Boys and Bugs

I have resigned myself to the knowledge that I will never understand the male mind. It is beyond me. Rarely am I floored when I have a conversation with my son, but yesterday was different. Here’s the gist of it:

“So, what happened again?” “I ate a dragonfly!” “Why?” “Because it was dead.” “Okay. How did you know it was dead?” “I killed it with my shoe.” “I see. So, you killed the dragonfly with your shoe, put it in your mouth and swallowed it.” “Yes.” “I guess I don’t understand why you would eat it. What made you decide to put it in your mouth?” “Well, I killed it and because there wasn’t any blood I knew it would be good to eat.”

Now, I spent several minutes fishing for more information, like the possible source for his new found wisdom. But, as the minutes ticked by I believe the look of horror on my face eventually shut him down. For better reference here, there are the pretty iridescent dragonflies and then there are the fat ugly brown ones. We are in the season for the latter, which is what he found to be so tasty.

Horrified and thoroughly stumped, I searched my parenting experience for what to do. I mean, what do I do with a boy who snacks on giant dragonflies? It really isn’t a punishable offense, and by all accounts dragonflies are technically edible. Along with roaches, grasshoppers and termites. Or so my helpful husband tells me.

later, I talked with my son about the possibility of this incident being an attempt to make  his siblings laugh. (It was my best guess.) He denied it, but I know there’s a comedian locked inside of there. We discussed how comedians earn money making people laugh and how laughter can bring healing to the soul. After affirming he was smart and already makes others laugh, I told him he did not need to be gross or yucky to do it.


Pray for them

Praying for wisdom today… perhaps someone you know could use a little more as well.

Father, according to James 3, I ask for your heavenly wisdom and understanding to be upon (Name) all the days of (his/her) life.  “By [his/her] good conduct let [him/her] show [his/her] works in the meekness of humility.” I ask specifically for the “wisdom from above [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness [to be] sown in peace by [(Name), who makes] peace.” In the name of Jesus, I ask these things, amen.  – James 3:13, 17-18

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Locust and Cricket Chermoula

For those of you who love to eat exotic foods diving into the delicacies of crickets and such, here is a recipe for you. Unfortunately, I am afraid I cannot personally recommend it as I have no intentions of ever trying it. I ate a cricket once at a missions dinner. The leg broke off and the spikes caught on my tongue and a friend had to help me remove it. Hopefully your experience is a better one.

  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • baby spinach
  • Crickets
  • lime juice
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 cup Butter, softened
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin
  • Chili Powder, to taste

Chop Cilantro leaves and mix together with paprika, butter, salt, garlic, cumin and chili power and set aside.

To cook crickets, heat oil and add crickets. Stir until “spitting subsides.” Add the butter mixture until completely melted. Add spinach and toss until slightly wilted. Serve hot.

This is not my creation. For further clarification you can read it first hand at the FineDiningLovers website: https://www.finedininglovers.com/recipes/appetizer/cricket-recipe/.

 

Just like riding a bike

This last week, on the fourth of July my oldest three learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels!

I honestly believe we were a little bit behind on this as parents, but these kids were SO ready. With just a few runs each, they took off like pros. The biggest struggle was learning how to start on their own, and how to push through their own disappointment when it took more work than they expected.

But I am so proud of my three musketeers! Now, every morning after breakfast I wait to find out who will say it first:

Who wants to go ride bikes with me?!

Tiny helmets and shoes on, they go flying out that back door as fast as their feet can carry them.

Of course, we’ve had to come up with some safety rules, like…

  1. Don’t drive your bike into anything including other bikes, fences, cars and animals. (Boys naturally try to crash into things I think it’s in their genetic makeup.)
  2. Yell “Coming up behind you!” before you pass someone.
  3. Don’t swerve when someone is passing.
  4. Don’t go near your sisters.
  5. Always wear shoes and helmets.

Rules for three new bikers probably looks different than a single rider.


Pray for Them

Letting go of control can be hard as a parent. As much as we want to see them succeed, it can be scary to cut the apron strings, or in our case, take off the training wheels. But, wisdom and understanding are both gifts from the Lord and are derived from experience self-learned or by watching others. At some point, you gotta let go and pray for wisdom and understanding.

