Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Laurie: Immanuel

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me
Because He has annointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind.
To set at liberty those who are
To proclaim the acceptable year of
the LORD."
Then He closed the book, and gave it
back to the attendant and sat down. And
the eyes of all who were in the synagogue
were fixed on Him.

And He began to say to them, "Today
this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
So all bore witness to Him, and marveled
at the gracious words which proceeded
out of His mouth.... Luke 4:18-22

This is the reason I came My beloved.

Who are the poor among you?
Those who don't know Me, they wander about
crying out, but don't know what for.
Who are the broken hearted?
You see them everywhere you go. Lost and
alone, divorced or cruelly mistreated. That's
what this world does to people. It draws them in
with false promises and then spits them out.
Who are the captives?
Aren't they the ones who are captivated by this
world and all it has to offer, not hearing My
whispers to try to capture their hearts.
Who are the blind?
They have left Me and are no longer thankful.
The cares of this world have swallowed them up,
the hurts and disappointments have overrun
their minds and consumed them.
And who are the oppressed?
They are those who the enemy keeps from my call.
I call out day and night, but they are restrained.

This is why I came, into a hurting world.
I see your hurt, I see your pain, I see your very

I am the way, the truth, and the life.

You need a Savior, you need a Redeemer, a Healer,
a Comforter, You need the truth
to set you free.

All who labor and are heavy laden, aren't you
weary of laboring?
I am gentle and lowly in heart. I will give you
rest for your souls.

Come to Me.

For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

I came, because I love you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies.

Merry Christmas to you all. I pray that God blessed you greatly during the Christmas season.

Can you believe 2008 is just around the corner? Time seems to fly by so fast.

Our regular Tuesday evening Bible studies will be starting up again in January. From January until May, we will be studying the Fruits of the Spirit. This is going to be a wonderful study.

Here is the calendar for January:
January 8 - church office at 6:30 p.m. - Fruit of the Spirit study (love)
January 22 - church office at 6:30 p.m. - Fruit of the Spirit study (joy)

We will have studies ready for you beginning on December 30. Please look for these on Sunday.

Also, just a reminder, our annual spring retreat is coming in April!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hi ladies.

We will be taking a break from our study in December so that you can enjoy your families this month and get ready for Christmas.

However, we will be having the Christmas Tea on December 4, at the church office at 6:30. Please see my previous post for details regarding the Christmas Tea.

The next time we get together, we will begin our Fruit of the Spirit study. This will begin on January 8. Please watch the bulletin and listen for announcements on Sunday morning for when the first study will be available to you.

Have a blessed Christmas season.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shannon: A Simple Advent

Renee just wrote and asked about the hand-out we made available a few Christmases ago on the topic of Advent. I did a little browsing and found that I still had the original form in my files. So in case anyone else is interested in celebrating advent this year, here you go:

A Simple Advent Celebration
Calvary Chapel Marysville

Many good books exist on the hows and whys of a formal Advent celebration. We found that approach too complicated for our family. Here are the basic elements of a simple Advent, one you can begin immediately:

1) Choose a night. Traditionally, Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, but we’ve chosen different nights over the years.

2) Collect a simple wreath, five candlesticks, five candles (one of which is a different color). Traditionally, pink and purple are used. We often use white and red.

3) Choose a passage of scripture and a Christmas carol or two for each night of Advent. Here are some passages and corresponding songs to get you started:
      4th week: Isaiah 9:6-7, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”
      3rd week: Luke 2:1-7, “O Little Town of Bethlehem"
      2nd week: Luke 2:8-14, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”
      1st week: Luke 2:15-20, “While Shepherds Watched”
      Christmas Eve: Galatians 4:4-7, “Joy to the World”

Here’s what you do:
      1. Dim the lights
      2. Light the first candle (each week, you will light one more candle: the fourth week before Christmas, light one; the third week before Christmas, light that one and one additional, etc.)
      3. Pray
      4. Read the passage of scripture you’ve chosen for that week
      5. Ask questions relating to the passage. Prepare your own, or choose from the following:
            How much darkness does it take to overcome light?
            How much light does it take to overcome darkness?
            What Christmas tradition means the most to you? Why?
            What can we do to make sure the true meaning of Christmas isn’t lost?
            What gives you hope?
            How did the birth of Jesus change the course of history?
            How did the birth of Jesus change your life?
            Is Jesus the authority of your life?
            Are you anxious for His return?
            What can you do to make the most of your time while you wait for Him?

      6. Sing one or two Christmas carols. Be spontaneous; let your children choose songs.
      7. Pray, asking God to keep your mind focused on Him during the coming week.

* * *

If you've never celebrated Advent together as a family, I urge you to try this year. It's always the most restful, reflective part of Christmas for us.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cora: Lights of Christmas Reminder

Hello ladies!

Just wanted to tell you that it is not too late to sign up for the Lights of Christmas. This is always such a wonderful time of fellowship. Please don't miss it.

The cost is $25.00. Please pay as soon as you can.

Please see me for your parking pass. It is important that you get a parking pass, as this will get you parked in the right area, near our cabin.

There will be a testimony Friday evening at 9:30 in our cabin. Breakfast is served Saturday morning from 7:30 to 9:30 and there will be a devotional Saturday morning at 10:00.

We will be meeting at the church office at 4:00 for anyone that wants to carpool. We will be getting some dinner, make an essential run to Starbucks and then head out to Warm Beach for an evening of fun!!

Hope to see you there!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pam: Are You Ready?

During the week I am very blessed to be able to care for my
sweel little Granddaughter, Makenna. Day after day we'll read books, play games, or do fun farm chores. However, occasionally we'll do our own things. But no matter what we are doing one thing is for sure, you can count on Makenna's mouth being in a
perpetual state of chatter. She is a talker!

Recently, I was in my kitchen baking a batch of cookies for the week when I noticed it had gotten way too quiet. I called out, "Makenna, what are you doing?" No answer! That's not good I thought as I heard her rustling around in the guest bedroom. Again I called out, "Makenna, what are you doing?" then through the door she stepped, beaming with such a wonderful look of self satisfaction and she said "Oh getting ready." I chuckled (to myself of course), as I looked at this precious Angel dressed in a lavender sleevless dance costume dotted with pink roses and white fringed skirt, a velvet cape to kind of match, knitted lavender winter gloves, a turquoise crushed hat, socks, and slippers I had knit covered her feet. A basket drapped with a pink wash cloth hung over one arm while a lime green fleece bag draped over the other, both filled with her very best treasures. She was indeed ready!

Later, with Kenna in mind, I reflected on all the time we spend year after year getting ready for one thing or another. Each morning we wake and get ready to face the day. We pick out our clothes, comb our hair, eat breakfast while deciding what task will consume our thoughts and energy. In the summer we get ready for the winter, in the winter we make ready for summer, but how much time do we spend getting ready for heaven, our eternal home?

