Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blog Drawing

I put all the names in a basket and drew one out this morning.  And the winner of the package of Christmas goodies is.....

Kathi D

Congratulations, Kathi!  Your package will be mailed out on Monday morning.

Of course, because I have such a hard time not feeling bad for everyone who didn't win and I'm in the Christmas spirit, I decided to choose two more names.  They'll get something as well.  Those two are...

Elizabeth D

and

Sandy

Just email me your addresses at Groh5ofus@aol.com and I'll get these in the mail to you.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Choosing Joy

 
This is the 5th night in a row that I've been wide awake in the middle of the night and I feel so very frustrated.  I wake up every night with a constant throbbing pain in my right shoulder.  I tore my rotator cuff a few months ago and after a steroid shot in that shoulder, I felt a better for a few weeks.  It's been progressively getting bad again, and last night I wrenched it which aggravated it even more.  Once I'm awake I can't get back to sleep until a few hours later which then causes me to oversleep in the morning.  Then I'm feeling behind all day.

It's frustrating because there are so many things I want to do.   Things such as.....

Sewing.  I'm almost out of tea totes which a local cafĂ© carries.  My Etsy shop is depleted of them.  I have a craft fair coming up in January.  But sewing aggravates the arm.

Baking.  I've only made 4 kinds of cookies this entire season, when normally I make 10 or more. 
 

 
Giving.  Our finances are very low and need to last us for 2 more weeks so my plans of making loaves of sweet bread to give out on Christmas eve is falling by the wayside.

Singing.  I'm supposed to sing a solo for our candlelight service but am feeling very, very insecure  and unsure about that so I'm not sure I'm going to do it. 

Planning.  The children at church are supposed to sing on Sunday, but I'm thinking they are not ready.

Sending.  The Christmas cards I planned on writing and sending won't be happening because it hurts tremendously to hold my arm up on the table to write. 

Do you see how my mind goes when I'm tired and not feeling well?  Terrible!

Luke 2:8-12 (NLT) ~

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Joy to the world.  That is the news the angels brought to the shepherds.  Joy to those who feel joyless.  Joy to those who are sick.  Joy to those who are tired.  Joy to those who are fatherless.  Joy to those who have plans that are sidetracked.  Joy to those who feel lonely.  Joy to the broken-hearted. 

Joy came in the form of a simple child, wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a manger for animals.  That joy had nothing to do with cookies and decorations and busyness and Christmas movies that give you warm feelings.

I had quite the pity-party going on.  As I lay in bed, feeling sorry for myself, the thought occurred to me that I have a warm bed to lay in.  My children are all under my roof.  My freezer is full of food.  I have a family who loves me.  Do any of the activities matter?

Of course, the answer is no.  What matters is that I serve a God who loved me enough to send His son into the world to live and then die for me.  What matters is that I can wake up each day knowing that the Lord is in control of my life.

And that is where my joy is found.  Not in the doing but in the knowing.  Joy is not found in the trappings but in the fact that Christ came to earth as a human.  So today I'm going to put the doing on hold.  I'm going to enjoy this moment that I've been given.  I'm going to make things simpler this Christmas. 


Joy to the world; the Lord has come!  Today I choose joy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Confessions of a Farmer's Daughter

http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Farmers-Daughter-Jody-Gates/dp/1503017729/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418888277&sr=8-1&keywords=Confessions+of+a+Farmer%27s+Daughter&pebp=1418888283521
 
My friend, Jody Gates, is a fellow pastor's wife in our district.  We both homeschooled our children, love to write, and have other similar interests.  Of course, because we lived about 4 hours apart we only got to see each other a couple of times a year at our district women's retreats.  So most of our interaction was online.  Since Dan & I have moved last year Jody and I are now less than an hour a way and get together every couple of months for coffee and catching up.   Jody was such an encouragement to me when I wrote my books and now I get to reciprocate.
 
That is because she just released her first book, Confessions of a Farmer's Daughter.  In Confessions Jody shares how the perfect life she envisioned as a wife and mother doesn't match up to her reality.  It is an honest look at the struggles many women face as their real life doesn't live up to the fairy tale world they thought they would find.  She also gives us a look into the emotions surrounding the untimely death of her father.
 
I loved the book because I was able to relate to almost all of the struggles that Jody faced.  I learned something new about my friend and saw why we connected so well.  Jody has walked through many of the things I still struggle with at times.  She writes with transparency and yet, points her readers back to Christ who can change us from within.
 
It's an easy read and I would recommend this book to not just ministry wives but anyone who finds themselves wishing their life was different.  Jody truly does live her life for the Lord and has come through an internal struggle with a great perspective and strong faith.
 
You can find her book on Amazon by clicking on the picture above or by going to her blog, Jody Lynne,
 
I also want to remind you all that you have until Saturday morning to leave a comment here to be entered into my drawing for a Christmas gift from me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) ~

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”


Christmas shopping.  Wrapping gifts.  Baking cookies.  Running from one holiday party to the next.  These are all the signs of the holiday season.  We race from one moment to the next with scarcely a breath in between. 

