Friday, October 31, 2008

fPhoto Friday - God's Spectacular Handiwork

It was the season of Autumn that prompted me to begin carrying my camera everywhere. These are images I captured in and around my hometown, as I ran my weekly errands. God's incredible artistry is breathtaking! Hope you enjoy!
These photos were taken with my Canon Powershot A610 (point & shoot digital).
For more fPhoto Friday posts, visit Natalie at Married to the Preacher.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prayer and The Election

Some of you may have already seen this very powerful video about the importance and each and every vote. No doubt many of you are (and have been) in prayer for the upcoming election. I know we all grow weary of hearing such a constant barrage of election news, but it can’t be said too much…Pray, Pray, Pray and then please Vote next Tuesday, November 4th.

...O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!
~2 Chronicles 20:6 (NLT)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Word-Filled Wednesday

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Congratulations are in Order!

Thank you for all your sweet comments...they truly warmed my heart!

...the winner of the Willow Tree Friendship Angel is....
When I drew her name, I had to laugh because only a couple of weeks ago, I won her drawing! For those of you who haven't yet met Susan, please take a few moments to stop by her blog. She is one of the most precious ladies you''ll ever want to meet. She radiates God's love in abundance, as does her blog. Congratulations, sweet one!
Thanks again to all of you for your kind friendship, and for celebrating with me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Celebrate with Me!

I'm excited to say today marks a bit of a's my 100th post!!! I had no clue, when I stumbled upon blogging (via Beth Moore) just how much it would impact my life!

My Cup Runneth Over was born out of an earnest prayer to share God's love and encouragement with others.

For quite some time, I had sensed a longing to reach beyond those I was encountering on a daily basis -- at work, on my bus, in my neighborhood, even at my church.
So many people are hurting, and in need of God's love...through a smile, a kind word or gesture, or taking the time to pray. My heart (whose blessings are many) overflows with joy and gratitude, and longs to serve the Lord, by serving others, and that certainly includes you! That is why I started blogging, and that remains the same today, 100 posts later!

What I never expected, however, was how much you, in turn would share God's love and encouragement with me! Far beyond have challenged me, humbled me, rejoiced with me, prayed for me, overwhelmed me with your kindness and generosity, and strengthened me by your example. Most of all, you've helped me love Jesus more than ever before. Thank you. I am beyond humbled you have made me a small part of your life. I am truly overflowing with gratitude that God has made you a part of mine.

Though we may never have the opportunity to meet face-to-face (in this lifetime), just wait until we all get to Heaven! Can you imagine!? Wow!

I want to celebrate by sharing this Willow Tree Friendship Angel with one of you. I wish I could give one to each of you, but alas the budget dictates that I only have one. Please leave a comment between now and Monday evening (10/27) at midnight. I will draw a name and post the winner on Tuesday.

With love overflowing,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Word-Filled Wednesday


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Food for Friday

I have two more awesome fall recipes for you today. Easy Pumpkin Swirl (aka Pumpkin Roll) from my friend, Sue and Chicken & Wild Rice Soup from my friend, Cindy. I tasted both for the first time when they brought them to an an all-day fall scrapbooking event we were attending. They're both WONDERFUL! (The recipes and the friends.)

Easy Pumpkin Swirl

¾ cup Pioneer or Bisquick Baking Mix
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup chopped nuts (I use about ½ cup chopped pecans, chopped very fine)
2 tsps. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
½ tsp. Nutmeg

Beat together: 1 cup powdered sugar, 8 oz. cream cheese, 6 Tblspoons of butter or margarine, 1 tsp. vanilla until smooth.

