Thursday, October 1, 2009

For the month of October

I'm making a concerted effort to blog on a daily basis. Don't know how well that's going to work, but hey. I can try. So, I'm posting this on all of my blogs tonight, October 1st, and taking it from there. Life is no more less hectic now than it was before. I just have a lot to say! lol You know me. I talk a lot.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ramblings on Reality TV

Let me preface this entry by saying that I know what some of you will think. Yes, all 11 of you. lol I haven't lost my mind, or changed my views on God, life, or coffee. I'm just saying that sometimes Christians can be so heavenly minded that we're no earthly good (as Oliver Wendell Holmes first said). There are times I feel that by being so seemingly strict and unbending we're driving people away from the love and light of Christ that we Christians are supposed to be.

I've recently started watching reality TV. Yes, I am strange. I've never seen an episode of American Idol. I could care less about Big Brother. And until we got the expanded channel offerings, I only watched cooking shows on Food Network, as my hips will attest. We have the big channel package before, but all I watched then was Food Network, Clean House and when my mom was in town, Bridezillas. lol The rest of the shows our family watched were on regular channels, so we got rid of the other channels. The basic package had Food Network and Hallmark, so I was good. lol Now, we have many many channels. Yes, we watch approximately 7 of them now instead of the 4 we did before.

There are two reality shows that I watch now. They will be a surprise to you. They were a surprise to me. I watch Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood and Gene Simmons Family Jewels. If you don't know, the basic premise for both shows is following a famous family through their everyday lives. There's the mom, dad, and two kids. All sorts of situations, both normal and only-the-rich-and-famous-would-have-this-happen type stuff. Now, real or contrived, what comes through in both of these shows is the love that the families show. I do know that there are many people who would say that it's all editing, or that they are only showing what they want people to see. Yes, I'm gullible. I think that there is a true deep and abiding love with these couples and their families.

For those of you still with me, I bring these shows up for a reason. I've heard people say that these shows are trash or what a "proper" Christian wouldn't watch. These same people watch movies and TV shows with content that surely is more questionable. They listen to music that talks about these same situations, they use language that is dicey, they wear clothes that are the wrong kind... Anyone else see this as hypocrisy? Seriously folks. Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed, although not married, have a beautiful family and home, are devoted to each other and have lasted a lot longer than other marriages in both Hollywood and the rest of the world. They are hard working and take time to not just write a check to charities, but actually give of their time. Obviously, I don't agree with some of their lifestyle choices. I've never actually heard a Kiss song, at least that I know of, but I've heard it is kinda out there. The make-up is enough! lol But why throw out the good values being shown? I know people who would say I'm not a real Christian because my hair is too short (it's a little past my shoulders) or because I buy store bought bread sometimes. Get real!

Tori and Dean is based on the same premise. They are married with two very young children. They show the trials that all of us working (yes, even work from home) parents deal with. Finding a balance between work and family, wanting success at our chosen careers, even family relationship issues. They lean on each other, fight with each other, love each other. There's one scene that just cracks me up. Tori's infant daughter is fussing and Tori says this line about every mom does the check and smells for poo. It's classic parenting. Who among us hasn't had to do that smell check. My son is 11, and instead of smelling for poo, I'm now checking that he puts deodorant on his smelly man-funk pits. That's as real life as you get! As with Gene and Shannon, Tori and Dean are not Christian and don't espouse Christian views. But they are committed to their marriage (or in Gene and Shannon's case, long term relationship) and their family. They are real life people living extraordinary lives. Tori and Dean's arguments about Dean's motorcycle racing reminds me of fights with my husband about his computer games. Um, yeah, we no longer fight about that with my blogging, tweeting, facebooking, and on and on. lol

All too often, we Christians throw away great opportunities to share with the world around us. We spend too much time trying to witness to each other that we forget we are supposed to be lights to the world. That would be the world of NON-Christians. They are not going to be won over by our Christian-ese language. They are not going to be converted by repeated thumps over the head with our Bibles. And the last time I checked, a forced salvation isn't a real one. As my husband says when I'm trying to get him to do things my way, agreeing with a gun pointed at your head isn't real. (Kidding! I don't really use a gun. It's a frying pan.) The world is going to run in the opposite direction when we are negative about everything that they do. If you can't find common ground to start a dialogue, then you're just talking to yourself.

Here's the point of this long rambling post is to say that if you are serious about trying to model Christ and show Him to the world, remember, it was the sinners He dealt with. None of us are perfect, and we shouldn't try to impose our own prerequisites when God doesn't require any. Do you remember who you were, what you were doing in your life when you heeded God's call to you? I remember where I was.

I used to party. I mean, get drunk, hang out in the club, act stupid partying. The stories I could tell! I met my first husband while pledging, don't remember that, then met again at a party, don't remember much of that, and didn't remember what he looked like when he showed up for our first date. We dated for a year and a half before I became pregnant and we thought we should get married. The next year, I was saved after realizing what a horrible mess I was in. Fast forward six years later. We were divorced, our son was living with me and seeing his dad on weekends. I met and married my husband in four months. Seriously. We met in January, married in May. And I've never been happier. That story is for another post. Talk about God working out things!

God worked (and is still working) on me in tremendous ways. It took me many years to stop partying and going to clubs. It took the death of a friend to get me to stop drinking. My driving, which was legendary for it's awfulness, is now much improved. I know what a speed limit is! And I follow it! My temper, which once led me to park my ex-husband's car in the middle of the front lawn in January, in Michigan, in two feet of snow, is now under control. Imagine if that first person who told me of God's love had tried to do it by saying how wrong I was in the lifestyle I was living. I have no doubt that I would have been living that lifestyle a lot longer if that happened. Instead, the person who first planted that seed met me where I was. She didn't go clubbing with me, but she didn't tell me I was going straight to hell either. She was a friend. She was honest and real and that, more than anything, made me crave what she had.

I'm not going to start writing letters to try to convert Tori, Dean, Shannon, or Gene. I'm not going to start preaching on street corners. I'm not going to be Suzy Sister Christian with the perfect family, perfect house, and perfect bundt cake. I'm me. I'm someone who still listens to secular music. My husband calls it noise, but that's kinda what I think of that rock stuff he likes. lol I'm someone who's house looks more House Lived In than House Beautiful. Shoot, I'd love to have a housekeeper cuz I hate cleaning (hint hint John!). I am guilty of neglecting my family at times for business, and vice versa. But you know what? I have real relationship with people and am open about my faith. That's where God will meet the world. More people have been saved by craving what others have. It's the keeping up with the Jones syndrome. Let's use that to our favor!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Plan B

There are times when Plan B is really Plan A. It's just that my Plan A is not always God's. Take this weekend for example. I was supposed to do a craft show. Things happened, and we decided I shouldn't do it. We have a family friend spending the night. Her little brother was just diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I signed up to do a marathon for Team in Training on Monday, he got the diagnosis on Tuesday and started Chemo on Wednesday.

Now, she is spending the night with us, relaxing and de-stressing. The show I was supposed to be in? Well, it poured all day today. It would have been canceled due to rain anyway, and I would have lost inventory, time and sales. I've been able to test a few new recipes, which I will post on my other blog. More than that, we were able to minister to a teenager dealing with a serious illness in the family. See, my plan A wasn't the important one. God's plan A was so much better.

I'm heading to bed soon. I want to get up and make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow for John and the girls. Maybe I'll get pictures of those BEFORE they eat them all. lol

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'll be honest here

I didn't accomplish even a portion of what I planned today. So, I'm heading to bed and will try again tomorrow. I did post on my domestically challenged blog about pizza. I attended a meeting that I'm so excited about. And now I'm going to bed, late. I did accomplish more than that, but it wasn't at all how I planned my day. Oh well. I'll be up early to play catch up before my day really begins. I need to start tomorrow with God. That will make my day run all the more smoothly. So, goodnight all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where have I been!?

Right here! lol Very busy trying to take the business to the next level, trying to be sure the kids finish school on a good note, trying to manage the every day items of life that seem so overwhelming at times, but always joyous. Plus, I've been on twitter. A lot. lol I've actually cut back lately, but still it is there. I joined because someone said it would be good for business, but I've mainly been chatting. lol I admit it.

I have been storing up things to blog about. As I prepare for the new school year and all the challenges of having a high schooler and (gulp) a junior high schooler, I find myself anxious to get back to the routines of life, and establish new routines. If you think about it, it's the routines that keep life and all its surprises going. We have to have the basics - food, shelter, clothing, God. I find if I have those things in order, I can cope with anything that comes along. Well, we have food, shelter, and clothing. But lately, my time with God has been decreasing and decreasing. Now, it's at an unacceptable level. So, it's time to regroup and get back to those things that keep the rest in check.

