Not So Sweet

A couple of days ago I posted about our sweet Breanna…well today she was not sweet at all.  It seemed as though she cried all day long.   I couldn’t do anything to make her happy.  I have a feeling that she is teething again, but she already has 12 teeth and she is only 13 months old.Our church is doing soccer camp as VBS and it has been wonderful.  I had never heard of doing a sport camp for Bible School before we moved.  I think it is such a great idea and the kids love it…even Lexi.  I will post some pictures later on in the week of VBS.

 I really don’t know what to do with one of my children.  She will not clean for anything…I won’t mention names. 🙂  We have disciplined her, talked with her, and even taken things away yet she is not catching on.  We have disciplined some more, and even tried rewarding when she does clean, but it wears off after 10 minutes.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I am hoping that this will not be a pattern for later on in life.

I am so thankful that even though we all have weaknesses that God is molding us and making us who He wants us to be when we are willing to be used by Him.  I am reminded daily that life without Him is not true life at all.  I just pray that my children, and the children of our church and school will fall deeply in love with God.  That they will not focus on the things around them that fail, but will trust in the unshakable God of the universe.

Valerie

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The Yard Sale

The Yard Sale

 by Maria Hartman

I know most of you have either been to a yard sale, had a yard sale, or both. I’d like to share with you some of the lessons God has taught me as we prepare for one this weekend.

It is a given. Have a yard sale just one time and you will experience what generally takes place when people come by. An item can be marked at 50 cents and invariably someone will want it for 25 cents. A new item priced at $5.00 will rarely be purchased at that price without someone offering $3.00 or $4.00 instead. Why? Well people are certainly looking to save money, but most often we are in this situation because our opinion of the worth of things varies greatly. If you are going to sell some old pots that used to be your grandmother’s, sentimental value is tagged onto the price. Someone looking at the pot doesn’t see that; to them it’s just a pot. The value they place on it is much less than the value the owner has placed on it.

Yes, even yard sales cause me to think upon what God has for me to learn. The worth I attach to something is different than the worth someone else attaches and vice-versa, but…..

What is value really? Isn’t it all an individual opinion in a sense? The answer is both true and false. If someone offers me a painting that is honestly worth $5,000 for only $100, that may be a good ‘value’, but it isn’t a good value to me because I don’t have any extra money to spend on anything that isn’t necessary these days. Another person may jump at that opportunity and say that I’m crazy for not taking advantage of such a good deal. Therein lies two different opinions on the value of something; neither right nor wrong….just different.

Life is something of great value. People differ on that view as well, however, the value life holds is non-negotiable. It is set in the heart of God and an opinion or perspective will not alter it. It is infinitely valuable from the very moment of conception and it remains that way until the day a person breathes the last breath God gave them to breathe. It is not dependent on level of function, what it looks like, where it has come from or what society thinks of it. Life is so valuable because the Creator of Life has said it is valuable. Even more so, He followed up the value He placed on HIS creation with
incomprehensible action. Friends the value He judged our life to be worth won over keeping His Son with Him in heaven for all eternity.

You know, I don’t think about my value correctly; at times I can so easily think I have it all together and am far better than I am. That is called pride. I don’t ever start out with that intention, but it creeps in nonetheless. Every time I see it, I see how ugly it is and how it can’t coexist with the Spirit of God. I eventually remind myself that I am dead and new life has taken over. Therefore self has nothing to boast in. Through Christ, in Christ, and because of Christ, I am more than I’ve EVER thought to think of myself. But you know what? The other day I was prayed, “God, thank you so much that I am precious to You and that you even call me Your beloved.” Here I was saying something that was so humbling and not at all prideful (because God says it’s true), and yet it ‘felt’ strange to say it about myself.

I believe that just like a yard sale interaction, we fall into the trap of what we think, yes even above what God says.

For Today: We can have our opinions on the worth of a car, a painting, and a used dress at a yard sale. But unless we are very careful we will place far more weight on something Christ died to free us from than we do on our real value in Christ. There aren’t enough adverbs to describe how deep His love for you and me is. And that means that our value is deeper, wider, stronger, and higher than anything we can fathom.

After our time on earth is through, maybe then we’ll understand just how much we mean to Him. I’ll praise Him now and forever that no price was too high to pay….even for me.

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.

