Wednesday, December 2, 2015

TGSGI - Ch 12

"So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife."  Ruth 4:13a

We have arrived at the end of The Book of Loving Kindness!  And it is loving-kindness that remains the focus.

For many of us our wedding day is one we dream of, make plans for long before we've found that special someone, and spend lots of time & money on once the wedding proposal has been made.  Not so for dear Ruth.  In chapter 11 (Ruth 4:9), Boaz stands in the town square and tells everyone that he has bought property from Naomi and acquired Ruth in the deal!  Wow!  That sure does make a girl feel loved!  Not quite a YouTube worthy proposal!  And the wedding isn't much to speak of either; literally it's hardly spoken of in Scripture, "So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife."  Ruth 4:13a.  We get more details about their rendezvous on the threshing floor than their nuptials.  That's human nature for you!

Thank goodness we know Boaz's heart & love for Ruth is more than just part of a real estate deal.  In chapter 11 we know that he has redeemed Ruth.  Chapter 12 holds more redemption!  The redemption of Naomi!  This woman has had a difficult life, but she has never lost hope.  Finally we see her precious reward and redemption - through the birth of a baby boy!  Sound familiar?  I found myself cheering for Naomi as she comes full circle, taking center stage once more.

From the beginning, I thought this book was more about Naomi than Ruth.  I suppose it depends on what your focus is or where you are in life.  While Ruth & Boaz may play the hero roles, the princess & prince of our fairy tale, it is Naomi with whom I can identify.  We see her brokenness, her struggles, her hope mingled with her despair.  She lashes out and we nod our heads in understanding. She is bold, daring, & faithful.  While Ruth and Boaz are people to hold in high esteem, to strive to emulate in their hesed, their loyalty, love, & selflessness, it is hard for me to identify with them.  They make it look so easy.  Naomi, however, is a character that speaks to me.  And one that modern society has embraced.  The flawed hero, the broken soul who strives for redemption, the person doing good in order to make amends for their previous bad deeds.  The lesson Naomi teaches us through her story is that, no matter what we do, we cannot redeemer ourselves.  That is for God alone!

Now that our tale is told, with whom do you identify?  Why?  What lesson(s) can you take into your life?  I am excited to hear what you think about the Book of Ruth!  Leave your thoughts in the Comment section.  Remember, if you're reading this in your e-mail, click here to go to the website and leave your comments.

Our next study will be Daniel: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Douglas Connelly,  A LifeGuide Bible Study from InterVarsity Press.  The study of Daniel will begin January 15th  and conclude April 22nd.  With days off for Good Friday (March 25) and Spring Break (April 8).

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TGSGI - Chapter 11

"So Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there.  When the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, Boaz called out to him, "Come over here, friend.  I want to talk to you. "  So they sat down together."  Ruth 4:1

This is it!  This is what we've been waiting for!  The tension is high.  Boaz has a plan and we're pretty sure he has all his 'ducks in a row', but this other guy could still throw a wrench in things.   Boaz is smooth and this other family redeemer is caught off guard - how will this situation play out?

Welcome to the 11th chapter of The Girl's Still Got It and the first half of chapter 4 in the Book of Ruth.   Just when we thought things couldn't get any more intense, Boaz pounces on the unnamed, aforementioned, first-in-line family redeemer.

One of my favorite TV show genres is murder mystery.  I've been watching them all my life!  From Perry Mason & Matlock (currently on MeTV) to Castle and NCIS.  If it has a dead body, a bad guy/girl, and someone out for justice you can bet that I've watched it.  When I read the scene of Boaz at the town gate, I picture Perry Mason, walking into the court room, asking questions he already knows the answers to, catching the real murderer off guard causing him or her to confess, right there in open court!  I can see that Boaz knows more than he letting on (or the story teller is telling us) and he's using his insight to follow the law and win 'his case'.

This part of the story could have been rather dry & boring - have you read a legal document lately?  But the ancient story tellers knew how to spin a tale, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats and thoroughly entertained.  They have not failed their 21st century audience, either!  Although we know the ending, watching the events unfold & seeing how Boaz works the situation and the system, is still exciting!

Even more exciting is the parallels between what Boaz does for Ruth & Naomi and what Jesus does for his church & for us.  Read carefully and see if you can note how we (God's people) are like Ruth & Naomi and how Boaz is like Jesus.  And to add another layer: Jesus, in his ministry, told parables so that we could better understand His Kingdom and His ways.  I think the Book of Ruth, in all it's fairy tale loveliness, is also a real-life parable.  I find THAT totally mind-blowing!!

Dig into this story more with the Study Guide questions in the back of the book.  And don't worry if you don't agree with the whole picture Liz paints.  I didn't, and as it turns out, I wasn't too far off in my opinion.

I can't wait to hear what you think of this "courtroom drama" scene from Ruth!

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, November 9, 2015

TGSGI - Chapter 8,9,10

"Then Naomi said to her, "Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens.  The man won't rest until he has settled things today."  Ruth 3:18

Thank you for your patience in my absence!!  Several times over the last few weeks I wondered out loud when "Autumn got so darn busy"!  Are you feeling it too?  I can hardly explain all the things that have kept me busy and away from you.  I hope you were able to keep up with our reading and study guide questions over the last few weeks!

The Book of Ruth has gotten pretty juicy in this third chapter!  I don't know about you, but I think some of the commentaries take it a little farther than it's meant to be taken (if you know what I mean).  Regardless of how you read it, though, things are moving right along in our real life fairy tale of Ruth, Boaz, and the not-so-bitter-anymore Naomi.

I can't wait to discuss this with you!  Leave your impressions of chapter 3 in the Comments.  Start a conversation about any of the characters, situations, or even Ms. Higgs' interpretation of the events.  She's done a lot of research, but I still have a hard time with some of the innuendo that's suppose to be in here.  But like all good fairy tales, there's always more to the story than what's on the surface.  It's one of the reasons they are so enduring: the many layers of meaning, from the obvious & child-like to the metaphoric & insinuated.  It's a morality tale suitable for all ages!

This story is also rife with irony.  We have already noticed a few instances of it and our opening verse is another.  One that actually made me laugh out loud.  How much patience is required to wait a single day?  Makes me wonder who Naomi is urging to be patient, Ruth or herself?  After all, they've been in Bethlehem for a few months and no kinsman redeemer has yet stepped forward.  If I were Naomi, I think I would be taking matters into my own hands, too.  This is one place where Liz and I see things slightly differently.  Though I do not doubt God's hand in any version of interpretation.  What do you think?

Have a wonderful week!  If you slacked off due to my absence, give yourself permission to take the time to read the chapters in the book and Ruth, chapter 3.  It really doesn't take too long to complete the reading.  The questions are worth doing.  However, there are only so many productive minutes in the day.  Do what you can, as it will enhance your study.

Most importantly don't skip your prayers!!  Pray daily.  Pray often.  Pray for those you love and those you don't; pray for those in need, and those who think they aren't; pray for our planet, our government, and world leaders; pray for the animals that share our lives and those that share our earth; pray for plants & water; pray for those who are in need of healing and those who are gifted in healing.  Turn everything over to God in prayer and then don't forget to be still and listen.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, October 19, 2015

TGSGI - Chapter 7

"May the Lord bless him!" Naomi told her daughter-in-law. "He is showing his kindness to you as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers."  Ruth 2:20

This week we are reading verses 18-23 in the second chapter of Ruth (The Book of Lovingkindness) and chapter 7 of The Girl's Still Got It, by Liz Curtis Higgs.  If you have some catching up to do, that's ok!  Jump right in, come as you are.  I am so glad you are here!

First, I have to say a great big Hallelujah!  After years of computer issues, I finally have a new computer!  I am very thankful for this speedy little machine :)  If you're wondering if you missed a blog for chapter 6, you didn't.  I did.  The last 2 weeks were, well, a little overwhelming & overbooked.  I just couldn't deal with computer problems on top of all of it.  I hope chapter 6 enlightened, informed, and entertained.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.  Feel free to include them in the Comments on this post.