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15x10x1 jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet works just fine, too!) Line top and sides with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper.
- Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in dry ingredients.
- Pour into pan, spread evenly, sprinkle with nuts.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes
- Invert onto a clean tea towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off wax paper. Roll up cake and towel together, from the short side. Please seam side down to cool. Cool completely.
- Once cool, unroll cake. Spread with filling. (FYI...when you unroll the cake, it will most likely crack in several places. Go ahead and put filling on the cake as best as you can, then reroll it.) Move the roll onto a large sheet of foil, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and wrap it tightly before refrigerating. (Somehow, after it gets cold, it looks just fine.) When ready to slice and serve, you may want to sprinkle lightly once again with powdered sugar. (This will cover any remaining imperfections there may be).
Yield: 10 - 1” slices. Positively divine!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

1 medium onion (chopped)
10 oz. fresh mushrooms (sliced)
6 Tblspoons butter
8 oz. wild rice – cooked
½ cup flour
4-6 cans of chicken broth (I typically use 4 cans)
2 cups half & half
½ lb. Velveeta cheese (I use lowfat)
4 chicken breasts – cooked and chopped
¼ cup white cooking wine

Saute onion & mushrooms in butter until onion is transparent. Add flour, stir and add 1 can broth. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add remainder of broth, chicken, rice, cheese & wine. Lastly, add the half & half. This is a great quick fix dinner, but also works very well in the crockpot. (Garnish, if desired with parsley or tarragon.) Absolutely delicious!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Photos from Google images)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Are You Broken?

As I read the devotion for yesterday in Streams in the Desert, it spoke so deeply to my heart, I wanted to share a portion of it with you today…

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17 NLT)

Those people God uses most to bring glory to Himself are those who are completely broken…

… It was once the poor widow broke the seal on her only remaining jar of oil and began to pour it that God miraculously multiplied it to pay her debts and thereby supplied her means of support. (2 Kings 4:1-7)

It was not until Esther risked her life and broke through the strict laws of a heathen king’s court that she obtained favor to rescue her people from death (Esther 4:16)

It was once Jesus took “the five loaves…and broke them” (Luke 9:16) that the bread was multiplied to feed the five thousand. Through the very process of the loaves being broken, the miracle occurred. It was when Mary broke her beautiful “alabaster jar of very expensive perfume” (Matthew 26:7), destroying its future usefulness and value, that the wonderful fragrance filled the house. And it was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken by thorns, nails, and a spear that His inner life was poured out like an ocean of crystal-clear water, for thirsty sinners to drink and then live.

It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels.

Those who have been gripped by the power of the Holy Spirit and are used for God’s glory are those who have been broken in their finances, in their self-will, in their ambitions, in their lofty ideals, in their worldly reputation, in their desires, and often in their health. Yes, He uses those who are despised by the world and who seem totally hopeless and helpless, just as Isaiah said: “even the lame will carry off plunder.” (Isaiah 33:23 NIV)

# # # #

Gracious Father, how deeply I need to embrace brokenness. So often Lord, I hold tightly to the very thing that could free your Holy Spirit to do its greatest work in my life. Help me Lord, to relinquish any fear of being broken for Your glory. May I remember your faithfulness to me in times past, and may I trust you with a fearless, humble and repentant heart, available for the breaking that will most reveal Your glory. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Word-Filled Wednesday


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Family Fun + Sweet Deals = Great Weekend!

Greetings! Hope this finds you well. I had hoped to have this posted yesterday, but didn't quite make it! We had an absolute blast with my nieces and nephews this past weekend. We were joined by Brennan’s sweetheart, Brianna and her Mom. (My nieces were absolutely thrilled because they adore Bri.) In between watching (not-so) spooky movies, we enjoyed fun party food, made oreo spiders, danced around like crazy, then later, decorated pumpkins (a bit too early in the month to carve them). It was awesome to hear such joy and laughter in our house (that has been far too quiet lately!)

These are my nieces, Blaire and Jordyn with Bri.
The oreo spiders we made were so cute. I especially got a kick out of Bri’s. She sent this picture to Brennan from her phone (so sweet!)

Blaire with her pumpkin…crazy and creative…just like her!

Josh, who’s all boy and who loves “scary stuff,” made his the Joker from Batman.

