Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Are We Surprised?

I just read the sweetest story of faith and provision. You can check it out here.

It makes me wonder why we are surprised when things like this happen.

If I'm honest, I have to admit that I'm a little envious too. I really, REALLY want to be a conduit for God's blessings...allowing them to flow out to others. It makes sense that if they aren't flowing out, then there must be a blockage somewhere.

Hmm...that could be an interesting blog post in itself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Comforting Thoughts

I've had a sore throat for several days and finally got to the drugstore today to pick up some lozenges. I stood looking at the variety of items available, when I noticed the familiar tin box promising relief...Sucrets.

When I was a child, my mom bought Sucrets for us. I have not used them in years, but I decided to get a box (the fact that they were on sale helped my decision as well).

After I got home and popped one in my mouth, I sat looking at the box...memories flooding my mind. Memories of the Sucrets box sitting on a shelf in a bathroom cabinet so long ago...and of my mom taking care of me when I was sick.

It's so strange where we find comfort...sometimes even in a little tin box.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Cowboy Story


My sweet girl loves to tell stories. This is one that she told me in the van this week. Little girl has quite an imagination.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Recipes Galore

I just happened upon Mrs. Claus' Cookbook at www.northpole.com. There are great recipes for cookies, candy, pies, cakes and much more. Check it out here.

It's Beginning to Look Like...SNOW!

Who says it doesn't snow in Mississippi? Wow...twice in one year! Baby girl had a blast running and playing this morning. Her favorite was throwing snowballs at her Daddy and sticking out her tongue to catch a few falling flakes.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Son Shine

Today is one of those overcast, gloomy days that tend to make me feel a little gloomy as well. I happened to remember a poem that I wrote several years ago and thought I would share it here.

Son Shine

When darkest clouds cover the sky
And the day's light is almost nil,
I know that high above the clouds
The sun shines brightly still.

So it is with the storms of life
Bringing doubt, confusion and pain.
I search about for a ray of light
But I can only see the rain.

I have to look with eyes of faith
To be able to truly see
That the light of Jesus always shines
Regardless of what it looks like to me.

So, high above my circumstances,
No matter how they seem so real,
The Father watches over His child
And the Son shines brightly still.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Working Up Some Holiday Cheer

Holiday traditions are important to me. The day after Thanksgiving I do not hang out in the mall. That is my day to put up my Christmas tree. It has to go up that day...and then it comes down promptly the day after Christmas. It's a rule.

Well, due to circumstances beyond my control, this year the tree didn't go up at it's scheduled time. So today I was pondering whether or not it was even worth all the trouble for it to just be up for 17 days.

Then I remembered my sweet girl's eyes lighting up as she looked at a friend's tree over the weekend. It was a magical moment for her. I would do anything to see that sparkle in her eyes. So tonight we decked the halls...or at least the tree.




























Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Thoughts

This post is going to be a hodgepodge of thoughts and ideas. I have a lot of different things on my mind.

**I am still being held captive in my home by little four-legged terrorists. A person's home should be the one place that they can rest and relax without worry or fear. We have put out traps and have caught a few of them, especially since Mike re-baited the traps using a whole peanut sticking out of some peanut butter. We have searched for how they are coming in and have sealed a few holes. I called an exterminator and they told me that they would do what I'm already doing, so I'm not wasting money on that. I am so sick of this and just want my home back.

**We took BK and my grandsons to the Natural Science Museum this morning to make ornaments for the birds. Well, what do you suppose they had for the kids to make the ornaments with? They had bread, popcorn, crackers, cranberries, grapes, apples, oranges, cheerios and donuts. Now, kids are kids...and it was getting close to lunch time, so everyone was having to fight with their kids to keep them from eating the stuff...not a good idea. But we all had a good time. When we got home, Mike helped BK hang her ornaments in "her" little tree in our front yard. I'm sure the birds will enjoy the treats.

**If you are feeling stressed this holiday season, I found an article promising to help. If you would like to read it, click here.

**I went to a CPC volunteer luncheon this week and the speaker said something that has reverberated in my spirit for days now. She said that especially in these days when there is so much gloom and doom around us, we must be "women of faith and not women of feelings." That was such a good message to us all. As women, we sure do get stuck in our feelings, don't we?

We may not have all the answers and we certainly don't know what tomorrow will bring for any of us. But the constant in the life of a Christian is that our Father holds the world in his hands and He knows the future that He has planned for each of us. We don't have to know they whole story...we will be okay as long as we keep our eyes on Him and just do the next right thing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Seasons Greetings!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! Click here.

Gifts From the Heart

Apparently there are folks offering an alternative to the craziness that often accompanies Christmas buying frenzy. The movement is called Buy Nothing Christmas. You can go here to get over 50 ideas of what you can give this holiday without stepping foot in the mall.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Free eBook

Tawra Kellam at Living on a Dime is offering a free eBook: Gifts in a Jar. This is a 30-page book filled with great recipes and ideas. Click here to get it. While you are there, check out the rest of their website...it's great...and you can even sign up for an e-newsletter.

Thankful Today

I've kind of been feeling in the dumps lately. I decided in honor of Thanksgiving, I would start a list of things for which I am thankful....

  1. My Heavenly Father, who loves me even when I'm unlovable.
  2. My sweet husband, who puts up with my craziness on a daily basis.
  3. My amazing children: BK with her funny ways and hugs that melt my heart...and J with his quirky sense of humor.
  4. My precious grandsons, who love their Gran D no matter what.
  5. My extended family: sisters, nieces & nephews, in-laws and out-laws...we enjoy each other's company and share a love of good food.
  6. My wonderful friends, who surround me with their love and encouragement, sharing our journey together.
  7. Our church family.
  8. Our jobs that provide what we need.
  9. Our home and vehicle.
  10. My blog readers, with whom I get to share a little of myself.

