Tuesday, December 28

A new look at...

While driving to church one Sunday morning, we listened to a preacher on the radio, who gave a short, but, very profound lesson on prayer. I'd like to share some of what he said with you. It really got me to thinking about some things in an entirely new way.

Depending on our upbringing, personal experiences... etc. we may each view prayer a little differently. "Prayer is powerful" can seem like a cliche' to some people. I have personally witnessed God perform MIRACLES as a result of prayer, but my human mind tends to forget the awesomeness of God sometimes. Whenever I'm *trying* to patiently wait on God to answer my prayers, the phrase "prayer is powerful" seems to sound less and less convincing each time I say it. Prayer IS powerful. I know that. But sometimes I don't claim that statement for myself personally. It's more of: "Well, God can do that for THEM... but I'm not even sure He cares that much about my situation" type of thinking.

Yes, there are many cliche's about prayer. About being in your "closet" in daily prayer. It may become a repetitious, mechanical act for some of us at times. There are many statements we can make about prayer, but perhaps the most important one is: Prayer is intimate. It's an INTIMATE one-on-one conversation between you and God. Any important relationship in your life requires intimacy. There are a lot of Christian books out there about prayer. Lots of "4-steps to this kind of prayer life"... and so on) type philosophies. But, imagine this: You meet a person for the first time. You really hit it off. Your personalities really seem to click with one another as you chatter on about this and that... then as it's time to leave, you say, "Alright well, I think this could be the start of a great friendship! So, I think we should follow this 6-step program on how to become great friends. The first step is: we've gotta spend a lot of time together... and so on... blah blah blah..." How do you think that person would feel? Well, they'd probably think you were pretty weird for starters :) and they would probably prefer that you talk to them in the future because they interested you; not because you were following steps in a program. Right? Well, now let's apply that thinking to God. He genuinely wants to have a PERSONAL, INTIMATE relationship with us that involves communication (i.e. prayer.)

Matthew 6:6 (NIV) says, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

He doesn't want us to talk to Him only when we think others are watching. He also doesn't want us to be ashamed to talk to Him when others ARE watching. It's not ABOUT those other people- it's about YOU AND GOD! That's the point!

Now, let's relate this thought about intimacy with Revelation 3:16. God tells us that He would rather us be hot or cold, instead of lukewarm. I'll be honest with you, I have never fully understood this verse. I thought, "Isn't warm better than COLD, God? Why wouldn't you rather someone be a LITTLE interested than not interested at all in you??" It didn't make sense to me. But, that radio preacher gave an illustration which helped me see this verse from a different angle. There was a man who called the preacher for a counseling session. He said, "I am so afraid that I've completely alienated myself from God for good." "What did you do?" the preacher asked. "Well, I was upset about a circumstance in my life and I started blaming God. I got so angry at Him, that I cursed His name. Now I realize my anger was wrongly directed, but I don't know if He will forgive me." The preacher responded with a question. "What is the opposite of love?" The man finally answered "Hate, I guess." "No, the opposite of love is indifference. No one can hate something they care nothing about. You can't muster up any kind of emotion if you are not interested."

How many marriages are torn apart because one or both of the spouses become indifferent? Maybe a husband would rather sit and watch television than work out his problems with his wife. There isn't much hope of recovery if you are not interested in recovery- is there?

So, God would rather us hot or cold. He despises lukewarm. Be overwhelmed with love and joy, or be angry- but FEEL SOMETHING! Perhaps this is a liberal interpretation of this verse, but it really made me think in a whole new way! I am very in love with my Savior. I have also gotten very angry and offended at Him in the past. I faced those feelings, asked for mercy, and He helped me come through my hurt. But, it's when I become INDIFFERENT towards God, when I lose interest and no longer make time to talk to Him that He says He will "spew me out of His mouth".

He wants intimacy. He wants my love. He wants my heart. All the rest is pomp and circumstance.

Hopefully I gave you something new to think about. I'll be chewing on that sermon for awhile...

