April 19, 2016
Dishes, towels, and kitchen appliances covered the gift table at a wedding shower I recently attended. The most unique gift I saw was one that had been given to the happy couple by one of my good friends. A water hose. My friend learned a lesson years ago that she likes to pass on to brides-to-be, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.”
In his recently released book, “The 7 Rings of Marriage,” author Jackie Bledsoe makes a plea for married couples to do just that: keep their eyes on their marriages with plenty of “watering,” which includes attention, time, and prayer.
Prayer and the Word of God must compose the foundation, Bledsoe instructs. No matter where a couple lands on their marriage timeline, these components are essential ingredients for a lasting and fulfilling marriage. However, couples can avoid plenty of heartaches if Biblical principles are instituted even before the vows are recited. Bledsoe openly shares the struggles his own marriage went through because of previous shaky foundation.
Because laying a solid foundation is crucial for a healthy marriage, I would suggest that this book is best suited for engaged couples or those newly married. Of course, its principles can be applied for any couple, as Bledsoe offers practical methods for strengthening marriages. Date nights, one-on-one conversation time, and even playful fun are some of his suggestions.
“The 7 Rings of Marriage” is divided into seven stages or “rings” of marriage, beginning with the “Engagement Ring” and following through to the importance of “Mentoring” other couples in their relationships.
Other sections include: “Wedding Ring,” which calls for husbands and wives to lay out a vision for what a fulfilling marriage looks like. “Discovering” defines the importance of always learning more about a spouse. Agreeing to never use the word “divorce” is emphasized in the chapter on “Persevering.” The chapters on “Restoring” and “Prospering” guide the reader through practical steps of righting wrongs which may occur in marriage and thriving along the way.
Bledsoe’s style is conversational and the organization of the book aids in the ease of reading, as well as, using specific chapters as a reference tool. Though strongly recommended for those couples in the early months or years of marriage, “The 7 Rings of Marriage” offers any husband or wife with encouragement to view their marriage through a hopeful lens.
*I received a copy of this book courtesy of B & H Publishing. Opinions in the review are my own.
April 12, 2016
Are we the only family who practically eats our weight in chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant? Match up our love for Mexican cuisine with an affinity for snacking on crunchy things, and before you know it, we’ve scarfed down chips by the basketful.
So it should come as no surprise that when I solicit the boys’ recommendations for dinner, tacos always make the request list. I cannot begin to guess how many tortillas we’ve consumed.
When I want to change up our traditional taco menu, I make enchiladas. For years, I bought canned enchilada sauce. Little did I know that making the sauce is simple!
Try it and you’ll be quickly converted. You can adjust the spices to fit your family’s taste buds.
Eat ‘Em up Enchiladas
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp flour
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
**optional, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I don’t add cayenne because I cannot handle spicy foods!)
Salt and Pepper
3 cups ground beef or shredded chicken or pork, cooked
1 ½ cups shredded cheese, Cheddar or Monterey Jack
Heat oil in small saucepan. Sprinkle in flour and cook for about a minute over medium heat.
Whisk in tomato sauce and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
Spoon a layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Scoop meat on tortilla and roll up. Place in baking dish. Repeat with other tortillas.
Cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.
These enchiladas are a perfect way to use leftover meat. They work with chicken, ground beef, or pork.
Fill them with this leftover pork and they are irresistible!
Want them extra cheesy? Add a little cheese along with the meat inside each enchilada.
April 5, 2016
"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:6
As an official way to wrap up spring break, I asked my boys to condense all of their Easter candy into one bucket. They each had bags and buckets strewn all over the place. Eggs from the hunts. Goodies from school parties. Empty calories from the Bunny. Treat bags from Grammy. Candy for months. Time to collect all they had gathered and do something with it.
Seems that Easter involves a good amount of collecting things and seeing what’s inside. Opening the eggs and baskets to see the treasure inside.
While wading through the hunts and traditions, we make efforts to seek out the True Meaning. Through Scriptures. Songs. Devotionals. Sermons. Our own reflections of what the season of Easter really means. A gathering of remembrance and gratitude.
This year, I asked the Lord to show me something about Easter. To cause me to gather more than another recitation of the familiar.
