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Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Notes from OGC's 2010 Women's Retreat / If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad ?

Someone from my church asked to read my notes from our women's retreat this past  weekend.  I decided to put them here to make them legible and so others can read them as well.    The theme for the retreat:  If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad?   Our speaker was a woman whose three-year-old son had drowned in 1999.  The weekend was a discussion of suffering--its origins, its purpose and the hope we can have in the Lord as we deal with it our own lives.  


OGC women, feel free to add what you remember from the retreat in the comments section below. I'm sure you both heard and wrote down different things than I did. 

FRIDAY NIGHT, Session 1
God may not remove adversity until we have profited from it.

Nothing escapes God's control.

Reference to John Frame, RTS professor:  Even government is being piloted to fulfill God's ultimate purposes.

Pain is different from suffering.  Pain affects the body; suffering is experienced by the soul and is its response to affliction and evil.

A reference was made to  Tim Keller's 9/11/01 Remembrance Message from Sept. 10, 2006.  Here is the link to that original message if you would like to read it.


SATURDAY MORNING, Session 2
Book Reference:  Dan McCartney, Why Does It Have To Hurt?

Suffering is God's means of restoring rightness to His creation.

Live a life of trust, but expect suffering because of the curse.

Confidence in the sovereignty of God is essential.

Jesus suffered with us.  Our suffering identifies us with Him and He with us.  We can endure because He endured.  His resurrection gives me hope in my suffering.  My loved ones are with Him and I will be there, too, one day with them.  The end is awesome.

What is sad will be made untrue.


Pain through adversity is God's way of seeking us.



SATURDAY AFTERNOON, Session 3
The Bible does not guarantee a life of pleasantness. Christians are not exempt from trouble.

I will raise him (your loved one who has died), but not today.

Major disappointments draw me to the Lord.  They are  greater opportunities to be a witness of God's grace to others.

Provision of God is adequate for my pilgrimage.  He will not fail me.  Eph. 1:11

In time of trouble it is not my understanding that is crucial; the knowledge of God's sovereignty and goodness IS.

God numbers our days.  

He plans for ultimate goodness for us, not necessarily a life that is  calamity free. / Jer. 29:11

There is no victory in crisis unless I can pray "not my will, but Yours be done."

Be honest.  Examples of Old Testament men--Job, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, Jeremiah.  Tell the truth to God and to others re: your personal suffering, not just "I'm fine".  Let others help you and let them be His hands and feet for you.

Treasures from God are hidden in the dark places.  

God is before us and behind us throughout the path of our lives.

We can help others when we have been through fiery trials ourselves.  2Cor. 1:    3-6




Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Easy Inexpensive Recipe




It's still a bit cool here and is supposed to be a rainy day.  Here is an easy inexpensive recipe for lunch or even dinner for you:

HOMEMADE SPLIT PEA SOUP

INGREDIENTS
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 package of dried split peas (no need to soak these)
  • 1 large carrot, minced or chopped
  • 1 onion, minced or chopped
  • Ham pieces OR kielbasa-type sausage, chopped (I used leftovers)
  • Garlic (I use a whole head, you may prefer just a clove or two)
Bring water to boil.  Add everything and bring to another boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours.  Suggested sides:  Salad, fruit and bread.


This is a great recipe to  make to help you lose weight.  Just don't eat too much.  1 cup of this soup is about 190 calories.  Add one slice of bread, some fruit and greens and you have a very healthy meal.   Minimize the meat for even less calories.  I even like the soup "spread" on a piece of bread or over rice.  Lots of protein in this dish.  The recipe makes a huge pot of soup.  I freeze half of it in a glass mason jar and put in the freezer.  I could eat this every day for lunch but my family usually likes it for only one meal, maybe a dinner and a lunch.

===================================================

A BIT OF HUMOR FOR THE DAY
A dear friend sent this to me yesterday...

A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. 
The wife said, 'You should do it because you get up first, and then we don't have to wait as long to get our coffee. 
The husband said, 'You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee.' 
Wife replies, 'No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee.' 
Husband replies, 'I can't believe that, show me.' 
So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says . 'HEBREWS'

Friday, January 29, 2010

Women's Retreat / Weekend Away with the Girls

This morning, as I mentioned yesterday, I will be playing the piano at the memorial service of a mom in her 50s who passed away very suddenly on Tuesday morning.  It was such a shock to her husband and eight children, three of whom are still living at home.  

