Family Food & Fun

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

 

orange pumpkin near white ceramic mug with seeds
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

FALL…it’s my favorite time of the year! I love EVERYTHING about it…cool crisp nights and crunchy leaves, long sleeve shirts and sweaters, crackling fires with the smell of apples and cinnamon lingering in the air, and anything and everything pumpkin spice related!

Several years ago, my sweet sister friend and I got together with our kids and did a little unit study on pumpkins. As part of our homeschooling unit, she thought it would be fun to bake some pumpkin bread with the kids. She came across a recipe at www.pickyourown.org that we thought we would give a shot. We made our pumpkin puree and tweaked the recipe slightly for our own tastes, and it turned out AMAZING!

I made a batch this past weekend with my kids and it was gone by that evening. We had a blast. 💖 Get in the kitchen with your little ones mama and make some memories (and messes 😉 ) I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did.

INGREDIENTS

2 CUPS OF FRESH COOKED PUMPKIN OR A 16 OZ. CAN OF CANNED PUMPKIN

3 1/2 CUPS OF ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR

photo of pumpkin surrounded by flowers
Photo by Chris F on Pexels.com

2 TSP BAKING SODA

3 CUPS OF SUGAR

4 EGGS BEATEN

1 CUP VEGETABLE OIL

1 AND 1/2 TSP SALT

2 TSP CINNAMON

2 TSP NUTMEG

1/2 TEASPOON ALLSPICE

1 CUP CHOPPED PECANS (OPTIONAL)

WATER: 1/2 CUP IF USING FRESH COOKED PUMPKIN OR 2/3 CUP IF USING CANNED PUMPKIN


 

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350 DEGREES F.

COMBINE AND MIX TOGETHER THE FLOUR, BAKING SODA, SALT, CINNAMON, ALLSPICE, NUTMEG, AND SUGAR.

ADD IN THE EGGS, WATER, OIL, AND PUMPKIN PUREE AND STIR UNTIL ALL INGREDIENTS ARE COMBINED WELL.

POUR BATTER INTO 2 LIGHTLY GREASED 9X5 LOAF PANS.

BAKE FOR AROUND 50 MINUTES AND CHECK FOR DONENESS WITH A TOOTHPICK IN THE MIDDLE. BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 10-15 MINUTES IF NEEDED.

REMOVE THE LOAF PANS FROM THE OVEN AND ALLOW TO COOL FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES.

TURN PUMPKIN BREAD OUT ONTO COOLING RACKS AND LET THEM FINISH COOLING BEFORE SLICING. (IF YOU CAN WAIT THAT LONG).

THIS BREAD FREEZES WONDERFULLY, SO IF YOU MAKE UP MORE THAN YOU CAN USE AT ONE TIME, JUST POP IT IN THE FREEZER AND PULL IT OUT FOR ANOTHER DAY.

 

 

 

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Encouragement

God, Where Are You?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

God, where are You? Where are You when the waves of grief begin washing over me?  When I gasp for air to fill my burning lungs, and clutch at the tightness growing in my chest…where are You? Where are You when I beg for the pain to end? When I plead to wake up from this nightmare and for it all to have been a bad dream, where are You? Where are you when all I can see is the darkness and all I can hear is the silence? Where are you when the fear of the unknown creeps in and I’m too scared to even move. Where are you when I’m broken God? When I’m shattered into a million pieces? When I just want the hurt to go away?  God, are you there? Do you hear me?

I woke up a few nights ago from a terrible dream. A dream that made me relive one of the most difficult times of my life. A year and half after my second miscarriage and the pain still sears through my heart as if it were only yesterday. This dream…I saw it all again, I felt it all again, I experienced it all again. I woke up in a panic believing that it was real. The tears were streaming down my cheeks. My heart was racing and my mind was swirling with thoughts and emotions that I had buried.

