Having already had three meals containing chicken this week, I am considering placing the remaining chicken in the freezer for a future meal. On a crazy busy day when a meal that can be prepared quickly is needed, cooked chicken would be a blessing.
Chicken Tortilla Soup was an extremely inexpensive meal. For the base I used some of the broth from the chickens. To this I added approx. 2 C. of fresh salsa (tomatoes, jalepenos, onions, garlic powder, cilantro, cumin, bit of chili powder) that I made in the small food processor, the remaining leftover nacho cheese (roughly 1/4 C.), about 1 1/2 C. cooked chicken, and salt to taste. The soup cooked on med/low heat for approx. 30 min. During the final few minutes of cooking I added some homemade mac 'n cheese leftover from earlier in the week (approx. 1 C.). I added the macaroni at the end to avoid mushy pasta. We ate the soup with nacho cheese doritoes and a small dollop of sour cream.
This brought the final total of meals for the nacho cheese to 4.(see previous post for nacho cheese recipe)
Our version of Chicken a la King aka in town experienced a new tweak as I replaced the cream soup usually used with a water based thickener. This not only brought down the expense of the dish but made it easier for others to digest. Once more, the chicken broth showed up in this meal along with chopped carrots, celery, frozen peas, baby onions, and cooked chicken (approx. 2 C.). While the chicken/veggie mixture was cooking, wide egg noodles (yes, I cheated and used boughten ones - they were on sale) were cooking in another pot. Once the egg noodles were done, they were drained and set aside to add right before serving. After allowing the veggies to cook until tender, a thickener of flour, chicken soup base, and water was added to the broth and stirred in. Water was added until desired thickness was reached. Mixture cooked for approx. 20 minutes to eliminate floury taste. Right before serving the egg noodles were stirred in. In town was served over homemade biscuits that had been made while the veggies cooked through and baked while the mixture thickened and flour taste cooked out. This dish served 8 generously with enough left over to serve 2-4 more. This leftover amount was placed in the freezer for an easy meal on a day when only a few of us are home.
The chickens are at meal #3 with approx. 4 C. of chicken left and in the freezer. This means that there is a possibility of getting 5 meals from two roasted chickens. Not just five meals, but five meals of generous servings for 8 people. A smaller family could have obtained dinner for up to 10 nights out of the same amount. Each meal also incorporated other leftovers; this saved even more by eliminating food waste. The leftovers also tasted much better when given new life in other dishes than if they had been reheated and served in their original form. Now that's abundance.
(NOTE: I did not allow the dough to rest as instructed due to short prep time available. Rest time would have made the tortillas better. However, they were still very enjoyable. We do strongly recommend following the instructions exactly - if time allows.)
Texas Flour Tortillas (adapted by the Homesick Texan from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)
- 2 C. all-purpose flour (whole wheat can be made by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- 3/4 C. warm milk
Slowly add the warm milk.
Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.
Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested, break of eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren't touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It's very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won't roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it into a four inch circle, andthen roll with a rolling pin from the center until it is thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you will have no problem with this.) Don't over work the dough, or it will be stiff. Keep rolled out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it is done.
Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napking until ready to eat.
Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas burner flame, or in the oven wrapped in foil.
While you probably won't have any leftovers, you can store in the fidge tightly wrapped in foil or plastic for a day or so.
Makes eight (8) tortillas.
Homemade Nacho Cheese
- 2 sticks butter
- onions - chopped
- 1 ounce cream cheese
- 1/2 C. flour
- approx. 2 C. milk or water
- jalepenos to taste - we used 2 jalepeno peppers - seeded and chopped
- 1 box Velveeta cubed (Velveeta melts smoothly and is what we had in the pantry. For a healthier, more natural option, Velveeta can be substitued with 2 C. Monterey Jack and 2 C. sharp cheddar or for a white nacho sauce, 4 C. Monterey Jack. Cheddar may produce oil. This is normal.)
Add onions. We used two tiny little ones.
Add flour stirring constantly until mixture bubbles freely.
Add cream cheese. Continue stirring constantly as it melts.
Add milk/water slowly - stirring continually.
Allow mixture to cook, keep stirring, bring to boil.
Add cheese - stir until melted.
Keep warm in crockpot or warmer.
Will thicken if allowed to cool.
Makes enough to serve 12+, generously.
I enlarged the tortilla recipe so that there would be leftovers. These leftovers were eaten as snacks yesterday afternoon with enough left for breakfast burritos this morning.
The nacho cheese was originally made and served as an accompaniment to homemade soft pretzels for an evening meal. We made 10 nacho chicken quesadillas for lunch and there was still nacho cheese sauce leftover for another use. It wasn't but could have been used in the breakfast burritos.
