Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Train Your Thoughts

My mind can take some big jumps. It goes off on tangents and exaggerates and fills in the blanks with its imagination. If I thought I could get by without it, I'd fire it! Seriously though, my thoughts can cause me big problems! God gave us our minds with all their abilities and He also commands us to control our thoughts.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.                       2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
We are also told in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind by in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." God wants our thoughts to honor Him and benefit us.  God even gives us a checklist to measure our thoughts by in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there by any praise, think on these things." So what do we do when our thoughts don't measure up? Cast them out!

Easier said than done, right? We need to have something to replace our wrong thoughts. When I am struggling with fear, worry, criticism, anger, or some other thought that doesn't line up with God's Word, I can replace it. Here are some things I use to replace wrong thoughts.

1. The Bible! Read it. When you absolutely can't get something out of your head, go read your Bible. If you are paying attention you will not be able to think those things at the same time. Memorize it. Find verses that apply to what you are struggling with and learn them. Then you can quote it to yourself if you can't get to your Bible.

2. Sermons. I listen to sermons frequently while going about my work around the house. Not only are you concentrating on that instead of your wrong thoughts, but the Scripture will be changing your life at the same time.

3. Good music. Listen to music that uplifts and encourages you. There are plenty of songs that remind us of God's attributes and abilities.

4. Praise. Stop whatever you are thinking and start praising God. Thank Him for everything He's given you. Do this multiple times a day.

5. Pray. God can handle your emotions. You can tell Him your fears. You can tell Him how someone hurt your feelings. You can tell Him the things that make you mad. You don't have to tell everybody else. And then you can leave those things with God.

I also try very hard to be careful what I put into my mind. I watch very little television. My husband and I typically watch some show that we carefully pick out and that's about it. I don't watch the news. I'm careful about what music I listen to and what books I read.

Let's try to line our thoughts up to God's Word this week and see how it affects our lives!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

How much our soldiers and their families have sacrificed! I am thankful for everything they have given and for our wonderful country!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Favorites: Reminders

A Week of Reminders

1. A friend of mine from college visited this week. She is preparing to go to Papua New Guinea to work on Bible Translation with Wycliffe. What a challenge! But it made me think about how very thankful I am to have the whole Bible in my own language! And to be able to read it!

2. Justin and I took Micah to the playground last night. Every time I go to the playground I am reminded how careful I want to be about my tone of voice! Most of the parents' tones make me want to cringe.

3. People always come before my lists. The needs of my family are more important than any to-do list I might have. That's often hard for me to realize when I'm busy checking things off my list :)

Micah was wearing Justin's shirt this morning. It was pretty funny!

He was waiting on Daddy to open the door!

I think he enjoyed the shirt. He's an adorable child!

Wearing daddy's sunglasses at the park!

Driving the lawn mower around the yard!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Times of Adversity

Sometimes life isn't what you expected or wanted or hoped for. Sometimes you get bad news. Sometimes people hurt you. Sometimes you are discouraged, let down, or fearful about the future. But God is using those times to shape you into the person that He can see you being. He has a beautiful master plan that we cannot see.  Even knowing that, you have to make it through those valleys. Here are some things that have helped me in the past.

Helps for the Hard Times.

1. Reaffirm your commitment to Christ regardless of the outcome of the situation.  It reminds you what your goal in life is and I believe it warms God's heart as well.  Job 13:15, "Though he slay me yet will I trust him:"

2. Don't blab your problems to everybody you see. Nothing screams "I don't trust God!" more than "I'm so upset! You'll never believe what happened!  What am I going to do???" Take your problems to Jesus. You can tell Him over and over and He won't get tired of hearing you. And tell a trusted advisor or friend so they can be praying with/for you.

3. Pray for the needs of others. Their problems are as big to them as yours are to you. It's also good to get your mind off yourself.  Matt. 7:7-11, Luke 11:5-13

4. Spend extra time giving thanks. It's easy to get totally caught up in the problems and miss the wonderful things God has done and is doing in your life. Remind yourself of how God has manifested Himself in your life in the past.

5. Memorize Scripture. Quote it to yourself over and over to remind yourself of God's truth. Some of my favorite verses in hard times include Is. 43:2,7; Is. 26: 2-3; Pro. 18:10; Ps 23; Is. 41:10, 13; Jer. 29:11; Ps. 138:3; Ps. 139. Quote them to yourself over and over and over to combat fear and worry and to remind yourself that God is in control and has not left you.

