Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Real Peace

I started this post on the 23rd and time just got away from me.... and although Christmas Day is over it's message doesn't end.

This past Sunday at church my pastor preached a message out of Luke 2 and since then, I've been thinking about all that he shared in his message. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the birth story of Christ. We all know the songs about baby Jesus being born in a manger. So, even if you've never read the birth story from the Bible, you know the jest of how He was born. If you've never taken the time to read it out of Luke, take the time now. (Luke 2:1-21) What an amazing story it is.

Luke 2 begins with Mary and Joseph making their trek to Bethlehem. Joseph was of the lineage of David (Is 16:5) so they had to travel to Bethlehem to register. And we all know that while in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor and Jesus was born in a stable. Have you ever thought why God chose to have Jesus brought in the world this way? What an inconvenient way for Him to be born! Right in the middle of a census.. having to travel so far on a donkey! And finding no room in the inn, they were left to birth God Himself in a stable... But aren't God's plans often inconvenient? Don't get me wrong.. His plan is perfect. But often God makes our lives inconvenient to get our attention. I can tell you that over the past year there have been some inconveniences. And although in the beginning it all was very unclear, I am beginning to make a little sense of what He wants me to learn.

Then there are the shepherds who are attending their flocks. What an amazing gift to be granted the news of the birth of the Savior! And not only that, they were lead to Him by that glorious star. It's a mystery as to why they were chosen to welcome Christ. I see it as a glimpse of the goodness and grace of God.

If we back track just a little we see that when they met the angel who came to them in their fields, they had great fear. And rightly so.. I don't have time to go into the wrong ideas that most have about angels. Just FYI, they don't look like precious moments figurines. Anyway, after the angels had given the shepherds their instructions on where to find Jesus, there with the angels was a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

This might strike you as a little different than how you've heard this verse before. Most have heard quoted "peace and goodwill toward men." But a more correct translation of that verse is "peace among those with whom he is pleased".

The reason I share this is because not everyone is at peace with God. I was thinking about this driving home Christmas Eve. The Hubs and I were talking and tears just welled up in my eyes thinking about all of the family and friends I know who aren't true believers. So many of them had a fantastic Christmas. They had great food and great fellowship with friends and family. There was such excitement as their kids and grand kids opened presents. Maybe they even felt warm and fuzzy inside when they thought of baby Jesus lying in a manger or heard Silent Night playing on the radio. I'm sure some looked back on the past few days and smiled because they felt such happiness and joy and peace. So, why does my heart break? Because without Christ, all of those things are just temporal. They are a mere vapor. And when they die or Christ returns, Hell is their eternity. I know that seems like such a harsh statement, but it is reality. I'd rather share the truth in the chance that God uses it in some one's life than just pretend all is well.

So, how do we have peace with God? Through His son. That is what Christmas is about! Christ has come!!! How do we know we have peace with God? Through repentance, faith and belief in Christ. We treasure Him as Mary did. We hold on to Christ tightly with one hand and the other we hold open with everything else, our spouse.. our children.. success.. friends... money.. our very life, willing to give it up to keep Him. He must be our treasure above all else.

Is Christ your treasure?

1 John 1:5-10
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

1 John 2:15-17; 28-29
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him."

1 John 3:4-10
"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother."

1 John 5:12 "Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Traditions

I am having a rough day. I'm going to pretend that I'm not though and go ahead and post what I had planned on posting about today. I'm just really struggling with Luke. Many of you know the issues we've been having but his behavior has me stressing out big time too. Everything is a struggle right now. I'm praying.. praying.. and praying some more. I know that we have to establish discipline and correction NOW but it is so hard! I'll talk more about this later though.... I'm hoping that blogging about Christmas will get me out of this yucky mood!

Last week I played along with The Preacher's Wife Christmas Blog Party. I didn't play along with the first week which was about Christmas Traditions. So, I thought I'd share a few old and new ones with you.

1. Christmas Pajamas. For as long as I can remember my mom and dad have given me and my sister Christmas PJ's on the night of Christmas Eve. Even after the Hubs and I got married we headed over to my mom and dad's Christmas Eve night to open our PJ's.. the Hubs included!! My mom and dad even get some now! Then we all go put them on and just hang out in our new PJ's! Now the tradition continues with my boys. This year my sister comes home on Christmas Eve night so it will just be the four of us opening our PJ's at home since mom and dad will be going to the airport! I know this is a tradition that will continue for many, many generations!

2. Christmas Day. When the Hubs and I got married we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and much of the weekends surrounding) hopping from one family members home to the other. When we started a family we knew that we wanted to start some of our own traditions. One thing that I definitely wanted was for us all to be home on Christmas morning. I just didn't want all of that rushing around. So, since Luke's first Christmas we've hosted a brunch with all of the grandparents and great grandparents invited. We keep things really simple. I always make this eggnog coffee cake (btw, I do not like eggnog! My hubby loves the stuff so I found this recipe for him and it's actually really good). I usually make something like sausage balls or pigs and a blanket to go with it. And then ask everyone else to add to the spread. We usually stay in our PJ's and just enjoy the time together and the kids get to play with their toys. After we eat someone reads the Christmas story out of Luke 2. I plan on this year having a birthday cake for Jesus. I actually wanted to start this last year (in years past Luke just hasn't been old enough to understand the concept of Jesus' birthday) but last year was a mess. So, it just didn't happen.

3. Presents. Last year was ridiculous at the presents my children got. The hubs had just gotten fired and my parents just went overboard. I'm thankful, very thankful. But looking back it was just out of control. Maybe they were trying to compensate for all that we had been through the previous two weeks. So, we talked this year and the Hubs and I agreed on three gifts each for the boys and one big gift for them together from Santa (I may blog about him later.. but until this go here and read this and this after you finish here of course! .. it shares a lot of my feelings on the subject..). Jesus received three gifts.. so why not just stick with that number? We also asked the grandparents (3 sets) to only give the boys one gift each. Just in case your worried, that is still SIX gifts each.. TWELVE total. That's a lot. More than enough. I was talking to some friends of mine about this and they said they wanted to know how that came out (thinking that it was not going to work!! Ha). Well, they were partly right.. because the grandparents are sneaking in gifts. Just this week Luke and Eli both got 'just because' gifts from each set of grandparents. So, I am on to you.. I know exactly what you're doing! Next year we'll just make the rule one gift for the whole month of December. ;) Sigh.. believe you me, I would give them everything they wanted if I could and knew it wouldn't ruin them. But there is better use of money.. and in the end it is the best for them. We truly desire for God to be glorified in our family and what we teach our children about 'stuff' is a huge part of that. I would like to say THANK YOU to our Santa's though. We could not do it without you. We are truly blessed.

