Monday, June 22, 2009

Thanks, Job's Example, Meal Plan Monday

Thank you for bearing with me in my absence. I stayed away longer than I originally intended.

The death, funeral and burial of my step-grandfather went smoothly. The entire thing has taken a toll on my poor grandmother, who suffers from age-related dementia (age 92). And my mother, as usual, has born this burden like a true champion. Me? I just worry about and pray for everyone. It’s all I know to do. The 100-mile distance between them and me keeps me from doing much more.

I appreciate your prayers.

Job’s Example

While reading Saturday’s entry from My Utmost For His Highest, I was made aware of something I had never noticed before. The title of the entry was “Have You Come to ‘When’ Yet?” It spoke of how we demean the cleansing power of the cross when we try to make deals with God.

The author also recommends this: If we are not feeing fulfilled in Christ (in whatever manner), then we should follow Job’s example and pray for our friends. (This is what I’ve never noticed.)

The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.

Job 42:10

That hit me like a ton of brick. Job suffered unbelievable loss. He lost his family, his health and his possessions. He almost lost his faith. But he came around. And when he prayed for his friends, those who had been ill advisors, everything he lost was restored to him double what it was before.

As a believer I am to pray for others, first and foremost for their spiritual health and then for their other needs. It’s just like any other type of service. The reward comes in the offering.

I “chewed” on that all weekend.

I highly recommend Oswald Chambers’, My Utmost For His Highest. His devotions are powerful and thought-provoking. If you do not have a copy of your own, you can read it online here:

This is the today’s language version, which is the version from which I read. It’s similar to the difference between the King James and New International versions of the Bible. The message is the same.

Thanks for stopping by!

Meal Plan Monday

Monday – Pizza

Tuesday – Grilled fish (depends on what looks good at the grocery), rice, steamed broccoli

Wednesday – Cracker Barrel marinade Grilled chicken, baked potatoes, green beans

Thursday – Spaghetti or Lasagna, salad, bread

Friday – Grilled pork chops, corn on the cob, spinach

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Kings 10-11; Psalm 119:137-144; Luke 5:27-32; Philippians 2:1-11

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brief Hiatus

Hi friends. It seems I always have an excuse not to post these days. I will need to take off for a few days again, this time for good cause.

My mother's step-dad, who has been married to my grandmother since my mom was a teenager, passed away yesterday from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Those of you who know me know that this past year has been a tough one since my dad passed in March 2008. After that, my grandparents went into some sort of tailspin, and they both ended up in nursing facilities. From December to early February, my step-grandfather evolved from a walking, talking, beligerent being into a bed-ridden, fully dependent, non-coherent one.

Please pray for my grandmother, as her imagination is going all over the place. And also please pray for my mother. This past year has been tough on her. But she has come through like a trooper. God has revealed strength that she didn't know existed. I am so proud of her.

Thank you for your understanding. I hope to meet with you again next week.

Blessings and love ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Cost of Sacrifice, Menu Plan Monday

School is out, and summer break has officially begun! I don’t know who is more excited, Olivia or me. I will be happy when my habit of awaking at 5:50 a.m. is broken, however.

During my Bible reading this morning the middle part of this verse jumped out at me:

But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.

II Samuel 24:24

(emphasis added)
David had taken a census of his “fighting men” and felt guilty afterwards. My assumption is that he was feeling his oats a bit and not giving God the credit for the sheer numbers. Because of this, the Lord punished Israel. He had given David a choice of punishments, and David said he would take anything except for having his life pursued by others. So the Lord sent a plague over Israel.

After 70,000 Israelites died, the Lord stopped the plague, because it “grieved” him.

Gad the prophet told David to go to the threshing floor of a man named Araunah to build an altar and offer a sacrifice. Araunah was so honored to have the king in this household that he offered to donate the animals and materials for the altar and sacrifice. The verse above was David’s reply to him.

I think, however, the statement had deeper meaning for David. Of course, the literal interpretation applied. But David had to sacrifice another costly item that day, and that was his pride. David saw the Israelites being struck down as a result of his pride over the size of his army. And he chose a punishment that didn’t directly affect him.

Others were bearing the cost of his pride.

Jesus bore the cost of my pride at Calvary.

God stopped the plague on the Israelites, but He didn’t stop the sacrifice at Calvary. He couldn’t. And He couldn’t watch. Jesus felt the abandonment.

I’ve always heard from the pulpit that God turned away because He couldn’t look on sin. Which is true. But maybe God couldn’t look for an additional reason.

Would watching have caused Him to feel the same way He did in II Samuel 24? Could He possibly have wanted to stop the entire process?

I don’t know. It’s just a thought. He was a daddy. He loved His boy. I’m certainly not trying to make up something that isn’t so. God knew the sacrifice must be made. There was no other way. But He didn’t watch.

In another vein, I must remember that the daily offerings I make are more meaningful when they have a cost associated. If I give something that means nothing to me, then what have I offered?

Thank you, Father. As great as the cost was, thank You for loving me enough that You were willing to pay for my soul with Your Son’s life. Keep me ever mindful that nothing I have done or ever will do is enough to save myself. Remind me that I must be thoughtful when I give to You or others, whether it’s of my time, abilities or from my bounty. I want my offerings to be pleasing to You.

Menu Plan

- Leftovers (in preparation for grocery shopping Tuesday)

Tuesday - Rotisserie chicken from Sam’s, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes

Wednesday - Smoked sausage, black beans, rice

Thursday - Spaghetti, salad, bread

Friday - Out

Saturday - Pizza

Sunday - Ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, bread

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Kings 1; Psalm 119:1-8; Luke 1:1-25; Ephesians 1:1-14

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday - Thank You, Teachers!

Happy Hump Day! Although it doesn’t really feel like Wednesday. In my head, it’s only Tuesday. Maybe I’ll be caught up with myself by the weekend!

Today I am working on making thank you gifts for Olivia’s teachers. This is a sampling of what I’m doing:

They are post-it note holders and mini memo books. I still need to add ribbons to one of these. For the male teachers I am making journals (covered composition books) and matching pens. I will post a picture of those later today or tomorrow.

Olivia is in high school, and while some may think it isn’t necessary to give a thank you at that age, I must respectfully disagree. Personally, I think it is important to thank a teacher no matter the level of learning.

I am not a teacher, but I have deep respect for them. I know they do not receive the respect they once did, and that is so sad. Many pressures are put on them. They must try to effectively teach with little money, little time and many times little support from parents.

So for any of you who are teachers -- whether you are in private or public school, pre-school, daycare, Sunday school, wherever -- I want you to know this is one mom who appreciates you and all you do to make a difference in the lives of children.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Still doubling up:

II Samuel 14-17; Psalm 113-114; Mark 14:66-15:15; Galatians 3:15-4:20

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Menu Plan Monday (late)

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. I love long weekends, but they mess with my personal clock the balance of the week. It wasn’t until I went to bed last night and looked at my nightstand that I realized today was Tuesday, not Monday, and that’s when we discuss “Practicing Hospitality.” Needless to say, I didn’t stay up reading the chapter, so we will continue with Chapter 3, “Hospitality & Family,” next Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday (on Tuesday)

Here is my menu plan for this week. We had some alterations to last week’s plan. Thursday night we grabbed a quick Taco Bell meal on the way to the Challenger baseball game. We ate Thursday’s meal Friday night. Saturday night, we celebrated the long weekend by eating out again. So Sunday we ate Saturday’s planned meal, and yesterday we had Sunday’s. That will explain the repetition in meals for this week.

