More than JUST Vanilla French Toast!

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Believe it or not, I have struggled with cooking breakfast for years!! My journey to becoming Joyfully Submitted had its share of bumps and bruises, and breakfast was one of them!! I knew how to cook, but I did not find joy in it, and as a result, lacked creativity, as well as the desire to find new things, recipes, techniques and flavors. As long as we ate and it was good, I was great! Delicious was not necessarily a goal of mine, or so I thought. But I found myself becoming disappointed or having my ‘feelings hurt’ when I got less than the highest praise for meals that I had put together without much thought.  I put my heart into holiday meals, and meals that would be served to guests…(shaking my head in embarrassment). But my cooking lacked more than mouth-watering flavor! It lacked joy…it lacked heart! Nowhere was this more evident than in the morning…with breakfast. I am truly saddened as I look back and view in retrospect not just the food served, but the heart with which it was served.  I was not horrible, I just was not there…my heart was somewhere else for years!!! And if anyone cared to look, it was evident…in my cooking. Oh I could do your basics…eggs and bacon, cereal and toast, oatmeal from scratch (took some practice), and the meals were good. But the really good stuff (in my opinion…in my families opinion) like pancakes and french toast…I always fell short of, well, delicious! They took too much time! They involved too many ingredients!! Who had time??? Time was not the issue, nor was the number of ingredients in the recipes.  Who knew that a lack of submission to Christ and his plan for my life…for your life…for our lives…would reveal itself  in our approach to meal time…to cooking? The sharing of meals has always been an integral part in the lives of believers since before the church was born. We see our Lord serve the disciples and spend his last night on Earth eating with those closest to him.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 25:26-28

We see that as the church was growing, food and the joyful sharing of meals was an integral part of that growth….

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”Acts 2:43-47

But I had missed this, of course, because for years my silent, secret focus was on myself. I grieved for a long time and silently refused to let go of the life I planned for myself. I thought that if I looked like the submitted wife on the outside God would let me off of punishment and reward me with my dream life!!! My selfishness caused me to totally miss the glaringly obvious reality that I was living my dream life!! And this one came complete with surround sound and high-definition!!! But all was not lost….and breakfast has been rescued! On my journey I have discovered that as my heart was made new, so were my perspectives and the things I found joy in. And cooking everything, even breakfast from scratch, has become a source of great joy! The recipe below is so much more than JUST Vanilla French Toast! It is a symbol of another area in my heart that has been made new as evidence of my submitted heart. It’s not the vanilla that makes this french toast impossible to resist. It’s the depth of love and care and concern and joy that went into preparing it. It’s not looking at the recipe and thinking there are too many ingredients, but now investigating to find new ones that can be added… I pray that you enjoy making this for your family. Relax. Breath in deeply the aroma of the Vanilla and cinnamon blend. Slow down and taste all of the flavors mixing together in your mouth. Then teach your kids to do the same. You see, it was not just my heart that was filled with joy as I prepared this. It was witnessing that joy transfer to my children and my husband when they ate it…my change of heart positively impacted them! And with HUGE smiles they asked for more!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

This recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com has not only vindicated me in the kitchen, but has served of more evidence of a Joyfully Submitted heart! No longer are my husband and oldest son the only ones who can successfully prepare breakfast foods such as pancakes and french toast from scratch, and have us wanting for more. This recipe, posted in the pic below, is amazing!!! The kids actually had thirds!! Well, the boys did :D.  Just between you and me, I made a few modifications the last 2 times I made these. I added another 1/2 tsp of cinnamon as well as 1 tsp nutmeg (which the original recipe did not include). The results were amazing!! The recipe yields 12-18 slices of french toast! Enjoy preparing it!!! Enjoy serving it!!! Enjoy eating it!!!

