Monday, December 1, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Can you believe December is upon us? Winter is just around the corner and Christmas will be here before you know it!

We are taking a break from our regular Joyful Life Bible Study this month so you can enjoy the Christmas season with your families.

We will be having our annual Christmas Tea on December 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the church office. There will be soup, sandwiches and yummy goodies. Don't forget your teacup. Also, we will be having an ornament exchange. Shannon will also be sharing with us.

Also, we will be going to the Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Christian Camp as a church family. Meet us at the church office at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 12. We will carpool out there and enjoy the beautiful lights.

Praying that God blesses you richly this Christmas.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

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

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

Fall is truly upon us and we enter into November. God has surely painted us a beautiful picture with the leaves turning red, yellow and orange.

Here is the calendar for November:

November 11 - Chapter 3 - The Most High
November 25 - Chapter 4 & 5- The God Who Sees and The All Sufficient One

Please note that our annual Christmas Tea will held on December 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the church office. If you would like to host a table or help with the goodies, please contact Nancy Henry. Her information is in the directory. Sign up sheets will be coming out in the next couple of weeks.

"I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me." Psalm 57:2

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pam: Joy in the Lord

They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord. Psalm 106:25

Yesterday my husband moved two of our steers and our bull from their familiar surroundings where they were content on acres of grassy pasture free to graze and move about with the rest of the herd to a much smaller area far away from their comfort zone where they have been bawling loudly and unceasingly, longing to return to what they knew and were accustomed to.

How often are our lives like that? We go about from day to day with our recurring schedules, comfortable with our jobs, who we hang out with, chores and even our devotional time has become routine, everything is habitual. Then the Lord rocks our world, adjusts what is familiar to us.

How do you react when the Lord makes alterations in your life? Do you joyfully take on the new challenges the He puts before you? Do you wait with great excitement and anticipation the opportunities He presents you? Or do allow the enemy delight in times like these, as he prowls about relishing every grumble and complaint you murmur when life isn’t exactly as you would have it?

In such times you must believe your strength is in the Lord; He will not leave you or forsake you. When the Lord takes you out of your comfort zone, gladly grab hold of His hand, talk to Him, humble yourself to Him, allow Him to lead the way and blessings will be heaped on you. The Lord wants you to know He loves you, you can trust in Him.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Laurie: Daughters

My Beloved Daughters,
You come to see Me, you won't be disappointed. Anytime you come seeking Me, you win. Line upon line, precept upon precept, come and discover all that I am. The nearer you desire to come, the more I will reveal. It is your choice. How much of Me do you want? Just enough to get by or do you want to dive in and swim in all I have for you? Daughters you are free to receive all of Me, come into My throne room and glean all you can hold, then come again, gather and carry the treasures I reveal. Distribute them to the world. Then come for more. I am never ending. I want the world to know Me. Come and know Me daughters, I have riches you know not of that I want to lavish on you to pour to a hurting world who cannot see Me. But you see Me, you have My Spirit. Come and let Me fill you. Come and seek My presence. You'll never be disappointed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

Can you believe the summer is over and it is time again for us to begin meeting?

This year we will be going through Kay Arthur's book entitled "Lord, I Want to Know You." This book will teach us the various names of our Lord and Savior. This is going to be a great study as we get to know God even more.

If you don't have a book, I have extra copies and would be happy to give you one.

To start off our year together, we will be having a Ladies Day Out on September 27, 2008. We will be meeting at the church office at 9:00 a.m. and driving down to the Seattle waterfront and going up to Pike Place Market for some shopping and lunch.

For our monthly meetings, we will be meeting the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at the church office at 6:30 p.m.

Here is the calendar for October:

October 14 - Chapter 1 - Names of the Lord introduction
October 28 - Chapter 2 - The Creator

May the Lord bless you richly this year as we study God's Word together.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shannon: Pray For the Harvest

Please forgive the duplicate from my blog, but I'm hoping we can get many prayers going up for Greg Laurie today and tomorrow.

We've been praying for Greg and Cathe Laurie and their family since the death of their son, Christopher, on July 24th. Below is a video of the message Greg shared with his church family (Harvest Christian Fellowship) just three days after Christopher went to be with the Lord.

