Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ganache Sandwiches

Peanut butter
8-10 oz. Chocolate
Whipping cream

1) Put the chocolate in a glass cup. (I usually use a glass Pyrex measuring cup.)
2) Cover the chocolate with cream.
3) Melt the chocolate in the microwave a couple minutes until the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
4) The ganache should have a pudding like texture, a little more cream can be added to get the desired texture.
5) Spread on bread and make a sandwich!
(Toasting the bread can turn this sandwich from a kids lunch to a grown-up sandwich)

My children have yet to like jam or jelly, but peanut butter has always been a great lunch item in our home.

One day, I decided to make chocolate sandwiches as a lunchtime treat for my children. I combined the chocolate with peanut butter to increase nutrients.

Chocolate ganache peanut butter sandwiches have been a popular lunchtime meal ever since.

I know it may seem crazy to give a child chocolate for lunch, but the sugar content is actually far lower than traditional jelly or honey. If I use dark chocolate I can bring the sugar content to 6-7 grams of sugar per tablespoon.

One tablespoon of Polaner’s all fruit strawberry jam with no added sugar contains 7 grams of sugar.

One tablespoon of raw honey contains 17 grams of sugar.

One tablespoon of a traditional generic brand of grape jelly contains 12 grams of sugar.

One tablespoon of chocolate ganache made with semi-sweet chocolate chips contains 11 grams of sugar. If the ganache is made with dark chocolate, 6-7 grams of sugar per tablespoon is possible.

Chocolate is also a very healthy food. It contains a lot of minerals and the cocoa butter is a very healthy fat. So this is a very healthy, yet delightfully fun lunch!

Savoring the Smudges

Six years ago, when my oldest child was still tottering around, we went to visit my parents for a week. As our visit came to an end, I began cleaning up and packing to go home. I noticed my daughter had left hand prints and smudges all over my parents’ sliding glass door. I was about to wash them off, when my Mother insisted I leave them there. A month later, she told me Emma’s smudges were still on the window. She was cherishing them.

Motherhood gets busy, I agree, but as all mothers are aware, the pattering of little feet around the house will someday be gone. Someday there will be no more squeals and silliness. There will be no more little voices constantly asking for food. Children grow up. That is what is meant to happen. That is what I want to happen. But in the meantime, I need to be savoring the moments of little lives in my home, not just trying to get by or make it through the day.

A few years ago, my husband gave me a mill to grind wheat. It was something I had wanted for a long time. I love that mill, and have used it to grind wheat, oats, and flax. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools. What if I never took the time to enjoy the mill? Maybe I decided it took more time than I thought it would, so I loaned it out to others or just stored it in the cupboard, and never enjoyed it myself. Or perhaps, if every time I did use the mill, I got upset because it made a mess, was too loud, or took too long grind the wheat into usable flour. How I treat that mill shows if my heart is truly grateful. If I complain or do not use the gift of the mill, I am certainly not it. My lack of enjoyment in the mill would not only be an insult to my husband who so generously gave me the gift, but I would miss out on the joy the mill brings through the amazing, flavorful, freshly ground grains it provides. Motherhood is a gift. We are insulting our Father who so graciously gave us the blessing of children when we fail to enjoy the little ones He entrusted to our care. Yes, it might not look like what we expected. Children are messy, loud, and require much patience. But they are a gift from God. They are ours to enjoy and cherish for the short season God allows us to hold them close.

Culture is increasingly pressuring us as Christian’s to see children as anything but the biblical blessing they are. Children are perceived as the boss of the home. Children are seen as monsters. Children are limited due to their expense. Having a child is more like a having commodity than a living precious soul. The lives of unborn babies are discarded at will. Children in our culture are not treasured for God, but for selfish reasons of parents. Parents are prideful, selfish, and demanding of children. As a result of unbiblical perspectives on children, parenting is not purposed and done with intent, but coped and “fumbled-through.” If I rest on an unbiblical view of children, I am unable to fully enjoy my children. Not that I have to accompany my children on every adventure, but that I open my ears to the sounds of their squeals during play while I wash the dishes. I also need to patiently, and gently answer to the incessant “mommy.” And every time I wash little prints off the windows, I rejoice in the precious little hands that put them there. Mothering is a sacred, God ordained privilege. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” Psalm 127:3.

We mothers are tired. We are stressed. We are full of self-guilt. We are sickly. We are worried and fearful. We are busy. We are frustrated. We are cranky. We are human-sinful creatures. Enjoying our children is something we have to purpose to do, because it is not always a nature inclination. I always wondered why Paul instructed the older women in the church to teach the younger women “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children” Titus 2:4. Isn’t motherly love a natural thing? Why does it need to be taught? As other women have shown me, we love our husbands and children, yes, but how we love our children is what we need to learn. We need to learn the right way to love our children. We need to learn how to correctly show love to our husband and children. The major aspect of showing love to our children, is to simply enjoy them.

