Thursday, March 31, 2011

5 Random Things...

...your pets want you to know.

1. Belly rubs don't just make us happy. They'll cheer you up, too.

2. Walks are great, especially when you let us stop and sniff around a little.

3. New toys are fun, but we're madly and passionately in love with the old ones that stink so badly.

4. We don't understand "portion control," so please help keep us healthy and trimmed down.

5. Yes, you have a busy day. But please schedule in some lovey-dovey time with us on that calendar of yours.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Simple Chicken From The Back Of The Box

Too bad you can't smell this chicken bake through the computer screen! It's an amazing aroma and an incredibly easy recipe that's found on the back of the Stove Top stuffing box.

Ingredients: 1 package (6oz) Savory Herb Stove Top Stuffing Mix
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag (16 oz) frozen mixed veggies, thawed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dry stuffing mix evenly on the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish. Add hot water to remaining mix, stir and set aside.

2. Spread chicken evenly over the stuffing. Mix the soup, sour cream and veggies in a separate bowl. Spoon over the chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked through. It's been chilly this week, and this made the perfect warm comfort food.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Decorate With Spring Colors - And Some Rubber Balls

Some days are more creative than others - and seeing something ordinary from a different angle can be your spark.

I had a bunch of these smooshy rubber balls left over from this week's Sunday School lesson. The lesson was on praising the Lord, which has nothing to do with smooshy rubber balls, I suppose. You had to have been there.

So into this glass jar they went. They were 5 for $1 at Target in their Spring dollar section. The bright colors made for a lovely display, but something was still missing. Also at Target I found these lovely Spring, glittery die cuts.

A little tape and a handful of skewers and I had a sweet, simple decoration. Think about modifying this design for your particular needs - primary colors and some cake images for a birthday party. Muted colors and simple labels for place cards at your party. Darker colors and leaves for a fall theme. The possibilities are endless when you've got simple ingredients to work with!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What God's Purpose For Women Really Is

As we start another week, Monday's chores can look daunting. Your to-do list may be a mile long already, and you're wondering which ones are really worth it. Instead of wandering aimlessly through the day, take a look at the priorities God gave Christian women and how we're to live confidently for Him.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5

When we break this Scripture down and look at the individual instructions within, we find our purpose in God's eyes clearly laid out.

* behaviour as becometh holiness: Can you share your testimony without saying a word? Living holy, as a child of a holy King, is more important than any speech you could give or story you could write.

* not false accusers: Watch your mouth! This is one of those temptations that tackles many women, but can be defeated by praying before any words ever pass your lips.

* not given to much wine: Excess of anything is potentially hazardous, especially those things that we put into our bodies. Moderation is key.

* teachers of good things: What kind of legacy are you leaving behind you? Is your example one of good things, the things of God?

* sober: Being serious doesn't mean being a stick in the mud. It means focusing on the things that are eternal, not the pleasures of the moment.

* love their husbands: And how much fun this is! Pray for him, treat him with kindness and compassion, spoil him, talk with him, spend time with him and share God's Word with him. Be his helper and see to his wants and needs above all else.

* love their children: Be a mother, teacher, guide, companion and motivator. Pass God's love and instruction down to all generations.

* discreet: Be wise and cautious in your decision-making. Pray and think so you don't do anything rash or out of the ordinary.

* chaste: Keep all parts of your life pure and undefiled. This means your eyes, ears,speech, library, television, family and mind. Purity begins with holy decisions.

* keepers at home: Protect anything that comes on and goes off your property. Keep your home so that it is safe, clean and a sanctuary for all who enter.

* good: Search out those things that God describes as good, not what the world chooses. Read His Word and learn what His criteria are for holiness and goodness.

* obedient to their own husbands: Love and respect go hand-in-hand when we are obedient to our husband. Joy and peace come to the home when follow God's assignments for the Christian home.

We really didn't mention cleaning, running errands, doing laundry or going to the job, did we? If we're following God's list of priorities for the Christian woman's life, everything else will fall into place. Focus on the Lord and His desires and all those things we thought were so vitally important won't seem like such a burden.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Weekend Of Rejoicing

What's holding you back from praising the Lord with all your heart and soul?