More meal stretching coming your way. We told you it was going to be a ride:)
Are you wondering how the crockpot roasted chickens turned out? Delicious. Extremely delicious. Not only were they delicious, the bones gave us the richest chicken broth we have ever had. All we did was debone the chickens after they had cooked and added the bones plus some chopped carrots, celery, onion, and garlic into a pot of water and cooked on low heat for approx. 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Two chickens provided us with 3/4 gallon of extremely rich chicken broth. Seriously, this broth is so rich that it could easily be diluted with water to make a full gallon of still rich broth. We are going to enjoy this golden treasure for sure.
One downside to the roasted chickens in the crockpot is that they smell so good when cooking during the night that a body feels half starved by morning, just from the yummy smells wafting out of the kitchen. Rough, I know. haha
Even though the chickens have been roasted and their bones cooked for broth, you haven't heard the last of them. They will be coming back for a return visit in a future post featuring the total number of meals, for a family of 8, we were able to get out of just two chickens. There will be a minimum of three, hoping for four - or more. This is Not of This World's idea. Her suggestion got the wheels turning; I'm ready to take her idea and run. All we can say is "Hang on! We're going for a ride!"
We at A Mother's Rewards haven't had an opportunity like this one for a while. We are passing along a link to a page containing FREE products. These are complete unit studies for science, nine of them to be exact. Yes, that is correct, nine - read it - 9 complete unit studies for FREE. The Old Schoolhouse is celebrating their birthday in a BIG way. This is only one of many goodies available either free or at significant savings. These studies are of various insects and animals. They might make really fun Christmas gifts for grandchildren or others. What child aged 13 and under wouldn't enjoy learning about the dung beetle or the blue-footed booby? Seriously, who wouldn't? Those are only two of the featuried studies. Each study contains activities for every subject: geography, math, language arts, as well as science. Once more, these are available FREE OF CHARGE. Click on the link and give thanks for the harvest of blessings. Don't forget to tell The Old Schoolhouse magazine Happy Birthday while you are there. (getting kind of bossy, aren't I? Sorry about that) Here is the link: free unit studies.
BELL, BOOK AND CANTELOUPE
~ Lola Schancer ~
Mom, our own dear kitchen wizard,
Magically, with sleight-of-hand
Could make a melon or a gizzard
Taste like fare from fairy land.
When she, with wisdom rich as Plato's
Etched two comic eyes of brown
On smiling spinach-mouthed potatoes
Whimsy took the shape of clown.
It was those eyes that did the trick!
We kids ate all (may God forgive her)
Giggling gaily at each lick---
Not knowing they were made of liver.
All that's left is to find something to do with these leftover chicken necks. Seriously, what does a person do with a chicken neck?
In this text Jesus took Peter back out into the deep waters where he had failed to catch anything the previous night. What followed was a supernatural harvest that caused those watching to be both awestruck and amazed at what they were seeing. As I reflected on this event I heard the Lord say to me, "Tell them to try it again – I am in the boat." I knew the Lord was asking me to encourage people who are living under the weight of financial despair without the hope of a new future.
As I prayed, I was hit with a deep sense of despair – I was literally carrying the pain of others. I asked the Lord what this was all about. His love was letting me feel what was taking place in the lives of people so I could speak words of hope fueled by His compassion.
When Jesus asked Simon to go farther out into the deeper water He was asking Simon to go back out to his place of failure and try again. When any of us fail, the last place we want to return is the place of our failure. The fear of returning to places of failure is real and palpable. We don't want to relive a divorce, a recession or the time a ministry came to an end. The world system says to avoid such places. God asks us to engage them one more time so He can heal us and move us forward into His preferred future for our lives.
Can you imagine the conversations that were taking place on the shore? Simon's fishing friends might have said something like, "Where is Simon going? We just came in from an entire night on the water – the best time to fish – and we caught nothing. What is He thinking?" Whenever any of us follow Jesus back into those places of past failure, the people on the shore of our lives may never fully understand what they are seeing.
Simon's test of faith was not getting into the boat the first time with Jesus and sitting in the shallow water close to shore. That is like someone going to a church service – there is not a lot of faith involved in something that has no risk attached and where someone could easily attend without a response.
The test of Simon's faith would be seen in two parts. First, he needed to respond to the Lord's request for him to return to the deep water that had proved unproductive. Second, he had to actually go through and repeat the very act he had failed in just hours before – he needed to let down his nets in front of all the people. Faith is exercised in a specific place and requires a specific act. To be asked to take a step of faith will reveal where we have placed our trust and it will confront our greatest fears.