I am blessed beyond measure.

Thank you all for the blessings that you are to me.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving...and don't forget to count your blessings too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nearly Instant Biscuits

I found this recipe on the Hillbilly Housewife website. (There are many wonderful recipes on this website...check it out.) These biscuits make a frugal and tasty alternative to canned biscuits...and even those store-bought frozen ones, without sacrificing convenience. I made some this morning. I cooked some and have a pan in the freezer.

Nearly Instant Biscuits


6 cups self-rising flour (or 6 cups plain flour, plus 3 tablespoons baking powder & 1 Tablespoon salt)
1 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk (or regular milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar added - let sit for about 10 minutes)

In a large mixing bowl, measure in the self rising flour (or flour, baking powder and salt). Add the firmly packed shortening and mash it into the flour with your fingers or a fork. Do not over-mix. The shortening should be casually combined with the flour, and small chunks the size of dried beans should remain. This is what makes the biscuits flaky.

Now stir in the buttermilk. Stir it up until you have a nice soft dough. Knead the dough about 10 or 12 times. No more, no less. This activates the gluten in the flour just enough to make good biscuits.

Roll the dough out into a nice thick slab (use a rolling pin or any sturdy jar or glass). Cut the dough into biscuit shapes. Use a clean can or glass rim, if you don't have a biscuit cutter. Tuna cans are just the right size for big breakfast biscuits. Continue rolling and cutting until all the dough is used up.

Lay waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Arrange the shaped biscuit dough on the waxed paper. Freeze overnight. The next morning the biscuits can be gathered up and stashed in plastic freezer bag.

When you want to cook them, just take out the specific number you want and place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or pizza pan. Bake in a preheated 450° oven until lightly browned (check after about 10-15 minutes).

These biscuits are better tasting, and much cheaper than canned whack-'em-on-the-counter-biscuits. The whole recipe makes between 30 and 35 medium sized biscuits, or about 20 big breakfast size biscuits (grand-sized).

On Being Rich

My post today has more questions than answers.

I receive a daily email from Mountain Wings. There was a quote referenced in today's issue:

"Being rich is not determined by how much you have, but by how little you need."

I have been thinking a lot about that quote.

How much do we really need? I think that living in the "land of plenty" makes it difficult to answer that question honestly.

Above the basic necessities of food, clothing (basic) and shelter, how much do we really need? Are all the "stuff and things" that we think we must have worth what they actually cost? I'm not talking about the price tags on the stuff in the store.

What I'm speaking of is the real cost.

The stress that's created when the credit card bill arrives and we see in black and white what our choices are doing to us financially.

The toll it takes on our families when both parents are working outside the home...to make more money, to buy more things.

Relationships are strained. Health is compromised. Peace of mind is often non-existent.

Our closets and cabinets and drawers and shelves are full...often to overflowing...but so many feel empty inside.

Is it really worth it?

As the economy declines, we may have to make some hard decisions about what is really important to us.

Read the quote again. How rich are you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Credit Reports

By law, we are entitled to a free credit report annually from each of three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). These free reports can be accessed from www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

According to Mary Hunt (from Everyday Cheapskate and Debt-Proof Living), the best way to get these reports is to stagger them throughout the year, so that you get one every four months. This enables you to keep an eye out for incorrect information all during the year.

When I get a new calendar for the year, I write myself a reminder in January, May and September to order one report from each of the three credit bureaus so I can set a schedule. This is very helpful because I don't have to try to remember when and where I last ordered.

For more great tips and ideas, check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Craigslist Rocks

In an effort to de-clutter my house and life, I have been selling some things. The most effective way to do this, I have found, is to use Craigslist.

If you have never used Craigslist, you can go to the website and chose a city close to you. Then you can look at the online ads and even post some yourself. There is no charge and listing is very easy and user friendly.

For any of you who live close to me, here are a few items that I listed this morning:

Prayer of Jabez Framed Print - $10
http://jackson.craigslist.org/hsh/914604617.html

Northern Nights Queen Sheet Set - NEW - $20 http://jackson.craigslist.org/hsh/914642751.html

Ladies 3X Long-Sleeve Shirts - Blue & Black - $15 http://jackson.craigslist.org/clo/914654793.html

New Weight Watchers Cookbook - $5
http://jackson.craigslist.org/bks/914710229.html

Cookbook Lot of 4 - $10
http://jackson.craigslist.org/bks/914729671.html

New Battery - $20
http://jackson.craigslist.org/pts/914664569.html

Tasty Fruit Salad

My friend Joyce made the First Place class a wonderful dessert last week. I went right out the next day to buy the ingredients and made it for a family get-together over the weekend. The consensus was that it is absolutely delicious. The fact that it is a low calorie treat is an added bonus.

Tasty Fruit Salad

1 can pineapple chunks (in juice)
1 large can fruit cocktail (drained)
1 box sugar-free/fat-free Jello pudding mix, White Chocolate flavor
1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used Carb Master)
3 -4 tablespoons sugar-free Cool Whip

Pour the pineapples (with juice) and fruit cocktail in a bowl. Sprinkle the pudding mix over and stir well. Stir in the yogurt and Cool Whip. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

For more great recipes, go to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birthday Boy #2

Today is my #2 grandson's birthday. Eight years ago, he burst into our world and life has never been the same.