4. Something new. This year we are doing something new on Christmas Day as a family. While reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan the fabulous group of ladies I was doing the study with began thinking of something radical we could do to put what we had read to action. If we're going to live what we read.. if we desire to be biblical believers then let's start living like it. So, many of the ladies who were a part of that study are going to be serving lunch and providing dessert, along with their families, at the Salvation Army on Christmas Day. I have a feeling this is going to be a new family tradition! We also plan on serving with the Salvation Army in the future. Our pastor spoke with someone there and said that they have no church involvement/volunteer work at all. And while the Salvation Army is considered a church in itself, they have a great need for volunteers to partner with them to help them meet the needs (both physical and spiritual) of those in our community. Christmas Day is a busy day for most. We have obligations.. family to visit... gifts to open. I think each one of us has a deep desire to honor Christ and what better way than to serve others on the day we celebrate His birth. May He be glorified. Matthew 25:40 - And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Well, it's time to do some laundry.. my mind is brewing so I'm sure I'll be back with something soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This is How We Christmas: Decorations

Lisa, over at The Preacher's Wife is having a Christmas blog party. I missed out on last week but I decided to jump in this week! This week we're sharing all about our Christmas decorations. I was really excited to get to decorate this year since last year everything was packed up and sent to storage! I have to warn you.. I just uploaded A LOT of pictures. I couldn't help myself!

First to start us off is our tree. It's a skinny little thing but I really do like it. I love real trees to so maybe we'll start a tradition of getting a real one once this one wears out.. or I just get too many ornaments.. the latter is a greater possibility! It's packed already!

Here are a few (haha!) of my favorite ornaments:

A wedding gift... First Christmas Together!


Another wedding gift with our anniversary engraved:

This one if my new one this year. My mom got it for me last week at the Cracker Barrel (love that place at Christmastime! The Lion and the Lamb:

This is my sweet Luke's foot print turned into a snowman! This was his second Christmas. He was 18 mths old. We had two made this year of the boy's hand prints but I haven't gotten them yet!

This is also a new one. If you read my last post you know I just finished a book study with a great group of girls from church. We read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. One of the girls (thanks Jami) made everyone a crazy love ornament! Cute! (Can you see me?? Haha!)

Here is the book shelf corner of the living room. I'm not finished here. I'd like to get a few strands of lights to weave through the greenery. And.. I'm not sure what else. Can you see Larry the fish, on the left of the desk?

Here is one of my nativity sets. This shelf/ledge is right above the love seat and my monkey of a 15 month old loves to climb up on the back of the couch and play with this. So far the only accident is that one of the wise men's toes were broken off... oops! I really need to get a set that the kids can play with.

Here is my hutch in the kitchen.
A little closer look... that stocking is one of the Hub's handmade stockings from childhood.

The only thing else I may do is put Luke up some of the pieces of the Christmas village. I'm thinking about clearing off the top of his chest of drawers and putting a few there. I have a huge set but I don't want to fool with it this year! He loves them though, so he may get a mini village in his room!
If you'd like to see more decorations or play along in the Christmas blog party, hop over to Lisa's and join in!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Crazy Love

I have been meaning to post about the book study that a group of ladies from my church have been doing on Wednesday nights. We went through he book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I wish I would have done a week by week post just because each week has been so good! And, since the book is something that I will likely... ok, most definitely go back and read again, I may do that in the future. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. I would challenge you to get a couple of friends together and do it as a group because I think that accountability and discussion is really important for this type of book. It's the kind of book that takes thought, you can't just skim through.. if you do there is no point in reading it. It's not a gushy, feel good kind of book. Chan takes a biblical look at what it looks like to love God. It wasn't always easy to read.. but I am so glad I did it. I'll be honest, I'm always leery of 'study books' and 'devotionals'. I think most of those books are worthless. They rarely take you deep into Scripture and challenge you. Crazy Love is not that kind of book. It's no joke.

God has really used this book study to chip (or SMASH) away at things in my life. It's challenged my thinking on how I'm living out my life as a follower of Christ. It's convicted and tried me in many ways... and honestly it still is. I believe this book will continue to do so, as long as I'm willing. I'm continuously praying that I will be teachable. Lord, give me a teachable heart.

Next Wednesday is our last meeting (sniff, sniff) and I'd just like to share some things that have really stuck out to me. Like I said, while reading Crazy Love, I've taken a hard look at the way I'm living my life. God is abundantly clear in Scripture what is looks like to be a Christian. But it seems that in America we've lowered the standards and made our own rules. Just take some time reading the Gospels, as Chan suggests, and you'll see that the call Jesus gives is clear. Chan says,

"He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devout follower of Christ is absurd."

More importantly, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

I find a paragraph in Chapter 5, Serving Leftovers to a Holy God, perfectly represents the attitude of American Christianity today. After quoting Matthew 16:24-25 (Jesus speaking) "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it" and Luke 14:33, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" Chan says,

Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last things Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded? You'll notice that He didn't add, "But hey, if that's too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians-- you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything."

I don't want to live a complacent and comfortable life. My flesh does. But the amazing work that God has done and is doing in me wants to live this 'crazy love' kind of life. I'm trying to figure out what that means. What does that mean for me? Right now, I'm just pursuing Him. And I pray that my actions will flow from my pursuit to love God, to know Jesus, to be in communion with the Holy Spirit.

How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?? We disgust God when we weigh and compare Him against the things of this world. It makes Him sick when we actually decide those things are better for us than God Himself. (Francis Chan)

How is it that we think we're doing pretty good to read a one page devotional that barely mentions Scripture and throwing up a five minute prayer when Christ calls us to give all of ourselves, every ounce, every second? I'm not saying we are suppose to be perfect after salvation. But should we not press, suffer and strive for the prize? Is Christ worth it? Or do we continue to offer Him 'token praise' as Chan says? Does the King of Glory not deserve our life, our words, our deeds, our thoughts? I know He does, but my life often does not reflect that. Now, do I say, well.. that's just the way it is and go on living a complacent Christian life. Do I look at people in the Bible who lived that crazy kind of life (or at those examples that Chan gives in chapter 9, WOW!) and say, I can't live like that. God calls some to be radical.. and some to be 'normal Christians'. No, I don't think so. How about the truth? Biblical Christians are radical. And I want to be one.

The first page in Chapter 6, Chan quotes a piece of A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God and this is my prayer as well...

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, The Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fall News!

It's been a while since I gave an update on the boys, so I thought I'd fill you all in on what's new (and old) with them.
Here's a little brotherly love to get us started!

Luke is growing, growing! It never stops, does it?? Right now some of his favorite things are:

Blue's Clues!! He only has one DVD that has 3 episodes on it but he loves to watch it. His favorite episode is the one where Joe and Blue are playing store.... which leads me to his other favorite thing, playing store! He plays with some of our old gift cards for his 'money'. I think it's crazy that when I was little I played with fake money.. not cards! Anyway, he doesn't have a cash register (Santa's bringing that!) so right now he uses either his v-tech computer or his tackle box for his cash register. He still loves to play trains or cars and he loves for me or Daddy to sit and read books to him. He also likes to 'read' books back to us. He is very interested in letters and is asking all the time, what letter is that (pointing to a word) or what letter does ____ start with. We still do different learning and crafts throughout the week and he always enjoys that. This week we made the classic turkey out of his hand print. He had fun gluing all of the feathers on and then coloring the turkey with markers.

