Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prayer Request for my Dad, Clyde

Could you take a moment to lift a prayer for my Dad? He's a carpenter and while working yesterday, fell from a scaffold onto the homeowner's driveway. He broke his heels…one in two places, the other is shattered. Both will require surgery. He was admitted to a local hospital where they now have his pain under control, but he has major swelling. Apparently, they cannot operate until it's gone down somewhat. (They're saying it could be 5 days before that happens.) We've been told recovery from the surgery will be rather lengthy.

There are lots of questions and concerns looming ahead (Dad is self-employed, won't be able to drive or work for quite some time, Mom doesn't drive and isn't in the best of health, Dad already tends toward depression, etc.) but we know and believe God is in control. This is all part of His plan. There is truly a measure of comfort in that! We are also grateful his injuries are not more severe...he could have broken his legs, his back, his neck or even worse.
We are of course bringing his case to the Great Physician and trusting Him for the best possible outcome. I would be most grateful if you would, too. Thank you.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day - 2009

Remember to honor our fallen heroes.
Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
~John 15:13

(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Favorite Family Recipe!

I hesitated to title this post with the name of the dish because if you’re like me, you might have passed on by. Let me explain. About 10 years ago, Tom and I tried the Sugarbusters Diet (very similar to Atkins). We read the book, which happened to contain lots of recipes. Well, the diet worked for awhile, but since neither of us cared to give up sugar permanently, the pounds eventually returned. Interestingly, a couple of the recipes we made became family favorites and we still make them. This recipe is for Stuffed Green Peppers…wait! You don’t like them? It’s ok…we don’t either. We made them for the first time and discovered we loved the filling, just hated the taste of baked peppers. Next time, we simply made the filling. It was perfect! We’ve been making it this way ever since.

We enjoy it year round…in the winter served with steamed broccoli, it’s like comfort food…when the weather is hot, we serve it with a cool salad, and it’s a wonderful, light summer dinner. It’s very healthy (uses ground sirloin and brown rice) and loaded with flavor. I’ve never shared this recipe with anyone who didn’t LOVE it! Hope you do, too (however you choose to make it)!

Stuffed Green Peppers
(makes 10 stuffed peppers
or 5 generous servings of filling)

10 medium green bell peppers
1 ½ cups onion, chopped
2 lbs ground sirloin beef
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I typically omit)
2 tbsp. parsley, minced
1 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (I used petite diced)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (I use reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 (this is only necessary if you plan to make it as stuffed peppers). Slice off tops of green peppers. Remove seeds and membranes and wash peppers under cold water. Set aside. In a large, heavy skillet, over medium heat, sauté onions and ground sirloin beef in oil until brown. Add parsley, garlic, thyme, basil, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes, continuing to stir. Drain the chopped tomatoes and add to the mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Add the cooked brown rice and mix well. Cover skillet and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture. Place them in a 9 x 12 Pyrex pan to which 1 inch of hot water has been added. Cover pan with foil and bake 45 minutes or until peppers are soft and tender (remove foil for last 10 minutes to allow tops to brown.)

Additional notes…
1) If you choose to make it like we do, it’s ready to eat after the Parmesan cheese is baking necessary.
2) If someone in your house doesn’t like diced tomatoes, substitute the same amount of tomato sauce or puree. Gives the same flavor, without the added texture.
3) Put your rice on to cook first…otherwise, you’ll be waiting for it when the meat mixture is finished.
4) I brown my ground sirloin and onions in bulk and freeze them in Ziplocs in 2 pound increments. Makes an already quick fix dinner, even faster!

I'd love to hear from you if you try this. Happy weekend everyone!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

I realized it's been awhile since I shared my thrifty finds. You all know how much I love a good deal! I've found quite a few over the last several weeks. I'm having technical difficulties with posting photos for some reason, but I managed to get a few saved. (The rest will have to wait for another day.)
I absolutely fell in love with this large domed serving dish. I've been searching long and hard for a dome...this one is very pretty. I can use it on another base or with this. It's nice, heavy glass. This was $2.50!!!

Got this little fluer de lis for .50 cents! I think it's made of plaster...had a like new SteinMart tag on the bottom showing $6.99! I will probably spray paint it brown or black.

