Tuesday, March 31

An Easter Discipline

As a child, I never observed 'Lent'. I don't understand what goes along with the practice, but I believe it is a discipline people follow to refrain from habits or actions for the days leading up to Easter. I used to walk with a neighbor who gave up 'sweets' before Easter. She said it really wasn't too hard because she didn't really have a 'sweet tooth.'

Stacy's posting got me thinking about Lent. These weeks leading up to Easter is probably a good time to focus specifically on my theme as far as application goes.

I find memorizing is hard for me. The point of memorizing is not to see how many verses I can memorize. The point is what happens to my mind in the process of reviewing and truly remembering each verse. I find my mind captures completely different thoughts when I am rehearsing verses than when I am 'thinking' the rest of my day.

There are only 13 days until Easter. I am going to accept Stacy's Easter challenge. I am going to feed my mind with HOPE until Easter. That is usually the mindset I have when I am memorizing, but then I go on with my daily thoughts and duties and get caught up in worries and 'what ifs' of the future.

I just finished reading, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg. He writes about 2 laws that govern our lives:

The Law of Cognition: I am what I think about.
The Law of Exposure: My mind will think most about what it is most exposed to.

It's the second law that made me take up Stacy's challenge. I am going to expose my mind to scripture by memorizing it, but also keep it away from so many of my 'lazy' habits of TV, worthless movies, complaining conversations and even discouraging news reports. For 13 days I am going to 'feed' my mind very diligently with thoughts that are 'true, noble, right, pure,lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent'!
Why does this pose such a challenge for me? Often because I am trying to do it by my own strength.

That's why I will celebrate Easter in 13 days. I will have 13 days to ponder why Christ died on the cross. I will realize that without His strength, I can do NOTHING...including bringing my 'thoughts into captivity'.

13 days until Easter. 13 days to prepare my heart and MIND.

Monday, March 30

An Easter Challenge

To help me focus on my daily bread theme, I'm planning to read two chapters from Luke every day from April 1-12. In doing so, I will read the entire book of Luke by Easter. Two chapters a day seems quite doable, will take me through the birth, life, death and end with the resurrection of Christ.

I can't think of a better way to get my heart and mind prepared for Easter this year.

I feel constantly bombarded with all the Easter decor available to purchase, candy to buy and meal planning to think about for Easter.

I don't want to miss what an amazing time of year this is - celebrating the life and death and resurrection of Christ. It's a miracle and it's one I want to take the time to acknowledge.

Do you have other ideas or suggestions on how to be mindful of the true purpose of Easter? If so, please share!

Won't you join me in this Easter challenge?

Friday, March 27

Home Improvement--2009 Theme

So we are 3 months into the 'New Year'...not too late to choose your theme for this year. Think about some area in which you would like to grow, make it your theme, and then make an effort each week to add to your theme and review what you are learning about yourself, God and others by focusing on this particular discipline, principle or topic.

Kim has dedicated Thursday to review her theme on her blog:
Check it out at: Kim Weed


What a great way to hold herself accountable.

If you don't have a blog, share your theme with a trusted friend and ask her to hold you accountable to make an effort to grow in this area.

Start this weekend if you haven't already. You won't be disappointed as the year progresses and you see a change in yourself...for the better.

Wednesday, March 25

Is Someone Listening to You?

"Listening is rare. There are certain people we meet to whom we feel we can talk because they have such a deep capacity for hearing; not hearing words only but hearing us as a person. They enable us to talk on a level which we have never before reached. They enable us to be as we have never been before. We shall never truly know ourselves unless we find people who can listen, who can enable us to emerge, to come out of ourselves, to discover who we are. We cannot discover ourselves by ourselves." (emphasis is mine)
quote from Jesus Man of Prayer, by Margaret Magdalene.

A deep personal connectedness takes time. We are indeed blessed to have one or maybe two people in our lives that really listen to what we say and help us realize the person we can become.

Sharing my theme with other women has been a way to let others into my life in a more purposeful way. It's non-threatening, yet takes a conversation abit deeper. It takes time to get to know people. Sharing my theme has opened the door for other women to express what they want to learn during the course of a year and allows me to hold them accountable as they hold me accountable to my goals.

It is in sharing my theme that I find who is walking in the same direction with me. Those are the women I pull into my 'inner circle' as I know they are good listeners and will help me discover myself and allow me to help them as well.