Amidst all of the stress of the last 2 weeks, I realized I needed to take some time for myself.  I had been avoiding the treadmill and felt awful about it.  I was just muscling through our book & study. I needed some quiet mindfulness that really made me focus and not allow my mind to wander.  So, I turned back to my yoga practice and a new source (for me), YouTube.  I found Yoga with Adrienne, did a random session or two and then decided to take her 30 Day Challenge.  Now, I usually don't do challenges, just not my thing.  But, I liked her style and I needed a push.  I started it last Monday; by Day 3 I was struggling to take that 20 minutes to practice (told you I don't do challenges), but I did it and I'm happy to say I just finished Day 7!  And it was 30 minutes long!!

The interesting thing about today's practice was that there was no picture.  I'm sure it was my total lack of understanding of how the TV, Blu-Ray player and the 2 remotes work, that caused this glitch; no matter what I tried, I couldn't see the sweet smile of Adrienne.  Instead of turning it off, I embraced the black screen and just listened to her voice.  The yogi always leads the class by verbal instruction, so I didn't think it would be that difficult.  It was definitely a different experience.  I had to really pay attention and not rely on seeing her in a pose.  At one point I wasn't quite sure what she meant, so I did what I thought she was saying.  Part way through, I confused two poses and was doing Warrior 2 when I should have been doing Warrior 1; I fixed it when we did it on the other side.  But, I also noticed that I wasn't distracted with visual stimulus.  I didn't watch the traffic out her window, I didn't wish my house was as uncluttered as hers, and I didn't admire the antique writing table in the corner.  I just listened and moved.  It was both humbling & empowering.

The black TV screen with a guiding voice reminds me of my relationship with God, my Redeemer.  I don't always have a visual, but through His word and being in a community of believers, I am able to move forward, doing what He says.  I don't always get it right, sometimes I have to guess at exactly what He means, and sometimes I get it wrong or am confused.  But, God continues to guide me, knowing I'll get it right the next time.  He gently guides my movements as long as I am listening, purposefully tuned in to His voice. And He allows for making adjustments along the way.  Through the many blessings of life, He reminds me to breathe and smile.

I wonder if our ancient sister Ruth felt this way.  Clearly, she heard God's call to move.  But without a visual (a flashing neon arrow or at least the gratitude of her mother-in-law) how did she know she was getting it right?  I'm going to guess that it was her faith that allowed her to boldly go in the direction that God was calling her.  She did the best she could; she did what she thought God was telling her to do and left the rest up to Him.  What an important message for us!

Chapter 7 in our book starts to show us how Boaz parallels what God does for His people and foreshadows what Jesus will do for us.  Turn to the study guide questions in the back of the book.  They are especially good this week and will help deepen our relationship with our Redeemer; moving as God leads, even when we don't have a visual!

Scroll down and leave a comment, question or "ah-ha" moment!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24





Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TGSGI Chapter 5

"Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi's husband, Elimelech."  Ruth 2:1

Oooo, something good this way comes!

First: yea!  My computer is working today and has allowed me to hop on here and write to you!  And I'm glad because this chapter is so exciting!  Ok, not action-movie exciting, but almost.

The opening verse gives us a glimpse of this guy, Boaz before he actually shows up in the story.  That's a teaser, not a spoiler alert.  It makes what comes later, that much more exciting.  Think about when you're watching a movie and you know what's going to happen, but the character doesn't.  How do you react?  I usually yell at the screen, "No, don't go in there!"  or "Yes!  You are going to love this!" depending on the scene.  Knowing what's going to happen doesn't make it any less thrilling and in fact, sometimes ramps us the excitement.  So it was with the ancient audience who was listening to this story and for us as we read it today.

We have the flash forward and then back to 'the present' in verse 2.  Ruth, this strong, independent woman suggests that she go glean in the fields.  Wow!  She's willing to do whatever it takes to make a life for herself and for Naomi now that they are in Bethlehem.  And she just so happens to wind up in Boaz's field?  Did you see that coming?  Of course you did, otherwise why mention him in the first verse!  Now do you see how things are unfolding.  This story is really getting good.

But my favorite part isn't directly found in Ruth.  Oh, the original listeners would have known this fact, but we miss it in the 21st Century because we don't hear these stories over & over again.  They aren't a part of our heritage and our gatherings.  But here's the juicy part: Boaz's mother was Rahab!!  Oh my goodness!  When I read that (on page 66) I just about yelled, 'shut the front door!'  This adds so many layers to this guy, this story, and their relationship.  I love it!  Am I too excited about this?  Am I that much of a book geek?  Maybe, but I just can't help myself.  I love a good story and the fact that's it's a Biblical story, just makes it that much better!

There's a lot more good stuff in these first few verses of chapter 2.  What was your favorite part?  What in Liz's writing helped you more fully understand these verses?  Was there any part that made you want to 'yell at the screen'?

After reading Ruth 2:1-7 and chapter 5 in The Girl's Still Got It, spend some time diving deeper into your heart with the study guide questions in the back of the book.  If you're joining the live discussion on Friday morning, be ready with some thoughts on omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent and the concept of providence.

I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter and this part of Ruth, the story, and the characters Ruth, Naomi, & Boaz!  Leave your thoughts, ideas, and conversation starters in the Comment section!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Monday, September 21, 2015

TGSGI - Chapter 3

"When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more."  Ruth 1:18

Welcome to chapter 3 of "The Girl's Still Got It"!  In this chapter Liz breaks down 4 short verses that are filled with high drama, bold exclamations, deep commitment, and emotion.

Last week we wondered what life Orpah & Ruth had to go back to: could they find new husbands after being married to Israelites?  Were they welcome in their mother's homes after being childless widows?  Was Naomi looking out for them or for herself by suggesting they return?  I like to think that returning to their families was a smart move; that finding new husbands was possible and that they would be allowed, if not welcomed, back home.  Otherwise, their initial decision to leave with Naomi would not be significant.  And Ruth's conviction to stay with Naomi would not be divine.

As we read Liz's dramatic interpretation of Ruth 1:14-18, she paints a vivid picture of Ruth and Naomi.  As Orpah starts back toward Moab, Naomi tries again to urge Ruth to go with her.  But, Ruth's response is defiant and courageous and (I think) divinely inspired.  Liz helps us to understand the importance and the impact Ruth's words are having on Naomi.  We have heard these words before, so often perhaps, that they have lost a bit of their edge.  But, imagine hearing these words spoken to you or by you during a crossroads in your life.  Perhaps you have... how did that moment change your life?

I'm not fully convinced on every aspect of Liz's imagining of Naomi.  She did a lot of research and Naomi's words and actions do lend themselves to a certain personality, but I'm not buying in 100% to her dramatization.  Mostly because I'm about Naomi's age (though not exactly her time of life) and as I read the book of Ruth, I find myself relating to her more than to Ruth.  I tend to be a bit of a complainer, even in the midst of doing something I don't want to do, but know it's right thing to do.  So, when we read verse 18 (above) and Liz & other scholars interprets it as "angry, fearful, exhausted, sullen, depressed, beaten down" (pg. 52) I disagree.

On page 45, Liz brings up the possibility that Naomi is testing her daughters-in-law, in a roundabout way.  This makes total sense to me!  To explain my thought process would take a short paper, so I won't get into that.  But, let the idea sit with you for a bit and see how it changes your view of this turning point.  In the end, I think Naomi's silence is her own turning point.  After all, what more is there to say after seeing the work God did in Ruth's heart?  The test was over and is it possible, that Naomi had a slight smile on her lips?  Could she be pleased that she will have a loving, strong, courageous companion for the rest of her days?  Not that Naomi would let on - that tough exterior built up over the last 10 years will take some time to completely fall away.

