Monday, May 24, 2010

In Him: Songs in the Key of Life, part 3

Yesterday's message that Pastor Rickey delivered taught us how to have a fresh start. Psalm 51 is a song of hope, we all need hope and a fresh start don't we? Money, greed, lying, bad language, anger, bad choices...there is hope in Him that He forgives and is always waiting to welcome us home no matter what we have done.

Pastor used this Psalm of hope to deliver a message that some may not want to talk about. I will admit, it's not the easiest for me to write about. God wants to welcome everyone with open arms, so If there is someone that this helps/reaches then that is part of His plan.

There IS a problem among those in the church and out, among adults and kids, among men and women, among married and single. What is it? The view for many that online pornography is socially acceptable. "Lots of people look at it." "What does it matter, there is no harm done."

Pastor Rickey shared some facts with us on the effects porn has on your brain. Did you know that it is as addictive as the strongest of narcotics? Did you know that it makes structural changes to your runs deep ruts in one direction toward that addiction? Do a Google search for "effects of brain by porn" and read for yourself the damage porn causes to a person's character, brain, marriage, family, career...

If you know someone who is not convinced from the moral side that porn is wrong, Pastor offered another excellent way to help someone determine if looking at porn is harmful. If they are married, have them ask their spouse if the act of them looking at porn makes their spouse feel more valued. I know their spouse's answer will be NO! If they are single or a young adult/child, ask them if they feel closer to God when they look at porn. Ask them if they feel guilt, shame, humiliation or regret. The GOOD news is they can be free of this addiction and these feelings by turning to God!

Pastor reminded us of the story of King David, chosen by God, a man after God's own heart, but he allowed his thoughts to turn to actions of adultery with Bathsheba. David wrote Psalm 51, which shows us no matter what we have done, how to have a fresh start with God.

1. Recognize your own sin, while acknowleging God's Mercy.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Psalm 51:1-3 (NLT)

2. Confess your sins and seek God's purity.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Psalm 51:4-8 (NLT)

3. Ask God for full restoration.

Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Psalm 51:9-13 (NLT)

We can learn from each others sins and pain. Though it is hard to make the bold choice of sharing with others our mistakes, we help others who suffer from the same pain.

4. Stay humble.

Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:14-17 (NLT)

A humble person is both transparent and teachable.

5. Vow to make worship a priority in your life.

Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. Psalm 51:18-19 (NLT)

Pastor shared these two passages as well that shows the family line that Jesus came from:

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. Matthew 1:1-2 (NLT)

Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah). Matthew 1:6 (NLT)

Why is Bathsheba mentioned in this lineage? There was adultery and sin, wasn't there? Pastor shared that she is here to show us God's love, how he takes our worst and weaves it in to His plan. "He can take your biggest failure, secrets and pain and give you a fresh start!"

Lastly, Pastor shared some resources to help reach those looking for help:

  • The Porn Event from May 23-28 present a 25 minute interactive experience focused on the real life effects of pornography.
  • Safe Eyes helps fight porn and impurity in your home.
  • Covenant Eyes is an accountability software that helps you and your accountability partner monitor where you should and should not be online.

In Him,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Him: Songs in the Key of Life, part 2

Pastor Rickey continued his series, "Songs in the Key of Life" with today's message teaching us how to ask for help. "One of the most frequent prayers in the bible is help!" But, as Pastor reminded us, while God didn't promise us a perfect life, He did tell us we would not be alone!

The really cool thing about God is that He listens to us! We can be real with him, about where we are in life, what we are struggling with and ask him to help!

Our Worship Arts Pastor, Jonathan, shared that one of the great things about songs is that they can say it better than we can at times! Isn't that so true? The song above from Hillsong "Still" says it better than I can so that is why I wanted to share it with you!

There always seems to be something that we need God to help us with! I am so thankful that no matter how big or small God always listens!

Pastor used Psalm 143:1-12 to walk us through a pattern for asking God for help...sending out an SOS!

Sending out an SOS

1. God, Listen!

a. Hear me, please!

Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Psalm 143:1 (NLT)

b. Don't look at my mistakes.

Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. Psalm 143:2 (NLT)

I am so thankful that He does not look at my mistakes, instead He is patient and forgiving and ready to listen! We just need to bring our worries and problems to Him!

