True Scraps and Snippets

I have been promising an update for weeks and haven't gotten to it yet. I am finally beginning to recuperate from the worst of the sleep deprivation, but I'm still not sure I'm up to a coherant narrative post...so I'm going to try to catch things up via random scraps and snippets of life around here and hope they will make some sort of sense. :)

*June 9--My 95 y/o grandfather fell at the nursing home and broke his hip. He had hip surgery June 10, and was in the hospital for 5 days. We spent a *lot* of time at the hospital during that time...especially that weekend. My aunt came that Sunday and stayed until the following Saturday. Despite the doctors' original concerns that he wouldn't make it through the surgery at all and that he might not make it through the week, he came through with flying colors.

*June 11--This date had already been on the calendar due to an extended family situation. My friend J kept the kids that day so that I could deal with all that was going on that day and help my mom.

*June 16--I talked to my mom around 6:15...we marvelled at the fact that a week after my grandfather fell on the way to the dining room for lunch, he was back at the nursing home and they had taken him to the dining room for supper! My aunt had started her 2.5 hour trip home about 30 minutes before our conversation. About 15 minutes after I got off the phone with my mom the first time, the phone rang again and my mom was screaming, "Come quick, come quick, I think I've broken my wrist." Sure enough, we spent the evening in the ER and discovered that she had multiple fractures in her right arm near her wrist and a displaced thumb. They almost did surgery that night, but then decided against it.

*June 20--Finally got in to see the orthopedic surgeon, after a very painful few days for my mom, and a busy few for the rest of us. He scheduled surgery for the next morning.

*My friend J had the kids Wed. afternoon during the dr. appt., and immediately offered to keep them during the surgery. Later that evening, my friend K also offered to help. K ended up taking the oldest two home with her to spend the night, and I met J at the church the next morning with the younger two before I picked up Mother. I have the most wonderful friends in the world....K had had a horrible day Wed., had a full schedule already planned for Thursday, but she came by the house after church, picked up *stuff* for the two big kids and headed home for an impromptu *slumber party* with her two and mine. (She's still speaking to me, btw, even after the kids woke her up at **5:30 a.m.** the next morning...YIKES!) J wasn't having the best of weeks herself...and she has had my kids three times in two weeks and has fed us three times (actually 6 or 7, counting leftovers) in the past few weeks as well. I can't imagine making it through the past few weeks (or years, actually), without such wonderful friends.

(ETA for clarity...I started this post *last* Tuesday and didn't ever get it finished...so there is almost a week's break right here while it sat in draft. :))

* After surgery, we entered *nightmare weekend*. :) I honestly don't remember much of it...it was a complete blur. Thursday night I spent the night at my mom's and was literally up and down all night. I was already somewhat sleep deprived, and the main thing I remember about Friday and Saturday is that I have never...at any point...been as tired as I was those two days. Somewhere in there I also got *sick*. I thought at first it was just allergies, and then realized it was some sort of cold/virus thing that was apparently going around...a couple of friends had already had it, my kids had it in varying degrees, and then Billy got it just in time for his vacation last week! But...we survived the week and managed to even make all of VBS last week...more about that later.

So...things have been a bit busy here. ;-) But believe it or not, last week, VBS and all, was a bit calmer, and I did get a bit rested (my house is a testimony to the fact that I decided I was going to have to just *make* myself rest...so now it's catch-up week...:)). Hopefully this week will also be a bit calmer, and we will get caught up on the house, laundry, cooking, my ever-growing to do list...and maybe even my blog! Lots to blog about when I have time and coherant brain cells to type it all out. :)


Menu Plan Monday

Well, last week's menu went completely out the window. Monday night we ate drive-through burgers so I could take my mom back to the ER with her arm. Tuesday night we had the roast that made me say "Wow!" (And leftovers from it all week for lunches...:)) Wednesday I had a sandwich from a drive-through between Mother's appt. and church. (The kids stayed with my friend J, who fed them before bringing them to church.) Thursday my friend K's MIL had pizza sent over for all of us after Mother's surgery, and Friday we had the food my friend J had brought Thursday when she brought the two youngest kids home. So...I didn't cook all week, and if it hadn't been for good friends, I'm not sure we would have eaten! (More about last week in another post. :))

But I'm going to try again this week. *Hopefully* this week will be a bit calmer. (Pretty scary when you are looking at VBS week as being *calmer*. ;-)) I'm just going to list our *main meal* for each day....since Billy's off and we have VBS this week, some days our main meal will be lunch and others it will be supper. We're all about flexible around here these days!