I got up from my bed and stumbled through to our living room. I sat on the couch, wiping the tears from my cheeks, and trying to calm myself down. All of my children and my husband were sleeping. The house was so quiet (In a family of 8, quiet doesn’t happen very often) It was painfully quiet. Every time I tried to close my eyes, the images from the dream and all of the painful thoughts and memories were there.

I tossed and turned on the couch for several minutes. I prayed for God to comfort my heart and mind. “If I could only have a few minutes Lord, just a few minutes of peace! Please!”

As I sat there alone in my dark living room, I just wanted to be held. I just needed to be held. I wanted to be held and comforted, and told that everything was going to be alright, that is was only a dream and that it was all over. I walked back into our bedroom and gently grabbed my husband’s hand. He looked so peaceful while sleeping and I felt bad for waking him, but I needed him… I really needed him.  He could tell I was distressed and he asked if I was okay. All I could reply with was “Please, just hold me”.

He held my hand as we walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch. He wrapped his arms around me and held me so tight. There were no words exchanged…he just held me. His embrace said everything that I needed it to. His strong arms made me feel so safe. He leaned down and gently kissed me on the forehead while stroking my hair. He sat there and held me while I cried and poured my heart out to him. I soon fell back asleep in his arms.

The next morning started early, as usual, with the pitter patter of little one’s feet running through the house.  We went about our daily routine. Staying busy helped to keep my mind occupied and offered little opportunity for my mind to wander. While I was busy cleaning up from our breakfast, my 3 year old came running into the kitchen. “Momma, will you hold me? I want you to hold me”.

I scooped him up in my arms and walked over to our chair. His little arms wrapped around my neck as I held him close. As we sat there, I kissed his little cheeks. He reach up to rub his sleepy little eyes and then quickly nuzzled himself back into my chest. He felt so safe and secure wrapped up in my arms. I knew that feeling and how wonderful it felt. I didn’t have to say a word to this little guy for him to know how loved he was in that moment. I just held him.

It was then that God spoke to my heart and told me ” This is how I comfort you”.  How many times have I cried out to God in fear, pain or heartache and have been met with silence?  “God, are you here? Do you hear me? God, where are You?” In my brokenness I would feel so alone. Did God really even care about me or how I was feeling?

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;” ISAIAH 66:13

     So God, where are you? You’re here…You are right herewith me. It’s in the moments that are cries are met with perceived silence that we are being held. It’s not that God isn’t there or that He doesn’t care. He does…more than we could ever comprehend. God knows exactly what we need, and sometimes, we don’t need words…we just need to be held.

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God, today I pray for all of those that are hurting. I don’t know their circumstances Father, but I know that You do. I know that You see every tear that they cry and hear every single word…even those that are unspoken. Lord, I pray that You will hold them tightly in Your loving arms and speak peace into their hearts. Help them to cast their cares upon you Lord and to know that You care for them! Help them to rest in Your embrace and to stand on Your promises. Give them a renewed hope and song Lord! I thank you for what You are doing in their lives today Lord. I praise You for Your goodness, Your mercy, Your faithfulness, and Your unfailing love. I ask these things in Your son Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling

What Is Your Homeschooling Style?

HomeschoolingThis year we will commence upon our 9th year of homeschooling! Reflecting over the past nine years, we have learned a variety of so many different things! We’ve studied ancient Egypt and classified animals and rocks, conquered long division, learned to read and how to write. We’ve constructed more lapbooks than a numerical value could possibly convey. We’ve welcomed new babies into our family, said difficult goodbyes to some of our loved ones, learned to fold laundry, and practiced important lifeskills. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve learned. We’ve grown.

One of the many beauties of homeschooling is the freedom to choose what works for your and your child(ren). Every child is different. They each have their own unique learning style, different interests, likes and dislikes. Being able to structure learning around what works best for your child(ren) has truly been a blessing for our family. Just as the seasons change, so do our lives. There have been many seasons of change that we have welcomed, while some have arrived unannounced and uninvited. Things that once worked for our family suddenly weren’t practical for the season of life we were experiencing. Being able to change what we were doing or how we were doing it to match what was happening within our lives at the time allowed us to continue growing and learning regardless of where we were or what we were dealing with at the time. Homeschooling, for us, has offered indescribable freedom and flexibility.