This boy is a bundle of energy...he just never stops. He is friendly and never meets a stranger. He is incredibly smart and he's in advanced classes at school. He can always make me laugh. He is creative and loves to draw. He tells me that he wants to be an art teacher when he grows up.

I cannot imagine not having him in my life. His hugs make me smile every time.

Happy birthday young un'...Gran D loves you!


Talkin' Turkey

I have never really cooked with ground turkey. I know all the health benefits of turkey over ground beef. What I didn't really realize until this weekend was how incredibly frugal it is as well. Kroger has 1 pound rolls of ground turkey for $1.00. I picked up a few rolls for the freezer. Yesterday I wanted to cook taco soup in the crockpot, so I decided to use a roll of the turkey. Instead of browning the turkey, I boiled and then drained it.

I was amazed. We absolutely could not tell the difference.

I imagine everyone has a recipe for taco soup, but in case you don't, here you go:

Talkin' Turkey Taco Soup

1 lb. roll ground turkey (cooked)
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope ranch dressing mix

Combine all (with juice from cans) in a crockpot and cook on low for about 4 - 6 hours. Serve with tortilla chips and cheese.


P.S. Tonight we used some of the leftovers to make taco salad. I cooked some rice, warmed the soup and mixed them with grape tomatoes, lettuce, crushed tortilla chips and cheese. We topped with ranch dressing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oh Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Someone I know sent out an email yesterday that spoke in very negative and ominous terms about the election results and the direction that our country will be taking as a result.

A couple of local school employees got highlighted on the news for apparently censoring some students for just saying Obama's name.

These are two incidents that I encountered yesterday that I would consider post-election "fallout." I expect many more to come. So far, what I'm hearing could be considered "sour grapes" from those whose candidate did not win. But I believe in time, even those who voted for Obama will become disillusioned when he cannot deliver on all that he promised.

What I find disturbing in all this is how many people who get caught up in all the mud-slinging and name-calling profess to be Christians. Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But how helpful is it to send out mass emails warning everyone of the dire consequences of a poor decision at the polls?

In these days of economic uncertainty, there is enough fear to go around. Do we really need to be sowing seeds of resentment and worry over what may or may not be the result of our new president's regime?

God's Word tells us to pray for those who lead us. In fact, we are told that even though we live in a democracy and vote for our leader, God is ultimately in charge of who is elected. Don't believe me? Check out Romans 13:1.

We are also told that He will judge every idle word that comes from our mouths (or our keyboards). Before we forward on that email, or repeat something we've heard at the hair salon, we probably should test it by the scriptures to see if it is something that we want on our ledger of things that we have said. I'm just saying.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birthday Boy #1

Today is my oldest grandson's birthday. Ten years ago today my world changed in ways that I could never imagine when I became a grandmother...or as my grandkids call me...Grand D.

He is the responsible one of the four...making sure that his little brothers are all okay. I guess that's an older sibling thing. He is smart (makes all A's most of the time) and so funny. He is so much like his Daddy that it often takes me by surprise. His smile can light up a room. His insight can take my breath away.

He loves his Gran D...and I love him more than he will ever know.

Happy Birthday sweet boy!



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday - Toys Worth Buying

Today is Works for me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer and the theme today is Toys Worth Buying. So far there are over 200 links from folks recommending toys. Check it out here.

BK will be four years old in a few months. In her short little life, we have inundated her with toys. What can I say? The girl is spoiled.

Many toys never get played with. The ones that do, often get played with over and over. Here are a few of her favorites:

Balls - What kid doesn't like balls? Big or little, fancy or plain, she just likes balls.

Baby dolls - She absolutely LOVES her babies. She has a few that she likes more than others, but her favorite is one that says "Mama" when you push her tummy. This doll probably cost $5 at Wal-Mart...so it's not about how much they cost or what they can do.

Twin Time Dollhouse - We got her this for Christmas last year and she really likes to play with it. I'm not sure that they make them anymore...but you can always find them on eBay.

Doug and Melissa wooden toys - BK has several things from Doug and Melissa. They are sturdy, well made and will last forever. She has a set of wooden food for her kitchen and some puzzles.

Discovery Toys boxes of Board Books ABCs & Numbers - She will sit and play with these for hours. They are great for teaching letters and numbers. They are sturdy and just the right size for little hands.

Keeper of the Home

I had dinner with a good friend this week. Whenever I spend time with this special lady, I always walk away with much to think about.

One of the questions she asked me was "What is it that you want?"

Man...how do you answer that one over pizza?

I have thought about that question a lot in the last few days. It occurs to me that in this age of advancement for women...when we can do and be anything we want to be...what I want most to be is a good wife, mother, grandmother and keeper of my home.

The world tells us that we need and deserve more, but from where I'm perched in my little corner of the world, I can't imagine anything more fulfilling than to realize the full potential of what God created me to be. As a society...and even as the Church...we have somehow we have lost value that we once had for godly women using their gifts and talents to bless their families at home.

I have to admit that since I left my full-time job, I have floundered quite a bit in my new role as a stay-home mom. Without the routine and schedule of working every day, things have had a tendency to get a little out of control with my house. As of yesterday, I have implemented a 42 day plan to get things in order. This plan includes a systematic overhaul of my house, room by room, not only to clean, but de-clutter and organize as well. At the end of this six weeks, my home will be in much better shape, which I'm sure will help my outlook on life.

