January 31, 2012

Super Easy Crock Pot Recipe

Here is a SUPER EASY recipe for roasts. You may have already heard of doing this, but it is so easy and turns out great every time so I hate not to share. I use beef roasts as well as antelope and deer that my Mr. has killed. It does a great job of taking out that "game" flavor. I have cooked round steaks this way as well.

Generously sprinkle Garlic Salt and Onion Powder on the roast. Add one can of Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours. If you want to make an entire meal in one pot, you can add potatoes and carrots to it too. I usually sprinkle the Garlic Salt on the potatoes.

Well, that's it! Super simple, super fast and super good! :)

How is your challenge for the month of love coming? I have to admit that we have a had a fussy newbie these last few days, and I haven't finished mine, but I have enough ideas to last me through the first 10 days. I am going to try to sit down this afternoon and plan the rest of that as well as our monthly family fun (which I will post when I finish). It's hard to believe we are already into month TWO of this "new" year! Time is flying make each moment count. :)

Have a beautiful Tuesday!

January 30, 2012

Humble, Willing, Available...

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me fre

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

These are the words to an old hymn that our choir has been practicing. God brought them to my mind again this morning during my quiet time, and, once again, I was reminded of my call to serve. It's so easy to forget. As I thought on the words of this hymn this morning, I realized that to truthfully be able to pray this prayer, I need to humble myself. I cannot learn, and I cannot grow if I am not willing to say, "God, I need You. I cannot do this on my own." In my own strength, I will never be able to serve effectively. To be a servant, I must be humble.

God also brought to mind that in order to be a servant, I must be available. As I said before, it's so easy to forget God's call to serve. It's easy to become wrapped up in the things that I'm trying to accomplish and forget to pause and look around me and see who I can I can serve. God will not use me if I'm too busy to listen to His voice. "Silently now, I wait for Thee." Please, God, help me remember to be available - willing to drop everything to reach out and serve others so that through service to them, I may serve You.

Then, of course, I need to be willing - willing to do anything no matter the cost. Am I that kind of a servant? Am I really ready to sacrifice? Am I willing to give all if it will bring my Savior glory? Am I willing to die daily to myself and give always to others? It is a high road to take...a hard road to walk. Am I willing to count the cost, and say, "Open my mouth, and let me bear Gladly the warm truth everywhere." I can share the Truth everywhere with a servant's heart - humble, available and willing, and I believe as the old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words."

Dear God, make me a servant that you can use. Humble me, God. Remind me to put aside my desires be available to Yours. Give me Your strength, God, so that no matter what the cost may be, I can serve You completely in any way You ask.

January 26, 2012

A Challenge for the Month of Love :)

I love the month of February because it's the "love" month! Yes, my romanticism can soar high during this month! :) I thought I'd share with you something I am going to try during this love month. On Saturday, I am going to sit down and think of five different things to do each week of February to show my Mr. that I love him. I'll lay it out on the calendar like I do on the Monthly Family Fun page (here). Some of the things I've thought of that I can do are cook his favorite meal, write him a love note, fill his truck with balloons, schedule a date night, watch his favorite movie with him, etc. I'm excited to do this for the man who does so much for me! Maybe you would like to take this challenge with me? Be creative and think of things you know your man will love! Let's have fun planning a month that will make our Mr.'s feel very special!

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband... ~Proverbs 12:4a

January 25, 2012

Saying Yes More

Why is it, I ask, that there are days when our kiddos work so well together and accomplish so much with such cheerful obedience? And then....there are those other days. Yes, you know what I'm talking about. Those days where you would think they had never heard the words "obey right away." Those days where you ask them to do something, and they either look at you like you have an elephant sitting on your head or completely ignore you altogether! Yes....those days! Well, I haven't really come up with an answer to that question. I'm not sure anyone has. However, I have discovered something that surprised me a great deal.

Usually, when we are having one of those "other" days, my first thought is "BOOT CAMP!" (This is how we affectionately refer to intense child training around here!) I begin to line everyone up and tell them exactly how this day is going to go and let them know exactly what all my expectations are - all 200 of them - and exactly how they should fulfill every expectation I have for them this day! One day it occurred to me to put myself in their place. You see, every now and then, I need to remind myself that they are still learning. I've had 30 some years to practice obedience, and I have, by no means, perfected it! Why in the world do I expect my four year old to have perfected it? Then, as I began to study out what we had been doing during the week, I realized that everything we had done had been centered around me and my agenda. I began to think, "How much fun would a week be if the mr. demanded and demanded from me, but we never had any fun together? Would I enjoy fulfilling all of his wishes and commands without him ever acknowledging that I also had things I would like to do?"

