Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

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If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.

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When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –

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Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!

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Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!

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Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!

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Coconut Cake

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One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:

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We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Ten Stress-Reducers for Marriage

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For my Family Friday post today, I’m going to share my husband’s great thoughts from his message series of Putting Hope in Your Marriage.  These are practical for every marriage – stress or no stress!

  1. Refresh daily with God’s Word.  Only His Word can help YOU be what you need to be.
  2. Always put your spouse first.  This requires humility…see point #1!
  3. Build together time into your schedule.  If you don’t put it in, it likely won’t happen.
  4. Learn to say “NO.” This means you’re saying, “Yes” to more important things!
  5. Cut out ministries that are burdensome and stale.  If you’re plugging away at a ministry at church with no heart, it’s better to give it up and get refreshed.  This will also allow you time to pour into your marriage, which is your FIRST ministry!
  6. Serve together!  Aquila and Priscilla served as a husband/wife team.  Where could you serve with your spouse rather than away from him?
  7. Communicate clearly and respectfully. Don’t use your words to punish!
  8. Plan ahead. The anticipation of a fun date or time together is half the fun to me!  If you plan it ahead of time, it will help you get through the stress-filled days of life!
  9. Be “touchy.” Hold hands, hug, love with touch.  It’s amazing what a loving hug will do after a hard time, isn’t it?!
  10. Trust God.  That means trust Him together.  Stop together and pray about that stress.  Read a passage of Scripture to your husband that encouraged your heart in the midst of your difficult day.

Thank the Lord for a marriage that can give one another hope in stressful times!  Add some encouragement to your spouse today!

I’m excitedly heading to Michigan today for a Ladies’ Retreat!  It’s cold and snowy up there, but I’m looking so forward to sharing time in God’s Word together!  His Word is like an oasis in the midst of a blizzard, but I’m packing lots of warm layers anyway!!!  I pray you have a refreshing weekend!

Refresh your marriage with hope!

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Memories of Sunday Dinner

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The term “Sunday dinner” carries with it sweet memories of wonderful aromas and samplings of things like roast beef, gravy, Southern green beans, mashed potatoes, salad and rolls.  The meal was finished off with a special dessert – perhaps homemade pie or a layered cake.

In my mind’s eye we are seated at the dining room table, cloth napkins in the lap and beautiful dishes before us to hold the prepared feast. All this wasn’t to impress anyone – it was tradition, whether it was just family, or if guests were invited.

Sunday Dinner followed the morning worship service at church.  It was what happened after the gathering with believers for study, worship and the preaching of God’s Word.  We marched into the house after church, set down Bibles and purses, and  donned an apron over our Sunday clothes to finish the preparation necessary to get the meal on the table in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Because of the prep that had been done ahead of time, it wouldn’t be long before the call to dinner came.  The table had been set, the roast promptly put into the oven before leaving for church, the salad made the night before, and potatoes peeled and bobbing in the boiling water in the crock pot so they’d be ready to mash.  The dessert stood at attention under the cake dome and dessert plates stacked beside it, ready to hold the finale – to most, the best part of the anticipated meal!

In record time,  we’d set each filled bowl on the table, giving the meat platter the grandest place, like a bouquet of roses or a crystal chandelier in the middle of the table.  Those seated around the table held hands, and bowed their heads as they gratefully gave thanks – for not just the food before them, but for another opportunity to gather like this on Sunday, the first day of the week to worship at church, and now to share in this meal at home with all the warmth of fellowship, tradition and the best food on the planet.  It was time for “Sunday Dinner” and were thankful.

I wonder if you have memories of Sunday dinner like I do?  Did your family gather for a meal that was different from the rest of the week?  Recently my daughter was telling me that she’s finding it hard to do those Sunday dinners because of the time it involves.  It does take time, but once you gather some recipes that work well to make ahead of time, and learn some skills in starting your efforts early so there’s not even a ton of clean-up afterwards, you will be able to pull off Sunday dinner without spending the whole weekend in the kitchen.

Sunday dinner communicates to your family a desire to go above and beyond.  It gives that sense of family and belonging that I described earlier.  So why not learn and stretch yourself and go the distance at least a couple times a month for starters and make a fantastic meal and experience in your kitchen?  You’ll be making more than good food!

For some future Monday posts, I’m going to be sharing some recipes that are good for Sunday do-ahead meals.  They’ll be recipes that you won’t have to spend tons of time working on once you get home from church.  Please leave me comments here with any questions or problems you would have about making a meal like this.

  • What stumps you when you go to prepare a “Sunday Dinner?
  • What keeps you from making a home-cooked meal on Sunday?
  • Do you feel intimidated to invite people over on Sunday?
  • Do you feel confident about the how-to’s of a meal like this?
  • How could I encourage you?

I’m gathering some of my favorite Sunday dinner recipes and will have a list of entrees, sides, salads, and desserts that will be simple to make and serve to your family. I’ll also be sharing some TIPS that will make you feel confident to make Sunday Dinner a part of your weekly routine!

Let the comments/questions begin!

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Family Friday – Wintertime Fun at Home

As promised last week, I’m dedicating Friday’s to Family matters.  Did you see the Winter Date Night I posted last Friday?  You can see that here   if you missed it.

What better memories can you create than fun in the home?  It’s wintertime, and a great time to stir up, craft up and cozy up some good fun at home!

EASY Snowman Pancakes - the perfect idea for the kids on Christmas morning and one they can help make too!
How adorable is this winter treat from Lil’ Luna?

The weather’s been cold for many days almost everywhere in the country, and if your children are used to going outside they probably haven’t – unless there’s snow to play in. The winter months can create restlessness in children and parents alike. Before there’s a meltdown in attitudes with your young ones create some fun activities they can participate in inside.