It is essential that we daily read our Bibles, hide God's word in our hearts, do the work of the Lord and pray, pray without ceasing. Jesus could come back at any moment. We're told in Matthew 25:13 Keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour.

So let's get ready and stay ready for the day we can shout "Welcome back Lord Jesus!"

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1Corinthians 15:58

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pam: I Love My Church

I have been asked several times lately when am I going to blog. What wisdom do I have to share? Well, I don’t know about wisdom but what I do know is I love my church! I cannot say it strongly enough, I LOVE MY CHURCH!

Our Pastor and his wife are the absolute best. They are not only extraordinary teachers but both have such an incredible love for the Lord. It’s totally infectious, and keeps you longing for more. But if that weren't enough we have an amazing worship team that blesses us Sundays and Wednesdays with heavenly music. We have the finest group of ladies around; these women are great friends whose energy and talents know no bounds. Plus we have a myriad of people who give selflessly each and every day of the year serving our church, serving our Lord.

But what I love most about our church is that it is family. Everyone genuinely cares about each other; all you need to do is attend one pot luck or fellowship after church to know what I am talking about. There is a camaraderie like no other. With this family comes unlimited care. If your car is broken down, they’ll get it fixed. If your fence needs mending, that’s not a problem. Laid up in the hospital? They’ll make sure you have meals. Whatever your need, they are there. Of course it goes without saying there is plenty of prayer to go along with that. It’s a safe and comfortable place to be.

I never had a lot of family around me growing up but I did watch that sizeable TV family, The Walton’s, and what I observed was that, like my church, no matter how busy their lives got or how many different directions they were thrown in, at the end of the day they all came together to sup and to share what was going on in their lives, lavishing their love on one another. I can't imagine life any other way. If you've not been there you should come see what I mean.

Now, in the Walton’s tradition ... Good night Deb, Good night Shannon, Good night Sylvia, Good night Cora, Good night Fran, Good night Kimmy, Good night Laurie, Good night Tarri, and the rest of my church family.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. ~Colossians 3:15-16a

Monday, November 5, 2007

Fran: Who are you?

Have you ever noticed that people tend to live up to your expectations of them? I have a family member who has a reputation for being late. We talked about it one time and she told me that no matter how many times she wasn’t late, she still couldn’t change the reputation so she figured why fight it? If she was going to be harassed for being late anyway, she might as well be!

Unfortunately, I’ve known several people who were told all their lives that they were stupid, worthless and good for nothing. Guess how they turned out? Believing those lies and living up to them.

It works the other way too though. You’ve probably heard stories of how someone kept pressing toward a goal simply because someone else believed in them. They were told they were smart, funny, gifted, etc. and they believed it. They lived their lives believing it and accomplishing great things.

We hear a lot of voices in our world today telling us who we are. Unfortunately, most of what we hear isn’t true.

What is the truth? That can be answered by asking the question; “Who does God say that I am?”

God’s word says:

I am made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27)

I am a child of God (John 1:12)

I am a temple–a dwelling place–of God. His Spirit and His life live in me (1 Corinthians 3:16)

I am a saint (Ephesians 1:18)

I am righteous and holy (4:24)

I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 5:16)

I am God’s workmanship–His handiwork–born anew in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:10)

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)

I will resemble Christ when He returns (1 John 3:1-2)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

I am God’s treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14:2)

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will–to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:3-8)

The things written above are the truth; about me, about you and about everyone who belongs to Christ. We have value in Him; far more than the world knows, far more than we comprehend.

Lord, I pray that you would help us know just how great Your love for us truly is. Please help us to remember who we are in You and live like we believe it. Please help us to also remember the value of our fellow believers and to treat them accordingly. Thank You, Lord, for all You have done for us. We wait anxiously for Your return. We love You.


Shannon: Kari's Post

Kari wrote an interesting post on her blog Thursday. It reminded me of the story of the missionary who was driving down a remote, pot-holed road (no, not my driveway ... but close) when he came upon an elderly man carrying a large bag over his shoulder. It was clear by the way the man walked that the bag was very heavy. Stopping his truck, the missionary asked the traveler if he'd like a ride. The elderly man nodded and climbed up on the truck's tailgate--but though he had accepted a ride, he continued to hold that large burden on his shoulder. He could have so easily let it slip from his back, and let the very thing that carried him carry his burden also.

Jesus came to die for our sins--yes. And He came to release us of the fear of the grave. But He also came to relieve us of our burdens. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-29).

I'm sure many of us can relate to Kari's post. Check out Burdens Not Meant to Carry.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Shannon: Let's Talk

This morning in church, Pastor Dave posed the question: what would you do if you knew how long you had left to live? Let's say you knew you had two weeks. What would you do with those two weeks?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Shannon: Welcome, Pam!

Pam Severns, who has been serving the women of Joyful Life through the recording ministry (a much-appreciated blessing!) will be joining the Joyful Life blog as our newest contributor. For those of you who missed out on Pam's blog when she had it way back when, I know that you'll enjoy her writing. Pam's a real thinker, a big reader, a devoted follower ... and she has an awesome sense of humor.

Watch for her first post, which I hope is coming soon!

Laurie: His Royal Bounty

O Father, my heart is yearning for more time with you after Pastor Jon's message last night, at Home Fellowship.

He spoke about Amos 8:11, "That in the last days there will be a famine of hearing the words of the LORD." (Plural) Not preaching and teaching the Word, because we can hear the Word Sundays and Wednesdays, on the internet, on ipods, on TV, at seminars and conferences--we have as much of the Word as we want. But it's Your words we're not hearing, Lord.

You show me that we come to church desiring to worship and give offerings and to hear Your heart, but our lives are still a mess. Nothing we try seems to work; we are restless and weary and we wonder, why? Our marriages are the same as the worlds'. We can't understand each other. Our kids are struggling with life.

Are we in captivity?

In Amos 5:21-27, God says, "I hate, I despise your feast days and I do not savor your sacred assemblies....though you offer offerings to Me, I will not accept them...Take away the noise of your songs....did you not offer Me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness?....You also carried.....your gods and idols, which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into captivity, says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts."

Psalm 106:13-15 They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel. But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.

Do we think we are any different?

We can't hear His words to us. We have so many gods (distractions) to keep us from Him. Do we think gods and idols are only statues put on a shelf? They are whatever keeps us from coming to His throne. The stores are full, the TV is full, magazines, books and novels, music, lusts for other things, cares for this world. Where can we go next, what can we buy next, what can we make next, hours of TV, (who's on Larry King tonight), on and on. Constant noise.

Then reading in 1 Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chr. 9:1-12 today You added even more, LORD.

