Followers I consider friends

Here is a big hug to all of you who read my blog each day (or during the week) and take the time to share a moment or two with me!  Today I reached 29 followers and I've been praying about how to "grow" my blog to reach many so to see that my blog is growing is really exciting!

I love reading your comments (I really look forward to "hearing" what you have to say and how you feel, so please keep them coming) and I love keeping up with all of you!

Today at church (We've been studying through the book of 1 Samuel and reading all about the prophet Samuel, the life of King Saul and David) we learned about how to be a good friend.  We looked at the life of David and his friendship with Jonathan (King Saul's son).  Although David and Jonathan didn't have much in common, after all David was a shepherd boy and Jonathan was a prince.  Jonathan was most likely 10 years older and a distinguished warrior and David's big battle was with the giant Goliath with a slingshot.  Jonathan lived a life of privilege and prestige and David was young, ruddy, and perhaps a bit stinky from all the sheep.

Our Pastor reminded us that though they were opposites there were 6 things we can take from their friendship.  Of course this list is not exhaustive, but these points you can clearly see in studying 1 Samuel 18, 19, 20 and 23.

1. Friends love one another.
2. Friends honor one another.
3. Friends are devoted to each other.
4. Friends intercede for each other.
5. Friends are faithful to each other.
6. Friends encourage one another.

David and Jonathan were true friends who loved each other even though they had differences.  There are some of you who are single, or have grown children, or are just recently married, we may not have a lot in common, but there is something special about believers in the Lord.  God somehow binds us soul to soul and even though our lives may be a bit different our experiences, our hopes, our dreams, or our needs may be the same and connect us together.

Although King Saul began to hate David and sought to kill him Jonathan was very faithful to David.  He would warn David if danger was coming or if he needed to be careful.  Their friendship was deep and Jonathan even swore an oath to David and vice versa that they would look after one another (David even allowed Jonathan's lame son to eat at the King's table when he became King to show his loyalty and faithfulness to his friend.)  Read how Jonathan was faithful to protect David's life in 1 Samuel 23: 15-18.

Friends intercede for each other.  There have been times that I have asked for prayer if my children were ill, or if we were trying to sell our house, or if I just needed strength to make it through a busy day, and many of you have interceded for me and prayed for me, and that means so much to me.  And vice versa, I love hearing your prayer requests and praying for all of my faithful readers when they ask me to!  Some of you have new babies now, or are seeking a new job, or have sick kids from time to time, and it's awesome to stop what I'm doing and intercede for you!  Isn't it neat how we can be miles away but we all serve a God who knows no limit to time or space!  He hears our prayers for each other!  You can read about how David interceded (prayed) for his best friend Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1: 17-27.

Friends encourage one another.  David and Jonathan were constantly giving each other words of encouragement, they made vows to one another, they promised each other protection from harm, I mean they were best friends no matter what.  Isn't it so true how we all need a word of encouragement each day?  Some days we have so many things to do and endless lists to accomplish, and so many people needing us that we just need a little bit of encouragement to get us going!  I love reading uplifting blogs that focus on the Lord and His truth and being positive because there is enough in this world that can bring you down and be negative.  So today my friends I'm sending you a word of encouragement!  You all have blessed me, and here is how I love to bless my friends...speaking God's truth into their day...

So...in Numbers 6: 24-27 it says..."
The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."'



Me and my sister...my best friend


Have a truly awesome day my FRIENDS!

And if you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend!  So don't be shy to reach out and share the love that Christ has freely given to you with others!

Proverbs 17:17  "A friend loves at all times..."

Break out the Crock Pot: Black Beans & Pork

I chose this picture because after all the snow we are having I am so ready for the SUMMER!

While it's still nice and cold out though, what a great opportunity to use the crock pot!  I love crock pot (slow cooker) meals because they sit and simmer all day gaining flavor and pumping wonderful yummy smells throughout the house!

This week we will be having, Black Beans and Pork which serves 6 people.  Slow cook for 4 hours on High or 6 hours on Low.

Black Beans and Pork

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 onion chopped
2 cans 15 ounces each black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can 14.5 ounces diced tomoatoes with or without green chilies (Del Monte sells it)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups cooked white rice

Directions:

1. In a slow cooker bowl, toss together pork, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper.  Stir in onion, beans and tomatoes and 1 1/4 cups water.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  (I like to start mine right around 10 am so by 4pm it is ready)

2. Stir in cilantro.  Using a potato masher, mash beans slightly until mixture is thickened.  Serve bean mixture over rice, if desired. (we love rice...substitute and use brown rice for a healthier meal, that's what John and I prefer.)

Enjoy!

How do you do it? series...leaving the house

Leaving the House with Toddlers:

Prep Before the Departure

1. The Diaper Bag-change of clothes per child (no matter the age, Julia is potty trained and I still bring an extra pair of clothes and panties) diapers/wipes, sippy cups, crunchy snacks, salty snacks, fruity snacks.
* Pack the bag the night before and place NEAR the door so you won't forget it.

2. Snacks for the Car Ride-special bowls with lid that allows little hands to go in but no snack to fall out (mark still uses his)
*Ready to go on the counter. (can be filled the night before)

3. Toys to Occupy- a leap frog toy, a cuddly Elmo, a squishy small basketball, a book that makes sounds
* Leave these toys in the car (one less thing to remember to carry...tell the kids they are car toys)

4. One sippy cup per child (or bottle, or binky depending on what stage you are in)
* Prep night before and placed in fridge in front on top shelf

*Kristi's KEY-Do these things the night/day before your departure!  It's very frustrating running around your house like a lunatic, putting on cuts, tying shoes, combing hair, brushing teeth, changing the last diaper, going to the potty one last time, etc, never mind getting yourself ready, so save yourself time by having these things already done.

Departure

1. Place all bags and cups in car before bringing kids outside.
2. Do diaper changes and potty trips 5-10 minutes before leaving. (Don't ask your toddler, just say it's time to go on the potty, I find the less we ask for issues and the more we establish routines, kids just expect it and go with the flow!)
3. Grab your purse, keys and phone AND the kids, and GO!
4. Smile and Have fun!  I'm trying to be a fun mommy and not a stressed mommy!

James

James 1: 9-11 NIV

 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

I was reading through a sermon on the book of James and got some really great insights on these 3 verses about the rich and the poor.  Click here to see the whole sermon.  I'm going to just take some of the Pastor's points and share them with you.


"There are two perspectives of riches here.
First:  Riches are temporal.  They have no eternal value.  You’ve heard this:  There are no hearses with U Hauls.  You can’t take it - what? with you.  The pursuit of riches of this world has no value in God’s eternal kingdom.  
Second:  Riches are temporary.  We need certain things for the day-to-day stuff of life.  But beyond that, we need to realize that all the stuff we surround ourselves - spend so much effort acquiring - what we’re tempted to think is so valuable - beautiful in appearance to us - James says, its just fading away.  They don’t last - even in this world.
A temptation for both poor and rich is to place great a value on what has no eternal value and is only fading away.  A poor person might see riches as the solution to all his problems.  A rich person - surrounded by all the latest toys - can be blind to his real needs.
What James is getting at here is not material stuff - but the character of our relationship with God and what really are the eternal enduring things of life.  What we need to understand - encountering trials - what we need to understand is that having stuff - pursuing the things of this world - trying to control our world with riches - all that doesn’t move us through trials deepening our relationship with God and growing us as Christians.  All that is not what we really need."