How do I enjoy my children? Well, Just like I enjoy my grain mill. First of all, I take the time. I purpose to use it. So with children, I take the time. I purpose times with them throughout the day. We go for a walk, we chat about life during breakfast and lunch, I give them random hugs and snuggles. I purpose to spend time with them in their world. This does not mean I manage them. No, I go with their flow, their serious little conversations, I spend time building a relationship with them, not just being “mom.”

I also pause and take in the moments of my children’s little lives. The sound of the mill grinding away is a happy sound to me. I like to hear the mill as it churns and crunches. So, I keep my senses open to my children. I smell their oily little heads, I listen to their sweet little baby sounds and little voices, and soak in their little snuggles, I stare at them while they sleep.

And yes, the mill makes a dusty mess. But it never once troubled me. I am so grateful to have it. I simply wipe up the mess and move on. So it is with my children’s messes. We clean them up and move on. My relationship with my child is far more important than the mess of an accidently spilled jug of tea all over the kitchen floor. Enjoying my children cannot happen, if I am overwhelmed or frustrated by the messes they make. I can’t allow myself to become absorbed in the mess, but must absorb myself in the joy of raising mess-makers. Children are not always a delight, but we as mothers can consciously work to enjoy them even when they are unpleasant. I have often put my arm around one of my little grumpies and told her that “I love you even when you are grumpy.” I can do that, because of the gospel. Someone choose to love me when I was grumpy. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. It always comes back to the gospel doesn’t it? I can truly enjoy being the mother of little sinners, all because I am a sinner, and God perused me out of His boundless grace.

As I battle to maintain a biblical perspective on motherhood. I can truly enjoy the blessing of being a mother. I don’t do it alone. I rest completely in the grace and new mercy poured out on my life daily. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23. God has bestowed upon my life all the grace I need to do what He has given me to do. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” I Corinthians 15:10. It is not my work, but the work of God through me, moment by moment. I can truly enjoy being a mother of sinners, because I delight in My God who rescued me from my sin. In that thought is joy. So today, I am going to wash windows, and rejoice.

Pursuing Health for God’s Glory

My first reason for perusing health is that I have been given stewardship over my body and home. My body belongs to God and to my husband. As a believer I seek to be faithful in all God has entrusted to my care. My stewardship entails a great many things: finances, education, children, ministry, and boy, that is just a few. A good steward wouldn’t squander money wastefully on cheap trinkets, but would save and invest and make wise purchase. Just the same, I should not squander my health by eating unhealthy, smoking, or not being disciplined to exercise. My body belongs first to God. I care for it, for Him, not for myself. By caring for my body, I am enabling myself to serve God better and longer than I would if I did not care for myself and was sickly, weak, and tired. I understand, there are diseases and illnesses we endure, but I am still responsible to care for the body God gave me, not matter what its physical condition is.

The second person I am steward of my body for is for is my husband. On my wedding day, I pledged to be his until death parted us. I am doing my husband an injustice, by not caring for the body I gave him that day. Out of love for my husband, I need to tend to myself so I can think clearly, rest as needed, be as attractive as I am able, and eat, drink water, and exercise in order to be strong and healthy for his sake.

I have also been given stewardship over my household. Since I am the homemaker (a steward of the home), I am responsible for feeding my family and caring for them. Proverbs 31:14-15 “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” As the virtuous woman prepared food with thought and care, I feel it is my job to care about what I feed my family. It takes effort and I need to apply myself to knowledge about nutrition and make wise decisions for the health of my family. Even if that means bringing in foods from afar. I cannot adequately meet the nutritional needs of my family if I am ignorant how to do that. I want to know the ingredients on packages, vitamins in various vegetables, concerns of various unhealthy foods like sugars and fats. It is my job to know what food is in my home, not just blindly trust manufacturers, trying to sell me a product. So, if I don’t know what an ingredient is, I will look it up and learn about it. I am the one responsible for feeding my family, I need to be knowledgeable on nutrition, ingredients, and the nutrients a human body needs to prepare balanced, wholesome meals for my family.

Food is a ministry to others. Having knowledge of ingredients and nutrition has opened doors for me to have people in our home or take meals to people with specific dietary needs and restrictions. Without that knowledge, I would find it intimidating to make a meal for a diabetic friend, and would be far more likely be inclined to do nothing. If I am unable to work with various ingredients, recipes, or create balanced meals for others, I hinder the ministry of my home. Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Even at home, I am better able to minister to my family by knowing ingredients that will comfort and heal. Such as being able to cook a bowl of bone broth with garlic and turmeric for my sick children, or being able to know what supplements to give my daughter with poor vision development, to help give her the best start in life I am able to give.

Discipline is a crucial part of a life that brings God glory. To be able to be controlled in my personal eating habits or exercise is very important, but I am also training children who have no concept of what to eat and why. I not only teach my children discipline by example, but by limiting their indulgence. If they had their way, my children would live on candy and ice-cream. I must teach my children to be faithful stewards of the earthly bodies they have been given. I want my children to have an idea of when it is time to stop. So, like most mothers, my children have boundaries and limits when it comes to food. I also must take care not to allow myself to be enslaved to anything…even coffee or chocolate. I must be in control of what I eat. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” I Corinthians 6:12.

