Friday, November 11, 2011

A Little Red Phone

When I was a little girl, I remember going to the funeral of a dear friend of our family, Mrs. Lois Aley.  She loved gladiolas and planted them in her garden every year.  She would babysit us sometimes.  She had a cool house with a neat basement.  At the funeral, the director gave opportunity for those in the crowd to share remembrances of Mrs. Aley.  One of the ladies told about when she needed prayer for something, she would always ask Mrs. Aley.  She said it seemed as if Mrs. Aley had a little red telephone that she could just pick up and talk right to Jesus.

I always remember that.  I don't know why.  It is just a memory that has always stuck with me.  The little red telephone.  Maybe it's because I like red.  I have no idea.

Back to present day. . .  My dog is hyper.  Really hyper.  I haven't taken her on a walk in a long, long, long, long time.  Last night, I would wake up to her running the length of the bed, hopping over me (like a football player through the tires. . .only she was the football player and I was the tire), and doing flip-like movements.  Poor thing.  We are so boring. :)

Normally, she is fine while I take my shower.  She will maybe hide under the bed until I am done.  I knew that since she was hyper, she was more likely to find something "interesting" to play with while I was otherwise occupied.  So I put her on the bed.  I know she can get off if she really wants to, but she tends to stay there if I put her there.

She did.  She was such a good girl.  I came to get her off of the bed.  Her little tail was wagging back and forth - so cute!  Then I saw my phone.  Right in front of her. Oh. No.  It looked fine from the back, but when I turned it over, it was completely destroyed.  Since it is a touchscreen phone, there was nothing I could do.  I couldn't get the phone feature, let alone text, or use the web. Nothing.  There was no reason to fuss at the dog.  I had left the phone in our bed. . .with a hyper dog and now the phone was gone.

It's okay.  Josh reminded me that we still have his blackberry and we have an upgrade in one month, but have you ever forgotten your phone somewhere?  I know I rarely use my phone for emergencies, but isn't it always the case that when we need something, we don't have it?  I was driving to work this morning and just knew that this would be the day something would happen.  Something where I would need my phone.

I've gotten to work okay this morning, but I still have an event that I am going to tonight and will be driving home late.  I can picture myself on the side of the road, something wrong with my car, and no phone.  As I am going over the possibilities in my head, an image pops into my mind.  A little red phone.  I remember that no matter where I am, I can always pray.  I always have access to my Heavenly Father.  I don't need to have any device to talk to Him.  I don't need to go through a person to get to Him.  I can just talk to Him.  In fact, He even knows my thoughts. . . my prayers when I don't even use my voice.  He knows me.  He knew before I did this morning that Daisy was going to chew my phone.  He even knew before it happened.  He knew while it was happening.  He also knows what is going to happen to me this afternoon and already has a plan to help me.  I love my God and am so happy that He loves me more.  And that at any time, I can pick up my little red telephone called prayer and have a long conversation with Him.


Monday, November 7, 2011

A Conglomeration of Semi-Related Thoughts

I had to laugh a last week.  I came to work, walked to our back refrigerator, was about to deposit my lunch when - WHAT?  Someone put their lunch in MY SPOT!  I had a moment of annoyed frustration.  Then there was a little recording that played in the back of my mind of ME telling my little Sunday school children, "No, that is not YOUR chair.  You do not own it.  Anyone can sit there.  You just need to find another seat."  Ha.  I need to learn my own lesson.  What is it about us humans?  Do we ever really learn our own lessons?  We do get rather possessive of OUR things. . .parking spots, church pews, lunch bag spots. . .   :)  But are they really OURS?  No.  Why do we get so upset?  Don't we know better?

I am sitting here thinking. . .I wonder if such a company is hiring?  You see, a little bit ago I was talking to an authority of mine about some of the situations I have to deal with . . .they asked me to please stay where I am even though it is frustrating.  There is really nothing that either one of us can do about the situation.  Anyway, since that individual said that to me, I have been doing just the opposite - thinking of places where maybe I could get a job that would allow me to push myself and really DO something. Do I need a new job?  No.  Maybe there are things about my job that I don't like (as if a perfect job with no snags exists), but Who was it who placed me here?  Wasn't it the Lord Who helped me get here?  Didn't He put me here for a reason - whether or not I know what the reason is?  So, despite all of my reasoning, I do a job search and see something interesting. As I am about to click, a little voice (a.k.a the Holy Spirit - the part of the Godhead Who lives inside of me and guides me) says, "Don't do it.  You are exactly where I want you.  Be still and know that I am God."  As much as I love that verse about being still and knowing that God is God, I have a really hard time with it.  I don't like to be still. . .I like to have goals and plans.  I like to know where I am going and at what time I am going to be there.  I love that God has a plan for my life, but I don't really like to be still.  What a human I am.  But what a good God He is.  I tell myself to "Be still" again.  And again.  And again.  I'm about as good at being still and knowing that God is in control as my dog is at sitting when I tell her to - which is definitely not a strong point of hers. . .

I have a recent pet peeve. . .maybe not recent, but it has been raring its ugly head in my life recently.  I hate it when other people don't want to help others by spreading information.  I hate it when they are stopping progress because they insist on tradition (let me say, I understand and agree with some tradition, but there are times. . .when we need to let go a little).  So this morning, my mom sent out an e-mail with a word of the week and a thought of the day.  It went like this:

"obscurantism \uhb-SKYOORr-uhn-tiz-uhm\,noun:
1. Opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge.
2. Deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity.
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.  ~Thomas à Kempis"

As I read the first part of the e-mail, I thought, "Yes.  This is what I hate.  I could apply that definition to too many people in my life right now!"  Then I read the quote.  Point taken.

Do I feel like a heathen right now?  Maybe.  Am I being too transparent?  Maybe.

