Monday, December 31, 2012

An Old Habit I'll Never Break

If  you've read a few of my posts, you've most likely seen me mention scripture memory. Of all of the habits that I have tried to pick up, it's one that I have actually stuck with, and I'll tell you why: it has truly changed my life. Psalm 119:9-11 says,
"How can a young man (or woman) keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you. Let me not wonder from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
The results of "hiding God's word in my heart" have been amazing! Almost immediately after I memorized the first passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, God started using it to gently remind me not to complain about temporal circumstances. God has also revealed to me the importance of confessing my faults not only to Him, but to a trusted believer, and then asking for prayer to overcome the sin (James 5:16). Silently meditating through all of our passages got Ben through his first marathon in April, and one verse in particular stood out to him:
Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Through developing this habit, God has changed my heart, resulting in a changed thought process. When conflicts arise, when stress hits me in the stomach, when my friends are hurting, when my toddler is disobeying, I have the wisdom of God stored inside to direct me. I've been re-programmed.
My idle time is spent differently. Couch time does not always involve TV watching- instead we will "quiz" each other; and car rides have definitely become more interesting. Even Rush, our 3-year-old has started memorizing verses. Here's where I got his plan.
Speaking of re-programming, our pastor issued a challenge to our church yesterday morning (the last Sunday of  2012) to read one chapter of the Bible a day for all of 2013. In his sermon about the importance of knowing God's Word, he explained that being in God's word as a habit will re-program our minds. I can attest to that this is absolutely true! 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (one of our memorized passages) says:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
 I feel trained and equipped more than ever! But there is still so much more for me to learn! I am so, so thankful for the blessing of God's Holy Word, and I cannot wait to see what I learn from it in 2013! I urge you to join me in memorizing one verse or passage per week and reading one chapter a day this new year. If you need a reading plan, visit our church website. You will also find a link to our pastor's blog where he will be sharing his thoughts on each day's reading.
I pray that 2013 is a year full of new wisdom for you as you make every effort to get to know Him more and more!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Staying Centered


I have started reading the book that I mentioned earlier this month called Worldliness. So far, it is great, very straightforward and convicting, and also easy to read. I am looking forward to what the Lord might reveal to me as I study this book.

This time of year it is near impossible to not get sucked into a "worldly" or materialistic mindset. I admit that there were moments when I was shopping for gifts in which I started shopping for myself! I love buying & giving gifts for our family. We are very blessed in that we do not deal with any of the "expecting a nice gift" from our family members, and we only give gifts to our immediate family members. (Sometimes we will decide to play a white elephant game with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but that's only every few years.) Considering what I have heard some of my friends and acquaintances complaining about with being obligated to buy a gift for every single person down to Great-Aunt Carol's son from Minnesota whom you only see at Christmas, we, as a family, have it easy. I think that having less to buy makes it easier for us to keep focused on what the True Meaning of Christmas is. I realize that this sounds very cliche and "Sunday School-ish," but as we have whittled down our list of people-to-buy-for and what-to-buy over the years, I know that it is true. Maybe if I planned ahead better, I could buy for all of our cousins and their children and all of our aunts and uncles and still remember why Christmas even happens, but I am not so sure. Of course, this is only my personal experience. I am not at all suggesting that you do not acknowledge Christ's birthday if you buy gifts for every person that you come in contact with; this is just what has become necessary in my life in order to not slip into a worldly celebration of a Holy holiday.

We had a fun opportunity this year to read the daily Christmas (Advent) devotional called A Meaningful Christmas Devotional. Along with a short and simple daily reading, which we did at breakfast,there is a coordinating handmade ornament to help your child better understand the topic for the day. The ornaments were made by 24 different women (including myself), as each was assigned a specific day's topic and instructions to make 24 copies of the ornaments. The ornaments were shared at a meeting where we received the devotional book. It was a great experience for our family, and another way that we were able to keep Christ at the center of Christmas. Rush asked every morning, "Are we going to read the yellow book, Daddy?" If you think you might be interested in doing this devotional, you can go to the Facebook page for more info.


I completed my first half-marathon on December 9th! The Lord protected me during the race- no pain and no fatigue! I am currently training toward my second coming up on February 9.

New Book

Ben and I started reading another book together- Sheet Music. It's one that I have read before, but Ben has not. I will not go into any details, except to say, if you're not married, you shouldn't read it. (There are a couple of chapters that the author suggests for engaged couples close to the wedding date.) Anyway, it's about sexual intimacy within marriage, and how great a gift from God it is. I think that any married couple would benefit from reading it. But I must warn you: it will make you blush. ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fabric-covered foam balls

Several months ago, I had pinned a photo of some really cute fabric-covered balls. But alas, the photo was just that- a photo. It had no instructions. But I thought, how hard can that really be?!

I had some fabric scraps from some pillow covers that I made a few years ago, and I had an empty basket that I had stumbled upon in an antique store. I decided to try making them, so I went to my craft store to find some foam balls- got 'em. I picked up two grapevine balls as well for a little more texture. I was ready to craft!

Here's what you need:

desired number of foam balls (I purchased 6. Yes, I still have one more to make. :))
2 or 3 colorful, coordinating fabrics
craft glue
measuring tape

Measure around your ball. (I think mine were about 7" circumference.)
Cut strips of fabric about 1" thick (they do not have to be exact) and slightly longer than your circumference measurement. (It took around 12 strips of fabric to cover.)

To attach the fabric to the balls, there are a couple of different ways you could do it. Here's what I did: using squeezable craft glue, I dispensed the glue onto the individual fabric strips in a curvy pattern, thinly, then wrapped the fabric around the ball one strip at a time.

You could probably put craft glue all over the ball and then wrap the strips around.

Little tidbit: try not to start each strip at the same point or the ends of your fabric will be too obvious.

Let them dry completely before putting in your display container. And, voila!

