Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Morning Coffee: April 22, 2017


Ah, Saturday!  Slow mornings, scones, coffee, cleaning, fun errands...a day to just enjoy being alive!
It's cloudy here today, but the temps are doable and are no longer getting anywhere near the freezing point.  Even in the rain this week, the bright yellow daffodils on the side of the road made me smile.  My children aren't making me smile at the moment, but that is probably my problem more than theirs.  (just keeping it real, friends!)



As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
-Psalm 127:4-5

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?  But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
-Psalm 130:3-4

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






I was perusing Pinterest last night - along with several of you, I am sure - when I came upon this article at More Radiance.  I have never heard of this blog before, but this post was spot on.  I have a few young ladies who read this blog...I beg you to read this post.  If you are a mom of a teen girl, please share this post with her.  Our girls are torn between the world and Christ - it's a lifelong struggle.  These are some encouraging words for them to pursue God with all of their hearts.  



This book was written back in the 1970s, but it is a timely true story of a Muslim woman converting to Christianity in Pakistan.  She had everything the world could offer and she was willing to give it all up in order for the one true God to be her Father.  This is a compelling story of her close walk with God and how He directed her steps as she followed Him.

Facebook page: Love & Rewards

Yes, I am shamelessly promoting the Love & Rewards Facebook page.  Sometimes, it is difficult posting a comment on Blogger.  Often, I don't see it right away and I haven't figured out how to have Blogger notify my commenter on their reply.  With the goal of keeping the conversation going, I have established a Facebook page.  I will update it with each new blog post, as well as post encouraging words, quotes or just ask a question to which I hope you will respond.  I want this to be more than a blog, more than a one-sided conversation.  I want to be able to build a community of those who love their families and their God, but sometimes struggle with their own short-comings.  I want to encourage young women, moms, and wives to seek the wisdom of older women, moms and wives.  I want us to share stories, laugh, and pray for one another.  Will you consider joining?  If you do, feel free to invite your other friends.


Instagram: loveandrewards

You guessed it, Love & Rewards is also on Instagram.  Especially if you are not on Facebook, please join me there.  My purpose on Instagram is the same as on Facebook.  



These cookies are a staple at our house.  Made with just a few ingredients, and most of them healthy, they are easy to whip up and 99% guilt-free to eat.  I have made them with regular peanut butter and honey, but I prefer to make them with raw honey and organic, natural peanut butter - only because it makes me feel healthier.  I have been tempted to leave out the m&ms and use carob chips, but let's not get crazy.  What's life without a little bit of chocolate and food dye?
I may or may not be known for eating 4 of these at one time. 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 C old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/4 C honey
1/3 C mini m&ms
1/3 C mini chocolate chips

1.  Dump all ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
2.  Stir well for a few minutes until everything is combined.
3.  Roll mixture into small balls (about 1 - 1.5 inches in size) carefully. Dampen hands occasionally to prevent mixture from sticking too much.
4. Place bites on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.
5. Allow to set in the fridge until solid.
6. Store in fridge in an airtight container or ziplock bag


So, go read, peruse Facebook & Instagram (and join some really great pages) and eat some healthy cookies.  Meet with me for coffee on Monday!






Thursday, April 20, 2017

Praying for Our Church Family


Every so often, our church will have prayer meeting during most of our mid-week service.  Last night was one of those meetings.  It seems the crowd is often lighter on these nights, but the spirit is intensely present.  The theme or topic for each prayer meeting varies - i.e. missionaries, government, upcoming events, etc.  Last night's meeting topic was "family."

Rather than splitting the groups male and female, our pastor broke us up into families.  Biological families praying with and for church families.  We prayed especially for those within our prayer circle in which we sat.

I must say that last night's meeting was one of the best times of group prayer I have ever participated in.  In my circle were people I have known for many years while some I have known for a much shorter period of time.  There were singles, young married, young families, families whose children are growing up and moving on and one couple who have been married over forty years whose children now have families of their own.  Each of us in that circle has faced very difficult situations, yet God's grace brought us through and we remain.