I'm also planning to start a project to sew my daughter and grandsons rag quilts for Christmas. I found a great website that has instructions and photos. Click here to see. I don't really sew...and I've never quilted...but this looks so easy that I really think I can do it.

Another thing that I am doing is getting back to menu planning. I have found that if I don't do this, it is just way too easy to pick something up for dinner instead of having a nutritional, home-cooked meal.

So, it looks like I have my work cut out for me in the days ahead. I know that it will be worth it...especially with the holidays coming up soon. I want to be able to enjoy my family during this time instead of fretting about things that need to be done around my house.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall In The Park

Mike and I took BK and the boys to a local park yesterday to play and have a picnic. The weather was unbelievably perfect. After our picnic, we walked on the nature trails for a while. I was surprised that the leaves were so pretty. Usually they aren't that vivid in our neck of the woods. Here are some photos so you can share the day with us.






















Saturday, November 1, 2008

Of Mice And Men

I've been MIA all week from my semi-regular blog posts. What can I say...it's been one of "those" weeks. You know the kind.

First of all, I've been sick for a month now. Even after a trip to the doctor and several meds, I just can't seem to shake this cough. When someone is sick and tired, everything in the world seems to look a little gloomy.

Then, a week ago we realized that we had an unwelcome guest in our home...a mouse. Now, to fully understand the ramifications of that statement, you must know that I have rodent phobia. Not just the normal aversion to creepy-crawlies, but a full-fledged phobia that developed years ago.

When faced with the object of my phobia, I just lose it...totally. Wikipedia defines a specific phobia as: "...a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations."

You cannot reason with a phobia. You cannot talk yourself out of the fear. You cannot shame yourself into acting like a grown up.

It is what it is...and it's not pretty.

So, to say that I've been a little "out of sorts" this week is an understatement.

Thankfully (hopefully) the problem has been resolved now and life goes on, even though I'm still a little skittish...and I'm wearing slippers these days instead of going barefooted around the house.

Maybe things will settle down now and I can get back to posting more often.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Cheese Bread

I made this tonight and my whole house smells like pumpkin and spice...perfect for a chilly fall day. YUM!














Pumpkin Cheese Bread

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 - 8oz block cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
4 eggs
1- 16 oz can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped pecans (optional - I forgot to add)

Combine sugar, cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Blend in pumpkin. In a separate bowl, mix together all other ingredients (except nuts). Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients...about a third at a time...blending until just moistened. (Do not over blend). Fold in nuts at the end. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 X 5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until middle is done. (check with a toothpick) Cool for 5 minutes, remove from pan, set on racks and cool completely.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall Festivals - Not Halloween

Several of the local churches are having Fall Festivals as an alternative to Halloween. Our family made the decision some time back to not celebrate Halloween. Now that BK is getting a little older, I need to remind myself of why that decision is right for us.

I remembered that I had saved a great article, Why We Don't Celebrate Halloween, written by Kelly McCausey. Click here if you would like to read it.

Tonight, we took BK and my grandsons to one of the Fall Festivals and they had so much fun. Here are a few pics.























































Friday, October 24, 2008

Who Do You Know?

Most of us know at least one family who is struggling financially and could use help this holiday season. Angel Food Ministries is offering a Thanksgiving box for $30. Would you please consider buying a box to bless a family? You can begin ordering next week and the distribution date will be November 22nd. Click here to find an Angel Food distribution center near you.

THANKSGIVING DINNER BOX
(Quantities are Limited, So Place Your Order Soon!!)

The special holiday box contains everything you need for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Order one for your family and one for a family in need this holiday season. Feeds an average family including 2 adults and 2 children. $30

7lb. (avg.) Perdue Roasting Hen
2 lb. Heat and Serve Mashed Potatoes
2 lb. Heat and Serve Corn
2 lb. Heat and Serve Green Beans
17 oz. Cornbread Dressing
4.5 oz. Brown Gravy Mix
15 oz. Cranberry Sauce
8 Dinner Rolls
1 Dessert Item

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Run In The Rain

This was sent to me in an email. I've read it before, but we all can use the reminder...

Run In The Rain
By Dee Martinez

A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Target. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Target.

We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, "Mom, let's run through the rain," she said. "What?" Mom asked.

"Let's run through the rain!" She repeated. "No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit," Mom replied.

This young child waited about another minute and repeated, "Mom, let's run through the rain."
"We'll get soaked if we do," Mom said. "No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning," the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. "This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?"

"Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!'"

The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes.

Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

"Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If God let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing," Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars.

And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories... So, don't forget to make time and take opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. I hope you still take the time to run through the rain.

Take the time to live!!!

Keep in touch with your friends, you never know when you'll need each other -- and don't forget to run in the rain!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stockpiling

(Today is Works For Me Wednesday over at Rocks In My Dryer. Head over there to check out some great tips and ideas.)

My mother lived through the Great Depression. She knew how to use and then resuse things. In the age of disposible everything, this kind of frugality hasn't been valued very much.

Many years ago, when my parents were alive, they both liked to shop at places like Hudson's and Big Lots, looking for deals. They would pick up food items dirt cheap and when they would find a great deal, they would stock up. Eventually there was so much food in their house, my dad had to build several large wooden shelves to stock it. Whenever we would go to their house we laughed and rolled our eyes at their own private "grocery store."

Times, they are a changin'.

It seems like many of the blogs and website geared toward frugality that I like to read are recommending that folks begin to stockpile groceries and other items around our homes that we use frequently, like soap, shampoo and paper products.

