Bring Back Our Girls – A Call to Prayer

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/05/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/index.html

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/05/06/nigeria-girls-idINL6N0NS43220140506

I am asking everyone who reads this to stop what you are doing and pray.  Pray for the release of these girls young African daughters.  Pray that they are found and are unharmed. Pray for justice to be served.  Pray that Christians around the world will rise up and pray against this evil.  Pray that the Nigerian government will act throughly, toughly and decisively on this issue and that the nations of the world will rally around Nigeria to help locate these young girls.  Pray for comfort and peace for the families of these young women.  And pray that women across Africa will be given the rights and privileges  they deserve.

This issue is close to my heart.  My daughter is a teacher in another African country, Burundi, where she teaches in a secondary school.  They are attempting to provide a western education to all their students and the government has been supportive. 

For more information on this subject, go to 

https://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls  this is a Facebook group that is bringing awareness to this atrocity. 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27289128

As a side note, I have found that bbc has the most thorough and up to date news on Africa.  There is a website called topic.com/Africa that does summeries of African news.  

 

 

 

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Eating From The Pantry-Days 3 and 4

I’ve been thinking about this challenge and it reminds me of the Aesop’s Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”  The ant worked hard to prepare while the grasshopper partied and had a good time.  When winter came, the ant was prepared whereas  the grasshopper wasn’t.

http://www.longlongtimeago.com/llta_fables_antgrasshopper.html

I keep my pantry well stocked for that very reason.  When my kids were tiny, my husband worked long hours and I did not have family close by.  I always thought, “What would I do if they were sick and I didn’t have food?”  or worse,  “What would I do if I were sick and couldn’t get to the store and my husband was working a long day?”  I lived in a small apartment, didn’t have a pantry to stock and space was limited.  I began stocking my pantry  by keeping canned chicken soup, crackers, applesauce, and sprite on hand  at all times. I also kept tylenol and cold medicine so that I wouldn’t have to go to the store in case of emergency.

For several years, we got paid once a month.  The kids were still small, money was tight and I was afraid that we would run out of money before the month ran out.  So I would plan 28 meals, go to the store on payday, and get the ingredients for 28 main dishes, cereal for breakfast,and sandwich fix ins. I also bought a pound of carrots, apples, oranges, and potatoes.  We had very limited storage space and I would fill my kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, and  tiny freezer to the brim. I would go to the grocery store a couple of times  to fill in the gaps and shop sales.  I can remember many a month eating boxed macaroni and cheese  the day before pay day.

Fast forward to today, I have a pantry and a deep freezer and I could probably go for weeks with buying a minimal amount of groceries.

Here’s what we ate on Wednesday:

Breakfast: Toast, bacon, bananas

Lunch:  Hodgepodge (that’s what I call eating various leftovers.  We pull out all the leftovers and try to finish off as much as possible) (Keary at the last pork chop, baby back ribs, and some ranch beans and I ate shrimp w/ pasta and a cucumber and beat salad.

Snack:  Popcorn

Supper:  Soft tacos, refried beans, and Mexican rice  The tacos were run of the mill tacos made with a mix.  The refried beans were canned (vegetarian) and I mixed some salsa into them (probably about 1/4 cup) I usually eyeball it.   The salsa makes the beans extra creamy. However, I followed the following recipe to make the rice:

http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/quickmexicanrecipes/r/SpanishRice.htm

I have tried all types of recipes, mixes, even frozen rice and this one  is by far is the best.

IMG_0463

 

On Thursday, we ate the following:

Breakfast:  Cheese toast, bananas

Lunch: We went to a local barbecue place

Snack:  No snack  

Supper:  Hodgepodge: Keary finished off the shrimp and pasta and I ate a hamburger.

How about you?  What are your favorite go to meals?

 

 

 

 

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Hands and Feet of Jesus-Serving Others

hands-and-feet-of-jesus_series-art

At the beginning of March, I had the privilege of hosting ATF Live for a couple of days during the San Antonio event.   For those of you who do not know about ATF Live,  it is the band that my son is part of.  They travel with Acquire the Fire and lead worship at teen conferences.

And I have to say it was a wonderful experience.  The guys came into town on Wednesday.  I fed them carnitas, beans, rice, and brownie sundae’s and they loved it.  They ate in front of the TV, rented a movie and thoroughly relaxed.  I fixed pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit and toast for brunch.  They left Thursday afternoon and played for the event on Friday and Saturday.