My insights: Material things do not bring us happiness! Even Oprah had a show on this very topic today!  I didn't get to view the entire show but the few minutes I watched were a no-brainer that the top 4 happiest jobs in America (a survey of 1 million was taken) were 1. Special Education Teachers 2. Firefighters  3. Clergy and 4. Social Work (I think...it's hard to pay attention to shows with two toddlers, trust me)  Not in this order but these 4 jobs brought the most happiness because they were jobs that didn't necessarily make a lot of money, in fact most of them on average only make $50,000 annually, but these workers felt the most fulfilled not because of money but because of working with people.  The experience was more important and valuable than the actual money making.


As a classroom teacher in a Christian school that made much less than the average teacher with a Masters Degree (I constantly had to defend my job and tell people I taught at a Christian school because I could actually pray with my students and teach God's Word and that it was my ministry...I would have done it for free, quite honestly) I was the happiest girl alive!  I loved my job because it was a gift to me and because of the impact I had on each child's life.  


Material things will pass away and fade, and break.  But the memories and experiences we share with people have eternal value because people matter not things.


So the next time I am window shopping and a great sweater catches my eye or a cute pair of shoes...I need to remember that those things won't bring me happiness.  They are temporal.  I need to watch what I put value on.  And it is SO easy to become materialistic in this world, isn't it? With the stores, the competition with our neighbors, the commercials, the billboards, the advertisements.  We constantly have to say, "Lord, I am thankful for food and and shelter and the clothing on my back that you have provided today."  "Lord, please help me to be content."

Mark, mommy wants to make great memories for you little one!



This year, and you all can hold me accountable to this, I want to focus on people and the memories and experiences I create and the people I can bless and reach.  I don't want to just acquire things...I want to connect with people on a deeper level.  I don't want to be blind to my real needs--do you?  I want to be aware of my need for Christ only!!!  Not my need for stuff!

James

Hi Dear Friends,

I've been asking the Lord what book of the Bible to study and "walk through" with you and I couldn't get the book of James off my mind...so here goes!  I hope you will follow along!  Before we begin, James is a very small book in the New Testament.  There are only 5 chapters. For some background and info on who James was click here.  I've always known James to be the brother of Jesus, but the info I researched also said that James didn't come to faith until after the crucifixion of Christ.  I found that to be very odd and in fact interesting.  Wouldn't you think the people closest to Jesus would have KNOWN who He was and would have wanted to be transformed by Him?  It just goes to show you that we all make our own choices in this life.  We all have free will.  And as I grow in Christ I really want to line up with God's will, and make wise choices.  Especially since my choices and my life now affect my husband John, and my children Julia and Mark. (no pressure, right?)

Here is the text:

James 1:1-8
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,    To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
   Greetings.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 

This passage is so familiar to me because my third graders and I memorized the whole passage over a 4 week period.  It was awesome to hear them a month later be able to recite the 8 verses.  We would say our 3 pledges each morning and then stand to recite our verses.  I really miss hearing their little voices speak out Scripture on a daily basis, what an encouragement.

James' words are also encouraging.  James called himself a bond-servant of God.  Basically, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  James is showing his utmost devotion to the Lord here.  God is our master and we are eager to be His slaves (although that doesn't sound very flattering) because He is GOOD, He loves us, He has our best interest in mind, He sees the whole picture, He is just, He is our creator, and He knows what is best.

The next verses talk about counting it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  How can we be joyful when we fall into a trial?  First of all this verse is promising us that there will be trials (yep, we know that to be true, right?) There will be times of difficulty, times of waiting, times of pain, BUT we as Christians are to count it all joy because we KNOW that God has a purpose and a plan for the trial, and the outcome is ALWAYS for our GOOD.  And we know that when our faith is tested and we prove to be faithful to God during our trials, it will produce patience!  God's goal is to mold us and make us into the absolute best.  So we know that during our trials, or difficulties, when we stand firm on our faith, and trust the Lord, we can be sure our faith is growing and God is growing us into the mature Christian that He has in mind for us to bring glory to Himself.

If we lack wisdom, all we have to do is ASK!  God will "gives to all liberally and without reproach", which means He has plenty of wisdom to share and is more than happy to dish it out.  He just wants us to be willing to receive it and mature enough to ask for it.  This reminds me to ask for God's help in ALL situations.  For example, if Julia is having a rough time acclimating to her Sunday School class (which she has been lately) my job as her mom isn't to panic or get frustrated with her (both of which I did) but to in fact use this as an opportunity to teach her to pray when she is afraid, and to talk it out with her, and to remind me to pray and ask God for wisdom in this situation.  I know He will give me good ideas and ways to handle this situation, and He is also faithful to put positive, godly people in my life to give me good advice.



The next verse says that when we do ask God for wisdom we are to ask "in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." How many times do we pray for wisdom but then still take matters into our own hands because God wasn't "quick enough" or "loud enough" to give us the answer we wanted.  See Suzette's post on Abram and Sarai.  Abram and Sarai were promised a huge blessing of a great nation, and yet they did not have a child yet.  It must've been hard for them to believe and trust God's promise to them as they got older and older and still had no children.  Soon they take matters into their own hands, and try to hurry up God's promise.  They didn't have faith.  They doubted God.  And it is so easy to point fingers and think...why couldn't they just be patient and wait for God to bless them...but think of how difficult that must've been.

The verses continue on to say that a man who doubts God let him not suppose that "he will receive anything from the Lord, he is double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."  Our faith in God, our belief in the Lord shapes everything we say and do.  I don't want to be double-minded or unstable.  I want to be constantly trusting in my Rock, which is Christ the Lord.

"On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!"

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!!!

Building Better Relationships Chapter 3

Our biggest CHEESE possible!
Honoring One Another

I'm going to do my best to keep today's post short and sweet and to the point!

Just wanted to say "Thank you!" to all of you who have been posting comments to my blog, today I opened up 6 comments!  It was so fun to hear from all of you! Shout out to Christy, Suzette, and April who really made me smile just now! 