One young man prayed that our church would be united.  While praying, he quoted, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  I realized that spending time praying for those around us, remembering the good times, contemplating the many times they have held us up in the difficult times will go far in keeping our church family (& our biological families) united.  Often, we see so narrowly in the present forgetting to look back at the past or look toward the future.  We see what makes us unhappy now.  We complain about what so-and-so isn't doing (or is doing) now.  We see the teen beginning to rebel now - and we forget the teens who have struggled (including ourselves) and have made it through.  We forget to look towards the future and the grace and restoration God continues to hold even there.

Last night caused me to reflect and rekindle my love for my dear church family.  I recall the way many of them welcomed our little family of three when we first began to attend and welcomed, with joy, each of the six children who joined us throughout the next nine years.  I remember the young ladies - now women with children of their own - who came to our home week after week to help care for our crew, iron clothes, cook meals, clean house, and babysit so my husband and I could sneak out.   I remember sitting in the ER countless times and an unexpected familiar face would peek in the doorway and just give us a few moments of fellowship and cheer.  How can I forget the support and love that just flowed when our son, and then our daughter, had surgery and those who actually relieved me to stay the night in the hospital with them so I could get some sleep in my own bed?  For weeks, we were the recipients of meals, help, visits, prayers, and extra love when our sixth child was born premature.  I also truly believe that my husband survived his farm accident largely due to the immediate prayers of these dear people.

Some have gone.  Some became bitter.  Some moved away.  Some have joined our Savior Heaven.  I love the memories we had with these people.  I thank God for those who once were a part of our family and will always have a place in our heart and family tree.

However, those who sit among us now...those who have rejoiced in the good times and endured the bad times, those who have been hurt and have forgiven, those who have suffered their own personal and physical trials...those who remain are the ones for which my love has grown deeper.  Just 45 minutes of prayer last night has made me so much more grateful for my church family.  Today, I plan to reflect even more on what they have meant to us and what we can do for the individuals that make up this diverse unit (a juxtaposition that only comes from God).  Today, I plan to spend more time in prayer for the precious souls that make up my church family.

How about you?  The best way to love is through gratefulness.  Will you praise God for your church family today?  If you are struggling with one or many members, refocusing your vision and talking to the Lord about them just may rekindle your love for the family He has placed you in.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Best Present


I remember back when my brothers and I were kids and we would ask our mom what she wanted for her birthday or for Christmas or Mother's Day.  The answer seemed to always be the same.

"I don't want anything.  I just want you to be good."

Really?  How very boring.  Wouldn't candy, flowers, a new outfit, a book...anything...be more exciting than our just being good?

Most kids have heard that answer from their parents and none of them understand it...until they become parents themselves.

Last week was my birthday.  My kids didn't ask me what I wanted.  They didn't have to as I had already told them.  In fact, I showed them.  It was exactly what I had gotten for my mom's birthday, which is a week before mine.

No, it wasn't good behavior.

It was a book lover's journal - a great journal where you can record the title & author of the books you've read, the characters & plot, date you read it, who you loaned it to, etc.  I got it for my mom as she loves books, just like I love books.  I figured it would be a good strategy to show it to the kids before I wrapped it up and gave it to her. It was exactly what I had been looking for the last few years.  I told my kids where I bought the book and for how much.  I gave them other on-line options where I am sure they could buy it, as well.

I have no shame.

My birthday came.  My birthday went.   I didn't get the book.  

You know what I got?

Good behavior.

The week of my birthday, I watched and listened to one of my daughters participate in an incredible piano/violin trio in church.  She, along with her friends, played flawlessly and with a smile on her face all for the glory of God.

I watched another daughter help with the organization of a bake auction we had during our missions conference.  She was collecting numbers, straightening things up and working with a constant smile on her face.  She was in her element helping others and serving the Lord.

