Monday, November 29, 2010

Deck the Halls

Christmas Tree

Trimming our tree this year is a little extra challenging because we have a very mobile little one, who is not quite old enough to be reliably obedient on what is "no touch". I'm all for house-proofing your child, but I am hesitant to leave temptations so easily available that could send a tiny one to the emergency room for a moment of disobedience. So for this year, we have kept the breakable glass and ceramic ornaments boxed up, as well as all of the metal ornament hooks. We have set our tree "in the midst of the garden", and it is the ideal "forbidden fruit" to work on some extra training. So far, preeeeeeetty good. :)

I'm not a big fan of tinsel, and while I like the idea of stringing popcorn and cranberries, it gets messy, and is a bit of a pain. I had a moment of pure genius though when I remembered that I have yards and yards of crocheted lace trim in one of my boxes of sewing supplies. I don't even remember when or where I got it, but it is PERFECT garland for our tree! The flat kind (not ruffled) works the best. The effect looks like a gentle flocking of snowflakes, and it is baby-friendly.

In an effort to fill in where the rest of the ornaments usually go, I pulled out a metal christmas cookie cutters and they look pretty nice up there. I will be looking for some crafty ideas to try my hand at making some ornaments with the littles.

For now... enjoy your holiday soundtracks and hot cocoa!

Here's a recipe for a yummy and thrifty hot cocoa mix:
  • 16 c. powdered dry milk
  • 1 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
Add 1/3 c. mix to 1 c. hot water and enjoy!

"It's the hap-happiest season of all!"

Everybody said...

At the suggestion of Preacher Man, I'm making an addendum to my post, A Preacher's Work Is Never Done. He made a good point that many of the works I listed were things that everybody should do - especially things like reading, studying, and praying. Also, many of my readers are not full-time preacher families, but are very dedicated to the works of their local congregations, and that is a wonderful and valuable thing. The church's phone line may not ring at your house, but you are quick to jump in and take care of things when you see a need, and I'm oh so grateful for those kinds of people! God sees your hard work, and so do others, and it is a real encouragement! Everyone has different strengths and abilities, and hopefully all of us are so busy working for the Kingdom that we don't have time to criticize!

I heard this song when I was a child, and I think it about sums it up:

To the work!!!

1 Corinthians 12:14- For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hymn Post: Tell Me the Story of Jesus

A dear one's favorite song... it has become dear to me also since she passed on.

Tell Me the Story of Jesus

by Fanny Crosby

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain -

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past.
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore.
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.


Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.


1 Timothy 2:5-6 - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (ESV)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Preacher's Work Is Never Done

Many of you have probably heard the old joke that preachers only work for 3 or 4 hours a week. Until you live and work in a preaching family full time, it is difficult to imagine just what is involved in the work, and why I stress that it is a lifestyle! I grew up with my Dad preaching part time and in addition, he was always very involved in the local work of the church. I remember talking to my husband about life as a preacher's kid when we were dating. He was skeptical of the fact that I really understood what he was talking about, but I assured him I understood completely. I. did. not.

What we do is a lifestyle - a rather unique lifestyle, and I feel like I'm still trying to figure out how to gracefully juggle the life we live. It is ever-changing according to present needs, and flexibility while maintaining a routine for my children is a real challenge.

So... the title of my post: A Preacher's Work Is Never Done

Here are some of the jobs a preacher often does:

What you would expect:
  • Preparing and preaching sermons
  • Preparing and teaching Bible classes for Sunday and Wednesday assemblies
If you think a little harder, you might also expect:
  • Writing and editing the weekly bulletin or newsletter
  • Home bible studies with members, community contacts, etc...
Side note - people often call asking for Preacher Man and are surprised when he is not at home. Many do not realize that he is gone nearly every evening doing Bible studies!
  • Writing and organizing class material
  • Changing the message on the sign
  • Answering phone calls and e-mails
  • If there are elders, meeting with them
  • Business meetings - there is preparation involved here too
  • Attending gospel meetings and singings
  • Preaching away from the congregation for special meetings
  • Attending all weddings, funerals, parties, etc... for all members of the congregation
  • Sometimes preaching for weddings and funerals
  • Researching, designing and submitting advertising
  • Maintaining the church website
  • Counseling upon request
  • Initiating difficult conversations - confronting people about problems
  • Visiting folks who are home bound or in prison
  • Personal study and research
  • Prayer
Then there are the weird things that the preacher often takes care of behind the scenes, because who else is going to do it?
  • Taking food and a Bible to a needy person who calls asking for it
  • Turning down the 90% of calls to people who are just asking for money - our standard answer is, "We do not have a fund for that, but we would love to pray for you or help you with your spiritual needs." We get a call about once a week. Sometimes more when rent comes due. We have had people come to our door before. Once about 2 days after we brought our baby home from the hospital. Preacher man left to get the man a hotel room because it was snowing, and I fixed him some food.
  • The church line is a business line. We get LOTS of calls from telemarketers.
  • Spending hours with the shop vac in the church basement because it flooded... again
  • Cleaning the building and restocking supplies because someone forgot... again
  • Shoveling snow... mowing grass... raking leaves
  • Meeting with repair men... after all, Preacher Man is always home (except that he's not!)
  • Trying to help with odd requests - I'll let you use your imagination... there are some odd ones, believe me!
  • Dealing with the mentally ill - some wander in during a service, some call repeatedly... the lady who called herself "The Prophetess" was a particularly interesting one. We try to show compassion, but sometimes, we have to set some boundaries.
  • Attending sporting events and games of some of the member's children to show support
  • Attending community events - good for getting out and meeting new contacts
  • Basically, being on call 24/7. Yes, we have answered phone calls for the church at 3 a.m. on multiple occasions. Even on vacation, we are "on call". Preachers do not have holidays in the sense that they have a day free of their duties. A "day off" is a rather foreign concept now.
I'm sure I have forgotten some things... some very important things. These are just some things I came up with from the top of my head, and I'm sure some of my friends could add a few to the list. I don't write this to complain, I just write it to share, and maybe to help people think. We love our life and feel like it is an honor and a privilege to serve in the way that we do. Our life is dedicated to meeting the needs of others, in particular, their spiritual needs. I can't think of anything better than that!

Show your local Preacher Man some love and appreciation tomorrow! I'm sure he works very hard, and a little appreciation beyond, "good sermon" means so much!

Venturing Out


We had a delightful Thanksgiving Holiday! The food was, perhaps, the best ever, and the company even more so! Now we are left with a quiet house, exhaustion, and all we have left is some turkey and dressing from the feast. The dressing by the way, got rave reviews! The recipe is here. I had many comment to me that it was the best they ever had! The recipe allows for a lot of lattitude, but this time I used half bread, half corn bread, and for the meats, I added a bit of bacon & 12 oz. of sausage, cooked and crumbled. Yum!

Monday is "Preacher Saturday" for us - Preacher Man generally takes the morning/afternoon off to do house chores and spend extra time with the family. We think we might pull out our winter decorations then. I have at least one holiday kid craft I'd like to share. I also have a little tutorial I'm working on for some baby mittens that actually stay on! Stay tuned!

Lastly, Church Mouse is taking a BIG LEAP forward to give Facebook a try. I thought it would be a useful tool in promoting the site, especially once I finally figured out that the reason I have been getting so many hits on my potato salad post, is all because of the nice link up Mrs. Deputyheadmistress made for me in The Common Room. I plan to give updates on new posts there, so it is another easy way to keep up with the latest posts.

I'm fumbling my way through, so as I have said, suggestions for the site are most welcome! I'm very much learning my way around the bloggy world.

Here I am on Facebook! Make Church Mouse a friend, or "like" me or something like that. ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesdays with the Word: Psalm 118

I am swamped with preparation for Thanksgiving... guests staying overnight are already on their way, and there is more cleaning, cooking, and decorating to be done. Still, in an effort to squelch my Martha tendencies, I wanted to take a moment during our quiet time today to think on heavenly things.

Psalm 118

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

2Let Israel say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."
Let those who fear the LORD say,
"His steadfast love endures forever."

5Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

10All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.

14The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
"The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16the right hand of the LORD exalts,
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!"

17I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
The LORD has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

19Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!

26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!

28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The plan for Thursday is as follows:

8:00 Prepare turkey - turkey takes its "last flight"

("The Last Flight" is a family tradition... before being stuffed and dressed for the roasting pan, the featherless bird is given one last flight through the entire house with the person carrying the turkey singing, "Gobble, gobble, gobble" as loudly and annoyingly as possible. This is the most fun when there are sleeping teenagers and 20 somethings around... I think the littles will be thrilled too!)