So many of you are such an inspiration to me and just knowing you are reading my thoughts, and insights, struggles, fears, advice, is really humbling and encouraging, because we are all on a journey here on earth, and some days are great, and other days are rough, and it is SO nice to know that your Sisters in Christ are praying for you, rooting for you, cheering for you, crying with you, and sometimes laughing with you! (and you can even be laughing with each other through texting...right Suzette? LOL)

Remember, before we begin today's topic of Honoring One Another, that "God compassionately corrects us where Sat*n fiercely condemns us."  So as you have been following along this study with me in Chapter 1: Building Right Relationships, or Chapter 2: Loving our Neighbors and if God is tugging at your heart and convicting you of sin in your life, or areas that you need to work on, think of it as a blessing and start asking for the Holy Spirit to help you.  Don't get down on yourself or be discouraged, but please work on it.  I ask you to work on it, because I'm one of those people who struggled with relationships and would much rather build walls, shut down, or ignore the issue at hand, working on relationships is SO much work, But having great relationships makes it all worth while.  If God has taken the time to pursue you and love you and forgive you, how much more should we make an effort to pursue difficult people, love the unlovable and forgive our offenders?  Just a thought...

How do we show someone honor?  What is honor? A definition of honor is: acclaim, admire, appreciate, compliment, lionize, look up to.

Can you think of a special time in your life that you felt honored?

There have been some really good memories of feeling honored and one that sticks out in my mind the most is when I got the Teacher of the Year Award in 2005.  I had finished my Masters Degree (took 3 summers), I was coming into my own as a classroom teacher, I was loving teaching and being a student, studying at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA, I was growing closer to the Lord, and to finally get recognition after 4 years of really hard work, I was thrilled to pieces.  Not only did Mr. Keller, our Superintendent, say some nice things about me, and give me a plaque on the last day of school in front of all the elementary kids, staff, and parents, not only did I got a monetary gift, but I'll never forget my students voices and cheers as I stood up and walked over to receive my award.  It was the best feeling in the world.  I can remember calling John and Christy on the way home that day.  I felt special.  I felt important.  I felt like God was smiling on me (if that makes sense).  I just felt HAPPY!

Describe a time when you honored a friend or a family member.

The most recent thing I can think of is when I arranged for my in-laws to meet me at JCPenny for a photo shoot.  My mother in law loves pictures of the kids and she's always trying to get the best picture of the kids with her camera, but somehow it never works out.  Either the kids don't cooperate, or the camera doesn't cooperate, or she doesn't have her camera.  So for her birthday last summer I decided as her gift we would do a grandma photo shoot, and she LOVED it.  It was like the first time I felt she liked the gift we got her!  And the kids were great and the pictures came out great, and she felt really special.  She still thanks me and reminds me about how much she enjoyed that.

We honor one another to consider other people more important than ourselves.  Our example is the Godhead and how the three parts glorify each other. Look at Romans 12: 10:

10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Did you know that in the Greek the word honor is translated as "price"?  Isn't that interesting that there is a price we pay when we honor someone above ourselves.  Look at the great price He paid when He put us above Himself and died on the cross for our sin.

1 Corinthians 6: 20
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Peter 2: 17 
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

In 1 Peter we are told to honor and respect EVERYONE...that means the poor and the rich...the ignorant and the intelligent, the young and the old, the dirty and the clean...the attractive and the unattractive, the kind and the difficult...EVERYONE.

But if we look at the world...who does the world HONOR, who is indeed worthy of honor?  The wealthy, the beautiful, the eloquent, the privileged, the famous, the athletic...etc

Psalm 8:3-9
When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?[a]5 You have made them[a] a little lower than the angels[b]
   and crowned them[c] with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
   you put everything under their[d] feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
   and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
   and the fish in the sea,
   all that swim the paths of the seas.  9 LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

God created all of us in His image and gives all of us value, worth, and worthiness of honor.  Man is made in God's image!  That makes us worthy.  That makes us special!  That makes us unique!

The Bible gives us specific people to honor:

1. Philippians 2:25 brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier
2.1 Timothy 5:3 widows
3.1 Timothy 5:17 elders
4. 1 Timothy 6: 1-2 masters
5. 1 Peter 2: 17 all people, the brotherhood
6. 1 Peter 3: 1, 7 wives, husbands

The Bible shows us specific ways to honor one another: 

1. Leviticus 19: 32 rise before the gray headed (honor the presence of an old man)
2. Romans 16:16 greet each other with a holy kiss
3. 1 Cor 11:33 when you come together to eat wait for one another
4. 1 Peter 4:9 be hospitable without grumbling
5. 1 Peter 5:5 Submit yourselves to your elders, be clothed with humility

*In John's taekwondo school you have to bow to your parents and higher ranks and say Yes Sir or Yes Ma'am!  I love it!  In this day and age we have lost the ability to honor one another.  

Then our Bible study went into a whole lesson on how to speak to each other.  Instead of going into all the examples I will just explain what the main point of it was...we all bring conversations back to ourselves because we are all selfish.  It takes a lot of self control to just sit and listen to someone else, it is much easier to interrupt, add our two cents, etc.  So the next time you are on the phone with someone, or see someone at an event try asking the person 3 questions before saying "I" or "we".  Trust me, it's hard, I've tried it.  This is a skill that requires a lot of practice.  We even do this on facebook.  If someone posts a picture of their new pet we start talking about our pet.  If someone says they are going on vacation we comment, "I've been there!"  or "Bring me back a souvenir"  We can't help it we are selfish creatures, BUT God has given us a new nature, and we are no longer slaves to our flesh!  It's not that we are horrible people but we need to work on showing others honor and respect by genuinely caring and listening to what they have to say.

This week I challenge you to:

1. Listen without interrupting
2. Ask 3 questions before bringing the conversation to yourself
3. Listen for understanding
4. Don't reject someone's feelings
5. Don't give a cliche answer for someone's problems
6. Hold the door open for somebody today
7. Teach your child to respect their elders
8. Wait for a blessing and for everyone to sit at the table before eating
9. To whom do you need to show honor to?
10. What is one thing you could do this week to show "that person" honor this week?

Saturday Recipe Swap: Chicken and Corn Chili

I've been having some great new recipes to share.  I made this one last Thursday and it is very yummy and actually rather healthy because you are using chicken instead of ground beef!

This recipe I found in this month's Family Circle which I only get for the recipes...very family friendly meals!

Ingredients:

1 large onion chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander (didn't have it and it didn't matter)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
1 can (14.5) diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 box 10 oz. frozen corn, thawed
2 cans 15 oz each cannellini beans drained, rinsed
3/4 tsp salt
shredded cheese

Directions:

1. Heat oil in large pot over med. heat  Add onion and green pepper.  cook, stirring, 5 min. stir in cumin, coriander and chili powder, cook 1 min.

2. Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Add chicken, cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

3. Stir corn, beans, and salt into pot.  Heat through.  Spoon into bowls, and top with shredded cheese!

***** Side note...at our home corn bread and white rice always go with chili so that's what I made as side dishes!

Enjoy!

How do you do it? series...how do you have dinner ready and keep a clean house?

How do you do it?

Dinner + Clean House + Little Ones= Challenging, Exhausting, Frustrating...

Some of you reading this post have a newborn, a toddler, maybe 2 or 3 toddlers, or maybe a combination of older and younger kids.  Either way, getting things done around the house, and preparing meals, all the while taking care of your family is a huge task.  I've told John before that I worked very hard at teaching elementary school, by Friday I was exhausted and felt numb because it was physically and emotionally draining and I tried to give my students 100% since that's what I expected from them.  But as a mom, have gotten that tired and numb feeling almost every night of the week!  It is getting easier, but we all know that motherhood is HARD Work!!!