Girly-girl Jordyn made a Little Bo Peep pumpkin. With a little help from Bri’s Mom, Lisa, she even painted a little sheep on the back. Adorable!
Sweet, sweet guys…Blake & Josh

The only thing that could have made Saturday any better would have been having Brennan and Brooke (my other niece) there, too! It was a great time for all of us. Looking forward to having them over again...soon! ☺

Sunday was fun in a completely different way. After preparing lunch, I exercised my preferred method of "good stewardship" by taking a trip to my favorite thrift store! I first began shopping at thrift stores when Brennan was a baby. It’s positively crazy the kind of deals you can get. These were my finds for the day...So that you can fully appreciate what you see in this photo, here is a rundown:

Red corduroy button down (Eddie Bauer)
Charcoal gray (wool) cardigan sweater
Red cowl neck sweater (Coldwater Creek)
Black cardigan sweater
Ivory pullover sweater
Navy Blue (Naturalizer) Shoes (still with department store price tags)
Warren Kimble Americana Snowman Plate (ltd edition, still in box)
3 Assorted Flower Vases
You need to know I'm not really a label girl. I simply look for clothes I like, that fit and will work with what I already have. I do however, get especially excited when I realize I've chosen something that happens to be a really nice brand for a ridiculously low price. Wanna guess how much I spent?


Hard to believe, isn't it? With everyone tightening their belt economically, there is no better time to check out a thrift or consignment store in your area. You can cut your clothing cost in half, and sometimes even to a fourth! Who couldn't benefit from that kind of savings!?

Part of the fun (for me) is truly the hunt. My absolute favorite of all finds a few summers back was a London Fog trenchcoat (with zip-out winter lining) that looked like brand new...for $2.00!!! Not a thing was wrong with it, in fact I've worn it for three winters now! Amazing! Are you a thrift or consignment store shopper? I'd love to hear what treasures you've found.

Better run! Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food for Friday

Greetings! It's a gorgeous day here in the Midwest and more of the same is forecast for the weekend. ☺ Looking forward to that! We're having our nieces and nephews over tomorrow to watch (not so) spooky movies, decorate pumpkins & eat fun foods. Tom and I are like big kids ourselves so we can't wait! What are your plans for this weekend??

I'm sharing two recipes today. The first is Chocolate Zucchini Bread. Not a fan of zucchini? We aren't either, but I'm telling you...this is one of the best breads...ever! The outside gets a wonderful crust and the inside is moist and absolutely tastes nothing like zucchini. This is my friend Pam's recipe. She and I have worked together for many years and she's an amazing cook!

Next, since fall is a perfect season for soup, I'm sharing a delicious recipe for Hearty Chicken-Vegetable Soup that I just made for the first time this week. It's wonderful! I literally put it together late one evening in about 20 minutes (start to finish). The next day, it easily went from fridge to crock pot. With our first taste, it became an instant favorite. I found it in a Weight Watcher's cookbook called "Best Eats." Besides being packed with great flavor (broth is like minestrone), it's very healthy and LOW IN FAT! Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread 2 cups grated zucchini
1 ½ cups oil
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. chocolate (unsweetened) melted
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder

Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl. Add oil and vanilla, mix well. Add to this the grated zucchini and melted chocolate, mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to zucchini mixture. Grease and flour two loaf pans; fill with batter. Bake at 350 for 50-65 minutes.

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup
3 (14 ounce) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 (14 ½ ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 zucchini, diced (I omitted this)
¾ cup elbow macaroni (I used no yolk egg noodles)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Bring broth and tomatoes to boil in large saucepan. Add the carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, macaroni and garlic, return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Increase the heat to medium-high; add the chicken, parsley, salt and pepper. Return to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. (If you're on WW, this is only 2 points per 1 1/4 cup serving!)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings - by Tony Snow

A friend recently shared this moving essay by Tony Snow. You may or may not know the former White House Press Secretary was a devout Christian. This was his response when asked what spiritual lessons he had learned from his fight with cancer. It was published in Christianity Today in July of 2007. In July of this year, he passed away at the age of 53. It is quite long, but truly one of the most beautiful, impacting, faith-filled testimonies I've ever read. If you or someone you love currently has cancer, or if you've previously lost someone you love to cancer, I pray this will be an encouragement.

