Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Absolute ~ Favorite ~ Bread Recipe

A good friend of mine gave me this recipe for bread many years ago. It's also known as "Tupper Dough", a bread dough that you make in a large Tupperware bowl. Without further ado, here it is! :)


9 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1-1/2 c. cool water
4 eggs, beaten
2 packages dry yeast (not rapid rise)
2 sticks butter, melted


Measure out 9 cups flour into large bowl. Make a well in the center. Meanwhile, scald milk and add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve. Add in cool water and eggs. Pour into well of flour, and sprinkle dry yeast on top. Let sit in warm place for 1 hour.

Pour in melted butter and stir well to combine. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is a firm ball. Let sit in a tub of warm water (I usually fill my sink with hot tap water halfway up the outside of the bowl) for 30 minutes. Punch down dough and let rise another 30 minutes.

Form into rolls or loaves and let rise another 30 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden. Brush tops with butter.

For cinnamon rolls, roll out dough and sprinkle with brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Add chopped pecans if desired. Slice, place in pan, and let rise/bake as suggested above. Frost with cream cheese icing!

Cream Cheese Icing:

6 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. softened butter (no substitutes, please!)
2 t. vanilla
4-1/2 to 4-3/4 c. sifted powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in enough powdered sugar to make frosting spreading consistency.

* Both of these recipes can be halved if necessary. *

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Almost Christmas!

My goodness, sisters, it's almost halfway through December, and only a week and a half before Christmas! Where has the time gone?

I've been reminded these past couple of weeks to savor the days we have, for we'll never get those moments again. My grandmother passed away November 28th ~ the day after she turned 93 ~ she was fortunate to still be able to think clearly and was, in reality, healthy as all get out. Her body was just tired and worn. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have been able to have all those years of life. What a gift! 93 years ~ 34,690 days ~ 832,560 hours ~ 49,953,600 minutes ~ 3,126,216,000 seconds/moments that affected the lives of so many people!

On the other side of the coin, Preschooler turned four on December 11th ~ just seems like yesterday she was a tiny baby ~ now she's singing scripture songs, writing her name (On her pink walls with a blue sharpie pen!) and learning cheers for her latest gig, an Upward cheerleader. She's completely adorable, fearless, funny, smart and absolutely precious ~ and I'm completely smitten with her!

I'm reminded that because of Jesus, we are given an abundant life, and as Christians, we should live our lives to the fullest! That said, I ask myself ~ how am I using the moments I have left in my life that will affect the lives of others ~ especially my husband and children?

An old song sums it up well, I think ~

It matters so little how much you may own.
The places you've been, or the people you've known.
For it all comes to nothing when placed at His feet,
It's nothing to Jesus,
Just memories to keep.

You may take all the treasures from far away lands,
Take all the riches you can hold in your hands.
And take all the pleasures your money can buy,
But what will you have when it's your time to die?

Only one life, so soon it will pass,
Only what's done for Christ will last.
Only one chance to do His will,
So give to Jesus all your days,
It's the only life that pays
When you recall, you've had but one life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Simply Farmhouse Chicken

Just tried this new recipe and all three kiddos loved it ~ 3 thumbs up! Super easy & very tasty!

Preheat oven to 350.

2 bone-in chicken breasts, with skin
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 T butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 c. milk
1 pkg. chicken-flavored stuffing mix, prepared according to directions

Spray baking sheet with PAM. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over the tops. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast chicken breasts for 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear.
While chicken is roasting, make stuffing mix and set aside to cool. Saute onions and celery in 1 T of butter until translucent and softened. Transfer to a bowl. In same saucepan, melt 4 T butter and add in flour to make a roux. Cook for about 1 minute, then add in milk. Cook until thickened.
Once chicken is roasted, pull back the skin and cut out the meat. Cut into bite-sized chunks. Add to white sauce, along with onion/celery mixture. Season to taste.
Pour chicken mixture into greased 8x8 square pan. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown.

* I got the idea of roasting chicken from Ina Garten, aka "The Barefoot Contessa". Roasting the chicken this way makes it SO flavorful & juicy ~ it's worth the extra trouble!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God's Promise of Comfort

Psalm 23:4 "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

My last Psalm 23 post was about the promise of God's presence. Even with he was fleeing for his life, David found comfort in knowing that God was with him, fully armed with His rod and staff. "For thou art with me" shows the omnipresence of God. Jehovah~Shammah, "Jehovah is there".

The history behind Jehovah~Shammah is found in the book of Ezekiel. God chose the prophet Ezekiel to announce to the nation of Israel that they have been taken as captives because of their sins. At one time, they were a proud nation, but chose to reject God over and over again. God allowed the Babylonians to attack and destroy Jerusalem. Their beloved Solomon's temple lay ransacked and in ruin. Those that survived were taken away as captives. No longer stiff-necked and prideful, the survivors felt as if God had abandoned them and were genuinely sorry for their sin.

Mrs. George writes, "In fact, their sorrow was so deep that they could not even sing their beloved songs about the beauty of Zion, of Jerusalem, but instead hung their harps on the willow trees... and wept. (Psalm 137).

God, Who is "I Am that I Am" and is always there, spoke to Ezekiel and told him that He would restore the land of Judah and return his people to it!

Mrs. George talked about what makes our God unique. Throughout history, He's always been with his chosen people. They didn't have to be in a particular place to have His presence with them.

That got me to thinking:

Adam walked with God in the cool of the day in the Garden. Noah found grace in His eyes and knew God was with him as he took shelter in the ark for well over a year. Abraham talked with the incarnate Christ at an impromptu meal in front of his tent and at the top of Mt. Moriah . Jacob wrestled with Him. Moses heard His voice in a burning bush and saw the back of His glory. He led the Children of Israel through the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. His Shekinah glory dwelt in the newly constructed tabernacle for 40 years of wandering as well as throughout OT history. Joshua saw him as the Captain of the Host, ready and armed to fight for Israel. Gideon saw him on the threshing floor. He was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego. Finally, He came as the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God ~ Redeemer, Savior, and Friend ~ and now resides within those of us who know Him as our Savior!

Isn't that SO cool?

Comfort is There:

Remember that valley of the shadow of death? It's a place of constant danger, but take comfort because our Shepherd is armed!

The Rod is There:

Sheep have no defenses. They completely rely on their Shepherd to protect them. This rod/club is made from oak and is about 2 feet long. They carve a hole into it and thread in a loop to either be tied to the shepherd's belt or so that it can hang from his wrist. Sometimes metal spikes are driven in so that it can be used to kill an attacking animal.

The rod is an instrument of protection and death. The shepherd uses it to swing before him through the tall grass, preparing the way for the sheep. It can frighten away enemies, and can be used to kill any enemies of his flock, from animals to robbers.

The Staff is There:

Not only does our Shepherd defend and protect us, He directs us and points out the way. That's what the staff is for. In comparison to the rod, the staff is about 6 feet in length. It helps the shepherd climb up and over rocks, checking for their stability before he leads his sheep to there. He can check out crevices that snakes and scorpions can hide in that can harm his flock. His staff prods loitering sheep and can separate those that are fighting.

The crook on the other end of the staff can be used to restrain or guide a sheep as well as keep it from falling. And, of course, we've all seen the picture of the Shepherd rescuing a sheep that's wandered away from the fold.

The staff draws the flock together and keeps them from wandering. He counts the sheep with it by lightly tapping each one on the head as it enters the sheepfold. "A touch of the staff becomes a gesture of intimacy while walking, even though the shepherd towers over the sheep." The staff also coaxes the sheep to follow. "For instance, a tap on a back legs brings a sheep into position, and a tap on the head of the lead sheep makes it lie down so that the others will follow."

So, during difficult times, remember:

The place ~ the valley of the shadow of death.
The proclamation ~ I will fear no evil.
God's presence ~ for thou art with me.
God's protection ~ thy rod and thy staff.
God's promise ~ they comfort me.

"He's still there, and He sees all my sorrow.
He's still there when everything goes wrong.
He hears me when I cry in desperation.
He feels the pain of all my deep frustration.
He's still there. He sees beyond tomorrow.
He's still there, His love is ever strong.
He'll sustain through every care,
My lonely hours He'll share.
For beyond the shadow, Jesus is still there.
Yes, beyond the shadow, Jesus is still there.
He's still there."

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Redemption Series

If you like contemporary Christian fiction and aren't acquainted with Karen Kingsbury yet, you've got begin with her Redemption series!

Karen wrote this series with Gary Smalley, who is a well-known relationship expert. This series of five books begins with "Redemption" and introduces the reader to the Baxter family.

Dr. John Baxter and his wife, Elizabeth have 5 children ~ 4 daughters, Brooke, Kari, Ashley and Erin ~ and a son, Luke. Brooke and her husband are doctors and have 2 young daughters. Kari is a fashion model and her husband is a professor at the local university. Erin and her husband have recently moved to Texas. Ashley, who has returned home from Paris, considers herself to be the "black sheep of the family" and is a single mother. Luke is still living at home and is unforgiving to Ashley because of the choices she's made in life.

