Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's Cookin'

If today wasn't the last day of school for a while, I honestly don't know if I could make it to the end of the week.  That is just how burnt out I am feeling.  I love love love the school my daughter attends, but the long long drive there and the getting up at 5:00 am and the preparing lunches and cooking breakfast and picking out the outfits and the fixing hair and saying "please hurry up" about 25 times every day...every single am just so thankful and excited for a break.  I will be taking a break from blogging as well.  We will be doing a lot of fun activities, hopefully somef resting, a little organizing, time at my parents and I hope to focus on a few articles.

I pray your family enjoys the Easter celebrations you are a part of.  I hope you have a fun Easter egg hunt to attend, cherished time to spend with your family, and most importantly time to reflect and thank our heavenly Father for sending His Son to die for us ALL!

I told you last week I would share the dirt cups that I prepared for the New Life party at my daughter's school.  I used the recipe from Kraft.  I also made my trifle recipe and have actually tried to write it down so I can share.  I have never written it down before, so I hope I got it all right!

I also included the links for the bunny cake and the chick cupcakes we are planning to make for our family Easter Egg hunt on Saturday and the link to a blog I enjoy.  The blog has cool recipes.  It is perfect for Easter morning and talking with your kids about the empty tomb. I hope your family enjoys!  


13x9 box of brownie mix prepared as directed with egg, water, and oil(I use Pilsbury family box milk chocolate)
1 large box of chocolate pudding prepared as directed with skim milk
1 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1 jar marshmallow creme
2 containers whip cream (I use reduced fat)
1/2 cup oreo crumbs plus whole oreos for decorating

Prepare brownies and allow to cool and cut into 1 in cubes.  Prepare pudding and place in the fridge while brownies are baking.  Whip together room temp cream cheese, marshmallow creme, and 1 container of whip cream.  Stir in oreo crumbs.  Layer the brownies, pudding, and oreo fluff.  Top with the other container of whip cream and top with whole oreos and a sprinkle of crumbs if desired.  Sooooo Yummy!

Dirt Cups

Other cute Easter Treats

Today's Verse
Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 5:1  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just a little soap will do!

My baby is no longer a baby...she is a mature three year old...going on thirteen if you ask me.  She is quick with her wit and says phrases that blow me away.  I love when she uses the word "actually" and when she says she is so hungry she is going to "just die", I cannot help but laugh.  She was putting fake jewelry on her grandfather last week and she informed me, "I am turning Grandaddy into a Grandma!"  She has everybody laughing in a matter of minutes.

We celebrated her birthday yesterday, and although the weather here was horrid, we had a fabulous day!  I am so thankful for my girls!

We headed to church after our usual cinnamon roll Sunday morning breakfast (which is what she still requested...she is a definite creature of habit) and we even opened a present or two.  I was wanting her to stay with us during the service, but she was persistent on going to her own class.  (That's a good thing that she likes it that much!)  It was probably a good idea anyway since we were observing communion yesterday.

The sermon was excellent and something I had already had on my mind this week.  The pastor spoke from Isaiah 53:5-12.  He talked about how we can do nothing to gain acceptance by God or admittance into heaven except receive Jesus as our Savior.  No matter how hard we work in the church, or serve in Sunday school; no matter how much we tithe or give to missions or even go on mission trips, none of that gets us into heaven.  If we don't first have a relationship with Jesus, none of those things matter a bit!

I had been contemplating this thought before the services.  Along with turning three, my daughter has been officially potty trained for a few months (YaY!!!)  With potty training comes learning to wash her hands.  She has learned to work the sink and learned to pump the soap into her little hands.  She pumps and pumps and pumps some more until her hand is oozing with soap.  It takes forever to get all the soap off.  She thinks it is hilarious and while I am stuck filling the soap dispenser up every other day.  I try to explain to her that her hands will be just as clean if she just uses one dab of soap.  All that extra soap is not necessary to get her hands any cleaner.  Same with serving... none of it is necessary to enter into heaven.  Salvation is the only thing that can cleanse us, nothing we can physically do erases that need.

Am I in any way saying that serving God is not important...NO!!!
Am I in any way saying that attending church, tithing, teaching, telling the Good News is not important...NO!!!!

I am simply saying that none of the extras gets you to heaven.  None of that stuff gets you any cleaner in God's eyes.  Not one extra deed is going to put you in the front of the line or at the top of the Lamb's Book of Life.