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10 Things I am Thankful for Upon Turning 40

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Today is my 40th Birthday! (Tomorrow by the time you read this) It was not the day I dreamed of. It was not the day I expected or would have planned for myself. It was soooooo much better!!! Let me tell you 10 reasons why 😀

1. I am alive and healthy!!!!!

God is so faithful that he allowed me to see today. It is a BLESSING to have been walking this Earth for 40 years. So many were not even born, or have died before reaching this milestone. But I am still here!!! I am ALIVE!

2. My Husband is alive and healthy!!!!

My father died when I was 25 years old 😦 and I missed him all day! I saw my mother widowed just prior to her 30th wedding anniversary. They were YOUNG!!! It has been 15 years, and everyday I am soooo thankful that my Sweetie is still here with me, but never so much as I am today! As he approaches the age that my father was when he passed (he was only 46 and my Sweetie is 42), I am blessed and highly favored that he is still with me and that his health is good!!!

3. My children are alive and healthy!!!

I have four babies and they are all alive and healthy! I was able to spend the entire day with them, not doing schoolwork and lessons, but celebrating life…my life! God is good…AND he is FAITHFUL!!!

4. I LOVE THE LORD AND AM LOVED BY HIM!!!

In a day and time when so many are lost, where they do not know why they exist or how they came to be, I am sooooo THANKFUL that I was show the way to the Cross and the empty tomb as a young woman!!!! The Joy that I have found in knowing Christ…in being FORGIVEN by the Son of God…in being made a part of the family of God!!!!! …it given me a confidence in Christ that is unshakeable…unbreakable…matchless!!! The love of God fills my senses and my heart and the love for him overflows from within me!!!

5. Our needs are met!!!

The enemy of our souls actually attempted to fill my thoughts with complaints today…with ingratitude!!!! I was awakened with breakfast in bed…made from scratch by my Sweetie and the kids!!! Followed by a family tradition of everyone piling into our bed and presenting made from the heart greeting cards!!!

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Card from Kayla (oldest)
Card from Isaiah
Card from Isaiah
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Card from Jordan…He drew a copy of a picture we had taken a couple of months ago 😀
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Card from Leah! Complete with 40 balloons 😀

Each card was filled with a handwritten letter or message. By the time I was done reading them all I was, of course, in tears! Ukali then presented me with his card AND sang me a song <3! My mother in law took me out to lunch, and I returned home for some down time (and a rest from the 85 degree temps outside), before shopping! Shopping was followed by a home cooked meal with my family working together in the kitchen and me sitting and relaxing on the sofa! What was there to be discontented over??? What was there to lament or to be sad over??? I’ll come back to that!

6. That I am free!!!

It was 20 years ago that the Lord hijacked my life and turned it around!!! Maybe hijacked is a strong visual, but that’s how it felt! I prayed years before and I told the Lord that I was giving my life over to him! But I did not think He would take that literally!!! But He did….and I. AM. THANKFUL!!!! You see, he rescued me from me!! And today I.AM.FREE!!!!! Free from the prison of feminist ideology!!! Free to serve God and man from a heart filled with compassion and the love of Christ!!! Free to love my husband and to submit to his authority without fear!! Free to commit these years of my life to the rearing of my children and FREE to work hard diligently to draw their hearts to Christ!! Free to live and love without fear of what others think!! I.AM.FREE.

7. I am finally a grown up!!!

I can’t explain it, but I FEEL like an adult!! I feel mature and grown up in my thinking and my emotions and attitude. People asked all day if I felt different when I woke up this morning…and my response was ‘NO’. But I do feel different, it’s just did not happen this morning! It has been gradually happening over the last few months and I am just able to put it into words :-P. Today, I looked into the mirror, and thought to myself that I do not FEEL 40 (whatever that feels like), but I feel grown-up! I feel confident…and secure…and focused…ALL AT ONCE!

