Friday, April 29, 2016

Foodie Friday: April 29, 2016

Welcome to my newest feature: Foodie Friday.  Some weeks, like today, I will give you a full-day's menu.  Other weeks may just be a favorite dessert, snack or what have you.

I don't know what it is about diets, but, while I am trying to eat less I always think about food more.  What's with that? The good thing is, because I am more conscientious, I am always on the hunt for delicious, filling foods that are healthy.  Today's menu consists of some re-discovered favorites as well as some brand new finds.  Because I am not one to play by the rules when it comes to food, I  tweak most recipes that I come across to suit my tastes and needs.  Feel free to do the same, but let me know what you do that improves what you find here.

Don't panic...I won't always give you the lighter and healthier fare.  I will often break out the recipes that got me to this point in the first place.  Yet, I will always only give you foods that truly taste delicious.

(sorry about the color change of my text later in this post.  Tried to edit that 3 times....)

Breakfast

Skinny Bananan Blueberry Muffins
from Sally's Baking Addiction

I know I shared this breakfast treat on my most recent weekend post.  However, I so enjoyed these that I wanted to present them here on my first Foodie Friday.  Again, I loved the flavor of these and the fact that they are only 108 calories/muffin makes me love them more!
NOTE: I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt and almond milk, which brought my calorie count down from Sally's.

the recipe as copied from Sally's Baking Addiction:
  • 2 and 1/2 cup (315g) white whole wheat flour (or mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (85g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (100g) loosely packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1/4 cup (60g) nonfat vanilla greek yogurt (or any yogurt) 
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk (I use almond milk, but you can use any kind)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (215g) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray 15 muffin tins with nonstick spray.1 Set aside.
  2. Gently whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the honey and brown sugar together - it will be thick and lumpy. Try to get out as many lumps as you can. Whisk in the mashed banana, yogurt, and beaten egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently begin to fold it all together. It will be very thick. Add the milk slowly and continue to gently mix the ingredients together. The milk will thin everything out, but the batter will still be quite thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. Do not overmix the batter.
  4. Divide the batter between 15 muffin cups. Fill all the way to the top. Bake the first 12, then the last three in another batch. (Fill the empty muffin cups halfway with water in the 2nd batch to ensure even baking.) Bake muffins for 17-18 minutes OR until very lightly browned on the edges. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack. Allow muffins to cool and enjoy!
  5. Muffins taste wonderful the next day, like most banana bread recipes because their flavor is enhanced. Muffins remain fresh and moist stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.
  6. Freezing tip: Muffins can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm to your liking before serving.

Lunch


Avocado Crab Salad
adapted by me

original recipe from Skinnytaste.com

I came across this recipe a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it.  I hadn't had it in quite some time, but when I made if for lunch last week, it was a sweet reunion!
287 calories/recipe

the recipe as copied from my own post entitled Ode to Avocado & Crab
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 4 oz lump crab meat
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (I hate cilantro, so I eliminate it from this recipe...and my life)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Directions: 
    In a medium bowl, combine onion, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro (if you can stand the stuff), salt and pepper. Add crab meat and toss well.

    Cut avocado open, remove pit and spoon out avocado. Cut into large chunks and add to crab. Mix carefully, not to mash the avocado. Spoon back into avocado shells and enjoy!  

    Honestly, you can eat it in a pretty bowl, but it's just kind of cool eating it out of the shell.  Makes me feel kind of Martha Stewart-ish.


    Dinner


    Kielbasa, Pepper, Onion & Potato Hash
    from the Two Bite Club

    I made this easy and yummy dinner a week and a half ago and my family loved it!  I went with the creator's suggestion of using turkey kielbasa and I am glad I did.  Such an easy, healthy, and satisfying meal to whip up on a weeknight.  And...my calorie counter came up with just 241 calories/serving (I figure about 1 cup).  I served this with filling tossed salad.  

    the recipe as copied from the Two Bite Club:
    Ingredients
    • 1 (14 ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 3 small or 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
    • olive oil
    • salt and pepper

    Instructions

    1. In a heavy bottomed skillet (I like to use my cast iron), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry until golden brown and cooked through, around 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even browning.  
    2. In a separate skillet, brown the sliced kielbasa for around 5 minutes in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  Remove the kielbasa from the pan and set aside.  Add the peppers and onions to the skillet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.  
    3. Add the cooked potatoes and kielbasa to the skillet with the onions and peppers and mix everything together.  Serve nice and hot!

