Saturday, December 31, 2011

Family Year End Review and Goals

The close of the year is a good time to take stock of the year past and make goals for the year ahead.  We all have dreams and goals but the difference between the two of those is action.  Dreams remain nothing but idle fantasies without action.  Goals on the other hand, are accompanied by a plan and a time limit. 

So in order to make some goals come into focus and have a chance at becoming a reality, my husband and I are going to sit down today and chat about the year behind and the year ahead.  I thought I'd share some of the questions we'll be going over today and maybe they will inspire you to do your own "State of the Union" study on your marriage and family life during the past year.

Just for Couples
  1. How do you sense God moving in your lives and guiding you as a couple?
  2. Is your marriage growing and getting stronger?
  3. Are the children doing well or having struggles?
  4. What changes do you want or need to make in the coming year?
  5. Where do you feel God is challenging you and your spouse as a couple?
  6. Where do you sense God challenging you individually?
  7. If you could do any ministry with your spouse, what would it be?
  8. What gifts has God given to you individually?  What gifts has God given to you and your spouse as a couple?
  9. What about your marriage would you like to change during the coming year?
  10. What needs to changed during the coming week?
  11. If you have kids, how has your relationship with your spouse changed since adding children to your lives?
  12. How has your relationship changed as the children have grown older?
  13. What do you like about the changes that have happened since having children?
  14. What do you  not like about the changes that have happened since having children?
  15. What do you appreciate about your spouse?
  16. What would you like to change about yourself in order to better care for your spouse?

Similarly, we are going to have the same kind of talk with our kids, asking similar questions only designed for them.
For Families With Children
  1. How do you sense God moving in your lives and guiding you?
  2. Is your faith growing and getting stronger?
  3. Are you having any struggles that we can pray with you about?
  4. Where do you sense God challenging you?
  5. What personal changes do you want to make in the coming year?
  6. What would you like to change during the coming year?
  7. What needs to change during the coming week?
  8. What gifts has God given to you?
  9. If you could do any ministry, what would it be?
  10. How would you like to use those gifts for God in the coming year?
  11. What do you like about the changes that have happened in our family in the last year?
  12. What do you not like about the changes that have happened in our family in the last year?
  13. What do you appreciate about your brother?
  14. What do you appreciate about your parents?
  15. What would you like to change about yourself in order to better care for your family members?
There are enough questions here to really get your "dream juices" flowing. If you schedule a time to talk and dream, be sure to schedule plenty of time for conversation so that you don't feel rushed. It's also important to begin and end your time together with prayer. You may even want to light a candle at the beginning as a symbol of God's guiding light and constant presence in your marriage and in your lives.

Later on we'll be watching a football game, having snacks and playing board games. I got a brand new game of Cranium from a seller off Craigslist for $5! We've wanted this game for a long time but they are so expensive in the stores. What a blessing to have found a brand new one that someone didn't want for next to nothing!  We're looking forward to trying it out tonight.  Don't know if we'll be staying up till midnight, but the kids really want to, so we'll probably try. 

I hope your New Year will be filled with the blessings of God and that you will seek his will above all else in the months ahead! New years can be troubling for those who don't know the Lord.  As we head into 2012, let's lift up the leaders of nations and pray for peace and grace.  Our country especially is in need of earnest prayer and petition to our Lord. Certainly God's wrath is kindled against it's continual blasphemy and godlessness that takes place here every day. One thing is certain, and that is that the Lord God is slow to anger and great in tender mercies. No matter what the coming year brings, my strong tower and safety is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Just as the arc was to Noah, so is my Saviour to me.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
-Proverbs 18:10 

Happy 2012 everyone!

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Breakfast for Dinner

    For dinner tonight, I wanted to use up some of the Christmas ham we have in the fridge so I made a Denver Omellette in the oven.  This is a great recipe that uses all the same ingredients but saves you the time from having to make each individual omellette.  I served it with blueberry muffins and hashbrowns along side. Turned out sooo yummy!

    Here are the recipes:

    Oven Denver Omellette

    8 eggs
    1/2 cup half and half (or cream)
    1 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese
    1 cup diced cooked ham
    1/4 cup finely diced onion
    1/2 cup diced green pepper (or mushrooms)

    Pour into a 9" square greased casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until set.

    Blueberry Muffins

    2 cups flour (can use all or part whole wheat)
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 eggs
    1 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup oil
    1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
    Mix until all ingredients are moistened.  Scoop into greased muffin tin and bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes.