Now, let me pause here and say life is not all about fun, and yes, our kiddos do need to learn to put aside their own desires in order to fulfill someone else's. We do not want to raise selfish children. There are also times when BOOT CAMP is called for, and we need to practice and retrain and even throw in some "discipline" until some of those bad habits that have crept in are broken. But I do need to remind myself that just because I'm the parent doesn't mean that life is centered around me either. How many times do I tell my kiddos yes vs. how many times do I tell my kiddos no? As I looked back over that week, I realized how many times I had told my kiddos no for purely selfish reasons.

"Can we paint?" "No it will be too messy!"
"Will you play a game with me" "No, I need to finish on the computer (aka: facebook)!"
"Can we go to the library?" "No, Mommy needs (aka: wants) to go to Shopko!"

Wow....I'm pretty selfish, aren't I? That is why I have determined this year to say yes more often to my kiddos. Does this mean my kiddos get everything they want? No way! Does this mean we have more fun in our house? Oh yeah! Does this mean my children are more cheerful and quick to obey? Actually, yes! I've found that the more positive, happy, fun time I spend with my kiddos the less negative time we have. So, maybe the next time you are about to holler BOOT CAMP, think about how the week has gone. Has it been all about you? Maybe it's time to say yes to the kiddos' request for a pillow fight or building a fort in the living room or splatter painting their room. Okay...maybe not the splatter painting. We do have to draw the line somewhere! :) Go have some fun with your kiddos today. It may pay off in more ways than you thought!

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. ~ Proverbs 15:23a

January 24, 2012

Recipe for Orange Salad

Orange Salad

This is my second most requested recipe and a huge favorite among the kiddos! I think it also goes well with the Wild Rice Chicken recipe I gave last week. Let me know what you think!

Mix all of the following ingredients together and chill until wobbly (not completely set):

3 oz. package orange jello
3 oz. package instant tapioca
3 oz. package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups boiling water

Once the mixture above is wobbly (I love that term - so professional sounding!) :), fold in 1 small container of cool whip and 2 large cans of drained mandarin oranges. Chill until ready to serve.

I'm off to prepare for our Fun Family Night! I hope you have something great planned with your family this week! :) Happy Tuesday!

January 20, 2012

A Creative Date Night

Last week, I published a post entitled Habits for Falling in Love Again. This post received more hits than any post I've ever published before. That leads me to deduce (maybe not so correctly - the Mister does insist my logic is usually faulty) that either A) there are a lot of women out there who want to fall in love again and keep their marriage strong; or B) there are a lot of men out there who wish their wives would fall in love with them again! :) (I tend to lean toward deduction A!) :) Every time I hear of someone who is going through a divorce, my heart breaks. I don't want to judge - it's not my place - but I can't help but ask in my heart, "Did you fight for your marriage? Did you do every thing, EVERY LITTLE THING possible to make it work?" I have found that nothing good ever comes easily, and marriage ranks right up there at the top! A good marriage is hard, HARD work!

As I mentioned in that post, the Mr. and I haven't had much one on one time since the arrival of our little one, but I have determined that I am going to be creative and do the best I can to give us a date night tonight. I have "hired" my 8 year old daughter to "babysit" the little one tonight. (The great thing about hiring an 8 year old is that you don't have to pay in money; you can exchange services. She's babysitting for me tonight, and tomorrow, I'm going to do her nails and experiment with a new updo for her hair!) So, the 8 year old is going to watch the newbie, and the other 4 kiddos WILL play nicely in their rooms! (I know this will work... I'll make it work!) :) The Mr. and I are going to sit in the living room and have lots of uninterrupted conversation (Yeah, right!) and attempt a game of Monopoly!, is all this going to happen just like I'd want it to? I'm sure it won't. Will it be the perfect date night?! So, what's the point? The point is I'm showing my man that I love him and that I am willing to put everything else aside and make time for him! I'm showing him that I'm trying to be his lady and that I want to be his lady. After all, if I wait for the perfect date, will it ever happen? There will always be a reason not to have a date night (no money, no babysitter, no time...), but I want my mister to know that I love him, and I love our marriage, and I'm not going to be guilty of not doing everything I can to make this the best marriage ever! I can tell you from experience, marriage is WONDERFUL - the best thing that ever happened to me - but it is HARD WORK! So, ladies, be creative and have a great date night with your man. And if you have a minute...share some of those creative ideas with me!

January 18, 2012

Grace That Will Cover

As I sit and hold my sweet little one, I love to smell his sweet baby smell. I love to watch his little lips make that sucking motion and see his smile as he dreams sweet baby dreams. I try to drink in every quiet moment I have with this little one because I know how short this time will be.