Broccoli Salad

I love a good broccoli salad especially for a grill out.  Here is one of my favorite broccoli salad recipes.

  • 3 small heads of broccoli
  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 2/3 cup of mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar

Chop the broccoli into smaller pieces.  Cook and cut up the bacon.   Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar together and pour over the broccoli, then mix in the raisins and bacon.  Chill for at least 2 hours to mix the ingredients.

Takin’ A Bath Is So Much Fun!

Shew!  I think after almost 1/2 the summer has gone by I am now in a real routine.     A very flexible…but real routine.  Routines are very good for a blogger.  Because we have been on the go so much I haven’t been able to blog like I have wanted.  Hopefully now I will be back in the swing of things.

Breanna is growing so fast and is become a different child almost over night.  Have you ever woken up to notice that your child has changed almost completely overnight?

Tonight I gave her a quick bath in the sink and she enjoyed every minute of it.  She LOVES baths, and in the sink no less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is becoming such a sweet girl, and oh how I love sweet babies.

 

Don’t Stop Running

DON’T STOP RUNNING

 by Maria Hartman

Picture this. You are currently in a very long and strenuous race; in fact, it is a major marathon. You move at a steady pace because that is what is necessary and what is required of you. You are driven to win and therefore you persist. It isn’t about winning for the sake of winning, it is purely for what awaits at the finish line. You run when it is
sunny, you run when it is cold and windy, and you run in the dark. This is by no means an average race. This is something far beyond what even the best runners have trained for. It is for the called, and only the ones who HEAR, will respond accordingly.

You run for a purpose; you run for a prize. But there will not be money, or a trophy at the end of this race; you are sure of that and content with that as well. A very reliable Source has told you some of what you can expect on the road and at the finish however. It is this that keeps your motivation up during the trials and through the sorrows. Many of your friends cannot understand WHY you’d bother running when you could sit down, take it easy, and just enjoy life. And they certainly can’t figure out why you’d run
with the knowledge that you won’t receive fame or fortune for your efforts. As you run, you can hear the calls from the sidelines, “Give it up, it’s not worth it.” At times you are tempted to do just that, but your heart is the wellspring of life, and it pumps with a new Power, directing your mind to think on whatsoever is true, pure, just, lovely, praiseworthy, etc. This renewed mind now kicks in and commands the aching body to press on…one step forward and onward and upward. Slowing down at times is permitted, but stopping is never an option.

FOR TODAY:
Are you a Christian? If so, this is you; this is me. We are running THE race
of a lifetime, not for fame or glory, but for the most incredible prize imaginable. This Prize is the reason we even began running in the first place, and He awaits us at the finish line. He wouldn’t be anywhere else when we cross that line. Jesus. Jesus Christ will be there as He has been for every step of your race. He is the One who gave you water when you thirsted, the One who embraced you as you cried from the pain, and the One who whispered His undying love for you as He gently affirmed, “I know you can because I am here.”

Friends, we run as individuals, (but together as well), and we run for life. Praise God, your prize won’t be diminished because of mine, nor will mine be diminished because of yours. ALL of Him is each of ours! That is truly amazing!

My Favorite Breakfast Recipes…

Well, some of them…there are SO many to choose from.

Our family loves breakfast!  Every Wednesday night we have a breakfast night.  The kids look forward to our breakfast nights every week.  The funny thing is, I really don’t like breakfast at breakfast time.  It is very rare that I make a big breakfast in the morning.  I usually will juice something or have raw oatmeal, or have nothing (which isn’t good).

Today I am posting my favorite breakfast recipes.

Sausage Gravy

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  • 1 pound of maple sausage – I use Jimmy Dean
  • 4 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Milk – I use about 3 – 4 cups sometimes more depending on how thick I want it
  • Biscuits or toast

Fry up the sausage.  When done remove the sausage from the pan, but keep the drippings.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the drippings and mix in the flour.  Slowly add the milk to the flour mixture.  Add  salt, pepper, and the sausage to the gravy.  Continue to stir until the gravy has thickened.  Serve over warm biscuits and enjoy.

