Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap!

Hello friends! Hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful and special Thanksgiving weekend. Brennan & Breezy arrived back home in the wee early hours last Wednesday morning. After having a chance to sleep in, they spent the rest of the day and evening visiting family. It was soooo good to see them! They’re doing well…loving married life, and they were very happy to be “home.”

Like many of you (I’m sure), Thursday morning started early and the evening ended late, but with many blessings in between. At the dinner table, we gave thanks for the newest members of our family, for those of Thanksgivings past who are still missed, and those for whom God has graciously granted yet another year. We shared memories and lots of laughter throughout the night. (I wish I could tell you just how many times I was reminded NOT to pour the
gravy down the drain...LOL!)

After the last guests left, I did a bit more kitchen cleanup, and then headed off to bed. Had to catch at least a few winks before meeting family and friends for our annual Christmas shopping adventure at 5:00 am! We stood in several long lines, but got several really great deals. Though not quite as wild as last year, we did manage to capture some fun Target photos…

Here is Breezy, ready for Black Friday shopping!

My nephew, Blake and Brennan..."um, nice skirts guys..."

...and you thought those were just Christmas trees!

My sister, Marcia modeling these lovely "earrings"...aren't they just the perfect compliment to your favorite Christmas ensemble??

My niece, Brooke finds her long lost friend in the toy section! (No, she didn't really kiss him!)

They gave me such a hard time last year about not being in the photos...they insisted this year on "crowning" me the Christmas queen and snapping this one...

By 2:00 pm, I was ready to call it a day. I bid farewell to my crazy family and headed home for a blissful nap. That night, Tom, Brennan, Breezy, her mom, Lisa and I had tickets for A Christmas Carol at the IMAX (which was quite good, by the way).

From that point on, the weekend was much more peaceful and relaxed. I did do just a couple of errands late Saturday. Yesterday, we were invited to enjoy a wonderful breakfast with Breezy’s family, Breezy and Brennan before they headed back to SC. We left them with hugs and prayers and we’ve already started the countdown of days until they’ll be back home for Christmas break… ; )

Even though it seemed to pass too quickly, it’s was a great weekend. Hope yours was, too. = )

Love & blessings,

P.S. Almost forgot! Be sure to watch for a giveaway sometime this week!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as
You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father,
- Harry Jewell

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am Thankful...

Greetings! How does this Thanksgiving Eve find you? Sleep-deprived? Stressed? With a To-Do list longer than your arm? Oh friends, I know… My state of mind is a glorious mix of busy, tired, happy, frazzled, excited, but most of all…blessed. I’m looking forward to giving Thanks with my family even more than usual this year.

Amidst the craziness of “getting ready” with all its many tasks, I've been thinking on these blessings from the year...

* Celebrating 25 years of marriage in September, with my dearest friend.

* Unforgettable memories of our family vacation this summer.

* The joy of watching Brennan marry his long-time best friend, a young woman who absolutely adores him.

* The joy of welcoming the delightful (and quite loveable) Breezy “officially” into our family.

* The gift of yet another Thanksgiving with both sets of parents. We are incredibly blessed.

* Gratitude that my Dad’s work injury, though painful and difficult, didn’t result in paralysis or worse.

* Growing closer to my sister through some shared struggles.

* Faithful friends. Perhaps more than any other year, I’ve been acutely aware of the blessing of the encouragement, support and faithful prayers of friends, several of which I’ve met through blogging.

* The transition into a full-time position on September 1st. -- truly a gift from God. Not only that? I work for three of the kindest, most wonderful attorneys imaginable. Couldn’t ask for better... (Didn’t have to, God knew.) = )

Tomorrow as I prepare and enjoy the Thanksgiving meal with my family and in-laws, I’ll do so with an overwhelmingly grateful heart. God has been so good to my family and I.

I pray you have a wonderful time celebrating God’s goodness tomorrow, savoring the moments with your family and/or friends, and making some special new memories. Remember those who are alone and consider inviting them to be a part of your celebration.

I leave you with a simple, yet beautiful prayer, by Mary Fairchild:

Heavenly Father, on Thanksgiving Day
We bow our hearts to You and pray.
We give You thanks for all You've done
Especially for the gift of Jesus, your Son.
For beauty in nature, Your glory we see
For joy and health, friends and family,
For daily provision, Your mercy and care
These are the blessings You graciously share.
So today we offer this response of praise
With a promise to follow You all of our days.

Thanking God for YOU

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge # 22

Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in Him,
rooted and built up in Him,
strengthened in the faith
as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.

~ Colossians 2:6-7

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LOVE in a Deep Dish Casserole! = )

The cooler weather of fall always brings certain recipes to mind…things like my Mom’s Ham and Noodle Casserole, an all-time family favorite. Nothing fancy, just old fashioned home-cooked love & goodness.

When we were growing up, Mom would always make our favorite dinner on our birthday. I asked for this…every time. Even for Brennan, this is a dish that says LOVE like no other. = )

As you can imagine, I was very eager to make this for Tom when we were first married. Armed with step-by-step instructions from Mom, I headed to the store for the ingredients. I got home and busily started preparing the meal. I could hardly wait until he tasted it.

The first step was to dice two thick slices of ham I had gotten from the butcher into bite-sized pieces. Since the next step would take about 20 minutes, I thought I should put the ham back in the fridge to keep cold until I needed it. I put the water on for the noodles, then chopped and began to sauté the celery and onions for the sauce. So far, so good.

By the time the noodles were done, the sauce was almost ready. I drained and placed them carefully in my brand new casserole dish. Soon, the sauce was done and I poured it over all the noodles. It smelled just like Mom's and the consistency was perfect! I was so pleased with myself.