I guess this is my way of swallowing my pride and admitting that I am not as perfect as I think I am. :)


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Faster than the Drive-thru - in Pictures


Haven't we all been there?  Okay, maybe it's just me who is running around - a few minutes after I should have left for work, mind you - gathering everything I need for my day, only to remember that I haven't thought about breakfast yet.  I am normally not hungry at that time, but I know when I get to work I will be famished!  Yes, I should plan better, but sometimes (especially this week) I get home late enough to jump into bed so I can at least get a few hours of sleep before I have to start it all over again. . .

The temptation is there. . .I can just spend $4.99 at my coffee place (30 miles away, even though it's on my way to work - it's the closest one) and get a coffee with and extra espresso shot and an egg/cheese English muffin.  Anti-justifications race through my mind, "$4.99 - Are you kidding me? That's enough money for at least three meals."  Then, "You still have hot coffee in your coffeemaker. . .why do you need more?"  Followed by, "Is there really nothing that you can take to work with you to eat for breakfast?"

Okay, okay.  There is.  My go-to breakfast. . .  That didn't sound very exciting, did it?  I meant more enthusiasm. :)  I really love this idea and it has saved me approximately $4.70 every time the previous thought struck me.  Here goes:

1.  Grab a mug off of the mug-tree on my refrigerator - or grab a mug off of your own mug-tree.  Mine may be a little far. :)


No, this is not my mug. . .I didn't have time to picture mine as 
I was running out the door. :)  Mine are either light blue, 
green with taupe and blue flowers, 
or my favorite restaurant's mug 
(Zanzibar, downtown San Diego if you really wanted to know :) ).

2.  Spritz the inside of your mug with a little cooking spray.  

 Warning:  this step is skippable; however, if you choose to skip it,
you will be chiseling egg remains at a later time.

3.  Add a little salt and a grind or two of pepper.

4.  Crack two eggs into the mug.

5.  "Whisk" your eggs with a fork. 

Pretty difficult so far, right?

6.  Pop your mug in the microwave for 30 seconds.

7.  After the first microwave round, whisk your eggs again.

8.  Zap your eggs again for 30-45 seconds. 
(although I've accidentally done a minute before and nothing too terrible happened).

9.  Sprinkle some cheese on your eggs.

10.  Grab a clean fork.

11.  Continue to run out the door 
     to wherever it is you are going. . .

12.  Eat your eggs at a red light. . .


Thursday, October 27, 2011

LIBC Sunday School Picnic

This past Saturday, we had a picnic/harvest party for our Sunday School department.  We had so much fun!

We started the afternoon by playing wii and playing with Daisy (who was VERY excited to have someone who was not as boring as her mom and dad :) ).


Then we a lunch of hot dogs, chips, caramel corn, and ice cream sodas.
 Which we finished off with s'mores!

And had fun hanging on the swing. . .


We ran relay races with popcorn. . .





And tossed rings onto pumpkin stems. . .
And painted pumpkins . . .



Monday, October 24, 2011

To Voice a Thought

Suddenly, I have the urge to write. . .and ideas keep popping into my brain.  I imagine this is because of our recent trip to San Diego - which both rested and challenged my mind.

We all defend those we love in our own way.  I have never been good at spoken words.  I never feel that I know the correct thing to say, so I often fall back on silence.  I realize that my medium of choice is the type-written word.  Anyway.

Recently, I have felt that my attempts to defend people have been futile - that they make me look stupid instead of doing what I want them to do . . which I didn't know how to explain.  I was reading a blog from my reading list and saw this quote:

"When we are silent, we are hurting the outcome. . .
Research proves that even when the different points of view are wrong, 

they cause people to think better
to create more solutions 
and to improve creativity in problem solving."  

This is a quote by Nilofer Merchant, author of a book called The Now How.

That quote helped me to realize what it is that I want people to do:  think.  I want people to think.  So many times I feel that we insist on keeping the same opinion about a person.  But people change - for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways.  I've always known that it only takes one person to stand up and say something in order to stop bullying.  I know that it takes one person to say something convicting to stop gossiping.  I know that it takes one person's well-thought-out words to change the mind of a crowd.  But my words weren't working.

I often find that my response to gossip is to voice what the object of the gossip could have been thinking.  Often, if we can get outside of our own head/situation, we can have more sympathy on others.  I find that when I can try to put myself into the situation that I see them in (even though I know that I'm not there, so I don't really understand), I can see why they made whatever decision it was that they made - even if it was a poor one that I may or may not have made.    I also want those around me - especially those who claim to be Christians - to be more sympathetic and compassionate.

In some of the recent situations that I have been in, I knew the decision that was made was wrong, but I was more worried about the people around me who were gossiping about it.  I didn't know what to say to stop it. . .so I attempted to play the devil's advocate.  It didn't work.  That bothered me even more.

In the weeks after that time, I have dwelt on the subject.  The thought just popped in my head:  My attempts didn't work for two reasons.  First, people do not really want to think.  They want to voice their opinion.  It makes them feel important and superior.  They gossip to tell people who will listen (hint:  the person being gossiped about probably does not want to listen and/or had already heard).

Secondly, people want to solve problems.  But are we solving problems by gossiping?  No.  I believe that when we gossip, we want to help the person, but we know that it is not our place to help them. . .we want to give our two cents, but know that the person who needs to hear it may not want to hear it.  We don't want to risk the hurt and/or embarrassment we may acquire once we tell the person.

What are we to do?  We are to look for the help outside of ourselves.  We are to look for help with the One Who has the best interest of both parties in mind.  The One Who can change lives. . .  Have you prayed about the situation?  Have you prayed about the person you are worried about?  Have you left your worries with Jesus?  Do you really trust Him to deal with the person in question?  Maybe that's the problem.  Maybe we don't have enough faith that God really knows what He is doing.  I only know myself. . .and that I do not like to admit that I do not have enough faith, but I am reminded to pray, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." and leave the situation with Him.




