Sabbath Encouragement – Struggling with Stress

This past week, the majority of our church was busy getting ready for an annual festival that is absolutely fun, but most of us were pretty stressed out as deadlines loomed closer.  I came across this sermon by Jago Wynne from All Souls Langham Place and found it so fitting for this past week.  Since stress is something very common these days, I thought you might be encouraged to hear these words as well!

Follow this link to listen to the sermon entitled, “Struggling with Stress.”

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The Only Constant In Life….

The only constant in life is …. CHANGE!

I have to admit, I DON’T LIKE CHANGE!  Life is hard enough as it is, so why complicate it?

However, change is inevitable.  Our children grow, our family grows, friends move away, we learn new things, and blogs have to be remodeled!  🙂

Yes, only two weeks in to my posts and already we are undergoing a remodeling!

I also have to admit that, while I don’t like change, it is usually a good thing and once I get used to the “new” and it becomes the “normal”, I am glad of the difficulty.  Even in the midst of all that changes, I find that I can hold on to the truth of Hebrews 13:8 where it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He doesn’t change.

If you find yourself struggling with changes, be assured that Jesus is still the same and He offers comfort and strength to those who seek Him.

So, please bear with me!  We’ll get through this together.  When the change is done, the plan is for the site to be super, turbo excellent!  Well, at least somewhat improved.  😉

Inventors Wanted

When time is meager, I like to read Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotions as a way to focus my thoughts for the day.  This past Saturday’s entry (from the daily page on The Spurgeon Archive) read as follows:

“And when they could not come nigh unto Him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.”—Mark 2:4.

Faith is full of inventions.  The house was full, a crowd blocked up the door, but faith found a way of getting at the Lord and placing the palsied man before Him. If we cannot get sinners where Jesus is by ordinary methods we must use extraordinary ones. It seems, according to Luke 5:19, that a tiling had to be removed, which would make dust and cause a measure of danger to those below, but where the case is very urgent we must not mind running some risks and shocking some proprieties. Jesus was there to heal, and therefore fall what might, faith ventured all so that her poor paralyzed charge might have his sins forgiven. O that we had more daring faith among us! Cannot we, dear reader, seek it this morning for ourselves and for our fellow-workers, and will we not try to-day to perform some gallant act for the love of souls and the glory of the Lord.
The world is constantly inventing; genius serves all the purposes of human desire: cannot faith invent too, and reach by some new means the outcasts who lie perishing around us? It was the presence of Jesus which excited victorious courage in the four bearers of the palsied man: is not the Lord among us now? Have we seen His face for ourselves this morning? Have we felt His healing power in our own souls? If so, then through door, through window, or through roof, let us, breaking through all impediments, labour to bring poor souls to Jesus. All means are good and decorous when faith and love are truly set on winning souls. If hunger for bread can break through stone walls, surely hunger for souls is not to be hindered in its efforts. O Lord, make us quick to suggest methods of reaching Thy poor sin-sick ones, and bold to carry them out at all hazards.

Being a mother should be one step of faith at a time and frequently, we need to be rather inventive to draw out lessons from our circumstances to teach the little hearts under our care.  Our task of discipling hearts is an urgent one.  How inventive and daring are we willing to be?  Our enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil are very inventive in ways to pull people away from God.  What godly, righteous creativity can we employ to attract our children to God?  Are we living this day so fully aware of our Savior’s presence that we surge forward in our labors with zeal for God’s glory?

I am very challenged by this devotional to refocus my creativity on what lasts and purpose to venture into uncharted territory when needed.  How about you?

NOTE:  Here is the same devotion but on Greg Lane’s blog.  He has some neat stuff to consider.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Ingredients:

  • Corned Beef Brisket
  • Olive oil
  • 1 – 2 onions, cut into thick slices
  • Apple Juice / Water
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 head green or red cabbage
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Rinse brisket and pat dry with paper towels.  Lightly coat with olive oil and place in crock-pot.  Sprinkle with seasoning packet included with brisket.  Add sliced onions throughout crock-pot and between briskets if cooking more than one.  Combine apple juice with water in a 2:1 ratio.  (2 cups apple juice to 1 cup water)  Add mustard and brown sugar to apple juice mixture; stir well.  Pour over brisket.  Continue to mix and add apple juice and water until brisket it covered.  Turn crock-pot to HI for 1 hour then reduce to LO for 6 to 7 hours.  Remove from crock-pot; fat layer should be able to be sliced off easily.  Serve with cabbage and steamed carrots (or rinse off 12 ounces petite cut carrots and place in crock-pot to cook with brisket).

