Showing posts from March, 2020

Vegetable Beef Bowls

In a time when we’re pulling ingredients from our pantries more than ever, here is a tasty stew that you can make in a matter of minutes. And the best part - you probably have it all on hand right now!

In a large cast iron skillet, brown a pound of ground beef with your favorite seasoning. Then pour in two cans of vegetable soup, using the juice to scrape the bottom of the skillet. (Because that’s the best part.) Heat until bubbling and yummy!

To serve, bake a can of fluffy biscuits and place one on the bottom of your bowl. Fill to the top with stew and top with another biscuit. Shredded cheese is optional. Add some fruit and more biscuits for getting all the goodness out of your bowl.

Spring Comes To The Carrell Wildlife Preserve

It was warm enough this weekend to venture out and around the property - and it was wonderful! I was completely over winter a month ago, and it’s been so wet and sloppy that going out on the trails wasn’t very appealing. So the sun broke through and we couldn’t get out there fast enough.

It was’t the best day for fishing because it was so windy, but that didn’t stop us from trying. Danny caught a couple of fish over on the levee, and I fought several tree branches. I wish I was joking...

The highlight was an up-close-and-personal encounter with the two geese who live by the big pond. They keep the dogs hopping by wandering around the yard and squawking at anything and everything they see and hear. This weekend was the first time we’d found their nesting spot, and that was pretty thrilling.

The male goose is incredibly protective over the female and their nest. He talked to us the whole time we were out and kept a close eye on us as we moved around the ponds. He is huge and absolutely…

My April And “Pray Without Ceasing” Planner Layouts

Spring has sprung, and it’s written all over my planner! I’ve been hoarding these stickers for ages and for just such an occasion. This April I’ll get to look at these darling bunnies every day on the spread I use to plan my blog content. Plus ... they’re metallic and shiny! Bonus!

As we start the first week of April and spend another week at home, I’m understanding more and more that this needs to be a time of intense prayer. All of the crisis in the world can either push us into fear and panic, or it can urge us into our prayer closets for time with our Lord.

As for me and my house, we will pray and serve the Lord. The entire left page of my planner for this week is dedicated to prayer lists. I’m looking forward to filling it with needs, requests and - eventually - answered prayers! And I’ll be able to fill in the food lists with lots of great dinner menus because our Butcher Box came this weekend!

There is much to do this week, both doing CVB work from home and around the house. S…

Here Comes The Rain Again

The rain came softly, and it made the geese laugh.
You didn’t know a goose could laugh? Well, that’s sure what it sounded like. The rain was coming down harder, and the two geese who live on our big pond were splashing around in it. Their cackles made it seem like this was the most fun they’d had all week, and I’d have to agree that it was a pretty wonderful thing.
After a long month of concern and quarantine, it was nice to watch the gentle, cleansing rain pour down. It was good to hear a goose laugh with delight. It was a blessing to know that God has created a spot where there is no fear, only joy and rest.
Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. Zechariah 10:1
While Zechariah spoke to the people about restoration for Judah and Israel, we cling to these words about answered prayer and God’s blessing of rain in due season. God alone can bring the cleansing and refreshmen…

The Story Of David And Goliath Through The Eyes Of A Child

At this time I would like to thank the dollar store for stocking up on these adorable sticker books based on heroes of the Bible. Yes, I am 42 years old, but I have the best time using them in my Bible study. Sometimes you need something fun and silly to actually learn more about Scripture than just another adult workbook.

David’s story is the fourth activity book like this I’ve worked through, having already studied Noah, Joseph and Moses. What I love about studying this way, besides that I LOVE stickers, is that I begin to question what we’ve always been told are the facts of the story. What I’m learning is that we may have been taught a simplistic version of the Bible as a child, and then we never dig into Scripture and see if those details are true.

So when I work through the children’s book, I have my Bible and commentaries right there, too. Then I make notes in the margins and write out full verses of Scripture so I have the words straight from the Bible alongside the children’…

Brighten Your World With A Spring Centerpiece

Nothing brightens your room and lifts your spirits like spring decor! With some free time this week to work around the house, I decided it was time for some beautiful pastels and truth from God’s word to cheer things up a bit.