We also found some leaves that had fallen to press between wax paper. I did all the ironing but he helped me lay the leaves out on the paper and also he helped me cut them out. He's doing pretty good with his scissors but he gets impatient and then just wants to tear it! Hopefully we can make a scrapbook of them sometime soon. Here is Luke with his favorite leaf:

As far as other issues, Luke is doing well with going to the potty when he has to pee... Not so much for the other. Actually never. I'm trying to stay positive and just know that he will go when he is ready. I do have to make him go sit on the potty to pee though otherwise he holds it and either is making a mad dash to the toilet or has an accident.

Feels strange to move from potty talk to food talk but oh well... such is my life! Luke is still a very picky eater. I often joke that he would starve if we didn't have chicken nuggets and bread. Luckily, I make sure we never run out so we're ok. The Hubs and I are sticking to our guns at supper time. He eats what we eat or he doesn't eat. Our rule is that he must put two things that we are eating on his plate (that way he doesn't just have a roll on his plate). He may not eat it but it has to at least be on his plate. He's doing okay with this although he does sometime still want to throw a fit just for having something like green beans on his plate. I do allow him to substitute a veggie or fruit for one item. For instance last night we had taco soup and corn bread. He had corn bread and apple slices. Sounds like a horrible meal to me but I refuse to make him chicken nuggets or grilled cheese every night. I just keep praying that one day he will grow out of this. Yesterday he did eat fish sticks for lunch, which was a first. I know it's not the healthiest of things but it's nice to have another alternative to chicken nuggets! I had tried them with him before but he refused to eat them. I didn't tell him what they were this time. I just put them on his plate and he started eating! I mean it's breaded and crunchy, must be good right?? Ha!

Now for my littlest man, Eli. He is a mess! Whoever coined the phrase "Toddler Tornado" hit the nail on the head with him! He is in to everything! If it's on the floor or within arms reach he is going to get it and put it in his mouth. Luke was never bad about putting things in his mouth but Eli is a different story! (This means that as soon as the trash gets up to his height in the trash can... we take it out!) One of his favorite things is to empty things out... Luke's book shelf, Luke's wagon full of cars, the tupperware cabinet... just to name a few. This little guy loves to climb too. His newest thing is to climb up on the couch and then climb up on the back rest of the couch. I'm really getting anxious about putting the Christmas tree up! It should be interesting!

This actually just happened and I thought the picture was perfect for following this paragraph. Orange crayon.

Surprisingly, he also likes to play quietly alone by himself some. Occasionally, it will get quiet and I'll get nervous! ;) Then I'll go check and I'll find Eli sitting alone in Luke's room looking at a book or playing with the Little People Barn. He's a big fan of that barn! Santa's bringing him Little People Noah's Ark!

(Blogger has messed up this picture.. the original isn't all grainy like it turned out. Weird)

As far as eating goes, Eli is a good eater. You can't tell by his size though. He is tiny! I get comments all the time on his size! He will try most anything I put on his tray. Occasionally he will refuse something new but most of the time he will at least put it in his mouth. I do feed him though, and he does eat! He just burns every thing off because he never stops! And for those who are curious, I am still breastfeeding him, 3-4 times a day. I can't believe it either but I am thankful for it! He normally nurses when he gets up, before nap and bed and if he gets up during the night.. which out of the past week he's slept all the way through the night 4 times!! WOO HOO! Most of the time, if he does get up at 'night', it's around 5ish am and he goes back to sleep. I have not yet had anyone (to my face) say anything about nursing him beyond 1 year but I do know of a few who are just 'surprised' to find out I'm still nursing. I'm totally okay with that. I just find it funny that if he was bottle fed and they found out he was still taking a bottle before bed, they wouldn't bat an eye! I mean he's only 14 months old! I'm just taking it one day at a time and right now, I know he needs it. Not nutritionally so much, but emotionally. It's comfort, just like a blanket, stuffed animal or a pacifier. But those things are just that, things! His comfort gets to come in the form of me, his mommy! And I think that is a wonderful thing. I find it sad that in our country extended breastfeeding is looked at as strange. Ok, I'll hop down off this soapbox before I go any further! ;)

In other great news Eli is now staying in the nursery the entire time!! So, I get to go to church!!! YAY! He's been doing this for about 3-4 months now! He does cry when I drop him off, in fact he cries sometimes when we pull in the church parking lot! But he cries less than five minutes most days and ends up having a blast playing! A few Sunday's ago, the Hubs dropped Eli and I off and I went ahead and walked him in. Well, of course he cried when I left him. I went to see where the Hubs & Luke were at and saw that they were almost to the church. By the time they got in the door, Eli had already calmed down and was reading a book with one of the nursery workers. He'll be moving up classes soon though and I hope he adjusts well!

Well, that's enough news for now. Have a great weekend!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reformation Sunday

Yesterday, our church celebrated Reformation Day (just a few weeks late!). We started off the service with a short description of what the reformation was and then we had corporate affirmation of each of the Five Sola's. If you're curious to know what our church is about (and I know some of you are!), read each of these carefully and it will tell you a great deal about what we believe about Christ and the Scriptures. I've also included videos of the songs that we sang after each affirmation and some Scripture. I hope it's an encouragement to you as much as it was to me!

Sola Scriptura- Scripture Alone
Sola Christus- Christ Alone
Sola Gratia- Grace Alone
Sola Fide- Faith Alone
Sola Deo Gloria- The Glory of God Alone

These five affirmations are taken from The Cambridge Declaration. In each of these below, we are affirming what we as a church believe and what we as a church deny. These things matter, contrary to what some may say. I am thankful to attend a church that all things we do with the Scriptures. I challenge you to go deeper....

"Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith."

Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Sola Christus: The Erosion of Christ-Centered Faith

We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ's substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." Colossians 1:15-20

Sola Gratia: The Erosion Of The Gospel

We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God's wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us" Ephesians 1:3-8

Sola Fide: The Erosion Of The Chief Article

We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

"just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galations 3:6-11

Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion Of God-Centered Worship

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 11/9 (Chicken & Dumplin Review)

Ham, Green Beans, Potato Salad

Homemade Pizza, Salad

Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken, Corn, Asparagus

Taco Soup

I rolled over two meals from last week because we had something different than I had planned one night (spaghetti) and then we had chicken and dumplings 3 nights in a row! It made SO much! I had laid hamburger meat out to thaw, to go in my Taco Soup but for some reason or another it never got cooked and put in the crock pot. So here it was, almost supper time and I needed something to make. I almost always have spaghetti noodles and jarred spaghetti sauce or a spaghetti spice packet and some kind of canned tomatoes in my pantry. I also have a saved recipe from allrecipes that I've used that is SO good for homemade spaghetti sauce. But again, that's for when I have more time because the sauce needs to simmer for a while. Lets face it, some days don't go as planned! We often do sandwiches on those kinds of days but sometimes it's nice to have a quick, hot meal as an option too!

