Thursday, December 31, 2009

White Bean Soup

Now that winter has arrived in full force, our bellies crave something warm. There is nothing like coming home to a crock pot full of warm soup. This White Bean Soup is a family favorite. I prefer to make it with dry beans (they are cheaper), but I am including the instructions if you need to use canned. Dry beans require an overnight soaking. Sometimes canned are more convenient.

White Bean Soup
1 lb. dry or 4 12oz. cans Great Northern or Navy Beans
1/4c. Dry onion flakes
4 carrots, chopped
2c. Chopped ham or 1 Kielbasa sausage
2t. thyme
Chicken bouillon

Add all ingredients into slow cooker or pot. If using dry beans, cover with 5-6 cups of water and add 5-6 teaspoons chicken bouillon. If using canned beans, add about 2 cans of water and add 4 teaspoons chicken bouillon. In the crock pot heat on low 6 hours. If using a pot, heat to boiling then simmer 1 hour or until carrots and beans are cooked.
Enjoy and don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Armed with Love: Patience

I have attended a lot of Bible study over the years. My group has been a constant source of encouragement. Following the discussion we go around the group and give everyone an opportunity to share a prayer request. Inevitably, in a group of mothers, someone will say, "Please pray that God will give my patience. My kids are driving me crazy this week and I don't know what to do."

Gasps will fill the air. A kind woman will say, "Honey, you do not want to pray for patience. You do not know how the Lord will teach it to you." I think this response is somewhat superstitious. God is not sitting in heaven with his flaming spears just waiting to teach us a lesson. He is not watching until we need his help to come to our aid. God teaches us with love in the same way we discipline our own children (Hebrews 12:7-11). We should not be afraid to ask him to teach us. He's the best teacher in the universe, don't you think? Certainly, if we pray for patience, we will have it. As a Domestic Warrior this is a weapon I could use!

1 Corinthians 13:4 says, "Love is patient." When I think of patience I think of waiting. I have to be patient when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store. I am patient while I wait for my child to stop throwing a fit. This word is not that kind of patience. This patience comes from a Greek word (makrothyme┼Ź)which is best translated long-suffering. I know what your thinking because I'm thinking the same thing. Patience is sounding less and less appealing especially since it has the words long and suffering in it. How long must I suffer anyway? To be long suffering is described in lexical aids as never losing heart. We are patient when we won't give up. When we got married we promised to be patient. We said, "For better of for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." We promised to suffer through all the ups and downs together until the end of our lives. This is long-suffering. I am practicing this kind of patience in my marriage just by standing strong beside my man and being committed to keep standing, no matter what may come.

Long-suffering is also described in the lexical aids "to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles." This is the kind of patience I need when I am dealing with my children. Patience helps us handle the bad habits our children develop. I want my children to stop and stop now! Habits can be hard to break and take time. I can't expect that they will stop in an instant. I am patient when I persevere with them when they are going through a difficult growth period. I can show them love when I stand by my kids even when I don't like what they are doing. I reflect God's Love to them because He is exceedingly patient with us(2 Peter 3:9).

Today as I am unrolling another sock ball before I put it in the laundry(even thought I've asked them to PLEASE turn their socks right side out when they take them off) I will remember to be patient. Learning takes time. I will not feel the slow burn of anger rise inside my chest when my dear husband does not call when he is going to be late. I will try to maintain a joyful spirit. Marriage is for a life time. After all, I am happy to be long-suffering as long as I get to suffer alongside this wonderful man. So Domestic Warriors, lets tighten our aprons and prepare ourselves for battle. I'll need patience to win it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Armed with Love:1 Corinthians 13 Woman

Reading: 1 Corinthians 13

Love. We love all kinds of things. We say we love our husbands and our children. We also say we love chocolate. I'm about to tell you something I have told no one. I think I might love chocolate more than my husband. I think I might love chocolate more than my children. In fact I think I might love chocolate more than anything else in the world. I hide chocolate and save chocolate just for me. Those little bits of heaven take a bad day and make it all better. Sometimes I crave chocolate above all things. My desire to consume chocolate makes me deny the consequences it will have on my body if I swallow it up. Is this truly love, or just infatuation? The fact is I'd like to feel this way about the most important people in my life. It's much easier to love chocolate than the imperfect people I live with. How do I keep loving those who can be unlovable? What does God say about love?

We know that God commands us to love one another because He is love. 1 John 4:7-8 says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." I think its nice to know that because I know God and He is love I have and endless supply of love flowing through him into me. Even if I don't feel very loving, I can still act in love because I am born of God, know God, and God is love.

