Friday, July 31, 2009

It's official!

Quentin met with Pastor Kemper today to let him know that we've decided to be a part of First Baptist Church. Q will be his assistant until he retires in January. Then we will be the new pastor and pastor's wife of the church. Exciting! Our last Sunday here is on August 16, then we will begin commuting to Lafayette for services.

We are excited with how the Lord has orchestrated this big event in our lives. I know He will continue to guide us and give us wisdom in the days ahead. Here are some prayer requests that we're asking everyone to pray for during his transition time.

1. Continued strength and focus to finish our ministry here with excellence.
2. That our condo will sell within the next few weeks, as we can move into the parsonage in Lafayette at the beginning of September.
3. That we'll have enough time and energy to finish up the packing at our place and in Q's office.
4. That Q will be able to find a part-time job as things will be very tight for us starting out in a small church.
5. That we'll bond quickly with the folks at First Baptist Church, and that Q will learn much during these next few months on how to run a church.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support.

I will praise thee forever, because thou hast done it. Psalm 52:9

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The wooden spool family

I saw this really neat craft idea here several months ago, and I finally made it last night.

Isn't my little family cute?

Kids and adults alike will enjoy making these little guys. I added embellishments like the buttons, silver beads and ribbon, but you can just add the fabric if you'd like. Without the embellishments, it will be safer for toddlers to play with. I'm adding this set to my basket of toys for when small guests come over. And, they would make great gifts for the young or the young at heart. Wouldn't a bride and groom look adorable in a newlywed couple's new home?

Here's what you'll need to make these wooden spool people:

wooden spools (1" and 3/4 ")
wooden beads with flat bottom (the same size as the spools)
glue (craft glue or hot glue gun)
scrap yarn and fabric
black fine tip marker
paint (for those rosy cheeks--I used pink fabric paint.)
embellishments (ribbon, lace, buttons, etc.), if desired

Glue the fabric and any embellishments to the spools. Glue the beads on top. To get the yarn hair just right, I put a dab of glue on the back center of the head, placed the end of the yarn there, then kept swirling the yarn around until it was done. After each half turn or so, I added another drop of glue. Using the black marker and paint, draw a face on each wooden bead.

I made a pouch from some scrap fabric I had. I made a casing at the top and put a piece of suede lace through it. My little family fits neatly inside.

Blue and brown hair is kind of different, but it's so fun! Wouldn't it be neat to personalize it so that each character fits the description of each member of your family? I think our nephews and nieces would get a kick out of these, especially if they saw one that looked just like them. Even smaller spools than the ones shown for the kids could be made into babies. Cute, huh?

Next on the list for these: a house of some sort. After all, they do have to eat, sleep and play! I don't think they want to be cooped up in that bag for too long. ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Frozen peach yogurt

Have you been looking for a way to use up fresh peaches and enjoy something that is good for you at the same time? Well, look no further--this frozen peach yogurt recipe is for you!

This recipe comes from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazine (August/September 2009). It's easy to make and it's so full of vitamins! Enjoy!

Frozen Peach Yogurt

4 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup sugar
dash salt
2 1/2 cups reduced fat vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Place peaches in a blender. Cover and process until blended; set aside. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in sugar and salt until sugar dissolves. Add the yogurt, vanilla and reserved peaches.
2. Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. When ice cream is frozen, transfer to a freezer container; freeze for 2-4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parties for Children

I just finished reading a book called Betty Crocker's Parties for Children by Lois M. Freeman, that I found at a thrift store a while back. I could not let this book stay there, for after looking through it, I knew that it would be a great resource in my educational library. It was published in 1964--a true classic indeed! The way things are described and illustrated give a glimpse into that time in our country.

It is loaded with ideas that can be used in the home as well as in ministry. The many games described could be adapted for children's programs at church or for day camps.

The first section of the book talks about how to organize a party, choose a theme and how to make your own invitations. Games for the youngest kids as well as guessing games, hunts, relays, and games for older children are included. At the very end of the book, a few pages are devoted to helping you with a theme party. A menu and list of games is included for such themes as a spaceman's party, aloha party, and spring party.

Fun illustrations such as this one are every where in this book. It was really fun to look at all of them.

Many of the games in the book were classics like Musical Chairs. One thing I didn't know though is that there is a variation to this game that makes it fun for all. Here's what the book says:

If music is not available, begin the game by clapping loudly for the marchers. As the children are eliminated from the game, ask them to join the "clappers." The newest member of the clapping group tells the entire group when to stop by calling "Stop!" This is often better than music because it keeps all of the children busy throughout the game.

Pretty neat, huh? Next time you're at the thrift store or at a garage sale and see a book like this, don't hesitate to pick it up and purchase it. The possibilities are endless for fun activities at your next family event or church function.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grocery Challenge update: week 2

Going into week 2 of this challenge wasn't too hard, but there were times we thought that going out or having a drink at Starbuck's would have been nice! We resisted the urge and kept motivated to save money and perhaps win this challenge. I only spent $13.86 this past week for some chicken, fruit and staple items. That left us with $36.14--not bad, eh?

Here's what helped us for week 2:

1. I failed to mention this last week, but using as many coupons as you can for the things you use is a good thing. I used a few last week, but didn't have any for this week's shopping trip. Everything I bought this week was on sale, so I was pleased with that.