The reasons that they give are varied. Some are doing it from a survivalist mentality. It is abundantly evident that our country is having economic trouble. These people believe that we are heading for even more trouble, including food shortages, and that we need to be prepared now so that we can continue to feed our families if that were to happen.

Others are doing it from a purely frugal motive. It just makes sense to stock up on items that you know your family uses often when they are one sale, then you don't have to pay the regular (and sometimes outrageous) prices when you need them. I have come to the realization that this is an excellent way to stretch my food budget, so I have begun to buy extras when shopping for sale items. I am slowly building up a stockpile of items that I know we will use.

The trick is to find storage for all this extra food. I had to get creative about that. One thing I've done is to utilize an unused cabinet in my spare bathroom.





I found a good article on stockpiling. Check it out if you are interested:

How to Create a Stockpile of Food - for Little Money

Breakfast for Dinner

I found this great recipe for a breakfast casserole and had to try it, so I picked up the ingredients I needed on my last shopping trip. The original recipe called for bacon (cooked & crumbled - 8 slices), but I cooked a ham over the weekend and decided to use some of it instead. I whipped it up this morning and it's sitting in the fridge waiting for dinner tonight. (By the way...for more great recipes, head over to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.)

Breakfast Casserole

Assemble this hearty dish the night before, and bake the next morning.

1 (16-ounce) Hawaiian bread loaf, broken into 3/4-inch pieces
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded Mexican four-cheese blend
1/2 pound ham,chopped fine in the food processor
8 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


Arrange bread cubes in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and ham. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over prepared dish; press down bread cubes with a spoon to allow bread to soak up liquid. Cover and chill 8 hours. Let stand 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until set and golden.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fun Day At The Museum

I took BK and my grandsons to the Natural Science Museum today. This is the first time we've been since the dinosaur exhibit has been featured. We had a blast.







T-Rex! The little guy wasn't too thrilled with this one. He moved and growled and showed those huge pearly whites.


Watching the fish. It seemed that the fish swam right up to the kids as if to say "Hi!"


Feelin' Froggy!



Watching the giant albino catfish. We were trying to decide how old this fish must be because it's been there as long as I can remember.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Not Debatable

I just watched the Presidential Debate. I know that it's probably not "politically correct" to talk politics, but at the risk of offending some, I feel that I have to say what's on my mind.

The candidates were put in a position that they had to lay out their stands on many controversial issues on which many people have very strong opinions. One of these issues was abortion. The question that brought up this topic had to do with appointing Supreme Court Judges and whether or not the potential judge's belief on pro-life issues would influence Obama/McCain's decision to appoint them.

Senator Obama was very clear about the fact that he believes Roe v. Wade was a good decision and he supports a woman's choice to abort. He also made it clear that a potential Supreme Court Judge's view on this subject would matter to him.

I realize that there are other issues on the table. Our country is in a serious economic meltdown and we are in a war that many citizens do not support. Lack of health care is a problem for many and our educational system needs help.

But I cannot help but think that the issue of abortion is a fundamental one that sets the moral climate of our country. Until this practice of allowing mothers the option to have their babies killed is stopped, NOTHING in our country will be as it should.

I'm a big believer in the principal of sowing and reaping. If American Christians vote in a man who promises tax breaks and health care, choosing the promise of economic help, while turning a blind eye to the fact that this man supports the mass murder of innocent lives, then we will all reap from that decision.

Our country hangs in the balance of what happens at the polls in a few weeks.

Pray, people...please pray.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freezer Cooking - Ground Beef

I bought two 5 lb. packs of ground beef this week and today was the day that I had to do something with it. What I like to do is cook ahead and freeze some meals. Not only does this save time, it's also a very frugal way to cook. I thought I would post about what all I did step-by-step so you can see how easily it all comes together. (By the way...for more great recipes and tips, head over to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.)

First, I decided that since I was planning to be in the kitchen most of the morning, I would bake some bread too. I threw all the ingredients for my honey wheat bread to mix and knead in the KitchenAid so it could be rising while I went on to the next thing.

I took out two large pots. In one, I put one 5 lb. pack of ground beef, covered it with water and turned the heat to high. In the other pot, I filled it with water, added salt and put over high heat to come to a boil.

I got out my food processor and chopped three onions. Two of them I used in the recipes and the other one I put in a small freezer bag and froze to use later.

When the water started warming in the ground beef pot, I began stirring to break up the meat. As the water in the other pot came to a boil, I stirred in 2 lb. of ziti and set the timer.

After the pasta and beef were cooked and drained, I used 1 lb. of the ground beef and assembled four pans of Baked Ziti, covered with aluminum foil, wrote on the top with a Sharpie and popped them in the freezer (we love Sister Shubert rolls and I keep the pans to use for this).

Then I put 2 lbs. of cooked meat in containers and put them in the freezer.

With the other 2 lb. of cooked beef, I made a pot of Sloppy Joes. When that cooled, I divided it into three containers and froze them.

By this time, the bread was ready for the oven, so I put them in to cook.

I opened the other pack of ground beef and set up my kitchen table with:

2 large bowls
a cookie sheet (with sides)
two cooking racks (inside the cookie sheet)
an oblong baking dish
Tupperware hamburger press and 4 containers
disposable gloves

In one bowl, I dumped all the ingredients for meatballs (using 2 lb. beef). In the other, I put the ingredients for meatloaf (using 2 lb. of beef). With the last pound of ground beef, I formed 4 hamburger patties and froze them.

Wearing the gloves, I mixed the meatloaf and formed two loaves, arranging them sideways in the baking dish. Then I mixed the meatballs, formed them into balls (about 3 dozen) and arranged them on the racks inside the cookie sheet.