I want to be the kind of wife and mom that is motivated to action by love. Sometimes I am motivated by necessity. If I don't make dinner no one else will. We have to eat to live, so I prepare dinner because it is necessary for us to eat. Sometimes I am motivated by guilt. I might say, "yes" instead of "no" to my husband tonight because I have said "no" three times in a row this week not including the nights he didn't even bother to proposition me.Sometimes I'm motivated by selfishness. I do things to appease the masses so that I can have a few minutes of quite. I don't want to be motivated by necessity, guilt, or selfishness. I want to act because I truly love my family with a sincere love.

1 Corinthians 13 starts out by telling us why it is important to love. Verse one says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." Do you ever feel like your family doesn't listen to you? I do. This verse says I could speak in any language in the universe, but if I speak without love it only sounds like a bunch of noise. Last time the power went out at our house I was astonished by how silent the world became. We operate with noise around us all the time and don't even pay attention to it. I don't want my words to fade into a bunch of noise in my house. I want to be heard by my family. I have to learn to speak with love.

Verse two is even more interesting. It says, "If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing." Do you ever get the urge to say, "I told you so." I think my way is always the best way. If people would just listen to me all tasks would be done better and faster. Verse two says I can be right about everything and know the perfect way to do anything, but if I don't have love all that knowledge is worthless.

Verse three is the hardest lesson to learn. "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." I feel like I make a lot of sacrifices for my family. I sacrifice time, energy, money, even myself for their benefit. This verse says I could even sacrifice my own life, but if I don't have love, it's all worthless. I don't want the sacrifices I make on a daily basis to be worthless. Those sacrifices cost me something. I want the cost to be valuable.I must learn to love like God would want me to love.

I am beginning a series on love. I hope we can all learn how to love like God wants us to love and reflect more of him in the process.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Perfect Christmas

I know many Domestic Warriors are today frantically preparing for tomorrow's festivities. We want everything to be perfect. I have a June Cleaver holiday dream. In my imagination I want to be floating around the house in my frilly white apron, freshly pressed. My pearl necklace is delicately hanging around my neck. My legs look fantastic in my high heals even though my feet are killing me. The kids are clean and well behaved. I managed to pick the perfect gifts. They are exactly what they wanted! They were so very excited and grateful when they opened them. Husband is sipping coffee and winking at me as I busily and joyfully prepare the most amazing Christmas dinner. Everything is perfect. All our guests are very impressed with how magically everything is prepared. Then the alarm sounds on the clock radio. It is playing techno-Christmas carols and I am slammed back into my own reality.
In my reality I try very, very hard to make Christmas perfect. I stress about making my kids happy Christmas morning. I don't want them to be disappointed, so I give my credit card a work out. Their reaction isn't as gracious as I would have expected, so I wonder why spent the money anyway. Once the gifts are opened I go into "mission mode." I begin scrambling around the house cooking and cleaning, hoping to give the illusion of perfection. I am stressing about the house getting cleaned. I want it to look like a model home.The kids must achieve high standards of cleanliness in their bedrooms. Shreaking erupts from my mouth when I see my husband trying to help a child with a new toy. "Why aren't you helping me!" I exclaim. The family is now struggling to meet my approval. The kids are cranky from my constant critisism. My husband's normally cheerful demenor is now stressed. When the guest arrive they sence the tension in the air. We spend a very uncomfortable evening together.They leave thinking I am very controling. They wonder to one another in the car on the way home what it must be like to live with me day after day. I don't know about you, but this is not the holiday I want to have tomorrow. I want my guest to leave with "tidings of comfort and joy." I want husband and kids to have a holiday of "heavenly peace." Most importantly, I want to celebrate the birth of our Savior and give "glory to God in the highest."
Sure I want to impress my guests, but the person who has the highest expectations of what Christmas should be like is me. I am the only one who wants perfection. I set unrealistic expectations for myself. I can never meet them. I am always disappointed. Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all you heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will recieve an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." I want to remember that in all my efforts, I am working to please the Lord, not myself. He knows that I am a faulted human being. He sees me as perfect through Himself, just as I am. I want to celebrate His birth keeping in mind the awesome gift of love he gave us. Tomorrow I want to make Him happy above all others, even myself.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Easy Christmas Candy