Maybe you have been considering the idea of homeschooling your child(ren). Maybe you have already begun your homeschooling adventure, or maybe you’re just curious and want to learn a little more about this crazy thing called homeschooling. Well, I’m so glad you’re here friend!

There are several different types of “homeschooling styles” that you might have heard other homeschoolers referring to. Below, you will find a list of some of the most common homeschooling styles along with links that you can follow to learn more about them.

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The information below was taken from www.time4learning.com (An online monthly subscription based complete curriculum for K-12). Their website offers a thorough description, explanation, and further informational resources for some of the most common homeschooling styles. You can always Google them separately as well if you are curious to find out more.

TRADITIONAL HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/traditional-homeschool.html  This method aligns itself more closely with that of a traditional school setting. Many new homeschoolers opt for this method of homeschooling because of their established familiarity with it.

ROADSCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/roadschooling.html   This method of homeschooling works well for families who travel extensively. The unique experiences of travel and changing environments play a large part in the overall learning experience.

UNSCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/unschooling.htmlUnschooling is a style of home education that allows the student’s interests and curiosities to drive the path of learning. Rather than using a defined curriculum, unschoolers trust children to gain knowledge organically.” Hear me out on this one. It’s not as crazy as it sounds! 

ECLECTIC HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/eclectic-homeschool.html  “Eclectic homeschooling is a highly individualized education method resulting from mixing and matching a variety of homeschooling resources. It is an exceptionally personalized approach for every child based on their strengths, learning styles, and interests.” This is what I would classify our homeschooling style as. 

CLASSICAL HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/classical-homeschool.htmlClassical education is an approach to teaching and learning based on a three-part process to training the mind, called the trivium. The instructional style is based on a method developed by Latin writer Martianus Capella in the Middle Ages and popularized during the Renaissance period. The original intent of this form of education was to create a uniform way of teaching all human knowledge.

MONTESSORI HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/montessori.html  “The Montessori approach to early childhood education is a child-centered approach that values each child as a unique individual. Creativity and curiosity are encouraged, which leads students to value knowledge and seek it out for themselves. “Self-regulation” is a key goal of the Montessori philosophy of education, meaning the ability of a child to regulate his or her conduct in a way that is appropriate to the situation.”

HOMESCHOOLING WITH UNIT STUDIES: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/unit-study-approach.htmlUnit studies are time-specific overviews of a defined topic or theme that incorporate multiple subject areas into the study plan. Sometimes called “thematic units,” these studies often involve multisensory learning where each activity is organized according to the thematic idea.” (We LOVE using unit studies!)

CHARLOTTE MASON HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/charlotte-mason.html Charlotte Mason put a heavy emphasis on using high-quality literature, which she called “living books,” to teach children. She believed that education should involve the whole person, not just the mind. According to Mason, education is “an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” (I love Charlotte’s learning and teaching philosophies and we apply a lot of her principles into our homeschooling.) 

WALDORF HOMESCHOOLING: https://www.time4learning.com/homeschooling-styles/waldorf.html “The Waldorf education philosophy originated in the early 1900s with Rudolf Steiner, who believed that child development could be grouped into three distinct stages of roughly seven years each. He proposed that: Early childhood education should focus on creative play and active, hands-on learning. Elementary education is the time to introduce academic instruction, while teaching students to increase their imagination and manage their emotions. Secondary education should focus on critical thinking, empathy, and community service.”

If you are new to homeschooling or even if you have been at it for a while, be sure that you find something that works well for you. Homeschooling should be a learning experience for the whole family. Extend yourself some grace when you make a mistake mama (because you are going to), and extend that same grace to your child(ren) when they make mistakes.