This is aptly entitled "I Still Believe." The truth of our faith shines brightest in the darkest moments. Jesus is real to this family; I pray He is real to you too.

Please keep Greg in prayer tomorrow as he begins his Harvest Crusade. I'm sure the crusades are physically taxing under normal circumstances, but with his emotions raw and his heart wounded, he's going to need the strength that only God can give.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pam: Keeping The Faith

“Run Sarah run! Go fetch Tommy from the barn, be quick about it. James, Aunt Margret is out in the garden, go see if she needs help getting in, I’ll meet you both back at the storm cellar.” She exclaimed to her children as she nervously scrutinized the ever blackening sky. The winds were picking up at a rapid pace; the twister was forming out on the horizon and would soon be here. Daniel came roaring up the dirt road, sliding to an abrupt stop, he jumps from the old but reliable pickup truck, helps Grandpa Tucker out, instructing him in a voice that needs to be elevated to hear over the now gale force winds to get to the cellar. Knowing time is short he runs to find his wife. She is quickly moving from the kitchen with an arm load of water, bandages and her Bible. “The Bradshaws, Stevens and Parkers were right behind me,” he shouts “are we ready?” She nods a yes then without further words they made haste to storm cellar.

Daniel stepped in to assist Jason and Joey, the 17 year old Parker twins and Mr. Parker hold steady the large doors that lift up allowing access to a room below where they would all be safe from the approaching storm. As the last person stepped down the stairs, Daniel followed him in securing the lock on the door behind him.

Twenty two people in all, old and young, sat around the poorly lit, dank room watching the dust trickle down from cracks in the pounding storm doors. Mothers stroked their children’s heads as they huddled close, shivering and whimpering with fright. Some prayed continuously begging God for mercy, some hummed hymns finding peace in the worship, and some just sat quietly waiting it out in wonder, knowing in time it would pass.

Relentlessly the tornado furiously crawled across the countryside slapping at the ground, ripping out fence posts, smashing large barns, pulling animals, semi trucks, and children’s toys up in its funnel, consuming anything and everything in its path, showing no mercy.

Finally when all was quiet Daniel warily climbed the steps up to the cellar doors cautiously pushing them against the light of day. One by one they silently crept out, each surveying the damage left in the wake of the storm. Then without hesitation they fell to their knees and thanked God for His mercy in safely seeing them through.

It isn’t always easy to understand the storms that daily whip down upon our lives. Why a tragic unexplained accident happens or your beloved family pet suddenly dies, or you’re left in a horrifyingly dark arena. One might ask “Where is God in this?” Well while grief and sadness are emotions we were given and are expected to feel, I would encourage you not wonder where God is, instead KNOW He is there! Know by faith that everything God does is perfectly planned. We may never know the why but we can most certainly believe God is not surprised by anything. God is always there to shelter us, to comfort us and to encourage us. God has put people in our lives, our church family to console us, to support us, and to rally together to pray with and for us.

We need to be alert and aware, the Bible tells us in 1Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him standing firm in the faith.

We need to remember we will suffer but suffering does not separate us from Christ. Romans 8:37-39 says, In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lord thank you for these promises, thank you for the trials that strengthen us and fortify our faith in You Dear Jesus, please continue to encourage us to keep our eyes on You, Father, showing us the truth the light and the way.

James 1:2, 3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pam: The Wonder of it All

When is the last time life excited you so much that your cup ran over? These times are so rare that when you do experience them you just have to drop to your knees and thank the Lord for the special gift He has given you. You know those times I'm talking about, right?