2. I am tired of running from big things.

My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. Psalm 143:3-4 (NLT)

Pastor did something different today, different is good! Throughout his message he asked for audience involvement...bold souls willing to stand up and share how God has helped them. You can join in too!

One area that I'm losing the battle- ______________________

For me, it is a battle I have to remind myself to keep taking back to hubby's new pay structure and our house! This June will be four years that we have been in the house, almost two years since we tried to sell it in fear when values began to decline and hubby's company tanked.I am good for a few months after I take it to God...then I start to let fear creep back in and worry, and funny enough just last night I was telling hubby my fears were back again!

3. I know you have helped me before.

I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Interlude Psalm 143:5-6 (NLT)

One word that describes a time God helped you-_____________

One word? Finances. For all of the worry and fear I have taken to God over the years, He has always provided for our needs! Leaving my career of 15 years to stay home with our girlie took a huge amount of faith in Him. And I continue to say, that as long as He wants me to be home with her, He will bless it, He will provide. Thank you!

4. I need a clear answer.

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Psalm 143:7 (NLT)

Where I need an answer now-___________________________

Well, of course hubby and I are wondering if he will earn a bonus this year. I don't suppose God will send me an e-mail with that answer huh? But, I guess more important is the answer to keep living by faith in Him.

5. I need clear direction.

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Psalm 143:8 (NLT)

Where I need direction now-____________________________

I shared our experience with trying to sell our house out of fear and trying to control things...instead of praying to Him first. We finally did turn to Him in prayer and decided to live by faith. We are trusting Him that when and if we are to sell our house, He will guide us and we will know it is His will, not ours.

6. Save me, teach me, and lead me!

Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant. Psalm 143:9-12 (NLT)

Where I need to grow right now-________________________

Our previous Pastor Leonard once said "be careful what you pray for, you'll get it!" I say that with a smile on my face and in my heart. I have always prayed for a strong faith in God, to trust Him, not my own efforts, to give glory to Him! When I look at hubby's income, our house value and waiting on a second child He is building my faith! Thank you!

In Him,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remember When?

Isn't it neat how as our kids get older they want to know what they were like when they were younger? Now, I have a pretty good memory for big stuff, but for the little details my girlie is already asking me about I am thankful for two things I have done since she was born: keeping a journal and writing letters to her on each birthday!

A friend gave me the journal at my baby shower and told me to "start writing in it the day she is born and don't stop until it's full...then get another journal!" I love looking back to what I wrote the night she was born! I don't write in it every day, but I at least try to write in it once a month. I have a page that I write down what she dresses up as each year for fall festival too...can you imagine trying to remember what costume your kid wore 15 years ago? I can't! I also have a few pages saved to jot down funny things she says or calls things! As she has gotten older she has seen me writing in the journal a couple of times and decided she wanted to "write" too. I love those pages with her scribbles in the middle of my writing! She has her own "journal" that she now fills with the words she knows how to write and pictures she enjoys drawing.

Before girlie was born I read somewhere the idea of writing a letter to your child on each of their birthdays. You put them away and when they are older (I am thinking after college) you can give them the letters. Each year since her first birthday I write her a letter telling her how much she has meant to me in the past year, what new things she has learned, what I have learned from being her mom, my favorite memories of the past year...I also have been including thoughts in each letter about the type of person I hope she grows up to be...Jesus loving, honest, truthful, giving...On the outside of each envelope I write "Letter to Girlie on Her _____ Birthday Love, Mom!"

Remembering all of the little reasons I love her, love being her mom, and who she is as she grows up is something that not only works for me, but something I cherish!

I am linking up with We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday. Check out the other helpful tips over there! You never know what good stuff you will find! Kristen has some great tips on keeping your family safe online!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weight Watchers Friendly Chocolate Muffins

I was going through my recipe box and found a recipe that brought back such great memories I had to share it! It is still written on the same pink sticky note from our office! I had the blessing of working with three ladies that made each day coming to work fun (thanks SB, DS & CT)!

SB shared a super easy, super tasty and Weight Watchers friendly chocolate muffin recipe! At first when she told me the ingredients I was not so sure about these! They are really moist and super good though!