Regardless of your homeschooling style, teaching methods and philosophies, or curriculum choices, you are going to experience some really great days that leave you feeling productive and pumped for tomorrow, but be prepared for some of the not so great days (exhaustion, tears, temper tantrums, messes) that leave you questioning your sanity and life choices. (HaHa) We have been blessed with the opportunity to plant big seeds in little hearts mama. Embrace the chaos and enjoy every second. Happy Homeschooling friends!

I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment down below! What is your homeschooling style? What homeschooling styles have you tried and liked? What ones have you tried and disliked?

Encouragement

Be Kind…Always

That “lazy” man you just blasted on Facebook to all of your “friends” for offending you with his “stench of body odor” in the Walmart check out line on the first of the month just worked all day to put food on the table for his wife and children. He works hard and long hours to support his family, but they still live paycheck to paycheck. He doesn’t get paid again until next week and is unable to purchase more hygiene products until then. He chose his family’s need to eat over that of his own personal hygiene. Still think he’s lazy?

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That lady with the clothing that fits a little too tight that you just took pictures of on your new iPhone and posted to your social media accounts for a few good laughs just lost everything she owned in a house fire yesterday. She was gifted a small bag of clothes from her local church until she is able to afford more for herself. It’s not so funny now is it?

The young mom you just shamed in the parking lot while on the way to your car because her “spoiled brat” kid kept screaming and “throwing a tantrum” just left the doctor’s office where her child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Your “I NEVER let my kids behave that way” and “If you would just bust his butt he wouldn’t act like that” comments only added to her fears of inadequacy as a mother. She needed some encouragement today, but instead only received your criticism.

Your Facebook post about the couple that paid for their buggy of groceries with a SNAP card made for a buzzing comment section. What you DIDN’T know however was that those “food stamp people” have never received prior assistance. They have both worked and “paid into the system” for their entire adult lives…until he got sick. The aggressive medical treatments made it impossible for him to continue working. After emptying their savings and retirement accounts, and liquidating all of their assets, the money finally ran out. The bills soon began piling up, and after months of mounting medical debt, travel expenditures, copays and insurance deductibles, with only one income now, they found themselves unable to purchase food.

She bravely walked through the doors and sat down on the pew right in front of you. You didn’t know her personally, but you had HEARD all about her. She had a reputation and a colorful one at that. You didn’t want to be the first one to go over and greet her. What would people think if you did that? Her promiscuous past was no secret. It was public knowledge and her reputation amongst the community and congregation sparked judgmental glances and whispers. Rumor had it she was pregnant now too. Yes, she had made some mistakes, but what you didn’t know was that at the age of 12, she was molested by her mother’s newest boyfriend. She began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, desperately seeking something to numb the pain that she was experiencing. She was removed from her mother’s home and placed into foster care, where the trauma she had previously endured was repeated over and over, year after year, by people she wanted so desperately to love and trust. She just wanted someone to love her; someone to protect her, and she had looked in all of the wrong places. She wanted to change her life and to give her baby the life that she never had. She wanted to know more about this Jesus that she had heard others talk so much about. Who was this Father to the Fatherless? Who was this man that loved her so much that He died so that she could be forgiven? Can you love her like Jesus does?

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. Some of those battles are visible on the outside, while others are not. We can’t always see the entire picture. Be kind…always.

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Encouragement

We’ve Lost Our Joy In The Journey

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We strategically pulled our passenger van out of the parking lot and into the long string of traffic that had developed on the roadway ahead of us. We had just finished watching fireworks with our kids for the 4th of July. Our little town had put on quite the firework display and the kids were still reveling in all of the excitement and were beyond excited for being allowed to stay up past bedtime.

Traffic was barely creeping forward and the roads were congested. We would slowly creep forward a few mere inches only to arrive at a complete standstill again. After several minutes of making no progress, many drivers were growing tired of the wait, and decided to turn around and try a different route. The idea started with only a few and then seemed to be catching on as more and more vehicles were attempting to turn around and find a different route so they wouldn’t have to wait for the traffic to clear.

