Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elf on the Shelf

Our Elf on the Shelf is not quite like everyone else. We like to call him Elvis: the Advent Elf. He brings us a Bible verse for each day, and some questions to ponder. Last year we did something special with him. We told a Christmas story throughout the month with the way we displayed Elvis. The fun part was that the kids had no idea that we were doing this.


When January came around, we surprised them with a new story book that told the adventures of Elvis. He went from being the sad elf who was searching for something in his life to the end of the story where he found Jesus. We affectionately named the book, "Twas the Night Before Christmas". The kids loved it! They remembered all the crazy silly things that Elvis did the previous month and now saw the story come alive. It was wonderful to be able to surprise my children with this book. I made sure to incorporate each of them into Elvis' book. They each in their own way added to how he found Jesus.


I thought this Christmas it would be fun to share the book I wrote. You can view it in pictures. In order to read the book, you might need to view the photos at their full size. In each photo of Elvis you will see him holding an envelope with a number on it. Inside each envelope was his Bible verses he shared. You can access my Bible verses at the link I posted in the first paragraph. Enjoy as Elvis learns that joy comes from deep within where Jesus lives!




























Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Prophetic Prayers

We all need people to speak encouragement and life into us. It's so easy to be torn down by other's words and actions. We must treat our words like gold. We shouldn't be careless in the way we throw them around, in the way we speak to others. Words can wound and burn like a fire. But they also have the amazing ability to heal. I want to use my words for good.

Over a year ago, I was challenged to pray prophetic words over my children. I decided I would be part of the crowd that speaks life into them. Prayer is a very powerful tool. Scripture is also powerful. I combined the two together and came up with cards that I use each morning during my devotion time.

As I was preparing these cards, I prayed that God would show me words to focus on for each child. I also asked my kids which character qualities they wanted to live out, and to excel at. Together, with God's help, I tailored a list for my kids.


I printed the character qualities on index cards, along with some Bible verses that I pray. I punched a single hole in the corner of each card, and strung them together with a binder ring. Each morning I flip the card and spend just a couple of minutes in prayer for my child with the character quality in mind. The cards on my ring are alternated between all my kids, and my niece. I don't overwhelm myself and try to pray for each kid every day. I keep it simple. I pray for one kid, one card.

The results are incredible! Prayer changes things. It changes others, and it changes me. I don't know which is the better deal.

Today I prayed for Zechariah to be RESPONSIBLE. That he would know and do what both God and others are expecting from him. That he would feel an obligation to follow through and complete a task satisfactorily. I prayed he would be dependable and trustworthy.

I inserted my son's name into the three scriptures I found.  Praying scripture is effectual and life giving. It will increase your own spiritual growth. You will gain an understanding of what the Bible says, and you will be applying it to your life.

These are the scriptures I prayed over my son for RESPONSIBLE: Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 16:24, and 1 Corinthians 13:11

In Ephesians, I prayed, "For Zechariah is God's masterpiece. He created him new in Christ Jesus, so that Zechariah can do the GOOD THINGS that God planned for him long ago." 

In Matthew, I prayed, "Jesus, guide Zech to be a follower of you, help him to TURN from his selfish ways, TAKE UP his cross, and FOLLOW you."

In 1 Corinthians, I prayed, "When Zechariah was a child, he spoke and thought and reasoned like a child. But WHEN HE GREW UP, Zech will put away childish things."

It's very simple to pray scripture. I like simple things that have a big impact. It's like all the giving campaigns you hear this time of year. If you give today, a generous donor will match your gift by fifty percent. When we use the scriptures in our prayers, God matches it and makes it worth so much more. He puts His stamp of approval on it.

The reason I call this my prophetic prayer cards is that most of these character qualities are in the process of being made perfect. I am prophesying that my children are going to do these biblical truths. None of us have arrived at our final destination yet. We are all a work in progress.

 Prophetic:
  • the foretelling or prediction of what is to come.  
  • declared by a prophet, especially a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation.
  • a divinely inspired utterance or revelation
    From Dictionary.com 

If I struggle with selfishness in my life, I'm going to pray a prayer that I can become more selfless. If I historically let people down, then I'm going to declare dependability. Pray for your child's weakness, or your own weakness to become your greatest strength. Declare that it will happen. Don't settle for this is the way I am, and there's nothing I can do about it.