Redemption revolves around Kari and her husband, Tim. When Kari finds out that Tim has been having an affair with a student, she returns home to sort things out. However, when Ryan, an old flame from her past shows up, and Kari is more confused than ever. How can she forgive her husband? What about her renewed feelings for Ryan? What will she do? This is a story of love at all costs.

Remember is about Ashley and what happened to her in Paris. She returned home pregnant and jaded ~ unforgiven by her brother, Luke. She considers herself hopeless, so why doesn't Landon Blake leave her alone? Can working in a nursing home facility somehow help her come to grips with her past? This story is a journey from tragedy to healing.

Return is the story of Luke. The much-loved youngest and only son of John and Elizabeth is quite the golden boy. He seems to stand firm in his faith, but is judgemental toward others, especially his sister, Ashley. However, in the span of one day ~ September 10-11, 2001 ~ his life completely changes. Luke leaves his faith and his family. This is a story of tenacious love and longing for a lost son.

Rejoice is the story of Brooke and her husband, Peter. They are already struggling in their marriage when they are faced with the single worst moment ever. What was supposed to be a pool party for their two daughters ends in disaster leaving their three-year old, Hayley, fighting for her life. Peter, who blames himself for the accident, withdraws from his family and tries to find ways to ease his pain. This is a story of unspeakable loss and the overwhelming miracle of new life.

Reunion is the story of John & Elizabeth. In this final book of the Redemption series, plans are being made for a family reunion. Nearly all the adult Baxter children have a reason to celebrate ~ except one. As the preparations get under way, a deadly diagnosis sends shock waves through the Baxter family and threatens to tear them apart. This is a story of God's grace and redemption, his victory even in the most difficult times.

I liked these books because the characters were "real" Christian people who struggle. All Christian men & women struggle with lust, pride, guilt and fear. It's how we deal with it that makes us different from the world.

Although some aspects of the books are a little typical ~ the characters are wealthy, attractive, popular and talented ~ it doesn't get in the way of the story. Karen delves into their souls and you see a real person.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Look!

As you may be able to tell from my new blog design, I LOVE Autumn! The cooler weather, plus the fact that most of the stores are coming out with their Autumn merchandise has prompted me to go ahead and change my design.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year! Cooler weather, changing leaves, the smell of a wood fire, sweaters and pumpkins always put me in a festive mood! I love taking the kiddos to the apple orchard, the pumpkin patch, our "Trunk or Treat", and, of course, Thanksgiving!

This is going to be the best season yet! I can just feel it! Let's celebrate!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's Going On ~

Oh, how I wish I had the discipline to blog every day! Seems like my daily life rushes by, and I neglect to get to the computer! I don't know how so many women do it! They must be amazingly organized! I have managed to schedule some posts, but the day to day thing is almost too much for me!

That being said, I've managed to sneak in a minute while the water's boiling for my kid's fave lunch of all time ~ mac & cheese! I still need to do a couple loads of laundry, though, as well as grade papers and record the grades. The house is vacuumed, but I need to dust, Windex and mop, as well as clean the bathroom ~ sigh ~ all before my piano student arrives later this afternoon.

My pastor asked me to direct the adult choir for the Christmas cantata, and I'm so excited! I haven't conducted an adult choir for over 10 years, so I was a little nervous! Thankfully, the first rehearsal went well. Several people told me how much fun they had and that they really enjoyed it. I was so happy! Although I love to sing and play the piano, but I believe my "true" God-given talent is in choral conducting. I find absolute delight in teaching parts and leading the choir past the notes and rhythms to realize/recognize the meaning of the songs they're singing.

That's what's going on in mi casa this rainy Wednesday afternoon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Utterly Peanut Buttery Bars

These are delicious right out of the oven! The filling transforms into this incredibly decadent peanut butter-flavored caramel that's a dream! If you love peanut butter, this dessert's for you!

Preheat oven to 375.


For the crust:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. peanut butter
1-1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1-1/2 c. flour

For the filling:
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 T. peanut butter


Mix butter, peanut butter & sugar until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Add flour & mix well. (Mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1 c. of mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture into 9x13 pan. (I prefer using an 11x7.)

Beat eggs & sugars together until smooth. Add in peanut butter. Spread over unbaked crust. Sprinkle with reserved topping mixture. Bake 20 minutes if using the 9x13, (If using the 11x7, bake an additional 15 minutes.) or until golden. Let cool in pan, cut into bars. Makes 2 dozen bars of rich, peanut buttery deliciousness!

Friday, September 3, 2010

God's Promise of Presence ~ Part 2

Well, yesterday showed us the way of the path when we're in the valley. Although the way was dark, we saw God's promise that He'd be with us during the difficult times.

The Walk of the Path:

Thankfully, the shepherd~king David didn't end this psalm with us in the valley of the shadow of death. Mrs. George writes, "We do not stop and stay there (in the valley) in its foreboding darkness. Neither David's psalm nor this book are meant to discourage the Lord's sheep. Oh, no! Quite the opposite! For, you see, every shadow is produced by light. It is impossible to have a shadow without light."

And, as those who are part of the flock of God, we know that "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Jesus is the Light of the world and "...lights our step at a turn at a time."

Mrs. George reminds us that:
a. We walk by divine appointment. The valleys are never accidental or some kind of cosmic mistake. We are led by the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Jehovah!

One of my favorite choruses says this:
"Oh rejoice in the Lord, He makes no mistake.
He knoweth the end of each path that I take.
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold."
b. We walk by divine presence. "No matter the twists and turns, the entanglements and obstacles along the path, 'You are with me,' David declares. We are never alone along the way. God is always with us, and He never fails."
c. We walk by divine grace. Although the walk can be fearful, we must acknowledge that God promised that His grace is and will be sufficient for all of our needs (2 Corinthians 12:9). It's comforting to know that when we need God's grace, it will be there!
d. We walk by divine purpose. This walk will ultimately bring us intimacy with the Shepherd. Mrs. George writes, "Just as we must go out into the dark night to behold the brilliance of the stars, so God's presence shines the brightest in our valleys of deep darkness."
The "I Will" of the Path ~
David wrote, "I will fear no evil." If anyone ever understood what it meant to be afraid, it was David. As a young teenager, he killed a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:32-37) and he faced a giant (1 Samuel 17:45-51). As a man, he missed several assassination attempts by King Saul and had to live on the run. Even after he became King of Israel, he had to flee from his own son's attempt to overthrow his throne. David knew fear well.
However, David also knew the Shepherd well! "He boldly declared, 'I will fear no evil.' Why? Because of the presence of God ~ 'You are with me.'"
Sisters, we are not to fear. Why? Because, just like David, we walk with the Lord. Whatever may come our way, we will walk through it with the Shepherd, in His presence. As David wrote in a later Psalm, the Lord is "a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." (Psalm 46:1-2).
I wish to conclude today's post with Mrs. George's final thoughts.
"And so, beloved...
Sing... as you pass onward through the valley of the shadow of death, and let the notes of your joy vibrate against the walls of that valley!
Seek... greater knowledge of the Lord, your Shepherd by faithfully acquainting yourself with his omnipotence and His omnipresence as revealed in His eternal Word!
Step... out in faith onto each and every path, knowing that "The Lord is my Shepherd ~ not was, not maybe, not will be. The Lord is my Shepherd ~ is on Sunday, is on Monday, is through every day of the week; is in January, is in December, and every month of the year; is at home, is in China; is in peace, and is in war; is in abundance and is in poverty. The Lord is my Shepherd!"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

God's Promise of Presence ~ Part 1

Psalm 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me..."

So far, our study of the 23rd Psalm has been uplifting, hasn't it? Our Shepherd leads and feeds us; He makes sure we have adequate rest and peace; He heals us of our soul's diseases and guides us faithfully.

However, life's going to be like the old song ~ "Give Them All to Jesus" ~ reminds us. "He never said we'd only see sunshine. He never said there would be no rain." In other words, we can't stay up in the sunny green pastures beside the glistening still waters all the time. There are times in our lives when our paths will wind down into the valley of the shadow of death.

The "valley" is associated with the wadis of the Middle East. No other term but "wilderness" fits here. It's a desert with pits, ravines, and drought. The terrain suggests nothing but danger and death.

Mrs. George writes that the term "shadow of death" occurs 18 times in the Old Testament. Each use of the word means darkness. "Deep darkness, very deep darkness, thick darkness, and a darkness as dark as death."

Sisters, have you ever experienced times in your life when the darkness seemed to overshadow you and press you down, threatening to swallow you up as you had to journey into this next step of the unknown? I have. When I was pregnant with my youngest, I had a recurring dream that I developed complications while giving birth and that I died, leaving my husband to raise 3 little ones on his own. I talked to my doc about it, and she said that those types of dreams were somewhat "normal", so not to worry. I prayed for good dreams each night, but still felt apprehensive. Fast forward to the big day. "Popsicle" arrived via scheduled C-section as planned. All went well until an hour or so later when the nurses noticed that I wasn't bleeding at all. I began to get dizzy and was out of it. I had developed a large blood clot, and had to be put under and have a procedure akin to a D&C to remove it.