Look at those beautiful pastels! How can you resist flowers and eggs and tiny sheep that you wish you could cuddle? And when I found the tiny bird nest, I knew it would go perfectly in my tiered trays.

After winding and intertwining the two garlands together and around the trays, I tucked a piece of floral foam under the branches. This makes acute, hidden stand for the Easter Bible verse to stand on. It’s super easy to rearrange the branches a little and cover it right up.

With the verse on the bottom tray, I used the nest on the top one. Then I felt like a mama bird as I carefully placed all those speckled eggs among the garlands. The finished centerpiece is absolutely adorable, and I can keep it out all spring long. What fun pieces would you add to a spring o…

Words For Wednesday


The Lord God Is A Sun And A Shield

The morning was a little darker than normal. Clouds filled the sky and the colors seemed dull and dreary. There was no storm or impending doom on the horizon, but the air seemed heavy in the overcast world.
Does your heart ever feel like that? You can see what’s going on around you, but everything has taken on a gray hue? There is light in the sky, just not the brightness you’ve come to expect in the merry months of spring.
The phrase “uncertain times” is being thrown about constantly now. No one knows where the economy, the country and the world are headed. News reporters share numbers and information in the moment, but they’re not able to tell us what tomorrow or next week or next year will look like. Businesses budget, promote and hope for the best even though they don’t know how long their doors will stay open. We think about (and sometimes worry about) our health, our families and our communities. Uncertain times, indeed.
But the truth of the matter can be found in today’s psalm, Ps…

Chocolate Covered Cherry Tarts

If you’re looking for an extra-yummy treat in a pint-sized package, you’ll want to try these tiny tarts. Created with a chocolate covered cherry theme, they combine some of your favorite flavors in one dessert - and what's better than that?

This tart can be made in a regular-sized graham cracker crust or in mini crusts like the ones pictured here. They are pre-made crusts in little pie tins, perfect for individual desserts.

On the bottom of the tart, I spread a heaping tablespoon of marshmallow fluff and sprinkled it with chocolate chips. Then I spooned in cherry pie filling up to the edge. Ok, it’s a little over the edge, but it’s totally worth it, right?

Then I topped it with more fluff and another sprinkling of chocolate chips. Just a note - marshmallow fluff does NOT hold its shape, so wait until the last minute before serving to add the toppings. In all, it only takes about five minutes to make all six tarts. Then you’re ready for eating and enjoying!

How much fun would it b…

My “Be An Encourager Today” Planner Layout

Even though I’ll be working from home this week, I still need a planner layout to help me stay organized and focused. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re out of your normal routine, so having a familiar place to get my thoughts together will be a comfort.

The theme for the week is also going to be a gentle challenge - encouragement. While I’m going through a couple of tough situations right now, there are always people who are suffering above and beyond my own problems. I want to lift others up and make that my priority, more so than what I’m working on, cleaning or organizing at any given moment.

I’m super bummed that we haven’t been able to have Sunday School or youth group recently, but I’ve been planning and writing lessons in my copious amount of spare time. I added the Bible study block to Wednesday because I want to remind myself that there are some teenagers out there chomping at the bit to get together and study God’s word. That’s some great encouragement for the week, …

Our Callie Dog Is Such A Talker!

The one thing you need to know about our Callie Dog is that she is probably the most vocal dog I’ve ever known. She talks to us about absolutely everything - from what her brothers just did to her to complaints about being ignored to letting us know that leaf blowing in the wind looks pretty suspicious.

While taking part in one of her favorite pastimes, burrowing under the covers, she always talks about something. I’m never sure if she’s telling me that she’s happy or that she wishes there were a few more layers of blankets to dig through. Sometimes she’s just a lump, hidden away, and sometimes she lets a leg or her nose stick out while remaining very vocal about the current situation.

Here is just a short clip of what her grumblings sound like.

And while she looks like the Emperor from Star Wars, she’s not hatching an evil plans under those blankets. She’s just letting us know how she feels about the current situation. Loudly. Incessantly. In high decibels. Frequently. And that’s wh…

How Many Books Do YOU Read At Once?

