Monday, October 3, 2016

Ministry Monday: Just When You Want to Quit

Let's be honest.  Ministry is often inconvenient.  How often have we been excited to begin a new ministry (whether we are founding it or joining it), only to find ourselves dragging months or years later with little of the original enthusiasm left.  We see little fruit and we wonder, What is the point? We are tempted to quit, thinking our time could be better used elsewhere.

I was reading in Jonah this morning and that is the very thought process that Jonah seemed to have had when he first ran away from the ministry God assigned to him.  He just "knew" he would make the long journey, make a fool of himself walking and shouting warnings around the city of Nineveh - for nothing!  No smoke, no fire, no hailing brimstone.  Just God's patience and mercy.  Again.

Week in and week out, my children, other teens and I trek into the city.  We are the minority out there - in color and in lifestyle.  We walk in with our skirts (girls) and short haircuts (boys), holding our Bibles, carrying song signs and, in general, looking odd.  We sing loudly.  We play hard.  We sit and listen to the children try to say verses with words they can barely read or pronounce.  Sometimes months go by without any of them getting saved.  For weeks we can have children in Kids Club who do nothing but cause disruption and bring down morale.

We sometimes begin to wonder what we are doing.  Should we keep going?  We all have school, jobs, many other things that would be, seemingly, more productive.  We use up gas and money.  We put more miles on our already well-used vehicles.  We get rained on and snowed on.  We are just plain tired.  Why bother?

Then it happens.  A ten year old boy gets saved.  A twelve year old girl sits with her leader longer than required just to ask more questions about this man Jesus.  An 8 year old asks for a Bible and his face lights up when his leader writes his name in it.  THIS is what it's all about.

This is why we drive.

This is why we put one foot in front of the other when we feel like we can barely go on.

This is why we smile one more smile.

This is why we sing the kiddie songs.

This is why we try to work through the disruptions and get to the hardening hearts of the pre-teens.

God is patient.  God is merciful.  Yet, we, so often want to see things happen now, just like Jonah.  We tend to get bent out of shape when our eyes see nothing but the mundane routine.  Our faithfulness is challenged.  But, when we wait, when we stay faithful, we see the fruit of what God has been doing all along.

Today, we are to leave for the city in one hour.  It's been a long day of school.  It's cloudy out and just a nice day to stay in and cozy up with a Bible study and cup of cider.  I'm tired.  My son's face is swollen from a bee sting.  But there's a soul waiting for us in the body of a child.  A soul that God is working on...though we may not see it.  All we need to do is obey our patient Lord and go.

And so, we will.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Foodie Friday: School-Morning Breakfasts

I slept in this morning.  I really, really slept in!  I am sitting here at a little after 8:30 in my robe and pjs, with my morning coffee and a biscuit.  I have been in almost constant motion for about a week, getting up early, going to bed late and I think if finally caught up with me.  Which is kind of amusing as today I am writing about delicious breakfasts first thing in the morning!

At the beginning of this school year, one of my goals was to have breakfast ready for my children most mornings.  Yes, some days, this includes cereal or bagels; but even then, I usually try to have those items set out on the table for when the kids come down in the morning.  Many days, I try to have a yummy, home-made, filled-with-love kind of breakfast such as muffins, pancakes, quiche, scones, etc.  These breakfasts mean planning ahead and early mornings.

On school mornings, I am up at 5:00.  (We do four-day school weeks with a homeschool co-op on every other Friday.  Today is neither a school or co-op day, hence the luxury of sleeping in.)  This is the time I can get last minute breakfast prep done and read my Bible in the rare-quietness of my home.  Usually, I figure out what I want to make for breakfast a day or two ahead of time and get as much of the recipe together the night before.  Pancake batter is mixed and refrigerated, muffin batter is mixed, put in muffin cups and refrigerated, biscuits and scones have the dry ingredients together the night before so I can just add wet ingredients, roll and cut the morning of.  Yes, I could bake everything ahead of time, but there is just something about fresh-from-the-oven.  Don't you agree?

Today, I share two of the breakfasts we enjoyed this week:  Blueberry Croissant Puff and Biscuits with Pumpkin Butter.

One of the reasons I like baking things early in the morning, is so that it's ready for my farmer-husband when he gets up.

