As we head into the new year, I thought I would review some of my posts from this past year to fuel us.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
As we head into the new year, I thought I would review some of my posts from this past year to fuel us.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
This Christmas I am reminded that so many people suffer.
Many suffer with grief as they remember their loved ones who have passed on.
Many suffer from loneliness.
Many suffer from poverty.
Many suffer with broken hearts.
Many suffer from devastation, like our friends and their acquaintances who live in the Philippines who just lived through a terrible flood.
While so many of us “have it good” this Christmas as we shop, wrap, sing, cook, and celebrate, there are many around us who suffer.
Please remember them!
Send a card or a simple note.
Make a phone call.
Send money or tangible goods.
Schedule a visit.
Ask God what He wants you to do to help someone.
Most of all, pray for God to be with those who suffer.
Today I was discussing Christmas with someone, and her young son was nearby.
“Do your children still believe?”, she whispered.
At first, I had to stop and think… “What is she talking about?”
My initial internal response, being a Christian, was that she was asking me if my children believed in God. I asked her to repeat herself. Oh yeah, got it! She means do they believe in Santa? “Um, no.” That was my gracious response.
My children know about Santa. They know he is fictitious. Some would say this “ruins” their Christmas, but for us, we believe it deepens their Christmas experience.
For us, Christmas is about God sending Jesus Christ, His Son, to earth to save us from our sins. Songs like “O Holy Night” and “How Great Our Joy!” actually mean something very special to us!
We do not want our spiritual celebration to be overshadowed by Santa Claus. We want our children’s focus to be on Jesus Christ and what He can do for them.
We believe it is a blessing for our children to know that their gifts are coming from parents, relatives, and friends who love them.
We want them to know that we are blessed to give (and receive) because we have received from our God in heaven.
We want them to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus Christ – the greatest gift of all!
I ask you -
What are your children believing in this Christmas?
In whom do their hopes and dreams lie?
Santa or Jesus?
Who has been the focus of their hearts the past few weeks?
Santa or Jesus?
If you are a Christian family, I encourage you to diminish the teaching of Santa in your home and uplift and esteem the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!
Think about what your children are believing this Christmas.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
All over the world there are discussions as to HOW to celebrate Christmas. Topics include gifts, parties, donations to charity, decorations, etc… Someone like me can feel overwhelmed in trying to create the perfect holiday.
In the end, the choice is up to you as to how you observe Christmas. The celebration of Christmas is just that – a celebration, a personal reflection of the values and desires of your heart.
Some may choose to celebrate by keeping things simple and humble. Others think it is important to glam things up a bit (or a lot!) and give abundantly.
Some may attend every Christmas event possible while others may choose a select few events to keep their lives more doable during this season.
Whatever you decide to do, be confident in your decision.
This is YOUR celebration of Jesus.
The season of Christmas should heighten our lives not drain them.
Are your activities lining up with the way you desire to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ?
May your life be blessed as you attempt to keep in step with the meaning of Christmas – peace, holiness, generosity, fellowship, and joy!
Monday, December 19, 2011
Of course, I put up my Christmas tree. Brian and I surprised the kids one night, by bringing home a precious fir tree after an evening out together. I love my tree!
What have you been doing to prepare for Christmas?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I made confetti cake pops with my daughter a couple weeks ago to celebrate her birthday, and we enjoyed our time creating them! The cake pops were a great alternative to cake, since we had already eaten “real” cake with her friends a few days before her actual birthday.
If you are looking for a treat to make this Christmas season – for a special gathering, as a gift, or just to have some fun in the kitchen, I would recommend these!
Confetti Cake Pops
9x13 pan of confetti cake
1/2 recipe of Swiss Meringue frosting
2 bags of candy melts
lollipop/cookie sticks (~50)
sprinkles of your liking
First, make the cake. After it has cooled, divide it into four sections and crumble into crumbs.
Mix the crumbs and the frosting in a large bowl. Then shape into balls. Place them on a tray, covered with wax paper, into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Then place the tray in the refrigerator until you are ready to dip the cake balls.
Melt the candy melts following the instructions on the bag. Note: I used a double boiler. If you do this, you must adhere to the instructions carefully. You must put water (below the top pot level) in the bottom pot and heat alone. Once the water is simmering, remove pot from heat. THEN, place the top pot on top with candy melts inside. Stir continually for a few minutes until melted.
Place the end of a stick into the melted candy, about one half inch. Then insert into a cake ball. Tenderly dip the cake ball into the melted candy, until well-covered. Gently tap off excess by tapping on your hand that is holding the stick rather than the stick itself to be careful not to lose the ball on the end of your stick!