Monday--Tortellini, Salad, French Bread

Tuesday--Twice Baked Potatoes

Wednesday--Bacon-Swiss Bread and Salad

Thursday--Breaded Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, veggies

Friday--Tacos, Rice, and Beans


When God Makes You Say "Wow!"

I love the way that in the middle of the hardest of times, God sometimes just makes us stop and say "Wow!" This has been one of those weeks.

I have posted several times about how thankful I am for the friends God has blessed me with. One has fed our family twice (actually, four meals, counting leftovers :)) in the past week. Both times, it has been at just the right time...when I have been literally too tired to make a peanut butter sandwich (and didn't have the brain-power to ;-)). I am amazed with God's provision. What a blessing! One has been checking every day "Do you have food? Do you need help with the kids?" I know that she is ready at a moment's notice to feed us, keep the kids, whatever. Most of all, they have listened and prayed and made me laugh through all the *stuff* that has been going on here.

In addition to my *best* friends, God has blessed us with a church family who are wonderful at ministering in times of crisis. Last night we thought I was going to have to take my mom back to the ER, as she was having severe swelling in her casted arm/hand. I was already exhausted and frankly just plain out of sorts. The kids and I had spent the afternoon helping her (the kids helped clean her house and did *great* job), and I was ready to go home, feed everyone, and go to bed. Instead, we ran through a drive-through, I dropped the kids off at the house to Billy, and Mother and I headed to the hospital. They sent her home with instructions to *try this and come back if it doesn't get better*. I took her home, followed their instructions, and left her elevating her arm on ice while I went to the grocery store. Just as I was leaving, Billy called. Friends from church had called and said they were on their way to our house with food. Mrs. C had mentioned Sunday that she had been through a similar situation with her mother breaking her arm, and been very encouraging and sympathetic.

When I got home much later that evening, I opened the fridge to put groceries away...and couldn't resist opening the unfamiliar container on the top shelf. When I did, I got a whiff of the most wonderful-smelling roast I have ever smelled. Yummmm! And then came the "Wow!"

A couple of weeks ago, I took a roast to a friend who is having health problems. When I bought it, I bought a two-pack at Sams, thinking I would cook one for her and one for us. Then I realized I only have *one* crock pot and I was *not* cooking one in the oven in my un-air-conditioned kitchen...so I stuck ours in the fridge to cook the next day. Well...in all the chaos around here lately, the next day turned into the next day, and the next day turned into the next day...and the next...and those next days turned into an uncooked roast in my trash can. :-(

Ever since, I have been *craving* roast. Couldn't justify buying one, since I had let the first one go to waste, and knew I wouldn't have any more time to cook it right now than I would have the first time even if I did. But every time I had opened the refrigerator lately to scrounge up food for people...I had wished for that roast!

And there one sits...all cooked and ready to eat. Isn't God good? Not only does He provide for our needs...He throws in some of our silly *wants* as well. Now the only problem is going to be waiting till Billy gets home tonight to eat it for supper! :) I am so thankful for friends and church family who listen to God's promptings and truly act as His hands and feet during hard times. We are blessed.


Menu Plan Monday

This is one of those weeks when we are just going to have to hang loose and be flexible. There is really no way of having a *plan*. We are pretty much at my mom's beck and call this week, and she will see the surgeon Wednesday to determine if she has to have surgery. So. All of this is subject to change at any moment. :) (And we didn't stay on menu *last* week due to another *flexible* week...so some of these are repeats we didn't get to then. :))

Monday--spaghetti and meatballs, green beans
Tuesday--chicken salad* sandwiches
Wednesday--church, I guess...Mother's appt. is Wednesday so we will have to see what happens there.
Thursday--Bacon-Swiss Bread and salad
Friday--cheese tortellini

*Chicken Salad:

I thought I'd post this chicken salad recipe...it is so easy and so good. They were sampling it at Sam's one day when the kids and I were shopping, and the kids all *loved* it. *That* made me stop in my tracks, because chicken salad is one of my very favorite things on *earth*...and usually I can't get anyone else in the house to eat it. Then when I made it at home, *Billy* loved it. He's requested it twice since then. :) So...it's definitely a keeper here!