Saturday, October 22, 2011

Things Don't Just Happen

I was doing some research and came upon this poem.  What truth!

Things Don't Just Happen
by Esther L. Fields (before 1944)

Things don't just happen to us who love God;
They're planned by His own dear hand.
Then molded and shaped, and timed by His clock.
Things don't just happen; they're planned.

We don't just guess on the issues of life,
We Christians just rest in our Lord.
We are directed by His sovereign will
In the light of His holy Word.

We who love Jesus are walking by faith,
Not seeing one step that's ahead,
Not doubting one moment what our lot might be,
But looking to Jesus instead.

We praise our dear Saviour for loving us so,
For planning each care of our life,
Then giving us faith to trust Him for all,
The blessings as well as the strife.

Things don't just happen to us who love God,
To us who have taken our stand.
No matter the lot, the course, or the price,
Things don't just happen, they're planned.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My favorite San Diego Frozen Yogurt

After our kayaking trip this past weekend, we stopped at the Yogurt Escape on Avendida De La Playa in La Jolla, CA.  What a treat!  The owner there had a few more topping choices than are listed on the main website.  That I noticed, he had these little round, marshmallow-like white candies.  They were called "mochi."


The other thing that he had were freshly harvested pomegranate seeds. Yum!

The owner told me that the mochi were good, but when added to the yogurt, they were VERY good. . .I believed him and was glad that I did.

When I made my yogurt (my favorite is always plain tart), I added mochi, pomegranate, strawberry, and pineapple.

I was so sorry that I couldn't take a picture - I was too busy eating. :)  This is a close resemblance, though...



A picture, however, would not have done justice in the area of taste.  I could not believe how wonderful it was!  The texture was the clincher.  The mochi are not as sweet as marshmallows, but have the same fluffiness.  In one bite, I got the cold tart of the yogurt, the fluffy give of the mochi, and the juicy pop and crunch of the pomegranate seeds.  I can not explain it well enough.  I had never tasted anything like it. . . maybe I should experiment with freezing yogurt, finding mochi online, and getting some pomegranate seeds. . . :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Home for the Homeless

Josh and I had gone to San Diego this past weekend for a bit of a breather.  We enjoyed ourselves so much (posts and pictures to follow). :)  We were able have such a nice time for the day and a half that we were there.

While we were waiting at a bus stop to go back to our hotel on Sunday night, a man walked up to Josh and asked if I was his sister or cousin.  We smiled and told him that I was not. :)  He then asked if I was his girlfriend or wife.  Josh said that I was his wife - I'm so glad that he claims me!  The man went on to give Josh a speech about how precious I was and that he should never leave me.  I will admit the conversation was slightly awkward at first, but I knew that we should be kind to this man.

You see, this man wore dingy clothing and was carrying an older back-pack with a blanket rolled at the top.  He had a veteran's t-shirt on and walked with a limp.  His teeth were mostly gone and he swayed from side to side as he stood.  His hair was long, grey, and very scraggy.  After he told Josh to never let me go, he told us that his fiance died in his arms.  He told us the same story about three times in a row.  I could see that he wasn't mentally handicapped - just very, very hurt.  He then proceeded to tell us that he was also drunk.

We talked to him while we were waiting for our bus.  He told us that he was a veteran and that the military saved his life - from the first time he was on drugs and alcohol.  After his fiance died, he fell into it all again.

What broke my heart was when he showed us his Bible and his favorite passage to read: II Samuel 22.  Upon realizing that he read his Bible, I told him that Josh was a preacher.  He was shocked!  We smiled as he exclaimed like a little boy who couldn't believe what he was just told.  He jumped around in a circle and said, among other words ( :) ), "A preacher?  You mean I am talking to a preacher!"  Josh talked to him about some other Bible passages that might help him and I promised that I would pray for him.

His name is David Daniels.  Please pray for him that he would allow God to fill the emptiness in his life.  Please pray that he, with God's help, would be able to overcome his addictions and be able to find purpose in his life.

What about you?  Do you have an empty spot in your life?  Maybe you are not homeless, but maybe you are filling your emptiness with addictions, relationships, or unhealthy goals?  Remember that God is waiting for you to look to Him - the author and finisher of your faith.  You will never be complete until you trust the Lord in everything.  He is the One you need.

If you would like help or more information about allowing God to complete your life or to ask Jesus Christ to be your personal Saviour, please e-mail me at sunny7daisies@yahoo.com.  I would love to help show you!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

See You at the Pole

Today is the annual See You at the Pole event.  Students at schools across the nation (and the world) met this morning in front of their school's flagpole to sing, pray, and read the Bible.  Our school's group met at 7:00 AM in front of our school flagpole.  It was so neat to see a group of about 80 students, visitors, staff, and teachers gathered in a wide irregular circle.  When I arrived, there was one girl playing a guitar and another girl playing the piano.  They were starting "How Great Is Our God."  As they progressed in the song, people started singing.  As the harmony developed, uniformed students from the NJROTC program marched out from the main entrance of the school to put up the American and the Tennessee flags.  What a moving scene that was.

After the song, the participants were encouraged to meet in small groups for prayer - then they would meet for a group prayer and Bible reading.

What a great way to start our day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taken out of the situation

Has there ever been a time that you have felt that the situation you are in is impossible?  That there is NOTHING anyone can do?  Isn't it hard to wait through that?  I especially have issues when the situation is one dealing with a person with whom I have a relationship - something about people not wanting un-sought advice?  :)

In my life, I am helped when I find a Biblical example of someone else who has gone through a similar situation.  A story I have been focusing on is the story of David and King Saul.  Okay, so no one is trying to kill me. :) But the relationship that David had with King Saul is worth focusing on.

