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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sukhi Bhaji

This is a wonderful dish of potatoes from the country of India. A friend shared this recipe with me, and even included little containers of each spice. So sweet of her. A few years ago she served this dish to me, and just this week I served my first dish. It makes me hungry thinking about the potatoes. They have the perfect amount of sweet mixed in with spicy.

sukhi bhaji potatoes recipe

I have a confession to make. Foreign dishes intimidate me. I feel like I will fail just because it's not my own culture and I'm probably not going to perform to their standards. I had the spices in my cupboard for a year. They sat there tempting me. I ignored them out of fear. I thought it would be hard. I was so pleased to find out how wrong I was. These potatoes are delicious and they only take about 30-45 minutes to make. I love easy recipes!

Sukhi Bhaji

4 or 5 medium potatoes
5 tbs. oil
4oz. can green chilies
½ cup raw peanuts
half the juice of a lemon
1 tsp. cumin seed
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. garam masala
5 tsp. sugar

sukhi bhaji potatoes recipe

Cut your potatoes into cubes and boil them. While that's boiling crush peanuts and green chilies together in food processor. In a separate pan heat oil, put in cumin seed. Add peanuts and chilies to oil. Cook while stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add potatoes, spices, sugar and lemon juice. Use cilantro as a garnish.

It's that easy! If you like a little spice to your food, you will love these potatoes. They make the perfect side dish. All three of my children even gave high compliments.

Monday, June 16, 2014

God Speaks

For almost a year now my daughter and I have been having a Bible study every other Thursday. I felt she was slipping away from me and we needed this extra one on one time together. It's been amazing what God has done through this time we share. Our relationship with each other is stronger than ever and our relationship with God is growing too. It's a winning combination. I have been in awe of the things that God has done through my daughter because of our special time together.

One of the things we do at the start of our study is reflect on what God has been speaking to us about during the past week, or weeks depending on how long it takes us to meet again. (Titus and Gabriel meet on the opposite Thursday for their own Bible study.) Ariel and I both have notebooks that we write down daily in. At the end of the day, or typically the next morning we make a log of what God spoke to us about the previous day. It can be a word of encouragement, or a word of discipline. It could be about a song, a Bible verse, or a fun day spent with family. God speaks to each of us in many different ways so the ideas are endless on what to write about.

This has been very beneficial in my daughter's spiritual walk. I have seen her blossom since starting this discipline. It's really inspiring to get together and share for 20 minutes or so about what God has done the past weeks. Some days our things we share are very similar, as God speaks to us during our time together. I love when this happens. This past weekend God spoke to me and I felt it was worthy to share with you.

We had a backyard family camp out. The problem was we were using a tent we bought at a garage sale that came with no directions.

I wanted to put up the tent for my children so badly but I could not understand how it worked. I was SO frustrated!

I tried to find pictures on the internet of what it "might" look like and still I couldn't make it happen. I stopped working on it for a while. I was getting nowhere. I came inside and played a game with the kids. I felt refreshed and I decided to give it a try again. I was not about to give up. My kids were counting on me and this camp out. I had to at least be able to get the tent up off the ground enough for us to fit inside, right?

While I was praying, me and Ariel were able to get it up. It didn't look the greatest, but it was up. The tent sagged in a few places and we discovered it had a broken zipper and a missing loop for the pole to go through. I was discouraged. But hey, we got it up. The kids could run inside it. They really didn't care that it looked a little funny. I tried to be happy about it. I felt a little bit of pride at our accomplishment.

When I was looking at it through my camera lens I saw our mistake. The tall poles weren't reaching their potential. Why would they make a tent with extra-long poles if you couldn't extend them all the way? It finally clicked in my brain. They were in the wrong place!!

God speaks to me tent poles
What a message!

We try and try to get our lives on the right track. We find pictures of what we want to look like and be. But it doesn't work out. We look messed up and misshapen trying to mimic other people.

God has an ultimate plan for our life, something He created us to do and be. He has this really "tall pole" that only fits in one place- His place for it. When we are there in His perfect plan we can finally reach our potential. The potential we were created for.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Elvis: The Advent Elf

elf on the shelf advent bible study
This Christmas, Elvis the Advent Elf came to stay at our home. I'm sure by now you have heard of Elf on the Shelf, A Christmas Tradition. It seems to be one of those love/hate relationships. You either love the idea, or you hate it.

I'm probably somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't hate him. He's fun! I love the idea of an elf coming to stay for the holiday season. It seemed like it would be so much fun for the kids to wake up each morning and search for their elf friend, finding him in the funniest places. We have never taught our children that Santa was real, so the part about an elf watching them to see if they were naughty or nice didn't fit with our family. I wanted to tweak our elf to incorporate our family traditions.