 Food and cold weather just go together, don’t they? How long has it been since you’ve popped popcorn on the stove instead of popping a bag of the microwaveable corn? Here’s a simple video to remind you how easy (and inexpensive) it is to pop it the old fashioned way! Your children will love watching the kernels pop and then you’ll have a yummy treat to enjoy together!

 

A fun activity on a snowy day is a snowman craft. This one is adorable!
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Making an army of these little pom-pom snowmen would stir up some creativity and fun in an otherwise drab day!
Make snowman cupcakes. Go here to see a video on how to create a tasty treat. Use your imagination – if you don’t have the ingredients they call for to decorate the cupcake look
in your cupboardand get creative!
Go to pinterest and search for Mitten game and you’ll find a variety of fun games for their age and level.
Snowman pancakes     like the ones pictured above would make a great winter supper! Let your children help mix the pancakes, set the table, even create a snowy centerpiece! Put the pom-pom snowmen in the middle of the table!

Whatever your weather is like where you live, I trust you’ll have some fun times at your house with your children. Winter memories are fun ones because everything’s cozy and homey when you take the time to do things together as a family.

Stay warm!

What fun does your family have on winter days?

Denise Signature 150 px

 

It Will Be Christmas Anyway

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It’s “Crunch Time” for Christmas, and maybe you’re sitting in your comfy spot in your comfy clothes, coffee in hand, staring at the Christmas tree that doesn’t look quite like it did the night you put it up, thanks to the “help” of little hands or a burned out strand of lights. You turn that side of the tree towards that wall and know that it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

The gift wrapping station is staring at you with a smirk, knowing you haven’t even opened that roll of wired ribbon that you bought with such high ambition, much less wrapped a package to put that imagined bow on. You pull out a pack of self-adhesive bows and pop one on gift bagged-wrapped present, and you know it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

Your high hopes of gingerbread making, sugar cookie rolling and Pinterest crafting also got left behind the Flu wagon – the same place where that stack of dirty sheets are lying.  You pick up a tray of cookies at the grocery baker and breathe a prayer of thanks that everyone is finally well.You know it’s okay; it will be Christmas anyway.

Perfect Christmases never happen.  Plans and promises must often be rescheduled or put on hold, but no matter, Christmas will still be Christmas because,

**
Christ did come
God’s plan was perfect
God completely kept His promise
Christmas is history that will continue
until Jesus comes again to get His children in the rapture

Amen

The most important thing that must get done is for you to celebrate Christmas in your own heart.  Read God’s Word about the birth of Christ.  Revel in this lavish gift of God’s Son for your sin.  Spend time in prayer, thanking God for His redemptive plan. Then wipe your tears and head out to greet your family with a fresh glimpse of your Savior.  Your heart will be right, and so will your attitude. A renewed focus makes us realize that perfectness isn’t the goal, it’s worship, it’s memories, it’s time together, it’s about eternity and what will matter then.

You’re free now to go get out the frozen Sarah Lee Cheesecake, stuff the gift bags full, opt for a drive through the neighborhood to see the lights, turn on the Christmas CD in the car and sing and celebrate, knowing it’s all okay; it is indeed Christmas anyway!

Merry Christmas, my friends,

Denise Signature 150 px

Friday Favorites -My Old Kentucky Home

Who doesn’t love a marker birthday celebration that includes a destination gathering, a train ride, family time, delicious food and shopping? All that encapsulated last weekend for us! We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday a few months early, since January is typically icy and cold. What fun we had!

We rode the Kentucky dinner train in Bardstown, Kentucky. Afterwards we shopped in the adorable downtown. Below you’ll see the whole trip.

All aboard!!!!

The drive from my parent’s home to Bardstown had lots of beauty – a castle, a bridge PAINTED on the side of a building, and of course, the horse farms!

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I love my parents dearly, and these pictures show how special they are, and how much they love each other.  My mom does NOT look 80, and my dad is so handsome in his blue jeans and jacket!  If parents could get the “cutest couple award” they would win in my book!

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The food was very good!  I had the Kentucky Hot Brown and Kentucky Derby Pie (it seemed like the obvious choice when riding My Old KY Dinner Train!).  My husband said he definitely made the right choice with the Pot Roast dinner.

 

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The folks doing the dinner graciously adorned my mom’s Apple Dumpling with a candle so we could sing to her!  I love this shot of her blowing out her candle.

My husband and I ate with my sister, Sharee and her husband and enjoyed time to visit as we journeyed down the track and ate lunch.  My twin and her husband were at my parent’s table, but we were just across the aisle, so visiting with them was no problem!

161020_073609_collage-1.jpgThis is in downtown Bardstown – a city named one of the South’s best small towns by Southern Living Magazine!  One boutique, Shaq and Coco was so much fun to shop in!  I found a pair of $125 boots for $25!    The whole downtown was quaint and inviting!161020_073835_collage-1.jpg

When we left Kentucky and headed home, we had all kinds of gorgeous views as you’ll see below.  We even saw an outdoor wedding taking place!  We had all kinds of fun making our way home – turning up country roads just “to see what’s back there!”

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Before we moved to Tennessee nearly 16 years ago, I wanted to move back to Kentucky so badly.  The central area is just so beautiful.  But I am happy as can be where we are and I still get to go visit often and enjoy all the beauty and southern charm of Kentucky.  The best part is that my family lives there, so it will always be “My Old Kentucky Home.”

This weekend is another kind of celebration and we’re gearing up in a big way!  I’ll tell you about it next week!  In the meantime, tell me what you did last week that was memorable and refreshing to you!

Stay refreshed,

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