I notice that King Saul loved David. . .until David kept doing what God wanted him to do.  After David killed Goliath, the women in town made up songs about David being better than Saul.  Saul did not like it one bit.  Granted, at this point, God had had enough of Saul's disobedience and had sent an evil spirit to Saul.  Anyway, there is a point that Saul cannot keep from trying to kill David, so David runs away.  The study of I Samuel is very interesting.  The times that Saul tries to kill David, and how David deals with the situation make for a very interesting relationship study, but the most interesting that I have seen - and something that I never noticed before - is found in I Samuel chapter 28 & 29.

The story begins when David is again running from Saul.  David has a following (the Bible says that they were people who were stressed, in debt, and discontented. :) ).  He takes his people and goes to stay in the city of Gath with the Philistines.  Yes, I said "Gath with the Philistines."  Isn't Gath where Goliath was from?  Yes.  Wouldn't that be dangerous? Maybe.  But David was smart.  David convinced the . . .what should we call him. . .mayor?. . .of Gath that David was on his side now.  Anyway, in chapter 29, the Philistines are planning on going to war against the Israelites.  The mayor says that David and his men can go with them to fight.  Everything is hunky-dory until the Philistines begin to parade before the Princes of the Philistines before they go to war.  The Princes were surprised by what appeared to be Hebrews in their Philistine parade! What in the world?  SO they talked to the mayor and asked him why there were Hebrews there.  He told them that they were indeed Hebrews, but that since they had been living with him, they were a great asset to the Philistine army.  The Princes commanded that he send David home.  Home to Israel?  No.  Home to Gath.

I find that very interesting.  Remember, they are going to war with the Israelites - but one thing you may not realize is that this is the battle where King Saul and his sons are going to be killed.  God had this battle planned to fulfill his promise to King Saul that neither he nor his sons would be king of Israel because of his disobedience.  God also planned for David to be completely removed from the battle.  David was not given the option - or even opportunity - to hurt King Saul.  He was sent back to Gath.

What a statement.  I felt when I read this passage that God was trying to help me through the waiting.  I can just sit back and relax. . .because God is going to work my situation out.  He doesn't need me. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Dog Treats

I was making a cake tonight for a co-worker's birthday tomorrow.  She requested Apple-Cream cheese Bundt Cake - which calls for 3 cups (1 1/2 lb) of finely chopped apples. It seems to me that every time I try to purchase exactly the amount of fruit that I need for a recipe like this, that I end up with not enough or too much.  It was too much in this case.  I had 1.5 lb of Gala apples. . .which made about 4 1/2 c of finely chopped apples.  What to do with my quickly browning cubes of Gala?  Well, it's not in my calorie budget for today to eat them. . .although I would love to. . . how about homemade dog treats?

"Dog treats?" you may be thinking.  Yes, dog treats.  Let me 'splain.

My dog has 2 kong toys.  A "puppy" kong and a regular kong.  After she was a year old, I saw a regular kong for a great price and bought it for her.  I assumed that she had grown out of her puppy kong - as per the instructions.  I was wrong.  The puppy kong has special use.  It is more flexible than the regular and can fit treats that the regular kong cannot.  Enter:  Frozen Yogurt Dog Bites from The Hillbilly Dog Company (My designer dog company. . .a.k.a.  anything I make for my dog).

Here we go.  Tonight, I took my leftover apple dices, some yogurt (I normally use regular plain, but I only had plain Greek), and some peanut butter.


If I had to guess, I would say a cup of apples, 1/2 c. yogurt, and 1/4 c. peanut butter.

Mix it all up . . .and mold.  Here is my dog treat ice cube tray that I use. . .because the size fits into the kong nicely. . .and I love hearts.


And here is my molding process. . .when I use regular plain yogurt, the process is a little smoother. . .
P.S.  The silicone mold is nice. . .the treats pop out easier than I would imagine them to do in a traditional hard-plastic mold.


Then we put them in the freezer.  When I make these, I normally end up doing 2-3 freezing batches.

Here are my frozen treats from another recipe:



I believe I used regular plain yogurt, cranberries, and banana.

Well, the cake is smelling good. . .I suppose I should go check on it!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love Them

Recently, there was someone who did something to hurt my feelings . . .intentionally.  I think that is the worst thing.  A lot of times, people hurt us, but for me, it is easier when I can give them the benefit of the doubt that they really didn't mean to hurt me.

So, as I was dwelling on it later in the day (as I am prone to be a deep thinker), I began to pray about the situation - knowing that I can not change the other person, but I can change myself . . .and needed help doing so.

I was very frustrated as I was praying, "Lord, help me to. . ." - and before I could even think of the word I had meant to put in there (you know, "teach her a lesson" or "ignore her" or "get back at her" :) ), the Holy Spirit put the words into my prayer, "love her."

My flesh screamed, "That's not what I wanted to say!" But I knew that was what I needed to do.  I needed to love her - like Jesus would.  Jesus, Who, when He was tortured and nailed to a cross said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And I remembered a portion of scripture I have been ruminating on.  Romans 8:26-27.  "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:  but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit knew what I needed to pray.  I am so thankful that He is here to help me with everyday living.  I am so thankful that He will not only help me pray, but will also make intercession for me with "groanings which cannot be uttered. . .according to the will of God."  I do not know God's will for my whole life, but at that moment, the will of God was to love my neighbor as myself.

I was further helped to understand the big picture (instead of my small pinhole of sight into the situation) when I went to church last night.  My husband was preaching (he is my favorite preacher!) about unity in the church.  He said, "You must have teamwork to make the dream work."  He continued to explain when everyone has their own agenda, no one will get along, but when we have the same agenda and goal, we will be able to make our dream work.  I realized at that point that the reason this person was not very nice to me was that she had her own agenda.  It was not my agenda, and as far as I could tell was not my authority's agenda.  When I realized that, I was okay with her being hurtful.  I was helped.  Everything was okay.