For my friend it was her trip to Israel, it’s been over a year and still when she talks about it her eyes twinkle and beautiful memories spill out of her with a longing to return.
For my husband it’s every time he gets to come home from the boat. With his job he can be gone sixty days or more, longing for the day he gets to hug his family and get back to being a cowboy, and when that day comes he is so full of joy he shines.
For my Granddaughter Avery it has been her first trip to Disneyland. I have had the privilege of visiting this magical world where dreams really do come true and abominable snowmen eat small boys (so I’m told), through the eyes of a 6 year old. Every day, several times a day, my sweet daughter has Avery phone me and she shares her adventures with so much enthusiasm and amazement bursting from her it’s infectious. “Nana” she said ” they have tea cups that spin around…FAST, and pirates just like the movie.” “The haunted mansion was a little scary especially when the ghost rode with us.” “They have a submarine Nana, it’s so cool, and I got to ride on Dumbo, and guess what, I met the REAL Cinderella.”

I look forward to the telephone ringing, being able to hear her sweet little voice lay out her discoveries of the day. This is one of the best times of my life and all I need to do is pick up the phone.

I’ve thought a lot about Avery this week and all the new and wonderful sights she gets to experience so many in fact she just can’t find the words to tell me how awesome it is for her. I think that’s what it will be like when we get to heaven. We’ll just look around with such wonder and say, “Look at all those awesome colors, what do you think they’re called?” “This is the most incredible music I’ve ever heard, are those angels singing?” And the best part is, we WILL get to meet the REAL Jesus! Imagine the wonder, and amazement waiting for us. We will be at a loss of words to express the exhilaration and thrill of our new home.

Thank you Lord for the blessings you have showered out on me this week, allowing me to be so full of joy it poured over and out of my cup. Thank you for preparing a home for me in heaven which will surpass any pleasure or wonder I could ever experience here on earth.

John 14:2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you

Friday, June 6, 2008

Laurie: The Bible Experience

I can't even convey what my heart feels, when I try to tell people about this, so I thought if I blogged about it maybe I could get the right words.

When Elaina and Scott were tiny I'd read them a bedtime story, and a little out of a children's Bible. We'd say our "goodnights". I'd tuck them in. Then their favorite part, I'd pop in a cute storytime cassette, as they fell off to sleep; David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion's Den, or even ones about kids learning to make right choices from one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Elaina says, these tapes at bedtime are still one of her favorite memories.

Listening to the Bible when I was young seemed like something for the elderly and now writing this at 46, I must be there :0) But I wholeheartedly wish I could have had a Bible like this for my kids to listen to when they were little.

It's called "The Bible Experience", and it truly has come to life!
I bought the Book of John for $3.95 and have listened to it several times. When you actually hear the voice portrayed as Jesus, you're in awe. His heartfelt laugh when He's talking with His disciples, makes you wish you were there. And when He's speaking to the crowds you hear the amazed wondering and excitement, and even the waves lapping at the shore of Galilee behind Him as He talks and teaches them.
When the Pharisees bring the woman caught in the very act of adultry, you hear their anger and their desire to see what Jesus will do. Then the woman's soft, fearful answers, in her own sobbing voice and Jesus' kindness and gentlesness.

It is all so amazing, I began to think, what if our children could have these to listen to over and over again, as they fall off to sleep. They could picture the very scenes in their little minds and have such love for this Jesus they're hearing. How well they would know the word and be used by God and what a profound impact they could have even as children and teenagers on their peers. They could know the word better than any of us, the word would be in them!

You can go to and type in "The Bible Experience" and see.
May God Bless you and your children!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kim: Jesus is Lord

As Mike and I handed out red construction paper to our kids in the first through third grade Sunday school class, excited voices piped up from around the room asking about what we were going to do. (How they love to make crafts!) We instructed them about how to cut a heart out of their paper, and they set about with little brows furrowed with determination. A few of them pleaded for another piece of paper. Despite our assurances that their hearts were beautiful (okay, Mike used the word “great”), they persisted, saying that their hearts were not big enough. We gave in as we exchanged amused glances over their heads.

When their heart specifications met their approval, we moved on to the next step. After each of them had a crayon in hand, we asked them what kinds of questions their friends might want to ask them about Jesus. Hands and innocent questions filled the air. “How tall was Jesus? What did He look like?” For each question, they drew a question mark on their hearts. Soon, their hearts were full of question marks, some scattered about, others drawn in a nice and tidy row. Next we taped springs onto the middle of their hearts, made of white strips of paper folded accordion-style. Then a graphic declaring, JESUS IS LORD!, was glued to the end of each spring.