Today I just wanted to share some tips and insights to what I do because maybe you have your own system but it's not working, you may be eager to try something new, or you might just enjoy reading how someone else does things and will be able to incorporate a few if not all things into your own schedule or routine.

I was sharing with a close friend the other day who was asking me how I get things done with the little ones under me constantly, and I was realizing that a lot of what I do is just how my brain works.  I am the type of person who hates clutter, or things on the floor, I hate finger prints on the windows, I dislike crumbs or garbage lying around and so since these things are a bother some to me I have to "clean/clear" before I can move on to my next task!  It's just the way my brain works and I operate, and I realize other people have a higher tolerance for messes and clutter than I do, for me it's just not an option...I tease my friends and say it's my disease.  I mean who else has to clear the sink or dish washer or counter before they prep a meal?  Me!  Who else has to sweep or vacuum the kitchen floor before and after they cook? Me!  Who else has to have a clean coffee pot or empty garbage for the kitchen to feel "clean" even if no one else sees it? Me!

Tip #1 Plan your meals the weekend prior cooking so that you have all your ingredients readily available.
Have you ever found a great recipe and then started making it and realize there are one or two things you need, but you can't go to the store because of nap time, the weather, or some other inconvenience?  I find that planning out what you are going to eat each day of the week really helps faster food shopping, less grocery trips during the week, saves gas money, etc.  (Sometimes I even plan out a month in advance...but not lately)

Tip 2* I have found that placing all the ingredients on the counter the night before helps me.  Then if I do need to run to the store for one or two things I can do it first thing in the morning with the kids when they aren't tired or hungry. 
Tip 3* Begin chopping or prepping your meal right after breakfast! (I know I'm insane, but this is what works for me) I find that the sooner I start prepping my meal during the day the less stressed I feel come dinner time.
Tip 4* At your children's nap time finish the prep of dinner or even start to cook a few things!  (My meal is usually done cooking around 3:30 or 4pm then it has time to cool and I like to taste test) By 5pm we are ready to eat!

While you are prepping your meal what is your child doing?
* Coloring at the table
* Playing with play dough
* swinging in the swing or sitting in their bouncy seat
* playing in their exersaucer
* Reading a book to a younger sibling
* watching a short video (blue's clues, barney, baby einstein)

How do you keep your house tidy throughout the day?

Tip 5* Everything has a home!  The kids help me clean up when it is time and they know exactly which bins things go in.

Tip 6 *Shoes are lined up near the front door or placed in person's closet

Tip 7*Things that need to go upstairs are lined up on the side, and whenever I take a trip upstairs I grab something and put it back in it's home

Tip 8* Sing with  my kids as we clean (singing always helps us to stay positive)

Tip 9* I choose a room or area to focus on each day.  For example: Mondays: Bathrooms (3) Tuesdays: Playroom, Wednesday: Basement, Thursday: Dining Room, Friday: Kitchen, Saturday: The 3 Bedrooms.  Each area or room gets vacuumed, cleaned, disinfected, garbages emptied, etc.

Tip 10* I only do one load of laundry a day (if there even needs to be any laundry done, which some days there doesn't) and I make sure the load of darks, lights, or delicates is done first thing in the am and then at nap time or t.v. time at night I fold that load.  Laundry shouldn't become overwhelming so I try to only do one load and then I feel caught up.

Tip 11 Before going to bed breakfast is prepped on the counter, coffee maker is set, and sink and garbage are emptied...this way I wake up to a nice clean kitchen and not a pile of dishes.

Tip 12 The key is if you do a little each day then you don't have to clean all day!  And many hands make light work, so teach your children young to start "helping" even if it is more work in the beginning because they learn fast, they feel important, and they are more apt to be more independent, helpful, and eager to participate as they get older.

Hope that helps! Next Friday: How do you get the kids ready to get out the door without losing your mind, temper, and not having any melt downs?

Bridal Showers

On Sunday after church, we ate lunch put the kids down for a nap, and I slipped off to a dear co-workers bridal shower. 

Tara and I taught fourth grade for two years together before she moved to North Carolina.

In North Carolina she purchased her own town house, got a teaching job, and found a church to get involved in.  Isn't she brave?  Guess what?  God blessed her mightily, not only does she love the North Carolina area but she met the man of her dreams, Tim at church there and he actually was the leader of their young adult group.

He proposed over the summer and they are due to get married this April!!! Weddings are so exciting, and I am so happy for Tara and Tim.  Last winter we had a chance to have them over for dinner when they were in town visiting family, and John and I could tell instantly that God put these two together!  I love how their story happened and how patient Tara was in waiting for God to show her a godly man.

The bridal shower had a few of her friends and a lot of family!  It was really neat to celebrate Tara and Tim together!  I'm all for having the husband to be at the bridal shower, John was at mine and I loved having him there.

Tim was such a good sport and helped Tara open gifts, read cards, give thank yous, and even wear a goofy hat!

I loved seeing the joy on their faces and Tara and her parents being silly with each other!

This is a picture of Sarah, one of her brides maids making the fun bow hats!


Tim's mom even traveled to NJ for the shower.  It was a 9 hour drive from North Carolina.  I got to sit and chat with Mrs. Pendergrass and I could tell she was super proud of Tim...I found out that Tim has a twin sister!

God bless you Tim and Tara!  Many years of love and happiness and lots of laughter!

Building Better Relationships Chapter 2

Me and my in-laws...we are very different, but there is love
For those of you who just joined our book study this is a Woman of the Word series by Bobbie Yagel.  Please read my insights on Chapter 1 if you want to "catch up"! (just click on the highlighted words chapter 1)

As a lot of you know I currently am leading a Ladies Bible study at my church on Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30, we provide childcare and we go in the upstairs education rooms and enjoy coffee/tea, and home baked goodies as we study God's Word.  This past fall we studied The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer and starting on Feb 1st we will begin this new series on Building Better Relationships.

Feel free if you can't join our church Bible study to purchase this little study book yourself on amazon.com, it's only about $6 and read along with me as I post my thoughts and insights on each chapter.

God's Timing is always perfect and we ALL struggle with a relationship or two at any given time because we are all sinners and we are all human and we live in a sinful world where we ALL make mistakes.  This little book is great because it guides you right to Scripture where you can read first hand what the heart of the Lord wants of you in all your relationships.

Have you ever just said, "All I want is peace?"  "I don't want all this drama in my life!" or "Can't we all just get along???"  Yep, I bet you have, because I certainly have!  Thanks to godly friends praying for me, a godly husband encouraging me, prayer and studying God's Word I am learning how to "be at peace with all men, as far as it depends on me!"  (Romans 12:18) That will be a Bible verse the whole family should memorize, right?  Because relationships can be challenging, and they are a lot of work, but God designed all of our relationships to show us how important it is to love one another, to show grace and mercy to others, to be kind, to forgive, and to live at peace with all men!  Can we do it in our own strength? Absolutely not because the world will not always be gracious, merciful, kind, or forgiving to us.  We need God's help!  Let's see what Chapter 2 was all about!