I fell in love with this cute little purse. It seems very well-made and the strap length is perfect...even better was the $3.00 price tag!

I got even more excited when I looked was just as adorable as the outside!

Last but not least...these finds might just be my favorite as of late. My Mom & I went to a Crafters Garage Sale a couple of weeks! I had to exercise extreme restraint, both for the sake of my budget and also to leave some goodies for other customers! It was crazy the deals they had. All sorts of Stampin' Up sets for $1.00!!!! Two unused rub on alphabets sets with $9.99 price tags for $1.00! Cute Christmas and Valentine fabric for .50 each. Bins of ribbons by color for .25 per was crazy!!! I've already used some of the stamps.

Hope you've enjoyed checking out a few of my recent treasures. (I'm hoping to visit a yard sale or two this weekend.) Want to see more thrifty treasures? Stop by and see Leigh and Holly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Millie's Surprise Birthday Celebration

Good morning! Hope this Tuesday finds you well. Just wanted to share a photo of our most recent birthday girl. Sunday, my Mother-in-law, Millie celebrated her 89th birthday! Is she not just adorable? Tom's sister, Nancy planned a wonderful surprise dinner at her favorite restaurant. It was a rather small group…Tom’s parents, their children and spouses and two of their very close friends - 10 of us in all. She was definitely surprised and relished every moment as the guest of honor (as you can see by her crown). She looked lovely (as always), and in my humble opinion, nowhere near her age. = )

How we love this spirited little lady and we thank God for the blessing of another year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge #10

Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

Greetings, sweet friends!

If you're a frequent reader, you know I'm taking part in the 2009 Scripture Memory Challenge with Beth Moore (and a few thousand others!) For those who may be unfamiliar...twice a month (the 1st & 15th), we've committed to memorize (or attempt to memorize) a new passage of scripture. Each time, Beth shares the verse of her choosing. We are welcome to memorize hers , or we can select one of our own. Up until now, my verses have been of my choosing. In fact, today I had a verse already in mind. However, when I read Beth's scripture, it struck a chord deep in my heart and I knew this was one I needed to memorize.

As she explained, there are many instances in God's Word where He tells us we are not to forget what He has done. It's sadly so easy to least for me. I've experienced some absolutely incredible answers to prayer in my life. I've received blessings beyond comprehension. I've watched God's hand change situations I thought were utterly unchangeable. Even so...over time I begin to forget.

I have such respect for those who keep journals. I always intended to do that, I just never did. I believe that's why blogging is so close to my heart. As God stirs my recollection of some of the blessings I've experienced, it provides an avenue by which to share them. Each retelling has the potential for encouraging others who may be walking a similar path. But God's divine design provides yet another benefit. Reliving stories of my faith creates in me a renewed sense of trust and awe for my Savior as I remember His faithfulness. That's a worthy remembering, indeed.

God's Story is certainly worth telling, but so is yours. It's not just your conversion story that speaks of God's work within you. If you're a believer, everyday life provides examples of God's faithfulness through His provision, guidance, love and protection. If you aren't journaling or blogging, can I challenge you to do so? There are lives that can be forever changed by the stories God has given you, including your own.

It's never too late to take part in the 2009 Scripture Memory Challenge. If you're interested, stop by Beth Moore's blog.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

200th Post Giveaway Winner Is...

~ ~ ~ ~
Kim of Happy @ Home!!!

I discovered her blog a couple of months ago and really enjoy my visits there. It's a wonderful spot with loads of inspiration for your home...gardening, baking, decorating and thrift store shopping (just to name a few). Stop by and see for yourself!

Thanks for taking part in the giveaway. I absolutely LOVED reading all your stories of sweetness! As to reading about your favorite chocolate treats...pure bliss! ; ) LOL!

Congratulations Kim! Please e-mail me via my profile with your mailing address so I can send your goodies on their way!

Monday, May 11, 2009

200th Post! It Must be Time for a Giveaway! = )

Blessings on this Monday morning! I'm quite amazed to tell you today marks my 200th post! Who would have thought I would have so much to say!? Since occasions such as this one are special, I'm celebrating with a little giveaway.

First, this darling red apron with polka dots, rick-rack trim and a scalloped edge. Whether you wear it daily as you prepare meals for your family, or save it for a special event, you'll be the cutest cook in town! Next, is a charming decorative plate with a wonderful reminder to "Sweeten Each Day with Love." Don't you love that? What good advice for all of us.