    Notes

    • I use two skillets to make this recipe.  I used to make it in one, but something always came out wrong.  I've learned that when I cook my potatoes in a separate skillet they cook more evenly and stay nice any crispy when they're added to the other ingredients right before serving.
    • Sometimes I'll add some minced garlic to the peppers and onions, but it tastes just as good without it.

    Snack
    NOTE: some weeks this section will be "snacks" while other weeks it will be "desserts"


    Blueberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
    by Skinnytaste

    I love smoothies.  They are fun, usually delicious, and a great way to get some healthy foods all at once and on the go, if need be.  When I came to a stand-still in my weight loss a few weeks back, the only change that I could find to make was adding more protein to my diet.  Smoothies are a great way to do that.  I would never have thought to combine peanut butter and blueberries, but this has quickly become a favorite of mine.
    This was the first recipe I have ever used that called for protein powder.  I was amazed to find that most powders are sold only by the HUGE container-full.  I really didn't want quite that much, as I do like to get most of my protein in real foods, not in powder-form.  However, I did find that our local Wegmans (#1 grocery store in the entire nation, thank you very much!) sells some powders in packets.  Each packet is supposed to be one serving, but I get two servings as I like to squeak out the most for my dollar as well as limit my calorie intake.  The brand I used is Quest Nutrition.
    258 calories/recipe
    the recipe as copied from Skinnytaste.com 
    Ingredients:
    • 1 medium banana
    • 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt 
    • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
    • 2/3 cup unsweetened frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
    • 2 tbsp PB2 (this is where I used the Quest and I did use 2 Tbsp)
    • 1/2 cup ice
    Directions:
    Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. 

    I do hope you try one or all of these recipes.  Please let me know what you think!  Have a fun weekend experimenting!


    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    Throwback Thursday: Two Boys - One Day (originally posted Friday, May 13, 2011)

    NOTE: the driver mentioned in this post was found to have illegal drugs in his system at the time of the accident. 

    We arrived at the Ryan Center on Monday afternoon around 4:10, as has become our custom recently. As we drove in, I noticed that there were some people playing in the baseball field.  I didn't notice how many or how old they were.  I just saw them for a moment while I quickly thought how nice it was to see people enjoying the beautiful weather after all the rain we had recently.  I parked the van, we got out, and entered the building.

    My children and I minister with several other people from our church to the city children who belong to an afterschool program in the Ryan Center.  There are probably 200 children involved in the various activities there, but about 20 or so children from the ages of 7-12 years attend our CHOICE Kids Club every week.  Some of the children attend weekly.  Some we see from time to time while others may come once, just to see what it's all about.

    On Monday, May 9, CHOICE was the same as any other week.  We got into the gym where the kids played ball for a while and talked with the leaders.  The mats came out and we gathered there to sing some Bible songs, listened to a lesson (this week's topic was "confidence"), then watched a skit pertaining to the topic discussed.  During lesson-time, we heard sirens, but didn't think too much of them as we are in a city where sirens are commonplace.  Next, we broke up into pairs (leader/clubber) for handbook time, the most important part of CHOICE.  This is when the clubber learns more about God, His love for them, and how they may accept Christ and live for Him.  After handbook time, the kids say their memory verse for the week and receive candy as a prize.  They play some more games, then CHOICE is over for the week.  Some of the children go home, while others remain at the center until parents/guardians pick them up.

    The children that attend CHOICE come from different families than most of us are used to.  These children may or may not live with their parents.  Many do not know their fathers.  Many do not have much money and are grateful for the snacks and dinners they may receive at the center.  All, however, are looking for friendship and love.

