Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring To Believe

BK loves to go to church. That was not always the case...when she was younger it was a struggle to get her to stay in pre-school without us...but now she looks forward to it. When we got home today, she told us that she learned about Jesus healing the people. When I asked her what "healing" means, she said "You get hurt and Jesus heals you." Then she told me that they prayed that Jesus would heal the boo-boos on her arm. Before she went in to take her nap, I was going to put some antibiotic cream on her arm and she didn't want me to. "Mommy...Jesus is going to heal me!" Oh, to have the faith of a child.

Last night our computer crashed. I think we picked up a virus or something wicked that made it keep freezing up...then finally we weren't able to get online at all. Mike's laptop shares the internet connection...and he was able to get on...but the desktop just wouldn't work. He stayed up late last night trying to figure out the problem, with no success. We got up this morning and it still wasn't working. I work from home, so this was a bad situation.

When we got home, I took BK to get her settled for her nap and Mike made a bee-line for the computer. IT CAME RIGHT UP! He came in to BK's room with a big grin on his face, saying "I've just got one thing to remind you of...the prayer of faith avails much!" He had not told me earlier this morning, but apparently he had been praying some faith-filled prayers and believing that God would touch this computer and fix whatever was wrong.

Boo-boos and computer problems.

I'm so glad that our big God cares about the little things.

What are you believing for today?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Have You Heard?

John McCain has chosen his VP running mate - Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin..making her the first woman to ever serve on a presidential ticket. She is a 44 year old mother of five (including a four month old child with Down's Syndrome) and she is pro-life. You can read about her here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25970882/

This is very interesting. I told Mike last night after watching Obama's acceptance speech that unless God intervened, I really believed that Obama would be our next president. Maybe this announcement today about McCain's choice could be an answer to many prayers...who knows?


We are living in interesting times, for sure. We all need to continue to pray and seek the Lord for our country.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drinking Breakfast

I have discovered the yummy goodness of smoothies.

This new food plan that I have adopted requires me to have three servings of milk (or cheese or yogurt) a day. I am NOT a milk person, so this is a challenge. I shared this with some friends and one friend recommended that I try smoothies (thanks Fran!). So I went right out and bought a blender.

This is a great way to get my milk requirements. There are many ways to make smoothies...here is the one I fixed this morning:

Dump one container yogurt (fat-free/sugar free) in the blender and then fill up the empty yogurt container with skim milk and pour it in the blender too. I used a frozen fruit mixture of strawberries, mango and pineapple (you can use any combination...if you use fresh, just add ice cubes). Blend well.

Yum! It tastes like a light, fruity milkshake.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Inspiration

My friend Elysa (a homeschooling mom of seven, devoted wife of one, and passionate lover of the Lord and the babies in Swaziland) is a great inspiration to me. What began as an email conversation between the two of us last year, has now made it to the status of an article on a homeschool website. The subject is staying sane as a stay-at-home-mom...but there are words of wisdom there for all moms who struggle to maintain their own identity amidst the demands of their loving families. I highly recommend that you check it out: http://letstalkhomeschool.com/staying-sane-as-a-sahm-and-homeschooler-to-boot/

Monday, August 25, 2008

What I Most Want You To Know: A Working Mom

Our guest blogger this week is Barbie Bassett. I've been watching Barbie on WLBT for many years, but just in the last year have I realized what a truly incredible woman she really is. I read her blog regularly and I heard her sing and speak at my church a few months ago. She is a down-to-earth wife and mother, who has a heart for God. She and her husband William live in the Central MS area with their three children, Gracie, Will and Lilly Faith.

A Working Mom

Now that I have 3 children under 5, a question that people keep asking me is "How do you do it all?" Whether we are all at church or at Walmart, it never fails. I often want to turn the tables and ask them the same question, "Well, how do YOU do it all?"

It is true that I serve on 6 different boards of directors for various organizations, teach Sunday School, volunteer with several civic groups, teach part-time at Mississippi College, have a full slate of speaking engagements, and work as chief meteorologist for WLBT. In my opinion, I'm not doing anything that any other working mother isn't doing herself. What makes my situation different is that people see me living my life on television every night. I'm juggling it all as best as I can and I try to catch a few hours of sleep each night.

Back in the 80s, there was a commercial on television for the laundry soap called Calgon. The famous commercial usually showed a mother frazzled with the daily stresses of life. When she couldn't take anymore, she would yell "Calgon, take me away!" Is it hard trying to keep everything in the middle of the road and not wreck your home life? Sure it is. Being a working mother is the toughest job I've ever tried my hand at. So how do I answer those with inquiring minds?

Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Every day I ask the Lord to help me make the right decisions concerning our family. I ask that God would help me wisely prioritize for the day ahead and let go of the things that don't have eternal value in His kingdom. And for the times when I'm so tired I don't think I can manage the day's duties and be a good mother, I ask the Lord for clarity of mind and courage.
I am only able to do what God allows me to do. Sure, time management matters and I wouldn't be able to keep all of the balls in the air at the same time if it weren't for the loving support and guidance from my husband. But God knows my heart and He knows yours. Surely then, He knows when you and I can't handle anymore on our plate. Because of that, we should not fear the day ahead.

So when you see us out and about, please come up and introduce yourself. And if you hear me yell, "Calgon, take me away", you'll know I'm just busy trying to be a working mother!

Barbie Bassett
Chief Meteorologist, WLBT
www.barbiebassett.com
Check out Barbie's Blog at www.barbiebassett.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scrappin'

Here are a couple of pages I worked on at the library Saturday.


Life Coaching

As most of you know, I volunteer with the Center for Pregnancy Choices (CPC) in Central MS. This is an amazing ministry to girls/women with unplanned pregnancies...offering them encouragement, support and training to make the right choices for their babies.

We are working on a new project for the center...Life Coaching. This project will include enlisting the help of women who will be willing to mentor or "coach" a young woman to help her reach her full potential in life. These volunteers will be trained so they will be equipped.

The coaching is really about relationship building...listening...being a friend. The contact will be done at least once a week at a time and location of the volunteer's choice...so working women can participate too. It can be a phone call, an email, or even meeting for a Coke somewhere.

We are now recruiting volunteers to be coaches. I know that everyone is busy these days...but this is an opportunity to really make a difference in someone's life. If you are even a little bit interested in knowing more, leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you a brochure with more info.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Movie

We watched Martian Child a few nights ago. It was an interesting story about a man who decided to take a chance on a troubled little boy...opening his home and his heart. It was sweet and entertaining...and a reminder that one person really can make a big difference in another person's life.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Food Choices

Okay...so it seems that I'm turning into a Dr. Jekyll - Mrs. Hyde when it comes to nutrition. I am doing a lot of reading about good nutritional food choices. For the most part, I know what I need to be eating...but making the right choices consistently is the problem. I buy fresh fruits and veggies, low-fat yogurt and milk, whole-wheat bread, tortillas and flat bread for wraps, brown rice, etc...then swing through the drive-thru on the way home to pick up a hamburger.

*shakes head*

I don't really get it...unless the obvious is true...I really am addicted to fast food. No surprise there...I just do not want to admit it. But don't they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step? (ha) Surely this is more a habit than an addiction...a conditioned response to stress and cravings...and emotional baggage.

By the way, I have been reading some really scary things about aspartame (aka NutraSweet or Equal). Dr. Richard Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon who is a retired professor from University Hospital and now teaches at Belhaven College, has written much on the subject. He is not a kook...or an extremist. I am now convinced that aspartame is toxic and we should RUN from anything that contains it (this includes Diet Cokes). If you aren't convinced, do a Google search on aspartame and Dr. Richard Blaylock and read some of his findings...then make your decision.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Waiting For Love

I'm sitting here at 11:30 watching the 10:00 news (which is on late because of the Olympics) with tears in my eyes. Why, you might ask?

Wednesday's Child.

Most of the time I can watch these featured children with interest, but tonight's child named Cody just got to me. He was featured the first time on Wednesday's Child when he was six years old. He is now eleven...and he is still waiting. Maggie Wade asked him what kind of family he would like. He thought a minute and then told her that that he would love a family that lives in the country with a wide-open space. But then he lowered his head and said that he would really take any family.

It just breaks my heart...so many children waiting for their forever families.

They deserve to be loved. They deserve to be a part of a family. They deserve a chance for a better life.

They dream. They hope. They wait...and then they wait some more.

If we as Believers don't reach out to a hurting world, who will?

Book Discussion Group: The Shack

UPDATE: If you found this post by way of searching Google and you want to read my thoughts on The Shack, click here.

An invitation for those of you in the Central Mississippi area:

I have reserved the large meeting room at the Pearl Library for a discussion on the book The Shack. We will meet Monday, Sept. 8th at 6:00. It's open to anyone, so feel free to invite your friends.

If you haven't had a chance to read this book yet, please get your hands on it because it's amazing. Here is a link to it at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Shack-William-P-Young/dp/0964729237/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219244244&sr=8-2
You can pick it up locally at Family Christian and I've heard that it's at Sam's and some Wal-Marts too.




Monday, August 18, 2008

What I Most Want You To Know - A Heart For The World

Our guest blogger this week is my great-nephew Josh. Josh is a senior at USM and will be graduating in December. In the last few years, God has taken him on incredible journeys...both within himself and around the globe. He's a really neat guy and I'm super proud of him.