As I knelt beside their desks helping them put the pieces together, I looked down at the handmade hearts in their little hands, filled with such childlike questions. Tears filled my eyes and I swallowed hard at the knowledge that one distant day complicated questions, painful questions would fill their hearts. When that day came they needed to know Who to turn to. I put a smile on my face and made my way to the front of the class and asked them to look at their hearts. Then I told them, “One day your friends are going to ask you questions. When they do I want you to think of these hearts. Even if your heart is filled with questions you don’t have answers to, remember that it's okay because you have Jesus in your heart. Jesus is Lord, and He knows all the answers.”

In the land of grownups, may this encourage your heart today.

“...For God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” ~1John 3:20b

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies.

I am surely looking forward to spring and summer but am sad that we only have 2 more meetings left. I so love getting together every other Tuesday and diving into God's Word together.

Here is the schedule for May:

May 13 - Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness - church office at 6:30 p.m.
May 27 - Fruit of the Spirit - Self Control - church office at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Laurie: Mini Cheesecakes

24 cupcake liners
24 vanilla wafers
2-8oz. cream cheese (softened)
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling

Line cupcake pans with liners and place a wafer in each.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar till smoothe. Add
in eggs and vanilla, continue to beat till light and
fluffy. Fill liners 2/3 full.
Bake 375° 15 to 20 minutes. Top with pie filling
and chill.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

Here is the monthly calendar for April:

April 8 - Goodness - church office at 6:30 p.m.
April 22 - Faithfulness - church office at 6:30 p.m.
April 24 - 26 - Women's Retreat at The Homestead

Registration for the retreat out at The Homestead begins on Sunday, March 30. Make sure to fill out your registration forms and get them handed in as soon as possible. The cost this year is $125.00 and your payment is due by April 20.

Check in begins at 5:00 on Thursday, April 24 and the first session is that evening at 7:00. Please note that we will not be eating dinner Thursday night at The Homestead this year. Please make other arrangements for dinner Thursday night and then come join us for a wonderful weekend of retreating.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me either by e-mail or by phone.

I look forward to seeing all of you there!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shannon: The Trade

In light of Dave's Easter message yesterday, I dug out this old post from a few summer's ago.

The only things I can move right now, without wincing, are my fingertips. That's why you're getting a post.

If you watched me walk across the room this morning, you'd think I was trying to recover from injuries I sustained when I failed to jump my motorcycle over twenty brand new Mini Coopers down at Bellowin' Bob's Autos. Or at the very least, a mugging. But no. Mine are "exercise wounds," and lest we all forget--it's a "good" pain.

It's been a week of water aerobics, weight lifting, eliptical riding, walking and biking. No, I'm not training for the Iron Man. I'm trying to get back into my spring clothes.

I'd already had my belly full of exercise by yesterday afternoon, but Dave came home and said, "I brought you a surprise. Come outside and see." I followed him out to his truck and saw a new (to us) 14 speed, automatic shift bicycle--with shocks. It's really a beautiful bike, and I was so taken by his gesture that the words "Hey! Let's go for a ride!" popped out of my mouth before I saw the calamity coming.

He was all over that. "Yeah! Let's see how far down the trail we can get." Several months ago, a paved, 9 or so mile trail opened along our property. At any time of the day or night, you can watch a sea of roller bladers, bicyclists, walkers, and horse riders meander past our pasture.

Last week, an old shirtless guy with a Santa beard came riding up on his bike and told us there'd been reports of bear and bobcat sightings along the trail. I've never yet known a shirtless, Santa-bearded biker to lie, so when I went inside to grab my cell phone, I also grabbed my mace. Geared up, I headed back out and found that Dave had hooked up the air compressor and was filling the tire on my old bike. It was once beautiful, but the law of entropy has had its way with it. Parts of the shiny burgundy paint are covered with rust; the seat is somewhat moldy and ripped in one spot (the rip screams "Zac," but that won't hold up in court), and the kick stand wobbles.

I felt terrible that Dave was going to ride that old bike while I had this beautiful new bike, and I told him so. His answer? "I don't mind--I just like knowing you have a good, dependable bike."