Today, I'm cooking a big ham that I got on sale! So, tonight we'll have that and instead of having ham sandwiches with the leftovers tomorrow night, I plan on making breakfast: biscuits, ham, scrambled eggs & fruit. Whatever is left I will freeze for soup!

So, for those of you who are interested in how my chicken and dumplings turned out.. they were really good! I used the frozen dumplings. I was afraid to try my own the very first time I made them! I cooked three chicken breast (about 3 lbs, bone in, skin on), one chopped onion and a big tablespoon full of garlic in about 5 quarts of water until the chicken was done and pulling away from the bone. I took the chicken out of the water to cool and added a little extra water to the broth. Some of the liquid had evaporated and I wanted to make sure I had the right amount. I brought the broth back to a boil and started adding the frozen dumplings, one at a time while stirring often. I only added half of the packet of dumplings. I could have added them all but I just wasn't sure, it seemed like a lot to me and turned out to be plenty. After the dumplings were all in I brought it to a rolling boil and then turned it down to simmer and covered. They cooked for about 45 minutes. I just stirred them every so often. During the cooking time I shredded my chicken and then around the 45 min mark I added the chicken and seasoned with salt and pepper. I actually added some salt & pepper earlier just to the broth and chicken but I had to add more after everything was back in the pot. It wasn't as thick as I wanted it so I took about a cup of the hot broth out and whisked in about 2 TBS of flour and added it back to the pot and brought it to a rolling boil. This helped but I'm just not sure if there is a way to get that much liquid good and thick without making a rue or something from the very beginning. I'm going to work on that and get back with you! If you have any tips, let me know! I think I had in myhead they should be like Cracker Barrel's chicken and dumplings... big, chunky dumplings with a really thick sauce. These were thin dumplings with a brothy sauce. They were SO good though and had a great flavor. And actually I think my dumplings (hah!) have a better chicken flavor. I must say that on the 2nd and 3rd day they were much better than the first! The broth was much thicker after it sat in the refrigerator! Maybe that's the trick, make them a day ahead! Eli LOVED the chicken out of it! He couldn't get enough! Luke, of course, wouldn't touch it. Next time I am going to attempt my own dumplings!

I've also been working on biscuits! I've found a recipe that is really good but it needs a little tweaking! I made the biscuits Friday night to go with our leftovers. The recipe made 9 biscuits and I was thinking that we'd have some for breakfast the next day. Nope, our little family of four ate all nine biscuits in one night! So, I guess they're pretty good as is, but I think they can improve! I'm determined to one day have kids and grandkids who rave about my biscuits! :)

Check out for more menu and recipe ideas!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

M2M Blogroll Scavenger Hunt

You know, I debated on whether or not I was going to participate in this for a while before I decided to do it. We currently aren't in a pastorate. In fact, the one year anniversary of the Hubs being fired is coming up. So, it's longer than most I would guess? And I have a feeling it may be a while before God leads us to a ministry position. I have never spoken publicly about the details of what happened and I don't plan on it. Like I've said before, it's delicate. Not in the sense that I don't want anyone to know what happened. It's just that there are others I have to think about when speaking publicly. I have shared my feelings and how God has worked. And I'll continue to. But I do want to take the opportunity to let anyone out there in the Ministry Wives' world that I am here to listen if you need a shoulder. I didn't have many friends that I felt I could call anytime and just pour my heart out to when it all happened to us. Don't get me wrong, I had wonderful friends of support and encouragement. Wonderful! But sometimes you just need to vent and cry. Sometimes I still do.

My husband hasn't 'left the ministry'. I know it's a desire that burns deep inside him. We will just wait on God and I know He will be faithful to us. He is always faithful.

1. First Name. Crystal

2. State and Country of Residence. Sweet Home Alabama

3. Husband’s Ministry Title. He was Associate Pastor/Youth Minister

4. Length of time in Current Ministry Location. We were at our last church for almost two years.
5. Children? If yes, give gender and ages. Yes!! I have two boys, Luke (3) and Eli (14 months)

6. Number of unique homes in which you’ve lived during your marriage. We have been married 5 years and have lived in 5 different houses! The most unique being my parents house. We lived with my parents for 8 months right after my husband was fired. I never expected to move back in with my parents at 27, with my husband and two small children!
7. Cook Sunday lunch or eat out? I cook most Sunday's, even if it's just sandwiches! And honestly, most Sunday's it is just sandwiches!

8. Typically on time for Sunday School or not? Seriously?? We have two small children, what do you think? Most of the time we're right on time!

9. Favorite TV Show. I love the Duggars! They fascinate me! I have even read their book! I'm also a BIG fan of The Cosby Show but I have no clue if re-runs even come on anymore! What happened to good TV? I do have the first season on DVD that I pull out every once in a while!
10. Something you watch/like/do that you would never tell the church people. (Except now you just did…lol) I must be completely and totally boring because I can't think of anything. This is totally lame.. but the only thing I can think of is that I stay up waaay too late. I usually go to bed around 12am. I need to work on that!

11. Most annoying church-related pet peeve. One thing that comes to mind is when people hold strongly to opinions on things that aren't biblically based. So many base their opinions on something they've been taught (by man) or tradition.. not the Bible.

12. One thing you need to throw away but can’t bring yourself to do it. I have a huge folder of recipes that I NEVER look in. It's followed me everywhere. I need to just chunk it. That and clothes. Last year I finally went through my tiny, strappy cute shoes and got rid of them. I kept thinking that my feet were going to shrink after I had my first. Nope. They never did. I will forever be a 1/2 size bigger. Doesn't mean I can't buy cute shoes.. it just means I can't squeeze my feet into that small size anymore!!

13. The one food you can not live without. Caffeine... either in the form of Diet Coke or coffee.. wait, is caffeine food? I say yes.

14. Parsonage or have your own home? That is a no brainer, right? We're renting a house from my dad currently. What a blessing!

15. Freak when the doorbell rings or always ready for a visitor? I tried to always be ready for visitors. We didn't have many though. Now? You better call me before you come over! I'll probably come to the door.. but it might not be pretty! :)

I'm looking forward to learning more about the other women who are part of The Preacher's Wife, Married to the Ministry blogroll!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Love of God

Today I am choosing to bask in God's love. I know He loves me unconditionally and endlessly. But I also know I don't understand that kind of love. I'm asking for more understanding. I'm asking Him to pour His love on me today. I am so desperate for Him.

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds." Psalm 36:5

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... " Ephesians 2:4-5

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." John 15:9

The Love of God

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Frederick M. Lehman, 1917

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I decided to join my bloggy friend, Xandra, in the 2009 Giving Thanks Challenge. I think it's a fantastic way to focus on the things, little or big, that we are thankful for. After all, that's what this time of the year is about!