I have no amounts...just keep adding to taste. The chicken in the original salad we tasted was Member's Mark from Sam's, and that is what we have used so far when we've made it. You could use any canned or cooked, shredded or diced chicken.

Miracle Whip
Hormel Real Bacon Pieces
Mrs. Dash seasoning

That's it. I think my kids like it because there is nothing *crunchy* in it. :)

Hopefully later in the week I'll have time to head to Laura's site for more menu ideas...there are always lots of great ideas on MPM!


Perfect Peace and Rest...

For those who haven't heard, my mom fell last night and broke her wrist...actually, multiple fractures in the arm near the wrist...and displaced her thumb. We got to spend our second Saturday in a row in the Sparks ER, and sent our sleep quota even further into the negative numbers. Fortunately, they decided *not* to do surgery last night, so we will go to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to find out if she will have to have surgery or if it can be corrected without it. In the meantime, she is in a lot of pain and having a rough time functioning...why do we always have to break *right* things, and not *left* things???

I kept saying last night this was our *4th* broken bone in 54 weeks...Ammah Grace broke her arm just over a year ago, and then I broke my ankle in March, Papa broke his hip last week, and now Mother. I realized this morning, though, that I missed one...Billy's mom is just getting over a broken arm as well. She broke her arm just as my ankle was getting better. I guess the rest of the family had better take cover!

It's going to be a very interesting week. We will be spending a lot of time with *Mamoe*, helping her do what needs to be done this week...not to mention the looming possibility of surgery. I told Billy today that I am tireder than I *ever* remember being...even those last few months before Daddy died when he was so sick and we were all so drained. This year has just been *extremely* intense (for want of a better word) for us, and the stress and lost sleep the past couple of weeks has really hit hard.

God always seems to send encouragement through music, and today was no exception. As I was standing in the choir loft fighting exhaustion this morning, the words to this old hymn took on new meaning. We have really experienced His perfect peace...and the promise this morning of His perfect rest was such an encouragement:

Like a river glorious is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious in its bright increase;
Perfect yet it floweth fuller every day;
Perfect yet it groweth deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest;
Finding as He promised, Perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, Never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, Not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry Touch the spirit there.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Trac'd upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

(By the way, I had planned to post a Father's Day post today, but it's not going to happen. I'll try to post belated Father's Day thoughts later in the week.)


Fire Station Fun (well, sort of ;-))

Fire Station No. 10 was our latest field trip destination. We got to tour the station, see the ladder and pumper trucks, check out a firefighter suited up for a fire, and learn *lots* of interesting info! We learned, for instance, that most fire stations do *not* have fire poles anymore...fire fighters apparently were injured too often trying to get down the pole when they were still trying to get awake in the middle of the night. We were all very disappointed about that!

We also learned the origins of Dalmations being used for fire house dogs. Fire engines used to be pulled by horses, years ago, and dalmations are good with horses. The dalmations would run alongside the horses to keep other animals away so that the horses did not get spooked. Now, if fire stations have a dalmation, it is just as a mascot. Some fire departments do have trained rescue dogs and arson dogs, however.

Ammah Grace was *not* excited about the fire station trip. She didn't mind the noise, but the big trucks scared her, and the fireman in full protective gear sent her into hysterics. She did *finally* let *Miss Kacki* hold her long enough for mom to take some pictures. All I could think about was the field trip we took here three years ago...in February, 2004. Ammah Grace was still in NICU at UAMS, and I had come home for a couple of weeks to get things settled a bit here. As we were driving toward the fire station, Gracie's doctor called from Little Rock to let me know that they needed to do a lumbar puncture (therapeutic spinal tap) on her to see if they could relieve some of the pressure on her brain. I can still remember the exact spot I was in on Hwy. 71 as I gave permission over the phone for the procedure. I also remember being ready to drop everything and drive down there...and then finding out they would be finished with the procedure long before I could make the 2.5 hour drive down. So, instead, we continued on to the fire station and I prayed the whole time we were there as I fought back tears. What a difference this time, to snuggle her on my shoulder as she cried tears of terror over the masked fireman, and to watch her run and play and laugh with the other children later.
All in all, it was another successful field trip, give or take a tear or two. :-)


Thankful Thursday...What a Week!