If we don't acknowledge that there is nothing in the entire world that we ourselves can do to get us into heaven, we have missed the whole point of Easter and His death, burial and Resurrection.  Just like a little soap will do just fine, just acknowledging that Jesus died for us and accepting that He is the only way will make us worthy in God's eyes.  In the words of the old hymn, "Nothing but the blood of Jesus" is necessary to make us clean.   

Today's Verse
1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED."

He bared it all so we may be clean!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hold your it comes!

As I am typing, my heart is pounding!  At this time, I am usually picking up my Kindergartner from school.  But not today.  No, I went and had lunch with her and then waved goodbye and kissed her about 50 times before I drove away and left her at school.  You see, she was one of the first six students to get the most points in our Wednesday night program at church...YAY!  I am super proud of her and all her hard work of memorizing verses.  The treat is to go bowling and to get snow cones.  She is super excited, and don't get me wrong, so am I.  But, and there is always a but, this is the first time she is doing something like this without me.  She is a little nervous, but me on the other hand, I am very anxious.

Breath...1 Peter 5:7!

I know she will have fun.  I know she will be looked after.  I know she is growing up.  With the exception of one other family that she has spent time with, she has never been away from me unless it was with a member of our extended family.  I know the older my girls get, the more events will come up that do not include me.  With those separations will come anxieties, but with those anxieties will come more dependence on God!

During lunch she asked a little boy to sit with us.  We usually ask one of her little girlfriends, but today she decided to ask a boy.  She had told me she was thinking about doing this, and I just told her it was completely up to her.  He was a very sweet little boy and he made us laugh a lot!  But then something happened that made my mind really start reeling about the future!  Picture this...

My daughter and said little boy sitting on one side of the table and me and my youngest daughter on the other.  One other little boy from her class runs by to the trash can.  He then calls the little boy my daughter's boyfriend.  The adorable little boy sitting with us turns and says, "I am not her boyfriend now, but I might be one day."  Then he goes about talking to my daughter like it was no big deal.

Gasp...Catch your breath...1 Peter 5:7

Will I ever be ready for that?
I can barely grasp the thought of her going out on a church youth trip, much less dating!
How can I handle this?????

It is my job as a mother to pray for my children daily.  I have done this since before they were born.  I pray for their health, their safety, and yes I do even already pray for great and godly friends and boyfriends as well.  (It is never too early to start!)  But, most importantly, I pray they will love the Lord with all their hearts.  I pray they will never turn from Him.  I pray they will serve Him always.  I pray they will follow His will and obey Him now and forever.  I pray they will understand His grace, mercy and forgiveness and accept all He has done for them.

I will trust the Lord to hold my darlings' hands, to be with them always and especially when I am not with them.  They are my gift from God, and He has a plan for both of them.  I will lean on Him when I am nervous about their outings, and I will continue to pray everyday for them and His guidance while I do the best I can at being their Mommy!  I may hold my breath as they begin new adventures, but with our focus on our Heavenly Father we will be able to get through this thing called growing up!

Today's Verse
1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's Cookin' Wednesday!

So chili weather should sooooo be over, but it is looking like a good bowl of chili weather here in NC this weekend!  I prepared this a few weeks ago.  I froze the other half and we are eating this for supper this weekend!

My base for any of my chili recipes is usually the same, but the additions are always a little different.  It makes it exciting and a topic of conversation about what we like best at the dinner table.

1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
1 4 oz can tomato paste
1 can chili beans (not drained)

Seasonings to taste...
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper

After I take the girls' servings out I add...
Cayenne Pepper
Red Pepper flakes
A few Tbsp of pickled jalapenos

I then add other items depending on what I have on hand and if we are going meatless (Or I may add it all)...
Ground and cooked hamburger
Drained and Rinsed Kidney Beans
Drained and Rinsed Black Beans
Drained and Rinsed Pinto Beans

But on this day I tried something different.  I took a 1 lb flat iron steak and placed on my indoor grill for just about 3-4 minutes.  I let it rest for 15 minutes and then cut into big chunks.  It was very rare.  I placed in my chili mixture in the crock pot on low.  About 6 hours later I shredded the meat with a fork into the chili.  It was sooooo tender and very tasty!  I will definitely add this way to my list.  I hope your family enjoys!