    Hash Browns

    4 potatoes, peeled and shredded
    Olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    After peeling and shredding potatoes, place them in a clean dish towel and squeeze out excess moisture. The secret to crispy hash browns is to get the potatoes as dry as possible.  Next, heat skillet over medium-high heat.  When it's hot, add oil to cover pan and then add potatoes, spreading in an even layer around the pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and heat on Med-Hi.  DO NOT STIR.  When they're golden brown on the bottom turn to the other side and cook till golden.  Serve with ketchup or sour cream. 

    My family and I loved this dinner!  Cooking the muffins and the "omellette" in the oven replaced their traditional counterparts (omellettes and pancakes) which allowed me to concentrate on cooking the hashbrowns on the stovetop.  Best of all, everything turned out so deliciously good!  I'm going to put this this meal on our monthly rotation!

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Broken Vessels

    Christmas time is often promoted as "family time".  But what about those whose family are far from them or worse, have no one?  I wonder if those who say this so nonchalantly feel that the holiday of Christmas is not for those with no family.  Should these people just try to fade into the shadows like an unsightly scar on society?
    It is God who structured the family. And when the family unit is functioning at optimum levels, it is a beauty to behold.

    It is God who structured the body. And when I see the body of a fit, toned, well functioning athlete, it is a beauty to behold.

    But what of the blind man? God said he made him that way for his glory. (Jn 9:3)  What of the lame?  Paul asked God to remove his infirmity and God said that His grace was sufficient. When we look around us at "ideal athletes" and then down at our shriveled legs, it's tempting to say "Why me, Lord?" 

    There are many people with troubled family situations. It's not ideal, but God says he's still sufficient. If we could change it we would. But we cannot and therein lies the frustration that can become a daily reality.

    Many children are growing up without their grandparents which is not the ideal situation. Grandparents can be such a wonderful part of their grandkids' lives. But when God has closes door, there is a choice to make: we can keep pondering the injustice of it all or we can "glory in it". 
    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
    These aren't lofty, unattainable goals. This is the reality that believers have in Christ Jesus. When we focus on what we've lost, we will be miserable. When we focus on the sufficiency we have in the Lord and the breath we have in our lungs that He has given to us for each new day, we can stop bemoaning our sorrows and start rejoicing in them.

    I'm in awe of what God is doing in my life - He gives us power to glory in distress and persecution.

    Just God

    Someone recently said that since God is the God of peace and love, their current trial could not be from him. I began to think about Job. The trials that came upon Job were all with God's express permission.  So it is where we ourselves are concerned. 

    Job 2:3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
    God was moved against Job. He gave Satan permission to try Job with utter heartbreak.  In human understanding this is puzzling.  But God's ways are infinitely higher than our ways. Were God's actions toward Job loving? Based on the fact that God is holy, just and true, I can only conclude that, yes, they were.

    Then Job reminds us of something we should have hanging on the wall - that we came into this world with NOTHING- no children, no husbands, no money or clothes. And when we leave, we'll take exactly what we came with. Are we willing to give him everything - even our children? They are His anyway.

    Job 1:21-22 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

    The man with wealth, family, connections, health and God has not one whit more than the man who has just God. Is life with just God - without the people, wealth or possessions which he GAVE us - enough? Just God? If our lives were to boil down to JUST God, will our response be to worship the Lord as Job did?

    Job 1:20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped

    People think roughly 40,000 thoughts per day.  How many of those 40,000 thoughts are we saying, "Thank you Lord for what & who you have given and what & who you have taken away. Blessed be Your Name." ?

    We all wonder what challenges lie ahead and those of us with troubles in our lives hope they will be made "whole" again.  We should still pray for God to heal broken relationships, dreams and hearts. Hoping is good and praying is right.

    But here is the truth: if you have God at the center of your life, He is enough.



    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Christmas Busy-ness

    We have been busy busy this Christmas season.  My oldest son has branched out and is teaching an art class twice a month to 10 fellow homeschoolers.  He has done really well so far and I'm proud to see him conquering his fears.  It's not easy getting up in front of people and speaking and he's doing a smashing job.

    At the start of each class he reads a scripture that pertains to art and then briefly expounds on it.  The first class he read Psalm 91 and spoke of how the heavens and all of creation show God's handiwork.  God is the originator of all art and we simply attempt to recreate the beauty that the Lord has created in the first place.