I remember thinking "This is my dream, and I'm not going to make it!" I felt the icy fingers of darkness surround me, pressing me down as the anesthesiologist told me to count backwards from 10. I remember praying, "God, please be with me!" as I began to count and a peace settled over me. When I awoke and realized that I had, indeed, survived, I was overcome with a thankful heart. Even during that scary time, I cried out to God, knowing that He was right there, beside me ~ to comfort me ~ or ~ if He chose to do so, take me home.

That, my sisters, is our dear Shepherd's promise: He is with us! His grace is there to see us through those difficult times! There's an old saying that reminds us that "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." What's even more joyous to realize is that "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

Mrs. George writes, "It's true that the perilous valley is a part of life's path.... But it's also true that we can grasp the hand of God as we descent the frightening path into the valley, into the devouring darkness. We can rest in the knowledge that He, this path, has already been trod. And we are walk...calmly...with Him...remembering the words, "Yea, though I walk..."

"So walk! Don't pause. Don't falter. Don't ponder. Just proceed. Walk! Know that as the Shepherd's dear sheep and as God's beloved child and with the Lord beside you, you will walk through it. It comforts the soul to know that the Good Shepherd does not take His sheep into the valley of darkness to stay ~ but to pass through it!"

There's more to this study, but I just want to savor this thought for today!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

God's Promise of Guidance

Psalm 23:3 "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

It has been said that it takes 21 days to eliminate a bad habit and replace it with a new one. Have you ever heard of this or done it? I've had failure and success. It seems that the old ways ~ i.e. "bad", "wrong", "lesser" ~ are so deeply ingrained that it almost seems impossible to improve or change them!

Why? Mrs. George sums it up with one word ~ REPETITION! She writes, "It is said that a habit is a custom/practice that's acquired by repetition. A habit is an action that, due to repetition, increases in performance and decreases in resistance. So, by repetition, an action becomes automatic, and a habit (good or bad) is born."

So, is there any hope for us to break habits that aren't pleasing to the Lord? Psalm 23:3 reveals yet another role the Shepherd takes in our lives ~ "He LEADS us in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." That means that if we stay close beside Him and walk where He guides us, our habits will eventually change and will ultimately honor His name. We'll develop holy habits.

The Paths:

Webster's Dictionary defines a path as "a track or way worn by footsteps; a trail." We live near an historic site of the Oregon Trail. To this day, you can still see the lines etched into the earth by the literal thousands of covered wagons that made this venture in the 19th century! Talk about repetition! I knew of a woman who daily visited her daughter and granddaughter who lived next door to her. In a matter of weeks, she had worn a path that connected the two homes!

The Hebrew word for "paths" or more literally, "ways" means literal tracks made by constant use.

Proverbs 31:27 says, "She watches over the ways (paths/tracks) of her household." This diligent mom is, in reality, a shepherdess of her home. She notices the patterns of her home life ~ the general comings and goings; the habits and activities of the people at home. She keeps up~to~the~minute stats of her family members and the general flow of her home. She's aware of everything that goes on within its walls.

Those of us who are moms have, to some degree, experienced the pain of watching one of our little flock struggle, stumble and stray.

Let me share my own personal description of how this happened today. My youngest, who is almost 4, has been told repeatedly since the time she could crawl not to be underfoot when I'm at the stove. I'm nervous that I could trip over her and hurt her, or that she could be burned in some way. I adore my little "Popsicle" (as I call her) and love her near me, but she's always had issues with this. Constant "no-no's" and gentle pats on the bottom to move her along have worked to an extent, but she still returns to where the action is. Today, however, as I was transferring piping hot macaroni back to the saucepan from the colander, my little one (who was undetected right behind me) got a sprinkling of super-hot water on her little arm. She screamed in pain and a couple of red marks appeared on her skin. I felt terrible for her as I kissed her and wiped away tears. A cool cloth and attention from mommy made her feel better in time, but I couldn't help but remind her that if she had minded me in the first place, she wouldn't have gotten hurt.

Although this situation is on a much smaller scale, the fact that remains is this: Our mother's heart aches if those we love make choices that lead them down unhealthy paths. We hurt, but we also act! We do all we can to correct the situation ~ be it by setting new rules, narrowing boundaries, or making new disciplinary methods that carry more severe consequences. Why? Because we LOVE our little flock!

Now, dear sisters, we can grasp the Shepherd's divine love for us ~ His sheep! God notices the ways of our paths ~ He leads and guides us in the "paths of righteousness".

The Paths of Righteousness:

"Righteous" paths are stiff or straight paths. After all, God is pure and holy. He wants His sheep to be righteous. In the Bible, the word righteousness is used in the following ways:
  1. With men, righteousness indicated a full measure. Measurements and weights were to be just and right.
  2. With God, righteousness indicated a full measure in the spiritual sense. Offering God only what was sincere as opposed to half-hearted.
  3. With a court, righteousness indicated a full measure of righteous judgment. Judges and officers were to render justice and make things right.

Okay, are you as intimidated as I am right now? Do you think, "There's no way I can ever measure up to that standard!" Be encouraged, my dear sisters ~ we serve a God who promises to guide us into righteousness! The One Who states, "Be ye holy as I Am holy" will guide us!

The God of Righteousness:

Jehovah~Tsidkenu ~ which means "Jehovah our righteousness". It first appears in Jeremiah 23:5-6.

After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into two kingdoms; the Northern Kingdom, which was called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, which was Judah. Although both kingdoms "did evil in the sight of the Lord", Judah was occasionally ruled by kings that "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did".

However, by this writing of Jeremiah, the Kingdom of Judah was falling apart. God's chosen people were sinning grievously, even polluting the house of the Lord. God sent His prophets to warn His people, but their messages were completely ignored. Jeremiah, also known as "The Weeping Prophet" had to tell the people that they would, indeed, be taken away and made captives.

Although it was terrible news, God ~ Who is too good to be unkind ~ kept His promise to King David (2 Samuel 7:16) that Israel would be restored to their land, and that Jehovah would raise up to David a Righteous Branch ~ Jehovah~Tsidkenu ~ the Messiah, Jesus Christ!

That thrills my heart, sisters! Because of Jesus' work on the cross, we CAN become righteousness! Because of the covering of His precious blood, when God sees me, He sees righteousness! Like an old song states, "His blood was not just blood of another spotless lamb. But His blood was precious blood, for it washed the sins of man. And His blood, it heals my body, and it sets my spirit free. I'm so glad His precious blood still flows from Calvary."

The Purpose of God's Guidance:

This is the most compelling aspect for me ~ it's "for His name's sake". God wants us to be righteous to bring Him glory ~ to maintain His reputation. As Mrs. George states, "God's name points not only to a title for Him, but to his very nature."

So, how does God guide us into the paths of righteousness?

  1. Bible reading ~ Psalm 119:105
  2. Prayer

What are the desires of my heart? Is my first desire to be God's will ~ no matter what it is and no matter what it costs?

Am I living my life in a way that honors the Lord, that exhibits to the whole watching world what the paths of righteousness are?

Am I walking near the Shepherd ~ delighting in His guidance and allowing nothing to distract me from His paths?

Am I willing to go where He guides me?

Much for me to ponder on, sisters. Until tomorrow!

My Favorite Hospitality Books

Hospitality is an area I struggle with. Although I love to have people over, it seems that nowadays, everyone has such busy schedules that it's difficult to get together! Also, I've found (at least in our area) that people go out to restaurants together more than they fellowship in one another's homes. That usually leaves us out because eating out is SO expensive!

During my childhood and teen years, I remember my mother inviting other families over for dinner and get-togethers. During special holidays, there were always extra places reserved for college students who couldn't get home, families who may not have had enough money to have their own feasts, as well as the "significant others" in mine and my older brothers' relationships.

Well, sisters, I say we return to the "old ways"! What better way to let people realize how much you care by preparing a nourishing meal and planning a fun time to spend together?

In Karen Ehman's book, "A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others", Karen encourages the reader to look for someone to be hospitable with, then take the steps to actually DO IT! This books gives great ideas for dinners and parties, cleaning and decorating tips and even recipes. I LOVE this book!

Karen also penned another book with her friends Kelly Hovermale and Trish Smith. "Homespun Memories for the Heart" is a great source for making your home special for your family. There are more than 200 ideas to "make unforgettable moments". The book is divided by sections to celebrate the seasons, birthdays, milestones such as weddings, anniversaries and adoptions, celebrating our faith and even the everyday. They've included tags, labels, certificates and coupons, too. A fabulous book!

Jane Jarrell has 2 books I've enjoyed. My favorite is "Love You Can Touch". Chapter titles include "New Neighbor", "Just Because You're My Friend", and "Children Going Off to School". Each chapter gives tips for a meal or treat, as well as how to package it. This book is fun!

Her other book is entitled "Simple Hospitality". Jane defines hospitality with an acrostic.

