Category Archives: Family

Filling up on Cotton Candy

Last week we went on the mother of all road trips. We were away from home for six days, and four of those days we spent driving at least 11 hours per day. The other two days we spent on a college visit and playing tourist in Seattle. It was exhausting, and I still feel off my schedule and behind on everything after four days back at home.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’ve been revamping my eating and exercise habits lately. But eating healthy and getting enough exercise when you’re sitting in the car all day, feasting on gas station snacks and fast food meals, is nearly impossible. One thing I noticed during this trip is that the more junk food was available to me, the less and less it satisfied me. At home, eating a clean diet and getting regular exercise, a rest day feels restful, and a treat is, well, a real treat. But a steady supply of laziness and junk stops satisfying.

On the way home I found myself standing in a truck stop in Montana, looking for a snack to tide me over so we could keep moving without a lunch break. I looked at the candy and chips, but nothing appealed to me. I looked at the beverages, but I just didn’t want another soda (or the ensuing potty break it would necessitate). I could have anything I wanted, and I just didn’t want any of it.

Since we’ve gotten home I have felt the same way about my behavior. I have so much that I need to do to get caught up – laundry, grocery shopping, getting back to the gym, etc., but as soon as I get a spare minute, I waste it playing games on my phone, drawing/coloring, or reading. The whole thing came to a head yesterday when I was praying about what to post this week. I confessed to the Lord that I just felt sluggish and out of touch with writing and with His heart. As soon as I confessed that, I began thinking of the ways I’ve wasted time lately. No wonder I’m unsatisfied, I’ve been filling up on cotton candy.

I’m not saying that you should strictly schedule every second of your day full of practical and efficient busyness. Down time and rest are imperative, and hobbies are wonderful and fulfilling. But it’s just like the treats I ate on the road. When it’s truly a treat, it’s fun and special. When you fill your life with fluff and junk, it stops satisfying.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Rest when you need rest. Engage in hobbies that allow you to have a creative outlet, physical exercise, or just a good laugh. But don’t fill up on the cotton candy. Fill your days with things that bring glory to God and bless others so your treats can be a treat.

Forget the Frock

Ugh. I prepared this post for you a week ago, and then didn’t post it on Friday. I’m blaming the cold medicine…

Easter is coming up in just a couple weeks. Have you shopped for fancy new dresses and ties for your family? Would you like to save some money and make a lasting difference instead? Forget the Frock is a national movement to trade in those one-time holiday purchases for tee shirts that make a difference in the world.

Forget the Frock and our Preferred Partner, Feeding the Orphans from Forget the Frock on Vimeo.

 

This will be my family’s first time participating in Forget the Frock. I ordered this year’s “Preferred Partner” shirt from Feeding the Orphans. They came really quick, in less than a week, and they’re taking orders until the week before Easter, so there is still time to order.

The shirts are made of American-made fabric, and are fair trade produced by men and women who aged out of orphanages in Haiti and were taught garment-making skills. The money I spent on the shirts will provide education, healthcare, and opportunities for orphans in Western Africa. So from seed to Easter Sunday, this shirt provided fair-paying, meaningful employment for American farmers, American fabric producers, Haitian garment workers, the artist who designed the logo, and the staff at Feed the Orphans, plus the proceeds provide for African orphans. That’s a lot of good for just $23 per shirt!

There are other shirts from other partner organizations. Check them all out on the Forget the Frock website. Or pick up a shirt from one of your favorite non-profits!

Have you participated in Forget the Frock? What organization(s) have you supported with this initiative? Comment below to share your story!

One Ham, Four Meals

Good Friday morning, everyone!

One of the best ways to save on your food budget is to buy seasonally. Berries are cheapest in the summer, apples in the fall, and citrus fruits in the winter. But what about meat? Thanks to traditional holiday meals, grocery stores love to compete for your business by running terrific promotions on turkey near Thanksgiving, and ham near Easter. Sometimes you can even get them free by accumulating points as the holiday approaches. Check out what your local grocery is offering!