All you have to do is post something you are thankful for, for each day in November. It's as easy as putting them in a list on your sidebar. Leah actually posts a short little post on each thing she is thankful for, which is a great idea too! I definitely think it will help me reflect on all of the blessings God has placed in my life! I hope you'll participate, too! Jump in even if you're a few days late! Head over to Leah's blog and grab the button and start your thankfulness list! Make sure you let Leah know you're participating by signing in on her post!

May God be magnified through our thanksgiving...

"I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving."

Psalm 69:30

MPM 11/2/09

Chicken and Dumplin's, Green Beans, Corn

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese (I'm adding cubed ham to make it a 'meal'), Veggie

Taco Soup

Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken, Purple Hull Peas, Roasted Potatoes

Last week was a busy week, which is why I didn't have a menu up. This week I'm making chicken and dumplings for the first time ever! I hope they turn out! Alrighty.. I've got another post up my sleeve for later.. hopefully tomorrow! So that's that. Have a great week!

And check out for more menu's/recipes!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bargains, Bargains!

Here are some pretty good deals I found online:

Payless Coupon: Get 50% off everything. It's only good through tomorrow! Click here to print your coupon or get a text coupon, if you're snazzy like that. :)

Old Navy: Get 15% off your purchase from Old Navy. This coupon is good through the 31st. Click here and scroll down.

Bath and Body Works: Get a FREE Anti-Bacterial Pocketback Hand Gel with ANY purchase. This coupon is valid through Nov 1st. I don't buy Bath and Body normally because I'm just fine with my Suave. :) BUT since this does say "Free with ANY purchase", you could go in and purchase a $1 or $2 item from clearance or something else that is small and get this free! Click Here.

JC Penney: Now this one can get a little complicated. You can get a 10$ off coupon to use in store (printable) or online (by using promo code and serial number off coupon) by signing up for JC Penney rewards and by saving a credit card on file with them (I used my debit card). This reward is only available for new rewards customers. If you're not a rewards member (I wasn't). You can go here to sign up to be a rewards member. After you save your credit card info you will be directed to a page that should show you in the right corner your 10$ coupon. This coupon is valid through Nov 17th. There is also a promotional code only for online orders. It is $10 off a purchase of $10 or more. The code is SWEETS4U. So, here is what I did... I signed up to be a rewards member, I clicked on my coupon and wrote down the code and serial number.. I didn't print it off because I knew I'd be shopping online. Then I went shopping. I knew that if everything worked out I'd have $20 off my order. Luke is in need of a winter jacket. So, I looked and found that their toddler jackets are on sale for $29.99 (reg $49.99). When I got to check out I entered the promotional code SWEETS4U and then entered my rewards code/serial number. I filled out my shipping address and billing info, it gave me my total. Everything worked out perfectly. I got the jacket for $9.99 plus shipping which totaled to be $16.58. Pretty good!

I did look at other sales and clearance. There are some kids shoes on sale for $10.99 and up so that would make a great deal, even if you only use the SWEETS4U code. You can certainly just do the rewards deal and print off your coupon, if you don't want to shop online or if you're heading to JC Penney soon. There are a few restrictions that are listed on the coupon. I don't know exactly what they are but they are probably similar to all JC Penney restrictions (not valid on Levi's, ect). Think about Christmas gifts. Right now, online they have two ties on clearance for $14.99 each. If you go to the women section and click on Fashion Jewelry you can find some great deals too! (If you click on regular jewelry, you'll get the high priced, real stuff!)

Anyway, just wanted to pass on some good deals! If you take advantage of any of them let me know! I love hearing about good deals! :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

MPM 10/19

White Bean and Ham Soup, Onion Biscuits

Roast with Potatoes and Carrots, Onion Biscuits

Brunswick Stew (the link to the recipe I use is on my previous MPM)

Mexican Tortilla Pie, Rice, Salad

So, since I was sick the end of this week the brunswick stew didn't get made.. and I still have the roast in the freezer! Things were easy this week. It was so nice to just have to thaw out vegetable soup! Then Friday night for our romantic anniversary dinner we had Papa John's. :) We spent the evening catching up on Thurs nights Office, coughing and eating pizza! The Hubs and I both decided to head to the Dr yesterday. Yay, antibiotics! I'm so thankful for the help we had with the kids! And then my mom brought over stuff to make chili! It was nice to not have to think about supper! (BTW, Roll Tide!) Today I am so achy from coughing so much. I'm actually about to see if Eli will take an early nap since he was up for 2 hours straight last night from 11:30pm to 1:30am! What is up with that? Sigh, that is another post.. We have a birthday party for the Hub's grandmother this afternoon, right at Eli's nap time. Hopefully an early nap will help to avoid any crazy, one-year-old action. At least for the party.. probably not for tonight!

What is on your menu? I am in need of something yummy and new. I feel stuck in a rut! I've got chicken in the freezer for next week.. any ideas??

Check out for more menu and recipe ideas!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Five Years!

Today is Robby and my five year anniversary!

Can I just reminisce a little bit about that day? This could get long. Humor me. :)

It was a beautiful day! I picked October because I love it so much. I love pumpkins and fall leaves. I love the smell of cinnamon and the cooler weather. Fall is just my favorite season for so many reasons. My birthday happens to be in October as well, so all the more better! When we were deciding on a day, I knew I wanted it to be an even number. I just like them. So it was between the 2nd and the 16th. The 16th won out because I liked it more, I guess? We were engaged a year and 4 months. We got engaged on May 24th, 2003. I just knew that I couldn't plan a wedding in 4 months so we decided to wait until Oct. 2004. It was long... longer than I would have liked but we did it.

So, here it was, October 16, 2004 at 5pm. Our wedding day! Like I said, it was a beautiful day. The weather was a perfect 72 degrees out. It was sunny with a gentle breeze. The perfect fall day.

My dress was candlelight.. strapless.. beaded on the top.. and pouffe. I wanted a princess wedding dress and that's what I got! However I did not wear glass slippers! I wore flip flops down the isle! I never really intended to do this. My mom had bought me these super cute off white, beaded flip flops to wear at the reception. Well, when my dress came in and I went to try it on with my shoes that had about a 2 inch heel, the dress was too short! I had been told that the dress was made for girls 5'7. Wrong! I am not 5'7! I looked and looked for cute flat shoes and didn't have any luck. So, I just decided to wear my flip flops. No one ever knew and my feet were comfy the entire time! My bridesmaids wore crimson-ey red dresses. (they also had cute red flip flops that I 'decorated' to wear for the reception!) They carried beautiful bouquets of red, orange and yellow flowers. My bouquet consisted of mainly tiger lilies and red roses with a few smaller yellow, red and orange flowers.

On to the ceremony.. The first thing, of course, was the parents and grandparents coming in. I chose "How Beautiful" to be played on the flute! It was so pretty! I couldn't find a good instrumental version of this song but here is Twila Paris' singing it. It really is a great, timeless song about the beauty of Christ and the love He has for His bride.