They returned on Sunday, where we had Italian beef sandwiches, chips, and rice krispy treats. Monday morning they ate toast and cereal and went to the Riverwalk in San Antonio.  Tuesday morning (which was National Pancake Day) I fixed pancakes and bacon for them and sent them on their way.

I did not lead thousands of teens in praise and worship nor did I preach the gospel that weekend.  But God gave me the opportunity to feed those young men and to give them a little taste of home.  I thank God for that opportunity and I believe I played a small part in the salvations and re-dedications  that took place that weekend.

God uses us in so many ways. Remember he gives us all gifts and they all work together to good.

Romans 12: 3-8  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

All of our gifts are important to God; he gave them to us.  He created us to do different things and to work in harmony.

James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

This is a brief glimpse into AFT Live.  Jeremy, my son, leads off the v-blog.

 

 

 

 

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Eating From the Pantry- Days 1 and 2

I am a follower of  Moneysavingmom.com  and this week Crystal Paine challenged her readers to cook from the pantry with the exception of bread, milk, and eggs. I accepted the challenge, but cheated a little.  In addition to the milk and bread (I didn’t need eggs), I bought a package of 12 tortillas (that’s Mexican bread, right?),  some produce (1 head of  lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 2 lemons, 5 bananas, 1 cucumber, a personal size watermelon) and orange juice (my man of steel doesn’t drink milk; he drinks orange juice with calcium).  I also bought a 24 oz package of bacon and got a package of shredded cheese free and found 3 cans of tomatoes with green chili’s marked down to $.33 each.  So I spent $24.66 at HEB and $1.69 at Wal Mart for a grand total of $26.35 for the two of us.

Most weeks I spend between $65-$75, so this shall be interesting. I usually stock up on sale items but this week I only purchased the 3 cans of tomatoes and the bacon along with the free cheese. The biggest challenge is that I did not buy any coke zero.  We will drink tea, crystal light and water this week.

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Here’s what we ate yesterday:

Breakfast:  Fried egg sandwich, cantaloupe

Lunch:  Leftovers (Keary ate a pork chop and baked  beans and I ate a baby back rib, deviled egg and beans.

Supper:  Leftover baby back ribs/sausage, beans We finished the beans, yeah!!!!

 

Today we ate:

Breakfast: Fried egg sandwich and glass of milk

Lunch:  Keary-left over baby back ribs and peas.  I had a sausage sandwich and a celery stick with cream cheese.

Snack: Peanut butter crackers and spiced hot tea.

Supper:  Lemon chicken with carrots, green beans and potatoes, bread, and watermelon.

I found the lemon chicken recipe on pinterest:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pan-roasted-chicken-lemon-garlic-green-beans-10000000780291/index.html

IMG_0460

I did make a few changes to the original recipe. I  used frozen green beans because I did not have fresh, added 2 carrots (trying to use up some produce), used creole seasoning instead of salt and pepper, and added a little more olive oil and lemon juice when I marinated the chicken.

So far this challenge has been easy with all the Easter leftovers, but the week is young.  We’ll see how it goes.

Have you ever done a pantry challenge?  If so, how did it work for you?

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The Upside To Being In Your Fifties

original-1 Today is my birthday, yeah me!  I am 57.  I have lived over half a century.  Yikes, that makes me feel old.  But what is old?  Old is what we make of it.

When I turned 50, I thought my life was almost over.  My age had never bothered me until that dreaded day.  I woke up in a funk.  My family asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said nothing and I did not want to go out and celebrate.  If the truth was known, I wanted to stay in bed all day  lying in the fetal position with the curtains drawn.  And I did not tell anyone it was my birthday.

A precious friend found out it was my birthday and let it be known.  It was a co-op day and the families bought me a beautiful bouquet from edible arrangements that included chocolate covered strawberries and they also bought a cake for everyone to enjoy.  I was not happy even thought chocolate covered strawberries are my favorite and the kids enjoyed the cake.  I was in a funk because I was 50.

That night my family got take out from Olive Garden, another favorite.  We feasted in my honor and I was still in a funk in spite of the kindness my family showed.