Eating for God’s glory means I don’t eat carelessly. I don’t put food in my mouth for myself, but for His glory. That means I will not overeat, I will not indulge my flesh on tasty things for my sake. And with a grateful I will also enjoy the food God has given. I will not be a food snob. I will use food as a tool to minister to others. And I will also refrain from eating and drinking certain foods if it will cause offence to other Christians. So, absolutely, I will eat foods I don’t believe are healthy, out of kindness to others and for the gospel sake. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” I Corinthians 10:31-33.

Now a brief disclaimer. I very much understand that a certain body image is marketed in our culture. That “perfect” image should never be goal of Christian women. We simply do the best we have with the body God has given us. Being skinny is not the point. Being pretty is out of the question. We are responsible to the best we can with the body God gave us, even if we have a slow metabolism or diseases that hinder us from our idea of a healthy look. Perusing health to bring God glory is all about the heart, not the body.

My Recipe Book

Shortly after I got married, I began collecting recipes. I had two recipe files for a long time. One was full of recipes with pictures that I had cut from magazines. The other file was family recipes from both my family and my husband’s family. It did not take long for me to realize the card system was ineffective for me. 1) I would pull a recipe out to use and it. But the recipes never seemed to get back in their alphabetical order. So I wasted my time organizing and putting recipes back in order. Or spent unnecessary time looking for specific recipes that were not in order. 2) I found a recipe card file uninspiring. When I planned meals, I had to go through various files and categories to figure out what meals to plan. It was an ordeal. 3) I was not constantly aware of the recipes I had. I forgot good recipes, made bad ones again, and simply spent a lot of time feeling lost in my recipe box. I found books to be a favorite source of recipes. I used Good Housekeeping and the red checkered cookbook for my staple recipes. I also depended on the internet for recipes. The problem with the internet was that I often lost or forgot about good recipes. And I spent a lot of time simply looking. Although I still have a couple of online resources I refer to on occasion: The Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen. I don’t use the internet as heavily as I once did. As I set up house my first year of marriage, there was a lot of experimentation as I learned to cook regularly for two. As I cooked, I began developing my own cookbook for home use. I typed out my favorite recipes, added a picture, a space for notes, and sent it to an office store for printing. Since I created my first personal cookbook, I have created a half-dozen more for friends and family. It is an invaluable method to store recipes. I love my own cookbook because: 1) It is never out-of-order. I don’t have to straighten up my recipe box or find list recipes. It saves a lot of time sorting. 2) Everything is categorized in easy sections with a picture, so I can easily look up the recipe on my mind or flip through the notebook for an idea. 3) I can easily update the book by printing off recipes and slipping them into a plastic sheet protector in the book. I can also remove unused recipes and trash them as needed. So I am never inundated with recipes I don’t use. 4) I can read the typing easier than handwritten recipes. So there are no mistakes due to mis-reading Grandma’s shaky scribbles. Typing is also fast compared to writing out a recipe. 5) I have a place to add notes about changes I might have made to the recipe. Unlike recipe cards that have little room for notes. (I can insert my children’s artwork as well). 6) I cover the pages in plastic sheet protectors so if there is any spill or splatter, my recipe isn’t ruined. I just wipe and move on. 7) I don’t have to worry about sizes. Sometimes recipe boxes can be full of 3×5 cards, 4×8 cards, folded cards, papers, newspaper clippings, and recipes cut from magazines. Those boxes are not without their charm, but they are not efficient and practical for my life. 8) I have all the recipes I use in one place. I now rarely use cookbooks or internet for my everyday basic cooking. If there is a recipe in a certain cookbook that I use frequently, I simply put that recipe in my own book. 9) Recipes people give me, or I discover throughout the year can go directly into my book or I slip them in a pocket in the front cover and update the book at one time. I have used this notebook method to store my recipes going on ten years now. I have no desire to go back to the cards, although I hang onto Grandma’s torn, yellowed, scribbling about of how to make tamales, but strictly for sentimental reasons. 20180824_150848.jpg Continue reading “My Recipe Book”

Maintaining a Tidy Home with children

Chaos is the opposite of order, and as a homemaker, I choose order. Why is neatness important? My biblical responsibilities to keep home run deeper than keeping up with the laundry, cleaning house, and making food. How I manage my household, devopes the atmosphere of my home. If my home is in chaos, cluttered, and dirty, it portrays a restlessness. It gives a sense of mismanagement on my part, which can cause my family and guests to feel unwelcome, uneasy, and stressed. I believe an ordered home is a peaceful home. I am best able to create an atmosphere of peace for my family and guests, if my home is run with methods and purpose to those methods.