If you haven't chosen a theme for 2009, give it some thought. Then tell someone you have a theme for 2009. See what their reaction is. You might just find a new friend who will enable you to be as you have "never been before."

Tuesday, March 24

Update on my theme

The theme I chose for 2009 is Daily Bread.

As the mom of a young child and a mother-to-be of a second, partaking in my Daily Bread is essential.

However, I'm quickly learning that choosing my daily bread first is a matter of the mind....of the will. I can desire to spend time in the Word but desire doesn't get me anywhere. It's following through on that desire.

I am an all or nothing gal. Some days when I don't think I have adequate time to meet with the Lord, I don't do anything at all.

Other days I know I need to, but instead I procrastinate. I avoid it like the plague. I find anything and everything to do instead. I choose other things instead of investing in my theme: a book, the television or my computer.

When I choose to partake in my Daily Bread, I am more patient, more encouraging, more loving, more intentional, more prayerful. I am more aware of the needs of others as I go throughout my day. I am mindful of Scripture as I face various circumstances in my day.

When I skip my Daily Bread I am self-focused, hurried, striving to accomplish my agenda, and often distracted by unimportant things in my day.

I guess I didn't realize that my theme this year would be so...daily.

I didn't realize it would be a choice I had to make...daily.

I didn't understand how it would effect me...daily.

I've got a long ways to go on my theme - one day at a time.

Monday, March 23

Theme for the Year!

Did you pick a 'theme' for the year 2009? How's it going for you? We almost have 3 months behind us already, so have you noticed some growth in your life by focusing on a theme?

I chose a theme that is stretching me more than usual. I am 'renewing my mind'...by 'hiding God's word in my heart'. Just picking this theme has taught me something about myself:

1. I sure am good at finding excuses not to 'renew my mind'. It is so much easier just to think random thoughts.

2. Memorizing scripture requires alot of review and even then I forget what I thought I had just learned. Reviewing is a discipline in itself for me!

3. I am much more aware of scripture now, when I hear it quoted on the radio, in a sermon or written in a book. I want to 'memorize' it, but realize my list of verses 'to' memorize is already double the list of verses I have mastered.

4. I find I 'pray' scripture verses more often. That has really encouraged me to 'hang in there' with this theme.

5. One verse will lead me to another verse and I find the Bible has become more vital to my daily life.

6. I see the power of the Holy Spirit at work. I can tell when I am just trying to memorize words compared to the times when I really want to learn 'a truth'. The Holy Spirit will empower me to learn when my heart is ready to accept the truth.

7. It is a daily struggle. 'Renewing my mind' will have to be a life-long focus if this theme will be worth anything. Ummmm, Psalms 1:3 says we are to meditate on His word night and day...not just as a theme for one year.

8. I wish I had chosen this theme years ago!

What is your theme teaching you?

Here's a hip-hip-hurrah to all of you who chose a theme and have pursued it. It's not too late to gear up again and make some progress. It will be a measureable way to evaluate the year 2009 and a wonderful way to remember it.

Friday, March 20

First day of spring!

Today is the first day of spring! It doesn't seem like it here in MN beause it's cold, cloudy and raining. But isn't rain the first sign of spring?

As if this week doesn't hold enough opportunities to celebrate, today is another one.

Put away your winter decor. Get out your spring colors...rugs, pillows, centerpieces, etc.

Get out your recipes and make a list of good ones for the spring. Include a handful of new ones to try in the next few months.

Go through your wardrobe and pack up the heavy sweaters (leave some of the lighter ones if your weather is still cool like ours).

Most of all, take time to notice the sunshine, the longer, lighter days and the changes nature brings this time of year.

Go for a walk - with friends, your spouse, your kids, whomever. Enjoy and celebrate the gift of health and the smell of spring!

Thursday, March 19

Happiness

"Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember."

Do you agree with this quote of Oscar Levant?

There is real power in any moment when it is remembered...but I think women can be very good at finding happiness in any given moment because we are emotional and relational beings.

As moms, we need to celebrate often...to experience the happiness at hand and also to store away moments to remember.

I took the liberty to re-write a favorite Hallmark card that was about Fathers;

"This is how you can tell a mom
She is a woman who will play with you even though she has friends her own age to play with!"


Make today a 'happiness day'...play with your kids even if you have friends your own age to play with! Take pictures along the way or write a quick note in your journal so you can continue to experience happiness when you take time to remember.

Wednesday, March 18

March Madness

March Madness starts tomorrow!