PRAYER CHANGES PEOPLE. God works on the heart.  Heart transformations are the best kind. They last.

Just to get you started, I want to share all the prayer cards that I put together. If you click on the Assertive card below, it's a PDF file made to print on 3x5 index cards. Feel free to use them, or change them how you see fit.



Assertive- Beautiful- Bold- Compassionate- Content- Courageous- Creative- Dependable-  Determined- Discerning- Empathetic- Faith Filled- Faithful- Flexible- Gentle- God's Messenger- Honest- Humble- Integrity- Intercessor- Initiator- Joyful- Just- Leader- Loved- Loyal- Obedient- Passionate- Patient- Remembered- Responsible- Righteous- Self-Controlled- Selfless- Sensitive- Steadfast- Truth Speaker- Truthful- Understanding- Wise- Witness

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hello, Fall

The weather is starting to get cooler outside. That means hot dogs on an open fire, marshmallows roasted in the fireplace. We light candles in the house that makes it smell so sweet and heavenly. We eat soups for dinner, and bundle up in blankets on the couch to watch movies.

Fall is a very cozy, warm time of year. I love to be warm. My favorite has to be the feeling of the sun beating down on my skin. Fall is a different type of warmth than summer. In summer you sweat from the heat. In fall, you enjoy the warmth that blankets, coats, scarves, and sweaters bring.


  
Fall also means football games at the high school. Each week we watch our team. Half way through the game we get to see our daughter perform her flag routine with the color guard and band. These are always fun nights. We get steaming hot drinks to warm ourselves with. We sit together snuggled up in blankets on bleachers, and cheer on the team. Unfortunately, they always lose. But we still cheer them on just the same.





The leaves are changing. The air is crisp. Our city is full of colors you don't get to see any other time of year. It's a beautiful time. We are looking forward to all that fall brings.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Torte

According to Merriam-Webster a torte (pronounced tor-ta) is a cake made with many eggs and often grated nuts or dry bread crumbs and usually covered with a rich frosting. It's also typically known as a layered cake. There are many kinds of tortes.

To me, torte is a specific cake that is tradition to my family. My father is German, and this recipe has been in our family since before I was born. As long as I have memories, my dad has requested it every single year for his birthday.

This year, I decided to choose it for myself. It's sweet and delicious. The cake is light, but the icing is everything. It's a butter cream with pudding. We always cut the cake into multiple layers and spread strawberry jelly between. It holds many memories, and I thought it was time to share it. My grandma and great grandma made this torte from memory. This recipe is from my mother who asked them a lot of questions and made notes on how to prepare it.

The cake is a little finicky and will not be your typical dump the ingredients into a bowl, mix, pour, and then bake kind of cake. This cake is special. It requires time and love. I think that's what makes it taste so good!


The Cake
Preheat your oven to 375°.

Separate 6 egg whites and 6 egg yolks into two different bowls. The egg yolks will get the largest bowl to be used later.

Start with the egg white bowl. Beat 6 egg whites on high speed. Once it's stiffening, gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside.

In a new bowl, mix these dry ingredients together:
  •  Little less than 1 cup of flour
  • 3 heaping tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

In your third and final bowl, beat until fluffy:
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbs. lukewarm water
Add dry ingredients into the egg yolks bowl. DO NOT STIR. Add egg whites into the yolk bowl. DO NOT STIR. Use a large rubber spatula and gently FOLD all ingredients together. Be very careful to not mix, or you will mix the air out. 

Bake in an ungreased Angel Food pan at 375° for 30-35 minutes. Be careful when you close the oven door. Because if you slam it, the cake will fall, or be lopsided.

The top should be a golden brown color.  Make sure to let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it upside down to continue cooling. You can put the cake pan up on a cup or a mug. The cake needs a lot of air flow while it cools. Once it's completely cooled you can take it out.

Cut cake into three sections. Be sure to cut it very carefully so you don't smash it. The easiest way to cut the layers, you can take the inner part of your Angel Food cake pan out of its outer shell. You don't need to remove the cake from the pan yet. If you keep it on the flat pan you can now twirl the cake while you are cutting it.

