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Monday, December 27, 2010

Joy and Peace

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Joy and Peace are popular Christmas words.  “Peace on earth” spoken by the angels at Jesus’ birth usually gets some extra attention during this season.  We see "Joy" on cards and candy and decorations.  A few years ago I decided that I wanted to know what these words really mean.  This is what I discovered and I can’t imagine a better Christmas message.

Peace- Eirene in Greek
Peace, rest; in contrast with strife; denoting the absence or end of strife.  It denotes a state of untroubled, undisturbed, well-being.  It may also be when contrasted with strife, such a state of peace is the object of divine promise and is brought about by God’s mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.

Joy- from Charis in Greek
Joy, favor, acceptance, grace; a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks gratitude, grace.  A favor done without expectation of return; absolute freeness of the loving-kindness of God to men, finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor.
From The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates

Peace isn’t just a pat answer from a beauty pageant about the absence of strife and fighting in the world.  Joy isn’t just the happy dance when things go our way. These words are wholeness that starts on the inside as we accept God’s Promise and radiates outward as we walk with Him.  They are the description of a life facing each day, rest, trial, work, and fun with the certainty of God’s benevolent, free-hearted, and loving Presence.

Grace and Peace to you in 2011!
Jamy

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cookie Exchange

On Wednesday mornings I teach a Bible Study.  I love doing this, these women mean…..well, I can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound cliché (like “the world to me”).  Let's just say I am very attached to these women and our time together.  The last year and a half has been special to us, we’ve grown and changed and persevered and learned so much together.  Over the years we’ve studied Beth Moore and many other Bible Study gurus together.  We’ve studied Philippians and Hosea and Galatians and 1 and 2 Peter and Proverbs just to mention a few…..we just finished 1 Samuel.  We study and we share and we question and we comfort and visit and eat and pray.  The key word for this group is the “together” part. 

I’m a big believer in community – I think it's part of God’s design for us, and this group practices community very well.  They know one another and share life together. 

For our second year in a row we’ve celebrated Christmas by having a Cookie Exchange.  We each make a batch of our favorites.  Actually many of us try something new, this is a very forgiving  clan and a great place to test new recipes.  We all bring our recipes, copy them while we eat and then take home a few of everyone’s cookies and all the recipes.  It’s fun.  The goal is to have a holiday cookie assortment to use in whatever entertaining commitments we have, but honestly most of the cookies barely make it to the parking lot. 

I have a new cake plate that I really like, so as soon as I got home I set the cookies that were left from the trip to the parking lot on top and took some pictures.  I really wanted to take a picture of this cake plate upside down, because it's also a chip and dipper.  But I'm seriously afraid that's the kind of thing that makes people roll their eyes and vow never to come back to your blog again...so I restrained.  But it's really cute, and was only 10 bucks.






I kinda feel like this is a class picture, it' makes me smile because each of these cookies represent a dear one.  I may be the sappiest Bible Study teacher in the world, but I'm OK with that.  I need this time each week, we need each other.

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
Give preference to one another in honor;
Not lagging behind in diligence,
Fervent in spirit,
Serving the Lord." 

Romans 12:10-11

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Dawn

The last two weekends have been crazy busy.   I’m sure most of you are saying “Amen, Sister.”  My husband and I have been playing divide and conquer to tackle the activities and commitments.  So while he was off with our son on Saturday, the girls and I had some time just us.  While we were driving to Subway – lunch of choice with my girls, but always vetoed when the boys are with us; my 10 year old asked me to tell her my favorite Christmas carol.  I told her that I love Silent Night.  It’s my favorite for lots of reasons.  Today I'll share one of them. 

A couple of years ago, Todd bought me the Josh Groban Christmas CD.  Although I’ve heard and sung Silent Night, all the verses, many times, Mr. Josh sings one verse in particular in a unique way that made me hear it for the first time.   
“Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace – he sings it, “Daaahhhhhhn of grace”
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "
So, I love that verse…….and I began to tell my unusually curious daughter about it.  I got to “dawn of redeeming grace” and couldn’t talk anymore, the beautiful pain of His life just caught in my throat and I couldn’t get any words to go past it.   After I recovered a bit, swallowed hard and wiped my eyes, we talked about dawn. 

Side note - With dawn on my mind I took these pictures this morning.  One is from my back door, the other is what our tree looks like as I round the corner to my kids' bedrooms to wake them up in the morning.