8:30 Turkey in oven, prepare rolls

sometime in here...
  • breakfast: cereal, bagels, OJ, milk, eggs for the extra hungry
  • set the table, set out cranberry orange relish and pickled beets
10:00 Fix mashed potatoes, keep warm in the crock pot
11:00 Take the turkey out of the oven, turn up the heat to 400*
11:15 Bake yeast rolls
11:30 Hand the turkey over to the men for carving, make gravy on the stove
11:45 Rolls out of the oven, turn down to 350*
  • warm up the sweet potato dish, stuffing, and corn casserole and any other sides my wonderful MIL brings
  • delegate someone buttering the rolls
  • Start bringing food to the table and delegate dishing out the 24 hour salad
12:00 Dinner is served!

Later: Pies and coffee
Later: grazing on leftovers... grazing on leftovers... grazing on leftovers some more

The question... do I use my everyday corelle, or do I drag out and wash up the pretty wedding china? Neither is conducive to fall colors, but I'm ok with that.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Deals at the Grocery Store

If you are an coupon mama like me, you may be a little disappointed in the pickings this week. Be not dismayed, some of the best deals of the year are out there!

Many stores run a free turkey/ham promo for Thanksgiving. For our store, we have a choice of a turkey or a ham. The sale price for the turkey is $1.19 and the sale price for the ham is $1.79. While we go with the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving, we enjoy ham more, and like having it for Christmas. My strategy: Buy the largest ham I can find and get it for free, freezing it until Christmas - then buy a modest size turkey for the amazing price of $1.19/lb. \

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Further reflecting made me think... $1.19 is really not such a great deal. I re-checked the sales fliers and realized my mistake. The store running the free turkey promo is charging $1.19/lb. but the competing stores have turkeys as low as $.39/lb. I should have gone to the other store for the turkey. :( I'm bummed. I spent way too much on the silly bird.

Live and learn, right? Don't make my mistake!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We started thawing our bird today... after a disaster year of thawing the bird to early, I now tend to err on the other side, thawing a bit later. I would warn my readers that if you have not started thawing your turkey, now would be the time!!! Otherwise, you can pay a bit of a premium for a "fresh" turkey that you don't have to thaw.

Other deals -
  • Sweet potatoes - these are going for as low as $.20 per pound! I bought 15 pounds so far! (We really love sweet potatoes!)
  • Off season items like ice cream - stash some in the deep freeze, or use it with your apple pie on Thursday!
  • Sausage - I'm seeing all-time low sausage prices and am stocking the freezer. I was thrilled to find an all-natural brand well-priced - just pork, salt, water and spices!
  • canned broth, cranberry sauce, and gravy - I don't usually purchase these convenience items, but they are nice for donating, or stocking your emergency food storage.
  • sour cream, cream cheese and such are surprisingly low as is cool whip - nice for your holiday desserts!
  • Several wonderful deals and coupons for nuts - again, a great time to stock the freezer
  • Clementines are back!! Big littles and I are thrilled!
Anyone else seeing "Black Friday" deals at the GROCERY STORE? This is a first for me, but I'm tempted... oh so tempted by the low, low price for toilet paper, and the beautiful free range, grass fed filet mignon for $2.99/lb. Mmmmm! Sounds like a Valentine's dinner for Preacher Man and I!

If you want to keep your sanity, get your shopping done ASAP and go in the morning to avoid the holiday craziness!

Reflecting on Reflections


Two things I want to consider today:

James 1:22-25

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

The concept of a paradigm shift: describing a profound change in our frame of reference

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Perhaps you have never heard the term before, but we have all experienced profound paradigm shifts in our lives. We see things one way, and then, usually based upon some new information we acquire, we suddenly see things in a new way... a different way... a way more aligned with TRUTH. Sometimes we do this with our physical appearance - seeing ourselves in the mirror every day to brush our teeth or fix our hair, but not really seeing ourselves as we truly are. As I get older, I tend to keep seeing myself as the way I looked when I was in high school - when I wore makeup and spent more time in front of the mirror. HA! I deceive myself! We all tend to deceive ourselves, do we not?

James and the rest of the gospel message calls for us to have a major paradigm shift, and not just one affecting our spiritual lives, but our WHOLE lives. We are called to look upon the perfect law of liberty, and instead of just hearing and continuing on, we are called to turn our lives upside down. Where once our lives revolved around ourselves, our careers, our children, our money, or our entertainment, we are called to make CHRIST our new frame of reference - our new center. It is a major paradigm shift and if done the way we are called to do in James, will change our entire world view. We will have a new occupation - a Doer of the Word.