He's like that. He'll take the dilapidated bike so I can ride the nice, new one. He was happy to take my old, simple cell phone so I could have the nice, new, picture-taking phone. He was perfectly content to take my old lap top so I could have a nice, new, faster model. He's very good to me.

So we had our ride. We went all the way to Lake Cassidy and then some. And sometime during the ride, maybe 50 minutes into it, I began to think about Dave's sacrifices and how often he puts me in mind of my other Groom--the One who was willing to take the punishment of the cross so I could have a new nature, a new name, and a brand new hope for the future.

I don't deserve to be this loved; I know that. But I'm glad ... and grateful.

The Trade

Mine was Your only sin
Yours is my only righteousness
Mine was Your only shame
Yours is my only confidence
You took all of me; I want all of You

Mine was the pain You bore
Yours is the healing I received
Mine was the nails and thorns
Yours is my life abundantly
You took all of me; I want all of You

I'm waiting here to feel Your touch
The weight of sin it seems so much
The freedom that You offer me is You

Mine was the the victory
Yours is the blood that purchased me
Mine is a blessed way
Yours is my love eternally
You took all of me; I want all of You

~ Brett Williams

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies.

Another month has flown by and now it is March. Spring is upon us.

Here is the calendar for March:

March 11 - Fruit of the Spirit study - Longsuffering - church office at 6:30 p.m.
March 25 - Fruite of the Spirit study - Kindness - church office at 6:30 p.m.

Hope to see you all there.

Also remember, the retreat at the Homestead is April 24-26. More details will be coming soon!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Shannon: A Chance to Serve

I caught a little segment about Kathy Holmgren (wife of Seahawks' coach, Mike) early this morning. I've known from previous newsclips that she's very active in overseas missions and has missed many of her husband's games over the years because of trips she's taken to offer humanitarian aid. But this morning, they highlighted one of her local ministries.

Kathy, who has three health-care related master's degrees, works three days a week as a community health nurse (mostly for the homeless) at the Pike Market Medical Clinic. This morning, they showed her sitting cross-legged on the clinic floor, bathing and tending to the feet of a homeless man.

"I never feel more like a Christian than when I'm doing this," she said.

There was a beauty and a poignancy to the sight of Kathy bending over that man's feet that I'm not sure I can put to words. I doubt she knows the effect it had on those of us who watched.

Today, few of us will have an opportunity to bathe someone's feet. But all of us will have an opportunity to serve.

What might you do for Jesus today?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cora: Women's Prayer

Hello ladies.

Sylvia Stevenson has felt the Lord's calling to open her home for those of us who would like to get together and pray.

James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray continually."

Sylvia will be opening her house Thursday evenings beginning February 7 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. We will be praying for the needs of our families, our friends, our church and our country. If you can't make it every Thursday, don't let that stop you from coming when you can.

For directions, call Jeff or Sylvia (their number is in the church directory) or e-mail Sylvia.

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cora: Monthly Calendar

Hello ladies!

Can you believe January is almost over and February is just around the corner? Pastor Dave was just talking last night about how fast time goes by and reminded us that every day should count for the Lord.

Here is the calendar for February:

February 12 - Fruit of the Spirit Study - Joy - church office at 6:30
February 26 - Fruit of the Spirit Study - Peace - church office at 6:30

Also, remember the retreat at The Homestead is coming up in April!

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? MY HOPE IS IN YOU." - Psalm 39: 4-7

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shannon: From Kari's Blog

I read this on Kari's blog a few days ago and asked for permission to reprint it here at Joyful Life. I could so relate to Kari's thoughts--and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's (minus the cod liver oil :). I'm sure many of you will too.