Just a few hours after the memorial service, I'll be leaving for our church's annual women's retreat. It is held at a conference center about an hour from here.    It's always a good time with a guest speaker and discussion groups. There is plenty of  time for chatting, some deeper conversations, no cooking, hotel rooms and late-night snacks. There's also time to be alone if you would like as well.  This year's speaker is the director of worship at a local church who has experienced great loss in her life.  A few years ago, while away on a cruise with her husband, her youngest child drowned in the family pool while under the care of a babysitter.  It was a heart-wrenching time and even though I did not know her personally at the time, I remember the incident well.  Her topic this weekend is:  If God Is So Good, Then Why Do I Hurt So Bad?   It's a questions  asked by many at some stage of their lives whether they know God or not.   I'm sure it will be a tear-jerker weekend (I'm  packing tissues) but good for us to learn from someone who has already walked through the valley of the shadow of death personally.     The death of a child is the hardest loss I can imagine happening, one that I hope and pray that I never experience.

I'll fill in more detail when I return from the retreat. Click HERE for my notes from the retreat.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Funeral Tomorrow ; Too Busy To Blog Last Night

No time to post today.  I am getting in the practice of writing my blogs the night before and last night was a long unexpected  rehearsal for a friend's memorial service on Friday morning.  I'll be playing the piano for the service--two pieces I have not heard before and had to learn quickly.


Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow morning then off to a church women's retreat Friday afternoon and all day Saturday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Should Young People Get Married ?


As you know, we attended a beautiful wedding ceremony this past weekend in Fernandina Beach / Amelia Island.  The couple is a young one, in their early 20's and it was good to see how happy and in love they seem especially since we are so fond of the groom and his family.


I got married when I was 31 years old; my husband was 38.  Neither of us had ever been married before although he had been engaged once and I had been asked once previously.  We have been married for 22 years.   I have friends who met in high school and married at age  18 and have been  happily married for 37 years.  Of course, I'm sure we all know plenty of people who married younger as well as older who are now divorced, or miserable being married.


How do you counsel young adults who are contemplating marriage at what seems like the "adolescence" stage of life?  I used to think that one (especially boys) should wait until at least 25-30 years old but with the way our culture is changing, my opinion on that has changed.  In these times I think it is good for men and women to not be alone and to endure, struggle and help each other beginning when they are younger (than I was).   I would tell a young person that to me the ideal age to marry is somewhere between the ages of 22 (after college graduation, hopefully) and before age 30, if possible.  Children usually come along and it's nice to be young enough to enjoy them but not too young to be their "buddy" rather than their parent.  


Maturity is of the essence, and comes at various ages in life.  So is a well-developed character.  Until one is about 25, that character is still growing and changing rapidly as well.  About that time, who you are at that age, is generally who you will remain.    Women, need to watch for signs of immaturity and childishness in young men in this age group, and young men need to do the same for young women.  Be observant and try not to be infatuated with the "idea of being married".   In marrying young, I suppose, a couple can grow up together and this can be a wonderful thing.   Sometimes couples who married very young and are now much older become so dependent on each other as to hardly be able to function when one spouse passes away or is incapacitated in some way.   I've even seen some women become almost paralyzed if their husband goes on a business or fishing trip.  This just doesn't seem healthy to me.  A sense of individuality is necessary when married even though you become "one" and each should have interests and activities they enjoy alone or with other friends.  Whatever the age, a marriage that kept faithful and pure, both before the wedding as well as after, builds bonds that can last a lifetime together.  

" ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (put asunder).”  (Matthew 19:5-6)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Tragedy Occurs / Do Bad Things Happen In Threes?

Whenever you hear bad news, how often have you heard people say: Watch out, bad things happen in 3s?    Sounds like superstition to me.  Three is such a small number and a total low enough that can be reached for any number of similar circumstances.   I'll just say that sometimes things appear to happen in groups of three; sometimes they don't.


In recent events of people with whom I am acquainted, there have been three instances of a mom passing away.  One was a couple of weeks ago which I described here in my blog; a second was just last week when a friend from high school  (my age) passed away.  In both situations there was some warning. For the former, the family had known for the past year that she had a serious heart condition and needed a transplant; for the latter, she was told that death from leukemia was "imminent" 26 years ago and used that knowledge to truly live each day with her family as if it were her last with them.  On Friday while my husband and I were out of town a woman from our church, again, about my age, went into the hospital with a very serious viral infection and both her kidneys shut down. Doctors told the family there is not much else they can do.   She passed away early this morning.