As I sit and hold my sweet little one, I am slammed by the overwhelming responsibility God has given me. He has entrusted me with one of the most precious gifts he could ever give - a human life! Not just any human life but one fashioned and molded and made especially for this family! A sweet little life who is born a sinner but still possesses so much innocence. A clean slate ready to be written upon. An entire lifetime waiting to be experienced. And God has given me the privilege of being the first to write on this little one's heart, to guide him through his first experiences, to show him a picture of God and His love for him.

As I sit and hold my sweet little one, I become crushed with doubts! How can I make sure I do everything the right way? How can I never make any mistakes with this little one? How can I give him the perfect life and show him God's perfect love. I become more and more overwhelmed, and I find myself holding this little one tighter and tighter because I know I cannot give him everything he needs, and I can never show him fully what God's perfect love is.

As I sit and hold my sweet little one, I suddenly hear the soft voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to me.
"Yes, I have given you this life. He is your gift from me, but He is still mine. I created him, and I love him far more than you do. I know more about him than you do, and I can do more for him than you could ever dream of doing. You cannot do this on your own, but My grace is sufficient. My love is measureless. My faithfulness...unending. In your weakness, my power and strength are revealed. My grace will cover you and your shortcomings if only you will place this little one into My hands."
As I sit and hold my sweet little one, I picture myself gently laying him in the sweet arms of Jesus, and I watch them as they both smile. I thank my God for reminding me of His grace - His amazing grace - so undeserved but so freely given. Grace that will cover my failures and draw my little one to Him.

January 17, 2012

Quotes to Think About and a Tummy Tempting Tuesday Recipe

I'm attempting to do two posts in one today. I would like to try to post a recipe each Tuesday (yes, me, the one who really could care less for being in the kitchen) because I do love easy recipes, and thought it would be fun to pass them along! I also began a post yesterday but didn't get a chance to finish it.

Yesterday, I was amazed again at how God keeps bringing the topic of serving to my attention. During the last week, I have come across several quotes that have helped me as I pursue this goal of becoming a better servant. I hope they will be a blessing to you too!

"Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness....There is no need to pray that God would come in power. That is the only way He ever comes. We need hearts that are so responsive to Him that He will choose to demonstrate His power through us. Is your heart so filled with love for God that you are watching for the first opportunity to say with Isaiah, 'Here am I. Send me!'?" ~Henry Blackaby in the devotional Experiencing God Day by Day

"God sees your life from His eternal perspective. He will take whatever time is necessary to grow your character to match His assignment for you." ~Hernry Blackaby in the devotional Experiencing God Day by Day
"Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men.....Only, when, like Christ, and in loving obedience to His call and example, we take no account of ourselves, but freely give ourselves to others, we shall find, each in his measure, the saying true of himself also: 'Wherefore also God hath highly exalted him.' The path of self-sacrifice is the path to glory." ~Excerpt from a sermon by B.B. Warfield (You can read more from this sermon here.)

There is so much more to life than what we see. I believe He has more planned for us than we could possibly imagine, but we miss out because we are focused on ourselves instead of others. How will you let God use you today?

Wild Rice Chicken Dinner

This recipe is my most requested one! I, by no means, dreamed it up myself, but it is one of those tasty, comfort dishes that hits the spot no matter when you make it! It's also a great dish to make ahead and freeze! Hope you enjoy it!

1 package (8.8 oz.) ready to serve long grain and wild rice

1 can (103/4 oz.) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

Above are the basic ingredients, you can also add any or all of the options below:

1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 jar (4 oz.) pimentos

1 can French style green beans

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Heat rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients except chicken in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and rice; cook 3-4 minutes longer or until chicken is heated through. Serve immediately.

January 14, 2012

Living Intentionally

The more kiddos I have and the older I get, the more I realize how unproductive life is if you don't have a plan. There is satisfaction that comes with living your life intentionally - waking up each day with a focus and a plan. That's not to say your day will always go as planned or that you will accomplish everything you set out to do, but I do think more will be accomplished.