Splatter sprinkles of your choice upon the cake balls.
Allow treats to dry upright. We used tall glasses.
You can purchase treat bags and ribbons to place atop the cake balls if you would like to gift them once they are dry. We did this for my niece’s basketball team, and they absolutely loved them. ~smile~
~ Enjoy! ~
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today is the 14th anniversary of my engagement to my beloved husband. It is a special day that brings back special memories. I think of the wonder in our relationship at that time, the awe we had for one another, the butterflies in my stomach, and the love that filled the air! What a joyous time!
Here and now, we are lucky to make it through each day – or so it seems. We are raising five children – from teen to toddler, homeschooling our children, juggling my hubby’s hectic job, serving at our church in multiple ways, and trying to live life as God calls us to live. Life is definitely full and busy! In the midst of everything, it is easy to lose the fervor in our marriage relationship. When the days are full of more than enough “care” for each day, evenings are spent separate - focusing on our various duties, and the day closes with a wish that “we could end the day together, and he would get more than four hours of sleep each night”, closeness suddenly seems so distant.
However, as I reflect upon this wonderful day – the day I betrothed myself to the man I love, I realize once again that I need to remember to date my husband.
No, I don’t have to escape the four walls of my home to do this precious task. I can simply start within the secret places of my heart.
I can start with a wonderful, respectful attitude that praises my husband and longs to be with him.
I can overlook his faults and our differences and love him utterly and thoroughly.
I can look for small (and big) ways to bless him each and every day of our lives together.
Are you dating your husband?
Make sure you add that to your Christmas “to do” list!
May God help us be superb wives who have intimate and awesome relationships with our husbands – relationships upon which the world will look and see Christ and His church.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Monday, December 5, 2011
My daughter’s birthday usually starts the process of making fun goodies, taking us through the holiday season. A couple weeks ago we made homemade gumdrops. They were fun to try.
You can find the recipe here at “Bakerella”.
When we made the gumdrops,
we put them in a mini loaf pan to set.
That worked well for us. Our pan was non-stick, so the molds came out quite easily.
The recipe says to let the mixture set overnight in the refrigerator before you cut and coat the pieces with sugar. We let it set about eight hours throughout the day, and that did not seem to be enough. After our first coating of sugar, the gelatin started to melt a bit after a while. I put the pieces back in the frig. for several more hours and then coated the pieces again, since the sugar seemed like it had dissolved or something. All of this to say, I would recommend a long overnight set – like 12 hours or more – before cutting and coating!
We used lemon extract, almond extract, and vanilla extract to flavor the gumdrops. Almond was voted as the favorite with lemon a close second.
For my daughter’s birthday cake, we wanted something with the deep, vibrant colors of autumn. We found a cake décor that we loved via “RecipeGirl” that looked too good to be true for us chocolate lovers.
First we made a Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake with applicable frosting.
We added Kit Kats around the border and filled the top of the cake with M&M’s.
Doesn’t it look so colorful and magnificent?
If you are planning to make a birthday cake for Jesus this year, maybe this is the one! ~smile~
(Coming soon! – Funfetti Cake Pops)
Friday, December 2, 2011
A few weeks ago we started remodeling our family room. It is a project we wanted to do. It is a project for which we thought we were ready. It is a project where we thought we could “stick to the budget”.
However, now that it has begun, life seems to be a bit disheveled, and I am having a hard time keeping a good attitude.
You see, this “little” project has affected our lives tremendously. It is costing us more time and money than we were planning. We included a couple add-ons, like moving a doorway over, extending our kitchen floor, and redoing our fireplace. Those additions are bringing about extra projects, like replacing the kitchen floor since we now have an extension built onto it!
As with most projects, we ran into various glitches along the way. One problem we found was a water leakage into our wall and fireplace area. Fun!
Today I came home from a day at the homeschool co-op, only to find a thick layer of dust from the drywall sanding covering the entire family room and kitchen floors. There is also a thin coating of dust covering my kitchen area, including *clean* dishes, past the plastic “walls” that were put up to protect it. Yes, this project is affecting other rooms of my house now, as the dirt and debris travels through the air and upon soles of feet.
Through all of this, I have to tell myself to keep the end in sight! It can be very discouraging to live through this – with so much mess, items scattered around my house waiting for their “home” to be finished, and a non-functioning, crucial room.
If I can somehow remember what the end will look like, I can bear up under this extra pressure right now. I can clean the dust with joy. I can justify the extra time and money we are pouring out.
My mind starts to spin, and I think about how this applies to life itself – particularly when things come our way, and we aren’t quite prepared for all they bring to our lives.