Dawn is the beginning.  In real life I’m not so much a fan (because it means getting up very early), but in the world of symbolism I’m all over it.  I love the potential and joy all wrapped up in the beginning of something.  Babies are the best at illustrating dawn and Jesus is no exception.  I told my girl about my first Christmas as a mother and how different and meaningful it was to experience that season from Mary’s perspective.  To realize what Jesus gave up to become a baby and eventually a man was powerful then and still is.  Redeeming Grace is God’s perspective and His number one goal for mankind.  To be redeemed means that I am bought back from something and grace means I didn’t deserve or earn such privilege.  Christmas is about God's hope that all people will be returned back to Him in an every day, close-up, REAL relationship. 

That’s why “dawn of redeeming grace” gets me so….I am overcome with cheek-squishing, cooing Christmas baby love only to be followed so quickly with gut-wrenching, gratitude for the grown-up, tender, self-sacrificing Easter love man He became.   And all of it makes me love Him more.  He is more than Christmas, He is life.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
John 1:4 NIV


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Almond Poppyseed Minis

This is a favorite recipe, especially at  Christmas.  I got it from Marsha Cook one year when she and her husband Russell taught a class for Deacons and their wives at our church in Oklahoma City.  Our deacons must've decided to invite the pastor and his wife, cause we were there!  Marsha had a wonderful pink book she taught from and in it were some very special recipes.  I still treasure my pink book.  Now probably 10 years later, Marsha and I live a few miles apart, go to church together, and minister in the same town.  

I love this bread recipe so much.  You could easily make it a lemon poppyseed bread by exchanging the almond extract for lemon extract, but I don't know why anyone would ever want to eliminate almond from anything - it's my favorite flavor - ever. 

A couple of Christmases ago I found this wonderful holly sprinkle mix that makes these little cakey breads perfection.  I make them in a mini loaf pan which to this day is my favorite wedding gift.  I can get 7 which is the only "urgh-ish" part of the recipe, but I can't bring myself to fill them more sparingly to stretch the batter to partly fill all 8.  I like them round and white on top.

These little loaves are wonderful gifts wrapped in cellophane and tied up with a bow and gift tag and they freeze beautifully.



Almond Poppyseed Bread
Marsha Cook

Mix all ingredients with mixer on medium speed until moistened well:
·         3 cups flour
·         2 ¼ cups sugar
·         1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
·         1 ½ teaspoons salt
·         1 Tablespoon (little less) poppy seeds
·         1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
·         1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
·         3 eggs
·         1 ½ cup milk
·         1 ¼ cup oil
Pour into 2 bread loaf pans sprayed with baking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. My mini-loaf pan takes 32 minutes.  Remove from oven and pour glaze over bread while it’s still in the pan.  Let set a few minutes, run a knife around the edges and turn out onto waxed paper to cool.  When I make the mini loaves, I put all 7 out on waxed paper first and then glaze.

Glaze:
·         2 cups powdered sugar (I shake mine through a mesh strainer)
·         1/3 cup milk (my preference) or orange juice (Marsha's original recipe)
·         1 teaspoon almond extract (you may add some vanilla too)


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Heritage


This is another of my Christmas treasures.  It's a photograph of my Grandmother and her white Christmas tree.  Although she smiled and laughed often, she did not like having her picture taken and usually looked very serious in photos.  We think that my aunt took this picture and that perhaps Grandmother thought it was just of the tree not realizing she was the real target.  She looks like herself in this picture, relaxed and content.  It must be a Saturday morning because her hair looks great - she'd probably been to the beauty shop on Friday.


My husband noticed this picture the other night and commented on the amount of presents under her tree.  She loved Christmas and made it very special.  I have lots of memories of knee deep wrapping paper chaos in that room.  She and my Pappy were farmers and lived just outside of our hometown.  We loved visiting the farm, but loved visiting them more.  She loved bright colors, like purple and turquoise blue and had a  flamboyant classy streak as evidenced by the peacocks that roamed her farm.  She also was a good ole' gal who could help feed cattle or pull fence if she had to.  She loved God and loved people and they loved her back.  She wasn't perfect, but she was so very special to us.  When she died we were astonished at the number of people we (her family) didn't know who came to the funeral, she served many anonymously.  I'll have to save those stories for another day.

My Grandmother died on my Mother's birthday my junior year at college.  One of my treasures is a green envelope that holds the letters she wrote to me those three years I was away.  This envelope has a particular place in my closet and they are beyond dear.



They are all very brief, one says,
OK, Sweetie,
I love you,
Grandmother


This is my favorite.....



