Friday, January 11, 2013!!

I have purchased my book and several extra copies!  I'm so excited to read it and lead my MomHeart group though the book!  

Today, check out to enter the latest giveaway--a $300 Target Gift Card and an iPad Mini!  If you read the book, let me know what you think!

Have a blessed day!

As iron sharpens iron, 
so a friend sharpens a friend. 
Psalm 27:17

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Do you ever feel desperate?

The reason I began blogging was to create a sort of chronicle of our life as well as to hopefully encourage others out there in their walks mothering, homemaking, and spiritual life.  Today I want to share a really awesome ministry that has encouraged me  over the last several years.  

As a mom, have you ever felt "desperate?"  Have you ever felt like things are out of control, like you can't do anything well, or like you can't even come up for air in the midst of your schedule, caring for your children, husband, and house?  Have you ever felt like just curling up under the covers and hiding there all day?  Have you ever thought or said the words, "I just can't be a mother today?"  I have had babies and toddlers in my house now for 15 1/2 years straight, and I have definitely had those days.  With my 9 precious children, I am in the very interesting position of having a baby, toddler, as well as teen aged children (and everything in between) in my home now.  I know a lot of people look to me for advice and answers to their questions.  The truth is that I have lots of ideas, lots of things I have done wrong and a few things I have done "right." I have felt very alone at times and still can have those lonely days, even with such a full house.  As moms, we need to know we are not alone.  We can reach out to others and listen for the voices of those who are reaching out to connect with us.  I love to be available to younger moms to encourage and mentor them in any way I can, and I also love meeting with older moms who have been down the path ahead of me and have raised their children well from whom I can glean wisdom.  Sometimes I get this kind of "mentoring" and encouragement from reading books by such moms.

This is why I am so excited about Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae's new book, Desperate!  I have attended Sally's Moms' Conferences in Irving,TX for coming up on 10 years now, and I always come away refreshed and inspired in my high calling of motherhood.  The new book is available now!  Here is a link to the web site and a video about the new book:

Even better, on Sally's blog right now there are a couple of very amazing giveaways, including a spa retreat and an exclusive mentoring weekend with both Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae!!  I know I would love to win!!  Check it out:

Right now I am leading a MomHeart group and we are going through Sally's last book, Dancing With My Father.  It is always such an encouraging time when we come together as moms to discuss the book and pray together.  If you live in or around Southwest Austin and are interested in joining our group, it is not too late!  We meet in SW Austin twice monthly on Sunday afternoons.  If you are interested, comment below or contact me via messaging on Facebook.  

I am purchasing my copy of Desperate today, and I'm planning to have our group go through this book together in the spring!  The book is extra cool because there are QR codes and links at the end of each chapter that lead to videos with Sarah Mae and Sally talking about the chapter.  If you can't join us for the discussion now on Dancing With My Father now, consider reading Desperate with us in the Spring, if you live in the Austin area.  I may do an online group for Desperate as well, if anyone out there who is not local would like to join in.  I'll post an invitation on my blog and on Facebook before we begin.

Praying that you will be encouraged in your walk with God today as you seek to know Him more and to "be still and know He is God!"  He will carry you through your desperate times and into a place of joy!!  Also know that you are never alone!--there are moms like you everywhere.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some yummy recipes from this evening and a look ahead!

Tonight we had a nice meal that most of the kids loved.  I wanted to make something meatless for today, so I chose a broccoli casserole that had only a few ingredients and looked really easy to throw together.  I doubled it, and it fed my family just fine, with a little bit left over (I do have lots of little ones still who don't eat quite as much).  Even the most skeptical of the children ended up liking this and going back for seconds or thirds.  My oldest son had 5 helpings!  I was able to make this a meal for us because I added some leftover "party beans" (recipe for this on 12/24 of my blog, "Day 30 and 2 Bonus Recipes) and yummy cornbread with honey butter.

Broccoli casserole 
Serves 4
2 10-oz. packages frozen broccoli spears, thawed and cut into pieces
10 1/4 oz. can cream of celery soup
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup baked potato chips, crushed

1. Combine broccoli, soup, 1 cup cheese, and onion in *greased* slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours or until broccoli is soft.
3.  Combine remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and crushed potato chips in a bowl.  Sprinkle on top of casserole 30 minutes before end of cooking time.  Leave uncovered during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Note: I would possibly skip the crushed potato chip topping.  My family loved this dish, but they weren't crazy about the topping.  They devoured it all anyway, but I think we would all have liked it better without the topping.  Just our preference. 

