Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"...and then I got saved. The end."

Today I am joining the Good Morning Girls for Women in the Word Wednesdays.

Romans 10: 12-13 states:
" 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentiles-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." "

I love how this verse proclaims that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be blessed-no doubt, with eternal life, but also, I believe, with blessings in this lifetime. No matter who you are, or where you live, you most likely have at least one thing to be thankful for. (Shall we start with salvation? The BEST thing to be thankful for!)

We are blessed when we call on Him-but it doesn't end when we call on His name! It's just the beginning!

I was sitting in on a high school Bible study with one of my teens while my littles were attending Awana this past Monday. One of the facilitators, Ian, started talking about people and their testimonies. He shared that often, people who have grown up in the church, and don't have a dramatic testimony, feel that their testimony is "boring" or that they don't really have a testimony, compared to those of us who have gone through crazy things and then miraculously experienced salvation. Ian brought up an excellent point-he stated that just being saved is an exciting testimony in itself.

Ian went on to point out that many people with riveting, dramatic testimonies tell all this amazing detail about their lives before they were saved-they weave these wonderful stories that reel us in, and then end with: "...and then I got saved. The end." as if nothing exciting happened to them after they got saved! This was a huge revelation for me, because it was something i've never noticed. As someone who has a pretty wild past, I have thought many times about writing my own testimony, and, to be honest, before sitting in on this discussion, it probably would have ended with "and then I got saved. The end." After hearing what Ian had to say, I started thinking about some of the fun, exciting things that have happened to me since i've been saved. It really gave me food for thought.

I was saved in May of 2008. I went on to be baptized in August of 2008. I am still just a baby in all of this, but I have been so blessed even in such a short amount of time. This is a very small list of some of the blessings that have occurred in my life since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior:

*I got custody of my 15 year old daughter, who had been raised by my mom since I was 18 years old. (Yes, I was a teenage mom-to two children.) I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to spend a few years with her before she reaches adulthood and possibly moves on. This is one of the biggest blessings in my life, as I had never thought it would happen after all these years.

*After years of being a single mom, I married the most amazing man ever. He treats me like a princess and I am so thankful that I don't have to do this alone anymore. I feel that my husband and I truly are a team.

*I have had the blessing of seeing 4 of my 5 children baptized so far.

*I get the pleasure, every Sunday, of taking my whole family to church-laughing with them and spending time at church events and praising God. This is an amazing, beautiful thing for me. My family didn't attend church when I was a child and I had to go to Sunday school alone when I went. I am truly blessed that my children have memories of being with their whole family and enjoying worship time.

*I have "inherited" a beautiful, loving mother-in-law. She is the caretaking/nurturing type and she spoils us rotten.

*Church: my pastor, friends, an amazing support system. I really don't feel so alone anymore.

*I was blessed with a van large enough to hold all of my children. I don't like listing material blessings, and I know that a vehicle isn't a necessity, but let me tell you-it has made life SO much easier, (especially grocery shopping!) and I LOVE that we can offer rides to church for kids in the neighborhood!

*One of the biggest blessings of all, just a general appreciation for every day life spent in my house. I don't feel like my housework and tending children are mundane, unappreciated tasks. I know that this is a calling, a job, that I have been chosen to do, and I take it seriously. I love normal, routine days where we all just hang around and relax together, where I teach the girls a hobby or we sing songs together while working in the kitchen. I love teaching my kids to keep house and take care of their future families-this is my career and it fills my heart with joy. I get significantly less burnout and resentment towards my family now that I realize that there is a purpose to all of this, and I have been blessed with it, not "cursed with housework".

It seems that often, as we pray, we ask ask ask for so many things-I hope that today we would take the time to give thanks for at least one thing in our life. And if you have a testimony, make sure to amend it now, to include the amazing things that have happened since you've been saved. As Ian pointed out, the book of Acts is full of wild adventures Paul had after his conversion-and WOW, what amazing adventures they were! What a testimony!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Split Pea Soup Recipe