  • Duncan Hines Devils Food or Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Libby's Pumpkin (NO seasoning, just pumpkin, soup can size)


Mix cake mix and pumpkin together. Spoon in greased muffin pans or paper lined muffin pans. Bake according to box directions for time and temperature. That's it!

Thanks to Bake Space for this picture!

I also found a similar recipe but with added yum, bye bye Weight Watchers good points though! Our Best Bites has the recipe using Spice Cake mix and adding chocolate chips to the mix! Oh My!

I am linking up with Blessed With Grace for Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday. Check out the other taste inspirations over there!

Blessed with GraceBeauty and Bedlam


Monday, May 10, 2010

In Him: Songs in the Key of Life

I don't know about you, but songs have always had a way of connecting me to my emotions and thoughts. I can hear a song from my teenage years and still feel like I am back in that time when that song had the most meaning to me.

Today, our worship songs in church are one of my favorite parts of being there. I try to totally focus on the words and sing praise to Him. Sometimes I get so caught up in emotion that it's hard for me to sing because I get welled up. John Waller's song "While I'm Waiting" has held special meaning to me over the past couple of years.

Pastor Rickey is beginning a 7 week study on the book of Psalms that I am really excited and looking forward to..."Songs in the Key of Life!" The book of Psalms is a book of songs about life. I think Pastor said it best when he said, "in every mess there is a message." It is reassuring to me in times when there are no solutions that I can control that I can turn to Him!

Sometimes people can misunderstand that Christians are not praising God for all things, but rather we are praising Him in all things/circumstances. That's what Faith is all about, isn't it? Trusting in Him, that He is in control, that He will do what is best for us, that even when things are tough or don't seem fair He is teaching us, strengthening our faith, possibly to have us someday be there for someone else going through the same thing, right? Right!

So let's get to it! This week Pastor started the series with "A Pattern for Praise" from Psalm 145. He challenged us to try these 5 steps every day for 21 days to then create a habit of praise that will take over even when we are not thinking about it! As pastor said, "praise the Lord not curse the world!"

1. Praise God every day!

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:1-3 (NIV)

Yesterday in church we had such a treat...the little ones came in to say a poem and a sing a song to the moms! We so enjoyed seeing our girlie and her friends have such joy and praise for the Lord! I learn so much about having faith, trust and joy in the Lord from my girlie! She doesn't think twice about starting to sing a song to him regardless of who's around! If she has a problem, say the hiccups, she stops and prays right then to God to take them away! If you have a girl then you know how much they love their hair getting brushed...not! Or should I say knots? The other day she said "Jesus totally needs to take these knots to jail!" May we all sing spontaneous praise to God and have a deep faith that reminds us to give all of our problems to Him!

2. Praise God to the next generation!

One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm 145:4-7 (NIV)

One important thing we do when we pray together as a family is always start by giving thanks and praise for every blessing He has given us. Even at 5 my girlie is learning to focus on all of the good that God does and will continue to do!

3. Praise God for who He is!

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:8-9 (NIV)

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:13-14 (NIV)

He does not kick those who are down! He lifts us up, provides comfort, peace, He knows what we need! Thank you!

4. Praise God for how he provides for us!

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:15-16 (NIV)

He certainly provides for our needs! I am so thankful to Him for each day! We can in all circumstances "peel back the junk and see the giver of good" as Pastor shared with us!

5. Praise God for his loving care!

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. Psalm 145:17

His love is an action verb

  • He is near. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 (NIV)
  • He hears our cries. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19 (NIV)
  • He watches over. The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. Psalm 145:20-21 (NIV)

Pastor closed by reminding us of the awesome truth that Jesus is a friend who:

  • is compassionate
  • is gracious
  • is slow to anger
  • keeps promises
  • lifts me up when I am down
  • gives me what I need
  • is truthful
  • is never busy to talk and listen
  • has the power to fill my desires
  • runs to my cries of help
  • watches over me

What song speaks to you most at this time in your life?

In Him,

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Follow: Free Stuff Programs

Friday Follow Sponsored By
Adventures of a Wanna-Be Supah Mommy

I just had to share another game with you this week! And, bonus, I got it for FREE!

