Over the years I’ve spoken to many moms about this, and it seems it’s a common struggle. Sometimes it’s easier to be kind to the woman at WalMart than it is to our own family. After all, the woman at the store might just haul off and kick me if I’m rude to her, right?! :)

I think we easily take our most precious relationships for granted, because we feel the most comfortable with the ones with whom our relationships are the most secure.

Do you need to be forgiven? Ask for it. Do you need to forgive? Don’t put it off.

Today, let’s purpose to TELL our husbands how much we love them. Remind your husband about those qualities in him that you love and admire. Flirt with him. <3 Invite him to bed for a change. Believe me, he’ll love you for it!

It’s never too late to invest in your marriage.
It’s never too late to forgive.

And it’s never to late to be forgiven.

Creamy Butternut Squash Bisque

Creamy Butternut Squash Bisque

So, my friend Durenda was here for Thanksgiving with her family.

See?

That's what friends are for

This is me watching her cook dinner in my kitchen. 😉 (Yep. I’m that kind of friend.)

Anyway.

There are a lot of things I love about her—but one is that she knows how to cook! I have always wondered how to make butternut squash soup—and she shared her recipe with me. I now feel like I can do it myself. This soup has a wonderful, creamy texture and the flavor is out of this world. In fact, it was so good, we made it two weeks later for the Tyndale team when they came out for a few days of meetings. There may or may not be bisque in the book now. :)

You’ll love this more if you have an immersion blender. The one Durenda is using above didn’t survive our initial foray … so I bought this one. Yep—this one is better: Kitchen Aid immersion blender has a larger blade and two speeds. It’s amazing.

Don’t forget to top it with more cheese. Cheese makes everything better.

Thanks, Durenda!

This recipe serves eight. I have doubled it both times we made it — so if you’re serving a crowd, be sure to double it!

Enjoy xoxo
Heidi

Creamy Butternut Squash Bisque

41

Serves 8

Creamy Butternut Squash Bisque

Creamy, delicious and a great way to feed a crowd! Perfect for a cold winter night.

Ingredients

  • 1 2 1/2 pound butternut squash (or 1 pkg from Costco of cubed winter squash)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large Braeburn or Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz smoked Gouda or smoked cheddar, finely shredded
  • {optional} toppings - crumbled bacon, smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Peel, seed and cube butternut squash
  2. In 6-qt Dutch oven, melt butter over med-high heat.
  3. Add squash, onion, carrot, celery and garlic
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies are tender
  5. Add apples, broth, cider and peppers
  6. Bring to a boil; reduce heat
  7. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until veggies and apples are tender
  8. Allow to cool slightly
  9. Using an immersion blender, puree while in pot. You can also puree in a blender, in smaller batches.
  10. Blend in sour cream
  11. Blend in smoked Gouda
http://heidistjohn.com/recipes/creamy-butternut-squash-bisque

For my fellow visual learners — here are a few pictures from our bisquey adventure:

 

This is my faithful friend showing me that I don't have to be afraid of butternut squash. Veggie Tales may or may not have affected my ability to cut up butternut squash. Turns out... once you peel it and seed it, it's not that hard. :)

This is my faithful friend showing me that I don’t have to be afraid of butternut squash. Veggie Tales may or may not have affected my ability to cut up butternut squash. Turns out… once you peel it and seed it, it’s not that hard. :)

Saute veggies in butter until they are tender

Saute veggies in butter until they are tender; add apples

 

Cover with broth and apple cider. Let it cook for about 25 minutes. It's okay if your mouth starts watering.

Cover with broth and apple cider. Let it cook for about 25 minutes. It’s okay if your mouth starts watering. The chipotle peppers give it a wonderful smoky flavor and  a little kick, too!

 

Using an immersion blender, puree mixuture. Add sour cream when bisque is smooth.

Using an immersion blender, puree mixture. Add sour cream when bisque is smooth.

 

Add a bunch of smoked Gouda. Mmmmmm. You won't be sorry if you add more.

Add a bunch of smoked Gouda. Mmmmmm. You won’t be sorry if you add more.

 

Got this at Costco. I may or may not have had extra. :)

Got this at Costco. I may or may not have had extra. :)

 

Enjoy!

