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Faith's Firm Foundation: February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Food Friday: Recipe for "Haystacks"

Hello! It's Food Friday and today I'm sharing our family's favorite meal!  It has become a "Signature Meal" for us--you know, one that everyone associates with you!  We have served this meal for company, for large gatherings, for our daughter's graduation Open House with 250 guests, and for just our family of 4.  It is very versatile, everyone enjoys it, it's super simple to make, and it's delicious! What more could you ask for?!

Serving Haystacks is an adventure in eating!
Encourage your family and guests to be adventuresome
in the toppings they take,
and have fun with it!
Serves: 8-10 (Easy to double, triple or quadruple)
2 lbs ground beef, browned
1 small onion, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 (15 oz) cans chili beans with chili gravy or red beans (we use dark red kidney beans)
3 (10 oz) cans mild enchilada sauce, or jars (15.5 oz) of salsa (we use Tostitos original salsa, and use half mild and half medium)
1/2 tsp chili powder (you can use more depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste

Here's the Fun Part! Toppings (or Condiments):

Serve In a Large Bowl or Basket:
Corn Chips or tortilla chips (We use stoneground tortilla chips)

Serve in a Crock Pot to keep warm (if possible):
Brown Rice

Serve In Large Bowls:
Shredded lettuce or greens
Shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes

Serve In a 6-space divided Tupperware server: or other small bowls:
Apples (Chopped)
Celery (Chopped)
Sliced Water Chestnuts or Jicama
Pineapple Tidbits, drained
Black Olives (Chopped)

Serve In medium bowls:
Peanuts (dry roasted are nice)
Chopped onions
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt
Extra Salsa (including hot if you like)
Ok, Now here's how you do it! Make your chili first:
Combine all chili ingredients in a 6-quart slowcooker: browned beef with onion, more onions if you want, tomato sauce, kidney beans, salsa, chili powder, garlic salt and pepper.
Cover and cook for 2-3 hours on low or 1 hour on high.

Preparation and Serving:
Now chop up your toppings.  You can do some of them ahead and keep in the fridge until serving time. This simplifies last-minute prep.  If you want to try other toppings, go for it!  Many of these toppings were experiments, and now we love them.

For serving, we set the table, and then put all the food on the counter and let people come up with their plates and serve themselves--they ALWAYS come back for more (and we encourage them)!
We set it up like this:
First there's a Large bowl or basket of chips, then a Crockpot (plugged-in if possible) keeping the rice warm, (you can also serve baked potatoes, but we don't usually). Then next on the counter we have the Crock Pot of Chili (kept plugged-in if possible). Next comes Larger bowls of cheese and lettuce (most people like these). Then I use my Tupperware Large Divided serving thing with 6 spaces in it and other small and medium bowls for the remaining toppings, with a few medium bowls for the onions and sour cream. It's up to you whether you put the salsa in bowls or leave it in bottles--we've done both.
We give instructions:
We instruct our guests that they can choose one or all of the first ingredients (rice, chips potatoes), and break the chips up on their plate, then add chili, and then toppings.  And we encourage people to have fun, and try some that they wouldn't expect to taste good together!  People are so surprised by how good it tastes to mix it all up!  Some of the toppings are like Taco Toppings (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream) and some of them give you a kind of sweet and sour taste (pineapples, apples, salsa, plain yogurt), but they taste phenomenal all together!  My favorites are the crunchy (peanuts, jicama, celery) with pineapple, coconut (my husband's favorite) and salsa and sour cream! but Experiment!  This is what makes it fun!  People are amazed at the combinations and then amazed that they love them!!
People have so much fun when they have tried something and found out it's really good and they're so surprised! Then they want to go back and be more adventuresome!
The reason they call them Haystacks is because of the shape on your plate after you've piled on the toppings:  it looks like a Haystack!

I hope you'll love this recipe as much as we do! Enjoy!

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Follow Friday #7

Follow Friday again!  This reminds me of the little song I learned as a child:
Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
But the other's gold.

I made a lot of new friends last week--if you want to find some new blogs and new followers, go to either One2Try or Hearts make families or Midday Escapades (you just have to link through one, cuz they're all joined) and then follow as many of the hundreds of blogs that are linked as you want; it's a great way to find blogs that you will really enjoy reading and get connected! So, follow their instructions which are easy! and

MckLinky Blog Hop


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Transparency

Thanks, Iris, at Grace Alone, for hosting this month!
Please visit to participate and to read other thankful hearts! 
Today is Thankful Thursday, and I am so grateful to God for the leading and conviction that He gives through the indwelling Holy Spirit. God is working in me right now--I know because there's a deep stirring in my heart--and I'm so aware of His presence. But I'm also aware that He's working on and in me, you ever hear a speaker on the radio and the Lord brings their message to mind over and over in subsequent days and you're still thinking about how God wants to apply it in your life? Then you read a devotional, and somehow it ties in, then you read a Bible passage in your quiet time, and God causes you to cry out to Him in prayer. All the time, you feel that all of these are related and God is moving. I am deeply grateful for this work of the Holy Spirit in me.