And as I wanted to grieve the events of Good Friday and celebrate the resurrection on Sunday, I was sidetracked by news of bombs blowing up in an airport and politicians behaving badly and people crying out hatred against His Word. And there it was, my Easter take-away, “This world needs a Savior.”
And then the theme for the world, came home.
“These kids need a Savior.”
My boys’ behaviors and spunk combined with my attitude and lack of energy just made it all too glaringly apparent. Home from school, sugared up, sibling rivalry, and a sick mama cancelling plans didn’t equate peace. For several days, it seemed that the only thought about Easter that I could conjure up was “These kids need Jesus.”
Of course, as I churned their need over in my heart, my own need became glaringly obvious that I, too, need a Savior. I need Jesus. Every second.
And I realized that if we could wade through the attitudes and debris and remember back to that Friday, we would see Him. Our Savior.
And that if we kept going until Sunday, we could find what we were really searching for in the empty tomb.
Yes, our every longing filled by emptiness.
A lacking so frequently leaves us with an unquenchable thirst. Empty seems negative. So often it is.
We’ve all been there at some point.
Empty bank account.
All of those things leave us longing. Longing to be filled.
Yet the emptiness of the tomb leaves us full.
Because in this emptiness we find a living Savior. Redemption. Restoration. Victory. Hope. Fulfilment of life.
As the time comes to put away the bunnies and eggs and consume the remaining chocolate, be reminded. You have a Savior. I have a Savior. And I have a renewed longing to empty myself so that my life can be filled with only Him. Because the emptiness of the tomb completes us.
"So come and empty me
So that it's You I breathe.
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me."
Jeremy Camp/"Christ in Me"
April 1, 2016
No ingredient says, “Spring” like lemons. Fresh, tart, and yellow like a burst of sunshine.
Sweet rolls with a pop of lemon? Delicious. A ray of sun in each bite.
These rolls bake up soft with a layer of sugary crunch on top. Pair them with a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of iced tea in the afternoon or a mug of milk before bedtime. You get the idea. They’re good anytime. Best served warm from the oven.
1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon lemon extract, optional
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon zest.
Pull apart bread dough into pieces. A loaf will yield about 16 rolls.
Roll each dough piece in the sugar mixture.
Place in 8 x 8 baking dish.
Melt butter and add extract. Pour over rolls.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise and double in size.
Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle top with remaining sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over rolls.
*Recipe doubles easily.
*Lemon extract is optional. If you’re a lemon fan, consider adding it to your pantry.
March 15, 2016
Yesterday, March 14, was Pi Day. To mathematicians, a day to celebrate. For my middle schooler, who just happens to love math, it was Pi Day and bring a pie day. His math teacher saw fit for the class to celebrate the occasion by eating pie. Not a bad deal.
As I roamed the grocery store Sunday evening, I spotted a cherry pie and chunked it into the shopping cart. In an instant, I threw out my plans for a homemade one. Blame it on a spring-forward-I need-more-sleep frame of mind.
When my middle schooler exited the bus, a pie box was in his hand. Leftovers. Good. I had wanted a piece. However, before we made it home, the pie had made its way into the floorboard of the freshly vacuumed minivan.
(I should mention that the van gets vacuumed rarely. I mean very rarely.)
Yep. There it was. Splattered on the floor while some remnants made their way onto a lunchbox and brand new sneakers worn by an over-zealous, pie-holding preschooler.
Another helpful child attempted to pick it up in order to salvage it. Nope. Too late.
Splat. Kerput. A sticky sweet mess.
Disappointment and frustration.
Little did the boys know that while they were in school, their daddy went to a bakery where doughnuts were being made. They were fresh and pillowy-soft. And the best part? He had picked ones out especially for them. Chocolate with sprinkles. A favorite.
A sweet, specially-made treat was waiting for them.
We just had to get over the mess with the pie.
How many times have we gotten stuck in some seemingly sweet things? Some of them seem so good and appealing. We stay put. Settling for a packaged plan while a life specially designed by our Father awaits.
Perhaps it’s a job, a location, a ministry. We stay with it just because. How often do we linger in our current state of mind or fail to reach for goals or put dreams to rest simply because our present situations seem to be sufficient?
Let’s decide to reach beyond the areas that leave us salivating and seek His plans which always satisfy.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. “ Psalm 34:8
What’s an area of sweetness the LORD has provided for you recently?
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