Wednesday, February 27, 2013


My niece and I are praying over a pretty big question in her life..."What does God want me to do next year?" She's teaching at an orphanage in Mexico right now and is trying to figure out if she's supposed to stay there another year, go to language school, serve somewhere else, or come home. Big question...yes. But I don't think it's as simple as answering that one question. A question that specific gets answered through other, broader questions. What does God want from his children/people? Then...what does God want from me as a woman? If we are taking care of the "big picture," the generalizations of the Christian life, then we are ready to hear the answers to the more specific questions. 

I'm a mother of five and I don't have to answer the types of questions that my niece is facing, but that doesn't mean my questions are less pressing or important. You don't get married and have kids and then coast through life. The questions keep coming and tend to affect more people! 

"Where are we supposed to live?" 
"Am I supposed to work or stay home?" 
"Where do the kids go to school or am I supposed to be homeschooling?" 
"What about our finances? What do we 'invest' in?" 

As parents we run the risk of becoming complacent in our life if we aren't constantly asking ourselves the same questions we did before we were "settled down." We have to continue to ask ourselves "Where does God want me to serve next year?" for the rest of our lives, continuously offering our lives to Him. And the process of answering that question never changes. We have to be the people of God and the women of God He calls us to be today and everyday. Then we can ask what He wants for our tomorrows and for our family's future. If we skip any part of these steps, we run the risk of getting the wrong answers to the more specific questions we ask God because they are all related. 

It's why God doesn't give us the plans for our lives from the beginning...He knows it would totally freak us out! We wouldn't be able to handle it. We wouldn't be mature enough to accept it. It would be like putting a big T-bone steak in front of a newborn baby. There's no way their bodies could digest it, and they don't even have the tools to eat it...teeth, motor-skills to be able to cut it up, or the digestive system to even digest something that big. The same is true as Christians when it comes to being able to "digest" God's will for our lives. We have to develop and mature in the big, generalizations of spiritual growth before we can handle the more specific areas. If you're having problems in specific areas of your life, maybe you should go back to the foundation of your walk with Christ. I know from experience that when your foundation is shaky or crumbling, if you're trying to build in the next part of your life before your foundation is're going to make some wrong choices and in the end it will all come tumbling down! So, if you're trying to answer some specific questions and you're having trouble hearing God answer, check your foundation!

Monday, February 25, 2013


Those who cling to worthless idols 
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
Jonah 2:8

Are you not receiving grace that could be yours because you are clinging to a worthless idol? When we think of our idols in America, we usually think of things like money, cars, furnishings, clothes, shoes...stuff.

But as I heard this verse in Sunday School yesterday, I was reminded of what Ann Voskamp had said in my One Thousand Gifts Bible Study - "All is grace! Are there things in your life that you still can't count as graces from God?" She was referring to the hard things of life. The bad things. The sad things. 

Are you looking at your past constantly wishing it could be changed? 
Can you not get beyond a devastating loss in your life?
Are you going through a storm being overwhelmed and beaten down?
Can you not forgive?
Has your life not taken the path you wanted?
Can you not receive the bad and the sad as from the hand of God?

Then it's a possibility that you are clinging to a worthless idol.
Don't forfeit the grace God has for you.

"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you." Jonah 2:9

Perhaps the giving of thanks is the sacrifice that opens the door to receiving His grace. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

HOW DO I GIVE THEM GOD? by Christie Smith

When we ask ourselves as mothers what is the number one thing we want for our children, most of us would answer something along the lines of, "I want my kids to know the Lord." Almost everything we do is with this goal in mind. We make sure they are in church. Some rely on a Christian school. Others think that the right friends or activities will ensure they grow to know the Lord. I'm not saying that any of these things are wrong or won't help in the process. But if we want our kids to understand who God is, it has to start at home...with us. 