The queen of Sheba came to Solomon because she had heard of his fame and his relation to the name of the LORD. She came with hard questions and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all of her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had made, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. She said to the king, "'Your achievements and wisdom are true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed not even half was told me of your wisdom and wealth...how happy your men and officials must be who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom. Praise be to the LORD your God!' King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left & returned to her own country."

In Matthew 12:42 Jesus said, "The queen of the south,(Sheba), will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here." Commentaries say she may have come from southern Arabia--a 1200-mile camel ride across hot deserts.

Yet we can't even get up an hour or two early to come and lay before Your feet, to seek Your words. To talk with You about all that is on our minds, to ask You the hard questions and to bring You gifts of praise and adoration for all You've done. We can't see that only half was told us of Your wisdom and wealth, until we come and see with our own eyes.

Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Have you come and laid in His presence lately? Maybe you don't feel worthy enough to see yourself laying before His throne. Try picturing yourself laying under the cross first, with His blood dripping down upon you, cleansing and forgiving you. Then come and bring your gifts of praise and see what He has from His royal bounty for you.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Shannon: Links

If you'll look on the sidebar, below our archives, I've added a list of links to bloggers/sites from church. Will you scan the list and tell me who I'm missing? I don't want to leave anyone out, so if you have a link and want to share, post a comment and I'll add the URL.


Shannon: Melissa's Amazing Turkey-Vegetable Chowder

At Gina Detlor's baby shower a few months back, Melissa Allestad made this chowder ... and I have to tell you, it's delicious. We usually just about live on Cabbage Patch Soup in the winter, but I think this year we'll be living on CPS and Melissa's chowder.

Thanks for sharing, Melissa! (BTW--Melissa just created a blog. Visit her at: Sunny Acres.

Turkey-Vegetable Chowder

This is my family's very favorite fall soup. I usually double the recipe for our family of 6, and we usually don't have leftovers. Very good with a loaf of nice crusty bread!

1/4 c butter
2 onions
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp curry powder
3 c chicken broth
1 potato, chopped
1 c carrots, thinly sliced
1 c celery, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp dried sage or poultry seasoning
3 c chopped turkey-ham
1 1/2 c half & half
10 oz pkg frozen, chopped spinach

Melt butter in a small Dutch oven, or heavy bottomed saucepot. Add onions and saute for 10 minutes. Stir in flour and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, potato, carrots, celery, parsley and sage. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 t0 15 minutes. Add turkey-ham, half & half and frozen spinach. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until heated through, about 15 minutes. Makes 8 cups.

Cora: Christmas Tea

Come join us for our annual Christmas Tea on December 4, 2007.

This is always a great time of fellowship together so don't miss it!

For this year's Tea, we need some wonderful ladies to help host a table. This will include decorating your table with beautiful Christmas decorations, providing the table setting (plates, bowls, silverware, napkins) and helping to make it a wonderful atmosphere.

We will also be having an ornament exchange. Find the perfect ornament for under $5.00 and share it with the women.

Don't forget your tea cups because what kind of tea would it be if we didn't serve tea! Bring the fanciest one you can find.

There will also be a devotional by Shannon Woodward. You don't want to miss that.

If you have any questions or want to help, please let me know and I will tell you how to get in touch with Nancy Henry (or check the bulletin for her contact information).

Watch the bulletin and listen to the announcements given on Sunday for more information.

This is always a wonderful time together. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shannon: Taco Soup 2

Kim posted a Taco Soup recipe here awhile back and mentioned that there were several versions. I just found (and made) one that is "Weight Watchers Friendly." :) You should smell what I'm smelling right now as this cooks in the crock pot. And the one tiny taste I took has me already anticipating my first bowlful.

Taco Soup 2

1 lb extra-lean ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
1 large onion, diced
2 (15 ounce) cans chili beans (I used hot chili beans)
1 (15 ounce) can zesty beans (I couldn't find this so I subbed Pinto beans and chili powder)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can corn, undrained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 (4 1/2 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (1 ounce) envelope ranch dressing mix

Brown beef or turkey with the chopped onion. Add everything to a large pot and heat for 30 minutes OR add everything to the crock pot and heat on high for a few hours, till hot throughout.

One cup of this = 2 WW points, which means a cup has roughly 100 calories. This doesn't seem like taco soup as much as it seems like chili with corn and broth. Does that make sense? I can already tell we're going to love this.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shannon: Allestads' Open House

Roger and Melissa Allestad would like to invite everyone to their open house this Saturday from 3-6 pm. Since she probably doesn't have time to send out an invitation, she thought this might be the best way to get the news out to everyone.

If you've been to their house before, this new one is just down the street from the old house. Go south on Home Acres Road. It's a big white house with a white picket fence (how appropriate for Melissa, don't you think? :) on the right just before the bend, and she says it's the only white house on the road.

I'm going to send out the actual address in a general email (I'm reluctant to post addresses and phone numbers on the internet, you know?) so if you don't receive one soon, let me know and I'll add you to my email list. Also, their phone number is in the directory.

They always decorate everything so homey and warm. I can't wait to see this new place. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shannon: Echoes

I wrote this for my blog a few years ago, but I came upon it this morning when searching through some old posts and thought I might reprint it here. I apologize right up front for the "c" word, but there's no other way to quote it.

Zac was only two when we started our goat adventure. No doubt, that played a big part in our decision to name the two brother goats "Grover" and "Elmo." I have no idea why we named the third "Mama Goat," unless it was the fact that she was old enough to have given birth to the other two. Or maybe our brains were tuckered.

Mama Goat owned a pair of horns--sharp, scary horns. I liked her fine when I went out alone to feed her, and didn't give her pointy weapons a second thought, but whenever Zac toddled after me, I went into full alert.

"No, no, Zac. Stay away from that one. That goat has horns that will hurt you."

The alarm in my voice chased his natural curiosity. He'd give her a solemn glance and slide a step or two closer to me.

I must have warned him plenty, because one afternoon, when my dad came to visit, we took him out to the goat pen to introduce him to the rest of the family.

"Zac, tell Grandpa Mike what the goats' names are," I prompted.

He pointed to the two brothers first. "That's Grover, and that's Elmo." Then he aimed his pudgy little finger toward Mama Goat. "And that's 'Horns-That-Will-Hurt-You.'"

It's funny what they pick up--and what they repeat.

I got another reminder a few months later when we left Zac with my uncle one evening and went out for a high-chairless dinner in a no-baby restaurant. We weren't gone long. When we returned, Uncle Doug was snickering.

"You'll never guess what I just overheard," he said. He then set up the scene: he was reading the paper upstairs in the kitchen, Zac was playing with his toy cars in the den just below the kitchen. The railings between the kitchen and the lower den allowed Uncle Doug to hear every screech and motor rev.

After driving one car around the floor for a few minutes, Zac said, in a high, momish voice, "Dave ... slow down."

Upstairs, Uncle Doug grinned.