A few other things to really pay attention to:
*  "But"... on page 46 Liz expands on this storytelling tool.  It's what makes stories so exciting!!
* The idea of leaving everything you know and embracing a whole new way of life - talk about an exciting & scary adventure! (page 48-49; Kindle readers: after "Your people will be my people...").
* We plant seeds, but the Lord changes hearts (page 49; Kindle: under the heading THE BIG ONE )

To deepen your understanding and your faith, spend some time answering the Study Guide questions in the back of the book.  This time spent in quiet reflection of how the stories of the Bible are connected to each other and how they inform and impact our lives, is where faith grows in breadth and depth.

Part "b" of question 2 is one we will specifically discuss.  Feel free to start the discussion in the comment section below or (click here to go to the blog).  We'll make a list on Friday and I'll share it in it's entirety (a combination of blog comments and the Friday list) on the blog next week.  I can't wait to see what you each come up with!   Other comments and questions are welcome, too!

Don't forget, we are collecting much needed women's products this Friday.  Thank you for your generous donations.  In this way we are doing God's work with our hands and directly impacting our community, helping those in need.

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24










Monday, September 14, 2015

TGSTI - Chapter 2

"Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again.  So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland." Ruth 1:6

Yesterday was Rally Day at church.  A day to kick-off the new Sunday School year, to celebrate the mission trip of the Youth over the summer and enjoy a church picnic on the front lawn.  A day to rally God's people after a "time apart" (aka summer break).  It's a day of making connections and reflecting on the work of our church with each other.

During this time, I had the opportunity to talk with a few people about the youth.  We are fortunate to have an active youth group and Sunday school.  However, we still see the decline of young people's participation from the time they are confirmed until they have children of their own; and wondered and guessed as to why this happens.  Those high school, college, and early adult years seem to be a normal 'time apart' in our personal faith cycle.  I know I am certainly guilty of it.  And 2 of my children are in that time (high school & college) and don't always make it to Sunday services, even when the rest of us are going.  There are as many reasons why this happens as there are people; but it doesn't mean they (we) have turned out backs on God.

When I read chapter 2 of The Girl's Still Got It, where Liz talks about our opening verse (above) I was reminded of the natural faith cycle of regular attendance and regular absence.  I'm not saying it's something we should do (take time away from the church), but it seems to be something we do, as humans.  Naomi left for 10+ years, the prodigal son left for a time, and our young people often find themselves attending in an off-and-on fashion from about age 15-25 (NOT a statistic, this is from my own personal experience).  And certainly not everyone!  There are active faith organizations in every high school & on every college campus.  There are dynamic, energizing ministries that are made up of mostly that age group.  So, this is not a blanket statement, but one I think many churches notice.

My point is: Naomi was in a foreign land, but she did not abandon her faith.  She kept her eyes on the Lord.  She kept her ear tuned to news from her homeland.  Why?  Hope.  She knew, even in her difficulties and whining, that the Lord would not abandon her.  It wasn't easy and she was not the most graceful throughout the situation, but she was brave and eager to rejoin her people and return to God, physically, to dwell in the land he had given her people.  (For me, "Judah" represents my church.)

I think it's that way with the 'least represented' age group.  It may be that this is a natural cycle of exploring, testing, and asserting one's faith in a different direction.   It's not that they (we - because this can occur at any age!) turn our backs on God, or our faith, but something else pulls us in a different direction.  The world, in Naomi's case starvation, has a more immediate priority for a time.  But that doesn't mean that we completely lose faith.  Even if we are like the prodigal son and live it up for a while, we know that God will not abandon us.

If we keep a listening ear tuned to the heart of God, we will always return to Him.  And He will always receive us "Filled with love and compassion..." Luke 15:20a.  

There is tons of great stuff in chapter 2!  If you haven't already read it, read it today.  Take the rest of the week to answer the questions in the study guide.  Jot down your answers and any other insights you have as you read.  Liz is great at explaining what's 'lost in translation' and really brings these verses to life!  How does it translate into your life?  What parallels to do you see?  How is it informing your faith journey?

I am eager to know how you are doing with this!  If you are reading this in your e-mail click here to post in the Comment section.  Let's start a conversation!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Friday, September 4, 2015

The Girl's Still Got It! aka TGSGI!

"Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again.  So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland."  
Ruth 1:6

If you have or know of school aged children, this week was an exciting (hopefully) week!  Back-to-school!  In most cases the children are returning to both the familiar and the unfamiliar.  They are often returning to a school building they know and will know some kids in their class.  But they will also have new kids in their class, a new teacher and new expectations.  If you've ever relocated over the summer, you & your children have had the experience of back-to-school where everything is new!

So it is in our story of Ruth and Naomi.  Naomi has been living 'out of town' for a long time; she is "returning to her homeland", but some things will be different.  Ruth & Orpah, the dutiful daughters-in-law, start to go with her.  Guessing that the prospect of a whole new life is a bit overwhelming for Orpah, she takes the opportunity Naomi offers and returns to Moab.  Ruth, however sticks around.  Her passionate words are found in Ruth 1:16-17.

Looking at just this experience of returning (Naomi) and going (Ruth) to Judah, ask yourself how you would feel in each character's place?  When was the last time you returned to a "place" (this could also be a situation, person, idea) from which you had a long absence.
Have you ever had to pick up and move to a whole new "place" (again, this could be forming new relationships, meeting new challenges, etc)?
How did that make you feel in each of these situations?  Perhaps you are in the midst of this right now, can you describe your thoughts & emotions?

Now that you've put yourself in Naomi's sandals and Ruth's sandals, I hope you have a stronger connections to these women.  Yes, these two women lived a long time ago, in a very different time & place.  But, we have much in common with them and I hope you are starting to feel it!

I'm so excited to get together with you to talk about all of this!!  I wish we could meet for half the day!  Alas, that is not possible.  So, come here and type your comments, insights, & questions.  We can begin or continue conversations right here on-line!

Read "Before We Dive In" and "Chapter One" of The Girl's Still Got It, prior to our first meeting!  Take a few notes and jot down your thoughts & answers to the questions in the Study Guide in the back of the book.

I'll see you in ONE WEEK!!!   In person or on-line, I cannot wait!

Friday, September 11 at 9:15 am!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"I scream! You scream!  We all scream for ice cream!"

As summer winds down, one favorite memory for many people is indulging in ice cream!  It's the perfect summer treat: smooth & creamy & refreshingly cold on a hot summer's day.  Everyone has their favorite kind: soft serve, hard hand scooped, and gelato.  Personally, I like them all and one of my favorites is vanilla ice cream on a soft, warm waffle!  

Ice cream comes in every flavor you can imagine!  From the standard chocolate & vanilla to the classic strawberry & butter pecan to the exotic mango and the strange lumberjack (waffle cone, maple syrup & crumbled bacon).  You name it and someone, somewhere probably makes an ice cream flavor of it.  Even how you eat it caters to an individual's fancy: you can get it on a stick, in a sandwich (chocolate, cookie, waffle), a cone (traditional or waffle), a bowl and even layered in cake.  You can top it with nuts, fruits, candy & syrups!  It's probably one of the most individual desserts ever invented!  

From the ringing bell of the Ice Cream Truck to the long lines at the local ice cream parlor, it's a summer treat enjoyed by the masses!   People make a living creating this delicious treat and some have built an empire on it!