  • Thirty minutes before dinner:

Slice cabbage in thick wedges or in thin strips (personal preference).  In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat.  Add cabbage and cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes per side for wedges or approximately 8 minutes for thin strips.  Combine vinegar, sugar, and 1½ cups water; pour over cabbage and bring to a simmer.  Cook, turning once for wedges and a few times for thin strips, until cabbage is tender and liquid is syrupy, 12 to 15 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

Cook’s Notes:

This recipe came from my mom and has been a favorite every time I fix it!  I usually make two briskets in my large crock-pot so there will be leftovers!  YUM!  Keep watching my posts and I’ll share one of our favorite ways to enjoy these leftovers!

Sabbath Encouragement – Helper By Design

Marriage can be hard and no matter how long you have been married, it is always beneficial to be reminded of the role for which we women were created.  Although this post does not link you to a sermon, it does contain a link to a wonderful talk given by Elyse Fitzpatrick (Women Helping Women Ministries) entitled “Helper By Design.”

With the whir of my sewing machine and the puff of the iron as background noise as I listened (multitasking, you know), I was drawn in to an examination of whether or not I have sought to truly be my husband’s helper.  Have I, instead, believed that with so much on my to-do list, he needs to help me?  (Husband’s are servants, too, but dealing with those issues is not part of my blog – phew!).

Elyse Fitzpatrick also guided me in thinking about what it means to be a helper.  If it seems unclear to you sometimes, (as it does to me), her talk will be helpful.

We can do as God calls us, but we need to look to His resources and His ways!

Follow this link to listen:

Helper By Design

Splash Pad Dad

A few weeks ago, my husband had a day off and after working outside in the morning, it was with relief that we headed out to a local splash pad.  We had a quick picnic lunch, then headed over to the coolness of SPLASHING!!  Preparedness is my motto (or, at least, one of them), so we came armed with several empty yogurt containers.

It wasn’t very busy, this day; just a handful of other kids playing.  However, since I was watching our little guy, I quickly passed off my container to Abigail who had just passed hers to another little boy.  It was with great delight and pride that I watched what happened next.

No matter how hard I try to remember, I just can’t seem to figure out how the whole thing began.  One by one, each of the kids who had been going from one spray station to the next, either found a container or borrowed one and were joining in the fun; playing with our family and relentlessly targeting my husband!  There was such whooping and hollering and smiles and shrieks!  One little guy, about 10 years old, filled his bottle with water and hesitantly sneaked up behind Dan.  I wasn’t sure he would actually follow through.  Finally, he gave Dan a good soaking.  I couldn’t help laughing out loud as he gave a victory whoop and did a little dance.  By the time the other kids were leaving, they were thanking our kids for letting them play with “our dad”!

I love my husband; he is such a great dad!  There is something compelling about a man who is involved with his family.

We came home exhausted and a little sunburned, but so happy to have had Dan home that day — and what a FUN day it was!

As Christians, even more compelling, is our heavenly Father who adopts His people as His very own children.  Consider some of these verses about the Christians’ Heavenly Father:

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:29-32 (NIV)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Maybe this sounds too distant.  Too unreal?  Did you have an absent father?  Are you a single mother?  Knowing the wonderful fatherhood of the only living and true God is essential for homemaking.  Assurance of His love, enables your love to flow freely in your home.  Assurance of His provision, enables a peace in your home.  Assurance of His care, lets you cast your cares on Him.

For more on God as Father, please see Ed Welch’s blog post on the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) website called “When God Looks Like Your Earthly Father.”

Do you want to know more about becoming a Christian?  Please take a look at Timothy Keller’s article on Northwestern University’s Reformed University Fellowship website called “How Can I Know God?

BTW, I wonder what stories the other kids told at dinner that night?

Almond Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup sliced almonds

Directions:

In a mixer bowl, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth and dough begins to form.  With a wooden spoon, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

On a piece of waxed paper, form dough into a rectangular log, about 1-inch thick.  Wrap formed log in the waxed paper and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour and up to three months.  If freezing longer than 1 day, wrap log a second time but with plastic wrap or place in a freezer zip bag.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.  Remove dough from freezer.  (If dough has been in freezer a long time and is frozen solid, let sit at room temperature 30 minutes so it slices without crumbling).

With a sharp knife, cut dough into ¼-inch thick slices; place on parchment lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.  Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 – 25 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer to rack to cool completely.

Cook’s Notes:

These cookies are my family’s favorite!  They melt in your mouth and are irresistible!  Though very simple and quick to make, I always make several batches as they are perfect to have on hand in the freezer!  (Since there are no raw eggs in this dough…….