Chapter 2: Loving Our Neighbors

 "The goal of this chapter is to help you understand the biblical truth about loving others as much as we love ourselves."

Who is our neighbor?  Your next door neighbor, the person you see at the grocery store, the person driving in front of you, a person at your church, a person in your child's class, a person on your child's soccer team, a family member, a friend, someone other than YOU!

Matthew 22:39 command us to love others as much as we love ourselves.  Love is an action verb.  When we love someone we look out for them, we take care of them, and we choose to prefer him or her.

Here are some ways that we may show that we love OURSELVES more than we love our NEIGHBORS.

1. Do you excuse your neighbor's behavior as graciously as you excuse your own? For example, when you arrive late to church you bless your tardiness with the excuse of the kids, the slow drivers on the road, the phone call you had to take, but when someone else shows up late you might quickly label her inconsiderate and disruptive.

2. Do you accept your neighbor's emotions as easily as you accept your own? When you are sad or depressed it's because your family's situation is difficult, the dog died or your mother is ill.  If your neighbor gets depressed you accuse him or her of self pity.

3. Do you guard your neighbor's good reputation as carefully as you guard your own?  You don't gossip about yourself.  However, you may not hesitate to tell your friend about the lazy mother who doesn't clean her house.

4. Do you take actions to ensure that your neighbor is well fed, clothed and housed as your own family? If your neighbor is unemployed and without benefits do you share your paycheck so the family may pay their bills and buy groceries and clothing with the same ease that you pay for yours?  Would you be willing to cancel a vacation to bless a missionary friend?

5. Do you forgive your neighbor as readily as you forgive yourself?  If you dent the front fender of your car, you probably won't hold a grudge against yourself.  But if your neighbor borrowed your car and dents it you might mentally or verbally accuse them of driving carelessly or too fast.

A Closer Look at God's Truth

When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." The second greatest was to "love your neighbor as yourself."  Matthew 22: 37-39

Notice how none of the commandments teach us to love ourselves.  We already do a GREAT job of that!  God wants us to put Him first and then to put our energies to getting to the business of loving others!

Scripture maintains that Christian love is best demonstrated in our actions not our words!  Actions speak LOUDER than words.

1 John 3: 14-15 says,
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

What does this say about the seriousness of our relationships with one another?  How do you feel as your read these verses?

If you do not love your neighbor you are living a life of death because if you aren't loving them then you are actually hating them.  And hate is like murder to God.  It is that serious.  We are to be loving!  There is no way of getting around the issue of how we are to be treating other people.

We know that God loves us because He sent Christ to die for us while we were still sinners!  He loved us so much He died for us.  Our love should be that BIG that EXTREME.

Think about what your definition of love is...

Here's mine: Love is willing to forgive any wrongs.  It sees past the sin and sees the need for a relationship with God.  It wants to do what is right to all people and it always goes above and beyond and runs the extra mile.  I've been so blessed to have people like my husband and my family to love me like this.  They know my greatest mistakes, my greatest faults and they STILL love me.  Christ knows everything about me and He still died for me and all my sins.  If I have people and God loving me like that, then my gift back to God and to my family and friends, and to my neighbor is to extend that same forgiving  and extravagant love.  God's love is so extravagant and it feels so good to be loved like that.  Our hearts are meant to desire that kind of love and God calls us to love each other the same way!

A Closer Look at My Own Heart

Luke 9: 23-24:
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

What does it mean to you to take up your cross daily?...

For me it means, to deny myself, deny my rights, deny my feelings, and look to the best interests of others and always put God first.  I find that when I'm focused on my feelings, my rights, my this or that, I start to get a very ME centered approach and look on life.  I start to get very selfish and really start not caring about God's perspective or the other person's perspective.  I have found it to be much more freeing to take the high road, so to speak , and let God deal with the difficult people in my life, but my job is to love them, honor them, respect them, and treat them BETTER than they treat me or than I want to be treated.  When I focus on my needs I forget that God wants me to look to Him for strength in loving the difficult people.  And you know what?  God does give you the grace to put your own feelings aside and fill it with love.  I can honestly say I've prayed for many a people where I just needed God to show me how to love them and He really has!  

What do you think a definition of self denial is?


Mine is: Self denial is putting God first, others second and myself last.  It's choosing to love the unlovable and sand paper people in my life.  It's always ready to forgive and give someone a second chance, a third chance and even a 40th chance.  We put the needs of others before ourselves because we have faith that God will take care of our needs.  We trust Him to fight our battles and bring justice to where need be.  We don't take matters into our own hands or seek revenge, or withdraw, or not forgive someone who has hurt us.


Here are some reasons we may have difficulty in denying ourselves:  Which ones do you find you can relate to?  And remember it's not about YOU...:) I say that with love and kindness but as a gentle reminder...


A. Self importance: If you walk into a gathering and you are wondering who will speak to you, who will notice you, who will remember your birthday or prayer request, you are choosing self importance.  Our job is to deny self importance and welcome the lonely, talk to the quiet person in the back or the woman all alone.  Listen to the ignored.  Sit by someone who is hurting and offer a hug.

B. Self occupation: If you arrive at a meeting with your list of people to see and things to do, you may be so self occupied that you ignore the hurting people around you or fail to hear a person telling you that she will have surgery the next day.  To deny self importance is to remember to say, "Hi, how are you doing?" Before blurting out a question such as, "Can you help with Bible school next week?"  Too often we only agree to help people when we are free to choose the time, the place and the way.  Sometimes, people  need help when we've already got plans.  Sometimes we have to skip our own To Do list and put another person ahead of it!


C. Self affection: If you overtalk about your vacation, achievements or family members at the expense of another's need to talk, you are allowing self-affection to ruin your listening skills.  How well do you listen? Do you listen for an opportunity to bring the talk back to yourself or do you listen to really understand the other person?


D. Self protection: If your ego wants to defend itself against criticism and correction, you are putting self-protection in the forefront.   When you are in the self protect mode you criticize the person who dared to criticize you (and sometimes we criticize people not to their face but behind their back or in our minds).


E. Self inspection: If you check your feelings to see if you should attend church, read the Bible or say yes to intimacy with your spouse, then you are letting your feelings override God's instructions. (Whoa!) How much wiser it is to check your decisions or commitments.  God calls us to live in obedience to His Word and His Spirit; He does not call you to obey your emotions.  Love is a verb.  Actions speak louder than words. 


F. Self sufficiency: God has decreed an interdependent lifestyle for believers.  We are members of one another (see 1 Corinthians 12:27) Is it difficult for you to allow another person to change a tire on your car if you have a backache, or bring you a meal after just having a baby, or to clean your house?  To deny self-suffciency is to admit that you need help and will receive it when offered.  Because then you miss out on the blessing of someone blessing you and you also hurt the person who was trying to bless you when you say no.