Today, I have to realistically look at my schedule and figure out how to make it work. I'm not willing to reduce my committments because I know that I am supposed to be doing these things. But I am going to reduce my "committments" to my time wasters. ***and now, while I'm typing this, my handsome husband just emailed me asking me to plot out how to accomplish the goals I have for this month. lol*** You know what time wasters I'm talking about. For me, it's TV, twitter, and texting. True, I can do some of that while I'm melting wax or stuff like that, but they need to take more of a back seat. (this is kind of ironic since an upcoming post is on a couple TV shows. lol) My time with God needs to be in the driver's seat - Bible reading, Bible study and prayer. The rest of the schedule will fill in.

Well, I'm on my way to get more work done. I have some exciting things coming up. I can't wait to talk some more to everyone. I've been reading blogs and trying to stay current. I'll have scheduled blog time now, so I'll be able to keep things even more straight. At least, with prayer, that's the plan.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Still around

We've had a busy few weeks, and are now all fighting off colds. I think that I get these occasional bouts of stop the world colds when my life is out of balance. I'm not spending time with the Lord like I should, my house is a little, um, disorganized, and I can only breathe through one nostril. lol Yeah, life is a little out there. I'll catch you all up on our lives in a day or two. For now, I'm just happy that the kids only have three half days left of school. Finals will be interesting for Katelyn. Please pray that we end the school year on an up note. It has been a very long school year for us.

Talk to you all later!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I have found the straw

that broke the camel's back. That's right. You read it here. I will explain on Monday. I'm getting packed up to go to a great creation science camp with my son and his class. Three days in the woods collecting bugs, going on a bog walk (which I will stand just outside of and take pictures like a good mom), kissing pigs (of course, taking pictures again), touching snakes (I really like taking pictures), and stuff like that. I will also find some time to write some blog entries, including about this straw. Plus, I have playscapes to post!

Well, off to pack. I know we'll have a great time. My friend is going (our sons are best friends) and we're sure to have a ball! I also have to cook the food Michael and I will eat at camp. The menu is heavy on dairy - which we don't eat - and other things that I'm allergic/intolerant to. Talk to you all on Saturday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

This week's plan

is to finish separating the blogs and get back to a routine. How great that will be! No, really. I need the routine to help me accomplish everything that needs doing. We're getting busier and busier here. Next week, I'll be at science camp with my son for three days. Ugh. Ick. I am not the type to go looking for critters in the woods. So not my thing.

So, here goes the plan.

Today - start moving entries over to the appropriate blogs and adding some more
Tuesday - finish the moving
Wednesday - SNS - resume our study, plus post lots of playscape pictures. You'll find out why soon! I'll have the same post on all three blogs. Plus, I'll post what's planned on the other two blogs.

I have to go do some cleaning today. We've had quite a bit of rain and since our ground is already completely saturated from the winter, we had a little moisture in the lower level of our home again. Just a little though. We're trying to dry it up before the rains start back up tonight and tomorrow. Talk to you later!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm ticked and I don't care who knows it!

If you ask for a person's opinion, then don't be mad when you get it! We are living in a time when people's feelings get hurt at the slightest things. Come on! Get a grip. Personally, I think it's a symptom of how self-centered people are. Just because you feel a certain way DOESN'T mean everyone else must feel that way too. Whatever happened to agreeing to disagreeing? This culture of being afraid to speak your mind has got to stop. I just love how the tags of "diversity" and "acceptance" apply only if you agree with the people using them.

I'd like to stand up and applaud Miss California. She stood by her faith and her beliefs. Kudos to you. I pray that you continue being bold. Don't back down. There are many people standing by you.

I'd like to say that I'm glad I've never read anything that Hilton Perez (or is it Perez Hilton?) ever wrote. And the only way I know about it is that the "news" media keeps talking to him like he's a real journalist. He's not. He's a hate-filled person who comes across as a bully. He needs his mouth washed out with soap. I will pray for him as well. I pray that he sees there is a better way to make a living than to denigrate people.

The news broadcasts now sound like the tabloid TV shows did when they first came out. Seriously. What happened to the days of reporting the news and letting people make up their own minds about the story? This dumbing down of America has got to stop. I don't need anyone to tell me how to think. I'm fully capable of doing that for myself.

And while we're at it, where are all the "women's" groups? You know, the ones that complain at the least little thing. Are you not outraged that this man used such filth to describe Miss California? When did the C word become acceptable? My son asked me what it meant. I told him it meant daily washing out of his mouth with soap and grounded until he was married. How in God's green earth did this man get away with calling Miss California that and having it reported all over the world?

Enough ranting now. I'm going to go do something constructive now. I just wanted to comment on this. I really need to go back to my news fast.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please Help!

I've entered a competition for a small business grant from Intuit. Please go to

and vote for my essay! I'd love to at least make it to the next round. Thanks!

Changes are a comin'

So, if anyone ever looks at my profile, they'll notice a couple new blogs. Just hold tight! There's new content coming to all three blogs. I'm building up entries before the official launching. Here's how it will break down.

Here - Bible Study
Chele's confessions of the domestically challenged - homemaking and living with food allergies
Blue Water Scentsations - The biz, upcoming products, and related items.

I have to run! Things are crazy today. Crazier than normal. I have so much to get done, including making an appointment to see the dentist since I'm having trouble with a filling. It hurts!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Missing everyone

I have missed updating my blog this week. We had some activites come up that really threw our schedule in a tizzy. Fortunately, I have a slower schedule for the next week. Ok, maybe not slower, but at least in the house and not running around crazy. One thing I started this week was running the concession stand at Katelyn's home soccer games. It has been fun. Tuesday was spent setting it up and selling for the first game. It was cold and rainy, and we only made around $10. lol But yesterday was a beautiful day, and we did much better.

There are a lot of changes coming up in my life. I don't know how things will shake out, but I am taking the time this weekend to evaluate every activity, including this blog, to see where it fits. We're also going to put together our bedroom FINALLY! We had three floods between October and February and we need to get moving on fixing everything. Please pray for wisdom in all we are doing. I really need those prayers.

Well, I better get moving. I have quite a few things to get done. I need to put together my to do lists from the past week and get moving on it. lol

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! The Lord is Risen!

It's Easter! What a wonderful day. Our Lord is risen! So many people think that this is about eggs, chocolate, and bunnies. But that isn't it at all. That's what the world wants you think - take Jesus out and insert chocolate. I have nothing against chocolate, but I don't put my faith in it.

Easter is about relationship. Our relationship with God. He gave His Son to us so that we could have relationship with Him all over again. God loves us so much that He gave a part of Himself to bring us back to Him! How can we not love Him back at least a fraction of the love He has for us? There are four words that came to mind when I was praying about what to write this morning. I'm just going to put the words and the verses for your reading and thought. Enjoy your families today, and reach out to those who don't yet know the true meaning of Easter. Happy Easter!


Romans 15:11-13 (New International Version)
11And again,
"Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and sing praises to him, all you peoples."
12And again, Isaiah says,
"The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
the Gentiles will hope in him."

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Romans 1:16-18 (New International Version)

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
"The righteous will live by faith."


Psalm 117:1-2 (New International Version)

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.


Hebrews 10:1-10 (New International Version)

Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
1The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
2If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
3But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,
4because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.' "
8First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made).
9Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second.
10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Getting back into the swing of things

So, this is going to be another short entry. My menu for the week, and my to do list for today. I'll report back tomorrow and see how I'm doing with it.

Menu for the week:

Tonight - sweet potato burritos and salad
Tomorrow - leftovers (the burrito recipe makes a boatload and it's just John and me until Sunday night)
Saturday - grilled veggie salad
Sunday - Easter dinner - take spinach salad and cake
Monday - Oriental Chicken Salad
Tuesday - Pot pie
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - Fried Rice

And here's the to do list. I'm going to just try to get the most done that I can. After all, I have no kids at home until Sunday, and it's time to bust it out! I got my planner done yesterday, except the addresses. So, I have all the dates in there that I have obligations. I have a couple more to add, as I set them up. If I get time today, I'll come back and tell you about the goings on. Big surprises there for everyone.

To do -
Grocery list and shopping
30 min on the Wii Fit
Finish my Eventlister stuff (can't give details yet)
Find a vet for the puppy. I'm so not doing the whole going into heat thing.
Craig's list (can't give details yet)
Finish scheduling the meetings (are you tired of me saying I can't give details yet? lol)
Start eggplant and pepper seeds
Make 5 calls to businesses about wholesale
Finish production schedule
Do today's production
Finish packaging SCM stuff
Bible Study
Run off next week's chore schedules
Email rest of soccer parents about Snack Shack schedule
Letter to 5th Grade parents about carnival
Ask John to figure out how to get emails going through Outlook so they are all in one place
Check back with Project F.A.R.M. and 5 Minute Moms about emails sent week before last

I actually have about 50 more things on my to do list, but I'll spread that out over the next few days. Some of this stuff takes 5 minutes, some will take more. But, I want to get as much of it done as possible. I can't afford not to. If I don't get myself, my house, and my business together, I'm going to just lose it! lol Seriously, I know what God wants me to do, and I can't with the disorganization and malaise in my life. Plus, if I don't get sales up for the biz, I'm going to have to get a job. That will affect so many different things I'm involved with that it would really pull me out of God's will for the work I'm doing at school, and the other stuff we have planned.