Monday - Steak, salad, baked potato, bread

Tuesday - Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, steamed broccoli, pasta side, bread

Wednesday - Pork chops, steamed corn, sautéed spinach

Thursday - Roast beef with carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, green beans, bread

Friday - Out (celebration of last day of school)

Saturday - Grilled chicken, baked beans, pasta salad

Sunday - Grilled burgers, slaw, oven fries

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I will be doubling up today through Wednesday, because I fell behind this weekend.

II Samuel 11-13; Psalm 111-112; Mark 14:43-65; Galatians 2-3:1-14

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun Friday - Joy

My family and I attended a Challenger League baseball game last night. In case you aren’t familiar, Challenger is a division of Little League baseball specifically for physically and mentally challenged individuals, ages 5-18 (or who have completed high school). My brother-in-law, who is a member of his local Optimist Club, heads up such a league in his community.

The game is coach-pitched, and there are four major components of the game: Everyone has a chance at bat for two innings. Everyone bats until they hit. Everyone makes it around to home plate. Everyone has a grand time.

This particular league has individuals with the most minor challenges to the most extreme ones. Some are in wheelchairs. Some need assistance batting or running the bases. Some are shy. Some egg on the crowd. ALL have smiles on their faces.

You would think these folks were playing in the World Series. They have their stances down pat, and most use their bats to point to where their ball is going to go. It took some of them ten or more swings to hit the ball.

One fellow (who had previously looked at all of us in the stands and told us about his future home runs) had so much difficulty hitting the ball that the coach switched places with him. He pitched to the coach. When the coach hit the ball, the young man took off running the bases and “slid” into home plate. He was so excited at his home run that he could barely contain himself. And then he asked all of us if we saw how far he hit the ball.

But you know what? These lovelies didn’t care how long it took to hit the ball or how far their ball went once they hit it. They didn’t care how long it took them to run the bases. They didn’t care when someone ran past them as they were running. These precious ones were just happy to BE.

The joy exhibited by the players is contagious. It spills out over the field and into the stands. I had to fight tears, because I was so moved by it all. I clapped and cheered, and I wanted to take all of them in my arms and tell them how well they were doing and how much I appreciated each of them.

I was reminded that this is how, as a Christ-follower, I am to approach life. With pure joy. In all situations. Good, bad and ugly. Oh boy, it’s so not easy.

I may reason, “Well, they’re happy because they don’t know better.” And the Holy Spirit prompts me: “You were given that same gift at Calvary.”

Thank you for that piece of Humble Pie. May I have another? (I may as well ask, because I know I will receive one sooner versus later.)

So as I go about my day (doing things I don't normally "enjoy"), I am going to thank God for the ability to do them, and I’m going to do each task for Him with joy. I pray that the joy I demonstrate will spill over and infect others. I pray that it will spill over and infect me some more so that I can carry it over to another day.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!
Down in my heart to stay!
And I’m so happy, so very happy!
I’ve found the love of Jesus in my heart!
And I’m so happy, so very happy!
I’ve found the love of Jesus in my heart!

I hope each of you has a joyful and blessed weekend!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 8-10; Psalm 110; Mark 14:32-42; Galatians 1

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday - Great Deal

Happy Wednesday to each of you. Nothing much to report here today, but I do want to share my Target shopping experience from yesterday with you.

I talked here about using coupons. There are so many folks in blogland who talk about their amazing coupon shopping experiences, but I never seemed to be able to accomplish the same as they. Until yesterday. Armed with coupons and a list, I stormed into Target yesterday with a mission. I left with this:

Here is what I paid:

  • Three boxes of Ritz crackers - $2.99 each – I used two $1 off coupons on each (Target lets you “stack” coupons as long as they are not identical coupons. One was a manufacturer’s coupon, and the other was an actual Target coupon.) Final cost - $0.99 each.

  • Four boxes of Nabisco 100 calorie packs - $2.04 each (sale price) – I used two $1 off coupons on each. Final cost - $0.04 each.

  • Two bottles of Kraft Barbecue Sauce - $0.99 each (sale price) – I used one $1 off coupon on each. Final cost – Free, plus $0.01 overage (couponers call these “moneymakers”)

  • One can of Skintimates Shaving Gel - $2.24 – I used one $1 off coupon and one $0.75 off coupon. Final cost - $0.54.

  • Two Bliss candy bars - $0.99 each – I used one $1 off coupon on each. Final cost – Free, no overage on these

  • One Dove Go Fresh trial size deodorant – $0.97 - I used one $1 off coupon that didn’t exclude trial size. Final cost – Free., plus $0.03 overage

  • One Axe trial size shower gel – I used one $1.25 coupon that didn’t exclude trial size. Final cost – Free, plus $0.28 overage

My final cost for all this was $6.30! According to the receipt, I saved $22.84, so using coupons, I saved 78%! That’s pretty amazing. (Even more unbelievable is that little dab of stuff would have cost nearly $30 without the coupons.)

What’s odd is even though I experienced amazing savings, I felt funny in the check-out lane while the clerk was scanning all those coupons. And I felt funny about the way I went about getting the deals (“stacking” the coupons). It’s legal and goes with store policy. But I felt sneaky afterward. I don’t know whether anyone else feels this way.

When I went to Meijer, I used coupons in my normal way (one per item), and I saved $15.00 off of an $83.00 total, which is an 18% savings. I felt fine with that one.

I think I’ll just stick to that method from now on. How about you? If it goes with store policy, are you all right with stacking coupons to get a great deal?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 3-4; Psalm 108; Mark 14:1-11; II Corinthians 12:11-21

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Practicing Hospitality

Practicing Hospitality - Chapter Two: Hospitality & Strangers

I am continuing my discussion of the book Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others, by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. If you do not have a copy of the book you can read online here. I think you are limited to reading 30 pages in a 24-hour time period.

Today I am reviewing Chapter Two: Hospitality & Strangers. The base scripture for this chapter is Hebrews 13:2:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Paul urges the Romans in chapter 12 of his letter to them to pursue hospitality. He explains believers should live in a way pleasing toward God because of God’s grace and mercy. Paul considers this a no-brainer. We should demonstrate our love for one another in a practical way. This is hospitality.

I have the tendency to confuse hospitality with entertainment. I must remember that entertainment focuses on appearances. Biblical hospitality is demonstration of love. By practicing hospitality we show our love for God.

We should practice hospitality with a willing heart and with a good attitude. Grumbling and complaining lessens the act to that of a sin. If we are cheerful when we give, we do not mind the sacrifices, if any, and it is pleasing to God. (II Corinthians 9:7) If we practice hospitality as a form of giving, we lose all expectations of receiving anything in return.

As Christians, we should extend hospitality with a willing spirit, with a joyful heart, and with an enthusiastic attitude. We must not save acts of hospitality for emergencies, holidays or special needs. Because we love people, hospitality should be practiced daily, and we should look for opportunities to do so.