It says,
"The greatest notion I can give you is to make the most of the hours you live.  God is faithful and to be trusted.  He provides every wonderful blessing.  My dear one, stand on your tiptoes eagerly awaiting His next surprising blessing."

She made the most of the hours she lived and she trusted God, not perfectly but consistently throughout prosperity and loss.  I think of her everytime I see a stalk of wheat or a white Christmas tree or a peacock.  Her legacy strengthens my faith and the faith of the generations to follow us both....a blessed heritage indeed.

"You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name." 
Psalm 61:5

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Fudge



I put this picture (titled "Happy Trash") on facebook yesterday and received some requests for the recipe.  My Christmas Fudge recipe came out of Taste of Home magazine many years ago......I LOVE that magazine!  It's not what I would call a traditional fudge recipe, but it's easy (just melt and set) and it's curious (delicious but no one really knows why).  It is my middle girlie's favorite Christmas treat.  One year when she was very young (she's 10  now), she snuck the tin out of the refrigerator and took it to her bedroom. This is quite a feat because the recipe makes 4 1/2 pounds of fudge.  I found it later in her closet. She didn't eat all of it, but plenty! 

It still makes me so happy to give her the first little taste of the year.  Let me know what you think if you try it!


Four Chip Fudge
Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with Pam. 
Put together in a medium saucepan:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 can Eagle Brand milk
3 Tablespoons milk
1 package semisweet chocolate chips
1 package milk chocolate chips
1 package peanut butter chips
Stir this yumminess together and melt over medium heat just until melted and smooth.

Now remove from heat and add:
1 cup (not a whole bag) of butterscotch chips and stir until melted
1 small jar marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Stir all until melted in and smooth with no marshmallow streaks.  Pour into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours until you can cut it into 1 inch square pieces.  Store in fridge.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finally Christmas Favorites

Today is the day that Christmas goes up at our house, finally!  Todd is in charge of the tree, he sets it up, we put the lights and garland on together and then he and the kids put everything on it while I watch from the couch.  I'm in charge of the rest.  I used to fill every nook and cranny of our house with whatever Christmas things I could find.  I also used to be sick by the time real Christmas came.....so I've made some changes.  In the area of decorating - it has to be manageable in one day and it has to be things I LOVE.  So today was that day, and as I unpacked and sorted I ran across a few of my favorites.  Here's to Christmas grins.

This is my favorite Christmas mug.  I have three of them now since I sadly broke one last year.  The set of four was a gift one year during our Open House.  These are one of those unexplainable favorites.  I just love them and don't feel like it's really Christmas time until I have my first cup of khaki coffee from one of them....which I had this afternoon (happy sigh).



My favorite grown-up Christmas book.  This book by Lisa Whelchel is the bestest at striking a wonderful balance on the topic of Christmas traditions.  I find myself both breathing a big sigh of relief and getting inspired to try something new every time I read it, which is the start of every Christmas season for me since I found it a few years ago. 



This is Nerfurter, and he really is my favorite Christmas decoration.  As I began decorating for our very first Christmas together in 1994 I discovered that there was no mantle or fireplace in our little parsonage.  Todd built me this wonderful little green shelf with stocking hooks.  We hung two stockings and mine started slowly and mysteriously filling with little presents.  When Todd found out that I peeked every day when he was gone, Nerfurter appeared to guard my stocking.  It worked, I could never pull the little elf out to look in.  He sits in my stocking every year......this will be number 17.



This ornament was a wedding gift and I've never seen anything quite like it.  It's a sweet little nativity inside a glass globe.  To me, nothing captures the true meaning of Christmas as well as this ornament....."For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son......."  Just love it so much.



I love nativity scenes and have several.  My first one is a little ceramic set we bought in Marlow, Oklahoma visiting my Grandma King one year.  However, the one in the picture is my very favorite.  I love the colors and the intimacy in the faces.  I love that every piece has Scripture carved into it that is the Christmas journey for that character. It was a really big splurge for me given as a gift when we left our church in OKC.  They gave me a very generous gift card that I used to buy every single available piece of this set.  I think of that precious church and the people who loved us so much every year when I set this up.  It's usually the first thing I get out.



This angel was a gift from my mom and another one of those unexplainable favorites, I just love her and can't wait to see her every year when I start unpacking.  Wish I could play the trumpet.