Talk to you all later! Have a great day. I'll try to get back today if I have the time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My get up and go...

Got up and went. lol

Seriously, the kids are on vacation and not here for the week. We had a power outage. I had my long put off allergy testing, John had to take the laptop back to work, so we're on one computer now, and I've just generally felt like not doing anything. After all, it's spring break, right?

Spring break is now half over, and I still have so much to accomplish. So, I better get myself in gear and moving. Not sleeping last night didn't help either. The good thing is that I'll be sleepy tonight. Hopefully this week, I'll be able to get back to the blog again and post more. But, I need to seriously get some stuff done. Maybe I'll post my list to be more accountable. We'll see. Sorry this is so short, but I have got to make that list and finish it by Saturday Night.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What a day!

Yesterday was report card day and conferences with the children's teachers. They are both on the honor roll! YEAH! And then conferences hit. I knew that my disorganization was affecting the kids, but Michael is extremely disorganized also. So, we're going to work on that together. Katelyn is doing much better with getting work in, but we have to work on her testing. She's still hiding things from us, bad grades and so forth. I'm not sure how to change that. We've told her that if she's having trouble, we'll help her and she won't be punished. Yet she still hides things. We'll keep working on it with her. Both children have projects to work on this spring break for school.

I have a rant though. I met with the principal today about several things. I volunteered for yet another thing. When will I add the word 'NO!' to my vocabulary? lol Seriously, I don't mind. I'm organizing the Snack Shack for home games. I can do that no problem. While we were there, we discussed cell phones in school. Now, Katelyn was caught (by us) getting text messages during school time. One even had test answers. I know Katelyn wasn't cheating, at least that time. She had been home sick for the past few days and wasn't in school that day. Since she was deleting her history on the phone, we had no way to see what else was going on. She is not allowed to delete that anymore. She also no longer takes her phone to school. Her friends at school were still sending text messages, so I had her tell them we had her phone and would be turning them into school if they kept it up. Katelyn lost her cell phone for two weeks, and now must leave it at home where we can see it during school hours and at bedtime. I spoke with the principal about this, and I was floored.

We spend a lot of money to send Katelyn and Michael to a private Christian school. Parents and students sign a statement of faith and agree to uphold the rules. Of course, since the school has a no cell phone policy, I thought that it was a few kids trying to skirt the rules. We're talking high schoolers here. Evidently, not only is it a widespread problem, but some parents openly flaunt the rules. Students are allowed to have cell phones turned off in their lockers. It's not happening. They are taking them to class and texting. Some students' parents are the ones sending them text messages throughout the day! Have they lost their minds?! When we found out about Katelyn getting text messages, we took the phone away and made sure it wouldn't happen again. We'd never text or call her during class. We value our integrity, her education, and our money to much to waste any of them by doing such a bonehead thing. Some parents are upset that the school is upholding their rules and punishing students who get caught. I just don't get it. The school has really been struggling with this, and has decided to send a letter home to the parents. I just hope that it does some good.

Things are moving along with our lives. There are so many plans in the works, and I love it all! I'll be back to post more later on today. I have to get some stuff done now and the kids only have a half day. Then, we have appointments and Katelyn has a game. So, until later! Be blessed. I'll let you know what we're doing for family devotion this weekend, and update you on a few things. God is good!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And the winner is...

JMom! Yeah! Congratulations on winning the Blue Water Scentsations Tropical Escape basket. I'll send you an email with the details of receiving your basket. Thank you for entering our contest.

We'll do another giveaway in a few months. Keep reading for more information!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My daily schedule and advice needed from you all!

So, here's how it's going. It's not. lol I've been staying up too long at night and waking up late these past two morning. Last night, I took a sleeping pill (I'm still having insomnia issues) and just couldn't shake it off this morning. I still have some issues about scheduling though. Maybe I can get some help from my readers out in blogland.

John and I have been talking about how to get our family consistently on fire for God. Too often, we start out with a bang, and end with a fizzle. Our love for God doesn't go away. Just our desire to be in the deeper things of God. I'm really worried that I'm not teaching my children to be the Christians they should be. I'm really worried that I'm not being the type of Christian that I should be.

I'm being absolutely painfully honest here. We don't do family Bible times. Shoot, only one of the four of us is a morning person, and the rest of us have to really restrain ourselves from hurting him. lol By the time we are back together again at night, we eat dinner, park in front of the TV and then crawl into bed at our appointed times. Or, in my case, after I've found out whodunit. We are looking for a new church, and haven't made going to visit any the priority it should be. I think part of that is Michael and I used to be very involved in our church. You could find us there most days doing something, or hanging out with someone from there.

When John and I got married, we agreed that blending our family took priority over outside activities. I scaled back (ok, quit) my activities and Mikey's. Then, we moved and switched churches. The church didn't have any activities for anyone other than Wednesdays and Sundays. Not for the kids, not for the adults. I mean, my old church even had an active men's ministry. How hard is that in this day and age! They had a Christian biker's group, hunting and outdoorsmen group, a father and son group... the list goes on and on. I think that's why that church was so successful. Our new church didn't have any of that and I struggled to really fit in. Well, they've had a shake-up. The pastor that drew us there isn't there anymore. The few friends I made aren't there anymore. And there is even less going on than before. So, we're going to a new church.

I firmly believe that you must have an active group of programs for people to join. That helps people connect. Once they are connected to the Body of Christ, they feel more emboldened to share Christ with others. After all, aren't we supposed to make non-Christians CRAVE what we have? I don't know about you, but I'd rather join a group with a lot going on and something to offer everyone in my family than a place where you just go to fill a seat. I'm not the type to just fill a seat.

Now, I don't think that our inactivity as a family is because of the church. It's us. We've blended pretty well, but in doing so, we took the focus off God and put it on the family. I have definitely heard from God about this. I'm starting two groups, getting involved with another group that I used to work with, and I'm joining a fourth group. I know I will be busy, but I have to do what God tells me to do. Plus, I used to do this as a single mom. I headed two large non-profits, was involved in two others, worked more than full time and was active in church. All while raising my son, who is a great kid.

I will not do any of this if it means not drawing closer to God as a family. So, how do we do that? Is the family Bible time too late to start with a 15 year old and an almost 11 year old? Can they not learn that from us now? Is it never too late to start? What is better, morning or night? We have pros and cons for both. Should we just start reading in Genesis and go on from there, or because we're new to this, should we get a family Bible study with a book and structure until we're ready to go it alone? I'm open to all suggestions. I'll share them with John, and let you all know what we decide and how it works. I know that there is no "one-fits-all" solution. I'm just looking for options at this point.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Confessions of a news junkie

Yep, you read that right. I'm a news junkie. I really did try to give up the news. Really! For a whole week. Then, I just took a peek to see what was going on. The next thing I knew, I was back where I started. Following every news story, reading all the comments, refreshing the pages of the sites I enjoy to see if there was any breaking news. And the angst! Oh the angst of every news story. The rehashing of it with John, the venting about issues with the kids, the drama of the events. My peace of mind is completely gone!

I'm brought back to what started my whole news fast. The WORD of GOD! Here is Isaiah 33 again.

Isaiah 33 (New International Version)
14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
15 He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil-
16 this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.
17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.
18 In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: "Where is that chief officer? Where is the one who took the revenue? Where is the officer in charge of the towers?"
19 You will see those arrogant people no more, those people of an obscure speech, with their strange, incomprehensible tongue.
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken.
21 There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them.
22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.
23 Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread. Then an abundance of spoils will be divided and even the lame will carry off plunder.
24 No one living in Zion will say, "I am ill"; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.

This is very clear! I need to keep my eyes on God and not on the world. I admit that I have had some discouragement over the time I've been back in the news. I've had some worries and doubts. I've fallen off the path that I knew He's set me on, all because I've taken my eyes off Him and put them on the detours of life.

Here's how I rescue this situation. I put my eyes back on Him who gave me sight, and I take them off the world. Easier said than done, but I need to do it. And so, I will be doing that this afternoon. I admit, I want to see what is announced with the auto industry. I'm in Michigan and know people who rely on the auto industry for their livelihood. Whatever is announced, I'm not letting it get me worried. We serve the most high God!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The start of a new week

I admit it. I'm a geek. I love the beginning of new weeks, new months, new years, new school years. I just love new beginnings. This week is the start of several new things. I'm starting a new, improved daily schedule for me. The kids are working on their chore charts, and doing mighty well with them I might add. I'm starting a new phase in my business - we're transitioning from craft show based to Internet and wholesale based. And, John and I are working on a new project. I can't share that one yet. We're also looking for a new church. The kids really want us to go to one of the churches that their classmates go to - Colonial Woods or another one along those lines. Some of the parents have invited me to visit too. We'll see what happens. I really really really miss the AG church. I know that the one I attended was different than most AG churches, but I loved the activities, fellowship and all my friends. Now, we're all scattered around and the kids haven't really connected with the church we were attending. There just aren't kids' activities there for them.