Zac drove the car another lap around the carpet, and then said again--in my voice, only a tad more insistent this time--"Dave, I said, 'slow down.'"

Apparently, the imaginary Dave didn't obey the imaginary me. Because after one more trip around the imaginary track, Zac crashed his car into another. As the dust settled, he said, "See, Dave? I told you to slow down."

It's true, you know, that little pitchers have big ears.

Recently, while out shopping, I got another reminder. I was out on a yarn quest, down on my hands and knees in front of a bin at the craft store, when I heard a dad and daughter arguing. I looked up and saw them walking past my aisle. The little imp was adorable, and no more than three. He held her on his hip. Just as they passed my view, I heard him say, "Why don't you just shut up? I'm sick of your crap!" and without missing a beat, she said right back, "Yeah? Well, I'm sick of your crap!"

Oh, there are so many better things we can pass on to our children. Since we know they're listening, and we know they're little mina birds and love nothing more than appropriating our words and mimicking our tone and throwing it all right back at us, maybe we could give a little more thought to the words we pass along.

"I was wrong" is nice. Especially if it's followed up with, "I'm sorry ... will you forgive me?" And you can never make a mistake with "I'm proud of you" or "I'm glad you're mine" or, best of all, "I love you."

When we're purposeful about our legacy, when we take just a half second to think about the words we're releasing into the air, we sometimes get rewarded with unexpected and wonderful surprises. Sometimes, those echoes come back to us.

When Zac was little, the last thing I used to tell him every night, before turning out his little Ninja Turtle lamp, was, "I always wanted a boy just like you."

One night, after I'd had a long, hard day and really needed a back rub or a milk chocolate Dove bar or something equally comforting, Zac appeared in the doorway to my office and popped his head in. "Know what, Mama?" he said. "I always wanted a mom just like you."

I'm so grateful he was listening.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

It's that time of month again. Here is the calendar for November:

November 13 - Titus Study 3 - church office - 6:30
November 27 - Titus Study 4 - church office - 6:30

You will be getting your study questions for Titus Study 4 on November 13. If you can't make it that night, please let me know and I will get a study for you as soon as possible.

Don't forget to sign up for the Lights of Christmas!! This year it is November 30 through December 1. The cost is $25.00. If you are planning on coming, please come find me to get your parking pass. When you have this pass, the people at Warm Beach will show us where to park and someone will transport us to our cabin. There will be a testimony Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. at the cabin. Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. There will be a devotional at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. This is always such a good time of fellowship! Please don't miss it!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kim: Invisible Women

I came across this online awhile back. My search to find the original author, "Charlotte", came up empty. I hope it encourages you. :)

I’m invisible...

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?”

Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “Pick me up right around 5:30, please.”

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress;it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.”

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

In the days ahead I would read — no, devour — the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals– we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.”

And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.

And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fran: A Mom's Version of 1 Corinthians 13

I read this last night in our group and was asked by several people to post it here. This is from a devotional bible I have but was originally in a book called "When the handwriting on the wall is in brown crayon" by Susan L. Lenzkes.


Though I lecture and harp at my children and have not love, I will be background noise to rebellious thoughts.

And though I wisely warn them not to use the street as a playground, or they'll be killed; and though I patiently explain why snails live in mobile homes, and I give endless answers to life's other mysteries; and though I have faith that can remove mountains of ignorance - yet never hug my children - I have taught nothing.

And though I slave over a steaming stove with balanced diets and complicated recipes and even burn my fingers - yet never smile as I serve - I have not really fed them.

A truly loving mother suffers through unfinished sentences, clutter, nicks on furniture, sleepless nights and adolescent insults, and is kind enough to think her kids are the greatest. A loving mother tries not to resent her children for being free like she used to be, and she doesn't brag about how she never talked to her mom that way.

Real love considers a childish nightmare more urgent than her need for sleep; is not shattered by the title "Meanest Mom"; doesn't shame a toddler who breaks training or a teen who still spills milk; steadfastly refuses to entertain visions of escape; and does not smirk as her child trips over the toy he refused to put away (but with silent wisdom rejoices in the effective lessons of experience).

Mother love has arms strong from lifting, a heart large with believing, a mind stretched with hoping, shoulders soft with enduring and knees bent with committing.

True mother-love never fails to point her child to the Author of Love.

"And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kim: Taco Soup

I'd never heard of taco soup when Renee passed this onto me. Since then, I've heard there are many different ways to make taco soup. So if you know of another yummy way, please share! This one is a family favorite.

Taco Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef (Renee uses ground turkey)
2 cans of corn
2 cans of kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes (with or w/o chilies)
1 16oz can of tomato sauce
2 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 onion chopped (sometimes I use 1/2)

Directions: Brown beef and empty all contents into a big soup pot and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Optional: Top with tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado chunks and shredded cheese.

This recipe makes a lot of servings, but it freezes well.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sylvia: In Thanks And Adoration

My dear, loving Father,

First I want to thank You for all that You have done for me. You called me out of darkness when I was a poor, blind, naked wretch of a woman, drowning in sorrow. You knew that I needed You, even when I didn't, so You pursued me with Your love until You won me over. You loved me first. How romantic! Who says there is no such thing as a knight in shining armor?

I want to thank You for watching over me in the midst of my joys and sorrows. For choosing the right husband for me who has shown me how Jesus loves me. For never leaving me when my world seemed to crash down all around me when I got pregnant and found out that Noelle would have so many struggles in her life. For never leaving me when it took me longer than I would have liked to move beyond my grief. For making Your presence so real to me when Noelle was struggling for her life in the hospital.

I love you for comforting me with Your word and presence when Jason wanted to go live with his dad who doesn't know you and doesn't want to. Yet. For seeing me through the loss of so many loved ones when my church imploded. For removing us from there and then restoring some of those loved ones to me in Your perfect time. For teaching me so many valuable lessons from it all.

I thank you for bringing us to a strong, healthy church family where people love us and are patient with our sometimes slow process of growth and healing. I am grateful for Jeff's successful business in our home. What a wonderful, unexpected blessing that has turned out to be and I have to give You all the glory for it because it is so obvious that You orchestrated the whole thing!

I praise You for protecting me and never giving up on me, in my rebellion, before I gave my life to You. I was involved in so many wicked things and You waited for me with such patience and long-suffering. I am thankful for Your patience that is with me still, as a silly little girl, in my walk with You now. I am so grateful that You promised to complete the work that You have begun because there is still so much work to do and that you have even used me on occasion and allowed me to see it.

I thank You for promising me that when this life has been fulfilled here on earth that I have an eternal life waiting for me with You. That this world is not all there is but my life has meaning and purpose here, although I won't always understand what that is.

I love You and praise You for being in control even when everything seems to be spinning out of control. I thank You for helping me with the emotional difficulties that can come with the symptoms of Peri-menopause. What a mind-bender that was! Yet You are even the God of that!