My husband and I have been having this discussion a lot lately. When we look at the world around us, and even look at our own family members, we sometimes worry that our children are doomed to fail spiritually. What makes us different from anyone around us? What magic secrets do we know that will ensure our kids won't end up struggling with the same mistakes we are witnessing all around us? The only answer I can come up with is that we have to be honest...with our kids, with ourselves, and most importantly with God. We can't tell our kids one thing and live another...all the while expecting them to grow in truth.

So, what's the truth? I guess that's not really the question because we all know the "Truth." But how do we give that to our children? How do we ensure that they come to know and understand that truth for themselves? 

Now, before I continue, let me preface this by saying, “I AM IN NO WAY AN EXPERT ON THIS SUBJECT!!!” These are just the thoughts of a mother of five young children who wonders constantly if I'm totally messing their lives up with my failures! But I'm praying everyday that God's mercy and grace extend far beyond my life and into the lives of the ones He's placed in my care. Surely He knew what He was doing and took into account how many times I would let Him (and them) down.

I think that if we focus more on our spiritual well-being, then our kids' spiritual well-being will follow suit. It's like the pyramid analogy someone gave me before I got married. God is at the top of that pyramid and you and your husband are at the bottom on either side. The closer each of you gets to the Lord the closer you will become to each other. I've used that on my kids a number of times as well, usually at the end of an argument that they've had with each other. But it's the same in relation to us and our kids. The closer we grow to the Lord the closer they will too, because whether we like it or not...they are following us! We can't rely on their friends, schools, family or even our churches to teach them about God. Yes, it's great to have all of these things to back up what they learn at home. But what are they learning at home...from us? That is the real question. 

If we want our children to love the Lord, then we must love the Lord first. If we want them to have a genuine relationship with Christ, then we must have a genuine relationship with Christ first. Do you see where I'm going here? Whatever we desire for our kids must first be evident in our own lives. If not, we're part of the old saying, "Just do what I say...not as I do," and I think you know where that leads.


This is a recipe my Care Group enjoys. I received it by way of Jackie Davis.

Marinated Green Beans

1 - 28 oz. can of flat Italian poke beans, drained (Allen’s)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 onion, chopped
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

I like to marinate the beans, sugar, vinegar, and onions in a zip lock bag for several hours - even overnight. As you think of it, go to frig and move beans around in bag to get everything covered. 

Put all ingredients including the bacon in the baking dish (at least 8x8 or 9x13). Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour. It helps to give them a stir a couple of times during the cooking. The longer they cook the better. I usually bake at 325 degrees for at least 2 hours.  

Good recipe to make up the night or morning before and let them marinate overnight.

ENJOY! They are yummy!

Brenda Riden
Pampered Chef Consultant

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


As many of you know, I am a gardener. I love to tend my gardens. I look forward to spring, new life, new growth, warm days…well, you get the point. When I began to look forward to spring this year, going out to see how high the sweet peas have grown or how high the daffodils have jumped up, I began to sense the Lord cultivating in my own heart. Now I know how to cultivate a garden and the hard work one has to put in to make it grow, but how does the Lord cultivate one’s heart? I hope you will hang in there with me as I share with you what the Lord is teaching me…

Cultivating a grateful heart is very much like cultivating a garden. It is slow, hard, and sometimes back-breaking work. One has to bend down on hands and knees, low to the earth to work. Are you seeing the picture here? As in humility? Humility comes from the Latin word “humus” meaning the kind of earth that grows good crops. God gives the earth to the humus people, the humble ones. It is only in humility that we can come to the Father, bent down low, looking up with a grateful heart.

Next, we have to break open the soil in order to place the seed in it. Not unlike how the Father has to break our will/heart to place His Holy Spirit in us. Without this breaking of our will, our Spirit will not grow, just like the seed will not grow if it is not placed into the broken ground. The seed then must be covered with the earth to sprout, just as we must cover our hearts with the Word of God in order to grow. It takes time and patience for a seed to sprout, and it takes time and patience for a person to grow in Christ.

