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).