"Our Father which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil:  
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.
Amen."

Matthew 6:9-13

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday Night Pizza


Every (mostly) Friday night, we eat pizza.  I have to admit. . . it is
pre-t-t-y good.  I thought I should share a few secrets.

Secret #1:  Bread-maker.  
I used to think that I didn't need one. Until I found mine at $30 and couldn't say no.  I am in love - still.  My favorite feature is that I can set my bread-maker so that my dough is ready at exactly the right moment.  When I am at home, I can set it and know that in 1 hour and 40 minutes, I will have pizza dough.  That frees my mind to concentrate on other important items. . .like my to-do list.

Secret #2:  Chicago-style pizza. . .dough.
I follow King Arthur Flour's blog.  One day, a while ago, they posted about Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  I tried it and fell in love.  I altered their recipe a tad (I don't care for cornmeal so I sub extra flour).

Secret #3:  My version of semi-homemade pizza sauce.
I'm not too keen on just going to the store and picking up any old pizza sauce - although that will do in a pinch, I agree.  Over my short pizza-making career, I have discovered our favorite pizza sauce.  It would probably be a little healthier than just a jar of pizza sauce. . .unless it were maybe organic pizza sauce.

Melodie's Semi-Homemade Pizza Sauce
2 cans of DICED tomatoes (I like the kind that were canned with basil, oregano, and garlic)
1 can of tomato PASTE
Basil
Oregano
Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes












1.  Open all cans.  Drain diced tomatoes.
2.  Put everything into your food processor.










3.  Process until smooth.  Use and/or store.









Secret #4:  Pizza stone.

My pizza in pictures. . .
Pre-bake for 6 minutes @ 425 F

Add Sauce


Add Cheese


Add Pepperonis









Add Parmesan Cheese

Bake for 13 minutes @ 425 F



All I can say is, "YUM!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Are you nice?

On Saturday, Josh and I went to a teacher store and an office supply store.  In both places I heard little ones talk.  They are so cute.  When we were at the teacher store, there was a little boy.  His mom's car was parked next to ours.  I was waiting for her to get her little troupe ready before I could get into my car - so I struck up a conversation.

Me:  Are you helping your mom?
Little Boy:  Yes, ma'am.
Me:  You sure are a good helper.
Little Boy:  Yes, ma'am.  I'm cool in my glasses and hat.  I'm four.

I told Josh about the conversation later.  We were talking about how as adults, we just think things.  Little kids just say them.

When we were in the office supply store, there was a three-year-old little girl.  She just walked up to a lady and asked, "Are you nice?" Ha. She ran back to her mother, and everyone smiled.  How cute.

But again, little kids only say what we are thinking in our heads. In our heads, we ask that question all the time.  But let me switch it up. "AM I NICE?"  Am I nice only when I feel like being nice - or only when someone is nice to me?  Am I nice when someone is not being nice to me?  Am I nice to someone I don't know?  Am I nice to their face, but not nice behind their back?  Am I nice?

Think about it.  Is there somewhere in your life you need to work on beeing . . .nice. . .er?  Just remember the little three-year-old girl with curly red hair bouncing up to you with an important question, "Are you nice?"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Have you had a bad day?

I've been contemplating the topic of mercy for quite a while.  I have felt that it needed more definition than I was giving it.  Nothing was working together.  But today, it came to me.

Josh and I tease with Daisy.  For her birthday, we give her "mercy credits" - for all of the things she has destroyed. . .i.e. glasses, furniture, computer cords, things like that. Our definition of mercy?  Not "making a hat" out of her for the things that she has done wrong. (The "making a hat" came from a time when she was young and got into more things.  Josh would say that he was going to make a coat out of her. . . but she only weighed about 6 pounds at the time. . .so he amended to "making a hat" out of her. :) )

Another definition of mercy I had to learn after living in the south for a while.  Southerners really do live life at a different place.  I work in a very easy-going environment.  You get there when you get there (within reason, of course!)  This morning, I overslept.  Not too much, but enough to be late to work.  I left my house 10 minutes later than I should have, and my gas tank was on empty.  I called my boss to tell him that I was running about 15 minutes late.  He said, "Oh, no problem.  Take your time.  Be careful.  Just get here when you can."  Ha.  I have never been employed by someone like that.  I do feel that I do give my all while I am at work, and if I am late like today, I do stay over to make up the time, but still.  His definition of mercy?  I know you made a mistake and I trust you to do what you should.

A few minutes after I disconnected my phone call, I remembered that I had left my debit card at home.  "That's okay."  I thought to myself.  "I have my checkbook."  Now, I just wrote a check yesterday. . .but when I was at the gas station and looked in my purse. . .it was no where to be found.  And I HAD to have gas to get to work.  I had two dollars.  I needed ten dollars worth of gas to get to work and back.  So I went to the gas station manager and told him my situation.  I told him that if there was any way to allow me to get some gas, I could bring cash back on my way home, since I had my drivers' license, I could get cash at the bank.  He said, "Sure.  I'll put it in, so you will owe it to me.  Just bring it by later." {SIGH} Thank you!  And I went on my merry way.  His definition of mercy?  You made a mistake, but I will cover for you.


And what of God's mercy for us?  I won't make a hat out of you. :)  I know you make many mistakes.  I trust you to do what you should.  It's okay. And You make mistakes, but I will cover for you.