A Heart For The World

I have a hard time trying to figure out my initial reactions of interacting in a hurting world.

I was raised in church for as far back as I can remember. I remember the Gospel in many forms (most of which allowed us a snack of the cookies that you can fit on your fingers like rings, and red koolaid that stained your lips - I enjoyed that.) I felt comfortable as a kid…and growing up in the Church.

All my best friends were avid church-goers and it was just out of the question to NOT go. It’s as simple as that. I went to all the camps and felt the spiritual high that tends to encompass your life for the following two weeks upon returning home. You contemplate going into the ministry, or starting an outreach in your local town. Then, real life sets in and you realize that this “stuff”, as I had come to call it, is not very ordinary and all I wanted to do was fit in and be comfortable.

I was used to the outreaches where the rich white kids would go play with little black kids in the poorer parts of our cities, and the places we visited for camp. It always made me uncomfortable, but I also remember the conviction I had. I was never quite sure what to do with it all. So, I mostly ignored it and stuck my head back into video games, music, and my feeble attempts to catch the eye of all the girls.

Upon entering my second year of college, I read a book called, “Under the Overpass” by Mike Yankoski. It was the story of Mike and his buddy Sam living homeless for 6 months in various cities across the States. Among many of their heartbreaking stories, were the ones where the Church had neglected the poor and failed to show compassion towards the “least of these”.

Now, I have heard the Gospel preached in several ways, but for some reason, this stuck out to me like nothing I had ever heard. These were humans, just like me, forced by a crushing economy and a health care system that loves the rich, to live on the streets. I was destroyed. Jesus’ upside down kingdom started to make sense.

The BSU at my college offered summer internships to various mission fields. I read about Chicago and fell in love. I was to work alongside the homeless community in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the infamous “Chi-town”.

I fell hard for the city. I loved my sisters and brothers that lived on the streets. As we hugged, “Momma Nicki” (as she told us to call her), would come in for our dinners we hosted a couple of times a week, and kiss our necks and smile so brightly. Homelessness and poverty were no longer a number or a story, but a hug…and a kiss. It was not all lovely, as several fights tended to break out...the smell of alcohol made its way into our church from time to time.

Street life wears on people. You can see it in their eyes that some have lost their shine. Stories of rape and abuse line the walls and couches where we sit and drink coffee and eat spaghetti. They were my sisters and my brothers and I was learning to hurt with them. I still think about them a lot…especially when Chicago welcomes its harsh winter. I could go on and on about Chicago…but it was only the beginning of a broken heart.

I read a book in Chicago called, “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. It was filled with beautiful and terrible stories of our aching world. But more importantly, it spoke so much great hope into my life. I was aching to be with the ones in our world who are forced and born into lives of great pain, along with even greater spiritual and physical poverty.

I read about Mother Teresa, and her home for the dying and destitute in Calcutta, India. I wept several times reading stories about the great pain and poverty of Calcutta. Mother Teresa had a saying to people who wanted to know what she did in India. She would always reply, “Come and see”.

So, I did. And I did very carefully because I have a lot of family that I make incredibly nervous with my sometimes-wild ideals. I was not a radical by any means, but I knew I needed to learn how to love people better. So, I found an organization by the name of “Word Made Flesh” – a missional Non-Government/Non-Profit organization that “serves Jesus among the poorest of the poor”. I was instantly in love with what they did and the changes they are making in some of the darkest places of our world.

I interviewed and filled out several applications. I got a call one day saying that I had been accepted to the Calcutta field and I went wild! The news was all but bittersweet to many…as I had grown close to many friends and knew that this would cause much worry to a lot of my family. In August I would be heading to Calcutta, India for four months to learn how to love better and to be the change that I wanted to see.

I never wanted to be a missionary. The word missionary has gained new meaning to me as well. If by “missionary” you mean – ‘one who sets out to share the Gospel with the world’- then, sure. But…if you accept that definition, then we are all missionaries. We don’t have to touch the corners of the world to show and share God’s love.

Since the language barrier would be evident, my words would mean little. So, my actions had to show others. I needed to be the hands and feet of God’s love - -who did the same for us. It was a culture-shock, no doubt, but I fell emotional for the things I saw. Baby’s defecating on the streets as you walk, men urinating in broad daylight (just because they can) and the reckless taxis that somehow dodged people and cows at the same time. I was a little impressed…needless to say a little worried we would somehow not make to where we needed to be. Ha!

But, we were fine.

Calcutta’s brokenness slaps you in the face daily. Beggars with their crying children pulling at your arms for a few rupees…victims of malnutrition, injustice and poverty breathing down your neck when all you want to do is close your eyes. It is easy to numb this pain in the comfort of our own country.