There's a challenging post over at Faithful Bloggers on transparency in blogging. (Don't tune out if you're not a blogger, because it will apply to anyone who talks.)  I left a comment, but then realized it was really a post, so I share it with you here. This is near and dear to my heart. As Christians, how much, and what should we share? This applies whether we are writing a blog, talking with a friend over coffee, or whatever situation we are in where we are sharing details of our personal life. So, please read the post, and here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

"Great post. It really is a lie, if we project a whole different persona on our blog. There's nothing 'Christian' about it. We need to be women of integrity, but also not hypocritical. But here's where, for me, it becomes a 'fine line'. We are not called to share every little detail of our lives, undiscerningly, in an attempt to be 'real'. We are told to think on what is lovely, true, of good report, etc.(Philippians 4:8) and that includes what we say and cause others to think about on our blog. We have a responsibility to our readers, not to cause them to read what will not be edifying (building them up). If my "honesty" and "transparency" defiles, encourages others to lower their standards of holiness, or excuse sin, then I am causing others to stumble. Yes, I fail miserably, sin regularly, let myself and others down, but is it going to help, or hurt, another's Christian walk to share it? I am finding it increasingly important to ask the Lord, 'Should I share this? Is it necessary to reveal this? What do you want me to say? Will it help another or am I just making myself feel better about acting in an unChristlike way, or doing that stupid thing, by sharing it with someone else? Am I looking for comfort from others by hearing them say, 'Oh, yeah, I do that, too'? (Then I must not be so bad, after all?)'
I mention all these things because I struggle with this issue--when to share, what to share, how much detail to go into, what is edifying, what is defiling. I want to be above reproach. To have/keep a "good name" (Prov. 22:1) I don't want to ever bring the Lord's Name into reproach, or sully it. For me, it's not only being transparent that's important, but my motives. Putting forward a 'persona' may be to make myself look better, but 'telling all' may be to cause others to like me, and get more comments, 'friends' or whatever. I have given my blog to the Lord. I pray that He is always glorified by it, and that I would speak as He would speak, and live in such a way, that what I say and what I do are one.
Wendy @ Faith's Firm Foundation"
A couple of other thoughts occurred to me after posting this comment: I think it's important also to remember to be loyal to our families:  husbands, of course, but also, our children. Sometimes we feel free, as moms, to tell the most embarrassing stories about our children, as though they have no feelings. I have been guilty of this, and God's convicted me.

Perhaps this is more of an issue for people like me: really "out there" and open, honest (sometimes to a fault), wanting to see others' lives changed by Christ and so sharing some of my sins in an effort (consciously or unconsciously) to encourage others to examine their own lives for sin and repent of it, and grow in Christ.

I'm very thankful to the Lord today that He not only leads and convicts me, but gives me the power to do something about it, when I hear Him saying, "This way. Here's what you need to do."

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fantastic Homeschooling Websites

Hello Friends!
 I just found some great links for you Homeschoolers and those thinking about Homeschooling!
Important note, though:  No matter what age your children are, or even *if* you have children, there is something on one of these sites for you!
The first website I have to recommend to you today is Design Your Homeschool. It is History-based and emphasizes the use of lots of "living books" ("living books" is defined by Carole Seid, of "Teaching History through Language Arts" fame, as a book that your kids beg you to read "just one more"--page, chapter, etc.)  This is similar to the way that we Homeschooled, but I will save that for a later post.
I totally believe in the premise that each family is unique, and therefore their Homeschool will be different from everyone else's to a degree.  So, this site helps you develop your individual approach.  Having said that, I also believe, as this site encourages, that "living books" and some of the approaches and methods of Charlotte Mason are valuable, such as reading living books, followed by "narration" by the child (where the child is retelling the story back to you).

What I liked about this site:
Its Biblical emphasis
Encouragement to use "living books" and the library
Many Creation resources (such as Answers in Genesis/Ken Ham books)
Much recommended curriculum which I recognized as being excellent
An encouragement to Homeschoolers to set goals and know why you were doing what you were doing, and tailor-make your teaching to your children and your family.

When you go to this site, get a cup of coffee or tea, because there's a ton of stuff and links to look at!  Some of what you will find at this site:
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Begin and how to design your Homeschool. Here is one of the most important quotes from this site, and one I absolutely agree with!
"Step Two is choosing your Course of Study or Curriculum. Perhaps, the first thing you have thought about after making the decision to homeschool is, "What Curriculum do I buy?" If you want to know how to start homeschooling, you need to take it more slowly than that. You will make curriculum decisions based on what your goals are."
I felt like she really holds your hand (a good thing when you're starting out and perhaps have some fear and trepidation) and helps you, without telling you how you *have* to do it.  I really liked that.  There is also a Q & A Forum, and opportunity to ask her questions.
Curriculum recommendations in all the subjects (I've not checked these out)
Free printables including: Copywork divided by age group (both tracing and writing/with lines/ Bible verses), Dolch sight words list, Homeschool Planner Pages, and more.
Organization tips
Links to Homeschool Resources

I loved what I saw of this site!
Ok, what can I say...hmmm...this is one of the best links I can give you to books that will change your life as a Christian and that of your children. You think I'm exaggerating? Try them out, read some articles, read some books--Then write me and let me know how it's changed your life:)!
(Please tell them I sent you:)