We have always taught the kids about Santa Claus, the truth. He's a fun pretend character who magically delivers presents on Christmas Eve. We love watching Santa movies. The kids always get a present in their stocking from Santa, which they know comes from their mom and dad. At our house, Santa is the one who gives the ornaments for the tree each year. Every Christmas Eve they leave a plate of cookies with milk for Santa. They know their father and me eat the cookies; sometimes we take pictures to show them. It's fun to pretend. It's good for a child's imagination.

I didn't want to pay the money for the famous Elf on the Shelf so I purchased my own at Hobby Lobby. He was much cheaper, and I believe he's adorable. His arms have a wire running through them so you can position him how you would like, and he has a weight in his bottom so he can sit up. He is a little larger than the normal "elf" but I liked him that way.

Meet Elvis, The Advent Elf. On December 1st our kids woke to find Elvis sitting on our dining room table. In his hand was an envelope and next to him laid a letter from Santa. The letter was quite long and detailed the tradition of celebrating the Advent season.

In the envelope Elvis held was the first Bible verses for our Advent celebration. We daily would get scriptures to read, and we would all discuss a question to reflect upon. It would be our evening devotions. The discussion was lively and interesting. I believe it was an excellent tradition to add to our family celebration. I don't know that Elvis will return with his daily activities next year (it was a ton of work), but I do believe we will read through his Advent envelopes again.

To make his envelopes I found a piece of Christmas scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby. It conveniently had all 25 numbers on it. I simply cut each one out and mod podged it onto the front of some envelopes I also purchased from Hobby Lobby. With coupons, the total price I paid on his Advent envelopes was $2. I love how they turned out, and they were super simple to put together.

I had my envelopes all finished before December 1st so each night we would need only pick the next day. The Bible verses were all printed out and folded to fit nicely inside. I chose to use the Message version for all our Bible verses. It's such an easy version for kids to understand.

elf on the shelf advent bible study
Day 1
1 John 1:1-5
Question for Reflection: How can we "walk in the light"?

elf on the shelf advent bible study fridge
Day 2
Isaiah 9:6-7
Question for Reflection: What name or characteristic of Jesus can you most relate to?

elf on the shelf advent bible study connect four
Day 3
Philippians 2:5-8
Question for Reflection: Why do you think Jesus came in such a humble way?

elf on the shelf advent bible study swing
Day 4
Isaiah 40:3-5
Question for Reflection: How can we prepare for God's arrival?

elf on the shelf advent bible study rice angels
Day 5
Luke 1:5-12
Question for Reflection: What does it mean to live honorably before God?

elf on the shelf advent bible study snowball fight
Day 6
Luke 1:13-17
Question for Reflection: John the Baptist was the first person filled with the Holy Spirit. What do you think life was like without the Holy Spirit?

elf on the shelf advent bible study snowball fight

elf on the shelf advent bible study closet snacking
Day 7
Luke 1:18-25
Question for Reflection: Why do we often doubt God's blessings in our own lives?

elf on the shelf advent bible study toilet paper tree
Day 8
Luke 1:26-38
Question for Reflection: What "impossible" thing do you need to trust God for?

elf on the shelf advent bible study toilet paper tree

elf on the shelf advent bible study going fishing
Day 9
Matthew 1:18-19
Question for Reflection: How do we deal with conflict? Do we do it quietly, or do we make a big scene?

elf on the shelf advent bible study going fishing

elf on the shelf advent bible study barrel of monkeys
Day 10
Matthew 1:20-25
Question for Reflection: What does "God with us" mean to you personally?

elf on the shelf advent bible study grinch in jail
Day 11
Luke 1:39-45
Question for Reflection: Why do you think Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus?

elf on the shelf advent bible study googly eyes
Day 12
Luke 1:46-56
Question for Reflection: How do you feel about being a "chosen child" of God?

elf on the shelf advent bible study crocodile bite
Day 13
Luke 2:1-5
Question for Reflection: Caesar Augustus was a documented historical figure, do you ever wonder if Jesus was real too?

elf on the shelf advent bible study snow window
Day 14
Luke 2:6-7
Question for Reflection: Why do you think God allowed His son to be born in a stable?

elf on the shelf advent bible study zipline
Day 15
Luke 2:8-12
Question for Reflection: Why do you think the angels appeared to the shepherds instead of someone more "important"?

elf on the shelf advent bible study zipline
elf on the shelf advent bible study zipline

elf on the shelf advent bible study hostage
Day 16
Luke 2:13-14
Question for Reflection: What does it mean peace to those "who please him"?

elf on the shelf advent bible study reading a book
Day 17
Luke 2:15-18
Question for Reflection: What things have you "seen" that have made you "believe"?

elf on the shelf advent bible study Christmas wreath
Day 18
Luke 2:19-20
Question for Reflection: Have you been "glorifying and praising" God for all that He has done in your life?

elf on the shelf advent bible study in the bird seed
Day 19
Micah 5:2-4
Question for Reflection: Micah prophesied about Jesus' birth hundreds of years before it happened. Do you believe God planned for your birth that far in advance?