I served this with fresh homemade cornbread and homemade honey butter, which was a big hit!  Here is the simple recipe for the honey butter:

1 stick of butter, softened
2 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
5 Tbsp. honey

Mix together with beater or in food processor until smooth.  Serve with warm bread.  Sooooooo delicious!!

I am preparing to launch a series on my blog on freezer cooking, so stay tuned!!

Also, check out Sally Clarkson's new book, Desperate.  I can't wait to get my copy!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!!! Praying for the "Wisdom From Above"

A new year!   2012 was a good year for us.  No big changes except, of course, for the big changes happening in each of our children as they grow and learn.  I always feel so good about a new year.  I don't usually have a hard core resolution I try to fulfill (does anyone actually keep these for real??), but I feel like I get a new start, a new beginning, a second chance at who I want to be in this new calendar year.  I like to think about things I would like to improve or do better.  Do you have resolutions?  What are they?  I think this year, if I were to pick some things I would like to focus on, I would choose three categories for myself, and I feel like the Lord also pointed me to one for our family as a whole this morning as I read Scripture.  

For myself, one area is physical/health (this is usually one big category for "resolutions").  I would like to get back to eating a bit healthier, and for us, we are convinced that changing to a more plant-based diet is the way to go.  So, area one is to find a good balance between this and the cravings my family tends to have for meat in particular.  Also, I would like to figure out how to bulk cook and freeze while trying to eat this way.  I think I will focus my blog on this area quite a bit.  I will begin posting about my meal planning, bulk cooking days, and I will give a play-by-play of how those things go.  If you would like to follow along and meal plan with me, I would love that!  I will continue to use my crockpot quite a bit as well.

Another area on which I would like to focus myself is to really become more "minimalist" when it comes to our possessions.  I have had mild success with this in the past year, but I can most definitely improve.  I will be pulling out the trash bags to throw and give more things away inside and outside the house.  Also, I would like to practice using caution when it comes to purchasing new things with which to "clutter" up our already small spaces in this cozy little house.

The third area is spiritual.  For me as well as for all the family, spiritually, I feel like at times our home is a war zone. Children find so many things to fight about.  Who has a bigger serving of food, what game we should play, who wins or loses the game, whose job is what and when and why... the list goes on and on.  I realize that sometimes I play just as much a part in the war as the children do.  I try to be peacemaker general, when perhaps I need to make peace myself with each child and teach them to be peacemakers.  I need to focus less on who is right or wrong in each case and help us to all focus more on this one principle: be the peacemaker, no matter what the circumstances.  I am currently reading through the wonderful book of James in my quiet times.  This morning, these verses jumped off the page and into my heart: 

"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  And a heart of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." 
James 3: 16-18

This year, my focus will be for me to rid myself of any selfish ambition that may exist in my heart, and as a family, I think these things would be a great focus as well: to rid our home of selfish ambition and jealousy.  If these things exist, there will be disorder and every evil practice!  Boy, can I see this in our home at times!  Next, I will focus, and hopefully help the children focus on the positive virtues contained in these verses, and on being the ones who make peace.  "A heart of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."  That sounds pretty good.  The root of all kinds of problems is pride and selfishness.  This year it will be my prayer for myself and for each member of my family, that we will learn and practice selflessness, take the focus off of selfishness and turn the focus onto others and being the one to make peace first.  I will be thinking of ways to help encourage the children especially in this, so if any of you reading this has any ideas for me in encouraging these things, whether with incentives, exercises, reading material, etc.  let me know, and I will definitely share all ideas on my blog.

May this year be a year where we all grow to be more excellent, and where we truly grasp the "wisdom from above."

Here is the definition of "wisdom from above" found in James in a different translation.  May we meditate on these verses and be filled with God's wisdom. How excellent that He promises that He will give it to us (promise found in James 1:5)!!

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
James 3:17

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
James 1:5

Praise God for His faithfulness, and may 2013 be the most excellent year for all of you!!!