Whew! What a week. I'm just really, really glad it's Thursday and this week is almost over.
We knew this week was going to be a strain. We had an extended family situation that had been promising for weeks to make Monday a *12 Excedrin Day*. Sure enough, the one thing that *no one* wanted to happen, ended up happening....a delay which means we will be *waiting* another few months for any resolution to the situation, which we all desperately need. But even before that, on Saturday, my 95 y/o grandfather fell and broke his hip. It looked really bad for a while. Surgery was imperative, but his health is so fragile they weren't sure he would survive it. And despite his age and fragile health, he is amazingly strong. He grew quite agitated Saturday and had to be restrained and sedated. (It took 3 female and 1 male nurse to restrain him!) Someone had to stay with him all the time the first couple of days...which *wasn't* in anyone's calendar for the weekend.
But...we have much to be thankful for. Papa is now back at the nursing home, doing Rehab. He has done better than anyone could possibly imagined. As my uncle said today, "It's going to take an asteroid to take him out!" I would like to think that I have inherited his *toughness* genes, but I'm afraid that is wishful thinking. :)
We've had wonderful nurses at the hospital. One in particular was a Godsend. Connie came in in the middle of Papa's worst outburst at the hospital Saturday, saying, "Mr. Marks! I've been your nurse before." I gave her a sympathetic look, and she said, "no, no...I nursed his wife when she was here." With a look of surprise, I said, "That was a *long* time ago." (13 years!) Papa had apparently gone back to visit the nurses even after Granny's stay was over, and Connie remembered him well. She was very understanding to Papa and was a *great* nurse. She was on every night he was in the hospital, and took excellent care of *all* of us. We also found out while we were there that she knew Granny's family in Oklahoma...she was even very familiar with the little store my great-grandfather, Claude Folsom, owned at Sunset Corner. It's amazing what a truly small world it is sometimes...and what a blessing *one* person can be in a difficult situation.
I am thankful for all the blessings we saw through Papa's hospitalization and surgery. Most of all, I am thankful for the peace that God gave through the delay we experienced on Monday. I would never have imagined that I could truly be at peace in the events that occurred, and yet God has given an amazing sense that He is in control and He is truly working *all* of this out for our good and His glory. I am not *happy* about the events of Monday, but I am thankful for God's peace and grace in the darkest of storms.


Random Thoughts of Thankfulness, June 12

It's time for more Random Thoughts of Thankfulness...I'll update on the last few days later, and then these will make more sense. :)

1. A husband who will make emergency diet coke runs at any time of the day or night. I was down to a couple of (almost certainly *flat*) inches of Diet Sam's Choice in the bottom of a 2 liter, because I forgot to get sodas Sunday night at the store and I didn't have time to yesterday. My wonderful hubby made a detour on the way to work to bring me a two liter and a bag of ice. :) Isn't he wonderful?? I am also thankful for the way that he is ready at any time to do whatever is needed in a crisis. My grandfather has been in the hospital since Sunday, and Billy has not once complained about all the time I have had to spend up there. He has taken over things at home and even helped keep the dishes and laundry (semi--it's never *completely* caught up here!) caught up. And mopped up my tears more than once this weekend to boot...

2. Friends who are the *best* at *being there*. My friend J kept my children all day yesterday *and* sent supper home last night. My friend K took me out for yummy dessert last night. She is great at not only *listening*, but saying what I *need* to hear. Both of them were there by phone *all* day yesterday and all through this long weekend, during which we were dealing with one very difficult extended family situation that was *scheduled* and one that entered the picture as a weekend emergency. My friend T has kept me laughing (and cried with me) from 500 miles away.

3. A nurse named Connie. More about her later, but I am so thankful for God's working in the smallest details of our lives. I've been reminded again what a difference *one* person can make in a rough time.

4. Peace that passes understanding. More on this later, too...but I am so thankful for our Awesome God, who gives indescribable peace even when our prayers are answered *completely opposite-ly* (I know...that is *not* a word, but it was the only one that would work!) from the way we *thought* we needed them to be.

5. Good Books. Enough said. :-)

Menu Plan Monday...