One's life can totally change over the course of a weekend or even overnight, to be sure.  Last week an old friend, a year older than I am, was admitted to the hospital with pain that  he thought was a heart attack.  It turned out to be stress-related but while there, discovered he had diabetes which he did not know.  Just being aware of that could add many years to his life since there are many things you can do for diabetes.  God was gracious to  him. 



I know firsthand how shocking a potential life tragedy can be and all the thoughts that run through your mind when it affects you or IS you.  When I was 37  years old I had an ectopic pregnancy (three years after my first son was born, two years before the second).  The doctors had told us that it could be fatal and to be extremely careful while they continued to run a few more tests.  The egg almost ruptured within a fallopian tube but I had surgery and that tube and the egg were removed in time.  Obviously I did not die then and even though I was told that a second child was highly unlikely "at my advanced age" , our second son was born just fine two years later.  Praise God it has been 17 years since then and no other complications have occurred.


What were the thoughts that went through my mind?  I prayed that my older son (who was 3 years old at the time) would not be angry with or turn away from God if I should die and that he would be loved and cared for if I were not with him as he grew up.  I am thrilled to say that my TWO sons are now 20 and 15, so even if tragedy should occur,  they are both entering adulthood which gives me great peace and I am thankful for that.


We do not know the length of our days and our lives can change drastically overnight.   Read your Bible.  Be ready.
Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13)

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Are You Reading This Week?


Usually every couple of weeks or so I pop into the library on the way back from carpool to my son's Spanish class to check out a few books.  Some are reserved after seeing an article about them in the newspaper or from a friend's referral or just to catch up on a subject with which I am unfamiliar.  Others I grab on a whim when I circle the attractive displays at the library.  Here are few that I picked up last Wednesday:

  • Clay Pot Cooking by Kathryn Hawkins
  • Hands on Feet by Michelle K. Ebbin
  • Hand Reflexology by Louise and Michael Keet
  • Lighten Up by Loretta LaRoche
  • Lasagne Gardening by Paticia Lanza
  • Dream Big by Oprah
  • Brenda's Wardrobe Companion by Brenda Kinsel

These are definitely light reading books, no heavy hitters or intense subjects this week.  As you can see, I was interested in gardening, cleaning out my closet, massage and cooking primarily this library trip.  I am also reading one chapter a week of a book with our church Sunday School class titled A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson.   


Check back another time to see what's on my shelf. It changes every couple of weeks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Family Budget Children's Expenses Teaching Responsibility


Teaching responsibility to your children is a continuing process, even into the adult years.  From the time our sons were old enough to hold coins we have tried to teach them that there are limits to the money that we have and that we are responsible for how it is used.  We teach saving, spending and giving as many families do.  I'm pleased to say that both "children" have substantial savings accounts and are pretty good at managing their money.  I see them both giving generously at church and when buying gifts for others for birthdays, special occasions and Christmas as well.    


We have a high school teenager and a 20-year-old college student.  Sometimes they both see other families buying everything that another student wants (not just what they need) and not have them pay for anything.  This has always been a subject of conversation for which we have stood our ground as to the fact that these are our "rules" and they are for training as well as out of necessity at times. We have our sons pay for certain things even though sometimes, we could pay for it ourselves.  In my opinion, parents are not properly training their children or preparing them for independence by covering all costs for everything especially into the adult years.  The shock of real life economics upon graduating from college can be overwhelming.  We have seen more than one college graduate sink into debt because he/she never learned how to manage their own money and bills.  We prefer to ease our sons into adulthood and  the full responsibilities of handling their own finances when they are living on their own and providing for themselves and  their own families.   I hope they appreciate it later when they are older. 


We gave our older son a lump sum when he turned 18 to be used for any college expenses that his scholarship did not cover. To my knowledge he has not had to use much of this and he is finishing up his 3rd year at college.  We have encouraged him to have a part-time job to help with expenses and to try to maintain his savings for when he graduates next year.  Our younger one will have the same benefit when he graduates from high school and hopefully will have a scholarship as well.  


