Friday, January 16, 2015

A Suppertime Favorite

Tonight for dinner we're having Spaghetti Casserole!  I'm making two and taking one to a friend.  We love Spaghetti Casserole around here, and since we do I thought you might too, so here's the recipe.  It's yummy!!




1 pkg (16 oz) Angel Hair Pasta

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 jar (26 oz) Spaghetti Sauce

1 can cream of mushroom soup

8 oz sour cream

8 oz Colby Jack cheese (shredded)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Cook beef over medium heat.  Drain.  Return beef to skillet and stir in the sauces.  Remove from heat.  Drain the pasta.  Combine the soup and sour cream.



In a 9x13 baking dish layer meat sauce, pasta, soup mixture and cheese.  Repeat the layers.  (I did this one in a disposable aluminum pan to make clean-up easy for my friend.)









Cover and bake casserole at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.  


Serves 6-8.


It's sooo good!


I snapped this picture of our 3 year old but I should have gotten the teenagers.  They devour this meal and claim it to be one of their most favorites.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Busy Day. Long List.

Have you got a long list of stuff to do today??

Here's my to-do list:

Make bed
Straighten up house
Wash major amounts of clothes (and dry, and fold, and put away)
Pick up kids' contacts and glasses
Serve breakfast and lunch, make dinner
Balance check-book
Teach school (Read aloud History, grade Math, etc.)
Plan meal ministry for tomorrow night and pick up necessary items
Put remaining Christmas decorations in the attic
Drop off and pick up one son at work
AWANA tonight

How much do you have to do today?

Mamas can only do so much so I say take it one thing at a time.  
  • Make up your bed and get dressed for the day.  (Preaching to myself here.)
  • Start with the most important thing on your list.  When that is done put a big check-mark on it and proceed to the next thing on the list.
  • Reward your hard work with a treat when you have accomplished several things.
  • Play some background music and smile.
What's your best piece of advice for a busy day and long list??

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Happy New Year, Y'all!  The first ten days of the new year are already behind us!  Can you believe it?  It's 2015!  

2014 wasn't all around a great year for our family - but God did GREAT things.  

Looking back...

In January I ended up in the emergency room due to a cyst on my ovary.  
At the end of March I developed shingles with horrible nerve pain that lasted until May.  
On May 26th one of our sons was struck by lightning and he is still working through some of the affects of that.  
In June my husband had hernia surgery for what we thought was one hernia but turned out to be three.  His recovery was so much more than we bargained for.  
In July he had surgery again on a leg that has been a vascular issue for years and years.  
In August he spent almost a week in the hospital due to a staph infection that wouldn't let go (scared us all to death) and two of our children needed emergency root canals this same month, one of them the day after my husband got home from the hospital, (Our poor little daughter had to have 3 canals!) and I came down with a nasty viral infection that caused me to be more sick than I have ever been on my husband's second day home from the hospital.

Here's what you have at the end of a year like that.  




This is no joke.  These are all medical bills.  There are doctor bills, hospital bills, anesthesiologists, labs, emergency room visits, dental bills, and a whole lot more.  

Looking at that stack can sometimes make my chest a little tight but then I remember all the great things God did for us in 2014.  All of us are alive and healthy - and for one of my sons, and my husband, it could have turned out differently.  God has provided for us all along the way.  He always does.  There's no reason to panic or fret (even though, weak as I am, I sometimes do).   

Here's a picture I took of one of my husband's prescription receipts. 



We were going to have to pay for this medicine no matter what it cost because he had to have it.  This was the medicine that had been confirmed as the only one that was going to clear up his antibiotic resistant infection.  Look at what it cost, and look what we paid ($25).  I remember my knees getting weak and my eyes tearing up when I got that news.  God is so good to us!

I love the passage in the Bible where Jesus reminds us that God takes care of the little birds and He will even more so take care of us.  

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Matthew 6:26

That's not to say every path we walk on will be smooth or that every circumstance we face will turn out just the way we want it to.  What it means is we can trust God.  When things seem scary to us, or don't make sense, or are unfair - we can trust Him!  There is so much more to our time here on earth than we can see, or even realize.  When we get home one day, to our everlasting forever home, things will seem so different to us.