My “pity party” went on for a few days and then I went to staff prayer.  Everyone on the church staff wished me a “Happy Birthday”.  I was gracious, but not happy.  I mentioned to a couple of the ladies who were over 50 that I was having a hard time and they put me in my place quickly.  They were sweet, yet told me that I did not want the alternative to being 50 and that being in your 50’s is freeing (which it is), that it is their best decade and that the best is yet to come.  Between my friends and God, I began to get with the program and slowly began to embrace my 50’s.  I stopped listening to what society tells us about aging and started living my life to the fullest.

Yes, sometimes I get tired, my hair is graying, I have a crows feet and laugh lines and I can’t eat the way I used to.  Today I now know who I am and I no longer live to please others. I have wisdom and experience that can help others.  And most importantly, I know who I am in Christ!  I am loved by the creator of the universe, am free from sin, blessed and highly favored, and I have the mind of Christ!!!

I have been married almost 30 years to an amazing man, have two wonderful adult children, and finally have the time to write (a desire God placed in my heart when I was in 5th grade). Life is good!

God is the one who planned the aging process.   It is part of the life.  We all have a choice.  We can embrace God’s plan for our lives or we can fight it.

  •  Psalms 92:12-14 “The righteous will flourish, like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in our old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
  • Psalms 103:  2-5 “Praise the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles”.

I have chosen to embrace my age and am looking forward to what lies ahead. I will bear fruit, my youth is renewed.   In the words of my precious friends,  “THE BEST IS YET TO COME!!!!” 

 

aging-gracefully  from Merchant of Venice ~ William Shakespeare

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Hands And Feet Of Jesus-Part 2 (The Prayer Intercessor)

hands-and-feet-of-jesus_series-art

I recently read an article about intercessory prayer.  The article talked about two gentlemen who prayed for the great American evangelist Charles Finney (1792-18750),  Fr. Daniel Nash and Abel Clary.  Here’s the link

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43204-where-are-all-the-old-school-intercessors

Fr. Daniel Nash would arrive in a city where Finney was scheduled to preach a few days early and stay in his room praying until he felt that the spiritual atmosphere in the city was ready for Finney’s meetings . At that point, he would move on to the next city.  Soon after Nash died, Finney transitioned from evangelist to pastor.

Abel Clary traveled with Finney and prayed for the entirety of the meetings, never leaving his room.  Clary was an ordained minister, yet felt his calling was that of a prayer intercessor.

Talk about the hands and feet of Jesus!  What great men, yet we don’t hear about them.  They are not famous, but Finney would not have been successful and all those precious people who are now in heaven due to Finney’s meetings may not have come to know Jesus without those prayer warriors.

We always look at the people on the frontline when we think about being the hands and feet of Jesus, but I dare to think that the prayer warriors are the ones who are making the true difference.  They are tearing down strongholds and are in it to win it!

Actually, all of us are called to pray.  The word is very explicit about prayer.  I am not a theologian, but I know that prayer is essential to sharing the good news.  I also believe that there are seasons in life when we intercede more than others.  When I was busy homeschooling and raising my children, I did not have time to intercede like I do now.

At times, I feel like all I’m doing is praying, but God is showing me that I am making a big difference in His kingdom.  I am not insignificant and my prayers matter!

My daughter is a missionary to Burundi, a small nation in the heart of Africa.  God showed me how much she needed prayer and told me to enlist a small army to pray specifically for her. I pictured her that she was similar to Moses when the children of Israel were  fighting the Amelikites in Exodus 17. As long as Aaron and Hur held up Moses hands, the Israelites kept winning the battle and when Moses  hands dropped from exhaustion, the Israelites began losing.  So we pray to keep Jana’s hands up and the forces of evil that have engulfed that nation for too many years can not win!

And that, my friends, is another way to be the “hands and feet” of Jesus!

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Homeschooling Through Spring

Spring 24

Spring is here!  Yeah!!!!!  This winter has been especially brutal and we are all so over it!!!  And being over it sometimes means being over with school.

This is the time of year when we are tired and need a change.  We have worked so hard and feel that we are done!  We are ready to have picnics in the park, plant our gardens, and are ready to go outside.

Well, I encourage you to do that.  If it’s a pretty day, go outside and have school.  Or at least go outside for lunch.  The kids are ready for a change and you are too.

This is the time of year to do nature studies or at least do the messy science experiments outside.  Do descriptive writing about the sounds and smells of your backyard.  Put a blanket down on your lawn and read.  Do you have a table outside?  Why not let your children do their math there?

