Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Reality of the Holidays



 When I was a child, I remember thinking that there was nothing better than Christmastime!  It’s time for presents and music and sweet treats and church activities.  It’s time to celebrate the birth of Christ as we sing “Away in a Manger.” Nothing could possibly be wrong with the world! 

As I’ve gotten older, however, I have realized more and more that the holidays are not always filled with happiness.  I have watched two families from my former church lose their teenage sons and have a funeral right around Christmastime.  I know people are battling cancer and miscarriages and unknown diagnoses.  Christmastime may be filled with happiness for some people, but a lot of people are also hurting too. 

What can we do as Christians to lift up others who are suffering?  Or, what can we do when we are the ones going through a painful time?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Importance of a Retreat



This past month we took 75 students from our youth group on a fall retreat.  We were up in the Tennessee mountains, away from everyday life.  We did not even have cell phone reception.  We spent time praying before we left for the retreat that it would be a life-changing time for our students: that God would open up their eyes to the things that they needed to change in their lives so that God could be their top priority.  I was so busy thinking about the small group of girls who I lead and helping my husband get things ready for the trip that I did not even realize how much I would need this retreat. 

Life is busy.  We have things in our lives that have to get done.  We have to work, take care of children, do the laundry, go to doctor appointments, take our children to ballet recitals and soccer practice…we have things in our lives that we must tend to each day.  While we should be spending time in God’s Word each day amidst all of these activities, sometimes it’s hard to focus like we should.  We all so desperately need some time to get away from it all, not just for a “date night”, but for a few days.  We need time to put our lives on pause and to hear from God. 

So, how do we do this and what does this look like?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Missing Out



 Sometimes we give ourselves too much credit. Have you ever felt like you weren't being obedient when God asked you to do something?  Maybe he prompted you to invite someone to church who you met at the grocery store, or maybe you felt like you were supposed to share the gospel with someone with whom you work.  We let our fears or our insecurities or our pride keep us from sharing that which we know we are supposed to share.  And then, we walk away feeling guilty because we could have made an impact on that person’s life.  We worry that they will not know the love of Christ because we did not share with them.  We are giving ourselves too much credit.  Yes, we will have to answer for our lack of obedience one day, but God will accomplish what He has set out to accomplish regardless of our cooperation.  But, oh we will miss out on so much if we choose to turn the other way. 

Every day we are presented with opportunities to share the love of Christ.  The question is: will we seize every opportunity and allow them to make us more like Christ?  Or, will we pass them up and miss out on the blessing of following Him?  God is bigger than me, and He is bigger than you, and if we don’t obey Him, then He will find someone else who will accomplish His task.

Matthew 25 offers a parable that Jesus shared.  Through this parable we see that Jesus expects us to be faithful to obey Him.  And if we don’t, we are the ones who are missing out.  By obeying Him, we will gain so much.  It might not be in the form of money or fame or success, but it may be in peace and joy and gratitude.  But if we don’t obey, then even what little we are clinging to will be taken from us:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

That's Not My Job!



 “I would hope that the Christian businessman or woman, whether lowest on the corporate totem pole or the chief executive officer, would be distinguished from the rest not only by conscientious work but also by graciousness, by simple kindness, by an unassuming manliness or modest womanliness, and above all by a readiness to serve…even if that means serving coffee instead of serving on the committee you were itching to join.”
-Elisabeth Elliot, On Asking God Why

Nowadays, our churches offer so many options.  There are so many classes from which to choose.  If you don’t like one, you can change your mind and find another one. Whatever works for you is what you do! 

While options can be a good thing, sometimes I think Christians can fall into the trap of only doing what they want to do.  This can play a part in areas of service as well.  Sure, we will serve at church, but only where we want to serve. 

The Bible talks about how each believer has been given a spiritual gift. 
1 Peter 4:10 says: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 
He gave us these gifts so that we can serve each other.  But, sometimes it’s seems as if we use our spiritual gifts as a license not to serve.  For example, let’s say person A has the gift of “administration.” They might use the excuse that “it’s not their job to serve coffee at church because they should be used to do another task...a task they deem as more important.”  But, the fact of the matter is: person A just does not want to serve coffee.  God could, in fact, use someone with the gift of administration to serve coffee, as He could use another person with any other gift.  He didn't give us our spiritual gifts so that we could pick and choose what jobs we want to do with them.  He gave us our spiritual gifts so that we could better serve one another in whatever jobs are needed to be done. So, in whatever job we are doing, we can use our spiritual gift to serve each other.  Our gifts are not given to us to give us a way out, but to help us serve more effectively. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jesus Advent Celebration



A friend shared this with me the other day and I could not wait to download my own copy!

Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, has created a special advent celebration booklet.  Starting with November 29, you will find devotionals each day leading up to Christmas. It begins with Genesis and covers stories throughout the Old Testament that all point to the birth of the Messiah. Nancy Rodden has illustrated full color ornaments that can be cut out and hung on your own tree—one ornament for each devotional. 

I am so excited about this free resource!  Our church will be setting up a little display for our members to have the opportunity to participate in this celebration with their family.  I hope you and your family will be blessed as you read the devotionals each day leading up to Christmas. 

To download A Jesus Advent Celebration, see here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Meal Planning: 50% off Coupon Code


Meal planning services seem to have gotten really big lately.  I like the concept, but as I've looked at them, I've thought they seemed expensive for a job I should probably just do myself.  

A few months ago, however, No More To Go was offering 50% off for a 6 month menu planning subscription.  I began to research it and liked what I saw.

From the website:
  •  No more wondering what's for dinner!
  • 5 complete meals delivered to your inbox every Friday morning.
  • Complete with grocery list so you can also shop from your mobile device.
  • All recipes have modifications for gluten free, vegetarian, and kid friendly meals.
  • Interesting and delicious recipes using fresh, healthy ingredients.
  • Save time, sanity, and your grocery bill.

 I’ve been using it now for 10 weeks and have been impressed. Basically, I’m getting some great recipes that are kid-friendly, healthy, and homemade.  The best part is that they are awesome recipes that I would never think up on my own.  And, I have them all saved on my computer so I can use them time and time again. 

Anyway, I emailed Stacey (the creator of No More to Go) and asked her if she’d be willing to offer a 50% code again so I could share it with all my friends.  She agreed, so stop by her site and get 50% off.  The offer can be used for the 6 and 12 month subscriptions. 

Coupon Code: NMTG50

It is valid until the end of October, so please feel free to share with your family and friends. 


I read this verse today and it was such a powerful reminder that our Savior and King is above everything.  May we die to ourselves each day so that we can become more and more like Him!

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.”  Jude 1:24-25

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Cookies?



 On Saturday morning, our three year old son came running into our bedroom and said, “Mommy, I want some giant bear-sized cookies for breakfast!”  Where he got that term, I don’t know, but looking as cute as he was, I tried to think of a way to make a healthy cookie for him for breakfast.  I began creating my own recipe by substituting healthy options in other recipes. I had my doubts as to whether or not these would turn out.  As soon as they came out of the oven, however, we ate them up so quickly!  Full of ground flax seeds, oats, coconut oil, and yogurt….these are actually healthy breakfast cookies!  We served ours with some fresh fruit and milk.  Enjoy!

Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:
¾ cup flour (spelt, whole wheat, etc.)
 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup honey
1 1/2 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup filler (raisins, dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)
1/2 cup filler (raisins, dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. coconut oil (room temperature)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix flour together with the ground flax, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add the oats and salt, then stir in the raisins and chocolate chips.
In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, coconut oil, honey, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and beat together to form a dough.
Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stuck in a Rut (See Free Chart Download)




Motherhood is wonderful in many ways, and I am so thankful that I get to spend much of my time with my children at home.  But, sometimes I feel like I do the same things every day…
Cook breakfast – get kids dressed – do the dishes – get lunch ready – fold the laundry -Get kids down for nap – wash some clothes – get dinner started – read books to the kids – eat dinner – do the dishes – get kids ready for bed

It feels like that’s all I do sometimes!  When we begin to feel overwhelmed by the mundane, it makes the time we have with our children seem not so special.  I don’t want to wish the time I do have with my children away because I am tired of doing the same things all the time. 

How do we overcome this attitude so we don’t miss out on the priceless treasure of having young children? 