God is wise, and He knows all.
He sees the end of everything.
He knows our situations and plans them carefully so they bring about the fruit He desires.
If you are going through something in your life right now, trust God! Remember that even in situations where we *d0* know the end, it can be very difficult to live them out. All the more, we must trust our God and know that He loves us, cares for us, and sees a good end!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Last week my daughter had a few friends over to celebrate her 8th birthday, and this is what we made:
They are very simple to make. We had a lot of fun making them and absolutely adored the smell! Of course, we did it in the midst of soothing piano music and lit, apple pie tea candles. That helps too!
You will need:
- sharp toothpicks
- whole cloves
- cinnamon sticks
First, think of the design you will want on your orange.
Then, start poking holes into the orange with your toothpick and fill them with the whole cloves - stem side in, of course.
Once you have created the design you desire, secure a cinnamon stick to the top of the orange with ribbon that you wrap from the base of the orange and tie in a firm knot at the top. Curl the ribbon, if desired.
Smell the wonderful fragrance and enjoy your creation!
Find a special spot in your home for your treasure. I hung mine above my kitchen sink. ~smile~
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Thanksgiving is nearly here. The talk has been going on for a while…
“What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you hosting dinner?”
“What will you be cooking?”
“Are you doing any crafts with your kids?”
“Have you made any special decorations?”
“Oh, and what about Black Friday? Are you participating?”
All of this chatter is somewhat necessary as we connect with everyone and talk about one of the most important holidays of the year.
However, through it all, we must take the time to reflect and be truly thankful.
We must allow our hearts to be searched.
We must allow our negative, shallow thinking to be transformed by the beauty of God’s goodness once again.
We must put aside our perfect expectations of ourselves, the holiday, and all involved and simply enjoy our families and the great bounty of blessings God has bestowed upon us.
Don’t worry about Christmas yet. Take time to enjoy Thanksgiving.
Be thankful. Truly thankful.
And rest in His goodness with celebration.
Surely, we are blessed beyond measure!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Over the past few months, I have been reminded of the heartache in people’s lives:
*Two church members lost their spouses, within the same week.
*A woman told me the story of how she lost her firstborn daughter at 2.5 years old, about seven years ago.
*Another woman’s children have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses.
*A young couple’s lives have been changed, possibly forever, due to brain and other damage the husband received due to a car accident.
*A friend’s daughter has been diagnosed with epilepsy.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. . .
Life is not easy in this world. All of us will have trials. Life is nowhere near perfect. It is full of sin, for now, until the Lord restores it some day, and God uses that “sin”, that “weakness”, that “imperfection” to test and try His people.
Through all of life’s difficulties, I am reminded of this:
God chooses the heartache and hardship.
We choose the response.
Wait! Say that again…
God chooses the heartache and hardship.
We choose the response.
When trials come our way, we can choose to shake our fist at life, harden our hearts, and pull away from God.
- OR -
We can choose to humble ourselves, probably with many tears, before our Almighty, Sovereign God who loves and cares for us greatly and has an awesome plan for our lives.
What will your response be?
I admit. I have not always responded well to life’s tests. I have desired to flee from them, at times, and find a different course for myself. However, that is not what the Christian life entails.
The Christian life is about surrendering our lives and wills to HIS.
Will we accept and embrace what He has given or will we shun it and move away from the very path God has made for us in life?
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Friday, November 11, 2011
This week my daughter helped me make a couple of our dinners. Sometimes we plan for it and sometimes she jumps right in – spur of the moment. I am thankful that she likes to cook, for it is one of my passions.
We made French Onion Soup for the first time, and that was delicious! I admit that I have never really been a big fan of french onion soup, but I find when I make things at home it will usually cause me to like something better. When you know what is going into the food and can control the taste, it helps. ~smile~
This recipe was delightful, and I would recommend it to anyone!
I gave my daughter a taste beforehand so she could recommend what we needed to tweak – a little more salt and pepper is usually the answer.
We also made a homemade tomato sauce, off the cuff, for dinner last night to go with our spaghetti. We sauteed some green pepper, onion, and mushroom with basil, parsley, garlic salt, and garlic pepper (I am currently out of REAL garlic). We added some diced tomatoes and tomato paste along with salt and pepper to taste and simmered the sauce for about a half hour. (If anyone wants the actual proportions leave a comment, and I will post a more accurate recipe).
The results were splendid! My family really liked the sauce and my daughter was THRILLED that we made it ourselves, without a recipe. She wanted to keep it a secret until everyone started eating so she could make the grand announcement!
