Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Active Love

Just thought I would share a few of the moments with you that we have had over the past couple of weeks.
We are so busy with life, but one thing that I am very thankful for is a home that is permeated with love.
We share laughter, tears, frustrations, triumphs, prayers and simply time together. But it wasn't always so.
We have cuddle time, work time, school time, dinner time, play time, and it's ALL the time.
We have friends, family, neighbors, and, at times, I believe there have even been "angels unaware".
So, to follow up on my last post. I wanted to share four "A's" that the Lord showed me several years ago. To say you love someone is generally not sufficient. I know with all of these young un's around here, it takes more than that. But, as I pointed out earlier, this did not come naturally to us and our happy peaceful family used to be one of strife and difficulty.
How did we change that? We didn't. God did. He began to show me how much He really loved me. He began to gently heal the scars of my past with His tenderness, gentleness and compassion on me. He used wonderful people in my life, my husband and His Word. He is so good to me.
The foundation for a loving home starts with Him. After that, our active love is as easy as A, B, C. Well, actually, it's A, A, A and A. And you will see that before we can do these A's, we must have that foundation within ourselves.
1) Appreciation: How many times a day do you find some reason to appreciate something about those around you? Is it hard for you? For me, it started with actively looking for something to appreciate. Did your children play nicely together? Thank them. Did your husband go to work today? Thank him. Did your friend call you to check on you? Thank her. Look around. Being able to appreciate others is a wonderful first step in being able to love them.
2) Acceptance: For most of us moms, it is really easy to accept our infant. I mean, they are so cute and cuddly! Who doesn't love a sweet smelling baby? But as they grow up, we tend to grow away. When they are older and they make choices that we don't approve of, it becomes easier and easier to criticize, to condemn, to belittle. O, sisters, this ought not be. Accept your children for who they are! Accept your husband for who he is! Accept your neighbors, acquaintances, extended family, etc. Are you perfect? Are you without fault? No. Does your Creator accept you? Yes. You are accepted in the beloved. So are they. You were created in His image. So were they! How it must grieve the One who accepts us, when we will not show acceptance to those around us. Your job is not to act as the Holy Spirit for those you spend time with. God already has someone to do that job. Your job is be His hands, His arms, His feet and His mouth of love. Don't criticize; accept.
3) Affirmation: The Scripture tells us that every word we say should be used to build the listeners up. ( Note: listeners would include those you may not even be speaking to. But that's another message.) What have you said today to affirm someone around you? Did your words build up or tear down? Every wise woman builds her home but the foolish tears it down. Your words of affirmation are a necessary part of building up your home! Find something, ANYTHING, good to say to those you meet today. Compliment their smile, their eyes, their hair, their sweater, a choice they made, a positive attitude they demonstrated, something. There is always something good that can be said. Start small. As you develop these habits, they will come easier and they will get better. But start.
4) Admiration: Admiration is different from affirmation. Affirmation involves your words. Admiration involves your face. As you find reasons to appreciate, accept and affirm, allow your eyes to sparkle. Let there be a smile on your face. Use your arms to hug, your hands to pat, but train yourself to sit back and admire. Use your face to show how you love. Stop your frowning. Who wants to spend time with someone who frowns all the time? It's depressing! You can make a difference, just with your face.
Maybe you wonder why you should be responsible for all this effort? Did not God give you this ministry? Did He not allow these people to be a part of your life? He sees the beginning from the end. He knows. But, He wants you to be His "messenger in the desert place". People are hungry for love. Christians used to be identified by their love for each other. We are supposed to be set apart, a peculiar people. Let's be "weirdos" by loving.
Take care,
Elizabeth

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My God is So Big!

Good morning,

Just wanted to share this very sweet moment of training that occurred in our home a couple of nights ago. God has entrusted two dear little ones to our care on a part time basis and we are loving it!

video video

I read an interesting article this morning in a recent "In Touch" magazine. The article was written by Gary Chapman and was talking about true, Christian love. We all know the Scripture that says "love your neighbor as yourself", but he re-worded it a bit and said, instead, "love your neighbor as you would your own family". Wow! Just a few changed words and yet, what an impact that had on me.