Lord, let (Name) be blessed when (he/she) “finds wisdom, and [becomes] the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” In your name I pray, amen. – Proverbs 3:13-14

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Snacks

There are two times a day that are set in stone at our house. If we miss them, it isn’t pretty. It’s usually on a Saturday when I drop the ball because Brian is home and I’ve the freedom to focus elsewhere. About 10:30 he frantically looks at our screaming children and says, “What just happened?” And I answer, “It’s probably 10:30.” To which I get a blank stare… “Snack time, love. Did they have a snack yet?”

So here is our family favorites:

  • Cheese Sticks – full fat.
  • Graham Crackers (Daddy puts Nutella on them, mommy doesn’t. I guess you can see who the favorite is here.)
  • Baby Carrots and Hummus
  • Something leftover from breakfast like a biscuit or a pancake.
  • Bananas, apples or oranges

I would love to hear what you have in your cornucopia! We could all use some fresh ideas.

Fun fact: Between the 7 of us, we go through 16 bananas a week. They range between $0.50-.60 per banana. A budget friendly option.

 

“Pacemaker”

There are so many names I use to describe my roll as a mom. In the height of our baby days, I often referred to myself as the “Family Pack Mule.” With 5 kids born in 3.5 years, I spent my days loaded down with all kinds of paraphernalia.

“Me” in the baby stage.

Now, with school days around the corner and both Brian and I embarking on new ventures, I am realizing I have taken on a new role. As keeper of the schedule, it is now my job to be the “Family Pacemaker.”

Before Fall rushes upon us, I like to take time to step back and fit together the puzzle pieces of our future schedule. It is way too easy to become that crazy, busy family that never has time to cook a meal and eat it. Always zipping from one appointment to another, I am already noticing those uninterrupted conversations between Brian and I are more elusive than ever. Last night I found myself thinking about our future Fall schedule (at 11pm… of course).

Families have a rhythmic heartbeat and maintaining that healthy pulse creates a thriving environment for kids and parents alike. (Truth is, if we aren’t thriving neither are they.) Every family is different and runs to the beat of their own drum. You’ll have to find your own “family pulse.”

Personally, as I look to the upcoming season in our lives I am realizing that we will soon need to make some hard decisions about which commitments God has called us to.

If it isn’t life-giving, it is life-sapping.

Saying no can be hard, and leaving a commitment is even harder. It is the heart of a servant to see a need and want to fill it. But, we see God’s best work when we stick the plan He has for us, not the plans everyone else has for us.

So, here is a word of encouragement to the Pacemakers who are hard at work creating a healthy, life-giving foundation for our families: Find the heartbeat. If it’s too fast, be bold and slow it down. We all need flexibility and down time in our lives. Since we will not magically wake up to it, it is up to us to evaluate and make changes.


Pray for them

Know someone who needs to step out of “busy” and into the plans God has prepared for them? Let’s pray for clarity and discernment.

Father, I give you praise for all you will do in and through (Name). I pray according to “your eternal purpose that [you have] realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” that (Name) will, in Christ, “have boldness and access with confidence [the wisdom of God] through [his/her] faith in [Jesus].” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.   -Ephesians 3:11-12

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Brisket

This was so easy it made my fingers tingle. Put a 3 pound frozen brisket (or roast) into a dutch oven and add these ingredients on top:

  • 1 12 oz can of beer
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp chili paste (from the Asian isle)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pop the lid on top and put it into the oven. Set to 350 and let it roast for 3-4 hours. Check on it, cut into smaller pieces and let it roast for another hour. Once tender, shred and serve.

Making Time for Fun

Before Brian and I had kids, we would drive up the coastal 101 and go to the infamous Farmers Market in SLO. Without fail, our first order of business was to find him. He had long blond hair that made Def Leppard’s attempt look like child’s play. He stood on a pedestal in full Scottish garb, and with his bagpipes hooked up to his amp, he would turn on his giant wind machine and then rock out. We would watch his hair whip around and I was always inspired by his audacity to pursue life.

As the pressures ramp up, Brian and I recognize it is too easy to be driven by demands and routine and lose some of that zest we had. Although Brian would build me a pedestal, we don’t have a wind machine and I cut my hair… so that isn’t an option for us. But, we did decide to change some things up about our time together.  Add back in some of that zest.

