Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Plenty to be thankful for, never stop being grateful for the prayers and support over the last two years. Holly is doing super great as well as the rest of us.

Thank you, God, your mercy and care. Amen.

And a little cake humor for

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peace, Joy Part 7

Really can there be more to say about this? Yes, because sometimes strife is caused by more than just one thing. Maybe its a bunch of little things. That all add up. Then what do you do, when you find yourself in my original predicament? Thinking "I can't believe they just did that!"

My part is to stop strife before it spreads. I have to mind my own business, be aware of my own motives, and especially my own words.

Lord, open my eyes to hear your word and my heart to understand. Help me to recognize strife when it occurs and to strive instead to see you in every situation.

The start of strife is like the opening of a dam; therefore, check a quarrel before it begins! Proverbs 17:14

Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth, a gatekeeper at my lips Psalm 141:3

An ill-tempered man stirs up strife, but a patient man allays discord. Proverbs 15:18

The fool immediately shows his anger, but the shrewd man passes over an insult. Proverbs 12:16

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cookie Mojo

Christmas Season is fast approaching. The Olympics of Cookie Baking at our house! And so far, I am feeling like I have lost the cookie mojo.

The last two batches of gingersnaps weren't all that snappy. I tried a mix, because Bakerella has had so much success, but the flavor was off. Way off. I couldn't eat them. Then I tried another attempt with a new recipe. All I can say about that is they tasted good. But didn't look so hot. Certainly not Christmas-gift-worthy. Since cookies are my main gift, I really want both: looks delicious and is delicious.

I hope this is pre-season jitters. That cookie mojo better kick in soon!

Peace, Joy Part 6

If you can recognize strife when it happens (that "hurt feeling" feeling) and understand things that causes stress, then you can begin to find ways to keep strife out of your life.

This verse from Proverbs literally changed our lives. Turned us upside down and inside out. All for the better.

Proverbs 17:1

Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife.

A peaceful dry crust is better than feasting with strife. How can that possibly be? It is better to be poor and peaceful than have lots of stuff and be angry?

I just thought we were supposed to have lots of stuff and then figure out how not to be angry. Isn't what the commercials show? Happy people shopping? How can being poor make you happy?

Lee and I fought so much at the beginning of our married life. I knew we had stuff, not fancy but we had two incomes, one child. We could afford to spend a little. But we were so very unhappy. And then I read that verse.

Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife.

Could our life be happier with less? We decided it was worth a try. What we both really wanted was for me to be a homemaker. The outside job part was making us both miserable and in turn our whole life was in a shambles.

For me taking the "dry crust" happened to mean giving up my corporate life. Our life hasn't been perfect since then, but it is like we've stepped out of the fire. I'd be lying if I didn't say right now, and every moment of my day, even our "dry crusts" ain't that bad. And the proverb is true, even our dry crusts are better than any day we had feasting and angry.

The key in this verse to avoiding strife, is to discover what is most important to you and then MAKE THAT the most important thing in your life. Even if you have to eat crackers.

Beautiful Coloring Pages

This blogger has posted the most beautiful coloring pages! Saints, Mary, Joseph.

In case you are looking, enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peace, Joy Part 5

With the causes of strife reviewed, let's move to the effects.

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. James 3:13-18

At first I wanted to just post the one verse about disorder because the effect of strife is so complete. Strife, disharmony and hurt feelings, effect every part of your life.

Every part.

Now here's the trick recoginzing strife, and seeing Jesus in the moment. "Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly unspiritual and demonic. " If you can, try to see strife for what it is, Satan trying to divide and distract, then you can seek Jesus to overcome the moment.

But then, I kept reading the verse and saw how much more important it is to strive for "wisdom from above...that cultivates peace." Once you recognize strife enter a situation, look for the peace. How to bring it about, what part can you play in bringing in PEACE.

Then the whole moment changes. Hopefully, in the next few days, I'll be able to post a few thoughts about conquering Strife and finding Peace among all those hurt feelings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peace, Joy Part 4

What does "being contentious" mean anyway? I've heard of being "held in contempt of court". Or a heavy-weight fighter is called a "contender". But am I a person like that?

Some definitions of contentious didn't really help, unless you look at the synonyms. Belligerent! Who wants to be described like that? In any situation, no matter what, I don't want to be remembered as belligerent. And the second definition in the link describes a "wearisome tendency to quarrel."

I had a co-worker years ago that seems to have a "wearisome tendency to quarrel." It was so hard to go into work, I almost braced myself for whatever conflict would occur that day. I prayed for peace to come into the situation, and in answer, God moved that person to a whole other town. And, I saw that I was moved out too! You know that saying, If you are not part of the solution.....

I realized then that there were two people in the conflict, I was one of them. Since then, when ever a contentious atmosphere arises I am alert and praying for God to move me, or move them. And he always does.

Last of the causes of strife to reflect on today:

Lord, open my eyes to hear your word and my heart to understand. Help me to recognize strife when it occurs and to strive instead to see you in every situation.