This year our older son chose to live away from home, renting a house with 3 other young men.  The realization of how much things cost on your own has made itself apparent.   We cover some of the  incidental costs for him such as college parking stickers,  and continue to pay for clothing and shoes (I ask him to be reasonable when he shops), medical  and dental care, 1/2 of his part of the car insurance, most of his cel phone costs and a few other items as needed.   I typically send some food home with him for the freezer when he comes to visit as well.  Our younger son is allowed extra money for any church activities, school functions and some outings with friends.  We used to give allowances when they were younger but now we only pay for outside work such as cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, edging, etc.  It is our younger son's main source of income since he's not old enough to have a part-time job anywhere.  

The balance is a tricky one and can be uncomfortable at times, but I encourage parents to determine your priorities, hold your ground and set your boundaries regarding finances with your children.  I strongly endorse teaching little by little, precept by precept to make the transition into the adult world as effortless as possible and to become the natural order of things. My heart goes out to "children" who are thrown into the world of finance with no background or training from home.  I pray that our children will always be comfortable coming to us for financial (and other) advice and that they will grow to be excellent stewards of the money and other resources that God provides them with.


Here are a couple of excellent articles from Crown Financial Ministries on teaching children about money:  Part 1 and Part 2.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preparing for a 3-Day Trip What to Pack

My husband and I leave in the morning for a short 3-day weekend trip to stay in North Florida on the beach. We'll be attending a wedding tomorrow night for a sweet young man who is one of my older son's closest friends.  Unfortunately we didn't know him until his senior year but he was such a good friend to my son and a very pleasant young man to be around.  He also was one of my piano students for several months so I got to spend some time with him as well.  My son is a groomsman in the wedding so he's already there for the rehearsal dinner tonight but we're packing tonight to make a full three days of it.  We hardly ever take trips together without one or both of our sons with us, so this will be an adventure.


What to pack for this short trip / weather 50s to 70 degrees, so a little on the cool side:
  • Wedding outfit 
  • Wedding gift
  • Camera, extra batteries and/or charger
  • One pair of shorts
  • One pair of jeans
  • One pair of exercise pants (choose one of these three pants to wear on the drive there)
  • 3 interchangeable tops (one long-sleeve, 2 short-sleeve)
  • Pajamas & slippers
  • One sweater that goes with everything
  • Undies
  • Shoes: tennies, sandals, dress shoes
  • Toiletries, makeup, curling iron...
Sometimes I lay out all I want to take, then put about half of it back because I tend to pack too much.  We use the medium-sized roller suitcases, so except for the wedding outfit, I'm limited to the size of the case.  These are great for flying on airplanes and can be counted as a carry-on piece of luggage.

I'll wear my tennis shoes to cut down on the bulk.  It if were warmer, I'd have 2 pairs of shorts and another short-sleeved or sleeveless top, plus a swimsuit and cover-up.  Not much different in the number of items, so as to keep things simple.  I don't think I've ever left behind anything that I needed and usually come home with a few things that were never worn. Let's see how I do this weekend.  :)


No more blogs until Monday.  Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maya Angelou Poem Beautiful Christian Sister Waiting While Single

A college friend of mine sent this lovely poem to me earlier this week and I wanted to share it with you. I have not read any of Maya Angelou's other writings.  The link below takes you to her biography.

Beautiful Christian Sister





'A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ 
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.'

When I say.... 'I am a Christian' I'm not shouting 'I'm clean living,'
     I'm whispering 'I was lost, Now I'm found and forgiven.'
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride.
     I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong.
     I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.
When I say.. 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success.
     I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect,
     My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain...
     I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
When I say..... 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou,
     I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Let's go back to the quote at the beginning of this:

'A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ 
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.'


It assumes a few things:
  1. The woman the man is looking for is a strong believer and follower of Christ. 
  2. The Lord is her primary Love and she lives for Him.
  3. The man is seeking the woman, not the woman seeking the man.
  4. The man seeking the woman also has a relationship with the Lord.
  5. The man recognizes a godly woman when he sees one.
Whenever I am given the opportunity in conversation with single women, young ones out of college or older ones who may be widowed or divorced, I always try to encourage them to stay close to the Lord and above all, to stay pure, spiritually and physically.  A sure way to get in trouble and to meet the wrong kind of men is follow them from club to club, bar to bar, even activity to activity.  The new thing these days is online matchmaking websites.  I have a couple of friends who have met their husbands there, but I tend to be a skeptic.