I toasted and cubed the bread for the topping, drizzled it with melted margarine and placed it in the oven. I had talked so much about this meal, Tom was quite anxious to try it. Soon, 30 minutes had passed and it was time.
The table was set with our new Pfalzgraf dishes. I placed a generous portion on his plate along with some salad, and sat down across from him. I watched eagerly (and a bit nervously) as he took the first bite.

"Oh, hon…this is really good!"

I beamed.

He took another bite, "Wow, yes…I really like this…it’s delicious!"

Just as I was preparing to take my first bite, he said,

"...and what’s this called again?"

"Ham and Noodle Casserole"

"Hmm" he said, as he took another bite and gave particular attention to its taste..."that’s odd..."

"What’s that?"

"For some reason, I can't taste the ham."

Suddenly my mind flashed to the ham, in all its diced glory, sitting on the dish...still in the fridge. Oops. (So much for impressing my new hubby with my cooking finesse!) LOL! We both had quite a giggle and it’s been a favorite family story for years. To this day if I mention I’m making it, someone will inevitably say…”Don’t forget the ham!”

Hope you enjoy (and don't YOU forget the ham!)

Mom's Ham & Noodle Casserole

10 ounces of noodles (I use No Yolks) – cooked and drained

1-2 Cups of Ham (I use 1 pkg of John Morrell diced ham (drained) looks like about 1 ½ cups) OR get two thick slices (¼”) of lean ham from the deli and cube it

1 cup celery (finely chopped)

1 small onion (finely chopped)

¼ + 1 Tablespoon Margarine or Butter (I use I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter – Light)

2 cups of milk

8-10 Slices of American Cheese (torn into small pieces)
(I use Kraft 2 % singles but Land O Lakes tastes better)

8 slices whole wheat toast (cubed)

Saute celery and onion in ¼ cup margarine or butter until nearly transparent, add in flour and stir coating celery and onions. Add in milk slowly, stirring often until it begins to thicken. (Skim takes quite a while longer to thicken than 2 % or whole milk.) When sauce begins to thicken, add in cheese, stirring until all melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a casserole dish sprayed with Pam, spread noodles. Sprinkle ham on top. Pour sauce mixture over all and stir to coat evenly. Top with cubed toast. Melt 1 Tablespoons of butter or margarine and lightly drizzle over toast. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve with salad or other green vegetable. Approximately 6 servings for the average family, 4 if you live in our house! ; )

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge #19, 20 & 21, plus one more for good measure!

I’m playing catch-up with the Scripture Memory Challenge. Since I didn’t blog for nearly four weeks, I missed both postings for the month of October. As of today, I owe you 3 passages, but (because you’re so special), you get 4! Stay with me here…

I absolutely love the Psalms! They’re among my favorite places to dwell in the Bible. Early last month, I received a daily devotional message by Lysa TerkHeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I was immediately drawn in when I read the opening passage. Her message centered beautifully around four passages in Psalms with a message that resonated with me for days…in fact it still is. As the excitement of the wedding, major changes at work and other everyday crises swirled around me, these verses have found themselves lodged in my head, but more importantly my heart. Like Lysa TerKeurst, these verses have become my daily prayer. Perhaps they’ll become yours, too…

A Morning Prayer

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

It is very early in the morning. Not many people are stirring yet.

Though my body begs me just to roll over and go back to sleep, my soul is stirring to get up and go sit with Jesus.

Though I can't physically see Him, I know He is present.

I decide to open my Bible to the Psalms and use the verses I read as prayers to start my day.

And the more I pray those verses out loud the less I hear all the nagging things of the world. A beautiful melody of truth starts to rise up and suddenly my worries fade in the light of God's truth.

His perspective on things that are troubling me starts to overshadow my anxiety. Like shade on a hot summer's day, I feel relief in His presence.

I know that He is preparing me for what I will need throughout this day. He is already standing in every minute of my day and He sees what I will face. So, He's equipping me to be able to handle what is ahead of me with His gentle boldness, quiet strength, and loving grace.

In Psalm 81:10b,
God instructs me, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." He will give me what to say today. What to say in happy moments. What to say in aggravating moments. What to say in moments where I feel insecure and what to say when I feel completely confident. What to say in disappointing moments. What to say in response to questions.

He also reminds me that sometimes it is good to keep my mouth closed and say nothing at all.

All the words that rumble about in my brain and those that will proceed out of my mouth, Lord, You be the author of those.

Psalm 84:1 reminds me that God's dwelling place is lovely. So, I ask God to dwell in me richly. I want Him to be what radiates about me. I want Him to be my pretty today.

Not my hair. Not my outfit. Not my efforts. But simply Him and His spirit dancing invisibly about me... shifting a wrong attitude, guarding my words, and whispering constant truths into my heart.

Psalm 86:11 is what I ask the Lord to give me. "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart..."

Lord, may nothing separate me from You today. Teach me how to choose only Your way today so each step will lead me closer to You. Help me walk by the truth and not my feelings.

Help me to keep my heart pure and undivided. Protect me from my own careless thoughts, words and actions. And keep me from being distracted by MY wants, MY desires, MY thoughts on how things should be.

Help me to embrace what comes my way as an opportunity...rather than a personal inconvenience.

And finally, help me to rest in the truth of Psalm 86:13a, "Great is your love toward me." You already see all the many ways I will surely fall short and mess up. But right now, I consciously tuck Your whisper of absolute love for me into the deepest part of my heart. I recognize Your love for me is not based on my performance. You love me warts and all.

Have mercy, that's amazing.

But what's most amazing is that the God of the Universe, the Savior of the world, would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this.

Dear Lord, I love You. All that I have read here is the desire of my heart. I know and confess that sometimes my actions and reactions betray my love for You. Please forgive me. Thank You for Your grace that is able to recognize this new day as a new chance to walk closer with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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