Personal differences, cliques, speculative ideas and foolish questions can cause strife.
  • After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, "Come, let us make a return visit to see how the brothers are getting on in all the cities where we proclaimed the word of the Lord." Barnabas wanted to take with them also John, who was called Mark, but Paul insisted that they should not take with them someone who had deserted them at Pamphylia and who had not continued with them in their work. So sharp was their disagreement that they separated. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.But Paul chose Silas and departed after being commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. Acts 15:36-41
  • Whenever someone says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely human? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
  • Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. 1 Tim 6:3-5
  • So turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith,love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord 5 with purity of heart. Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil's snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will. 2 Tim 2:22-26

Peace, Joy Part 3

Sometimes it is the simplest things that can cause a major division. One example I remember from Joyce Meyer's book, Life Without Strife, helps me understand other people's perspective so much.

Joyce tells of a woman whose feelings were hurt because her pastor ignored her at the mall. Just walked right by without even saying hello. (I can almost hear the conversation in my own life!) Then when she remarked about it to the pastor, he realized that was the day he was so sick and felt so poorly he didn't even see anyone at the mall.

The woman had hurt feelings.
The pastor was sick.
Clearly a situation of misunderstanding that brought strife into that woman's life. She didn't see the pastor, she saw hurt feelings.

Verses to reflect on today:

Lord, open my eyes to hear your word and my heart to understand. Help me to recognize strife when it occurs and to strive instead to see you in every situation.

Pride, selfish ambition and misunderstanding can cause strife.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. Prov 28:25

They watched him closely and sent agents pretending to be righteous who were to trap him in speech, in order to hand him over to the authority and power of the governor. They posed this question to him, "Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is correct, and you show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar or not?"Recognizing their craftiness he said to them, "Show me a denarius; 6 whose image and name does it bear?" They replied, "Caesar's." So he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." They were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent. Luke 22:20-27

At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Acts 6:1

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

E-Mealz Review

After week 1 of using the E-Mealz Aldi's plan, I am very happy. Here's what happened:
  • Spent $90 initially at Aldi's. Made one other trip to Food Lion for cleaning products, $20.
  • Cooked dinner 5 out of 6 nights. Best I've done in 2 years! (BTW - thx Lee Sr. for cooking for so long!!!) Tonight is the last night and I am looking forward to making Lemon Talapia.
  • Everyone in our family tried and liked all 5 menus!
  • All the meals were fairly simple to make, and some were super simple for nights when we were pressed for time. Loved the Baked Cibatta Sandwiches.
  • All the recipes actually made "enough". Most meals we had leftovers.
  • One more thing, in my opinion, these menus are fairly balanced. For example last week, only one meal was what I would call "fat friendly", called for whipping cream AND a generous helping of butter. It was delicious, but you can't have that every night!
  • Today, Tuesday, new menu has been posted for this week. The projected total is $62.
  • All of the menu suggestions are foods that we like and I would cook. Looks good.
Hope I can do my part to keep the savings up!

Peace, Joy Part 2

A key to recognizing strife when it occurs is to know that hurt feeling feeling. Understanding the definition of strife is key. Strife is is division, quarrel, hurt feelings, confusion, contention and hatred. If you find yourself in a situation involving any of these feelings, proceed carefully! You (and I) are being offered an opportunity to see Jesus.

Verses to reflect on today:

Lord, open my eyes to hear your word and my heart to understand. Help me to recognize strife when it occurs and to strive instead to see you in every situation.

Gossip and being contentious can cause strife.
  • Like the man who seizes a passing dog by the ears is he who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
  • Like a crazed archer scattering firebrands and deadly arrows, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and then says, "I was only joking."
  • For lack of wood, the fire dies out; and when there is no talebearer, strife subsides.
  • What a bellows is to live coals, what wood is to fire, such is a contentious man in enkindling strife. Prov 26:17-21

Monday, November 16, 2009

Peace, Joy Part 1

It's been a while since I have posted any type of meditation or reflection. Most likely because I have struggled the last several months with hurt feelings. Trying to work on forgiving people and remembering to be merciful can wear you down.

After one more round of "I can not believe they just did that" this weekend, I have got to take a moment reflect on this wave of hurt feelings. What if it isn't them? What if it's me? I mean, I know its not all me but at some point you just have to ask.

Years and years ago, when we were newlyweds, I came across this book Life Without Strife by Joyce Meyer. This was the beginning of a huge change in our marriage. Recognizing strife when it appears, and importantly my part in it, brought a tremendous amount of peace to our home.

I want that peace again. I'm tired of being hurt all the time. Here's my part to look for peace again: Over the next few days, I am going to study some readings from the Bible to refresh my mind and remember where true peace comes from.

To begin at the very beginning: What is strife? It is division, quarrel, hurt feelings, confusion, contention and hatred. Strife affects every area of life, every relationship you can have. There are, of course, many causes of strife. I want to be able to recognize these causes and overcome them. Two verses to pray about today:

Lord, open my eyes to hear your word and my heart to understand. Help me to recognize strife when it occurs and to strive instead to see you in every situation.