6. Rest extra. I find it's harder to keep from feeling overwhelmed when I am tired. Take a short nap. Get in bed earlier.

7. Follow your normal routine. Did that sound contradictory to Number Six? You do need extra rest but it does not help you or your family for you to sit and stare at the wall. Get up and get going. God will give you strength.  Especially be faithful to your Bible reading and prayer time, your work at church, and your service to your family.

8. Look for ways to bless others. Once again, take the focus off yourself and bless someone else.

There is an end to everything, even the darkest trials. And God is working even when we can't see it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicken Alfredo

I love pasta! And Olive Garden is at least an hour away so it's necessary to make it myself. And it's much cheaper that way too!  And please don't look up how healthy this dish is. It's not. I have a friend on Weight Watchers and she calculated the Weight Watchers points. It's better not to know! 

It's a very simple dish to make. Only a few ingredients.
3/4 pound pasta of choice- I used penne becaues it's much less messy than fettuccine
1 1/2 cups broccoli, frozen or fresh
2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli for the last three minutes of cooking time. Do this while you are completing the following steps. Melt butter and small amount of oil in deep pan.

Add mushrooms and cook for two or three minutes.

Pour in heavy whipping cream. Add garlic.

Cook until sauce starts to thicken. It should lightly coat the back of the spoon. Add parmesan cheese and stir while cheese melts.

Slice chicken. I put cajun seasoning on two chicken breasts and seared both sides. Then I cooked for 10-12 minutes in oven until juices ran clear.

Drain your pasta and broccoli.

Add pasta and broccoli to sauce. (This is why you use a deep pan!) Stir to combine and top with more cheese. Then add the chicken and stir.

I made French bread and cut it in half lengthwise. Top with softened butter, garlice, and parmesan cheese.

Toast until broiler until brown. Slice!

Dish up pasta and serve with garlic bread.

Interesting notes: If you are short on sauce you can add milk and stir. Also, to reheat, add a tablespoon of milk and warm in microwave.

This is one my favorite meals! Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Favorites: Sewing Table


Micah eating a snack and watching Mary Poppins. Isn't he adorable? And he loves cheerios.

Micah's nutritionist had a company send us a low-protein cookbook. I'm very excited to try some of the recipes. They look delicious and appear easy to make!

My hubby bought a table for my sewing machine. My mother-in-law gave me the machine (yes, she's wonderful!) but it's very heavy and I can't lift it right now. So it's been sitting on the closet floor. Not very useful there!

Now my machine is useable! So to figure out how to use it...I guess I'll have to not nap at naptime and play around with it! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mothering Goals

I like simple. It's much less confusing and overwhelming that way. So here are my goals as a mother.

1. Love my kids. I pray every day for God's love for my children. I want them to always know that I love them. Even when they disobey. Even when I'm up at two in the morning with my two-year-old. (I have nightmares of this still happening when he's 10!) I want to make life fun for our family. And so much of that depends on my attitude! Did we just come back to this again? My children are priceless to me. They should know that.

2. Train my kids. I want to teach them the Bible, character, manners, habits, etc. This is why I like to have my kids with me; I can't teach them anything or train them in anything if they aren't around! I read a quote about parenting once that said, "You can't take anybody further than you've gone yourself."  How challenging is that? Mothering has been one of the best motivations to go to God for change for myself!

If I can focus on these two things every day, the rest will fall into place. I'm so glad I don't have to try to concentrate on every little detail. Focusing on these two goals will affect how I handle the everyday moments of life. And those everyday moments add up to a lifetime of memories! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chicken Stir-Fry

My mom made this when I was growing up. I have a funny suspicion that she still makes it! Thanks for teaching me how to cook, Mom!

2 spoons cornstarch (I seriously use a regular kitchen spoon to measure my sauce. If that makes you nervous, use a tablespoon instead.)
1 chicken bouillon cube
4 spoons soy sauce
2 spoons garlic terriyaki sauce
1 cup water

Chopped veggies of your choice: I used mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, and squash. I've also used onion, zucchini, etc. Take your pick. You can also use a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies.
2 chicken breasts, cubed: If you use another meat, just change the bouillon cube. I've made this with steak and used a beef bouillon cube. 

Here are the ingredients for the sauce. Measure and combine.

Seriously. It's a kitchen spoon :)

My plate of pre-chopped veggies.