We have friends hosting an all-day party at their house...possibly for multiple days in a row.

Are you aware of March Madness? It's not something we really celebrate or watch a lot of in the May household, but it's fun to hear the excitement of those who love basketball.

If your husband or children are basketball fans, tomorrow and into the weekend is a great chance to surprise them by having b-ball days at your house.

Make game friendly food.

Wear team colors (here it's maroon and gold for the gophers!).

Watch the games as a family and talk about the players together. Or rent and watch a basketball movie and then talk about the sport. Some movie options are (be sure to check movie ratings):
Coach Carter
Glory Road
Air Bud
Forrester
He Got Game
Hoosiers

Whatever you do, make it fun and memorable and celebrate the little things in life!

Tuesday, March 17

It's a Boy!

That's what I heard on this day, at this time...33 years ago! Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Every year I pull out Ryan's baby-book and re-live the memories. This morning I read a note an older cousin had written to him. The note ended with;
"I think you're a very lucky kid and good luck in your new life."

33 years later I can say that Ryan was a very lucky (blessed!)kid who met a wonderful girl who he somehow managed to persuade to marry him.

He has needed more than 'luck' from a blarney stone, however to experience the life he has lived up to this point.

If you're a young mom, do you ever wonder what you are going to do when your kids are grown and gone? Well, you will spend alot of time 'remembering' and alot of time praising God that He had His hand in your children's lives and but for His grace, you may not still be standing!

Raising kids is hard...so take time to celebrate along the way. Make their birthdays memorable and then record something special each year so as a mom, you can look back and see how very 'lucky' your child was.

Never let them forget that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that God has plans to give them "hope and a future".

Monday, March 16

St. Patricks Day

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. It is also my husband's birthday!

Today I bought Samuel a St. Patrick's Day t-shirt, we bought window stickers, some green plates and a pair of fun socks. I went grocery shopping tonight and bought food to make him a special dinner tomorrow night.

I realized that I'm going the extra mile because it is my husband's birthday tomorrow, but I really do love celebrating different holidays and the seasons they represent. I also recall growing up in a home where my mom decorated for the seasons and holidays. It is a tradition I would like to carry on with my kids.

For me, as the years go by and my kids get older, building my home will include recognizing and celebrating the seasons and the holidays. I'm not into buying for the sake of supporting the retail world, but I do think there is joy in celebrating fun days and milestones.

Tomorrow make sugar cookies with your kids and add green sprinkles or green frosting.

Dress your kids in green.

Hide a treat somewhere in the house and have them search for the 'pot of gold.'

Have green jello, green veggies, green pancakes, green milk, or whatever you can think up for your meals.

Make this a fun day of celebrating life, love and the joy of each season!

Friday, March 13

Home Improvement-as a Mom!

Here's are 3 simple questions to ask yourself this weekend...

"Who gets my best--my family or others?"

"Am I more spiritual, more fun, more loving when I am elsewhere?"

Psalm 101:2 says " I will walk in my house with a blameless heart."

Is there room for improvement?

Wednesday, March 11

Great Advice

One great tip I received when I was a young mom was to do what I love to do with my children. I think I was complaining at the time, to an older woman, that I really didn't like to play board games.

She responded with a question, "Then why do you play board game with them?"

I thought all good moms played board games.

She went on to suggest that I do what I love to do...with my kids.

It was then that I visited the library more often, because I loved to read.

I played in the wading pool with my kids because I loved to be outdoors and stay cool

I made healthy food with them in the kitchen because I loved to eat

I walked around the lake with them because I loved to walk

I taught them how to play hide and seek because I loved the peace and quiet for a few moments:)

I found that my list of things that I liked to do with my kids was quite lengthy and gave me alot of interaction with my kids. I was a mom with a good attitude because I was doing the things I loved to do...with my kids.

It was great advice then...it is great advice that I pass on to you:)

Tuesday, March 10

A homemaker...wannabe?

Today is one of those days....one of those days when you feel like being a Homemaker is a task much too overwhelming and intimidating than you are prepared for.

My home is a mess. I mean a big mess.

There is stuff everywhere. And I just picked up not that long ago. Didn't I?

Everywhere I look I see piles of papers, stuff, clothes, dishes.....and there are only 3 of us! Whose mess is this anyway?!

I just got an email in my inbox from www.homemakingorganized.com

I clicked on the link from the newsletter and read the home page of the website.