Then come the seasons. Like the seasons of life, plants require seasons also. Spring begins with the planting season. By the time the soil has warmed up, I have already decided what is going out in the garden, which plants to buy and plant. The Lord also has a plan for our lives. He has already decided which direction and what vocation He has for us. We only need to seek His will and know where He would have us serve. One does that by spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer. Just as I have studied the garden catalogs and know what I am going to do in the garden, we need to study God’s Word and know what His Will is for our lives.

Summer … Living in the south, I know the summers are long and very hot, and I do mean hot. Usually in the summer, I just try to keep everything that I have planted alive. And that means just watering!!! Our summers can be very, very dry. Just like our souls become when we neglect the Word of God. One cannot go long without the refreshing water that flows from His Word. It’s the water that truly satisfies the longings in our dry parched hearts. I watch as the plants come alive after a good watering, as does our soul after a good drenching from His Word.

Fall … Ahhh fall. Don’t you just love the autumn coolness after the sweltering heat of summer? I sure do. The crisp evening air, the leaves beginning to turn to their colors of gold, red, orange and yellow. Yes, I love fall. The garden begins to slow down in the fall; life in the garden is getting ready to sleep. The days begin to get shorter. I begin to prepare the garden for winter. Cultivating the heart in the fall prepares us for the winter months, just like preparing the garden for winter. There’s mulching, pruning and cleaning out of the leaves and other debris. Much like the Holy Spirit does when He begins pruning our own lives. Now pruning can be a painful process, but a needful one. Without it, our lives grow out of control, just as our trees and bushes do. During this process He is also cleaning out the debris that we have collected deep within our hearts. Getting prepared for winter is needed for our plants to survive the long cold months. Preparing our hearts, on the other hand, prevents them from becoming hardened and cold. It keeps them soft and workable, able to experience growth any time of the year.  

Yes, cultivating a grateful heart is like cultivating a garden! And being a gardener, why, I just can’t wait to get out there and get my hands dirty. We can do both - by spending time with God we cultivate a grateful heart and by digging in the dirt we cultivate a lovely garden. I don’t know about you but I want to do both…

Want to join me? I may even have an extra pair of gloves.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  
Isaiah 58:11

Monday, February 18, 2013


Is this you?

We all know God cares. But sometimes, we just need to be reminded of a few things:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Pet. 5:7

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Rom 5:8

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. II Cor. 4:8-9

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer. 29:11

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. II Cor. 12:9

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deut. 7:9

For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12

I have loved you with an everlasting love. Jer. 31:3

Wednesday, February 13, 2013



Do you remember the famous movie quote from "Forrest Gump?" My boys almost drove me nuts quoting (as Forrest) that line over and over again. It went something like this: "Momma said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get.'" Everyone likes chocolate. Well, almost everyone.

I like teachable moments and this is a great month for them. How would you like to eat some wonderful chocolate candy and not feel guilty? You can have something sweet that gives you energy and also will delight your children while you spend quality time together.

This is a fun one!!! For those that crave rich, delicious, mouth watering, creamy bites of chocolate....get a box and share with your kids. (You won't feel guilty) There is a message in each bite. How are these chocolates like people? 

First of all, the candy pieces all come dressed in nice chocolate in a pretty, fancy box, just like we come to church bathed and dressed. Some pieces look really good-but when you bite into them, you reject them. You say, this isn't for me. Some people come to hear the gospel and they totally reject it. They just come to be seen. 

One bite of chocolate might be hollow-like a lot of Christians. They have all the head knowledge but the heart is missing.  

Some chocolates are so hard you can barely bite into them-they are the Christians that are hard hearted, showing no compassion. 

Another piece of chocolate is the one with the sour center-that's the complaining, bitter Christian. 

What about the chocolate filled with coconut? That's the Christian that's aged well but is confused about if and where they should serve.  

Some chocolates are chewy caramel..ooh, I really like those. That's the Christian that oozes with sweetness and compassion for others.  

Oh my, what about those chocolate covered cherries? That's the Christian that shares about Jesus and how to know Jesus.  