Are you holding on to bitterness, anger or resentment? Are there circumstances of life that are shadowing your praise life?

Make this a weekend of rejoicing. Start by throwing out anything that's restricting your song of praise. Once your heart is cleansed, take the time to note all the great and wonderful things God has done for you.

Rejoice in the blessings the Lord has bestowed. Be glad and rejoice before the Lord! There is so much to find joy in, when we make the effort to look.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Creating A Close-Knit Pack

Our girls are pack animals to the core.

They long to be underfoot all day long. They want to be where the family is, often moving from room to room just to be close.

Bailey counts noses throughout the day, making sure that each member of her pack is right where they're supposed to be.

Sadie senses unbalance in her pack and cuddles with whomever she feels needs her love the most at that moment. She can tell who is sick and needs some special attention. She also knows who is sad and probably just needs to scratch her behind the ears, making them feel better at the same time.

Our pack is closely knit by time and love. The girls know our routine and can practically tell time based on when Danny leaves and comes home each day. These patterns give us stability and respect for the pack leader.

And the evening means cuddles and play time on the floor. This is our bonding time, the opportunity to talk, rub puppy bellies and reflect on the day.

This is a pack, regardless of size. There is love, patience, interaction, exercise and fellowship all wrapped up in the members of the pack. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Choo-Choo Choose You!

I just had to share my husband's culinary skills with you today. We received the choo choo train NodricWare cake pan as a gift from Danny's parents. They're visiting us for a couple of weeks, and he wanted to do something very special for them.

Using his new mixer, Danny made a delicious yellow spice cake, the batter of which was just as yummy. (Yes, I can vouch for this!) Then he made a knock-me-over-with-a-feather butter cream frosting! I can tell you a closely guarded secret that there is a little left over in the refrigerator, but it won't be there for long.

After the cake was baked, he trimmed off the bases that had overflowed during cooking. This was phenomenal because we ate those cut-off pieces with extra decorations later. Then he used the frosting to anchor the train cars to the carrying case base, so now they look like they're traveling on little clouds.

Danny is very detail-oriented, so the decorating of these little cakes was the perfect task for him. He used two kinds of M&Ms (plain and peanut butter) for the wheels. The cars are filled with marshmallows and the colors are writing gel. It was so much fun to watch him turn plain little cakes into edible works of art.

Thank you for sharing your time and talent, Sweetheart!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Where Joy And Peace Originate

Last evening I was literally overflowing with joy. After an emotional couple of days, I was starting to run dry. You know that feeling - you know you're supposed to be strong and happy and enduring, but there's just nothing left.

Then we went to church. Our midweek service was ordered by the Lord especially for me.

And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace. And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth? And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame. And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes. 2 Samuel 19:24-27

I needed to hear about Mephibosheth waiting for the king to return. His devotion gave me encouragement.

I needed to hear about him purposing in his heart to be exactly the same way he was when David last saw him. That gave me desire to be separate from the world.

I needed to hear about Mephibosheth standing strong even when there were lies and slander all around him. That gave me strength for the fight.

If you've been following along with our Bible devotions here, you'll remember that I just wrote about Mephibosheth a few days ago. Those words are just as true when my own heart was lacking as when I wrote them for others.

Remember the words you say to encourage other people - there will come a day when you need to hear them yourself. And remember the words of encouragement that you're given when times are tough - there will come a day when you'll need to share them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rethinking Your Snacking

What do you reach for when you have the munchies? Chocolate? Chips? Some cake and ice cream?

With some simple substitutions, you can have your snack and eat it without the guilt!

Instead of bite-sized chocolates...
Try a handful of gourmet mixed nuts.

Instead of buttery popcorn...
Try a bag of kettle corn.

Instead of chips and dip...
Try hummus and pita bread.

Instead of gummy candies...
Try frozen grapes.

Instead of candy bars...
Try a protein bar.

Instead of packaged pudding...
Try Greek yogurt with honey and cranberries.

Instead of canned fruit...
Try mixed fresh fruit.