'Tis the season for baking and candy making. I cannot help sampling as I am preparing treats. What is it about butter and sugar that makes the combination so irresistible? I am so glad Christmas only comes once a year. My waist line is increasing as we speak! I am getting arthritis in my elbow from constantly moving my hand to my mouth. Here are two recipes I cannot resist. They are easy. You cannot mess this up. Warning: Do not make more than one batch of these or you will be getting an extra five pounds for Christmas.
Cracker Candy
I have seen many recipes for these delectable morsels of joy on the Internet. Who knows who invented this? An angel, I tell you, an angel! It is salty and sweet. This is the recipe I use.
Saltine crackers
1c. butter (You must use butter!)
1c. packed brown sugar
1 package chocolate chips
Chopped Pecans (if desired)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Line crackers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. In a sauce pan bring butter and sugar to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Pour over crackers. Bake in the oven until sauce begins bubbling up again, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and place back in the oven for 1 minute until chocolate chips are softened. Remove from oven and spread chocolate until covering all crackers. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cool until set up. Cut into bite sized pieces. Send some to your friend Genny. Enjoy!
Peanutbutterscotch Crunchies
I've been making this for years. It is a favorite of my children. It only takes minutes to make. You can prepare it in one bowl, so clean up is a snap.
3/4c. peanut butter
1 package butterscotch chips
4c. crisp rice cereal
Directions: Put peanut butter and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds to 1 more minute. Stir until smooth. Add rice cereal and stir until completely coated. Spoon in heaping spoonfuls on to wax paper. Allow to cool and set up. Sneak a few into a plastic bag and hide them in your top dresser drawer. Eat them when no one is looking.
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Don't forget your apron!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Adoptive Mom

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11
Today Nick and Carrie turn fourteen. For the next two weeks all of my children will be fourteen-years-old until Simon turns fifteen on January 3rd. When I tell people this they usually say something like, "Wow! You must have been busy!"
My typical response is, "Well, somebody was, but it wasn't me. I'm an adoptive mom."
After two years of marriage Larry and I were unsuccessful at conceiving our own child and sought the help of an infertility specialist. He ran the typical tests and informed me that he could not help us. The news was devastating to me. That day was the darkest day of my life. The pain reached deep into my soul.
I know how Hannah felt as she stood before the Lord that day. 1 Samuel 1:10 says, "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept before the Lord." For me, the pain of infertility is worse than death. It is a hopeless grief. As I wept before the Lord that day, I wept out of hopelessness. I grieved that I would never see my babies. They were not born on earth and they did not exist in heaven. They did not exist anywhere. The babies who lived in my imagination did not live in the imagination of an all powerful God. He created the universe, but chose not to create within me. I could not function without crying. I could not celebrate the birth of my friend's babies without reopening that wound. Even though I wanted to turn away from God I turned toward him, buried my face in his chest and prayed that he would make me a mother. Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."
Even in my grief, God was already at work. Larry and I began to pursue adoption. After seeking advice from other adoptive families we knew, we learned that adopting through foster care was the least expensive(free!) and easiest way to adopt. Not long after receiving our certification as foster parents we learned about a family of three children who might become available for adoption. We contacted their social worker and inquired about them. We discovered they were four-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, who had a five-year-old brother.
We set up a meeting with their foster parents to meet at a local restaurant. We would sit at the next booth so we could observe them without the kids knowing what was going on. We spotted them as soon as we entered the restaurant. After we sat down, Larry leaned over and said, "Those are our children." Nick hugged his foster father tightly and covered his face with kisses. Simon wolfed down pancakes. But it was Carrie that stole my heart. She kept turning around in her seat, looking over the booth at me. I think she knew I was her mommy.
Not long after that we became a family. I have been a mother over nine years now. As I consider Hannah I think of the commitment she made to the Lord that day as she cried out in her grief. She promised to give God her son all the days of his life. It implies that she had to choose daily to release her precious boy to God. Our children do not belong to us. They are God's. It takes a lot of trust to approach God daily, with open hands, releasing our children to Him. He created them(Jeremiah 1:5). He knows best how to mold and make them into what He wants them to be (Isaiah 14:24), not what I want them to be.(Ouch! That one hurt!)
Praise the Lord with me as Hannah praised. "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God."(1 Samuel 2:2)
Let's tighten our aprons and approach God today with open hands.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheese Burger Tater-tot Casserole

This recipe is a family favorite. In fact, I think it is every one's favorite. I make it for potlucks. If I take a meal to a sick friend or new mommy, this is what I make. It is a crowd pleazer. It reminds people of their childhoods. Isn't it funny how food can bring back memories?

Cheese Burger Tater-Tot Casserole
1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
1 can Golden Mushroom soup
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 bag Tater-Tots
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix soups in a bowl. Pour Tater-Tots into a 9 by 13 pan. Cover with ground beef. Pour soups over top and spread evenly. Bake until brown and bubbly and Tater- Tots are golden and crispy around to edges of the pan (about 45 minutes). Enjoy.
I serve this with salad.
Happy Cooking! Don't forget your apron!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Combo Pizza Dip

I spent the morning with some of my young mommies from my Bible study. We enjoyed this dip and encouraged each other. This dip was inspired by another more labor intensive appetizer. I decided it would make a much better dip and it has been a success. The whole thing could be prepared in the food processor. Skill level: Easy.
Combo Pizza Dip
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black olives, chopped
2 c Mexican blend cheese or 1c. Cheddar and 1c. Jack, grated
1c. Ranch dressing.
Mix all ingredients together. Heat until melted. Keep warm in a crock pot on low. Eat with tortilla chips.