Can you think of more examples on this self denial list?


John 13: 34-35 says
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 13: 8-10
 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Think of all the reasons why you should be loving your neighbors as you love yourself:
Here are mine:
1. All people will know we are Jesus disciples by our love...
2. God loves us in this extravagant way
3. We fulfill God's law when we love others
4. We have a continuing debt to God to pay and that is a debt to love one another...now that is a debt I don't mind paying!!!

What can you do different today?

*Really listen to what people have to say when they are speaking to you.
* Be aware of other peoples emotional and physical needs above my own.
* Love others in an extravagant way.
* Get rid of my pride and allow other people to help me.
* Forgive again and again and don't keep score.
* When I go to church on Sunday or to the store with my kids really look for someone to bless  and even pray for God to put someone in my path.

Happy Tuesday!

Next Tuesday we will read and share about Ch. 3 Honoring One Another...it's a good one!




I have a dream...

As I look at my multi-racial family, part African American, part Italian, part French, part Irish, and the list goes on, I am thankful.

I am thankful because we live in a day where people are judged by the content of their character.

Yes there are still race issues and still struggles, but I am thankful because I am an example of someone who looked passed color of the skin, but right to the heart and I married someone who did the same.

We knew our races were different, but our love for each other was never based on color.  So, I am thankful for all the people during the civil rights movement, people like Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr who took a stand, who did brave things and who, above all, believed in a dream.

A dream that one day we would live in peace.  One day we wouldn't have to fight so hard to be equals.  One day we would see that we all have one Creator who loved us so much that he made us all in His image.  And what God creates is always good, Red and Yellow, Black and White, all are precious in His sight.

I am thankful that my children will be allowed to date outside their race, they will be allowed to play with children of all cultures and languages and backgrounds, they will learn about people from all walks of life, and ultimately they will look to see past the skin and straight to the heart.  This is my dream and I am thankful for all the men and women who never gave up hope.



“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

Saturday Recipe Swap--Whole Grain Spaghetti with garlicky kale and tomatoes

Last night we had a house full of family.  My mom and dad came over for dinner and so did my older sister Paletza.  The kids were beside themselves with all the tickling and playing.  Mark adores my dad--Granpa!! He calls his name until my dad picks him up and sings a song with his cute little deep voice.

Mark calls my mom Anma and makes a song about her too.  He's at the age where he can recognize them from a picture...as I type he is saying their names and singing!

Julia loves for everyone to visit her room and see her big girl bed and play with all her princess dolls and American girl dolls.  She got 3 bitty babies for Christmas...one bitty baby from Grandma Judy...she named her Sophie, and twin bitty babies for her birthday from Aunt Laurie which she named Brenna and Brody, when company comes over she shows them how she can change their outfits, put them in her bitty baby high chair and rock them to sleep.



While all this fun was happening I got to try out this new recipe from my Real Simple Magazine...so far this month I've tried 3 new recipes and they are all really good, can't wait to share them with you!

Ingredients you will need:

6 ounces of whole grain spaghetti (I just made the whole box because we had 5 adults and 2 kids to feed)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (using a red onion really gives it a special flavor, don't substitute)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
kosher salt, and black pepper
1 bunch of kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite sized pieces (about 8 cups, it's amazing to watch it all shrink down)
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds (we didn't use since my dad isn't a nut fan)
1/4 cup grated cheese (we used much more, being cheese lovers and all)

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta according to package.  Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water, drain pasta, and return pasta to pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, cook stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 4-5 min, Add the kale and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 2-3 min, Add tomatoes and cook tossing frequently, until they begin to soften, 1-2 min more.

3. Add kale mixture, almonds, cheese, and reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to combine.  Serve with additional cheese.

I bought a delicious loaf of crusty bread from Wegmans to go with the meal!  It was a hit!  My kids loved the spaghetti!!!

How do you do it? series...

A super special friend/faithful blog reader came over the other day and (she recently had a beautiful baby girl) asked me a lot of mommy questions.  She suggested a do a blog about some of the routines/things I do to survive mommy hood...so I wanted to pass along some ideas, tips, advice, godly wisdom, whatever you may call it, and remember just because these things work for me, doesn't mean they will work for you or that you will agree with my style or method but I did want to share.

Mommy Question #1 How do you take a shower with two little kids?

For me, taking a shower is a necessity.  It is imperative!  I don't feel ready to face the day til after my shower, if I had to choose between coffee and a shower, it'd be a shower!  And that is saying a lot because I love coffee.  As you know, I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and I don't feel comfortable leaving them alone together while I shower.  Since Julia was about 2 I've been leaving her alone to watch a video while I take my shower.   I would put Mark in his crib to either take a nap or play and I would shower.  Not a long luxurious shower, but a nice 5-10 minute one, do my hair, brush my teeth, and get dressed for the day.  As Mark has gotten older he now usually just snuggles with his blanket or stands and waits for me to get him, but both my kids know this routine and they both obey.  There is no tears, no fuss, Julia says, "Mom, you gotta take your shower?"  And I say, yes, let her pick a video and go.

Julia also sometimes goes to the potty on her own during this time, because I've heard the toilet flush and the door open and close...and I'm tickled pink that she is getting so independent.  Then she goes right back downstairs and waits for me.

Establishing a routine, sticking to it, and setting expectations for your kids is very important.  Don't feel like you can't take care of yourself because you have small children.  They are great at getting used to structure and being independent.

But, you also have to know your own kids well enough to say, "That wouldn't work for us."  If your child doesn't sit still during a video, or climbs out of their crib then this won't work for you, but maybe there are other options (like showering at night when Dad's home).  Whatever works for your family is what is best.

Tune in next Friday for: How do you have dinner ready and a clean house with little ones to care for?

Jesus Loves Me

Marky and I had a very tender moment as I sang Jesus loves me to him, like I do every night before bed, we held hands and danced and he said almost every word with me! 

It was so special to hear his tender little deep voice and not only did my heart melt, but I thought of our Father in heaven and how he must've been smiling and enjoying each word right along with me.

There is just an innocence and sincerity in a child and it is so sweet and so lovely.  It was a moment I wanted to last forever...

Jesus Loves you mark and so does mommy!

Happy Thursday everyone, and Happy Birthday to my Father in Law Jack, who is 61 this year, and my dearest and sweetest friend Christy H.!

Build a Bear Party for my Three Year old Princess

This is my best girl.  Still trying to grasp the fact that she is no longer a baby...at least once every day she goes, "Mom, I'm a big girl now? I'm not a baby anymore?"  And I wince and say, "yep, you're a big girl now...but your still my baby girl."  I constantly tell her, "Julia you are my favorite daughter (my only daughter) and now if she really likes someone she says, "Holly is my FAVORITE daughter!"  It's so funny.

This summer I got the idea to throw Julia a Build a Bear party...and back in September I booked it!  Julia's birthday is already a party, she was born on New Year's Eve, but I like to celebrate her once with us as a family and then with her little friends.