Do we, as Christians, set ourselves apart from the world by loving those around us as we love our own families? That's quite a challenge in this modern day world. We are told that to be politically correct means to essentially mind our own business. We make a habit of not assuming eye contact with passers-by when on the street, we don't speak to our next door neighbor beyond a polite greeting when out at the same time, and we certainly don't speak to strangers!

Remember in scripture it says that by "this" all men will know that you are my disciples? What was "this"? It was love. Scriptural love. The kind in which we love our neighbor as our own family. I want to be known by that kind of love. I want the love of Christ to pour out over those that I come in contact with.

Of course, that kind of love isn't really in me. WHAT? If it isn't there, then how do I share it? By recognizing God's great love for me. I am accepted in the beloved. I was chosen before the foundations of the world were laid to be called by His name. I am a sister to Jesus Christ and an heir to the throne. All for love. Unless I have His love in me, full and overflowing, I cannot love those around me.

Sisters, would you please take time today to bask in the wonder of His love for you so that you might be able to share it with those you meet, work with, live with, pass on the street? Because only then, will others know that you are a true Christian.

I will return later with some practical ideas for loving others as you would your own family. Until then,

Take care,

Elizabeth

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rip Tide

There is an ominous activity that occurs in the ocean. It's called a rip tide.
"Rip currents can be recognized by unusually calm waters, caused by the channel of water flowing out. Rip currents can be extremely dangerous, dragging swimmers away from the beach and leading to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted." (Taken from Wikipedia.org)
These things are devastating! So, why did I choose to blog about them today?
Here's why:
As a woman, my heart's desire is to be pleasing to the Lord in every area of my life. I am daily asking the Lord to grant me His "peace that passes all understanding" and for that "meek and quiet spirit which to Him is of great price". This week, He gave me a wonderful word picture to help me with this peace.
Many times, we can "force" ourselves to appear peaceful. We will put on an outer image of having it all together, of maintaining our composure, of being at peace. But inwardly, we may be stewing, simmering, seething. We are playing and replaying an episode of an argument we may have had with our dear hubby this morning. We are inwardly complaining over our circumstances or the way "she" treated me. Whatever it is, we are not peaceful in our souls. When God tells us women to have a "quiet spirit" this is what we are to fight against, this inner turmoil that robs us of our peace.
Well, we might argue, nobody can really tell what is going on inside of me, so what does it hurt? So long as I appear to be peaceful, I am good. Right?
Wrong. Look again at what Wikipedia says about a rip tide or current. They are found when the waters appear to be calm. An uninformed swimmer shows up at the beach, the water looks great, he jumps in. Before he knows what is happening, he is being dragged out from the beach. Farther and farther he is pulled until he drowns from exhaustion. There is a danger in those calm looking waters.
It's the same thing with us. We may appear to be calm, but under the surface, we have a major rip tide waiting to pull us out to sea. Satan is at work in this inner rip current. He would love to see us destroyed. He would love to see us pulled so far from our Saviour, our husband, our children and our home. He would love to see us give up from the exhaustion. The problem lies with the fact that we deceive ourselves. We believe that so long as we look good, we are going to be okay.
God wants to give us that inner peace that keeps us safe, keeps our family safe, and keeps our homes safe. He doesn't care what we look like! He sees the heart! He knows our thoughts, our motivations, our attitude more than we know ourselves. Shouldn't we yield ourselves to His plan for us and allow Him to be at work in us, producing this peace and quiet spirit? Yes.
Let this be your prayer today:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Don't let your spirit be destroyed by the rip tide of no peace.
Take care,
Elizabeth

Friday, February 13, 2009

Miracle Product!

Ok, ok. So this is a little off topic, and rarely do I sing the praises of any one particular product, but this one deserves a song and dance.

My parents picked this wonder up for me and yesterday I decided to see what it could do. I have been so absolutely impressed that I spent hours using it, all over my home. It got to the point where four of five of my girls were watching with wonder and amazement as well. Amanda commented that this was "better than tv".

I used this stuff on an old armoire in my room. This armoire had been rescued years ago from the trash by my frugal hubby. It was in bad shape years ago. But I just wiped this stuff on and that old armoire turned into a beautiful piece of furniture in a matter of minutes. Same thing with an old chest o' drawers. I used it on my coffee table, a side table that was covered in scratches, and then the front door. I have pictures of the effects on the front door which I will post later. In the meantime, would I recommend this product to a friend?