Challenge yourself to take a good, hard look at yourself in the spiritual mirror (God's word). Have you truly changed your world view? Is Christ your frame of reference? Do you reflect Christ in your life?

Some passages to consider: Galatians 5 (The Fruits of the Spirit), Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount), The entire book of James

Did I step on your toes a little? Ouch - I'm feeling it. Time to get to work!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hymn Post: Face to Face

Further reflecting upon this post:

1. Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.

* Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

2. Only faintly now, I see Him,
With the darkling veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

3. What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.

4. Face to face! O blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.

By Mrs. Frank A. Breck

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Luke 23:44-46 - It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Having said this, He breathed His last.

Revelation 5:12 - Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!

Revelation 21:4 - And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

Revelation 22:3-5 - but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see His face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lucious Lemony Water


Water from the tap (and filtered if need be) is the most inexpensive and most healthful form of hydration available. Sadly, I am one of the many Americans that is not thrilled to drink glass after glass of water every day. The taste is not as thrilling as a bubbly soda, cafe mocha, or fruit juice. Water is just sooooo.... boring!

My solution: Lemons!

Lemon wedges give water a little extra spark! They look pretty through the glass, and give a nice bit of flavor without being overwhelming. The problem? Lemons are not very cheap, and they go bad quicker than I can use them.

My solution: Freeze the lemon wedges!

I buy lemons by the bag for about $3 for 6 lemons. I cut each lemon into 8 wedges by halving them down the middle, and then cutting each half into quarters. I pick out the large seeds if they are bothersome. I arrange the wedges rind side down on a plate and flash freeze them for a couple of hours. I transfer the frozen wedges to a quart size ziploc bag, and every day I pull out a nice little iced lemon wedge for my glass of water. I don't mind drinking glass after glass of this stuff, and it keeps me far from soda and other nasties I would like to avoid. For the purpose of full disclosure, I still drink a cup of coffee every morning, and enjoy a glass of iced tea with dinner if I've been a good girl. ;)

The cost of my daily lemon water: a little over $.06 per day

My bag of lemons lasts me 48 days, and I stay well-hydrated in the meantime!

"Count It All Joy"

I recently had a real test of my character. Not a single encounter or event, but a long term test - months long. It has ended in failure on my part. Epic failure. I'm saddened and disappointed in myself for the lost opportunity. I'm humbled by my failings, and am resolved to work on them, strengthening myself in order that I may do better in the future. In a way, this situation has revealed chinks in my spiritual armor that I did not know existed. I understand James 1:2-4 with much more clarity than ever before:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

I find myself weakened, but in a way, stronger than ever before! I choose to "count it all joy" letting "steadfastness have its full effect." I'm pressing onward and upward, towards completeness, wisdom, and maturity.

5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Potluck Saturday: Arroz con Pollo

arroz con pollo
Uploaded with Skitch!

I'm REALLY excited to share this recipe! After much researching and tinkering, I present my own recipe for Arroz con Pollo - or - Chicken with Yellow Rice.

2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp. (approx.) adobo seasoning*
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. oregano
coriander, parsley, and cilantro to taste
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. white rice
4 oz. sliced pimientos, drained
2 Tbs. olives
1 c. frozen peas
Serve with black beans.

Season the chicken pieces with Adobo and set aside. Heat the oil in a large pot - I use a stockpot - over medium heat. Saute the onions and peppers until soft. Add the minced garlic and saute until it starts to brown. Add the chicken to the pan, cooking and stirring until it is evenly browned. Add your spices and the chicken broth and stir well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then stir in the rice. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low, simmering for about 25 minutes.

After simmering, the rice should be soft, the chicken fully cooked, and all of the water should be absorbed. Gently stir in the pimientos, olives and peas. Serve with black beans.

Notes -
It would be more traditional and economical to substitute chicken thighs or other bone-in pieces.

*Adobo is a traditional seasoning mix that you can find in the latin section of your grocery store. I paid $.99 for the jar, and since we plan to make this dish often, I don't mind the purchase. If you prefer to mix up your own, Penzeys lists the following ingredients: garlic, onion, black pepper, mexican oregano, cumin, cayenne. Goya brand, which is what I bought, contains salt as the main ingredient.

The olives and pimientos certainly add a splash of flavor. I happen to love it, but if this sounds displeasing to your palate, by all means leave them out. Remember, recipes are merely suggestions.