So, my schedule is going to look something like this. It's a work in progress, and is going to be changing as I get into it more.

6am - up, Bible reading, shower and dress
6:45 - make sure both kids are up
7:15 - breakfast
7:35 - leave for school
8-9 - stuff that needs doing around the house
9-2:30pm - work
2:30-3:30 - pick up kids
3:30-5 - kids do homework and chores, I finish up work
5-6:30 - make dinner and clean up around the house
6:30-9 - dinner and family time - Michael shower at 8:30 - once the garden is in, we'll be using this time to maintain it as a family.
9-10 - Michael in bed, Katelyn get ready for bed, bed at 10 for Katelyn and me

Fridays are totally different. I don't work, and I do my errands and grocery shopping. My Saturdays, when not at shows, are going to be work 9-5 also, but more flexible. Sundays will be the Sabbath. Church and family time.

Now, I know there are some glaring holes in this. When do I blog? That is actually part of my work. I see it as ministry and work related. When do John and I get some alone time? Well, we have no kids on the weekends during the school year, so we get lots of time then. This will be especially true as I move the business away from craft shows and more into the wholesale part. Plus, Katelyn has soccer that we're working into the schedule. The thing is, the schedule for that is so crazy that it is pointless to put it in the schedule. We just have to work it out as it comes.

My schedule has been so crazy lately that something had to give. John and I talked, and my schedule is what has to change. I couldn't get more flexible without breaking something. I've been forgetting stuff and missing appointments - totally not me. My planner is back out and in full effect now. I also have to start treating the business as a business, not like something I get to when everything else is done. Things are never completely done! lol

Well, I have to get moving now. This is the last Sunday where I'll be doing stuff instead of keeping the Sabbath. I have to use this time to prepare for this week coming up. Plus, I have to make sure I can schedule in everything to be ready for next Sunday. I want minimal cooking and cleaning for Sunday. It's time to reorganize my priorities.

Coming up this week on the blog:
Monday - Bible Study
Tuesday - How the schedule is working so far
Wednesday - A look at my meals/cooking with allergies. Plus, announce the prize winners!
Thursday - Revisit the $3000 challenge (we have $500 of it sold.)
Friday - Menu Planning
Saturday - Organization update
Sunday - Nothing planned - just whatever God puts on my heart, if anything

That's the plan! Let's see how it all works out this week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Welcome to Ultimate Blog Party '09!

There is this really annoying commercial on Nickelodeon. It's a compilation of these guys saying the word "dude" over and over and over. Last night, we were watching Scooby Doo (yes, one of my favorite shows) and the commercial came on. My loving husband offered to throw something through the TV to turn it off. A normal family would have changed the channel. We are not normal. The kids and I promptly went into a 2 minute chorus of "dude" as many different ways and tones of voice as we could. By the end of it, even my husband was laughing. Life is just too short to get annoyed with the little things. Welcome to my world.

My name is Michele, but just call me Chele. Everyone does. I am a stay at home wife and mom. My husband John and I have been married for three years this coming May. We each have one child from our first marriages. Katelyn is 15 and a freshman in high school and Michael is 10 and in fifth grade. We are all evangelical Christians, and the children (excuse me, young adults) attend a local Christian school. John is the IT manager for a chain of collision shops. I have a candle and scented products company. I handmake all our products. I adore my husband and kids. We have such a great life!

We live in the country on about three acres of land. I love it! I'm starting a local chapter of the Mary Jane FarmGirls here. I'm really embracing my inner barn diva. I'd like to actually have more land. I'd like to be able to be as self-sufficient as possible. I'm really frugal (ok, cheap), and the thought of not having to pay anyone else for stuff appeals to me a lot. There's also another reason we want to grow our own food. Food allergies.

Yes, I have some serious food allergies. People hear the list of what I'm allergic to, and the first question I get is, "What do you eat!". I'm used to it, and it makes me laugh. There is this perception that being allergic to something means that you are missing out. I'm sorry, but I eat very well without getting ill. My list of allergies includes dairy, the entire onion family (onions, shallots, chives, green onions, leeks and garlic), most food preservatives, meat tenderizers, MSG, roses, latex, most antibiotics, grass, dust, feathers, fur, and several others. My son is also allergic to dairy. I also have a health condition that makes me get very ill if I have too much fat. I can only eat 25-50 grams a day before my body starts to register its complaints. As a result, we eat very few processed foods, very little meat, and lots of homemade goodies. Some family favorites include spaghetti, all types of Mexican food, chicken and dumplings, sticky buns, bread, all types of Chinese (I make it from scratch, like most everything else) and almost anything edible. lol I love cooking, and we try new recipes often. I'm considering entering a cooking contest. We'll see how that turns out.

This blog is a mix of Bible study, homemaking, family news, and whatever comes to mind. I have a strange sense of humor at times, and we enjoy pranking each other. I also like to talk about living with allergies. It's a challenge that more and more people are living with. Living frugally is also important to me. We have a monthly grocery budget of $360, and that includes all of our pet foods, paper products, and toiletries. We're also working on being debt free in the next three years. I try to be organized. Really I do. It just doesn't happen very often. lol It's a work in progress. I'm a work in progress. I'm very open about my life.

Well, that's me in a nutshell. I welcome you to poke around the blog. I'm in the middle of doing a giveaway for my business. We just launched my revamped website. And now that I know where our camera is, I'll be taking pictures to share. The kids should be very scared. Let's just say I love taking surprise shots. lol

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm just plain old mad now

I mean, good and ticked. A friend asked if we could get the word out about this. People, this would directly affect your ability to have your own garden to produce your own food. I'm going to copy and paste the information from the message boards at I don't want to mess this up. We live in a farming community, and this would really hurt our already hurting economy. This is a long read, but worth it.

Please read: A bill to outlaw organic farming next week?

by Tonia on 25 Mar 2009 18:05

Hi everyone. Marilu received the following email on a bill that's coming up in Congress and we'd like everyone to know about it.-------------------

US House and Senate are about (in a week and a half) to vote on bill that will OUTLAW ORGANIC FARMING (bill HR 875). There is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next 2 weeks before people realize what is happening.

Please take time to read this and pass it along to your friends. This is truly alarming! The wording of this bill is so general it gives the government complete control over our food. It has the potential to take away our right to choose the food we want to eat; all in the name of food safety.

The name on this outrageous food plan is Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (bill HR 875).HR875 Title: To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.

Senate Bill 425 - To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the establishment of a traceability system for food, to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspections Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for improved public health and food safety through enhanced enforcement, and for other purposes.

Notice the last sentence “and for other purposes”…

How much control are we willing to give up?First of all can you imagine the additional expense to our government to create a new USDA/FDA body (In HR875 the new administrator is given complete authority to make this organization as big as he wants). We are already trillions in debt as a nation. This bill includes surveillance of growers/farmers, computer tagging, monitoring, and “mandatory” usage of whatever means the government deems necessary to kill anything living in our food they feel is bad, including all the vitamins which are quite fragile. Imagine the manpower. Are we trying to create jobs just for the sake of it? Who’s paying for this? WE ARE!

425 would potentially outlaw all “potlucks”, anything home grown, herbal remedies, alternative health options, personal food gardens, and so on! This is serious!

Don’t be fooled! READ IT!

This is all being claimed in the name of “food safety”. It is a way to squeeze out our smaller local farmers and shift food production over to large national “BIG Business”. The financial burden to comply will effectively squeeze out small farmers. No going green here! Major carbon footprints!

Please check links below on HR 875 proposal potentially criminalizing organic farming, seed diversity and the backyard gardener, all in the name of food safety and 425. It’s a violation of your rights. Please express your concerns to your state representatives and congressmen. This impacts all of us now and our children in the future. This bill will effectively give our government or whoever is in control, complete control over our food system. The downside is that heirloom varieties, non-GMO plants, non-cloned animals, non-irradiated, hormone free, organic and pesticide free plants and animals can be deemed illegal! Our health hangs in the balance. This hands our food future over to herbicide/pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto.

Main backer and lobbyist is (guess who) Monsanto – chemical and genetic engineering giant corporation. This bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply". This will include backyard gardens that grow food only for a family and not for sales.If this passes then NO more heirloom clean seeds but only Monsanto genetically altered seeds that are now showing up with unexpected diseases in humans.