 

 

Breakfast Casserole

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  • 1 pound of sausage
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 slices of homemade bread – any will do 🙂
  • some onion powder for taste
  • 8 ounces of cheddar cheese – shredded

Fry up the sausage.  Place your bread in a buttered pan – I tear mine up into large pieces.  Mix together the milk, half and half, eggs, and onion powder.   Crumble the sausage over top of the bread.  Add the cheese on top of the sausage.  Pour the milk and egg mixture on top and refrigerate overnight.  Bake 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Easy Cream Cheese Danish

  •                     2  packages cream cheese
  •                     2  cans of crescent rolls
  •                     3/4 cup white sugar
  •                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •                    1/2 cup butter, melted
  •                     1/4 cup white sugar
  •                     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

             Press one can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the crescent layer. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour the melted margarine over the entire pan. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.    Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.

Southern Fried Potatoes 

  • 3 – 4 potatoes, diced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • pepper to taste

Heat oil in a frying pan until hot and add the potatoes and onions.  Coat the potatoes with the oil and add the remaining ingredients.  Keep the heat at a medium to medium high and stir/flip the potatoes every few minutes until the potatoes are nice and golden brown.  This usually takes about 20-25 minutes.  It is really simple and very good.

Egg Pie 

  • 1 lb. sausage
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 TBSP Chunky Salsa
  • 1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Frozen Pie Crust

Brown the sausage in a skillet and drain. Set aside.  Beat 6 eggs, stir in salsa and set to the side.  Combine the cheese and sausage and place in the uncooked pie crust.  Pour eggs on top.  Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until the eggs have set.

The Potter’s Hand

THE POTTER’S HAND

 by Maria Hartman

Many have heard and read the scripture from Jeremiah 18: 1-6 many times. It is a great picture of what God wants us to see. It is God the Potter, and you and me the clay.

God most certainly molds us and shapes us and forms ‘new’ characteristics in us, and He wants us to know that He does. Let me explain. In verse 1, God told Jeremiah: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.”  It was God’s desire for Jeremiah to see what the LORD was making; the picture here was too important to miss.

We too need to arise and go down to the Potter’s house. There is something for us to see; something too fantastic to miss.

v4: And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he
made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
 Jeremiah saw a
marred vessel. Still the Potter held it carefully, lovingly. The Potter, in control of all things, could have easily discarded the vessel at any time, and for many reasons. Instead He chose to do something with what was there; to make something out of it that would be ‘good’. He took the time to smooth out the rough edges, to heal and restore the cracks, and to fashion a one of a kind design.

I love how this analogy shows how the Hand of God is involved in our life. He touches us, carefully molds us, and specifically shapes us. He does this because we really matter to Him. His desire is for us to be conformed to the image of His Son. That takes a while. It takes many twists and turns; often ones we don’t expect or anticipate. But the picture given here is truly beautiful. Look at the hands. Look at whosehands they are! These hands don’t come off. They are at work day and night. They are part of the process until the very end because they are the hands which began the process.

Anyone who deals with pottery knows how important it is to accurately handle the clay. In other words, a potter’s hands must give different pressure at different times depending on what he/she desires to make. A vase, a pot, and a pitcher will all require different pressure for shaping, at different times. Even imperfect human hands know what is necessary to make these things. Our Potter molds our lives with perfect hands,
with perfect accuracy, and with perfect timing.

For Today: Friends, we are marred vessel with many flaws……..no doubt about it. But we are vessels which are His; vessels He loves, and vessels He won’t leave alone until we look more and more like the finest creation a potter can make; in this case, like the Lord Jesus. Sometimes those hands at work hurt, but we know His love and purposes for us are the reasons why He does what He does. I am thankful that He does not leave me as I am. Praise God, He takes us, molds us, fills us, and uses us.

Home Life Challenge Week 9

The weekly challenge is something SO simple.  Think back through your own child birth experiences.  If your children still live at home tell them the story surrounding their birth.  Tell them how much they mean to you and give them a hug*.  If your children live to far than think of writing them a note telling them of your love for them.

I read an article by Darlene Schacht and was reminded how much our children need our hands on affection.  Darlene has given me permission to share this article with you.  I have not posted the article in full, but if you would like to read the full article you can follow the link at the bottom of the page.

How To Truly Hug Your Children

by Darlene Schacht
http://www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/

Since we found out that my dad was sick with cancer this past year, I won’t leave the house without hugging and kissing my parents. I have come to realize that every minute I have with them is a gift from God. Every hug, every word, every kiss—all gifts that I tuck into the treasure chest of my heart. I cherish their wisdom, their loving kindness, and yes—their touch.