Hospitality should be extended to strangers as well as friends and relatives. “Strangers” could include other believers, widows and orphans, unbelievers, the poor and needy, missionaries or Christian workers, or foreigners.

The way we practice hospitality varies according to the individual’s need. We should focus on those needs. If someone needs food, we feed them. If they need shelter, we provide a place of rest. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, we listen and encourage based on God’s Word.

Our character is defined by how hospitable we are. God’s love, mercy and compassion toward needy people is modeled by our hospitality. In this way we show that we (1) love God and (2) love others. (Mark 12:29-31)

Old Testament hospitality was practiced far different than what we think of today. According to the customs then, hospitality was extended to not only friends and family, but also to strangers and sometimes enemies. If someone was in need when he approached the home of another, the host would accommodate that need with whatever he had in his possession. Wow. It was a cultural and religious duty that was offered with friendship.

By practicing hospitality we are demonstrating in a practical way our love for God and others. To be successful we must understand the Biblical definition of hospitality. (Hebrews 12:1-2) When we do this, we are not simply “Christian event planners.” Our plan has a Godly purpose, and vice versa. It is a reflection of God’s nature.

After reading this week's chapter and learning the Biblical definition of hospiality, I realize I practice hospitality more often than I originally thought. I now know that it is simply the same as showing love for others with my actions.

Next week is Chapter Three: Hospitality & Family.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

II Samuel 1-2; Psalm 107; Mark 13:32-37; II Corinthians 11:16-33

Monday, May 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Hello friends. I hope each of you had a restful weekend and are now refreshed and strengthened to begin a new week. I love Mondays. It’s like passing “Go” in Monopoly. I may not actually receive $200, but I get a fresh start.

Just like today. I have a menu plan to post. If you recall, I fell off the menu planning wagon last week, and as a result, dinner preparation was no fun. We got by, but it would have been much easier with a plan. It feels great to be back on track.

Menu Plan

Monday – Spaghetti (meat sauce or meatballs, TBD), salad, bread

Tuesday – Rotisserie Chicken (Sam’s – grocery day treat), steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, bread

Wednesday – Black beans & rice with smoked turkey sausage

Thursday – Country-style ribs, sauerkraut, pinto beans, baked apples

Friday – Out

Saturday – Pizza

Sunday – Steaks, salad, baked potatoes

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 29-31; Psalm 106:24-48; Mark 13:14-31; II Corinthians 11:16-33

As I was reading the New Testament portion of my Daily Bible Reading Plan, I was struck by something Paul said in II Corinthians 11:3-4:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about their slack attitudes toward those who would present something other than the true gospel to them. The last phrase “you put up with it easily enough” made me take pause. Am I guilty of this? Am I accepting of things that are contrary to those that Jesus taught?

This has given me something to ponder today. In this day and age, it would be easy enough to fall prey to teachings of those who desire to lead us toward something other than The Way.

I must pray for wisdom to be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting, guiding and teaching. I must also pray to stay alert and not grow lazy in my daily walk with Christ.

In fact, this is my prayer for all believers today.

Blessings and peace to each of you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Think About It Thursday

During the day I listen to talk radio. It is primarily conservative in theme. Sometimes, however, I get weary from listening and turn it off. My mind gets full to the brim with news of the United States’ current state of affairs. It seems there is never positive and upbeat news to report. More often than not, I will find myself feeling heavy and low based on what I’m hearing.

But then I read something like I read today in Psalm 104. It’s a long chapter, so I won’t copy here. The psalmist is writing of the majesty of God and describes in detail many things He did to form the heavens and the earth. He spoke these things into being. That’s all. God didn’t break a sweat or get dirt underneath his fingernails. He simply said, “Let it be,” and it was.

This brings my awareness back to God and His magnitude. All the things I hear discussed in the news are man’s doings. No man, not even the U.S. President with a majority congress, can speak things into existence. If God doesn’t want it to happen, it won’t. He can take man’s stupidity and turn it around for His glory. We can’t always see the sense in things, but God knows the “rest of the story.”

So if I choose to listen to or read the news, I intend to use it as a prayer request. If my God can create the world in a manner of days by simply speaking it into existence, then He certainly can handle the misguided attempts of men with their own agendas. And I will remind myself I have nothing to fear.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 21-23; Psalm 104; Mark 12:28-34; II Corinthians 9

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday

I’m having one of those weeks where I’m just about half a beat off. I really can’t explain it. I’ll blame it on hormones. They’re always handy.

Anyway, there won’t be a meal plan this week. I’ll tell you what we have had thus far. Monday night we had pancakes with blueberry sauce, bacon and fruit salad. Last night Olivia made sloppy joes, and we ate leftover potato salad and baked beans. Tonight Steve is going out to dinner with business associates, so Olivia and I will have smorgasbord from the refrigerator.

I'll return with a meal plan next Monday.

And I’ll carry over discussion of Chapter 2 of the book Practicing Hospitality until next Tuesday.

But since it’s What’s Up? Wednesday, I’ll tell you what’s up. Yesterday I worked in the yard most of the day. I mowed, weeded and planted. Part of my planting included creating this:

They are called Topsy Pots. I learned of this from a source online a few years ago and erected a set at our previous house. They are a great conversation piece, and over time they become quite lovely.

I thought I would share the process with you in case you’d like to make a set of your own.

First you need:

  • One 4-to-6-foot piece of rebar. Mine is 5-feet. I bought a 10-foot piece at the home improvement store and cut it in half with a hacksaw.

  • Pots of various sizes. For my 5-foot piece of rebar I used 6 pots. I chose terra cotta, because there is already a drain hole in the bottom. If you are feeling extremely creative, however, you can use any container. It simply needs a hole in the bottom large enough for the rebar to pass through. I’ve seen really cute ones made from watering cans, galvanized buckets, etc.

  • Coffee filters. I put these in the bottom of the pots to keep all the dirt from draining out.

  • Potting soil

  • Plants. You can use plants of your choice, but I suggest you have at least one type that will vine or cascade over the edge of your pot. This adds to the attractiveness of the set. I used asparagus fern. In the past I have also used vinca. Verbena would probably work well, also.

Drive your rebar down into the ground where you want the pots to stand. It simply needs to be non-wiggly.

Next, slide your largest pot down over the rebar onto the ground. Slip a coffee filter down over the rebar and into the bottom of the pot. Lay in some gravel or packing peanuts for drainage.

Fill your pot with soil.

Now, slide your next-to-largest pot down over the rebar and tilt it over to one side, using the soil as a foundation. Insert a coffee filter, drainage material and soil.

Select your next pot and slide it down over the rebar. This time, however, place it on the edge of the pot below and tilt. Insert a coffee filter, drainage material and soil.

Complete the pattern until you have reached the top of your rebar.

Now add plants of your choice and enjoy!

If you try this, please post a pic so we can all see, okay?

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 19-20; Psalm 103; Mark 12:13-27; II Corinthians 8

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

We were gone all day yesterday, and my brain is in a bit of a fog this morning, so Menu Plan Monday will be delayed until later on today. In the meantime, I want to congratulate “W” and “D” for winning the giveaway notecards. They commented on encouragement last week. I couldn’t bring myself conduct a drawing with two names, so they each will receive a set of notecards. Congratulations, ladies!