You can add any flavor you like to your layers. We normally put jelly on one layer and the buttercream icing on another. To make the jelly easier to spread, mix in a little hot water.

The last time my mom made the cake she decided to make her own strawberry jam. It tastes SO much better than a jar of jelly. She cut up some fresh strawberries, she added a little bit of sugar, and she cooked them on the stove. She made sure to mash them while she cooked. It's thinner and easier to spread than the jelly is. It was a definite success!


Buttercream Icing 
3 oz. pkg. of cook and serve vanilla flavored pudding
(NOT INSTANT)
1/2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

Make pudding, and cool to room temperature. Whip butter until creamy. Beat while adding pudding a little bit at a time.
  • IMPORTANT: Keep butter and pudding at the same temperature. (Warm)
  • You can add cocoa powder to the icing to add a chocolate flavor, or experiment by adding any flavor you like to it.
Once the cake is iced, you must put in the refrigerator to harden. The icing will melt since it has so much butter in it.

This cake is so delicious! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Appreciation Journals

For years I have been writing in journals. Writing is a part of me that I believe God placed inside. Every morning with my breakfast, I journal in my notebook. It's my time with God. It helps me to focus on what He is doing in me. It changes me.

For years I was a very negative person. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I lived my life focusing on all the bad around me. I didn't try to look for the good. It was much easier to have a pity party for one. Every single day.

I heard a challenge on the radio to write down 3 things God does for you each day for 30 days. That challenge changed my life. I am a different person. My life has beauty and purpose. I see the good in people and situations. I focus on what God has done each day in me. I have joy like I never had before.


The challenge didn't stop after 30 days for me. Every single day I discipline myself to write one thing that God did for me that day. Since I write in my journal each morning, I write about the previous day. I've been doing this for a few years now. In the beginning it was very difficult to come up with something to write down each day. I struggled to find good in my life. Every time I wrote, it became easier and easier to find the good. Now it's become like a second nature. I see God in my life all day long. I'm constantly making a mental note to add things to my journal the next morning. I don't struggle to see the positive. I've trained my mind to focus on the good around me. My life isn't perfect, but I feel incredibly blessed. I have thousands of tiny things to be grateful for. I have hundreds of big things to give thanks to God for. My cup overflows.

I recently have challenged my family to start their own Appreciation Journals. After a few weeks, we take time to go out for ice cream or some other treat and we read what our journals say. We take turns going through each day. It has turned into my favorite thing we do together. We have met as an entire family. And I've met one on one with each of my kids. We leave the date inspired. God has done so much for each of us, and it's life changing to give Him credit for it. I know God is pleased that we are taking time out of our busy schedules to thank Him for what He has been doing in our lives. He is always up to something good.

Jesus healed ten men with leprosy on his way to Jerusalem. (Luke 17:11-19)

"When he saw them he said, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' On the way there they were healed." Luke 17:14

ONE of them came back to Jesus, and threw himself at Jesus' feet worshiping him and thanking him for the healing.

This is not just a healing of a little scratch. This healing completely changed his life. He would be treated now with respect and kindness. The life that had been taken from him was given back to him on a silver platter. His gratefulness went down to the very core of him. He threw himself at Jesus' feet. I imagine there were tears. This wasn't a cute little card given in the mail expressing thanks. The man humbled himself at Jesus' feet. He made himself lower so Jesus could be raised up.

The part of the story that is most shocking is that he is all alone. 10 men suffered from this debilitating disease. Only one man recognized Jesus' gift and returned to thank Him. We aren't talking about remembering to say thanks when someone opens a car door, or brings you a birthday gift. We're talking about being given the gift of LIFE verses DEATH.

I sincerely hope we can remember to thank the one who saves our life.

We probably don't feel like we have a debilitating disease that God must save us from each day. But we do! Without Jesus we are outcasts. We can never make ourselves good enough. We will always mess up and be less than perfect.

BUT the good news is that Jesus came to heal us. We don't need to live with a disease that is slowly killing us. We can be free from it every single day!

It's not enough to one time fall at Jesus' feet thanking Him for changing our lives, allowing us to go from outsider to insider. It's a daily decision. It's a lifetime of thanks.

Every day I make the choice to come back and fall at Jesus' feet, humbly thanking Him for the gift He gave to me that day. I can't do life without Him. I don't want to even try.