H ~ Hospital for the Soul
O ~ Obedience
S ~ Simplicity
P ~ Prayer
I ~ Intimacy
T ~ To go
A ~ Acknowledge and Appreciate
L ~ Lifestyle
I ~ Ideas
T ~ Time
Y ~ You

She has great chapters like "Faking Homemaking" and "The Kitchen Magician". Wonderful read!

My last book is entitled "Heavenly Hospitality" by Jo Ann Janssen. Practical ideas on organization, welcoming unexpected guests, dinner parties, feeding large crowds and making overnight guests feel pampered and welcome are in this book. I really love it!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Okay ~

Okay, so it's now late Tuesday evening and I haven't gotten around to posting my Psalm 23 blog. Have you ever had one of those days where you just can't get around, no matter how hard you try?

I did manage to get the kiddos going on school, but getting into the shower and getting motivated for the day just didn't happen yesterday ~ or today!

I'm setting aside time to blog tomorrow ~ not much planned in the housecleaning department, only a few loads of laundry, vacuuming and dusting. Shouldn't be too terribly busy tomorrow. Until then, sisters!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hash Brown Quiche

I love this breakfast quiche from none other than Miss Paula Deen! If you love a "farmer's breakfast", this simple quiche is a winner!

Preheat oven to 450.


4 c. shredded frozen hashbrowns, thawed & drained
1/2 stick melted butter
4 large eggs, beaten
1 c. half & half
3/4 c. diced, cooked ham (crumbled bacon or prepared sausage would work, too)
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1 c. shredded cheddar
salt & pepper to taste


Toss hashbrowns with butter. Press into a 9" pie plate. Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes or until golden & crisp. Mix remaining ingredients and pour into hot crust. Lower oven temperature to 350. Bake additional 30 minutes or until golden & puffed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This & That

Today I enjoyed fiddling around with a new blog design ~ I hope you find the change as refreshing as I have! I wanted to do a new one for autumn ~ my favorite time of year ~ but decided it was too early yet. I've got everything picked out, so I'll be changing my design sometime in late September ~ early October.

I finally (!) found my devotional on Psalm 23 (I had taken it to church to share w/ my ladies' SS class and left it in my attache ~ just thought to look there last week!) so we'll resume our study on Monday.

I'm so excited to now have 8 followers! When I decided to blog, I did so to be a source of encouragement to my fellow sisters in Christ. I wanted to share the truths I learned as I studied God's Word. I wanted to be transparent as I shared my struggles/joys/rewards of being a wife, mother, homemaker and Christian woman in today's world.

One of the reasons I chose to begin my own blog was because I wondered if anyone else ever struggled as I did. When I first discovered Christian homemaking blogs ~ aka "Titus 2 blogs" ~ I noticed a pattern. Not only were these women super-organized with HUGE household binders that they followed to the letter, but they were more than happy to share how they managed their homes!

At first, I was impressed! These bloggers had designed their own home management binders ~ some were even for sale ~ with pages and pages of detailed guides for chores, cleaning, laundry, and home-schooling schedules. Some included a section for quiet time, journaling, weekly/monthly menu ideas, shopping lists, phone directories and "Prairie Muffin" manifestoes. I felt as if I were sadly lacking in my God-given responsibility to be an effective homemaker, so I dutifully designed and printed out pages and pages for myself. (Ironically, the hours I spent preparing my binder kept me away from building on my home and family!)

I wish to state that I have no problem with home management binders. The Bible encourages us to do things "decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). It's great to have everything you need in one place. However, it seemed that these bloggers set these incredibly high standards for themselves (and others, according to how many other women posted about their similar binders) to live up to. They seemed to be prideful in their accomplishments of what they had to do each day.

In time, I began to feel intimidated by their posts instead of being encouraged. It seemed to me that they were implying that this is the way a healthy, God-fearing Christian homemaker should be ~ by being dresses only, wearing head coverings, making your own bread and clothes, and being KJV only.

(Doctrinal disclaimer: I myself believe the KJV to be the most accurate translation of the original Hebrew and Greek. However, the other versions are great for contrast/comparison Bible study.)

In continuation, these bloggers posted a week's worth of pictures of themselves in dresses and head coverings. Many made videos of tours showcasing their homes. I'm sure these bloggers only had the best intentions, but in reality, they unwittingly set themselves up as a standard for other women to aspire to.

Although there's nothing wrong with that per se, some women can fall into the trap of thinking themselves more spiritual/godly if they abide by certain "standards". In the comment section of one popular blog, I saw/read of women who were berating others that didn't believe as the blogger and the majority of her followers did. It was in this comment section that I discovered that there was actually a "hate" blog dedicated to "expose" the blogger for "who she really was". Disgusted, I quit reading this woman's blog. I couldn't help but realize that such is the reaping when one sows the seed of discord ~ in this case, the woman setting herself as the lofty "standard" of a "godly" homemaker.

Here is the fact: Jesus is THE only Standard! We're all sinners, saved by grace ~ our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags. Because of His grace and mercy, Jesus has redeemed us all! He is the Relentless Lover of our souls Who isn't willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. I'm so thankful that Jesus looks upon my heart ~ not my outward appearance!

It's not going to make a bit of difference for the Kingdom if I'm super-organized with a home management binder. God simply wants me in my home, working and weaving on it each day. Jesus isn't impressed with my vaccuumed floors or sparkling toilets. He wants my heart to be clean for communion with Him. He wants my speech to be sweet and sparkling ~ uplifting and encouraging. My Savior doesn't care if I make homemade bread or buy Sara Lee. He is the Bread of Life! He wants me to do my household chores joyfully ~ because, in reality, as I serve my family, I'm serving Him!

What matters is this: I am on assignment from God to help, submit to, and love my husband. I am to teach, pray for, and enjoy my children. God wants me to watch over, build, and care for my home and family every day. My desire as a homemaker is to make our household a place of tranquility, rest, and refreshment. The ultimate goal for my home is that the hubs and kiddos will think, "When I get home, everything will be all right!"

Although I have my own personal preferences ~ not to be confused with doctrinal convictions ~ concerning my Christian walk, I will never use this blog to dictate them. I believe that anyone of any "religion" can be saved as long as they realize that: Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) ~ that they have recognized their need for a Savior (Romans 3:23) ~ and that they have asked Jesus to save them (Romans 10:9-13).

With this blog, I never want to set myself as a standard ~ I fail ~ miserably ~ all too often! I hope to share, to encourage, and to inspire my fellow sisters in Christ. We are to have an abundant life, filled with the desire to love and serve our Savior!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homeschool: Year 2

Monday morning marks the 2nd year of my family's homeschool journey. I've kept busy these last weeks by printing, laminating, cutting, making lesson plans, and organizing for the year.

As I've stated in earlier posts, my youngest will be joining us for school this year. She's SO excited! Everything that she sees, she asks, "Is that for my school?" Thanks to Carissa's site,, and, my mom's borrowed printer, and reams of cardstock and paper, I now have everything prepared for the next 7 weeks for my preschooler's Bible/Phonics work.

During 1st quarter, we'll learn about the farm. I've made a cute farm lapbook, using some of Carissa's Tot School "Farm" components, as well as some others I've gleaned from the web. If I had computer savvy, I'd post photos of them ~ but sadly, I don't! All I can say is I think it's cute and Preschooler will love it!

I'm doing "Calendar Time" like Carissa's and all 3 of my kiddos will take part. Eventually, my oldest will be able to be in charge of Calendar Time, so that will free up a little bit of time to throw a load of clothes into the wash!

I've got 1 month of lesson plans completed for my 5th grader and 3rd grader, my gradebook ready, and materials organized for them. I made each of them a Language Arts notebook that has their weekly assignments for English, Spelling, Phonics, Reading, and Handwriting as well as sections for their English Handbook and any other components they need. They also have a Bible Notebook that's divided into sections for daily work, hymns, maps, glossary and "Heroes of Faith" section (we use Bob Jones Bible). I also added a pocket for any crafts they may make and to place in their timelines. There's also plenty of notebook paper, too.

All in all, I think I'm ready. I still have a couple of things to purchase, a few things to laminate, and a little more to do, but I'm confident that come Monday, I'll be prepared!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Favorite "Mommy Books"

What, you may ask, are "Mommy books"? The Mommy books I own are ones that encourage me, give practical ideas for my relationship with the kiddos, offer sound Biblical advice, and keep me in touch with what's going on so I can protect my children.

"Hide and Seek" by Dr. James Dobson and "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp are books I turn to time after time.

One of my favorite books that talks about raising my daughters is called "Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World" by Vicki Courtney. Vicki, the founder of Virtuous Reality Ministries and Yada Yada Events tackles issues (like counteracting the culture, self~worth, purity, modesty, bullying, and preparing our daughters for spiritual battle) with wisdom and humor. Beth Moore is quoted as "A must read for every daughter's mother." Definitely a great resource!