I have also begun to realize how important it is to live intentionally in other areas of life besides the daily to-dos (chores, errands, activities, etc.). One area that I have begun to focus on living intentionally is in relationships. Having five kiddos and living in the middle of nowhere with very little family close by does not lend to the mister and I having much one on one time with our kiddos. I also am a firm believer in the fact that we have a larger family so that we can be together! However, I do see the importance of focusing on each child - learning their strengths and weaknesses, getting to know their interests and helping them as they pursue those interests. To help me live intentionally in the area of relationships, I have added a relationship focus to my calendar. Each day, I try my best to focus on one particular person in my family. Since I have six (including the mister), it works perfectly to focus on a different person each day except Sunday. Waking up and praying especially for that one person is a great way to start my day focused on him. On that person's day, I write out the strengths that I see in him and find ways and opportunities to encourage and praise him in this. Then, I also write out his weaknesses and try to find opportunities to work with him or give him encouragement in this area. It has really changed the way I look at the people I love the most and has added purpose to the relationships I have with each of them. This idea of living intentionally within relationships can be applied to any and all relationships - husband, kids, friends, grandparents, etc. Wouldn't it be great to feel as though you have a purpose in your relationships and to see progress made in bridging some of the gaps that may have formed in some of these relationships?

Another area that I would like to live more intentionally in is my spiritual growth. There are many ways to do this. The way I have chosen to live intentionally in this area is by focusing on a book of the Bible to study through (Colossians), a passage of Scripture to memorize by the end of the month, and a character trait to work on (gentleness) this month. Choosing these three spiritual focuses has taken away that feeling of frustration I get when I know there is so much I need to work on, and so I try to tackle bits and pieces of everything all at once. This always leads to very little production because there is no focus or plan. I begin to just fly by the seat of my pants hoping that I'll eventually hit the magical button, or I end up quitting everything in frustration. Living intentionally within my spiritual growth has given me a sense of purpose and allowed me to see a little steady progress.

There are so many areas of life that we can apply this idea of living intentionally - our prayer lives, our organizational skills, our time management, etc. Don't try to tackle everything at once. Choose one or two areas to start with and take baby steps. It won't take long for you to see how profitable living intentionally can be, and it will change your entire perspective on life!

January 12, 2012

Habits for Falling in Love Again

Sometimes life becomes....well, life....In other words just plain busy with the everyday chaos, and then, just for fun, we add a little more extra chaos! In the busyness of taking care of my kiddos, preparing meals, keeping a somewhat clean house, making sure the kiddos are actually learning something in this thing called homeschooling, and even strengthening my relationship with God, I sometimes put one person at the very end of the line for the littlest bit of leftovers. That would be my mister. For those of you who know my mister, you know he's very easy going, quiet and laid back. He enjoys being by himself (I know - I can't fathom that either!)! And so, it is easy to give, give, give all day to the ones who are more vocal about their needs and then have nothing left for the quiet steady man.

Don't get me wrong. The mister and I are the best of friends, and we make a wonderful team in this crazy raising of five kiddos (or should I say raising of five crazy kiddos?)! With a new baby on the scene, though, we haven't had a lot of one on one time. I read this post on Ann Voskamp's blog yesterday and thought it was wonderful. If you don't have time to read the entire post, scroll down to the very bottom where she placed the 4 minute marriage habits that will change your marriage. They're very easy to do and really will make a difference in your marriage! I noticed that habits 1 and 2 are ones that my mister and I already have, but I definitely could use some work on number 3! Click on the link to see what you can do to make sure your steady man knows you love and appreciate him! God gave us a wonderful gift when he gave us our misters. Let's not lose them because of too much busyness.

January 11, 2012

Gentleness to All Men

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. ~Matthew 22:37-38

These are the verses that God has been placing in front of me this week, and they go so well with the word servant! Isn't it amazing how God does that?

I was reminded this week that the best way I can show God my love for Him is by obeying Him. When I obey the commands He has given me in His Word, I become His servant, and I also serve others.

Another verse that I have been thinking on this week is Philippians 4:5a.

Let your moderation be known unto all men.

Our Pastor pointed out on Sunday that another word for moderation is gentleness. This verse is commanding that we show gentleness to everyone. If I love God with my whole heart, I will show him with this action of love to others. I will show gentleness no matter what the present situation may be. I will not answer harshly to my children who have asked the same question 10 times and are not paying attention when I give the answer. I will not grumble under my breath when my mister points out something I've done wrong. I will not become irritated with the driver who just pulled out in front of me. In all of these cases, I may have the "right" to express my opinion, but is that showing God that I love Him? Is that becoming a servant? Am I placing myself under God's subjection and offering my life as my reasonable service to Him?

Now, do I always succeed in letting my moderation or gentleness be known to all men? Absolutely not!!! Is it always easy to respond this way? Unfortunately, no! Can I do this on my own, in my own strength? Never!!!

It is only by God's grace - His gentle prodding and teaching - that I can become a person who responds to every situation with gentleness. That is the woman I want to be. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm thankful for God's gentleness in teaching me. Isn't it a neat thought to think that God's grace shows me how to love Him. We could not even love Him without His help! How undeserving I am of all He has done for me. I pray I can show Him every day that I love Him, and I pray I can show God's love to others by responding with gentleness.