I think we have to be more purposeful with our time.  We need to make a plan each week and each day so that we have a purpose.  If we don’t do this, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, where we feel like we have to do the same things everyday.  We lose our creativity and our joy.  Instead of teaching our children how to make the most of each day God has given us, we allow our circumstances to put a cloud over our day. It’s time to remind ourselves that we need to make the most of our time and use each day as an opportunity for growth – for ourselves and our children!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

James- A Study Guide


Each week, I lead a home team at my house.  It is comprised of about 15 ladies, and I have really enjoyed getting to know all of them.  For the past five weeks, we have been studying the book of James.  I put together a little booklet of all of the lessons we have done each week, and I hope that they will be helpful to you as well.  

This study guide is here to help challenge you in your walk with the Lord as you read the book of James.  In this study guide, you will be asked to:

  • Read your Bible each day 
  • Memorize a verse each week 
  • Record what God is teaching you 
  • Answer questions that will help you better apply the Bible to your life

Download a copy of the study guide here.  



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup



I had a good bit of chicken and chicken broth left over from my chicken crock pot meal, so I decided to make a soup today. 

Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. butter (optional)
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2-3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
¾ cup frozen peas
¾ cup frozen carrots or chopped fresh carrots
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup brown rice

Directions:
Melt butter in large pot on stove.  Add chicken and coat in butter.  Add chicken broth, water, chicken, peas, carrots, lemon juice and rice.  Set on low and cover.  Let it cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add water or milk as needed.  

Crock Pot Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth



I love our crockpot!  It makes my life a lot easier.  Here is an easy recipe that can help you prepare meals throughout the week since you are cooking a whole chicken.  


Ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 cup water
celery
onion
garlic
spices (I used garlic powder, onion powder, and Mrs. Dash)
1 bag of fresh carrots (or chopped fresh carrots)

Directions:
Remove giblets from chicken.  Place chopped celery, onion, and garlic inside the chicken.  Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the crock pot and add carrots.  Put stuffed chicken on top of the carrots.  Turn crock pot to low and cook for 8 hours. 

When it is ready, remove carrots and chicken. Here is meal number one! Then, pass the remaining broth through a strainer to remove unwanted chicken bones, etc.  Now, you have homemade chicken broth. Refrigerate or freeze the broth. 

Meal Planning: I try to make my crock pot chicken at the beginning of the week and plan meals where I can use the broth and chicken throughout the week.  See Lemon Chicken and Rice Soup. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Zucchini Bread



I made some zucchini bread for our family tonight, and it was pretty tasty!  I’ve tried several recipes but I decided to create my own and omit all the brown and white sugars, substitute healthy oils for bad ones, etc.  I wasn’t sure if it would turn out, but it did!  I made ours gluten free this time around!

Healthy Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

4 TBSP. Coconut Oil (or melted butter)
½ Cup honey
2 eggs beaten
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (or see gluten free note below)
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup grated zucchini (I used one large zucchini)
½ cup raisins (optional)

Directions:
Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon) and set aside.  Beat together coconut oil, eggs, honey, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together.  Fold in grated zucchini and raisins.  Pour into greased loaf pan. 

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Gluten Free:
I substituted Pamela’s Baking Mix for the flour and omitted the baking soda and powder since Pamela’s Mix already has that in it.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Overnight Oatmeal Recipe and Why It's Healthy




I have been seeing all of these recipes for overnight oatmeal and about how we should soak our oats overnight.  My first thought was, “Why would I do this when it’s just as easy to throw your oats in a bowl the next morning?”  Upon researching this topic, however, I have learned that it is actually beneficial to soak our oats overnight.  By soaking our oats, it makes them more digestible and helps our system obtain more of the nutrients in the food. 

With that being said, I may not always remember to do this the night before, but when I can, I will try to do this.  I have been experimenting with different recipes for this, and have actually found it helpful to make it the night before.  It’s kind of nice to wake up the next morning and have my oatmeal mixture all ready.  I just pop it in the microwave for a minute and it’s done.  All of the fruit has already been added, so it’s ready to go! 

I have tweaked several recipes and like this one the best.  This recipe is the right amount for 2 adult serving and 2 kid-size servings.