You could totally do this as a seasonal decoration using themed fabrics or colors of whatever season you choose.

Fun & easy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Family Weekly Calendar

I recently created a weekly calendar for our family to help keep me more organized. It's a standard 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. I have a space at the top for our weekly memory verse, and seven columns each with three rows: one for activities & appointments, one for to-do's, and one for meal planning. I keep it on my refrigerator next to a running grocery list. I hope to create a grocery list to match my calendar as well. Just click on this picture to see the larger version. If you would like to use this calendar, leave a comment, and I will email you the Publisher file so that you can make it yours!

I have a couple other craft/DIY projects that I hope to share with you soon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A little of this, and a little of that...

Where did I last leave off?

BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)!

We are studying the book of Genesis. It is amazing how looking at such a familiar story piece-by-piece can change your perspective. I never thought about how Genesis really is the basis for what we Christians believe. We are only on chapter 4, but I have learned so much thus far. I am loving this study!

Family time!

Ben has been traveling some again, but we have been trying to be more deliberate about spending quality time together as a family. Our babes have an early bedtime, so our weekdays don't have enough hours for anything outside of home that includes Ben. Don't get me wrong- one of my favorite things is being at home with my family. Side note: It is a personal struggle of mine to try to play "catch-up" on household stuff when Ben is home on the weekends; you know, those things that you just can't do when you have little ones in the house. So, a couple of weeks ago we got to do my absolute favorite thing- go hiking. I carried Lottie and Ben carried Rush. We got rained on, and Ben saw a bear! (I am glad I didn't see it; let's just say I have a reverent fear of black bears.) But we had a great time! The kids did really well for being in the packs for 8 miles. Rush even hiked part of the trail, including 2 river crossings (I covered my eyes). It was refreshing for my soul.

Stay tuned... we haven't been backpacking since I was pregnant with Lottie (September 2011) and we want to go soon (sans babies). I'll certainly post about it if we can make it happen!

We also went to a fun little fall festival near our house last weekend. Rush had a good time looking at all the antique tractors and we enjoyed the apple fritters! Sunday last week, Ben and I got to go on a long run together, as we are prepping for a half-marathon next month. I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into!!!

Baby stuff!

Our sweet little Lottie is nine months old today! I know what my mom was talking about now when she would tell us to stop growing up! She is such a sweet little girl. She is has been very mobile now for about 2 months, though I would not call it crawling. We have a couple of nicknames for her style: "inchworming" & "mermaiding!" Her two bottom front teeth came in a couple of weeks ago, and now she's working on more- thank God for modern medicine. Lottie loves her big brother; even when he is tackling her or standing on her or whacking her with a bat, she smiles and giggles. I hope that someday they will be able to be true friends. Time really is flying, and from what I hear, it's not going to slow down.

Toddler stuff!

Our (not so) little Rush will be 3 years old in a couple of weeks! Whoa! Who knew parenting a toddler boy could be such an emotional roller coaster?! Rush is such a fun little boy! He is constantly in motion; he loves all things sports, but more than anything he likes to make up his own games with balls, rackets, and golf clubs, e.g., throwing golf balls on the roof to see if they will get stuck in the gutter! He is his father's son! What a blessing to be chosen to be the mommy of this little ball of silliness, creativity and physical coordination!

Rush has also become a full-blown sinner. I would label him as "strong-willed," but I am sort-of "anti-label," AND- aren't all toddlers strong-willed? I wouldn't know since he is my first. I digress.... We just call Rush our rebel. We can tell that he is going to always struggle with going against authority. I am praying hard that all of our little talks about sinning and obeying/honoring God are not going in one ear and out the other, and that someday the repetition will make it (the Gospel) "click."

If you think of it, please pray for me as I react to direct and repetitive disobedience. I realize that this is an issue that every parent deals with; I know I am not alone. But I am a sinner too, and an emotion-filled one at that! I do not want my reaction to my children's disobedience to have a negative effect on their heart's response.


I've been able to be a little more creative in the kitchen lately (which I love, but don't have as much time for anymore.) Last Friday, I whipped up two loaves of homemade bread- banana bread and pumpkin bread. They were amazing and made my kitchen smell like heaven!
While Ben was out of town last week, I decided to make a vegetarian dinner for myself. He doesn't mind vegetarian, but I usually don't have any leftovers if I make something with no meat- he eats it all in one meal! Eggplant sounded good to me, so I went with this one from Rachael Ray (you know I love her!). I had made this once a long time ago, and I must have forgotten how good it was. Oh my! I am still eating the leftovers, and I will be sad when they are all gone. This meal was SUPER-EASY to make. Highly recommend it! Here's the recipe:


6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
8 slices day-old Italian bread
1 large eggplant
4 beefsteak tomatoes or 8 plum tomatoes
2 medium zucchini
1/2 cup basil, torn
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Fully grease a baking dish, using the first 2 tablespoons of EVOO. Line the baking dish with the eight slices of bread. Drizzle another 2 tablespoons of the EVOO over the bread.
Slice the eggplant into 1/4-1/2-inch thick slices. Slice the tomatoes and zucchini the same thickness. Line the eggplant over the bread. Next, layer the tomatoes and zucchini. Sprinkle the torn basil over the veggies and drizzle the rest of the EVOO over everything. Sprinkle the cheese over the veggies, followed by the salt and pepper.
Bake, uncovered, for an hour and serve hot by slicing into squares.

Ineffective & Unproductive  

So, I have felt kind of "numb" lately (the last month or so). Couldn't really explain it; couldn't put words to a prayer about it; my spirit just seemed "dry."