8. I FEEL loved!!!

My husband has loved me and complimented me and told me that I am beautiful for years..20 to be exact! I even remember one day, before we were married, that my dad was watching the Jerry Springer show and Ukali was visiting me. He overheard a portion of the show, which was about husbands threatening to leave their wives because they had gained weight after having one or more kids, and had not lost the weight! Ukali was horrified and came into the kitchen of my parents home to pledge his love and support of me no matter how my appearance changed over the years!!! He has stood by his promise… through 3 pregnancies, bedrest, bad hair, horrible rash outbreaks due to an unknown allergic reaction, bad breath, extended periods w/o physical intimacy during pregnancies, fake hair, colored hair, cut hair….THROUGH ALL OF IT I.HAVE.BEEN.LOVED!!! and I am just recently able to genuinely believe and receive it FULLY!!!!! And to rest in it…and I am sooo thankful!

9. I can do ALL things through Chris who gives me strength!!!

Really…I can! I can love. I can write. I can encourage. I can walk with young women and disciple them. I can submit to my husband in love and humility. I can educate my children. I can love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind!!!! I.CAN!!!

10. I.CAN.FINISH.SOMETHING.I.START!!!!!

Maintaining this blog for a year and a half has worked to dispel the lie of the enemy that has told me that I am a quitter…a failure…a captive to fear! Looking back has worked to help me to look forward!!! Not only am I following through with this blog, I am wrapping up several writing projects and they will be published this year!! Praise God!!! Gone are the fears of a 9-year-old little girl who received rejection letters from publishing companies that served to crush her spirit and paralyze her. 31 years have gone by since then…those companies have probably been shit down or bought out by now! 😀

Well, that’s it for now!! Of course there is more, but I am going to enjoy the last few minutes of my birthday with my Sweetie! Soon, I will tell you how my 40th birthday was almost ruined by …well, I will tell you that later! Let me just say that I thank God for perspective!!! TTYL

Jesus and Raising Red Onions From the Dead

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Ok, so I have one million and 50 billion things going on right now!!! 🙂 In addition to turning 40 in 3 weeks , my oldest turning 18 next week, as well as graduating and going to prom, operating a business from home, blogging, finishing several books and looking to be published before my 40th, homeschooling, and the list goes on and on, can you believe that I have the audacity to add ANYTHING to this list??? Well in the midst of all of this, I have managed to develop an absolute love for gardening!!! And when I say love, I mean LOVE, as in encouraging my husband to stay awake when he comes to bed so that he can watch the latest video I have found on making compost tea!!!!! LAUGH. OUT. LOUD.

So, among the tons of posts I am working on (Series of Video Blogs on the Health Benefits of Vemma, Series on Raising Godly Children While Living in Modern Day Sodom and Gomorrah, Faith and Freedom at 40!, etc), I decided to throw in a quick series on some gardening fun…and failure!!! These will be quick posts as in they will be shorter than my usual ones, and they will have more images (I take pics of almost everything!!!), but I hope you will find them beneficial.

My heart here, on this blog, is to develop a voice that communicates across cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic boundaries and goes straight to the heart! I want the readers here to walk away with a growing understanding and appreciation of the fact that God speaks to us through His Word, through and in our marriages, through failures and our successes, through nature….The Bible is a book that details for us the authentic historical accounts of Gods relationships with his children and their faith in Him. So what does that have to do with gardening??? Everything!!!!

John 15:1-8

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. 

~~~~~

Did you get that!?!?!?! Jesus is the TRUE VINE and God is THE GARDENER!!! In gardening, we see God!!! The first time we see God digging in dirt to grow or cultivate anything was in Genesis 2:7-9a

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.

We can look at our own lives and see the living proof that Jesus makes ALL things, and that he makes ALL things new.

Colossians 1:15-16 says it this way…

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”

~~~~~

And in the words of famous playright, George Bernard Shaw,

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there. 