One driver, attempting to make a quick turn about, underestimated the amount of turning space available between them and a cleverly concealed ditch line. Traffic began moving and cars were soon coming from both directions again. The sidewalks were still saturated with families venturing back to their vehicles. In a split second decision, the driver chose to continue towards the ditch in hopes of avoiding an accident with another vehicle or possibly even injuring bystanders.

The traffic in our lane, moving normally once again, soon reached an intersection. I quickly glanced back before pulling out from the stop sign to find that traffic was now halted again due to the road being blocked by the impatient driver’s car. I heard one of the kids ask from the back, “Geez, what was that guy in such a hurry for? He needs to have some patience!”

Why was he in such a hurry? Why was everyone in such a hurry? Why was I always in a hurry and constantly looking for the least time consuming option? Today, our lives are busy… really busy. We have become SO busy and focused on completing our tasks, achieving our goals, and pushing ourselves endlessly for “bigger and better” things, that we have in fact forgotten to enjoy the process of us actually getting there. We have lost the JOY in our JOURNEY.

When was the last time that you stopped to smell the roses (literally AND figuratively speaking)? We’re always in a hurry! We’re always rushing to our next appointment, critiquing our schedules for higher productivity options, creating routines and producing plans, rushing out our front doors for the latest practices and events…We have become so busy LIVING life, that we have forgotten how to LIVE life. We have become so focused on our tomorrows, that we have forgotten how to enjoy our todays.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” JAMES 4:14

     That scripture…wow! Our lives are but a vapor…that’s SO powerful! Don’t have time to play with your kids? MAKE THE TIME. Too busy to help someone that stands in need of it? MAKE THE TIME. Seem to never be able to have the time to pray or read God’s Word the way you would like to…MAKE THE TIME.

Take some time ( MAKE THE TIME if you need to) and evaluate what is really important to you. Then, ask yourself…is this going to matter an hour from now? Will it really matter tomorrow? How about next week? What about next year? If today was your last and you had no more tomorrows, would you regret any of your choices? Would you be satisfied with the choices that you made and the things that you deemed worthy to invest your time, effort, and attention in?

Lord, I just want to say thank you for blessing us with another day. I have taken your blessings for granted all too often, and for this I am truly sorry. Father God, I pray that you will help us to have hearts of gratitude that can see the beauty in all of Your works. I pray that You help us to make righteous choices and decisions concerning how we spend our time and what we invest our energy and attention in. Help us to stay focused on You and to be a light for You to others in our lives. Help us to have joy in our journeys Lord, and to truly embrace the lives that you have blessed us to have. Thank you for everything that you are doing in our lives today Father. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.

 

 

Encouragement

Can We Live In It And Not Be A Part Of It?

If you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day.

     –Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – ROMANS 12:2

“Women of God can never be like women of the world.

The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.

There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.

There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.

We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.

We have enough greed; we need more goodness.

We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.

We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”

-Margaret D. Nadauld-

     Today, we as women have an unprecedented amount of pressure to fit in…our friends and families, co-workers, fellow church members, fellow students. Our flesh desires acceptance and inclusion, friendships, relationships, moments of significance, and a sense of importance and purpose. We yearn for the rush of emotions and good feelings that come along with praise or kind comments from others. We strive for invitations to social gatherings and crave attention from those that we care about. We all too easily begin developing a picture of our self worth and identity based off of what others think about us, or how well we are “perceived” or “liked” by those that we encounter in our daily lives. We often hesitate to make our true thoughts or opinions known for the fear or rejection, conflict, or lost relationships. (It’s NOT easy to go against the grain or march to the beat of your own drum sometimes friends.)

I have never been a part of the “in crowd” (and I’m still not), and I’ve never held rank in the latest friend clique…and THAT’S OKAY because I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO! As a Christian, I SHOULD be different. I shouldn’t “fit in” with everyone else (or want to for that matter). I shouldn’t always “go with the flow” just because it’s what everyone else is doing. My focus should be on JESUS, and it should stay on JESUS… not on the trivial things of this WORLD. 