Overnight Oatmeal:

1 cup rolled oats
¾- 1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
¾ cup- 1 cup plain yogurt (greek or regular works fine)
1 apple (sliced and cut in small chunks)
½ cup raisins
1 tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Directions:
Stir everything together in a bowl and place in fridge overnight.  In the morning, you can top it with something crunchy, such as nuts or granola. Or, top it with your favorite nut butter.  It can be served cold or warm. We like to serve ours warm.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Human Praise



Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem and knew He would face the cross soon. He had just performed many miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead.  Many people believed He was the Messiah, but the Jewish leaders wanted to have him killed.  Many people wanted to believe in Him.  Deep down, they had a feeling He was the true Messiah.  But, what would the other Jewish leaders and Pharisees think?  They were too concerned with the opinions of others to take a stand for the Truth.  They loved human praise more than the praise of God…
“Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.  For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.” John 12:42-23

It’s easy to read these verses and think how crazy it is that these people would not take a stand for the Truth.  Jesus was in their presence; they saw him face-to-face and watched Him perform miracles, including raising a man from the dead!  How could they NOT take a stand???

But, don’t we do this ALL THE TIME?  Don’t we care more about the opinions of others than the opinions of Christ?

Just the other day, I felt Him prompting me to lead in prayer in a setting where wisdom was needed.  But, I let the opinions of others keep me from doing this.  What will they think if I ask to pray out loud right now?  What should I say in my prayer?  Then, I told myself I would just pray in my heart and that would accomplish the same thing.  I cared more about what people thought of me than what God wanted me to do. 

It’s good to be sensitive to the needs around us and to be conscientious of others.  But, it’s not okay to put that above what God is calling us to do, even if it is at the expense of another’s feelings.  I want to put the needs of others above my own and to treat others the same way I would want to be treated.  More than that, however, I want to put God above everything else…even if it means I offend someone in the process. 

May we all listen to the convictions that God places on our hearts and follow through with His promptings.  May we take time to look at the needs of the people around us, but not let their opinions keep us from following after the Lord. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No Bake Oat Treats



I am always trying to find healthy snacks for my kids.  It is all too easy to buy a box of processed food (like gold fish) and hand those out to my kids.  But, the more I learn, the more I realize that these are not nutritious.  I came across this recipe a while back and I am so glad I did!  They have healthy items like oats and flax and they are only sweetened with honey...not refined sugar!  

We are also experimenting with our oldest son's diet right now.  He is only 3 years old and began complaining about joint pains and tummy aches over a year ago. It has been a long battle of experimenting with acid reflux medications, going to different doctors, having blood drawn, undergoing an endoscopy, etc. Gluten intolerances (not celiac disease) run in the family, so we have decided to try a gluten free diet with him for a month and see if we can tell a difference. We are on day 4 right now and he hasn't complained about his tummy yet!  We are praying God leads us in the right direction as we try to figure out what's going on with our little guy's body. It has been quite challenging to try to find snack foods that are gluten free.  I depended heavily on whole wheat flour in the past. So, I am very excited that this recipe does not contain any gluten...yea :)  

Anyone else have experience with gluten sensitivity with a toddler???

No Bake Oat Treats

Ingredients:
I cup oatmeal ( I used old-fashioned oats)
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter, etc.)
1/2 cup ground flax seed (or wheat germ)
1/2 cup choice topping (ex. raisins or chocolate chips or both)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
Stir all ingredients in a bowl until mixed. Roll into balls and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to on week.  Makes 15-20 balls.  

The first time I made these, I used chocolate chips.  Since then, I have used raisins to try to make them a little less fattening.  They are definitely tastier with the chocolate in them, but are still good with the raisins.  1/2 raisins and 1/2 chocolate may be a good compromise!   

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Homemade Crackers



Today I decided to venture out and make some homemade crackers.  It's so hard to find healthy snack foods for our family.  Sure, I would love to be able to always give my children an apple or carrot sticks when they want a snack. But, many times they are pleading for some gold fish, crackers, etc.  After looking at the ingredient list for crackers such as wheat thins, etc., I just couldn't bring myself to buy another box and feed my family processed junk.  So, I came across a recipe today and thought I would give it a try...it looked easy enough!  This recipes originally comes from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook.

One of our sons seems to be having difficulty with some foods so we are experimenting with different flours, so I am giving spelt flour a try.  To see the benefits of spelt flour, see here.  I decided to stick closely to the recipe since this was my first time making them, but I may try substituting honey for the sugar next time.  I was glad to see it only called for such a small amount, though.  They have a subtle, sweet taste to them.  And, I'm wondering if coconut oil could be substituted for the butter???