I was 31 when I married my husband, although I met him five years prior to that. We dated one year, spent time alone and with others for 3 1/2 years, got back together and married in the 5th year.    I am thankful that we always kept our relationship pure during that time, especially in the event our sons ever ask us if we did.  Lots of details in between but clearly, God was directing each of us and preparing us both during the "waiting" time.
Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
I dislike even calling it "waiting" since I was certainly living, not just twiddling my thumbs.  I was at the point in my mid-20's where being married was not a necessity and I was content to be single.   I had a good job, a ministry, my own home, fun travels each year and a very full life.  I enjoyed the company of men but was not intentionally "being where the men are" as I see some women doing today.  I was no longer  "in the hunt".  To be honest, since my college days I never lacked for dates and have had many good men friends over the years.

When and if it is time for you to marry, you'll marry.  Seek wisdom from God and do NOT settle for a less worthy man or someone whom you notice warning signs during the relationship.  Patience, prayer and a quiet heart resting in God's goodness to you is by far better.  Love what He loves the most--the character of a man.
...for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (I Samuel 16: 7)
Marriage is "until death do you part" so be wise in your choice of whom you spend lots of time with and certainly in choosing your spouse.  Being married to the wrong person is far worse than being single.  So, take your time and enjoy your life. There is no need to stop living simply because you are single.  Try not to pay too much attention to the "clock", biological or otherwise.  Remember, you do have Someone Who loves you very much and wants the very best for you.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  (Proverbs 4: 23)



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Romertopf Clay Pot Baking Beef in Wine Recipe

Have you ever baked anything in a clay pot?  I have aways been afraid of doing this.  I thought the pot would crack, that it would be too heavy to lift, or that it would turn out earthy-tasting.  A sweet friend of mine, the same one who introduced me to bread baking, gave me a Romertopf clay baking dish from West Germany that she found at a yard sale for $5.  Unbelievable.  I searched on eBay for these and they generally start at $30.00; new they start at $50.00.  What a generous gift for a very average cook like me.  
     I searched online for recipes and found one with 4 stars called Romertopf Beef in Red Wine.  This one recipe was at several different websites so I figured it must be pretty good.  It really was delicious. My whole family loved it.  It comes out with a different texture than when cooking in the crock pot and is not watery at all since very little liquid was added. It cooks at 425 degrees for a couple of hours (the main negative since it runs the oven that high and long).  You also have to be sure to NOT use soap when cleaning, but just soak and scrub with a brush.

The clay bakeware is soaked for 15-30 minutes before placing the ingredients in it and then is put into a COLD, rather than pre-heated, oven.  Everything goes into one pot like you do with a crockpot.  Very simple, very easy.  I prepared mashed potatoes, broccoli and bread as the side items.  Very few leftovers.  The entire meal was gobbled up except for what's in the photo on the right.  :)  I'll definitely be using this bakeware again. Thank you, Gabriele.   Keep an eye out for one of these pots at the next yard sale or thrift store you go to.  My friend says people receive them as wedding gifts and often don't know what to do with them (my son thought it was a  new planter) so they give them away or pass them on.   They are extremely popular in Europe and last a lifetime if properly kept.   Try it for yourself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lasagna Gardening Swapping Ideas Growing Food at Home

Does anyone out there like to garden?  We live in a suburb where front yards are generally flowers and maybe some hidden herbs. Our back yard is mostly taken up with a swimming pool.  My husband and I were at a lunch gathering of friends yesterday and a young man mentioned a new way of gardening which I had never heard of called an earth box.  I had just picked up a library book on Saturday that had an interesting titled called Lasagna Gardening. I don't know yet if they are the same thing but I am definitely going to look into both.   You use a special container and can plant several things in one small place. The cash investment is small and the box and soil can be reused several times as long as the plants are companion plants which means they can be grown using the same soil either at the same time or following each other.

I love to grow herbs  and have planted a few vegetables in the past. Fresh herbs on your homemade food taste delicious.  I also love flowers.  It's a little early in the season to plant seedlings or small plants but I enjoy growing things from seeds (which can be planted now), so I will be headed to Lowe's maybe this week to check out the earth box and also read through the library book to get ideas as well.   Martha Stewart, watch out!
     So many good things come from conversations bouncing here and there from topic to topic.   Yesterday afternoon we covered religion, TV, family, history books, school, the news,  websites, gardens, coffees and cooking, to name a few.  I was glad to learn about this little tidbit.  Happy Gardening!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Worship Church Sermons D. A. Carson Book

Not much to post today since we're headed to Sunday school and church soon.  Our Sunday school class for high school and older has been a study of the book by D.A. Carson titled A Call to Spiritual Reformation.  