2. We've continued buying things that are healthy, since that's part of the challenge. One thing I've noticed about many coupons is that they're good for prepackaged foods. I am not totally against prepackaged foods, but I think we're all aware that many of them are not really that good for your body! 

3. And speaking of prepackaged foods--I am learning through this challenge, that there's so much more that I can be making at home that is not only cheaper, but better for you. (Look at my cracker recipe below.)

4. We've continued using vegetables from our garden to supplement our meals. I froze up a bunch of zucchini, but I also made another loaf of zucchini-oat bread.

5. With activities at church, a couple of our meals were taken care of. Q's been eating snacks and leftovers from activities when he's not able to come home for lunch. Our Chili's lunch in Lafayette, as well as our lunch at Cracker Barrel with Dr. Mutsch, was taken care of by each of those churches' hospitality budgets. Pretty neat, eh?

And now for the recipe. I love to eat crackers as a snack, so I scoped the web and found the one below. They are awesome! I'd like to make another batch of them and add less cheese and whole wheat flour and oatmeal to make them healthier.

Doris Herrmann's Classic Cheese Crackers (taken from

1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Cream the butter using a hand mixer. Add the grated cheese and mix thoroughly. Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, and then add to the cheese and butter. Mix again. Form the dough into a ball and slice in half. Shape each piece into a log, about an inch in diameter. Wrap each in a large sheet of plastic wrap and roll and shape carefully. Refrigerate for one hour. Set oven at 350 degrees. Unwrap one log and slice each cracker about 1/4 inch thick. Place one inch apart on a cookie sheet. Repeat with second log. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crackers are very lightly brown on the edges. Cool on a cake rack. This recipe makes about four dozen crackers.

Summer Bible Conference

This past weekend, our church enjoyed a wonderful yearly event: the summer Bible conference. This year's theme was "Order my Steps in Thy Word" taken from Psalm 119:133 which says, "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me."

It began on Saturday with a potluck dinner. These are always a lot of fun as we always have a great time of fellowship. Right after that, we had our first service. Our two speakers this year were Dr. Greg Mutsch and Dr. Rick Flanders. Both have been pastors in the past and have been involved in Christian education. Their sermons encouraged us in several areas of Christian living--revival, missions, and giving your worries to God. On Sunday, these men preached for Sunday School and both services. 

Q and I had a special time with Dr. Mutsch. We were able to take him to the Cracker Barrel for lunch on Saturday. Dr. Mutsch's current ministry is with A.C.E. ministries, which is where my father-in-law is ministering. He and "Dad Johnson" go way back, as the Lord has allowed them to serve together in a couple other ministries over many years. So the time with him was very sweet. He encouraged us in the Lord with our unknown days ahead. He gave great counsel to us during this transition time. And for that, we are so thankful.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Garden: the labour of our hands

Q and I went over to the garden last night and the first thing I wanted to look at were my tomato plants. I was hoping that something exciting happened to them, and sure enough, it did! Look at that awesome green fruit...

These romas won't be green for long. While some are very tiny, a few are already full-size. They just need to get ripe! I'm excited to try making salsa, ketchup and spaghetti sauce. We already have a few canning supplies and I'm currently reading up on the topic.

The zucchini is appearing so quickly and in many different shapes. A couple of them were so huge while this one reminded us of a telephone. Too funny!

The summer squash is looking mighty nice. Can't wait to try some out soon.

A while back, our friend, Sam, said that this plant was a cross between a couple things and that it would produce some time of melon. Now that the fruit is up, it looks a lot like just a regular watermelon.

We filled up a box with the giant zucchini, lettuce, carrots, and more rhubarb. Today, I spent part of my day shredding zucchini, cutting up the rhubarb and freezing it all.

It's so neat to see the progress of these growing plants that God made for us to enjoy. I found the following passage of Scripture that seems to fit in with these plants that are the "labour of our hands", but I believe this passage is speaking about our walk with the Lord and the blessings we receive if we are faithful to Him.

Psalm 128:1-4

"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Packing 101: boxing up lots more stuff!

Last week, 23 more boxes were packed away! I've taken a break this week, but will have to get back into it soon. Q and I hope to get more boxes tonight.

This new load included:

Videos, DVD's, cassette tapes, most of our CD collection (80 of them--we love music!), kitchen decorations, kitchen gadgets not being used, a few framed prints, knick-knacks, magazines, Christmas decorations, fall and winter coats, photo boxes, yearbooks, Q's sporting goods (he helped pack two boxes), a few miscellaneous items and my music books.

Adding my 99 music books plus 19 yearbooks to our already packed 545 books brings us to a total of 663 books!!! And, we still have more, too. Because of our showings, we've had to leave some on our three bookshelves so that they don't look so bare. I also couldn't bare packing our cookbooks yet, either. 

So far, the packing hasn't been too overwhelming. Doing things gradually is good. It's also been great to be able to take things to church to get out of the way. It's been a lot easier to live without having to trample over lots of boxes!

Next time....more miscellaneous stuff, crafting supplies, and more books to pack (of course!) If I come across any packing tips along the way, I'll share those as well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rice heating pad

When my mom came out to visit this past spring, she brought a rice heating pad with her. All she does is place it inside the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up and it helps her with headaches and other aches and pains. I borrowed it as well, as I was recovering from surgery at the time. Since then, I've wanted to make one for myself. I also thought that it would make a thoughtful gift for someone who has chronic pain, or is elderly, or who has just had surgery. I can already think how this neat hospitality gift would be a blessing to so many. Add it to a basket with some homemade soup, and you've got a delight for the hurting soul.