This past week we added a couple of verses to a passage that we have already committed to memory (verses 3-7 & 10-11).
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 2 Peter 1:8-9
I have been trying to meditate on these qualities (mentioned in the preceding verses): faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness & love, and how I can "increase" in these in my heart. But I was still feeling pretty empty on Sunday. It was (again!) one of those instances where I heard exactly what I needed to hear while at church. (I don't know why this blows me away now, as many times as it has happened.) Our pastor preached from Acts (part of a series) about the ministry of the Holy Spirit (HS). The HS should enliven us (John 6:63), enlighten us (John 16:13), examine us (John 16:8), and empower us (Acts 1:8). As believers, we have no excuse for being ineffective & unproductive! Don't forget what you have been cleansed from! The Holy Spirit has given us everything we need to get through this journey called life. Be fruitful!




Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

1 egg
1 can pumpkin (1 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup oat bran (or 1/3 cup oat bran + 1/3 cup ground flax seed)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
Can also add semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup).

Preheat oven to 325* (425* for muffins).
Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl; make a "well" in the dry ingredients. Combine pumpkin, egg, vanilla, milk & applesauce into dry ingredients, stirring well. Pour into loaf pan or lined muffin cups; sprinkle top(s) with pumpkin seeds (optional) and chocolate chips if desired. Bake loaf 45 minutes-1 hour, and muffins (at 425*) 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012


"What kind of excitement are you sensing right now as the Spirit "hovers over" (Genesis 1:2) your study of His Word?"
(From BSF notes)

Does your Bible study time ever get you excited? I will be honest and say that a lot of the time, for me, it doesn't. I am so excited right now, though, as I have begun this systematic study through BSF.

"Are you now aware of a life-giving movement of God's Holy Spirit drawing you toward God and preparing your heart to receive God's spiritual light?"

A good study is life-giving and invigorating to my soul!

Do you have a way of studying that makes you wanna shout? Please share!!!

On a much less serious note, look at this cute notebook I found for my BSF materials! I LOVE school supplies and this is first time I have gotten to buy any since 2004.

I am hoping that we can get a post from Ben soon... who's with me?!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September Freezer Recipes

Chicken Artichoke Bake (from Taste of Home)

  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup seasoned stuffing cubes

In a large bowl, combine soup and mayonnaise. Stir in the chicken, artichokes, water chestnuts, rice mix with contents of seasoning packet, mushrooms, onion, pimientos and pepper.
Spoon into a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish.

Freeze if desired.

Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.

Sprinkle with stuffing cubes. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until edges are bubbly and rice is tender.

Vegetable Beef Soup ( quick, yummy & budget-friendly!)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (you could make this with ground turkey or go vegetarian by omitting the meat all together)
  • 16 oz. frozen mixed veggies
  • large can of seasoned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 pkg. onion soup mix
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup water

Brown the ground beef. Transfer to a freezer bag or container with all remaining ingredients and freeze (if desired).

For slow cooker: Thaw slightly (or completely) and cook on high for 4 hours or low 6-8 hours.

For stove top: thaw completely and transfer to a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer (covered but vented) for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

We are having this tonight! Perfect way to end a rainy day!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Changing Seasons

It seems like people in East Tennessee get the most excited about fall of all the seasons. I know there are lots of reasons for this, but here are some of my own:

  • Perfect temperatures: more pleasant outside playtime, hiking, camping, eating dinner on the back deck, windows open in the morning and at night. 
  • The food: I love using my slow-cooker and fixing all the yummy comfort foods that I associate with cooler weather.  
  • The beauty: I feel like God gave me an extra little blessing by placing me in the Smokies. Wow! The leaves changing is an incredible sight to see! I love the colors of fall... if you have been in my house, you know this. I love all things brown & orange & red! Fall even has a certain scent that I love. [side note: speaking of scents, I went to Bath and Body Works to get some refills for my wallflower plug-in and I discovered a new one that I am loving: Plum Wine Amber... heavenly! ]
  • Rush's birthday: this year is his 3rd! It seems like yesterday I woke up to my water breaking. I have fun planning his party, and this year will be extra fun since he actually has little "friends" that will be coming. He has asked for a "Choo Choo" theme. :)

Speaking of all things fall, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I would like to make some homemade granola. I pinned a recipe for pumpkin granola a month or so ago and I have been waiting for the right time to make it. I gave it my own little twist...

5 cups rolled oats (I reduced by 1/4 cup & added 1/4 cup ground flax seed)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
¾ tsp. salt
¾ cup brown sugar ( I reduced to 1/2 cup.)
½ cup pumpkin puree (I think it needed just a bit extra (maybe a TBsp) to add moisture where it is lost in reducing the agave.)
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup maple syrup (I used maple flavored agave and reduced to about 1/5 cup.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt. Mix well.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. They will be moist. Evenly spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and stir in dried cranberries and pepitas. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
it turned out to be very yummy! I took a picture of it next to one of the pumpkins from my dad & papaw's garden. :)

Nicole Nordeman has a song called "Every Season" that is one of my favorites. This is the verse about fall. I love how she captures the beauty of each season, but, of course, fall is my favorite!

And even when the trees
Have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves
In mid-September
And sending us inside
Still I notice you when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come
You are autumn
We memorized Jeremiah 17:5, 7-10 quite a while ago, and just this week we added verse 6. It is not the nicest verse, but a great reminder of how much we need to depend on the Lord.
"He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives."
On another true East Tennessee fashion, and as the wife of proud UT grad (I went there too), I will be spending this Saturday in a sea of orange watching the Vols take on the Gators. It will be my first time spending a day away from Lottie. I am looking forward to a fun time with Ben!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Not Good For Woman to be Alone

