Archives For January 2013

Does Prayer Work?

January 31, 2013 — 4 Comments

“Prayer doesn’t work.”  “My prayers don’t make a difference.”  “God’s going to do what He wants anyway so what’s the point of praying?”  These are thoughts I’ve been guilty of having regarding prayer.  But are these thoughts true?  I wanted to know for myself and went in search for the answers.

92816558I’ve been in the church my entire life, so through observation, I had to admit prayer works.  However, I wasn’t sure my own prayers really made a difference.  So I began keeping a prayer journal to keep a record of my prayers and the answers God provided.

I began with a 3 ring notebook and used dividers.  I split the journal into 6 sections.

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Self
  4. Church leaders and co-workers
  5. Friends and others
  6. Answers

Never being a person who liked to write out my prayers, I simply wrote bullet points of the things I wanted to pray.  I added a typed and printed page to each section of the things I wanted to pray about daily for each person or group.  I will be sharing these pages of suggested ways to pray each Thursday in February.

Behind the printed page in each section are blank pages of paper.  I try to ask my family each week specific ways I can be praying for them and then I write their requests on the blank pages.  I also try to ask my friends, church leaders, co-workers, and other people how I can be praying for them.  By writing their requests in my journal, I remember to pray as I’ve promised.  It’s also provided a safe opportunity for my kids to confide in me about troubles they may be experiencing or difficult decisions they may be facing.  It provides occasions to teach them about God’s love for them and His desire to lead and guide in every area of their life.

woman writing on couchAs I prayed specifically and recorded God’s answers, I began to see how God was moving in my life.  Keeping a record showed how He cared for the little things as well as the big things.

As I prepared for a talk on prayer, I reviewed all my requests and the answers within my prayer journal.  I discovered a month in which many of my prayers centered around our finances.  I prayed specifically for the following:

  • We would have enough to pay our bills that month.
  • We would be able to buy the groceries we needed.
  • We would be able to get the shoes our daughter needed for track.

I thought He would answer by providing a big bonus at work for my husband, we would get a big check in the mail for one reason or another, we would win a contest, something big.  But that isn’t how He answered at all.  Always keeping a record of the blessings God sends in my “Answers” section of the journal, I wrote the following:

  • “Got a ridiculously low gas bill that’s normally outrageous.”
  • “Got a rebate in the mail that we forgot about.”
  • “There was a huge sale on meat today at the store and we were able to buy so much, we cleaned them out.”
  • “A bag of clothes was left on our doorstep today from a friend whose daughter outgrew her clothes and track shoes were inside.”

I was actually able to see how He worked to answer each of my prayers.  All of these things were very easy to miss before I started keeping a record.  Seeing His answers in black and white always boosts my confidence in Him.  I’m more willing than ever to believe He cares and will answer my prayers.

“God always answers, one way or another, even when people don’t recognize his presence.”  ~ Job 33:14 (MSG).

If you wonder if God truly cares for you and your needs, I encourage you to keep a prayer journal.  Not only will you have a record of God’s hand in your life but you’ll have a lasting legacy to leave your children.  They’ll be able to read about times in which the family experienced a crisis, death, work conflict, etc. to get a better understanding of how you prayed and trusted God through that difficulty.  They’ll also be able to see how you prayed for everyday things and grasp how important seeking God is to you.  Your children will have a keepsake of how God answered your prayers, as well as learn that sometimes God says, “wait,” as they see there are no answers recorded yet to certain prayers.

Keeping a prayer journal can deepen your faith and relationship with God and also bring your children into a closer relationship with Him.

Please visit each Thursday in February for suggested ways to pray to include at the beginning of each section of your new prayer journal.  Just simply print the page.

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Focus on Others

January 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Only takes about 30 minutes to make.  Perfect for a weeknight meal.

101_5001Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 1/2 pounds sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (10 3/4 oz. each)

1 cup water

8 slices Swiss cheese

hamburger buns

Directions:

1.  Shape meat into patties.

2.  In large skillet, cook patties over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until meat is no longer pink.

3.  Drain on paper towels.

4.  Saute mushrooms in drippings until tender.

5.  In microwave safe bowl, combine soup and water.

6.  Cover and microwave on high 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes or until heated through.

7.  Return patties to skillet.

8.  Stir in soup and bring to a boil.

9.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes.

10.  Remove from heat.

11.  Top each burger with cheese; cover and allow cheese to melt.

12.  Serve on buns with mushrooms.

Note:  The mushroom sauce is also wonderful on baked potatoes.

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Can Anger be Controlled?

January 24, 2013 — 7 Comments

Anger can sometimes get the best of us.  Children disobey, people criticize our kids, drivers cut us off and then drive 5 mph under the speed limit, a person may budge in line after we’ve been waiting 20 minutes.  There are a lot of life situations that can not only irk us but make us downright furious.

78653095Foolish decisions are often made in anger.  We may say or do something we will later regret.  We may also cause divisions among people with our anger.