The author was at RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) a couple of weeks ago when I was there, but I didn't get to see him.  A link to a couple of articles  related to this book by our pastor appears here.  If you can't make it to church today, check out one of the sermons from ours here.   After church we're headed over to some friends' home for lunch.  Should be a lovely afternoon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend Cooking Breakfast Using Leftovers AllRecipes.com

It's a lovely weekend here, a little overcast, but at least it's not freezing weather like it has been the last week or so.  I actually have flip-flips on.  Last night I made loaded baked potatoes and had lots of crumbled cheese and steamed broccoli left over.  With that a few other ingredients, I baked a breakfast soufflĂ© this morning which turned out delicious.   I mixed the ingredients last night and put it in the refrigerator.  This morning I put it in to bake when I woke up.  

Ingredients: 
  • 1 tube of Ritz crackers (any crackers will do)
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 10 eggs
  • Leftover crumbled cheese (about 1 cup)
  • Leftover chopped, steamed broccoli
  • 6 slices of bacon (I used the pre-cooked packaged bacon)
Spray 9" x 13" casserole dish with non-stick spray or coat with butter.  Crumble the crackers as the first layer.  Drizzle melted butter on top of the crackers.  Put milk and eggs in a blender and whirl for 15 seconds  (I have a VitaMix so the blending time is quite brief).  Add broccoli and cheese, whirl for 5-10 seconds. Any longer and the eggs will look green (not too appetizing).  Pour into casserole dish on top of the crumbled crackers.  Tear bacon in pieces and lay on top of casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  It looks quite appetizing when it comes out since the eggs puff up nicely and the color of the broccoli and bacon brighten the top.
I couldn't get a photo fast enough before everyone started eating it this morning. :)  This is an adaptation of a recipe from AllRecipes.com called Charleston Breakfast Casserole.  Thanks, Julia.
         A friend of mine told me about this site and she uses it almost every single day when planning her supper menu.  Thank you, Linda.   I am constantly amazed at her.  I love the site since you can type in the ingredients you have on hand and it will give you choices of what to make with those ingredients.  I'm on a mission right now to use up what's in the pantry and freezer before stocking up again so this site is particularly helpful in that regard.  
         Have a great Saturday!  I'm off to spend some Best Buy gift cards with my son. We both received them for Christmas and love shopping there when we have $$ to spend.  :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Saying Goodbye Farewell To Those We Love / Haiti Relief Fund

Dinner tonight:
  • Loaded baked potatoes (cheese, sour cream, bacon, onions, broccoli) and fruit salad
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I really hate saying good-bye to people I love.  It's really just the initial farewell (most of the time) and then I'm usually fine about 15 minutes later.  Most frequently lately, I've been saying good-bye to my older son after he comes and stays with us for a day or so (more over the holidays) and I almost always get a little teary when we hug each other.   He only lives about 25 minutes away but the separation this year has been hard for me.   I'm thankful he didn't go to college in Minnesota or Ohio!


My brother leaves today after having stayed with us for three days and I get a little sad also saying good-bye to him as well.  The same thing happened this summer when I traveled with him to St. Louis and Houston for a few days and then said goodbye at the airport for my return flight home.  


With my older son I get sad because we always have such good conversation together and I really miss that.  Thank goodness there's email and Facebook to chat every now and then!  The same holds true for my brother now that we are both in our mid-50's (how did this happen?)--we can talk each other to death if given the opportunity.  As we get older with each year, I know we will not always be around for each other eventually and such fond memories of our childhood and times together flow through my mind in a whirlwind of thoughts.  I am so thankful to have them and I cherish each new memory that we make together since our time is limited and we live so far apart.  It's only a two-hour flight if we need to see each other quickly, but realistically, it's a flight that generally gets made only once or twice a year.  


Thank you Lord, for the unexpected surprise this week of a 3-day visit with him in our home.  I'll take whatever time You give me with those I love the most and will be grateful for the day when ...