    The second class (he's only done two so far) he asked the class if anyone knew what the first sculpture was.  Nobody knew.  Then he read the verse in Genesis that speaks of forming man out of the dust of the earth and that the first man, Adam, was just a sculpture until God breathed life into him.  Isn't that awesome?!

    Then we got our Christmas tree put up and it looks beautiful.  I bought some ribbon at Costco this year and just tucked it in all around the tree and I think it turned out nicely. We got an artificial "slim" tree on craigslist last Christmas.  First time we've had a fake tree in years. But it was a bargain at $25.  In our last house we had an 1 1/2 acrs of fir trees and cut our own Christmas trees which was really cool.  The price that a fresh tree costs commercially anymore is ridiculous, so we're happy to use a fake one. :)

    Last Friday we attended a wonderful Christmas symphony at a local church.  The choir sang beautiful Christmas carols and we had such a nice time together.  Going to musical performances is one of our favorite family traditions especially at Christmas time.

    I chose to do photo Christmas cards this year and I'll be honest...I'm a little disappointed with how they turned out, which is really my own fault.  I cropped the picture too close up and the photo size I chose was just too large. bleh. This was my first attempt at doing this so if I do this again next year, I'll know better. 
    We are nearly finished with our Christmas shopping and tonight I am attending a gift exchange party for moms.  My family thinks there should have been a gift exchange party for all the families instead of just the moms.  Maybe next year we will plan something like that. It sounds fun, but I don't know if we could fit all the families comfortably in one house. 

    For us, Christmas has been a little different each year.  Some times we have only had our little family, other times we've enjoyed a big family gatherings.  Now that we live in a new state, we are getting to know new friends and enjoying a whole new twist on the holiday season.

    What is important to us is that our children feel safe and secure no matter where we are.  Relocating as much as we have has its advantages but there are definite drawbacks.  One of which is the task of forging new friendships over and over again.  I never realized how emotionally taxing that can be. 

    But I praise God for the wonderful husband I've been given and our children who have been so flexible and loving through it all.  There love and strength are what I'm most grateful for this Christmas.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Get the Metal Out of Your Mouth

    Quack, Quack, Where’s The Duck?

    Originally, a “quack” was a dentist who used silver fillings. Silver fillings are also known as amalgam fillings which contain mercury. Mercury was known as quicksilver in the United States. But interestingly enough, it was known as “quacksilver” in Europe.

    In 1848, the American Society of Dental Surgeons required its members to pledge NOT to use mercury amalgam in filling material. And when member dentists in New York City used mercury, they were suspended for “malpractice by using silver mercury fillings.”

    According to Morton Walker, D.P.M. (author of Elements of Danger and 70 othe
    r books related to alternative health), the suspended fellows refused to give up their toxic ways because mercury offered an easily malleable, inexpensive filling material. They formed a new, competitive organization—the American Dental Association!

    Mercury is a known toxic metal and has been linked to birth defects, autoimmune illnesses and neurological illnesses including depression. Mercury can cross the blood-brain and placenta barriers and startling new research has linked the presence of Mercury in the brain to one of the major structural markers in Alzheimer’s disease.

    Some quick facts about mercury:
    1. Mercury is the most-toxic, non-radioactive element on Earth.
    2. A silver colored mercury amalgam filling normally contains 52% mercury.
    3. On average, an amalgam filling weighs 1 gram and contains 1/2 gram of mercury.
    4. The typical adult carries ten amalgam fillings containing about 5 grams of mercury.
    5. 1/2 gram of mercury in a ten acre lake would warrant issuance of a fish advisory for the lake.
    6. Running shoes with mercury lights in their heels were banned by the Minnesota Legislature in 1994 because they contained a 1/2 gram of mercury in them and this was considered dangerous to public health.
    7. Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden ban the use of mercury amalgam fillings in pregnant women and children and complete bans are scheduled to be phased in.
    8. The state of California requires this warning in all dental offices with a staff of 10 or more that use mercury amalgam fillings. “The people of the state of California have determined that the use of dental amalgam causes birth defects and other health problems.”
    9. Legislation is now being proposed in Minnesota for a similar “Informed Consent” law to protect all patients
    This is just the beginning of the story of mercury in millions of mouths causing illness and death. This is one of the important things I've learned that I wish everyone knew about. Now YOU know.

    I found a wonderful, mercury-free dentist through There is a plethora of information on that website, as well as information on how to find a certified mercury removal dentist in your area