With all that You are and all that You've done, not only in my life but throughout the ages, how can I not love You? But even so, sometimes my love falls so short. And yet You still encourage me to walk and move forward. You are still at my side and You still speak loving-kindness to me.

What an amazing God You are! I thank You, I love You, I adore You, I praise You and Honor You!

Your little girl,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fran: Pumpkin Chip Muffins

First you need to know that this recipe was given to me by Jennifer. Second you need to know that it's very good! :)

Pumkin Chip Muffins

4 eggs
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix eggs, pumpkin, oil and sugar together until smooth.
3. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry just until moistened; stir in chocolate chips.
5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen muffins.

I usually reduce the oil to 3/4 cup and they still taste good (but have about 52 calories less per muffin!) The recipe doesn't specify what type of chocolate chip but I have used milk chocolate, semi-sweet and bittersweet. Bittersweet is my hands down favorite as it lends a good chocolate taste but not a lot of sweetness. And the bonus is it's good for you! :) (BTW, you can buy all three types of chocolate in the bulk section at WinCo. very reasonably. They have a very good bittersweet chocolate. ) I have also used maple chips and they make a mean muffin! Next I'm going to try cinnamon chips; I think that will be quite good too. (I get my maple chips online at The Prepared Pantry.)

These are really good with a hot cup of coffee! Thanks Jen!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shannon: Home Organization Contest

We've had a lot of discussion (some here, some in person) about getting our homes organized. Up for a challenge? I just discovered a great site that is offering a contest for the month of November. Choose either one room or one small space, take a "before" picture, get busy cleaning and tossing, and then take an "after" shot. Last time this contest was offered, the grand prize was $100. But even without that incentive, wouldn't it be nice to have your house clean for Christmas?

Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie for more details. While you're there, check out their "Menu Plan Monday" and "Slow Cooking" recipes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

Just to help you out a little, we have decided to post a monthly calendar to help you keep track of upcoming events.

Here it is for October:
October 9 - Titus Study 1 - Church Office at 6:30
October 23 - Titus Study 2 - Church Office at 6:30

Keep in mind that our annual mini-retreat to the Lights of Christmas is November 30 through December 1. I will be posting more details for this on our November calendar.

Looking forward to a wonderful year together!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Laurie: Pretzel Turtles

For all you busy moms, I found this recipe in a magazine and thought, Christmas is just around the corner. It seems like it would be an easy, good gift for family and friends. Wrapped up with love and a little colored cellophane, tied with a ribbon and gift card and it's all ready to give.

Pretzel Turtles

Makes 24

24 small pretzels
24 Rolo candies
(caramel-covered chocolates)
24 pecan halves

1 Preheat oven to 300 degrees
2 Arrange the pretzels in a single layer
on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Place one Rolo on each pretzel.
3 Bake for 4 minutes. While candy is
warm, press a pecan half onto each candy-covered pretzel. Cool completely,
then enjoy or store in an airtight

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Laurie: Quick-Fix Beef Burrito Skillet

This is really good and so easy. Sue Wendt gave it to me.
Beef burritos reinvented.

Quick-Fix Beef Burrito Skillet

Prep: 10 min. Total 35 min.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 pkg. (1 1/4 oz.) Taco seasoning mix
1 can (19 oz.) kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup salsa
1 cup water
4 flour tortillas (6 inch), cut into 1 1/2-inch squares
1 cup Mexican style shredded four cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped green onions (about 1 large)

Brown meat in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain.

Add seasoning mix, beans, salsa and water; stir. Bring
to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min.

Stir in tortillas; top with cheese. Cover; let stand
5 min. or until cheese is melted. Top with sour
cream and onions.

Makes 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each.

Jazz it up: Top with your favorite mexican-style
toppings just before serving, such as shredded
lettuce, chopped tomatoes and/or chopped avocados.

Sue said she liked taco chips with it instead of the
flour tortillas as well. It Gives it crunch.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sylvia: Contentment

As a stay-at-home mommy this late in my life, I find myself being tempted from time to time to be discontent. Truth be known, I'm probably not the only one. It is so easy to find ourselves wishing for a better this or different that, isn't it? The world around us is saturated in discontent and it's so easy to be influenced and drawn into it. All we have to do is watch a few TV commercials and soon we can want what we can't afford and desire to be who we cannot be.

Any time I find myself in this state for whatever reason, mommyitis or restlessness, I have to come back to the place where I know that the deepest longing of my heart is for a closer relationship with Jesus. He is the true longing of my soul. Nothing or no one else will ever fill the yearning and desires of our hearts. Not works, power, position, food, men, drugs, booze, jewelry, clothes, cars or mansions. And the list goes on.

The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11 that he learned to be content in any situation, whether in plenty or not enough, humbled or exalted. He knew his strength to endure and overcome came from the Lord. In Hebrews 13:5 we are challenged to be content and given the reason why ... because Jesus said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. My desire is to be content in Jesus, in the life that He has given me and the calling that He has placed on that life. I desire that for you too because that is where peace and joy are found--in contentment.

I read a poem the other morning that so touched my heart that I really wanted to share it with you. Whoever wrote this poem seems like a Godly woman. She just wanted to serve her King not realizing that she was doing just that, right in the place where he had her. Discontentment had come in and robbed her of her peace and joy. It was only when she accepted His will for her life that she became still.

I longed to walk along an easy road,

And leave behind the dull routine of home,

Thinking in other fields to serve my God;

But Jesus said, "My time has not yet come."

I longed to sow the seed in other soil,

To be unfettered in the work and free,

To join in other laborers in their toil;

But Jesus said, " 'Tis not My choice for thee."

I longed to leave the desert, and be led

To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,

That I might win them; but the Master said,

"I have not called thee, publish here my name."

I longed to fight the battles of my King,

Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;

But my great Captain bade me wait and sing

Songs of His conquest in my quiet life.

I longed to leave the uncongenial sphere,

Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,

To feel I had some human helper near,

But Jesus bade me guard one lonely gate.

I longed to leave the round of daily toil,

Where no one seemed to understand or care;

But Jesus said, "I choose for thee this soil,

That thou might'st raise for me some blossoms rare."

And now I have no longing but to do

At home, or else afar, His blessed will,

To work amid the many or the few;

Thus, "choosing not to choose," my heart is still.


God bless you, dearest ladies.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shannon: Blue Letter Bible links

Tonight at our women's ministry kick-off, I'll be referring to the Blue Letter Bible site and specifically, to this first link--a lexicon page, where you can type in an English word and it will tell you the various Greek or Hebrew meanings to that word, as well as all the occurrences in Scripture.

Rather than trying to spell out the addresses, I'll link to them here and refer the women to our site.