What I like about this site:
Its firm emphasis on Biblical character!
The book reviews and articles on how to evaluate reading material (which will convict you--be warned!)
The Keepers of the Faith and Contenders for the Faith program
The Emphasis on Skill-building, with help and resources on how to teach skills to your children
The Books!!! (Books which have become dear friends to me, which were introduced to me by this site, e.g. Isabella Alden books)

I am very excited about these websites and believe they will be of great help to you!  I hope you'll be as excited about them as I am!  Let me know what you think!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Timely Tips on Tuesday: Homeschool Resources

I thought I would share some wonderful Homeschooling Resources with you today!
Have you heard of HSLDA? (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) Maybe you think of it as an organization that will help you if you ever have anyone challenge your right to Homeschool, or an "insurance program" of sorts for Homeschoolers, providing legal support when, and if, you need it. Well, that's "part" of it. But

HSLDA has so much more to offer you!  At their website you will find:
  • Valuable Statistics that will encourage you and relieve your worried relatives
  • A Link to a Free Copy of "You Can Homeschool"--A Resource that will encourage you if you are contemplating Homeschooling
  • You Can Homeschool!, How To Do It, and I Won't Ruin My Kids?
  • Info on Support Groups and State Laws
  • Answers from Experienced Leaders in the Homeschool movement on your Key Questions (such as, Do I need a college degree, How much time does it take, Statistics regarding Socialization, What about High School, and "Are You Sure I Won't Ruin My Kids?")
  • Useful Tips
  • Articles
  • Testimonials

Go to HSLDA now and check it out!

Next, if you haven't heard of NHERI, I am very excited to be the one to tell you about them! NHERI (National Home Education Research Institute)
What is NHERI? From their website: "NHERI is the National Home Education Research Institute. NHERI conducts and collects research about homeschooling (home-based education, home schooling), and publishes the research journal called the Home School Researcher. The institute has hundreds of research works documented and catalogued on home schooling, many of which were done by NHERI. Simply put, NHERI specializes in homeschool research."

Why should that be exciting to you?  Well, every Homeschooling Mom has had to give answers to good, but difficult, questions from well-meaning, "concerned" outsiders, and wished she had:
  1. Answers readily available at her fingertips
  2. Something in print she could give to the person, that could answer their questions better than she could and
  3. Reassurance that what she *believes* is true about the rightness of her choice to Homeschool, really is!
Well, that's exactly what NHERI gives you!  It is a deep well of encouragement.
Here's some of what you will find at their site: 
  • I recommend first, to you, the "Home Education Reason And Research" Report. It is an 8 page long, 8-1/2 x 11 full-color report which addesses topics such as:  the teaching parent’s education level, academic achievement of students, population growth, philosophy, government (state) regulation and homeschool achievement, psychological and social development of students, and success of the home educated in adulthood, all with research to back up their findings. A great resource to share with concerned grandparents, and other random relations who really do care. (It will also greatly relieve your own mind as a Homeschooler.) One copy is $2.95, and the prices go down from there according to how many you order.
  • Also available are Fact Sheets, each $1.00, that show the results of research on those questions everyone wants to know: What about Test Scores, Do Very Many People Really Do This?, Why Do They Do This? (Reasons for Homeschooling), Do Homeschooled Children Grow Up to Be Able to Function in Society and Can They Get a Job?, and more.
  • Books including "Home-Educated and Now Adults" which highlights 7000+ adults who were Home-Educated during their elementary and secondary school years.
  • They have a new DVD out, called "Home-Based Education: The Informed Choice", a great resource for you, if you are considering Homeschooling, and a wonderful resource for you to be able to share with your friends and family.
  • An Online Store
Check out NHERI today!
These are just two resources,
but I hope they will be an encouragement and help to you!

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Timely Tips on Tuesday: Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads" Cooking Low-Fat Chicken Cordon Bleu

Do you want to eat well, but lose weight (or watch your weight), too? Here's a low-fat recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu that you might enjoy! Again, Rob Barrett (from "Cooking for Dads")shows us how to make it easy. Enjoy!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

"Love and Marriage" Series: Dating and Courtship

In our complex world today, how does one meet and marry one's “true love”? The two main methods of meandering or marching towards matrimony today are “dating” and “courtship”.  Courtship has been around, well, forever. Dating is rather recent. What happened in history to cause the change?

Let's look at what some writers have written in answer to this question. "As cultural historians Alan Carlson and Beth Bailey put it in the 'Mars Hill Audio Report, Wandering Toward the Altar: The Decline of American Courtship', prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together in order to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.  The man and the woman usually were members of the same community, and the courting usually was done in the woman's home in the presence (and under the watchful eye) of her family, most often Mom and brothers.
However, between the late 1800s and the first few decades of the 1900s the new system of 'dating' added new stages to courtship.  One of the most obvious changes was that it multiplied the number of partners (from serious to casual) an individual was likely to have before marriage." Quoting from "A Brief History of Courtship and Dating in America, Part 1" by the Rev'd Skip Burzumato (

Men and women began seeing each other in public places, rather than in the girl's parlor.  The fact that the process men and women undertook in finding a mate changed is undeniable. Where courtship had been customary, now dating became the norm. But, was the object the same for both?  "Beth Bailey in her book, 'From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America' observes that by the 1930s and 40s, with the advent of the 'date' courtship increasingly took place in public spaces such as movie theaters and dance halls, removed by distance and by anonymity from the sheltering and controlling contexts of the home and local community.  Keeping company in the family parlor was replaced by dining and dancing, movies, and 'parking'".  Changes in the outside world also played a part in the advent of "dating" as we know it.