This dish reheats quite well, and would most likely freeze well, though I have not tried it myself.


This post is linked as a part of The Common Room's Potluck Saturday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

Squeezing this one in at the last minute...

I am deeply thankful for my husband.

He most certainly embodies 1 Peter 3:7 - living with me in an "understanding way". My man is always looking out for me, taking care of me, and is quick to jump in when he sees me overwhelmed. I could not be the kind of mother I am were it not for him. We compliment one another so well and he both brings out the best in me, and motivates me to work harder and do better. He is an AWESOME Daddy for our little ones. They just adore him!

I could go on and on.

I'm just so thankful for my Preacher Man!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesdays With The Word

Psalm 66

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 Sing the glory of His name;
Give to Him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, "How awesome are Your deeds!
So great is Your power that Your enemies come cringing to You.
4 All the earth worships You
and sings praises to You;
they sing praises to Your name.

5 Come and see what God has done:
He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in Him,
7 Who rules by His might forever,
Whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.

8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of His praise be heard,
9 Who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
Yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance.

13 I will come into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to You,
14 That which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to You burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
because He has not rejected my prayer
or removed His steadfast love from me!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides

Cranberry Orange Relish

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! It has been my favorite holiday since I was a child. I refuse to even name the presumptuous holiday that continually tries to creep its way into Thanksgiving territory, but I am not giving it any quarter until after we have fully celebrated Thanksgiving!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about Thanksgiving this year because we get to host it and we have a number of family members coming for the day! It is going to be WONDERFUL, I just know it!

I'm already working on a menu. I don't feel quite so intimidated this year, because it will be the second time I get to host it. Actually, maybe the third... my brain is failing me at the moment. Here are some recipes for sides that I have planned:


Crock Pot Dressing
(Makes 18 servings)
1 lg. loaf dried bread, cubed (or about 16 c. bread crumbs - may combine bread/cornbread)
2 c. chopped meat - turkey, sausage, salami (opt.)
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
1/2 c. butter, melted
4 c. broth
1 1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
2 dashes of marjoram and cloves
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Mix this all up, put in crock pot. Cook on high for 1 hour, reduce to low for 6-8 hours.


Orange Cranberry Relish - this was my invention! I'm rather proud of it!
1 orange
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or 1 tsp. ground)
3 c. fresh cranberries
In a medium pot, combine the juice and zest of the orange as well as any loose fleshy bits. Mix in the sugar and the ginger. Turn the heat to medium and stir in the cranberries. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, crushing the cranberries as you stir. (For a thinner sauce, cook for closer to 10 min. For a consistency more like jelly, cook for 15 min. I prefer it somewhere in the middle - about 12 minutes.)


Corn Pudding


Green Bean Casserole - I just use the recipe on the side of the french fried onion can - only I use home grown/canned green beans! YUM!


Turkey Gravy
Pour out the pan juices from your turkey and let them sit for 10 minutes separating. Meanwhile, pour ¾ c. water or stock in the roasting pan and deglaze. (Scrape up the yummy little bits.) Whisk in 4 tbs. flour one tbs. at a time. Transfer this to a saucepan. Pour the fat off of the pan juices, then slowly add 2 c. of the good juices to the saucepan, whisking it all in. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook it down until it reaches the proper thickness. (If you wish, add 1 pkt. of gravy mix to season and to thicken.)


And then of course sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls. After going into a state of shock looking at the price of frozen dinner rolls last time, I ended up making my own. They turned out quite good, but I'm not in love. They are not the way I remember my grandma making them - fluffy inside, lightly crispy browned outside... I used to buy the Rhodes frozen dinner rolls and they were quite close to what my grandmother made if that gives anyone an idea of what I'm looking for. They don't sell them in my area, and I will not pay almost $1 per roll for Sister Schuberts! Seriously? They are mostly flour, water and yeast! That is highway robbery!

I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions, menus, and dinner rolls!

Editing this post to link up to The Four Moms Plan for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 8, 2010


A note - I'm still learning about blogging technique and such, so please bear with me on this journey. I'm hoping to incorporate more photos with my posts, but given copyright issues, I think I'm safer using my own. That means I need to start taking a LOT of pictures! I also need to figure out where to host them and such... So much to learn.

So far, I'm looking at using some themes for a couple of days a week, such as:
Sunday Hymn Post
Meditations for Monday
Wednesdays with the Word
Thankful Thursdays
and Saturday's Potluck Post

Anyway, any recommendations and requests for the blog are most welcome!