I hope you mothers enjoyed a nice day yesterday. I had a lovely weekend. My family made dinner for me Saturday evening. I don’t know which I enjoyed most – the meal or not having to cook and clean up! It was all great.

Yesterday we went to visit my mom. We kids made lunch so Mama wouldn’t have to. It was a wonderful visit and a lovely day.

I went to church with my mom yesterday. The pastor’s wife delivered the Mother’s Day message. It was very good. I thought I would recap her thoughts for you here.

She began by speaking of the influential mother figures in her own life. As she listed them, I thought of the women who have influenced me in a motherly way. I have even encountered them in my adult life. I hope I continue to do so.

First and foremost, a Godly mother needs to pray for her children. Not only should she pray for them, she needs to pray with them. By doing this, for even the least things, we teach our children that we can always turn to the Lord with our concerns.

Next, a Godly mother needs to exercise patience. God is patient (boy, is He) with us, so why can’t we be patient with our children? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and probably one of the more difficult ones to produce. This point reminded me of my favorite Bible verse, and the one on which this blog is named, Lamentations 3:22, 23:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Finally, a Godly mother needs to praise her children and exercise grace towards them. Remember the positive things. Teach with the negative ones. There will always be a need for discipline, but a child who knows he is loved and who has been trained properly will know that discipline is a consequence of poor behavior, not a slam on them personally.

The underlying theme of these three points is that Godly mothers must be a living example for their children. If we don’t demonstrate prayer, patience and praise in front of them, how will they learn? God has demonstrated those things for us.

The speaker closed with Psalm 103:8-14, wherein she substituted the word “mother” for God:
A mother is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. She will not always accuse, nor will she harbor her anger forever; she does not treat her children as their sins deserve or repay them according to their iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is a mother’s love for her children; as far as the east is from the west, so far has she forgotten her children’s wrongdoings. As the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; so does a mother have compassion on her children, for she knows how they were formed, she remembers that they are dust.

That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by. Check back later for Menu Plan Monday.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 15-16; Psalm 101; Mark 11:27-33; II Corinthians 6

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I am dedicating today’s post to my mother and all the mothers who stop by. The little story that follows epitomizes motherhood (or so it does to me).

So Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms, whether you have children of your own or whether you’re a mom in spirit. We wouldn’t be here without you!

I love you, Mama!

Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother's watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, "this kid is driving me CRAZY!"

But at night time, when that two-year-old was quiet, she opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor, looked up over the side of his bed; and if he was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The little boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was nine years old. And he never wanted to come in for dinner, he never wanted to take a bath, and when grandma visited he always said bad words. Sometimes his mother wanted to sell him to the zoo!

But at night time, when he was asleep, the mother quietly opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep, she picked up that nine-year-old boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a teenager. He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music. Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo!

But at night time, when that teenager was asleep, the mother opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep she picked up that great big boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

That teenager grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a grown-up man. He left home and got a house across town.

But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town. If all the lights in her son's house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed. If that great big man was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, "You'd better come see me because I'm very old and sick." So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always...

But she couldn't finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my Mommy you'll be.

When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs. Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and very slowly rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while he rocked her he sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

(Originally taken from the book by Robert Munsch.)

Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 14; Psalm 100; Mark 11:12-36; II Corinthians 5

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Think About It Thursday - Swagbucks

Search & Win

I once used Google quite often when I need to find a quick answer online.

Recently I learned about Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an online search engine that gives points/rewards for online searches. I read of someone who had earned enough in Swagbucks over four months to trade for hundreds of dollars in gift cards.

Swagbucks is very simple to sign up for. There are no fees. No credit card is required. And no phone number or address is requested.

You immediately receive 3 points credited to your account. You have the option to download the toolbar. As you search online you will earn a few more points. You can shop from their store with only 1 point. You can get a free $5 Amazon gift card for 45 points. A Starbucks gift card can be yours for 50 points. There are countless prizes.

Greater rewards occur when you refer others. Your points will then multiply by leaps and bounds.

Tell your friends about Swagbucks and give them your referral link. You will earn points for the referral, and you will also earn points for their online searches.

The more people you tell, the more points you earn. The more points you earn, the more free stuff you get. Lavonne funded her entire Christmas budget with free gift cards from Swagbucks. No joke! See her post here with the details.

Since early March I have earned 60 points with my own searches (no referrals).

You have absolutely nothing to lose and some free stuff to gain! Go here to sign up!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 11-13; Psalm 99; Mark 11:1-11; II Corinthians 4

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday & Giveaway

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about encouragement. It seems to be a common theme for me lately. (See a previous post here about being a blessing to others.)

It fills me to the gills when someone gives me warm fuzzies. But it’s not a one-way street. If I want to be encouraged by others, I must be willing to do the same.

In attempting to assess my encouragement skills, I looked up the word “encourage” in Webster’s:

1 to give courage, hope, or confidence to; embolden; hearten 2 to give support to; be favorable to; foster; help
When I measure myself against that definition, I realize I have much work to do to be an effective encourager. I am better at times than others, and I am much better at lifting up those outside my immediate family. Why is that? Why is it that the people whom I love the most in this world receive less from me than I am willing to give others? My biggest prayer is that I improve in this area.

Encouraging is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8), but I believe anyone can become an encourager, especially if they have the Godly desire to do so. God put us on the earth together to be a support for one another. He is surely going to grant us the grace to grow as encouragers if we so ask.

There are many ways I can encourage others. I can speak uplifting words to them. I can send a card or a note. I can hug someone. I can sit next to someone who may be sitting alone.

When I attempt to think of ways to encourage someone, I think of what would lift my spirits personally. And then I try it.

I personally am better at offering the written word than I am the spoken word. When I write, I take time to contemplate what I am going to put forth. For this reason, I like to encourage people with cards and notes.

But it doesn’t need to stop there. I must be alert at all times watching for those who may need just one tiny bit of love from me. I may be the only Jesus they see or hear all day.

How about you? How do you like to encourage others? What lifts your spirits?


I have a set of five personalized notecards I’d love to give away. They will be the same color scheme as the one shown, but of course, I will use the winner’s chosen initial. Simply leave a comment about today’s post with your thoughts on being encouraged by others and encouraging others. You have until Friday, May 8 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. At that time, I will print the comments and draw one from a “hat.” Be sure to include your e-mail address (it won’t be seen online) so I can contact you if you win.

Note: If you have difficulty posting and are forced to post as "Anonymous," please include your first name and last initial in the comment. I am still learning how this works, so I appreciate your patience.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 9-10; Psalm 98; Mark 10:35-52; II Corinthians 3

I’ve enjoyed our time together today!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Practicing Hospitality - Week 1

Today begins my weekly discussion of the book “Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others” by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. It is my desire to be a good hostess and to do so with the right motives and proper attitudes. I hope to gain insight from this book about how to achieve such a goal and how to do so from a Christian perspective.

If you do not have the book, you can order it here or read online here. I think you are limited to reading 30 pages in a 24-hour time period.