Sexual values changed, birth control became possible, Christianity became lax, psychology and "experts" became popular, WWI took place, dramatic changes took place in what was acceptable dress (hemlines rose, corsets were gone for the most part, more skin was exposed), the term "flapper" was invented, transportation was rapidly changing (resulting in men and women travelling for work and pleasure, thus having a new "anonymity" away from the watchful eye and protection of family, especially fathers and brothers, and friends), feminism... the world was changing, and with it "Love and Marriage."

Through the 1800's and then into the 1900's, following the Colonial Period, romance came to play a part in courtship. "As families and neighbors lost influence over couples, genteel standards of propriety came to guide courting behavior.  Particularly after the Civil War, an elaborate system of rules governing courting emerged.  On a woman's invitation, men conducted formal 'calls' to her home, during which couples might converse, read aloud, play parlor games, or give a piano recital.  Parents gave their children privacy to court alone, often removing themselves from the parlor, trusting that decorum would prevent improper behavior.  As the century progressed, however, new opportunities for interacting outside the home emerged.  College enrollments rose, and students developed their own rules governing relationships.  More women entered the workforce, particulary as schoolteachers.  And especially in urban areas, new public diversions like dance halls, amusement parks, theaters, and parks enticed courting couples away from the safety of their parlors.

World War I accelerated the disintegration of etiquette based on the separate-spheres ideology, (ed.: the idea that men have their sphere outside the home and women's sphere was in the home) but popular magazines and advice columns quickly outlined new rules to replace the old.  By 1925, traditional courtship had fallen out of fashion.  Instead, young couples began to go on "dates," which differed significantly from courting:  They cost money, focused less on long-term commitment, took place in public, and were initiated and paid for by men.  Standards of sexual morality also changed, and the terms "necking" and "petting"--the former referring to kisses and caresses above the neck, the latter to the same below it--entered public discussion, giving names to previously unspoken private activities. In some circles, young people dated widely, rather than with one exclusive partner, since status hinged on being seen regularly with different desirable dates.  During this period, for example, people considered dancing all evening with one partner a social failure:  the 'belle of the ball' was the young woman who danced with more partners than anyone else." Quoting from "Courtship and Dating" (The Oxford Companion to United States History 2001 by Paul S. Boyer
As we can clearly see, there were many factors influencing the change from courtship to dating. We can also clearly see that the change was not all good. We've touched on a few of the differences between dating and courtship. But, what really are "dating" and "courtship"?  It is necessary, but difficult, that we define our terms. It's easier to describe, than define, them.  What are some of the characteristics of each?

As we read above,  
Costs money
Focuses less on long-term commitment
Takes place in public
Is initiated and paid for by men
Standards of sexual morality also changed (when switched from courtship)
Has no one exclusive partner
No parents present
Boy asks girl
Purpose: fun (surface relationship--"me" focused)
Often physical involvement
(In modern times) Young, sometimes very young, participate
One or both persons in the couple are unprepared to marry
Artificial: only see the person "trying to show their best"
Lust, not love
Preparation for divorce: Go on to another partner if this doesn't work out

Father/parents involved
Boy asks Dad's permission
Chaperoned and directed by girl's father
Intention/focus is on marriage
Serious-minded, getting to know character, "other-focused"
More Real (seeing the person in the home interacting with their siblings and parents,
doing routine things, joining with brothers and sisters in family work and activities)
Often thoroughly prepared to marry before entering courtship
Often no physical contact (saving first kiss until at the altar)
One partner (except in rare cases)
Preparation for lifetime commitment within a covenantal relationship
Love, not lust, with characteristics of 1 Corinthians 13

Most of us are familiar with what Dating looks like, but may be saying, "What on earth do you do in courting nowadays? Is it like an arranged marriage?" I know you have many questions. In upcoming posts I'll be offering a quite-lengthy list of resources.
Also, who doesn't like hearing how a couple met and fell in love?! So, I thought it would be fun and informative to hear some "Courtship Stories"! So, beginning next week we'll have the first of what I hope will be a few, at least, fun interviews with Couples Who Courted and How They Did It!  I also hope to hear from some parents and get their take on it!

Don't forget to Grab my "Love and Marriage" button on the sidebar!

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Welcome New Followers!

Amazing, is all I can say! 7 new followers in less than 24 hours, and I visited and met so many wonderful new bloggers, and discovered some fantastic resources to pass on to you! Wow!  Praise the Lord!
Welcome to all you new Followers and visitors! I'm so glad you stopped by! I hope you will take some time to check out my site--I've even added some new things today! It's constantly changing.

Who I am: A Christian wife, mom (SAHM) who Homeschooled her kids, and has her identity wrapped up in being a wife and mother and Homeschooler. I love helping young moms, (well any women really) through sharing Scripture, or a book, or praying with them, laughing with them...I just love to share what God has taught me. I'm still learning every day, of course:)

Please come back again soon and often! I'm really looking forward to getting to know you better!  Oh, and if you have any questions, or topics that you'd like, let me know! 