I buy Disney Movies and LOVE the Disney Movie Rewards Program! I have gotten so many cool items that I put away for Christmas presents for my girlie. OK, the one year I did get the singing Troy pen for hubby and the singing Gabriella pen for me, but mainly they are gifts for girlie!

The prizes change, but the latest one we got was the Lilo and Stitch's Island of Adventures DVD Game!

It can be long, but it is so interactive and fun you will be shocked when you look at the time! They do have a speed version too that cuts the time in half!

The tokens move on the board and the DVD transports you through different parts of the island! You get out of your chairs to cheer on your lizard in a race, compete in a surf competition and more! You only get to advance if you participate so hubby found out quick he better play along!

What programs have you found that offer great FREE stuff?

Happy Friday,

The Power of a Positive Mom: Introduction

I have mentioned before I love to learn! Yes, I was probably the annoying nerdie kid in school! I recently learned how much I loved learning God's Word, how to apply it to my life and fellowship with other ladies through bible studies at our church.

I also realized that it can be difficult for some to be able to take part in a group study like that due to their schedules. Since I always have a book I am reading/learning from and get so excited about the concepts I thought why not share them on my blog? It will be a virtual book club!

The book "The Power of a Positive Mom" by Karol Ladd has really been a handbook of encouragement to me over the years...what a good place to start!

Think about one of your greatest joys in motherhood and one of your biggest challenges.

The Introduction in the book can be summed up in four words "You Can Do It!"

Karol shares how every child needs a positive push in life, and as a mom it is our very important job to make a positive difference. "As moms, we have the opportunity every day to boost our children onward and upward. Ours is a very influential job. Through our affirmative support and loving care, we are in a unique position to help our children reach for their dreams and God-given potential."

Let's face it, it is pretty challenging to always stick to our good intentions! Do you feel like you spend your day putting out fires, tantrums, correcting, cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, cooking, need I go on?

Karol reminds us how we felt the day our little ones were born and first put in our precious! Then life begins, chaos ensues and we learn that being a positive mom is more challenging than we thought it would be!

The good news is that her book is written with great gems that really work when applied, to help you be a more positive mom!

"Yes, you can do it! With God's help and his Holy Spirit living inside you, you can be, as the writer of Proverbs said, "the wise woman (who) builds her house" (Proverbs 14:1). The seven principles I offer in this book are meant to help you recognize the amazing power that God has put in the hands of positive mothers-and to inspire you to become the positive mom you want and need to be."

I will be sharing the Power Points that are at the end of each chapter that include a suggestion for a bible verse reading, a model prayer, a positive choice, and an activity to reinforce the learned point from the chapter. "After all, God's power is not in the reading; it's in the doing!"

Discussion Questions

1. What is one thing you said "I will never do that" as a mom but now you have done.

2. Who has been the greatest influence in your life in helping you to be a better mom?

3. If you were going to choose one time of the day that you most enjoy or cherish as a mom, when would it be?

4. What is your most dreaded time of day?

I know we can't answer all of them...pick what jumps out at you! I will go first...

The one thing I said I would never do is put my child on a leash! Then I had her, at Disney, and panicked I would not be able to find this running, crazy girl! It wasn't exactly a leash, they make cute puppy and monkey backpack harness looking things now! I got her to learn that if she didn't want to wear the puppy then she had to agree to stay by mommy and worked...eventually!

I look forward to reading your comments!

I pray that from these postings you will have something new to take away and apply in your life as a positive mom! We are not perfect, but through Him we strive to be a little more of a positive light!

SeaWorld $5 Children's Ticket

Are you planning a trip to any of the SeaWorld parks before December 31, 2010? If you are a US Resident you can get a $5 Children's Ticket (ages 3-12) when you purchase an adult ticket!

More good news? 100% of the proceeds will be donated by SeaWorld to a wildlife conservation project of your choice!

Click here for details from SeaWorld Cares.

Have fun,

FREE Ice Cream

I previously shared with you how to get a FREE sub from my favorite place Firehouse Subs, how about some dessert too?

Coldstone Creamery and Baskin Robbins have Birthday Clubs you can join to get FREE Ice Cream on your Birthday!

Coldstone is also offering FREE ice cream for Mom on Mother's Day!

Check out my FREEBIES page for more details and deals!

Thanks Coupon Clippin Daddy for this treat!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Girlie's Giggles

I think it would be fun if things were called what our kids think they're called, don't you?