This summer I discovered a "new" ice cream while browsing Pinterest!  That form of social media can really cut into my productivity.  But, I've made some great discoveries and No-Churn Ice Cream is one of them.  This latest craze in dessert has probably been around for some time, but it's popularity is back in the spotlight!  Just like traditional ice cream, you can create any flavor imaginable.  The differences being: 1) it's base is only 3 ingredients and 2) the only kitchen appliance you need is a mixer.  It's so simple it's dangerous!  Don't believe me?  Check out my Pinterest Board dedicated to Ice Cream.  I used the basic chocolate ice cream recipe to create chocolate marshmallow, one of my family's favorites.  This is something my family will be requesting (or making themselves) from now on!
No-Churn Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream

As much as I love this no-churn ice cream craze, traditional ice cream is worth the extra effort on occasion.  Especially if you have summer-fresh fruit on hand!  There's nothing like fresh peaches, sweet & juicy & oh so delicious!  God knew what he was doing when he created peaches, down to the enticing soft yellow-red of the outside, while the inside is a glorious golden color!  I don't know how anyone can't like them!  My son being one of those people - so strange!  That just means more for the rest of us!  We had a few peaches that were ripening faster than we could devour them, so I decided to get out my ice cream maker and churn some homemade peach ice cream!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  It certainly lived up to the high expectation of creating memories of summer's favorite dessert!  And the combination of ice cream and fresh peaches could only be descried as "Mmmmm".

Homemade Traditional Vanilla-Peach Ice Cream





I hope you'll give the no-churn ice cream a try - your friends and family will be impressed!  If you share it with them, that is :)  And if you have an ice cream maker that's collecting dust, get it out and churn some delicious homemade ice cream!  

Share your favorite ice cream flavor in the comments below!  Do you have a favorite ice cream shop?  I'd love to check it out (if it's close).  In my town everyone goes to Denville Dairy, it's the summer (spring & fall) gathering place, especially after sporting events.

I hope you enjoy these last few official days of summer!  Packing some homemade ice cream into your freezer may help you hold on to summer, even into autumn.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24  









Monday, August 31, 2015

Get Packing

"Which girl's still got it?  Ruth's definitely got it!  Yes, that Ruth.  The one in the Bible.  And her mother-in-law, Naomi?  She's still got it too.  So do you, beloved."  ~Liz Curtis Higgs, The Girl's Still Got It

On days that I'm feeling like I just don't have it all together, this message comforts me.  Lately, every day feels like that!  Maybe it's the time of year - packing away the summer attitude and getting ready for a new school year.  And for the second time, it means physically packing up our oldest daughter's belongings and moving her into her dorm.  It is a bitter-sweet time of year and a bitter-sweet time in life.

I can only imagine what Naomi was feeling when Elimelech told her to get packing!  She was faced with packing up the family & all their possessions (or at least most of the household) and moving far away!  Far away from what they've ever known, far from friends, far from family.  BUT, life was hard in Bethlehem; and now a severe famine has taken hold of the land.  A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do to save her children!  So Naomi packed her bags and moved.  There's no doubt in my mind that it was a bitter-sweet time in Naomi's life.

In our study of Naomi & Ruth we will come to know both the bitterness and the sweetness of Naomi.  I know, the book is named for Ruth, but as a middle-aged mom (with some of my friends being grandmas) I find that I identify with Naomi as much as I appreciate the story of Ruth.  Both women are transformed over the course of the story.  And Liz's opening words indicate that although the book carries Ruth's name, it's not all about her.  It's about Naomi too, their relationship, their faith, and their hope.

What does that mean for me and for you?   One lesson may be that no matter what stage of life we are in, no matter what hardships we face, no matter if we are a new believer or have lost our way, God does not give up on us.  Even when we can't see how things could possibly get better, when we think we're 'past saving' or 'too old to be useful', God sees only His children and wants to make sure we are safe in His care.

I am so excited to start discussing this book with you!  The Book of Ruth and The Girl's Still Got It has something for everyone!   It's a many-leveled love story!  It's also a journey story of growth, faith, and redemption, with a little sauciness thrown in!  So, grab your book, your journal and ask a friend to join you!!

Don't have your book yet?!  Go HERE to support Redeemer Youth & Family Ministry by purchasing it through Amazon.  They have a great selection of used books at fantastic prices!!

Get Reading!  Please read "Before We Dive In" and Chapter 1 before our first gathering on September 11, 9:15 am.  Note: this is a little earlier than past years!  I will have the coffee & tea on at 9, so feel free to arrive early!

Can't make it Friday mornings?  That's okay!  That's why I started this blog!  You can read along, post comments & start discussions right here on the blog!  Want to talk?  I'd love to meet up over coffee, e-mail or have a word on Sunday morning!  If there's one thing I love more than reading a book, it's talking about it!  And I'm betting that I'm not the only one...
If you've never done an on-line Bible study, go ahead and take the plunge today!  Everything you need for the study is in Liz's book (the study guide is in the back).  You can do it on your own schedule and keep pace by following the blog.  It's a great way for a busy woman to stay connected to The Word and our community.

I look forward to taking this journey with you!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24



Monday, August 24, 2015

Peeking Over the Horizon

"In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a man from Bethlehem in Judah left the country because of a severe famine.  He took his wife and two sons and went to live in the country of Moab."  Ruth 1:1

Welcome!  I'm so glad you're here today.  As I'm peeking over the horizon of August into September I am both saddened that summer is nearly over and excited to gather with you once again!

I've been in August limbo with vacation, end-of-summer, start-of-hockey, back-to-school craziness!  When August arrives I feel like summer has just begun & is nearly over, all at the same time.  It hits me that there was so much more I had planned to do and just didn't get to it yet.  The stores & TV commercials are already in back-to-school mode and of course, hockey is in full swing.  Some day August will be just another month in the year and I'll miss all this, but until then I have to admit, August is a 'lost month' for me.  It is a month where I feel like I live a split personality: summer laziness & full swing craziness!  But I am thankful for every spinning minute!!

I could be facing a life like Naomi's...

In our next book, The Girl's Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs, we meet a wife & mother named Naomi.  The opening verse is not your typical "once upon a time" beginning.  In fact, it's about as bleak a beginning as you can get!  Naomi is peeking over the horizon to an unknown future in a foreign & unfriendly land.  She is following her husband to a forbidden place in hopes of saving her family from starvation.

To refresh your memory (or in case you didn't know), the time of the judges was not the best time for Israel, to put it mildly.  In my Bible, Judges chapters 1-3 are given the heading "The Military Failure of Israel" and over & over again, the  Israelites turn their backs on God.  If you haven't yet read the book of Judges, you should.  It's an interesting, scary, "Mad Max" kind of read and many scholars draw similarities to today's society.  The book of Ruth takes place during the time of Judges, setting the stage of the story.  On top of the religious upheaval & continuous warring with their neighbors, a famine sets in.  Could it get any worse?!  Read the book of Ruth to find out!

On Friday, September 11 at 9:15am,  we'll dive right in to our new study.  In order to finish the book by December 11th, we'll need to start right away!  (Yes, I know it's 14 weeks, but we'll have 2 weeks off in November.)

Start reading today!  

Read "Before We Dive In" and "Chapter 1" before our first gathering.  Read Ruth in your Bible, too.  Choose your favorite translation & grab a refreshing beverage - you can probably read the whole book of Ruth before you finish your drink!  It's only 4 chapters.  It will take a little longer to read our study book, but Liz has such an engaging writing style, you won't want to put it down!

Don't have your book yet?  You can get it here, on Liz's website.  Better yet, support our Youth & Family Ministry by going here and ordering through Amazon.

In order to get the most out of our time in The Word, it's important to ponder what we've read and how it applies to our lives - otherwise, it's just story time.  God wants to work amazing things in us and through us, but if we don't take the time to listen and apply His teaching, we won't be ready.  That's where the Study Guide come to the rescue!

After reading each chapter, turn to the back of the book and find the Study Guide (pg 175).  Our topics of conversation will begin with these questions every week.  Write out your thoughts in a cute notebook or journal.  It helps during discussion time - the sound of crickets can be very awkward!  And as we've talked about before, journaling our thoughts has tons of benefits!  The one that I struggle with the most is slowing down long enough to write out my thoughts.  In the fast paced, high demanding, instant gratification world, writing is the opposite of all of that!  But it's cathartic & therapeutic & just what we need!
I'd love to hear how keeping a journal has influenced your life.  Whether it's a faith journal, a personal journal, or a travel journal, how has it helped you?  What benefits have you noticed?