P.S.  My worst morning was right after we got Daisy last year.  I was running a little late.  Josh was taking Daisy to the groomer.  I was opening the refrigerator and spilled grape juice concentrate all over myself, Daisy, and the kitchen floor.  That's okay.  I'll clean myself and Daisy up now and get the kitchen floor later.  So Josh and Daisy left.  I finished getting my things together and went outside. . .dismayed to see only Josh's truck.  I forgot he took my car because it has air and he had the dog.  That's okay.  I just like my car better.  So I was driving down the road and realized that I needed to adjust the rear-view mirror so that I can see. (I am shorter than Josh. :) )  As I was adjusting it, it just broke off.  That's okay.  Josh can fix it later.  I drive 30 miles one way to work.  It seemed that all of the people were driving five miles underneath the speed limit and I could not pass them. That's not okay. Once I got into the city where my work is, I was at a red light.  The light turned green.  I started to go. . .but the truck in front of me was not as speedy as I was. :)  I bumped into his bumper.  I started to cry.  I tried not to, but I couldn't help it at that point.  He got out of his truck, saw that no damage was done, said, "It's okay, let's go."  And we were both back on the road. . .apparently, he was late too. :)  I had a good day the rest of that day. . .but that was a rough hour!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bountifully

Psalms 13:6  I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Bountiful:  Giving freely, generously; marked by abundance, plentiful

Psalms 13:6 was a verse that "caught" me when I read it.  I know that there are many times in life that we feel unloved and uncared for; however, we need to remember and recall the many, many, many times that the Lord has dealt bountifully with us.  The times He has given to us freely.  The times He has dealt with us generously.  The times He has blessed us that are marked by abundance.  The times He has sent plenty.

Okay, here is the admission of guilt.  I took a break from writing.  I wanted to write, but nothing came to me.  I was off schedule - for a variety of reasons.  I will admit that one reason was that I was reading my Bible. . .daily.  Quickly, but daily.  Reading the Bible quickly, or less than thoroughly does not feed one's soul.  But I'll save that soapbox for another post. :)

It is SO important to feed our souls through preaching, reading the Bible, and spiritual singing.  One of the ways that I know I am getting my soul fed is that I get ideas.  Yes, ideas.  If you were to sit in my church and watch me and see that I was writing, it's probably not sermon notes.  It's idea notes.  For example.  This past Wednesday night, my husband was preaching and mentioned the anointing of Saul to be the first king of Israel.  Which led me to think of a whole lesson on a portion of scripture that had semi-stumped me in the past.  The way I know I am not getting my soul fed is that I run out of ideas. . .

Anyway.  Back to bountifully.  So, yes, every time I read this verse, I think of Bounty paper towels.  They are named Bounty because of their ability to absorb "plentiful" amounts of mess.  God's bounty is much more.

When I think of God's bounty, I think of His sacrificial gift - the giving of His Son as a sacrifice for our sin.  I think of the beautiful area of Tennessee that I live in - all of the beautiful flowers, grasses, trees, and other plants.  I think of blue skies and golden fields.  I think of all the things He's done for me in the past.  Things like directing my steps in His will.  Things like His leading my husband to me.  Things like providing me a good place to work (not perfect by any means, but one with good people . . .and one in which my light can shine bright for Christ if I allow it to).  Things like a good family.  I see so many little events in the lives of my family that, if a different decision were made, could have had very different outcome.

I think of God's bounty in the present.  One of my husband and my biggest praises this summer is that my husband has a job with his brother. You see, we both have 9/10 month jobs where we only get paid for . . .9/10 months. :)  The other times we try to save up, but it's not always possible.  It was such a blessing that Josh has work this summer.  Another blessing this summer was that I could work a few weeks for a friend of mine at their fireworks stand.  That helped financially, as well.  Another blessing I had (this one is the icing on the cake) is that I won a contest.  Yes, a contest.  I know many of us feel that we "never" win anything. . .I have always felt that way.  But I finally won something - and it was a BIG something.  I won a KitchenAid mixer.  Wow.  Did I need one?  No, I already had one.  I felt like it was God saying that He loves me and is always going to take care of me.  It made me feel so special.

Take a minute.  Think of things that God has blessed you with.  Little things, big things, common things, uncommon things.  Take a second and go ahead. . .comment your blessings.  Help us all dwell on how good our God has been!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Change is Here!

This weekend, my husband and I FINALLY got internet in our home.  Since we moved a little over a year ago, we have been either using internet at work (which blocks most of the sites I want to look at - not bad, just anything shopping or Facebook - and doesn't like pictures of any kind) or from the hot spot on my mobile phone.  I probably wouldn't have moved as quickly on getting it as my husband did. He didn't know what he would do if he were at home for a week by himself. . .without any internet.  Let me explain. :)

When we want to go on the internet at home, we must go through the following:

  1. Find my phone (in my purse, on my person, on the charger, etc.).  Which means, if I am not home, there is no internet at home. . .
  2. Put my phone on the charger if it was not already there.  Using the hot spot drains the battery life.  If Josh wanted to use his e-reader, he had to unplug my phone. . .from behind our bed, move it to the living room, and plug it back in. . .then out of the kindness of his heart, plug it back in behind the bed.  I <3 him!
  3. Hope there is 3G coverage. . .
  4. Activate the hot spot (there is a cap on usage per month).
  5. Plug the laptop charger in and connect to the laptop.
  6. Hope that there is 3G coverage on the phone. . .
  7. Open the laptop and wait for it to catch the internet signal from the phone. . .
  8. Hope there is adequate 3G coverage. . .
  9. Once we got online, we were fine. . .as long as we didn't try to listen to music, try to download, or try to watch a movie. . .
  10. Don't ask about if we wanted to print something. . .
Our having internet at home was not as simple as sitting down and opening an internet browser.  One had to weigh very carefully if using the internet was worth following the aforementioned steps.  

Last night, shortly after the guys got the internet hooked up, we went to Josh's school's graduation program.  As I was thinking on my way home, I was contemplating the fact that I really wasn't on board for getting internet this soon. . .but why?  I realized that it was because - even though there were a lot of steps to take - I got used to jumping through hoops.  The unique thing about humans is that once we get used to something, we hate to change it.