One of the best ways I know to sweeten someones day is to surprise them with a little plate of home-made treats. What kind of treats? (I'm so glad you asked!) Chocolate, of course! How about this sweet little cookbook of all things Chocolate from Gooseberry Patch! Small enough to tuck in your purse, yet loaded with incredibly tasty recipes. Yum!

Please leave me a comment sharing how someone has sweetened one of your days with love...i.e. done something extra special, etc. OR tell me about your favorite chocolate treat. Feel free to enter twice by doing both if you'd like! Send your comments anytime between now and Wednesday night at 6:00 pm Eastern. I'll draw a winner sometime that night. Here's hoping you win! = )

Thank you again for making this journey such a great one. I continually thank God for the friendship, love, encouragement, accountability, terrific ideas and life lessons that come my way through all of you. ((Big Hugs!))

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

A heartfelt wish to all of you Moms today for a very special Mother's Day. What an incredible blessing and honor we've been given. I hope those you love make a special fuss over you today...and that they shower you with love and sweetness in appreciation for all you do.

For those of you who find this day to be a difficult one, I'm praying for you. It could be that you lost your Mom or can't be with her today. Maybe you're a Mom whose child is far away, either of distance or of heart. Perhaps you're a Mom who has walked the unthinkable road of losing a child. You may be one who aches with longing to be a Mom. Whatever the case, sweet heart truly goes out to you, as do my prayers.

On this special day, I honor my Mom, Shirley. She and I spent the day together yesterday celebrating and we had such a wonderful time. I love her so. Today, we'll be honoring my Mother-in-law, Millie. She'll turn 89 years old a week from today, so we feel extraordinarily blessed that we've gotten yet one more year to celebrate her. Truly an amazing gift. (Speaking of amazing gifts, due to a college travel schedule that places Brennan in the area, he'll actually be here sometime tonight! I can think of nothing better for Mother's Day!) = )

I read a beautiful story many years ago. As I began to search for it to share with you, I discovered it is believed to have been written by Erma Bombeck.

A Child's Angel

Once upon a time there was a child ready to be born. One day he asked God: "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?"
GOD replied, "Among the many angels, I chose one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you." The child said"But tell me, here in Heaven, I don't do anything else but sing and smile, that's enough for me to be happy." GOD said "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day. And you will feel your angel's love and be happy." The child continued, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don't know the language that men talk?" GOD said "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak." The child then asked, "And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?" God assured, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray." The child then asked, "I've heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?" God replied, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking its life." The child said, "But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore." God said, "Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way for you to come back to me, even though I will always be next to you." At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from earth could already be heard. And the child in a hurry asked softly: "Oh God, if I am about to leave now, please tell me my angel's name." God's response...."Your angel's name is of no importance, you will simply call her 'Mommy'."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Today is National Day of Prayer

How fitting that today's Streams in the Dessert devotional relates to the subject of prayer. It's a great message anytime, but especially timely today.

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. ~ Luke 18:1

The failure to persevere is the most common problem in prayer and intercession. We begin to pray for something, raising our petitions for a day, a week, or even a month, but then if we have not received a definite answer, we quickly give up and stop praying for it altogether.

This is a mistake with deadly consequences and is simply a trap where we begin many things but never see them completed. It leads to ruin in every area of life. People who get into the habit of starting without ever finishing form the habit of failure. And those who begin praying about something without ever praying it through to a successful conclusion form the same habit in prayer. Giving up is admitting failure and defeat. Defeat leads to discouragement and doubt in the power of prayer, and that is fatal to the success of a person's prayer life.

People often ask, "How long should I pray? Shouldn't I come to the place where I stop praying and leave the matter in God's hands?" The only answer is this: Pray until what you pray for has been accomplished or until you have complete assurance in your heart that it will be. Only when one of these two conditions has been met is it safe to stop persisting in prayer, for prayer not only is calling upon God but is also a battle with Satan. And because God uses our intercession as a mighty weapon of victory in the conflict, He alone must decide when it is safe to cease from petitioning. Therefore, we dare not stop praying until the answer itself has come or we receive assurance it will come.