Another is "Mom's Everything Book for Daughters" by Becky Freeman. This book offers reading for the mom, then incorporates "Chick Chat" where you spend time talking and building your relationship, "Just for Fun", where you do an activity together, and a "God, Mom, and Me" time where you read Scripture together and study what it means. Chapters titles include "The Wind Beneath Her Wings or the Gum Beneath Her Shoes? ~ Bonding with Your Daughter for a Lifetime", "Lip Gloss, Hair Gel, and Toe Rings ~ Having Fun with Outer Beauty", and "Homemaking 911 ~ Helping Your Daughter Create a Home of Beauty, Love, and Laughter". I love this book!

For modesty issues, Dannah Gresh's "Secret Keeper Girl ~ 8 Great Dates for You and Your Daughter" is wonderful! This packet includes a book for Mom, a Secret Keeper diary for the Daughter, and a CD that has insights from Rebecca St. James. The "dates" include a pampering tea party, a shopping mall challenge and a dress~up date that includes dad. Awesome book!

For my son, I've read Vicki Courtney's companion book, "Your Boy". It goes along the same lines as her book for girls, yet gives the mom insight on how girls' modesty affects boys. Very eye-opening and perceptive!

Becky Freeman also wrote a companion book "Mom's Everything Book for Sons". I want to purchase that book very much!

Lastly, Dr. Dobson's books, "Raising Boys" and "Raising Girls" is on my to~buy list.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In a Pickle!

Yay, SUCCESS! My first attempt at canning pickles went well! I made 4 quarts of kosher dill pickles, and 6 pints of bread & butter pickles.

First of all, can I tell you that it was a LOT of WORK! I didn't realize the time it would take, nor the amount of pots, pans, bowls and burners I would use! I didn't have a bowl big enough to mix the ingredients for the bread & butter pickles, so I scoured my sink and used it instead. One side of the sink was filled with slices of cucumbers & onions, garlic, ice, and salt to set for 3 hours. In the meantime, I filled the canner with water and got that heating as well as another saucepan for the brine for the bread & butter pickles. The canner was so large that it took up 2/3 of the space on my stove! Still another pan was to simmer the lids & rims and another to boil water to cover the jars. I also ran the jars on the rinse cycle of the dishwasher to sterilize them. Needless to say, it was getting quite warm in the kitchen! Oh, did I fail to mention that the heat index for the day was 109? Humidity city!

I didn't have enough dill seed for the kosher dills, so I ended up having to spend 3 dollars (yes, you read it right!) for a package of fresh dill. Note for future reference ~ grow the dill myself! I had to juggle pans to make my brine for the kosher dills, and use the other sink to rinse, chop & slice the cucumbers into spears.

I packed the quart jars with cucumber spears, a clove of garlic, red pepper flakes, and the "best dill you can ever buy"! I processed the kosher dills successfully while I was waiting for the cucumbers & onions to drain. I was gratified to hear the familiar "pop" of the jar lids, and put the now-ready cucumber & onion slices into the sweet, hot brine. Once they boiled, I filled the pint jars and processed them. Six "pops" later, I cleaned up the mess and stood back to admire my labor of love. Glistening jars of verdant green koshers and a satisfying shade of yellow-green bread & butters graced my kitchen counter.

Although it was work, it was fun! I enjoyed the remembered scents of my mom's canning era now wafting around my kitchen. I still have to wait a week until I can taste-test my efforts, so I'll share my judgement then.

This little foray into the canning world was great for me. In fact, I hope to have a garden of my own next summer. I want to grow my own onions, lettuce, carrots, red peppers, tomatoes, green beans, peas, and cucumbers to can. I also want to grow herbs like chives, Italian flat-leaf parsley, basil, and dill to season my foods. I'd also like to grow lavender, sweet peas, and pansies to garnish and decorate with. How fun this is!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Past Circumstances

Sisters, do you ever struggle with letting go of past circumstances of your life? Does it seem that just as you think you've taken them to the foot of the cross for the last time, those memories come tiptoeing back into the recesses of your mind?

I've struggled this week. A moment in time many years ago has taken hold in my mind, causing me to rail, to wonder and to contemplate my life as I now know it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did the right thing and God not only protected me, but has blessed me beyond measure. However, the "what if's" have left me speculating.

As I was sharing my burden with my dear friend, she reminded me about Paul's challenge in his epistle of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 8.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
~ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ~
think about such things."

Her gentle, godly advice was the balm that my wounded soul needed. How I praise the Lord for godly friends that not only encourage me spiritually, but challenge me and desire to soothe and minister healing to my heart!

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of a friend."
Proverbs 27:17
Oh, by the way, I've misplaced my study guide for Psalm 23. Once I find it, I'll resume!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


When I was growing up, we always had a family garden. Some of my favorite childhood memories consist of my mom canning green beans, pickles and tomatoes each summer. Each summer meal was rounded out with fresh peppers, buttery lettuces, baby red potatoes, green onions, cucumbers and tomatoes gracing our dinner table each evening. To this day, my favorite "garden meal" has to be green beans and baby new potatoes cooked in the Crockpot with ham, onions, and seasonings!

Crimson and verdant jars filled with tomatoes, pickles and green beans lined our cabinets with the bounty of the season. My middle brother used to sneak in those cabinets while everyone else slept to grab a jar of tomatoes and a salt shaker for a late night snack. To this day, he still gardens and cans ~ lovingly filling sparkling mason jars with the treasures from his raised and meticulously maintained vegetable garden. To savor his beautifully straight green beans, perfectly seasoned with onion, garlic, salt, pepper, as well bacon is a true delight!

So, here goes ~ I'm trying my hand at pickles this weekend! One of my piano students has a garden and has shared green beans, zucchini and tomatoes with us. She called the other day and asked if I'd like some cucumbers. "Sure!" I responded with enthusiasm. She and her hubs brought me 2 baskets FULL!

Once I had caught my breath, I decided to make pickles. She kindly offered me to borrow her canner and brought me a bunch of mason jars and lids and rims. I'm excited to make brine and cut cucumbers into little rounds for bread & butter pickles and long spears for dills and my personal fave ~ KOSHER DILLS! I'll post next week to let you know how it went!

Thanks, my dear friend Deb, for encouraging me to post about this!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Week

What is it about the idea of a new week that gives me the sense of a new beginning? As per usual, life got in the way and I didn't blog like I wanted to last week. I had every intention to get to the computer, but obviously, it never happened!

We had someone come look at our house over the weekend, but haven't heard any feedback yet. I'm getting a little discouraged because we're still HERE when we want to be THERE! Everything seems to be in limbo, and I don't do well in those conditions!

I continue to remind myself that my Shepherd is "making me lie down in green pastures" of rest, but I must confess, sisters, I'm antsy! The Lord knows and understands our desire to serve Him and will put us exactly where we need to be at exactly the right time, but I have to be transparent enough to share that I'm struggling.

Bits and pieces of verses come to mind:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee"
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him"
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength"

God knows my heart ~ every thought and intent ~ and knows what's best. He's in control and "commands my destiny"! I just thought of an old song from the late '70s ~ "I believe. I believe. I believe, so why should I worry or fret? He holds the future in the palm of His hand, and He's never failed me yet. I know He's reigning and is still in control, so why should I worry or fret? I know Who holds the future, and I know Who holds my hand. I know just as sure as I'm *singing* this song, I'm a part of His almighty plan. I believe, I believe, I believe, so why should I worry or fret?"

Time to take this to heart and put it in my mind! BTW, sisters, this is how the Lord speaks to me ~ though His Word and through music!

Thanks, Abba!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Well, sisters, as you can see, I have returned to the world of blogging. I know I'm a sporadic blogger at best, but there are just some days I simply don't feel like taking the time to blog. I'm impressed with those who do, and I'm thankful for the benefits I receive from their diligence.

The kiddos and I visited with my mother last week, and we enjoyed going to the pool, lounging around on her new deck, seeing Toy Story 3 (in 3~D), and eating cashew chicken! (This cashew chicken isn't what some of you may be acquainted with. This is SPRINGFIELD~style cashew chicken, first invented in Springfield, MO in 1963. This unofficial "dish of the city" is the most popular fast~food meal in Springfield! Imagine deep~fried, crispy chunks of chicken on a bed of fried rice, doused in a rich brown gravy, sprinkled with cashews and green onion. Throw in some crab Rangoons, and you're in heaven! Once you move away, you CRAVE it with all your being!)

I was able to spend a couple of evenings with Dana, my best friend from college. She and I have the type of friendship that we can pick up right where we left off and it's as if nothing has changed. We had a grand time shopping, eating out, watching chick flicks and solving all the world's problems! She blessed me with her time, fellowship, and generosity. She's the sister of my heart!

I share this idea of "return" with you all because I'm not only returning to blog land, but to the "homeland" of my roots. The hubs and I are moving back to the Ozarks, my childhood home. We're incredibly excited to begin this new venture the Lord has for us. We've put our house up for sale, the hubs is looking for a new job in the new area, and we are excited to become members of an amazing church there.