Being a receptionist at a high school that is over 100 years old, I work with a lot of people who don't like change.  I won't go into the details, but basically, if something has been done the same way for 50 years - or been in the same place for 50 years - one cannot change it. . .without ramifications, anyway.  Sometimes, I laugh. Sometimes, I don't.  It is amusing to me how much people refuse to change.

I don't really care to change either, but I feel that since I am a child of God, He gives me the ability to change. Not through myself, of course, but through Him.  Now, if you look up the word "change" in the Bible, you will only find references to changing things - not yourself. I believe the biblical word is "transformed."  The Bible says in Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. . ."  We change ourselves by the renewing of our mind, or the renovation of our mind, or the tearing down of the old and inserting the new.  

If I were to renovate my kitchen, there is no way I would keep my old cabinets around.  I would take them out and get rid of them.  I would go to a store and look at all of their cabinet selection.  I might not even buy anything the first time, but maybe I would go back multiple times until I knew that was what I wanted.  Then I would take my husband and show him what I wanted.  I would take pictures and send them to my family to look at.  Then, I would purchase the ones I wanted and have them installed.  I would dwell on my new cabinets and probably not think of the old ones except for a few laughs. 

That is how we are to change.  We are to read the Bible and listen to preaching. (Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.) We mull it over and over in our minds. Then we get new cabinets. . .I mean, new habits. Change takes time.  Change takes faith.  Change takes love.  Change takes wanting to be like Jesus. . . and not like another human - no matter how famous.

I have had two instances of change this year that were not of my own doing.  They were attitude/personality changes.  I prayed about them.  One was the fact that I was asked to teach a young children's Sunday school class.  I don't have much patience with little kids.  The other was that our church piano player was moving quite a distance away and would not be able to attend our church on Wednesday nights.  I am not good at playing the piano, but I needed to have a little jump-start on the learning angle of it.  Both instances were those that I prayed that the Lord would help me love my little ones and that He would help me understand piano playing.  I must admit that to date, I love my little ones.  I didn't do it, Jesus did.  I am doing better at the piano.  I didn't do it, Jesus did.

Change takes time, but it is always worth it when I come out on the other side a little more of the person that Jesus wants me to be.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Be Afraid - Very Afraid!

Something my pastor said this morning made me think. I wish I would have written it down. . .because I forgot what he said, exactly, but it was about our relationship with God.  Something like when we neglect our relationship with God, we have problems.

I had read something like that in the past - relating to money.  You know you are in trouble when you don't want to check your account balance, budget, etc.

I recognized it in myself.  I normally check my bank account online at least every two days, most likely every day.  Identity Theft Awareness, I suppose.  Anyway, I know I'm having spending problems when I don't really . . .um. . .need to check it today. . .or tomorrow. . .or the next day.  After avoiding it, I realize that I DO need to look at it because I need to figure out the mess that I made.  And I do make myself.

It's funny how the main areas of life always coincide - like relationships.  If I am avoiding someone, there is a problem.  I ask myself if there is anything I need to apologize for. . . even if I thought I was right.  It's amazing how an apology opens up hearts and conversations.

When I don't want to talk to God, it bothers me.  I hate feeling far from God - especially because I know He is always near.  But when I have sin in my life, it's easy to try to avoid Him. . .if I don't see Him, He doesn't see me, right?  Yeah, right.  Adam and Eve figured that one out pretty quickly.  Good try, guys!  Didn't work!

To sum everything up, if you are avoiding someone/thing, there is very likely something that has to be worked out.  Pray and ask God to help you with it.  He will.  He wants you to be joyful.  He doesn't wish for you to be bogged down with cares!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blessings

Yesterday, I mentioned to Josh about a girl who had been faithfully attending our junior church program.  She hadn't been in many weeks (that I could tell - I am in junior church 2-3 times a month).  I was worried about her because she is at the age when many kids just drop out of church and begin to follow a path of destruction.  I was so thankful that last night at church she came up to sit with me.  It did my heart good to see her.

As I was driving home from church, I dwelt on the many (for our small town :) ) kids that I was able to be in contact with this week.  Since Josh and I have been in Lewisburg, many teens and children have crossed our paths. . .and continued down different ones.  I pray for them often.  It seems that this week, the Lord has guided my path to go to. . .Wal-mart.  I have never cared for Wal-mart.  But this past week, I feel that I've been at least every other day, if not more.  I was able to see two teenage girls who used to attend our church.  Both are hurting.  Both aren't making the best decisions.  But I loved seeing them.  They are constantly in my prayers.

Another blessing was that yesterday morning, after the bus had arrived (all of our children who attend Sunday school and junior church come on our bus), one of my girls ran up and said that her mom was there!  What a blessing.  I saw her mother and spoke to her for a moment, then I went to my class to count my kids.  I bake enough for Josh's and my Sunday school classes.  Goodness!  I had 11 kids!  Hooray!  That is our highest number since I was given the class in September/October.

God blesses me more than I deserve, and I am thankful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Mother

I woke up.  As I walked out of my bedroom, I remember seeing yellow stuff and balloons on the door.  Huh.  That's unusual, I thought.  When I walked in the kitchen to find my mom, I remember there being a sign on the wall and more yellow balloons.  My mom told me it was my birthday, and that was why she had put decorations up.  What a surprise! :)

My dad brought me into the laundry room with the green checked curtains that I loved.  There was mom. . .and a baby.  She gave me a new baby doll of my own, then introduced me to her new baby, my sister, Anna.

My mom was making me ramen noodles for lunch. . .when she left the kitchen, I reached up on the counter and took a bite of the raw noodles. . . it reminded me of a sandwich!

As I try to remember more memories of my mom, memories of my dad pop up (I'll save those for Father's Day. :) ). . .and I try to think of more memories of my mom. . .  then it clicked.  My mom was such a good mother that she always pushed us toward our dad.  She loved us very much and knew that we would need a good relationship with him as we got older.  I remember my mom encouraging me to write a story about my dad for a  Father's Day contest in our newspaper.  I ended up winning and having my article published.  Again, more to follow on Father's Day.