    Two weeks ago, I met a clubber who has been attending for more weeks than I have been participating.  He captured my heart the first week and I was able to share handbook time with him again this past Monday.  He is 7 years old and, apparently, has been a handful for some of the leaders.  However, with me, he's the sweetest thing.  He needed to learn a verse and he struggled with it.  I wrote it down for him to take home and learn during the week.  He learned another verse well enough for my son to give him a piece of candy.  Candy means a lot to most 7 year olds, and "my" boy is no exception!  Which brought us to a bit of a problem with him towards the end of CHOICE on Monday.  He wanted candy that he thought was due him.  Instead of just letting it go, he burst in to tears, ran off from the group, and threw himself on the ground.

    While I do not condone such temper tantrums, something about this boy yanks at my heart, so I sat down and put my arm around him.  He cuddled up to me immediately.  He didn't say much while I asked what was wrong.  I gradually explained to him that there are better ways to handle things and even managed to get him to agree to apologize to the leader running the game he ran off from.  I gave him a big hug.  CHOICE was over and he went home with his sister.

    I walked outside with my children and a couple of other leaders.  I noticed that the parking lot my van is parked in was surrounded by yellow tape and there were police cars, policemen, and people all over.  One of the leaders heard that a child had been hit about an hour before.  I asked a police officer if I could get to my van and leave.  He double-checked and said it would be ok.  It was a bit surreal crossing the yellow tape.  We got in the van and began driving home.  My 11-year old daughter, who has been blessed with a heart of compassion, suggested we prayed.  All in the van (but me, as I was driving) bowed their heads while she prayed for the child who had been hurt - that he/she would be ok, would not die, and for their family.  It was quiet for a while.

    We got home and I got dinner for the children.  As they were eating, I checked the news on the internet. Apparently, around 4:30/5:00 pm, a driver had had a seizure or heart attack causing him to lose control of his car.  The car careened into the very ball field where I had notice people playing as I drove into the Ryan Center.  Two children were hit...a boy and a girl.  The boy was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  Today, the girl continues to recover and is expected to do so fully.

    No, this boy was not "my" boy.  The boy who was hit, however, was the very same age as my clubber.  He was the same race, went to the same school, and probably enjoyed candy as much as "my" boy.  He was outside enjoying a fun game of kickball with the sun shining down on him.  He was probably laughing.  Then, he was in heaven.  His mother knows God has a reason, but she grieves.  The boy's teachers and schoolmates grieve.  I will find out this Monday if "my" boy is grieving.

    Life is an interesting and fleeting thing.  While one seven year old is crying about candy, another seven  year old within several hundred yards is entering eternity.  When I drive into the parking lot next Monday, my glance over to the ball field will linger.  I will most likely see a memorial to a little boy who left this world seemingly too soon.

     I don't attempt to understand it.  All I know is...I am so glad that I gave "my" boy a hug before he left CHOICE this past Monday and can't wait to give him another one in a few days.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Blinded So That We May See


    This morning, I came to Acts 9 in my Bible reading - the chapter in which is recorded the famous conversion of Saul (later, the Apostle Paul) on the Damascus Road. 

    There he was, Saul of Tarsus - a Pharisee, a religious man doing what he thought God commanded him to do - on his way to arrest any Christians he could find in Damascus.  One minute, he was on his journey, looking down the dusty path and the next, a literal blinding light and the voice of God.  When God was finished speaking with him, Saul opened his eyes yet saw nothing.  For the next three days Saul was blind.

    Saul, when he received his sight, never saw things the same way again.  He beheld things with new eyes, different eyes.  He saw the truth of what God would have him do.  He saw the road God wanted him to take.  The gospel and the redemption of Jesus Christ had become clear to him.

    As I contemplated this story that I have heard over and over throughout my life, I realized that sometimes we need to be blinded in order to see things clearly.

    I have spent my entire life in the Christian community.  If unborn babies can hear, I heard sermons for 9 months before I even entered the world.  My mother took me to church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday evenings from the time I was six weeks old.  I attended Christian school from Kindergarten through twelfth grade and then spent my first year of college at a Christian university.  I have faithfully continued in church and ministry in my adult life, as well.  I have heard countless scripture warning against temptation and sin and just as many on the grace and love of our Savior.  I have heard testimonies of others about how Christ saved them from their sinful ways and they praised Him for His amazing grace and love towards them.