Well, Easter is coming (It’s on April Fools Day this year, which feels weird), and the ham promotions will be starting up soon. I love these deals. Even if I’m not hosting the holiday meal, I take advantage of the opportunity to get a great deal on a big ham, because I know it will feed my little family four times! Of course, if your family is larger than mine, you may only get two or three meals from a ham. But even if you have a big brood, or you’re hosting the holiday and probably won’t get any leftovers, you can still get two meals from a bone-in ham. Here’s how…

Meal One: Ham Dinner

This is an easy one. Most ham in America is sold smoked, so pre-cooked. Look for a bone-in ham, and prepare it according to package directions. Slice off what you need for the first meal.

I like a spiral-sliced ham, because they’re easy to deal with, and you get nice, even slices. For Christmas this year, I served a cheesy mashed cauliflower side with our ham, but you can always go with the more traditional mashed potatoes or cheesy potatoes. Green beans are a nice, fresh, and easy veggie with dinner. Whatever you like to serve with your dinner, keep in mind that ham is salty, and chose side dishes that won’t add to the sodium overload! Likewise, because you’re probably coming from Easter service at church, chose side dishes that can be made ahead of time or thrown together quickly at the last minute.

After your meal is done and the rest of the ham has cooled, begin taking it apart. Store cubed leftover meat in 2-cup quantities in zipper storage bags or reusable storage containers. Get out as much air as possible to keep the meat fresher tasting.

Meal Two: Bean and Ham Soup

In the interest of full-disclosure, this is a recipe I originally found on Money Saving Mom, but have tweaked over the years.

Ham bone
7 cups of water
1 (1 lb.) bag of navy beans
3 bay leaves
4-5 pieces of bacon
1 small onion
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream

The night before you plan on making this, sort the beans and soak them over night. If you forget, you can use the quick soak method by boiling 6 cups of water with the dry beans. Boil for two minutes, remove from heat, and let stand, covered, fro an hour. Rinse and drain.

On the day you make the soup, place the ham bone in a heavy pot with the water. Add the bay leaves and some black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain the ham broth, and add it, along with the softened beans, to the slow cooker. There will probably be some chunks of ham that were clinging to the bone. Feel free to throw them into the slow cooker as well.

Chop up the bacon and onion into small pieces. Pan fry until onions are soft and bacon is done, but not crisp. Remove from pan and add to the slow cooker

Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Add milk or heavy cream, and continue to cook about 15 minutes more.

I’m hungry just typing that out!

Meal Three: Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This one is an old family favorite, just a classic creamy comfort food that’s perfect for a cold evening.

4-5 Med-large potatoes
1/2 Cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk (slightly warmed)
Leftover ham (cubed)
Cheddar cheese (optional but highly recommended)

Peel the potatoes, and slice them evenly using a knife or a mandolin. Combine the potatoes and chopped onion, and place them in a greased baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add flour and stir, cooking for about one minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a slightly thickened roux.

Mix the roux with the potatoes and onions. Add the ham cubes. Stir to combine, then sprinkle the top with cheddar (optional). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Uncover and bake a few extra minutes to brown the cheese.

Meal Four: Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Sandwiches

This recipe is a really simple idea, but fun and kid-friendly.

Leftover ham, sliced thin
Cheddar cheese
1 Roll of crescent roll dough

Unroll the dough and pinch the seams shut to form one sheet of dough. Flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the dough with cheddar cheese, and lay out the ham. Roll up the dough, pinching the seam at the end. Slice the roll into 8 pieces and place in a baking dish (like cinnamon rolls). Bake according the the directions on the crescents package until golden brown.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and a way to stretch your Easter ham into four tasty meals! If you have a favorite way to use leftover ham, share it in the comments!

This weekend, my son, Jacob, and a group of 15 students and chaperones from our church are leaving for a week-long missions trip to Puerto Rico. I asked Jacob to help with this week’s post so we can tell you all about his trip.

I chose to go on this trip with my youth group because I think that everyone should experience a missions trip at least once. It lets you see how people live in other parts of the world, and it gives you a chance to get away from the distractions of your life and focus on sharing Jesus with others.