Picture Credit

Thursday, December 23

Yummy Holiday Treats

Potatoe Chip Cookies

Sis. Beverly Rushing brought these (along with her recipe) to a cookie exchange years ago. I've been making them ever since & my family and friends LOVE them!
I liken them to pecan sandies- but just a little better due to that "secret" ingredient.
Tip: don't tell people they have potatoe chips in them- make them guess what it is. :)

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 12 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed potatoe chips (original Lay's is fine)
1 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

Cream together butter and sugar. Gradually add flour and mix well. Add vanilla & chips. Mix. Stir in nuts last. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet by spoonful, and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in powdered sugar. Bake @ 350F for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, December 19

A personal update...

Wow, I can't believe how few and far between my posts are getting lately. Just wanted to drop a quick note and say I'm still alive ;) I've started several posts lately, but haven't had the time to finish them. I will try to do so soon. I'm sure all of you can relate with how busy this month always is for me! Thank goodness my Christmas shopping was finished up weeks ago & is no longer on my long "to do" list!

The past few months.... well, 6 months really have thrown me for a serious loop. Physically, mentally, emotionally... I've just been going through quite a lot lately, I suppose. And, though it humbles me to ask this: I would really appreciate your prayers if you happen to think of me. I need to continue trusting that God knows exactly where I am and still has an amazing plan for me, if I'll just wait on HIM. I am feeling emotionally weary lately, so please pray that God will give me strength & refresh my spirit. I am finally over the "every day, all day" morning sickness- though I still have my moments... most of the time I feel pretty great, so praise the Lord for that! Baby girl is doing great and kicking up a storm! (When asked a couple of wks. ago) I wasn't too nuts about advertising our baby name on Facebook... it just seemed like a REALLY public broadcasting station- but I don't mind my *small* circle of blog readers knowing :)

We've settled on the name: Adalynn Grace  (we'll probably call her "Addy" for short.) And (thank goodness) the name is finally starting to "take hold". I'm actually calling her that now... I even made her a wipey case with "A" in cute little rhinestones! (I'll post pics later :)

SO! On to our family PICTURES!! Those of you who are on facebook have probably already seen this album, but I'm posting it here as well. My sister Courtney is always so gracious to take our family pictures (and this year, chase our kid all over the place while doing it :) We REALLY appreciate her taking the time to do it for us- we think she's such an amazing & gifted photographer! Enjoy..

I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas this week! I know we've all heard it countless times, but let's not forget to sit down with our families this Saturday and read about the Lord of all creation, leaving His splendor to come here and redeem us. There is a reason for all the "fuss", for all the lights, tinsel & celebrating... so let's re-ponder that beautiful story... & thank Him that He came.




Friday, December 3

Strawberry Cake

Here's what I'm making tonight....
well... sorta. I'm actually allergic to strawberries. Yep... sad. But, I'll give you the original recipe then fill you in at the bottom about what I do so I can eat it :)

This Strawberry Cake is incredibly moist and pretty dense (the way I like cake if ya haven't figured that out yet ;)


1 box white cake mix
1 box instant strawberry jello (regular small size)
1/2 of the tub frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed & pureed

Follow cake mix directions as normal, then stir in dry jello mix and thawed, pureed strawberries. Be careful not to over mix. Bake cake @ 350F degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly before icing.


1 box powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 tub frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed

Pour off a little of the juice from the thawed strawberries, then mix with the butter and powdered sugar. (Use hand held mixer on medium speed- I don't puree berries for icing due to the hand held mixer sorta doing that job.)


I got this scrumptous recipe from my mother-in-law Donna Mofley. She makes it a lot for family dinners. The most I could ever do was smell it and watch other people eat. I think I snuck a TINY bite every now and then- hoping my tongue wouldn't swell as a result...