That would be a hearty "YES!!!"

Take care,
Elizabeth

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who are You Following?

I imagine by the time I lay out all that God has put into my heart on this subject, it will have many parts to it. But, this is the beginning. So, I start with a short story.






A man and his wife were attempting to drive their two cars home late one foggy night over a very curvy WV mountain road. The man was leading and he told the wife she would follow. It was incredibly difficult to see where he was going, but the wife simply had to follow the tail lights in front of her. Next thing she knew, to her amazement, she had followed him right over the side of the mountain, off the road. He jumped out of his car and started yelling at her, "why did you drive off the road?" She smiled at him and said very demurely, "Well, you told me to follow you."

Now, before any of you women jump on some sort of band wagon with this, there is no proof in this story as to why you shouldn't follow your husband. So, don't go there. Just don't.

We are all following somebody or something. Many of us follow a particular newscaster. Many follow all the latest trends. Most of us know all the latest details about the galaxy of stars in Hollywood. We follow a sports team, or the government, or our pastor, or a particular denomination. We are always following.

From the time our children are able to walk, we teach them to follow. We teach them to follow us. We teach them to follow their classmates. We tell them if they will stand in line at school and not question the teacher, then they are good and obedient. We instinctively teach a "herding" mentality. Think about it. When we are in school, we are herded from the class room to lunch, to the gym, to the playground, to the library, to the auditorium, and back to the class room again.

As our children grow, we give them the latest gadgets, MP3's, cell phones, hand-held whatever's, and they follow their peers, they follow the latest gossip, they follow, follow, follow. I mean, this is what we have been trained to do all of our lives, right? What else is there?

As Christians in a nation that is quickly losing interest in real Christianity, isn't it time to lead? Shouldn't we follow the Shepherd? Aren't there any better options? There are. I'm tellin' ya.

But how do we find these options? Do we watch the latest news report to find out? Do we ask our friends? Do we write a letter to "Dear Abby"? Nope. All this does is put us right back where we were. Following.

Be quiet.

Yep, you heard me. Be quiet. The scriptures tell us to "Be still and know that I AM GOD." He tells us over and over again to meditate on His Word day and night. He tells us to hide His Word in our hearts. Can you do that over the blare of the tv, the computer, the cell phone, the radio, the cd, the __________?

We can't. So, with all of this cacophony around us, we follow in paths that lead us over the side. The constant noise pollution clouds the vision of our path. The inability to be still and meditate allows us to lose our way. Of course, all of our friends and the friends of our children are also lost, so like this big group of dumb sheep, we are being herded farther and farther from truth, from our Father, from fulfilling all that He has planned for us in advance to do.

I will stop there. For now. But I will be back. In the meantime, ask yourself: Who are you following?

Take care,

Elizabeth

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

Well, here goes. My good friend over at "This Present Valley" has tagged me with this fun little game.

I was supposed to go to my 5th picture file, find the 5th picture and then blog about it. So, if you will look below, you will see the funny ice sculpture.

We have a neighbor who has a waterfall right in their back yard. Last week when it was so cold, the girls were outside playing and found this unique piece of art. They brought it in because it looked like the spine of some crazy ice creature. The brown stuff in the middle are leaves frozen to the the "spine". It was curved, but had all of the features of a spine of an animal or even human.

Now, as a favor to all of you wonderful bloggers out there, I am supposed to "tag" five people. I have no idea who I should tag or who would like to be tagged. So, if you are desiring more people in your direction and you think I could possibly help you in that area, leave a comment and I will publicly tag you. I am so popular, you know. ~sniff~

Seriously, now, may I just quickly say a word about the graciousness of our loving Father? I am still sick. I cannot remember the last time that I was this sick. Sick enough that I am heading off to the doctor this afternoon. But, sometimes when we women get sick and tired and just plain frazzled, we just want to curl up and be catered to. As mothers and busy wives that isn't always feasible. So, do we get selfish? Do we demand that somebody cares for us? Do we get ugly with our children or husband? Do we rant and rave?

OK. Where exactly am I going with this?