I really *do* know it's Tuesday...I promise! But I was determined to post my Menu Plan Monday menu today anyway. We knew Monday was going to be complete chaos, but then my 95 y/o grandfather fell and broke his hip Friday, so we have added camping out at the hospital to an already full week! Since we were gone *all* day yesterday, I think I'll pretend today's Monday. :-)
Monday--yummy meal sent home by my wonderful friend J. I may be the only person in the world who has friends who will keep my children all day *and* send a meal home with me afterward (and this wasn't the first time!) My family was exceedingly grateful, b/c I couldn't have managed bread and water by myself last night!
Tuesday--Bacon-Swiss Bread and salad
Wednesday--I had *planned* for us to eat at church Wednesday night, but they are having *leftovers*. We may have mac and cheese at home. :)
Sometime this week, I'm going to browse more MPM menus at Orgjunkie ...I got some great ideas last week!


This is my first SMART Habits Saturday, and I have so many habits I need to work on I had a hard time deciding where to start! Then I realized that it was actually a pretty easy choice. I have been very on-again, off-again with my morning quiet time recently....and more than anything, I need to get back into the habit of making that not only first priority, but first on the schedule. So...for this week, I am going to work on having my quiet time *first* thing, every morning. That is going to require my also *getting up* when I am supposed to. (Ack...I need a blushing smiley face here...:*( ) This week is going to be very demanding...which will make it more of a challenge to get up and spend time in the Word and in prayer early...but also more necessary! For more info on SMART Habits Saturday, check out The Lazy Organizer.

The $5 Bill

I promised in my Thankful Thursday post I would tell the whole story of the $5.00 bill in another post...so here it finally is!

I had posted earlier Wednesday that Wednesday had been one of *those* days. One of those days Billy would call "a stinker of a day". Our family has a very stressful day looming on Monday, and it has been wearing on all of us all week. We have dealt with some uncharacteristic behavior from all the kids this week, and Mom has not always handled it well. :-( By the time we headed home from church Wednesday night, I was ready to pull my hair out.

My oldest and I had had an especially rough day. Not only did I want to pull *my* hair out...I was ready to pull *his* out, too. Having lost the *Mommy of the Year* award *much* earlier, I was now contending for *Mama-Grouch of the Year*. I wanted to get in the store, grab what we needed, and race home before anyone (including me) had another melt-down.

We made it through the store without incident, and managed to get back into the van with a minimum of contention. I trudged around to the driver's side of the van and had just started to get in when I was startled by a male voice from the car beside me saying "Hey!" My nerves were already on edge, and being addressed by a strange man in the parking lot sent me into a sudden state of panic. Then I recognized the speaker...an older man we had met as we were going into the store earlier. He had been laboriously working his way toward his car with the help of a walker, and apparently now was waiting in his older, rather beat-up car for his wife to finish shopping. I had gotten tied up trying to get the girls out of the van as Peter had gone ahead, and I saw him talking to the man, but thought little about it at the time.

Now the man was holding a $5.00 bill out the window. "Here, give this to your boy, and tell him I said thank you." I looked at him rather quizzically and started to question him. He said, "Your boy gave me a hand earlier, and I want to tell him thank you." I waved the money away and told him that I would be glad to tell Peter thank you for him, but that he didn't need to give him anything. He held the money back out and insisted I take it: "No, you give this to your boy. He was good to offer to help, and I want him to have this. He can use it to save for a bike or something....and I know I may not look like I've got it, but I do, and I want to do this for him."

I told the man thank you, got in the van, and explained to Peter what had happened. He immediately unbuckled and leaned out of the van to tell the man thank you. As we were leaving the parking lot, I told Peter I was really proud of him. I was glad the kids couldn't see that I was a bit teary-eyed at the time. I was reminded how thankful I am for this boy...even on our rough days. Yes, he still has some areas to work on (just like his mom does!), but I am so thankful for the sensitive helping spirit God has given him. As we were talking about the man and what had happened, Peter said, "I didn't really do anything, Mom, he just looked like he was having a hard time, and I asked him if he could use some help." I told him that I was sure that that had meant a lot to the man...that often people who struggle physically are just made to feel in the way or ignored. I remembered aloud how Peter as a very little boy used to without any prompting get up and go help his Papaw find his seat in church when Papaw went through over a year of being legally blind. God had already given Peter a very sensitive, helping heart, and during the years my dad was ill, Peter learned to put hands to his caring heart. I needed *that* reminder right now, too...that God uses the hard times in our family, not just in *our* lives, but in the lives of our children...that He truly *is* working His good in them, despite how hard it is for us to see them suffer.