So there are lots more and so many wonderful memories that go with them.  Since one of my rules is that nothing goes up if it isn't greatly loved - it's been a good day full of lots of grins and gratitude....Finally Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Psalm 131 Thanksgiving Moment

Today was our Baby Girl's Thanksgiving Program at her Mother's Day Out Class.  Isn't she goofy and adorable?  This is our true girl, funny and smart - you'll see why this little disclaimer is important in a minute. 

I showed up early with my camera ready to take pictures.  All the little turkeys marched into the room.
She was ready for action - a cute little hat wearing giggling turkey.


But somewhere along the way, she got nervous about what was happening and started to cry......loudly.  So I went to her and tried to encourage her to hang in there and sing the turkey songs she'd been practicing.  The only thing she could say is, "I want you."  Sweet and lovely when it's time to go home, but irritating when she's supposed to be doing something else.  We talked a little bit and she let me walk her up to the stage.
 
Talking it over while her friends are on stage.
Our friend Shannon bribed her with chocolate and she made it. I sat on the floor right in front of all the three-year-olds.  She never even looked my way as she sang her heart out.  Her Daddy took a bajillion pictures (93 to be exact) and we all smiled and laughed. 
  
See how happy she is?  (follow the yellow arrow)  Little kids are just made for programs like these, I luuuuve them.  When she was doing what she had prepared to do and had been instructed to do she was happy and confident.


Right after she sang with her class.

As we drove home after an especially yummy Thanksgiving Dinner Preschool Style, I began to think about my girl's reaction to my presence there.  It wasn't enough for her that I was in the room watching.  This time she wanted to be right with me, on top of me in my lap.  The only reason she could give for her fear was that "I want you."  Doesn't really make sense from my point of view, because the whole reason I came is to see her and support her; to take pictures of her and clap ridiculously and even dance a little jig when she sang her turkey songs. 


God reminded me of this passage, one of my favorites:

Psalm 131 ESV

 1O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
  too great and too marvelous for me.

2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me. 

 3O Israel, hope in the LORD
   from this time forth and forevermore.


I love this little three verse chapter because it reminds me that God gives me hope and comfort and security for my future.  I love it more because it reminds me that there will be times when I don't get what I want.  Times when just knowing Him and the fact that He is the One looking toward my future and equipping me to live well today is enough.

I think about how many times I prepare for something He has called and instructed me to do (like Baby Girl's turkey songs) and let fear hold me back just as I take the stage.  I may be saying, "I just want you" to God, but that's not really it, I'm afraid. God has no great stake in my singing turkey songs, but He does want to teach me to walk without fear knowing that He is always with me because He knows that a life lived that way is the most powerful testimony.  He may be taking pictures from the front row sometimes instead of holding me on His Heavenly Hip, but He is there and He is intentional about the things He allows into my life to help me grow up. 

So sing those turkey songs,
and enjoy the miracle it is to share life with your Creator.
Happy Thankgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Soldier's Coat

This is a true story written several years ago when my now 13 year old son was a little boy. 
If you were at our church Sunday you heard Major Andy Taylor reference this story at the end of his sermon. 
This was one of those "treasure in my heart" momma kind of moments.


The Soldier’s Coat

Last night I watched my son begin to see a soldier.  This soldier is a man the child’s known all his life.  In fact this gentle, energetic man was there when he was born.  You see, this soldier is the unusually matched, shepherd-hearted, kindred spirit of this boy’s father.  These two men have loved each other and walked beside each other for many years as pastors and friends.  Each one has been a mentor to the other at times, a brother always.  This child has often been the receiver of friendly blessings, loud jokes of praise, and heartfelt interest from this dear pastor friend.

And now, this friend has become a soldier.  He’s a soldier’s pastor, not following behind to help soldiers in need; but leading them with a courageous heart.  Proving to them by his willingness to walk alongside them that he’s worthy of being followed in the things of God, because he’s worthy of being followed in the things of warriors. 

I believe young boys respond to the passion of the men they admire.  If it is sports, they become athletes; if it is music, they learn to hear it for themselves; if it is the acquisition of wealth, they become greedy; if it is pleasure, they become gluttonous; if it is their Creator, they become curious about the invisible. 

Tonight this child heard the passion of a man who loves God, family, and country; and it stirred him in ways he won’t understand for many years.  I watched his eyes as he sat next to our friend in a restaurant.  The place usually reserved for his adored father given to this interesting, yet familiar soldier.  As he began to ask about the medals and stripes on the man’s green military coat, his eyes continued to grow and shine.  Then the soldier jokingly asked if he really cared, thinking the child bored and confused with military lingo and rank..........so the child shrugged as all seven-year-olds do when something they know to be important seems just beyond their grasp.  He slowly moved closer and closer to the soldier and eventually whispered, thinking his hand was shielding his question from anyone else, “Can I use your coat as a blanket tonight?” 