For some reason, over the years I’ve convinced myself that I can only read one book at a time. It sounds so silly, I know, but sometimes my mind convinces me that it can’t comprehend well if I throw too much at it.

Yes, I have personified my own brain.

But what I’ve discovered recently is that my brain retains much more than it thinks it can. Maybe it’s because it’s older and more mature. Maybe middle-aged brains have more experience picking out what’s important and storing it away for later.

Yes, brain personification. It’s a thing.

Right now there are eight books on my study table, and I’m reading from each one of them every day. I never would have guessed I could do this, but it’s stretching and growing my Bible study chops. Each one has something different to say, and it’s so interesting to read multiple books on the same subject.

For my year-long study of the Psalms, I’ve been reading several commentaries and devotionals. Many years ago I would never written in a book let alone …

The Thrift Store Outfit Challenge

There are very few people in my life who I love more than our youth group girls. Time with them on Sundays and Wednesdays are some of the highlights of my week, as we get to worship God together and learn more about His word. It’s such a joy to watch them grow as teens and as Christians.

But with the start of the new year, we decided that we needed more time together, one-on-one, outside the church setting. And so began our Ooo Time. (Ooo, One-On-One. Get it?) Each girl gets an afternoon with me to do whatever they want - crafts, shopping, sweet treats - and then we end our time at a local coffee shop for Bible study.

When Cailyn and I had our Ooo time last weekend, I offered her a challenge and she totally stepped up to the plate. We went to the local thrift store and I told her my sizes and one thing I didn’t want to wear. Beyond that, the racks were hers to explore and find something I could wear to church the next day. I did the same for her.

To say she knocked it out of the park…

Words For Wednesday


Broccoli And Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

One of the cool things about being an adult is that we get to play with our food! If you want broccoli as a side dish, eat the broccoli. If you want a little cheese with your meal, have some cheese. If you want both, but you don’t want them as side dishes, just stuff them inside your chicken and let them mingle together!

The recipe below is for making two stuffed chicken breasts, so multiply as necessary. You may also want to experiment with the type of cheese you use, as different cheeses will change the flavor of the chicken and the broccoli.

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the chicken through the middle on the long edge to butterfly thee breast but not cut al the way through.

3. Combine all spices in a small bowl. Completely coat the chicken with the spice mix.

Teaching Kids About The Power Of Their Words

If you’ve ever listened to a group of children speak to each other, you probably heard a variety of words. Loud words, soft words, happy words, angry words, words in song and words they weren’t even sure the definition of.

Our Sunday School lesson this week focused on the words we speak and the power they hold. The words we use as adults had to come from somewhere as children, and we wanted them to know exactly what the Bible says about how we are to speak to each other.

We started with five “good” words and five “bad” words. I wrote them on small pieces of paper and included one of the verses that contain that word. On ten pieces of paper, I wrote out the verses on the word cards so they could read them aloud.

Then their mission, and they chose to accept it, was to work as a group and match the good word with its opposite bad word. They each chose one of those words and matched it with its Scripture. When they found the student with their opposite word, they read the words and the S…

My “Little Bit Of Coffee, Whole Lot Of Jesus” Planner Layout

I’m sure I’ve said it about other planner layouts, but I’m pretty sure this is my favorite planner spread ever. Between the puffy coffee cup stickers and the coffee ring stains I stamped, I can’t help but smile. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I never use the journaling blocks on the left hand page of my planner the way they were designed. I always cover them up and decorate over the words so I can use them however I see fit for that week. This gives me a lot of creative license for that page. The arrows from my Pen+Gear sticker book make the perfect section headers.

The right hand pages uses several styles and types of coffee images, including Me & My Big Ideas, Paper Studio and several that I’ve had forever and definitely don’t remember where they came from. All those different collections come together for a spread I can’t wait to fill up with this week’s activities!

Sort-Of Spring On The Property

With all the warm, sunny days we’ve had lately, you’d think spring was here! There’s nothing prettier than the sunshine on the pond, and the puppies and I have actually been able to enjoy it out on the deck. In Iowa, in March. Craziness!

There is so much wildlife on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve these days. We have many, many does who travel around together. We’ve also seen raccoons, possums, rabbits, turkeys, the mounds of dirt kicked up by moles and a multitude of birds. Both ponds are thawed out now, and we know there are boatloads of fish in there.