I couldn't agree with this statement more:
"Here at Homemaking Organized we believe that homemaking is infinitely easier when you're organized. And being organized does not have to be dull. It means having more time for things you love like your family instead of cleaning or organizing endlessly."

I don't like to clean. I don't like to organize.

But I realize today that I need to do those things because I don't like living in chaos either. I don't like my house a mess. I don't like not being able to eat at my dining room table because it is covered in papers.

So some days you just gotta do what you don't want to do so you can do what you want to do. Like eat dinner in an orderly fashion at the table!

I love my home and I am definitely still 'becoming an expert' on how to care for it....a life-long process I am sure!

Monday, March 9

Are You An Expert?

"The colorized spinal tracts are the fasciculus gracilis, the fasciculus cuneatus, the anterolateral system and the lateral corticospinal tract."

"Huh?" I read the above sentence in one of the books my son was studying. Sentence after sentence had more words I DIDN'T know, than words I recognized. I couldn't even begin to guess what he was learning.

I asked him how he knew what all the terms were and how he could remember it all. "Study", he said simply...and then went back to studying.

He is in his first year of medical school.

When my kids were young, I came across a quote that has become a favorite of mine:
When You Love Someone...Become an Expert of that Person

I reflected on that quote as I stared at Dan's textbooks. How was I going to to become an expert of him as a medical student when I couldn't even pronounce the words he was reading? I realized again, the wisdom of the quote as I focused on the word 'become'.

It's an on-going process to become an 'expert' on someone you love. What I knew about Dan as a toddler was the beginning of understanding him bit by bit over the years. I have had to come along side him on a regular basis in order to see him change and develop.

I won't ever BE an expert of my children. As a mom, I can only attempt to become an expert in becoming an expert of my children.

I can listen.

I can watch them.

I can remember special moments that revealed a special love of theirs.

I can ask questions (but not too many!)

I can pray for them.

I can pray for myself...that I truly am seeking to know them and not just control them.

I can find Bible verses that comfort me or fill up my mind so I don't jump to conclusions that are not wise.

I can laugh with them; I can hug them; I can cry with them; I can learn all I can about what they are learning.

I can tell them over and over again I love them in whatever 'love-language' they hear best.

I can thank God for the time, health and energy He has given me to be my kids' mom.

I can continue to ask Him how I can BECOME more of an expert to my children...no matter what age they are.

Friday, March 6

Home Improvement...In The Kitchen

Here are 2 interesting labels to check out at the grocery store this weekend. Compare Campbell's 98% Fat-Free Cream of Mushroom soup to Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup. Compare the fat content, the saturated fat content and the sodium content on the labels. You might be surprised by what you find.

Here's a Heart-Smart Cookie to try this weekend. Let me know what you think, I think it is tasty and better for you and your family than the traditional chocolate chip cookie:

6 Tablespoon butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the above together

Add 1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped dates (You can substitute raisins if you don't like dates)
3 oz chopped bitter chocolate (If you use milk-chocolate, it isn't as heart-healthy, but it might appeal to your family for the first time around)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Enjoy...and have a healthy weekend with your familiies!

Thursday, March 5

Less is More

'Less is more' is a good motto to have in the kitchen. Less salt, less sugar, less calories, less in serving size. Moms, as cooks, are in control here and can influence their family in many small ways.

Eating healthy did not come easy for me. I was born with a SWEET tooth. I have had to gradually change my eating and cooking habits over the years.

Some of the basic ways I changed my habits included:

Replacing couple of tablespoons of white flour with whole wheat flour everytime a recipe calls for flour. Normally, no one would notice the difference. I would increase the whole wheat flour gradually in many recipes until I was using only whole wheat flour if my family didn't complain about the texture or taste!

Often I will not add salt to anything I cook. Table salt can be added if it is really necessary, but often times a meal doesn't need the extra sodium.

I rarely 'pack' the brown sugar into the measuring cups as many recipes call for. If I am making it just for the family, the added sweetness usually is not missed.

I make my own white sauce instead of using canned soup. It reduces the sodium, additives and fat in a recipe. It is definitely cheaper too. Here's a basic recipe:

In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Cooking for this length of time will minimize 'flour' taste.
Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly.
Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
For thin white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Thin white sauce is used in cream soups.
For thick white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Thick white sauce is used in souffl├ęs.