I watched yet another daughter handle a difficult situation involving a peer with more grace than I could ever have dreamed to possess at that age.  When others would have cried or become angry in the same situation (which, to be honest, I felt like doing just watching it), she chose to be like Jesus and look beyond her own feelings into the needs of another.

I listened as my oldest son opened up about something on his heart.  Instead of clamming up like so many 19 year olds, he let me into his life.  We talked.  I listened to him and he listened to me.  We hugged.

My 13 year old was sick and needed to stay home from church.  He left a note for his little brother knowing he would be asleep when the younger one got home.  That little brother and my youngest daughter bid on items in an auction earlier that night where all the money went to missions.  What fun they had and how happy they were to be able to have even a small part in helping missionaries spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Last week, I received the very best birthday present.  I received a present more valuable than any book, journal, or piece of jewelry.  I received a present I did not deserve.  I received a present that I will cherish always.

Each one of my children did good.

And I didn't even have to ask.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Morning Coffee: April 8, 2017

This week was Mission's Conference at our church.  Three nights of great preaching, introductions to mission fields and missionaries, bake sale auctions, food, fellowship and late nights.  Very late nights.  I missed last night as I had a migraine, which has left me feeling pretty wiped out.  So, any one else getting a late and slow start this beautiful Saturday morning?  Finally getting my cup of coffee at 1:00 pm!!!! No matter.  This is what Saturdays are supposed to be.


Back in January, I claimed the following verses for the year.  These are my New Year's resolutions.  I love reading them again every month...

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23-27








I do not remember where I saw this book recommended, but it was in one of those lists of "must reads" on a blog somewhere.  Kind of like you are reading now.  I put in an order for several books at thriftbook.com and this was one of them.  Modern day women who are taking risks and giving all for the furthering of the gospel of Christ.  As an American Christian woman, I often forget that there are so many places in this world where women are beaten, forced to marry, disowned from their families and often killed - just for becoming a Christian.  The easy American Christianity in not the cross-bearing Christianity of the Bible which is so very real in most of the world.  These women are true heroes....and will accumulate so many more crowns in heaven than I can ever hope to receive.

Music: Soldier On

While attending a Christian high school, I sang in an all-girls group called the Sweet 16s.  We still have not idea why it was called that as we were not all 16 and there never were just 16 members.  Nonetheless, it was a group that was in existence for years and we ministered mostly in retirement homes and the like, as well as to our own home church.  During my junior and senior years, I sang next to Abigail.  She was always the quiet and graceful person I wanted to be.  As she was quiet and the fact that she stood on the side of my partially deaf ear, all I knew about her singing was that she could hit the high notes quite well.  A few years later when I was back in church visiting from college, Abby was singing with another group and she had a solo part.  I vividly remembering looking at my future mother-in-law who was sitting next to me in shock and asking her when she got that voice!   Ever since, Abby has been one of my favorite singers.  Through the years, she married another friend of mine, had 10 children (now expecting #11), and continued to write songs and sing to bless others.  She has several cds you may purchase at abigailmiller.com but her latest is "Soldier On."  As many of her children have wonderful voices, they are also a large part of this project.  The music will inspire you, encourage you, and bless your very soul.  You may purchase a cd or download the album right to your computer (which is what I did).  


Podcast:  Set Apart Girl

At one time I recommended the on-line magazine Set Apart Girl  This week, I found their fairly new podcast hosted by founder of Set Apart Girl, Leslie Ludy.  These 15-30 minute episodes are full of encouragement for women of all ages to live for Christ and to inspire others to live for Him, as well.  Check it out and let me know what you think.



I began making these cupcakes a couple of months ago and they have become a family favorite.  I baked these for our baked goods auction at our Mission's Conference last night and I believe they sold for $100.  So, rather than keep this secret to myself, I thought I would share so more people could share the joy.