After making these, I am so confused as to why the foods we buy have so many ingredients in them!  It would be one thing if the added ingredients were actually healthy, but they are not!  I would love to be able to buy healthy snacks, not spend a fortune, and know that I was not loading my children with food that was bad for them.  Until then...I guess I'll be researching more and more recipes so I can make stuff from home!

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I ended up using Spelt flour and it turned out great)!
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup water (you might need to add a little more)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

2. Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dry ingredients thoroughly.  Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup or bowl.  Add to the butter/flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. If the dough is still dry, add a little more water.

3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel so they don't dry out.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle.  Lift the dough and turn it as you roll to ensure it's not sticking.  You want to roll the dough as thin as possible, try to make sure it's 1/16-inch thick at most.  If you want all of your crackers to be perfect, trim the edges of the dough so you have a rectangle with even sides.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

4. Transfer the dough squares to the prepared baking sheets. You can place them close together because they will not spread.  Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.  Save all of your scraps under the towel to keep the dough from drying out; reroll them all at once to create a final batch of crackers.

5. Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Check the crackers at 5 minutes, and if some of the thinner ones are browning too quickly, remove them from the oven.  The crackers can burn quickly so you want to keep a close eye on them.  Remove crackers from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Store the crackers in an airtight container.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Devotion Time for our Children



 How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word.
 I have tried hard to find you—
    don’t let me wander from your commands.
 I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
 I praise you, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
 I have recited aloud
    all the regulations you have given us.
 I have rejoiced in your laws
    as much as in riches.
 I will study your commandments
    and reflect on your ways.
 I will delight in your decrees
    and not forget your word.
-Psalm 119:9-16

 Even though our children may be young, it is never too early to begin reading God’s Word to them and helping them see the importance of a relationship with Him. 

In our own lives, we can sometimes let the busyness of life keep us from making God’s Word a priority in our lives.  But, this is such a huge mistake!  We must make it a daily habit to be in His Word each day.  There is no greater habit that we can pass on to our children than spending time in His Word every day. 

Our favorite Bible to read to our children is The Beginner’s BibleThe stories come straight from the Bible and are written in a way that children can understand easily.  The pictures are bright and really catch our children’s attention. Our son can’t wait to read a Bible story from it each night. 

As we read the Bible with our children at night, we also like to help them realize the importance of praying for those who have not had a chance to learn about Jesus yet. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Traditions




“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

As Fall is approaching, it makes me think of the ways I want our children to celebrate the holidays.  What do I want them to remember about Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.?  What traditions do I want to pass down to them?

One book that has been particularly instrumental in my life as I have thought about important traditions for our family is Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper. It has been a good reminder to me that the most important thing I can impart to my children is Christ:
 “The things we do regularly that help us in our deepest being to know and love and want God, the things that help our lives to be infiltrated with God—those things are tradition…For a Christian, tradition is laying up God’s words in our own hearts and passing his words to the next generation.”
Throughout her book, Noel talks about the importance of “everyday” traditions.  Then, she focuses on some special things to do throughout the holidays to help ourselves and our children keep Christ first.  As I was re-reading it the other day, it made me think of some ideas for Christmas.  Some of the following ideas came from her book and I've stumbled upon some other ones.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

An Awesome Book and a Yummy (and healthy) Dessert!



I checked out an awesome book at the library a few weeks ago.  It has been so good that I had to order one for myself.  It is called Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot.  Here is a quote from the chapter, “The Discipline of the Mind”:

“If I am to love the Lord my God with all my mind, there will not be room in it for carnality, for pride, for anxiety, for the love of myself.  How can the mind be filled with the love of the Lord and have space left over for things like that?...Throughout our earthly lives, it is always at the point of need- that moment of crisis when we cast about for some solution or answer or even some escape- that the opportunity is offered for us to choose.  We will accept either the solutions, answers, and escapes that the world offers (and there are always plenty of those), or the radical alternative shown to the mind attuned to Christ’s.”

It’s a short read, but each chapter is challenging and convicting.  Other than the Bible, God really uses books like this to help me grow spiritually.  See the book here.




I also found an awesome recipe that’s actually healthy too!  I love no-bake cookies, but I haven’t made them in forever because they are full of butter, sugar, etc.  But, I saw a recipe from heavenlyhomemakers.com, adapted it a bit and tried it out tonight.  I couldn’t believe they tasted so much like no-bake cookies but with no refined sugar or butter!  Try them out.  I only wish I had doubled the recipe, because they didn’t last long!