In the first instance, we stop because we actually see the answer. In the second, we stop because we believe, and faith in our hearts is as trustworthy as the sight of our eyes, for it is "faith from God" (Eph. 6:23) and the "faith of God" (Romans 3:3 KJV) that we have within us.

As we live a life of prayer, we will more and more come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance. We will know when to quietly rest in it or when to continue praying until we receive His answer. from The Practice of Prayer

Wait at God's promise until He meets you there, for He always returns by the path of His promises.

# # # # # # #

Please join me in spending some time specifically in prayer for our nation and our leaders today. Prayer gatherings are planned at City Hall buildings all over the country from 12:20 to 12:40 pm Eastern time. Click on the official site for more information. (Take note that Beth Moore is the honorary chairman this year, as well.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge #9 and How it Relates to My Weight Loss Journey

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. ~Colossians 1:10-12

God had been working on me for awhile. I’m ashamed to admit I tried to ignore His loving persistence. I can’t even tell you exactly how long this battle of heart wore on, but early one morning last fall, He finally got through to me and I surrendered. A day or two later, I received word that a Weight Watchers At Work group was starting in my office and they were seeking participants. I had to chuckle at God’s apparent swift work. He clearly didn’t want me to have time to change my mind (He knows me too well). I immediately signed up and later that week, attended my first meeting. I had done Weight Watchers one other time 7 years prior and had lost some, but I knew this time was different because my motivation had changed. This time, it was about being more pleasing to God and taking better care of the body He had given me.

During a difficult season early in my marriage, I began turning to food for comfort (unknowingly at first). Though I became a Christian at the age of 13, after high school I began drifting away from the Lord and soon there was little evidence of His presence in my life. I met and married Tom during this time. He was unsaved. Thanks be to God, eleven years into our marriage, Tom became a Christian and I returned to the Lord. As you can imagine, God worked within our family in amazing ways and our lives radically changed.

Years went by and though I believed I had given God full access to my heart, my previous coping patterns with food continued. Though I would typically cook relatively healthy meals for my family, my personal eating habits were horrible. I would buy pop-tarts, snack cakes and bags of mini candy bars and keep them hidden at work and at home. Even though most days I would eat a decent lunch and dinner, I would snack constantly on sweets. If I went to the grocery on my way home from work, I'd buy a candy bar (or two) in the checkout line and eat them immediately.

It wasn't always sweets...sometimes I'd stop at a local drive through for a cheeseburger and fries. I'd eat them in the parking lot, throw away the bag then go home to prepare dinner that I would also eat. Strange as it sounds, for the longest time, I didn't even see the irony of that. Once God began to open my eyes to what I was doing, I felt shame, which in some ways only made matters worse. I then shifted into denial mode which for a time, seemed to be working -- that is, until I began outgrowing all my clothes.

Over time, God began to wear away my defensiveness. Through scores of verses, through music and other believers, He showed me that only He was able to fulfill the needs I was trying to fill with food...but I had to let Him. Most importantly, he assured me of His love. Last September, I finally "put down my dukes" and laid aside the temporal comforts for His. Has it always been easy? No. It required accountability and sometimes moment by moment prayer. But God's strength and presence has been so evident. Often His spirit would speak love and encouragement during my exercise or a particularly hard day. Seeing the number on the scale go down, and knowing my food choices were healthy and pleasing to God brought much joy along the journey as well. I no longer crave "the junk" that was once a part of my daily eating habits, yet I know this struggle is not over. This battle is won, but the war itself will continue. This time, however, I believe I'm far better equipped to fight than ever before.

This verse has become a prayer of mine. How I truly desire to please God in every way, to fully surrender an undivided heart in order that I may be worthy of what He has given me and called me to be. 39 pounds lighter and several sizes smaller than where I started this journey, I'm living proof of the strength of His power. There is no greater comforter and there is indeed no greater coach. (It's true, Carrie!) Please know if you're struggling in this way He can and will help you, too. Feel free to e-mail me via my profile if I can help by answering any questions or lifting you in prayer.

Several have asked to see photos. I have wrestled with this for a number of days and had nearly determined not to include them. I then remembered how God used things like this to encourage me before I began, so in that light, I've decided to post them.

178 pounds

139 pounds

Giving thanks and praise to God...