The sisters suggest using your favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcake.  I use "my" double chocolate cake recipe - found on the Devil's Food Cake box from Aldi.  You probably know the one - it calls for a package of pudding mix and sour cream.  I add in chocolate chips.  It's the most moist chocolate cake recipe I have ever found.  

For the frosting:
(NOTE:  I add a bit more peanut butter than recommended in the recipe.  Add according to taste)

Well, I need to try to get something done today.  And so do you.  Loved sitting with you for a little bit, though.  I'll be back here on Monday and I hope you will join me!  Have a wonderful and blessed weekend.



SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSave

Monday, April 3, 2017

Being a Listener/Counselor: When the Counselor Needs Counsel



Often, the counselors are perceived to be the strong ones, the wise ones, the ones who have it all figured out.  All too often, we counselors begin to believe that.   We tend to try to fight our battles on our own.  After all, we are the listeners of problems...what will happen if people find out that we do not, indeed, have all the answers?  To open up about our own struggles, we reveal the chink in our armor.  We reveal that we are human.

We are vessels made of flesh only used of God.  In our pride, we forget this fact.  Then, when our flesh rears its head or when the trials of life begin to impact our own lives, instead of opening up to someone as we encourage others to do, we hold it all in.  While we show compassion to so many, we tell ourselves that we are not worthy of that compassion.  While we spend hours listening to others, we hesitate to require the valuable time of another wise person.  While we will drop everything to help a friend, we refuse to ask for help for ourselves.

Then we feel alone.  We continue to struggle alone, cry alone, fail alone.  We put on a smile in front of people and exhaust ourselves trying to convince everyone that we still have it all together while inside we are falling apart.  What will they think of us if they knew we were weak?

Truthfully, many people take for granted that those who are the listener/counselors do, indeed, have it all together.  It is natural and wise for people to seek counsel from those whose lives are in order.  It is rare for a person to ask us how we are doing because it is assumed that all is well all the time.  To be fair, a hurting person struggles to see beyond their own  hurt to anyone else's hurt.  They are not necessarily a selfish person...it's just natural.  

However, it is nothing but our pride that keeps us from seeking counsel.  We are prideful enough to believe that no one can show us the compassion, understanding, or mercy we show to others.  Only by our pride would we believe that it would be a burden for someone to spend time with us while we find it a blessing to spend time with another.  Pridefully, we think we have enough strength and answers to deal with things alone.  

Pride comes before a fall.  We fall under the pressure of the battle.  We fall on our faces in tears.  We fall in a pit of despair and grief.  It is then that we finally reach for help.

I've been there.  For many years I fought battles alone.  To be honest, I  did ok with that.  Or so I thought.  Then, there came a battle that I tried to fight and I was being defeated.  It was a battle that I believed would have devastating consequences if I told anyone about it, but God knew it would destroy me if I didn't.  I never planned to open up to anyone but my husband.  Then, one day, a wise woman - a listener herself - asked me, "How are you doing?  How can I pray for you?"  Before I knew what was happening, the words flowed out.  For months this woman listened to me, talked with me, advised me, prayed with me, spent time with me, showed me great compassion and understanding.  This woman was a gift from God.

It was incredibly difficult for me to be the one needing counseling.  It was humbling, but it was life-saving.  There were times when my pride got in the way and I refused to reach out when the struggle became difficult.  I again tried to fight alone.  But, somehow, God never let that happen.  He would always tell my friend to pray for me and to ask me how I was.  Then I would talk and she would listen.  

I wish I could say I learned my lesson and that now I ask for help the instant I know I need it.  But, I don't. Maybe you struggle with that, too.  We need to always remember that our pride will destroy us.  A wise person will seek counsel.  If we refuse to seek counsel for ourselves, we really have no business counseling others.   