This fabric was a remnant from mom, who used a good portion for a project she was working on. I cut out two pieces measuring 11 3/4" x 5" before sewing a strip of grosgrain ribbon to the sides of each piece. I stitched all around the two long sides and one short side, leaving the end open to fill with rice. I didn't measure the amount, but I think I poured about two cups of rice inside. I didn't want it to be too heavy, but yet filled enough so that it works well. This heating pad is probably a bit longer than Mom's, but that's all right. It rests halfway around my neck and is long enough to help my lower back when it decides to kink up on me!

I added these bows to the tops of the ribbon using a hot glue gun. I figured that it would be nice to have something real cute to use as you're (writhing) in pain. Why not, right? I thought about adding buttons, but any embellishments like that would be bad in the microwave! I'm sure an embroidered monogram would work though. And absolutely no washing except for spot cleaning. I can only imagine the puffiness--or explosion--of all that rice after it's been through the wash!

M.O.M. Bible Study

For the last few summers, we've been hosting a Bible study for the teens in our church. We usually just have four or five study times, but they have been so good and thought-provoking. This time, Q wanted to do one just for the guys. It's called, M.O.M., meaning, "men on a mission."

While I hang out in another room, Q gives a lesson on Biblical manhood. It's a topic that isn't taught or endorsed in today's society. Besides the Bible, the book he's using as a guide is called, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, Ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Last night, they began talking about Biblical femininity and how they need to support it. They will finish this series next week.

I really like the definitions he's been reminding the guys of during these weeks, so I thought I'd share them with you.

At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man's differing relationships.

At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman's differing relationships.

Isn't that good? I hope these guys continue to learn and apply these concepts as they become godly men who love God and their families well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Better late than never...

They're finally done--cards for my camp girls. Since camp, a couple of the girls and I have e-mailed or talked on the phone. All the while, I wanted to send cards to all five of them. I hope they like it.

They're all pretty much the same style (except the pink and brown one), but with different patterns and colors. Our tepee picture is on the front of each card.

I first glued on the picture, then created a border with scrap booking paper. Tiny flip-flop stickers were placed on the top left-hand corner. I typed out the name of our tepee, camp abbreviation and year, then printed it out. I cut around the paper using decorative edge scissors and glued it onto the bottom right-hand corner of the card. For the finishing touch, I glued on buttons in colors that matched the paper. 

These cards are being sent off tomorrow, so they should receive them in a day or two. I think they'll enjoy looking at the picture, as it will remind them of the fun times we had at camp.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grocery Challenge update: week 1

Yesterday marked the end of week one for All You's Grocery Challenge. I think we did pretty good, having spent only $42.47--that's $7.53 under the allowed amount ($25 per person per week). And better yet, many of the things I bought last week were items to help us get through to next week. I don't think I'll have to buy anything at all this week, and if so, perhaps it will just be fruit and a few other small items. Our food budget is actually less than what the challenge allows for. What makes this a bit challenging is that we've never added in the money spent on eating out into our budget (We don't do it very much, but it does add up). For the grocery challenge, eating out is counted so we have to be careful! It's already making us think of how we can continue saving money even after this contest is over.

Here's what's helped us so far with the challenge:

1. Friends and church family paid for three of our meals (two of them were at restaurants). We also had another "dinner for eight" where most of our meal was taken care of. (Isn't God good to bless us with free food?)
2. We ate eggs with some of our breakfasts and lunches. Eggs are so cheap and full of protein!
3. The only time we paid for something outside of groceries was two soft-serve cones at McDonald's (only totaled to $1).
4. I gained some change back from the grocery store for using my own cloth grocery bags.
5. We used some vegetables from our garden for part of our meals. We brought a salad and homemade croutons to the "dinner for eight."
6. I made more granola and some baked goods for breakfasts and desserts. I also made homemade applesauce (using my crockpot) for the recipes below.

After each week, I'll be posting updates like this to show you our progress. I'll also be sharing one or two new favorite recipes that helped us during the week.

I know you'll love both of the following recipes. On the morning I baked these muffins, we each had one, then I froze the rest. I figured it would be good to begin freezing more things now, so that when we move, we can have some quick snacks and meals and not be tempted to eat out.

Wheat germ streusel banana muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cold butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (I used chopped almonds instead)

1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat the bananas, egg oil and applesauce until well blended. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
2. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill two-thirds full with batter. For streusel, combine the brown sugar, wheat germ and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over batter.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for five minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

This recipe came from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking Magazine, Aug/Sept. 2009 edition.

This zucchini bread is so delicious! It was a great way to use up some zucchini from our garden. I did not use the walnuts and raisins like it calls for, and it still turned out wonderful! I plan on making it again this week as I have more zucchini and applesauce to use up. The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes 2008. It was the first prize winner in the "sweet loaves, breads and rolls" contest.

Zucchini-Oat Bread

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 
3/4 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and remaining cinnamon; set aside. In large mixing bowl beat eggs with electric mixer on medium speed 2 minutes or until foamy. Add remaining sugar, applesauce, butter and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just until combined. Stir in zucchini, nuts, and raisins. Spoon into prepared pan. Sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture.
2. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on rack. Wrap and store several hours before slicing. Makes 16 slices.