Every decision you make about the food you put into your body is a contract with God. If you've got energy and enthusiasm, He can use you in great and wonderful ways!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Soul Longeth

The fish swarm underneath the food dispenser. They know the exact location of their food source and circle below it with a fury.

People put their quarter in the machine and receive a handful of the sustenance these fish are seeking. The fish can probably hear the clink-clink-clink of the dispenser as the morsels they crave are ejected.

With one solitary thought in their little brains, the fight for position to receive each tiny piece of food. They come one at a time or in handfuls, and the fish don't care what they have to do, or who they have to swim over, to get one.

Do we have this same craving for God's Word? Do we turn our faces to Heaven and beg Him to fill our open mouths with the food we so deeply desire? If a silly fish can do it for a few crumbs, should Christian women be doing it for the Lord's filling?

David often wrote about his longing and desire to be in communion with the Lord. His words are mine today, and I pray they will be yours, too.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
Psalm 63:1-8

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Weekend Of Growth

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5

Let this be a weekend of growth, just as the branches grow on the vine. Reach toward Heaven and grow in the Lord.

On our own we can do nothing, and we have proven that time and time again. Take the time to learn more of God's instruction for your life and grow in His love and grace.

Friday, March 18, 2011

To Die Is Gain

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:18

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:26

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It Loses Something In Translation

We all know the subtle sounds and movements our pets make and what they mean. It doesn't take long living with any animal to grasp their language and communicate without words. Here are just a few that happen around our house and how they translate.

"pitiful eyes and a wagging tail, while in the kitchen" - You are going to share that, right?

"pitiful eyes and a wagging tail, everywhere else in the house" - You are going to scratch behind my ears now, right?

"dancing frantically in front of you while you're watching television" - Unless you want to spend your time cleaning the carpet, let's go outside.
"hmphh" - Fetch it yourself.

"soft, low growls in the middle of the night" - Since that stupid dog next door can't stop barking, I'm going to keep us all awake together.

"patiently waiting in the middle of your path with squeaky toy" - Did you notice my pretty squeaky? Wouldn't you like to play?

"panting while coming back through the doggie door" - I've just found something disgusting and smelly in the back yard...come see!

"a constant sniffing and licking of your face" - Did you seriously just eat a peanut butter sandwich without sharing? Fine. I'll help you clean up.

"following you from room to room" - Please remember that I am a pack animal and I must be with you as much as possible. That's how I show my love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What To Do With A Rotissere Chicken

Every Friday at our grocery store is "Rotissere Chicken Day." They offer a discount all day when you buy a fresh, hot rotissere chicken. This is an awesome deal and there are so many ways to use the meat!

* Debone the chicken and use the shredded meat on tortillas. Add lettuce, ranch dressing, diced tomatoes and any other leftovers you might have.

* Use the carcass for chicken stock. Simmer the bones on the stovetop for a couple of hours, then strain your broth.

* Add the leftover meat to stir fry veggies and some soy sauce or sweet and sour sauce.

* Make a fantastic chicken salad sandwich!

* Layer with pizza sauce and cheese on english muffins. Broil until just browned.

* Shred, then use on top of lettuce salad with all the fixings.

* Substitute for ground beef in any pasta recipe.

* Pile onto those great sandwich thins for a filling lunch.

* Stuff a bunch into a pita bread along with all those great trimmings in the fridge.

If you've got some favorites of your own, please let me know! It's almost Friday again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Forget Linear Thinking - Let's Go Circular!

Why send a normal, square envelope when you can get creative and send a card in an original way? This 3D envelope is made up of several circles, overlapped to hold your card and a special message.

1. Start by making your card. I used a 3D, textured sticker for my focal point and matted it on two circles of paper. You can use a circle cutter like the one shown, or you can rummage through the kitchen cupboards for the perfect circle sizes.

2. Cut four circles of coordinating paper slightly larger than the card.

3. Fold each circle in half and crease, making four little tacos.

4. Overlap the circles so that the middles and edges are all even. Without too much movement, adhere the edges together.

5. Place the card in the middle of the envelope. If there's room, you can always add a note or other special message inside as well. Tie it up with ribbon for an adorable presentation. Never be boring again!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Leave Your Burdens Behind

The weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. The pressure of everyday life presses down like a vise, squeezing all it can out of you. Each step you take feels like a struggle just to stay upright.