Hatred, anger and sharp temper can cause strife.
  • Hatred stirs up disputes, but love covers all offenses. Prov 10:12
  • An ill-tempered man stirs up disputes, and a hotheaded man is the cause of many sins. Prov 29:22

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Plan

Two years ago, I had our grocery budget well in control. I planned, clipped coupons, made and published grocery lists and even had food to share.

Today, new game. Our grocery budget is out-of-control. And there is still never anything in the house to cook a whole meal.

Last year's strategy was a free online meal planner, that showed up in your email every week. I like it, alot. But after a few months, I realized I couldn't afford to buy just anything in the store. I have to shop the sales to make ends meet.

Enter E-ZMeals. This is a similar service, but it is not free. However, if I save the money they say I will, $1.25 cents a week is less than the cost of a newspaper to get the coupons to clip!

This service offers a choice of lists from several grocery stores. I choose the Aldi's plan for 4-6 people. I get a 7 menus and recipes as well as a shopping list. And spend $70 for a weeks worth of dinners.

My first impressions of this service are as follows:
  • The menus are actually things my family will eat!
  • There was only ONE suggested meal that I personally would not make (cheese soup), but that's personal. If weeks come up with more than one meal that I wouldn't make that would not be good.
  • There were a few items on the list that weren't exactly the same as the store. For examples at our Aldi's lemons were sold by the bag, not individually. Not a big problem, I know we'll use the extras anyway.
  • I spent a total of $90 ($20 more than the list on breakfast and lunch stuff). That's way better than I have done anywhere else recently.
  • And I know that I have all the ingredients to make a complete meal for dinner.
Next week, I'll post an update. Even if I only use the first three months subscription, I hope it will carry us through the holiday season with a tame grocery budget.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Happy Birthday Bill! Nine-terrific-all-boy years!

Make a wish!
(Boys are in the house, paper towels are on hand. May photoshop those out before I publish a birthday scrapbook page)
Lego cake

4 years old

5 years old - still loves camoflague after all these years.
Did you notice the camo-Santa hat?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Can it be nearly December already? Yes, it is. And time to decorate my Aunt Jackie's Christmas Tree for the ARC Festival of Trees!

Last year, I was super organized and had all the ornaments made by October. This year has been a little more challenging. But Aunt Jackie's tree will still be special. Continuing the "O Holy Night" theme from last year, we are creating a "Wise Men Still Seek Him" theme this year.

After brainstorming with other home school moms about what "gift" type ornaments we could represent on the tree, and then searching the web for ideas, I found this link. Paper ornament boxes! Ours are a little different, no Santa, for instance. I printed the Nativity and the Star on some, along with the "Wise Men Still Seek Him" text on others. Skimped a little on the tassles, used curling ribbon instead. Saving pennies here to spend on other projects for the tree.

If you choose to print this template, here are a few tips: Once you print and cut along the solid lines, use a kabob stick to score all the dotted lines before you try to fold. It makes the folds so much easier. I put a piece of craft foam on the table to make the surface a little softer to score the paper. Taped the outside end of the box. Finally used the two pieces of ribbon to tie the ends together. There are four holes to tie, one piece for two holes.

To get the picture on the back of the template, use pre-printed Christmas Stationary, stamps or photoshop software and clip art.

The other ornaments for Aunt Jackie's tree will include tissue paper and styrofoam stars, Christian Wise Men balls, and craft foam oriental ornaments. I'll post pictures as we make 'em.

It can be the most wonderful time of the year! Thanks Aunt Jackie for this opportunity to share joy all year long!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Simply Recipes

Too much time has past since I shared something simple that I love! Here are some great sandwich recipe that I picked up from a Taste of Home Cooking School years ago.

Warm Bistro French Dip Sandwiches
What I love about this sandwich is that you can use leftover beef roast, or even grilled chicken!
  • 1 (17-ounce) package Hormel® Family Pack Beef Roast Au Jus Entree
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 hoagie-style sandwich rolls, split
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced, separated into rings
  • 2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
Heat oven to 350ºF.
Remove roast from package, reserving juices. Thinly slice roast.
Divide 1/2 of cheese evenly among bottom halves of rolls. Layer beef over cheese. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange bell pepper and onion over beef. Drizzle each with a little dressing. Top with remaining 1/2 of cheese. Place tops on rolls. Wrap sandwiches in aluminum foil.

Bake sandwiches 10 to 12 minutes or until warmed through. Slice each in half before serving.

Hot Beef Cheddar Subs
  • 4 submarine sandwich buns
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 slices American cheese
Cut a thin slice off the top of each bun; set tops aside. Carefully hollow out bottoms, leaving a 1/2-in. shell. Set aside 1/2 cup bread.

In a large skillet, cook beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the soup, Worcestershire sauce and reserved bread.

Spoon into buns; top each with a cheese slice. Replace tops. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.