Gift From the Sea-part one

I've been reading LOTS of books this year, mostly "self-help" type books. You know the ones, how to be a better whatever (fill in the blank with mother, wife, teacher, housekeeper, cook, Christian, etc.) I've also read several psychology books trying to learn more about narcissism and the impact it had on me as a child and how to overcome the past so I can live "a normal life" as an adult. But, the book that impacted me the most this year was Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. If I recall correctly, I was given this book as a teenager or young adult but I just didn't "get it" back then. I think one must have experienced a bit of life as a woman, mother, wife to receive its fullness. Reading it at 43 brought fresh insight into the author's wisdom. Mrs. Lindbergh is the wife of Charles Lindbergh, the famous aviator. Together they went through the tragedy of child abduction (their child was kidnapped, held for ransom, and eventually found dead back in the 1930s.) The book, originally written in the 50s, but so relevant for today, is her journal, of sorts, of time spent on the beach reconnecting with herself and with God, and finding that inner-balance that we as women so desperately seek. She uses the term "shedding" to describe how she must get to a simpler life.

From page 25 she writes, "I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily-like a hermit crab. But I do not. I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity. My husband and five children must make their way in the world. The life I have chosen ... involves a house in the suburbs ... food and shelter; meals, planning, marketing, bills, and making the ends meet in a thousand ways. It involves not only the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker but countless other experts to keep my modern house with its modern "simplifications" running properly. It involves health; doctors, dentists, appointments, medicine, cod-liver oil, vitamins, trips to the drugstore. It involves education; spiritual, intellectual, physical; schools ... car-pools, extra trips for basketball or orchestra practice; tutoring; camps, camp equipment and transportation. It involves clothes, shopping, laundry, cleaning, mending, letting skirts down and sewing buttons on, or finding someone else to do it. It involves friends, my husband's, my children's, my own, and endless arrangements to get together; letters, invitations, telephone calls and transportation hither and yon."

This is SO my life and yet like Ms. Morrow I LONG for simplicity.

She goes on: "This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity ... It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul."

"One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much."

She speaks of shedding our vanity by living out of a small suitcase of clothing rather than a closet full. Shedding pride by letting go of our "Martha-like anxiety about many things." Shedding hypocrisy in relationships. Taking off the mask.

So what do I plan to shed this year--besides the few holiday pounds? I plan to shed the books about becoming a better anything. While it might help in the short term, I'm always left feeling unworthy or not good enough or worse, that I need "to do MORE." I'm letting go of the self-help and "how-to's." I feel a prompting to search for the answers in His Book. To sift what I have learned through the filter of God's word ALONE. If it's important for me to learn, the Holy Spirit will guide me in all truth. So, if I get the urge to "figure it all out," get a hankerin' for "what's new" in the library, or hear about the latest, greatest book on how to get closer to God, I plan to grab my Bible and a cup of tea instead.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. ...if you are lead by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:1,18).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fran: Whose child is this?

This post is a follow up to a conversation I had today. I figured I'd post it here though because so many of us feel inadequate for the task of raising our children (or grandchildren). I didn't write this, it's from my Mother's Devotional Bible. I remember how much it ministered to me when I first read it and I hope it blesses you as well.

Whose Child Is This?

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:21-28

Have you ever prayed Hannah's words as your own?

I have. Several times. Eagerly I've asked for God to take charge of my children. Out of fear that I might "ruin" them, I hand them over to Him.

But as I give my children to God, I often hear Him ask, "Do you really trust me with your children? Do you trust me to get them to school safely?"

"Yes!" I respond.

"Do you believe that I can guide them through an illness?"

"Of course!"

"How about deciding if they will marry - and who?"

"Better you than I!" I say

"Then do you trust me to select the very best mother for your children and for who I want them to become?"

We can be the mothers our children need because God divinely chose us for the job. Don't doubt it. He knows what He is doing.

And aren't we glad!

Additional scripture: Psalm 66:19-20, Proverbs 3:5-6


Me again! Proverbs 3:5-6 is my favorite verse, perhaps because I take it as a promise.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

How much more comforting can you get? :)

When I have those times where I am doubting myself, whether it's parenting, being a wife, serving in some capacity at church or whatever, I go back to that verse. I don't understand why He gave these children to me, but I trust that it was for a good reason. On the days when Psycho Mommy is here I really wonder (they probably do to!) but I trust that He loves them enough to have put them right where they need to be.

And you know what else? He loves me and knew I needed them too. They are a gift from His hand, a blessing in so many ways.