Blueberry Croissant Puff

This is a recipe which actually needs to refrigerate overnight, so planning ahead is essential.  It hardly takes any time at all - which is one of my top requirements for most recipes - and most of my family loved it!  (I got an "it was ok" from my 11 year old daughter.)  I used a package of mini-croissants from Aldi.  No use buying large, expensive croissants when you'll just break them up!  This recipe warms up nicely and could even be used as a dessert.  It's the fruit and eggs that make it breakfast-worthy.  :) 

  • 3 large croissants, cut up (about 5 to 5½ cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Place croissant pieces in a 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle with blueberries.
    3. Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition. Pour evenly over croissant pieces. Let stand 20 minutes or soak overnight.
    4. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes or until set in center and golden brown. You may want to cover it with foil for the last 10 minutes if the tops are getting too browned.
    5. Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar.
    6. Variation: Instead of baking in a square pan bake individually. Place croissant pieces evenly in 10 (1/2-cup) ramekins; sprinkle with blueberries and pour cream cheese mixture evenly over croissant pieces. Let stand 20 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until set in center and golden brown.
This can easily be doubled in a 9X13 pan.  (Which is what I did)

I use baskets as often as possible.  Biscuits, butter, jam and baskets - nothing says "farm breakfast" louder!

A few years ago, I began making apple butter.  It was something my brother loved and I guess my husband had a liking for it, as well.  I never cared for it so, obviously, I never thought about making it!  I came across a recipe or two that looked easy enough and I had great success.  So, when I came across this recipe a few weeks ago for pumpkin butter, something I had never heard of, I was intrigued and challenged.  Again, this was a huge hit!  It makes quite a bit, so it will keep my large family satisfied for a time and it would make a great little gift for someone.


Serves: 6.5 cups
  • 1 (29-oz.) can AND 1 (15-oz.) can Libby Pumpkin Puree (NOT Sweetened Pie Filling)
  • 2½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ⅛ tsp. ground ginger
  • dash of salt
  1. In a 3-quart or larger slow cooker add all the ingredients and stir. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, stirring once at the 4 hour mark.
  2. After the cooking time is complete add the pumpkin butter to a blender, add the lid on and pulse. It will be thick, and you may need to stop and stir the pumpkin butter in the blender to get it moving. Pulse until you have the desired puree.
  3. Cool in refrigerator. Serve cold.
  4. I put the extra pumpkin butter into canning jars, give as gifts, but I remind my friends that it needs to be refrigerated. Could also be put into the freezer.


My favorite recipe for biscuits can be found at (no, I have no idea who this man is, but he makes some mean biscuits!)   If you follow the link, you will find it to be a sweet blueberry biscuit.  While I do make those, I have found that leaving off the glaze and leaving out the blueberries gives me some of the best biscuits I have ever had!
Note:  Do not, under any circumstances, use almond milk over cow's milk.  It makes for the toughest biscuit known to man.  And, it's doubly-embarrassing when you serve them to guests.  Don't ask me how I know.

Farm-House Biscuits 
(re-named by yours truly)

2 Cups Flour 
1 Cup milk
1/3 Cup sugar
5 T of butter
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Freeze butter. Preheat oven to 450F. Mix salt, sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl and sift. Add the cold milk into dry ingredients and mix. As dough begins to form, use a cheese grater to grate your frozen butter evenly over dough. Fold dough, and knead… repeat until all butter is spread evenly throughout dough. (If dough is too sticky to handle, add ¼ Cup flour.)

Roll out dough. Cut out biscuits using a mason jar or cup.   Place on un-greased cookie sheet or cake pan. 

Place in oven and bake for about 7-12 minutes (until golden). Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave, and paint finished biscuits with pastry brush. 


May you enjoy these recipes - even if you don't get up super early in the morning.  We all know that breakfast is wonderful any time of day!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hey, Mom!

Hey, Mom!

I know you hear that countless times a day.  Sometimes, you want to just ignore it (and, if you're like me, sometimes you do).

But, I think this time, you may want to listen.

Hey, Mom!

You're doing a great job.  

You probably don't believe that.  On your best day, you may think you are doing an "ok" job.  Most days, you probably wonder why God even gave you children.  Or, why did He give YOU to your children.

Am I the only one who has ever thought that?  "Lord, why are my children tormented with me as their mother?"

But, God chose YOU for them.  And you, even while you doubt, are doing a great job.  How do I know?