Saute veggies in oil over medium heat until tender. I cook mine one at a time. First carrots, then another, etc. Remove from pan into bowl. Start another veggie.

Cook sauce over medium-law until thick and bubbly. Turn down to low. If sauce gets too thick, add more water. Stir frequently.

After all the veggies are cooked, cook your meat.

Add veggies back to pan. Cook until warm.

Pour sauce over veggies and chicken. stir well.

Serve over rice!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

“Mothers are always on call, expected to have all the answers and limitless energies. They’re supposed to do everything; it’s taken for granted. How can you be and do everything expected of you? What you need is a habitual sense of the presence of God. Think that Almighty God, who created the stars and keeps the seasons revolving in perfect rhythm, is there in your kitchen, in your bathroom, in the laundry room, in the grocery store. Mothers, be prepared for an arduous struggle. Your calling is impossible without prayer, the comfort and instruction of the Scriptures and fellowship in your church.”
~Elisabeth Elliot

"You fulfill yourself by denying yourself, preparing the people you can’t live without to live without you"
~Andrew Ferguson

Friday, May 11, 2012

Home Improvement

My wonderful husband painted our shutters last week and he got them hung tonight! It took much longer to paint them than to hang them. I think he was glad that was over! But the house looks so much better!

I picked the lovely dark blue/gray color. There was a house that I passed every day when I drove to high school that had the light gray brick and that color shutters. And I loved that house! God is so good to grant us even little things.

We've been working on landscaping. My husband has pulled up or cut down several bushes and my parents have planted and mulched and planted and mulched. We're still planning on trimming those crazy bushes in the front but we didn't want to chop them all down and leave it bare :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Work and Knowledge

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsufferingwith joyfulness.      Colossians 1:10-11
Ever had a verse slap you in the face? These did that to me a few weeks ago. I've read them over and over before. I've even studied them for months as this was my book in Bible Quizzing one year in high school. But the last time I read them they seemed totally remarkable!  I'm working on memorizing these two verses because they speak, very convictingly, to me on a couple of subjects.

First of all, I want to live my life in a way that pleases God. That is laid out as the primary objective.

Secondly, verse 10 describes a very important balance. I love learning. I always loved school (weird, I know!) and going to school. And increasing in the knowledge of God is mostly learning, studying, listening. That part makes me feel like I'm pleasing God. And sometimes I feel like I don't do enough of it.  But guess what? My little boy needs to be taught and trained. My husband needs time and attention. Dinner needs to be cooked. These are not second-class activities. They aren't works that I have to do but God rolls His eyes because they take up so much of my time. God designed them as part of my eternal work as a wife and mother.

That's where that phrase "Being fruitful in every good work" smacked me right in the nose! Being fruitful in good works pleases God just as much as my time increasing in the knowledge of God. Fruitful means "productive, plenteous, abundance." My good works should be growing and growing each day! What do my good works include? Reading to Micah, cooking dinner, washing clothes, playing in the yard, mopping the floors, singing at church, working in the nursery, soul-winning, grocery shopping, etc. 

That changes my perspective so much! Instead of seeing the work of my life as a necessary evil that removes me from studying the Bible I can see my work as pleasing God. I can see my work as part of that vital balance that should characterize all believers. Why? Because what we learn in the Bible should affect our lives or it's not very real.

Everything in its appropriate place. God would not be happy with me if I replaced my time studying and learning His Word with work. But neither would He be happy if I neglected the great work He has given me to simply store knowledge in my head. And it would only be in my head. If it affected my heart, it would affect my life! So let what you are learning affect how you live! Grow in those good works knowing that God is smiling as you do! (Oh, and we'll come back to verse 11 later :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chicken Carbonara Pizza

Domino's has been giving away free Artisan pizzas on Facebook over the past couple of weeks. Justin and I have been fortunate enough to win them twice! We picked the chicken carbonara pizza both times and I'm glad we did. They are delicious! But we would never spend the $8 on a little pizza like that so I decided to try to make them myself.

I'm going to walk you through how I cooked my chicken and made my pizza crusts. Feel free to use whatever chicken and crusts you want. To save time for myself, I cooked my bacon that morning while I made breakfast and then cooked the chicken while I made lunch. Then at night I just had to make the crusts and top the pizzas. These crusts also freeze great! I tossed the two extra in the freezer and thawed them to make pizza later that week.

Makes 6 individual pizzas.