Could this be our new church?

It may very well be. Quentin and I spent the entire day yesterday in Lafayette, CO. It is just forty minutes away from here, so the traveling time wasn't bad at all. We left at eight-thirty and arrived a few minutes after nine at First Baptist Church. The church is over one hundred years old. I love the look of it, don't you?

The pastor and his wife are gone for a conference, so Q was asked to speak for both services. We have met with the Kemper's a few times already to talk about the possibility of us coming to be a part of their church. Pastor Kemper has been the pastor for over forty years and is looking to retire soon. The set-up would be that Q would be his assistant for a few months, then take on the church full-time in January. We have been praying about this for a while now. It would be such a neat opportunity for us if this is where God leads.

We had an enjoyable time with the people. Less than one hundred attend regularly, and a big percentage of them are seniors. Q preached and I sang in the morning service. We ate lunch with some of the folk at Chili's. It was great getting to know them. In the afternoon, we stayed at one of the older ladies' homes (who's actually the grandma of our church secretary here). For the evening service, we both shared our testimonies and Q preached again. 

We felt like everything went so well, so we're continuing to pray before we meet with Pastor Kemper again. As we pray, I'm continuing to pack and clean for the showings we've been having. We really need to sell our condo soon. I've hardly done any crafting, so whenever I get the chance, I'll show you some things I'm working on.

Will you pray with us as we seek God about moving to Lafayette and becoming a part of First Baptist Church?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Not a single one!

Don't you just love spiders? Ummm--me neither! We get all sorts of them here in Colorado, including the black widow. Eww...

I've been meaning to share this tip with you for a while, but I also wanted to wait to see if it really worked. I believe I got this tip from Rachael Ray's Everyday Magazine that I borrowed from the library.

And the tip is this: to keep spiders from lurking on the top of your walls, rub lemon juice on them. Of course, this will also prevent cobwebs. (And who really wants to spend their time getting rid of cobwebs?) I used real lemon juice on my dining and living room walls a couple months ago, and I have not seen a single spider. I did not do this on the bedroom walls, and I have seen some there. Apparently, spiders hate lemon. And that's a good thing, because it is a very economical way to keep those pesky critters out.

Oh, and by the way, I took this spider picture before I tried this little experiment. 

Do you have any tips for keeping tiny pests away? 

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I love simple things, don't you? I acquired a few small Coke glasses and decided to save them to use as vases. I couldn't wait until another rose blossomed so that I could adorn our place with it.

As you all know, I enjoy nostalgic things, and Coca-Cola just happens to be one of them! Besides beautifying your own home with a simple decoration like this, wouldn't a dear loved one enjoy a sweet gift such as this? Ribbon or lace can be tied around it, too. I am definitely going to remember this one for future hospital visits.

This tiny yellow rose has finally opened up this summer. If I get a few at the same time, they would make a lovely bouquet accompanied by a hand-written note for a friend.

"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time...." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A hidden treasure

I had forgotten about an old recipe tin that was given to us until I was packing for a bit yesterday. It comes from my mother-in-law's side of the family. It is such a treasure!

It is old--and I mean really old! There's rust all over it, but it is a fine addition to my collection because I love antiques!

Inside the tin I found some recipes. I don't remember ever seeing them before, and if I did, never thought much about them.

It was time to take a little packing break and look through them. Some of the cards were typed out, others were handwritten. All of the recipes were unique in their own way. It wasn't that they had strange ingredients; it was that they were dated to a certain time in our nation's history. Only one card had a name on it. It was my mother-in-law's maiden name--Greeno. I figured out that this collection must have come from her parents. These recipes and clippings dated back to the 1940's when everyone was using what they had from their "victory" gardens to supplement their meals.

This "Empty-Sugar-Bin Desserts" article was fascinating, as it focused on how to make sweet treats with little or no sugar. This one was published in 1943.

Another clipping with the date May, 1946, had another food article, plus some unique advertisements. I didn't realize that the "Kerr" canning company has been around for such a long time. Everyone was encouraged to can their food to make it through the tough war time.

This hidden treasure is a keeper. It's such a neat peek into our history, as well as my husband's family's history. I can't wait to talk to his mom more about it. They might know what the best recipe in that stash is...and then of course, I will have to make it....and then, perhaps, I'll have to share it with all of you!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A great way to cool off on a hot summer day... to eat lots of lemon sherbet! This stuff is so good, that I can eat it more than once a day if I let myself. If you have an ice cream maker, you will want to make a batch of this before the summer is over.

I found the recipe in a book called, Soda Fountain Classics, by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern. I bought it at Barnes and Noble with a gift card a few months ago. Inside the book, there's a short history on soda fountain shops and ice cream parlors. Recipes for several kinds of sundaes, malted milkshakes, custard-based ice creams, ice cream cones, sauces and syrups are included. They all look so yummy! Wouldn't it be a fun thing to have an ice cream social at church with some of the things included in this book?

Lemon Sherbet

1 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup very cold milk

Put the sugar, lemon zest, and 1 cup water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Chill. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the milk into the ice cream maker, then add the lemon water. Churn and serve. Makes about 3 cups.

Note: I usually double the batch when I make this. I also use half milk and half whipping cream (instead of using all milk) to make it creamier.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I've been wanting to write on something that God has been working in my heart about, but didn't know where to start. I recently taught this lesson, entitled, "distractions," to the teen and ladies Sunday School classes. 