Wouldn't it be cute to take your children to the "Babyatrician?"

Maybe our pets wouldn't mind going to see the "Vegenarian?"

You wouldn't feel guilty for eating all of those Girl Scout "Skinny Mints!"

Although I am not sure I would drink as much "Root Beard!"

Do you think Johnny Depp would appreciate his name changing to "Johnny Deaf?"

My all time favorite is that my girlie calls M&M's "Dum Dums!"

Thanks girlie for always bringing giggles to my day!

What has your kiddo renamed?


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wipe Out!

I can be a bit of a germ-a-phobe! I guess I just think (way to much) more about the path things take and the little germ guys they pick up along the way. I can think this through quite fast too! That is a big reason I LOVE baby wipes!

Before girlie was born I remember thinking about what expenses would be temporary...diapers and wipes were at the top of that list. She's now 5 and I can't imagine not having baby wipes handy!

I keep a convenient travel pack that I refill daily in my bag wherever we go. My hubby thinks I should use something with antibacterial stuff in it, but I like how gentle the wipes I use are. They must be better than nothing because we don't get sick too often. Here are a few instances we use them:

  • Wiping down the table when we eat out
  • They work better than a napkin with messy foods
  • We have annual passes to Disney...hands are constantly wiped after rides, activities, you name it
  • Great for a clean-up after the lolly pop from the bank in the car
  • After dance class in the car...before she eats her snack
  • After church...again before snack time in the car
  • When we are out shopping and girlie wants a snack after touching everything...out comes the wipes
  • After the doctor or dentist know they are touching stuff and of course want a snack!
  • I read a new one for home use, tried it, works my plantation shutters!

I know washing hands is best, but as you can see I would be in public restrooms a lot...and don't get me started on how I feel about those! I do have little bottles of antibacterial liquid for serious disinfecting, but I don't use them all the time because they can be harsh on your hands...especially as often as I feel the need to clean!

Our kids really do learn from what we girlie does not like dirty hands or face while eating! Don't worry she is not as crazy as I am! Keeping our family clean, healthy and now dust free works for me!

This post is linked with We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday. Check out the other creative solutions over there!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cheesy Vegetable Pasta

My girlie has been asking me forever to buy "different" veggies when we go grocery shopping. These are "different" to me because I have never attempted to prepare them! The other day I came across a recipe for Cheesy Vegetable Pasta and it had a couple of the unusual for me veggies...zucchini and eggplant. So I figured if she was brave enough to try to eat them I would be brave enough to try to cook them!

Did I mention the recipe required the veggies to be broiled? I have never used the broiler in my life! After I figured out that it was just the top element that heats in the oven I was a little more relieved. The recipe said to cut the zucchini and eggplant in half length wise and brush with a tasty mixture of olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, salt and pepper. This process got scary again for me when I had to turn them over to cook on the other side though...that broiler setting is HOT and there I was trying to flip them over with the door open and the rack pulled out some. Did I mention I learn my cooking through trial and error?

This dish had great flavors! My girlie was initially scared to try the eggplant once she saw what it looked like out of the oven! She did love the zucchini...that was all of our favorite of the two new veggies we tried! I did omit one of the ingredients...fetta cheese...hubby doesn't like! I know, I normally make stuff with an ingredient he "doesn't like" and I just don't tell him it's in there! I wanted to be nice this time!

Here is the recipe from Real Simple.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 pound ziti or penne
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 4 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup) **I didn't use this
  • 1 cup prepared tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded **I used extra to make up for not having Feta


Heat the broiler. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the oil with the vinegar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and a few grinds of pepper and brush the mixture on the cut sides of the zucchini, eggplants, and onion. Arrange them cut-side up on a large, shallow baking pan. Broil the vegetables until golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut the zucchini crosswise into thin slices. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces. Chop the onion coarsely.

Heat the oven to 350ยบ F. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Return the pasta pot to the stove, add the garlic and the remaining tablespoon of oil, and cook over low heat until the garlic sizzles. Stir in the oregano and mint.

Add the cooked pasta, broiled vegetables, chopped tomatoes, Feta (I skipped that and layered mozarella in the pan instead), the tomato sauce, pepper flakes, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few more grinds of pepper. Transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and golden, and a knife inserted in the center for 5 seconds comes out hot.