Thanks for reading!

Cooking With Dried Beans

Beans in the Crockpot

Beans are very, very cheap, especially if you use dried beans. They are also very good for you! They have lots of fiber and protein, beans paired with brown rice make a complete protein, and the more you eat them, the less of an "unpleasant effect" they have. Another key to reducing the gassy after effects is the long soaking/cooking time. I soak for 24 hours and cook for 24 hours and this helps a lot with digestion.

sorting beans

**Red or Black Beans, Pinto Beans & Black Eyes Peas
- 1 lb. dried beans
- water
- ham hock or bone (opt.)
- pickled jalapeno slices (opt.)
- 1 1/2 tbs. salt
- hot sauce to taste
Sort the beans first to remove any foreign objects or rocks. Rinse and wash beans in a colander in cold water, sometimes they can be a bit dirty. Dump into a crock pot and fill with water so the beans are covered by several inches of water. (The beans will expand as they rehydrate.) Let it sit overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse, place the beans back in the crock pot and fill up with fresh water, covered by 1.5" water. If you like a ham taste in your beans, add a ham hock. If you like a little spice, add as many jalapeno slices as you like. They will add a nice subtle flavor. Simmer for 24 hours on low heat. Add salt to taste. (Adding salt at the end keeps the beans from getting tough.) Serve with some hot sauce and/or cajun seasoning. Serve with rice and/or cornbread or use in a recipe.

Refried beans and spanish rice is lunch for church mouse and family several times a week. Before almost every single meal, Big Littles will ask, "Is it beans and cheese?" with a hopeful little voice. Obviously, this is a favorite around here! :)

**Refried Beans
Best with pinto beans, although some people prefer black beans. (If you intend to use your pintos for refried beans, leave out the ham hock.) Put about 1 tbs. oil in a fry pan or cast iron skillet and heat to medium. Saute 1 chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic. Add a few scoops of cooked beans - they can be cold from the fridge, but they will mash easier if they are already warm. Mash with a potato masher. When smooth, turn down the heat to low, put a lid on, and they will stay warm until you are ready to eat. If the beans begin to dry out at any point, add a little bean liquid. Great as a dip or for burritos/tostadas.
(This is Preacher Man's method - he says he's come up with this through experimentation, and is always open to suggestions for improvement.)

**Spanish Rice (to serve with refried beans)
Saute a small onion in 2 tbs. oil. When soft, add some minced garlic. Add 1 1/2 c. white rice and lightly brown it. Add 2 c. broth and 1 c. chunky salsa. Stir and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

I also make this using brown rice, you just have to let it simmer for 40-45 minutes instead.

This post is a part of the "Life in a Shoe" Bean/Lentil linkup AND the 4 Moms Lunch Menu linkup.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Praying for My Children

Before Big Littles was born, I prayed earnestly. I keep a prayer journal that I write in from time to time, and should use more often, so I still have one particular prayer recorded. I prayed for the safety of the pregnancy and birth, and that prayer was answered differently than I imagined. More than anything, I prayed that I would be able to teach and train this child in the way he should go, keeping Proverbs 22:6 in mind.
Train up a child in the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Here is an excerpt from my writings from several years ago:

"This child belongs to You, Lord. Thank you for this precious gift. The magnitude of the responsibility is great, Lord, and we do not take it lightly. You have given this child into our care for just a little while. With Your guidance, we will bring this child up in the nurture and admonition of Your word, preparing another willing servant and hard-working solider for Your kingdom. Grant us wisdom to know Your ways, that we may teach them to this child, that this child may also be blessed..."

My prayers for my child were always focused upon two things - 1. Thankfulness 2. Seeking wisdom and guidance for how I would teach this child. When this child was still a wee one, I was speaking with an older, wiser mother of many and fellow preacher's wife. She shared a wonderful piece of wisdom with me. She said that when her oldest child was just a baby, she realized that she had been praying just as I was, always asking for God to help HER make the right choices and decisions, and to do the right things to teach her child. She realized that this prayer was rather one-sided, and that it was not enough. She started praying for God to work upon the heart of her child also, that He would give her a teachable heart, that she would grow to love wisdom and instruction, and that her child would have a heart for the Lord. I'm so thankful that she shared this with me, because it has changed the way I pray for my children.