My work at Mother Teresa’s (or Momma T’s) began and it hit me like ton of bricks. I walked into the hospice she had built long ago, which they named “Kalighat”. This was the home to the dying and the destitute. This would be my first lesson in learning to love my brothers. Many had no fingers, hands, nor feet. Gangrene wounds would be infested with maggots. You grew used to it. You learned not to see them as patients but as children in the eyes of God. We were the same, though somehow I was born into a different world.

We would bathe the men and dress them in fresh clothing. We would spoil them…and give them massages. (Some would learn your face and would “milk the system”, but we would sit with them...they deserved to be spoiled.) I didn’t always want to clean up when they relieved themselves all over their beds, but you learn to do it. You learn to do the “small things, with great love.” People would come, and some would pass away within a few hours…and other would be there throughout my four months in India. It was an experience I think about every day. I continually see their faces..and hear their cries. They are my brothers and they are God’s.

Part of my work in Calcutta was also to spend time with women who were forced and born into prostitution in one of the most infamous red-light districts in Calcutta. We had learned haunting statistics that made me question God’s reason for our existence. We spent days at Sari Bari, the business created to help women out of the sex trade. They were our sisters and the chains of extreme poverty and injustice no longer held them. They all had a new life in the making.

I was able to visit the red-light district several times…hanging out with some of the women’s sons, as we drink soda and ate chips while playing poker on the rooftops of brothels. Often times, I looked towards the sky in wonder how I had made it here. Sitting on rooftops while the harsh reality set in that their mothers sell their bodies to put food in their bellies - an often harsh reality, met with laughter and singing. My heart grew full, and often times bitter.

My time in Calcutta will never leave me. It is now my responsibility to be an advocate and to share what I’ve seen, but to also help be the change. I have learned what it looks like to love people out of their hells, and into a life full of dignity and hope.

But, as for today, I will continue to focus on doing those small things with great love. I know I will see Calcutta again. I know my heart is constantly changing and I am now responsible for being in the forgotten places of our world. It is a feeling that has left me with a hunger to love deeply and instantly.

Brothers and sisters, the world needs what our hearts have to offer.

~Josh C.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Turkey Enchiladas

I tried these tonight with some left-over turkey and it was very good. You can also used chicken.

Easy Cheesy Turkey Enchiladas

1 C. light sour cream
1 C. light ranch dressing
1 lb. cooked turkey, cubed
10 8" flour tortillas
8 oz. shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or Mozzarella)
1 pint salsa
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In small bowl, mix sour cream and ranch dressing. Into medium bowl, stir 1 cup of sour cream/ranch mixture with turkey. With the remaining sour cream/ranch mixture, spread 1 tablespoon mixture on each tortilla. Top with 1/3 cup turkey mixture, 2 tablespoons cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa. Roll up and place seam side down in greased 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake, covered, 25 to 30 minutes. To serve, top with diced tomatoes and any remaining salsa and sour cream/ranch mixture.


Recipe Source: Recipe by The National Turkey Federation

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee

BK is a huge VeggieTales fan. She watches them on videos. Her daddy reads them to her at bedtime. And she loves to sing their songs...loudly. One of her favorite songs is the VeggieTales theme song. There is a line in the song that says "Broccoli, celery, gotta be - VeggieTales!" In her three-year-old vernacular, instead of "celery," she sings something that sounds incredibly like "Sara Lee." It cracks me up every time I hear her. Man...eating veggies wouldn't be such a challenge if we could throw some Sara Lee in there, huh?


video

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crockpot Meals

I've fixed a couple of very easy crockpot meals lately and I thought I would share the recipes.

CROCKPOT PORK CHOPS

4 or 5 pork chop (thicker cuts work better)
1 large onion (chopped into large pieces)
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Rinse pork chops and trim off any fat. Put the chopped onions in the crockpot first. Lay pork chops on top. Stir together onion soup mix and cream of mushroom soup in a bowl, then pour over the pork chops. Cook 7-8 hours on Low. This makes a yummy gravy. Serve over rice.

This turned out SO good and very tender. It didn't even taste like pork chops to me...more like round steak.

CROCKPOT CHICKEN & POTATOES

Chicken (can use boneless or not...any pieces...I use whole breasts)
1 large onion, (chopped into large pieces)
Potatoes (new potatoes, regular potatoes cut into large chunks, or canned potatoes all work well)
Carrots (peeled and sliced into large pieces)
Salt & Pepper
Tony Chachere's seasoning

Dump potatoes, onions and carrots into the crockpot. Stir to mix. Pour in about a cup of water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken on top and sprinkle it with the Tony Chachere's. Cook for 7-8 hours on Low.