 The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

So, my first gardening post reveals what happened when I purchased a BUNCH of Red Onions from Walmart that appeared to be dead. The picture below depicts the onions after a couple of days. Days 1-3 the entire bunch was red at the root, but the shoots were brown and dried out COMPLETELY!!!   And I thought to myself, “Why did I waste our money? I should have just bought seeds and planted them!” But Water Works Miracles!!!! Because I had been growing green onions in jars for a few months now, I thought to myself that maybe these could be revived if I simply placed them in water. And look at what began to happen!!!! Green shoots began to grow up out of the dry, dead shoots!!! So, here is what you do.

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 When you purchase green or red onions, put them in a jar of water (they will last longer, and continue to grow!!) These are sitting in jam jars 😀

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Every couple of days, dump the water and rinse the jar out. These were in such bad shape, that I placed them in a strainer in the sink and RINSED them for a few minutes before….wpid-20130508_204306.jpg

I began to peel the dead outer skin off . This felt slimy and gross, much like our sin does to the Lord as he cleans and restores our lives that were once dead but have now found life in Him…

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This is what they looked like when I went to bed last night! The brown has been cut away, for the most part, and the roots have been washed clean of slime and stinky stuff!

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The red ones will be planted just like the green ones I have growing already in a ceramic pot outside! Water well, and they will rise towards the Sun, in the same way that when our lives are immersed in the Living Water, we continue to rise towards the Son!

My next gardening post will be on the joys and simplicity of container gardening, and the joys and simplicity of living according to God’s boundaries! I will see you then!!!

Simple and Delicious Homemade Butter!

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A I delve deeper and deeper into the joys of serving at home, I continue to discover more and more things that “I have always wanted to do,” but just didn’t know it!!!! One of those things just happened to be making butter!!! Can you believe it??? As I prepare to turn 40 exactly one month from today, I am simply amazed at the transformation of heart The Lord has done in me, and for some reason, making butter for the first time today, as simple as it was, brought a few tears to my eyes…and a sense of satisfaction and contentment to my heart.

The first time that I can recall having a thought or a desire to make butter was 2 years ago when my youngest daughter was reading Little House on The Prairie. When she got to the end of the book, she discovered a recipe for homemade butter and in her excitement, she ran and shared it with me. And the desire was born! But like so many other things that “I have always wanted to do,” I never made the time to do it! Until now, that is. Today was the day! And I have to say, it was worth the wait!

The simple recipe that I actually followed:
1 pint of heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
Blend in food processor for 10 minutes or until butter separates from liquid
Spoon into dish or bowl with slotted spoon and refrigerate

The recipe below is the recipe that my daughter Leah found in her book. I wanted to share the exact one since she was soooo excited to share it with me and I was soooooo excited to make it!!! The pictures are from today and the simple recipe above, and I hope you enjoy them and decide to try this yourself, if you have not already!

The Little House on the Prairie Butter Recipe

You will need: 1 pint of heavy cream, slotted spoon, quart-size jar with tight lid, tea towel

1. Pour the cream into the jar. Screw on the lid.

2. Shake the jar until the cream thickens and starts to form a ball of butter. This may take a while, so keep shaking!

3. Scoop the butter out of the jar with the slotted spoon, and drain it on a tea towel.

4. Squeeze the butter inside the towel to get e remaining liquid out.

5. Form the butter ball into a pretty shape, put it on a plate, and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready yo use it.

6. Enjoy!!

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Have you not heard (part 1)?: How to have godly ambition and not covet or have a materialistic mindset

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Another GREAT post from my son, Jordan! You definitely want to read this one and please, leave a comment. 🙂

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made?????? Me?????

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  • Teenagers spend an average of $80-$120 on themselves each week. Young women (ages 12-24) out-buy all other age groups when it comes to haircare, skincare, cosmetics, and fragrances (Source: “Junior League”by Kelley Donahue. American Salon, January 2000).
  • When polled, a majority (63%) of medium-to-large-size salons owners and managers indicated that the number of men using their salons have increased. Men are requesting hair, skin, nail, and body treatments, and 41 percent of them purchase retail products at a salon. (Source: “Hair-raising Truths” by Regina Molaro. Global Cosmetic Industry, April 2001).