The task of raising a newborn to adulthood and instilling all of the knowledge and love of God within their hearts, and equipping them with all of the knowledge and skills they need to thrive on their own one day is absolutely daunting. I can only do this with help from the Lord. I pray for my little ones daily.

God, give me strength and wisdom as I undertake this most important task.

God, give my children a heart that longs for You.

James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Isaiah 28:9-10 - To whom will he teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
those taken from the breast?
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.

Sunday Hymn Post

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Words attributed to Dal­lan For­gaill

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesdays with The Word

So, I recently referenced Psalm 27:4 in this post.

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing I have asked from the Lord, that shall I seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to meditate in His temple." (NASB)

Today, I would like to focus on a different part of the passage - "to behold the beauty of the Lord". I rather like the translation from the ESV on this one...

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple."

No earthly being has ever seen God in his glory. We have accounts from three men in the Bible who had visions of God's glory, and we are blessed to have them written down for our learning, encouragement and edification. I thank God for these passages because they are some of the most beautiful, mysterious, and awe-inspiring in all of the Bible! From these passages, we get a tiny, tiny taste of what it will be like in heaven when we are able to "gaze upon the beauty of the Lord".

Are you ever awe-struck by a gorgeous sunset... a mountain range... the face of a sleeping child... imagine gazing upon the beauty of the Lord!

I will hit the highlights from some of the three passages here, but for the full effect, I recommend reading the chapters. Be awestruck!

Moses - Exodus 33:11-23

11 - So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend
19 - And he said,
"I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." 21And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."

Ezekiel 1 -

26And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

John - Revelation 4 -

1After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." 2At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

Don't you long to see it? Imagine how powerful it will be when we are not just beholding a "likeness", but the One True God! Surely, we, too, will fall down on our faces and worship Him!

Revelation 21:22-22:5 -

22And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

22:1 - Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 - They will see His face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crunchy Granola

While my rating is "Crunchier Than Grape Nuts" on the "How Crunchy Are You?" scale, this post is not about that...

It's actually about crunchy granola!


I wanted to try making homemade granola for years, but for some reason, it really intimidated me. The high price for what is really just glorified toasted oats finally gave me the nudge I needed to start experimenting and I am very happy with the results. We love eating granola in our house! We like it plain as a snack, on top of yogurt, with rice or almond milk, and I recently discovered that it makes a very nice topping on a muffin. If you have never made homemade granola before, don't be intimidated! If you can make chex mix, you can make granola!

To me, recipes are mere suggestions, and I almost never make something exactly the same way twice. Here are some of the recipes that I have used to come up with the perfect granola combo for us:

1) The Family Homestead - This is the recipe I started with, and is the main one that I use and tweak. I love that it makes 20 c. of granola at once and that I can stir it up in my big roasting pan. I leave out the powdered milk and substitute extra oats for the whole wheat flour. I just don't care for the floury, powdery stuff that ends up just being residue in my bowl. I think wheat germ would be a nice substitute.

2) Flourish's Cranberry-Orange Good Morning Granola - This stuff is like CANDY I tell you! I made it exactly as written the first time and it was just like eating a bowl of sugar cereal! Nice treat, but way too much for every day, and while I love the use of maple syrup, it is a very expensive ingredient to be using so much. I do love the craisins though and the orange peel was a stroke of pure genius! I now add orange peel to every single batch of granola I ever make!

3) Hillbilly Housewife's Skillet Granola - If you don't want to make an enormous batch, this is a nice easy way to do it! It comes out with less crunch, but it is still delicious.

So if I were to put my own recipe down on paper, or screen as is the case, this is what I would come up with:

Church Mouse's Granola 

42 oz. canister uncooked old fashioned oats 
1 cup shredded coconut
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 T. cinnamon
1 ½ t. salt
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup liquid sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc...)

1 T. vanilla
2 cup craisins (or other dried fruit)
2 cups nuts of your choice, chopped
(I like slivered almonds or pecans, walnuts are more economical though.)

Mix these ingredients in a large roasting pan, heat in a 300* oven for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  If this recipe is too large for you, consider freezing some in ziploc bags.

And just for kicks, the amazing muffins I told you about from Ina Garten - Banana Crunch Muffins. I have gotten rave reviews from the families I have shared them with. I got 2 dozen out of the batch and they keep for about a week sealed in an airtight container. They also freeze well, but only have their crunch when they are fresh.

Hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration to come up with your own favorite combination for granola. Enjoy!
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