Once my mom (also teacher at the time) realized I needed glasses, I remember her taking me to the eye doctor. . .and I couldn't see one letter on the wall!  Not even the big "E" at the top!  I remember her taking me on many more trips to pick up my many pair of glasses -and eventually contacts - over the years.  How cool it was when I realized that one could see the leaves in the trees and the individual blades of grass from a moving car!  Oh, and who knew that the lines in the ceiling tiles were visible from the floor, as well as when one was un-installing a light fixture for cleaning. . .

I remember going to work with my mom during the summers when I was in college. . .and the year I decided to work a second part-time job after my regular full time and overtime job.  She wanted to know how to make my coffee so she could make it for me when I was too tired. . .and suffered from it during the day. :)  I remember people asking me to go to lunch with them, but I wanted to stay and have lunch with my mom.

I miss my mom.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sugar, Spice, and Puppy Dog Tails?

I don't know where I began to be interested in organic and natural things.  I'm not super good at it, but I do try to be more environmentally friendly and pesticide free.

One of my most recent discoveries of things that work are essential oils.  I used to think they were just for smelling, but I am finding other uses for them now.  One of which is citronella oil.  I put 20 drops in a small bottle of olive oil.  Instant bug repellent that actually works, is inexpensive, and smells nice.  Oh, and it's a two-for-one deal.  I read that olive oil is a natural sunscreen!

The other I am currently experimenting with is lavender oil.  I'm sure I first purchased it to combine with Epsom salts in bath water.  I love lavender.

Now to the puppy dog tail part. :)  We are still experiencing our first year of having a dog.  The newest development has been that of ticks.  Bless Daisy's heart!  Within 2 1/2 weeks, I think I found 5 ticks on her.  What to do?  Flea and tick medicines are very expensive, and I question their working capability since I read the reviews online.  I also don't care at all for the fact that flea and tick meds are poison.  My vet, of course, recommends the most expensive ones. . .and cringes when I order my pet meds online.  No good.

One day, I thought that if the citronella oil works for me, would it be safe and work for Daisy?  I started researching online and found a better alternative.  LAVENDER!  Woo hoo! (Citronella smells good, but lavender is better!)



Maybe a week and a half ago, I gave daisy a bath.  Afterwards, I would put a drop or two of lavender oil into my palms, rub them together, then rub it into her fur.  I repeated it until I got her tummy, back, legs, and the top of her head. I also filled a spray bottle with one cup of water and about 15 drops of lavender oil.   Whenever I notice that Daisy doesn't have too much of a lavender smell before we go outside for any reason, I tell her to come to me.  She does very well and sits quietly while I spray her down, then rub in the spray.

I hadn't noticed any more ticks on her since I started the lavender routine.  Yesterday, Josh took Daisy to the groomer.  He asked the groomer if there were any ticks on her when the groomer bathed her.  Good news!  Daisy was tick AND flea free!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In a Jam

It's been a while, I know.  I am ready to share something different with you, but first, let me tell you a story.

This year when I started working at the high school, I got to know the home economics teacher (HE was always my favorite, and I like to learn new things!).  She asked me if I had a bread maker.  I told her that I had a KitchenAid mixer and didn't need a bread maker - nor did I have the space for one.  She wasn't convinced that I didn't need one.  She went on how she hasn't bought bread in years (okay, so that was convincing since I'd been buying bread).

Fast forward a few months - I was looking for new shoes in Ross to no avail.  So before I left, I decided to peruse the clearance aisle.  One never knows what one will find there. I was walking and looking. . .and looking and walking, and on the bottom shelf, in a rather plain box was a bread maker.  A Cuisinart bread maker.  A Cuisinart stainless steel bread maker.  For $28.99 (plus our lovely sales tax of 10% put it around $31).  I couldn't resist.  If I made 12-15 loaves of bread it would pay for itself. . .  I couldn't help but buy it.  On the way to the register, I saw a manager and made sure there was nothing wrong with it.  There wasn't.

Once I got it to my car, I opened the box and looked at it.  It was beautiful. . . and had so many buttons!  What fun!  But I had to go to Zumba first.

I went home and set it up to have a loaf ready when I woke up in the morning.  It was a wheat loaf, but I forgot to adjust the flour to have half white and half wheat - so it was hard as a rock.  But it smelled REALLY good waking up to freshly baked bread.

Do I have room for a bread maker now?  Not really.  Does it matter?  Absolutely not!  What a freeing feeling it has been to be able to just add the ingredients, press a few buttons, and clean the house!  My internal timer keeps telling me that I need to check or knead or punch down, but then I remember the machine does it by itself.  I'm hooked.

Now that I've done bread and dough, I decided last night to do something different.  So last night, I made jam.  In my bread maker.  Yes, I did.  My inspiration was from King Arthur Flour's blog, The Baker's Banter. I edited a little. . .

If you can read the bottom of the picture, you can tell I was looking at the Cuisinart Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.  I used relative proportions between that recipe and the one in The Baker's Banter.  I started with half of the strawberries and sugar and mashed them, then added the rest of the strawberries, sugar, and pectin.


I then decided to add vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and lemon juice.



 And yes, I did pull out every gadget imaginable! (That's what dishwashers are for)

Here is my strawberry mixture in the bread maker bucket.


My new machine!


And here it is after I started the jam cycle. . . do you like my sophisticated way of looking in the little window!


WHAT I LEARNED:

1.  Out of 3 cartons of strawberries, I got a whole quart mason jar of jam.
2.  I needed more pectin.  I added the amount that my Cuisinart manual             recommended (1/4 cup), but I think I used too many strawberries and needed more.
3. Regarding sugar, see number 2.
4.  I love not having to do much to get homemade jam!