…….it’s perfect for those who like sneaking cookie dough while baking)!  🙂

It Takes a Family

Being in our family means laughter, love, tears, tickles, dancing, discipleship, serving, and serious silliness!  There is also a “knowing” of one another, knowing what makes us tick, what makes us happy, and what makes us sad!

It wasn’t that way at first when I married my husband.  I was proper, pious, and lacked the ability to relax, have fun and be a companion.  Homemaking was a set of tasks that I undertook with energy and determination; leaving very little for enjoying those early years when it was just my husband and I.  You can imagine the difficulties this caused in our marriage.

But the difficulties weren’t wasted.  God used my husband and children to change my heart!  The changes didn’t come easily and all of us have a long ways to go.  Thankfully my family – first my husband then all my kids – has helped me to relax and to really enjoy life with them and others.

It was by the grace of God through fifteen years of marriage and children that now I find myself dancing in Jimmy Johns – our favorite fast food  place because they have great food, great music , and wacky signs on the wall like, “Dance like no-one is looking”. Thankfully, no one was looking except our oldest daughter, but the situation caused me to realize how truly blessed I am by my husband and how God has used him in my life to bring change to my heart!

Thankfully, I think I have been able to pass on some of my renewed perspective to my children, like with my youngest daughter.  My husband and I know that when she starts being really crazy, something is probably bothering her.  This happened the other night, and after watching her for a moment, my husband addressed the issue, saying, “Alyssa, you need to settle down.  If there is something bothering you, you need to tell us.”  Quickly and without sassiness, she replied, “Nothing’s bothering me, I’m just being a Hamilton!”

Being relaxed about the right things and enjoying relationships isn’t the only thing that matters, but it was big for me.  What about you?  Does God want to restructure your heart in some way through your family?

Whether your family is just you and your husband or the two of you and any number of children, God frequently uses these family relationships to bring change to our hearts — where homemaking truly begins!

Midwest Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Russet potatoes
  • 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ bag fresh spinach
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1-½ cups cottage cheese
  • 1-½ cups mayonnaise
  • Salt to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-½ package pre-cooked bacon, crumbled

Directions:

Place scrubbed potatoes in a large pot with largest potatoes on bottom; cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cook potatoes until fork tender.  Drain and cool.  Peel potatoes and dice.  Cut spinach leaves into bite-size pieces.  Mix potatoes, spinach, green onions, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, salt, paprika, and mustard together in a large salad bowl.  Sprinkle bacon on top.

Cook’s Notes:

I first made this recipe in 2007.  Generally, I’m not too keen on potato salad, but the flavors blend together to produce a flavor I find irresistible!  The mayonnaise can be substituted with Greek yogurt for a gluten-free version; decrease to 1 cup.

LOADS of fun…..Homemade Detergent

After the busyness and fun of this past four-day weekend, I found myself wading through several loads of laundry this morning.  I began wondering how it was possible for six people to generate THIS much laundry?  Thankfully, I didn’t run out of detergent this time.  Have you ever had that happen?  It is amazing to me how I can go from dreading laundry to being upset that I can’t do it because I ran out of detergent – shouldn’t I be glad?  It is usually several months, though, before this happens again because I start buying or making extra to prevent the unfortunate experience from occuring again anytime soon!

My favorite laundry detergent is homemade because then I know the exact ingredients – plus, it is SO easy!

One of the reasons I avoid store-bought detergent is that most contain ingredients I can’t even pronounce!  We are inundated with chemicals and toxins in our detergents, deodorants, baby wipes, plastic ware, and right down to some salad dressings!  Eliminating as many of these unnecessary chemicals could potentially benefit your health and the health of your family in years to come.  If you have ever wanted to know what some of those ingredients really are so you can make informed choices, check out this great glossary from Gimme the Good Stuff.  This is a great resource for discovering what to avoid, why it should be avoided, and a handy “skin deep” score with 0 being of low concern and 10 being of high concern.

If you want to give making your own detergent a try, the following is my favorite “recipe”:

Ingredients:

  • 3 gallons of hot water
  • ¾ cup borax
  • ¾ cup washing soda
  • 1-½ cup liquid castile soap
  • 30 drops essential oil (optional)

Directions:

Measure hot water into a bucket.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk until dissolved.  Ladle into empty 1-gallon jugs!  Use one to two cups per load.

My Laundry Notes:

I like using both lavender castile soap and essential oil, and since lavender is supposed to create a sense of calm, well, imagine being relaxed while doing laundry!  🙂