...He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. (Revelation 21: 4)
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This passage also holds comfort for those  who have been victims of disaster as well.  Everyone by now, has heard of the earthquake disaster which occurred in Haiti on Tuesday, January 12.  Our church along with many others in our city is collecting donations of non-perishable food and clothing this Sunday to be sent there to help with the relief efforts.  There are many sites where you can contribute financially as well.  Our family sent funds  to   Samaritan's Purse International Relief which is  a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.   If you would like to donate there as well, here is the link to do so.  Prayer for the nation of Haiti is essential, but physical, material assistance is also urgently needed.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Long Day, Elderly Parent Decisions


It's been a long day.  My brother is still here visiting and today's the day we decided to go together with my mother (82 years) to visit her doctor.  She is approaching the stage of life where it looks to us like she may need some assistance in cleaning her apartment, getting transportation (she actually drives her car still even though we feel it may be unsafe), paying her bills, managing her finances, etc.   My brother, my only sibling, lives in Texas and I'm the one here, so we have to divide up what we can each do. He is very generous and takes care of most financial payments of things that she needs; I will need to pick up many of the day-to-day decisions, some of the driving, etc.   We have already determined that she cannot live with our family.


This is a familiar road for our family and thankfully, we have had an almost 5-year break from this type of situation after my husband's mother (96) and my father (84) both died in 2005.  My husband's mother lived with us for her final  two years which was very hard on my children and me. My husband was at work of course, so he missed much of the day-to-day frustration.  My dad lived in the same city as us for four years but without a car, so I took him just about everywhere he couldn't walk to nearby.   I have also managed the finances of several of my husband's elderly relatives over the years, grocery shopped for them and other errands, gathered all the paperwork for Medicaid and military insurance, qualifying income trusts, living trusts, wills, attorney visits,  etc.    I definitely have learned a lot about elder care and many options that are out there.  I wish I could say I had a wonderful servant's attitude for all this, but that was not always the case. We all got through those times and have been so grateful to have a reprieve for the last few years.  


Now, it looks as though it is my mom's turn.  Our relationship has almost always been strained at best, but better over the last few years.  I have to pray and remember during these next few weeks, especially, that:
I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Titus 2 Moms Older Mentoring the Younger

Supper tonight:

  • Baked shrimp, leftover stir-fry, crab cakes

This morning I had the pleasure of attending a small gathering of about 12 women with half being older moms and half being younger ones with babies and young children.  Most of the children were with teenage babysitters and a few were with us.  We are starting a new group at our church called Titus 2 Moms with the expectation that we older moms will mentor and help train the younger moms to 


...be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

as Titus 2: 3-5 states.  

I love mentoring and discipling, not just with classes, but just with sharing daily life. In a sense, this blog does that as well only not face-to-face.  I had the benefit of a couple of older women taking me under their wing when I was a younger wife and new mother.  Our discussions and outings together were SO helpful and at the time, I looked at them as being the wisest women I had ever known.  Now, 20+ years later I think I am able to pass on much of what plain old experience and walking with the Lord these many years has taught me.  I will be speaking at our next gathering in February on a practical subject and can't wait.  I'm sure though, that the younger ones will be teaching us older ones a thing or two as well. :)




Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Out of Town Guests, Read Through the Bible In a Year

Dinner tonight:
  • Stir-fry beef strips, nuts and  colored peppers over rice, egg rolls
The stromboli that I made with homemade bread dough was a HUGE hit last night, so perhaps I'm on a roll.  My  brother who lives in Houston arrives around lunchtime today  and will stay with us through Friday while on a business trip (very unusual). My older son is working in the area today and will be able to join us for the evening as well.  :)  My brother's birthday was last week  so we'll have a nice family dinner for him.  It's always good to have him visit.  He and his two grown sons along with my younger son play Xbox together, generally on Tuesday  nights, so this week it'll be in person rather than long-distance.  :) 


As I mentioned before, I've been reading through the Bible in a year as I have done for the past several years.  I use The One Year Bible (NIV) which is arranged in 365 daily readings.  

It makes the reading so much easier for me with the passages already divided into each calendar date.  No brochures or pamphlets or flipping all over the Bible looking for the right passage.  I've heard that there is a new read-through-the-Bible out these days called a 90-day program.  I believe it works out to 12 chapters a day.  It may work better for you.  

Either way, I highly encourage anyone to practice  this spiritual discipline.  As often as I've done it and other readings and study on my own, new details "appear" that I wonder how I've never noticed them before.  Today I was reading Genesis 24-26 and noticed that one of Esau's wives was named Judith.  I don't remember the name Judith even being in the Bible. I also did not remember that Esau's mother Rebekah did not like either of Esau's two wives. Could be pre-menopause, too, but I'm a pretty good student and was surprised to see that this morning.  