Keeping the house tidy with four little people is no small task. But I rest on a few guidline that are very helpful in keeping our home in a state of order. I did not say completely pristine, but in order.
My methods for keeping an ordered home are as follows:

  1. Every item we own belongs somewhere. It is difficult to put something away, if there is no “away” for that item. So, there needs to be a designated home for each toy, book, paintbrush, and Lego.
  2. Every object in the home must serve a purpose. I purge our home constantly. The children’s things go through regular cleansing. After each birthday, after Christmas, and during seasons of growth, I move out unused, broken, or outgrown clothes and toys. Removing items that are no longer serving purpose makes room for new toys and items that are being used. I do the same in my kitchen.
  3. No one get’s out a new project or toy until the current project is put away. Chaos is created when my children are allowed to go from making one mess in one room to making another mess in another room. Before I know it, every room in the house has been destroyed. So, the policy is that each item must be picked up completely before moving on to the next thing.
  4. There is no rest until we pick up the mess. Before naps and before bed at night, ALL the rooms in the house must be straightened up. I do not let the children leave things out to play with after naps. I have come to realize that my children never want to go back to that same item after sleeping. Besides, getting up to and then having to pick up right away is drudgery. So, if everything is neat before the children rest, it is a joy for us all to start into something fresh or simply play outside. The same policy extends for bedtime. Before bed all toys games, books, clothes, and such must be put away. I do not let them go to sleep until their room is neat.
  5. A general pick up before Daddy comes home. I am all about creating an atmosphere of peace and joy in our home. Stuff all over the house does not bring a peace of mind to anyone. Stuff is distracting from conversation and rest. So, when it is close to when my husband comes home from a long day at work, we do a general straighten up with the children. So, my husband is not faced with chaos upon arriving home. My husband has no idea how messy our house might have looked all afternoon. A pick-up in the early evening, also makes the before bedtime pick-up tear-free, because all that needs to be put away are the items they used after dinner.
  6. Make messes! But Clean them Up. I greatly encourage my children to be creative, and getting messy is part of creativity. But I do not embrace the messy part of creative minds as right. Creative people can learn to be neat and orderly too. Right now, I have a kitchen counter full of finger-paint drawings, the living room has yards of wooden train tracks, and a sofa full of books. Three messes made by three different children. We might have a house that is a bit messy right now, but there is a little girl currently playing in each mess. That little girl will pick up her own mess when she is done. The key is that when we make a mess, we don’t leave it. We ALWAYS pick it up. And my children are ingrained with that concept. Learning to pick up one’s own mess is a good life skill. Because even as an adult, I make messes. I need to take responsibility for the mess I make, and clean it up.
  7. If mommy’s help is required to clean up a mess, those toys or projects can only be used with permission. There are messes that require adult help in putting away correctly. Sleeping bags somehow never make it back correctly in their sacks, cushions never get straight back on the sofa, play-dough will need to be swept, finger paint leaves brushes and counters to be washed. So my rule is that I must be asked before those types of play are used. I know what I have to do each day, and if I can incorporate picking up certain things into my day.

Putting into practice these seven steps has helped me immensely to keep our house neat on a regular basis. I am able to keep up, because regular messes are tended to as they are made. Messing and picking-up are one item-not separate ententes in our home. I am able to cultivate an orderly home that is not burdened with stress and chaos. Through having order an atmosphere of peace can be created.

Tomato Marmalade


Marmalade is a citrus spread with orange and lemon peels and spices. It can be mixed into oatmeal, grits, or hot cereals. Marmalade makes a good spread on toast and croissants. It can also be used in baking as a filling for breads and cookies. I am not opposed to eating it alone on a spoon.

3 Quarts Tomatoes
2 oranges
2 lemons
10 cups sugar
2 T whole cloves
6 T broken cinnamon sticks

  1. Core and cut up tomatoes into cubes, they do not have to be peeled
  2. Add tomatoes and sugar to a pot-I have tried to use less sugar-it doesn’t work
  3. Put the spices in a bag or tea leaf strainer and hang on the inside of the pan
  4. Boil rapidly on high-stirring constantly
  5. Cook until thick and clear-about 1 hour
  6. Pour into sterilized jars to 1/8″ from top and screw on caps
  7. Boil jars in hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal the jars

Making jams, jellies, and marmalade is a vintage craft. Few people today go through the effort of making jam. It can be purchased at the store so easily. In America, I would venture to say that strawberry jam and grape jelly are the majority of jam and jelly sales. I would also say, that in the U.S. the most common use of jam and jelly is on bread with peanut butter. People in Europe seem to still use jams, marmalade, and jellies in variety. However, I personally know very few people in my generation who still eat jam and jelly. All that sugar…. And what do you do with it? Other than spread it on toast? Which we don’t eat anymore because of the sugar, gluten, and carbs.

But it is summertime, and my kind neighbor keeps bringing me sacks of tomatoes from his garden. I have canned and frozen more spaghetti sauce than we need, and feel craving for my favorite fruit condiment. So a few quarts of tomatoes will become marmalade.

Caution in Talking About Heaven and Hell with Little Children

aerial photo of amazon river Photo by Johannes Plenio on

Before I discuss heaven and hell with my children, I want to make sure they have a good understanding of sin and Jesus redemption before we talk about eternal destiny.