Blue Letter Bible--Lexicon (for when you don't know the Strong's number--just the English word)

Blue Letter Bible--Strong's (for when you do know the Strong's number)

Blue Letter Bible--Word Search (type in a word at the top of the right-hand menu and it will search the dictionary information from Nave's, Vines, Torrey's, Hitchcock's, Easton's Dictionaries, and the Thematic Subject Guide)

I hope you're all planning to be there! I'm looking forward to another wonderful year with our ladies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kim: Garlic Lime Chicken

The title of this recipe is deceivingly bland. Trust me, it's not. Just typing the ingredients makes my taste buds water. This is my family's favorite chicken recipe. I could serve this a few times a week and Mike would be happy.

Garlic Lime Chicken

1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your family's tastes)
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp thyme

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (fresh or defrosted)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
4 TBS lime juice (lemon juice works too)
1/2 cup chicken broth

On a dinner plate*, mix together the first seven ingredients. Sprinkle mixture on both sides of chicken breasts.

*Kim's Time Saving Tip: Double (or quadruple if you end up loving this recipe) the first seven ingredients. Pour into a small tuperware container, close the lid & shake. Label container and store in your spice cabinet.

In a skillet heat butter & olive oil together over medium-high heat. Saute chicken until golden brown about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and add lime juice & chicken broth to the pan, whisking up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking until sauce has reduced slightly. Add chicken back to the pan and thoroughly coat and serve.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, or baked sweet potatoes. Cut leftover chicken into strips and place on a nice green salad. Mmmm!

Serves: 6
Fat: 11.0 g
Calories: 343

Recipe from Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely with minor alterations.

Kim: Silky Garlic Mashed Potatoes

These go perfectly with Garlic Lime Chicken. Yum!

Silky Garlic Mashed Potatoes

6 boiling potatoes (2 pounds)
6 garlic cloves, peeled or 3 tsp. minced (The potatoes are yummy without garlic too!)
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Scrub potatoes. Leave skins on, if desired, or peel thinly and remove eyes. Leave whole or cut into large pieces. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Place potatoes and garlic in 2-quart saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover; reduce heat and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes. Shake pan gently over low heat to dry potatoes if desired. Mash until no lumps remain. Add milk in small amounts, beating after each addition. (Amount of milk needed to make potatoes smooth and fluffy depends on kind of potatoes used.) Add butter, salt and pepper. Beat vigorously until potatoes are light and fluffy. If desired, dot with butter or sprinkle with paprika, chopped fresh parsley, watercress or chives.

Left-overs? Use them to add thickness—and flavor—to your next vegetable soup.

For a "no last-minute" mashed potato casserole, spoon prepared potatoes into greased 2-quart casserole; cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. About an hour before serving, heat oven to 350°F, drizzle potatoes with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until hot. Stir potatoes before serving.

Fran: Spice of Life

Well, actually it's "How to clean the spice cupboard" but "Spice of Life" sounds a whole lot more exciting! ;) Warning; this is a little bit long but I wanted to do it in one post so you read it in order. Here goes:

Periodically I go through my cupboards to clean and organize them. I try to hit each cupboard at least twice a year when I’m ruthless about what stays and what goes in the trash. Recently I tackled my spice cupboard. For some reason I haven’t done this particular cupboard for a very long time (so you can imagine the condition it was in!)

Cleaning your cupboards may seem like a no brainer but I’m going to post some of my rules anyway. These are specific for my spice cupboard but they could easily be adapted for any other cupboard (pantry, fridge, etc).

1. Know you’re going to have a bigger mess than you started with but that it’s a temporary mess. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed by this!

2. One cupboard at a time! You are not allowed to even open another cupboard until the first one is done! (If you’re like me you’ll open the cupboard to put something away, see that the other cupboard is a mess, pull everything out of that one thinking you’ll get two done, see something else that needs to go in yet another cupboard and on and on and on…. Yes, I do have cleaning ADHD! If you’ve got something that goes somewhere else, put it on the table and deal with it later! A cupboard will probably take you between 10-20 minutes depending on how bad it is. If you take all the other cupboards apart too it’ll take you all day. You shouldn’t have to send the kids to grandma’s to get organized.)

3. Do one shelf at a time; take everything off that shelf, put what you don’t need in a discard spot (more on *discarding in a minute), wipe the shelf clean and replace what you’re keeping. Most used items in front, least in back. You shouldn’t have to go on an archaeological dig every time you need the cinnamon.

4. Do each shelf; leave all the things you’re getting rid of on the counter until you’re done with the cupboard and throw it all away at once. For some of you this part may be difficult because you’ll feel like you’re being wasteful. I have two reasons for doing it this way.

  1. So you can quickly (and I mean quickly!) glance at the throw away pile and make sure you’re not tossing something you use. (Don’t take your time on this! You’re not saying goodbye to a loved one, you’re cleaning the cupboards. Be ruthless! Do you really need that third bottle of whole cloves that you’ve had for ten years and never used?)

  2. I want you to see just how much junk you’re getting rid of. Seriously, you are unloading stuff you don’t need! Let yourself heave a sigh of relief and look at all the real estate you’re just opened up in your cupboard! Doesn’t that feel good?

5. Wipe down the outside of the cupboard and pat yourself on the back! (You are not allowed to get frustrated that you have ten more to do! You have completed the task in front of you and the next task is only one thing. )

*Guidelines on what to discard:

1. If it was once a spice but is now a solid brick, get rid of it! You should not need a chisel and hammer to get it out of the jar!

2. If you have more than one bottle of the same thing pare it down to one. (The exception being if it’s something you use a lot of. Not something you’ve carried around for the last 8 years because you got a 15 pack at Costco!)

3. If it’s more than six months old “they” say to replace it. Now, I use a lot of spices and I do go through some of them more quickly than others but I don’t keep this rule myself. (Spices are expensive!) That said; if you bought curry powder three years ago to try out one dish and haven’t used it since perhaps it’s time to let it go. Fresh really does taste better!

4. Stop keeping empty containers with the idea that you will refill them! I’m not sure if that was my intent or if I just didn’t know they were there but I had six (yes, six!) honey containers with one tablespoon of honey in each! I had a whole family of honey bears and they were still having babies! They have now been evicted. :)

5. Consolidate. I have a method for monthly menus that keeps me from having duplicates but if you should find three boxes of raisins in your cupboard, put them together. (This is assuming they’re fresh enough to eat without it ending in a trip to the dentist.)

I love, love, love using spices in my cooking. Cayenne, curry, Chinese five spice, sage, dill; I could go on and on! With as many as I use my cupboards can get overrun if I’m not keeping up with it. It may seem a tedious task but you’ll feel better when it’s done and if you need me to, I’d be happy to come over and help you! (But be warned, I will be ruthless. :) )

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cora: Pizza Porcupine Patties

This is my family's absolute favorite! Hope you enjoy it, too.