What is weighing you down today? Illness, disease and health? Loneliness, depression and avoidance? Family, friends and loved ones? Evil in one of its many forms attacks with determination and urgency, leaving us burdened and hindered.

Imagine for a moment that each one of those burdens is a backpack, and you shoulder each one afresh every day. Soon you're bowed under the weight of multiple worries and concerns, each backpack pulling you further down.

Oh sure, you go to the altar from time to time and set those burdens down. You spend time with the Lord and tell Him that you'll hand over every single one of those backpacks and walk away. But when you rise from your knees, you automatically pick them all back up and shoulder them again. And this routine gets repeated again and again, as you never allow yourself to come out from underneath your heavy load.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

The word cast means to throw, to fling, to hurl far away. Too many times we just set our burdens down somewhere close by, and then they're handy to pick up again shortly. God used Peter to give the picture of casting our cares. We aren't to just keep them handy, but fling them as far away as we can and let the Lord have control.

Give up control of our burdens? That's a frightening thought, but it's one way that a Christian woman grows in victory. Instead of putting our arms through those backpack straps again and again, we allow God to take them for us. We hurl them away, watching as the fall at the foot of the cross. We don't get the luxury of chasing after them anymore, they're too far away and too heavy to struggle with.

Whatever you are burdened underneath, God desires you to cast it on Him. His servants can't serve when they're bent by a heavy load. And there's nothing in any of those backpacks that we can handle ourselves, anyway! Casting them away lightens our load, lightens our countenance and lightens our hearts.

Cast them away and you'll rekindle the flame in your soul.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Weekend Of Reflection

What are you reflecting? A mirror can only show images that are reflections of something else. They don't create the colors and shapes we see, they simply bounce back what is given to them.

We are the same as this mirror. This weekend check your reflection often, but not to see if your hair is in place and your make up looks wonderful. Who and what are reflected in your daily walk?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

The image that should reveal itself through us is God's image. If we aren't reflecting Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that lives within us, we're missing the mark completely.

Reflect this weekend on your reflection.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Thirst For Living Water

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:13-14

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Patience Of A Puppy

Have you ever noticed that some dogs are more patient than most people? If a dog knows that something good is on the way, she'll wait indefinitely to receive it. The "wait" command is one of the best words our girls ever learned.

We can use it while they're in the bathtub, creating less mess and less chance of injury. We can use it at the front door so they won't run out into traffic. We can even use it when giving treats so they'll learn manners and respect of humans.

But what about you and me? How is our patience level? I love the old saying that if you pray for patience, God will put you into situations where you need patience. It's a difficult concept to put into practice, especially for the busy Christian woman.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

Are we patient enough and spiritually mature enough to wait on the Lord? Scripture says we're well grounded if we keep God's word with a good heart. It's hard some days when we get out in front of God's plan because we feel like there is much to do in less time. Patience means keeping the end in mind, not always the immediate moment.

The girls show me this every day as they wait patiently for me to open the door, hand out treats or work a spot of tree sap out of their fur. They know something great is coming, so they wait. That's their confidence in me, that they can know that I've got something wonderful waiting for them.

How much more, then, does our loving Heavenly Father have wonderful things waiting for us? Read the back of the book and you'll see all the details of eternal life for the believer. Great and wonderful things will come to pass, and patience is the key.

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:25

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An International Feast

We try to rotate the menu at our Bible study a little each time. Last week we chose International - kind of open-ended and a fantastic variety!

We had Greek hummus and pita bread. There were tacos, tortilla chips and taquitos for Mexican. American was completely covered with ribs, ham delights and fried chicken.

There was even a little Italian pasta mixed in for good measure.

The dessert table was just as lovely - several kinds of cheesecake, cookies from Germany and France, and a fabulous apple pie. No one went away hungry in any language!

Some ideas for your own international dinner:

* Assign each family a country and have them research the food specific to that location.

* Mark anything that is especially spicy or intense. Some people just can't handle it and it won't be a pretty picture.