As you can see in the picture, Peter was very excited about his $5.00 bill...and even more, I think, about the man's gratefulness. I am thankful for the reminder that even on our worst days, God can use us, if we'll let him...just as He used Peter to help and encourage a stranger, and just as He used the stranger to encourage a frazzled mama...and remind me how thankful I am for *all* my children...

...even on *those* days...


Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

...a five dollar bill. The story is going to get a blog post all its own, but I'm thankful for God's use of a stranger to change my attitude and remind me of some much-needed lessons. (ETA: Story has now been added here . )

...my hard-working husband. His job in the ER is stressful at best, overwhelming on *ordinary* days, and occasionally just flat-out heartbreaking...but he is committed to working "as unto the Lord", and it shows. Yesterday he received a thank you note in the mail from the CEO of the hospital, following a note from his boss earlier in the week, due to the comments of a grateful patient. I know from our experiences what a tremendous difference caring, committed, Christian medical personnel can make during a crisis...and I'm very thankful that God is allowing Billy to pass that blessing along to others.

...a 20th anniversary--of a church, and of one of the most difficult, and most wonderful, experiences of my life. That, too, is going to have a blog post of its very own, but I'm thankful for God allowing me to *happen* upon the notice this week of Woodland Heights Baptist's 20th anniversary. His timing is perfect, and I think it is no coincidence that He allowed me to be reminded of all that was going on 20 years ago this time just as we go into what promises to be one of the most difficult weeks ever.

...the computer I'm typing on at the moment. After years of using *really* antiquated machines passed on 2nd (and sometimes 3rd and 4th ) hand, it is *so* nice to be able to sit down at the computer and know that it will *do* what I want it to do (well, *if* I can figure it out, that is!) It was so exciting to be able to actually *watch* a podcast (I think that is what it was...I may be off with my tech-terms here ;-)) of a local church service the other night! And after years of knowing I didn't have the capacity to play with digital imaging, it has been fun to dabble in that a bit lately, too.

...our church. I have been reminded several times this week how thankful I am that God led us to Oak Cliff over 10 years ago. I am thankful for a pastor who is committed to expository preaching and to glorifying God rather than man. I am thankful that God uses him every week to speak to *exactly* what I need to hear. And I am thankful for a minister of music who is committed to God-honoring music, and who uses His incredible talent and ability to provide that in every service. I am thankful that hymns and anthems are the *norm* and that my children are growing up with the same heritage of excellence and worship in church music that I had growing up.

...God's mercies which are truly *new every morning*. What a blessing after one of *those* days (see yesterday's "You Didible!" post if you don't know what one of *those* days is!) to be able to go to bed and know that *tomorrow is a new day*, and get up with the hope that (usually!) *those* days don't come two days in a row! I am thankful that even more than *I* still love *my* children after one of *those* days, and am ready for a fresh start with them, *God* still loves *me* after *those* days, and is always waiting to forgive and pull me back up out of the pit.

...the character of God, which never changes regardless of our *feelings*. That even on *those* days when I am so down and discouraged, God is still good, He is still faithful, He is still sovereign, and His love never wavers.

See more Thankful Thursdays here.


"You Didable!!"

It's been, as Billy would say, "a stinker of a day" today. The latest in a series of them, actually. I've been struggling with some things, the kids have been grouchy, we've been behind all day...you know, one of *those* days.

I was putting my hair up in rollers, trying to get in the mood to go to church tonight, thinking how * much* I would like to stay home...when Ammah Grace came in. I've always said that God gave her to us to make us smile during the hardest years of our lives...and once again, she did it.

"Mama, you didable!" (Didable=adorable in Ammah Grace speak)

Mind you, at this point I had hot rollers in my hair and looked like a space alien.

"I am?"

"Yes, Mama, you *weeaaallly* didable."

*Big Cheesy Grin* from Ammah Grace.

*Big smile* from Mom.


Menu Plan Monday

Haven't had time to work out sides for sure yet, and this is going to be one of those weeks where I'm figuring out breakfasts and lunches as I go...but here are the basics. :)

Monday: Twice Baked Potatoes
Tuesday: Mexican Chicken Casserole
Wednesday: Macaroni and Cheese
Thursday: Spaghetti
Friday: Honey Mustard Chicken

I'll be heading to check out other menu plans here to get some fresh ideas for next week!


