Friday, February 26, 2010

FUN with Beans

Did you see Sharina's post Wednesday about involving your kids in the kitchen? She inspired me to share this tip with you for some FUN on this wintery Friday. Because, not only will it benefit you - as the adult who is always looking for ways to save a little time - but if you have young boys in the house, it's a sure way to get them into the kitchen to help. If only for a moment!

Here's the deal: Do you use canned beans in any of your cooking? Tired of spending extra time scraping out the tricky beans that seem to cling to the bottom of the can? From now on, store your cans of beans upside down. Then, when you remove the lid and turn the can over, the beans fall right out. ALL OF THEM!
And here's the part that will get your young boys into the kitchen to help: If you're using refried beans and you've stored the can upside down, you can call your boys into the kitchen and tell them the can is going to, uh, p**p. Really. Remove the lid, turn the can over and give it a hearty shake. Gravity will take care of the rest. And believe me, the sounds and effects of the beans splatting into the bowl will make your boys laugh hysterically.
At least that's how mine responded. *grin*
By the way, this tip also works well for cream soups.

Oh, and I have a GREAT recipe which uses refried beans. Shall I post it here sometime?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kitchen Helpers

If you’re like me, meal prep is a crazy/busy time when the kids are cranky(hungry), I’m famished(cranky) and all I want is to get a healthy meal on the table. My girls LOVE to “help.” But in my haste, I often shoo them away. Have you been there, too?

I’ve learned, therefore, the best time to invite my girls into the kitchen is not around meal times but - instead - when we’re relaxed. And through our times in the kitchen together I have also learned, cooking with kids has a lot of advantages and disadvantages.

1. Kids learn about nutrition, math, science, reading, and patience.
2. Cooking teaches kids to follow directions and enhances their imaginations.
3. Great conversations happen during cooking together.
4. There’s something for every child to do…sorting, measuring, pouring, cutting, mixing, etc.

1. It won’t be neat.
2. It won’t look pretty.
3. It may not taste great.

BUT the benefits your kids will experience from spending time with you in the kitchen will definitely trump the mess they’ll make. So, next time, think twice before shooing them out of the kitchen!

Got any easy, kid-friendly recipes you can share with us???


Monday, February 22, 2010

Matters of the Heart

Everyone seems to go through a season in life (sometimes several times) where things just seem HARD and NEVER ENDING! Some days it just seems impossible to even get up in the morning.......why even "fight" through this day?.....It seems we'll get the same results over and over again.....failure.

This past year has been a season of hard times for Mark and I. We seem to have several issues going on in our life and all of them seem HUGE and STRESSFUL! One of these issues is having more children and it just doesn't seem to be happening for us.

I have had 3 miscarriages in the past year and I have never had trouble with having our first 3 children. We also have a heart for adoption and that doesn't seem to be happening right now either. Everything seems to be piling up on us and caving in. Sometimes it's hard to celebrate a holiday when your heart is so heavy and you feel suffocated with burdens. How do we go on each day? How do we keep the JOY that Jesus tells us to have?

Matthew 11:28 (Jesus says.......) "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

It's during these tough days that Jesus walks with us even closer and we feel Him even more. We need to be the ones to draw near to Him.....He never leaves us! Mark and I have found that during the "storm", when things seem so bleak and impossible......that Jesus was taking care of everything....He had it under control....He never left our side and we come out even STRONGER in Him. He's GOD for goodness sake!! How could we think that we could do a better job or have a better way of living our life? He is our Creator! I know if God's plan is even BETTER......then I want to WAIT and TRUST in HIM!

We are by day.....not to let any life circumstance create our JOY! It's only through Jesus that we can have true JOY in life! We count ourselves so very BLESSED! He has given us SO much and MORE! That puts JOY in my heart and a SMILE on my face!

~ Betsy :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Serving Together: FUN Ideas

Use one or more of these family activities to help your children learn more about what it means to be a servant.