Here is a picture of Julia with her buddy Capri.  We've gone to library class together since the girls were less than 8 months old...we always try to get together for play dates and birthdays and Capri has a sister who is a few months younger than Mark.  So Pam and I have gotten close these past few years.  And obviously our girls have, just look at them!  It's amazing how moms become friends because of their kids, I love it!



At build a bear we got there before our guests arrived and Julia and Mark had fun checking the place out and playing with the toys.


I know I am completely biased...but is he not the CUTEST thing since sliced bread???



Julia had 9 of her friends come, some sat with their parents and others sat around the build a bear hostess listening about how to build their bear.

This is my dear friend Rayna, my roommate from college, the only other Christian I met my first weekend there, and the only one who wouldn't drink and party.  We got close super fast and God blessed us and kept us close throughout the years.  Rayna has 4 boys and just adopted 2 year old Veronica on her lap.  We enjoy thoroughly spoiling Veronica!!!  And Rayna and I enjoy lots of coffee while the kids play!

Julia chose a vanilla looking bear and named it Snoofy...don't ask where she got that name from, I have no idea...I'm thinking its from Charlie brown, but she kept reminding me it was Snoofy not Snoopy.

Thank you Brenna, Brody, JoJo, Caprina, Siena, Veronica, Tamara, Henry, Madison, and Melanee (and Marky) for helping us celebrate Julia's special day!!!

Each child went home with some home made Star cookies from Miss Julia Star, and red polka-dotted bows for the girls (made by a friend from High School) and of course their very own bear!!!

I'm already thinking about ideas for next year...

Building Better Relationships Chapter 1

My lovely sister Sara, and me...about 5 years ago.
This week begins my new Bible Study Women of the Word series on Building Better Relationships.

I will be teaching this short little book to my Bible study group in February through April, but you guys (my blogger buddies) get a head start!!!  Plus this will be good for me to review what I've already read and will hopefully give me some practice on the material ahead of time.

This mini Bible Study couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  Gina, my co-teacher suggested this book and I purchased in November and dove right in.

At the time I was really struggling with two relationships and I really needed a heart change and a new perspective.  Of course at the time all I could see was my view, and how right I was and how wrong the other parties were, but God always has a way of bringing up the real heart of the matter and the real issue, and of course it was me who needed to change.  I hate when that happens, just kidding...I'm very glad now that it happened.  After many tears, lots of built up anger, lost pounds and lost sleep (I mean who can really enjoy their food or enjoy a good night's rest when they have unresolved anger and hurt feelings?)

Finally, it got to the point where the holidays were miserable (not with my immediate family) and I was miserable and I was dreading even celebrating the holidays.  Well, Christmas came and went and still there was no peace...not until I fully LET it GO.  Do you know what I mean by LET it GO?  I mean give up all your reasons for being angry.  Give up all your rights.  Give up all your perspectives, and just start imagining your self in the other person's shoes.  I mean really put yourself there.  And just let it go.  I had to realize that when Christ said, "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me" it means that whatever I'm holding on to I need to let go, my hands need to be empty, and then all I have to do is grab onto Christ and follow Him.

Sometimes that even means if you are right.  Sometimes you can be right and still be wrong if you don't have a peace about the situation, if you are still angry, still putting up walls to be safe, still hiding, still fearful, still dreading holiday get togethers, then maybe there is something you need to let go of, and just grab on to Him for strength.  I can tell you for an absolute fact, the minute that you start obeying God you feel better, you breathe easier, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach goes away, and somehow as you pray God just fills you with His love, and His peace, and honestly I started loving those very same people who I was so hurt and angry at, and I was like, "Now where did that come from?"  God!!!

Chapter 1: Building Right Relationships

How would you define a right relationship?

Here's my answer: A right relationship is built on trust and love and a chosen desire to honor God no matter what.  In this relationship you feel comfortable to be yourself because the person knows you. faults and all, and continues to celebrate the wonderfully and fearfully made human that God has made you to be.   The person sees past your mistakes, forgives you when you mess up, and allows you to be you without critique or judgment.

Author's answer: A right relationship is an open-armed approach to every person in my life, regardless of the way he or she treats me.  In such a relationship, I feel no sense of separation, no unforgiven hurts, no underlying problems I refuse to discuss or choose to ignore.  I am at peace with everyone as far as it depends on me (Romans 12:18)

After I read the author's answer I knew I needed this Bible Study!!!

"Relationship problems end in separation when we refuse to work on changing our emotional responses to those who hurt us.  It is virtually impossible to feel our way to new actions.  If we wait until we feel loving before talking with the offending friend, the one who is slighted us or the parent who gave us less love than we think we deserved, we will probably never respond.  And the fire of love and friendship will be replaced with the smoldering ashes of bitterness."   See what I mean??? She's awesome!

Scripture reminds us that even the pagans love those who love them.  We are to love those who hate us and use us (Matthew 5:44)  Oh do we need His help, or what???

Love is a verb.  It is an action word. Agapao

Romans 12: 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another.
Romans 12: 13 Distributing to the needs with God's people.
Romans 12: 14 Bless and do not curse.
Romans 15: 1 Bear the failings of the weak.
2 Corinthians 13: 12 Greet with a kiss.
Galatians 5: 13 Serve one another.
Ephesians 5: 21 Submitting to one another.
Colossians 3: 13 Bearing with each other and forgiving each other.
1 Thessalonians 5: 11 Comfort one another and edify each other.
James 5: 16 Pray for each other.

The chapter ends with a quiz...and let me just tell you, it was a hard quiz because of course you have to be honest with yourself, and when you start to see your short comings it is not easy.  I saw far too many 3's and 4 and realize my heart needs a change...here are a few of the questions:

Place the number that best describes how often you engage in the behavior.

1- Almost Always
2-With few exceptions
3-Usually
4-Occasionally
5-Rarely
6-Never

1. ____ I make myself move toward a person who has hurt me, as opposed to withdrawing. (Romans 12:17)

2. ____ I forgive people when they hurt me, even if they do not admit their wrongs or ask to be forgiven (Colossians 3:13)

3. ____ I go to other people as soon as I realize I have hurt or upset them and ask to be forgiven (Matthew 5: 23-24)

4. ____ I attribute good motives to people when they hurt me ("I'm sure they meant me no harm") as opposed to deciding someone has deliberately hurt me (1 Cor 13: 6-7)

5. ___ I receive criticism without attacking the person criticizing me and/or defending myself (Matthew 5: 11)

(If you are interested in seeing the rest of the 15 questions, I can email you the list...just ask)

In what areas do you most need to grow in obedience to God's relationship commandments?  Share this with one other person, and pray for one another.

Choose the  most troubling relationship in your life at this time.  Ask God to show you where you have failed to love this person God's way.  Confess it and ask God to show you how to express love to this difficult family member, friend, or acquaintance.  Wait upon the Lord and listen.

Happy Tuesday!  Chapter 2 will be next Tuesday!

5 Random Things About Me


I got this fun idea from my buddy Mikalah...visit her blog, she is truly wonderful!!!