    I appreciated God's love towards me and was grateful for His salvation.  I have always wanted to please Him and serve Him.  I wasn't much of a rebel.  In no way was I perfect, but I never wanted to leave the faith.  But then.....

    For a time, a few years ago, my eyes were blinded.  It was not some Supernatural light; rather, my eyes were blinded by self.  My commitment to God and the faith was challenged.  I, like Saul, came to a halt on my journey.  I stood at a crossroads, not sure which way to go.  I kept the blinders on my eyes, willingly, it seems.

    But then....

    My vision was eventually restored and, oh, how much more clearly I could see!  While I saw grace and love before, those truths had been but a blur.  When my blinders came off, I saw the grace and love of God so very clearly.  I could see the intricate beauty they possessed.  I looked upon them and stood in awe.  I also beheld forgiveness, wisdom, and judgement in ways I never before had.

    And, oh my!  How amazing salvation appeared!  I had known my need for Christ as a little girl and received Him into my heart.  I knew I was a sinner.  I knew He was my only way.  However, it wasn't until I had been blinded in such a way and then had my sight restored that I realized just why I needed Christ and what He saved me from.  My salvation went from 2-D to 3-D.  It became real!

    Sometimes, we see our teenagers walking about, as though blind.  Maybe, just maybe, for some of them, this is exactly what they need.  Maybe God has blinders on them knowing that when they come off, our kids will see so much more clearly what they had only heard before.  They will see salvation, grace, and love in a whole new light.  Then, like Paul - and like me - they will continue down the road that God has chosen for them with His light shining to make the way clear for their new eyes.

    Paul had a story.  I have a story.  How about you?  Have your blinders come off and do you see with new eyes?  I'd love to hear your story.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    The Children of the Just Man


    As I mentioned in my weekend post, our oldest daughter received her driver's license last Monday (April 18).  She is our second child in 5 months to get their driver's license, as our oldest got his last November.  I am glad that I won't have to face another road test for another year and a half;  I know it's stressful for the child, but it's a huge factor in the aging of mothers.

    While my daughter was taking her test, here at the farm a gentleman came by the house inquiring about straw for sale.  For some reason, our 14 year old daughter wasn't sure if we had any to sell and, not seeing her father around, proceeded to take the gentleman's name and number so we could call him back later with an answer.  Why am I sharing this seemingly minute detail?  Because none of our kids question whether or not we have straw (we almost always do) and they hardly ever take someone's phone number.  Trust me...this is important to the story.

    Just after our daughter took the man's info, my husband came up to the house and took him out to help him load the straw (that we, most certainly, did have) into his car.  His Ford Focus....

    Go back a month (cue dream sequence harp music and wavy screen).....
    Eric mentioned to me that if Cassia got her license, we should look at getting her a car so she could drive back and forth to school on her own.  What kind of car?  He randomly mentioned a Ford Focus...

    (end of dream sequence)

    So, my husband probably mentioned the Focus to his customer.  The man says that he had just purchased a new car and the dealership had offered him $3000 for the 2006 Ford Focus along with his Dodge Dakota (did I mention our oldest son has been looking for a pickup truck?) and he would be taking both vehicles in for trade-in at the end of the week.

    Once the gentleman left, Eric got on the computer and looked up the value of the Focus.  It was worth, at least, twice that of what the dealership was offering for both vehicles.  So, Eric called the man (thanks to the phone number that we hardly ever take down!) and offered him $4000 for both vehicles.  The gentleman quickly agreed - he received $1000 more than he would have with the dealership and we ended up with two vehicles we needed.  Not only the two vehicles we needed, but the exact model of car we were looking for!

    Both the car and truck were dropped off the next morning and were registered, inspected and ready to go by that evening.  Our daughter realizes she is blessed to have a vehicle so soon and not have to worry about borrowing ours.  Our son is quickly learning how to drive a standard, but he'll have his truck on the road soon. This truck is a temporary vehicle for him while he continues to  save up for his dream truck (though he's pretty happy that his interim truck is four-wheel drive).