And nothing says “fun” like the Ferris Wheel. Neither of us could even remember the last time we were in a Ferris wheel, much less where. So we stood there staring and the flashing twirling lights and decided to go a few rounds high up in the sky and then grab an appetizer at 10 pm just for kicks. Last year, we went to the local amusement park and rode roller coasters until midnight.

If you’ve never gone to SLO (San Luis Obispo, CA) you should. Try to find him. I’d bet my last nickle he’s still there rocking it out. If you can’t go that far… I encourage you to add some fun in the mix. A busy life needs the balance of both relaxation and fun. A wise man once said, “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Don’t let stress crush your spirit. Go out and play! Do something that is out of your norm. Kayak. Ride a Ferris wheel. Go mini-golfing. Rent a boat and night fish. Raising kids exposes you to so many options for “fun.” Don’t forget to include yourself too. And then finish it off with some PIE.


Pray for them

Or, yourself… if the season warrants it.

Father, I pray for (Name) who sees my spirit crushed beneath the weight of life’s responsibilities. I pray you would increase your presence in my life, and place within me “a joyful heart [for it] is good medicine.” As I turn to you, I pray you would help me “find rest for [my] soul… for your “yoke is easy, and [your] burden is light.” In Jesus’ name, amen.  – Proverbs 17:22,

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Blackberry Pie

After picking 2.5 gallons of blackberries, we decided to celebrate having family in town with a delicious pie. And, this might be one of the best recipes yet.

  • 4 cups black berries (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 425. Thaw and drain your berries if frozen. Toss with flour. Mix together sugar, lemon, cinnamon and extract. Gently fold into berries until evenly coated. Pour into one pie crust and place the other crust on top making vents for steam. Seal edges and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes on the bottom rack, change oven to 375 for an additional 25-30 minutes.

Baking Tip: Place a cookie sheet or a sheet of foil under the pie to catch any spillage.

Does the Supermoon Wear A Cape?

Last week Brian and I got up early to watch the full eclipse of the “Super Blue Blood Moon.” Given this event is not expected to happen again for another 100 years at least, we decided to get the older kids up too.

Armed with coffee and binoculars (no comments allowed from telescope owners) we watched the beauty of this phenomenon. That’s when Micah asked, “Hey Dad, does the Supermoon wear a cape?” And I realized all over again just how much I love these kids. I think Brian’s response was, “No. But he should shouldn’t he?”

It is so easy to get caught up being an adult I forget the joy of discovering the world for the first time. It was fun to see the kids watch the moon and fight over who would get the binoculars first. Gabe was brave enough to take on the cold, dark yard to get a better look at it with Daddy while Micah and Esther stayed inside where it was warm.

In watching my kids’ wonder, I too could not help but feel God’s presence in something so incredible. Knowing that He pays as much attention to the details of our lives as He does to the work of His hands.


Pray for them 

A fresh 2018 is here with it’s promise of life and memories to be made. This year, I want to invite you with me in my commitment to pursue the presence of God. Let’s also pray the Spirit of God would go before our loved ones, be upon them and remain behind them touching and changing the lives of everyone they come into contact with.

Lord, I ask for the presence of your Spirit to be poured out on (Name’s) life. May Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy,” be fulfilled in your servant (Name). Grant (him/her) the necessary discernment and wisdom to answer your call and be faithful to the end. In the name of Jesus, amen.      -Acts 2:17-18

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Honey Lime Tart

Pulled this from our copy of the Magnolia Magazine. So thank you Joanna Gaines for your delicious recipes! The original recipe is for tartlets but I altered this to make it one tart. (Mamma’s time is precious.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tbs Butter (unsalted, cold and diced into 1/2″ chunks)
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs Ice Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Lime Zest
  • 1/3 cup Lime Juice
  • 3 Tbs Butter (Unsalted, cold and cut up)
  • 1 Tbs. Honey
  • 1 cup Sour Cream

Crust

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, 2 Tbs sugar and salt. Cut in butter until it is pea sized. Add egg yolk and ice water and combine until it begins to form a ball. Press dough into an tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden. Cool completely.

Filling

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in heavy cream, lime zest and lime juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until gently boiling. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes more until it thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and honey until smooth. Pour into the tart shell and chill for at least one hour.