The next to come in was the bridesmaids. The song the Hubs and I choose for this is one the Hubs had played for me while we were engaged. It's called "Miracles" by Everman, which was a Christian band that, I think, only made one album. Oh my, it's a beautiful song. A friend of ours played & sang it on acoustic guitar and it was just perfect. Exactly what I wanted. And guess what?? I found someone singing it at a wedding online!! I think I just might cry!

Next my sweet hubby-to-be rolled out the white aisle runner for me to walk down. Then I had another song sang. Just by itself, right before I walked down the isle. It's "I Am" by Nichole Nordeman. As I picked out songs for the wedding, I really wanted God to be glorified through the entire service. This song is a great reminder that God is our constant. He is there, always. The Bible tells us that He will never leave or forsake His children.

Here comes the bride! I came into the traditional wedding march, because I'm traditional like that. My high school youth pastor flew up from Tampa, FL to marry the Hubs and I. What a blessing that was! Another dream come true. He did a wonderful job! We said our vows, which were traditional, but very short. ;) I knew that I would be super nervous so I chose the vows with the least amount of words! Haha! After we said our vows we had the Lord's supper and lit the trinity candle.

After we lit the trinity candle we had a slide show. Yes, the wedding was long.. 45 minutes long. But it was my wedding... :) The Hubs actually picked this song out. It's Josh Groban "When You Say You Love Me"...

Then it was time to kiss the bride! Whew. It was absolutely perfect. I can remember standing at the rehearsal and hearing the 'I Am' song by Nichole Nordeman and tears welled up in my eyes. It was exactly what I wanted. And I'm so thankful for that. I know that the details that add up to the wedding don't necessarily mean anything. The commitment before God is the important part. And that's what we tried to convey with those who attended. God joined us together. And we wanted God to be glorified in our marriage ceremony.

But it sure was nice that it was exactly what I had envisioned in my mind! ;)

Our reception was fabulous. We, like most bride and grooms, spent the entire time talking with our guests and not eating. My mom and aunt did a FANTASTIC job on decorating. As you walked into the reception there was a huge 'Christmas' tree. But it was decorated with fall decorations. This was the gift tree. There was a dried honey suckle vine archway going into the reception. We had a huge wrought iron gazebo in the center that had my table and cake in it. My cake was four tiered, carrot cake and red velvet alternating layers. The icing was tinted with cocoa to give it a tiny hint of color. Then the four food tables came out from the gazebo. We had lots of yummy food including my favorite Chick fil a chicken nuggets! Robby's table was decorated with lots of gold fabrics and glittery leaves. His cake was chocolate, decorated with strawberries and grapes. We found all kinds of fall dishes and things to serve the food in including these huge fall leaf platters. My very talented aunt made all of my flower arrangements for the tables. I wish I had pictures to show! I have a few pictures of the reception but that is one thing I regret. I didn't have my photographer take many pictures of the decorated reception and I really wish I would have had more taken!

Our white limo was suppose to be at the church at 6:30pm. And I let my family know that I wanted to know exactly when it arrived! Seriously, I was ready to get outta there! I love, loved my wedding and reception but we just didn't want a long reception. I wanted everyone to have enough time to eat and mingle and then see us off. So, we did the whole birdseed thing and off we went in our limo. We made a pit stop at our house and then took off to Atlanta to spend the night and travel to Savannah the next day. We were STARVING when we got to the hotel. Thankfully we had a lovely package of all of our food from the wedding. But when I opened it up, I noticed one thing was missing. CAKE! The only piece of our wedding cake that we had was the tiny bite we fed each other at the reception for pictures. I was so disappointed! I'm still not sure exactly who packed our 'to-go' basket, but whoever it was owes us some red velvet and carrot cake! At least I had my chicken nuggets though! We had a great time in Savannah honeymooning! You don't need to know all of the details of that trip, do you?!? :) Although, there is a funny story about shellfish and immodium. Just ask the Hubs the next time you see him! I pray that one day we'll be able to take a trip back there together.

Well, thank you for letting me take a trip down memory lane. I truly am blessed to have my husband! I am excited about what the future holds for us. I am so thankful that God gave me a wonderful man to walk through life with. God is good isn't He?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10/12

Vegetable Beef Soup (freezer), Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Spaghetti Bake, Green Beans

Brunswick Stew (I use Paula Deens chicken brunswick stew recipe and add lima beans to it. This week I'm using pork because I have a boston butt in the freezer but I have made it with chicken before. Both are good!), Corn Bread

Pancakes, Scrambled Eggs, Fruit

I still haven't made my roast from last week yet, so the soup may stay in the freezer this week! And I made the spaghetti bake today and stuck it in the fridge for after church but we ended up eating supper at my mom's tonight. So, it's already cooked, just needs to go in the oven tomorrow night! I love having meals in the freezer because if there happens to be a day that I don't have the chance to cook or something else comes up all I have to do is pop it in the oven or in a pot on the stove! With my soups, I rarely think to thaw! So, I just pull the huge block of soup out of the plastic freezer bag and pop it into my big stock pot. Then I turn it on low and just stir it occasionally as it thaws. Sometimes with frozen soups you need to add a little water to it as it thaws. Once it's heated, it's ready to eat! Easy Peasy! :)
And can I brag a little? I only spent $50.00 this week on groceries. Granted one of my meals is in the freezer, I still did pretty good!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Menu Plan ~ A day late! :)


BBQ Chicken Pizza, Corn on the cob

Chicken tortilla soup (from the freezer!)

Roast w/ Carrots and Potatoes, Biscuits

I just totally forgot about posting my menu yesterday! I had made one and saved it before I went grocery shopping Saturday (I loathe grocery shopping on Saturday, btw!) but just forgot to finish it and post it.

Last night I made the Spicy Chicken Noodle Casserole and it was pretty good. It was a new recipe and when I first bit into it I didn't think I liked it. But the more I ate it the more I liked it. It wasn't that it wasn't good that first bite, I just had in my mind that it would taste different. Anyways, the Hubs and Eli both liked it (and my mom who came by to drop something off and tried it). Luke didn't touch it, of course, but that was expected. The recipe actually came out of my last power bill. I'll post it below. I also tried something new with chicken yesterday. I found whole chickens on sale for 0.88 cents a pound. I had never cooked a whole chicken! I had seen recipes online about cooking them in the crock pot so I decided to try it. Here is what I did: Cut up one large onion and two lemons into slices. I also set aside a big spoonful of minced garlic and some of the house seasoning (recipe below) I use. I did all this before I started messing with the chicken to avoid getting chicken juice all over my kitchen! I just put the onions, garlic and lemons in a bowl and put a small bowl of the seasoning & olive oil out too. Remove the insides (this is the whole reason why I have never cooked a whole chicken. YUCK! But I did it and survived and you can too!) and chunk them! Rinse and pat your chicken dry (inside and out... yes, I 'patted' the inside of the chicken dry too). Stuff all of the lemons and as much of the onions & garlic inside the chicken. I wasn't able to get much onion in there but I did what I could. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil and the seasoning mix. Put the remainder of the onion on top of the chicken. Cook on high for about 5 hours or low 8 hours. I had a 3.5 lb bird and she was done after about 4 hours on high. You can also just use onion and garlic and not use lemons but I had a bag of lemons in the fridge that I needed to use up. Actually, the recipe I 'followed' used a sliced apple in place of the lemons. The chicken just fell apart and was really moist. It's a really good way to cook chicken for casseroles, burritos, soups. I used this chicken for the casserole recipe below and saved the rest for BBQ chicken pizza later in the week. I'm sure roasting a chicken in the oven is better if you're actually going to just eat the chicken by itself since it doesn't fall apart!