Then, I decided to revise the recipe so I could eat it! Besides the color of the cake being darker, there's not much difference in the 2 versions. Nick says they taste about the same to him. Here's what I do:

Instead of strawberry jello, I buy raspberry.
Instead of frozen strawberries, I buy a bag of frozen raspberries... except they don't come in the tub with syrup, so I put them in a saucepan and cook them down with a little sugar to taste. Now I can indulge like everyone else- YAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 23

Learning Games for Benjamin

After reading a blog post from Becky about work boxes, I clicked on the link she provided to read more about this cool organizational system for homeschoolers and IT'S SO NEAT! Absolutely love it. My mind immediately started racing with ideas of how I would incorporate the curriculum(s) I plan on using when I start homeschooling my kids. Ahhh... I really love teaching, can you tell? :)

So... on the link Becky gave (www.confessionsofahomechooler.blogspot.com) I was reading some of this ladies ideas for her "teeny tot work boxes" she makes for her toddler, and I got really inspired! So, I started brainstorming ideas for new learning games for Benjamin that he can do right now. While I don't really have need for the actual "work boxes" right now, these various games are great for building motor skills & learning. They are also great entertainers and break up the monotony of him playing with stuff from his toy box. I'm already thinking I might bring a few to church with us next time.

So here's what I have so far:
Beads and shoelaces for him to lace through. Found this at the Dollar Tree in the toy section. (I plan to go back to the Dollar Tree and buy some plastic nylon string for these because the inside of the beads are rough and the shoelaces tend to snag and get stuck. Still though- much cheaper than I've seen them anywhere else!)

Wooden sticks for sorting by size.
(Originally skewer sticks that I cut the tips off of and sanded on the ends)

Colored bowls and pom-poms for scooping, sorting by color, counting... etc.

I found these Pooh Number Match cards at the Dollar Tree.

Okay, so you probably get this game... put the numbered card in the corresponding numbered cup... also motor skills building with the clothes pins.

I've been wanting to buy him some army men for awhile but I knew I didn't want to dump them in his toy box to just get lost... so I figured I'd put them in a "work box". Standing them up is rather difficult even for me so that's building motor skills & we can also count with them.

This is his favorite so far. It's a cardboard box wrapped in brown paper with holes punched in the top. He sticks the coffee stir sticks into the holes- keeps him busy for awhile and he's really good at it too.

(he likes us to clap each time he gets one in ;)

Well... that's it for now! Making these games was my special project for today... tomorrow: learning to make hair bows- In case you haven't heard... we're having a girl! :D

White Chili Recipe

You've simply got to try this fabulous fabulous FABULOUS White Chili recipe! It's a new family favorite for us. Delish!

1 pound (boneless skinless) chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch cubes (may substitute smoked turkey or smoked ham))
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans (14 oz.) northern or small white beans (undrained)
1 can chicken broth
2 cans (4 oz. chopped) green chilis
1 teaspoon (ground) cumin
1 teaspoon (dried) oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipping cream or evaporated milk

1) Sprinkle chicken pieces with garlic powder and salt. In a skillet over medium-high heat, saute' chicken in olive oil 4 to 5 minutes, stirring. Transfer meat to 4-quart slow cooker; add next seven ingredients, up to sour cream. Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours.

2) Turn off cooker and add sour cream and whipping cream/milk. Stir well. Serve chili over a sweet cornbread.

Soooo yummy on a cold night! :)

Sunday, November 7

Meet Joseph

One night about a year ago, I was lying on our couch waiting for Nick to get home from work. He worked the late shift and it was the middle of the night. I was sure everyone I knew had been tucked soundly in their beds for hours by now. And so, in an effort to pass the time, I flipped through an endless stream of infomercials on tv- hardly paying attention. I mentally checked things off my "to-do" list that I had completed that day, then I leaned over to check on a sleeping Benjamin for the 10th time. My tired brain was begging for sleep, but I would not concede. I was determined to keep the same hours as Nick- and that included going to bed at the same hour.