The Busy Mom’s Favorite Christmas Books 2016

It’s here! The most wonderful time of the year … to read!  Reading together is a favorite activity in our family, and over the years, reading aloud has become a cherished part of our family’s Christmas tradition.  I’ve spent years scoping out books at yard sales and thrift stores looking for hidden treasures to read to the kids. I won’t lie to you—I’ve also purchased some books that were total losers, and they ended right back where I found them.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I had a great response to the list of favorite Thanksgiving books last month, so I’ve compiled a few of our favorite Christmas books too, in case you needed some inspiration as you start or continue to build your own family library.
Remember, these books can be found at the library, thrift stores, eBay and a host of other places. If you’re like me, and you want to build a family library, make some room in your budget to purchase at least one or two every year. Those books will create their own special memories for you and your kids in the years to come.

ChristmasBookFavorites

 

Coupla’ things before you see the list: I think moms need to be sneaky if they’re gonna teach their children to love to read. Sneaky moms put books everywhere.

Would you like your children to read more? You can put your Christmas books into a basket and simply put them in a cozy spot, complete with couch pillows and throw blankets. Don’t be surprised when you find the kids going back to those baskets over and over again.

Some ideas:
You could wrap each one, then pull out one each day to unwrap as you count down the days.  You could pick a few favorites that lend themselves to great crafts and make a special day out of each one—or— you could grab a few that specifically teach about some of the traditions in your home.  Keep it simple, busy mom!  (Remember: Your kids won’t miss what you don’t create an expectation for.)

And for the record:
I don’t do most of that stuff I just suggested. (sorry.)  I just put books in cozy places all over the house and when the opportunity arises, we read. Voila! Take the pressure off and enjoy this literature-rich season with your children— toddlers, tweens and even teens.  Here are just a few of our family faves. Merry Christmas!Read More

Northwest Seafood Chowder

It’s that time of year again—time to snuggle in your favorite snuggling spot with a bowl of piping hot chowder and binge-watch your favorite Christmas movies. (It’s a Wonderful Life wins for me.) This is also the time of year for having kids come home and hopefully, bring a guest or two with them. You know me, I love a houseful, and this meal is a crowd-pleaser.

Northwest Seafood Chowder

We are pacific northwest people—and as such–we like all things salmon – okay – and shrimp. Okay. We like it all.

I discovered that my favorite chicken provider (hail, Zaycon!) also contracts with local fishermen for NW salmon so I decided to give it a try. It came vacuum sealed and it’s wonderful! After we knew we loved the salmon, I decided to try Zaycon cod and eventually, wild Argentine red shrimp (yum!). All this seafood comes frozen and ready to use from Zaycon. Check it out—and have wonderful seafood in your freezer all year!

Give it a try and let me know what you think! My hunch is that you’re going to love it.

From one busy mom to another,
heidi

Northwest Seafood Chowder

41

1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

2 hours

serves 15

1.5 cup

Northwest Seafood Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup red pepper
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (or from a jar is fine)
  • 30 oz chicken broth (about 3 cans)
  • 2 cups peeled, diced potatoes (can mix red and russet)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (hello, food processor!)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cans creamed corn
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 5 sprigs fresh dill, stems removed (dried will work too)
  • 4 cups fully cooked salmon
  • 1 cup cod
  • 2 cups frozen shrimp, tail off
  • 1/4 cup flour in chicken broth for thickener

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, saute celery, onion, red pepper and garlic in butter until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Add broth, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper and de-stemmed dill
  3. Bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are nearly tender.
  5. AT THE END:
  6. Stir in the corn, cream, salmon, cod and shrimp.
  7. To thicken - whip flour with 1/2 cup chicken broth and add to hot soup, stirring slowly
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes or until heated through.
  9. Add whatever dill is left and stir gently
http://heidistjohn.com/recipes/northwest-seafood-chowder

ZayconFresh

Favorite Thanksgiving Books for Families

ThanksgivingBooks

 

Yes!  Leaves are falling, candles are lit. Cider abounds. The ELECTION IS OVER! Bring it, holiday season! I’m ready for some good old fashioned holiday love. :)

I’m a little bit of a fanatic about Thanksgiving—because it allows us to be thankful for what we have without the pressure of gift exchanges. Thanksgiving offers us the chance to focus on what really matters in this life. To slow down. To reflect.