Ben was gone most of last week... I really hate it when he's gone... have I mentioned that?
He left on Wednesday morning and came home on Saturday evening. Not only was this a longer-than-usual work trip, but it came after a long weekend; I had been spoiled with his presence (one of the dialects of my love language) so it was extra hard to have him gone for 4 days! Did I say that I hate when he is gone?
By Thursday night, I was convicted (through the Holy Spirit and through a phone conversation with Ben) that I was relying too much on Ben's presence for my sense of security. (I almost don't know what to do with myself when he is away... does that ever happen to you?) So, after reading my bedtime devotional from "Utmost," I decided to journal out a prayer to the Lord to forgive me for not calling on him and to have a word that I could call on when I feel insecure. Here is an excerpt from my journal:
While I was writing this prayer, the Lord brought to my mind a line from one of my favorite memory passages: 2 Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness..." I am trying to grab on to this verse whenever I catch myself not relying on Him. It is not good for me to be alone, but I must remember who I need to rely on more! Thankfully, I have the Holy Spirit and a husband who remind me of these things!
On another note, we memorized Proverbs 1:7 a couple of weeks ago and the word discipline was really laying heavy on my heart. I realized (it was being affirmed everywhere around me: pastor, Bible study leader, friend conversations, books- does God talk to you that way???!!!) that I need more spiritual discipline. So, I feel compelled to do two things:
1. get up early to have some quiet time
2. start attending Bible Study Fellowship
My first class was just this morning. I am very excited/intimidated by this in-depth Bible study.
I will only be able to do these two things through the power of the Holy Spirit. Boy, am I a weak little woman! But, "when I am weak, then I am strong!" 2 Corinthians 12:10 (emphasis added) I just want to be "fruitful!"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pantry in a bind?

We try to eat a good variety of non-to-minimally-processed foods. I try not to worry too much about "organic," although I would love to be able to buy all organic- it's just not feasible/reasonable for us (for foods that we eat on a regular or daily basis, I will try to buy organic.) More than anything, I try to offer our family a good variety of "whole" foods while allowing small "indulgences" here & there.

Here are some of our main staples:

milk (whole & 1%)
yogurt (either vanilla greek or Stoneyfield organic vanilla) I buy vanilla because it has the lowest sugar other thank plain yogurt, and you can add whatever fruit, nuts, granola, etc. to make it the flavor that you want.
REAL butter
shredded mozzarella, sharp cheddar & parmesan cheeses (We LOVE cheese!)
chopped walnuts & sliced almonds (They stay good longer in the refrigerator.) for yogurt, oatmeal & baking
salsa (Frontera is our favorite. We also like Garden Fresh Gourmet)
whole Wheat tortillas (for quesadillas, tacos, burritos, etc.)
apples (I rotate in pears & grapes some too.)
matchstick carrots
organic baby spinach (My MAIN staple- I put it in everything!)
red bell pepper (I cook a lot of Rachael Ray recipes, and this is a popular ingredient with her.)
whatever meat I may cook in a week
variety of salad dressings (I try to make a hearty & healthy salad to go with my lunch every day.)

Freezer (other than my freezer meals):
Alexia brand sweet potato fries
Alexia mixed vegetable varieties
32 oz. bags freshly frozen vegetables (mainly corn & mixed veggies for soups)
frozen chopped spinach (the cheapest health food out there, in my opinion)
Perdue lightly breaded chicken tenders for lunch in a pinch
any variety of soup for lunch in a pinch
some kind of ice cream
fresh no sugar-added berries

whole wheat pastas
instant brown rice
dried beans (mainly red)
ground flax seed (I refrigerate it once it's opened.)
whole wheat noodles
organic chicken broth for sauces, soups, casseroles, etc.
canned black beans (One of our MAIN staples.)
variety of canned, no salt added tomatoes (diced, sauce, crushed)
canned tuna
extra virgin olive oil
peanut butter
old fashioned oats or steel cut oats (one of our MAIN staples)
whole wheat or grainy variety bread (one of our MAIN staples)
wheat English muffins or waffles
variety of cereals (usually a granola-type... we don't eat much cereal, but we always keep it for  breakfast in a pinch.)
bananas (one of our MAIN staples)
raisins (one of our MAIN staples)
Blue Diamond almonds (we buy the BIG bags) (one of our MAIN staples)

I have found it hard to completely eliminate processed foods when it comes to snacks. Some of our favorite processed (guilty-pleasure) snacks are:

Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers
Cheese-Its Crackers
"Granola"/ Cereal Bars (I want to start making ours and freezing them, but haven't made the time yet... I'm thinking that will be a good winter project. I've been pinning some homemade recipes on Pinterest.)
Dole fruit cups (oranges, pears & pineapple are Rush's favorites) packed in 100% fruit juice,
applesauce of many varieties but always with no sugar added (Rush's favorite is Materne squeezable apple-cinnamon
Pirate's Booty Cheese Puffs (we like the white cheddar)
tortilla chips
Nesquik Chocolate Syrup (no HCS, unlike Hershey)

I would like to share some of our quick/staple-ingredient meals about once a month in hopes that some of you will share yours with me. Here is one of my new creations from my staple ingredients:

Super Simple & Satisfying Southwest Salad

desired amount of baby spinach
1/4-1/2 cup black beans (always drained & rinsed)
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1.4 cup matchstick carrots
chopped red bell pepper (if you have the time) optional
chopped broccoli (if you have the time) optional
sprinkling of shredded sharp (or mild) cheddar
drizzle of your favorite salsa (I like Herdez Green Tomatillo.)
1-2 crushed tortilla chips
fresh sliced avocado (if you have time) optional
fresh tomato (if you have it on hand)

Build your salad as you like.
Drizzle on the salsa & top with the tortilla chips.
Oh my- it's AMAZING!

We want to start juicing to add in some "zing!" to our diets. We are watching Craigslist closely for a really good quality juicer. Do you have a favorite machine or recipe that you could share with us?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stirring Up!

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near," Hebrews 10:24-25.