Trust Him to work through and in you to accomplish what he wills for their lives (and yours!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fran: Oatmeal Carmelitas

Many of you have demanded, er, asked very politely ;) for this recipe so I thought I'd go ahead and post it. I'm not even going to pretend these are diet! In fact, I'm not going to give you the nutritional info at all. Just know that if you eat more than one you'd better go for a nice long jog!

Oatmeal Carmelitas
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter, softened

1 (12.5 ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
3 TBS flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
*1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all crust ingredients and mix until crumbly; press half of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips and *nuts over the hot crust. In a small bowl combine caramel topping and 3 TBS flour; drizzle over chocolate and nuts. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the top of the caramel.

Bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into 30 pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*I never add the nuts but if you do toasting them first adds a great flavor to the bar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fran: Lighten Up!

Well, it's that time of year again; everyone is on a diet! Just because everyone is trying to lose the five (or more) pounds they gained over the holidays doesn't mean our desire for something sweet has been tamed though. So I thought I would post a couple of recipes for desserts. These can be done with regular ingredients or with low cal/low fat/ sugar free ingredients to lighten things up a bit.

Black Forest Parfaits
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups cold 2% milk
1 (3.4 oz) package instant chocolate pudding
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 TBS cherry syrup (DaVinci's coffee syrups work well)
1/2 cup chocolate wafer crumbs

BEAT: Cream cheese with 1/2 cup of the milk at low speed until smooth. Add pudding mix and remaining milk; beat until smooth (1 - 2 minutes).

MIX: Cherry pie filling and syrup. Spoon 1/2 of the pudding mixture evenly into individual dessert dishes; sprinkle with wafer crumbs. Cover crumbs with pie filling and top with remaining pudding mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with additional wafer crumbs and cherries if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Calories 398, fat 16.5, sat. fat 9.94, sodium 277 mg, carb. 56.3, fiber 2, protein 7

Lightened up:
Calories 231, fat 9, sat. fat 5, sodium 420, carb 30, fiber 2, protein 7
(Lightened up version uses low fat cream cheese, sugar free instant pudding, 1% milk and lite cherry pie filling)


Strawberry Trifle
1 (3.5 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
6 (2.6 oz) slices angel food cake (1/8 of a typical homemade cake)
1 cup cool whip
(10 oz) package frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed

Mix milk and instant pudding together and let stand for 5 minutes to thicken. Cut cake pieces into cubes. In a large trifle bowl (or 6 individual trifle cups) layer cake, strawberries, pudding and cool whip.

Calories 354, fat 5, sat. fat 4, sodium 383, carb. 73, fiber 1, protein 7

Lightened up:
Calories 272, fat 4, sat. fat 3, sodium 367, carb. 48, fiber 1.5, protein 9.5
(Lightened up version uses sugar free instant pudding, 1% milk and light angel food cake (recipe to follow)


Light Angel Food Cake
3/8 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons sugar twin sugar substitute or Splenda
9 egg whites
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 tablespoons pure vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl mix together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl beat egg whites until they become frothy. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Next sprinkle sugar and Splenda/or twin carefully over the eggs and gently stir until blended. Add vanilla to the egg white mixture. With hand mixer on med/low speed, slowly sprinkle flour mixture into eggs, about 1 tbsp at a time, mixing as each is added. Pour into a medium cake pan or into individual cupcake papers and bake until top springs up when poked; approximately 25 minutes. Storing them overnight in a plastic ziplock bag makes them moister. I've also read that you can use only Splenda and omit the sugar though I haven't tried it.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Laurie: Taco Salad

Elaina just made this for our church potluck
and by request we're adding it to the blog cookbook.