This post is linked with Blessed With Grace for Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday. What new dish will you find to try today?

Blessed with GraceBeauty and Bedlam


Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Him: He Fights For Us!

Today Pastor Rickey presented his final message in "Holy Ground". He shared the story of Gideon, the out of control culture he lived in and how God wanted him to be a part of the solution.

I struggle with wanting to control situations, things, I said I struggle! I am thankful for the day I read Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

That verse helped teach me to turn my worries and need for control (which, as we know, lack of control leads to stress when control is what we seek) over to Jesus. As pastor shared, God answers prayers, maybe not the way we would like to see them answered, but He does find creative solutions to our prayers. The cool truth is that we can do so much more through God than we can on our own!

I know, that takes a lot of faith, to turn your worries about your finances, health, you name it...over to Him! The awesome truth is that when we let Him, He fights for us! Thankfully God is patient with us! Judges 6:11-39 NIV shows the patience God showed Gideon with his lack of faith.

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
"But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."
The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"
"But Lord , " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family."
The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together."
Gideon replied, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you." And the LORD said, "I will wait until you return."
Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.
The angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth." And Gideon did so. With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"
But the LORD said to him, "Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die."
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
That same night the LORD said to him, "Take the second bull from your father's herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father's altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.
Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering."
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
They asked each other, "Who did this?" When they carefully investigated, they were told, "Gideon son of Joash did it."
The men of the town demanded of Joash, "Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it."
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, "Are you going to plead Baal's cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar." So that day they called Gideon "Jerub-Baal, " saying, "Let Baal contend with him," because he broke down Baal's altar.
Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.
Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised- look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said." And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew." That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

What can we learn from this passage? Pastor Rickey shared what happens Before The Fight:

1. Before God asks me to do something big, He will start small.

2. After God asks me to do something, He will confirm it.

Confirmation from God usually comes in 4 ways:
  • God's Word We have the answers to how God wants us to live in the Bible!
  • Prayer Sometimes we need to pray for wisdom or understanding, not just for things.
  • Fasting If you are healthy, skipping lunch can help you sharpen your focus on Him.
  • Godly Counsel Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

3. Sometimes God will empty your resources so that He gets the glory for victory. Pastor shared how God took Gideon's 32,000 men willing to fight down to 10,000 and finally to 300! Why? So they could not take pride in themselves for the victory, instead they would know it was God's victory!

I don't know about you, but this is encouraging to me! When we rely and lean on Him, then when the victory comes, we know and can give Him praise that if it were not for Him we would not be celebrating a victory! I shared before that we are putting our faith and trust in God with our home (is your home worth less than you owe too?), the change in my hubby's pay, whether we will be blessed with another child, me staying home with our daughter...boy, God sure does take on a bunch of our worries, huh? Thank YOU!

How To Let God Fight For You

1. Listen for direction from God before facing the conflict. I know, that takes patience from us, but it is so worth the pain we are saved from mistakes of haste!

The LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place." So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. During that night the LORD said to Gideon, "Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. "I had a dream," he was saying. "A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed."
His friend responded, "This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands."
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. Judges 7:7-15 (NIV)

2. Act in Faith! Pastor shared that God knew Gideon's faith wasn't strong so He gave Gideon confirmation. Aren't you thankful that God knows each of us so well, knows what we need?

He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, "Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands." Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
"Watch me," he told them. "Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.' " Judges 7:15-18 (NIV)

3. Unleash the power of praise and let God fight for you! You may know what God wants you to do, take a step of faith, don't let fear, lack of control or anything hold you back! Pastor reminded us that it is not our weapons that win, it is God who wins fights!

Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. Judges 7:19-22 (NIV)

Give Him thanks and praise in all circumstances, knowing that He will be victorious for you!

Pastor ended service with this exercise:

  • Put your fists on your knees and close your eyes
  • Picture your biggest battle you are facing in your fists
  • Then, turn your palms down, name it, and tell Him you are releasing it to Him
  • Face your palms up and ask Him to fill you with joy, the Holy Spirit and a heart to praise in the middle of this mess
  • Tell Him you know that He will take care of everything and Thank Him

In Him,

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