There is a video on the subject.

And another one: ... 9-337.html

(Article on Monsanto) (bill itself - click on Thomas Home and then browse bill by sponsor Rosa DeLauro) ... l=s111-425 (Bill 425: Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act - Introduced in Senate) IS REAL, FOLKS! PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL CONCERNED ON YOUR MAILING LISTS & CALL YOUR SENATE REPRESENTETIVES TODAY!

Get on that phone and burn up the wires. Get anyone else you can to do the same thing. The House and Senate WILL pass this if they are not massively threatened with loss of their position.... They only fear your voice and your vote.

Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. sponsored HR875.The best thing to do is go to all you have to do is put in your zip and it will give you your congressperson and how to get in touch with them. When you call their office someone will answer the phone, just tell them (politely) that you are calling to express your views on HR 875. Tell them your views, they'll take your name and address and pass your comments along to the congressperson. The following link ... rs_cfm.cfm is a list of the U.S. senators and their contact info.

Here are a list of Reps cosponsoring HR875, if your state is on here, please contact them and express your concerns.
Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 2/11/2009
Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2] - 2/4/2009
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 2/11/2009
Rep Castor, Kathy [FL-11] - 2/4/2009
Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 3/3/2009
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 2/4/2009
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 2/4/2009
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 2/4/2009
Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 2/10/2009
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 2/4/2009
Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] - 2/4/2009
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 2/4/2009
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 2/4/2009
Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] - 2/12/2009
Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 2/4/2009
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 2/10/2009
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 2/4/2009
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 2/4/2009
Rep Murphy, Christopher S. [CT-5] - 2/4/2009
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 2/4/2009
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 2/12/2009
Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2] - 3/10/2009
Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] - 2/4/2009
Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 2/4/2009
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 2/4/2009
Rep Schauer, Mark H. [MI-7] - 2/4/2009
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 2/4/2009
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 2/12/2009
Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] - 2/4/2009
Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 3/3/2009
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 2/4/2009
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 3/3/2009

Still here

Wow! Life has kicked into overdrive. I love that downward slide to the end of the school year. Big projects get wrapped up, moods lighten up, and no more ambushes from teachers about my children missing assignments. lol Yes, we have another 9 weeks of school left and I am counting down the days.

Our children go to a local country Christian school. Homeschooling is not an option for us because of custody arrangements, but we've found the next best thing. The school has a great family atmosphere. I volunteer in school, and the kids are active with their friends, as much as possible. I like the Christ-centered education that they receive. They are able to see people living and walking out their faith on a daily basis. I mean, that there are others that do it besides us. lol

I had some dental work done yesterday, and am still hurting. I'll take some Tylenol and go on with my day. John took the kids to school this morning, so I have had a quiet morning. I really have to remember to pack lunches at night. It makes everything go so smooth! The kids are settling into their chore lists really well. Once I took a look at what was being done by whom, I was able to balance things out much better. Great for one child, not so great for another.

In the busy-ness of life, I've gotten away from the $5 dinners that I was doing. So, back to that. With that in mind, here is the menu for the next week. Because of some changes around here (I'll explain in a few days), my grocery shopping is changing from Thursday to Friday next week. I've added an extra day in here to reflect that.

Thursday - Chicken and Rice soup (left over mashed potatoes for me)
Friday - Wraps with rice, veggies, and maybe shrimp
Saturday - Stuffed mushrooms and salad
Sunday - Pot Pie
Monday - Chicken and Dumplings
Tuesday - Spaghetti
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - Fried Rice

I always put in a leftovers day, but the reality is that sometimes we don't have leftovers. On those days, I make brinner - breakfast for dinner. I always have eggs on hand, and can do pancakes or omelets on short notice. I just throw in whatever veggies I have for omelets. A big hit every time.

John and I have been talking about the direction life has been going in. God has been so good and faithful. All He asks is that we be faithful in return. We're restructuring a lot of things around that. Two words that keep coming up are "Excellence" and "Integrity". Look for much more coming up on that.

Well, I have to run. I have grocery shopping to do, and Katelyn has a soccer game tonight. We're doing a family ice cream night after the game and dinner. Michael and I will be having Rice Dream ice cream treats - non-dairy chocolate ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts. Yes, it's a splurge, but the fact that we actually found an ice cream treat we can eat is reason enough. That, and chocolate is always a good thing. lol

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Giveaway for my website's launch!

Yeah! It's finally done (except for six little pictures which will be done later this week.). I've finished our website and sent out introduction emails with coupons to the email addresses I have for friends and family. Now, it's time to do a giveaway. I'm hosting one on Facebook and another one here.

Times are stressful. Every day, the news just makes you want to curl up in your home, shut off all outside distractions, and relax. We want to help with that.

To celebrate the launch of our redesigned website, we're giving away a basket of our best selling products to one lucky person on Facebook. This Tropical Escape basket includes:

*12 votives - 4 each of pina colada, pineapple, coconut
*1 16 ounce jar candle - mango and papaya
*3 sachets - pikaki
*2 bars of soap - one cucumber melon goat's milk soap and one mango papaya glycerin soap
*1 brown sugar body scrub - brown sugar and fig
*1 jar bath salts - pina colada
*1 pound mixi melts - 1/4 pound each pineapple, coconut, fig, almond

Of course, there is absolutely no cost to you. Shipping is included.

The giveaway runs from 9:30 am Eastern 3/18/09 - 11:59 pm Eastern 3/31/09. The winner will be selected 4/1/09 by random selection at and announced the same day. Each entry will be assigned a number. Multiple entries are possible.

*For one entry - sign up to follow this blog. Please don't sign up anonymously. I can't count that for the contest.
*For one entry - go to and pick your favorite product. Post a comment here and let me know which product you chose.
*For one entry - Ask for the email with the coupon code - I do not share email addresses ever, and will not send further emails, if you request I don't.
*For one entry EACH TIME - Spread the word about this giveaway. Post here with the link to where you mentioned it, or how you promoted the giveaway.
*For even more entries, you can participate in the Facebook giveaway too.

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Busy GOOD day

Yes, it has been busy. Today was the bake sale for my son's grade. I worked it with his best friend's grandmother, who is my friend. We had a blast! We also talked about a project I've been working on. It looks like it's going to be fun.

John has decided to start doing consulting and tech support on a part time freelance basis. It means less time with us for a while, but it's ok. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get to where you need to be. I am going to be a busy girl with both my business and his, not to mention our regular responsibilities. Organization is going to be key in all of this.

God is so good. I'm so happy that we are being faithful in this. We just made the decision last night, and already John has two, maybe three customers. Isn't He great?

Tomorrow won't be as busy outside the house. But, I am always busy here. I have lots to get done. Not only that, my brother-in-law's birthday is tomorrow, and my father-in-law is treating us all to dinner at Outback. True, I don't eat beef, and can't eat garlic or onions, or corn, and the list goes on and on. I'll be calling them ahead of time to find out what's safe. Even if it's just a salad, it's dinner I don't have to cook!

Have a blessed evening everyone. I'm going to finish up some work on the website and head to bed. Tomorrow, finally, will be the long-talked about giveaway.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Praise in the midst

Have you ever had a stretch of time in your life that just challenged you and your faith? I mean, where it seems like the tests come one after another, with barely time to breathe in between. I know that God doesn't make these things happen, but He does allow them for a reason. Right now, our lives are in such a season. This last test, which will be unnamed, has rocked me to the core. I worried, and stressed out, and all the things we're not supposed to do as children of God. Finally, God asked which I thought was bigger, Him or the problems? What works better, letting Him handle everything or worry everything in circles? The choice, while hard to put into practice, is clear. God is in control and I have to let Him work it out.

Now, don't get me wrong. I still feel worry coming up in me. Sometimes, even bordering on panic. But God! is there and is faithful. I crave Him! I need Him! He is the fountain of all my strength.

So, while I have planned and plotted out how everything should be, God is busy turning things upside down to show me where my trust should be. I praise Him, no matter what. I serve Him, no matter what. I build my life around Him, no matter what.

Today's to do list is being revised to what God has planned for me to do, not what I had for me to do. I must run. Tomorrow, God willing, I'll get back to my Bible Study. If not, I won't worry.

Menu Mondays

Here we go. This week's inspired menu. NOT! I admit it. I have cabin fever and no working oven. lol We're still stove shopping. We haven't found any deals that are just sooooo good we have to jump on them. Thankfully, I still have the microwave with the convection oven feature, but that's just not the same. lol The whole family will be happy to have me back to full time baking, instead of the iffy experiments I've been doing lately. I just won't compromise on what type of stove we get for our dollar. We went to 6 stores this weekend without buying anything. Plus we're looking at Craig's List. The problem is that we can only have an electric stove, but not a flat top. You can't use cast iron or do canning with a flat top. We have a flat top now, and let's just say that it half works half the time. lol And on to the menu.