2015 will probably have it's challenges, it already has, but there will surely be blessings as well.  God taught me so much in 2014.  God is good all the time.  I want you to know no matter what 2015 may bring God is holding on to you.  He loves you so much and He desires to walk through this life with you.  Let's commit to growing closer to Him in this new year and trusting Him with the details of our lives - every step of the way.  

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.  Psalm 63:1-4

Monday, December 29, 2014

January

Hello All - 

I hope you had a most Merry Christmas!  We did.  Our Christmas was different this year, but good.  Praise be to God for His indescribable gift!  I'd rather have Jesus...than anything!

Here's a Christmas picture of our crew - 



Now let's talk about January.

A lot of people don't love the month of January, but I do.  I've heard January described as long, cold, and boring, but for me it's fun and exciting.  I love fresh starts, making plans, writing out goals, and considering new schedules.  So, what about you?  How do you feel about January?  

There are a lot of changes coming our way in 2015.  Some of the changes we are very excited about, others are going to be difficult - but healthy.  We've been talking them over as a family and praying.  

On New Year's Eve we usually eat a yummy meal, write out our New Year's Resolutions, have our Bible time, and those who are able to, stay up until midnight to cheer in the New Year.  What do you like to do with your family on the last night of the year?

I found something neat on Pinterest from While He Was Napping.  I think we just might use it this year (we'll just need to change the date to 2015).    


You can find it HERE.

Whatever you do to celebrate the new year I hope it's cozy and wonderful.  May God's peace and grace be greatly multiplied to you in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monkey Munch



We started making some of our favorite Christmas goodies today.  The holidays sure sneak up quickly, don't they?

We've been making this for close to 20 years and it is one of the things the kids look forward to most.  We only make it at Christmas time so that makes it extra special.  I was reminiscing today as I looked at my little tattered recipe.  I can remember, when our boys were just babes, cutting this recipe out of a magazine.  Remember when you did that - before Pinterest?  I still have that little magazine clipping and for some reason it warms my heart when I pull it out each year.  

The kids have almost always helped me mix this up but today one sweet boy asked to do it all by himself.  I was happy for him to do it.  I have more than enough to-dos on my list and I'm happy when someone wants to take something off my hands.  

Oh, and I should tell you, the official name for this is Chex Muddy Buddies.  I named it Monkey Munch the first Christmas I made it because at that time I always referred to our children as my little monkeys.  They gobbled this stuff up so quickly it would just disappear.  The name stuck, and all these years later they are still devouring it. 

Monkey Munch




9 cups Corn, Rice, or Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar




Put cereal in a large bowl and set aside.  Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter uncovered on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave for about 30 seconds longer until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.  Pour into 2-gallon resealable food storage bag. 



 Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag; shake until well coated.  Spread on wax paper to cool.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  



Merry Munching!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It Smells Like Christmas!

You've probably been seeing this on Pinterest.  I did, and I had to try it.  It really is lovely.  The house smells like Christmas!



A couple of the kids help me throw this together today and they thought it was so cool that we were making homemade potpourri.  Before we even put it on the stove we were loving the delicious scent.   

I have finally finished decorating our house for Christmas and now the sweet aroma of Christmas is simmering on the stove.  The inside of our home has the look and feel of Christmas.  The kids say they're just having a bit of a struggle with the Christmas feeling when we're outside because it is so warm and sunny.  I guess that's what we get for living in Chattanooga.  

Homemade Christmas Potpourri

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2 or 3 oranges, halved
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 small branch fresh pine
1 cup apple cider
water

Combine all ingredients in medium size pot.  Fill the pot with water until it reaches 3/4 the way full.  Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer, adding more water as needed.  


Mine is simmering now and I'm feeling super cozy.  I'm planning on leaving it on the stove all evening...especially if it keeps me in this festive mood!  :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

All of Joy, None of the Stress

I'm just saying, 

it's that time of year when all of us women folk start getting that feeling

that stressed out, overwhelmed feeling.