In the current financial situation, some have decided to remain on shore in a maintenance mode and not re-engage their life and calling for fear that only lack awaits them. We can hunker down and freeze up in times like these, but God has miracles of provision waiting for His people if they will trust Him enough to go back out into the deep water with Him and let down their nets one more time.
The harvest of fish that Jesus directed Simon toward was a supernatural harvest. We only experience this kind of harvest if we are willing to deal with our fear of a repeated future failure, and move past that fear, and try once again because we realize Jesus is in our boat.
Every life can settle into a maintenance mode. Someone experiences the pain of divorce and vows to never risk love again. They remain alone on the shore of life and mend nets that will never again be cast toward love. Another fails in ministry and feels like damaged goods living on the perimeter of God's Kingdom. They try to prove they are whole by living within the confines of shore life, forgetting that the calling of God is never revoked if God has access to heal what caused the failure in the first place.
These maintained places are like the fishing nets the fishermen had to clean each day. These nets were only designed to contain a naturally measured harvest. Human nets will tear under the weight of supernatural expansion. These same valued nets – the life source of a fisherman – would soon be left on the seashore as they walked away with Jesus.
Jesus wanted Simon to not be afraid of the unknown and the things he didn't understand. He was asking Simon to press through his need to understand everything that was taking place and simply trust that He was with Simon. God's greatest work takes place beyond our human reasoning and understanding. This is where the power of God's presence is most clearly seen. Jesus was asking Simon to not be afraid. A new season and a new life-assignment were about to take place if Simon would trust the Lord.
Awestruck and amazed were two words used to describe the events that took place that day out on the deep water. People have used these same words for 2,000 years to describe life when Jesus shows up.
These men left their boats, their fishing nets and their known lifestyles to follow Jesus. It would no longer be about boats, open water and fishing nets filled by human measurement. These disciples could now leave the known for the unknown because they were being led by His presence into future places of supernatural harvest.
Garris Elkins, Senior Leader
Living Waters Church - Medford, Oregon
What About Love? As regular readers know, the topic of God's Love has been an active, vital part of our family's lives for several years now. We have each been actively pursuing love and learning how to walk in love with our fellow man, as well as each other, for over 15 years. While looking for the reference to a specific verse in my concordance, I couldn't help but be amazed at the sheer volume of verses on love. Whoa! There are A LOT! I mean A LOT. Not only are there a lot of verses containing the word love, many of these verses contain instruction for believers in Christ regarding God's love. If love is so important, I mean God is love, so it must be important. God is important, isn't He? or is He?
Do our lives say that God is important? I'm not talking about whether or not religious practices and church attendance are important to us. I'm talking about our lives and the way we live them. If God is love, and He is, do our words and actions say so? What about our tones of voice? Does the attitude in our words and actions towards our spouse say God(love) is important? What about towards our children? What about our actions and words towards fellow drivers on the road? or other shoppers in the stores? Would our hairdresser or mechanic know that God(love) is important to us? Let's think about our physician, our dentist, our optometrist, and our accountant, would they know? Don't forget the paper boy or girl and the pizza delivery person and the sales representative from that company that just placed an item on backorder, again. Can't leave the telemarketers who just love to call right at supper time either, now can we? Do they know God is important to us? What about that neighbor whose dog just can't seem to stay in his own yard, and worst of all, that crazy dog takes care of its business in our yard too.
Here we go, off to our love checklist in 1 Corinthians 13. Now we get to examine ourselves and see just how important God (love) really is to us according to God's standards. God's love in us:
- endures long
- is patient
- is kind
- never is envious
- never boils over with jealousy
- it not boastful
- is not vainglorious
- does not display itself haughtily
- is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride)
- it is not rude (unmannerly)
- does not act unbecomingly
- does not insist on its own rights or its own way
- it is not self-seeking
- it is not touchy or fretful or resentful
- it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]
- it does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness
- rejoices when right and truth prevail
- bears up under anything and everything that comes
- is ever ready to believe the best of every person
- its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances
- it endures everything [without weakening]
- never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]
The above checklist allows us to hold our lives up and gauge our God (love) walk. It is a marvelous tool given by God to use as we strive to conform to His image. A gift graciously given by Him to teach, assist, and guide. 1 Corinthians 13 is not, however, the only scripture on love. The entire Bible abounds with the love of God in verse after verse. Such rich promises, sweet victory, and wondrous treasure is ours through the love of God! I would seriously encourage everyone to get a concordance, borrow one if need be, and look up every verse referring to the love of God. Another exercise to try during personal Bible study time is to look up verses containing God and substitute the word love in its place. Your walk with Christ will be revolutionized, I promise, yes I do.