Monday - Leftover Pot Pie from yesterday. I ended up making a biscuit crust that went over well. Too well. I'll have to make more biscuits today so everyone has crust for their pot pie. lol

Tuesday - Spaghetti with homemade sauce. Remember, I can't have onions or garlic, so I'll be making my own version. One day, I'll remember to write down how I make it.

Wednesday - leftovers then over to the in-laws for dessert for my brother-in-law's birthday

Thursday - Nachos or some Mexican food

Friday - Dinner Salad

Saturday - Fried Rice

Sunday - Chicken and Dumplings

I might change this up, if we can get the propane filled for the grill. I want some grilled veggies and wrap them all in a pita, and maybe even some turkey brats (yeah, right. I can't eat those until my gallbladder is all better). I am ready for warm weather! lol During the summer, we grill just about every day. Rain or shine.

I also have to make up more of my spice mixtures. With all my allergies (I should list them sometime), I have to make them myself. For example, chili powder has other spices in it. But, powdered chilies have only chilies in it. Go figure. Plus, this week we'll be starting our seeds for our garden. Spring is in the air!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A wake up call to Christians

This is a blog posting by one of my husband's online gaming friends.

*** Edited to add - several people asked for the link. Here it is, thanks to my sweet husband.***

I think that it's a wake up call for all Christians. It's time to decide which side you are on. I'm reminded of the verse in Revelation to the church in Laodicea:

Revelation 3:15-17 (Amplified Bible)
15I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
16So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth!
17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Keep this verse in mind while reading this entry. Thank you to my dear husband for showing this to me, and sharing it with the children and me for Bible Study tonight.

Christians today are nicer than God.

Or at least they are trying to be so. In the Church there is a standard of niceness that Jesus failed to reach while on earth. Comparing God’s attitude and behavior with that of the Church today shows that believers are far more polite, tolerant, understanding and respectful to the wicked than God is.

The Church is also less offensive, rude and sarcastic than God’s men in the Bible were. And no Christian would ever be caught dead mocking the wicked, as God’s men in the Bible sometimes did.

Jesus was offensive. Most people were offended by him. The proof for John the Baptist that Jesus was the Christ was that the blind see, the lame walk and the majority are “offended” by Him (Mat. 11:2-19). As Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Mat. 11:6; Luke 7:23). In Galilee, Jesus did not plead with his neighbors to understand Him when “they were offended at Him” (Mat. 13:57; Mark 6:3). If unbelievers are offended, so be it (cf. Luke 14:3-4; John 5:8-16). “Shake off the dust from your feet” (Mat. 10:14). But alas, that is no longer a Christian attitude.

Christ’s apostles asked Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard [Your] saying?” (Mat. 15:12). What is the accepted Christian response today after an offense is taken? Quick, apologize! Ask for forgiveness! Tell them you are sorry. How did Jesus respond? He said to ignore the complaints of the unbelievers: “Let them alone. They are blind,” (Mat. 15:14). Today, many Christians condemn Christ’s attitude as unloving.

Jesus promised his followers, “you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended” (Mat. 24:9-10). When a Canadian started his call with a vicious, “Bob, I hate you…” The immediate and (super-) natural response was “Cool. Great! Because Jesus taught that ‘if they hated Me, they will hate you’” (see John 15:18-19; 17:14; Mat. 10:22; Luke 21:17). Today Christians think if the world hates them, they have failed. The reverse should be true. It is not that a Christian wants to be hated; it is simply an occupational hazard.

Jesus is the Rock. Most believers are unaware, however, that Jesus used this metaphor to issue a graphic threat against the unrepentant. For Christ said that on whom that Rock “falls, it will grind him to powder” (Mat. 21:44; Luke 20:18). Even the Father said that the Son is the “rock of offense” (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8). Offending unbelievers is Christlike in the deepest sense.

God utterly forbid drinking blood (Lev. 3:17; 17:14). Israelites, from priests, to Pharisees, to average citizens, were at least superficially obsessed with “keeping the law.” Thus when Jesus said whoever “drinks My blood has eternal life,” (John 6:54) He was being extremely offensive, and intentionally so. Further, He made no effort whatsoever to clarify Himself. Rather, He let the offense work its ministry. Jesus knew He even offended His own followers. As He said to “His disciples” immediately afterward, “does this offend you?” (John 6:61).

Being rough with the wicked does not automatically turn off unbelievers. A harsh style is difficult for more sensitive Christians to appreciate. However the biblical approach to communicating with the world includes not only compassion, but harshness as well.

The Bible sometimes ministers through ridicule, humor, sarcasm and even mocking. For example, God mocked the Midianites when He defeated them after sending a nightmare to them that they were being attacked by a loaf of bread (Jud. 7:13-14). Elijah, just prior to executing 450 prophets of Baal, “mocked them” as the Bible says, telling them to yell louder to their god so that Baal could hear their prayers since he was either on a trip, sleeping or in the restroom (Hebrew, “private place,” 1 Ki. 18:27; and 2 Ki. 6:8-20).

When the Ad Council airs anti-drug public service announcements (PSAs) that mock “pot heads on Jeopardy” who cannot even remember their names, they are not motivated out of hatred, but out of love. Ridicule can and does save lives. “Why do you think they call it dope?” Ad Council spots run on Christian stations and get no criticism for being unloving or unkind. Why is it that Christians never rise up against the effort to stigmatize drug users? If a pagan brings peer pressure against “pot heads,” that is accepted. Let a believer, however, use mockery to stigmatize fornication or sodomy, and the Church rises in condemnation. God, however, does not condemn those who “rebuke the wicked” (see Prov. 24:25).

When a harsh word is needed God uses a harsh word. This is true in the Old and New Testaments. Herod beheaded John the Baptist for “rebuking” the king for “all the evils which Herod had done” (Luke 3:19) and for condemning the tetrarch for incestuous adultery (Mat. 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18; Lev. 18:16; 20:21) with “Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife” (Luke 3:19). Jesus warned of “the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15). When notified that “Herod wants to kill You,” (Luke 13:31), Christ responded without respect, “Go, tell that fox, ‘I cast out demons’”” (Luke 13:32).

The especially harsh term hypocrite is used in the Gospels twenty-three times. Christ often insulted the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers. He even called the Pharisees blind guides (Mat. 23:16, 24) and sons of hell (Mat. 23:15). Jesus spoke unkind words unacceptable today. He said to Peter “Get behind me, Satan” (Mat. 16:23). He told the Pharisees “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44), and made a whip and cleared “thieves” from the temple (Mat. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:14:15).

Gentiles (as symbols of the godless) and sodomites are called “dogs” in the Bible (Mat. 7:6; 15:26; Deut. 23:17-18; Ps. 22:16; 59:5-6; Phil. 3:2; Rev. 22:15). And Jesus was harsh (not only to the Pharisees, as some believers wrongly assume but) to all the unrepentant (see His use of “hypocrite”). Jesus instructs Christians to not “cast your pearls before swine” (Mat. 7:6). Yet the silly dilemma now is, “Who could Christ possibly have meant by that, for we are too loving, tolerant, polite and respectful to refer to any human being by that mean-spirited term.”

In the King James Version, the seductive women among the people of God are worse than “whores” (Ezek. 16:33). That crude term appears in the Bible dozens of times. The men who use those women are “whoremongers” (1 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8; 22:15), which is the most raw term in the English language to describe promiscuous men. God describes other sinners in terms of filthy excrement (Isa. 64:6) and even worse (2 Ki. 18:27; Isa. 36:12). Sinners truly are repulsive, regardless of how men may try to sanitize them.

The Bible does not say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” It says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). And that God hates “all workers of iniquity” (Ps 5:5). “The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man” (Ps 5:6). Also “the wicked and the one who loves violence [God] hates.” (Ps 11:5). Further, “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (Ps 34:16). God “loves righteousness and hate[s] wickedness (Ps. 45:7).

There are six things “the Lord hates,” including “a heart that devises wicked plans” a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). And God reminds us “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more” (Ho 9:13). As Moses wrote of God, “if you do not obey Me… My soul shall abhor you” (Lev. 26:27-30).

Even in the New Testament, Paul wrote, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil” (Rom. 12:9) introducing the concept of hypocritical love. What is hypocritical love? “Should you” love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you” (2 Chr. 19:2). Warning the wicked of the coming judgment is harsh, but is a necessary component of acceptable love. A love that is not hypocritical rebukes and condemns, and then points the way to God.
God uses different methods to communicate the Gospel to people at different depths of depravity. At times, a Christian can pray with an unbeliever. At other times, a believer might ridicule the unrepentant in hopes of waking him up. Painful communication though is in no way reserved just for non-Christians.