As the bread finished baking, I put the meatballs and meatloaves in the oven for 25 minutes (this will half-cook the meatloaves and I'll finish cooking them when I take them out to defrost). After they cooled, the meatballs went into 3 freezer bags and the loaves were wrapped individually in aluminum foil to freeze.

So after a busy morning, I ended up with at least 15 meals in my freezer:

2 lb. cooked ground beef (to use for tacos or casseroles)
4 pans of Baked Ziti
3 bags of cooked meatballs (to use with spaghetti, BBQ sauce or brown gravy)
4 hamburger patties
3 containers of Sloppy Joes
2 meatloaves

Here are my recipes:

MEATBALLS
2 lb. ground beef
½ c. bread crumbs (or oatmeal)
¼ c. milk
¾ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
½ t. Worcestershire
1 onion, chopped
1 egg

Mix all ingredients; shape into 1 ½-Inch meatballs. Bake on racks on cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Freeze in freezer bags.

MEATLOAF
2 lb. ground beef
¼ c. chopped onion
1 small can tomato sauce
¼ c. ketchup + extra for top
2 slices bread, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
brown sugar for topping

Mix all ingredients and form into loaves. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Take from the oven and drain grease. Wrap individually with foil. When ready to cook, defrost and spread additional ketchup on top & sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

BAKED ZITI
2 lb. dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
2 jars/cans spaghetti sauce
Provolone, sliced (6 oz.)
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (8 oz.)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta & drain. Saute' onion and then mix with pasta and spaghetti sauce. Divide into 4 aluminum baking pans. Arrange slices of provolone cheese on top and sprinkle with Mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil. After defrosting, bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheeses are melted.

SLOPPY JOES
2 lb ground beef, cooked
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/3 c. ketchup
1 ½ c. Coke (or other soft drink)
3 T. vinegar
2 T. Worstershire Sauce
2 t. honey
2 t. dry mustard (or 4 t. prepared)
2 t. garlic
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 T. cornstarch

Sauté onions and peppers in a little olive oil. Add all ingredients except cornstarch. Mix well. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Stir in cornstarch and cook another 5 minutes. Freeze in individual containers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Are You Done?

Lorie Newman wrote an article called I'm Done with Playing Church.

If you haven't read it, you should. Click here...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stressful Times

The news today is that this was the worst week ever in the history of the stock market. I don't understand a lot about investments, but when I hear the words "global economic crisis," it doesn't take a genius to figure out that we are in deep trouble...and they say that it's only going to get worse.

When the market goes down, stress levels go up. At this point, it's impossible to predict the toll that all this mess will have on our society. I heard a report today that says domestic violence has increased, along with emotional and health problems. Statistics show that financial problems are the leading cause of divorce, so when the dust clears, it is heartbreaking to know how many families will be destroyed.

As Christians, we are told to be in the world, but not of the world. The cares of this world should not effect us as those who live without hope. Perhaps that should be easier to do, but I think for most of us, we are used to living our lives in a certain manner and we feel that we deserve to be able to continue that lifestyle.

Tonight I was thinking about the verses that tell us to not worry about what we are going to eat or drink and to not worry about tomorrow. God promises to provide for all our needs...so then why do we worry? Is it that we just don't believe, or are we like the Israelites in the desert? I fear that manna would not be good enough for our palates. We expect more. After all, we are Americans!

Lord have mercy on us.

We are a proud and stiff-necked people. We plan our days and weeks and live as if we are in control. We put so much value in the things that are temporal, but we are slow to consider the eternal.

I have to remind myself that God is not an American. He is not a Republican. He's not even a Baptist. Our efforts to "flavor" the Gospel to suit our agendas does not change the Truth of the Word of God.

What is the best stress reliever that I can think of in these scary times?

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the Lord, who is my refuge-- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Butternut Squash Recipe

I tried a new recipe and it turned out great. If you didn't know better, you would think you are eating sweet potato casserole. This came from a new cookbook I just got: Marlene Koch's Sensational Splenda Recipes.

Butternut Squash Soufflé

Soufflé:
3 cups cooked mashed butternut squash

2/3 cups Splenda Granular
1 large egg

3 egg whites
1 tablespoon margarine, melted

¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup light sour cream

Topping:
2 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons Splenda Granular
1 tablespoon margarine, melted

¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 2-quart casserole with Pam. Prick squash with a knife in several places and place in microwave. Cook on high for 8-10 minutes. Remove and cut squash in half lengthwise. When cool enough to handle, scoop out seeds. Place halves, cut side down, in a glass baking dish; add ¼ cup water, cover tightly with plastic wrap (or lid), and place back in microwave for 10 more minutes or until flesh is very soft. Scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Add remaining soufflé ingredients and beat until well blended. Spoon into a baking dish and smooth top.

In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients and mix with fork or fingers until crumbly. Cover top of soufflé with crumb mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes until soufflé puffs up in the center and top is well browned.

(Per ½ cup serving: Calories 120, Fat 5 grams (2 saturated), Carbs 15 grams, Fiber 3 grams, Protein 4 grams, Sodium 180 mg)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Hard Truth

Today I am posting something that was written by my friend Elysa on her blog Musings from Graceland this past Monday. God has given Elysa a heart for the "least of these" around the world...and around the corner. This post is heartbreaking and convicting...and we all need to hear what she has to share.