What about the child who wants to run around and not do their work while being outside? Set a timer and let them work  for 15-30 minute increments and then play for 15 minutes. If you know your child can’t handle it, begin school  earlier and have an extended lunchtime outside.

I have seen too many homeschoolers grow weary during this time of year and their schooling begins to fade away.  But I encourage you to incorporate homeschooling into your everyday life.  And finish strong!

Galatians 6:9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

 

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Hands and Feet of Jesus-Ono

hands-and-feet-of-jesus_series-art

Audio Adrenaline sang this popular song in the 1990’s that was re-purposed by both the Newsboys and Casting Crowns in more recent times.  This is a song we sing during missions services to encourage us to dedicate our lives to the Lord.

I want to be your hands,

I want to be your feet,

I’ll  go where you send me

I’ll go where you send me.

But what does this mean and where does God want us to go?  So many times we think we must be a missionary to a third world country to be used by God, but that is not true.  Yes, God loves the people in third world countries and it breaks  His heart to see the suffering brought on by others, but God also loves the people in our neighborhoods.

God can use us every day.  I’ve recently re-read the book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson.  One of the things the author talks about is praying that God will enlarge your borders.  By that, he means that your level of influence will be expanded.  I’ve prayed that prayer over the last few weeks . At first, I didn’t see much happen, but I’ve re-connected with some people and have had the opportunity to pray with others and that’s a good thing.  

I am not on the front lines like my kids.  Most of my time is spent at home taking care of my husband, praying for my kids, and writing.  But I am influential and as I pray for my borders to be enlarged, I believe my influence will be expanded.

I encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and look for opportunities where God can use you even if it seems like a small, insignificant thing.   You never know when you will make a difference in a life.

This is part one of a multi-part blog series.

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God’s Loves You Just The Way You Are

God's Love

God loves us. As children we sang “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” But what does this mean?

This morning I read a devotion Max Lucado wrote about how our day would be different if we were Jesus. How would we respond to thing if our life was exactly the same except for the fact that we were Jesus?

What an interesting concept! How would we respond to traffic?  How would we respond when our children  talk back?  What about when our spouse doesn’t do what we ask them too?

This really got me thinking. How would I respond to the annoyances that occur everyday if I were Jesus? I would like to think I’d react in the same way as Jesus, but would I?

Before we can react like Jesus, we have to accept the fact that he loves us just the way we are; even when we get impatient and grumpy. His love is unconditional and it not performance based.  We sing about how He loves  us, but do we accept his love? Do we believe He loves us, no matter what.

Once we believe with our heart that Jesus loves us, then He can change us, because He
“refuses to leave us the way we are. He wants us to be more like him.”

Here are some scriptures to meditate on if you are having trouble believing that God loves you just the way you are.

Deuteronomy 7:9  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 commandments.

John 3:16-17  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 3:1  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 4:7  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 5:2  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

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40 Bags In 40 Days Challenge

clutter

One of my goals for 2014  is to totally declutter my house.  So far I’ve done a little bit, but I’m not as far along as I’d like to be. (Actually I’ve been working on this since I quit working in May, but that ‘s another story).

Yesterday while browsing Facebook, I came upon a post about a challenge where you get rid of 40 bags of clutter in 40 days.  The bags can be any size and you can throw away, donate, sell or do whatever with your extra stuff, so I decided to take the challenge. And when you think about it, this is a really good project to do during lent;  out with the old junk and in with a clutter free space.

Currently my dining room is my office and it’s the first room you see when you walk in the house. That alone is a recipe for trouble.  I don’t have formal dining room furniture and it works as an office, but has become a dumping ground. And this is where I’ll begin. Prior to the challenge, I cleaned out 3 of the drawers to my desk and the items I want to keep are in a box on top of the desk.  My first order of business is to put that stuff away and to go from there.

I plan to get rid of one bag of stuff each day through Saturday and then I’m going out of town.

When I return on March 17th, I’ll continue in the kitchen.  I have lots of stuff I don’t use that I plan to donate including  extra” kitchen essentials” and food that we don’t eat. Do I really need all those plastic cups and old gravy packets?

So I’m saying goodbye to unwanted books, junk mail, and that pile of “to shred” documents and hello to a clean organized office.  I’ll post weekly updates to keep me accountable.

If you’d like to join me on the 40 Bags in Forty Days Challenge, go to http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days-2014.

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