I stared drowsily at the tv, when a new infomercial took the scene. It was for an organization that provided food and care to children living in poverty. As I watched, my interest grew. Nick and I had been discussing lately how we'd like to find new ways to fulfill the commands in Scripture to "help the poor and needy". We had some other Christian friends who sponsored a child overseas. We often talked about how "neat" that was, and how we should involved with a program like that. Then, we would promptly forget the idea and go on to discuss other things.
As the pictures of children living all over the globe in various levels of destitution rolled across the screen, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart strings. Now was the time. It was time to get involved. I had made every excuse in the book to procrastinate. Through the years, I heard lots of stories of "sham organizations" that made me wonder how much of my funds would actually reach the child. Well, it was time I called that what it was: another excuse. "You haven't even done any research on organizations... why are you dismissing it so quickly?", I felt a voice in my heart ask...

So I whipped out my laptop, and began typing in the website address flashing on the tv screen. I browsed through each and every page on their website for about 10-15 minutes before finally coming across some clue that they were a Christian organization. It was a small statement of faith, carefully hidden in the History portion of their lengthy About Us section. "Hmm... not exactly what I was hoping for..." I thought, disappointed. "There MUST be an organization more closely tied with Christian mission work than that!" After keying some descriptive words in my Google search box, a multitude of companies/organizations sprung up on my screen. I scrolled through, searching for words of interest and clicked on a couple of sites to explore them. Within the next few minutes I found "the one".

It was Compassion International.

As soon as the home page popped up, I was impressed. I didn't need to search and explore to figure out if they preached the gospel of Christ, it was proclaimed in their mission statement and even their motto ("Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name")

I soaked up every tidbit of information they offered online and learned that in addition to providing education, food & medical care, their "centers" where the children attend weekly Bible class; work with the local established church (encompassing many denominations.) I studied their financial statements (available online,) and learned the details of their program; and I knew I didn't need to look any further. As soon as Nick walked in the door, I excitedly told him of my plans and how I felt the Lord prompting us to sponsor a child. Immediately he said, "Let's do it." I looked up at him, a little surprised. "Well, don't you even want to see all the details first and check out their financials?!" I asked shockingly as I hurriedly brought him from page to page on my computer. The Lord must have been talking to him too, because he didn't need any convincing. His mind was already made up.

We must have looked like two kids at Christmas when we proceeded to select a child. We were both giddy with excitement. The thought of making a REAL difference in some body's life SO far away was a feeling unlike any other I've had. When we began looking through the children's pictures my heart sunk a little. "This is going to be hard!" I thought, knowing I couldn't afford to sponsor them all. We decided to search through the "immediate needs" list of kids who had been waiting a long time for a sponsor, then we narrowed the search even further by choosing AIDS affected areas. Our eyes scanned the seas of faces with names, ages & locations posted beneath. I stopped several time to point out different children to Nick, then he stopped. He pointed. "That's the one." He said simply. His finger rested on the photo of a little boy. His name was Joseph and he was five. I looked eagerly at Nick, "Are you sure? You don't want to look at all of them?" "No." was his reply. "I just have a feeling. And I know he's the one." Bewildered at how certain he seemed, I replied "alright!" and clicked on Joseph.

I smile when I think about Joseph. He's a sweet little boy, now 6 years old. His favorite food is rice and beans and he loves soccer. I mean, LOVES it! Every picture he's ever drawn us has a soccer ball in it. We've received well over a dozen letters from him over the past year. He doesn't write yet, so his teacher writes for him, then the letter is sent through Compassion to be translated and is then sent to us. He lives in Bagamoyo, a fishing village on the eastern coast of Tanzania, Africa. The homes there are mostly mud huts, and the average wage of families lucky enough to find work is $12 a month.