We laughed at the question, and continued with the renewal of a deep friendship, but the question reverberated through my heart all night.  As I tucked my children into a warm bed in a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood and read a newspaper full of many Americans’ differing views on life and politics; I began to be truly thankful for soldiers.  Perhaps I would describe it as patriotic if the word weren’t so overused that it tends to dilute the true meaning. 

What if as Americans, as mothers and sons sleeping under many flags, we could recognize that indeed we all use the American soldier’s coat as a blanket tonight?

The letter Zach wrote after that special day.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Forever Family Day

This week we celebrated Family Day.  This is the anniversary of the finalization of our youngest daughter's adoption.  This tradition started (as is my manner) with a complicated idea that I have since simplified to be something my family actually enjoys.  We go out to eat somewhere nice and talk about family over the last year then have dessert together at home.  Part of our tradition is taking a family picture using the timer on the camera - which always yields funny results.  Dad and Baby Girl got to be the "focus models" before the real picture.........she loved the sound of the camera clicking on its own.


 How cute are these........she looks like an adorable cartoon. 

Fisher Family Day 2010

I would encourage you to choose a day to celebrate Family apart from your usual birthday and holiday celebrations.  Maybe it could be the anniversary of Mom and Dad's first date, or a special time when you know a miracle happened in your family - maybe a special accomplishment or gift that shaped your family. 

Each year our family picture goes into a little album that starts like this:

On this day every year we will celebrate what it means to be a family.  There are five of us.  Two of us chose one another to be the start of a family.  Then two were born into the Fisher home.  After that one was miraculously given to us to make our family complete.  And on November 8, 2007 her adoption was finalized.  On that day we became a Forever Family of Five.  And so each year we will celebrate the gift it is from God to have one another and to share our lives together.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (and in the Fisher Family) throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. 
Ephesians 3:20-21

And so we add a picture and a bunch of memories, lessons, stories, and goals to this book each year.  For us, adoption is a family miracle.  As one of my close friends who is also an adoptive mom said recently, "it fills me up to the top".  Yes ma'am!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater Pound Cake



Our Fall Break camping trip got rained out and somehow I found myself in the mall at Williams Sonoma instead.  Forgot how much I love that store!  Todd bought me this cornucopia cake pan....it was half price and still probably too expensive, but I really love it!  I tried it with one of my favorite EASY Cake Mix recipes.  This is so versatile.....I like to type "versatile", somehow it adds credibility to any nonsense I write.  But this cake is seriously wonderful, no nonsense included!

Cheater Cheater Pound Cake
1 cake mix
1 small box of instant pudding
4 eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon extract or flavoring
Mix well, bake for 40 minutes in a well greased Bundt pan at 350 degrees.

For the Pumpkin Pound cake I used a yellow cake mix, pumpkin spice pudding mix and vanilla extract.  I made an easy glaze with powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. 

You see that the possibilities are endless...........happy sigh. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daredevil

I just found this saved from October 16, 2006, a little over 4 years ago.....I'm so glad I wrote it down then because I have forgotten this story, and it's a great one. 


Carly illustrated so well to us yesterday the battle we face between our flesh and the Spirit.  As we drove together to evening church, she began talking about how she feels like there is something inside her that makes her want to be mean and do wrong.  She then quickly assured us that she doesn’t, of course.  But it keeps pushing and pushing her!  As a mother, my first question was, “what did you do?”  But thankfully, God shut my mouth.  Actually, I had a cold and had lost my voice.  Either way, I had no choice but to just listen to her theological discourse.  She began to talk about a movie we love called The Emperor’s New Groove.  There is a sweet natured character named Kronk in this movie.  Unfortunately for him, he is the sidekick to the villain.  He often has to make decisions about whether to do right or obey his evil boss.  Carly used him to illustrate how she feels.  “It’s like Kronk when he has a daredevil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder.  He doesn’t know which one to listen to!”  She went on to describe that she feels like that too, and do we know what she means? 