I want to emphasize this before I share it with you--and that is, that this is something God has told me to change. It is in no way to criticize any of you or to judge others. But, I will say, it is convicting. Perhaps there is something to be learned about how we get easily "distracted" from our walk from the Lord.

Okay--read's pretty lengthy, but I hope it's an encouragement to you.


How many times have we said, "Oh, I can't get involved in that ministry opportunity because I'm too busy? " Or perhaps we've been confused in making choices because in actuality, we're being influenced by the wrong things. Deep down inside we know what God's Word says, but we're influenced by the world's philosophy. It's everywhere--television, movies, magazines, etc. Even the ones we think are pretty good are flooded with twisted views that are contrary to God's Word.

I'd like to share some of my heart in this lesson today. I'm going to start off by sharing a story on how the Lord has burdened my heart to talk about these things today.

About eight months ago, God began working in my heart about something I was doing that was being a distraction in my Christian walk. I was spending too much time on the internet, particularly on a social networking site. Other than the time factor, the Holy spirit convicted my heart about some of the things that were being shown in front of my eyes that were not right. Gossip, rude remarks, and some inappropriate pictures were influencing my heart and mind in the wrong direction. God kept reminding me of the verse, Phillipians 4:8 which says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever thing are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." You see, some of these things I saw with my eyes were not pleasing the Lord. How can I have God's mind and a pure heart if I'm allowing these negative things to come in? Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he; eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee." So really, what I was allowing in was what was becoming me. And then, I go back to the time factor. I fought with the thought, "but this is helping me connect with people. It's really not that bad." But then again, another verse came to mind--Ephesians 5:16 says, "Redeeming the time because the days are evil." God wants us to enjoy fellowship with one another, bt a lot of the social networking wasn't allowing me to spend time with the peopole that mattered or doing things that really made a difference. Our time on earth is short, and we must use it to the fullest. The decision to leave this social networking site has been the best thing for me in wanting to have a clean heart. It also led me into getting rid of movies that "seem okay" but were promoting worldly philosophy and the wrong kind of music.

So, why do I share these things with you?

I wondered if distractions were affecting my walk with the Lord, then perhaps there are things in your life that may be causing you to struggle in your Christian walk. We'll first talk about some of these things, then give ways on how we can help ourselves from falling into these traps. These verses will be our focus: 

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Some of the things I'll mention are those "sins which beset us," but then there are the "weights" that we have to lay aside so that we can look unto Jesus in the Christian race.

The Distractions we face:

Think about things that you love to do. Now, write them down on a sheet of paper. Circle the one(s) that God esteems as important in His Word. Was it convicting? Did anyone write down spending time in God's Word as the number one thing, and did it make it at all in your top five? Finally, underline the thing or things that are keeping you from having a strong walk with the Lord.

I've come up with some distractions and I'd like to share them with you:

1. Friends--Friends who walk wisely are encouraged by the Lord. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." If your friends aren't walking with Christ, then you need to pray about choosing godly friends. Friends influence the way you think. If you care about what your friends think more than what God thinks, then it is a distraction.

2. Hobbies--This is anything that you like to do in your spare time. Evaluate if it's keeping you from spending time with the Lord. If it's something that is contrary to God's Word, then give it up and replace it with something that is acceptable in His eyes.

3. Entertainment/technology--movies, television, internet, cell phone, i-pods,etc. Ask yourself, "What would God say to me if He were to pop up live where I was when I participated in these things?" I've heard people say, "That little swear word won't affect me. That music isn't really all that bad." Make God's Word your standard, and not what others are doing. The time factor with certain things could be that weight that is keeping you from doing things that matter, but there are some obvious principles in God's Word that would make certain entertainment choices wrong.

Help for distractions:

1. Spend time in the Bible and prayer. I don't know how many times I've heard young people say, "I don't have time to read my Bible because of....(fill in the blank). Adults do the same thing, believe it or not. We can all fail in this area that is so vital to growing in God and knowing how to discern right from wrong. We invite our friends to spend time with us, but yet, we neglect the Friend who loves us more than anything! How can we make good decisions if we don't seek the Lord? Isaiah 55:6 says, "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." Ask God to give you wisdom and He will. "James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." You'll find that with spending time with God, that you'll begin to love those things that He loves. Your mind will be filled with those things that God esteems valuable. Phillipians 2:5 says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

2. Write down and learn Scriptural principles. On a teen retreat at Camp Ironwood, the teens had to write down principles on certain topics. They wrote down what they believed and how it affected their families, authority, church, school, and jobs. This will really help you strengthen your knowledge about what God says is okay to do and not to do. Write down your priorities and goals in your life right now, as well as for the future. Do they line up with God's daily will for believers--or are these things what you think you ought to be doing?
**This next point is directed towards teens, but we can apply it to social situations.

3. Talk to your parents about distractions. If they're okay with your doing something, but you know that God is convicting you about it, why not talk to them about it? I believe they'll support you in your desire to have a pure heart before God. I have been faced with things like this within my closest family and friends. It was hard at first, but after a while, they understood that I wanted to do right. Follow the Lord's leading, but be careful with how you view other's standards and convictions. Perhaps God hasn't dealt with them in an area yet. The important thing is that you follow the Lord and obey your parents. Question to ponder: When was the last time you walked out of a situation that wasn't pleasing to God?