In years past we’ve had a doe with a broken leg, but she didn’t let that stop here. She even raised three fawns one year, getting around on three legs with no problem. This year we have a member of our coyote pack with a broken leg. He moves so fast that I’ve not been able to get a good, clear picture of him, which tells us a lot about his strength and stability. As we get closer to the actual first day of spring, we’re looking forward…

All Those Cute Puppy Faces!

Our puppies have arguably the cutest faces in the entire world! I mean, seriously. Look at those eyes!

Even when they’re asleep, they’re cute.

When they’re waiting for treats, they’re cute.

When they don’t know they’re being watched, they’re cute.

When they’re completely aware they’re being watched, they’re cute.

When they just want love and cuddles, they’re cute.

When they’re offended because I pet another dog, they’re also cute.

At the end of the day, they’re just plain cute. I’ve yet to find a moment when they’re not cute, so I think I’ll just stop looking.

God’s Word Set To Music

On the way home from a tourism conference this week, I turned on my favorite music, cranked the volume up and sang for the entire drive. As I drove, the songs turned into background music for my prayers. God an I had an amazing time during that drive, and I just had to share a few of those prayers with you.

One Step Away - Please, Lord, don’t let me give up!

Let It Go - I give my burdens to you, Lord, as I trust You to handle them.

Run Devil Run - Devil, you have already been defeated!

All The People Said Amen - I will praise the Lord in the congregation and share how He has blessed my life.

Tell Your Heart To Beat Again - The wait may seem long, but God is working everything to give me His best.

I Need A Miracle - Lord, please answer my prayer and if it’s in your perfect will, give me the miracle I so desperately want.

How He Loves - Nothing in this world can compare to Your love, Lord.

Revival - When I’m exhausted and can’t go any farther, God meets me there and carries me through.

Words For Wednesday


Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have been part of my life since I was old enough to eat cookies. So it’s been a while. When I left home for college, my grandmother sent this recipe card with me, and it has been a treasure ever since.

When her chocolate chip cookies came up in a conversation recently, Danny and I realized that I had never made them for him. So that was quickly remedied, and I was also able to share them at a church fellowship and with our youth.

My grandma loved coconut, so she would sometimes make these with coconut pudding mix and shredded coconut. Feel free to try that combination as well.

P.S. She mixed them by hand. I use a stand mixer, and that makes me appreciate the hard work she put into making these for me.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 sm package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 package chocolate chips

1. In a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla…

When You Begin To Grasp The Meaning Of Eternity

Things change. Circumstances change. Our minds change. The red light changes. Our feelings change. The wind changes. Our priorities change. The menu changes. Our love changes.

The situations you are in right this minute - they will change. It may be for the better or for the worse, but we can rest assured that they will change.

When we’re in the middle of trials and troubles, we pray for things to change. When times are good and we’re blessed melons measure, we pray nothing will change.

Our bank account will change. Our families will change. Our weight changes on a daily basis. Our address changes.

Change is inevitable. Unless you’re living under a rock. But even then, the rock will change over time, too, so yes - change is inevitable.

We experience change every day, minute by minute and breath by breath. Something, somewhere in our life is changing even as you read these words.

Except Jesus.

From before “In the beginning ...” to after “Surely I come quickly...”, Jesus Christ was and…

My “Going On A Road Trip” Planner Layout

I’m going to spend part of this week at the Iowa Tourism Conference, so I felt like a road trip planner layout would be more than appropriate. Sometimes the layout comes from the embellishments I find, but sometimes the theme dictates the embellishments!

I can’t begin to tell you how long I’ve had these stickers. They’re super thick and some are textured, so they look pretty amazing. I vaguely remember thinking I would use them for a fun scrapbook page, but I have no idea what pictures I thought I was going to put with them. I guess I was just having them for this layout!

I added more arrows to compliment the road sign theme, and since I have them in every color, I coordinated them to the photo stickers. I’m using green number stickers for the entire month of March, just to have one common bit on every layout.

And since it’s the first of the month, here’s my March layout. I use this page each month to keep track of my blog posts, and I absolutely adore this one. I’ve been holding on …