This was our memory passage a couple of weeks ago, chosen by me for a reason. Earlier this summer I shared some of my thoughts on community and how much we need each other as Christians. My inspiration was sparked after being in close contact with a group of people that belong to a Care Group (as their church calls it) and after reading a chapter in How People Change called "Change is a Community Project" (chapter 5). So here are my thoughts:

We are saved; we thank God for all our blessings; we go to church (and maybe even Bible Study); we listen to Christian music; we serve in a ministry; we pray before we eat; we tell others that we are Christians. But how do we grow? How are we sanctified? How can we be motivated to stay on track in our Christian walk? Besides our personal relationship with God, I believe that real, intentional, intimate relationships with other believers is the way we can do all of this and thus produce more "love and good works."

Wouldn't it be awesome to have a group of people to share your thoughts and questions with about what you study? (This could be an entire other post, but I feel that Bible-talk should be in our everyday language and conversations SO much more than it is!) I would love to be able to share my sin struggles with a small group of ladies that I admire & trust. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." This is just one of many verses about the benefits of "community" that motivates/convicts me to be more intentional in my friendships.

So, Ben & I have been inspired to, with the help of the Lord, foster some REAL relationships with other Christian families. It is SO hard to do this when you have little ones! (And our weak minds keep coming up with these and other excuses.) Please pray for us as we attempt to do something that we feel very ill-equipped for. More on the specifics later...

I have recently added Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to my library thanks to my brother-in-law. I was talking to him about small groups and community within the body, and he bought the book for us as a gift. I can't wait to read it with Ben! My favorite line on the back description says, "Life Together is bread for all who are hungry for the real life of Christian fellowship."
Here is a picture of Ben and Lottie with Jared, our brother-in-law.

Recently, someone told me that their purpose for being in a small group was to live out all of the "one-anothers" from Scripture, so I looked them up. (This is not a comprehensive list.):

Love one another John 13:34
show mercy and compassion to one another Zechariah 7:9
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Live in harmony with one another.  12:16
Accept one another Romans 15:7
encourage one another 2 Corinthians 13:11
serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Ephesians 5:19
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus Philippians 2:5
Bear with each other and forgive one another Colossians 3:13
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:1
we have fellowship with one another 1 John 1:7

I am pretty far behind on updating our family happenings...

Some of you know that Rush had walking pneumonia last week right before our annual trip to Hilton Head, SC. He is doing MUCH better now, and we did get to take our vacation. (More on that later...)

Ben had been traveling A LOT, but he has been home for a couple of weeks now. :)

We are reading The Five Love Languages together. I had read it a long time ago and then again about a year ago. It is a great marriage-builder. I HIGHLY recommend it! My love language is Receiving Gifts (it's a mixture of the gift of your presence & acts of service/gifts). Do you know your love language???

Freezer Group is next week already!!! I have got to get cooking! I will post my recipes soon.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Here are two recipes that we have tried and LOVED recently:

from Melissa D'Arabian: Steak & Potato Salad.
Delicious! This one would be a fun at-home date night meal.
My own recipe. Ben & Rush approved.

Here are my two freezer recipes for August:

Ham & Swiss Croissant Casserole
Once the dish is prepped, cover tightly with foil and lid (if your dish has one) and freeze. When you're ready to bake it refrigerate for 24 hours to thaw completely, then bake as directed.

Rachael Ray's Mini Chicken Sausage Meatballs
This is a Mills Family favorite! Before baking, freeze the meatballs on a tray to keep them from sticking together, then store in a freezer bag/container. Before baking, put back on a cookie sheet, covered, in the refrigerator to thaw for 24 hours (I think these could be cooked frozen, but I haven't tested it, so I don't know how long/what temperature is best). Then cook as directed.
 Ingredient note: The gnocchi is amazing, but if you have picky eaters, this recipe can be done with any type of pasta. Also, this marinara sauce is great on any pasta. You could make the sauce and freeze it in batches to be used when you need it.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

1 package ground chicken (1 1/3 lbs.)
buffalo wing sauce (you can make your own with hot sauce & butter)
grill seasoning (such as Montreal)
sliced swiss cheese, quartered
crumbled blue cheese (optional)
blue cheese dressing (ranch is fine too)
King's Hawaiian Buttered Rolls
lettuce of choice
tomato, sliced thin

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken with 1-2 TBsp grill seasoning, 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles if desired, and 1/4-1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce. Form small patties (about 3 inches). Cook in a grill pan (or skillet if you don't have one) on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Place 2 quarters of the cheese on top of each slider just as it's finished cooking to melt a bit. Split the rolls to make buns. Spread a little dressing on the bun, top with the slider and lettuce & tomato. Delicious!

These would also be good on top of a salad. Omit the buns, make your favorite salad, and before you drizzle on the dressing put 2 sliders on top.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh, me... oh, my...

SELFISHNESS has been the topic on my mind as of late. We are all selfish by nature. I would estimate that 98% of what I do stems from selfish motives.

Ben came home one evening and posed the question, "Have you ever found yourself enjoying the thought that someone else might want what you have?" My initial response was no, but as I tried to explain my answer, I became convicted that it is certainly something I have been guilty of. We kept talking, and then I remembered something that I had recently read in "Utmost" (as we call it). I definitely struggle to get specific with God about my sins. Do you?

The next day I read a chapter in The Pursuit of God about removing self-sin in order to see God ("Removing the Veil," Chapter III).
"It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature, living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated... It is not too mysterious... nor is it hard to identify. We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there... an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress... It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power... the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love... They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them."
Then Sunday morning, we discussed self-ambition during Bible study, based on the story of Abimelech in Judges chapter 9. A verse that Ben & I memorized echoes the message: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4.

Needless to say, God is speaking to me about selfishness. I am praying for a changed heart. Our memory verse this week is a continuation of a passage that we already memorized. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says,
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Search my heart, show me specifics; mold my heart to be sensitive to the needs of others; may the light of God illuminate my short-comings!