# # # # #

'Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, in my case - cancer.

Those of us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America today -find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence 'What It All Means,' scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the 'why' questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths began to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But, despite this, or because of it, God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life - and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non-believing hearts, an institution that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, exuberantly - no matter how their days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

'You Have Been Called'
Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet, a loved one holds your hand at the side. 'It's cancer,' the healer announces.

The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. 'Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.' But another voice whispers: 'You have been called.' Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter, and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our 'normal time.'

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived, an inexplicable shudder of excitement as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world and comtemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes ( Spain ), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.

There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the Holy City. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.

We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquired purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.

'Learning How to Live'
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.

I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He restrained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. 'I'm going to try to beat [this cancer],' he told me several months before he died. 'But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side.'

His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, and that one can, in the throes of sickness, point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, He throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.

It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, to speak of us!

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.

What is man that Thou are mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand.'

Friday, October 3, 2008

Food For Friday

Here in the midwest, fall has definitely arrived! Last night, we went to our nephew's football game immediately after work and we were FREEZING in the stands! Even those dressed in sweaters & sweatshirts were cold! (I must admit it was quite nice to be snuggled extra close to my hubby as we both were trying to warm up!) We truly love the fall season. The leaves here this week have really started to's so beautiful! (Oh, and my nephew's team won -- woohoo!)

Kim from Seasons of my Heart and a few of her friends take part in "Food for Friday" so I decided to jump on the bandwagon to share some of our fall favorites, too! Today's recipe comes from our lovely friend, Susan Sumner. She was a former neighbor, and one we just adore! I think of her each time I make this. It is WONDERFUL and seemingly foolproof. (I've made many times and it always turns out yummy!)

Pumpkin Bread
(makes 3 loaves)

3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1 reg. size can of pumpkin
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/3 cups of flour

Oatmeal or Sliced Almonds (optional)

Pour batter into 3 greased and floured loaf pans. If you'd like, sprinkle on a little oatmeal or a few sliced almonds on top. Bake for approximately 90 minutes at 325 degrees (or when toothpick inserted comes out clean). As you might have guessed, this is not low-fat...but it is DELICIOUS! Enjoy!

Happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Word-Filled Wednesday

I've known since early Monday morning what I planned to share today. I was reading my daily Bible, disappointed in myself for falling a few days behind (I was then reading the passages for Friday, 9/26). That morning found me in Isaiah 43. As my eyes fell upon this portion, these words seemed to be highlighted-in-neon, bold print and underscored:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past;
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."

I read this phrase over and over. I finished my quiet time encouraged and at peace, thinking in God's perfect timing, I was intended to read that on Monday. I say that because in the hours before bed on Sunday, I was praying about something I’ve prayed over for years. It was one of those moments I just felt so weary, deep within my heart. I suspect you've been there too. You pray about something for so long, yet see no evidence of change. And though you haven't "given up," you sometimes surrender to the discouragement. Tears falling, heart aching...I was there.

Had any doubt remained that God intended that truth for me on Monday, it disappeared soon after I arrived at work. As I began checking e-mail, a devotional message I receive regularly arrived. (You're probably smiling now, knowing where this is going...) Bet you can guess what scripture was the basis for that devotional message...yep. Then, later that same morning (because God knows I sometimes need a virtual 2 x 4 to the forehead), I received a message from a friend, quoting yes, this same scripture! Wow! Got it, Lord! You can bet this week, I'm praying with renewed purpose and excitement about this long-standing desire of my heart. Thank you sweet Father, for this undeniable encouragement from your Word. I praise you that you love us enough to show us these glimpses when our faith begins to wane.

Where does this find you? Is there something that's burdened your heart far too long? Are you discouraged and hurting today, looking with human eyes at what seems like a hopeless situation? I pray as you read and ponder this promise from our Lord, you too will be encouraged. Keep trusting, believing and resting in Him. He is able, but even more importantly, He is faithful.

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