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Follow Friday

I'm trying something new! Follow Friday! It's a great way to discover new blogs in the interests that you love. I already found several with great recipes! But there are soooo many, you're sure to find something that you like! So if you want to join in, here's how:
Friday Follow
What you do is go to either One2Try, Midday Escapades, or Hearts Make Families (you only have to enter your name and url at one, and it will be copied on all three; they have instructions at each site). Then go and follow as few or as many blogs as you want; and it's a great way for others to find you and gain followers, too.

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Food Friday: Recipe for Mexican Lasagna and Homemade Taco Seasoning

Are you tired of the same old Lasagna? Do you like Mexican food? Here's a recipe that is so, so good--you're going to love it! This is a recipe that came from my good friend, Roxanne, who is a fabulous cook (with 9 kids, 5 still at home, and I don't know how many grandkids who all come back home often for her fantastic cooking)!

We have used this recipe for company meals, for family meals, and when we've taken a meal to another family (after the birth of a baby, after a hospital stay, after a death in the family, etc.) You can make a second pan fairly easily, which you may want to do because people really love this dish, so they'll be coming back for seconds (and asking you for the recipe)! (Didn't have a photo of ours, so this one will have to do; it has many of the ingredients that are the same, but, you know, you *have* to taste this, because even a photo wouldn't do it justice! Is your mouth watering yet?)

Mexican Lasagna
Yield: 6 servings
(There are many ingredients in this recipe which are "quick"--canned, mixes, etc.--but feel free to use your Homemade, depending on your time and preferences!)
1-1/2 lb ground beef (I use 93/7% fat)
1 chopped onion
1 packet taco seasoning (see recipe below)
1 (15 oz) can refried beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
12 small tortillas
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese (or Mexican cheese blend, etc.)
1 (8 oz) container sour cream (I use Sour Lean)
1 small can green chilies
1 (16 oz) jar mild salsa (if you like it hotter, choose Medium or Hot)
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Fry ground beef with onion. Add taco seasoning, refried beans and black beans.  (You can simmer for 10 minutes.) Coat a 9x13x2 inch pan with cooking spray.  Spread 1/2 cup salsa over bottom, top with 6 tortillas, and another 1/2 cup of salsa.  Spoon on beef mixture and chilies.  Top with sour cream.  Sprinkle with half of cheddar cheese.  Arrange remaining tortillas on cheese, spread rest of salsa on, and top with rest of cheddar and mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Remove foil, bake 5 minutes more.


Taco Seasoning Recipe
3 Tbsp = 1 packet
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp salt
4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
Mix all together. You can put in blender on pulse, but don't have to.
Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag (label). Will keep for quite awhile, maybe 6 months or so. I like to have this on hand; it's very versatile, and adds zip to recipes.
(From "Miserly Meals" by Jonni McCoy, pg. 200, called "Mexican Seasoning Mix"; this is a great resource for mixes and sauces you can make from scratch, and cheaply. In the 2002 version that I have, she says this costs out at 26 cents per 3 Tbsp.)
I'll be sharing other mixes in coming Food Friday posts.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Random Thankfulness and The Story of Valentinus

Am I so fortunate and blessed that I can't decide week after week what "to be thankful for" on Thankful Thursday?  Wow. Well, I'm thankful that I have eyes. I love colors. I love sunsets and sunrises. I love seeing, and reading, and I love having eyes! I'm thankful I don't work outside the home. I'm so grateful that "I came home".  I remember how fantastic it felt the first few times I was out during the middle of the day driving around!  Free! I could...Go Anywhere I Wanted! I'm very thankful that I was home to raise my family and Homeschool my children. What a blessing! Now I'm thankful that I'm free to be home and not have all the stress that went with my job, and to be free to help people, have lunch with friends and talk for 2 hours, go to antique stores, and laugh! I'm thankful for the sunshine! It is so good to see the sun. Everyone should live in Minnesota for one January to really appreciate sunshine again. I'm thankful for the example of people like Valentinus, having just celebrated Valentine's Day. This week I read the story book of his life which my daughter, Kelsey, bought from Voice of the Martyrs. It's wonderful. I trust the story, because it's put out by VOM. Valentinus was an incredible man. Just think of all the incredible people that we're going to be able to meet in heaven. I figure that the first second 10,000 years, I will spend going around just meeting everyone! (I think the first 10,000 will be by the Lord's side, or on my face before Him, worshiping.) So, I thought that I would hit the highlights of the story of Valentinus, as told by the wonderful book put out by Voice of the Martyrs, "The Story of St. Valentine--More than Cards and Candied Hearts", written with Cheryl Odden. (Write to The Voice of the Martyrs, PO Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005 or go their website, for more information.)

Valentinus lived around 200 years after Christ. When the emperor Claudius outlawed marriage, in an attempt to remove an obstacle to his recruitment of soldiers (they didn't want to leave their loved ones and not see them for 25 years!), Valentinus secretly married couples anyway, because,
"Marriage was God's idea, and no emperor can hinder what God created!"
He was already in trouble for not worshiping the false gods they had in Rome. God gave him boldness to do what was right, no matter the cost. In Jacobus de Voragine's "Golden Legend", a book about Christians written in the middle ages, it is reported that, when brought before the emperor for what he was doing, Valentinus boldly told him about Jesus Christ!  He became a martyr for his faith around 269AD.  About 200 years later, February 14th became a day to honor Valentinus' life of boldly living for Christ. (This replaced a pagan Roman holiday.)  (There is much more to the story, which you can read in this beautifully illustrated children's book, not just for children. I encourage you to get a copy to read all about this brave saint and share the true story of Valentinus.)