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup chocolate chips or 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Cook the peanut butter and honey over low heat until melted. Add remaining ingredients. When cool enough to handle roll into small balls and place on wax paper to finish cooling (if you can wait that long).  

Apparently wheat germ is packed full of protein, folate, vitamin B, and fiber.  What a good way to get a serving of it in a yummy cookie!  I bought my wheat germ from publix, but you can get it so much cheaper from amazon...wish I would have known!  See here

Note: I have made them with both the chocolate chips and the cocoa powder and they taste great both ways!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Chocolate Green Smoothie



I really want to like green smoothies, but it's been hard to find one that doesn't taste too "vegetabley" and that my kids will like.

Today, through experimenting, I found one that I actually like!  And, it's kid-friendly too!

Recipe:
1 frozen banana
1 handful of spinach
1 tsp. flax seed oil or ground flax seeds
1/2 cup Almond Milk (or any milk you like)
1/2 cup Water
1 Tbsp. unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp. Almond Butter (or peanut butter or cashew butter, etc.)

Put it all in a blender and voila!  It's pretty yummy...I didn't have to choke this one down!

Note: I used the Ninja Blender.  See here.  It may not be as good as a Vitamix, but I've been pretty impressed with it and it's way cheaper than the Vitamix!

I've also found a good lunch alternative for my children is to make smoothies ahead of time and freeze them into freeze pop molds.  See here.

A good recipe I use for the freeze pops is:
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
Handful of Spinach
1 Banana (Frozen or Room Temp.)
4 Frozen Strawberries
1/4 cup juice ( I use apple or orange)
1 Tbsp. Flax Seed Oil

*Additions: Oatmeal can be added, flax seeds, chai seeds, etc.

What's your favorite green smoothie recipe???

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Starting My Day




“We awaken each day with a tendency to forget that which is most important: the gospel. All of us should assume this tendency and be aware of this tendency. Because of the Fall and due to the effects of remaining sin, we have a daily tendency and temptation to forget stuff in general and to forget that which is most important in particular. Assuming this tendency, we must create practices that will enable us to remember what we must not forget—the cross. So each day I seek to spend time in a location where I am not distracted, unhurriedly reading and meditating on Scripture and finding my way in Scripture to a hill called Calvary to meditate each day on Christ and him crucified. Each day I need to remind myself of the gospel. I cannot live on yesterday’s recollection of the gospel. I need to review and rehearse the gospel each day or I will assume the gospel, forget the gospel, and prove vulnerable to all manner of temptation and sin.”
-C.J. Mahaney

After I made the decision to be a Christian, I thought that it would be easy to live for Christ each day because I’d already committed my life to Him.  But, the opposite has been true. Instead, I have just become more and more aware of how sinful I am and how hard it is to choose Christ.  Because of this, I have realized just how important it is to spend time with Him each day. 

Yes, I want to live for Christ and I want Him to have control over every thing in life.  But, if I do not make a daily decision to spend time with Him, what will come out?  Anger. Pride. Arrogance. Jealosusy. Gossip. Impatience. Selfishness.  These are the things I am filled with because I am sinful.  

At times it seems almost impossible to overcome these sinful tendencies.  And, it is impossible to overcome them on my own.  If I don’t take time to spend pouring over God’s Word each day, I will be relying on my own strength and I will fail miserably.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Am I in Awe of God?




I grew up in a Christian home and asked Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of my life many years ago. I practically live at the church since I work there and since my husband and I serve together in the youth department at our church.  I do my best to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer each day.  I strive to teach important Bible truths to our children and I have a deep desire to know the Lord more.

I do not list these “accomplishments” to brag, but to show that even if we are doing “the right things”, our hearts can still be filled with all the wrong things.  And, even if our hearts aren’t FILLED with bad things, are we really in awe of God? Do we treasure the fact that we get to read His Word each day, or do we feel like we have to do it so we can check “read my Bible” off of our lists? 