The authors state in the Introduction:

Our book focuses on developing both the Christian character and practical skills so that the act of hospitality is a joy for the host and hostess and a source of encouragement for the guest.
Sign me up!

Chapter 1 is entitled “Hospitality and Character.” The authors use the word “Hospitality” to create an anagram to describe a person of Christian character who practices hospitality:

I-Interested in Integrity
A-Adopted into God’s Family
L-Led by the Spirit
I-Instrumental in Producing Righteousness

They use scripture to back up each criterion. I’ll summarize each one.

Humble (I Peter 5:5, Matthew 5:3) - Sometimes I must step out of my comfort zone to practice hospitality. Maybe I feel inferior to someone or I think my home isn’t decorated properly, or … or … or … . I need to set aside that measure of pride in order to serve properly.

Obedient (Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, I Peter 4:9) - Scripture tells me to be hospitable. And I am to be obedient to scripture. On top of that, I must be obedient with a proper attitude and serve as unto the Lord. I don’t know how my act of hospitality may influence others toward Christ.

Sincere (Philippians 1:10) - In order to please the Father, I must be sincere when I extend hospitality. I must be genuine.

Prayerful (I Thessalonians 5:17) - I must ask the Father to give me the grace to practice hospitality in the proper manner, one that brings glory to Him.

Interested in Integrity (Psalm 25:21) - I must be willing to choose what is right when given the choice, even if it is not the popular choice.

Trustworthy (Proverbs 31:11) - People whom I serve must be able to trust that my motives are pure and that I will not turn them away or betray their confidences

Adopted into God’s Family (Romans 8:15) - I am adopted as a child of God. My actions must reflect the character of my Father.

Led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) - I must live the life of a Godly woman.

Instrumental in Producing Righteousness (Romans 6:12-13, II Corinthians 10:5) - I must choose to think pure thoughts, take my worries to God, and pray for his guidance.

Thankful (Colossians 3:15) - I must be content with my circumstances and practice thanksgiving for the things (concrete and abstract) that I have.

Yielded (Romans 6:19) – I show my love to the Father when I practice what he preaches. I must be willing to follow his lead.

What I found most interesting about this first chapter is that these are things I need to apply to my life as a Christian, regardless of my season or regardless of whether I'm exercising hospitality in my home. It’s just how I am supposed to live.

What do you think? Do you have any insight or anything you’d like to add? I’d love to know your thoughts. It gets lonely talking to myself!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 6-8; Psalm 97; Matthew 10:17-34; II Corinthians 2

Thank you for visiting with me today. I hope your day is full of blessings!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sock Update, Meal Plan Monday

Sock Update

Remember the pile of socks I showed you on Thursday? I successfully sorted through them. It didn’t take very long at all. The results? Hang on to your hats. I had forty-nine (49) pairs of socks, twenty (20) leftover socks (that I am keeping in case their partners appear) and one pair of gloves. Gloves? The gloves went back to their home in the foyer closet. That means there were 118 socks in that pile. The basket didn't look that full.

Steve and Olivia reaped the greatest benefits of this sock-sorting marathon. I had two or three pair in the mix. They were surprised to see how many socks they were actually missing.

So there you have it. I can’t throw away anything. But this time it was a good thing. The sock drawer overfloweth.

Meal Plan

Monday – Leftovers from Saturday’s Mexican feast (was yummy)
Tuesday – Chicken Scampi, salad, bread
Wednesday – Crockpot roast beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, green beans, bread
Thursday – Bean Soup, cornbread
Friday – Chicken wings, onion rings
Saturday – Pizza
Sunday – TBD

For more menu plan ideas, go here. Today she has a list of criteria she uses to select recipes. Very interesting.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

I Samuel 3-5; Psalm 96; Matthew 10:1-16; II Corinthians 1:12-24

You know, I am amazed at how I can see things as if for the first time when I read the Bible. Friday I began reading in I Samuel. I have read the story of Samuel many times. Usually my focus was on Hannah, her barrenness and how she prayed to have a son of her own. And it is wonderful to see how God honored Hannah’s faithfulness.

What I saw Friday, however, was Elkanah, Hannah’s husband. Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, and she bore sons and daughters for Elkanah. He was a faithful man and regularly offered sacrifices to the Lord. When he did, he gave portions of the meat to his wife, Peninnah and her sons and daughters. However, to Hannah “he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.”

He loved her. The Bible says so. It must have been an amazing love if it was notable enough to record in scripture. Here’s additional proof:

Each year Hannah went to the temple, Peninnah teased and tormented her about her inability to have children. Hannah would become so distraught she would cry and lose her appetite.

When Elkanah would see Hannah crying, his response was, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?"

I think that’s one of the sweetest things between husband and wife I have seen recorded in the Bible. Yes, Isaac loved Rebeccah, and Jacob loved Rachel. Solomon really loved someone (read the book), Hosea loved Gomer, and Joseph loved Mary. But Elkanah’s words touched my heart. He wanted to comfort her by letting her know (in his way) that it didn’t matter to him that she had no children. He loved her. Precious.

So Elkanah receives my Best Bible Husband award – at least for now.

I hope you have a great day! Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings and hugs!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Think About It Thursday - Do you ever wonder ...

... where socks disappear to in the laundry?

This is a pile of socks that I have accumulated over a couple of years.

When I have a mismatched sock, I lay it on top of the dryer. If, after a couple of weeks of washes a mate doesn't appear, I toss it in a basket that I have on a shelf above the washer.

After ignoring it for far too long, I decided today to try and match up any pairs that may have made it into the basket. Whatever is left -- well, I'm not sure. I have a hard time throwing away anything that may have a future use. So we'll see.

I'll report my results to you tomorrow.

How do you deal with your mismatched socks? Any ideas for the lonely mates?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Ruth 4; Psalm 94; Mark 9:14-32; I Corinthians 16

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday

What's up here? Not much, for which I'm thankful. I like peaceful times. Sometimes I wonder if people are so busy that they are frightened when there's nothing going on. They don't know how to handle the quiet.

Oh, there's plenty to do. But as I sit here typing with the windows open, none of that is on my mind. I am savoring the sounds of the outdoors. The birds are blessing me with their sweet songs. And I am thankful.

If you watch, listen to or read the news, you can easily become overwhelmed with all that's put before you. I listen to a lot of talk radio -- a mix of "conservative" and Christian -- and even that gets too heavy at times. The economy, government, politics, swine flu, on and on and on it goes. My mind sometimes feels as if it's going to explode.

It's times like these the Lord intervenes. Today I read Psalm 93. It says:

1 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

3 The seas have lifted up, O LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.

5 Your statutes stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days, O LORD.

God is still alive and on the throne. Nothing is bigger than He. Not the economy. Not the U.S. Government. Not politicians. Not swine flu. Nothing.

He is in control.

So today, I'm going to rest in that reality. And I'm going to savor it. It is good.

Won't you join me?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Ruth 2-3; Psalm 93; Mark 9:1-13; I Corinthians 15:29-58

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Hospitality

I will admit to you that I am not a gifted hostess. Oh, I know plenty of proper procedures for planning and preparing for guests. That’s not where my problem lies.

After much contemplation, I realize I am not a good hostess because I am a perfectionist. Now I am not saying that all perfectionists are inadequate hostesses. I am strictly speaking of myself.