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 lb. hamburger, fried and drained well
1 cup sliced black olives
1 lg. bag spicy nacho doritos, crushed in bag
3-4 tomatoes, cut up
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1 head lettuce, chopped
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 16oz. bottle catalina french dressing

Mix all ingredients together except lettuce and chips.
Add them last, right before serving, to keep crisp.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pam: Storms Of Life

As I stand at my kitchen sink washing up the dishes from my lunchtime meal, I gaze out the window and take note of the festivities that have begun. The trees begin their dance, wiggling, jiggling swaying to and fro moving to the music of the plastic covering on the wood, flapping out its irresistible beat. The wind chimes join in, bong, bong...tingle, bang, bong with the sporadic bump against the window to make sure you're paying attention. The water in the creek can't resist and takes part with a splish-splash of tiny waves keeping rhythm licking at the shore. Not to be left out, the barn door drums out a steady thump, thump, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, thump thump while giant clouds looming overhead fill the ever darkening sky. Finally the foreseeable procession begins pitter-pattering its way through at first while gaining momentum with each minute that passes until at last the fullness of its strength engulfs us, relentlessly pouring to the earth, beckoning all to join the torrential express, pulling along anything and everything that is movable, not with solid anchor, both willing and unwilling.

Such are the storms of our lives. They creep in slowly, so subtle in fact you may miss the first signs. Then before you know it, often without warning, you are in the midst of a trial. The question is, are you anchored to the Rock or are you wavering on shifting sand? When the dark clouds loom over your head do you allow yourself to be pulled loose, swept away like the gravel and rocks that flow down the road or are you securely affixed, knowing Jesus is in control? Take hold of the Savior's hand, cling to it tightly as you experience the seasons of you life ever anticipating your eternal reward.

I love the words of Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Oh how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Oh how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms.
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms.
Leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Psalm 23:4 ~ Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Shannon: Forget it

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).

When Zac was nine, he played his one and only year of football. I was a nervous wreck most of that season, envisioning broken collar bones and head injuries and the like--but that's probably the subject of another post.

What I remember most from that season was a single play that happened during what we have since referred to as "the mud bowl." The boys played their last game on a field absolutely covered in mud. In most places, no field lines were visible. And you could tell they loved every gooey step.

In the last few minutes of the game, with Zac's team behind by a touchdown, the quarterback threw a pass to an unlikely target. The boy who looked down at the ball in his hand was a very tall, very gangly child who hadn't received a pass all season. He hadn't wanted to receive a pass. I think he enjoyed being out there with the others, but he never showed any signs of wanting to be part of the action. Today, he was.

For a split second, he just stared at that ball. And then, rising to the shouts of the parents on the sideline, he began running. Those long legs made for long strides, and at first, it looked like he would easily outrun the other boys. But after only a half-dozen steps, he turned over his shoulder and looked back. The pack was coming on strong. "Keep running!" we all shouted. He ran a few more steps, and looked over his shoulder again. And again, it slowed him enough that the stampeding boys made up a bit of ground.

Despite all our screaming--"Don't look back! Keep running!"--the child couldn't help himself. And though I think he could have easily made it to the end zone, he didn't. With just feet to go, one last look over his shoulder gave those tacklers the pause they needed ... and they brought him down.

Over the years, every time I read that verse in Philippians 3, I am reminded of that boy, and of the pack of hungry boys chasing at his heels. And I remember this about our enemy: he chases too. And his greatest goal is to bring us down.

Satan's great desire is to keep us looking back. He loves to bring up the past, because I think he knows that if he can get us looking over our shoulders, he can keep us from looking ahead. He can keep us in a state of despair, or hopelessness, or shame. Who among us has not made mistakes, and many of them? But our Father's forgiveness is vast ... and eternal. He doesn't remember those things He's already cleansed us of, so why should we?

When the choice is put to you, which would you rather spend your time doing: looking back at all your mistakes (which always look ugliest over your shoulder), or looking forward to the moment when you get your first glimpse of the face you most long to see; when you get a first look into those eyes that have watched you with compassion from the moment of your conception?

Life is too short to spend it analyzing the past, digging at our scabs, and regretting our mistakes. Today is a new day. God's mercies are new in it. We've turned a new page on a new year. And all the best is ahead.

This could be the year that Jesus returns for us. Let's spend these seconds, minutes and hours He's given us in working for His kingdom and anticipating His return. Let's thank God for the gracious cleansing of all our sins, and then leave the past where it belongs--behind us.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Isaiah 43:18-19).