You are worried.  You are stressed.  You are running fifty different directions - sometimes physically, sometimes mentally.  And why?  For your family.  You want to take care of them.  You want to keep them healthy.  You want them to be happy.  You want them to be independent, strong members of society - even if they are only just two years old today.  You just know that whether you feed them homemade mac & cheese or boxed mac & cheese will determine their entire future.  Only moms know this stuff.  No one else cares like mom.  YOU care.  And, you are doing a great job.

Hey, Mom!

God sees you and He is loving you.

He is rejoicing in your victory of not screaming at your child over the marker on the wall.

If you're like me, you did, indeed, scream and God is holding you as you cry over yet another failure.

He sees you running around the kitchen trying to get dinner fixed before the kids start another argument.  He's holding you up - that's why you aren't falling into a heap.

He hears you telling your daughter, yet again, to pick up her room.  He smiles slightly as you come closer to understanding what He goes through with you.  He's not vengeful, just hopeful that this will give Him a closer relationship with you.

Hey, Mom!

The one who doesn't think she is pretty enough for her husband at the end of a busy day with toddlers...

The one who passes her wedding portrait on the way to put laundry away and pauses a moment to wonder where that girl with the romance in her eyes went....

The one who tries to repair her teenage daughter's broken heart over a lost friend...

The one who sits in the hospital with a child recovering from surgery...

The one who has just ordered pizza for dinner for the third time this month...

The one who just looked at the scale and has no idea how she's going to lose those ten pounds...

The one who agonizes over her son's future...

The one who is balancing school and/or career with motherhood....

The one whose 3 year old just had a full-blown tantrum in the grocery store...

The one who relives that one mistake over and over again...

The one who goes to bed dreading tomorrow...

The one who is homeschooling her children but wonders if they really are better off...

The one who is not only caring for children and husband, but for aging parents and grandparents...

The one who stays busy so as not to have time to face the inner torments....

Hey, Mom!


God loves you and He is right there with you.
You're doing a great job.
You're beautiful in all that crazy mom busy-ness.  
It's going to be OK!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ministry Monday - Kids' Club

About six years ago, our church began an after-school ministry, a "kids' club," in one of our suburban school districts.  It proved successful and so we began another kids' club in a city recreational center on Monday afternoons.  Youth desiring to minister in the suburban outreach needed to be a minimum age of 15 years old.  As I did not have any children of that age at the time, we were not involved.  I loved the idea of this ministry - teaching kids from different backgrounds the Bible and about the love of Jesus, playing games with them and building relationships with the goal of them beginning a relationship with the heavenly Father.  However, I could not leave my own children who needed those things in order to teach other children.

I remember clearly the day I was talking to the leader of the Kids' Clubs and found out that the city ministry had no such minimum age.  I could bring all seven of my children.  Obviously, my then-3 year old and other little ones would not be able to teach, etc., but my older kids would be a help.

So it began.  Every Monday during the school year, we load up our van, drive out of our farm driveway and trek into the inner-city.  Over the years, we have come to know and love many children - some of whom have stuck around while some have left the program due to moves or getting caught up in the city crowds.  We have had our joys and our heartbreaks.  Some children have challenged us with their attitudes while others have quickly won us over with their sweetness.  We've talked to kids considering suicide, spoken with kids whose parents are in jail, we have experienced one of our clubbers being in a serious accident and seeing his recovery.  Each of these children have stories - broken homes, broken lives, but they shine with childish hope.  They come searching for love and we are there to give it to them and introduce them to the Giver of unconditional, unending love.

Some of my older children are no longer able to minister on Mondays due to their increasingly busy schedules and adult-hood overtaking them.  Yet, my once-little ones are now old enough to become leaders and more active helpers.  From the first day so long ago, however, even my youngest children ministered in their own way.  They were (and still are) the same ages as some of our clubbers.  My children would sit and listen to the lessons, sing the songs, and learn the verses - all the while encouraging their city-peers to do the same. "Hey, that kid is doing can I!"  My littlest one would often capture the attention and smiles of some of the little girls - ministering in spreading joy.

Ministry on Monday afternoons has become a way of life for us.  Our 12-passenger van is almost always full as take other young people who also desire to serve in the Kids' Club.  This transporting of ministers and feeding them afterwards has become a ministry in and of itself.