I am inspired by Valentinus' life, and am thankful for people in all ages who boldly speak about Jesus Christ, and do what is right, no matter the cost. May I do likewise.

(Go to Iris' site, "Grace Alone" to participate in Thankful Thursday and read other thankful hearts! Thanks so much, Iris!)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Did Jesus Fold The Napkin?

My very good friend, Bonnie, shared this with me, and said I could pass it on to you all.

Every time I think about it, I get goosebumps. The symbolism that we don't even *know*...well, it makes me look forward, more and more, to heaven.
I hope that you will be blessed.

Why Did Jesus Fold the Napkin?

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? I never noticed this....

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.

The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, 'They have taken the Lord's body out of the tomb, and I don't know where they have put him!'

Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple out ran Peter and got there first. He stopped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus' head was folded up and lying to the side.

Was that important? Absolutely!

Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day.

The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and
Jewish boy knew this tradition.

When the servant set the dinner table for the master,
he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.

The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished..

Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard,
and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, "I'm finished."

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because..........

The folded napkin meant,
"I'm coming back!"

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homeschooling: Workshop on Learning Styles

Hi everyone! I just found a wonderful website/blog called Heart of the Matter ( and for the third time in 24 hours was prompted to think and read about Learning Styles! I think that knowing how you learn and how your child learns, is probably the best help in successfully Homeschooling that you can have. Teaching using their learning style is like speaking their native language, versus trying to teach them, but speaking in a language they don't understand. I like going back to the basics. Does my child (and do I) learn better by seeing/reading something, or by hearing it? (Visual or Auditory) All children are tactile to some degree, and will benefit by being able to touch, feel and interact with whatever they are learning. But we adults can also benefit by handling what we're learning about! I find I'm personally more tactile with each passing day. But, I can still remember my mother admonishing me constantly not to touch things!  (Especially in stores:)  I have to "do it" (tactile) to learn it. So, I'm very tactile. However, my main learning style is "visual learner".  I am a living example that the more senses employed in the learning, the better you'll remember what you've learned. This applies whether you're learning to make your bed, learning your math facts, or learning how to redesign your blog. Learning Styles are important!

So, I wanted to tell you about a great resource, if you want to know more about Learning Styles! Over at Heart of the Matter, there's info about an upcoming workshop by Carol Barnier called "What are you thinking? Learning Styles and Beyond"! To read more about it, go to the link below. There's all the information there about the Live Workshop Feb. 22 on Learning Styles and the online Parenting and Home Education Conference.  Go to this great info and link about Learning Styles for all the details.

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Timely Tips on Tuesday: Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads" Cooking 3 Distinctive Chili Recipes From One Base

Hi! This was actually aired just 6 days ago on KSTP Twin Cities Live, (right in my "Backyard"--How cool is that?) and Rob Barrett from "Cooking for Dads" shows how to make chili in 3 very distinctive ways, using the same basic base!  These look incredible!  We make chili a lot, and I can't wait to try the variation with the cream cheese added, 'cuz I Looove cream cheese! Sometimes I have added melted cream cheese to salsa for a fun dip for Nachos, and it's really good--kind of similar idea. But, wow, Chocolate chips? Watch this--and try these ideas--you'll be the hit at the next Potluck or Party!
(Try adding beef bouillon instead of the red wine, it will have the same effect of adding flavor, without the alcohol.)

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Treasure Them While You Can

We had the family Kelsey nannies for over for dinner tonight. Almost 5, almost 3 and just-turned 1. Three little boys who wrapped their sweet little fists around my heart. I got to hold a little one today! Are you treasuring these days with your little ones? Are you taking time to look at your children and really see them?  Do you connect with a smile and lock eyes with them? Take some time every day to tell them how much you love them and how much Jesus loves them:  When you change a diaper, when you wash a face or give a bath. When you say their name, say it with love...and a smile.

These days are going to be gone amazingly fast, moms. Treasure your little ones.

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Homeschooling: Moms of Preschoolers

Amy at "Raising Arrows" has a great post for Moms of Preschoolers thinking of Homeschooling, and I totally agree with her. Please go and read this excellent post.

I want to encourage you, if you are in the first years of Homeschooling or considering it, that you can do it!  Look at all you've taught your child(ren) already.  Everything they know, they learned from you.  You've been Homeschooling since the day they were born.  How have you done it? By prayer, by learning as you did it. By counsel from trusted advisors. By trial and error.  You went out and got the training, information, knowledge for how to do something or how to teach your child something, *when you needed it*!  That's how you Homeschool.  God gave you every skill you need to Homeschool, when He made you a mom or dad.  He gave you the responsibility to raise your children. He gives you the wisdom and ability to do what He gives you to do.  Trust Him.  He won't let you down.