I cannot wait to get started!!!  I'll see you on September 11th, at 9:15 am, in the "library" of Redeemer Lutheran Church!  I'll have the tea & coffee on and light ReFreshments!

Encourage a friend and bring an open heart!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Morning Dovotions for a good day!

"I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken."  Psalm 62:1-2



Good Morning!

What a beautiful summer day!  I hope this post finds you all enjoying these warm, sunshiny days.  I miss meeting together with you and though I want the remainder of the summer to go as slowly as possible, I do look forward to seeing you again regularly in September with our next book, "The Girl's Still Got It" by Liz Curtis Higgs.

In the meantime....

We have talked about how important it is to stay in The Word daily.  Giving part of each day to spending quiet time with God to renew and strengthen us for the day ahead; to secure His teachings in our hearts; to be spiritually fed every day so that we can become the woman God designed each of us to be.  Proverbs 31 Ministries  is a strong believer in this; several of their leaders have studies and/or groups that encourage starting the day with devotion.  This summer we have been following one of those groups' formats, "Good Morning Girls".  How have you been doing? 
Me - not so great :(  

I'm good with my evening prayer.  You know, the one at bedtime that I sometimes drift off to sleep in the middle of!  I guess it comes from my childhood and teaching my own children to pray before falling off to sleep.  
My mornings are for coffee & breakfast, vitamins & dog medicine, forcing kids out of bed and making them breakfast, throwing in a load of laundry, and figuring out what I'm doing for the rest of the day!  Mornings are a time of action, not meditation. 
However, when I talk to people who spend a few minutes every morning of quiet meditation and prayer, even at the expense of sleep, they possess an attitude of positive energy I admire.  So I have been working on it; some days are better than others.  I'm okay with the fact that it's a work in progress.  I cannot change decades of ingrained habits in a matter of a few weeks.  I continue to do my best to start the day by giving my first thoughts to God and asking that he be with me throughout the day.  I hope you will continue to do this, too.

Did you know there's an app for that?!  Yes, Proverbs 31 Ministries has developed an app to help you spend the first 5 minutes of your day in The Word!  If you are technology inclined or not, it's a great, simple app that makes it just as easy to read Scripture in the morning as it is to check your e-mail! 
Click here to read more about the free app and a devotion from P31!  It's worth the click!!

Perhaps you already have a morning devotion you enjoy, but if you don't and have been looking for something to help, check out the free app, First 5.   I have been using it for a few days and I like it.  There are a few things I would like to be improved, but overall this app has me reading Scripture before my feet touch the ground in the morning!

I know the blog posts have been few & far between the last few weeks and I can't promise they'll be any better in the next few (camping trip coming up all next week), but I will post a few things before the end of summer!  Honestly, I don't know how bloggers do it every day - they must not sleep or have someone else take care of their daily "life things" like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  I love posting, but lately life is just a little scattered. You know what I'm talking about :)

I'd love to hear how your summer is going.  How have you been staying in the Word, your struggles & victories with daily devotion.  Insights & questions  you've been pondering.  Adventures far & near.   

Have a fabulous day!  I miss you!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"Mmmmm!  Smell this!  Oooo, this smells so good!  Ahhhh!"  ~Shelly Housel, moving from plant to plant in her herb garden

Is it okay to quote myself?  I'm sure there's lots of thought provoking, herb-related quotes in the world, but this captures an herb's best quality - how it effects people.  When I walk through an herb garden, I can't help but touch the plants and take deep breathes.  If you came with me on my meanderings, you may laugh at my habit of gently pulling on the plant leaves and then smelling my hands.  It looks funny, but it is intoxicating!

Right now, my garden consists of herbs in small pots on my porch.  The soil in my backyard is mostly rock, so I find it difficult to dig a real garden, even though herbs usually do well in various kinds of terrain.  Herbs do equally well in containers and for things like mint & catnip, it's recommended because they can totally take over a garden!  The draw back to herb container gardening is that they do require regular watering: not my strong suit.  Thank goodness herbs are fairly hardy and can withstand my occasional neglect.  This year my husband has made that task much easier by installing one of those pocket hoses.  I love that thing!  One of my most dreaded chores is to move a heavy, unwieldy hose, whether it's the central vac (which I no long use, in part because of the hose) or the garden hose, I work up quite a sweat trying to get the thing uncoiled and recoiled.  Seriously, you'd think I was wrestling a boa constrictor if you saw me!  I LOVE the pocket hose and so do my plants!

This year I planted 2 mint varieties, oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, lemon grass, catnip, citronella, and lavender.  Is there anything better than making dinner and running to the back porch to finish it off with fresh cut herbs from the garden?  My tomatoes are almost ready for harvesting and I can't wait to eat a Caprese salad with my homegrown tomatoes & fresh basil leaves!  Mmmm, that will be a little slice of heaven!

My project, however, is cultivating a larger lavender garden!  I was inspired by my trip to San Francisco.  They planted herbs everywhere, especially lavender!  And before you say, "it's Tasty Tuesday, this is suppose to be about food", let me tell you, you can eat lavender.  I'm sure most of you knew that already, but there are probably some of you picturing a slice of cake that tastes like soap from Crabtree & Evelyn. Trust me, lavender is edible!  I had a scrumptious lavender French macaron (French spelling) from Miette's in The Ferry Building.  The trick is to use the right kind of lavender and not too much of it!  The flowers are beautiful sprinkled on top of cakes & cupcakes.  It can be used in hot and iced teas, too!  I've even seen the herb & the flower candied.  The possibilities are endless.  And if it's still not your taste, it has tons of other personal and household uses, not to mention it's a bug deterrent in the garden!

Here's a close up of my current, medium sized pot of lavender.  I have made several cuttings that will root on the window sill over the next few weeks.  The plan is to then pot them, nurture them over the winter, and plant them in the front garden in the spring!


Do you have an herb garden?  I'd love to hear about what's planted in it.  Even if you haven't had great success, maybe we could give you some helpful tips.  What favorite herbs to you use regularly use in your cooking?  Would you be willing to try a lavender flavored macaron?

I look forward to hearing all about your fragrant and useful herb gardens!!  I can smell their tasty goodness already!

Don't forget, go to the blog to make your comments!

Thank you for reading & commenting - your engagement feeds my soul and connects our community!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."  Jonathan Swift

Did you ever wonder who decided to first eat an oyster, or clam or fish, or many things for that matter?!  I mean, who picks up a rock-looking thing, pries it open, sees a slimy glob and says, "Yum!  Let's eat!"    Okay, maybe it was out of desperation or perhaps they saw an otter eating one.  But, raspberries on a thorny bush look far more appetizing than a rubbery blob inside a seashell.

When it comes to food I am not bold.  I do not eat oysters, raw or cooked!  I just can't.  There are, in fact, many foods I just can't seem to stomach, for various reasons: smell, texture, taste, and how it makes me feel.  I know, within minutes, if something I ate will make me sick.  My body reacts very quickly to things it doesn't like!  Over the years I have learned to notice this with my nose before actually eating it, to avoid complications later.  I don't consider myself a picky eater, but I have to admit to having a more delicate constitution.  That does not stop me, however, from trying new dishes or eating local favorites.  While on a tropical island I always eat seafood, I just opt for dishes prepared without mushrooms, green pepper and loads of garlic (all things that make me ill).  When in Colorado I ate like a cowboy, though I didn't go for the Bison unmentionables when a plate was ordered to share at the table!