Sunday Sermon

Ever feel like God is bombarding you? It always amazes me how He can cause something to hit us over and over from different sources to the point that if it were rain we would be completely drenched! For months, the Sovereignty of God has been a topic at the forefront of my mind and heart. This very week, I have shared about it with friends and with my husband, blogged about it, responded to a message board post about it, and spent a good bit of time just pondering the subject. Our pastor has been preaching through the book of John verse by verse for almost two years now...and it is always exciting to see how God brings *just* the right message at just the right time from that. This morning's sermon was on John 10:17-18, and one of the first things Bro. Kent said was "These verses disclose the awesome Sovereignty of the Shepherd." He went on to say that Jesus's authority to lay down His own life and then pick it back up again shows that not only is He sovereign over His own life and death, but He is sovereign over every detail of our lives as well.

He then asked the question that has been on my mind in so many ways over recent months...both in asking and attempting to answer it:

"If God is sovereign, why am I going through this?"

The answers he gave confirmed what God has been teaching me through much anguish lately...
(these are my own very loose paraphrases...Bro. Kent said it all *much* better!)

* Trials are a consequence of sin--If our trials are because of our own sin...then God will likely let us suffer the consequences. And often...our trials are because of the sin of others/evil in the world. Regardless...he has our best interests at heart. He does have a purpose and plan for us in it...all of our days were written down before one came to be...none of it has taken him by surprise (Ps. 139).

*Trials are to make us more like Jesus--We are to "count it all joy" (James 1), as our suffering, no matter what the cause, is to make us more like Jesus. He perfects us through suffering. When he leads us through a valley, it is because He is in the process of making us more like Him.

*God does not owe us an explanation! He *owes* us His wrath....anything we get other than that is purely His mercy and grace. He does NOT have to explain Himself to his creations. Our confidence and assurance must be in Him...whether we ever see the *whys* or not.

I loved these quotes:

"Whatever He is doing will result in the greatest glory possible to God."

"We know that His Will and His Plan and His Work are perfect."


"Mom, I Won an Airplane!"

Those were the words I heard over the phone Monday morning from my very excited son. He and Billy went out to Flightmaster's Field (the local radio controlled airplane club) to their Memorial Day event, and Peter won the drawing for a brand new plane! As you can see from the photo, he is quite the proud new pilot!

Favorite Ingredients Friday Freezer Edition

I found this recipe years ago in a Taste of Home Quick Cooking magazine, and it has been a lifesaver for us:

4 Lbs. Ground beef
4 medium onions, chopped
5 celery ribs, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (28 oz. Each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (6 oz. each) tomato paste
2 jars (4.5 oz each) mushrooms, drained, optional
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1Tbsp. Salt
2 tsp. Dried oregano
2 tsp. Dried basil
1 tsp. Pepper

Cook beef, onions, celery and garlic over med. heat until meet is no longer pink and vegetables are tender ; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool. Transfer to freezer bags or containers, about 2 cups in each. May be frozen for up to 3 months. Makes about 15 cups. Use in the following recipes:

2 cups Big-Batch Beef Sauce
1 can (8 oz.) Tomato sauce
1 jar (4.5 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained (opt.)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Hot cooked spaghetti

Combine the beef sauce, tomato sauce, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Serve over spaghetti.

2 cups Big-Batch Beef Sauce
1 envelope taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
6 to 8 taco shells or flour tortillas

Toppings: shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced ripe olives, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, salsa.

Combine beef sauce, taco seasoning and water and bring to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until heated through. Spoon about 1/4 cup meat mixture into each taco shell or tortilla and serve with above toppings.

2 cups Big-Batch Beef Sauce
1 can (6 oz.) Tomato paste
2 tsp. Dried basil
2 cups (16 oz) small-curd cottage cheese
1 egg
6 no-cook lasagna noodles
4 cups (16 oz.) Shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine beef sauce, tomato paste and basil in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Mix cottage cheese and egg. Spoon a third of the meat sauce into a greased 13-inch x 9-inch x 2-inch baking dish. Layer with three noodles, half of the cottage cheese mixture and a third of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining meat sauce and mozzarella. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

2 cups Big-Batch Beef Sauce
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1-2 tsp. Chili powder
1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
Shredded cheddar cheese

Combine the beef sauce, beans, tomato sauce, chili powder and red pepper flakes in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until heated through. Garnish servings with cheese.

Check out other freezer recipes at Overwhelmed With Joy .