Oh do we!  My husband and I snickered about her use of the word Daredevil.  I don’t think she understands really that the voice of the “daredevil” she hears and the voice of Satan are the same because she has very strong feelings of dislike for Satan.  Her conversations about him are filled with resentment and indignance.  She knows he is very evil!  But her little daredevil is not so scary to her.  She feels a need to listen to him.  Why?  Because daredevil is a part of her.  It’s hard to believe it when I look at her angelic strawberry blonde curls as they fan across her pillow and she makes those cute little sucking sounds as if her thumb were still in her mouth as she sleeps.  It’s not so hard to believe the next morning when she pushes her brother into an argument and then blames him for being so mean.  Our morning is shot before 7:30. 

That day in the car, her daddy explained to her that the daredevil is her sin nature.  He told her that it’s easy to do things that God doesn’t like, it just comes naturally to us.  It’s hard to do the things that make Him happy and proud.  She nodded and kind of frowned because she doesn’t like to make God unhappy....it’s just that the daredevil pushes so hard!  Through my laryngitis, I pushed out one phrase as much for myself as for her.  “It’s hard, but God helps us!”  She smiled because she believes it, and knowing that God helps us somehow gives us strength to push back!

Romans 7:15-25
“15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bowtie Beauties

Now that I'm blogging I'm very excited about having a place to celebrate when I make up some new food that's yummy.  My family enjoys the food, but they don't really get the celebration part......so I usually text a friend and get a text party in return with lots of exclamation points and comma winks.

I'm a meal planner, and rarely just make something up out of the pantry (which is why the text parties are rare).  But last night the Texas Rangers were 1 game away from making it to the World Series for the first time ever and so EVERY second spent watching the afternoon game before we had to leave for church was golden.......SO, no one from this household was eating at church (original meal plan) or anywhere else!  Uh-Oh, I had no plan for that! 

I looked in the pantry and found a couple of cans of tomato stuff and a box of mini bowtie pasta.....and decided to be brave.  I remember reading in one of my favorite cookbooks; How to Cook without a Book by Pam Anderson that you can make your own red sauce to go on noodles, so I tried it!  Topped it off with lots of parmesan cheese and some Turkey Pepperoni since meatless doesn't go over so well here among my carnivores.  They ate it up......

Here's what I did:
Cover the bottom of a medium saucepan with olive oil (2-3 Tablespoons).
Add 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic and 1-2 teaspoons of dried minced onion.  I would've used 1/4 cup or so of fresh onion but didn't have any - remember I am cooking out of my pantry and I used my last onion yesterday.  Turn on the heat and cook until garlic just begins to brown and bubble - I've learned the hard way that garlic burns easily and quickly.  Don't burn the garlic.  Add one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce and one 15 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes (use something chunkier if you are a chunky tomato lover - chunks sure look beautiful in the sauce) and a couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning.  I always grind dry seasonings up in my hand like my momma taught me.  My palm still smells like yummy sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste (remembering that the parmesan cheese coming up will add salty taste).  Bring to a simmer, cover and let go awhile stirring occasionally until the noodles are done. While your pasta is simmering cook 1 pound of your favorite pasta.  Drain and stir in a little butter.  Pour sauce over noodles and stir to coat, serve with lots of fresh Parmesan cheese.


 This is my bowl and fork - it's a TINY bowl (not really). I'm already dreaming about next time.....maybe some bacon, maybe the tomato sauce with basil already added, some real onion?? The possibilities are endless. 
Goodnight Beautiful, the Rangers lost - but you are a winner!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fishing

Our oldest has really become a fan of fishing.  I am a fan of him, and my girls are both fans of being outside......and the usual snacks and goodies that go along with such a trip. 

One of my favorite childhood memories is when my parents would pick up KFC and our family of five would go to a nearby lake.  There was a really fun spillway nearby and picnic pavilions that were probably within my mom's eyesight, but we had to cross a stream to get there and felt we had hiked several miles on our own.  We could crawl up on top of this particular stone pavilion.....I loved it, still do.

Happy memories.

October has become a crazy busy month for my husband, and we were really thrilled to have an evening to sneak away to go fishing last week.  We picked up a bucket of KFC (thus the nostalgic earlier ramblings) and headed to the pond.





We all had fun - the boys fishing, the girls playing in the mud and the little boat, the Mom taking pictures and eating KFC biscuits.

I had a great time taking and editing the pictures from that evening. 