When it comes to traveling, I envy people who eagerly tuck into the local fare without any hesitation.  To be able to experience a place or a culture through it's favorite foods is one of the best ways to imerse yourself!  In a few days my son will board a plane to France to visit, explore, experience and taste the history and culture of that country.  I have always been careful to expose and encourage my children to try new things, including food.  They eat things I don't, can handle far spicier foods, and will try most things.  Although my son likes to separate his food (think divided plate) and eat one thing at a time, I hope his time in France will include savoring that country's delicious gastronomic offerings.  I have no doubt he will devour crepes and croissants (family favorites), but hopefully he'll get to also enjoy a few authentic French meals.

I will be off on an adventure, too this summer!  My husband and I will be spending a few days in San Francisco to celebrate a milestone birthday!  Having perused the tour book and the Internet, I think I'll have a more difficult time with the food in SanFran, than my son will in France!  I can't pronounce the names of many of the restaurants on the list of "Top 100 Place to Eat", which can't be good, with food I've never heard of and some I have and know I can't eat!  But, this will not deter me.  I have no doubt we will find scrumptious food and fabulous dining.  There seems to be hundreds of restaurants in and around the city; it's really quite overwhelming.  I don't need anything fancy or touristy or especially elegant (though one fancy dinner might be nice).  I prefer to move and pick when I'm traveling: a taste of this and a taste of that, leaving room to sample a wide variety of food, while not be committed to any one thing.  I enjoy bringing home from my travels a new recipe, whether inspired by the place I'm visiting or an actual recipe.  I can't wait to see what inspiration San Francisco holds for our family's dinner table!

When you travel, how do eat?  Do you look for the closest American restaurants abroad?  Do you stick to what you know (in other parts of this continent)?  Do you ask where the locals eat?  Do you dig in to dishes you have no idea what they are but have been assured they are authentic and delicious?  Do you eat simple or indulge in fancy meals?

On a more personal note: if you've been to San Francisco, where should we eat?  In such a foodie city, the possibilities are endless and we'd love personal, first-hand-experience recommendations!

I hope this summer holds some food adventures for you.  Even if you can't travel, you can "visit" a place through authentic meals.  Maybe you can try a new local restaurant specializing in another country's food.  Perhaps a "world food" day once a week, where you prepare authentic foreign dishes for your family.  

When you can't get out and explore the world, bring the world to your kitchen!!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24






Wednesday, July 1, 2015

ReAwakenings 1 Peter 3

"Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.  Don't repay evil for evil.  Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it."  1 Peter 3: 8-9.

Oh what a glorious place this would be if we all followed Peter's advice (above)!  Read it again.  Let it sink in.

Welcome!  I am so glad you are here.  I hope you are staying with the reading plan and are reading, pondering, and S.O.A.K.-ing your week in the Word of God.  As a group, we are up to 1 Peter 3, but if  you need to catch-up, that's okay.  Grab a few quite moments to spend with your Lord today, before the festivities of the holiday weekend kick off!

There's a ton of good stuff in 1 Peter 3!   However, the first seven verses are a bit of a 'pill' for me - hard to swallow!  I get it and the notes in my study Bible explain these verses in such a way that help me to process the notion of "submission" and "weaker sex".  But it's still "nails-on-a-chalkboard" for me to read those words.  I think it's because they have often been used to the detriment of women; to justify men's 'superiority' over women and to keep women from being equals to men in all aspects of life.  There is Scripture and examples of women throughout the Old and New Testaments that speak to the equality and strength of women.  When I read the first 7 verses, I did it with gritted teeth and tried to silence the screaming feminist in my head :)  If you don't have a Study Bible that can better explain what Peter is trying to say, let me know in the comments.  I'll be happy to share the notes I have, but I really want to talk about verses 8 & 9!

With all the latest social unrest, wouldn't it be so wonderful if these verses could become the new mantra for America!  It seems lately there is so much stirring of the pot of hatred that it's hard to see a bright future.  The sad part is that much of the stirring is done by religious leaders and 'Christians' quoting the Bible.   Why can't they quote this!?  WHY CAN'T THEY QUOTE THIS!!!

I'm a bit of a romantic mixed with a realist, so I accept that
1) there is evil in the world
2) we all have bad days
3) we're not perfect.

Even the best intentioned person is going to say something against someone at some point; they will lose their temper, be in a bad mood or just totally lose it on some one!  It's what happens after that, that makes all the difference.  How do we respond, whether we are the one being negative or the recipient? If we could pause and bring to mind Peter's words to "... pay them back with a blessing." perhaps the Evening News would be filled with stories of hope & healing rather than bitterness, accusations, and strife.

Evil, circulating in society as discrimination, superiority, entitlement, vengeance, payback, retaliation, human justice, and all manner of negativity, fan the flames of hatred.  God calls us to smother that fire with the cooling waters of Love, Grace, and Blessings.

When you have the opportunity to teach the next generation and influence your peers and children of all ages, teach them this: "Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.  Don't repay evil for evil.  Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it."  1 Peter 3: 8-9.  If the world could embrace this - what a wonderful place it would be!

I'd love to read what this week's Scripture means to you.  Leave a few thoughts in the Comments.    

Be a blessing in the world today!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"The breakfast of champions!" - Wheaties commercial

It's officially summer in my house!  My son finished his sophomore year of high school yesterday!  I'm letting him sleep in today as a reward for working hard all year!

The catch to sleeping in at our house is that you don't get breakfast.  The kitchen closes at 9 am on weekends, at 8 am during the week.  I'd like it to be earlier, but I've caved to popular vote.  Of course, that's a general rule - we often have to be on a field or in an ice rink at those times, so breakfast is earlier those days!  I choose my battles and I kind of like the quiet time in the morning on the days that aren't dictated by sports schedules, so it's a win-win.

I'm a morning person and I love breakfast!  It's said that it is 'the most important meal of the day' and I can't agree more.  I could eat a full breakfast before my feet hit the ground!  I'm so hungry in the morning, my husband knows food comes first - not even coffee, food!  Being a mother, if the kids are at the table, I will make them breakfast first.  On school days, their breakfast is first so they can get to the bus stop.  But, I have a glass of water & a cup of tea while scrambling eggs and buttering toast.

A typical weekday breakfast in my house is scrambled eggs with fruit or a vegetable (tomatoes, Brussels sprouts & broccoli being the most popular), hot tea, and vitamins.  I make THE BEST scrambled eggs, but I'll save that for another post!  My youngest hasn't fully bought in to the high protein breakfast, so most mornings she'll have pancakes or waffles with fruit and milk. Occasionally,  I will make a pound of bacon on the weekend and reheat it during the week to go with the eggs; sometimes we have sausage.  We also have "dippy eggs" (over easy to the rest of the world), poached eggs, and hard boiled eggs.  My family goes through about 3 dozen eggs a week!  That's just me and the kids - my husband doesn't eat breakfast.

We have cereal on hand, but it's not often eaten for breakfast.  Cereal has become a snack, dinner substitute (on "whatever you can find night") or post dinner meal on those days we have an early dinner and are hungry again at 7!

Weekends are for more involved cooking!  That's when I make pancakes (I love experimenting with flavors and add-ins), waffles, and French toast: a double batch so I can put the extras in the freezer for weekday reheating.  In this house we never have to "le'go my Eggo" because homemade is so much better!
Along with these warm pastries is a toppings bar.  Always start with butter - real butter - nothing fake or butter-flavored, ever.  Then choose from: table syrup, Maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruits (whatever we have), a variety of jams, orange marmalade, sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, vanilla Greek yogurt, chocolate chips, apple butter, and whipped cream are the standards.  Sometimes we'll have some clotted cream or Swedish Creme left over from dessert.  We have even drizzled caramel sauce for an indulgent creation!  If you've never thought of putting anything but syrup on your pancakes, waffles, & French toast you are missing a great breakfast.  My favorite topping combination is chocolate chips (they'll melt to create a chocolate layer), orange marmalade, and sour cream.  It's delicious!

The next time you whip up a batch of pancakes (waffles or FT) let your imagination run wild!  What flavors, fruits, and condiments can you add to the batter or on top to start your morning right!  Add a side of your favorite protein & beverage to kick start your day!