Pizza Porcupine Patties

1 pound hamburger
15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/3 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons beef bouillon
1 cup boiling water
1 cup pizza cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Reserve 1 cup tomato sauce.

Mix remaining sauce, ground beef, rice, salt, garlic salt and oregano. Shape into 6 patties. Place into ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove patties from oven and drain.

Dissolve bouillon in boiling water. Stir in reserved tomato sauce. Pour mixture over patties. Cover and bake for 35 minutes.

Spoon sauce over patties. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.


Shannon: Grandma always said ...

You all know how much I love to cook (and bake). I can't ever remember a time when this wasn't true. When small, I used to climb up on a chair and watch my grandmother making Poor Soup (I'll post the recipe for that later) or red beans or breaded tomatoes. "How come you put that in there?" I'd ask, wondering at the giant scoop of bacon grease that went into just about every savory dish. "There's nothing like bacon grease for bringing out flavor," Grandma would say. I've thanked the Lord a hundred times that no one knew anything about cholesterol back then. I can only imagine what I would have missed.

Grandma was the one to teach me to cook. As she got older and I got tall enough to ignore the chair, more of the cooking duties fell to me. By the time rheumatoid arthritis had her firmly in its grip, all she'd have to say was, "Wouldn't scones be good today, Honey?" or "Boy, I've got a hankering for Rosettes," and off I'd go.

What I wouldn't give to hear about one of her hankerings just one more time.

Besides being grateful to Grandma for sharing her love of cooking with me, I'm also thankful that she taught me the most important of kitchen tips: Clean up as you go.

Doesn't that sound simple? And it really is, but for some reason, not everyone does it. If I could sit down with every young bride, every starting-out-new cook, this would be the one bit of advice I'd share (aside from a given: don't be afraid to deviate from a recipe. Experiment until it tastes good to you.).

If you don't already have this bit of wisdom tucked away in that brain of yours, start today. Go ahead and get the salt down to measure out a bit for your soup ... and then put it away. Pull the flour down from the cupboard. You can't make biscuits without it. But the second you've spooned that one and a half cups into your bowl, put the flour away. You might as well take a second to wipe up that light coat of dust you scattered in the process.

Clean up as you go. It works well with relationships, too.

*    *    *    

Laurie: Fear of the LORD (Pt.2)

But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (II Cor. 9:15)

Father, when we realize we can't live up to Your holiness, when we can't be good enough, and know we could never bring enough animals to lay before Your altar to please You....And yet we desire to be holy, and see weakness, struggle and impossibility. Then we fall to our knees, knowing we need a Savior, (Jesus Christ), who willingly died because of His great love. And what we find in Him is our Great High Priest...who has compassion and sympathy with our weaknesses, because He was tempted in all the same ways as we are, yet He was without sin. (Hebrews 4:14, 15)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1, 2)

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified....and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. (Hebrews 10:14, 17)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

Come, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Come, boldly to the throne of grace, to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Come, to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat...without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

Come, and drink of the water of life freely! (Revelation 22:17)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Laurie: Fear of the LORD

This morning in my quiet time, I was reading the first few chapters of Leviticus, and the Lord started speaking to my heart. I had always thought that the priests took the animals from the people and sacrificed them, and then their sins were forgiven. But here it said they (the people themselves) were to bring their animal and slaughter it, skin it, cut it into pieces, and wash its inner parts and legs with water. Then Aaron's sons would sprinkle its blood on the altar, build a fire and arrange the pieces and burn all of it, as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

That really struck me. I used to think we'd be so poor if we lived back then, because as sinners we'd need to bring an animal every day for the priest to make a sacrifice for us. But now, Lord, You show me that I would have to kill that animal. I would have to cut its throat and hear its cries. As I thought about this today, I begin to see sin for what it really is.

"Horrible" isn't a bad enough word and yet we come to you day after day asking for forgiveness for the same sins. Animal after animal we would have had to kill. Are we really sorry? Or is it that we can just come and hand our sins to You, our High Priest and forget Your blood, forget Your innocence, forget Your crying out when we drove the spike through Your feet?

My hand did kill You!

Cora: Blessing Your Husband

Chris and I have been married for 16 years and it was only in the past few years have I come to truly understand what it means to bless my husband.

Chris and I are two very different people.

Chris is adventerous. He loves to be outdoors. He loves to take trips and experience new things. He is always on the go. He can never sit still.

I do not like adventures. I love to be inside. I like to stay around town and stick to what I know. I love being home. I can sit for hours.

I realized one day that I needed to stop being selfish and I realized that it blessed him to join him in the things he enjoyed to do.

One perfect example: camping. Now, as I stated earlier, I do not like adventures, I love to be inside and I love being home. As you can imagine, camping is a huge stretch for me. The outdoors, the creatures, the disgusting bathrooms, the not being able to take a shower. None of this appeals to me. But, for some reason, it appeals to Chris. So for his sake, I take a camping trip once a year. He gets to be outdoors among the creatures that he loves, and I get to be with him and it is a win-win situation for both of us.

Another example: Israel. This is a teaser for my testimony which you get to hear at the Lights of Christmas, so beware. Chris had a dream of visiting Israel someday. The chance was made available to him and he jumped on it. Of course, he wanted me to share it with him. So, reluctantly, I agreed to go with him. After my agreement, I realized that this trip was very important to him. I decided that I was going to do all I could to make this the best trip he ever had and he was going to have the time of his life. I never imagined what God had planned for me as I made my decision to bless my husband on this trip. (You will have to wait to hear the rest at the Lights :)

Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zones to bless our husbands. But in the end, we ourselves are the ones who are blessed.

I encourage wives out there who struggle with being the "opposite" of your husband to search your hearts and to seek God. Ask Him for motivation to spend time with your husband, for strength to step out of your comfort zone and to be the blessing to your husband God intended you to be.

Proverbs 31:12 says "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sylvia: In Him

Have you ever heard the expression, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle"? Well, I would like to know where that expression came from. It's not in the Bible, I can tell you that. Just recently that phrase was mentioned to me at different times by a couple of women who clearly had more than they could handle on their plates. They were believers so I was quick to add to their brave yet misguided statement, "IN HIM. God does not give you more than you can handle IN HIM."

I have come to realize that God invites and challenges us to lean on Him through the tough stuff that He allows in our lives. I have a few things on my own plate that I know I could not handle without the grace and wisdom and patience of my Lord because they are long term challenges. I am by nature a bullet biter. You know, one who gets in a jam and bites the bullet until it passes. Spiritually, it is a very unhealthy trait because it shows self-dependence and self-reliance instead of God-dependence and God-reliance. Victory over the difficulties that overwhelm us in our lives can only come by dependence and reliance on God.

