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!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Talk About It Tuesday - Powdered Milk

I have always tried to maintain a pantry stocked with staple items. Since we moved to a rural setting nearly two years ago, however, I try to only grocery shop every two weeks and am sometimes challenged to keep fresh items on hand. Of course, Steve can stop and pick up what we may need on his way home from work, but I try to keep from doing that.

One thing I have recently decided to try to keep on hand is powdered milk. I have not advanced to the level of drinking it straight up or using it on cereal. I have discovered, however, that it is wonderful for cooking. I can make any amount I want, and it works equally as well as fresh milk.

When I received my bread machine years ago, many of the recipes I used called for powdered milk. The brands I bought had a flavor that I couldn’t stomach, so I quit using the recipes that called for powdered milk. An article I read suggested Wal-Mart’s store brand of powdered milk, so I decided to try some. I have discovered it has no unusual smell or flavor.

Last night for dinner I made Chunky Potato Soup (recipe below) using powdered milk. I couldn’t tell the difference between using it or fresh milk.

Hillbilly Housewife has a page devoted to powdered milk here. It is chock full of great ideas.

As far as cost savings, right now in our geographic area, the cost for powdered milk is about the same as fresh. Milk has been very reasonable lately. So I am keeping it on hand for cooking and emergencies versus the economic benefit. But the way things you are, you never know when it will be more economical to use powdered milk.

Do you use powdered milk? Have you considered using it? Let me know your thoughts.

For more kitchen tips, see Tammy's Recipes.

Chunky Potato Soup

This is a very simple and tasty potato soup recipe I have used for a long time. Over the years I have tweaked it to suit my family's tastes. If you try it, let me know what you think.

4-5 medium-size white potatoes
2 cans (14.0 oz.) chicken broth
1 small onion
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Crushed red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed cooked ham (leftovers, deli ham, bacon, anything with a smoky flavor)

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Cover with chicken broth and bring water to a boil in large saucepan. Cook potatoes until barely tender. Set aside potatoes and liquid. Peel and finely chop onion. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to saucepan; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and tender, but not brown. Add flour to saucepan; season with pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add potatoes and cooking liquid and milk to onion mixture in saucepan; stir well. Add cheese and ham. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator.

Bible Reading Plan

Judges 1-3; Psalm 82; Mark 5:1-20; I Corinthians 9:1-12

I appreciate you dropping by! Hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Follow-Up & Menu Plan Monday

I hope you had a blessed Resurrection Sunday and that you were able to spend time with those you love. If you weren’t able to be with family and/or friends, hopefully you made contact with them at some point in the weekend.

We had a nice weekend with my mom and also got to visit with my brother and his family while we were there. It seems there is never enough time to spend together. Before you know it, it’s time to head back. Good-byes are always tough, but they make the next reunion so much sweeter.

I apologize for not posting on Saturday or yesterday. It would have been good for me to prepare my posts in advance so I could have them ready for you. I will count this as another step in my blogging learning curve.

Another thing I must admit is that I didn’t finish Olivia’s dress as planned. I was down to the last bit, and it just wasn’t coming together properly. I need to rework the sleeves. I had taken some alteration shortcuts that looked just like that – shortcuts. I want to take the sleeves apart and alter them the way my high school home economics teacher would have expected.

Instead, we ended up purchasing an outfit for Olivia Friday evening. I had purchased a couple of outfits for her Friday while she was at school. Even though she liked them, they were too large, so we returned them Friday night for something that was lovely on her. So we were all happy.

Final Easter Reflection – Sunday

Even though it’s a day late, I wanted to share something with which I was impressed this Easter. How many times have I heard or read the accounts of the Crucifixion and Resurrection? Many times I wonder why the disciples and the believers of that time did not understand Christ’s prediction of his death, burial and resurrection.

This year, it dawned on me that because I have heard the Crucifixion and Resurrection stories since I was a young child, it is easy for me to criticize the disciples and Christ’s followers. I am blessed to know the ending. As they say, “Hindsight is 20-20.” If I had been living in that day, would I have believed as easily? Probably not. Even worse, with all the information I have available to me in God’s Word, I frequently live as if I don’t believe Christ’s promises. My prayer is that I will live as if every day is Easter. He is alive!