What is breakfast like at your house?  I'd love to hear about your "breakfast of champions".  Go to the blog and share your favorite, typical, unusual, or unique breakfast ideas!

"Greet the dawn with enthusiasm and you may expect satisfaction at sunset."  ~Amish Proverb

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly 
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24


Monday, June 22, 2015

ReAwakenings 1 Peter 2

"It is God's will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you."  1 Peter 2:15

Every once in a while I come across a person who seems to not like me, just because.  I'm one of those people who wants everyone one to like me - at least until I give them a real reason not to!  So, when one of those kinds of people comes into my life, I spend way too much time and energy worrying about that 'relationship'.  Often times, it's not even a relationship yet, it's just an acquaintanceship  (is that a word?).  Anyway, I ruminate over conversations trying to figure out if I said something offensive, I plan my next encounter with that person, so that I can be my best in their presence.  I even ask for advice from people who know that person well, as to how I should act or approach our next meeting.  It rolls around in the back of my brain daily, taking up valuable space that I really can't spare!  It shows it's destructive nature when I realize how unproductive I've been in other areas of my life!

I become overly tired, distracted, forgetful, short tempered, and suffer from general air-headedness (I'm on a roll with made-up words today).  It's utterly ridiculous that I become so concerned with something that, in the long run, really doesn't matter.  This is a lesson I learned some time ago, but often have to be reminded of it.  Can you relate?  I have several friends who have no idea what this feels like and I envy them.  My husband is one who doesn't have a worry in the world if, for some unknown reason, someone decides to say something against him or verbally attack him or just doesn't like him.  It's not even a blip on his emotional radar!  And he can't understand my emotional response of not being liked by everyone.  I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a little crazy - but he loves me anyway - thank goodness!

We're all wired differently, but we are all called to the same Love.  In chapter 2 of Peter's First letter, there is a warning, "Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors...." 1 Peter 2:12, followed shortly by the encouraging words above from verse 15.  While I do believe that it is in my nature, the way my hormones & wiring & thinking are naturally, to want to be liked; it is also greatly influenced by this world's pressure to be accepted, part of the crowd, a follower of 'the norm' rather than a follower of "The Way".  Wanting to be liked by everyone is akin to keeping up with the Jones'!  

So, when I notice my worldly nature eating at my happiness and productivity I check in with my heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells.  I search what I know to be truthful - God's truth that love and acceptance from Him is the only thing that matters.  That what some person says about me or how they treat me is not for me to judge or worry about.  God calls me to love my neighbor as myself and leave the rest to Him.  He promises that, "Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world."  1 Peter 2:12b. 

Lord knows I've said and done some pretty stupid things, certainly any one of them would be reason enough to discount me as your new friend.  But, as best as I am capable, I strive to live as Christ wants me to live.  All I can do is leave the rest to God!  Last year during "My One Word" I chose to work on being a "warrior" rather than a "worrier" (perhaps you've noticed that word under my name?).  Well, I can't say that it has been a remarkable year in making me a "Warrior" for Christ, but I continue to move from worrier to warrior, with God's continued reminders and help.  God doesn't always do BIG things, He is found in the tiniest details and small moments, whispering words of love & encouragement.  God is bigger than any problem we may face, but He also is walking along side us, indwelling our hearts, never leaving us for a moment.  

I'd love to hear your reaction to or part of what you discovered in your S.O.A.K. of 1 Peter, chapter 2.  Go to the blog to jot down your thoughts in the Comment section.

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, June 15, 2015

ReAwakening - 1 Peter 1

"So think clearly and exercise self-control.  Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ."  1 Peter 1:13

My summer has not yet started even though it's the middle of June!  Our schools are still in session this week (half days of exams for the high school kids and mostly fun & games for the elementary), but they are still in school.  The days of sleeping in and being unencumbered by a schedule are still a week away.  In these last days it is very difficult to roll out of bed on time, to stay focused on final projects and tests.  We are distracted by the approaching excitement of freedom from the daily grind and the upcoming vacations that are planned.   It is with great anticipation that we await the glory days of summer!

In the midst of all this hoopla and planning of summer activities, I open my Bible and read Peter's words: "think clearly and exercise self-control".   He seems to be saying the exact opposite of what I hoped the next 9 weeks would be.  Summer is a time of indulgence (lazing by a pool, ocean or lake), ice cream in the middle of the week, sleeping in, and doing as little 'thinking' as possible.  Even if it's not for the entire summer, it is a time when we take a vacation and let loose for at least a week!  So, Peter's words knocked the wind out of my summer sails for a moment.

We all know what happens when we throw thinking to the summer wind for 9 weeks!  We lose knowledge, we become undisciplined, lazy and by the start of the next school year getting back into a schedule is extremely difficult.  Learning becomes a chore and don't even get me started on waking-up on time!  It is so easy to fall into a summer slump of indulgence.

So it is with our faith.  When we are away from God's word for an extended time, it is easy to lose our way.  How have you been doing with your summer S.O.A.K. and reading?  Personally, it's been a bit of a challenge to fit it in.  My youngest was sick for an entire week, my middle child turned 16, and I've been playing catch-up or get-ready for several weeks of household chores.  Yes, my Bible reading has suffered and my soul has felt it, and it's not even summer vacation yet!

If you are like me, and finding it difficult to grab a few minutes to spend reading God's word, don't stop trying!  On the days you can't read, continue to pray and live out the Good News as you go about your day.  The word strengthens and encourages us, but how we live our daily lives shows the world that we belong to Christ!  

In our reading, the Apostle Peter (the guy who cut off a guard's ear and then denied Jesus 3 times) is writing to early Christians who have been scattered and suffering persecution.  Under Emperor Nero, Christians in Rome were blamed for the 'burning of Rome' and were tortured and killed for their faith in the public arena.  Peter's letters were written and sent, (probably from Rome) to those scattered throughout Asia Minor.  The purpose of his letter is to comfort and encourage believers everywhere, especially new believers.

If you feel scattered or discouraged, read Peter's letter as if it was written especially for you (because, in a way, it was).  Be strengthened by his words and by the example of the life he lived.  Even though he stumbled, he never stopped being a follower of Christ.  Peter, formerly Simon Peter, was renamed by Jesus and was told he would be the "rock" on which the church would be built.  He did not become a disciple because he was perfect for the job; he was changed by God's love to be the perfect example for us.

As I embark on a summer of activities, please forgive my lack of posting when it happens.  Like Peter, I go through times of great enthusiasm and times of being scattered & undisciplined.  Summer usually finds me scattered, both physically and mentally.  But, I hope you will continue to follow the reading schedule, S.O.A.K. in your journal, and comment on the blog.  We are called to live in community and share our faith, but remember that our God desires a personal relationship with each of us and one of the best ways to grow that relationship is through reading His Word and prayer.

Take a lesson from Peter's life, "It is better to be a follower who sometimes fails than one who fails to follow", Life Application Study Bible, Profile of Peter, pg. 1469.

Here's to a summer of learning that when we fall (in our faith and our life), we should get back up and continue on our way-  down the path that God has built for us!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 






Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"Look who's coming to dinner!"

Although the weather has once again cooled and all this rain has me wondering if I'm really in the north east and not the North West, we are on the cusp of summer!  My back porch has been cleaned, stained & sealed and I can't wait to host my first al fresco meal.  Summer is a time of backyard entertaining, picnics, and just a good reason to randomly invite friends and family over for dinner.

This weekend my son turns 16!!  It's hard to believe my middle child has reached this milestone - I'm still trying to figure out how that happened!  So, instead of dwelling on the swift passage of time, I'm planning the meals we'll have over the course of the weekend, with a house full of family here to celebrate!

How do you entertain in the summer?  From throwing everything on the grill to crock-pots & casseroles, summer is wide open when it comes to meal prep options.