I believe, that while we shouldn't air our struggles to the world, it is good for others to see that we are weak.  When they ask how we are doing, it's ok to let them know if we are having a difficult time.  We don't need to get into specifics with everyone, but when they see that we are real, that we live in the same flesh they live in, that we are weak at times, they know that our counsel comes from personal experience.  In some odd, God-ordained way, our weakness gives us credibility.  If others know that we have walked the valley, they will be confident that we can truly help them as they walk through it. 

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" -Romans 5:3-4

No one is immune to trials.  We become weak so that God can reveal Himself to us - through others.  Only He is always strong.  Only He has all the answers.  We need to humble ourselves to seek godly counsel and be patient with the time it takes for us to heal and/or receive victory.  The experience of being the counseled is invaluable as we later can give hope to those who sit across the table from us seeking help.





Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saturday Morning Coffee: April 1, 2017


What a week!  Got my blog going again with a new look and have enjoyed discussing the ministry of listening/counseling with you all.  We will continue the conversation next week.  But, for now, let's relax and be encouraged with some lighter, uplifting things!


Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
-Psalm 66:20

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name...my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
-Psalm 63:4-5

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
-Colossians 3:14












Elisabeth Elliot has always been one of my heroes.  I used to listen to her on the radio and she always spoke with such grace and wisdom sprinkled with humor.  I have just discovered this gem and in it, Elisabeth makes clear the calling of womanhood.  While discussing marriage, singleness, career, education, husbands, etc., she keeps central the idea that we are to live according to God's Word and His calling on our lives.  A compilation of notes written to her daughter Valerie upon her engagement, the chapters are short and concise dealing with one issue at a time, but full of wisdom and profound thought. Wonderful for women of all ages and all stages of life.




We are inundated with "health" and fitness apps, blogs, instagram posts.  Every where we go we read or hear about what to eat and what not to eat.  Embrace your body; change your body.  The messages are mixed and overwhelming.  I am not trying to add another voice to the deafening crowd, but maybe this voice will stand out because it is different.  Sarah Berneche is a nutritionist who teaches intuitive eating.  Diets don't work.  All foods are acceptable.  Your body was made to give you hunger and full signals along with whatever else it needs.  We were designed to listen to those signals, but culture has desensitized us to them.  I've been greatly helped and encouraged through this blog.
(Not a Christian blog.)


photo courtesy of stuckonsweet.com

Recipe: Vanilla Scones
adapted from Stuck on Sweet

I recently ventured into the scary arena of scone making.  I'm not sure why I was so afraid of making scones because they really are not that difficult.  You just need to be sure not to over-bake - and have the perfect recipe.  And that perfect recipe is this recipe right here!

Vanilla Scones (makes 8)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed (I've used salted and it's fine)

Vanilla Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water (may need more)
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 425-degrees and line a bakings sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
2.  In a mixer, mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and granulated sugar.  Add cold cubed butter and mix on low-speed until course crumbs form* - careful not to over-mix.
3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla then add it to the mixer and mix until dough comes together.  It will be crumbly.**
4.  If you want to add blueberries or chocolate chips, stir them in now.
5.  Flour a clean surface and kneed dough just a bit until it comes together.  Form it into a circle about one inch in thickness.  Use a knife, pizza cutter, or pastry cutter to cut scones into 8 wedges.  Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired (I don't).
6.  Bake for 10-14 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.  Remove from oven and cool.
7.  While scones are cooling, add all the glaze ingredients into a bowl and whisk - glaze will be slightly thick but should drizzle off a spoon.  Drizzle and/or spread onto scones and let stand a few minutes until glaze is set (if you can wait that long).

*I accidentally did not add the butter until after I added and mixed the wet ingredients with the dry.  I then added the butter and mixed.  It turned out fine...almost better.
**When you add butter last, the dough is not crumbly.

These take very little time to make and your family will adore you.  Truly.  And everyone needs a little adoration in their lives.  It goes well with scones.


I do hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Keep drinking warm drinks, eat pastries, read a good book, laugh with your family, and enjoy some wonderful fellowship in church on Sunday.  I'll see you back here again Monday morning!