My hubby's bowl full of cheese and tortilla chips...just like he likes it!

The girls and I also made a new Nutella cookie recipe.  I have seen this done many ways, but this is what we came up with.  There are many versions that do not use any type of flour to make this glutten free, but I like to have my cookie dough, well for lack of a better word...doughy! So we added a little bisquick.  It is a lot of sugar, but it is soooo tasty!

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup bisquick
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients and form into 1 inch balls.  Roll dough in extra sugar and make indention in the center.  Bake at 350 on a parchment lined baking sheet for 7 minutes.  Remove and fill indentions with 1/2 tsp Nutella.  Bake for another 3 minutes.  If you love PB and chocolate, this is the recipe for you!

Lot's of chocolate smiles from girls with this one!

Today's Verse
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."  John 15:11

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Life

I am ready for my flip flops!  My toes are so tired of being stuffed inside of shoes.  I love the warm weather (not hot, just warm).  With the warmth comes the picnics, fun evenings outside and free toes.  Even though today is a beautiful day here in NC, the rest of the week looks awfully cold for March!  YUCK!

Next week we celebrate Easter and as I have heard it said is the super bowl of celebrations for Christians.  We are praying for warm weather so our plans for Easter Egg Hunts and Birthday party fun for my littlest darling will all be enjoyed outside!  There are many other exciting things to look forward to at the end of March, including my biggest darling's Spring party at school.  I bought the supplies for the party today, and we are excited about the dirt cups we will be making.  (I will share next week!)   I love the way the party is called a New Life party...that is exactly what this time of year is about!

New Life...

Not only is there new life found in the trees blooming, flowers budding, strawberries flowering, and new chicks hatching...but we are celebrating the New Life offered by our Savior.

Jesus not only died for us on the cross to save us from our sins, but He lives again as well.  He conquered death in order that we may have New Life.

Today's Verse
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new..."  Revelation 21:5a

He gives us New Life when we accept Him and all He has done for us.  It is not a perfect life here on earth, but it will be one day...and that New Life is more wonderful that we can imagine!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Running Together

Any time I get to spend with my husband and girls all together is precious quality time.  It doesn't matter what we are doing...running errands, watching a movie, eating a meal, going to the park...any family time is a great and treasured blessing.  With all that said, there are things that are more fun to do together than others.  To make my fun list, running would be near the bottom.  Yes there are families that love running together, but me on the other hand would prefer a nice walk.  The girls and I love walking at the park, but please don't ask me to run.

My dislike of running has always been there.  When participating PE in elementary and jr. high, I never tried to run the mile.  As long as I could speed walk and get the qualifying time, I was happy.  In cheer-leading I would much rather do 100 crunches or 25 push-ups vs. the 4 laps around the field!  Running hurts my ankles and I just plain and simple don't like to do it!

I envision myself being a runner...hearing my feet pound the pavement...feeling the breeze in my hair...being all energized by the experience...but the vision quickly fades if I ever start actually running :)

Well, this weekend our family entered a 1 mile fun run to raise money for Bibles for Laos.  Surely we could do a mile!  I had a choice to make...try to stay up with my very fast 6 year old, or stay behind with my almost 3 year old and risk having to carry her for a mile.  I chose the little one.  I felt I had better odds with her (my 6 year old is extremely fast!), and if we were last I could always say she needed to take a lot of breaks!

The on your mark, get set and go was shouted and off we went.  We jogged along holding hands.  Daddy and Sissy was way ahead of us, but we were not last...until she looked at me and said I am tired.  Had we even been a quarter of a mile yet?  Up on my back she went.  We went back and forth the whole mile.  I would carry my 34 pound bundle of joy for a while and then we would jog for a while.  We crossed the finish line 17 minutes later...not last, but almost!  And although I was shooting for 15 minutes, I was glad we had finished.  We crossed the line like we began, holding hands and smiling!  As one runner past us while she was on my back, she told me I deserved two medals for carrying such a heavy load.  I smiled, but I was thankful for that heavy load on my back.  We were doing this race together.

In the race of life we don't need to carry our burdens on our back.  I know I tend to do that.  Worries and anxious thoughts pile up causing a heavy load.  The uphill climbs become harder as the burden becomes heavier.  We think about the bad things that could happen; we wonder what the future really holds; we question God's timing on different areas in our life.  But when we give Him these questions and burdens the running is so much easier.  When we realize we can trust Him to be by our side, the race is so much easier together.  We are not running alone!