4. Out with the old; in with the new. Once you realize that you need to get rid of something, what do you do? If it's a CD or an ipod download you need to get rid of--get rid of it in a hurry! Seek a wise person's counsel as you learn to replace the bad with the good. This goes for books, music, movies and even friends. If you have a friend who doesn't seek to please the Lord, then you need to remove yourself from them. This may be hard to do, but it will be so worth it from an eternal point of view. I had an "interest" a long time ago (before my husband) that I was focusing too much of my heart on. I lost sight of what God wanted me to do. God's Word says to not serve idols and to worship Him alone. But yet, we sometimes think that people can never be idols (only entertainment), so we believe it's the right thing to do to spend so much time and idolize this person. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind" and you can't go wrong. Worship God alone.

The conclusion of the matter:

Philippians 3:10 says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"

We were made to give glory to God and fellowship with Him. Our goal in life is to be always seeking ways to know Him better. If we're filled with distractions, it's hard to get to know God like we ought to. The world would say it's okay to fill that "void" in our lives with things. But we know the truth--God is the only One who can do that. He's our source of joy.

It all boils down to this question--"Who or what do we love the most?" We tend to spend the most time with those things that we care about or love the most. Choose to spend time in the Bible. See how your life will be changed when we saturate our hearts and minds in God's Word and slowly remove those things that would keep us from living a life of purity.

I know this was a lot, but I hope it encouraged your heart. I started this blog back in November 0f 2008--around the same time that God was working in my heart about leaving that social networking site. My blog is designed to give ideas and encourage others in their homes and ministries. But--if it ever becomes a distraction in my life, then my husband and I will remove it completely. I pray for balance in knowing what God wants me to do each and every day. Although I enjoy having this blog, my relationship with God is more important. 

What do we need to leave behind so that we may follow God with a pure heart?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Are you ready for "The Grocery Challenge?"

When I bought my last issue of All You Magazine, I came across a short article about a contest they're having. It's called "The Grocery Challenge." I got really excited about this one, since I love saving money.

The contest starts tomorrow and I think there is still time tonight to sign up for it here. Click on the link and write in all your necessary information. Go for it--you may be the winner!

This challenge lasts for an entire month. I wasn't sure at first if I wanted to try this, seeing that we're going to be moving soon, but after talking to Q about it he thought it was great. He said, "Win us a thousand dollars, Babe" as he gave me a high-five! That's right--the winner gets a $1,000 grocery card plus some side dishes from the Knorr company. They also get to be featured in the magazine (and yes, I wouldn't mind being featured again!:) There are a few rules to stick with like--you can only spend up to $25 per person per week, and you can't roll over to the next week if you don't reach the quota. Going out to eat counts towards that money, so that needs to be left out or minimized. You have to save all your receipts so that you can be judged on one of the criteria--healthy food. The other two criterias are: if you kept within budget and and if you're creative. I figured if you're one of the top 10 finalists, that it will come down to that last criteria.

I've been working on a game plan for this as I get started. I've been looking at my cupboards, writing down lists, checking out coupons and trying to figure out what food I could use from the garden. I'll keep you all posted! Wouldn't it be wonderful if God could provide for us in this way? I know one thing for sure--I'll be learning how to save us more money. And that's a very good thing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Packing 101: beginning the tedious task

This week, I began the tedious task of packing. I had to get started as we may be leaving our place in about a month. Although we don't know exactly where we're going yet, we will be visiting a church in Lafayette, CO called First Baptist Church next Sunday. Q will get to preach for both services. Please pray for us as we continue to follow the Lord's leading.

Starting the packing has done a few things for us right now. It's helped us face the reality that we're really moving on and it's helped me keep busy when Q has lots of things to do at work. Clearing out some things will hopefully help our condo to sell quickly. We're thankful that we're able to store these boxes at church so we can keep all the clutter out! And finally, packing up as many things as possible before the summer is over will help when we're down to the last few days. I don't want to be feeling like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get so much done all at once! 

Packing things right takes some thought and planning. This is what we were able to get done this week:

1. I found a notebook to write down the contents of each box. My goal with this is to be as specific as possible without making it too hard. For instance, I didn't want to write down every single book title, but instead to write down how many books, what type of books, and series of books, (like "Narnia" books).
2. I packed up ten boxes of books, games and toys. Each box is labeled with a number and short description of its contents. The more specific details can be found in my notebook.
3. Q started the process of packing up his library at work.

I'm not sure how many books Quentin packed up, but at home, I've already packed 545 books! And there's still more to go! We love books and all the learning and imagination that happens when we read them.

The plan for this coming week....pack more books, videos & dvd's, kitchen decorations and items we're not going to be using any time soon. We'll most likely have to go get more boxes at the grocery store.

Do any of you have any packing tips to share? I would love to hear your ideas.:)

Friday, July 10, 2009

My garden: sharing with friends

Q and I were invited to a dinner last night. We have become good friends with many of the senior saints in our church. One of the dear widows, Jo, invited us and a few others for a potluck dinner. She told us to bring a vegetable. Q thought it would be a neat idea to check on the garden and see what we could bring.

I wasn't exactly sure what we were going to find, but lo and behold, we found this huge zucchini ready for picking! There were a couple others that weren't so big, but I heard that once they start coming, you'll get a lot of them all at once! I definitely see some zucchini bread in the near future...