Being a mom is my main ministry.  Nothing should come before it.  Yet, when I can minister with my children - actively teaching them to minister to others - this is the highest calling.

In the coming weeks, I will discuss more about being involved in ministry while being a mom. I will delve a bit more into our Kids' Club ministry as well as our Monday evenings, homeschool group, coffee-dates, moms' breakfasts, etc.  In the meantime, I would love to hear how you minister with your children.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

First Day of School 2016

We have just finished our THIRD week of school and I am just now getting around to blogging about our first day.  Does that tell you anything about my lack of time?

No, I'm not running hither and yon.  For once in my life, I am busy AT home.  I think I have become more of a keeper AT home than I have ever been before and it's keeping me busier than ever.  At the same time, it's keeping me pretty happy and more contented, as well.  But that's another post altogether.

Back - way back - like three weeks back - to our first day of school.

While I normally prefer to get a good night's sleep on school nights, I stayed up late the night before getting things ready for the moment my children walked downstairs. No balloons or confetti - just little things to let the kids know it was a special day and I was thinking about them.

 I made muffin batter and got it all set so I could just scoop and pop (scoop in muffin cups and pop in the oven) in the morning.  Since the first day, I have made sure the downstairs is straightened up, the kitchen orderly, and breakfast (or the plates and fixings) are on the table along with a sign announcing the breakfast of the day.  I am attempting to give the kids much more variety in their breakfasts, and with more forethought and planning, I am able to limit cereal days to just one or two days a week.   I tried a new recipe for the first day of school - pancake bites - which, I believe, went over pretty well.  I would definitely add sausage and/or bacon, to a few next time.

I bought these mini-chalkboards for our daughter's graduation party this last June.  I can't tell you how many times I've used them for picnics to label food and now I have found a new use - encouraging notes around the house.  

Reminders to be joyful - even during their computer math & science classes. :)

Nothing like brushing your teeth in the morning with a sign of hope!

I got up around 5:00, went downstairs, got the muffins in the oven and read my Bible, taking the muffins out when they were ready.  I then went upstairs (once my husband got up) and worked out and got ready for the day.  I came downstairs in time to eat breakfast with most of the children.  

At 9:00, we all sat down to sing, share what we learned in our individual Bible readings that morning, and continued reading from a book we had been reading about heroes of the faith.  At 9:30, we began our academics.  I had written a schedule for each child to follow.  This is a new thing, but it has been very helpful in organizing time on a shared computer and classes when some children need me more than others.  

The routine we used that day has held so far and we are finishing school around 2:00 or 2:30 each day.  I make sure I plan little to no events during our school days so we can just relax and get the school done without a time limit hanging over our heads.  

Our first day, in fact, our first weeks, while not without their stresses, have been among some of the best school days we have ever had.  I am praying that the rest of our year goes so well.

How was YOUR first day?  


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: July 30, 2016

It's Saturday.  I've missed our weekends together.  This weekend finds me organizing and getting ready for my Tennessee vacation beginning Thursday!!  My brother, mom, my oldest son and I will be traveling to the south to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of some very dear friends of ours. I am very much looking forward to spending some time with the dear family members I am traveling with along with these friends who stuck close to us when I was a kid during our darkest times.
But, before I get all nostalgic....

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isaiah 6:3

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10



Time with God: The Time-Warp Wife
My quiet time is one of my favorite times of day.  In the summer, I have more time to just read, study, pray and commune with my God.  Most mornings, I meet with God at our picnic table with a cup of coffee.  Some mornings, I am up in my bedroom or at my desk - still with a cup of coffee.  I have always gleaned so much more from my daily Bible reading if I write, so I have several notebooks full of verses and treasures God has shown me through the years.  
At the beginning of this summer, however, I discovered the Time-Warp Wife and her Bible-Study Journal and Prayer Journal, both which will last 6 months.  Inside the Prayer Journal there is a spot to write out your prayer for the day, a spot where you ask God to teach you something specific that day, and an area to write your requests.  The Bible study journal has daily pages in which to note what you have read that day, list attributes of God, three things for which you are thankful, and a large section to write what you learned that day.  This has been a different way for me to do my quiet time, but I am loving it!
Beginning a few years ago, I enjoy taking the extra time I have in summer to really delve into a Bible study.  Enter, again, the Time-Warp Wife.  I had just finished reading Ecclesiastes when I came across her 6-week study of the same book.  I am learning much about how to live a life for God that counts for eternity.
If you want to add depth and renew your quiet times with God, I highly suggest these resources.  As I bought all three books from Amazon, I just perused her website for the first time as I wrote this post.  I am bookmarking and will be a frequent visitor!!