When we are having friends and family over for a cook-out, it's usually the standards on the grill.  Cheeseburgers (because what's a burger without cheese? - naked!), hot dogs (see my previous post about hot dogs!!), and BBQ chicken (boneless, of course), with pre-made sides that can be whisked to the table in a moments notice.  I don't know about you, but I don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when I'm entertaining, especially in the summer!

But, for an entire weekend of feeding a crowd with as little cooking fuss as possible, I turn to my trusty crock pot!  No, they are not just for winter stews and comfort food.  I'll be making Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork, from SixSisterStuff.com .  Pulled meat always reminds me of outdoor eating & bar-b-que's, the smell as it cooks is just divine, and no utensils required!  I love that cooking it low & slow requires almost no attention and it can be made ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you're cooking way ahead of time) and thrown back into the crock pot for heating a few hours before serving.  Throw together some veggies, fresh fruit, and a light dessert and we have a fabulous no-fuss meal for feeding a crowd during an exciting weekend of celebrating and family togetherness!

I'd love to hear your favorite crowd pleasing meal, especially for easy summer-time cooking!

If you're reading this in your e-mail click here to pop over to the blog and leave your comments!

I can't wait to try your mouth watering recipes!

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24  


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"One man's trash is another man's treasure."  

No doubt you've heard this saying before; maybe even used it yourself.  Today, I'd like to find out how you put it into practice in your kitchen and/or cooking!

Don't wrinkle up your nose until you hear me out.  Wastefulness is a pet peeve of mine; maybe to a fault.  I embraced reduce, reuse, recycle before it was mainstream.  Admittedly, the house can become a little cluttered with things that I think might be useful later.  But, I'm getting better at being selective and productive with what I keep.  The one place this has always been a part of my life is the kitchen.  My great grandmother, Minerva, was a master at this (as was many women of her time).  Not much went to the trash from her kitchen!  She passed some of this frugality to my mom, where I absorbed it and continue to use it in my kitchen today!

I know of people and whole families who refuse to eat leftovers - they throw everything into the garbage can at the end of each dinner.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around this wastefulness - ugh!!!  It's the simplest thing to put the extra servings in the refrigerator and have them for lunch or dinner later, especially when you're short on time and need a "heat 'n eat" meal.  I understand that the frig can get crowded with small portions of food, some getting pushed to the back and forgotten, only to emerge as some kind of scary science project.  But, if you make a habit of using the leftovers, that doesn't happen very often.
In our home we have incorporated leftovers into our weekly meal plan.  Sometimes it's called "Buffet Night", sometimes it's "Whatever You Can Find Night", and other times it's labeled "Throwback Thursday" (though that can also mean an old-fashioned meal).   On these nights, we get all the food out of the refrigerator and each person gets to choose (or have a little of everything) from the previous nights' dinners.  The kids really enjoy it because they get to choose their favorite meal of the week to have again; if they don't want a particular food, they don't have to have it.  It's a win-win for everyone!   There's also the idea of "planned overs".  That's when you make twice as much and plan to have the same meal twice.  Either within the week, as lunches, morph it into another dish, or freeze it to have at a much later time or when in need of a quick meal.  Sometimes, just changing the label can change attitudes.  If you "don't do" leftovers in your home, maybe using one of these methods will give new life to an old problem.  

What about the food that's leftover while making meals?  You know, the crusts & heels of the loaf of bread and the parts of veggies that you don't eat.  What does one do with all that kitchen trash?  Turn it into treasure, of course!  Here are a few of my favorite ways to do that:

BREAD (crusts & heels).  Do you trash the crust of toast & sandwiches?  Do you throw away the first & last slices of the loaf of bread?  STOP doing that!  Do this instead: cut them into bread cubes and put them in the freezer (use an empty bread bag to continue to reduce, reuse, & recycle).  You can use these bread cubes in a number of ways, but my two favorites are
     a. stuffing, use your favorite recipe
     b. french toast casserole -  my favorite French Toast Casserole is found here - Mamabelly's.

VEGETABLES There are a few things you can do with veggies.
     a. cooked veggies - if the portion left over from dinner is too small to have again, put it in a container         in the freezer (label it 'cooked veggies'). Add any cooked vegetables to this over time.  When the container is full, make vegetable soup!  Remember that these are cooked, so they won't need to cook in the soup; add them last so they don't turn to mush.
     b. raw veggies  - the parts of vegetables that we don't usually cook & serve, like the stem of broccoli, or when carrots are looking a little old (not pretty enough to serve, but still good to eat).  Cut the vegetables into small pieces put it in a container marked "raw veggies", storing it in the freezer.  These can be used to flavor broth for soup & stews or even cook down into vegetable broth.
     c. ends & leaves - these are the parts that we humans don't eat, but that doesn't mean they can't be useful.  Start a compost!  There are all sizes & variety of compost for every household!  Whether you have a large garden or a few pots of flowers, your plants will thank you for feeding them with the treasure you created from your kitchen trash.

In case you're wondering.... Yes, I have a freezer!  In fact I have 2 refrigerators with freezers and a small chest freezer.  But, I also have 3 children, buy in bulk (including meat), and cook most meals.  You probably wouldn't need this much freezer space :)

There are lots of frugal, trash-to-treasure things that can be done with food!  I'd love to hear how you turn kitchen trash into edible or reusable treasure!  Share your tips, tricks, and ideas in the Comments!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 







Monday, June 1, 2015

ReAwakening: Jude 1-2

"But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith.  And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit."  Jude 2:20

Hey, Jude!  Thanks for the warning!  As we read Jude's letter, we realize something is afoot in the early church.  Jude was going to write a letter about salvation - I'm guessing a more uplifting subject than what he actually writes.  But, he gets wind that there's some treachery going on and decides to write a letter of warning and encouragement.

Jude warns against false teachers, false leaders, and apostasy (turning away from Christ).  These were very real dangers within the early church.  I think it comes as no surprise that they are very real dangers today (maybe even more so?).  We are bombarded with so much information coming from so many different places and people, it's sometimes difficult to know who to believe.   Jude describes these kinds of people, starting in verse 8, so we can keep an eye out for them.  He goes on to describe them using metaphors, because sometimes you just "get a feeling" about someone and can't quite put your finger on what it is about them that isn't quite right.  Perhaps the metaphor is helpful in those times.  But he wraps it up pretty clearly when he says, "These people are grumblers and complainers, doing whatever evil they feel like.  They are loudmouthed braggarts, and they flatter others to get favors in return."  Jude 1:16. 

But, don't be fooled.  People like this are usually intelligent and often have seemingly good qualities, causing people to overlook the bad.  Or they hope to change them.   Jude addresses this in verses 4-7, 12, and 14-15.  This letter is a warning to be on guard, to not be duped, by "...some godless people (who) have wormed their way in among you, saying that God's forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives." Jude 1:4.  This reminds me of the saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."  The world has changed a great deal since A.D. 65, when this letter was written, yet we are still dealing with many of the same issues within the church and society.

So as not to be dragged down or thrust into a state of paranoia, I look to Jude's words of encouragement.  They are peppered throughout the letter: beginning, middle and end.  The verse at the top is my favorite of them.  It reminds me that I already have a foundation and encourages me to continue to do what I've been doing and tells me how, "... continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit." Jude 2:20b.  He uses other wonderful verbs like "Live", "Show", and "Rescue".   Jude writes in very real and relatable language, making it a little easier for me to understand and be able to act on my faith (recall John's letters & his call to action?).

What did you discover in Jude's letter?  Share your thoughts about Jude and his warnings to us and the early church.  Who do you think false teachers are in today's world?  Is there a verse that strikes a chord in your heart?  Scroll down, or if you're reading this in your e-mail click here to go to the blog, and leave a comment.  I can't wait to hear your take on this letter written by Jesus' half-brother!

Your Partner in Ministry,

Shelly
warrior

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24