Dear God,
Please give me a heart full of love for You, and please help me show You that I love You by responding to others with gentleness. Thank You, God, for your grace and gentleness that guides me every day through my stumbling efforts.

January 6, 2012

A New Year and New Goals

I love the New Year, and the feeling of being able to start fresh again! I don't do New Year's Resolutions, but I very much love setting new goals for the year! :) I also enjoy sharing my goals because then I feel a little more accountable, and it makes me at least try to accomplish them so that I don't look like a lazy bum at the end of the year. So, this New Year, I am sharing my goals with all of the blogging world...hopefully, I don't regret this! :)

Goal 1: To become a better servant (You can see my previous two posts here and here for more about this.)

Goal 2: To become a more fun mom. I am very jealous of those moms who can spontaneously have fun with their kids. I'm not that kind of mom, but I'm going to try my best to become better at this.

Goal 3: To practice my voice and violin at least 2 days each week. This is nowhere close to what I need to practice, but I do need to be somewhat realistic....and hey! Two days is better than no days! :)

Goal 4: To read four books each month - only one of them being a fiction book. In my pre-kid days, I would have laughed at this goal, but I have found that I do not have much spare time anymore, and I do miss reading an awful lot! I told my mister last week that it would be "awfully nice" if he would watch the kiddos so that I could go "bask in the peace and quiet of Barnes and Noble." He looked at me as though I had ten heads! I'll keep working on him though! :)

Goal 5: To digitally scrapbook each of my children's first year of life. I was adding before their birthdays to this statement, but Mr. G's b'day is only six weeks away, and I don't think that's going to happen. So, we'll just settle for sometime before the end of the year.

Well, I think that about does it for me! I'm looking forward to this fresh start and can't wait to see what God has planned for me and my family this year! I hope you have taken a little time to make some goals for this year. I have learned that if you make big goals, you may not accomplish them all, but you will get more accomplished than if you never had any goals at all! So, here is to a great year full of service to our great God and fun and adventure with the people He surrounds us with!

January 3, 2012

More on Being a Servant

As I've begun this New Year with my "word," I have been struck by the enormity of the challenge and the difficulty of the task! I am thankful for this new focus God has given me, but it is hard work! I continue to remind myself that this is only my "reasonable service" to a God who has given me so much.

I've struggled through this idea of being a servant, and I've discovered that the kind of servant I am is determined more by my attitude than by my actions. There are many people who perform actions of service with a grudging heart, but there are not any who have an attitude of humility and have found no way to serve. I find myself performing many actions of service throughout the day, but I am also continually reminding myself to change my attitude from selfishness to selflessness. I am not here for me. I am here for my Savior. How can I best serve Him today?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ~Romans 12:1

As I was reading the verse above, I had an AHA moment! I am a LIVING - every day, every moment, in the here and now - sacrifice to God! I am never only serving my husband or my children or anybody else. I am first and always serving Jesus! I am not cooking supper to serve my family only. I am cooking supper and serving Jesus by, prayerfully, giving my family a picture of a living sacrifice - a person who is living life God's way and bringing glory to Him. My number one goal as a wife and mother is to show my family Jesus. What better way can I do that than by serving them the way Jesus would? Will my family want to be a part of God's way if I am grumbling and complaining about all that has gone wrong while trying to cook their supper? Will my family want to draw closer to this God I claim to serve if I act as though it's such a labor? In the words of Henry Blackaby from his devotional book Experiencing God Day by Day:

"Every day, you are to offer your life to Him for His service. You do not serve Him in your spare time or with your leftover resources. The way you live your life for God is your offering to Him." (emphasis mine)
I love this quote, and it is a great reminder to me to serve my GOD continually all day. I don't know about you, but many times, it helps me to remember that I'm not serving the smart aleck three year old; I'm serving the God who daily LOADS me with benefits (Psalm 68:19). I'm not serving the husband who did not pick up after himself; I'm serving the God with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning (James 1:17). I'm not serving people who do not notice what I do; I'm serving my sweet Jesus who came to minister to and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), and one of those many was ME!!! And that, my friend, is how being a servant becomes a joy! Isn't our God so good to us? Even His commands bring such joy and contentment and fulfillment! It also brings quieter voices, better attitudes and quicker obedience to your home!

It is a struggle to serve continually, and it isn't the easy path. It's daunting work, but it has rewards so sweet. I'll be praying for you as you serve in the way God has asked you to today, and if you think of it, pray for me because I sure could use it!