Well, this is not an innovative or new recipe by any means, but split pea soup can be a frugal and deliciously healthy dish. Dried split peas are very economical and have a long shelf life. (I like to buy mine in the bulk section at Winco.) I got my potatoes for 99 cents for a 10 pound bag, my baby carrots @ 79 cents a pound, and the celery was pretty cheap, too. Add half a brown onion, chopped, and some leftover ham from a meal a few nights before and we had a big pot of pea soup for a very low price per serving. (I didn't actually work out exactly what that price was, i'm too lazy, but, trust me, it was a cheap way to feed a big family + some guests.)

you'll need:
*2-3 cups dried split peas, rinsed and rained
*8 to 10 cups water, plus more for replacing evaporated water while pea soup boils
*1/2 medium onion, chopped
*20 baby carrots, cut into 4ths
*4 celery ribs, halved and then sliced
*5 to 8 potatoes, peeled and chunked (amount varies depending on how much you like potatoes. We like more rather than less in our soup.)
*ham steak (optional, I make this vegetarian style quite often by omitting the ham), diced, or you can just throw in a ham bone for flavor without having chunks of meat in your soup
*salt & pepper to taste

1.Throw your split peas, water, and diced onion into a large stockpot. bring to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. DO NOT ADD SALT until later, because if you are using ham in this recipe the ham will add a bit of salty flavor on its own-if you salt now you may end up with very salty pea soup.

2. Boil about 20 more minutes. If you keep it at a medium high boil, your peas will start to disintegrate. After your second 20 minutes is over, add your diced ham. I like to cut mine fairly chunky so that my pea soup will be hearty with good sized dices of meat. You may want to add more water at this point to replace the water that has boiled down. Depending on how thick you want your pea soup to be, you can add as much water as you'd like.

3. Boil for another 20 minutes. Make sure you stir often because this will begin to thicken and the bottom could burn. I like to use a good, heavy bottomed pan so that it doesn't burn so easily on the bottom. Keep on checking the water level and adding water to suit your taste.

4. Add your carrots, celery, and potatoes. Taste the broth to see how salty it is. You may add a teaspoon of salt to give some flavor to the potatoes so they don't end up tasting flat. You can also grind some fresh pepper into the mix if you'd like. Boil for 40 more minutes, stirring often. You should end up with a thick, hearty soup, with nice chunks of potatoes and ham and some dices of celery and carrot for flavor and color.

This soup is high in fiber and iron, making it a hearty and healthy choice for your family-you can also sub the ham for turkey ham, it is still very flavorful and has less fat and calories. I usually use regular ham but I trim it very well before I dice it for our soup. We like to serve ours with whole grain bread and Smart Balance margarine-this tastes delicious dipped into the soup. This is great on a cold fall or winter day and the leftovers are awesome for lunch for hubby the next day, too!

Note: If you soak and rinse your peas for several hours before making this, it shouldn't give you gas.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Heart of the Home

We don't own a home. We live humbly, but I try to make our surroundings pleasant. This is my kitchen window. It has (unfinished fabric) curtains that I got for less than 2 dollars per yard a while back to line my bread basket with. I liked the fabric better as curtains and it really brightens up the room so I hung them up-they aren't hemmed yet, that's on one of my UFO lists. Clock above the window was a gift from mom. Veggies on either side of clock, and rocks on windowsill with the words "Believe", and "Love" were from the 99 cent store. Little cherry candleholder in the middle was part of a set ordered from a dropshipping site for a business I had on Ebay a few years ago. I liked them so much I ordered myself a set-this is the only one that survived the years and children. :0) The large candles on both edges of the window are gifts from my husband. Each fall he buys me a large candle with a fall or holiday type scent. It's kind of a tradition, he has done it every year since we met.

The plaque, left of the window, was my grandmother's. It says:

My Kitchen Prayer

God Bless my little kitchen
I love its every nook
And bless me as I do my work
Wash pots and pans
And cook.

I love it, it's so homey and old fashioned. I should probably hang it somewhere else, but I have it by my stove so that I can look at it often while i'm cooking and ask God to bless the food I make for my family.

I'm in my kitchen for at least a few hours each day, and it isn't too fancy. I like it simple so that it is easy to clean up when it looks like a bomb went off after i've made a huge meal and dessert. I think everyone has their own decorating style, but it is possible to decorate nicely on a very limited budget. I stay home and take care of my home full time and I find it much more enjoyable when it is pleasing to the eye.

Titus 2:3-5
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.