Also, don't just look the verses up, begin to commit them to memory. As a person begins to walk in the love of God more fully, the enemy comes against them in an attempt to steal the seed (the Word of God).(Mark 4:14) Having the Word hidden in our heart, allows us to stand strong and defeat the enemy by using the very Word satan is attempting to steal against him as the sword that the Spirit yields. ( Ephesians 6:17) When we begin to order our words and actions as if God truly is important to us, others will be drawn to His love coming out of us. Soon we will find ourselves reaching out with His hands and caressing the wounded with the words of God (love). Grudges we have been harboring fade away, resentment leaves, and bitterness is replaced with loving kindness. Instead of grumping and grouching, we console and understand. Patience replaces the pushing and shoving fulfilling our own agenda breeds. Instead of rushing around and being rude in an attempt to go serve God, we find ourselves observing everyone around us as we, like our Heavenly Father, intently look for an opportunity to minister His love to a lost and hurting world.
Jesus Himself said that He came not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him (love). (John 3:17) Servants are not greater than their masters. We are to be imitators of God as dearly beloved children imitate their fathers. (Galatians 5:1) How can we be irritable and rude to that scattered clerk in the checkout line? The steps of a righteous man are ordered by God. (Psalm 37:23) God has divinely ordained that we are the one to be in that particular clerk's line because we have the life and love of God he or she needs, NOT because we always get the slowest, grouchiest checkout. Maybe we seem to always get the slowest, grouchiest checkout because the slowest, grouchiest checkout is in need of God's love and healing power. Love, God's love in us, transforms us by the renewing of our mind. I desperately need this transformation to move my focus from myself and my own plans and schedules onto the lost and hurting people God has already planned for me to minister to, in His name. So, what about Love? It's ALL about Love.
Meditating - uttering, muttering, and pondering - on this verse gets me serious real fast. Thoughts of conversations and actions that have taken place throughout the day come unbidden. Some of these memories bring rejoicing but others...oh those others. Just thinking about the exasperated tone of voice used when reminding my three-year-old not to take something that doesn't belong to him without asking makes me shudder as does the remembrance of how severely I was lacking in patience towards another forgetful child. If Christ is living in me, what is He saying?
Yeah, whatever He might say, it wouldn't be what I said. Pretty sure He wouldn't have crossed His arms as He huffed in frustration or thrown up His arms in exasperation or....or...or...um hmm, the point is rather obvious. Sometimes, Christ wasn't the one speaking through me today, every day. "They will know we are Christians by our love" these words from a once popular Christian song have been going through my head for over a day as has the topic of Love, God's Love. More specifically, the topic of what Jesus is saying through me. If I no longer live, what is Jesus saying through me?
Taking it down to the nitty gritty, what is He saying through me in my home? To my children? To my husband? Is my family able to know I am a Christian by my love? Could I be convicted if accused of being a Christian on the testimonies of my family? of my church family? of the mailman? the clerk at the store? the librarian? anyone? What is Jesus saying through me or is it Him speaking at all?
Verse 21 of Galatians chapter two, the verse following the one at the top of this post, says "[Therefore, I do not treat God's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholely superfluous.]" Does this reach out and grab anyone else or just me? I don't follow the Jewish law but do I follow Laws of my own making, religious laws made by me/mankind and not by God? May it not be so. I simply cannot allow His death to be wholely superfluous.
If Jesus isn't living through me in my home, He isn't living through me. What a horribly heartbreaking thing it would be to win the world to Christ while allowing myself to live before my family in a way that drives them away from His love. If I were the only Christian my family knew, would they be drawn to His love through me, or would they go as far as they could, fast? Dear God, make me like You. Make my words Your words of Love. Cause my eyes to see my family as You see. Alter my vision so that I see ways to minister to their needs and heal their hurts. May my heart be ever drawn towards home first and then go out from there. You instructed me, in Your Word, to go to Judea, then Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth making disciples. May I not forsake my home, my Judea if you will. May my loved ones be able to hear Your Words, for mine will be Yours. In Christ's name I pray, Amen.
During seasons when the pantry/freezer are running closer to empty than full is also a prime time for taking stock. A list of food items in the home can be made during this practice. Food available within the home can then be arranged and rearranged to create as many meals as possible. One trap to avoid when planning meals with little is that of locking certain food items into specific uses. For example, if rice is commonly used only in savory dishes, a homemaker might overlook the potential it has to be used in a dessert or pudding. Most items in the pantry/freezer can be used in many ways. Frequently, new family favorites are created when traditional options are limited or not possible.
Another money-saving tip is to never overlook the stretching potential of water. Most gravies and sauces can be made using water. Lactose intolerant diners are able to enjoy gravy and other sauces when milk is replaced with water or broth. Other foods like pancakes and biscuits can also be made with water; though milk may very well be the tastier option. As always, remain open to new possibilities and be willing to try creative, new variations of old favorites. Abundance in our meals needn't add up to excessive costs at the grocery store.