These sweet little evenings are treasures.  Doesn't it seem that the ones we plan out in detail often pale in comparison to these "KFC fly by the seat of your pants" adventures?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Leftover Muffins

This week I was baking muffins for a church lunch we host every month.  I had a great time making about 5 dozen yummy muffins on Wednesday afternoon just before I had to herd the kids into the car and head to church dinner - choir - Awana - Youth.  I had set the muffins onto the counter to cool, but didn't have time to put them away - so they were still there waiting on me when I got home that night.  I walked into the kitchen and was met by two sights; one beautiful and one not so much.

Here they are:


I was very proud of the beautiful muffins that I had made to serve; but kinda bummed about the dirty dishes I'd forgotten were still in the sink, shrug and sigh.

I do love to bake, but my family is kinda wary to eat just anything they find in the kitchen.  They've all seen and heard me come running screeching at them not to eat something I've prepared to go to some church-ish function.  All of them (except the baby who eats what she can find - especially ice cream while I'm in the shower) ask me before they touch anything really good or well-wrapped.  I have to tell them, "It's OK - I made it for you!"  OR, and it pains me to say - they get what's left over from said church-ish functions.

Prioritizing family and ministry is always a tricky balance and one I've been working on for.....well, since I married a pastor. These two images in my kitchen Wednesday night really encouraged me to refocus on this issue. Does my family get the yummy muffins or the leftovers and dirty dishes of my efforts?

I love being a ministry family and count it one of God's most amazing and surprising blessings.  I have great compassion for all those who are hurt at church, especially those called to serve there.  But every time I hear petty complaints about being in ministry I'm reminded of the flexibility and the "instant" family support and the precious gift of spending our lives on what really matters and want to scoff and roll my eyes.....I may not do it outloud, but such complaints usually get a great big "puh-shaw" at least in my brain.  I believe in making sacrifices as a family for the ministry we have given our lives to serve.  BUT I also believe that sacrifice shouldn't be all that our family knows.  The struggle and pain that often goes hand in hand with ministry should NEVER be the usual for our kids, or for us for that matter!  In other words, it's OK to eat leftover muffins sometimes, but there better be some WONDERFUL and intentional "just for you" treats and celebrations too.

So, I wrapped up my muffins and took them to the lunch and brought home leftovers.  But this morning I'm making their favorites - Chocolate.  I think I may even decorate them so that when they say tentatively, "Hey, whodja make these muffins for?" I can say, "YOOOUUUU", they are all for you!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Moses and Mary

“But Moses replied to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant—” Exodus 4:10 HCSB
I read this verse for the first time in this translation this weekend and almost laughed out loud (putting lots of emphasis on the ORs).  For some reason it makes me grin to imagine this exchange between Moses and God.  I think it’s funny that Moses keeps reminding God of the pattern of his weakness, “Hey God, I’ve never been able to give great speeches – from when I was younger even until recently (insert giggle here) or especially since you’ve been talking to me about all of this!  PLEASE don’t make me go!”  I was reminded about how wrong I am to think that God is going to ask me to do something that I’ll hate and am destined to fail trying, as if that were His motive.  He does sometimes ask me to do things that make me uncomfortable and require me to take a big gulp of faith.  But especially there He’s teaching me and desiring to share an amazing moment with me where He whispers, “See, you can do it!  And look what happened because you were willing to go with Me!”  He’s building passion and confidence and dependence – these are treasures.
"I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1:38
So today, while preparing for something completely different, this verse came up.  It’s Mary’s reaction when the angel tells her that she is going to be the mother of the Messiah.  My first thought was back to Moses from two days before.  How different is Mary’s response from Moses’.  She states her purpose (to serve God) and then states His Word inserting her name right into the middle of it.  This deserves a true grin (a flabbergasted at such grace and courage teeth-baring kind of grin).  How foolish of me to try to talk God out of what He’s asking me to do with Him.  Instead of reminding Him that I’m still weak both in the past, and recently, and even though He’s talking to me about it, I should just insert my name into a great big sentence of faith surrounded by His WORDS which describe the greatness of His character and His actions.  I am His servant, may my life be right in the center of His Word and His plans for my day…..by day……by day……until a lifetime is lived.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

It's finally Fall and I can finally find canned pumpkin so I decided to make Pumpkin Bread today.  I originally got this recipe out of a Southern Living magazine.  I think it's called Pumpkin Pecan Bread.  I made a couple of changes especially in the spices because I don't like Pumpkin Bread to be too Spice Cakey......I like Pumpkin Bread to taste like pumpkin with a sweet cinnamon sidekick.
Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Southern Living Pumpkin Pecan Bread Recipe
3 1/3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put all ingredients in mixer and blend slowly to combine – stop to stir flour lumps up from bottom of bowl and scrape down sides with rubber scraper.  Continue to mix just until well blended.  Pour into 3 glass bread pans sprayed with Baker’s Secret and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

I have 3 Pyrex bread pans and this recipe fills them up perfectly.  They are a little bit smaller than a traditional pan.........sorry.