Our carrots are so tiny, but we picked a few any way. Q decided that we'd cook the zucchini, then have a salad made from these carrots, radishes and lettuce from the garden. We also cut some more rhubarb to take home and make more things from it. 

I checked my tomato plants, and all but a couple are looking very good! This one here is beginning to flower--yeah!

Look how huge it's getting! Many can't believe that I was brave enough to start from seed, but I told them this was my second try with it this year. They are doing just as well as others who bought theirs from a garden nursery. This gives me hope as I definitely want to plant roma tomatoes next year.

When we got to Jo's place, she helped us cook the zucchini, as neither of us have done it before. Q chopped it up, then we placed it in a pot with some butter. Jo added canned tomatoes, italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper. We stirred it until the zucchini got tender. It was great! Everyone loved it. We added the carrots and radishes to another friend's salad, and decided to take the lettuce home to eat soon.

What have you been doing with your garden produce this summer?

A simple anniversary card

My in-laws celebrated their anniversary this week, so I made them this card. Picture cards are a simple and meaningful way to show someone you care.

I took this picture of one of our first yellow roses this summer then printed it off. I cropped it and glued it onto black paper that I had cut using decorative edge scissors. I wrote "happy anniversary" with my calligraphy pen. It was so easy! My father-in-law enjoys plant life, so I thought he would like this picture. 

Inside the card, I wrote this:

I wish there could have been a way for me to make it smell like a rose or even put petals inside the card. Unfortunately, I don't have any rose-scented perfume or lotion and I'm still waiting for my new rose buds to open up. Maybe next time...

I sign each and every card I make with my initials and the year. Some fellow scrap booking friends stamp a small image and place their initials inside of it. It's a fun way to leave your mark on your creations.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Selling the condo: getting ready for showings

Our condo has been on the market for two weeks now, and in that time, we have had three showings. We're really excited that things are moving along. As we continue to pray for direction on a new church, we're also praying that the condo will sell quickly. The realtor has given us some ideas on how to present it well, such as clearing out extra things to make the space look bigger. As I've started packing, we've been learning on how to do a quick clean-up on short notice. Here's the list:

1. Dust furniture.
2. Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters.
3. Sweep front entrance and garden area.
4. Put away any books, clothes or hobby items.
5. Wash, dry and put away dishes.
6. Hand-mop kitchen and bathroom floors.
7. Vaccuum all rooms and hallway.

Each day, I've been working hard to get the dishes done and straighten things up in each room during my morning routine. It's helped a lot! With a regular cleaning day during the week, doing these few small things before a showing isn't so bad.

Will you join us in praying that our condo will sell quickly? Also--do you have any tips for home showings that I can add to my list? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A taste from the county fair: corn dog muffins

When I made these corn dog muffins for the first time last summer, I couldn't believe it! They taste so much like real corn dogs. And the only place you can have a real corn dog is at the county fair, right? There's something about that sweet crunchy corn batter wrapped around that hot dog....can't you smell it now...

We had these for supper tonight with a side of carrot sticks. About 3-4 will fill you up! They can also be enjoyed as a snack. We like dipping ours into ketchup, but I'm sure that mustard would be great, too. So, go ahead--make some for the entire family or for your next potluck at church. It's sure to be a winner!

I found the recipe in Taste of Home's Fast Fixes with Mixes. If you don't have corn muffin mix, you can make your favorite corn bread recipe. Add the brown sugar to the dry ingredients, and continue following the recipe for the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, etc.). Feel free to use turkey hot dogs like we did for a healthier version of this muffin.

Corn Dog Muffins

2 packages (8 1/2 ounces each) cornbread/muffin mix
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
5 hot dogs, chopped 

In a bowl, combine corn bread mix and brown sugar. Combine eggs and milk; stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Stir in corn and hot dogs (batter will be thin). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Yield: 1 1/2 dozen

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How we've been making our money stretch

After telling you that I had a money-saving tip published in the latest issue of All You, I wrote down some other ways that Q and I have been stretching our bucks.

Some of the things I will mention may not be new to you, but perhaps some may spark your interest and help you and your family with your finances.

First of all, I wanted to share a verse with you that helps me remember who is in control of everything we own, including our income. Philippians 4:19 says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." This verse promises that God will give us all that we need, not necessarily all that we want. We know that our God is able to do "exceedingly and abundantly all that we ask or think." At times when we're down to the last bit of food or gas in the car, God works in wonderful ways to take care of us.

Now, here's our list, starting with the two most important things:

1. We give our tithe to the Lord. Ten percent of our income is given back to God. Before we do any spending, we place our tithe in an envelope and place it in the offering plate at church. As Christians, we are to do this unto the Lord.  Leviticus 27:30 says, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord." I love this next verse because it promises blessings if we follow God's command. Malachi 3:10 says, Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

2. We give offerings of time and money to ministries around the world. Above our ten percent, we give an additional percentage to world-wide missions. In some churches it is called, "faith promise." The money we give helps missionaries buy Bibles and other tools for evangelism. It's so encouraging to know that we are helping lost souls come to Christ. Our church also has a missions closet where we can donate items that missionaries can use. When they come to visit our church, they can go into the closet and choose things they need. Even though Q is a pastor, both he and I have spent extra time with people here in our town as well as on mission's trips. Time in evangelizing and encouraging others is also an eternal investment besides the money that we give. II Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

Some of you are probably wondering how we make it after giving our tithes and offerings. My basic answer is that God takes care of us when we're faithful to Him. And remember, He owns everything anyway, right? We are only stewards of the things we have on this earth. Our eternal home will not have these material things that will some day turn to dust. But, while on this earth, we can be wise with the money God gives us.