We love this and it smells so good while it's cooking all day. After you take out the meat and veggies, save the broth. You can freeze it to use later.*

*Here is a tip about chicken broth: Freeze it in an ice tray, then pop out and store in a freezer bag. When you need chicken broth, you can just take out what you need.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Supersize Me

My First Place leader told us about the documentary Supersize Me last week. I found it on Netflix and was able to download and watch it today. Oh my gosh! It's about a man who decided to eat only foods from McDonald's for 30 days to see what would happen to him.

The film documents the results as he is monitored by three different doctors during the month. There is a lot of information in this film that the fast-food industry would rather you didn't know. That's enough reason to watch it, don't you think?

I have to admit, I am a fast-food junkie...so I'm hoping that watching this eye-opening film will be enough to help me kick that habit. You just have to see what happened to the guy yourself to believe it.

I found a website where you can watch this film free: http://freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=98 Scroll down and click on "Watch Film Now."

Be aware that there is some bad language sprinkled throughout, so if you're offended by that, watch out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Few Updates

I have been cramming a lot of living in lately...not leaving me much time to write. I'm thinking that I should update on a few things that I have written on before.

First of all, Mike is really liking the school where he was transferred this year. It's a small school (less than 200 kids) made up of 7th and 8th graders, from all over the city, who are 2 - 3 years behind their peer group academically. It was started as a drop-out prevention program several years ago. So far it's been a good experience for him. He gets along with all the other teachers and the principal. He went on an overnight staff retreat last week and got to know them better and they had a good time. He has very small classes...most under 10 kids. So it's turning out to be a good thing. Thank you to those who prayed with us about all this.

We decided to not sent BK to pre-school as was previously planned. Finances are just too tight right now. I was afraid she might be upset, but I told her that she was going to school at home and that mommy was going to be her teacher. She thought that was funny, but she was very happy...she kept on and on talking about it. I'm okay with this decision, because she is pretty advanced for her age already. She can say and recognize all her letters, can count to 30, recognizes her numbers to about 12, knows the shapes and colors...and has begun to learn the alphabet sounds...I can't imagine them teaching too much else to three-year-olds. She will still go to MMO on Monday mornings when I work and then on Wednesday nights she will be starting the KingSingers program at church. They teach them songs and rhythm on simple instruments. I know that she will love that.

I finished reading The Shack and I was sad because I really looked forward to reading a little every night before bed. If you haven't had a chance to read this book yet, grab a copy. I believe that this book has the potential to draw many people closer to God in a relationship like they could never have imagined.

I am still volunteering at CPC once a week. They REALLY need additional volunteers. If you have a heart for the unborn, please consider helping out. No matter your circumstance, talents, education or vocation, I promise there is a way that God will be able to use you there.

Mike and I attended a marriage conference last weekend and BK had her first sleep-over with her Aunt Debbie. She had a blast! They went to the movies to see Wall-E and she told me that Aunt Debbie sneaked in some french fries. : ) She took a 45-minute bubble bath (she had to have looked like a prune when she got out), had cereal for breakfast out on the deck, blew bubbles, finger painted and baked cookies. Man...no wonder she was worn out by the time we got her home!

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I Most Want You To Know - God's Grace

Our guest blogger this week is a new friend, Fran McCleland. I met Fran in my First Place class at church and she already has a special place in my heart. I know that you will find her story of how God is helping her to make healthy choices day by day an inspiration.

WHAT I MOST WANT YOU TO KNOW --- GOD'S GRACE!

In Jan 2007 I felt a need to get healthier and I stepped on the scales (after I finally found one that would actually weight me) and it said 358.6 pounds. I actually weighed more than twice what I should. That meant I needed to lose 184.6 pounds. That goal seemed unattainable. How could I possibly lose that amount of weight? God's Grace! How could I keep up a program for the length of time needed to rid myself of essentially one and a half people? God's Grace! And God was there with me each and every day.

By Nov 2007 I had lost 72 pounds. I was eating better and exercising more. I didn't do it right all the time. Sometimes I just plain cheated. Sometimes I didn't eat enough. But through it all God was right here helping me to make the right choices. Sometimes giving me a way out when I wasn't capable or willing to do the right thing.

In Jan 2008 I joined First Place at my church. What a difference that made for me! The Bible study helped me to see that I wasn't fully trusting in God and giving this over to him. So I put away all the junk, the supplements, diet pills and such and really trusted in God to work wonders.

I learned the weight loss plan and began to eat a more balanced diet. I became obedient and spent time with God talking and praying. I began to spend more meaningful time reading God's word and studying the Bible and my Bible study. I trusted and God showed me that He can accomplish great things when I am obedient. I no longer see making the next right choice as a sacrifice but as being obedient to the Father. I know that God loves me just as I am but I also know that I am pleasing God by being obedient and it is my hearts desire to please God.

Being with others who are working toward a healthier lifestyle has made the journey so much more fun and exciting. I have made some really great friends and have met some truly inspiring women. I feel as if I fit. And I can't remember the last time I felt that way. I have lost an additional 44 pounds since Jan 2008 and even though I still have 67 to go I know that with God's Grace I will get there. I just remind myself everyday that all I have to do is the next right thing and God will handle the rest.

He has changed my life so dramatically since He and I started this journey that it seems overwhelming at times. I have been given a desire to maybe inspire but hopefully help others on just such a journey as this. Believe me it is a journey, not just the weight loss but the newfound confidence and belief in myself. The ability to physically do things I haven't been able to do in years. I no longer feel as though I am on the outside looking in but rather I am actually living the life I have been given. I not only look different but I feel different. I feel like a girl! That is a feeling I welcomed. Sometimes I even feel pretty.

Through God's Grace I feel as if I am beginning to live the life God wants to me. I know that God has more plans for me and I look forward to them. I am scared sometimes of what God might ask me to do but I try to face each day with a willing heart. I know that God does not make us do anything, He simply presents the opportunities and "it is up to us" to be willing to make the right choices and receive the blessings He has planned for us all.


But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (I Cor. 15:10)

In his hands,

Fran McCleland

Sunday, August 10, 2008

From The Mountain

Just got this in my email from MountainWings....good stuff!

42 Tips for A Better Life:

1. When you wake up in the morning, always start your day with a prayer/vision.
2. And then, complete the following statement, "My purpose is to__________ today."
3. Take a 10 to 30-minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
4. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
5. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
6. Drink plenty of water and fresh juices. Eat blueberries, salad, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds, etc.
7. Make at least three people smile each day.
8. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present.
9. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone, so give the best of your kindness.
11. Take yourself seriously.
12. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about. Don't compare your partner with others either.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you. So, be happy.
16. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
17. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
18. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
19. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: In five years, will it matter? Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
20. Forgive everyone for everything.
21. Read more books and watch less TV than you did last year.
22. What other people think of you is none of your business.
23. God has everything you'll every need in life so hook up with Him.
24. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
25. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation; don't bring up the past.
26. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
27. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.
28. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
29. Keep believing that the best is yet to come.
30. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
31. Each day give something good to others.
32. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
33. Sleep for 7 hours every day or whatever your body needs.
34. Don't trust someone who doesn't close their eyes when you kiss them.
35. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.
36. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
37. Do the right thing!
38. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: "I am thankful for__________" "Today I accomplished_________"
39. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
40. Trust in God, but lock your car.
41. Realize that as you get older, you are not approaching death, but heaven.
42. Know that GOD heals everything.

www.MountainWings.com

Grieving With Hope

Steven Curtis Chapman and his family were interviewed last week by Good Morning America about the death of their youngest daughter in May. What they said speaks volumes about their faith. You can read the transcript or watch the video here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=5519704&page=1

Friday, August 8, 2008

First Place

First Place is a Bible-based group that offers a whole-person approach to healthy eating and weight loss. The members meet at local churches for Bible-study and fellowship. I have been involved in a group this summer and I can honestly tell you that God has used it to bring real change in me.

The new 13-week session will be starting September 4th. If you are interested in knowing more about First Place, or if you would like info about being in a class, please get in touch with me and I will get you the details. God can use First Place to change your life too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Shack

Have you read The Shack? I had never even heard of the book until a friend asked me last week if I had read it. I got online and found the website ( http://theshackbook.com/ ). You can actually read the foreword...and that was enough to get me hooked. I was able to use a coupon from Family Christian and get the book this weekend. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I can tell you that it's one of the most interesting books that I've ever read.

If you've read it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Terrific Tuesday Tip - Updated

I wish I had realized what a great deal this is before this morning so I could have gotten it out earlier...but better late than never I guess...

If you didn't get a paper this Sunday, there are usually some left at Wal-Mart during the week...and I've even seen some at Kroger too. Okay, here is the deal...there is an incredible deal on cereal through today at Kroger. They are offering Kellogg's cereal for $2 a box - and giving you $5 more off if you buy 10 boxes. There are coupons in this past Sunday's paper for $1 off 2 boxes. Then there is a rebate form in the paper too for $10 back if you buy 10 boxes. So if I figure that correctly, you can get 10 boxes of cereal for $5 with the rebates...and if you use 5 coupons, you could get all 10 boxes FREE! WOW!

Let me know if you have any questions. Like I said, the sale ends today.

UPDATE: I went to Kroger to do my shopping today and found out that only a few of the cereal coupons in Sunday's insert were actually on sale for $2. I was only able to use a couple of the $1 coupons, but every $1 counts, right? I bought 6 boxes of Raisin Bran, 2 boxes of Cocoa Krispies and 2 boxes of whole grain Eggo Waffles (they were included in the buy-10-get-$5 sale too) all for $13 ($20 - $2 coupons - $5 sale). Now I'll get my scissors, cut out all the proof-of-purchases and get the form in the mail for my $10 rebate. Total cost for 8 boxes of cereal and 2 boxes of waffles - $3!! I SO love a bargain! : )

Monday, August 4, 2008

Searching For A Good Cause

Next time you need to use a search engine, instead of immediately going to Google, why not try out http://www.goodsearch.com/

Good Search will donate to your favorite charity every time you search (something like a penny for each search). If you don't have a particular charity, please consider choosing Center for Pregnancy Choices in Jackson. They would REALLY appreciate your pennies. : )

What I Most Want You To Know - What I Didn't Know

Our guest blogger today is an incredible woman named Leslie. I have gotten to know Leslie through her blog, Joyful Mother of 6 Children, where she shares the struggles and triumphs of her life. Leslie and her husband Roger have six beautiful children, ranging from 15 years old to 19 months. Their youngest daughter Eliana was born with Down's Syndrome and Leslie's heart's desire is help others to see what a precious blessing Eliana is to her family.

I Didn't Know

People often ask, "Did you know?" The question doesn't need more explanation as I do know what they are asking. The answer is "No, I didn't know".
There were so many things that I didn't know before Eliana was born. I never really thought about all that I was missing either. I was really content right where I was. Well, God had different plans for my life. I'm thankful for the path I've walked, though it was not one that I would have chosen. I would not go back and choose a different path now though, as it would surely be a path without my precious daughter Eliana.

Before she was born, I didn't know, despite many ultrasounds, that she would come into the world with a little something extra. Something that is a part of every cell in her body - an extra chromosome. Isn't it amazing that something so very small can impact so many things?

I didn't know what it was like to look at my precious child for the first time and without anyone saying anything - I knew. I didn't know what it felt like to hear that your child - your brand new baby - had a huge hole right in the center of her heart. (It turned out to be 2 holes.) I didn't know what it felt like to sit in a hospital room without your new baby because the babies in NICU can't come out.

I didn't know that it would feel like being a new parent all over again when there were so many new things to learn. All of the confidence that comes with experience just vanished in the face of so many unknowns and fears.

I didn't know much about the heart works - or anything about the many ways that it can not be working the way that it should.

I didn't know what it would feel like to be isolated in my home - afraid to come into contact with any type of germ that would harm my medically fragile baby - how much I would miss our field trips and even just visiting a friend's home. Eliana and I stayed home, with the exception of medical appointments, for many months.

I didn't know the chills and fear that would go through my body when our cardiologist told us that Eliana was in heart failure. Those are words that just don't seem right for a newborn.

I didn't know the incredible love and support that was waiting for me and my family from family, friends and even strangers - many that would become friends. The power of an encouraging word has been a sweet gift to me.

I didn't truly understand the many ways that God is good. That despite my circumstances and despite the times that my prayers were not answered in a way that I wanted, God still remained good. I had to come to a place before Eliana's heart surgery where I was willing to say that I trusted and believed that God was good - even if the outcome of the surgery was not. Oh, that was a hard thing to do! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking this.

I didn't understand how resiliant and loving children can be. Our 5 older children have been so patient with a mom who has had limited time and attention for them and were willing for their baby sister to get all of the time, love and attention that she needed. They have showered her with that as well and it is precious to see!

I didn't know that the sweet heart of my oldest daughter would be moved to start a project to help other heart babies get the help that they need.

I didn't know I could be a really good nurse - learning various medical procedures, equipment, rates and measurements and more. I never envisioned my bedroom being a place with so much medical equipment. I'm thankful though we could care for her at home and not have to spend endless months at the hospital as some people do.

I didn't know that feeding could be such a struggle. I have always nursed my babies and loved the ease and beauty of that relationship. I didn't know I would feel like such a failure when this didn't work out.

I didn't know the fear of waiting for various test results and the relief and happiness of hearing that something tested just fine! What sweet words to hear "normal" in regards to her hearing after having her fail the test repeatedly since birth.

I didn't know the JOY of having a day with no feeding tubes. The thrill of seeing my daughter eat on her own after 8 months of using a feeding tube. I didn't know how important it could be to have a pediatrician that truly knew my child and one that was available at any time for questions. I didn't know what a blessing it would be to have our wonderful ped willing to see us on her off days when we were frightened by what was going on with our daughter.