We can invite guests to visit our home, and I begin dreading the occasion the very moment the invitation is offered. This has absolutely nothing to do with the people I have invited. Anyone I invite to my home is someone I care about. I want to spend time with them, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked them to come.

The dread comes from thinking about the preparation for the visit.

I am an expert at making everything more difficult than it has to be. I don’t do anything in a relaxed way. All tasks must be done methodically and in order. These are not criticisms of me. They are just facts.

Here’s how it goes: Invitation issued. What will we serve? Make a list. Do I have everything, or do I need to go to the grocery? Grocery. Make a list. The house needs to be cleaned top to bottom. Make a list of things to do. Uh oh. What if they look in that closet? I need to clean that, too. Why didn’t I get those curtains made? Do I have time to do that? Probably not. And on and on it goes.

By the time my guests arrive, I’m exhausted.

Once they’re here, I’m hustling and bustling about trying to make sure everything is “just right.” Do they need something to drink? How about food? Is the temperature okay? Do I need to adjust the thermostat? Is the TV or music too loud or not loud enough? What can I get you? Anything? Just let me know, okay? No, you sit down while I clean up the dishes. It’ll just be a minute.

CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(For those of too young to remember, that’s reference to a 70’s-80’s commercial for Calgon bath oil beads.)

I want to be a good hostess. I want to be a relaxed hostess. But I realize I’m going to have to overcome some things to achieve that goal. And I can’t do it alone. I must call on the Lord and glean from those who have gone before.

Yesterday I received a book I ordered entitled, “Practicing Hospitality: The Joy Of Serving Others,” by Patricia Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. These two home economists take a scriptural approach to hospitality. Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking has recently had an online study of this book. I intend to read her perspectives, but I intend to post my own perspectives here. Please feel free to join me. I will probably begin my discussion on Tuesday of next week.

How about you? Do you enjoy practicing hospitality? Please share some of your tips. I can use all the help I can get.

For now, however, I must begin my day. This is grocery shopping day. I haven’t been for four weeks, so it’s going to be a busy one!

I hope you have a wonderful day, as well!

Hugs and blessings!

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Ruth 1; Psalm 92; Mark 8:31-38; I Corinthians 15:1-28

Monday, April 27, 2009

Make Me A Blessing, Menu Plan Monday

Jon at Stuff Christians Like recently asked readers to share an anthem that is currently playing in the background of their lives. It could be a song, a poem, scripture – anything that provides a theme for where they are personally. He was going to select three for a giveaway.

myjoy was one of those selected for the giveaway. Her post touched my heart. I want to share it with you here:

My anthem right now is Ephesians 4:29, it's everywhere around me, in sermons, in studies, on TV, everywhere! God is clearly trying to tell me something.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

God is challenging me to have everyone be better off than before they talked to me.

And today I just had a revelation. It's not just directed at other people. It's also about what I tell myself. Is my internal dialogue helpful for building me up? Or am I tearing myself down? Am I better off after hearing my own voice, than when I started? Or do I remain dejected, discouraged?

So I pray God will use this verse to change my heart, to tame my tongue, that the same mouth I use to bless His name I do not use to curse others or myself. (emphasis added)

I’ve really been thinking about this a great deal. How many times have I been guilty of letting my words tear down instead of build up? I am especially guilty of this with my family.

I am joining myjoy in praying that I, through my words, can be a blessing to others. And additionally, I pray that the Spirit will plant those words.

Though I don’t have personal contact with a great number of people on a daily or even weekly basis, I have the potential of touching others through this site. Hopefully those who visit will leave encouraged, whether it’s through discussions like this or from reading tips or hints or how-to’s that we might share with one another.

Make me a blessing! Make me a blessing!
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, Oh Savior I pray!
Make me a blessing to someone today!

Thanks for visiting. God bless your day.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday - Lasagna, Salad, Bread
Tuesday - Rotisserie Chicken (from Sam’s), green beans, corn on the cob
Wednesday - Grilled Salmon or Mahi (whichever is the best buy), steamed broccoli, parsley red potatoes
Thursday - Grilled pork chops, sautéed spinach, rice w/vegetables
Friday - Grilled hamburgers, oven fries, baked beans
Saturday (Derby Day Guests ) - Mexican Bar: grilled and shredded flank stank and chicken, black beans, refried beans, Mexican rice, guacamole, cheese dip, salsa, vegetable tray, fruit tray, Derby Pie (naturally)
Sunday - Out

For other menu planning ideas, check out Menu Plan Monday at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 20-21; Psalm 91; Mark 8:22-30; I Corinthians 14:26-40

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Think About It Thursday - Praise Report, Using Coupons

Praise Report

I reported to you recently that Gregory, the baby who was facing liver transplant, was having follow-up bloodwork. Those results were returned yesterday, and I am thrilled to report to you that Gregory does not need a liver transplant! The doctor said it was a miracle. Of course, I know it was a miracle, and I give God all the glory. He is so good! Thank you for joining me in prayer for Gregory.

Using Coupons

There is a growing trend for using coupons. People are trying to stretch their dollars. It is jaw-dropping to see how people can save in excess of 90% off their total grocery bill.

Crystal over at Money Saving Mom is an amazing coupon shopper. Check out her website and see all the tips and techniques she offers for using coupons and taking advantage of in-store programs at CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid. You will be surprised at the deals available. Crystal posts weekly savings to go along with the coupons offered in the Sunday paper. She also posts links to online coupons and deals. If you are at all interested in learning how to effectively use coupons, I highly recommend her site.

I have learned if I want to be an effective coupon shopper:

  • I cannot be brand loyal. I must be willing to use any shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper or laundry detergent or eat any peanut butter, frozen vegetable, cheese or bread.

  • I must study the grocery ads, comparing coupons to sales, and plan my meals and grocery trips accordingly.

  • I must shop at more than one grocery store.

I don’t know whether I will ever master the art of using coupons. I use them regularly, but I can’t seem to get the knack for getting nearly-free groceries by using them.

I try to keep my groceries to $150 every two weeks. That’s for two adults and one teenager, and that’s for everything – food, household goods and health and beauty items. I check the sales and buy extra of the best buys (especially meat, which I freeze) for future use. One trip I may buy a great deal of meat. The next trip I may buy household goods like cleaning items. It never plays out the same way. I buy many store brand items. If I have coupons, they give me bonus savings.

Once a month or so I will go to Aldi or Save-A-Lot to buy bulk quantities of staple items like canned goods, sugar, rice, etc. If you have never shopped at either of these stores, please give them a try. I like them equally as well.

If you go to Aldi, take your own bags or be prepared to buy theirs (five cents/bag for paper, ten cents/bag for plastic). And take a quarter to use their shopping carts. (You get it back when you’re finished.) I find many of their products are equally as good as name-brand. Money Saving Mom also explains effective ways for shopping at Aldi.

I am also a Sam's shopper. I have found there are certain things which it pays to buy in bulk. Yeast is the number one thing. Three little envelopes of yeast at the grocery are at best $1. There is 1/4 ounce in each envelope, so you are getting 3/4 ounce of yeast for $1, or $1.33/ounce. At Sam's, I can get two pounds (32 ounces) of yeast for $3.65. That's roughly $0.11 per ounce. Two pounds of yeast at the grocery would cost me $42.56! So if you bake and have a Sam's membership (I can't speak for Costco or any other membership clubs), buy your yeast at Sam's. Put it in the freezer. It will keep for a long time.