What does all of this mean??? It means that our culture is caught in a vortex of poor self-images, that we believe can only be fixed by applying things to, or permanently changing things on, the outside! I read somewhere (all over the web) of retailers, Ambercrombie and Fitch being one of them, who were planning to, or were actively involved in selling padded bras to 8 year old little girls.  What was soooo sad about this is that 8 year old little girls do NOT buy their own clothing…their moms do!! So while this appeared to target the little girls, it really targeted the mothers of the little girls who were so consumed with appearing perfect on the outside, while all of the their grossly superficial insecurities were being passed on to their daughters.  Did you watch the video above?  While many of us may see a problem with the trends shown in the video, we may also feel powerless to do anything about it.  But we are not powerless!!! We have influence in the lives of young girls everywhere.  What will we do with it? Will we shake our heads as they walk by, or while they discuss their ‘plans’, or will we intervene and begin to teach and model the confidence we have found in Christ? I have a question for you!! This is serious and the answer is yes or no only!!! 

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Like many women, I spent many years struggling with my ‘self-image’. I waisted sooooo much time worrying about what people would think if I wore this, or what they would say if I did that.  One of the freedoms I am soooooo thankful to have found in Christ, is the all-consuming desire to live my life to please only Him, and I am thankful that this is what I choose to pass on to my daughters.   It is very liberating to get up in the morning and get dressed with what pleases him in mind.  When I do this, I know that not only am I pleasing the Lord, but that my husband will be pleased, and I will not be a stumbling block to other brothers and sisters in Christ. You talk about FREEDOM!!! Living a life rooted in a desire to please God more than anything is definitely the way to live!

As I continue to talk to young and old women who struggle with self-esteem issues, and confidence issues, just as I did, I am repeatedly struck by one common thread.  These issues stem from a fear of what other people think, or of how they’re perceived.  In all of the depressed comments, and borderline paranoia, and obsession with appearance, I haven’t heard many, if any, mention being concerned about what God thinks about them.  When I ask questions like;

  • What do you think God thinks about your attitude?
  • What do you think God thinks about your choice in clothing?
  • What do you think God thinks about your conversation?

the answers are very melancholy or non-descriptive.  But when asked what do others think, the answers are very descriptive and shared with great emphasis.  One obviously has a greater impact than the other.  Which one has the greatest impact on you?  Are you more concerned about what people think about you, or about gaining the approval of others, or what the Lord thinks and gaining His approval.  What motivates you most when you get dressed, or when you choose friends? What about in how you relate to your husband, or how you parent your children?  What about how you spend money or what clothes you buy or where you shop?  Is it pleasing God or pleasing man?

 

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There are many, I’m afraid, who sit in our churches, or our social groups every week who have no idea what God thinks, or what He would or would not approve of.  You might be thinking that this is because they just don’t know what His thoughts are, but I think it’s because they don’t read His Word (which would be why they don’t know what His thoughts are).  But then I ask, why don’t they?  Most of these women have or had parents who served in church, or who are pastors/leaders, they have grown up in Sunday School where they were taught Gods Word since the were old enough to be dropped off there.  Why wouldn’t they know what God’s Word says about them?  And if they know, why wouldn’t they believe it? And if they believe it, why wouldn’t they obey it?  Then I realize, it’s not that we don’t know, it’s that the voice of cultural influence all around us drowns it out.  We have been unable to hear it…to believe it…to obey it… because we are listening more closely to the culture than we are to the Christ!  The loud, boisterous, vulgar, bewitching voices of the culture drown out the Still Small Voice of the Lord, except to those whose primary desire is to hear His voice.  So, I ask, what do you desire most? Seek Him until your answers mirrors the words of the Psalmist… “I desire you more than anything”.