I Spy: Take the family to a sit-down restaurant. Tell the children they are spies who must identify the best servant. Help them notice the waiter/waitress by asking them to point out clues that suggest a servant’s attitude, spirit and work. (i.e. Listening well, taking care of the needs of others, etc.)

Frozen Arms: Tell the children that you magically froze their arms so they are not allowed to bend elbows or wrists. Place candy or cookies in the middle of the table and tell them they can each eat one. Without bending their arms, however, it will be impossible to serve themselves – so they must figure out how to serve one another to get the good stuff! When done, explain that we are called to serve those unable to serve themselves – but the real blessing comes back to us.

Read Together: Read and discuss the following Scriptures.
_ Mark 10:43-45 (Jesus described servants as “great.”)
_ Philippians 2:5-7 (Jesus modeled humility & service.)
_ James 1:27 (Christians are to care for the needy.)

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Serving Together: Building the Family Bond

Continuing with our focus on serving this week, let's take time to think about how our family bond can be made stronger as we serve together.

Here are some things to keep in mind during your family service project.

Build Your Relationships: Serving together is an ideal time to get to know each other better. Take note of what different family members do well. Intentionally encourage them and tell them you are proud of how they demonstrated a great attitude or area of strength.

Here are some things to do afterwards to get the most out of your experience.

Talk About It: Take time right after you finish serving to talk about your family volunteer experiences. By reflecting and talking about it, the experience will have a greater impact and allow family members to share what really meant a lot to them, moved or challenged them. This is a great way to get to know each other better.

Discussion Questions: The following questions may be helpful to guide conversations when you finish your time of serving together.

What? What kind of difference did we make together? Allow each member to share any stories about the experience. They can be sad, silly, frustrating, funny, serious or touching stories.

Why? Why was it important to do this project together as a family? How did it fit with the values and beliefs that are important to our family? How did it impact you?

Now what? Is there anything that we will do differently as a family as a result of our time serving together? How did it impact our entire family? What kinds of activities do we want to do in the future?

Pray for Those Served: Take a few minutes to pray as a family asking God to bless those you served by using your act of service to bring hope, healing and grace into their lives.

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Serving Together: How To Get Started

This week at Trinity we are excited about gearing up for the Church of Greater Lansing Food Drop - happening Sunday, February 21! With our focus on serving this week at church, we thought it would be good to focus on it here on the blog, too.

So, today, let's think about how to get our families started on a service project.

First of all, Why Serve?
*Experience God & joy in making a difference together.
*Increase a child’s sense of gratitude by seeing those less fortunate.
*Allows you to learn more about one another & opens communication

Before Serving Together
Find a Shared Passion: Spend some time talking with your child/teenager about the things that interest and concern them. It will be more meaningful if you have a shared passion for the specific areas of service. (Examples: If your family has an interest in poverty-stricken areas, find a place to feed the homeless. You may have a teenager that loves kids and it would be great to serve in an orphanage or at the church with the children’s or special needs ministry.)

Find a Good Fit: Serving can be as simple as baking cookies for a homebound
neighbor or making birthday cards for those in a nursing home. It can be an extended serving time such as a missions trip or meeting a particular need on a regular basis. Keep in mind, there are often great projects and scheduled mission events already planned that your family may want to take part in. It’s important for kids to participate in the selection process.

Set Expectations: Put your child more at ease by explaining what to expect. If visiting a nursing home, for example, explain they may encounter odd sights, sounds and smells. If feeding the homeless, share why some people may not be able to take regular baths but we love them anyway. If helping children with special needs, explain why some can’t respond “normally” to conversations, etc. You may also want to coach them on manners and explain what they will likely do while serving. Set the tone for a great time together!

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic FUN

Ever since I was a child the Olympics have captivated me. I well up with emotion when I see the torch. I stand taller when I see our country's flag. I enjoy every story told of Olympians pursuing their dreams. With that said, you must know, I love the Olympics!

So, today's the day! The 2010 Winter Olympics are about to begin.

Here are a few ideas to help your family have fun with the Olympics.