Leslie

 

 

Refocusing

Friends! Thank you for giving me a little grace as I took a few weeks off of the blogging world. Christmas is a special time and this year I decided to scale down my activities and focus only on what was the most special. Brian and I watched a lot of the classic Christmas movies and even brushed up on some nostalgic 90s Christmas movies too. The rest of my time was spent cuddling kids.

We did attempt to take some family photos…  so, here is a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s to you from the Crouse family!

New Year’s always holds mixed feelings for me. I love the fresh slate to begin a new year, but it is mixed with a sadness that the Christmas hullabaloo is over and then there is the ever present pressure to come up with some really great resolutions.

This year I rebelled. I always end up forgetting what the resolutions were about two months into “Mom can I have another ham sandwich?” So this year I decided to have one resolution:

This year I will focus on what God is accomplishing and how to align myself with him

Thats it. I think I will remember it this time. No more pressure to perform. No more guilt for failing (or in my case forgetting). This year, I am putting my self-centered goals away. I will step aside and embrace God’s plans, purposes and celebrate His accomplishments.

Never have I entered a year with such peace, freedom or joy.


Pray for them 

This 2018 embrace the peace that can only be found in knowing that no matter what happens, Christ has complete authority and His enemies are a footstool. His Word will always stand and you can find rest in Him. Pray your loved ones will too.

Father, I praise your holy name. I ask you to reveal the full authority of your Son Jesus to (Name). Open (his/her) eyes to the great might “that [you] worked in Christ when [you] raised him from the dead and seated him at [your] right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

 


Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

This year I discovered that when it comes to hot chocolate, I am a marshmallow girl. (Please don’t make that my new nickname as people may get the wrong impression.) For years I thought I liked whipped cream. But after drinking them side by side (because Christmas time is the only time you can get away with something like that), I realized I have been depriving myself of my true love.

  • 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Cocoa
  • dash Salt
  • 1/3 c. Hot Water
  • 4 c. Milk

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in a saucepan; stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and heat until it steams. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

This recipe is right off the side of a Hersey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder can and it is extra good with a teaspoon of cinnamon in it (add in with the dry ingredients). Plus, if you switch from white sugar to brown, it adds a rich nutty flavor to it.

Leslie

Found Her Wheels

Gracie has found her wheels. After running around the house for several months, she has now found a way around the gate to the stairs. While I was in the kitchen with what I thought was all my kids, I heard the pitter patter of little feet cruising the upstairs hallway over me. I took a quick head count and it was Grace. She made a beeline for the kids toothbrushes and was having much fun testing each toothbrush out on her own teeth. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.

It was sixty degrees outside, so until I figured out what to do about the stair/gate dilemma, I sent all the kids outside. When about 10 minutes later I couldn’t get an eye on Grace. So I went in search and found that she had climbed up into the kids tall play house from the ladder. Calling her only brought forth a new game of tag. When I was about half way up, she narrowly escaped by sliding down the slide backwards on her tummy. Only a wagon ride by big brother trumped the play house slide.

Afterward she went from that to playing with her siblings under the tree out front. Finally something harmless! But then, when I couldn’t see her anymore. When I found her the third time she had crawled under the yard fence and was enjoying a rip roaring good game of “Chase The Chickens” in the coop. They won’t lay for a week after that. Feeling like I had been running circles  myself all morning, I brought her back inside and strapped her into her high chair where she watched me prepare lunch.

Really. Something will have to be done about those stairs.


Pray for them

Sometimes justice is mistakenly believed to mean exposing the sin for the world to see. However, a just and righteous person will never seek to shame or expose a person to contempt. Let us deal with each other in love and not with a self-righteous attitude.

Lord, I ask you to continue to shape (Name’s) character into one of honor and justice. As Joseph was “a just man and unwilling to put [Mary] to shame,” I pray (Name) will also be a (man/woman) of justice who sees people through your eyes and who is therefore resolved not to shame anyone, but rather to live a life that honors others. In Jesus’ name, amen. -Matthew 1:19

Favorite Old fashioned Gingerbread

I make this recipe every year several times. It is not too sweet or dry and I love to add cinnamon butter to a warm piece fresh out of the oven. This is a recipe from Allrecipes, so just search the name and you will find it there.

  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8×5″ baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg and mix in molasses until smooth. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.