Paul uses dripping sarcasm telling the Corinthians that they do not need his counsel because they are full, rich, wise, strong and distinguished. They are even like kings, and all that without Paul’s help (1 Cor. 4:8, 10). Sarcasm stigmatizes destructive behavior and prods people toward righteousness (1 Cor. 4:14). Paul also fell short of today’s compassionate Christianity when he wrote that the government should minister terror, wrath and vengeance against the evildoer and that the sword should be used against them (Rom. 13:3-4). The Apostle also erred by today’s standards calling unbelievers fools (Rom. 1:22) and the Galatians fools (Gal. 3:1, 3). Incidentally, Jesus also called men fools (Mat. 23:17, 19; 25:2-8; Luke 11:40; 12:20) when appropriate but never “without a cause” (Mat. 5:22) according to His teaching. As King David wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps. 53:1). Thus, atheists are fools and it is cruel to withhold this knowledge from them.

Christians enjoy quoting, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” However many shudder at the rest of the verse. For thus says the Lord, “Every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn” (Isa. 54:17). Jesus taught that human beings will condemn the wicked. “The men of Nineveh will rise in the judgment with this generation and condemn it” (Mat. 12:41). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world.” Then two verses later He added, “but he who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:18). By today’s Christian standard, no unbeliever would know that he is condemned, because most believers will not communicate this vital truth. John 3:16 is nice. John 3:18 is not nice.

Jesus was asked a question that goes to the very heart of His ministry. “Who gave you this authority?” (Mat. 21:23). Within the answer to that question lies eternal life, yet Christ was not inclined to answer them. Rather, He asked them a question, which they failed to answer (Mat. 21:24-27). Therefore He said to them that neither would He answer their question (Mat. 21:27; see also Luke 22:67 and John 12:34-36).

When people misunderstood Jesus He often made no effort to explain Himself. Quite to the contrary, He often purposely let His hearers misconstrue His words (John 2:18-22). Jesus let people walk away in unbelief without running after them. The Bible does not record Him as saying, “I’m sorry, did you misunderstand me?” He is the “stumbling block,” and if men wanted to stumble, He let them. For those who want to hang themselves, He invites them (Rev. 22:11). Jesus made the rope available. He is that rope (Rom. 9:33).

Jesus was a man, not a girl. Christianity today has been emasculated. Men and women are different and they communicate differently. Women are softer and nicer than men, and thank God that they are. However, men are not supposed to be women. Today, Christian ministers are expected to behave like women. That foolishness is a death sentence for many unbelievers. Strength, confidence, conviction and tough love appeal to those who are searching. Thus Jesus is a beacon to real seekers. But for those wanting to get lost, Christ is like a street sign that has been reversed by a troublemaker.

Today we are way nicer than God. It is tragic. This spiritual plateau that the Church has reached conveniently reduces the chances for confrontation. Nice people rarely rebuke, judge, confront, accuse or condemn. Nice people have less stress. It seems the only ones that Christians are quick to judge are fellow believers who judge the wicked. Go figure.

Kudos to this brave author! Thank you for sharing these words.

I am blessed!

So, I admit it. I'm totally fallible. What, you didn't know that? Well, I am. Take today, for example. I am having a problem with a piece of candlemaking equipment. Actually, it's the wax melter vat. That holds 300 pounds of wax. That has about 50 pounds in there right now. That needs one part replaced, but it's expensive, and we don't have it, and wax is an important part of candles, and on and on and on. I've worried and researched and even vented to my husband about it.

You know, I love having an annointed husband. I really do. It's just frustrating at times when he makes sense, and says what I know to be true, but don't want to hear. I would rather worry and come up with my own solution to things. But God! in His wisdom gave me this incredible man who snaps me out of the worry, stress, and strife. John asked me if I prayed. My reply? "Of course I did! And I'll pray more!" How dare he question my prayers!

John then emailed me with a reminder of some of the negative things I said during the course of today, and sent me these verses.

James 1:5If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.
6Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.
7For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,
8[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].

Oh that he would have stopped at verse 5! But now I know. And once you know, you are accountable for it. All kidding aside, I am so grateful to have such a loving husband that he would give me correction like this. I'm so grateful to have a loving God to give me such a husband! And now, I'm off to go get some stuff done before church tonight. Be blessed everyone!

Really? Plague and Pestilance - again!

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. lol After John's food poisoning (yes, it was food poisoning), Katelyn had what my former co-workers used to call the Michigan crud. She stayed home from school for two days with severe chest congestion and fatigue and stuff like that. We made it through that to find out it was going to rain all weekend, and I soooooo didn't want a fourth flood! John and his father rented a pump and dropped our pond down about six feet, and that kept the water out for now. We're going to completely drain the pond once it warms up enough to melt the rest of the ice on it. Thank you Lord for keeping us from flooding. The whole family is weary of the mess the last three have left, and the work still left to be done. Next, it was my turn to fight off the crud. Which, I did with lots of prayer and rest. Instead of my trying to still do everything, I listened to my body (and my husband) and slept and took medicine to knock it out. I didn't get nearly as ill as Katelyn. Praise God everyone is healthy and back to our routines.

Speaking of routines, Katelyn and Michael are NOT liking the whole chore routine. Attitudes abound, but will get better. The mornings are our biggest challenges. I have to think that the disorder in our home plays a large part of that. I'm also back to my insomnia routine, so I'm kind of out of it in the mornings and playing catch up the rest of the day. So, to fix that, I'm doing several things.

1. Quitting caffeine. I tried cold turkey once, and while it was successful, I was sick for a week while my body detoxed. So, I'm weaning myself off during the rest of this month. I'll be replacing my coffee with tea and local honey, which I need for my allergies anyway.

2. Posting the chore charts on the refrigerator in the kitchen. That way, it's in writing, and there's no doubt about what's to be done when.

3. I need to make a better daily schedule for myself. This includes limiting some time wasters, and increasing time spent on other things.

4. Get the areas that we do have available to be used better organized. Spring cleaning and getting rid of a bunch of stuff will help with this.

5. Cutting down on the last minute stuff that seems to creep into our days and throw everything off. So, the calendar is on the wall. If you have an activity, it needs to be put there so we know what's going on. I'd love to have illnesses planned out ahead of time, but eh. That won't happen. lol Seriously, no more illnesses are needed in this house.

6. Speaking of illnesses, we need to battle illness with prayer and staying healthy. I know, sounds simplistic, but taking vitamins, eating healthy and getting into shape will really help us stay healthy. And we don't do these things consistently.

I have more posts to do today as I get the time. Talk to you all later!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How do I learn how to can?

Does anyone know where to find canning classes? I want to learn how to do both hot water bath canning and pressure canning. It's a practical thing to learn, not to mention required for my allergies now. It is really hard to buy foods when you are allergic to most food preservatives and meat tenderizers. We've lost way too much food in freezers when we've had power outages in the warmer months, so I try not to have too much in there during the summer. Last year's quest for dry ice really brought home the need to have another way than the freezer to store foods. Most people that I know who can only do the hot water bath canning, but I want/need to learn both.

I'm also going to take sewing classes. I remember learning in Home Ec, but don't remember how to use a sewing machine or even half of my embroidery stitches. Don't get me started on the last time I did cross-stitching! Do they even teach Home Ec anymore? My daughter needs to learn how to do all that stuff too. I know she doesn't really know a lot of that stuff.

Well, I have to run and do a couple errands. I hope to locate the camera and take pictures of dinner and even one of me tonight or tomorrow.

Let's catch up

So, today will be a catch up day for me. John's feeling much better. We laid hands on him last night and prayed over him. This morning he woke up with the fever just about gone, and full of energy. He's off to work, and the kids are both at school. I can get back on schedule for my day and get some things done. I started a fundraiser for Katelyn and the cheerleaders. I have to start one for a great opportunity Katelyn has this summer. I promised Michael I'd find a 4H for him to join. I have a list of things to get done that's (no kidding) a whole page of my planner long. We'll see how much I get done today. I have several projects that I slated to start this week. I may have to bump them back a week. I also will be trying out the whole scheduled publish function of blogger to see how it works. Plus, the kids have chores to get done, and they are doing new chores in the morning. I give them a couple weeks to get into the new routine of chores. They have a lot they want to get done for this summer, and the deal is that we will put forth as much effort as they do. If they don't tow the line and do what they are supposed to do without giving us attitude, they will be home working for me this summer instead of having fun.

Talk to you all later! It's a busy busy day!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Prayers needed again

John is fighting off something. He's been ill for the past few days, and now it is starting to make him jaundiced (we both have liver issues). Please pray!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Plan B Kind of Day

It has been one of THOSE days. You know, where you start out with a great plan, then it all gets shot to pieces? My plan was to get some stuff done around the house after my appointment this morning at the Sandusky Craft Mall here in Michigan. It's a new craft mall, and we're considering selling there. My real day? It started out with my husband and children being super sweet and letting me know I could sleep in. John was taking the kids to school, and as I had packed lunches the night before, I didn't need to get up. In theory. Of course I couldn't just let well enough be. I had to make sure everyone had everything they needed and were out the door on time. I decided that I could sleep in until 8 and still do everything I wanted to get done before the appointment. But, I've been having trouble falling asleep. So, I fall asleep around 7:30 and get a phone call around 7:50. I mean, I'm normally up at that time so I don't mind calls then. I just hope that I made sense this morning. I finally get to my morning routine at around 8:30 cuz I just didn't want to get out of bed until then.