     “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord …           2 CORINTHIANS 6:17

     Lord, in the midst of all of the noise and chaos of this world, help us to focus our hearts and minds on You. May we strive to live lives that will bring YOU honor and glory. Help us to proclaim Your Word proudly, and give us the courage to stand, even when we might have to stand alone. Remove jealousy, bitterness, or resentfulness towards others from our hearts. Help us to remember that You are there with us always, and that You love us unconditionally. Help us to love others with that same kind of love. Help us to be a light for You to others and to offer encouragement to those in need Father. Help us Lord to seek and find our identity in You and in who You say that we are…not in who the world defines us to be or tells us that we have to be. Help us to never lose sight of Your plan for us and to lean upon Your word and Your promises. I thank you for what you are doing in our lives today Father, and I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Have A Little Humble Honey

Introducing

“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     I woke up this morning exhausted from being up and down throughout the night with a sick little one. As I walked into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, tears began to fill my eyes while glancing upon the countertop covered in yesterday’s dirty dishes. The trash bags that should have been carried out yesterday sitting untouched in the middle of the floor just added insult to injury. The kids began filtering in and I was met with a whirlwind of requests.

“I’m hungry mom.”

“Can you open this for me?”

“Mooooommmm, we’re out of toilet paper again!”

“Milk mama! Milk. My milk! Mama!”

“Mom, where’s my underwear?”

     I took a couple of deep breaths and begrudgingly started filling up sippy cups with milk, retrieving rolls of toilet paper from the cabinet, and scouring through the ever growing mound of clothes that has been sitting in my living room chair for over a week for the missing pair of undies. Little ones running through the house, noise and stress levels increasing… I was tired and already feeling defeated and my day had only just begun.

I’ve been in such a slump lately. I’ve struggled for the motivation to even keep up with the basic housework let alone more extensive cleaning or responsibilities. My lack of concerted effort has become apparent in the amount of chaos and clutter that has accumulated over the past several weeks in our home. I have reach an entirely new level of “Burn Out”. My inner monologue has resounded with the following statement…”There’s just not enough of me to be able to keep up with everything and everyone. It’s just too much!”

I mustered up the courage to begin tackling some of the mess and meandered towards the kids’ bedrooms. The sheer magnitude of the mess was just overwhelming, and I instantly started to feel angry. I could feel a deep-seated anger rising up and a surge of pride began to overtake my thoughts.

“I am NOT your maid!”

“Why should I have to clean this up AGAIN?”

“Nobody else in this house cares how hard I work around here!”

“Cleaning up messes is all I EVER get to do!”

     All of these thoughts began streaming through my mind and soon began making their way to my mouth. I felt exasperated and almost resentful( that’s hard for me to write) towards my family for the amount of work and effort that it was going to take for me to get our house clean, organized, and within comfortable station again. My tears could no longer be contained. They burst forward in the waves of indignation that flooded over me.

It was then that the Holy Spirit brought me to remembrance. PRIDE…in every statement that I sullenly thought and spoke, my focus was on one thing. ME. Me, myself and I. “I am not your maid”, “Why should I have to clean this up again?” My prideful heart and thoughts had led me here. My lack of humility had caused me to lose sight of what God had called me to do. My pride had not only snuffed out my desire for cultivating a servant’s heart, but had also stolen my ability to serve others with the right motivations and intentions. My selfishness had overtaken selflessness.

 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” LUKE 22:27

I began looking through scriptures and praying for God to help me. I felt so overwhelmed and guilty for the hardness that had developed in my heart. From the next room, I heard my 3 year old singing to top of his little lungs “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.” Hearing his little voice singing praises blessed my heart. I am weak Lord, but YOU are strong. This scripture came upon my heart…

 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-11

Empty me of myself Lord so that I can be filled with you! I want to love and serve my husband and children with a humble heart! I want to love and serve others like Jesus did! How can I cultivate a servant’s heart within my children if I am not displaying a heart of loving servitude myself? Jesus loved and served so selflessly! He was never constrained by a to-do lists or a lack of time. Jesus never placed himself above any task, big or small. By following his example, we can only then truly learn the meaning of love and humility.