We all need physical contact–numerous studies have proved that, and common sense confirms it to be true.

“Verbal and physical affection enable a child to learn morality
Physical affection turns children into sponges ready to absorb the lessons parents teach…” Liane J. Leedom, M.D. Mother, Author, Psychiatrist.

We all know the benefits of hugging our children, but how many of us are hugging them to the fullest?


For years my parents have been doing the “pat.” In fact, my teen-aged son had started doing the “pat” too in recent years, until I pointed out to him that a pat could never hold the same potential that a genuine embrace can. It is now a topic of humor in our family, but nevertheless the hugs have improved immensely.


In The Power of Body Language, author Tonya Reiman writes, “[The pat] is the universal signal for, ‘OK, the hug is coming to a close now.’”


The pat is commonly used for social hugging, and it can also indicate that a hugger is uncomfortable and wants to let go.


A hug is an exchange of two hearts entwined for one precious moment in time. It’s a warm embrace that reminds you you’re loved. It’s a squeeze that tells children they are secure in your arms. It’s being held close by a gesture that signifies, “You are cherished and loved.”


A genuine hug entails an
intentional, lingering, and deliberate touch that sews their heart with yours.  Linger a while longer, embrace with intention, and let your hearts mingle before you let go.

 

To read the full article you can follow this link. http://womenlivingwell.org/2011/06/how-to-truly-hug-your-children/

 

Blessings,

Valerie

Before and After

Before and After

by Maria Hartman

Psalm 119: 67-68 (bold and italics added) Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your Word. You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.

Going astray is certainly never good. So God sends something our way: affliction. This is not on our top ten lists of favorite words by any means, but it comes with a purpose. It brings us back to Who is in charge and causes us to depend on Him. Our God loves us enough to keep us close. Don’t you want to keep those who you love close to you? Well God came up with that long before you or I ever felt that way. He is good and He does good; no affliction can ever change that truth in the life of the believer. In fact, affliction often elevates our view of God as we see what happens in and through our personal affliction. ‘Teach me’ is what the psalmist asked for; he didn’t ask God to bring what he liked into his life; he only wanted more of the character of God.

What did you learn about God by going astray? …..What has affliction taught you?

Going away from God never teaches us anything about God. But coming back to God through whatever means He sees fit, teaches us so very much about Him. It is so typical of our human nature; the very thing we like the least is often the very thing that lifts our eyes to see the Goodness of God. And that is always best.

For Today: Would you let your needy child ‘go astray’ and not intervene? No, of course you wouldn’t. Does your child like to be brought back to where you want him/her? No, they never do. We too are really just stubborn children who want to go off and do our own thing. Thank the Lord; He loves us far too much to allow that. Affliction may come, but it is never a punishment.

God will do whatever it takes to draw us near to Him, and show us that it is in His presence only that we can experience the joy that we wondered off in search of.

Psalm 119: 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your statutes.

Amen.

4 Special Dads

There are four special men in my life that I am shouting out Happy Father’s Day to…

To the Father of my children and the love of my life…Happy Father’s Day!

You are an amazing example to our children.  Our kids love being with you and would hands down rather be with you than me. 🙂  Thank you for leading our family in the way of the Lord, teaching us to love HIM supremely.  Thank you so much for being such a wonderful dad to our children!   You are amazing!

To my own dad…Happy Father’s Day!

Thank you so much for being a great example to me.  You are so very patient, loving, and encouraging.  You always give wise and godly counsel.  Thank you for protecting, nurturing, and setting a great foundation of faith.  You and mom made a true safe haven for us and I am truly thankful for that!  Thank you for being the best dad a girl could ever ask for!!

To my wonderful Father-in-law…Happy Father’s Day!

You have been such a great blessing to me.   You always have a listening ear and are so very patient.  Thank you for being such a wonderful grandfather so full of love and understanding.  I appreciate you so much!  I hope you have a great Father’s Day!!!

To a great spiritual mentor, Mr. Scott…Happy Father’s Day!

Mr. Scott, you have made such a huge impact on our life.  You have been a great spiritual role model for our family and we are eternally grateful.   You have blessed me beyond measure and I am so thankful for you and Mrs. Kathy!

I hope everyone has a very blessed Father’s Day!!

Valerie