    Why do I share this story?  To give all glory to God.  Does God always go around blessing people by delivering working vehicles at ridiculously low prices right to their driveways?  No.  He chooses to bless people in ways designed specifically for them.  His timing was perfect.  His plan was detailed.  His generosity was immense.

    The day after the cars came, I came across Proverbs 20:7: The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

    I can honestly say that my husband is the most Christ-like man I know.  He is not perfect, but he is a bold witness, a faithful husband, father, and church-member, a loyal friend, and the most patient and forgiving person I have ever known.  He walks in integrity.  His children have been blessed with these vehicles because of him, of that I have no doubt.  While our sins have far-reaching consequences and affect those around us, so does our righteousness (or the righteousness that God works through us).

    I am blessed to have such a husband...and our children are blessed to have such a father.  I hope that as they drive miles in these cars and as they continue further down life's road, they will always remember that and be grateful.  I pray they learn to walk in integrity so that their children and many others will be blessed, as well.


    Saturday, April 23, 2016

    Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: April 23, 2016



    What a week!  Our second child received her driver's license Monday, she miraculously got a car Tuesday, and I have gained an extra 2-3 hours a day now that I don't have to drive her back and forth to college each day!  Her brother also received a pick-up on Tuesday (I will have to tell you all the story behind these vehicles in a post next week) and he has been actively learning how to drive standard so he can get it on the road.  Today is filled with baking for my mother-in-law's birthday, a stop at my favorite coffee shop, and a chamber orchestra concert this evening with my girls.  Looking to be a wonderful Saturday.  But first...

    Scripture

    He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
    I Samuel 23:3
    Ironically, I read this verse the day after the NY primary election.  Think about this verse as we approach November.

    When God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
    Acts 2:24
    How marvelous to think that death could not hold down Jesus Christ!  How could it?  For Jesus is LIFE!

    Sayings

    This week marked the 127th birthday of this cruel dictator.  While he was evil, he almost ruled the world due to insights such as this.  THINK!



    Suggestions


    As promised on my Instagram post yesterday morning, here is the link to some delicious and healthy (!) blueberry muffins.  These muffins are low is saturated fat and no white sugar!  They are made with white-wheat flour (who knew such a thing existed?).  While wheat flour can make baked goods "heavy," this flour gives you the goodness of wheat but with a lighter result.  The only change I made was that I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt instead of vanilla flavored.  The cinnamon, honey, banana, wheat, and blueberries add all the sweetness you need!  As I was able to get 19 muffins from the recipe rather than the 15 as the recipe states, my calorie calculator totaled 108 calories per muffin rather than the creator's 131 - BONUS!  Even my husband and kids liked these!  


    Whether you homeschool or not, whether or not you have children, I highly recommend this dvd series by Christian historian David Barton.  I was able to purchase this set for half of its retail price at a homeschool sale last year.  It is what my 11th grader has been using for her social studies this school year, as I have been developing a curriculum to go with this.  In this series, Barton discusses the true belief and reliance on God our country was founded upon.  I am continuously amazed of what we take for granted as truth and law that are truly neither.  This series will open your eyes to our real history...and maybe motivate you to take action in some way.  
    Homeschoolers: book sale season is upon us...keep your eyes peeled for this item, if you would rather not pay full price.  However, if you do buy it from Amazon or Wallbuilders, your money will go directly toward other media and resources to re-educate our society in truth.


    Thanks to Pandora, I was introduced to David Tolk's peaceful and beautiful instrumental music.  This is the first album I have downloaded and will download more in the future.  The relaxing pieces make for perfect background music when our home is full of guests or just when we need something soothing while we are doing school or cleaning.  Let me know what you think if you add this to your music library.


    Max Lucado has a way of using his writing to enter your heart and opening your spiritual eyes to see things in a way you never have before.  I read this book a few years ago, but I recall the reading impacting me as I realized anew the great love that Christ had and has for me.  He chose the nails - for me, for you.