Prayer Request

Please pray for a little baby I know named Gregory. Gregory is about 17 months old. He has had health issues since birth. Recently he had some blood work which revealed he needs a liver transplant. He and potential donors will likely be evaluated for transplant this week. I will keep you posted on his progress.

Menu Plan

Monday – Chunky Potato Soup, Ham Salad Sandwiches
Tuesday – Salmon Croquettes w/Cream Sauce, Green Beans, Corn
Wednesday – Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, Steamed Broccoli, Baked Potatoes
Thursday – Grilled Pork Chops, Greens, Creamy Penne Pasta
Friday – Out
Saturday – Weather permitting, will attend “Thunder Over Louisville,” but if not, Homemade Pizza
Sunday – May have guests. If so, possibly Deep-Fried Turkey, baked beans, potato salad. If not, roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw, bread.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a blessed Monday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I am happy to report Olivia’s dress is nearly complete. Despite my efforts to finish it today, I hit a snag and had to run to the fabric store for a couple of supplies. I still need to insert the zipper and hem the sleeves and bottom. Woo hoo! Thanks for hanging in there with me. I will post a picture Monday.

Easter Week Reflections – Good Friday

Becoming a mother sixteen years ago gave me an additional perspective of Easter. I began to wonder how it felt to be Mary, Jesus’ mother. All we really know of Mary as the mother of Christ is that she was a willing vessel and that she “pondered” many things.

I am sure Mary knew her son was destined for great things. And I am also certain that she was around to hear when Jesus referenced his purpose for coming to earth. But did she, like the disciples, fail to understand what really was going to happen?

Mary witnessed Jesus’ many miracles. We know for a fact she was present when he performed his first miracle – turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. She gave the instructions to do whatever Jesus said to do.

What anguish Mary must have experienced as she witnessed Jesus’ “trial” and subsequent torture. How helpless she must have felt as she was forced to stand by and watch.

I cannot wrap my mind around the emotions Mary had as she watched Jesus dying on the cross. Imagine the flood of memories she must have had. This was her baby – the one God gave to her. The one she held in her arms. The one she snuggled after He was freshly bathed. The one whose boo-boos she kissed when He fell while playing. The one who was always the brightest student in Hebrew school. The one who cared for her after His earthly father died.

This. Was. Her. Son.

But Jesus, in the midst of pure agony, as He carried the weight of the sins of the world, loved Mary enough to let her know that her role as His mother was complete. She must view their relationship in a different way. And He wanted to make sure she had someone to care for her. John 19:25-27 reads:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Jesus was no longer Mary’s son. He was her savior. She could no longer take care of Him the way a mother does. Mary now needed Jesus to do something for her, namely die as the lamb of God for the forgiveness of her sins. It’s almost breathtaking, isn't it?

Son to Savior. Have you ever thought about it?

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Joshua 20-21; Psalm 79; Mark 3:20-35; I Corinthians 7:1-16

I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you. Please feel free to share yours. I'd love to "hear" what's on your mind today.

Have a blessed Good Friday!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring is finally making another showing in the Ohio Valley. We enjoyed a beautiful day yesterday, and it looks as if God is going to bless us again today.

I made progress on Olivia’s dress, but it isn’t finished. I don’t know what I was thinking when I said “yes” to a lace dress. That stuff slides all over creation! Regardless of the slick factor, I intend to finish it today.

Easter Week Reflection – Thursday

According to my NIV helps, the Last Supper and Jesus’ time in Gethsemane occurred on Thursday. The Last Supper is covered in all the Gospels, but I focused on John’s account, which takes place in John 13-17:26. He doesn’t go into detail about the actual meal. The verses explain how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and how He predicts both his betrayal and Peter’s ultimate denial.

I found something interesting in John 13:1, which reads:
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The last part of that verse jumped out at me. I have never seen it before.
Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

I wonder if John was only referencing Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet. I am certain this was a big thing to them because of the day’s customs. Remember Mary a couple of days ago? It was the servants’ “job” to wash feet. This was indeed an act of love, but I found more in later verses.

In John 14:1-16:33 Jesus is comforting the disciples. At this point, I don’t think they know they are being comforted, because I still don’t think they “get” it. Jesus knows He is going to be betrayed. He knows He is going to be falsely accused. He knows He is going to be handed over to an angry mob. He knows He is going to face atrocities beyond belief. He knows He is going to be nailed to a cross.