Take for example the story of Gideon from Judges 6: Gideon's clan was the weakest of the tribe of Manasseh and he was the least in his father's house, meaning he had no authority, yet God called him to subdue the Midianites who had oppressed Israel for seven years. When they would come to raid Israel's crops, the Midianites were said to have been as numerous as the locust and without number, but God used an unknown man with no authority and gave him victory over them with just 300 men at his disposal. I would say that God had given Gideon a whole lot more than he could handle on his own and I'm convinced it is no different in our own circumstances and situations.

Consider Job, Joshua and the walls of Jericho, David and Goliath, Hezekiah and Sennacherib, and even Jeremiah who became so discouraged that he tried to quit! Consider the apostle Paul who was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned and even stoned and left for dead. All were given more than they could handle, apart from their faith in God, as a testimony to us who would also struggle and have difficulties in our lives.

So when confronted with something that is more than you can handle in your life remember this: Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yolk upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yolk is easy and My burden is light."

IN HIM ladies. Never forget, IN HIM.

God bless you!

Shannon: E.E.'s "How to Know God"

This morning in my quiet time, I was reading Elizabeth Elliot's A Lamp For My Feet and came upon this:

How to Know God

The order of the Christian's assignment is: hear, do, know. If we hear the commandments and obey them, the Father will make Himself known to us. It is no use trying to know Him without doing what He says. To listen to one word and go out and obey it is better than having the most exalted "religious experience," for it puts us in touch with God Himself--it is a willed response.

"If you really love me you will keep the commandments I have given you." It is perilously easy to imagine that we love God because we like the idea of God, or because we feel drawn to Him. The only valid test of love is obedience. Take one thing commanded and start doing it. Take one thing forbidden and stop doing it. Then we are on the sure road to knowing God. There is no other.

"You are my friends, if you do what I command you" (Jn 15:14 NEB).

"The man who has received my commands and obeys them--he it is who loves me: and he who loves me will be loved by my Father; and I will love him and disclose myself to him" (Jn 14:21). There is the order: hear, do, know.

* * * * * 

What wonderfully simple advice. All of us can stop doing one thing and start doing one thing. And if the end result is knowing God, isn't today a good day to start?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shannon: Easy Salmon

For years, I wished I could cook salmon. That was back when I thought that salmon cooks were born and not made. I honestly thought that some people just knew instinctively how to prepare it.

I really, really, really love salmon. Every time someone gives us a gift certificate to Anthony's, I get the alder-planked salmon with garlic mashed potatoes. But those visits are few and far between, so one day I decided that I would have to bite the bullet and learn to make my own.

Salmon is incredibly good for you. In fact, I've read that we should each be eating salmon at least once a week. That might not appeal to you, or it might not fit your budget (although I get mine from Costco and it's pretty affordable). Still, you should think about working this into your life on a frequent basis.

I sometimes do this with a beurre blanc sauce, but I'll just give you the quick, simple, no-fail recipe for now. Believe me, you can do this. You should do this. You must ...

Easy Salmon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Take one salmon fillet, preferably without skin. Cut into serving size portions (about three-inch slices) and place on a prepared pan (I use my Pampered Chef stoneware jellyroll pan, so I don't need any oil or Pam. You might want to spray your pan if it's not well-seasoned).

Spray, brush or drizzle olive oil over the surface of each fillet. Pour a generous amount of lemon juice over each fillet. Sprinkle with dill, salt, and pepper.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. We like ours darkened around the edges, so this is the perfect amount of time for us, but the fillets will actually be cooked through in a bit less time if you like them less cooked.

Now, let me ask you, is there anything simpler than that?

Fran: I'm in the mood for fall...

Okay, I promised I'd post a recipe so I thought I'd start with one my family really likes since I'm in the mood for Fall! (No groaning Cora! )

Cheeseburger Soup

1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
3 cups chicken broth (Cora, use vegetable or beef broth)
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 cup flour
4 TBS butter
2 cups cubed cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sour cream

Melt 1 TBS butter; add beef and vegetables, cook and stir until beef is no longer pink. Stir in parsley, basil, broth and potatoes. Boil and simmer until potatoes are tender (10-12 minutes). In a separate saucepan or using the microwave melt remaining butter and stir in flour. Add milk, stirring until smooth. Gradually add to the soup, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Mix in cheese, stirring until melted. Add sour cream; stir until heated through (DO NOT BOIL).

This recipe can be slimmed down by using low or nonfat ingredients in place of the full fat version. It is very good with cheesey biscuits (which I will post later) and a salad if you want more than just soup. All of my kids and my husband like this soup (which is saying a lot!)

Shannon: Yesterday

I have to tell you, I woke up this morning still smiling from our meeting yesterday. Fran, Cora, Laurie, Tarri, Kim, and Sylvia--you blessed me more than you can know. I'm often struck by the "life" in our group. Sitting at Alfy's, watching your faces around the table and listening to the rhythm of our laughter, I was awed anew by the beauty God has brought to our church. You just can't even begin to guess at how much I love you all.

Thank you for your ministry to our women, and your obvious love of God, and for your friendship. What a treasure you all are!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shannon: Welcome!

For many years now, I've wanted us to start living out the Titus mandate in women's ministry by sharing what we know, encouraging one another, and spurring each other on to good works. I always thought we'd do some sort of binder-type format, offering recipes, thoughts on child-raising, ideas for blessing our families, etc. But this is 2007. We don't have to use binders ... we have the internet!

I hope you find this a helpful site. The key word for these posts is "practical." Some of the posts you'll find here (recipes come to mind) will seem less significant than others, but the fact is, as we seek to live out our calling as women, much of our ministry tasks do seem insignificant. However, nothing poured out for Jesus goes unseen. If we can offer a solution to tonight's dinner dilemma and in the process, your husband and children are blessed, then that recipe post is anything but insignficant.

As the Titus mandate says that "the older women are to train up the younger women," I've asked the women's ministry team (teachers, small group leaders, and administrator) to be the first contributors. These are women who have demonstrated maturity and who are bearing the fruit of walking with Jesus. In time (and as the Lord leads), we will no doubt extend more invitations to contribute (as our church has many, many Titus women), but we want to get the bugs out first and get a database going.

Ready to start posting ideas? We're open for business. When you join the site, use your name only (no nicknames or aliases, please :). When you post, we ask that you follow the title format you see above--your name, colon, title. At the end of your post, please add a label so we can begin building a database. Post labels will include the following categories: devotional life, marriage, parenting, home organization, ministry, recipes (let's be specific: recipes-crockpot, recipes-dessert, recipes-quick dinner, recipes-budget, recipes-soups, etc. If your recipe fits more than one category, go ahead and give it as many labels as you need), and sister-to-sister (articles on friendship and fellowship). I'm sure we'll think of others, but that's enough for now.

My prayer is that this site will bring God glory and build up the women in our fellowship (and any lurkers out there--we welcome you too! :).

God bless you!