Freezer week!!! My group is down to only 5 members this month, so I only have to prepare 8 meals to send; makes it a little easier, but that means less food for the month. I will post the recipes soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Guy

Ben was out of town most of last week. I don't like when he is gone, but it gave me the chance to make his homemade Father's Day gift without the risk of him seeing it. He loved it!

I am so thankful that Ben is the father of my children. Knowing that I never have to worry about what examples he is setting for them is such a comfort & blessing. May I take a moment to brag? I could list a million things that Ben does for our children that I know will have a positive eternal impact, but here are a few of my favorites:

He prays with them and for them, and now Rush is starting to pray too.
He sings Bible songs with them. Rush knows the books of the Bible because they enjoy singing together so much!
He gives them hugs and kisses freely.
He loves me in front of them so that Rush will know his role and Lottie will know what to look for.

In case you can't tell, I am so proud of my husband. We celebrated our 7th anniversary on Sunday. Without going into too much detail, I will simply say this has been the hardest year, but the BEST year! God has changed our view of what life is really about and it has altered our relationship with Him and with each other. Every day we are learning how to better love each other; how to encourage each other, how to lovingly suggest changes, how to talk about our thoughts, feelings & weaknesses. Our marriage had always been "good," and we thought we were living the "right" way, but here's what Oswald Chambers says about settling for "good and right" in life:

"Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best."
Here's a picture from our wedding:

I want to live my BEST for the Lord and for my husband! I can't do it in my own strength. But if I am sensitive to the Holy Spirit (achieved through study, prayer, repentance, etc.) and my husband is too, then together, we will strengthen each other as individuals and become stronger as a couple, as we strive to do our BEST for His glory.

This leads me to share the verse that I am memorizing this week:
"The end of all things is near.  Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:7-8 

On a much less serious note:
We had our first PEP Moms steering committee meeting last week. Well, it was our first with our new committee and me as the director (yikes!).  I prayed a lot before the meeting that things would go well; that our committee would be completed (we had a couple of vacancies), that the conversation would go smoothly, and that we could leave feeling like we got something accomplished. The meeting went very well; it was basically a brainstorming session on speakers and topics for our upcoming year (September-April) and ideas for summer activities and outings.

Some of the summer activities include playdates at our church playground, free movie day at the theater, Safety City in Knoxville, and a few other possibilities. We try to do things that are free/low-cost and group-friendly. Do you have any ideas for us?

Monday, June 11, 2012

June Freezer Recipes

Cheesy Chicken Bites with mushrooms
adapted from Bless Your Heart's "Water Tower Chicken"

approx. 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or breasts and thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (Can use only one pound- makes one layer instead of two.)
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
 1 1/2 cups dry seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1 8 oz. package sliced white mushrooms
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded cheddar (we like sharp)
1-2 cups chicken broth

Combine eggs and milk in a large bowl. Soak chicken pieces in the egg mixture in the refrigerator, covered, for 15-30 minutes. Drain egg mixture off chicken. Toss chicken in the bread crumbs. In a casserole dish, layer chicken mozzarella, cheddar & mushrooms; make another layer in the same order.
Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.
Slowly pour chicken broth into the casserole until the chicken is about 3/4 covered.
Bake at 375* for 45 minutes- 1 hour.

Burritos Verde
adapted from Rachael Ray's Turkey Tomatillo & Bean Burritos

6 flour tortillas (We like Chi-Chi's whole wheat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1- 1 1/3  lb. ground turkey breast
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped or garlic powder to taste
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 ounce) jar tomatillo (green) salsa
1 tsp. dried cilantro or 2 TBsp. fresh, chopped
1-2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Preheat a large nonstick skillet with the vegetable oil.

Add in the ground turkey and break it up with the back of a spoon as it cooks and browns, about 4 minutes.

Add in the onions, garlic, bell pepper, salt, and pepper; cook for 3 minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, pinto beans, and 1 ½ cup tomatillo salsa; increase the heat to high; continue cooking 5-6 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

Remove pan from heat and add in the spinach & cilantro; stir to mix.

Freeze burrito filling if desired.

Thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.
Set broiler to LOW.
Heat the filling in microwave.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave.
Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese and desired amount of hot filling.
Place the filled burritos in a broiler-safe dish, seamside down.
Top all the burritos with remaining salsa verde & shredded cheese.
Place under broiler (about 6 inches away) for approxiamtely 5 minutes, watching closely.

A Tangled Mess

It was a busy weekend here in the Mills house. Freezer group swap was Friday (here 's what I made). Also, on Friday morning, we had our first PEP Moms play date at our church playground. We had a wedding rehearsal on Friday evening (Ben was a groomsman and I sang) & the wedding Saturday, in addition to a birthday party. Sunday I  sang at both morning services at church. We attended the evening service too (which we don't normally get to since the kids are super-tired and cranky by 7:30), so that we could participate in The Lord's Supper. It was a special and spirit-filled service, and I got to be a part of it by reading some passages of scripture and singing with the praise team. WHEW!

Last week's memory verse is one of my favorites: Philippians 4:6-7 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We have already memorized verses 4-5 and 8. Here 's the whole passage:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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."
It was one of those weeks in which I found it hard to rejoice, or be gentle, or pray, or meditate on only good things. All I could think about was what I needed to get done and when was I going to do it. In reflecting back over my week, I thought about an experience that I had a couple of weeks ago that make a good illustration of how too much "clutter," whether tangible or intangible,  can distract us from our priority task:

On a typical Sunday morning while we were doing our usual "scramble," Rush, our 2 1/2 year old, decided to help me pick out a necklace (I wasn't even planning on wearing one; it was just one of those toddler moments where he was being ignored while we were getting ready for church, so he made his own fun!). I keep most of my necklaces on a hook in my bathroom, so it easily becomes a tangled mess when one necklace gets carelessly pulled off. I caught him in the act, but it was too late! All (about 15) long necklaces were tangled up like spaghetti! I started to try pulling them apart and got most of the necklaces undone. But there were four that did not come apart so easily. We were running out of time if we were going to make it to church, so I left them.