Teaching the 3R's are the only thing that's important in the early years. Teaching phonics and reading, which is fun, I think--making your child a lover of books--is the one thing you will do that will unlock all other areas of learning.  But do it in your child's timing.  Each child has their own timetable.  We played with wooden blocks that had letters on them. I probably got them at an antique store or a thrift store.  I would say the sound that the letter made while we played. Then, as they were able to make the sounds correctly, I moved on to putting sounds (blocks) together, until I had words, like cat, or mom, and they could repeat the sounds back to me. Then later I would print really short sentences down for them to read. It was playing, not school. No desk, no curriculum. I tried and failed miserably(!) at trying to make my little guy sit at a desk and do school. Don't try to bring the public schoolroom home!

As Homeschooling has taken off, one of the good/bad things is that there are so many more options and choices of curriculum. You can so easily get overwhelmed. The benefits of Homeschooling include lots of time together. Don't get tricked into thinking that you've got to have a certain curriculum, (and if you choose the wrong one, your kids will be ruined).  Can I let you in on a little secret?  Every Homeschooler does it differently. Actually, every Homeschooled kid has a different education, even in the same family. And you're going to make "mistakes" just like I did. When you're graduating your kids and even beyond, you're going to *know* it was by God's grace that you did it.

Read up and study all you can about the "tools of your trade", but follow Godly people's example. Get to know what's out there, but don't feel you have to use it.  Listen to advice that is Biblical. Be on your knees daily, talk things over with your husband, and ask his counsel, trust the Lord to give you wisdom.

Finally, two things: Know each of your children's learning styles, and your learning/teaching style.  Study how to teach to their style.  (Using all the senses in learning is how we all learn best.)  Secondly, I recommend Ruth Beechick's three little books (you can get them all in one book or individually) for moms of preschoolers.


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Love and Marriage: "Happily Ever After"

Stories of  “they lived happily ever after” bring dreamy sighs from girls of all ages (from some guys, too). Movie producers know it. Book writers know it. Fairy-tale endings are big business. The fair maiden becomes a damsel in distress, and the knight in shining armor comes to her rescue and whisks her off into the sunset, where they live “happily ever after”! Why are we suckers for a story like this? What does this have to do with God anyway? Can we talk of fairy-tale endings and God’s thoughts on Love and marriage in the same breath? Can, or do, our fairy-tale stories and reality come together--ever? What does God think of Love and Marriage and our fairy-tale endings?

Many questions. Let’s go to the Bible for some answers. God is the Original “fairy-tale ending” Writer, Who began His story by placing His characters, Adam and Eve, in a blissful paradise, the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2) It was perfection on earth. There was no sin, only perfect love between the couple and between them and God. This was His idea of a fairy-tale story: perfect love between God and man living together in the perfect place, forever. Only one thing. God said, “You can have everything in this perfect world except "this one tree"--this one little thing: Don’t eat it. Everything else is yours. He gave man “free will”. You know the story. Eve looked at what was forbidden (instead of being content with all God gave), she saw that it was good for food (she thought and dwelled and focused and dreamed about the forbidden thing instead of dwelling in her thoughts on all God had given) and she took of the forbidden thing (didn’t ask God—well, He’d already told her “No,” and didn’t consult her husband, well, he was standing right there, but she obviously was putting herself  before him in leadership, and he obviously was letting her.) She ate it and then she gave the forbidden thing to her family (just a husband at that time) and he took it and ate it—and sin entered the world. (Genesis 3:1-6) This was not God’s idea—sin—violating His will and command. He knew, though, that this would happen when He gave His created beings free will. So, He had made a plan before the beginning of time to give His Son to die and pay the penalty for sin. Because whenever someone sins, well, it says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Someone had to die. God said, “I’ll do it because I love you.” This is the definition of Love. This is the original Prince on the white horse saving His beloved. God had warned Adam and Eve. But they sinned anyway, and we’ve been looking for the perfect ending ever since.

We were created for perfect union and love with God and man. This is what our souls long after. In the Garden, they had it all. But, we can never have perfection on earth again, because of sin. Even as through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, through one man, Jesus, salvation came to us. What we’re seeking after is “they lived happily ever after.” Loving, being loved, and perfect communion with God and each other. We think it’s going to happen on earth through a person. This perfection of Love and union will never happen on earth. Because now that sin and death entered the world, heaven is the only place we can experience perfection. The best we can do here on earth is present a picture of God’s perfect plan.

God obviously loves bringing a man and woman together (maybe that’s why we’re such “romantics”.) He demonstrated this in the beginning by bringing Eve to Adam. Can’t you just see the Big Grin on God’s Face watching Adam wake up to see the Woman of His Dreams before him? God sets the lonely in families. He thought up sex. God loves children and calls them gifts from Him to us. “Godly seed,” as He calls children, is His plan and purpose.

God’s goal for us is marriage and children. How do we know that? We have only to look at the meaning and symbolism that He attaches to them. He says marriage is symbolic of the union between Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5) He says Christ comes into us when we are married to Christ (becoming Christians and indwelt by the Holy Spirit) and that once saved we are to produce “spiritual children”. (We are commanded to make disciples which we can do only through His being in us.) We are told to reproduce ourselves. New lives are born out of our union with Christ when we make disciples, which is His command and our purpose. New life is born. Our disciples are called our “spiritual children”. Bearing spiritual children is His goal for us, but we are not to try to do it (it’s impossible) without Christ indwelling us. In Malachi 2:15 God speaks of “Godly seed” as the intended outcome of Christian marriage, just as bearing spiritual children (making disciples) is His intended outcome of His spiritual union with us through His Spirit. Just as in earthly marriage, our relationship with Him, our Husband, cannot be neglected or forgotten. Love is always at the center of it all.