I am very catious in my conversations about eternity with the unsaved, especially the very young. I refrain from sharing much about heaven and hell with my children before they comprehend the gospel. I do not want to distract my children from repentance by making them aware of the joys of heaven and the anguish of hell.

It is easy to bring about a false belief in Christ by instilling fear in the heart of people, especially little people. But we must be so careful not to make our children fearful of what happens after death, especially if they do not know Christ. Salvation does not occur if a person’s motivation is, fear of God’s wrath, instead anguish over sin. Our Savior did not bleed and die to save people from hell. No, what Christ died to save us from was far more serious than hell. Christ came to save people from SIN. “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21.
To me, the most important aspect of motherhood is that my children understand the gospel. I would eternally fail as a Christian mother if I encouraged my children in an illusion of salvation, because they once said a prayer with me. I must be aware of my children’s motivation for salvation. Only a person who realizes his or her heart is sinful and need of a Savior to rescue from SIN is one able to be saved.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” II Corinthians 7:9-10

As a result of my salvation from SIN, I am spared the eternal punishment of hell. That is ONLY because Someone Else took on my sin and received the punishment for my sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” II Corinthians 5:21.

Charles Spurgeon, in his profound sermon “Mistaken Notions About Repentance No. 2743” published online by Spurgeon Gems, a ministry of Eternal Life Ministries, stated:

“But a sense of God’s wrath against sin is not repentance! It generally goes with it, it frequently attends it—but repentance is a change of mind with regard to sin—with regard to everything and it is a consciousness that sin is sin—that you have committed it. It is a sorrow to you that you have committed it and a resolve, in God’s strength, that you will escape from it—a holy desire and longing to be rid of sin which has done you so much mischief. “

It is essential that my children do not confuse hell with sin, as they come to an understanding of the gospel. Sin is my rebellion against God, hell is simply the punishment for my rebellion. If I overemphasize hell or God’s wrath to my children, I put them in danger of false salvation. My daughter could pray, asking Jesus to forgive her sins, only because they are scared to go to hell when she dies. That would be a very damaging prayer. Clinging to that prayer, rather than God’s grace, would lead her down a life-long sinful path with assumed eternal safety.

Last week, four-year-old daughter, Amber, told me: “I don’t want to be a sinner anymore.” That led to an amazing discussion. Later that week, she told me she had asked Jesus to forgive her. She wasn’t scared of hell, she didn’t want to go to heaven when she died. She simply “didn’t want to be a sinner anymore.” and Jesus was the only way that could happen. I rejoice in her simple, growing faith.

Pat phrases like, “the only way you are going to heaven is to ask Jesus to forgive you” or “Do you know where you are going to spend eternity?” are dangerous. A person cannot truly be saved if they simply want to go to heaven. Wanting to go to heaven, is not being sorry for sin. Wanting to go to heaven, is not wanting to be free from the rule of sin. Wanting to go to heaven, and not wanting to go to hell is not repentance. Not repenting, leads to death. That is not the gospel. There is no salvation if a person is fearful of hell, but not repentant of sins.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. Sin is our true enemy. Sin is what causes death and hell. Sin should be my focus in speaking of the gospel. My child must be grieved in her heart over her sin. Only in desperation for redemption from sin, can Christ become the ONLY source for freedom and forgiveness from sin. And to think, after granting us that freedom, He will also grant us eternity with Him as His very own child! How utterly incomprehensibly amazing!

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:8-11

My concern is that fear would be the motivation for my child to want salvation. So that is why I veer away from discussing heaven or hell in depth with my children before they clearly understand that they are a sinner. I want them to truly see themselves as sinners and want Christ to free them from their sin and forgive them, with little regard to what happens after life.

So what do I tell them? We have been to funerals and talked about death and what happens after death. We have discussed what happens to those who don’t know Jesus when they die. I don’t go into depth. I simply let my children know that after death, a believer is with Jesus. Isn’t that heaven?

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” II Corinthians 5:6-8

“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Philippians 1:23

I also let my children know the opposite is true for those who don’t know Christ. If a person who does not love Jesus dies, they will never be with Jesus. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,” II Thessalonians 1:9

Salvation is a true marvel. I never tire of the beautiful gospel message. I love talking about the depths of the gospel, God’s grace, and His glory. I belong to Christ, redeemed by His blood for His glory—-forever.

My Mini Wardrobe

After I had my fourth baby a year ago, I quickly realized that I had a closet full of nothing to wear. I had outfits that suited me in my twenties, but I had physically changed and those clothes no longer fit nor complimented me at my age. I owned an eclectic assortment of clothing some bohemian, some trendy, some classic, some…who knows…. Putting a decent outfit together with what I had in my closet was a constant challenge. I had a closet bursting with clothes and nothing to wear. I felt it was time for change. I needed to adopt a style that would keep me looking classy the rest of my life.