TWO BIRTHDAYS...TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES

This past week two little ones had birthdays.One little girl we call our princess. She turned 7 amidst much rejoicing complete with presents, a special breakfast, cards, decorations, plenty of photos and videotaping, and love and laughter. This little princess is greatly cherished and the memories of almost losing her during childbirth make us all the more grateful. She is being given the best that we can give her in life. Most likely, she will have scores and scores of birthdays in her life...a life full of promise and amazing possibilities.

The second little one we don't know. She was born this week on her one and only birthday. There will never be parties thrown for her. She won't open up presents and smile for the camera as her daddy says "cheese" for the umpteenth time. She won't be asked what kind of cake she wants or receive "happy birthday" calls from her grandma. She won't grow up with a gaggle of brothers and sisters teaching her how to jump rope or dance to The Wiggles. She'll never sit on her earthly daddy's lap and be told how much she is loved. Only her Heavenly Father will hold this little girl and let her know that she is His precious one forever. For the day that was her birth day, is the only birthday this little one will ever know.

On Sunday morning, within walking distance of the state capitol building, several churches, ministries, and hospitals, a dear friend made a tragic discovery. This person is one of the homeless people who worships alongside our family at the outdoor worship service we attend on Sunday afternoons. She smiles at me and my heart is blessed to overflowing. I love her heartfelt hugs and how sweet she is to my baby. But this dear woman is absolutely devastated because yesterday morning, she found a little baby, one of God's precious creations, dead beside a dumpster...it's umbilical cord cut with a broken bottle and left lying there to die.

You'd think that something of this nature would be headline news. You'd think that folks would be both outraged and appalled...that our city and those who are Christians would be stirred up out of their complacency and worries about trivial matters and saying "we've got to do something to change the lives and hearts of those in our city!"

But there is no widespread grief or outrage...because except for the few that live down in that crime-ridden, impoverished area, no one knows. The police know. And any other involved officials are going to know...but where are the articles and tv news features? I've been searching the tv stations and newspaper websites since yesterday and I can't find that anyone knows about it or if they know, finds it newsworthy enough to write about.

A baby...a precious, made-in-God's-image baby was found in a TRASH DUMPSTER and that's not news that our community needs to know about? Be shocked about? Be horror-stricken over? Be motivated to DO something about? We can't save this little one, but what about others like her? What do we need to be doing as Christians to bring about change? It's not stricter laws nor more lenient laws. Good laws do help...laws that allow new moms to leave their babies in safe places with no questions asked are good.

But that's not enough.

The basic problem lies in an inner-city culture that has not only been consumed by death and destruction, some of it self-inflicted, but also by a suburban culture that has turned it's back on the inner-city. The majority of folks living in the burbs have either fled Jackson due to crime, high taxes, poor public schools, and a messed up city government or they've never lived there and plan on spending as little time there as possible.

Many people are downright afraid of Jackson. They watch the news and hear of all the murders and robberies and rapes. They drive through with locked doors on their way to the zoo or the museums or the concerts and see the crack houses and gang graffiti.

They can afford to stay away, live someplace safe, and in the process, they can forget about the inner-city and those who desperately, desperately, desperately need the love of Jesus ministered to their lives. They need to know that God loves them. They need to know that there is hope in Jesus. They need to know that they can escape this hell-on-earth. They need to know that they are not forgotten. They need to know the love of a Father that they've never seen on this earth.

I'm not naive. I've been around long enough to know that there are some people that are not going to change no matter what. There are some people that will choose crime and death over redemption and life. But there are others who are willing to change....they just need someone to help show them the way. I've met those who have changed. It can happen. God is the author of beautiful life stories...stories of beauty from ashes.

I can't help but think how different the headlines would be today if that precious little one had been found dead in one of our affluent suburbs. But she wasn't. She was born among those left behind...those who couldn't afford to flee. She was born to "one of those" kind of people.We know some folks who God has called. Amy Lancaster and her family left a big house in an affluent neighborhood in a safe town outside of Jackson and moved back to be among "those" kind of people.

They love their neighbors and do everything they can to point them to God and His good, redemptive plan for their lives. And she hears on a regular basis that what they are doing is crazy and pointless. That "those kind of people" will never change. That basically, they just need to be walled off from the rest of society until they kill themselves off.

Two little ones.

Two different lives.

One is greatly treasured and has a beautiful life ahead of her.

One is now with her Heavenly Father because she was born to someone who didn't know the value of life...her life and her baby's life.

And all over our state, our country, our world, there are two kinds of little children....those who are loved and have hope, and those who are living surrounded by death and destruction.

And all over our world are two kinds of people...those who know and do nothing, and those who know and are called to action.

If we bear the name of Christ, if we call ourselves Christians, there should be no doubt which camp we find ourselves in.

Not all of us are called to move into the inner-city. God has unique callings on each Christian. I am not about to sit here and say that we should all be carbon copy ministers.

But we should all be making sure that we are doing what God has called us to do in this world.

We should not let fear or laziness or ignorance stop us.

Shane Claiborne says that it's not that American Christians don't care about the poor, we don't know the poor.

I would expand that to say that it's not just the poor that we don't know, we also don't know those in desperate need of spiritual hope and deliverance. We've become isolated from them for a myriad of reasons...busyness, laziness, ignorance, selfishness, fear, insecurities, cynicism, prejudice, fear of failure, and even plain and simple lack of love.

I had a friend one time who told me she didn't want to hear the facts about a hard subject because then she would have to act. I think that's how many of us in the Christian church think.

I can't go down to the innercity ministries and not get emotionally involved. If I go, I'm going to get to know "those kind of people". I'm going to hear about the abuse they are experiencing, the closets they sleep in, the fears they have, the addictions they fight, the diseases that are killing them, and I'm going to care.