Bake fore 35-45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Thanksgiving Bliss

Four days of bliss. Never have I had such an enjoyable holiday weekend. This year’s Thanksgiving was four days of laid back family time and beautiful weather. We rode our bikes. Went Black Friday shopping. Painted bird houses. Ate two Thanksgiving dinners. Stayed up late baking pies and painting toes. Stained the porch. Slept in. Visited extended family. Watched Baby Einstein’s Baby Santa 20 times. And oh yes, ate lots and lots of pie.

In years past, we were too far from home to go somewhere so I would be busy all day cleaning and preparing every food item. By the end of the day I’d be exhausted and left staring at a huge clean up mess. For me, subconsciously, Thanksgiving was characterized by work.

But this was the year we moved back to my home town and we got to go to Thanksgiving. (Where Esther discovered the quintessential “grumpy cat” kitten and begged me to adopt it.) This year we were not hosting so my kitchen/cleaning time was minimal and I loved every extra minute with my family. I’m realizing only now how I craved this.

Obviously there are expectations for Thanksgiving. Like Turkey. And the fact that said turkey needs gravy. Pumpkin pie is another staple. Cranberry sauce. Delicious.

Yet – not worth stealing my joy. Had I realized this two years or more ago, I would have made a Turkey and a pie and ordered the rest from the grocery store. These years are so precious. Let’s not waste this gift of fleeting family time for the sake of expectations. Enjoy it. Embrace these years that go by like a blur. Cherish the snuggles and time with your family. We need downtime. That’s what holidays are for.


Pray for them

These last several months I have been seeking out God’s love and how it applies to our lives. How we express God’s love toward others, especially when it is a difficult person to love. I have seen that even in our sin, God is faithful. His love is steadfast. His promises are true. He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger and abounding in love.

Father, “Let your steadfast love come to [Name], O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then shall [Name] have an answer for him who taunts [him/her], for [he/she] trust[s] in your Word.” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. – Psalm 119:41-42

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Maple Pecan Baked Brie

When it comes to Christmas recipes I largely pull from the wisdom of my other kitchen colleagues. Here is a favorite of mine that is always just so good during Christmas.

  • 1 Large Sheet of Puff Pastry
  • 1 8 oz Wheel of Brie (with rind)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbs Water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shave the rind off the top of the brie so the pastry sticks to the cheese once it is baked. Roll out the thawed puff pastry on a lightly dusted surface until it is about a 10 inch square.

Prepare the maple sauce by combining pumpkin, maple syrup, spice, butter and salt in a saucepan and simmering until thickened (about 8 minutes).

Whisk egg and water until smooth. Place the brie wheel into the center of pastry and brush pastry edges with egg. Pour a third of the prepared maple sauce over the brie and sprinkle a pinch of the pecans on top. Pull edges of pastry up over the brie and pinch together until it sticks. Brush pastry sides with egg.

Set the brie pastry in a parchment lined baking dish with sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Top pastry with remaining chopped pecans and pour the rest of the maple sauce over the pastry. Bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry crust is golden brown. Serve hot with crackers and sliced apples.

Note: Don’t cover baked brie when it is hot or the puff pastry will become soggy.

What Happened Now?

Micah has taken his four year old status seriously and began to be more physical with… well everything. The other day he came down stairs after his nap with a black encrusted nose. I looked at him asking if he’d had a bloody nose. He said yes he “squished” it. I said, “I’m pretty sure you didn’t do that napping. How did it happen?” After much coaxing, he eventually told me he was hanging off the bed – upside down – when he fell on his face into the carpet. Not impressed, I’m sure my eyebrow was raised while I listened to his nap time escapades.

The next night as we were herding them up the stairs for bedtime, Micah zips past us chasing the cat. Next thing I knew he came back crying with an already swollen eye. Man the cat got the better of him! For the second time in as many days I said, “How did that happen?” He proceeded to tell me that the cat escaped his grasp as it made a desperate dive for under the bed.  Confused as to how this related to his black eye, I asked again. Basically it boils down to the fact that the cat fit under the bed but Micah’s face didn’t. He crashed strait into the frame. If he keeps this up he’s going to have to steer clear of all beds since they are apparently hazardous things for little boys.

On another note, Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I for one am very thankful we are all healthy and still in one piece. This year is almost over – it has been difficult in some ways and wonderful in others. Such is life. I wonder, would we appreciate the goodness of life if we never experienced the difficulties that come with it?