    This iTunes app has been my constant companion for the last 53 days.  Realizing that I needed to get back into shape and shed a few pounds, I knew I had to do the one and only thing that has ever proven to give me success in this - track my exercise and calories.  This app is wonderful as it breaks down my days, each of my three meals, snacks, exercise and water intake.  Counting calories is so much easier with this app than any others I have used as I can scan the bar codes of the ingredients I use along with the serving size rather than typing in and searching everything.  I can also import recipes from my favorite websites and create my own recipes and know how many calories I am taking in per serving.  I have lost 12 pounds in 7 weeks...I think it's been successful. 


    That's all for this Saturday.  I need to get my baking started!  Come back and check the blog frequently this week as I have several posts forming already in my mind.  Friday will launch a new feature, as well.  Hope to have you visit throughout the week.   May you all be blessed this weekend!

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    Keep Going



    Seven weeks ago, I began to get back into shape.

    No, this isn't a fitness post.  Stick with me here.

    I set a goal and got to it.  That's my way.  No messing around.  Work hard, get to where I want to be as soon as I can and be done with it.  I set my first goal and started working.

    The first week, I lost almost 2 pounds.  Yay, me!

    The next week, I had gained 1.5 of it back.  Really?!  I worked out every day, counted every single calorie, and I still gained.

    My husband's response: "It comes and it goes."  For me, it seems to come more than go.  I was a bit depressed.  I almost felt like quitting. What's the point?

    But I didn't quit.  I kept on going.  I pushed through it.  I researched what I could be doing wrong and I adjusted my lifestyle to fix it.

    I met my first goal in 5 weeks.  Then, I set my second goal - the one I knew would be the most difficult as it was to lose those last 5 stubborn pounds.  I began that goal 2 weeks ago.  I have lost one pound.  And I did that over a week ago.  The rest still hangs on as tight as a mountain climber who just lost his tether rope.

    I have biked, increased my exercise, taken a break, continued to count calories, upped my protein and maintained my water intake.  All to no avail.

    Well, I shouldn't say that.  I know I am healthier.  I know I am more fit and my clothes fit better.  Isn't that the goal?  So, why am I tempted to give up?

    Because I am not getting what I want when I want it.  Bottom line: I am human.  And humans give up, most often, out of selfishness and after losing sight of the big picture.  We get tired, discouraged, think that the lack of immediate results equates to a lost cause on the whole.  It's a lie and we believe it.

    I must not be selfish and short-sighted, but I must push through.  We all must keep going.

    My children and I are part of a ministry from our church in which we travel to a recreation center every Monday afternoon to tell city children about Jesus and His love for them.  This is something we have been doing for 4 or 5 years.  Last Monday, I was exhausted.  We had just come off of our church's missions conference - a highlight of our year.  It is a time of spiritual edification, challenge, great fellowship, and late nights.  Several late nights.  So, while I had just had my eyes re-opened to the great need for the world to hear the gospel, I toyed with the idea of skipping our ministry last Monday.  I was just so tired.  To be honest, the only thing that kept me going was the amount of kids who depend on me for a ride out there.  If I don't go, most of the team doesn't show up.  So, I went.

    I pushed through the exhaustion; not because I wanted to, but because I had a duty to fulfill.  God will use whatever it takes to keep us going for Him.

    That afternoon, a little boy got saved.  One of the girls who rides in my van was the one who explained the gospel to him.  The Lord also allowed me to lay out the entire plan of salvation to a young girl who hung on every word.  She didn't get saved, but she is thinking about it.

    I kept going.  God rewarded.

    Yesterday, more children got saved.  We have gone months without seeing anyone accept Christ.  I believe many of us began to wonder in our hearts if it was worth the time every week.  Is it worth it?  Week after week, kids come and go.  Kids cause trouble.  Kids listen but don't respond.

    But we keep going.  Because we have seen the pattern.  We get discouraged, and just at that point, God shines a little light.  He encourages us.  He lets us know that it IS worth it.  HE is worth it.  This is exactly what we are called to do at this time.

    Just as in diet and exercise, we have times in our spiritual walk when we see results.  Yet, there are many times where we seem to hit a plateau.  Nothing we do seems to matter.  We read and seem to get nothing.  We pray and see no results.  We plant, yet we don't reap.  We burn the midnight oil in ministry and nothing happens.  We reach a crossroads and wonder if we should quit.