Here goes...

1. I try to never ever repeat the same outfit twice...back in middle school and high school I actually took the time to plan my outfits ahead on paper and enjoyed mixing and matching my clothes...hence my love for fashion began.

2. I married my high school sweetheart.  We met in Junior High right after our two high schools merged Madison Central and Cedar Ridge (big rivals) became Old Bridge High School.  Since we had a class of about 600 students I didn't even notice my lovely husband to be (but apparently he noticed me every morning in home room when I would read the announcements out loud with a smile and enthusiasm).  We began dating on Feb 28th and the 28th of every month he put a red rose in my locker!

3. I love to read.  Reading has always been a fun escape for me to be a part of someone else's world and live "their life" for a few hours.  I enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks novels and Karen Kingsbury, and my new favorite author of a Christian Amish series is Shelley Shepard Gray.  During nap time I have a choice between my three favorite things (prep dinner for my family, read a novel, or do an exercise video) and if I'm lucky I sometimes sneak all three of them in during the two hours I have while the kids are fast asleep.

4. I enjoy museum hopping!  John and I used to visit a new museum every weekend when we had a freer lifestyle (with kids you can sometimes be a bit limited, but I can't wait to share this joy with my guys as they get older)  We've been to museums all over the world and especially the ones close by like in Philadelphia and NYC.  I love being able to stroll into each gallery and learn about the history of the sculptures the paintings and the past cultures.  I love seeing how people used to live and survive on so little.  I love seeing the artwork and the colors and the prints of the clothing.  I love holding John's hand and just being silly with him, and taking photos of our favorite pieces.

5. My top two favorite drinks are coffee and lemonade, but lately I've been drinking a lot of herbal tea and water.  I think it has been due to all the working out I've been doing!  I'm excited to be back in shape and in the part of my life where exercise is just part of my day and not a chore.  I look forward to doing a different amount of miles or type of aerobic video.  I adore Denise Austin and Leslie Sansone.  I have almost all of their videos and DVDs...my kids know them by name because we see them almost every day!

New Year Saturday Recipe Swap 2011

It's been so cold these past few weeks and the McInerneys love to have soup or stew, or even a nice stoup to keep us warm and cozy (and a nice fresh, crusty, Italian loaf always goes well).

Today's Saturday Recipe Swap is Pasta Fagioli!  I got this from my Family Circle Feb 2011 magazine and it is sure to please everyone!

Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
2 cans (14.5 oz each) reduced sodium chicken broth
8 ounces (about 2 cups) small pasta shells (very very fun for toddlers to pick out and eat)
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 bunch of fresh kale (sooooooo good for you) tough stems discarded, cut into 1 inch pieces and washed
2 cans small white beans, drained, and rinsed (we macs love love love beans)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
lots and lots of grated parmesan cheese for serving on top (another mac favorite, what can I say, we love cheese)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over med. heat.  Add onion and cook for 5 min.  Add garlic cook 1 min.
2. Stir in tomatoes, broth and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Add pasta and italian seasoning.  Cook stirring for 5 min.
3. Stir in kale, cook 5 min more.  Reduce heat to med. and stir in beans and tomato paste, salt and pepper.  heat through
4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan!

Bon Apetit!!!

Serve with love from the Macs :)

Me, Julia, and Charlotte's Web

One of my favorite things to do as a classroom teacher was to read to my students.  Part of it is the Theater major in me because I got to act out the book and use different voices (which the kids always got a kick out of) and another part was that me and the class bonded in this special way that only a reader can explain.  We experienced the highs and lows of the book...we laughed together, and even cried together...sharing a book with another person is just the neatest way to share your heart.

Since Julia has a new room and a new bed, and is now 3 year's old with a much longer attention span, I've been noticing for the past few weeks that she isn't quite ready to go to bed when its time, the way she used to.  She keeps saying, "Read another one, mommy.  Lay with me mommy, sit here daddy."  She doesn't want story time to end because then she is alone in her room and I think sometimes it frightens her...so right after the New Year, I had a great idea...I thought to myself, I think it's time for Julia and I to start our very first novel together.  And immediately, I mean there wasn't any hesitation, Charlotte's Web came to mind, I mean I loved that book as a kid, we've seen the movie a hundred times as a family, and we love Fern, Wilbur and all the barn yard animals, so...why not read the book!

So Sunday night while we cleaned up the room, said our prayers, and put Marky to bed, John and I climbed into Julia's bed, we all sat pretzel style and we read the first chapter, and she LOVED it.  It really helps that there are pictures in our book too.  Julia asks a lot of questions as we read, "Why is her face sad?, is her dad mad?, What's that in his hand? awww look at the pigs milk!"  Last night I thought we'd do another chapter, but instead we did THREE!  She sits and sucks her thumb and mommy reads and reads using all different voices for each character.

John came home around 8:15 last night and saw us snuggled in her bed reading, she asked John to read for a bit, and then quickly changed her mind and said, "No mommy you read."  And John goes, "I know mommy reads better. " and julia goes, "yea!"  It made me smile.  I'm loving this extra bonding time we have and I can't wait to read more each night!

This year is all about taking these special moments, bonding with my children, and taking time to invest in getting to know who they are and letting them see who I am.  I love it.

New Year's List

Revelation 21:5 "Behold I make all things new..."
Happy New Year 2011

John and I are SO thankful for a NEW year and a NEW start.  Last year was one of our toughest years.  Nothing bad happened, but there were just so many changes, and so much waiting on certain things, but we found that God drew us closer and we know God has a purpose and it was all for a reason.

Think about all the things that God has made NEW in your life.  Has He given you a NEW heart? Are His mercies NEW every morning? If you are married, has He given you a NEW family (no longer clinging to mom and dad, but now cleaving to husband)?  Do you have a NEW home?  A NEW job? A NEW opportunity?  A NEW relationship?  He makes all things NEW!  One of my favorite months of the year is September because I feel like (as a teacher for the past 7 years before my kids came) the Fall signals a NEW year and a NEW start.  But now that I'm home, January is becoming another favorite month because

This year I want to make a commitment to myself and my family to spend more quality time with everyone and less rushing from thing to thing and over extending myself.  While my kids need me so much and are so young I really want their memories of mommy during this time to be a fun mommy, not a stressed, worn-out, burnt out mommy.

Here are some things NEW that I will be doing this year...

* Date nights will be put on the calendar!  And at least 1 date outside the home each month! (a big deal once you have little ones and have to find a sitter)

* Trying at least two new recipes or more a month.

* Beginning to cutback my commitments in ministry at church, since I do: nursery, beginner church, Sunday school, and ladies Bible study, not to mention being on the women ministry team.

* Now that all my scrapbooking materials are downstairs and in an accessible space (not upstairs in Mark's room which did me no good since when he slept and I had time to scrapbook he was in there) beginning to scrapbook my kids birthday books.

* Blogging less and not feeling bad about it!

I'm really excited about this year.  I look forward to more family time, less stress, and using my creativity and energy with those that God has blessed me with!

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