Here: My Father knows that I am dust. He knows that I have weaknesses. Yet, He wants me to obey. He wants His love in me to pour out continually on those around me. But, in His great graciousness, He knows that in myself, I cannot do that. So He allows His Spirit to be at work in me, helping me to continue and be steadfast.

I have been so overcome in the recent months to think of God in this way. He expects obedience, but He know I can't obey. So He allows His helper to do the work in me. He expects joy, and helps me to have joy. He expects a quiet spirit, and He teaches me to have a quiet spirit. As a mother loves her child, so does my Father love me. He cradles me and speaks soothingly to me, He caresses me when I need it and He holds me close to Himself in order that I might be comforted, strengthened and taught.

He is so good to me. I want to praise Him for His faithfulness to me. His mercies are new every morning, aren't they?

Have a wonderful day in the Lord.
Elizabeth

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Quick Update

Just wanted all to know that God was watching out for me in advance with this menu plan. We have completed a full week and are starting on week two. However, Friday night I got sick and have been in bed since. (Except for right now, which is the first time I have been up for two days.) What a blessing to have all those meals planned for in advance. My girls looked at the menu and were able to just keep things rolling. My family doesn't need to suffer just because I am. ~sniff~

Anyhow, wanted to encourage you all to plan ahead. It has been wonderful and well worth the time and effort that we put into it last Saturday morning.

By the way, 5 year old Evie decided to "entertain momma" yesterday. She brought the SORRY game to my bed and we played two games. She beat me. Both times. It was pitiful. My husband thinks she simply took advantage of her poor ole' momma and her weakened condition. (I wish.)

Take care,
Elizabeth

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dear Anonymous,

I just went through and looked at a few comments that had been left on another posting.

I read a post from Anonymous that I would like to address.

God has really been working on me about His will for my life. Ask my kids. I have been on this kick for quite a while.

When I was young, I wanted desperately to know what God's will was for my life. I was about to graduate from highschool, head off to some college and do something with my life. I was scared. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted to head in the right direction. So, I went to some people that I truly respected and believed knew the answers to life's big questions. And I said, "How will I know what God's will is for my life?" Each adult, without exception, gave me the same answer: "O-o-o-o-o-h-h-h-h! You'll just know!" Now, what kind of answer is that? No kind, that's what.

But, God in is his great compassion for my thick head has been so good over the last twenty years to teach me what His will is. You see, I am married. I answer to my husband. Whatever he says, goes. So, where I live, where I go, how I spend my time is not truly up to me. (Disclaimer: My wonderful husband is not an ogre. He is a godly man, and a very strong man and I treasure his protection over me. Otherwise, I could hurt myself.) And for me, the direction that my husband leads me IS God's will for me. I tell my children that where they live, who their siblings are, who their parents are, how they are educated is God's will for them. As He leads and opens opportunities for them, that is further direction from God towards His plan for them.

I say all of this because sometimes we can look at another person and see their life and long for something different in our own. You have the life that God has allowed at this time. If your children go to school, whether secular or private, and that is what your husband wants, that is God's will for you. Be thankful. Your Jerusalem may be far greater than mine will ever be. You are getting out there, influencing other children and ultimately other families. How you influence them is up to you. I don't necessarily have that opportunity. God gives each one a work to do.

So, you have carpet in your kitchen? Great. Your kids are probably less likely to break dishes than mine are. Your feet don't walk across a cold kitchen floor and catch missed crumbs that are still laying about. What a blessing!

Beyond all that I have shared, what is God's will for your life? "In everything give thanks, for THIS is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you." "I have learned in everything to be content." "Continually offer up that sacrifice of praise" "Do all things without grumbling and complaining" "Do your work as unto the Lord and not unto men for in this you will inherit a blessing."

When you are riding in the car with your children on the way to school, spend time singing together. Point out the beauty and creativity of your Father who loves you. Talk to your children about how good God is. Tell them how He is at work in your life. Travel time is excellent. You have a captive audience to share with. Let you children see you taking delight in life, in your relationship with your Saviour, in your husband and in your children.

When you are vacuuming your carpet in the kitchen, sing. Use it as a time to worship. Use it as a time for prayer, just you and Messiah.

I cannot stress enough, you don't wake up each morning ready to praise God in every circumstance. You train yourself by doing it. It is a habit that you can create in yourself.