This week in Puerto Rico we will be working with kids at a camp. I have enjoyed helping with VBS at my church for three years, and have attended Bible camp ever since I have been old enough, so this is a good fit for me. We have been practicing songs and skits, some in Spanish (which I do not speak!) to perform for the kids. I’ll be playing the part of Jesus in one of the skits. Some of the students will be sharing their testimonies, as well. We have been preparing some crafts for the kids to do – cutting out tons of little pieces of paper to take along. The airline better not lose that luggage or we’ll have to cut them all out again! There will also be days when we are doing maintenance work at the camp, and a day for sightseeing and going to the beach.

The cost of the trip was $1250, which includes our airfare, housing, food, and supplies for the week. I made the $100 initial down payment from money earned at my part-time job at McDonalds, and some of the cost was offset by fundraisers through the youth group. The rest was raised through support letters which I sent to family. Through their generous support, I made my goal and I’m ready to go! Puerto Rico is an easy location for a missions trip. You get the experience of missions in a foreign culture, but since Puerto Rico is part of the United States, they use U.S. currency and you don’t need a passport or have to deal with customs at the airport.

I am excited to see what God is going to do through the youth of Riverdale Church this week! We appreciate your prayers for safe travels, health and unity for the team, and that many kids’ lives would be changed for Jesus. You can follow our adventure on our trip blog, http://puertorico.myadventures.org/

 

Light it up!

Matthew 5:13-16 – You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Last weekend my family and I packed meals for Feed My Starving Children‘s #LoveSomalia mobile pack event here in the Twin Cities. Our first shift was on Sunday, so of course I came down with a migraine that afternoon. Some prescription meds and a nap later, I called on my faithful prayer warrior friends to pray that I would have “a supernatural burst of health and energy” for the event. God answered our prayers, and a burst of health and energy is exactly what I got! By the time the introduction/training portion of the event was done, I felt great. And as we developed a rhythm on the packing floor (I run a sealer and Jacob is a pro boxing coordinator/table lead. Scott usually helps in the warehouse, but for this event he stayed with the fam and scooped the vitamins and veggies), I was having a lot of fun! Jacob and I had a rhythm going. As I finished sealing a bag, I tested the seal then flipped it into the air, and he would reach out and snatch it up and put it in the right place. (We were very careful. I never threw them high enough to damage a bag if he didn’t catch it, and I tossed them over the sorting table so they didn’t hit the floor. One actually missed the table and landed right in the box!) We laughed, we sang along with the music playing in the arena, and even danced a little (or what passes for “dancing” in our family…) I physically worked to pack meals for about two hours, yet I left with more energy than I had going in! When Scott and I talked about it later, the only way I could explain that energy and why I keep signing up for events like that was to say that it “lights me up.”

Do you know the feeling of being lit up? Maybe you LOVE babies, kids, or teens, and spending time with them gives you that burst. Maybe you’re an actor, musician, comedian, or public speaker, and you feel the thrill of the live audience. Maybe creating artwork, playing a sport, or writing your novel gets you too excited to sleep. I’ll bet that there is something in your life that energizes you in spite of the calories it burns. This is passion. This is what you were put on this earth to do.

That may leave some of you baffled, or even insulted. The first time I heard a sermon on giftings and passion, I was hurt. I remember sitting in church and praying, “God, I make good cookies. What are you going to do with that?” I didn’t see my passion for food as something God could or would use. My “spiritual gifts” test always came out as “helps” which means pitching in where needed. So my passion was food and my gifting was pitching in. I thought that was pathetic. I thought it relegated me to bake sales and funeral lunches. But I wanted to make a difference in the world!

It took time for me to mature and for my interests and giftings to come together into something I could think of as a calling. Now here I am: writing, sometimes raising funds, and volunteering to my heart’s content for the cause of global hunger relief. I believe that when I asked God what He could do with my talent for making cookies, He had a fatherly chuckle and said, “Watch me.” Your talent may seem small, or like something that doesn’t coincide with spreading the gospel or changing the world, but God doesn’t make mistakes. He gave you your gifts and personality because He needed just that you in just the life He gave you. Let your light shine!