Have you cooked something this week with your children?
I’d love to hear about it!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
A while ago I ran into this idea to make yummy, toasty sandwiches in the crockpot at “Big Red Kitchen”. With our lives being so full of activity at times and also having such a long church service on Sundays, this type of recipe serves me nicely! The woman from “Big Red Kitchen” made a grinder with Italian toppings. Check out her site for her recipe!
Put balls of foil in the bottom of your large, oval crockpot, along with 1/4 cup of water.
Place a round, Italian-type loaf of bread in two layers of heavy foil. My loaf was pre-sliced, so I made sure the bottom was snug tightly together when I put the foil around it.
Prepare your fillings, per each sandwich. I used turkey, cheese, tomato slices and pepper rings. I made sure to drain the pepper slices well and also used a tomato that wasn’t too ripe so it didn’t add to much moisture.
Fold the meat in half so the toppings are encased.
Tuck the meat “packets” into the bread so you skip every other opening – enough to make about six sandwiches.
Wrap foil around the sandwiches and place in a crockpot on low for a few hours or so. I actually cooked mine for five hours. “Big Red Kitchen” says two to four hours or longer.
Unwrap and eat with delight!
My family enjoyed these sandwiches thoroughly!
It’s just about as good as ordering out. ~smile~
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Last week my husband was due to have his last soccer practice with my son’s team. It was not only special because it was their last practice. It was also special since they were going to have a father-son scrimmage. There were good vibes for the event, but the weather looked very gloomy. Around 2:30 p.m. I texted my husband at work and told him it did NOT look good for practice. The clouds were gray everywhere, and rain was drizzling down steadily. Surely I saw no hope in sight.
Within about 20 or 30 minutes of texting my husband, this is what I saw:
I couldn’t believe my eyes! Where did this come from?!
Of course I texted my husband again and said,
“The sun is out!”
Before too long, I started to think about the life lesson in all of this. Sometimes our lives are filled with a lot of dreariness and a lot of rain. There seems to be little joy and peace, as the gloom overshadows the good. We struggle and strive with little victory.
However, we must remember that there is always hope with our God!
Even in the midst of the worst circumstances, our God is still there! Each day, month, year, and season of our lives ~even if it appears gloomy~ still has many bright spots along the way. We need the grace to embrace those sunny blessings and to remember that our season will change some day.
There will be sunshine!
In God’s economy, today is the day of salvation and tomorrow brings freshness and newness!
The sun’ll come out “tomorrow”!
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Truly I do enjoy the change of seasons. When autumn arrives, I start to picture and enjoy the cozy ambience. You know ~ candles, warm soups, blankets, the fireplace, being snuggled up with a book and/or a loved one with a cup of hot tea or cocoa.
To celebrate the season, I have been making some of those great, heart and body-warming recipes!
Here’s what I made this past week:
Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup
found here at “Crumbs and Chaos”
This soup was great! It was a novelty, containing both potatoes and sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes really enhance the color, flavor, and texture of the soup! We loved it!
courtesy of Martha Stewart
I blogged about this chili a long time ago. http://thecozynook.blogspot.com/2010/01/chili.html
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
“My Style” – recipe found here.
What is on your fall menu?
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Guest Post at Musings of a Minister’s Wife
Do you ever feel frustrated with your children?
If you are an honest mom, surely there are times when you do. You might feel angry and impatient and wonder “why in the world” your child is acting the way he is acting.
The Lord put something on my heart the other day regarding the expectations we have for our children.
Read the rest of my excerpt here at Musings of a Minister’s Wife. Check out what Melinda has to offer while you’re there!
Melinda Martin has lived a life full of mistakes and has only survived by God’s amazing grace. She “retired” from the corporate world three years ago and has since been making more mistakes in the avenues of homeschooling and running an online business. God has recently blessed her and set her peace-shod feet on a journey to becoming a minister’s wife. Follow along with her as she blogs about this experience over at www.MusingsOfAMinistersWife.wordpress.com. To offset her serious posts, she supplements with fun things like recipes and how to siphon gas from your lawnmower.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Tomorrow is Monday, and you know what that means… Everything is going to go perfectly! Our home will be filled with great attitudes. Everyone will want to get up early. Children all across the globe will want to do EXTRA school work, just because. Right?!
As most of us experience, Mondays can be grueling. After experiencing some recreation and relaxation over the weekend, it can be hard to get the wheels churning into full gear again come Monday!
Last week I did something that helped our Monday go so much better.
I opened our school store!
I had been thinking about doing this for a while and finally got around to getting a handful of items to start. Boy, were the kids excited!