Christmas is the time we celebrate the coming of the Messiah.  As believers we say we want to keep the true meaning of Christmas as our focus.  We express our desire to keep Christ in Christmas and yet, we continue to do all the things that pull our focus away from that.  We don't stop long enough to actually do what we say we want to do.

And yet, as this Psalm states, God wants us to be still.  To stop and listen to Him.  To get off the spinning merry-go-round long enough to recognize who He is.  What was the response of those who witnessed the birth of Christ?  The magi fell to their knees and worshiped.  The shepherds praised.  The angels worshipped.  Mary meditated and reflected.  Simeon praised God.  Anna began to thank God.

What is our response?  Is it to keep running and doing all the things that keep our focus off what Christmas is all about?  Or is it to stop and reflect on this wonderful gift?  Is our response to worship and praise, or to meditate and thank God?

Let's stop the craziness this Christmas.  Take time each day to stop and reflect on why we are celebrating?  Spend time in God's word each and in prayer, asking Him to give you some new insights into His word. 

Be still and know that He is God.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Christmas Gift

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I took Emily Christmas shopping this afternoon so she could finish getting some gifts for her friends.  I'm glad I did because I felt the excitement for Christmas begin to sweep over me.  I've been so busy with outside distractions lately, that I haven't really been in the Christmas mood. 

However, each year I try to do a give away on my blog and I don't think I've done it at all this year.  So I'm giving you a Christmas gift!  I can't guarantee that it'll be there before Christmas day, but it's my gift to my blog readers.  It will be a package of a number of different items and obviously, a surprise!

All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment on my blog or under this post on facebook. And if you are doing it on Facebook, you have to leave a comment.  No just clicking "like".  :-)  I will enter your name into a drawing which I'll do on Saturday morning.  And yes, for those of you overseas, you can participate too!

Thank you to those of you who have faithfully read and commented throughout the years.  Some of you have been with me since the beginning when I started this in December of 2008.  Wow!  I just realized I've been blogging for 7 years.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Only Words on a Page?

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Each week in church, we have been reading a passage of scripture and lighting the candle on the Advent wreath to go along with the Advent theme for that particular week.

So far the candles of peace, hope, and joy have been lit and this coming Sunday it is the candle of love.  I have always loved Advent and the traditions surrounding it because to me, it is a very meaningful way to celebrate the birth of Christ.

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But, as I was reflecting on the themes, I pondered the thought, "Does my Christian walk truly reflect the themes of peace, hope, joy and love or are they just words on a page?"  Do I have peace in my heart, knowing that God has my best in mind no matter what I face?  Am I hopeful that He will work in the midst of my circumstances?  Do I reflect joy in my attitudes, actions and words not just in public or on this blog, but behind closed doors where only my family can see?  Do I show love to those God has placed in my life, even when they are being unlovable and unlovely? 

The true measure of my walk with the Lord is whether I actually live out what I read.  It's so easy to sit through a church service and hear the sermon and nod my head and say, "That was good."  But then I go home and quickly forget what I heard.  It's simple to pick up my Bible and read a few inspirational truths and then just as quickly put it out of my mind and do exactly what I want to do.

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I don't want my life to just be about hearing and reading God's word. 

James 1:22-25 says,

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at ...
his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

I want to actually live out what I read.  I want to go beyond the comfortable and safe.  I want to follow Christ no matter what the cost and that can be scary.  It's frightening even typing those words out because my mind immediately thinks, "Oh no!"  "What if He holds me to that?" 

If we are to be both salt and light in this world, then our walk has to go beyond the words on a page.  As you reflect on Christ's coming this Christmas season, don't just think on it, live it.  If we are never actually changed by Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection then it is meaningless. 

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My desire and prayer in the coming weeks is that I would walk my talk.  How about you?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Planning


I love to cook and if you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll understand what I mean.  To me a meal without creativity is just not a meal. 

I'm also trying to manage our very tight budget and I decided to get back to my old habit of making out a menu each week.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because I make everything from scratch.  It's cheaper and also because I deal with so many health issues in our family, it's a way to manage what's going into their body.

I always plan my meals around what I have in my pantry and have the same basic things there.  It ends up costing less than trying to plan a menu and then go out and purchase specific items.

Here is the plan for the next week.  I'm not putting the word homemade in front of everything, but it's all from scratch from cereals to breads to desserts.

Monday

B - Granola, juice
L - Hot pockets with ground beef, mozzarella and sauce (I'm making a double batch for the freezer)
D - Chicken enchilada casserole, tossed salad

Tuesday

B - Waffles, juice
L - Leftovers
D - Moussaka, pita, taboulleh, tossed salad

Wednesday

B - Granola, fresh fruit, juice
L - Moroccan Style Butternut squash soup in bread bowls
D - Baked salmon, rice pilaf, steamed carrots, dinner rolls

Thursday

B - Scrambled eggs, home fries, juice
L - Leftovers
D - Pizza (choice of pepperoni or veggie), tossed salad

Friday

B - Granola, juice
L - Leftovers
D - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits, peach crisp

Saturday

B - Waffles, juice
L - Chicken chili, oatmeal bread
D - Spaghetti, Italian bread, tossed salad

Sunday

B - Cereal, juice
L - Leftovers
D - Swedish meatballs, egg noodles, dinner rolls, steamed green beans, apple pie