I could write post after post depicting various seasons of hardship for our family. Better still, to me, is the reality that I can write even more posts on the marvelous, saving, keeping, power of God and how He has provided for every need and many wants smack dab in the most difficult of those times. Blessings and favor are about so much more than material and/or financial possessions and resources. Financial resources and material possession are simply tools to be used for the glory of God. Blessings and favor encompass every aspect of life, emotional, physical, and spiritual. When given the choice, I would rather tell of the Lord's goodness. However, in an effort to avoid potential misunderstandings, I felt impressed upon to post a little clarification.
A Mother's Rewards in no way wants to imply that living the Christian life is easy or that when someone actively chooses to love as God loves that their life becomes one of ease. Neither do we want to give the impression that an individual's life become trouble-free, quite the contrary. We simply long to declare the truth that while trials and troubles come, they will never outmatch the love of God. The following passages of scripture from 2 Corinthians and Romans offer encouragement and hope for seasons when hard times come. Whether circumstances be difficult or ones of ease, may every believer in Christ by known by love.
"For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves [merely] as your servants (slaves) for Jesus' sake. For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves. We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; we are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]' we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies. For we who live are constantly [experiencing] being handed over to death for jesus' sake, that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced through our flesh which is liable to death." 2 Corinthians 4:5-11
28We are assured and know that [[j]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
29For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was [k]aware and [l]loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.
30And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].
31What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]
32He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?
33Who shall bring any charge against God's elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]
34Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?
35Who shall ever separate us from Christ's love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?
36Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors [m]and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
38For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things [n]impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,
39Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39
Over 15 years ago, I was given a devotional by a dear friend and a grocery bag full of magazines by another. Neither woman knew the other had given me any reading material at all, let alone that the devotional and magazines were both put out by the same ministry. Being an avid reader aka devourer of books, I curiously skimmed through both the book and magazines. The fact that both the books and magazines were from the same ministry definitely had my attention. What is God up to? Should I even be looking at these things? I've heard about this ministry.
Curiosity won over caution. (that's not uncommon by the way) I am so glad it did. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. Relief, jubilation, surges of thanksgiving rolled over me again and again and still again as the realization that other believers in Christ believed every word He said, just like I did. As a matter of fact, not only did they believe the Bible to be absolute truth, they were even more intense and radical about it than I was. That was saying something for I have had a lifelong love affair with God's Word for as long as I can remember. Not only did they believe every jot and tiddle, they encouraged me to read and memorize and do the same. Freedom, such freedom was discovered as the Sword of the Spirit, God's Word, cut bond after bond of religion. Deep longings that had always been within my heart were being satisfied and fulfilled as the Word of God, not the teachings of men, set me free.
Soon, my thirst for more teaching of the Word of God saw me scheduling time every morning to sit at the feet of Godly men and women via television. Some women needed their coffee, I needed my time with Jesus. Amazingly, my small children eagerly joined me in this aim and great quest. How it built this mama's faith to witness my little ones learning and willingly obeying God's Words for themselves, at such young ages too. The more of Christ's freedom the children and I experienced, the more our household was affected. The very atmosphere within our home was filled with an inexplainable peace. This peace was noticable as guests frequently commented on how peaceful our home was. Rarely did a visitor to our home not visibly relax upon entering.
The children and I weren't the only ones who hungered to experience more of God's power in our lives. My Beloved too noticed the difference. The difference was so great that before much time passed, the first thing he inquired of after arriving home was what new truths we had learned that day. Right in the middle of living life, our family found ourselves growing up together into the fullness of Christ. Physically times may have been lean, but spiritually and emotionally our entire family was getting fat, fat, fat on the richness of Christ, the Word.
All of a sudden, in the late 1990s, teachings on the love of God began to crop up here and there in various ministries. Within a few months, everywhere we turned (or so it seemed to us then - and now) someone was teaching and/or talking about the love of God. Talk about revolution! Oh my! there was a literal explosion of freedom as together we learned truths from the Word of God that had somehow escaped our notice until then. Romans 5:5 revealed that God's love wasn't something we had to conjur up or create within ourselves, it had been poured out in our hearts when we accepted the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ! It was already in there! We just had to begin walking in it. Walking in what? The Love of God. What is the love of God? We soon discovered that 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known "love chapter" wasn't a random piece of work for church children to memorize for points or awards; it was a description of God's Love and what it looks like in the life of a Christian. Scripture after scripture, life lesson after practical life lesson fell like rain on our hearts, and we soaked up the truth of the Word like thirsty sponges.