Sometimes I feel like I am missing the point as I try to spend time with God.  I know I need to read my Bible because God reveals Himself through His Word.  But, I feel like I’m not coming into His presence in awe.  We flippantly open our Bibles, pray a quick prayer, and think we have done a good deed.  Is this really what God wants…for us to feel proud and to flippantly approach His Word, like He should be so honored that we have chosen to spend time with Him today?  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spiritually Dry



It’s such a great feeling when you can feel the Lord’s presence.  Nothing else in life seems to matter.  I love the times when I am reading my Bible and I just don’t want to put it down.  But, what about the times when you feel spiritually dry…the times when you feel like God is a million miles away? What do you do when you feel dry spiritually?

We all go through different “seasons” in our spiritual life, and we all experience dry times.  Of course, we would all rather skip past those times, but God can use times in our life to strengthen our walk with Him.  Here are a few things we should NOT do, but are tempted to do, when we experience spiritual dryness in our lives:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Forgotten?

 
"Be still and know that I am God..." Psalm 46:10

Sometimes I wish I could always hear God audibly.  It would be so much easier to know what God wanted if He could speak to me.  Sometimes I wonder why He doesn't usually speak to us that way.  But then I think, would I even listen if He did always speak audibly to me?  

In the Old Testament, we read of the miracles God performed through Moses to let His people go free from the life of slavery they had lived under Pharaoh.  We see some pretty miraculous things take place from the plagues to the parting of the Red Sea.  And yet, even when the Israelites see these miracles first-hand, they still doubt God and still want to create for themselves an image to which they can bow down. 

Even when they saw miraculous things happen, they began to doubt God. Why?  Maybe it was because things were not happening as they would have liked.  They did not like that they were wandering around in the desert and that they were hungry and thirsty.  Doesn't it seem like we begin to doubt God when things do not go the way we want them to go?  We begin to feel as if God has forgotten us when life gets hard and when things do not happen in our time frame.  But, maybe we are the ones who have forgotten.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Faith like a Child


"I want to be as a child, delighted in life, at peace with God, living in the grace of the moment.  I want to live above the pull of depression and cultivate a heart of joy from which others can draw.  I want to learn what it really means to be filled with the reality of God, and the joy of God every day, no matter what else is going on in my life." 
-Sally Clarkson

Since I have become a mother, I have learned so much spiritually.  I am able to catch just a glimpse of the love our heavenly Father has for us as I compare my own love for our children.  I am better able to understand discipline, and what the Bible means when it says: "For the Lord disciplines those He loves..." (Hebrews 12:6).  Just as my husband and I must discipline our children because we love them and want what is best for them, God must discipline us.  This past week I learned an important lesson by watching our children.  

Our family suffered a loss this past week as we lost a precious child through miscarriage when I was almost 10 weeks along.  It is hard to go through trials and a lot of questions filled our minds as we saw a heartbeat at 7 weeks and then learned that it stopped beating a few days later.  Life. is. hard.  Heartache is not fun, but I am learning that God can teach us through these battles if we will open our eyes and look to Him for our answers.  This does not mean we will always understand why things happen, but that He can teach us through them and He will never leave us.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Entitlement



“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” 
-Revelation 4:11

As imperfect human beings, many times we cling to entitlements.  We feel entitled to a paycheck because we have worked a day’s wages.  We feel entitled to good healthcare because we pay for our insurance each month.  We feel entitled to a good meal because we gave a restaurant our business.  The list goes on.  This self-entitlement can even carry over to our relationship with Christ.  Because our life on earth is constantly measured by this give and take mentality and the idea that if you work for something, you are due your reward, we can even begin to feel like God owes us something.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Talking Too Much

 
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much." 
Proverbs 20:19

This verse caught my attention today as I was reading my Bible.  Yes, I know it is a sin to gossip and I work hard not to do this, but what about talking too much?  Talking too much is what leads to gossip in the first place, so just maybe if I worked on this part, I wouldn't struggle with gossip in the first place.   

I thrive off of people.  It seems like a lot of women are this way.  We love friendships and we love sharing our experiences with others as well as learning from the experiences of others.  While this is a good thing and these conversations can provide encouragement and affirmation, conversations can get us into trouble too.  When we are busy talking away and/or when we don't have a purpose with our words, we begin to talk about things that we should keep to ourselves.  

I am all too guilty of this.  When I look back at the conversations that have gotten me into trouble, many times it's because I did not keep a tight reign over my tongue and I just kept talking and talking and talking without first thinking about the words that are coming out of my month. Here are some questions I'm learning to ask myself before I enjoy the conversation of others: