Monday, June 30

A wise woman builds her house

This week I'd like to share some of my experiences and thoughts from my trip to the Dominican Republic.

The foundation for Homemakers with Hope is Proverbs 14:1 which says that a wise woman builds her house.

In the photo to the left you can see me (along with a team member named Stef in green) building a home - literally.

I have been to the Dominican twice and both times I have been reminded as I am building with hammer and nails, that God tells us that wise women build their homes and foolish ones tear them down.

The first two definitions of build are: construct (esp. something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials: to build a house. establish, increase, or strengthen (often fol. by up): to build a business; to build up one's hopes.

On my trip last week I helped construct homes. But as women here in America, I think definition #2 applies best: we should strive to establish and strengthen our homes.

Every nail I pounded secured the homes I helped to build. Today, think of your words in that same way. Every word you say, either strengthens your home, or piece by piece (word by word) tears it down.

It's your choice!

Friday, June 27

Home Improvement...

Make this a fun one! Start improving your home this week from the! Get out into your gardens this weekend.

If you don't have one, start one!

If you don't have room for a garden, go buy an indoor plant that will require you to pay attention to it's growth and beauty over the next month and beyond

Get your children into a plot of dirt and let them cultivate, weed, plant, water and enjoy the smell of the earth.

Finally, find a bush or small tree and sneak out and tie wrapped candy to many of its branches. Then find your kids or nieces or nephews and announce that you are going to enjoy some time in the garden. Reward them with the 'candy tree' after your work is through, or if they moan about spending time outside, excite them with a challenge to, "come out to my 'secret garden' where there is a candy tree waiting to be found."

Did you ever think 'Home Improvement' could be so fun?!

Thursday, June 26

In The Garden...

Stacy's busy unpacking and recovering from jet I will finish the week with one last comment on gardens...

As much as I think there are lessons to be taught children in the garden, I think there are lessons that we women can learn in the garden as well.

There is the lesson of faith...I plant, believing that those tiny seeds will grow into a flower or perhaps my dinner!

There is the lesson of pruning...I see the result of a fuller, healthier plant when I prune off the dead heads. It triggers a remembrance of what Jesus taught in John 15 about pruning me so I become a fuller, healthier person.

There is the lesson of waiting...I can't hurry the process. Perfection comes as I wait.

There is the lesson of nurturing...I can't ignore my gardens. The growing plants need me to water and cultivate the soil on a regular basis...yet I cannot make anything grow.

There is the lesson of I harvest the bounty, I am reminded to be thankful and be blown away with joy as I see my gardens full of blooms and bounty.

Do you have a lesson to learn? You just might find one in your garden.

Wednesday, June 25

I'm home!

I've returned from my trip to the Dominican Republic. And this morning I cried as I read Barb's postings. She is fortunate I was out of the country and couldn't stop her from posting! I am blessed to have such a wonderful role model to encourage me and affirm me as a woman and as a homemaker.

It was, of course, an amazing and powerful trip! My husband and I went with a team of 40 people from our church. I will update you more about our trip and post a few pictures but I wanted to share one thought with you today....

It is hot in Minnesota today and it might be hot where you live as well. But in the midst of the heat, take a minute to thank God for your many blessings...thank him for your home, for air conditioning or fans to keep you cool, for a refrigerator to keep your food cold, a freezer to keep them really cold, cold water from the faucet and automatic ice cubes. Thank him for green grass, shade from trees and cool lakes or pools to take a swim. Thank him for refreshing glasses of lemonade or ice tea and sweet summertime treats.

Even on hot days, a wise woman recognizes there is still so much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, June 24

Got Dirt?

Got dirt under your fingernails yet? Kids love to work along side a mom who plays in the mud. It may be abit late in the season to get a garden started, but not too late to introduce your kids to the beauty and intrigue of planting.

Beans are fast growing and the seeds are big and easy for little hands to hold on to. 'Bush' beans or 'climbing beans' produce the same vegetables, it just depends how big of a plot you have to work with. In order to harvest a crop yet this summer, try planting a row of beans. The plants are big to see as they push through the ground and easy to water. If a plant or two dies, no worries, because there will be plenty of beans on the remaining plants to feed your family.

Sunflowers are another plant you can possibly get to grow and bloom before the first frost. These are fabulous to watch as they grow so rapidly. Measure their growth weekly and take a picture of your child next to the plant. The first weeks the child will tower over the small seedling...and before you know it the bright sunflower will be hanging way above your children's heads! Name each flower after your kids or just grow one family plant.

Gardens don't have to be masterpieces, just a plot of dirt and a whole lot of love...for your kids and for God's green earth.

Monday, June 23

How Does Your Garden Grow?

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row."

This is a revise version from, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, and it is a fun one to teach your children...then read them the book as they get older!

In the meantime, get busy with a garden plot to enjoy with your kids! This weekend marked the first day of summer, so it is the perfect time to garden. Most flowers and supplies will be marked down at the garden stores, so you can try out your green thumbs at a discount price! You will find that having a green thumb is no more than having a sharp eye for the right plants.

A pre-school child can't care for a plant all alone and that is what makes gardening such a great time for both mom and child. A child will be very clumsy at first as he/she handles the plants, but that is all a part of the learning experience.

Get down on the grass and disect an inexpensive plant and point out that a plant develops from a seed into four basic parts...the roots, the stems, the leaves and the flower. It is the flower that will produce the seeds for more plants in the future!

Your child can learn how a plant grows by taking in minerals through their roots.

Worms have a purpose fertilize the soil and break the soil apart so the roots can breathe and grow....

So much to learn and explore outside and a garden is the perfect setting.

Don't have kids? Start a garden to share with nieces and nephews and make your own 'secret garden' that they will love to visit.

Friday, June 20

Home Improvement...

I've spent way too much time in my life trying to be someone else! It wasn't until I accepted who God made me did I begin to move forward and become that person. I am still a work in progress.

So my Home Improvement Tip for today is to take some time to get to know yourself. Notice your habits and new skills and take baby steps to keep improving them. What Stacy has chosen to improve in her life may not fit who you are. Just pay attention to yourself as a woman, a mom, a businesswoman, a daughter, a wife, a friend...and see what new habits or skills will make you live your life in a better way.

Write down where you are today in any area of your life.

Write down where you want to be in that area next week; next month; next year!

Review your progress regularly.

Recording your goals and then reviewing them will make a difference in your progress.

The goal for any woman is to be yourself!...the best you can be!

Colossians 1:10-12: "I pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowlege of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father..."

Thursday, June 19

Good Health...

This is my final day of writing about what I see in Stacy that impresses me as she is growing in her faith and maturing in all aspects of her life.

What does it take to be a young woman who is seeking to make right choices and become wise in the way she leads her life? A few observations are...

Focus, Questions, Harmony and....Good Health

When I first met Stacy, she was a very picky eater. She will be the first one to tell you how far she has come when it comes to trying new foods. Right now in her life she is disciplining herself to eliminate wheat from her diet. Have you ever considered how many foods have wheat in it? She is mindful of what she is eating to correct an imbalance in her body and she is doing it under a doctor's supervision. She has to go to special stores, buy new products and substitute different ingredients while baking. It requires time and alot of planning.

She isn't doing this to achieve a great body or imitate the 'sex and the city' girls. She is trying to maintain energy, good health, and build up her body in order to become a mom, a good wife, an energetic friend, and so much more.

Good health for a woman is mandatory. Good health allows a young woman to endure the rigors of her schedule. Good health gives a young woman the stength and desire to serve her family. Good health minimizes daily frustrations that come from bad habits.

Stacy is living proof that habits can be changed, improved and enjoyed! She has developed incredible discipline without becoming legalistic about it. As a result of good health, she is able to enjoy more and do more. In fact she is probably sitting in the DR right now relishing a meal of foods that never would have crossed her lips 10 years ago.

My prayer for all young women who are reading this blog...stay the course and realize just how far you have come. No little habit should go unnoticed. Celebrate what you are learning, who you have become and be excited for all that you have to look forward to.

Wednesday, June 18


I wonder if Stacy will kill me when she returns from the DR and finds out that I have spent the week talking about her?!
I want to use this time to share different traits I have seen develop in her that I think are key to becoming a woman of influence and a wise woman in general.

Today it's harmony. I became aware of her ability to live in harmony with others when she turned 30. I knew she was easy to get along with before then, but for her 30th birthday her friends held an all-day 'open house-scrapbooking day' in honor of her. Her friends were encouraged to stop by and greet her, stay and scrapbook, or just pop in and out.

There was a steady stream of friends all day. What was most impressive was the variety of friends that stopped by. Some were single, some married, some with kids, some without. There were older friends and younger friends. Friends from her past and friends she had just recently met.

I made a point to mingle and ask many different friends: "How long had they known Stacy?" "What did they enjoy most about their relationship with her?" "When did they spend time with her?"
The responses were varied but everyone had a story to tell of how Stacy had 'blessed' their life in some respect.

I think a woman who is growing in the Lord and in her personal life blossoms as she applies 1 Peter 3:7-9 to her relationships:
"... live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as sisters, be compassionate and humble." (I changed brothers to sisters!)

Stacy is developing a habit that many women never even consider in life. A habit of living in harmony with one another.
I know from experience that living in harmony doesn't just happen. I burned many bridges when I was her age, thinking I needed to be 'right' or 'prove a point' or 'have it my way'.

How does she live in harmony with so many different kinds of friends and acquaintances? By being compassionate and humble...and that is what she is doing this week in the Dominican Republic. She is giving up her time and energy and vacation, to learn how to serve others with compassion and humility...and that is why she can live in harmony with one another on a daily basis.

Living in harmony isn't a personality is an intentional habit that a wise woman develops with God's leading.

Tuesday, June 17


Stacy and Ryan are in the middle of purchasing a new home. It hasn't been a quick process. After looking at many homes, Stacy finally found a home she loved. It needed abit of work in the kitchen, but otherwise it was in move-in condition. Ryan liked it as well, but it was on the top end of what they wanted to spend on a home.

The problem was their Realtors. Their Realtors didn't share their enthusiasm for the house.

"The interior didn't have the best flow to it"

"The neighborhood didn't support the price of the home"

"It appeared to be over-priced with no apparent price adjustment in sight"

And their Realtors were Stacy's in-laws...Ryan's parents (that would be me and my husband!)

When we started to express our concern, I was impressed with the questions Stacy started to ask. She needed clarification. She needed to understand Real Estate fundamentals. She needed to think out loud by asking questions.

I watched her interact with Ryan and Dean (her father-in-law)and was impressed with her response. She continued to drill them in a very logical and calm manner until she was satisfied with the answer. She re-stated what was said to her to make sure she was on the same page as Dean. She asked a different question when she didn't understand what Dean was trying to get across to her. Her questions were very direct and to the point.

I told my husband as we left Ryan and Stacy that I was so glad Stacy persisted to gain a perspective about the situation. She didn't react in anger. She didn't 'stuff' her feelings. She didn't whine or complain. She asked questions.

"Thinking Questions" is what Marilee Adams calls it in her book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. A young woman wanting to gain perspective and become wise in doing so, asks 'thinking questions' and seeks to understand the answer to those questions. Stacy has a handle on this skill and it will serve her well in the future.

How do you handle a situation you don't understand? Begin asking "thinking questions'.

Monday, June 16


In the wee hours this morning, I took Stacy and Ryan to the airport. They are going on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic for 10 days. Stacy said the weather forecast is less than stellar...rain is forecasted every day.

I considered their energy and focus as I drove home from the airport. If the truth were told, they would rather be moving into their new home...being parents to a couple of great kids...having barbecues with neighbors, but that isn't how life is unfolding for them.

Stacy remains focused throughout it all, however. There are days when she is depressed, I'm sure. Days when questions flood her mind. Days when everyone else's life seems to be moving forward and hers' is forever in the 'wait' mode. But her focus remains firm. She is determined to figure out what being a woman after God's own heart means and so she focus' on doing the right thing day after day even when she doesn't feel like it.

How does a young woman become a wise woman? I am seeing things in Stacy... that I believe is making her into a wise woman and I would like to share a few observations in the coming days. She isn't here to refute it and so I have complete liberty to write from my vantage point!

How does a young woman become wise? Focus is the key, I think.

Even a fortune cookie I opened recently stated: "A focused mind is one of the most powerful forces in the universe."

The Bible says it this way: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul." That's focus.

Stacy's mind is focused these days. It may not be without questions or irritation or even discouragement, but it is focused. It is this focused that will see her through...even the rainy days in the DR.

Friday, June 13

Home Improvement

What a great way to improve your home...find a Mentor to encourage you as you build it!

Stacy and I have been sharing our experiences with Mentoring this week. I hope it will cause you to seriously search for a Mentor and then work towards becoming a Mentor to someone else. It does take commitment and perseverance as Stacy wrote in her last posting, but the payoff is worth it.

For home improvement this week, take a baby step and reach out and encourage 3 women over the weekend. Notice their reactions and also how you feel as you reach out to someone else. Maybe this will nudge you towards developing a mentoring relationship with another woman.
Perhaps you are ready to reach out and ASK someone to mentor you...let us know. Good for you!

A wise woman is teachable...and she can learn a lot from a Mentor.

Jim Elliot wrote in The Journals of Jim Elliot,

I spoke
Words fell
Aimlessly on ears.
One said,
"Your word--
It helped
That day."

I turned
Forgot I said
That word.
Let me speak
Those words
Helpful words
That I forget.

Thursday, June 12

A lesson learned

A few years back (OK maybe more than a few....) a young gal from my church came to me and asked if she could meet me for coffee.

I said, "Sure!" When we got together I was shocked when she asked me if I would consider mentoring her. I was not prepared for that at all and I didn't know how to respond. I was in my mid-20s and I didn't know why she had asked me. But I thought it might be a neat relationship so I said, "yes" and on we went.

Well I didn't do the best job pursuing her and I often felt guilty about that. On the other hand, she didn't do a great job of pursuing me or asking to meet with me.

Over time the relationship sort of fizzled out and I am not sure she ever really got much out of it and I don't think I did a great job of mentoring.

But I did learn a valuable lesson. If you ask someone to mentor you (whether personal, business, marriage, whatever), you need to be the one pursuing them - call them, e-mail them, be willing to meet them to show that you are interested and committed to that mentoring relationship. You can't leave it in the hands of the mentor, and expect her to pursue you.

I do believe a wise woman seeks to be surrounded by other wise women. Why not get started today?

Wednesday, June 11


"Alot of people have gone farther than they thought they could because someone else thought they could."

That's a pretty good definition of mentoring, I think. Having someone walk along side you to encourage you and let you know that 'you can do it' when you come up against a challenge.

When I was a young woman, I wondered why older women didn't approach me and offer to mentor to me. Looking back, I wished I had observed the older women in my life. I wished I had asked one of those women if they would mentor me.

I think I would have avoided many potholes in life.

I think I would have benefitted from someone telling me who they thought I could be.

Now that I am a mentor, I'd like encourage any young woman who is reading this to step up to an older woman and ASK if they would be willing to share their life's perspective with you. Be wise in who you ask. Take time to observe older women for a while and look for a consistent life-style; good relationships; a work ethic; a sense of humor; ability to listen; and a heart to know and love the Lord.

Many are willing to give opinions but it is the wise young woman who is teachable. It is a wise older woman who is willing to open her heart to younger women and make a younger woman uncomfortable to remain where she is!

It's a challenge, isn't it, to step out in faith and ask someone to be 'real' in your life because it means that you will have to be 'real' with them. It may be scary, but isn't that what you want from be real and to be all that you can be?

Monday, June 9

Mark & Mary

When my husband and I were just a few years into marriage, we had the privilege of being partnered with a couple from our church for a mentorship program. That was four years ago.

This mentor couple is now dear to our hearts. We get together with them about every other month for dinner and talking. That's it. We talk, share our lives, ask questions, eat together, celebrate the joys in life and the challenges.

We sit on their screened in porch in the summer and talk until late in the night (we try to keep them young at heart!) as we strive to be open and honest about what's going on in our lives, with our families, careers, etc. We ask their advice and their opinion. We listen so we can soak up their wisdom. Having mentors in your life allows you the opportunity to learn from someone further down the road than you and it is a privilege to be able to do so.

What has unexpectedly come out of the this relationship is that our mentors often tell people that we mentor them! They ask us questions about our views, preferences and goals. They have four young adult children and when we give them the freedom to ask us about our life and marriage, they learn how to better parent and befriend their children.

Additionally, we pray for one another and encourage one another. Ryan and Mark often discuss business and career paths. Mary and I share what God is teaching us and how we are growing personally and in our marriages.

The time and energy you invest in a mentoring relationship will enable you to better live out who you are and you God created you to be. Mentorship is not a one way street. Both parties benefit. Both parties grow. Both parties are blessed beyond measure when a deep friendship is built through open, honest conversation.

Find A Mentor...

Summer is a great time to learn something new...have you ever thought of seeking out a Mentor to walk along side you as you learn about the season of your life that you are in?

'Mentor' was the name of the person that Odysseus left his son with when he went off to the trojan war. Mentor was responsible for teaching Odysseus' son what his father was not able to do in his absence.

A Mentor today can be a trusted friend, counselor or teacher...someone usually more experienced and someone who adds value to another person's life.

I would like to challenge any and all readers to make this summer a time to find a Mentor and/or become a Mentor to someone! Be pro-active and reach out and ASK someone if they would like to walk along side you in this journey of life.

Ideally, I think it would be great to have and be a Mentor as you walk through life. This week Stacy and I will share abit on having a Mentor and hope to spark some interest on your part to seek someone who will walk along with you as you learn.

Friday, June 6

Home Improvement...

A Swedish Proverb says, "A life without love is like a year without summer!" Well, we can't have this year go by without summer then, can we?

In spite of the weather, try one of our favorite summer recipes we shared this week or find one of your own and then spread the joy and share it with us.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, June 5

I Scream, You Scream...We All Scream For Ice Cream!

I am the Queen of Ice Cream Dessert recipes. I collect them. These are recipes that can be made ahead of time. They keep in the freezer and are always handy to serve to unexpected guests. They are refreshing in the hot summer and usually desired by all.

Here are a couple of new ones I added to my recipe book:

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Dessert

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups caramel ice cream topping
2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

In a large bowl, combine flour, pecans, sugar and oats. Add butter; mix well. Spread in a thin layer on a large baking sheet with sides. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until golden. Crumble while warm, cool. Press half of crumb mixture into a 9x13 baking pan. Drizzle with half of caramel sauce; spread with ice cream. Top with remaining caramel sauce and crumbs. Cover and freeze. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Crunchy Ice Cream Dessert

2 cups crushed Rice Chex
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

In a bowl, combine the cereal, brown sugar, peanuts and coconut. Drizzle with butter, stir until combined. Press half of the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 dish. Cut ice cream into 3/4 in thick slices. Arrange evenly over crust. Top with remaining crumb mixture, press down lightly. Cover and freeze until serving.

Let me know if you like them...there are more ice cream recipes where these came from:)

Wednesday, June 4

D'iamico Chicken Pasta Salad

Continuing with our summer recipes this week, here is one of my all-time favorite pasta salads. I don't care for mayo, and with the addition of poppyseed dressing, you can't even taste the mayo! It's a sweet and colorful salad for a warm day and makes great leftovers for lunches.

D'iamico Chicken Pasta Salad
4 cooked and cubed chicken breasts
2/3 box of rotini pasta (really any pasta works)
3/4 cup celery diced
3/4 cup red onions diced (optional)
3/4 cup poppyseed salad dressing (I add more!)
2/3 cup reduced calorie mayo
1 bag dried craisins
1 bag shaved or slivered almonds

Cook pasta according to instructions, rinse with cold water and drain well…do not overcook!
In a large bowl mix mayo and poppyseed dressing
Add all the other ingredients except almonds
Refrigerate for several hours until well chilled
Just before serving add almonds and an extra squirt of mayo or poppyseed to freshen it up.

Tuesday, June 3

The Cutest Recipe!

If you are looking for that extra flair for your picnics this summer, you have to try this recipe! It adds a splash of color and the tiny tomatoes can be on a platter by themselves or used as an accent on other dishes.

Anyone who loves a good BLT sandwich will ask you for the recipe!

B.L.T. Bites

16 Cherry tomatoes

1 pound bacon--cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup chopped green onions

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley


Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato top. Scoop out and discard pulp. Invert tomatoes on a paper towel to drain.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon into tomatoes. Refrigerate for several hours. (Serves 8)

A mom bought these to MOPS this year and they were a hit! I'm sorry I don't have a photo to show you, they get eaten too fast:)

Monday, June 2

Summer Salad

It's June and June seems to be the official kick off for summer for my house!

Barb and I thought we would share some of our favorite warm weather recipes this week.

This one is fairly new to my recipe collection but I love it and it's quite easy, healthy and refreshing!

Thai Chicken Salad

  • lettuce mix
  • chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • mandarin oranges (small)
  • red peppers, diced (optional for me!)
  • pea pods, cut in half
  • rice noodles (like chow mein noodles but a bit thinner and crunchier)
  • Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame dressing

Toss all ingredients with dressing and sprinkle with rice noodles on top!

**Tip: I marinate the chicken for a few hours or overnight in the Asian Toasted Sesame dressing and cook it on the George Foreman Grill.

It's super tasty and healthy! Let me know if you try it.

If you have a favorite summer recipe please comment this week and share your recipe. We'd love to try YOUR summer favorites!