I didn't know that despite all of my efforts to protect my baby, that she could still get a horrible infection - and fight it with strength I didn't know she had.
I didn't understand fully the power of prayer and how it can knit hearts together. I don't always understand how prayer works. I used to think it was about getting what I wanted, but now I think it's more about making me who I need to be, making sure my heart is where it needs to be.

I didn't know that if I just quit fighting to get my way, that the fall into God's arms would be so much easier. The rest and the peace of laying in His arms is so much better than the struggle of fighting for what I think is best.

I didn't know the pain of knowing that some people might see my beloved daughter as a mistake or an error or a project that needed to be fixed. Or the weight of wondering what the future will hold.

I didn't know how much I would love this precious little girl who has already changed my life in so many ways.

I didn't know that one so little could bring together so many people in prayer. I didn't know she would touch so many lives and hearts with her story.

I didn't know that being a parent could be so hard - and still worth every single moment for the joy that comes from loving a child. I didn't know the incredible privilege and joy it would be to welcome Eliana Joy into our family and our hearts forever.

I'm sure that I still have much to learn. There are things I do know in the midst of all that is different. I know that children are a blessing - ALL children no matter the circumstances. I know that we have been abundantly blessed in so many ways. I am often told that my hands are full - when truly it is my heart that is full.

I know that through it all God will walk with me each step of the way. He does answer prayers - though not always in the ways that I hoped or even expected. My sweet girl is a reminder of this in many ways - even her name. Eliana means "My God answers" - and her middle name is Joy. I'm thankful that my God is there, ready to answer me with joy. I have a hope - we all do. We don't know what lies ahead, though we can know that we are precious in His sight - fully loved and cherished.

~Leslie

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Poppin' Good Story

I found a tip on Deanna's Corner about making your own microwave popcorn. Check it out: http://ldgermany.blogspot.com/2008/08/saturday-savings-popcorn-poprs.html#comment-form

It reminded me of a childhood memory.

My dad was a visionary...a man who loved to experiment in the kitchen. One day he decided to try making popcorn in the microwave. Now, you have to remember that was back in 70's...before microwave popcorn became a pantry staple.

He took a small brown paper bag, poured in some popcorn and a little oil. So far so good. Then he decided that the bag needed to be closed somehow. He reached for the obvious...a bread twist-tie. I guess he forgot that there was metal in the twist-tie.

Oops.

Before long, there were a few sparks, then full-fledged flames filling the microwave.

Umm...needless to say, the next time we wanted a snack, my mom took care of it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Frozen Cookie Dough

I found this on Mary Hunt's website. I think you could use any flavor cake mix.

Frozen Cookie Dough

Instead of buying expensive frozen or refrigerator ready-to-bake cookies, make your own. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.


1 package chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1 stick of butter - melted
1 12 oz of chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients. Take tablespoons of dough and form into balls. On a cookie sheet, flatten the balls and place in freezer for 1 hour. Then wrap in a Ziploc freezer bag. The dough will last at least 3 months. When you want to bake cookies, you can make 2 or 20...just let defrost for 10 minutes and bake for 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees.

Reader tip from Ali Reitmann

Body Image

I ran smack into two perfect examples this week of the negative effect that our society's idea of beauty has on women. The first was a blog post from a mom who was telling about her pre-teen daughter who was traumatized by a swimsuit shopping trip. http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/LeslieNelsen/539027/

The second example was another blog of a local TV meteorologist who just had a baby a few months ago and she is getting emails from viewers wanting to know if she is pregnant again because she has so much "belly fat." There were many tears involved with both of these instances. http://www.barbiebassett.blogspot.com/

There were many tears involved with both of these instances.

We all have our own ideas of beauty. I wish we could all remember that we are not the sum total of what we see in the mirror. As Christians, this temporary "earth-suit" will be shed one day and then our true beauty will be exposed.

No matter what we look like outside, the truth is that we are daughters of the King...and He calls us beautiful. That should be enough. But in a world that takes stock of us every day...and often finds us lacking...it's difficult not to be affected.
Lord, help us to see the beauty that You have placed inside us...and to remember that no matter what others think, Your opinion trumps all else.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who Says A Pirate Can't Be Cute?

We took BK and the boys to a one-day VBS at a local church last Saturday. The theme was VeggieTales - The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.


They gave them all bandanas and pirate patches. They were too cute!

Arghh! Hmm...kind of loses something on this sweet face, huh?

This pic has nothing to do with pirates...I just wanted to post it. Check out the toenails. We do like us some pink at our house. : )