So I began reading. The classic French women struck me. French women effortlessly keep up with fashion yet, always looks timeless. Through my reading on French culture, I came across an amazing concept from the book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Parisby Jennifer L.Scott. Jennifer discussed the idea of a wardrobe that consisted of about ten items. Her idea was that a wardrobe does not need to have a lot of clothes to serve its purpose. She proposed that the items in a wardrobe be as high quality as a person’s budget allows. Also, each of those items in the wardrobe should fit well and flatter the wearer. I also read up on popular capsule wardrobe. I combined Jennifer’s ten item concept, with my version of capsule wardrobe so all my items work together. And I am completely thrilled with the outcome.

I have four basic tops, two pair of jeans-white and navy, a short classic khaki skirt, and four dresses in neutral solids and one floral dress. To layer my clothes, I have two sweaters and a light poplin blazer. Everything in my closet is my favorite. The colors in my wardrobe are neutral, mostly revolving around navy. The color navy is a tip I latched onto from Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange. Ines felt that navy was just as classy a color as black. But navy is more friendly and less stoic than black. I believe she is correct, and also capitalize on navy, but also include bits of red and white, and other neutral shades like khaki, grey, and black. My color pops are my accessories like shoes, my handbag, and multicolored scarves. This fall, I will rotate out my current items for warm weather to my warmer set of items for colder months.

I have noticed, my perspective on shopping has changed. I don’t just pick up any item. Every piece of clothing has to go with what I already own. The item has to be good quality. And every garment has to fit my body perfectly, or at least be something I can alter. I do not go shopping unless I need something, and even then it is to the internet for used items. I generally buy my clothing used, not new. I can afford better quality if I purchase items second-hand.

After a year of adopting my mini wardrobe, I have discovered that it works very well for me. I never stand in front of my closet in the morning wondering what to wear. I don’t get dressed, look in the mirror and change my mind because my outfit looks bad. I can combine my classic items into amazing outfits easily because all the items work together. I save time tending to clothes. I don’t waste money on bad purchases. My morning is far better spent with other things besides deciding what to wear. I have yet to miss having a wardrobe full of clothes. I delight in putting on anything in my closet. I enjoy creating outfits from the items I own. I LOVE my mini wardrobe.

Perspective: It is easy to get caught up in trends of our day. Minimalism is certainly popular. So it is important to consider the motivation behind something that seems as novel as a small wardrobe. For me, it came down to money and time. I try to use both wisley. The mini wardrobe is simply prudent for my life right now.

Sharing Meals With Others

family gathering at festive table

Having guests into our home is a habit. We purpose to have someone from church over weekly. It is a way we can connect with other believers and learn to be a part of their lives.
We also have family visit on a fairly regular basis.
There once was a time I found having company stressful. Now, I don’t think about it. In fact, I absolutely LOVE ministering to others through hospitality.

There are two aspects of having visitors that can be daunting. The first concern is always food. The second aspect of hospitality has to do with the space of the home and its cleanliness. This article discusses my favorite meals to serve guests.

To me, food is a ministry of the gospel. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:31-33. Food allows me a reason to connect with people. Every home has its own food culture. When we share that part of our home with others, it is including them into our family and lives. I have seen walls come down, people relax, and had amazing conversations about God, all around the venue of food.
I have a few go-to meals when we have guests. I don’t stick to these meals, but they are generally one of the first meals a guest will have in our home.

My favorite meal to bless my family and guests with is Tacos.                                           (It works out well, because Fridays are often our Mexican meal and it is a good night for most people to get away from home for dinner. Weekly Menu Guide)

1) Most of the meal can be prepped ahead of time-shredded cheese, diced onions, chopped cilantro, salsa, avocados, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and corn chips.
2) Tacos are cheap and can easily serve a crowd on a dime.
3) Tacos are generally well liked by most folks.
4) Tacos work well for those who have dietary restrictions. Corn tortillas and corn chips can replace wheat tortillas for a gluten/wheat free diet. Re-fried beans and cheese can replace meat for vegetarians. If guests make their own, they can leave out foods they don’t like without worrying about causing offence.
5) Since all I have to do is cook up meat before serving tacos, it frees me up from the kitchen to visit with my guests.
6) Tacos pair perfectly with a chocolate dessert. If that isn’t reason enough, I don’t know what is.
7) Tacos are impossible to mess up. Unless I over season or burn the meat, there is nothing else to ruin. So it is a stress free meal on my part.

Grilled or Roasted Chicken is my second choice to serve guests.

1) I cook chicken weekly, so it is an easy meal.
2) Like tacos, chicken is cheap and roasting one to two chickens won’t break my budget.
3) Roasting or grilling a chicken is easy, but takes a little prep time if I choose to marinate 24 hours first.
4) Both grilled and roasted chicken are best if rested 20-30 minutes before serving, so I can have them all cooked up, covered, and on the table when guests arrive.
5) Sides for chicken are endless. I usually pick a starch, fruit, cooked vegetable, and salad. My favorite sides are Jasmine rice (with salt and butter of course), pineapple, kiwi, mango salad (best cut the day before so juices can sweeten), spinach and lettuce salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and steamed broccoli. I can have the rice set to go and start to steam it 10 minutes before my guests arrival time. The broccoli takes seconds to steam, so if it is prepped and in the pot, I can start it a few minutes after greeting guests.