The Triplets with their Momma

I love this stuff.
I am feeling very blessed today, enjoying family and the work God's given me.  Next on my baking agenda - Amanda's Gingerbread Cookies!   Happy Fall!
I heart this recipe!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to Raise an Insecure Daughter

This weekend our church hosted our first ever Mother Daughter Retreat.  My friends Shannon and Tina planned a wonderful time for us.  They asked me to teach a lesson for Moms only right at the beginning of the night.  I started this little talk with the huge disclaimer of "I don't know what I'm talking about."  Don't you love it when you invest your time to come and learn something only to have the teacher say she doesn't know what she's doing?  The truth is that God is constantly teaching me things about life and parenting through the miracle of His Words; but I'm insecure about parenting!  As I told the ladies Friday night; it matters too much. I can't bear the thought of messing up because the cost is so high; I adore these ones trusted to my care.  Let me just end this wordy disclaimer by saying that I listened to Him and reflected and came up with this list.  It's one of those opposite lists; see if you can follow. Here's what those dear mommas and I talked about over the weekend while Shannon taught our girlies.....


If you Want to Raise an Insecure Daughter.....
1.  Be afraid of everything.  
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine." Isaiah 43:1
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."  Psalm 56:3

As I work with teenagers and women, I see the danger of fear living.  We all get afraid, and there's no shame in that.  The danger comes when we let fear take root and become the center of our lives.  It might look like other things because women tend to put a very brave mask over fear.  We are great at teaching our girls to rationalize fear.  Our daughters will not learn to trust God if their Mommas are always afraid and worried.  Don't miss the reason we don't need to be afraid - we belong to a gracious and loving God.

2.  Be their Daddy
"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:33

Ephesians 5:33 instructs husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. When we are disappointed by men many of us tend to rise up to the occasion and take over, and usually we can manage it.  There may be seasons when that is simply what must be done; so hang in there alone momma.  However, here comes the warning for all of us....when I am disappointed in a man, I can begin to disrespect masculinity.  Teach your daughters that men and women were created to work together and to complement one another. Teach them that the whole of both of them should be stronger and more effective for God's Kingdom than either alone.  Our girls will recognize the reality that sometimes life stinks and relationships are fractured beyond repair.  We can stay nearby to walk with them through those days if that is where their journey takes them.  But how tragic for them to miss the beauty of God's plan; a partnership that defies expectation and soars above imagination - simply because their mommas were too proud to respect men.  So, receive the love of your husband, sons, and father and give them respect....and be sure your daughter sees it.

3.  Be critical of YOURself.
"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 139:14

Most of us  know the danger of being overly critical of our girls.  I believe that being overly critical of yourself in front of your girls is something girls take very personally.  It's likely that people seek out ways that you and your daughter are alike and have told her.   When you say you are bad, she fears that she is bad too.  You are as much a treasure to God as she is to you, so don't talk ugly about God's treasure in front of her.  I taught this lesson on Friday night and then.....not an hour later.....criticized myself.....in front of my daughter.  One of the wise mommas there called me on it.  This is something we do without even thinking, and we really need to cut it out.

4.  Be too busy
"And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD
or the work that he had done for Israel."  Judges 2:10

"We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD,
and his might,
and the wonders that he has done."  Psalm 78:4

I'm not especially talking about being too busy to hear and relate to your girl, of course that's a definite recipe for regret.  I'm talking about being too busy to teach her about the wonders God has done for you.....and for her.  Both of my girls' stories have many, MANY marvelous wonders for me to share with them just in the days from their conceptions to their births, and many more since then.  This is true for each of our families, don't miss the chance to tell them.  By the way, an assumption here is that you are taking the time to know God's Word and recognize His wonders.  No way we can teach our girls God's wonders if we aren't allowing God to show them to us.

As a good friend of ours reminds us, and I often hear the reminder from our youth minister; We aren't raising girls, we are raising WOMEN.  What a privilege to relate to them as Warrior Women of God in training who will soon be standing and serving on the front lines in these few days we have on this earth to build God's Kingdom. 

 Thanks to Rachel Schooler for the great pics!
"And He will be the stability of your times,
   abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
   the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure." 
Isaiah 33:6