I am not one to toot my own horn, but if you haven't had a chance to read my list of ideas to make fun memories with your children this summer, I suggest you go there now.  After all, this is my day to list suggestions and I listed several earlier this week! After reading, choose one thing and do it today or this week.  Then, come back and tell me what you did!

Actually, I am recommending the whole series.  Well, at least the first three books as that's all I have read.  But, I am assuming the last two books in this series are just as good and thought-provoking.  This fictional tale is about a man who has lost everything and wants to get away from all he knew.  So, he begins to walk - from Washington State to Key West, Florida.  These books are his journals recounting the people he meets, his thoughts, his struggles, his coming to terms with what God and life have handed him.
While I have not literally walked in this character's shoes, somehow, I have found myself often walking right alongside of him.  I think you may find yourself walking with us, as well.
Note: the two sayings above come from the third book in the series, The Road to Grace.

I don't believe I have ever recommended a sermon nor have I posted a video of one before.  However, today I make an exception as this is an exceptional message.  If you struggle with addiction, depression, fear, or besetting sin (isn't that all of us?), this sermon will literally change your mindset as to how you can achieve victory.  
This is a livestream event from our church, so the entire service is recorded.  If you want to hear some great singing by the preacher's family, begin around the 21-minute mark.  To go directly to the sermon, fast forward to the 37-minute mark.  Watch the entire sermon.  May you be blessed, your mind renewed, and may you win the victory!

That's it for this weekend.  I'm off to shop for our daughter's birthday tomorrow, get my house ready for a birthday dinner, organize, plan, know, all that "keeper at home" stuff!  Praying you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Foodie Friday - Oat Indulgence

So...I started Foodie Friday back in April.  April 29, to be exact.  So, today marks three months since I have begun this series.  Let me count how many posts this will be.


Yes, three months and this is only the second time I have been able to post on a Friday.  Either time, brain power, or energy has not allowed it.

But, maybe today's food is the cause for my brain power and energy on this day.  This morning, for the first time ever, I indulged in Overnight Oats.

Can indulge and oats appear in the same sentence?  Apparently so, though I never would have expected it.  You see, for most of my life I have hated oatmeal with a passion.  Thin oatmeal looks soupy.  Thick oatmeal looks gloppy (just saying that word makes me lose my appetite!).  It's either clumpy, bland, too sweet or just plain gross.  However, in the last couple of years, I have tasted one kind of oatmeal that I actually can say I enjoy.  That would be my husband's stovetop apple-cinnamon-brown sugar oatmeal.  Maybe it's the fruit.  Maybe it's the spices.  Maybe it's the love with which he makes it.  Whatever it's what I believe oatmeal was meant to be.

Because of my positive experience with my husband's delectable oatmeal, I have been cautiously optimistic.  I have viewed and pinned overnight oat recipes for a while, but today, I took the plunge.  And, I have decided I will be jumping in again soon!

Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats

Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats
 recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Motivated
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
  • 1 tablespoon neufchâtel 
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4cup skim (or almond) milk - I used almond
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional - I opted out
  • 5-8 large strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
  1. Place all the ingredients - except for the chopped strawberries - into a medium bowl and stir until everything is totally combined.
  2. Layer the overnight oat mixture into the jar with the strawberries. You can do as many layers as you like.
  3. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 4 hours to chill before eating.

I mixed this up last night after dinner.  It took me about 8 minutes to get my ingredients, mix them, layer them in this cute jar and get into the fridge.   While the oatmeal mixture was a bit bland, it wasn't gross.  I also discovered that most of my neufchâtel was at the bottom layer.  Next time, I will mix it in better.  However, the combination with the oats and strawberries was divine!  I ate this two hours ago and I am still not hungry - which is a bit of a miracle for me!  

Try it and let me know what you think.  Have you had overnight oats?  What recipe would you recommend?  Would love to hear so I can add it to my breakfast menu!

Now that I have two posts, I guess I can officially call this a series.  Look for the third installment next week...or in three months from now. ;)