I read labels! Saturated fat is usually what I am looking for. Tortillas are a great place to experiment with your low-fat tolerance. They come in all diffferent fat content. I use the no fat version when I use them in a main dish. I use 1 gram of fat tortillas when eating as a bread.

I use "Smart Balance" (not the lite) when I bake instead of butter often. A friend of mine who is a cardiologist says she tells her patients to use this instead of butter all the time.

Consider the responsibility you have if you are the cook for your family. Little habits can make a big difference in the health of the ones you love and often will be more economical as well.

Wednesday, March 4

A homemade favorite from long ago

All Recipes has a link to budget-friendly recipes for under $10. One of them is a tuna noodle casserole. It reminded me of the casserole my mom used to make growing up. It is definitely a winter-in-Minnesota kind of dish. It was quick, easy and went a long way to feed a family of five. I don't eat tuna normally because I don't care for mayo, but I loved this casserole growing up. The original recipe may not be the healthiest, but by altering a few of the ingredients or adding some extra veggies, you can spruce it up in no time. Serve with a lettuce or fruit salad.

Tuna Casserole
2 cups cooked egg noodles
2 cans cream of celery soup (use Healthy Request - 98% less fat and less sodium)
1 cup milk
2 cans tuna, drained
1 can peas or 1-2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded or cubed cheddar cheese

Mix all and put in greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 45 min to 1 hour.

With a recipe like this you can add diced onion, corn, mushroom, celery, garlic or whatever your preference to make it go further and make it healthier. This can be a base for you to work with! To make it cheaper, use whatever ingredients you have on hand. If you have macaroni noodles and not egg noodles, use those. If you have cream of mushroom soup, use that instead. Substitute corn for peas or cheddar for whatever is in your fridge.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3

A Penny Saved...

Use this recession time to re-think your habits and build new ones!

I went back into my archives of recipes and found a favorite that cost pennies to make. It has great flavor, so don't let the name scare you off!

Chili Spaghetti

1 pound of ground beef ( I use ground turkey...less fat!)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
6 ounces spaghetti, broken into 3-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a grease 1 1/2 quart baking dish; stir in the remaining ingredients. cover and bake at 350 degrees for 65-70 minutes or until spaghetti is just tender. let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. 6 servings.

Almost any woman can cook up a tasty dinner full of fat and 'not-so-good-for you' ingredients, wouldn't you agree?. If your paycheck is tight or your job is on the line, use this time to cut back and learn how to cook healthy. Use as many natural ingredients as possible.

You will emerge from this recession healthier in more ways than one!

Monday, March 2

Will the recession make you fat?

"Will the recession make you fat?" was the title of a segment on the Today Show this morning. You can read the online article here.

There were some great shopping tips and good reminders on how to save money when going grocery shopping.

Many consumers think it's too expensive to eat healthy (fresh fruits and veggies are expensive). Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when they are on sale or buy frozen.
They suggest scaling back on eating out and you'll save money there. Limit excessive snack-buying (pre-packaged snacks can be spendy). Buy larger containers of yogurt, cereal, and snacks and divide into smaller portions.

Stop buying beverages such as fancy coffee, fruit drinks, fruit juices, soda, and bottled water. Invest in a home filtering system and guzzle clean, good (and virtually free!) water. They made the recommendation to buy a few colorful water bottles and keep those filled with cold, refreshing water. I got a Camelbak water bottle for Christmas this year and it sits on my counter (or in my bedroom or living room) all day and I keep filling it with my filtered water. This helps me to rarely drink pop or other sugary beverages. Sames goes for my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. They bought a few Camelbak water bottles and refill them constantly. We are all learning how these healthier and cheaper habits can benefit our budget and our waistline!

You can read all the food tips and suggestions online (it's worth your time!).


Another angle of the segment was that when people are stressed they eat more - and they tend to eat more comfort foods. People who are feeling discouraged or depressed, will also exercise less and prefer to spend time as a 'couch potato.'
In hard economic times, people stop their personal trainers, quit their gym memberships, and get little exercise. They suggest choosing exercises that are free such as working out at home using tv exercise shows or walking. Exercise is exactly what we all need to help with depression and give us more joyful attitudes in these hard times.

The Today Show also noted that people turn to alcohol to calm them down when they are anxious and nervous about the economy. Alcohol is a depressant so it can make things worse if someone is already struggling through a tough situation.


This week Barb and I will share some healthy and budget-friendly recipes. If you have ones to share please comment or e-mail us - we'd love to post your recipes and we'd love to try them out ourselves!