Over the next couple of days I tinkered with the tangled necklaces here and there, but only for a few seconds at a time. I would get flustered just looking at them. Their final resting place was on my bathroom vanity. But they weren't the only eye-sore on the bathroom counter. A new, un-opened box of toothpaste, a nail file, some polish, and bathroom cleaner had been on display for a few days as well. Random hairs that came off of my head lay like confetti streamers all around. I knew the necklaces were still there and that I was letting a mess start to pile up, but the frustration that I felt for "failing" to get the necklaces untangled made it easy to clutter up the rest of the bathroom too.

It was Tuesday of the following week (9 days!) when I acknowledged that I had let the bathroom go too  far. I walked in and saw the necklaces laying there on the counter, and suddenly felt motivated to I started putting away all of the "stuff" that was cluttering my vanity. The toothpaste in the box went to the basket of extras; the file & polish went to the mani/pedi basket; the hairs were wiped away and went to the trash; and then the cleaner got put to use.

I started studying the tangles. I decided which necklace to work on first and then found each end; that helped me navigate through the other necklaces. I continued that method until I finally got all of them untangled! It only took me about 15 minutes!

Have you ever done that in your spiritual life? I know I have and did last week. I was not spending the time that I needed to in studying God's word and in praying. I knew all week that I was "failing"- misprioritizing. I was digging a hole too; because it seemed as though the more disconnected with God that I felt, I fell into even more distractions. My spirit was a tangled mess! Of course it's obvious to me now that I was relying on my own strength at this point. I was not allowing Christ's power to rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I go through this kind of "cycle" every so often. Until I can openly acknowledge the sin (seeing the necklaces on the counter and determining to do something about it instead of ignoring them), I can't confess it to God. But once I acknowledge and confess it, I can more clearly focus on the priority task: my relationship with God. (I realize that this isn't a perfect illustration, but thinking & reflecting in this way helps me personally.)

This-  staying on the "priority task"- is certainly a daily struggle for me on some level or another. This passage is worth reading again because, I will admit, my mind is SO WEAK. As soon as I "fail," those negative thoughts come rushing in. But keeping out the clutter- whether it's negative thinking, or obsessive thoughts or actions, or just too much stuff on your to-do list- will guard your heart from becoming a "tangled mess."

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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." Philippians 4:4-8

Monday, June 4, 2012

Exercise with Baby!

It's hard to find time to get out your hand weights when you are a stay-at-home-mommy. Here a few SIMPLE ideas for getting in some toning without the gym. All you need is your baby (with semi-head-control)!

While holding your baby, lie on your back with your knees pulled in to your chest. Place baby on the front of your legs so that you are facing each other. This alone makes my little ones squeal with delight! Start simple: try just lifting your upper body off the floor (like a crunch). Each time you come up close to baby's face, say something: boo!, hi!, their name, you can count. While you're raising up and down, keep one hand on your baby's back and the other hand behind your head.
Make it a little bit harder by lifting your rear a little each time you "crunch" up. This works your lower abs more.

In the same position, keep one or both hands on baby's back and raising & lowering baby on your legs (like you're straightening & bending at your knee). You may not feel it working right away, but your hamstrings will definitely get tired after a few sets. Of course, you can keep your upper body raised up for extra abdominal work too!

Holding your baby, lie on your back and raise baby straight overhead. Try raising baby past your face toward the top of your head with your arms straight. Slowly bring baby back to the starting position. This is a good shoulder & triceps toner.

To work your biceps, while standing, simply hold your baby high on the waist or under her arms; bending at your elbow, raise and lower baby with a slow & controlled pace. Do a few sets of a least 12.

Hold half sit-up position while holding baby. Try twisting side to side.

Will ad more later!
Do you have any ideas/suggestions?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I Cloth Diaper

A lot of my friends have asked me how I do cloth diapers. So I thought I would share what products I use, how I care for them and what I do & don't like about it all.

The idea of using cloth diapers first hit me when my mother-in-law told me that she had used them (pre-folds with pins & rubber pants) on Ben. It was a great experience for her since she had a diaper service. I started researching cloth diapers from there. I came to find that diaper services are not offered in many cities, but that there are LOTS of different kinds of cloth diapers that can be safely washed at home. I then started reading about all the different types of  diapers out there:

pocket cloth diapers
all-in-one cloth diapers
pre-fold cloth diapers
fitted cloth diapers
one-size cloth diapers (can be pocket or all-in-one)

Then I started reading about how to properly wash cloth diapers. Lucky for me, it seemed that using an "old-fashioned" (ha!) top-loading washer was the best option because it uses the most water. That's what I have! [By the way, I LOVE my washing machine- it is one of my favorite things in my house! I actually thank God pretty often for an automatic washing machine; one trip the backcountry of Nicaragua will make you thankful for a lot of things.] HE front-loaders do work, but I found that many people could not get their diapers as clean as they wanted to in the HE front-loaders; especially not the all-in-one diapers, which is what I decided I wanted to use.

It turns out that there is a store in my area called Cutie Tooties that sells cloth diapers and related products, and they have a wonderfully helpful website. The original owner put lots of great information on there and I still reference it if I have a question.

I decided to go with an AIO diaper because it seemed like it would be a good place to start since the diaper is all one piece: no insert for absorbency, no pins or snaps (I got Velcro) and no cover. We also chose to go with the sized diapers* over the one-size diapers because we knew that we wanted them to last as long as possible (through more than 1 baby).  I researched the brands and BumGenius seemed to have the best reviews. The smalls, mediums and larges also have a "pocket option" so you can insert an extra liner for added absorbency. I went to Cutie Tooties to look at them in person and they had a couple of extra-smalls on consignment so I bought 3. They were so cute & tiny!