3 chicken breasts, cooked
5 slices bacon, crumbled
1 package mushrooms, sliced
1 fresh tomato, diced
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups Italian blend cheese, or use more mozzarella and parmesan
1/2 cup marinara
1/2 cup alfredo 


Cut your chicken breasts in half or pound flat. Then season liberally with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Don't worry about measuring; just shake it on!

Fry in pan over medium-high heat until seared. Flip and brown the other side. You are not trying to cook it through.

 Place in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until juices run clear. Let cool and cut into cubes.

Pizza Crust:

3 packages (3 tbsp) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
cooking spray

Combine first three ingredients in a 2 cup glass measuring cup; let stand five minutes. Combine yeast mixture, flour, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stirring until well-blended. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead five minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 30 minutes or until doubled. Punch dough down and knead lightly.

Cooking is always more fun with the munchkin playing trains in the kitchen floor!

Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape a piece into a ball and roll out into a circle roughly 8 inches in diameter.

Fry in a skillet over medium heat until browned and puffy.

The dough will puff up like this.  Flip and cook for a few minutes on the other side. Let cool on wire rack for a few minutes before using. This will give you a nice, firm crust. You can also freeze the crusts here.


Place crusts on pan.

Add desired amount of marinara sauce. Then top with alfredo sauce.

Smooth both sauces onto the dough.

Layer mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, and chicken onto pizza.

Continue to add bacon and tomatoes, if desired. I left the tomatoes off of my pizza. My husband had tomatoes on his.

Top with Italian blend cheese, or more mozzarella and a little parmesan.

 Bake at 450 until cheese is melted and crust is browned.

Delicious! And easy too. Justin says these are better than Domino's but he might be biased!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Helping Myself Out

I’ve been adjusting little things over the past few weeks in an attempt to smooth out some rough spots in our routine.  Also, I think these adjustments will help as we prepare to welcome a newborn to our home!

1.       Prepping dinner at breakfast/lunch. Since I plan my menus I always know what we are eating for dinner.  Often between 4-5 in the afternoon I am highly unmotivated to go dirty my whole kitchen and work on complicated dishes. And Micah frequently wants a lot of attention then. So I’ve been doing as much prep work as possible in the times I’m already in the kitchen. We rarely have large breakfasts or lunches so this works out well. For example, one morning before we left for Toddler Time at the library I made a shepherd’s pie and washed up the dishes. Then when it was time to eat I only had to pop it in the oven. Another time I was preparing chicken carbonara pizza. I cooked the bacon during breakfast and the chicken at lunch. Those dishes were washed and the toppings for my pizza were ready.

2.       Finding a wake-up time that works. I get up at 6:45. Unless Micah’s been up a lot during the night then we adjust for a little more sleep and a better attitude. That way, I can read my Bible, get dressed, start a load of laundry, and get myself mostly ready for the day before Micah gets up.

3.       Incorporating more chores into my morning routine with Micah.  After Micah’s up, we water the plants on the front porch, change the laundry, make the beds, and pick up bedrooms. Then we move to the kitchen and while we’re cooking breakfast we empty the dishwasher and straighten up in there.  Micah actually helps me with most of these chores so we are spending time together and he’s learning to work!

4.       Working in 30 minute blocks of time. I try to alternate between hands-on playing with Micah and other activities. He watches Mary Poppins and plays with toys on his own while I practice piano. Then we read. And then we might clean. And then go outside and play. We don’t always do it in the same order but he’s not “ignored” for long periods of time either. Even when it’s not hands-on with him, he’s still very involved. He helps me with simple parts of chores and he comes up and plays the piano with me while I practice sometimes.

5.       Going to bed earlier. Remember how I said I’ve been getting up at 6:45? Yeah, we’ve been going to bed at 11 instead of 12 too. Works much better. And I know I need to be in bed earlier consistently before we have Kevin.

6.       Staying off the computer! We play music on the computer most of the morning. But I try to check my email in the morning and then once during the rest of the morning. Facebook beware! It’s mostly banned from the morning check until naptime.

7.       Finishing. I love to cross things off my to-do list. And I love to have things done by naptime. Starting laundry when I get up allows me to mostly be done by lunchtime. I’m not freaking out if I’m not but that’s my goal. Also I like to have my cleaning done before naptime.

Obviously all these things don’t happen every day. But they are slowly becoming part of our routine and I can tell they are making an impact! What’s the saying? “If you shoot for nothing, you’ll get there every time!”