Choose a country. Every Olympics each member of our family chooses a country to adopt as our own. I print off flags, we color them and then track that country during the Olympic games. You can take this as far as you wish; reading books about the country, finding a missionary stationed there, eating ethnic foods, or finding it on a world map. During the Summer Olympics my daughter cheered on Germany, on a recent trip to Frankenmuth she was delighted to find the German flag and see yet another glimpse of their culture.

Keep a world map and book of flags nearby. My kids enjoy the challenge of finding the different countries and flags as they are highlighted throughout the Opening Ceremonies and competetion. Who knew learning could be such fun?

Get active! Take this time to try out some new winter sports; an afternoon ice skating, a trip to your favorite sledding hill, try out different positions and nickname them the different sports. For example, wearing your helmet go head first on your belly and pretend you are doing the skeleton, or pile multiple people in a longer sled and pretend you are doing the bobsled, for the luge lay flat on your back and push off with your hands. Practice balancing on a snowboard or pretend while the Olympians are making their runs. Have a Wii Fit? Try to break a new record for ski jump, skiing or snowboarding.

Watch the games! Be inspired by men and woman pursuing their dreams. Keep an eye out for athletes professing faith. Hear stories that will inspire and find teachable moments about overcoming defeat.

Do you and your family have any fun family traditions related to the Olympics? I would love to hear about them!
Enjoy the 2010 Winter Olympics!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love AND Respect on Valentine's Day

Is there anybody out there with “purchase Valentine’s Day card for my husband” on her to-do list?

If so, I want to encourage you to scratch that item off your list! Instead of a card that affirms your love for your husband, consider writing him a short Respect Note.

The Bible reveals that a wife's respect for her husband is as powerful as her husband's love is to her. As Ephesians 5:33 states: "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (NIV).

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, President of Love and Respect Ministries, tells wives that through RESPECT TALK we can......

* Re-kindle moments of closeness in the midst of stress

* Open your husband's closed spirit when he feels everybody respects him but you

* Counter the misperception you are trying to be his mother

* Give him hope that you view him equal to you, not worse than you.

* Re-energize his deflated ego in the midst of outside factors that are discouraging him.

Intrigued? If so, here are some suggestions for how to proceed. First, keep your note short. Second, think of three things that you respect about your husband. Keep in mind that husbands are energized when their wives show appreciation for their desire to protect and to provide, to serve and to lead, and to analyze and counsel. So, focus on those areas in your note.

Third, write the note and give it to your husband!

Does a respect note sound like a crazy idea to you? Have you ever told your husband how much you respected him? If so, what was his response?

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs (Integrity Publishers, 2004)


Monday, February 8, 2010

Catechisms Anyone??

We have started catechisms with our family, so the kids can really hide God's word in their heart and really KNOW why we believe what we believe!

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." - Deuteronomy 6:6-7

A catechism is a way of teaching the doctrines of the Christian faith in a systematic way using a series of questions and answers.

We are taking one question per week, so the kids can really understand, take it in and memorize the scripture. There are 60 all together, so it may take us a while, but we'll go through them all and when they are finished.....they will know all the answers to "why we believe what we believe" and better yet.....WHERE it tells us so in God's Word!

Here is our Question for this week:

Question: Where do we learn about God, ourselves, and the world around us?
Answer: From the Bible
Scripture to Memorize: 2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness."

I would love to encourage you to start catechisms with your family, so your children can know why you believe what you believe and the scripture to back it up!

~ Betsy :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Homemade Pizza...What Could Be Better?

Most Friday nights we make homemade pizza! It's been a tradition for quite a long time. We are so spoiled to have this recipe and now it's hard to order pizza out! So here it is: will need 1 T of yeast mixed with 1 cup warm water. Let the yeast set in a separate little bowl for about 8 minutes or until it's foamy & smells yeasty.