About a month before Rush was born, we bought an 18-pack of size small BumGenius AIOs from an online store where I had found the best price. We also bought a diaper sprayer that Ben easily hooked up to the toilet in the bathroom beside the nursery. It has been great! I use a regular trash can with a Kissaluvs brand pail liner for dirty diapers. I use BumGenius detergent as I wash every other day. In my dryer, I have to run 2 full cycles on medium heat in order to get the diapers completely dry. On hot summer days, I run 1 "automatic dry" cycle and then put them out in the sun- the perfect way to remove any stains too! I also sun them in the spring and fall if I can wait a little longer for them to dry. If I am washing every other day, 18 is the perfect number of diapers. If I go a third day before I get to the laundry, I am usually using my last 2 diapers while they are in the wash. So, 18 diapers, washing every 2-3 days is perfect for us. As for accessories, I do use inserts in them night to add absorbency.

I have been pleased with how well the diapers have held up. We are now using the size smalls for the second time. The only issue that I've had is that the laundry tabs on the inside of the diaper that hold the velcro in place while in the wash have started to loosen. This makes the velcro come free in the washer and the diapers get attached to each other and it makes the "loops" fray. But the diapers are still very usable. (I am thinking about trying to sew on some new laundry tabs myself.)

I have loved my AIOs so much that I never have gotten around to trying any pre-folds or fitteds. I have tried one pocket diaper: Rumparooz (liked them, but I just LOVE my AIOs). And I recently bought 3 of BumGenius's newest diaper, "Freetime". I am using them for nighttime.

I never liked the idea of all of those dirty disposable diapers going into the trash. Some argue that it is debatable whether or not cloth diapering is actually "green" since extra water and electricity are used to care for them. I am not sure if we will ever know which has the greater impact. But I feel like I am doing a small part to try to preserve our God-given natural resources.

I am glad that we decided to go cloth. It has been a great experience thus far, not to mention I think that it attributed to Rush being potty trained at 22 months. Another plus is that Rush never had a diaper rash one time, and so far, neither has Lottie. Cloth diapering is a commitment, but I have found that it is very doable & enjoyable!

I think that I have covered the basics. If you have any questions, please ask and I will try to answer them.

Thanks for checking in with our "Fruitful Family."

*In recent diaper "window shopping" I think that I discovered that BumGenius no longer makes the sized diapers. I can only find XS and one-size diapers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sprucing Up!

Well, I have been a little perturbed with blogging lately. Over the period of about a week, I worked on a post that included a simple yoga workout (I have been teaching basic yoga classes for 7 years) with full descriptions of each of the poses. Somehow, the post was deleted! Ugh!

I had also included in that post our memory verse for last week. It is part of a passage that we have building on to: 2 Peter 1:5-7 says,"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. We have already memorized verses 3-4 & 10-11 and plan to do more later. Peter rocks! (Is that redundant?) ;)

I love the progression of verses 5-7: you can't master the next until you achieve the former. The more I have meditated on this passage, I am realizing that the items that Peter lists are in increasing difficulty to achieve. For me, the perseverance is where it all goes ka-put. Every person has something that they struggle with; some spiritual weakness. (I bet you can pick something from this list.) For me it's perseverance, or consistency. I get comfortable and lazy just when things start feeling good; when I have displayed self-control in ONE or two situations [rolling eyes here]. I studied my Bible a few days in a row. I may even declare, "Oh, how blessed my life is!" I start relying on myself, finding my identity in my earthly circumstances, and soon I feel empty and unfulfilled. Eventually [PRAISE HIM!] the Holy Spirit convicts me; I spruce-up my spirit by starting at the beginning again. (I need to write an entire post on sanctification now; I'll save it for another day.)

I want to be clear: I am not a blogger because I think my life is perfect and I believe that other people want to be like me. On the contrary, I want to shout out, "I'M NOT PERFECT, NOR IS MY LIFE!" What I do want people to hear from me is reality. I am selfish- sometimes I love my life too much, but Jesus clearly says,
"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." Luke 9:24 NLT
What I am trying to say is that I hope none of you ever think that I am bragging about my little life. I only want to help people realize that we all need a little spiritual sprucing-up every so often (about every 5 minutes for me!), and the only thing worth pursuing is a journey that glorifies Him.

And this prompts me to go ahead and share this week's memory verse:
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So, I challenge you: figure out what your weaknesses are. They may change from day-to-day. Admit the weakness to God first, and ask Him to help you have the wisdom to consistently defeat it. Then find someone that you respect spiritually (read my post on the importance of community), and share your weaknesses with them. Ask them to pray with you about overcoming them. Read 2 Peter 1:10-11. This can be your motivation for being real with God.

Speaking of sprucing up and motivation, we have been working on our yard all weekend! Ben brought home 3 truck-loads of topsoil and unloaded it shovel by shovel- yes, he's a beast (with a reeeal nice tan)! We had to rip out some shrubs that had gotten a mold last year, and we planted a few annuals for color and one new Cypress tree. AND, after 4 years, we finally put our Nicaraguan lanterns on the front porch. They are very special to us because we bought them on our first mission trip to Nicaragua. I will post a picture of the yard soon!

I got to do some more baking this week! I made King Arthur Flour's No-knead Whole Wheat Bread. I love it for breakfast with some orange marmalade on top! Here's a tuna sandwich I had for lunch one day. I smeared on a little bit of Hummus, piled on quick tuna salad and topped it with baby spinach leaves (a staple in our kitchen- new post topic coming soon).

I also made some delicious cranberry-orange muffins that my sister had given me the recipe for a couple of years ago. It is my favorite muffin to make!

As for what's happening this week, I will be practicing 3 songs for a wedding coming up next weekend. I'll also be getting ready for Freezer Group Swap next Friday! I am still deciding what to make, but I will put it in a post once I do decide.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in with the Mills!