And He knows He is going to die.

Even with all this knowledge, which we know he dreads (from reading the accounts of his prayer in Gethsemane), Jesus has the fortitude to comfort – COMFORT – the disciples.

In a gentle, quiet way, Jesus tells the disciples what’s going to be happening and that they should not be frightened. He has been preparing them for this time for three years. He is frank with them about what’s going to happen to them, but He also encourages them with the joy that is to come.

This is absolutely a demonstration of love. He loved the disciples so much that he wanted to encourage them to not be frightened about what they were going to experience in the days to come.

Wouldn’t this be exactly what a loving parent would do for their child if the parent were facing a terminal illness? Certainly. See how it hits home when you look at it in that perspective?

Finally, in chapter 17 Jesus prays for Himself and for the disciples and even for us. Remarkable.

What are you facing that is frightening? I have my own personal list. But there is hope. Together we can remember Jesus’ words in John 14:1:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

Daily Bible Reading

Joshua 18-19; Psalm 78:40-72; Mark 3:1-19; I Corinthians 6:12-20

Thanks for dropping by! Have a happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's Goin' On With You? & Easter Reflections

What's Goin' On With You?

Currently, I am needing to get busy sewing Olivia's Easter dress. Yes, I have known Easter was coming since last Easter. Yes, I have procrastinated. Yes, you'd think I would learn my lesson every single time I set out to sew something.

Today I must put the proverbial pedal to the metal.

When it comes to sewing or projects with a deadline, I fly by the seat of my pants. I function better, however, in other areas when I have a plan.

Meal planning, for instance, helps me maintain my low level of sanity. It's such a nice feeling to know each day that I have something designated for dinner. I plan meals two weeks at a time, and I make my grocery list based on the ingredients needed. This way I only grocery shop every two weeks. Since grocery shopping is not one of my favorite pasttimes, this works well for me. I highly recommend meal planning. We'll discuss it in more detail in days to come.

Do you work well with a plan? Do you practice meal planning?

Easter Reflections - Wednesday

I will preface by saying I'm basing my Easter week timeline on helps from the NIV Study Bible. On Wednesday, it maintains that the plot to betray Jesus takes place. I will reference Luke's account in chapter 22, verses 1-6.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Have you ever stopped to consider Judas Isacariot? I don't recall much discussion of him. This portion of scripture caused me to pause.

In verse 3 it states that "Satan entered Judas." Those words make me shudder. How could it be that one of the chosen twelve, someone who ate with, slept with, hung out with the Son of God could be "entered" by Satan? A note in my Bible proposes that Judas never displayed a high motive of service or commitment to Jesus. In other words, he was just "there."

Do I think Judas was controlled by Satan? No. I think Judas was influenced. He made a conscious decision to seek out the priests and elders and strike up a deal with them. The Bible says they were "delighted and agreed to give him money." This indicates it was his own idea.

Judas could have resisted Satan, but he chose not to. He deliberately chose to sin. He gave Satan a foothold, and Satan had a heyday.

This is a lesson to me that I must guard my heart at all times and keep my eyes on the Master. I Peter 5:8 says: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I must be careful not to leave the door of my heart wide open the way Judas did. I don't want to be devoured.

Daily Bible Reading

Joshua 15-17; Psalm 78:1-39; Mark 2:18-28; I Corinthians 6:1-11

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tuesday Tips & Easter Week Reflections

Happy Tuesday! It was a cold day yesterday here in north central Kentucky, a far cry from the sixty-plus degree temperatures we enjoyed this past weekend. There was a freeze warning for last night and possibly tonight. My peonies, daylilies and azaleas are all bursting forth, and I would certainly hate to see them burned (odd choice of words for freezing) or lose any potential blooms.

Today's Tip

When trying to protect plants from freezing, always use a cover made from a material that breathes. Never use plastic. Plastic will encourage freezing. I used old sheets to cover my blooming plants. Because it's windy, I anchored them down with spare bricks. I am hopeful the plants will not succumb to the frosty weather.