Spicy Chicken Noodle Casserole

2 roasted chicken breast, diced or shredded
Small package of egg noodles (I used half of a large bag)
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TBS garlic, minced
8 oz sour cream (I used light)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can rotel
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 c butter (left this out)
1 sleeve ritz crackers

Boil egg noodles, Drain, saving one cup of liquid (I forgot to do this so just added a plain ol' cup of water). Butter drained noodles with 1/3 c of butter (I didn't do this). Boil carrots and celery until fork tender. (I didn't do this either!!) Saute onion in a little olive oil (I added my carrots and celery to my onion and let them all saute) until fork tender. Add garlic and saute 2-3 more minutes. Turn heat off. Add the water to the veggies. Add sour cream, cream of chicken soup, rotel, chicken, cheddar cheese, and noodles and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish. On top layer parmesan cheese, Crushed ritz crackers and a few pieces of cubed butter. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Paula Deen's House Seasoning

1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 c garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. Mine sits in my cabinet in one of those Rubbermaid bowls. Shake it before you use it because the pepper and garlic settle to the bottom. I sprinkle this on almost every meat I'm cooking!

Have a good week!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Updates and a few silly moments from Luke!

Today Luke and Eli went BACK to the Dr. Seriously, I'm so over the Dr! We had Eli's check up at the beginning of the month, when his ear infection was found. Then we went to the after hours clinic 2 weekends ago with both boys because Eli had started running a temp again and was up all night crying. Well, one ear was fine, the other was still infected. We decided to take Luke because he had been coughing for a while and we thought we should have it checked out. We were told his cough was just from a cold and given some cough syrup. So, over this past weekend Luke was still coughing, sometimes to the point of him making himself sick. It's especially worse at night. So, I called yesterday and made them both an appointment for today. I had them re-check Eli's ears and they were fine (yay!). But Luke has bronchitis. Last weekend it wasn't in his chest but Dr. C said that he could hear it rattling today. So, he got a shot and some medicine. And Eli got his 1st flu shot. I told them that they were not allowed to get sick anymore and that the only trips were would be going for is to get Eli's 2nd flu booster and Luke's flu shot, which will be in a month. And then, Eli will have his 15 mth well visit Dec 2nd. I will say that I am thankful that we've avoided the really nasty sickies so far. I'm praying that it will stay far from us too! There was a little girl in the waiting room today who was just pitiful! Bless her little heart. Kids handle sickness pretty well but this little one did not feel good!

Luke did FANTASTIC at the Dr. The only time he cried was when he got his shot. Who can blame him though? He was so brave! Just a little over a week ago he cried when they took his temp under his arm, so he did super today. He was rewarded with a Happy Meal and a sucker! :) Eli on the other hand cried anytime someone walked into the room. Ok, so he didn't cry, but he starts breathing fast like he's going to hyperventilate. Bless him! He's starting to realize what goes on there!

I must tell you something funny Luke said on the way home. I've said it before but I'll say it again, I wish I could record everything he says! He is so funny! But at the same time his reasoning and the way his brain works is well beyond his 3 years. The Hubs and I were talking about what we were going to do before we headed home. I said something like, "We'll go by McDonald's, then drop of the medicine and then we can pick it up on our way to my parents tonight for dinner." Often when the Hubs and I are having a conversation, Luke likes to chime in and give his opinion, because he wants to be a part of it. So, from the backseat I heard, "Well, Mommy, I think we need to go to your mom's now." It was so funny!! I just laughed and said, "No, we're going to Mimi's house after she gets off work."

Yesterday, Gram and Grandad were coming over that afternoon for Gram to cut Luke's hair. Well, while we were running errands that morning Luke asked me why they couldn't come over now. So, I explained that they were at work and we'd have to wait until they got off work. That answered satisfied him. Then he asked, "Does Nanny work?"
I said, "No."
Luke: "Does Grandpa B work?"
Me: "No."
Luke: "Why?"
Me: "He's retired."
Luke: "Oh, Daddy gets tired too."


Just out of curiosity, I asked him if Mommy worked. He said, "Nooo!" and giggled like that was a silly question. Then he paused and said, "But you do work at home!"

Me: "Good answer son, you're exactly right!"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MPM 9/28/09

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Pinto Beans, Corn Bread

Chicken Fingers, Spinach-Bacon Mac & Cheese

Vegetable Soup, Corn Bread

Spicy Chicken Noodle Casserole, Green Beans

Here lately I've only been planning 4 meals and that's worked really good for us. This past week we ate BBQ two nights in a row. One night I cooked a pizza for the boys and the Hubs, and I had leftover spaghetti. I love leftover spaghetti. I think it's one of those things that just tastes better the next day! It's so good! We also had dinner with the Hub's mom and step dad Friday night. And today, Sunday, we just had grilled cheese and leftovers from last night. Like I've said before, I'm not going to let anything go to waste. Food is too expensive!
In attempt to save more money on our grocery/household budget I'm planning on trying to make my own baby wipes and eventually I'd like to try clothes detergent. Just this past week I've started using 1 TBS borax mixed with 1 TBS baking soda and a tsp (I actually just squirt a small amount of it in there) of dishwashing detergent in the dishwasher. And every once in a while I put vinegar in the rinse aide thingy. I tried to find recipes for homemade dishwashing detergent and didn't find any that had great reviews. The best thing I read was that you actually don't need a lot of dishwashing detergent in your dishwasher. Adding the borax and baking soda just extends your detergent so you buy it less. Right now I've just been scooping it out of the box but I'm planning on buying a medium size plastic container to keep under my sink and mix equal parts borax and baking soda. The borax was around 3$ for a big box of it and baking soda is 1$ at WalMart for 1 lb. So, if you buy the cheap dish detergent and add your extenders, it will save $$ in the long run. Now, I'm sure there are those of you out there who don't mind spending $$ on that kind of thing and think that it might be more of a hassle to do it my (new) way. But hey, for us, every penny counts! :) As far as the baby wipes, here is the recipe/method I'm going to be using. Comparing the costs: around $17 a year for homemade wipes or around $100 a year for store bought. Pretty decent savings. Two other things I'm attempting to do to save:
  • Only buying paper towels (6 pk) once a month. We go through paper towels like crazy! So, I'm limiting myself. I'm using more hand towels but throwing a few extra hand towels in a load of towels isn't costing me anything. I just started on our 4th roll tonight and I've got to make it to the 14th before buying anymore! When it runs out.. it just runs out!
  • Household shopping once a month. I'm attempting to buy all of my household items once per month. This will help me keep a better watch on my grocery bill. I've made a HUGE master list that includes anything and everything (from shampoo to cotton balls) we may possibly need. And my idea is to just check that list before I do my household shopping and get what we need. I know the more I do this the better I will become at gauging how much we need per month, if we can make it one more month with "whatever" or if I need to go ahead and purchase it. The only exception is if there is a great deal on something. If that is the case I'll go ahead and purchase it. For instance, I did my first household shopping trip 2 weeks ago. Then last week I bought 2 tubes of toothpaste because it was on sale and I had a coupon. I got 2 Arm and Hammer Total Care toothpaste for around $1.20 each. In the end I think this will help me save by taking a look back over how much money is going to household items and how much I'm spending on groceries. Because before this month it had been all jumbled up together. This will help me see where I might need to put a little more effort into saving and budgeting!