On earth, it’s just a picture. But in heaven, when we, the Church, are united with our Bridegroom, His Bride will finally be truly one with Her Beloved, Who will whisk her away on His white horse, and the Real Happily Ever After will begin.

Scriptures referred to
(and there are many, many more that I could have on this list):
Romans 5:12-21
Psalms 68:6
Psalm 127:3
Malachi 2:15
John 3:29
Matthew 28:19-20
John 3:7
2 Corinthians 5:17
Galatians 4:19
1 Timothy 1:15
1 Corinthians 13
Revelation 21:9
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Dinner: Video Cooking Show

I just found this *great* cooking show on YouTube! "Cooking for Dads" but it's not just for dads, by a long shot!  Rob Barrett has put together some very professional cooking shows from his kitchen, which I'm going to post here on my Timely Tips on Tuesdays series, but I happened on this Valentine's Dinner, so I just had to post it right away--I know you're going to love it. I mentioned on Food Friday that children, especially daughters, need to learn how to cook.  Well, one thing I love about these videos is that he makes his recipes easy to understand and cook!  If you haven't already got something planned for Valentine's Dinner, try this! It looks really simple, and delicious. Coconut Shrimp, Salad, and special carrots...well, watch and see!

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quote of the Day by Charles Spurgeon on...Love

"That love which would lead its beloved into sin is lust; it deserves not the name of love; but true love will ever seek the highest health and wholeness (which is holiness) of its object. Pure affection will grieve to see a fault, mourn over a folly, and seek to remove a blot. Perfect love seeks the perfection of the thing it loves."
Charles Spurgeon

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Friday, February 12, 2010

A Valentine's Day Craft You Can Make With Your Kids!

Super simple and almost no-cost craft project that you can do with your kids! Click here (Exemplify Online, Family section) to see this adorable heart that you can make this weekend, just in time for Valentine's Day! You can even make one to give to Grandma or for Great-Grandma's door maybe? I think you're going to like it!

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Food Friday: Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars

Kelsey just made these for our company who are coming on Monday night (planning to freeze them). They're scrumptious! Although the recipe calls for Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, she made our own homemade recipe. (See the note below: If you use homemade cookie dough, you'll need more than the recipe calls for.)

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars
Yield: 12-16 servings (These are *rich*!)

1 tube (18 ounces) Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

  • Cut cookie dough in half.  For crust, press half of the dough onto the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth.  Spread over crust.  Crumble remaining dough over top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: 2 cups of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough can be substituted for the refrigerated dough.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 220 calories, 12  fat (5 g saturate fat), 37 mg choleserol,113 mg sodium, 26 g carohydrte, tace fiber, 3 g protein.
(From Taste of Home recipes)

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Homeschooling Includes Domestic Skills: Food Friday:

Yes, happy! I love this! I bought it at an antique shop a month or two ago. Today it occurred to me that it goes well with our Food Friday theme.  I love the old-fashioned look of this, that it's wooden, has hearts and swirls on it (I love hearts and swirls), that it has a rosemaling look to it, and the sweet, modest feminine way the girl is dressed. Most of all, I like the message.  It's not a burden to a young girl, it's not a "ball and chain", it's not "oh you poor dear" to teach her domestic skills. It's not an outrage, or demeaning to her.

Happy(!) is that girl who has learned to cook! What a gift to be skilled in this area. She will be blessed all her life to be able to give joy to others through this skill. Moms, it's so important that you make certain she learns--either from you or from a book. She'll be so happy she did and she'll thank you!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday: God's Still Working On Me

I received another confirmation last week that God hears my prayers. He's working in my life, weaving everything together. I'm thankful today, Thankful Thursday, that He's in the process of changing me, in answer to my prayers. And He's not going to give up until He's done. (It won't be completed until I see Him face-to-face, I know, and yet it is a completed work because of His death and resurrection.) He is the God of my salvation, yes, but also, He is the God of my sanctification, making me into the image of His dear Son, Jesus Christ.  He's got His work cut out for Him. Last week I went crashing headlong into the wall of my sinful humanity, and some of my family were in the vehicle with me, and injured, too. God and my family heard my pleas for forgiveness, and before I even asked, God was answering my cry for Him to "change me."  Sunday, He spoke to me so clearly. He opened up my eyes to the sin of pride I had been blind to (I really had no idea). Very humbling. Confession again, turning, more humbling...which made me ready for the boatload of grace which I needed so badly. ("He gives grace to the humble." He gives you grace when you see yourself as He sees you: needy.) I am so grateful for His grace, and the recognition yet once more that it is He and He alone who deserves all the glory in my life. He made me so very grateful again for my family. They make me look good. And He made me aware of the force of the spiritual battle we are in. It's intense. But God has overcome the enemy--Praise God! And He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it.
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:6

Visit Iris, at Grace Alone, for more thankful posts, and to participate.

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