My third favorite meal to serve guests is a roast and potatoes.

1) Meat and potatoes are simple. Everything including vegetables can go in a pot. I can add a side of home-made sourdough bread and butter and that is it. No last-minute business in the kitchen.
2) The downside with a beef roast is the price. I have to plan it into our grocery budget because it is not an item I usually buy.
3) Pork roasts on the other hand are cheap. I can get them on sale for .99#.
4) A pork roast can be served like a beef roast with potatoes and carrots, or shredded and served on hamburger buns with barbecue sauce. A pork roast is an excellent choice if I am serving dinner for a crowd.


Unless I am having company, I do not make dessert, so I usually pick something our family enjoys….CHOCOLATE. Easy to prep ahead and serve are warm chocolate chip cookies. I like to make the dough and pop them in the oven to bake while we eat dinner. Nothing is as amazing as a gooey, warm chocolate chip cookie. But, I also enjoy serving flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream. Cheesecake is another favorite, because I can make it low sugar and gluten-free, but cheesecake takes an afternoon to bake, so it is not a quick dessert. This summer, I have made a lot of vanilla coconut sugar ice-cream with mom’s hot fudge or baked fruit with nuts. Ice cream is a gluten-free dessert, and if made with coconut sugar, it is easy on the blood sugar. Plus, ice cream is easy to prep ahead.

Overall my goals concerning planning a meal for visitors revolve around a few basic principles.

1. Is that it must be food my guests can eat. I ALWAYS ask about allergies and special diets-ALWAYS. And I do my best to cater to those restrictions.

2. I also want a meal that doesn’t require a lot of attention in kitchen before dinner. That allows me time to spend with our guests, so easy is a requirement.

3. I don’t want a tedious meal. So whatever I pick must be something I am comfortable cooking. I don’t try out new recipes on guests. I don’t need the stress of wondering if something will be okay. If I am changing or using a new recipe, I make it a day or two ahead to make sure it is good.

4. Since we have a steady stream of guests in our home, it is imperative that my meals be inexpensive, or I won’t be able to buy milk for my children by the end of the month. So, I stick to our food budget.

5. DELICIOUS is very important. I choose quality, fresh ingredients for our family and guests. I make cookies fresh from the oven, not the day before. I don’t use leftover food-everything is made the day before or the day of. For instance, if pineapple is cut the 24 hours before a meal, the sugars sweeten it into a luscious sweetness, that I would never get if I chopped it up just before serving. Ice-cream needs a day to harden in the freezer, so I make that a day ahead. However, bread…I make it as close to dinner as possible. There is nothing like the sound of crackle when I cut into it. So…Fresh-quality ingredients are essential to a delicious meal.

Overall, my goal is to put my guests first. It is not about the dinner, it is about them. I don’t want to be madly rushing about in the kitchen when my dear friends arrive. I want to be the one opening the door to greet them, with joy. I am giving our guests more than a meal, I am giving them the grace and love of Christ and using our home as the tool to share Christ with them.

The Gospel: Redeemed for God’s Glory

It was a late evening, after an evangelistic meeting at our little Baptist church, when I asked my mother to help me pray to ask Jesus to forgive my sins. I was seven years old. For many years, my understanding of the gospel was very self-centered, but the Lord, in His grace, has given me time to understand the gravity of His choice to purchase my soul for His glory.

As a teenager, I went through an odd spell. Our family moved to Pennsylvania. There we found ourselves in the heart of Amish country. I was enchanted by the plain people who lived without electricity. I checked out every book from our library about the Amish. I decided that the Amish must be very godly because they were unhindered by the world in their quest for being like Christ. I began to dress in long skirts, wear a head covering, and do my hair like Amish people. I felt so spiritual.

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44

I had deceived myself into thinking my lifestyle was righteousness. I invented my sanctification. I did anything that made me feel like I was close to God. I dressed modestly, attended church, prayed, read my Bible daily, exercised, worked hard to help my family, and attempted to live simply so worldly things did not distract me from growing closer to God. Take away my godly lifestyle and what was there? Certainly not heart resting completely in God’s sovereign grace. If I had been basing my perspective in Scripture, I would have crumbled with awe at the true depth of the gospel. And my pursuit of outward behaviors would have ceased, as I saw how futile they were. I longed to be closer to God. My heart was sincere in its pursuit. But the path I chose only led me away from Christ.

II Timothy 3:5 speaks of people in the end of time who are “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” Anything beside Christ is not the gospel. I might even base my values and standards on Scripture. But that way of living is all me, and not Christ.

One day, as a seventeen year old, I said a little demeaning thing in a condescending spiritual air. My mother took me aside, and in a few words, she addressed my unkind tongue. It left me stunned. How could I have a mouth that said heartless things when I felt so godly? Thankfully, my heart was tender toward the working of Christ in my life, and my eyes were opened to the faults. I began to see the error of my version of sanctification. My lifestyle was a facade. It was a prideful attempt to hide my deceitful, disgusting, corrupt heart. Ephesians 4:22-24 says “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Oh how misleading was my pursuit of God through my own methods! It might not have fooled those around me, but I had certainly fooled myself. My journey to be like Christ had nothing to do with what I did or didn’t do, but everything to do with Christ and my delight in Him. Only in God is true righteousness, not in holding to a certain lifestyle.