In another larger bowl, you'll add 3 T of honey, 1 T of salt & 3/4 cup warm water...........along with 4 cups flour.
I like to use 3 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup wheat flour. It really gives the crust a lot of flavor!
I also put some of the wheat flour down on the counter to kneed the bread & any extra I throw into the dough (if it's too sticky), I use the wheat. So start working the dough. Get out all of your aggressions!! You will really start to feel it in your arms after about 8 minutes or so.

I also use cooking spray on the pizza pans & a sprinkle of corn meal. This helps the pizza not to stick to the pan.

This recipe makes 2 large pizzas.....

Then I take melted butter and brush the crust and then sprinkle it with garlic salt.
Next, comes the sauce! We have found that our very favorite pizza sauce is actually from Walmart! It's the Great Value brand of pizza sauce. It's really light and sweet.....not such a heavy tomato flavor that knocks your socks off! It's perfect!

Gather up all your cheeses! I usually use mozzarella, Parmesan & Asiago. I buy the chunks, so I can grate it myself!

Into the oven they go!! Put them in a cold oven and turn the oven to 475. They will need to cook for about 20 minutes or so, but just until nice and golden on top and the crust is done.

......And now we wait.......

...and wait...

It's DONE!!

It's the best!! We love it!! I can't wait to eat it........

Enjoy!! ~Betsy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Your Average Trip to Target

My family and I were getting ready for a mission trip to Jamaica, and had to go to the store to purchase several things. We stuck together in the beginning - filling the cart from the list we were given. Toothpaste, baby powder, sun block, goldfish, etc. The list went on and on. Slowly, however, the older kids and my husband drifted off to other areas of the store until it was just me and my youngest son, Luke.
Luke had already estimated in his little mind how much money we had to spend for the mission trip. He was excited to find just the right items for the family we will be staying with at Whitehouse, Jamaica, but was aware there was a cost.
As we started unloading our overflowing shopping cart onto the conveyor belt, I told the cashier about our trip. It didn’t take long for the total to be revealed—almost $100 over the amount we had set aside for shopping. Granted, we had purchased a few items for our family's personal use but it was still more than we had expected—or at least more than Luke had calculated.
Without a blink, Luke reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and gave me a $20 bill. For some reason, it didn’t register with me what was going on. But the cashier understood, and she began to tear up. All of a sudden I saw Luke's eyes and they were full of tears. Something (better yet Someone) had moved him to empty the last of his money to pay for the purchase.
Now tears streamed down my face, too.
Part of me wanted to give Luke back his money, and tell him it was the thought that counted. But a still voice prompted me, Let him give it; the way of the cross always COSTS.
Oh, to see his heart revealed in such a beautiful manner. I saw Jesus in those precious eyes. And so did the woman at the register.
We walked out to the car, bags in hand and hearts overflowing.

Have you ever seen the heart of your child revealed? What happened?


Monday, February 1, 2010

Let's Pray

I recently received the book God is No Stranger. It is a book of prayers and has touched my heart. "These prayers of Haitian Christians converted from Voodooism reflect the paradoxically childlike yet deep faith of a mountain people who have come to know God as a Friend acquainted with their culture and daily lives." (from the book's back cover)

This prayer particularly gets me today:
The people on the coast are beginning to drink sea water.
We here in the mountains don't even have sea water to drink.
Dear Lord send the rain.
Our Father knows exactly what our brothers and sisters in Haiti need today. Will you join me in praying for them?

Father in heaven, You see what has happened in Haiti. You know the needs of each individual. Needs for food and water, for shelter and rescue. Needs for comfort, and assurance that You are still faithful. You see each person who is hurting and scared, and You hear their cries for help.
And You are able to meet them, to provide for each need, and to show Yourself powerful.
We praise You, God, because that earthquake did not knock You off Your throne, and the after affects are not too much for You to handle.
Today we are asking You to bring peace and hope where there is still chaos and fear. Please empower the men and women who are working for relief. Make them Your hands and feet. And please, LORD, continue to grow the faith of these brothers and sisters, even in the midst of the devastation.
Yes, LORD, glorify Yourself through this circumstance.
We're asking it in Jesus' Name.
Amen and amen!