Because of our sponsorship (which is only about what we spend on a nice meal,) Joseph has clothes, food, and most importantly he is part of "the program", meaning he attends school, Bible class & misc. functions at the center. I was surprised at the amount of communication we've had with Joseph- and with the info Compassion has sent us. They even send out an annual brochure specific to each country telling you about your child's culture. (Ours even included a recipe!) We also received a letter from his local pastor describing the work going on at the church. I was really excited to learn that his local church is Pentecostal. Upon receiving that news, it really did feel like God had brought us and Joseph together on purpose.

Although you can email letters to your sponsored child, we like to write them so we can include photos, coloring pages & stickers. When the center takes a picture of Joseph, they send us one. A few months back, looking at his photo I noticed that his shoes looked a bit worn and possibly had a hole in one toe. So, I went online and sent an extra $20 specifying that it be used for new shoes. I was delighted when a short time later we got a letter from Joseph thanking us and saying "see how smart I look in my new shoes?" *too cute*

The posted picture is of Joseph (with his baby sister Ester) wearing his new shoes. Things must be cheaper over there because he said he also bought his sister dress with our gift. :)

Sponsoring Joseph has been an amazing experience for us thus far. It's a very small effort on my part for a surprisingly large blessing in return. We hope to some day visit him in Africa (and judging from his letters he fully expects us to :) If you've ever thought about getting involved in a program like this, I heartily encourage you to look into it!

I am REALLY glad that I did!

Wednesday, October 27

Pictures of our Smoky Mountains Vacation

I know these are long over-due... but here are some pics from our vacation to the Smokies!! My sister Courtney took some that are much better than these... and I was hoping to get some from her, but she's been pretty busy preparing for her New Zealand trip! (She flies out tomorrow and will be gone for 1 month- please pray that she has a safe journey!) Anyhow... back to our trip- I'm just getting over a cold which I caught immediately upon returning home from our vacation. I know my immune system has been very down due to the fact that it's difficult for me to take vitamins with all the morning sickness... but I'm starting to feel MUCH better! As you will see from the beginning photos, we got to see some amazingly beautiful parts of God's creation while on our journey!

On Day 5 while staying in in Pigeon Forge, TN, we met up with my grandparents (who were staying in their RV there the entire month.) We don't get to see them often so visiting with them was wonderful and they were gracious enough to drive us into the mountains for a little sightseeing!!

The colors had not turned yet as much as we had hoped, but it was still breathtakingly beautiful!

Check out our elevation... almost a mile high into the mountain!

This is probably my favorite part of the Smokies- these gorgeous rivers and streams flowing through the mountains. As kids we used to jump from rock to rock up the river- trying not to get wet. I think perhaps Nick was a little surprised when, as soon as he took the baby, I went skipping about doing that very thing. I couldn't help myself! I could sit by a river like this for hours... in fact, I'd like to just live by it.

On Day 7, We toured Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. It's the largest private house in America and quite breathtaking!

Me and Benjamin at Antler Hill Village on Biltmore Estate:

Here is Benjamin riding his very first ride ALONE in Dollywood- which we were at on Day 4(This scared me quite a bit, but he did great!)

Goofing off in the RV...

Baron & Amy's WEDDING in Brevard, NC!! (The entire reason for our trip :)

After making our way back into Texas on Days 9 & 10 we stopped by Big Sandy for the tail-end of our beloved Annual Family Camp!

"Wow, Dad! This place looks like paradise! This is gonna be a blast- mostly because I get to be outside nearly every waking hour!"

And so began the many adventures of Benjamin...

first time in a sand box:

first time in a canoe:

first time wearing a life jacket... which miraculously didn't seem to bother him:

NOT his first time in a swing... which is probably why he didn't care to stay in it very long. Too many new things out there to discover, Mom!

first time sliding all by himself:

Benjamin with Jesse Peach, who was also at Family Camp!

first time petting a baby lamb... (an ewe???)

first pony ride:
(which he really loved! he didn't stop smiling the entire ride!)

Yep... Benjamin sure enjoyed those last 2 days! Well, that concludes our trip! Some days are missing due to the fact that Courtney took all the pictures of certain activities, but I will post those eventually.

It certainly was fun!