The following are instructions from the bible on how to deal with anger.  I’m praying God will help me follow these guidelines whenever anger materializes.  Care to join me?

Listen more than speak and try to understand other points of view.  

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  ~ James 1:19-20 (NIV)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heartof fools.  ~ Ecclesiastes 7:9 (ESV)

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.  ~ Proverbs 29:20 (ESV)

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.  ~ Proverbs 18:30 (ESV)

Think before speaking since foolishness or wisdom will be on full display. 

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  ~ Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  ~ Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.  ~ Proverbs 14:17 (NIV)

Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.  ~ Proverbs 14:29 (MSG)

Stay calm and answer gently.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.  ~ Proverbs 15:18 (NIV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.  Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.  ~ Matthew 12:36–37 (NKJV)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  ~ Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)

Don’t take revenge and forgive quickly.

Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.  ~ Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG)

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.  ~ Romans 12:19 (NIV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  ~ Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  ~ 1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

Treat others how you want to be treated, even when angry.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.  ~Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.  ~ 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)

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The first time I tried this recipe, my kids loved it.  I made them sign the recipe card to avoid arguments when they undoubtedly would forget and try to turn their noses up at it the next time.  My plan worked!  Mom – 1, Kids – 0.

101_4998Ingredients

2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms

4 teaspoons, minced garlic

1 stick butter, divided

4 1/2 cups hot water

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 envelopes fettuccine and chicken flavored sauce mix (4.3 ounces)

3 pound bag boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 tablespoons sour cream

Directions

1.  In a large saucepan, sauté mushrooms and garlic in 4 tablespoons butter for 4-5 minutes or until tender.

2.  Add water and broth.

3.  Bring to a boil.

4.  Stir in pasta mix.

5.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

6.  Meanwhile, flatten chicken to 1/2 inch thickness.

7.  In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.

8.  Add chicken to bag, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.

9.  In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil and 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.  (I use an electric skillet at 350° so I can cook all the chicken at once.)

10.  Remove pasta mixture from heat and stir in sour cream.

11.  Serve pasta with chicken.

Prep time is only 30 minutes.  Great for a weeknight meal.

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6 Ideas to Produce a Video for Family Night

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Cherish Every Moment

January 21, 2013 — 3 Comments

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87697310

Make a fun family video:

  • Make your own music video.  Play a song from a favorite CD and everyone can pretend to be part of the band.  One can be the singer and lip sync the song, one can play the drums, one can play the guitar, and another can play the keyboard.
  • Make a dance video.  Perform in your own flash mob.  One person can begin dancing and slowly each member of the family can join the dance.  Toward the end, each family member can drop out of the dance until only the original dancer is left.
  • Make your own movie.  Encourage everyone to  contribute to the script and help with gathering props.  If anyone would rather not star in the video, they may enjoy being the director.
  • Host your own talk show.  One family member can play the talk show host while another may be the announcer.  The rest of the family can serve as the guests on the show.  Questions may include exciting things that have been happening in the guest’s lives and some of the things they may be struggling with currently.
  • Host your own game show.  One person can play the game show host while the rest can be the players.  A trivia game would work well with this format.
  • Host your own awards night.  Give out awards for trying hard at school, not giving up during a tough baseball season, being a good friend, keeping the bedroom clean, etc.  Each person can take a turn announcing the award and opening the envelope.

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The kids walked in the door from school and a path of destruction followed.  Coats slung over the chair, PE clothes dropped on the stairs, book bags and shoes left in the middle of the floor, crumbs all over the counter, school papers strewn on the table, and mud tracked all over the carpet.  I stood aghast at how quickly my clean home turned to shambles in the hands of my children and tried to restrain my anger.

158586634When my clean, well-ordered house becomes cluttered and messy, I often look around and wish for the images I view on Pinterest, in magazines, and on TV.  I long to have everything organized and in its place.  Every room decorated with beautiful furniture and stunning accessories.  But these wishes are for a house, not a home.  A house is location, a place to decorate, a place for storage.

A home is:

–          A refuge for family and friends.

–          Saturated with unconditional love.

–          Full of memories.

–          Packed with fun.

–          Comfortable and cozy.

–          Inviting.

–          Filled with laughter.

–          Safe for all who enter.

–          Encouraging.

–          Joyful.

–          Hopeful.

–          Family.

–          Friends.

–          Family nights.

–          One-on-one time with the kids.

–          A place to teach and learn.

–          Lived in.

No, my house does not look like a page ripped from “House Beautiful” magazine.  At least not at the moment.  However, there may come a day when my house looks the showplace I desire with the décor of my dreams.  But that day will be long after the shoes have disappeared from the middle of the floor, the book bags are put away forever, the crumbs have been swept off the counter and into the trash, coats are neatly hung in the closet, and there’s no longer a need for PE clothes.  It will be after my kids have grown up and started a life of their own away from the nest.

When I look around and wish for the “house of my dreams,” I want to realize I already have a “home of my dreams.”  And I don’t want to miss it wishing for something different.  After all, an imperfect home is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  ~ Luke 12:15

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