I'm searching for new ideas all the time so if you have any let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

Update: I wanted to share an opportunity for you to win free groceries. Who am I kidding. I don't want you to win. I want to win. But if I tell you, I get more chances to win. So, I'm totally being selfish. At least I'm honest! ;) Click here to enter!

I love fall. It is my absolute favorite season. And although we haven't felt that crisp feeling in the air near enough (think more of humid, muggy) I know it is coming soon! I love fall smells and colors. Pumpkins, cinnamon, orange & red leaves. I just love it! It's time for soup in the crock pot, long sleeves, Halloween costumes and pumpkin carving! To add to all of the seasonal things, my birthday and anniversary are in October! It just can't get any better! :)

So, I wanted to share one of my favorite fall recipes with you! Pumpkin bread is a staple in my house in the fall. We have it for breakfast, snacks, dessert. And today I'm making my first loaf of the season! The recipe is from Paula Deens, Savannah Country Cookbook.

Pumpkin Bread *my notes are below
Yields 2 loaves

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Mix sugar and oil with mixer. Add eggs and blend. Add pumpkin and blend. Add water and blend. Combine remaining ingredients and add slowly. Fill pans equally and bake for 1 hour or until olden brown.

*My notes: I use one can of pumpkin (15 oz) which is almost two cups. I also use 1/2 c vegetable oil and 1/2 c applesauce, instead of one whole cup of vegetable oil. Sometimes I add nuts and sometimes I don't. Luke won't eat nuts and Eli can't yet so I'll probably do most of mine without nuts or maybe do one loaf with and one without. I also never add nutmeg. I usually do one tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice. A whole tsp of nutmeg is too much for me. Actually I don't have any pumpkin pie spice yet. It's probably at my moms, I don't think I threw it away when we moved in with them, but I don't really remember. We tried to keep everything that wasn't perishable. Anyway, I'm still restocking my spice cabinet. I need to get some though because the Hubs is a pumpkin pie fan and I usually make a few pumpkin pies in the fall and winter months! :) If you don't have any pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg, just use cinnamon! It will still taste great! I'm thinking of doing pumpkin muffins with this recipe for the boys. They love muffins. I may try to lower the sugar amount too! I'll let you know how that turns out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

John Piper on the New Calvinism

I watched these videos (will post below) the other day that were on John Piper's blog. There's not a whole lot of information on the convention that John Piper was speaking at. Evidently there is a term that the media/press has coined the New Calvinism. John Piper and two others were invited by the Religious Newswriters Association's annual convention to discuss this. I find it odd that they are calling it New Calvinism, since Calvin just celebrated his 500th birthday. I think they (the press) have labeled it that because it is getting more attention and possibly more are finding Calvin's theology and doctrines to be biblically sound. Therefore maybe it is a new movement that is ages old. My point is not to explain all of that though! :) I just wanted to share these videos because I think they are full of great information. I only watched John Piper's introduction and the Q&A video. The other two panelist have videos on Piper's blog and I hope to watch them when I have time but for now I'm only sharing the two I watched. I hope you'll watch them, even if you're completely turned off by the word Calvinism. And if that describes you, please watch the very end of the Q & A video. I think if I remember correctly it starts around minute 23 or 24. A reporter asks a very great question and John Piper answers it perfectly. I think these videos would be great for someone who doesn't understand what Calvinism means or thinks they understand what it means (it by no means explains everything but it's a good start). And for those who are Reformed, it's a great encouragement.

If for some reason the videos don't show up, here is the link to the videos on Desiring God.

Piper's is the second video and the Q & A is the last.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

MPM 9/21/09

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pinto beans, corn bread

Spaghetti, salad

Pork Chop Stuffing Bake, Peas, Fried Okra

BBQ Sandwiches, baked beans, cole slaw

Two meals were rolled over from last week. We went out to dinner with my parents Friday night and one night I just made tuna salad. It was one of those days where I just didn't want was too busy to cook.. so I just did easy!! And I'm seriously making the BBQ this week. I actually was going to do it yesterday but it was still hard as a rock yesterday morning. Not to mention the fact that we had to take Eli to the Dr. He had an ear infection 2 weeks ago and ran a fever Fri night and was up crying, so I knew it hadn't gone away. Sure enough one ear was still infected. His recheck wasn't until this coming Wed (which totally doesn't make sense to me.. when the meds are for 10 days, why would you make a recheck 3 weeks away.. doesn't it make more sense to do it say, 2 wks later? If the infection isn't gone you're going to know it before that 3 wk mark! Ok, enough rambling about that!) and there was no way we were waiting until then! Back to the BBQ... it's almost thawed as of a little while ago. It will be ready for the crock pot in the morning.

In thinking that the BBQ was going to be a no-go for Sat, I laid out some chicken for this soup. I had been looking for a good chicken tortilla soup recipe and this one had good reviews, so I was planning on it for the next week but just decided to go ahead and make it! So, I got up this morning and put the soup on. It was really easy to put together. I did add one thing to the soup and that was a drained can of black beans. And you know I didn't make my own tortilla chips! I'm glad I added the beans though because Eli loved them! It was sooo good and healthy too (as long as you don't add a huge spoonful of sour cream and tons of cheese... like someone I know.. ) This will definitely be on rotation this fall/winter. My only problem now is what in the world am I going to do with the rest of that bunch of cilantro?? I'm thinking about this:

Authentic Mexican Restaurant Salsa Recipe


1 28oz can of Crushed Tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Powder

10 +/- Pickled Jalapeno Rings and juice (Add more to increase heat)

10 or more leaves of cilantro


1) Food process everything. (or shove it all in a blender)

2) Check Hotness, and add more of what you want.
3) Store in airtight container in the fridge. Eat within 2-3 days.

I've made it before but used fresh tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos. If you do use fresh jalapenos/tomatoes I suggest boiling them to help remove the skin. Also add a little vinegar if you use fresh jalapenos. I'm all outta fresh, except garlic, though!
Seriously, I have a whole lotta cilantro.. anyone want any??
Check out Orgjunkie for more menu and recipe ideas!