We can teach our children to lead by teaching them to serve. I know that we can accomplish tasks much faster by just going ahead and doing them ourselves momma, but we have the opportunity to teach our children to serve! It is our job to not only teach them valuable skills that they will use throughout their lifetime, but to help guide their hearts towards Jesus while doing so.

    “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” PHILIPPIANS 2:3-5

Lord, today I pray that you will help me to love and serve my family with a humble heart. Help me to see all of the opportunities within my marriage and motherhood that I can glorify you. Help me to love and serve others as Jesus did. Help me to view the loads of laundry and dirty dishes as blessings instead of burdens. Empty me of myself Lord, so that I may be filled with more of You! Thank you for all of the blessings that you have bestowed upon me, and help me to never lose sight of what you have called me to do. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Family Food & Fun

Homemade Oatmeal Crème Pies

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My husband had a bit of a sweet tooth last night, so I made a batch of these oatmeal crème pies up. This was my first time using this recipe, and I was really impressed with how well they turned out… and how easy they were to make! (They tasted pretty amazing too)

Cream together:

  •      1 cup of brown sugar
  •      1/2 cup of melted butter
  •      1 large egg
  •      1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Add in:

  •      1 cup of all purpose flour (up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour may be needed      depending on the consistency of your cookie batter)
  •      1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  •      1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  •      1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  •      1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  •      1/4 teaspoon of salt

 

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.

Add in 1 cup of rolled oats and incorporate them throughout your cookie batter.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a spoon, form and shape cookie dough balls and place on a non-stick pan, being sure to leave plenty of room for the cookies to expand.

Lightly round the cookies with your fingers after placing them on your pan.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. In the meantime, you can begin to mix up your crème filling.

For the crème filling you will need:

  • 1 cup of vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 jar of marshmallow fluff

Mix these until well blended and a creamy texture is achieved.

After your cookies have cooled completely, you can begin assembling your oatmeal crème pies. Take two equally sized cookies and spoon on some crème in between them. For a neater appearance, you can pipe the crème in in between instead.

You can eat them immediately, put them in a Ziploc bag to take along in your lunchbox or a picnic outing, or you can place them in an air tight container to save them for another day.

I hope that you guys like these as much as we did! Be sure to check back often for new recipes and updates. Be blessed friends! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Oceans of Grief and Islands of Grace

Your life for the most part has been smooth sailing. Sure, you’ve encountered your fair share of choppy waters, but you have bravely mustered through while maintaining your composure. The storms, though fierce, have always quickly dwindled. The waves swiftly settled, the winds ceased in blowing, the clouds began parting, and they soon gave way to the sunshine again. After basking in the warmth and glow of the sun for a season, you never imagined that a storm of such magnitude could materialize so abruptly. You never even saw it coming. You had no time to prepare for this, and this is not what you had envisioned. You feel lost and helpless against it.

The realization that you have now lost all control of your situation hits hard, and you soon find yourself capsized in the middle of a bottomless ocean. You feel the fear and panic slowly creep up into your throat. You cry out for help, but are met in return by only the sound of the crashing waves around you. The waves have repeatedly pulled you under, and as you fight to surface, you gasp for your next breath, which is barely enough to fill your lungs. The current is becoming stronger and stronger, and your energy is rapidly depleting. The waves have tossed you back and forth endlessly, and every muscle in your body aches and burns from your futile exertion to swim to safety. You’re exhausted and cannot fight the strength of the water anymore. It’s over. Just as you feel yourself giving up and letting go, you see it.

 

wooden-boat-in-a-stormy-sea

A small beam of light catches the corner of your eye. You quickly become fixated on this unknown light source, and feel a small glimmer of hope flare within your spirit. This beam begins shining… brighter and brighter. You consciously decide to stop fighting the current, and feel your body being swept by the waves toward this light. As you draw closer, the light begins to reveal itself. It’s a lighthouse.