3. We use the envelope system. Each paycheck, my husband takes out the cash that we need for food, personal supplies, household supplies and gas. We don't have a budget for clothing or gifts, since we don't need it that often (plus I make cards and gifts a lot...more on that below). There's a certain amount that we put in for each category. What ever is in those envelopes is mine to use until the next pay check. If I run out of it, that's all I spend. So, no credit card or even debit card usage (except for emergencies!).

4. I use coupons for so many things. Since we don't get the newspaper, I get a lot of my coupons on-line. Our main grocery store, King Sooper's, also sends me coupons in the mail. For certain name-brand items that I can't part with (like my contact lens solution, Renu), I go directly to their website frequently to see if I can get a coupon. A couple of my favorite coupon sites are and

5. I'm learning about special deals and sales. I've so appreciated other bloggers who spend time scoping out deals for the rest of us. My favorites are and They give everyone the scoop on freebies and coupon deals. Another great site is You just write in what you're top grocery stores are, and they look out for deals for you. They send you an e-mail telling you what's on sale at your favorite stores. Having been a teacher for a long time, I also learned to ask office supply and bookstores if they gave discounts. Some places give a teacher discount card to use; others require an i.d. badge.

6. I'm learning to use and reuse items I already have. I've stopped using paper towels and use rags instead. I wash plastic storage bags that were used with non-greasy foods. Sometimes I make substitutions when cooking. If I don't have a certain kind of cheese, it's okay to use what's already on hand. Why make an extra trip to the grocery store for one thing?

7. I've been making my own mixes and staples. This is the tip that I wrote in All You Magazine. I've been making my own bread, croutons, tortillas, taco seasoning mix, baking mix and sweetened condensed milk. Some of the recipes can be found on my blog and others can be found on

8. We are benefiting from fresh produce from our garden. While we learn from experienced gardeners, we've been gaining fresh food to eat. We've already enjoyed rhubarb and radishes. I hope that the next place we move to will allow us to have a bigger space in which to grow our own vegetables. 

9. I sign up to get freebies almost every day. Everything from food samples to books and clothing, freebie sites are wonderful! I've been able to get things for us to use, as well as for friends and family. My favorite site is, but I've recently been checking out and I've been a member of and have been able to get free gift cards just by checking retailer's sites. Almost every day, I get at least one e-mail from them asking me to check a certain store's site. Just for checking, I get a few points added to my total. Another way to get points is to purchase items within their list of retailers. Just for taking a few minutes to click on these e-mails, I've been able to accumulate points to get a few gift cards already.

10. We buy clothing and household items at thrift stores. I grew up doing this, so it wasn't a new thing for me to continue this when I got married. The deals can be incredible some times! We love Goodwill and Saver's, which both offer extra deals on holidays (50%). Our favorite though is Saver's 99 cent color day, which is every Monday. When you walk into the store, they'll have a certain color that will be on sale. Whatever item is that color, you pay just 99 cents!

11. I spend less for the thing I love to do. And that is--crafting! Did you know that you can get on mailing lists for Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Joann's and they'll send you coupons via snail mail or e-mail? This is how I get to enjoy making things, because craft supplies can be expensive. I make cards and gifts for family and friends, saving lots of money. I can make things personalized, too, which the receiver always loves.

12. We walk almost everywhere. One blessing that we have is that we live right across from our church and school, so we walk when the weather is nice. We've saved lots of gas money this way. My old car hasn't always been reliable lately, so I've found a shortcut to College Avenue, one of our main streets in town, so that I can go grocery shopping or to the thrift store. I also get in some extra exercise, which doesn't cost anything. 

13. We turn off the lights to save on electricity. Seriously, every little bit helps! We turn off the lights in rooms that we're not using. It's also good to not have the air conditioner running all the time (so hard during the summer though)!

14. We've been organizing our stuff. Before our decision to move, I'd already been working to get our place neat and clean. It's so important to organize so that you know where everything is. And, if we know where everything is, we won't waste time at the store buying that unnecessary item that you already have...somewhere.

15. We're learning how to generate extra income. Many people have loved getting to be a part of Etsy. I've thought a lot about it, but with our move right now, haven't plunged into this. But, I have found a couple places where I can turn our old stuff into cash. The sites are and All you do is type in the ISBN on the back of a book to see if they'll buy it from you. If they like it, then they pay the shipping for you to send the book and you get some cash! I've got a short stack ready to go with both of these companies. 

Hope this list is a help to you. Oh, and one more thing--Q and I ask each other a few questions before we want to buy something. We do this even at the thrift store, because although it may be a good deal, it may not be the best for us at the time.

Ask these questions before you buy:

1. Do I really need it?
2. Will it have a "home" after we purchase it?
3. Does it have high value for our lives right now?

Finally, remember that God is our Great Provider. Pray before you go shopping and ask Him to give you the best deal. Thank and praise Him for providing your needs. 

We have a great God, don't we?