To be thankful.

Read More

Does Prayer Really Change Things?

I’ve been taking so many things to the Lord in prayer lately.
 
Dreams of a homeschool resource center near our home.
 
Concerns over the future of our country. Elections that will determine the course of a nation for generations. 
 

A desire to see my children “walking in the Truth.”Lord, help me live in such a way that my children learn to trust You!

Maybe it’s the fact that I have a five-year old and two grandsons, but the way the culture is heading has me concerned for their futures, too.  The obvious spiritual decline in our churches and moral decay of the culture have become a point of regular conversation between me and God in recent months. More prayer.

By the way, it’s worth noting that my prayers are not always so high-minded. I routinely ask God to help me with the laundry, too. It’s easy to lose sight of the eternal significance that is found in the oh-so-daily tasks of life when bigger things that are totally out of my control feel, somehow, more pressing.

Dishes, laundry, clean up, prepare meals, repeat. Pray again. Begin again. Perhaps you know what I mean.
 
This morning, I had a chance to steal a rare moment of quiet in our busy household. I took it—opening up my bedroom windows to better appreciate the sound of the rain as it hit the roof and cascaded into the gutters. 
Listening to the first real rain of the season is soul-watering for this native Oregonian. As the cool air filled my room, I noticed an old paperback by C.S. Lewis was sitting almost half-off of the bookshelf by my desk. After thumbing through “The Grand Miracle and Other Selected Essays…” I was drawn to an essay titled “Work and Prayer.” Lewis opens his short piece with this statement:
Even if I grant your point and admit that answers to prayer are theoretically possible, I shall still think they are infinitely improbable. I don’t think it at all likely that God requires the ill-informed (and contradictory) advice of us humans as to how to run the world. If He is all-wise, as you say He is, doesn’t He know already what is best? And if He is all-good, won’t He do it whether we pray or not?

The argument Lewis makes in his essay is powerful. He asserts that while God could predetermine every aspect of our lives, and while He certainly does not need our help … He chooses to let us have access to Him through prayer. Praying to our Creator offers “small creatures” like myself the dignity of being able to contribute to the course of events around us.

In other words: through prayer, we are able to modify the course of history.
 

Imagine it! The One who made the rain is, by His own decision, willing to let us bring our concerns to Him. He listens, as if to say, “let’s talk about it in My study.”

We can sway the course of events around us through our prayers.

He bends down to listen

Isn’t it amazing? We are heard by the One who made us every time we call His name. If we’re concerned enough to bring it to Him, the Bible says He bends down to listen.
 
Do you want to change the course of human history? Do you want to see revival and healing and miracles … and run your laundry through with a smile?

Take C.S. Lewis’ advice and meet Him in His study. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

And then—we’ll see.

Prayer Changes Things

Are You Desperate for Discernment in Your Mothering?

So what is discernment and how do we help our children be discerning? Spurgeon once said that

“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

spurgeon-discernment-heidistjohn

Part of being discerning is asking God for wisdom when it comes to choosing the battles we engage in. So how can we know the difference between a battle and a war? What’s worth fighting over? How do you choose your battles carefully?

I wish I had a formula that I could write here for you. Honestly? It would sell more books! We would rather be told how to do something exactly right than take the time to listen for that “still small voice” most of the time. The truth is a lot harder than that. The truth is that the only way to know is walk in humble relationship with God.

When it comes to our children, mothers need to be tight with the Lord. Every day, we need nothing short of divine wisdom to help us navigate the rough waters of the culture. We need wisdom to discern a foolish action of a child from a rebellious one. One is childish, the other is sinful. One is a skirmish, the other leads to war.

Wise moms recognize their need for discernment, and they know where to find it. Discernment is not something we have apart from God; it is something we acquire as we walk closely with Him. If you’re in a struggle with one of your children, it’s time to get on your knees and ask God for wisdom and perspective for that child. God knows exactly what’s going on. He can give you the wisdom you need.

Instead of facing all the challenges and changes of motherhood on our own, we have the Creator Himself walking alongside us. Want to know what battles are worth fighting? Ask Him.