I realize that the idea of "returning" is sometimes associated with some kind of failure ~ but in the grand scheme of things, I believe it to be a new beginning. We are returning to the ministry, and we are so excited! This isn't for a paid position, either. It's simply the opportunity to open ourselves to be used for the Lord in whatever capacity He's chosen for us at this time.

Speaking of new beginnings, I've also returned to another dear friend of mine ~ Deb ~ a.k.a. "The Queen Mommy". She and I are collaborating to write a series of books ~ a dream of mine that's been on the back burner for years. Although we lost touch and hadn't corresponded in almost 10 years, once we reconnected, we totally connected! We are so much alike, it's scary! We even chose the same name for one of our daughters ~ spelling and all!

Return. A return to blog, a return to my roots, a return to ministry, a return to friendships and return to a long-awaited dream. A simple, yet powerful word. Simple in meaning, but powerful in the grand scheme of things.

"Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion
and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
They shall obtain gladness and joy. And sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
"Return to the Lord your God."
Aren't you glad we can return? I know I am!

Simply Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

I love making this in the crockpot, but you can make it to bake in the oven, too!

2 T. butter, melted
1/2-3/4 c. minced onion
4-6 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 ham steak, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can cream of celery soup
1 small can evaporated milk
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onion in butter until golden and transluscent. Spray 9x11 dish or crockpot with cooking spray. Mix soup and milk together. Layer baking dish of choice with potatoes, onions, ham and cheese. Finish with cheese layer ~ pour soup mixture over all. If baking in the oven, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If using the Crockpot, turn to low and cook for 6-8 hours, or until potatoes are soft.

I serve this with green beans or mixed veggies. A tossed salad would be good, too. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Favorite "Wife" Books

This has been a challenge for me because I have so many! "The Power of a Praying Wife" by Stormie Omartian opened my eyes to the importance of praying for every aspect of my husband's life, from his health and safety to his thought life and leadership. A very powerful read!

Elizabeth George's "A Wife After God's Own Heart" is companion to "A Husband After God's Own Heart" written by her husband, Jim. Each chapter collates with the other spouses, and gives you opportunity to share your thoughts about different topics, such as responsibilities and finances. A great read!

Other great books include "Loving Your Husband" by Cynthia Heald, and "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Decade of Wonder

My oldest turned 10 yesterday. TEN! Where has the time gone? Just yesterday, she was a tiny baby, her every need dependent on me. Now she is on the brink of young womanhood, becoming increasingly INdependent and making decisions of her own!

I realized this on Saturday. That's when I took her shopping for her birthday gift! My mom sent her some $ to spend, and boy, was she ever particular on how she was going to spend it! I believe I spent 30 minutes in Claire's, standing in one spot while she looked at the earrings and BFF jewelry. "Oh, honey, how cute is this?" I'd say, pointing to an adorable pair of delicate flower earrings. "Eww, Mom! I like these better!" she'd retort, holding up a pair of earrings that consisted of one box of french fries and another of a soft drink in a cup, complete with straw. Not my idea of fashion, I tell you! Of course, as you'd probably surmise, she didn't buy anything.

We then drove to Toys~R~Us specifically for Littlest Pet Shop merchandise. (Keep in mind, she no longer plays with them. She collects them! Playing with them is, like, so uncool!) Standing in one spot for about 45 minutes, we looked at every pet they had to offer, but she then wanted to look at scooters. Scooters (thankfully!) were well past her budget, so we went to the arts and crafts department. Nothing grabbed her interest there, so back we went to the LPS aisle.

"Sweetie, you're going to have to choose something," I informed her, no longer smiling and my patience worn thin. "Okay, Mom, okay. Let me just look at this one thing." Ten minutes later, she finally decided on a Fur Real Tea Cup Kitten that sits in a little purse. It purrs and bats its little paws. It's completely adorable ~ and so is my precious daughter.

Cool and hip one minute, a little girl the next. I must say ~ I'm completely smitten and in love with her! I'm excited to get to know this amazing person and build a relationship with my blossoming young lady!

However, I feel the burden of responsibility to teach and train her to become a woman after God's heart. How I pray that she will look to her Father instead of succumbing to listen to the father of lies; That she will find her self-worth and value in Jesus instead of the world; That she will stand firm in the faith instead of bowing to peer pressure. I can only pray that as a mom, I'll direct her focus upward instead of outward. The only way I can do this is through prayer, being an example, and just "being there" for her!

I'll return to my posting of Psalm 23 tomorrow ~ God's Promise of Guidance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gooey Caramel Rolls

Okay, these rolls are incredibly rich and oh, so ooey-gooey delicious! Serve with an icy-cold fruit salad, and you'd think you were in heaven!


16 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
1 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 package Jello cook-and-serve butterscotch pudding
1/2 stick melted butter
1/4 c. grandulated sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans


Mix sugar and cinnamon. Grease bundt pan well with cooking spray. Place frozen rolls in pan. Sprinkle brown sugar and dry pudding mix over rolls. Pour melted butter over top, then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture and nuts. Cover TIGHTLY with foil. Let set out overnight. The next morning, bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Flip upside down on top of foil and serve.

Side Note: The sugar and butter turn into this sticky rich bit of caramel goodness that is awe-inspiring, I tell ya!

Here's the fruit salad ~

Fruit Salad

~ This is so colorful and pretty ~

Mix together:

1 small can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
black seedless grapes
sliced strawberries
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 bananna, sliced

For extra decadence, drizzle a teeny bit of Eagle-Brand sweetened condensed milk over the top.
If you want to be "good", a dollop of vanilla yogurt is tasty, too!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vegetable Beef Soup

My Daddy always made this soup. As a kid, I hated it, but as I grew older, I couldn't wait for cooler weather to come so Dad would make his signature dish!


1 lb. beef stew meat
1 T. olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 T. melted butter
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 4-cup box beef stock
1 small bottle of V-8 juice
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1 c. dry macaroni (for fun, I sometimes use alphabet/star pasta)

Heat olive oil in stock pot. Season stew meat and place in stock pot to brown. Remove browned meat and add in 1/2 c. of beef stock to deglaze the pot, stirring to remove browned bits. Add meat, remaining stock, potatoes, frozen veggies, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

In a saucepan, cook onion and celery in butter until translucent. Add to soup mixture along with cabbage. Add in about 1/2 the bottle of V-8 juice. Cook on low 3-4 hours.

During last hour, add in macaroni. Stir every 15 minutes so the pasta won't stick to the bottom. I usually serve this with fresh baked bread. (Um, Rhodes frozen bread dough!) This hearty soup/stew is a meal within itself!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

God's Promise of Healing

Psalm 23: 3 "He restoreth my soul."

We all need healing and restoration~ not just physical, but spiritual and emotional healing as well. Physical ailments, the loss of a loved one, the collapse of a family, rejection, disappointment and betrayals are all kinds of calamities that happen during our lives. How can we go on? Where can we receive the healing we need?

Along with God's promises of care and provision (Psalm 23:1) and rest and peace (Psalm 23:2), God also promises us healing restoration (Psalm 23:3). Our loving Shepherd not only sees to our physical needs, but to our spiritual needs as well ~ "He restoreth my soul."

Another name of God that fits wonderfully as we talk about His healing is Jehovah~Rophe, which means "the Lord heals". Let's look at the history behind the name....

After the children of Israel had escaped Pharaoh at the Red Sea and began their journey to the Promised Land, they found that the water was scarce. Once they came to Mara, they found water, but it was bitter and poisonous. As the people began to complain and grumble, Moses cried out to God to help them. The Lord showed Moses a tree and told him to cast it into the bitter water. Instantly, it became sweet and drinkable. Jehovah~Jireh had provided for them yet again and announced, "I am the Lord who heals you" Jehovah~Rophe!

Mrs. George writes, "In the OT, 'to heal' is often used of a physician and means to restore or to cure. And just who does Jehovah~Rophe, the Great Physician, heal? He heals and restores those of His who are cast down."

What exactly does the term "cast down" mean? In shepherding terms, it's a sheep that's turned over on its back and can't get up by itself. This usually happens when the sheep lies comfortably in a little hollow in the ground. When it turns to its side to stretch out, the center of gravity shifts, and the poor animal is suddenly on its back! No matter how hard it struggles, it can't turn itself upright because its feet are sticking straight up in the air.

Interestingly, it's usually the largest and strongest sheep that get cast down. When the weather is comfortably cool, the sheep can stay like this for a day or two. But, if it's hot out, the sheep is considered to be in critical condition within a few hours! It's vitally important that the shepherd arrives soon, or the sheep will die.