Make this for your next party. The crowd will love it.
Don't forget your apron!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I feel itchy.

Read Genesis2:19-4:2
My dog, Ozzie, kept us up last night. As a pure breed Basset Hound he suffers from allergies. His current condition requires us to bath him every other day. He does not enjoy that very much. Something set his skin on fire and he was scratching all night long. He even tried to run away from himself! Poor pooch.
I hate feeling itchy. Living in the Southern California desert requires me to lather on tons of thick lotion to keep my parched skin satisfied.Satisfied...hmmm.
When Eve lived in the garden she was a woman who had it all. She lived in paradise, had numerous choices of food to eat, a husband who adored her and an personal relationship with her heavenly father. She seemed to have the perfect life.
But then she got an itch. The serpent knew exactly how to tickle her fancy. Her made her aware of the one thing she didn't have. Suddenly she was not longer happy with her perfect life, but focused on the itch.
We women give Eve a hard time, but I think if I had been in her place I would have scratched that itch! In fact, I have. The enemy uses the same tricks on us today. He makes us aware of the one thing we don't have and suddenly we are discontent with our once happy lives. We would do almost anything or make almost any change to satisfy that craving.
I think of all the Domestic Warriors I know. The women who stay at home wonder if they would feel more purpose if they had a job. The women who have a job cry when they leave the day care center to go to work. The home school mom questions whether she is doing a good job educating her child and the moms who send there kids to school worry if there child is learning enough at school. We all struggle to feel content where we are in life. Paul lets us in on the secret to being content. Philippians 4:13 says,"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."We can be successful where ever we are if we rely on God's strength to do it. God's strength acts as a lotion to our parched souls. His love sooths us. He is God! He has unlimited amounts of strength on which we can depend. As I approach my day of teens and textbooks, I will rely on God's strength to give me purpose and perseverance. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, "Therefore, my dear brothers(sisters), stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." Let's tighten our apron strings and face today with the strength only God can provide.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuna Casserole

I know what you are thinking, "Tuna Casserole! Yuck!" Tuna casserole can be a bland, tasteless meal. However, this casserole is full of flavor. It is the best tuna casserole recipe I have ever had. It is delicious! My family is always circling the pan wanting a second helping and there are never any leftovers. I got this recipe from my grandmother's church cookbook. It was submitted to the Sweet Memories Cookbook of Temple First United Methodist Church by Jerrie Hooper of Temple, Oklahoma. All her recipes are excellent. If I ever get to meet her I am going to invite myself over for dinner. Thank You, Jerrie Hooper!
Tuna Casserole
1/4c. chopped green pepper
1/2c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced celery stalk
1 (6 1/2 oz.) can tuna
1 6oz. package noodles (I increase to a 12oz. package for my family.)
1 can cream of celery soup (Cream of mushroom or chicken also works.)
1/2 c. milk (I increase to 1 c. if I add extra noodles.)
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 t. salt
1 small jar of pimientos (I tend to omit this.)
1 c. cheddar cheese
1 c. bread crumbs or crackers
Saute green pepper, onion and celery. Cook noodles. In a separate bowl mix soup and milk with a whisk. Add mayonnaise. Drain tuna and mix with the milk mixture. Stir in sauteed vegetables. Add salt, pimientos, cheese and hot noodles. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle top of casserole with the crumbs and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Apron Armor?

Most days you drop by my house you will find me wearing an apron. It's the first thing I put on after I get dressed in the morning. Sometimes I forget to take it off before I leave the house. It can be a great source of embarrassment for my kids to realise I have arrived at church or the grocery store still displaying my uniform of domesticity.
I began wearing an apron in defense of my clothes. I hated the stains I received from dirt and dust, oil and grime. I was tired of putting on a favorite shirt only to realize I had unknowingly destroyed it while preparing last night's dinner. I invested in a practical brown and black striped apron. Something happened when I put it on. A transformation began to take place. When I looped that apron over my head and wrapped it tightly around my waist I became a domestic warrior, doing battle on behalf of my family. I felt a little stronger when I was wearing it. It has become my uniform.
My apron has come to symbolize so much more than housework to me. Ephesians 6:13 says,"Therefore put on the full armor of God , so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." My apron is a reminder to me that I am not just a wife and mother, but a warrior for the Most High God. I am standing on the front lines in defense of His precious children, who just happen to be my family. My apron is a reminder that I am not domestic goddess, but a domestic warrior. I need that reminder to give me purpose and courage when it would be much easier to climb back in bed and pull the covers over my head.
I have collected several different aprons now. Some are pink and blue. Others have butterflies and Christmas trees. Some make me feel pretty and others prepare me to tackle the toilets. All act as a defense against the dirty world. Now I encourage you to take that apron off the hook and hang it proudly around your neck, tying it tightly at your waist. It is time to face your world with courage, Domestic Warrior.