Over five years had passed by this time, and our family had moved not once, or twice, but at least three times. God had continued to lead us and teach us from His Word. My oh my how full and fat we were with the richness of God's Word. Not only were we still eagerly soaking up anointed teachings and messages from television, but we were also receiving faith-filled messages and teachings in church each Sunday morning. Better still, God had placed us smack dab in the middle of two cell groups filled with other hungry believers walking out their faith. We were literally surrounded by Christian families who also had small children. It was glorious! Blessing after blessing poured into our lives day in, day out. Our growing family was p-u-m-p-e-d-pumped with the love of God.
All the while the blessings poured, everyone in our family knew within our hearts that it was a temporary season. God had placed something bigger in our hearts. Where we were then, wasn't where we were going; nor was it where we would stay. How true that was. Within a short time, we found ourselves right back where we started. We were back in the same place our journey of faith began; yet this too we sensed was temporary, a mere stopping place on the road to God's place of choice. Did we have a dream? Had God given us a vision of where He was taking us? Yes, God had revealed bits and pieces of His plan, but the coming about happened as we took one small step of faith after the other.
Today, over 15 years and two more children later, our family is still growing in the love of God. It is truly a process, a neverending process. My flesh hasn't liked it, but that is ok. According to God's Word, I am to crucify my flesh. Freedom and peace are gifts given to us by Christ, and we don't take them for granted. We treasure Him, everything about Him. And the love, known by love, I pray that our family is truly, for real, known by Love.
Work, work, work, everything inside of me is screaming to complain. Why I would complain about work? I don’t know. I rarely do a lot of it. My Rewards have been well trained and perform the majority of household tasks. I find that I am now in a “managerial” type position, and I hate it. It was much easier being the worker, the one who scrubbed, sorted, folded, and cleaned. It was much nicer just doing it all myself, before the Rewards were trained. There was a satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, a comfort in knowing that I had given large to my family. Not so now. Now, there is a dissatisfaction. A growing disgust for myself. A sense of being lazy and no good.
Am I accomplishing less? No, much more. For I still work, just on other things. Projects that find me sitting, typing, writing, instead of working and cleaning. Projects that tire my eyes and weary my mind have replaced those that strengthened my arms and provided time for prayer and stories. Rewards used to gather around. Now they scatter to domains of their own. I have trained them to do this. I am the one who told them to go on and play, for I had typing and studying to do. There were friends to email, and posts to be written. I and I alone have trained my sweet rewards not to include or look for me, their mama. I trained them, by default, that they must create their own fun, alone, for mama is much too busy.
Woe to me, for I have not received these little ones in His name. Like a queen on a throne, I have sent them away and told them only to come when called. This is not the heart of the Father. This is the work of one with selfish ambitions walking paths of her own choosing and making while blogging about serving loved ones as Jesus would. Little by little I have allowed myself to wander down a path I was not created to wander. I have guiltily snuck back to the way I belonged in and worked with a ferocity, but before long, the call of a foreign path would be heard. And I, longing to be heard, would answer the enticing strain time and time again. The praises of others meant more to me than the mission of ministering to my Rewards. That age old desire to be heard and noticed stuck a ring in my nose and led me along. Not only did I willingly go, I used a blog entitled A Mother’s Rewards to do so. How sad is that?
Will the blog cease? No, I don’t feel that I am to close the blog. I feel that I am to actively engage myself in the life I have been created to live. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that correcting my focus and spending my time and energy where they are supposed to be spent will provide more time for blogging than is currently available. I read somewhere that when we fill a jar with rocks, then gravel, and then sand we can fit much more in than when we put the sand in first, then the gravel, and the rocks last. Rocks can represent necessities, gravel what is important, and sand what is wanted or desired with the jar being a day. Here’s to putting in the rocks and letting the sand sift in later.
Here I sit. I ought to be cleaning house, or starting supper, or putting sheets on my bed, or ….or ….. or any other number of things I ought to be doing. Yet, here I am typing away. I’ve spent too much time online today. Too much time spent staring at and reading words on a computer screen. Most of the minutes were spent reading for future school lessons or an upcoming ministry project. They weren’t wasted minutes, yet they were minutes spent somewhere other than where I am, at home. There are children in this house who call me mother that didn’t get mothered while I was online. There is a husband who didn’t get fed as well as he could have been, if I hadn’t been working on school, online. Balance, it’s such a fine line to walk. Making sure that every area of my life is in its proper spot, that no area creeps into another, that everyone is served with love, the responsibility of balance seems impossible some days.