I will be praying for you. My heart is filled with compassion for you and your family. May your heart be filled with joy and with a quiet spirit. May you be blessed with that wonderful, amazing peace that passes all earthly understanding.

God bless,
Elizabeth

Mid-Week Update

Well, today is Thursday and I am pleased with how this whole menu thing is working. I mean, it is really working.

Doing all of that prep work last Saturday helps quite a bit. When we are ready to start dinner, we just put the fixin's all together and we have a wonderful meal. Even my dear hubby has enjoyed it.

I made my bean bread yesterday. Amanda didn't realize that this same bread that she has been eating and enjoying actually had pinto beans in it. HAHA.

Now, really, the base for this bread is pinto beans that I put through the blender with a bit of water. Then I add regular stuff, like yeast, sugar, salt, flour and I do actually put in whole wheat gluten, but I use white flour. This makes the bread light and fluffy, but because of the beans, it is still high in nutrients and definitely high in protein. And no, it doesn't give you gas.

Now, tonights dinner is General Tso's Chicken with stir-fried rice. This happens to be one of my very favorite meals. I got the recipe from the internet some time ago. And since it was free to me, I will share it with you.

Keep in mind, that my chicken is already cooked and cubed, which will save much time and trouble in the preparation of dinner tonight.

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups green onions, sliced
8 small dried chilies, seeds removed

Sauce:
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
14 1/2 ounces chicken broth


1. Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. (They mean for you to shake the jar, not yourself. Just in case.) Refrigerate until needed shaking (it) again when are ready to use it.

2. Mix soy sauce, egg and cornstarch well and add chicken, tossing to coat.

3. Deep fry 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time in hot (350 degree) oil until chicken is crispy.

4. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all chicken is fried.

5. Place a small amount of oil in wok or large skillet and heat to 400 degrees.

6. Add green onions and hot peppers and stir fry about 30 seconds.

7. Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water.

8. Add chicken pieces to sauce and cook until all is hot and bubbly.

9. Serve over rice.

Now, just fyi, I have not used the white vinegar and sherry wine mix. I have simply substituted 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar for the two. Also, in the past, I haven't had green onions, I just use white and if I don't have cornstarch, I just use flour. And once, I didn't have dried peppers, so I just used pepper flakes like you buy in the spice section of your grocery.

So, it really is quite simple. And it is excellent. And when I told dear hubby that we were having it tonight, he was decidely looking forward to it.

So, I hope your day is going well.

Take care,
Elizabeth

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday Chicken and Dumplings

Ok, I meant to take a picture of our delicious dinner, but when you are busy feeding a hungry group, you tend to forget silly things like that.

Anyhow, dinner was a success....to a degree, but I will get to that.

Here is the recipe for our Chicken and Dumplings

1 whole fryer chicken
1 10.5 oz can of cream of mushroom soup
1 10.5 oz can of cream of chicken soup
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
handful of diced onion
handful of chopped celery
salt and pepper to taste
6 lg tortillas, cut into 1 1/2 inch squares

I put the chicken into a large baking dish with a lid. I put both soups and the broth into a mixing bowl, stirred well and then poured over the chicken. I tossed in the veggies and the cut tortillas.

I put the lid on the pan and baked it all morning in my oven at 250 degrees. When we came home, we heated up canned green beans, sliced some bread and enjoyed our dinner. We could have added a salad, but we were especially late getting home from church and I was too tired (ie lazy).

Now, the comment above regarding to a degree...the girls and I didn't mind the funny little dumplings. However, my husband thought they tasted like the consistency of "chicken fat", so we may change this a little the next time we make it.

After dinner, I deboned the rest of the chicken, added a few more veggies, the left over green beans and two pints of my already cooked rice. I added one more can of chicken broth and rinsed it with water, also adding that to the pot. I put the lid back on, put it back in the oven and we had a ready made supper later in the evening.

Today's menu is beans, cornbread, fried taters and pork chops. I am currently cooking 8 cups of pinto beans. We will eat all we want tonight, have refried beans for tomorrows taco salad and I will still have enough to make bread with.

Hope you are being inspired to be a prudent keeper at home.

Take care,
Elizabeth