Today's Verse
"whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he."  Proverbs 16:20b

I bet you thought I might use Phil 3:14.  I like that verse, but this Proverbs verse has jumped out at me a lot recently.  Running the race of life and handing our burdens over to the Lord involves major trust.  And that trust gives us peace and strength to keep running...peace and strength leads to true happiness.

When I am running with my 34 lb daughter on my back, it is hard but I am happy to be together.  But when I am running with 34 lbs of despair on my back, it is hard and I am miserable.  There is no happiness to be found.  When I feel the burdens of my worries mounting, my prayer is to lay those burdens at my Father's feet and ask Him to hold my hand and help me keep running.  I trust He will run with me, and that trust makes me happy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bad Days

I felt like I deserved the worst mother of the year award yesterday!  I have never been one to forget things.  But the older I get and the more crazier our schedule gets, the more I tend to forget things...and not to mention that the recent cleanup of the catastrophe of the water heater and going out of town did not help my memory...not that I am making excuses!

It is my daughter's week to be featured on the bulletin board at school and I forgot to send the pictures.  I felt horrible as she bounced in the van and announced I forgot to send them.  We had fun looking at the old photos and deciding which ones to print.  But when it came time to print them, my printer started acting crazy!  To make an extremely long story short...we had to make an unplanned trip to Staples (which is not right next door) and the whole scenario put us way off schedule.  This was on top of my little one falling asleep before lunch (there's the whole I want my hour back debacle) and a few other mishaps that had occurred.  I was feeling pretty low!

The good news is we did get everything done on our to do list...including baking muffins to take to all our neighbors to invite to Easter services at our church.  And the even better news is we were only 30 minutes late getting to bed.  Not perfect, but then again no day is!

This morning the girls' devotion was on loving and forgiving yourself.  Something I have to work frequently on.  As a mom, I beat myself up constantly.  In fact, in all honesty, I am beating myself up for a whole new instance right now as I type.  But I have to remember the example I am being for my girls. I want them to love themselves and not be too hard on I must practice what I preach.

Today's verse
Jeremiah 31:34c "...for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

God forgives us; He not only forgives us but He forgets our failures, and we must forgive ourselves as well!  

Here's our muffin recipe.  We love a little glaze on our muffins, but feel free to leave off if you don't like a lot of sweet.  We hope your family enjoys!

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups blueberries

Combine wet and dry ingredients separately.  Stir together just until mixed well and then fold in the blueberries.  It is very important not to over stir muffins or they will be tough.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  We topped with a drizzle of glaze which was simply 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 + 1/2 tsp milk.   I have also read to melt a little butter and brush over muffins and top with brown sugar or the large grained sugar.  I have never tried this, but I bet it would be yummy too!

After all the hassle that came with the printer, I was not in a good mood to say the least.  But I remembered the Proverbs 31 devotion about being cranky, and it sure helped.  Check it out if you get a chance!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Go Ahead and Disobey...just don't get caught!

Does anybody feel like they need their hour back?  Man am I tired today!  I was so thankful for today's teacher workday, I was rejoicing all day long!

We had a fabulous time in Georgia over the weekend.  It was wonderful seeing great friends, exploring a new state with our girls, and seeing fun and exciting things as we traveled.  The girls did great on their longest road trip to date.  Mom, on the other hand, was a little anxious being in the car that long.    The trip there had everything from bad traffic and construction to a very bad dining experience.  I was so glad to make it to our first hotel stop, I would have slept anywhere.  The trip overall was a blessing and we are so glad for any time we get to spend together as a family.

One of our adventures was to the Georgia Aquarium.  It was awesome!  I am very claustrophobic, so I did have difficulties dealing with the crowds, but the excitement of my girls kept me going.  While there we were able to see the dolphin show.  It is amazing how smart God made those creatures.  The tricks and jumps those animals do is just astonishing.  The girls loved every minute of it!  Before the show the announcer came over the intercom to give a few rules and guidelines.  One of the rules was to not take any photos or videos of the performance.  So when the flashes started soon after the show, my oldest daughter was so upset.  These people were not following the rules and she could not understand why.