And once I care, I must act.

I can't do it all. But I can do what He has called and equipped me to do.

It hurts to care. But it hurts too badly not to care....it hurts them, it hurts me, and it hurts my Lord.

For whatever I do, or don't do , for the least of these, I do it, or don't do it, unto Him.

~Elysa

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rembering Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas lately (after all, it will be here in 78 days!).

When I was younger, Christmas was a huge deal. My mother loved the holidays. She loved decorating the house...in fact, almost every room had decorations somewhere. She loved to give gifts. She would start months ahead, shopping for bargains...and hide them away until it was time (more than once she discovered hidden gifts long after the holiday). She would have some little something tucked away for unexpected visitors. She loved cooking her traditional Christmas cakes and pies. On Christmas Eve, she surrounded herself with her family for our seafood gumbo dinner and then we all gathered around the huge decorated tree with mountains of gifts that we all exchanged.

After I moved away, it seemed the older I got, the more I lost the Christmas spirit...at least until I would drive the 150 miles to her house. When I opened the door, the sights and smells of the season would assault my senses and I would be transformed into the child that I once was...anxious to poke around the tree to see if I could find any gifts with my name on them...and to taste a slice of my mom's squash pie. When it got dark, I would turn off the lights in the living room and watch the colored lights twinkling on the tree, while listening to a scratchy Bing Crosby LP singing White Christmas. It was during those times that I realized that Christmas for me meant coming home...to family and traditions.

Those days are long gone. My mom has been gone six years now. Even before she died, she didn't have the energy to "do" Christmas like she always had, so we had started having our family celebration at other places...but it just never was the same again.

Now I am the mother and the grandmother. What I've been thinking about is the traditions that I want my children and grandchildren to remember when I am gone. I want to create special memories with them that will carry through to their families...and that they will remember as a wonderful time to just enjoy being a kid...no matter how old they are.

I also want them to learn the joy of giving back...to know that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. I think that might be one of the greatest gifts that I can give them.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Date Night - Fireproof Movie

I went to see Fireproof last night with my honey and we both really liked it.

This movie is the third production for Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. With a low-budget (compared to Hollywood), one camera and a mostly volunteer cast, they have turned out a top-notch, must-see movie.

We laughed...we cried...and we were challenged to cherish each other and our marriage more. If you haven't had a chance to see it...go...and encourage others to see it too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home Management Website

I want to share a great resource on home management topics, Homemaking 911. This website has such a wealth of information...I haven't even had a chance to check out all of the many topics myself.

Baby Steps To Freedom

Chapter One
I walk down the street
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in
I am lost and I am helpless
It’s not my fault
It takes a long time to get out

Chapter Two
I walk down the same street
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in
I can’t believe I am in the same place but
It’s not my fault
It takes a long time to get out

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it there
I fall in
It’s a habit, my eyes are open
I know where I am
It’s my fault
I get out immediately

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street
There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it
Chapter Five
I walk down another street
-- Portia Nelson

I came across this poem and I was struck by the insight the author has concerning habitual and addictive behavior. It is always amazing to me how I can look at others’ lives and see very clearly the pattern of wrong choices and the consequences that come because of these wrong choices. It seems that some people just keep doing the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different every time. But then I have to stop and look at my own life and realize how many times I have walked down the same road, and fallen in the same deep holes again and again. It makes me wonder what we can learn from this little poem.

“Chapter One” begins with me seemingly ignorant of the big hole looming in the sidewalk. As I walk down the street, suddenly I fall in. I feel lost and totally helpless. I refuse to take any responsibility, and I stay stuck in the hole for a long time. This hole can be anything that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be. Some of the holes I have fallen in have been rebellion, unbelief, depression, rage and just blatant disobedience.

In “Chapter Two” I know that the hole is there but I pretend that I don’t see it. I know that the way I am acting and the choices I am making are not pleasing to God, but I just don’t want to deal with them right now. So I fall in the hole again, and I just can’t believe it. I still refuse to take any responsibility, trying to blame anyone but me, and I stay in the hole a long time.

“Chapter Three” finds me walking on the same street. This time I see the hole, and I realize that I’ve fallen down that same hole before. I really want to avoid falling in the hole again, but because I am so used to walking that certain way, and doing things my way, I fall in again. This time, however, I am quick to admit my responsibility, repent, and I get out of the hole immediately.

We see further progress in “Chapter Four” when I walk down the same street, but I am finally able to walk around the hole and avoid falling in.

Then in “Chapter Five” wisdom kicks in and I just avoid the street entirely. Why expose myself to temptation when there are perfectly good alternate routes?

I realize that this is a very simplistic view of the process of freedom, and sometimes there are addictions and strongholds that are very difficult to break. However, even the strongest strongholds are no match for our God. We can all walk in freedom through Him. The point is that sometimes God does choose to deliver us immediately. But I think the majority of us must walk through the stages of freedom.

It could be that we look at the sin in our lives as just a habit. Maybe something that we have done all our life. Maybe even something that we saw our parents do. We have to begin by asking God to open our eyes to see what it is that keeps drawing us to our falling places. And then as He shows us, let us be aware of the danger, and avoid it if possible. If it is not possible to avoid, then we can be diligent to keep our eyes open, and depending on Him for strength, we will overcome. Habits can be broken and patterns can be changed. It might be something small, or it might be something big, but it’s always growth. And remember, we may not be where we need to be, but thank God we are not where we used to be! Press on toward Him this week.