Not every day is hard, but some are. Call them Monday, or Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, if you want. Some days are hard. Some days it’s all hard, even the good and the fun. Some days I just flat don’t want to, any of it. Yes, there are some days, but there are also other days. Days when the sun shines bright. Days when even the clouds gather around in a cozy way. Days when children are sweet, and so am I. When My Beloved talks long, and I listen sweet. It is the others that I give thanks for. When some days come, memories of other days remind me that some days aren’t forever, nor are they forever. Some days come; some days also go. Another day always follows some day. Another opportunity to love in the middle of war, to whisper in the midst of roaring, to rest in Father’s loving strength always shows up when I need it most.
Whether today has been a hard and difficult some day or a delightfully refreshing other, each of us can rest in the arms of a loving heavenly Father knowing He has written every day in our book, before any of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)
“Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day, when Jesus washed my sins away. Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day”
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any unpunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility-and endure it as Jesus endured.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any raiment, any interruption by the will of God.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart.
~THAT IS DYING TO SELF~
Are you dead yet?
In these last days, the Spirit would bring us to the cross.
"That I may know Him,
and the power of his resurrection,
and the fellowship of his sufferings,
being made conformable unto his death."
Friendships that without the invention of email would most likely never have taken place, not only exist but thrive with the typing of keys and clicking of send. As a child growing up, email was virtually unknown. Now, it being replaced by texting and other social networking sites. A hundred years ago, these women could have enjoyed the same delightful conversations and discussions. However their lives would have been penned on paper then sent on its way in the mail. Instead of seconds, months or weeks would have gone by before a reply was received.
Correspondence. Two people sharing their lives with each other through the use of words. Sharing joys, sorrows, heartaches, and love. Words, what a powerful tool for good or evil. Let us choose them wisely and use them well.
My mama’s heart filled with happiness as I witnessed her smile and giggle. Horselover had known the bars were good. She had tested a small piece from the edge that didn’t look pretty enough for the plates to be auctioned. She had personally partaken of their chocolaty goodness; yet hearing words of affirmation from the lips of another brought a joy and relief. I’m like that too, smiling at praise from others, even when I already know what I have done is good. Why is that I wonder? Could it be because we humans are created in the image of God, and God delights in our praise, so praise from others brings us delight? Alternatively, is it merely a need settled deep within each of us that longs to be filled?
Regardless of the cause, kind words sent through email blessed. They blessed the receiver and her mama. Horsegirl has been doing what children always do. She has been growing up. In one, short summer the daughter who was youngest for so long has been showing signs of young womanhood. Chores worked at with more diligence, less complaining, more maturity, less pouting have all been pointing towards the bittersweet truth, my little girl isn’t a little girl any longer. All this blessed mama can do when pondering this is offer praises to God and cry.
Cry tears of relief and tears of joy at the marvelous thing that God has done. Look at what God has done! I want to shout from the rooftops. Look at the marvelous work He has done! My daughter, this one who used to be pouty, whiny, and mad now smiles as she works more than plays each day through. There is balance and calm, even joking and song; her schoolwork she organizes too. I sure don’t know how. Can’t tell you when, but a mighty work God did do. The sweet little tempest who wasn’t always so sweet is well on her way to becoming a lovely young woman of God.
Years of mothering have proven that emotions will still swell and flood. Words will fly fast and hard. After all, the child is still human. Horsegirl, like me, is still very real. His mercy and kindness she will need. However, no matter how real, how angry she gets, there is something that can’t be denied. God has done wonderful, marvelous works in this sweet, little girl woman’s life.
Every so often the Lord reveals something new about myself to me. It's a very unusual experience (from my point of view anyway). Well, it's definitely surprising. I'm always amazed that after 30+ (almost 40) years there's anything new left to learn. Honestly, it is about MYSELF. Shouldn't I already know everything there is to know about my very own self? I guess not, it's still happening.
The latest "new" thing about me I discovered is that I like trying new things, truly I do. Now this wouldn't be a startling revelation to most people, but it was a startling, if not profound, revelation on my end. People who enjoy trying new things are usually referred to as adventurous people. Adventurous isn't exactly an adjective that's been used in conjunction with Blessed Mama a lot. As soon as I recovered from the shock, my mind began swirling with wonder as to when, how, and/or why this happened. When did I begin to enjoy new things? How could this be? I'm the woman who follows the same routine every single day over and over --every single day! Almost every thing I do is done routinely, everything! What has happened to me? How did I get to be like this? Wait a minute, maybe nothing changed. Maybe, just maybe I have always enjoyed trying new things and failed to realize it. Maybe...the opinion I have had of myself has been incorrect for a long time.