You can make up your own story to go with the chocolates! Have fun....oh yes, did you notice, I purposely left out the chocolates with nuts in them? Every church has those fun, wacky people who bring excitement and joy to the church family. God wants us to be a happy. Thanks to you, nutty ones! Ha Ha

When a Christian loves GOD with all their heart, they may not appear to be spiritual by looking at them. But when they are put to the test they show the love of GOD and are servants that please their LORD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I love making special meals for my family. Valentine's Day presents a perfect opportunity to say "I love you" with food. 

For Breakfast: 

  • heart-shaped pancakes 
  • toast cut into a heart shape and then slathered with butter and jam
  • egg sandwich, assembled and then cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter

For Lunch:

  • heart-shaped sandwich in the lunch box
  • brownies cut into a heart shape
  • a heart-shaped love note tucked inside the lunchbox (or briefcase)

For Dinner:

  • Your favorite pizza shaped like a heart

Need help with the dough? Here's a recipe you might like to use. The dough is easily made in the bread machine, or just take the idea and use your own favorite pizza crust. It makes three medium pizzas, so everybody in the family can have their favorite toppings. 

Valentine Pizza - photo by Altajoy

  • And for dessert, this really cool looking, easy to make Valentine's Day Peek-A-Boo Pound Cake by Very Culinary

This recipe uses all boxed ingredients, and the blogger makes it sound so easy to make. I think I might just have to give it a try!

Monday, February 11, 2013


Do you have the traits of a Christian? A REAL Christian? Are you AUTHENTIC? Check yourself out.

  • Love must be sincere.
  • Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
  • Be devoted to one another.
  • Honor one another above yourselves.
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keeping your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  • Share with God's people who are in need.
  • Practice hospitality.
  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
  • Live in harmony with one another.
  • Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
  • Do not be conceited.
  • Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
  • Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
  • If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
  • Do not take revenge, but leave room for God's wrath.
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:9-21

Friday, February 8, 2013


Since the weekend is coming up, it might be a good time to do some Valentine crafts with your children. This particular holiday is the perfect time to remind your children of how much Jesus loves them and how they in turn can show His love to others. I'm reminded of two poems I learned as a child. Perhaps you can use them to teach your children, too. 

Jesus is my Valentine
His heart was pierced for me
I cannot tell you why He loved me so well
But He proved it on Calvary!

Another one was:

Love is from the heart
of the Father
The giver of every
good and perfect gift,
For love is
The greatest gift of all.             

And, of course, singing "Jesus Loves Me" while making these fun ornaments will be another reminder of how precious your children are to God.

What You Need:

4 cups of flour 
1 cup of salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Heart-shaped cookie cutter
yarn or ribbon
Assorted colors of acrylic paints

Here's what you do:

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Pour in the warm water and mix gently with hands. Knead for five minutes. Pinch a small amount of dough from the batch and roll out. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough. Punch a small hole in the top of each heart shape. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until hard. After the ornament has cooled, paint or write on each heart. Loop a piece of ribbon or yarn through the holes and tie into a bow. Make some extras to give to friends and family members as a reminder of how much Jesus loves them. ( I put Jesus Loves You on mine)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


1.   GOD  loves to hear from us. Pray for and with your child. Teach them to pray. There is nothing more precious than hearing a child talking to Abba Father. Just think how hearing their words touches our hearts...Can you fathom how much He yearns to hear them pray?

2.   Teach them His commandments. I wish I had said them aloud more often in my home when the kids were growing up. I pray my life has been one in which my family has seen me doing my best to live in obedience. Living those commandments will help our children grow into moral, ethical, mature Christ-centered adults.

3.   Read His love notes to them over and over again. Let them see you reading your BIBLE daily. Tell them how much you cherish GOD's word. One of our goals should be that our children will grow up with a love of GOD's word. Actions speak louder than words.....Be in the Word daily. "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11.

4.   Be obedient. We are their examples and they are watching. When we fail, as we all do, admit it. I failed so many times, when I didn't get on my knees and let my children hear my conversation with my Abba Father about those failings and asking forgiveness.