This is the course of restoration that the shepherd takes:
"Stage 1 ~ Finding the cast-down sheep. Since the shepherd knows each member of his flock intimately, he will immediately notice one is missing. This begins his search for the sheep, and he surveys the land for a sheep that's in an unnatural position.
Stage 2 ~ Restoring the cast-down sheep. This process can take a while. If the sheep is found quickly, then the shepherd only needs to roll it to its feet and it will be fine. However, if the sheep has been cast down for a long while, it takes a great deal of patience, time and care. First, it's rolled over, then its legs are rubbed and massaged to revive circulation. Next, the shepherd props the sheep's head on his knee to stroke and caress it. Finally, he is able to physically lift the sheep to its feet and support it as it leans against him to walk. It can take up to an hour for the sheep to walk properly again, and it can fall. The caring shepherd will pick the sheep up again, and again, and again.
Stage 3 ~ Following the cast-down sheep. The sheep isn't restored completely until it eats its first bites of grass. The shepherd will follow and watch it closely until it is fully restored."

Can't you see the image of the Good Shepherd in the above stages? No matter our circumstances, He is there to retrieve, revive, and restore us!

My Favorite Devotionals

If you guessed Elizabeth George, you won the prize! Mrs. George is a truly talented teacher and author. I love how she makes each book personal and shares her godly wisdom so freely!

My all~time fave is her popular "A Woman After God's Own Heart". That's the book that God used to get me back on track spritually. Although I had been helping my husband in the ministry, I had come to a point where I was spiritually numb.

I know that Satan attacks Christians mercilessly, but I was in for a shock when we entered the ministry. Almost instantaneously, everything ~ our marriage, character, motives ~ was being attacked with such feriocity that I was totally unprepared! I felt as if I spent most of my time defending myself and the hubs instead of edifying others! I became discouraged, and then resentful. Allowing my circumstances control my life, I gave up and quit spending time in the Word and in prayer.

I remember being at a point when I asked God if He really even was there. I actually doubted ~ me, who had been in church since I was 5 days old ~ saved at the age of 12 ~ serving in some capacity since I was a teenager ~ I actually doubted the existence of God!

I remember the question Mrs. George asked about what kind of heart did we have? Was it cold, warm, or hot? The correct response, of course, was that we should cultivate a hot heart for the Lord ~ a heart of passion and purpose. My heart wasn't even cold, sisters. It was ice.

As I forced myself to continue the study, I would pray, "God, if You're really there, restore to me the joy of my salvation." It didn't happen right then, but after 3 days. It sounds ridiculously poetic, but I felt as if my icy heart had melted, and the water became my tears. God is, indeed, plenteous in mercy!

That, I believe, is why I have such an admiration for Mrs. George. Any of her books are great reads and will challenge and inspire you to reach for a close, intimate relationship with the Saviour.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Memorial Day Is Extra-Special

For the past four years, Memorial Day has become even more significant to me. You see, this past Friday, May 28th, marked the fourth anniversary of my dad's death. The passing of each year is sort of like a shock ~ I can't believe that he's really been gone that long ~ I still catch myself thinking "Wait 'til I tell Dad about..." then I remember he's not there.

I'm so thankful that my dad knew Christ as his Savior and has a home in Heaven! His death was a powerful testimony of redemption and God's mercy. You see, although my dad was a believer, he didn't always live like one. He allowed the circumstances of his past and present rule his life.

Dad said he loved the Lord ~ but he just didn't make a relationship with Him a priority in his life. He lived for himself and frequently said, "It's my life, and I'll do what I want." He seemed to forget that his life wasn't his own, that he had "...been bought with a price."

There were times I wondered if my dad was really saved until one day we talked. That day in the hospital, my dad said, "As a young man, I used to wonder how I'd face death when I was old. Would I be afraid? How would I feel? Now that I'm here, I can tell you that I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." I saw the faith gleaming in his eyes along with his tears. That's when I knew that my dad was eternally secure. My daughter's heart was at peace.

During the next couple years, Dad's health had become increasingly precarious, and I always dreaded "the call". That call happened on Sunday morning, May 28, 2006. We were just about ready to walk out the door for church when the phone rang. My mom said, "Shelly, Daddy's aneurysm has ruptured. The ambulance is here and we're on our way to the hospital." Since we live four hours away, all I could do was wait. At 11:10 that morning, my daddy went home to be with the Lord.

How was God merciful? The aneurysm didn't "pop" like they usually do. When that happens, death is excruciating and can happen within minutes. God allowed it to have a pin-sized hole that leaked slowly. Because of this, Dad was able to live for an extra hour and a half almost pain-free.

During that time, he and my mom reminisced about when they met, got married and celebrated the birth of each child and grandchild. He told her he'd see her on the other side, and turned away. You see, God granted him the opportunity to make amends with my mother. Just the evening before, he read her the passage from Isaiah 43:18-19. It says, "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?"

Then, in my dad's final moments on this earth, he sat straight up and reached his hands to his Redeemer. It was then that his soul was safely home. The Bible says "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord", so I believe will all my heart that the Good Shepherd Himself picked up His wayward lamb and carried him Home!

Like the song says it's "not because of what I've done, but because of Who You are." Jesus had already done all the work on the cross, and because my dad had accepted the gift of salvation, he belonged to Him and went to Heaven!

During the morning services at my church yesterday, our pastor had those who had loved ones that had served in the military and had passed away stand in their honor. I was privileged to stand for my dad, who served stateside during Vietnam. My dad was proud of his country and loved it immensely. Two of his brothers ~ my Uncle Richard, who served in WW2, and Uncle Lloyd, who had been killed in Korea ~ served in the military, so my dad understood what it meant to sacrifice for his country. Memorial Day was always special to him.

Now that I think of it, in a way it seems fitting that Daddy passed away on Memorial Day weekend. My memories of him will always be filled with laughter, love and what redemption really means.

God's Promise of Peace

Psalm 23:2b "He leadeth me beside the still waters."

Have you noticed that the most tranquil, peaceful places usually have the sound of water somehow?

When we lived in upstate NY, the Black River was less than a block from our house. The rushing water, plus the waterfall a little further downstream serenaded us each day. We absolutely loved it! I have a little water fountain next to my bed that I enjoy turning on and listening to when I feel stressed. That, along with my "happy candle" (Yankee's McIntosh Apple) makes mama a happy girl!

When you stop and think about it, something inside us needs that sound of water for serenity. Homeowners spend literally thousands of dollars to add water elements to their backyard landscapes such as ponds and waterfalls! Others have table top water fountains like mine, or enjoy music CDs that have water sounds, such as rain, an ocean, or a stream to help them relax so they can sleep.

Water is a place of rest. Once there, we can become "calm, inspired, energized and refocused on God's larger plans for us." This is where our Shepherd chooses to lead us ~ beside still waters.

What is it that makes us seek/crave peace? According to Mrs. George, busyness, responsibility, tension and noise are the four top reasons women crave peace. I mentioned last week that my mother/father-in-law kept the kiddos for a couple of days. Sisters, I needed that! As you know, I love my children with all my heart, but that previous week had been tough! Five continuous days of thunderstorms, rain, humidity and finalizing homeschool for the year had made us all ~ shall we say ~ a little testy!?

Well, as you may assume, that combination was getting to be a bit much! Frazzled but relieved all work was done by Friday, I called my wonderful mother-in-law and told her I needed a mental health day ~ could she help me out? She laughed with understanding ~ and was willing to let the grand kids come for a couple days' visit.

As I mentioned last week, I listened to the silence and enjoyed uninterrupted conversations with the hubs. I was able to mediate on Scripture, too, and enjoyed time alone with the Lord. Not only did my physical body need the peace, but my spiritual self craved it as well.

Mrs. George writes, "We can... testify that our souls become dry on a steady diet of stress. We quickly become depleted and weary. We stagger, we stumble, we crumble, and we make errors in judgment...all because we need a time beside the still waters." She continues,

"He ~ the Shepherd, knows all about our need for peace and provides it.
Leads ~ to where peace is plentiful and makes sure we attain it.
Still waters ~ restful waters of comfort...a peaceful place beside a quiet, tranquil stream."

In the first part of Psalm 23:1, we met Jehovah~Rohi ~ the Shepherd Who leads, feeds and lovingly warns us. "The Lord is my shepherd..." In continuation, we met Jehovah~Jireh, the providing Shepherd. "...I shall not want." Now, in verse 2, we meet Jehovah~Shalom, the God of Peace ~ "the God who brings peace."

Jehovah~Shalom is first mentioned in the book of Judges with the story of Gideon. At that time, God's chosen people, the Israelites, were stuck in a vicious cycle. To understand the significance of this, we need to back up a bit.

Rewind to the book of Joshua. After 40 years of wandering through the desert, God kept His word to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Once the land was divided by tribe, Joshua called all the people together. He told them that God wanted only three things from them: to drive their enemies (the Amorites, Moabites, Perizzites, Canaanits, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites) from their land, and to "Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord." This is also where Joshua said, "...Choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

However, Judges 1:28 says, "...when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out." Verses 21-27 and 29-33 repeat the same phrase "Neither did (Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephriam, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali) drive out the Jebusites/Canaanites... but the Jebusites/Canaanites dwelt... among them." By chapter 2:11-13, "...The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: and they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth."

Thus, the children of Israel began the vicious cycle of:
a. sin
b. suffering (serving a foreign king)
c. crying out to God
d. deliverance
e. rest/peace ~ only to begin the cycle all over again.