Easter Week Reflections- Tuesday

I've already missed Sunday and Monday, on which days Jesus entered into Jerusalem, cursed the fig tree and cleansed the temple of the money changers. We'll just pick up with Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Jesus' authority was questioned by the chief priests and elders. (So what's new?) Thereafter, he taught in the temple using several parables. Also on this day, Jesus was anointed at Bethany. This event is discussed in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9 and in John 12:2-11. John's account is my favorite.

Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper. Simon likely had been healed by Jesus, and he was hosting a dinner wherein Jesus was the guest of honor. Since this was taking place in Bethany, Jesus' good friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary were in attendance. Specifically, Lazarus was eating, and Martha was bustling about making sure everyone was fed.

But where was Mary? Mary again appears at the feet of Jesus. (Remember the story in Luke 10:38-42?) This time, however, instead of soaking up his words of life, she pours perfume on his feet. Expensive perfume. Precious perfume. Perfume so valuable that it was kept in an alabaster, or marble, jar.

Then she wipes his feet with her hair. In those days it wasn't customary for women to let down their hair in public. It also wasn't customary for anyone other than servants to attend to the feet of guests.

But there's Mary, tossing aside all social mores of the day. She just wanted to worship and love her master. What did it cost? She sacrificed several things that day -- money, possessions, pride, customs -- all for the privilege of serving her Lord. And He blessed her for doing so. He said her act of love was "beautiful."

Something else caught my attention, though. In verse 3 of John 12, it says, "And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." Our sacrificial worship of Jesus releases a sweet fragrance to Him. Remember the offerings God commanded in Exodus? He referred to them as "pleasing aromas."

What about me? What precious things do I have to pour on the feet of Jesus? My time? My praise? Will it appear silly to others? Will I take my hurts and fears and pour them out at His feet? Will I set aside my pride and just do it? Will He find it beautiful? Will He find it aromatic? Will He find it pleasing?

I want my adoration of Jesus to be all these things. How about you?

Daily Bible Reading - April 7

Joshua 13-14; Psalm 77; Mark 2:13-17; I Corinthians 5

Have a great day!

Day One!

I've been contemplating starting a blog, but I was unsure just what I would share with others. The things I treasure (my family not excluded) -- my faith, crafting, frugal living -- are all well-covered in the blogosphere. What is not covered, however, is my personal take on these things. Maybe someone somewhere can benefit from what I've learned from my own experiences and what I continue to learn on a daily basis.

Name Choice

Why did I choose the name, "His Daily Mercies?" My favorite Bible verse is 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.

I find it absolutely amazing that the Lord is willing to give me new opportunities -- not just every morning, but every second of the day. Every time I fail, He offers His hand, lifts me up, and urges me to keep going. Isn't it great?


I am not quite certain of the format I will follow. I am very "Type A," and I work best with structure. So you can be sure I will attempt to follow some sort of daily protocol.

One thing for sure I will do is share my daily Bible reading plan. I am following the Navigators' one year plan for reading the Bible completely through. I am embarrassed to admit I have never read the Bible completely through. It is my prayer that I will be able to accomplish that goal this year.

I hope to come up with a regular posting for each day of the week, Monday through Friday. This will be something for which you can plan, such as "Meal Plan Monday," "Tuesday Tips," etc. These are common blog features, but I personally enjoy seeing what different bloggers have going on on these particular days.

So, there you have it. I guess whether or not you will join me will depend on what I have to offer. Check back often. It's sort of like shopping at thrift stores. You gotta keep going back, because you never know when you might find something worth snatching up!

Meal Plan for April 6-12

Monday - White Bean Soup, cornbread, ham sandwiches (from ham left from Sunday lunch)

Tuesday - Baked or Crockpot Chicken, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, bread/rolls

Wednesday - Spaghetti & meatballs, salad, bread

Thursday - White chili (using Tuesday's leftover chicken), salad, homemade corn chips

Friday - out

Saturday & Sunday - visiting over Easter weekend

Daily Bible Reading

The Navigators' plan for reading the Bible through in one year includes four readings: one each from the Old Testament, Psalms, the Gospels and the New Testament. It is amazing how well they correlate from day to day. If you want to join me where I am, today I read:

Joshua 10-12

Psalm 76

Mark 2:1-12

I Corinthians 4

If you want to start at the "beginning," here is a link to the printable plan I am using:

Thanks for visiting! Hope you have a great day!