OK, hold it. Stop right there. That is enough. Let's just take the revelation and go with it. There's no sense in letting a little thing like this lead to anything very deep, especially not in this category. But too late, the thought has already landed and taken root. Maybe the opinion I have had of myself is incorrect. Maybe the way I see myself isn't accurate, and maybe it is affecting the way I view others around me. Maybe it's even affecting how I live the life God has given me. Could this be true? Now there's something to chew on. I guess I'll be digging deep after all. A small, not that big of a deal realization has the potential to bring about a life-changing revelation.
How do I view myself, and is it accurate? More importantly, how does the way I see myself compare with the way God sees me? This I know, if one of us has the wrong picture of me, it isn't Him.
Thank You Father for leading me day by day and revealing Your truth so that I can become more like You made me to be. May my eyes see as You see, and may I think like You think. In the name of Jesus Your Son, Amen
Honestly, the only reason I write is because words seem to come out better when written than when spoken. Countless times I just had to say something or burst, but couldn't. Either there wasn't anyone to listen or else, ok confession coming, whatever words were burning to escape weren't "right". They weren't what ought to be coming out of a Christian. They were, well, they were real. And every perfectionist knows that real will get you in trouble. Real usually isn't perfect. Real might hurt someone. Real might sound stupid. Real might actually be stupid. Real reveals what everyone, except the escaping perfectionist, already knows, I'm not perfect. Real throws open the front door, raises the windows, and allows the world to witness reality, ugly reality that tattles on a person. It screams loud that I don't always have my act together. I do get irritated. My children do behave badly; I do too.There are disagreements in our home. Sometimes I get hurt. Sometimes I do the hurting. Scathing, unChristlike words can be written out then burned or deleted. Speaking doesn't afford that luxury. My Beloved would say it's a control thing. That sure seems to come up a lot lately ~ smile.
Real instantly brings the story of The Velveteen Rabbit to mind. The toy rabbit is in the nursery talking with the rocking horse. Having been in the nursery for many years, the horse describes what being real means to the rabbit. Being real means having your fur rubbed off. In general, it means being loved hard. Being loved hard sounds kind of romantic in print. The process however contains pain. Newness wears off. Threads wear thin. The shiny becomes snagged and dull. Stuffing pokes out here and there through the holes. Yes, being real comes through being loved hard; yet, only love understands and desires real.
Love, it always comes back around to love, doesn't it? That means it always comes back around to God; for God is love. "For God(love) so loved the world that He(love) gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him(love) should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (parentheses mine)
It's time for me to go now. Thank you for allowing me to be real and for sharing your lives and hearts with A Mother's Rewards. There are many places you could be right now, and yet here you are visiting me. It's always a pleasure to have you stop by. Have a peacefully sweet time in our Savior Christ Jesus. If you haven't met our Savior Jesus, please do. There are many decisions you may regret in your life, but accepting Jesus as Savior isn't one of them. I promise.
* The following scriptures were referred to in the above article: 1 John 4 (specifically verses 7,8) and 1 Corinthians 13.
A Mother's Rewards may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special occasions are definitely worthy of online idea surfing, but daily "visiting" via the world wide web all day, every day? Yeah, not so much. There is a truth that has been revealed to me lately. Said truth is this, a person can leave home without going anywhere. I don't mean by reading books or pretending either. Leaving is too easily possible via the world wide web. The very tool that has the potential to strengthen homemaking skills and open avenues of beauty also possesses the ability to lure a loved one out. Without caution, one can be lured out of the life God has designed them for into a world of personal choice. This virtual world of perfection isn't far; it's only one, small click away. Even the most well-intentioned can be snared.
Before this takes on the tone of a gloom and doom work, let it be made clear that there is nothing wrong with the internet. Neither is it wicked to utilize it to the full; it is a useful tool. When the tool begins to dictate to the user, however, it's time to put the tool back in the toolbox. When home duties and other responsibilities are neglected due to internet usage, it is the same as if the homemaker were spending all of his/her time indulging in pleasure instead of caring for those placed in his/her sphere of influence.
How is a person supposed to know when the tool of the internet needs to be used less often? Each one must determine the answer individually, or as a family. A few questions can be asked to aid in the decision process us though. How much time are our beloveds spending alone while we are online? How much time do we invest in our families compared to those in our virtual world? Are we spending time online for a legitimate purpose or as a means of escape from the reality we are currently in? Are our families and loves being strengthened by our online visits? Do those around us receive the very best part of us? Do we spend time with God each day? How did we spend our time before having the internet? What did we spend our days doing? Who did we visit? Did we read more? Where did we go during the time we now spend online? What have we sacrificed for our online excursions and relationships? Anything?
Online relationships and virtual communication contain huge blessing potential. It is up to each and every one of us to use these life-changing tool in ways that will bless our families and loved ones best. May our internet usage be used for the glory of God; may it be dedicated completely to Him. In Jesus' name we pray,Amen.