Do you use coupons? What shopping methods work best for you? Do you shop with a budget? Please share your methods. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 16; Psalm 89:1-18; Mark 7:24-37; I Corinthians 12:14-31

Thanks for visiting! I hope you have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Up? Wednesday - Routines, Spiritual Gifts

Good Wednesday morning to you! It is a beautiful day in the Ohio Valley. For the next several days, the weatherman “predicts” we are going to have sun and temps to the high-70’s and low-80’s. Wow!

I am not so much a creature of habit as I am one of structure. Even though some days I fly by the seat of my pants, I am more productive when I have a plan. It keeps me calm. And when I am calm, my family is calm … usually.

During much of 2008 my life was chaotic. It was not chaotic in the sense that I had too many activities to fit comfortably with our lifestyle. It was for reasons beyond my control.

In that time, if I accomplished anything remotely productive, it seemed miraculous. Doing laundry was as big a chore as blasting through a mountain with firecrackers. Having no routine caused me even more frustration. After spending so much time without any structure, it became habit.

I continued this way until recently when I decided I must make a change. So I sat down with pen and paper, asked God to give me guidance and jotted down a general weekly routine for myself.

I am not married to this routine. I have the freedom to manipulate it if necessary. But it is there as a guide to my day. If I accomplish the tasks at-hand, then that’s good. If not, then I can do them another time. I do not intend to use the list to beat myself. Right now it’s what works for me.

How about you? Do you follow a routine? I’d love to hear whether you like structure or whether structure gets under your skin. Please share your thoughts.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 13-15; Psalm 88; Mark 7:1-23; I Corinthians 12:1-13

Today’s reading in I Corinthians is about spiritual gifts. Reading this helps me understand why I’m wired to need structure. Even though the need for structure and organization is not a spiritual gift, it is a personality trait that can be used for good. If everyone were like me, we’d be fighting about whose plan was best. Likewise, we can’t all be free spirits. Having a good mix of both allows us to function well and work as one.

Isn’t it just like God? Paul says in I Corinthians 12:7-11:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (emphasis added)
Paul also spoke of gifts earlier in Romans 12:6-8 when he said:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (emphasis added)
Separate, we are just “different” from each other. Together, as the body of Christ, we are “complimentary” to each other, especially when we are each practicing our gifts. It's beautiful when you think about it.

I am aware of my spiritual gifts. (I definitely know the ones I don't possess.) Do you know yours?

I enjoyed our visit today! Come back again soon!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - White Sauce

White Sauce

I have learned many practical cooking skills over the years. My mom, my home economics teachers and the cooks on Food Network have provided this valuable information.

One of the valuable techniques my home economics teachers taught me was how to make a white sauce. I have found that knowing how to make white sauce gives me a base to create a variety of sauces.

There are three components to white sauce -- fat (butter, margarine, oil, drippings, etc.), flour (which is the emulsifier) and milk. The measurements are tablespoons for the fat and flour and cups for the liquid.

To make one cup of white sauce, you will need 1 Tablespoon butter, 1 Tablespoon flour and 1 cup milk.

Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium-low to medium heat. Be careful not to burn.

To the butter, add 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour.

Cook and stir about one minute so the flour will lose its "raw" taste.

Slowly add one cup of milk. Add salt to taste.

Cook and stir until sauce thickens (this took about 5 minutes). You may need to slightly increase the heat.

Voila! White sauce!

Now if I want cheese sauce to serve over something or to make mac-n-cheese or broccoli casserole, I need to add one cup of shredded cheese, any flavor, at the end, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Another variation is to add some parsley (fresh or dried) at the end and add to drained, boiled potatoes for "Parsley Potatoes."

To make a tasty pasta side dish, boil 1 pound of your favorite pasta to al dente (we like penne). Drain and set aside. Saute two cloves of garlic in the butter before adding the flour. At the end of the white sauce process, add parsley and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. Pour over the pasta.

This technique is the same you use for white "milk" gravy like we're going to have for dinner tonight. After frying the chicken breasts, I will add flour to the drippings in the pan, salt and pepper to taste, and then milk, stirring until it is thick.

Do you make white sauce? Do you have any variations you'd like to share? Post them here. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 10-12; Psalm 87; Mark 6:45-56; I Corinthians 11:17-34

Thanks for visiting! Have a great day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meal Plan Monday & Contest Winner

Hope you had a great weekend. I certainly did. My family and I attended “Thunder Over Louisville,” the opening festivities for the Kentucky Derby Festival. “Thunder” is an all-day event that includes a spectacular air show and the largest fireworks display in North America. We packed a cooler and a picnic basket and made a day of it. The Lord blessed us with perfect weather for the occasion – 75 degrees and sunny. It was a glorious day, and the air show and fireworks were worth the wait. I think it was best we have seen. If you ever get the opportunity to go, I highly recommend it. There are crowds (700,000+ in attendance) and traffic, but if you go with the mindset that it’s only a once-a-year opportunity, then it all works out.


I posted a contest Friday to see if you could guess how many bags I had stored in the bottom of my kitchen pantry. My friend, Diane, had technical difficulties posting, so she e-mailed me her comment:

Whew girl! You have a pile there. Okay, my guess is 98. How do we use our bags? A uses them to do his pooper scooper job after our dog Sally, kids use them sometimes to carry their school lunch in when a container doesn't fit into a brown lunch sack, S uses them to put weeds in from the yard, keep one in the van for trash, use them to put the boys' muddy shoes/cleats in before they get in the car, ....that's all that comes to mind right now.

So, where are the bags going now???
There were actually 97 bags in that pile. So congratulations, Diane, you are the winner! Thanks for trying, Cindy! Come on, guys! Don’t be shy! I have changed my comment options so that anyone can comment without having to join anything, but all comments will be subject to moderation.

The prize? Diane wins two reusable grocery bags handmade by me.

They are patterned after a Target shopping bag using a tutorial I found here. This is an easy tutorial to follow.

The bags are made from 100% cotton which makes them washable and very durable. They hold several items without fear of breaking. I attached a piece of elastic so the bag can be attached to the bagholders at the store.

This picture below shows one of the bags with one gallon of milk, two 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, a one-pound box of penne pasta and two cans of Pringles Big Stacks. There is plenty of room left for other items.

In answer to Diane’s question about the future of the bags – I intend to continue using them in the ways I described in Friday’s post. But I am going to make myself a supply of the reusable bags to keep in the car. That way I can be a better steward of God’s earth. Diane, I will contact you to make arrangements for delivery of the bags.

Meal Plan

Monday – Homemade pizza (since we went to “Thunder,” I still have supplies for this)

Tuesday – Chicken fried chicken (Steve Saw Paula Deen making chicken fried steak last week, and has been wanting such a meal since – it’s a way I can bless my hardworking man), milk gravy, biscuits, green beans, mashed potatoes

Wednesday – Chili

Thursday – Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, corn

Friday – out

Saturday – Steaks, baked potatoes, salad, bread

Sunday – Roast beef with potatoes, carrots, onions and celery, green beans (we ended up making grilled hamburgers Sunday instead of the roast beef meal)

I haven’t been to the grocery for three weeks, and I am not inspired to go this week. I may have to make a quick trip for a couple of small items like salad fixings, but I have everything else I need to prepare this week’s meals.