elf on the shelf advent bible study paper snowflakes
Day 20
Matthew 2:1-2
Question for Reflection: A pilgrimage is a long journey made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. What pilgrimage have you been on lately?

elf on the shelf advent bible study roasting marshmallows around campfire
Day 21
Matthew 2:3-6
Question for Reflection: Why do you think Herod feared Jesus' coming?

elf on the shelf advent bible study cooking in kitchen
Day 22
Matthew 2:7-8
Question for Reflection: Herod pretended to be devoted to get what he wanted. Do you ever pretend, hoping God will give you whatever you ask for?

elf on the shelf advent bible study cooking in kitchen

elf on the shelf advent bible study bathtime
Day 23
Matthew 2:9-12
Question for Reflection: Have you ever been in the right place at the right time to experience God's presence?

elf on the shelf advent bible study wrapping paper
Day 24
John 1:14
Question for Reflection: What does it look like when "flesh and blood moves into your neighborhood"?

elf on the shelf advent bible study Santa with cars
Day 25
John 3:16-18
Question for Reflection: Have you accepted God's gift of His son, Jesus?

I put a book together of Elvis: The Advent Elf and his adventures. I wanted to share it with you!

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17

Christmas Coloring Pages

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Animals for God

"It's a jungle out there!"
This year we are going to be animals for God. I'm sure that sounds a little wild and crazy. When you have kids, it's perfectly normal to feel like you're living in a jungle, every man for himself. Chaos everywhere. This year there is a little order to our jungle; we are the animals and it's a good thing. A God thing.

Remember the growth capsules you used to get as a little kid? They looked like colored medicine, and when you put them in warm water, they grew into a sponge. I loved these when I was little. You never knew exactly what you were getting. It was so fun to be surprised with a different shape. I don't remember doing anything with the sponges after they had grown; the whole point was watching them change.

I found a pack of 18 capsules at the dollar store. My pack had 6 different animals, three of each one. After much prayer, and help from my mother, I came up with index cards of information for each animal. I used this as an object lesson on growth for my second and third grade class at church. The kids were going to have the opportunity to be a horse, giraffe, tiger, lion, elephant, or crocodile for God. I found a Bible verse to go with the animal, and I tried to highlight different characteristics I thought the animal might exhibit.

When you see the capsules, you have no idea what animal you will be getting. You choose what color you like, and the animal is a surprise, a theme for the year from God. The kids in my class got so into this, I decided to repeat the activity with my family.

animals for God bible verses

This year Titus is going to be a HORSE for God.

A horse gallops into the spiritual battle using God’s word. Thoroughbreds are part of God’s kingdom following His commands not being stubborn like mules.

“Put on all the ARMOR that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks.” Ephesians 6:11

Warrior – Tough – Protector – Fighter

Ephesians 6:11 horse

This year Amanda is going to be a GIRAFFE for God.

A giraffe’s long neck can reach high places, feeding on the good stuff of God. You will not scrounge in the dirt for grubs.

“I run straight toward the GOAL to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Dream - Purpose – Desire - Action

Philippians 3:14 Giraffe

This year Ariel is going to be a TIGER for God.

The tiger is proud and does not shrink back in fear. It stalks its prey the devil because it knows that God is on its side.

“Be STRONG and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Brave – Courageous – Fearless – Daring

Joshua 1:9 Tiger

This year Gabriel is going to be a LION for God.

Lions walk boldly into what God has given them. They do not fear difficulties.

“The wicked run away, but the godly are as BOLD as lions”. Proverbs 28:1

Brave – Courageous – Fearless - Daring

Proverbs 28:1 Lion

This year Zechariah is going to be a ELEPHANT for God.

An elephant never forgets the commands of God, and always stores the knowledge from the Bible in memory.

”I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in KNOWLEDGE and understanding.” Philippians 1:9

Wise – Intelligent –Learn - Smart

Philippians 1:9 Elephant

The other animal I have left that no one in my family chose is the CROCODILE.

The crocodile will gobble up God’s word, and has thick skin to keep out the enemy’s attacks.

“You will SEARCH again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” Deuteronomy 4:29

Discover – Examine – Hunt - Pursue

The anticipation for the kids in finding out their animal was great! They loved it. I hope and pray they continue to walk in the footsteps of their animal. To put on the armor as a horse, to have goals like a giraffe, to be strong as a tiger, to walk boldly as a lion, to be knowledgeable as an elephant, and to search for God with all their heart as a crocodile would.

*UPDATE* Three years later we added More Animals for God

Every year I pray and ask God for a word, a theme for the year. This year He led me to a Live Second devotional. My husband and I are going through the book together. I want that to be my theme this year, to always put myself second.

When it comes to God, I put Him first, myself second. When it comes to my husband, I put him first, myself second. When it comes to my kids, I want to put them first, myself second. When it comes to my friendships, I want to put them first, myself second. My word for the year is Second. I am Second.

Luke 19:26 New Years Eve


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