The light, almost blinding by this point, illuminates your path as you exhaustedly thrust yourself upon the safety of the small sand bank. You climb the shelves of jagged rocks finally reaching an elevation of safety that the water can no longer reach. In the presence of this beaming light, the storm continues to rage around you, but you are safe. SAFE ON THE ROCK. You draw a full breath of oxygen deep into your burning lungs, and begin to cry… RELEASE. It’s in this surrender that an unexplainable peace begins to flood over you. You are being held. This battle is not yours to fight. You are not alone. He is going to carry you through this storm…

We mistakenly exhaust ourselves, fighting the current, and attempting to hold onto all of the scattered pieces of our lives when all we have to do is surrender it entirely to God. He alone is our place of safety. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In the midst of our darkest storms, his light continues to shine…guiding us, leading us, encouraging us, and comforting us. God IS the light and in Him is NO darkness! His grace will meet you right where you are my friend. His arms will never tire of holding you up, and when your strength fails, He is right there to carry you.

I don’t know the storm you might be facing today, but I know that God does. When those tears begin to flow, don’t fight them. Let them fall. Release your pain to Him. Only He can calm your heart and give you peace. God knows your sorrows, and He hears your cries my friend. This storm is not going to last forever. Continue to stand in the warmth of His love… the sun will come back out. When you feel yourself sinking and the water starts closing in, simply stretch forth your hand. Your lifeguard, He’s there…and He walks on the water. 

jesus

Encouragement

I’m Gonna Tell You That I Love You

love

Loss… it has a way of making you appreciate what you once had. It makes you see things from a different perspective and brings revelation to the value of what has been lost.

I awoke to read words that tore through my heart this morning. We lost a beloved member of our church family in a tragic accident last night. I couldn’t control the tears as they streamed down my face while calling out for my husband, informing him of this terrible news. We are all just devastated, numb, and in disbelief.

Times of loss often leave us feeling helpless. There are no words that we can say to ease the pain of those suffering. There is no act of kindness that we could perform that can remove the sting left by death.

Loss reminds us of just how fragile life is. It reminds us that we were never promised our next breath and that each moment that we have been given is a gift. Loss reminds us of how much we unknowingly take for granted, and just how much of a void will be left now that they are no longer here with us.

Brother Jess met us every Sunday morning as we walked through our church door. Every time we saw him, he had the warmest hugs and the biggest smile to share with us. Brother Jess prayed for us. He taught us. He loved us… and he never left without letting you know it.

I wrapped my arms around Brother Jess yesterday afternoon and told him that I loved him before walking out the door. I never expected that it would have been the last time that I would ever see him. I never imagined that it would be the last time that I would get to see his smile, to hug him tight, or tell him that I loved him. “Love you sis”… the last words Brother Jess ever said to me… and they will forever live in my heart.

images

Loss reminds me of the person that I want to be… that person that is going to tell you “I love you” every time I see you, and at the end of every message and telephone call. The person that is gonna wrap my arms around you and squeeze you tight even though we may have only met. You might look at me like I’m crazy, but that’s okay… because I still love you. You don’t have to feel like you need to say it back or even reciprocate it… but I just want you to know that I love you. Jesus told us to love… and to love like Him. Love has become an almost taboo subject in our society today, but loving others is one of our greatest commandments! Loving others is what we have been called to do! Jesus didn’t just love the select few… He loved all.  He didn’t only love sometimes or just whenever He felt like it, but He loved at all times, and today we love, because He first loved us.

heart

Brother Jess inspired so many of us with his teachings and with the genuine love that he held for everyone. The testimony of his faith will live on. The lives that he has impacted, will forever be changed. His love and heart for people made a difference in this world.

Loss reminds us to place value and importance on every single person in our life. Their role might be big or it might be small. These people may be integral parts for our entire lifetime or they might only be there for a short season. Regardless, we love.

If today were the last day you would ever see a person, would that person know that you cared for them? Never shy away from showing God’s love to others my friends. Our time here is so short, and we have so much love to give.