5.   Sing praises and worship GOD. Children love to sing, so why not have them singing praises to our KING? Let them listen to Christian music as much as you can.

6.   Spend time with the LORD and teach them about a quiet time. Children love one on one time with their parents, so it  should be that we love the time we have with our heavenly FATHER.

7.   Attend church regularly. Let your children see how important your church family is to you. Their home church should be like a second home. They should feel loved and safe. They can't come if you don't bring them. Be punctual!  Try your best to get to church on time.........that is a great habit to start. GOD deserves that respect.

We don't know their future....but we know who holds their future.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Is anything better than peanut butter and chocolate? I don't think so! Head to the nearest store and get some Reeses Peanut Butter Cups shaped like hearts. Your valentines from the smallest to the biggest, from the sweetest to the grumpiest, from the kids to the husband will thank you for making these scrumptious cookies.

Reeses Peanut Butter Valentine Cookies 
1 cup salted butter, softened 
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (at room temp) 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
2 3/4 cups flour 
2 tsp. baking soda
48 reeses peanut butter cups (hearts for valentines) 
1/2 cup sugar for rolling the dough into before baking

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Combine butter, peanut butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Blend until combined. 
3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. 
4. Next add flour and baking soda. Mix just until combined. 
5. Place 1/2 cup sugar into a small bowl. Roll cookie dough into one inch balls and then roll into sugar. 
6. Place balls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. 
7. Allow cookies to cool on pan for one minute and then place reeses peanut butter lightly on top of each cookie. 
8. Remove cookies from pan and allow to cool. 

Store cookies in Tupperware to keep soft.

Photo and recipe are from this site -


For we have no power 
to face this vast army 
that is attacking us. 
We do not know what to do, 
but our eyes are upon you.
II Chronicles 20:12

What "vast army" is attacking you? Financial issues, health problems, wayward children, a disinterested husband, a career that seems to go no where? 

Remember what God told the Children of Israel:

Do not be afraid or discouraged 
because of this vast army. 
For the battle is not yours, but God's. 
II Chronicles 20:15

But remember one more thing from this passage, God instructed them to place the Levites in front of the army singing:

Give thanks to the Lord, 
for his love endures forever.
II Chronicles 20:21

And as they began to sing and praise, God took care of their enemy without them ever having to lift their sword. (II Chronicles 20:22-24)

What do you think might happen today if you sang praise and thanksgiving to your great God? And then did it again tomorrow? And the next day?

Friday, February 1, 2013

LOVE Cathy Westmoreland

Years ago, there was a newspaper cartoon titled, love is...and everyday it would tell something love was. Such as, love pinto beans for your husband or love is...getting flowers for no special reason. I actually clipped them from the paper and taped them into a book. They made me smile! Love is many things to different people. 

Found at

Many times, I find myself using the word love too loosely. I might say, "I love french fries" or "I love lemonade." Yes, I like those things very much. In fact, too much! Ha! But love? Too often in our society, we use that four letter word with little thought of what it really means. I am guilty!  

My BIBLE tells me that GOD is love. 1 John 4:16. He loved you and me so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that we might have eternal life if we believed in HIM and repented of our sins. I have found the true, forgiving, nurturing eternal love of Jesus Christ. I have real joy in my heart and that makes me smile.  

Because He lives in me, He expects me to demonstrate His unconditional love. He expects me to be a walking and talking definition of love. My favorite scripture verse is Mark 12:30.."And you shall love the LORD with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." That means I need to love HIM with every ounce of my being.

Love is a command given to us by GOD. His word says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." I have said, "I like my neighbors," but I am commanded to love them. If I loved them, I would be more concerned about their eternal future. I have fallen short...I have not prayed consistently by name for them or shared my faith consistently with each family on my block as I should have already done. It's never too late to ask forgiveness and then obey His command. I need to have a deeper urgency to share His love before it's too late.   

We love because He first loved us!  1 John 4:19