Every item in the basket, currently, is 50 cents. I try not to spend over $1.00 for the items and just bless my kids by giving them a discount. They earn money through their pom jars and by doing extra/special chores.
Initially I was going to have the school store open on Friday. I opened it last week on Monday, since I wasn’t ready the previous Friday. Then I realized it might be better to do it on Mondays to motivate everyone! Sure enough, it was a great incentive!
The rule is that a majority of my children’s schoolwork must be done before lunch, when the store opens. That helps productivity, and I found myself not having to strive as much as usual on a Monday.
What do you do to help your Mondays run better?
Do you do anything out of the ordinary?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Last week my daughter had a friend visit for a couple hours. During their time together, I planned a special surprise for them:
Tea for Two!
While the girls were outside playing, I gathered some special things together to create an ambience that would make them feel cherished.
I used linen napkins for the place settings and planned to delight their palates with freshly, stovetop-popped popcorn, blueberry tea, and a salted caramel.
When the girls came to the table to see what I had created for them, they were filled with excitement! Their faces could not stop smiling for a minute or two.
Have you surprised your child
with something lately?
Monday, October 17, 2011
My sweet seven year old daughter actually took this picture.
“Be still and know that I am God”
As you examine your soul today can you say that you are “still”? Do you feel calm? …or anxious? Strong? …or weary? Joyful? …or depressed? Are you resting in God’s goodness overall or has the enemy’s ways gripped your soul?
I can say that I am learning through a very, grueling process to be still. I am learning to trust in my God and to be less affected by the things around me, to be able to surrender them to my Lord without them consuming my soul.
I have been thrust out of my comfort zone for years now. It has been a painful period of my life, as God delves into the depths of my soul to deal with the dark issues of my heart. God wants us to be at peace no matter what. He wants abundant life ~the fruit of His Spirit~ to flow out of us; in turn the flesh must die.
If you are feeling weary, trust in your God. He loves you. He cares for you. As it says earlier in Psalm 46,
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble!
Be still, my soul, and know He is God!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Last week my family was gone for a little over 24 hours. I, being the family lady that I am, knew that it was not going to be easy with them gone in another adventuresome place without me so I had to make the best of it. I pummeled through some ideas quickly in my head and decided I would paint the bathroom! Surely that would keep my mind off what they were doing and help me to funnel my energies in a productive way. It is definitely hard to carve out a good chunk of time and energy for a project like this with everyone in the house, so I figured it was a good opportunity for me.
I have been thinking for quite some time that I would like to finish painting our house. When we moved into our house eight years ago, we knew the house needed work. We have been chipping away at landscaping, siding, gutters, molding, painting, and remodeling room by room each year. A couple of the main functioning rooms – my kitchen and main bathroom – have gone untouched, and I really thought some fresh paint would do the trick until we could get to remodeling them more thoroughly.
Yes, I painted my bathroom by myself in less than 24 hours. Yes, it was a hassle at times, running into snags. Yes, the baby took shorter naps than I was hoping during some of my painting sessions.
The paint job was a challenge.
However, now that it is finished, it is a joy!
Before I painted, the entire room was basically a Kilz white.
Now it is a cozy (yep, that’s me ~wink~), bamboo brown.
Truly, a coat of paint does wonders!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I have always admired the “Once a Month” bulk cookers. However, I did not think I could ever do it myself. It seems like a lot of work and time to get much of the food prepared for a month’s worth of meals ~ all within a day’s breath. Lately, though, I have been evaluating my meal preparations and realize that I could (and should!) combine some of my efforts to make things simpler for some of my dinners.
Currently I buy my ground beef at the local fruit market. If I buy at least three pounds, I get a discount. In the past I have bought the meat, used what I could within a couple days, and divided the rest into suitable portions for the freezer. Recently, it dawned on me… I could oftentimes brown most of the meat simultaneously to help with future meals.
Today I took out my five pounds of ground round, and divided it into three portions: one two-pound section and two 1.5-pound sections and placed them into separate pans/pots.
I chopped all of the necessary vegetables for the various dishes – tacos, nachos, and Sloppy Joe’s.
I separated the ingredients accordingly and put the extra seasonings into the pans for the nachos and tacos. Once the meat dishes were finished, I used one pan for tonight’s tacos. Tomorrow I will warm up the other Mexican beef pan for nachos. The following day, I will warm up the beef that I browned with onion and pepper and simmer it with the Sloppy Joe sauce ingredients.
It took just a little bit of extra work today to help a couple dinners run more smoothly!
I like that!
How can you combine some of your meal preparation efforts to make life a little easier for yourself?