* Make sure there is a variety so people on special diets can still participate.

* Decorate with the flags of different countries or use internationally-themed serving dishes and plates.

* For the more adventurous, forget the pasta and tacos and try something special. Make egg rolls and sushi or pick a country that you've never had food from before.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Spring Wreath

This beautiful wreath is an easy and affordable Spring home decor project - regardless of the temperatures in your neck of the woods! It makes the perfect gift or a great way to start your Spring improvements.

You'll need:
* a round wreath form
* one skein of furry Spring green yarn
* a short length of ribbon
* fabric flowers
* straight pins with colored ends
* four flat-headed straight pins

1. Find a work space that is easy to clean up - you'll be shedding some furry grass and Styrofoam as you work. Start by securing both ends of the ribbon to the wreath with straight pins. This will be you hanger. Keep the ribbon flat so the yarn you wrap over it will be smooth.

2. Begin winding the yarn around the wrath, tucking the loose end in to secure. Pinch the ribbon hanger together and wrap the yarn tightly on either side. This will add extra hold on your hanger and keep the yarn in line.

3. Continue wrapping, lining each row of yarn right next to the one before it. This may be a little tedious with all of the baby grass going in every direction, but it will be worth it in the end.

4. When you reach the end, tie off your loose end around the hanger, on the back so it will be hidden. Now floof your grass and get some of those ends unstuck. (Now you'll see why you wanted an easily-cleanable work surface.

5. And now that you have a bed of new green grass, it's time to add your Spring flowers. I used some old flower trim that I had been given by a friend years ago, cut into individual pieces. You can try this, or you can use any other type of flowers you might have on hand. Attach them with coordinating straight pins, securing them into the foam.

I hung our wreath on the front door so everyone can enjoy it. You might center it in a collection of the kids' Easter pictures or hang it above the fireplace. So many ideas, so little time.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Signs of Spiritual Maturity

Have you ever met a woman that just radiated the Lord? She just had something special and luminescent about her - something you wanted for yourself!

What you were seeing was that special woman's spiritual maturity in action. And we see in others most what we'd like to see in ourselves. As we examine those women that affect our lives and touch our hearts, we see that their reliance on God, their willingness to leave it all at the foot of the cross and their desire for the things of God have changed them from the inside out.

A few signs of spiritual maturity in a Christian woman:

* Self control: Whether it's controlling her tongue, her dinner portions or her spending, a spiritually mature woman learns how to control the inner woman. Desires and temptation are terrible enemies, but with the Lord's version of portion control we can practice moderation and self-denial.

* Humility: Pride is one of those childish reactions that has to be continually shed. It's not one easily conquered, either, and taking yourself out of the equation can be rough. But with growth comes a spirit willing to lay aside self and put Jesus Christ first.

* Selflessness: We all want to be that woman who takes meals to the shut-ins, writes a dozen cards every week, makes phone calls to those who are sick and visits the sick in the hospital. But somewhere along the way, our own wants and desires get put first and we end up staying in for the day. As we learn more about Christ and His desire to work through us, it becomes easier to lay aside selfishness and look after the needs of the world around us.

* Calmness: Have you ever caught yourself flying off the handle over something little? Or panicking when something doesn't seem to be going right. As we mature spiritually we're more comfortable turning everything over to the Lord so we can stay calm in the store. He's more than willing to show us what He'd like for us to do in this situation, but He's also pleased when we do nothing at all.

* Desire for the things of God: Would you rather go to a movie or Bible study? Do you choose two Sunday worship services over a sporting event? Have you had to distance yourself from friends because they were pulling you away from the house of God? With spiritual maturity comes the desire to be near Him and His people.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Weekend Of Renewal

Follow the example of Spring and make this a weekend of renewal.

Rekindle a friendship.

Start that new project.

Return to your Bible reading schedule.

Kick the Spring cleaning into overdrive.

Put that bad habit behind you once and for all.

Make your apologies mean something.

Follow the Lord's guidance and find the spots in your heart and life that need renewal.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. Luke 11:33

If we all removed the bushel and let our light shine, imagine what a bright world this would be!
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Matthew 5:14