Pray for them

Father, “Let your steadfast love come to [Name], O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then shall [Name] have an answer for him who taunts [him/her], for [he/she] trust[s] in your Word.” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. –Psalm 119:41-42

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup lard
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mix shortening, sugar, molasses and eggs until fluffy. Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Add to molasses mixture. Form small balls, roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. For gingersnaps bake 10-12 minutes. You can thank Betty Crocker for this one.

Preparing for the Holidays

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, so does the steady rise in stress level. Not only do we plan for our gifting budget, but the holiday food alone can easily get out of hand. Frankly, in years past I haven’t kept a close enough eye on it. From the parties we host and participate in to the exotic ingredients used only during the holiday season… before I know it our spending far exceeds the budget expected.  Which can cast a shadow over the festivities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! This year I have a plan. I’m going to apply a few tips Brian and I have successfully mastered already and combine them with a couple new tricks that I think will make this season nothing but fun. It’s a challenge I am making for myself and I’m going to put it to you too. Here are a few tips  that will help us stay on task and focused on friends and family rather than the wallet.

Plan and track your spending now

With a little bit of reorganization in the kitchen and some help from the friendly mobile app Goodbudget, we were able to reduce our monthly grocery bill by almost $400. Huge savings. We also saved in several other categories, rolling our excess straight into savings. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas and this year will be even better because I know we will be better stewards.

The Goodbudget app: we like it because it is free while others were not. (Hello! The whole purpose of downloading it was to watch our spending!) It’s pretty similar to the cash envelope system Dave Ramsey likes to promote but it’s all in an app that synchronizes between your separate devices. Brian and I both add purchase updates to it. All month we both knew exactly where we were in groceries, cars etc. and it kept us right on target.

Sell unused items that are taking up space

Another way to balance holiday spending is to make extra money on the side. Go through your clothes,  appliances, whozits and whatnots and consign or Craigslist what you don’t use anymore. You may be surprised how much money you can make if you start now. Remember, it takes time to liquidate these items. So do it early to have ready cash.

Clear the clutter

Make a little extra room so your home isn’t cluttered after Christmas. Every year the moment the kids start opening presents I know the toy bins will explode. Stressful. But this year, I am going through our toy bins to see what we can sell or donate. I have our kids help so they are a part of blessing others for Christmas and so they don’t accidentally lose anything truly special to them.

Choose a signature sweet and savory you will bring to events

Every time I am supposed to bring a dish to a party I go through the 4-step process of deciding how much time I have before the party, what I want to bring, what I need to run to the store for and how much time it takes to prepare. Not this year. No more last minute trips to the grocery store, recipe deliberation or too little time to prepare. This year I am deciding on one sweet and one savory dish. I am buying the ingredients in bulk ahead of time. I will always know what I am making, I will already have the recipe, the ingredients will already be on hand and all I’ll need to do is make it. Next year I’ll choose different dishes.


pray for them

When Esther was two I taught her a bedtime prayer. Because my passion is to pray scripture, it was a natural decision to teach her to do the same. This prayer is so simple we have since then taught all our kids this bedtime prayer and now I am sharing it with you.

Dear Jesus, thank you for mommy, daddy… [all close relatives and any friends they want to mention], bless them, keep them, cause your face to shine upon them, give them your peace. In jesus’ name, amen. -numbers 6

chicken pot pie

It’s just so good. And it no longer has to take forever to make.

  • 2 cans Cooked Chicken
  • 2 cups Frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • 1 stalk Celery (sliced)
  • 1/3 cup Butter
  • 1/2 Chopped Medium Onion
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Celery Seed
  • 1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2/3 cup Milk
  • 1 Perfect Pie Crust (divided into 2)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the Perfect Pie Crust. Divide into 2 and roll out each crust for a 9×13 glass baking dish. Place the first crust in the bottom of the pan.

In a saucepan combine chicken, vegetables and celery. Cover with water and bring to a boil. In another saucepan, melt butter and saute onions. Gradually add flour, salt, celery seed and pepper. Stir until a smooth paste is formed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer until thick.

Drain chicken and veggies and add to the pie crust. Immediately pour in the sauce. Layer the top with the other half of the pie dough, cut slits for the steam to escape. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Note: Take this recipe to the next level by using fresh vegetables instead of frozen. For me, the time saver is clutch, but hey- if you’ve got the time… by all means.