    Why?  Because we are selfish.  We have lost sight of the ultimate goal.

    Is it true that nothing is happening?  Are we not spiritually healthier? Are we not spiritually more fit?  Does not our countenance shine a little clearer, our wisdom become a little sharper?

    We want immediate results, yet God knows that pushing through the hard times is what builds endurance and faith.  Don't lose sight of the big picture.  The goal is to hear Christ say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  We just need to keep going, for while we do not see external results, Christ is all the time working within us - making us stronger, healthier, and more fit.

    Keep partaking of the Bread of the Word.
    Keep drinking the Living Water.
    Keep exercising the gift God gave you.
    Keep in the race.

    Keep going for God.

    You may not see the results today, but they will come.  Keep going and you will, indeed, hear:
    "Well done."

    Now, it's time for me to get back on that elliptical....

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Saturday Scripture, Sayings, and Suggestions: April 16, 2016


    What a difference a week makes!  Last weekend was cold and snowy and this weekend the sun shines in blue skies and the temperatures are in the 60s!  Looking at the forecast for the next week, it does appear that spring has finally sprung here in upstate New York!  This weekend will find me fellowshipping with friends, young and old, our first bonfire of the year, and our final meeting for our daughter's upcoming high school graduation.  Definitely a good way to begin this bright season.  


    Scripture
    A gracious woman retaineth honour...
    Proverbs 11:16
    Desire honor?  Have grace.

    And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written.  Amen.
    John 21:25
    Just think...He's done so much more since those words were written!  Think on the things He has done just in your life alone!

    He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
    Proverbs 15:27
    Are you greedy?  Do you go into debt in order to gain material things?  That only brings trouble to your house.  Simplifying and not desiring more brings life.  Preaching to myself here!

    Sayings



    Suggestions
    I read this book some time ago, but the message still sticks with me.  True love doesn't give up.  Ian and Larissa were a happy young couple with an entire future ahead of them.  Then, one night, Ian was in a terrible car accident that changed him forever.  Larissa could have walked away, but she didn't give up.  This is the true story of true love.




    YouTube: The Story of Ian & Larissa
    If you are not a reader, then this sweet video about the true love the Murphys share, will inspire you today.  What about you?  Would you stay? Will you stay, no matter what the challenges?


    App: FamilyLife
    I remember first listening to the radio broadcast of Family Life Today as a young bride in Vermont twenty years ago.  A couple of years ago, I found the broadcast on a podcast and have listened regularly since.  It is through this broadcast that I have been introduced to various contemporary Christian heroes of the faith, as well as have been challenged to live Biblically.  They have recently updated their app, but all of their broadcasts can be found and listened to - on your walk, on your elliptical, in your kitchen, or as you lay down for the night.  Check it out!


    Music: Glory by Michael W. Smith
    If you were a Christian teenager in the late 1980s and 90s, you probably listened to Michael W. Smith (or heard at least one or two of his songs).  My high school graduating class chose his song, "Friends" to sing at our ceremony.  While I am personally not a fan of his singing, I have recently been introduced to his works of the new millennium.  Smith is now recording using his gifts as a pianist and composer and, teaming up with the London Symphonica, this album is reminiscent of the "Gettysburg" soundtrack.  Truly a beautifully dramatic and inspiring audio experience.


    Children's Book: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
    Oh, this book!!  I read this story to my older children years ago and fell in love with it.  I am currently reading it to my younger children and they are now falling in love with the tale of a china bunny on his journey to learn what love is.  Belonging to a little girl, Edward begins the story full of self.  Then, as the story proceeds, he is lost and passed from one owner to another, his heart learning to feel (and to break) along the way.  We have laughed and cried along with Edward as he comes to learn to care for and, yes, love those who enter his life.  Get this book out of your library this week - even if you don't have young ones to read it with!



    Well, I must be on my way to pick up some milk for my daughter's orphaned goat.  This day is beautiful and I am hoping to get my first bike ride of the season.  How about you?  What are your plans?  Whatever they are, may you enjoy your family and the beauty of spring this weekend!