Despite the beginnings of change in my heart, I still had years of learning ahead of me. The next step in life was college. I studied a lot of Bible in the Christian University I attended. I went to Bible Seminars. I was surrounded by Christians. I had a lot of amazing people in my life. But people can’t change a heart. I can conform to those around me in behavior, but that is not me changing to be more like Christ. Conformation is not sanctification.

I graduated, and in time, I married. My husband and I moved to the mid-west a couple years after our marriage to help with a church plant. That was the most incredible journey of our lives. We went to help, but discovered that we were the ones who grew and were blessed. The genuine believers in that church changed me.

I had amazing ladies pour into my life. Many of those women are close to my heart to this day. I was challenged in my knowledge, study, and application of Scripture. I finally grasped and fell in love with reformed theology. The gospel became my heartbeat.

The gospel isn’t just applicable to the moment of salvation. The gospel is a constant unending flow if God’s grace poured out on whom He chooses-me for instance. The gospel covers the sins of my past, as well as the sins of my future. My limited perspective of the gospel was enhanced until my life, became wrapped up in the stunning, life-altering, soul-healing grace of God. Isn’t He amazing? It is all about Him. I am all about Him. Not because He saved me, but because He is worthy of my praise, and for some reason He, choose me to glorify Him through His grace. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved . . .” Ephesians 2:4–5. I have found such awe in my redemption, I am truly stunned by the grace of the perfect, holy God who became sin for me (II Corinthians 5:21).

After seven years in the mid-west, the Lord moved our family from that spiritually rich church, and placed us among the people of The South. Although, we still struggle with the Christian culture where we live, we have found a church situation that works for us, but we are hungry for more depth, more Scripture, more Christ-centered, gospel saturated believers.

Yet, despite my struggles in the loss of our mid-west church family, it was in The South that my heart grasped the value of God’s glory and what that entails. I learned that:

It is not about me. Humanism, even with Biblical motivations, is still worshiping self. It is sin.

“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1:25

I was not created for me. I am created for God and for the sole purpose of bringing Him glory.

““Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Christ did not die for me. He died for the glory of God. I just happen to be one of the few blessed people He chose to redeem.
I am not redeemed for myself. I redeemed for the Glory of God.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25

I am a wife, a mother, a home-maker, a fellow Christian for the glory of God. I can ONLY glorify God if I allow His grace to flow through my life as a wife, mother, home-maker, or in anything I do. I do not bring God glory through my own strength, but through His grace.

“Whoever serves, [let him do it] as one who serves by the strength which God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” l Peter 4:11

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in ud that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” I Peter 4:11

I do not live a life for myself, but for the glory of God. God is glorified, when I seek His glory through the gospel, in all I do. Even eating should be done with the purpose of bringing God glory through sharing the gospel.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” Corinthians 10:31-33

I do not study Scripture for me and for my enrichment. I study for God, that He may show me more of Himself that I might be in even more awe of Him. Scripture is not about me. Or His love for me. Scripture is about God. Primarily about bringing God glory through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Tim. 3:14-16

Eternal life in heaven is not for me, but for the glory of God. I will be able to praise Him eternally without hindrance of sin.

“to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” II Timothy 4:8

“That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:12

Everything makes sense with this perspective. Scripture comes together harmoniously. Life in general is not mysterious, but has purpose and answers.

It is an incredible thought that He would allow me even the smallest part or understanding of His Salvation. God did not have to save all people. God did not have to make humans. God did not have to allow Adam and Eve to sin. Yes, God is sovereign EVEN over Sin. Because through our sins, the glory of His redemption is revealed. And through His redemption, we can receive salvation from our sins to enable us to glorify God in Heaven ETERNALLY. Even heaven is not for me. Heaven is for God. Since a lifetime is not long enough to sing the praises of God, He has gifted us with eternity to sing His praises. Isn’t it amazing that a perfect, holy, worthy God decided we could bring Him eternal Glory through the salvation of our disgusting souls?

I have based my entire life and pursuit on the doctrine that EVERYTHING is for the glory of God.

How my life has been transformed by the power of the gospel! Because I was once a broken, disguising soul, chained to sin. Unable to free myself. Unable to even ask for help because my soul was dead! I tried to free myself, but by efforts weighed me down even more. I was a sinner-completely unable to bring God an ounce of glory.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:4-8.

Now, because of the gospel, the precious blood of Christ, I am able to glorify God, through the grace God gives. Not only can I bring God glory through the power of the gospel here on earth, but I am privileged to glorify God eternally! And it has NOTHING to do with me! It is ALL Him! Glory to God!

Now that is the most striking thing I have ever known. I am dumbfounded.

Thank You Merciful Savior.