I start getting into my routine, and John calls. The truck has a flat, the tire is here with me, and I don't have time to get it to him before the meeting. It's 45 minutes in one direction, and his job is 45 the other direction. Plus, it's grocery shopping day. It was just one big car trip for the rest of the day. I made it home in time to make what I had planned for dinner and have it hot on the table when John got home. The house is in reasonable shape, and everyone's full. So, although I didn't get to do my regular blog entry for today, it has still been a good day. I am now going to take a sleeping pill and really sleep tonight. I don't like doing that, but sometimes I go through an insomnia thingie. So, a few days of sleeping pills and my body will fall back into the rhythm. I'll catch up on the posts tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Great News Fast of 2009

Hello, my name is Chele and I'm a news addict. I mean, I will read news stories that have such a stupid sounding headline just to find out if it is as stupid as it sounds. I can quote obscure news stories from other countries and even try to make them relevant to everyday life. I have it bad. So, when my husband John pointed out God's orders on getting through these times, well, I was less than unenthusiastic.

Isaiah 33 (New International Version)

14 The sinners in Zion are terrified;
trembling grips the godless:
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
15 He who walks righteously
and speaks what is right,
who rejects gain from extortion
and keeps his hand from accepting bribes,
who stops his ears against plots of murder
and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil-
16 this is the man who will dwell on the heights,
whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.
His bread will be supplied,
and water will not fail him.
17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty
and view a land that stretches afar.

You see from above, the righteous man doesn't pay attention to what is going on around him. He keeps his eyes on God, the great provider. If God is mighty enough to form the earth, He's great enough to let me know what I need to know. Concentrating on the problem and not the solution never fixes anything.

I can't say that I haven't seen any headlines or heard anything over the radio or TV. But now I am quick to turn those things off. I find that the world is a much more peaceful place now that I have my vision of it correct. I say this with almost a week of no news under my belt. Ask me in a month how I feel. lol Right now, I have to keep my eyes on the goal of the whole news fast.

Isaiah 33 goes on to end with

18 In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror:
"Where is that chief officer?
Where is the one who took the revenue?
Where is the officer in charge of the towers?"
19 You will see those arrogant people no more,
those people of an obscure speech,
with their strange, incomprehensible tongue.
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals;
your eyes will see Jerusalem,
a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up,
nor any of its ropes broken.
21 There the LORD will be our Mighty One.
It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams.
No galley with oars will ride them,
no mighty ship will sail them.
22 For the LORD is our judge,
the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
it is he who will save us.
23 Your rigging hangs loose:
The mast is not held secure,
the sail is not spread.
Then an abundance of spoils will be divided
and even the lame will carry off plunder.
24 No one living in Zion will say, "I am ill";
and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.

When you take your eyes off the world's circumstances and put them on God, your whole perspective changes. When your perspective changes, your circumstances change. You may still have the same mess, but God's hand is on it and not yours. In verses 18-19, God tells us that you don't see any of the problem. You don't see the chief officer and his shenanigans. You don't see arrogant people or get confused from their double talk. Instead, in verses 20-22, you see the never changing, always holy Zion - the city of God. It is immovable. God saves us, not the news or the people in it. God is faithful and immovable, and will save from all problems. Verses 23-24 says even the lame - the handicapped and fallible (that would be us) - will carry off plunder and have our sins forgiven. The lowest of us can have our sins forgiven and God's solutions for our problems if we just look at Him.

This is a hard post for me. I really want to turn on the news, read the news, listen to the news. But I know that I need to not even let anyone tell me about the news unless it is something God wants me to know. My eyes are to be on Him. His Word can't get any more clear on that. Does that mean that a news fast is the right thing for everyone? I can't say that. Only you can listen to God for your own life. Seek His instruction in this. He may not have that in His plans for you right now. I know I was out of control with the news. I know that my reliance is to be on Him, and not anywhere else. God always blesses faithfulness to His Word. Does that mean we'll have lots of riches and material things? I don't know, but I just want the peace and joy that comes from following Him. The rest will come to us whenever (if ever) it does. I do know that God promises

Deuteronomy 28: 1-2 (New International Version)

1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

If you want shouting and rejoicing, read the rest of the chapter. WAHOOOO!!!!! God is our provider, comforter, and security.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Vision of His Glory - Chapter Three Part One

Which church are you?

I know, that's a strange question to open a Bible study, but for the next few discussions we'll be dealing with the seven churches that Jesus commanded John to give Revelation to. The churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Each one had its own special challenge and correction given in Revelation. Today, we'll discuss Ephesus. Chapter Three will deal with three of the seven churches, and we'll probably do each of the seven separately.

First, Jesus praises the Ephesians. They are hard working and persevering. They don't tolerate wickedness and are discerning to see if someone is lying to them or is committing evil acts. They have been persecuted and gone through many things to glorify the name of Jesus. To me, this sounds like they were committed, right? But Jesus goes on to say this:

Revelation 2:4 (New International Version)
4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Um, what? Jesus just said all these things the people were doing for Him, but He has a problem with them still? But, be comforted. Know that first and foremost, no matter what and how much you do for God, you are still not perfect and not deserving of the salvation Jesus gives us. It is only through God's love and Jesus' sacrifice that we have our salvation. The Ephesians were doing everything right, but they were only doing. Sometimes, with the busyness of life and ministry, we can lose sight of Who we are doing all this for. It doesn't matter how many conferences you go to, how many times you volunteer at church, how pristine your home is or even how much you blog about Christ. If you aren't putting Him first, then it is all just works. Faith, not works, is what should take first place. That doesn't mean that you will never be able to do anything. You just have to be sure the reason why you are performing these works is right. Our goal in life is to glorify God. We do that by showing His love and doing His will.

Here's a way to test your motives. If God told you to walk away, no matter the hurt feelings it might create in others, could you do it? Are you doing things as unto God, or are you doing things because they are a tradition and/or people expect it? There is a woman (Candy) who had a blog that I greatly enjoyed. Her love and excitement for God leaped off the screen at you. Now, did I agree with everything she said? Nope. But, I knew that she was being obedient to God and what He told her to do. We are in two different places in life, so what He tells her to do isn't going to be the same as what He has for me to do. (As a side note, please please please listen to what I just said. God meets you where you are and brings you up to His level. Please don't put on anyone the conditions you have for them. We are only to follow God's will because He knows what each individual person needs at any given time.) Candy shut down her blog yesterday because her family has moved onto a different path that the Lord had for them. I will miss her, but I pray that they have great success in their endeavors. Here's the thing. There were some women that were so hurt by Candy's closing her blog that they chose to run her reputation down and talk bad about her. In my opinion - and this is only my opinion here - they forgot that while the blog was a blessing, it wasn't meant to be their church or spiritual food. They forgot their first love that brought them to the blog for encouragement and uplift - God. Only God should be the head of what you believe. Yes, she had some helpful hints and recipes and things like that. It was great to read about another Christian woman's life and get encouragement from that. But, her season for that blog was over and she needed to move on. God told her to move and she was quick to obey. She left a note saying what happened, and moved on. I wish everyone else could too.

Are you worried you might have lost your first love? Do you know for sure that you have lost focus and the joy of serving Him? Here's what you do. Test everything you do against the Word of God and see what happens. I once heard a teacher say that people can tell what your priority is by what you talk about the most. That's always stuck in my mind. Am I talking more about myself, my actions, my life or am I talking about God and His plans and His will for my life? If this is convicting you about any area of your life, don't worry. God gives us the way to get back to our first loves.

Revelation 2:5 (New International Version)
5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

It's really simple. Think back to when you last had joy in your life. You know, that joy that can only come from the Lord. Here comes the hard part. Repent. Not just of the bad things, but of the good things done with a wrong attitude. Sin isn't just action. It's also attitude. Repent and do those things you were doing when you had that joy. Was it turning off the TV and not allowing anything to get between you and God's Word? Was it giving in secret, like surprising a family in need with a bag of groceries on the front porch? Was it some other way of being a blessing and showing God's love to others? Whatever it was, go back and do that. Jesus ends the passage to the Ephesians with:

Revelation 2:7 (New International Version)
7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

WAHOOOO!!!!! God is faithful and mighty to save. After telling the Ephesians the issue He had with them, He told them how to fix it, and promises to give them everlasting life and salvation with Him. How very much our Lord loves us!