Mornings are just "reading" times, not thorough study times.  I do not write or highlight  in my One Year Bible at all.  My regular "study" Bible has notes on most pages from years of reading and study.  You DID know that you can write in your Bible, I hope.  God's Word is alive and active as well as INTERactive when you make notes in it.  Some people get a new Bible every year or two.  I like to keep the same one as a journal / study of my life and rarely change. We have multiple versions in our home for reference.  The Bible I generally read now was purchased when I got married in 1987 and is notated throughout.  It's also in my favorite translation, the NASB.   I have also used  Accordance Bible software for more advanced study for many years.  This is a Macintosh-based program. 

Whatever Bible or method you read, make it a daily practice.  As Martha would say, " it IS a good thing."  :)



Monday, January 11, 2010

Death of a Friend Christian Mom Dancer / CVS

Menu tonight:

  • Stromboli made with leftover roast chicken, Swiss cheese, banana peppers (homemade dough); leftover corn casserole and fresh fruit salad
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Last night I attended the memorial service of a friend, a couple of years older than I am,  whom I had not seen in awhile.  We attended the same church for many years together long ago.  I played the piano for her church in December and noticed that she was not there but neglected to ask about her. I wish I had, since she had been ill for awhile and I did not know. The service was standing room only with not nearly enough seats for all who attended, many like my husband and I, who had not seen her for some time but had fond memories of her.  
       One thing during the service that really stood out to me was a projected slide of her wearing a beautiful white dress, her long red hair down, smiling from ear to ear on her wedding day  I'm sure in the original photo she was smiling at her about-to-be husband, but  it was such a beautiful reminder of the church as the bride of Christ on her way to meet her Bridegroom in heaven.  Many don't realize that's why the bride wears white in a wedding or that it's even referred to in the Scriptures.

I always remember Debbie as a shining light with a face beaming for the Lord.  I don't remember ever having heard a word of criticism or negative-ness from her. She loved her husband and their two sons, who are about the same ages as mine are, very dearly and gave up so much for them.  She was a ballet dancer and used her beautiful gift in worship, one of the few I have ever seen who truly worshipped and led others to worship when doing so.  Someone wrote a poem for her titled "Ah, bright light..." which is the perfect description for her life well lived.  God graciously let her pass into heaven in her sleep without pain.  I am sure that she is dancing for the Lord today,  healthy and vibrant with a huge smile on her face, and that He welcomed her last Monday with the long-awaited words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  She will be missed by all whose lives she touched.

Psalm 116: 15
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
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On another note, a tip for you... I was at CVS the other day picking up a prescription for my mother and stocking up on everyday items (Tylenol, contact cleaner, Campho-Phenique, etc.) to spend down our health spending account from 2009.  I checked out at the register and forgot to give the lady my coupons until after she had already rung up everything.  I mentioned it to her and she said that was OK, that she could just give me the CASH for the coupons!  I was shocked to get money back AFTER the sale.  I don't know if all CVS's do that, but it was certainly appreciated that this one did. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Company for Lunch / Dinner, Hospitality

After church today we are having four guests over for dinner (main meal at lunchtime).  We like to have a variety of people over every now and then from our church especially, to get to know them better.  My husband is an elder there and has a "flock"--group of people that he shepherds throughout the year.  The single man we invited is from that flock; the married couple and young son have been at church for awhile but we just haven't visited for any length of time with them in awhile.


I used to never have company on  Sunday especially when I played the piano regularly and had to be there so early.  How would it be prepared in time for lunch?  Then I discovered the miracles of our self-bake / timer oven and the crockpot.  Tomorrow I'm taking a lasagna out of the freezer and putting it in the oven before we leave for church.  I'll set the oven to turn on an hour before we should get back home. 

When we walk in the door, the kitchen should smell like the maid has been there and prepared lunch for us. :)  It really is amazing.  (The oven's self-cleaning feature is like this for me, too, but more about that another time.)  The dining room table was set when I set the kitchen table for us last night.   A salad is being brought by a guest and I'll prepare fresh green beans to steam when we get home.   Dessert is also in the freezer to thaw.  Voila!  A nice home-cooked meal on  Sunday, mid-day and I don't have to spend an hour in the kitchen getting it ready and can be hospitable with a smile.

The crockpot works the same way, only the food goes in early on a Sunday morning on HIGH to be ready for lunchtime.  These kitchen appliances are must-haves in my book.  I hope any new brides out there have them on their bridal registries.
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