Don't let it happen this year!

Make December the best, most special month of the year - not the worst, most exhausting one.  

Ask yourself this question, {that I just asked myself} - Is there room for Christ in your Christmas?  If you aren't celebrating Him, why celebrate at all?  Love, redemption, hope, now that's something to celebrate!  If there isn't room for Jesus in your festivities, make some room starting now.  If you do, it will definitely be the best Christmas ever.

How do you "make room" you ask...how do you make room in a month when the calendar is packed full, there's more for mom to do than any other time of the year, and you are already maxed out mentally, physically, and financially?

Here's how...


Look for quiet moments you can make your own.  Perhaps in the morning before everyone else is up, or at night when everyone else is in the bed, or in the afternoon while the little ones nap.  Use these quiet moments for a cup of tea, a bubble bath, some time to read, or to pray.  Make quiet time a priority.  If your days are all work -every single minute, you will find it difficult to remember what all this celebrating is for.  Even with a to-do list many miles long, 20 minutes of quiet will go far in helping your sanity.  Think of it like plugging your cell phone into charge.  If you don't do that once in a while you are going to be out somewhere and your phone battery will be dead right when you need to place a call.  


Take time to smell the Christmas tree - literally.  I'm doing that right now, as I type, and I love it.  Taking a few deep breaths near the Christmas tree is invigorating.  I love the smell of the tree and if I'm too busy rushing around I'm liable to miss it.

Think through your traditions.  Keep only the ones that are very meaningful.  Sometimes we just try to do too much.  This may be the year that you let some of the things you always do go.  Maybe you want to make some Christmas crafts with the kids this year and read them a Christmas book each night before bed.  Or you may want to do some extra baking and take the family to see some Christmas lights.  Pick a couple of things that will be special for your family but don't try to do everything there is to do.  

Have the whole family work together on a project to help someone in need.  Buy presents for needy children, take a poinsettia to a widow, bake cookies and take to the Fire or Police Department, make a meal for a shut-in, find a ministry to join up with, or whatever your family might think up to do.  Just make sure everyone works together on the project.  Be a blessing to someone while teaching your children Christmas is not all about getting presents.  

Don't be afraid to say no.  Oh, this one is so hard for me!  My husband is laying down some rules to help me with that, right now, as we speak as I type.  As hard as it may be to say no sometimes, it's worth it if saying yes is going to push you past your limit and cause you to be a cranky mama to your family.  It's probably most difficult to say no to family.  Our extended family tends to have high expectations of me - especially around the holidays.  My husband says this is the year I start letting people down.  I wouldn't go that far but I may have to say no on a few things.  Last year I spent part of Christmas Day exhausted and another part of it crying.  We're not having that this year!  :)

Practically speaking, there are ways to avoid some of the stress of the season too.  Shop online while in your pajamas sipping hot chocolate and avoid the long lines and crowds.  Buy some gift cards and let go of the quest to find the "perfect gift".  Choose one thing to host and don't feel obligated to host everything.  Divide the to-do list among the family members.  Even young ones can help.  

Lastly, celebrate Christ's birth.  Yes, we're going to shop and cook and bake and decorate and wrap but in every way possible bring Christ into center focus.  Make baby Jesus ornaments with your children and let them hang their special creations on the tree, bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing to Him, decorate with nativity sets and discuss with the children as you are putting them out (make sure you have some that aren't breakable so the little kids can handle them).  You can find wrapping paper and tableware that honors Christ at Hobby Lobby and Christian bookstores.  I even found gift bags with nativity scenes at the Dollar Tree.  Light candles and read from an Advent book each night.  Our children love this.  We were late getting started this year but we are reading each night now and it really is a special time.  It's so nice when we slow down and are reminded Who we are celebrating.  



I hope I've given you some ideas to increase the joy and reduce the stress this Christmas season.  My prayer for my family and yours this year is that we would grow closer to Christ and each other.  That's what Christmas should be about. 

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