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 9; Psalm 86; Mark 6:30-44; I Corinthians 11:1-16

Today’s reading in Mark prompted me to have an Aha! moment. This passage speaks of the feeding of the 5,000 (men, that is – the count didn’t include women and children). Jesus blessed five loaves of bread and two fish to feed the hungry multitude. After everyone was filled, the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers.

I happened to read the note in my NIV Study Bible regarding the twelve baskets of leftovers:

Bread was regarded by Jews as a gift of God, and it was required that scraps that fell on the ground during a meal be picked up. The fragments were collected in small wicker baskets that were carried as part of daily attire. Each of the disciples returned with his basket full (emphasis added).
Jesus always remembers the smallest details! He even made sure the disciples had provisions for a few days to come. I’ve never made the connection between the twelve baskets of leftovers and the twelve disciples. Have you? Isn’t He amazing?

Thanks for stopping by today!



Friday, April 17, 2009

Free-For-All Friday, Praise Report & Contest

Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful day! If you live in the Ohio Valley, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The sun is shining, and the temperature is supposed to reach 75 degrees! Woo hoo! That puts some pep in my step!

Praise Report

I would like to begin with a praise report. On Monday I asked you to pray for baby Gregory who was facing a liver transplant. Another test indicated there may be no need for the transplant, afterall. Now the doctors are redoing the original test. Please continue to pray for this wee one and his family. God is alive and well!


I shared with you my pantry annex embarrassment and the subsequent clean-up. I didn't show you my kitchen pantry, because it is in good shape. Really, it is. Except for one minor thing -- grocery and shopping bags. Because I don't know what to do with them, I throw them in the bottom. And I think they mate and multiply while I'm sleeping.

Here they are in all their glory displayed on my kitchen table:

We recycle everything the facility will accept -- glass, plastic, paper. But they won't take plastic bags. Why is that? The grocery stores will take them. For some reason, however, I don't trust them to actually recycle the bags. I think they're just trying some other way to coax me into their store.

Anyway, I keep my bags. My conscience won't allow me to throw them in the garbage. I do have various uses for them: waste can liners, kitchen scraps, doggie walks (no need to be specific). But I don't need this many.

What do you do with your grocery and shopping bags? I would love to hear your ideas.


Look at those pictures again. Leave a comment giving me your best guess of how many bags are in the pile. I will accept guesses until Monday, April 20, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. There is nothing underneath. It's just a big honkin' pile of plastic bags. I've given you three angles to view.

The person who comes the closest to the actual number of bags will win a prize. It is not money, but it is tangible. If you detest grocery bags as much as I do, you will like the prize. It is very environmentally friendly.

In the event of a tie, I will draw a name from a hat.

So go ahead, give it your best shot!

Bible Reading Plan

Judges 8; Psalm 85; Mark 6:14-29; I Corinthians 10:14-33

Enjoy your Friday, and thanks for visiting! Now off to count some bags!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Recipe - Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

I wanted to share a recipe my family and I love. We had it for dinner last night. I apologize in advance for my food photography skills.

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 4-oz. pieces)
4 slices thinly-sliced smoked ham (lunch meat or deli ham works well)
4 slices thinly-sliced Swiss cheese
½ cup Italian dressing (I use fat-free)
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet or dish with cooking spray.

Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to ¼ inch thickness. (If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, use the side of a saucer.)

Remove plastic wrap. Arrange 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese on each chicken breast.

Starting from shorter end of chicken, roll up breast into a tight pinwheel. Tuck in ends. Secure with toothpicks.

Place dressing and crumbs in two separate bowls. Dip chicken in dressing and then roll in bread crumbs.

Place chicken on baking sheet, seam side down.

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Remove toothpicks and serve.

Next time I'll wipe the plate of the messy stuff. LOL!

This would be a great make-ahead or freezer recipe. You could make it the night before or the day of and keep it in the refrigerator. I suggest you transfer it to a different baking dish before doing so, especially if you are using glass.

If you freeze it, make sure to thaw completely before baking.

Enjoy! It's TASTY!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Think About It Thursday

As promised, I have pictures of my now-clean pantry annex.

What an improvement, huh?

I had to throw away some things. Some things returned to their rightful homes in other places in the house. The balance just needed to be corralled in a proper spot in the pantry.

That's just like my heart.

Paul said in II Corinthians 10:5:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Just like my closet, I need to maintain my heart. All thoughts must be evaluated. If they're junk, I must purge them. Sometimes they need to be set aside for another time. The rest of them must be granted a rightful dwelling place. It's a neverending process.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Thank You, Lord, for the grace and mercy you provide each day. Thank You for giving me the desire to maintain my heart for You. Thank You for not giving up on me.

Does it remind you of a song? I tried to embed it, but I wasn't allowed. Here is a link instead. He's Still Working On Me

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Judges 6-7; Psalm 84; Mark 6:1-13: I Corinthians 10:1-13

Thanks for visiting with me today! Have a great Thursday!

What's Up? Wednesday

Hi friends. I'm going to show you something. By doing so, I cause myself physical pain. But it must be done.

This is my pantry annex. That's what I call it, anyway. When we built our house, we were unable to find a place for a walk-in pantry, so I have a main pantry (i.e., double closet) and my pantry annex, which is in the hallway just off the kitchen.

The pantry annex is where I keep all my small appliances and other household things like batteries, extension cords, flashlights, etc. As you can see, it contains those things and then some.

I am embarrassed that this closet has gotten to such a state. I love to be organized. I love for things to have a specific home. How could my closet end up this way?

I think it's because I've lowered my guard. I've gotten lazy. I've tossed in junk and let it fall where it may.

When I need something from the closet, I quickly open the door, grab what I need (if I can find it quickly), and close the door. When I'm finished with the object, I quickly open the door, shove the object wherever it will fit, and close the door.

When I opened the closet yesterday, I felt shame that I had let it get to this point. I would never want anyone to see this. And the Holy Spirit prompted me with, "But isn't that what your heart is like?"


I didn't have to ask what this meant. I knew exactly the message God was sending.

My heart is full. It contains good things. It contains useful things. It contains lovely things. But I must admit to you (just as I showed you the pictures) it also has junk.

If I'm not careful, the junk will take over. The good stuff will be there, but it will be more difficult to find, and it will not be easily accessible when it's needed.

Proverbs 4 talks about matters of the heart, specifically wisdom. In verses 20-24 the writer says,

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Today, I am going to clean out and organize my pantry annex. I will show you pictures when it is complete.

And I am going to ask God to clean out the junk in my heart.

The larger effort for both will be maintenance in the days to come. It will take persistence and stamina. I pray God will give the desire and grace to do both.

Daily Bible Reading

Judges 4-5; Psalm 83; Mark 5:21-43; I Corinthians 9:13-27.

Blessings to you! Thanks for stopping in!