She was not aware of the little conversation I had overheard right behind us as the show had begun.  There was a little girl my daughters age right behind us.  Her mother gave her the camera as the show was starting.  She told her she had turned the flash off so she could take pictures.  But she warned her not to get caught.  She preceded to tell her that everyone had been asked not to take pictures, but they would let her do it anyway.  She again reminded her not to get caught.

Now I am in no way judging, but I couldn't believe my ears.  To tell a young child to go ahead a break the rules, but just don't get caught was beyond anything I could fathom.  I later imagined myself telling my girls, "Yes go ahead and cheat on that test, but don't get caught."  Or, "Girls, it is ok to steal that candy, but just don't get caught."

Are there rules in my life that I ignore?

This has been the question in my mind as I have been thinking about what happened.

Speed Limit Violations
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
No U-turns!
Have no other gods before Me.
Pretending not to be home when the doorbell sounds or the phone rings.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
That light was still yellow!
Keep the Sabbath day holy.

The list was pretty long as I thought of rules and other things that I sometimes ignore.  It's not that I don't think these things apply to me, I just have a tenancy to overlook them somedays.

I don't want to ever look at my girls and tell them to not follow a rule.  But just like my observant daughter saw when others were not following the rules, she sees when mommy doesn't follow them either.  I pray they never think it is ok to break a commandment, or a law, or tell a "white" lie.  I pray they never think they can disobey and it will be ok as long as they do not get caught.  I want to be the best example I can be for them.  Yes I am going to make mistakes, but I pray I own up to those mistakes, ask for their forgiveness when I mess up, and try try try again.

I am thankful for forgiveness today and everyday!  And I am thankful I can teach my girls of His amazing love and forgiveness today and everyday!

Today's Verse
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's Cookin' Wednesday!

I was looking to do something a little different with our green chicken recipe and what I came up with was super tasty!  I put this together on a Saturday evening and refrigerated.  I placed it in the oven, covered in foil, on 275 before going to church Sunday morning.  I removed the foil when we got home and turned it up to 400 for 15 minutes while I made the toast and it had a nice brown and bubbly crust.  Super yummy and makes great lunches the next day.

Green Chicken Manicotti

1 package manicotti noodles
1 container of part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1 cup pesto sauce (I use store bought)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
1 cup frozen spinach

1 cup Mozzerela
1/2 cup panko crumbs

Cook noodles according to directions.  Mix ricotta, egg, cheese and spices.  Fill noodles with mixture and set aside.  Brown chicken until juices run clear.  Add pesto, soup, milk and spinach.  Layer noodles in a greased casserole dish.  Pour half the sauce and 1/2 cup of cheese and repeat with rest of noodles and sauce and cheese.  Top with crumbs.

I put some sun-dried tomatoes on half of the mixture for color and because they are tasty to me!

Hope your family enjoys!

Today's Verse
"Let all your things be done with charity."  1 Cor 16:14

Monday, March 4, 2013

I pray

The hum of the fans under my house is mind numbing.  I am all about sleeping with a fan on to drown out the noises of the outside world...or white noise as they call it, but this noise is constant and loud.  It is making it impossible to hear or think.  I am thankful for the work these fans are doing, but I would love for them to do their work just a little quieter!

If I don't keep my mind preoccupied, I could really become angry with these sounds.  The cords are strung around my house to remind me of the damage that has been done.  I am constantly asking the girls not to touch any of the equipment.  It is about to drive me crazy!

When trying to ignore the sounds and turn from the temptation to worry about what may happen to our house, I have to turn to prayer.

Same with my everyday life...minus the fans and extra destruction we are facing.

Just life in general can be noisy!  But silence is golden!

When the worries and doubts of the day creep in...I pray.  When Satan tells me I have failed as a mother...I pray.  When my children are whiny...I pray.  When an unexpected bill (like for a plumber) appears...I pray.  When my daughter refuses to eat anything in the world besides goldfish and fruit...I pray.  When my daughter is not wanting to do her homework...I pray.  When I feel overwhelmed by the taxes that didn't get done today (true story, tried to complete my taxes but with all the construction work it didn't get done)...but I did pray.

Hopefully the buzz of these fans will only last a few days, but the other trials in life will be  forever...and with each one...I will pray!

Today's verse
"I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."  Psalms 34:4