This leads us to Gideon, the sixth judge God appointed to lead and deliver His people. We meet Gideon in Judges chapter 6. He is hiding in his winepress, secretly threshing wheat. At this time, the Midianites had taken control over Israel and were destroying crops (vs. 4-6). Gideon had managed to secret some grain and was threshing it so he could feed his family. Suddenly, and the Angel of the Lord (again, the pre~incarnate Christ!) appeared to Gideon. He promised deliverance to God's people and told Gideon he was going to lead them (vs. 12-16).

Gideon was afraid. He resisted. He was a nobody ~ his family was poor, and he was "the least in my father's house." He asked for a sign (the fleece) to "strengthen the weakness of his own faith and to give evidence that would convince the people that he was really God's instrument." (Scofield Study Bible).

However, the Angel ~ the Shepherd, comforted him in verse 23. "Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die." Then Gideon worshiped. He built an altar there and named it Jehovah~Shalom, meaning "The Altar of Peace with Jehovah" (vs. 24).

Here was Gideon, fearful and cowering in a hole, when the Angel of the Lord appeared with:

a. A proclamation ~ "You will save Israel from the Midianites."
b. A promise ~ "I will be with you and you will defeat them."
c. Peace ~ "Peace be with you; do not fear."
d. Power ~ "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

Now he is Gideon the warrior, the fearless leader of God's people! As you may know, Gideon soundly defeated the Midianite army with 300 men bearing only trumpets, torches and pitchers! At Gideon's signal, the 300 men blew their trumpets, broke the pitchers, and held up their torches. Upon waking to the blaring trumpets and lights blazing and hearing the cry "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" the Lord caused the Midianites to "set their sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host."

Upon Gideon's victory, Israel wanted to make him king and rule over them. However, Gideon had seen the true King face to face (Judges 6: 22) and refused to rule over them, saying, "I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23). Israel had 40 years of peace under Gideon's humble leadership.

We've met Gideon the judge and Gideon the warrior. Now, let's meet the One Gideon was privileged to meet. Jehovah~Shalom, the Prince of Peace.

Mrs. George writes, "Before we finish verse two and our visit to the still waters, we need to behold the Prince of Peace. To enjoy peace and harmony with God means to enjoy the harmony of a relationship with God. And it is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), who makes a relationship with God possible. Peace with God includes...
a. Harmony ~ to be in harmony with God due to the payment of a debt.
b. A peace offering ~ restored fellowship between God and man, accomplished only by shed blood (Leviticus 3)."

Jesus' death on the cross did just that, sisters. He paid the debt He did not owe, and He shed His precious blood as a peace offering.

One of my favorite songs is called "In Christ Alone". If you have the time, please listen to the first song on my playlist. It sums up this last point beautifully!

"In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my Light, my Strength, my Song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless Babe.
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
'Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the World by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me!
For I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ!

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny!
No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.
'Til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand."

Doesn't that just make you want to shout? Praise be to Jesus ~ Suffering Savior, Precious Redeemer ~ King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This & That...

I know I haven't posted until now, but I've been enjoying the past two days of silence! My kiddos have spent these last 2 days with their Nana and Papa, and I've been listening to the quiet! The hubs and I have spent the last 2 evenings enjoying uninterrupted conversation and just being together. It reminded me that we need to continue to make time for one another, even when the kids are here.

I've missed my kiddos, though ~ even their occasional fussing and endless questions!

Tomorrow, we'll continue our study on Psalm 23.

Delectable Pink Lemonade Pie

My mom made this several times every summer! It's extremely rich, so cut those slices on the small side!

1 large graham cracker pie crust
1 can frozen pink lemonade
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 small container of Cool Whip, thawed

Set out the pink lemonade so that it is slushy in consistency. Combine Eagle Brand and Cool Whip in a mixing bowl, fold in lemonade. Pour into graham cracker pie crust. Place in freezer for 30-45 minutes. Serve cold.
This dessert is wonderful on a hot summer evening!

Friday, May 21, 2010

God's Promise of Rest

Psalm 23:2a "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."

Lying in a soft, cozy bed. Relaxing in your favorite chair with a book and cup of tea. Reclining in an outside chaise with a glass of iced tea. All picture rest, relaxation and comfort.

Rest. Our bodies need it, and our souls crave it. This verse tells us that God not only promises His sheep rest, but that "He makes us lie down." What exactly does God have in mind?

1. The Place of Rest:
Notice the place our loving Shepherd guides us to. A place of green pastures. What exactly is in these pastures?
a. Food: It's abundant and available. "Green pastures" is a picture of abundance and luxury. Mrs. George writes, "A good shepherd carefully picks out a place of pastureland that's filled to overflowing with fresh, new, tender grass. His heart is set on finding a place containing plenty of delicate green grass that will provide nourishment, health, and fresh energy for His sheep."
b. Rest: "This scene is one of satisfaction and rest, calm and contentment, sheer enjoyment." Imagine the coolness of the grass on a hot day in that arid region! After their long trek, the weary sheep could settle down and be content and at rest ~ all lovingly provided by their Shepherd!

In the section "Reflecting of God's Promises", Mrs. George reminds us that by having a daily quiet time, we can "partake of green pastures". She writes, "We have all of the Shepherd and all of His Word available to us... if we will simply lie down in His green pastures and partake! All we need to do is stop everything and enjoy a time of resting and lingering with the Lord as we feed on His Word."

When we enter into the serenity of God's green pasture, we "experience the same sense of rejuvenation, the same revival of spirit, the same deep satisfaction that literal sheep enjoy when resting in the presence of a faithful shepherd.

Our time with the Shepherd is necessary, it should be regularly, and we should want to increase our time with Him. Mrs. George uses an analogy that I like when describing how we feel about our time in God's Word. First is the cod~liver oil stage. This is when you take it like medicine to cure whatever may ail you. The second is the shredded wheat stage. You find it to be nourishing but dry. The last stage is the peaches and cream stage. You can't get enough, because you're consumed with passion and pleasure!

2. The Plan for Rest:
The kind of rest God has planned for us in this verse isn't just a quick break to catch our breath. No, our loving Shepherd wants us to stretch out completely and be fully reclined to enjoy total relaxation! It may surprise you to read that some sheep will not lie down. Why, you may ask?
a. Fear: Mrs. George writes of a flock of sheep that refused to lie down because of a large dog that was on the other side of the stream. Even though the shepherd frightened the dog away, the sheep were still fearful. Not until he walked ahead of them to the brook did they relax and settle down.

We are told several times in God's Word not to fear. Read Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6 and Exodus 33:14 and take comfort!

b. Hunger: A sheep will not lie down and receive rest if it is hungry. It is frantic as it wanders around searching for food. "Thus, the discontented sheep adds lack of rest to its problem of lack of food, loses its vigor and vitality, and fails to thrive." However, our Jehovah~Jireh makes sure our food is always available. We just have to decide to feed upon it!

"So many Christians attempt to satisfy their hunger... from an occasional few minutes' "feeding" from the pulpit, from a radio broadcast, or from a television message, while others seek to satisfy their needs from the odd old devotional book, or the occasional Christian programme. This is not enough... to sustain the needy soul on a daily basis.... God provides for us on a daily basis, but we must plan to partake of His provision on a daily basis."

c. Fighting: "A sheep that's involved in or even witnessing fighting also cannot lie down and receive the rest it needs. Battles between members of a flock rob all the sheep of the rest they need because of the tension that exists. Interesting, isn't it?

"Many Christians are weary and worn, not because of intense conflict with the evil one, but because of arguments among themselves. It's frightening to realize the harm done to others when we argue and fight in our homes and in our churches."

3. The Procedure for Rest:
Our Shepherd makes us lie down, even when we may not want to! He does this because He alone knows our future. Only He can know what's around the next bend, the next hill, or on the other side of the green pastures. "Will it be a long, steep climb? Will the path narrow as it leads us around a dangerous mountain? Will the trail take us into the valley of the shadow of death? Are we headed into a desert or a roaring storm?" Only the Shepherd knows.

That's why He makes us lie down! He does this to fortify and energize us so we'll be able to walk through what's ahead. He "makes certain that we won't tire, that we're not at risk because of weariness, that we're invigorated from our pasture~time for any strenuous climb."

Mrs. George writes "As I reflected on God's procedure of making us lie down in His green pastures, I thought of a number of ways that He accomplishes our rest. Illness, surgery, and convalescence afford us time with the Shepherd. So do pregnancy and childbirth. And exhaustion, too, will certainly place us in the grassy pastures of the Lord. Still another category of time in God's pasture involves just plain ol' being passed over, overlooked for service and ministry."

While we wait on the Lord in His green pastures, we have:
Opportunity to learn and trust the Lord.
Growth in patience.
Encouragement and fellowship by/with the Shepherd.
Time to energize for the walk ahead.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures ~ where He creates a resting~place for me to repose in, and there He shall feed me until I am satisfied."

"In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along.
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the water, some through the flood.
Some through the fire, but all through the blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season, and all the day long."