dinner in 30 minutes · Fast meal · Pasta

Quick Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

If you need supper in a hurry, pasta is often a good option because it cooks so quickly. The recipe I’m sharing today came together in about 25 minutes, but it tastes like one of those dishes that took a long time to make! Oh my word, this is delicious!

The list of ingredients is small, too. I had all the ingredients on hand when I stumbled across this recipe. Pasta, sausage, tomatoes and some half and half all come together to make a satisfying and filling main dish! I can’t wait to make this again!

I found a recipe but tweaked it to our preferences. Here’s how I made it…

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. pasta – I used what I had – Elbow, but Ziti or rigatoni would be perfect
  • 12 oz Italian sausage – I used mild
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach or frozen works too!
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking begin the sauce.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the Italian sausage and the onion, saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  • Add tomatoes, simmer and reduce the liquid by half.
  • Lower the heat, stir in the half and half, spinach, salt, pepper. Simmer until the cream is heated and the spinach is wilted. Add the Parmesan cheese and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Drain the pasta, add to the sauce and stir to combine.
  • Serve immediately.

This meal needs a nice piece of bread to go along with it. I served a dish of applesauce instead of salad. It was a wonderful, fast meal!

I’m not a big pasta fan, but this recipe might change that!

I hope you’ll make and enjoy this quick and delicious recipe!

Family life · memories · Refreshment · Vacation tips

The Grace Gift of a Family Vacation

Who doesn’t LOVE going to Pigeon Forge in the Smokey Mountains?! Last weekend we were blessed to gather there for a family vacation. After all the restrictions, I have truly rejoiced each time a planned event actually gets to happen! This time away was our 2020 Christmas gift to our children and their spouses, so we’ve been planning this for many months. What a precious time it was and how full our hearts are after four days and three nights together! This is hard, but I’m just going to share five highlights of the many fun moments we shared.

We opted to have all but one meal in our condo. We divided up the days and mealtimes and each contributed food for that meal. The first night we made it easy and brought pizza in since we had just checked in an hour before. I added a salad to round out the menu. Here is everyone (except my husband who’s taking the picture) at the table. We were a happy clan!

Whitney and I both have September birthdays, so we celebrated with a delicious Lemon-Raspberry Cake from Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, VA. How special to have the whole family there to celebrate with us! That in itself was a precious gift!

For a little added fun, we had a game competition that lasted the whole weekend. That was Whitney’s idea and it turned out to be a great plan! We played Sorry, Dutch Blitz, Spot it, Miniature Golf, Scrabble and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. That last game is hilarious and great for a crowd!!!

I loved our game time because it kept us connected even at hours when we were really tired. Instead of scrolling on our phones, we were playing games, laughing ourselves silly, and pushing up our competitive sleeves to gain more points on the scoreboard! Whitney kept an ongoing tally of the winner and second place contestant of each game, and then awarded the first and second place champions on Monday morning. Who do you think won???? Keep reading!

it was really great that the condo has a putt-putt course on site. Beside it is a playground, and just up the way was the pool. It was all literally outside our door! Our little guys enjoyed all of those fun activities and the Lord was gracious to give us beautiful days in which to enjoy it all.

We had several special times in God’s Word and prayer as a family. How sweet to gather together to thank the Lord and also leave our burdens and requests. I’m so thankful for a family who loves Jesus. Equally special was seeing individuals open the Bible in their own little space and spend time with the Lord before our day began. Yes, my heart is full.

I’m not boasting and don’t desire to make you envious of our family time. It was truly a gift from the Lord and we praise Him for it. There are heartaches and burdens, needs and concerns in our family, just like in yours. How precious to be reminded even this week that as the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and told him that He saw his tears, our God hears us and sees our tears, too.

Whatever may be grieving your heart today, refresh your spirit by remembering that the Lord cares and is at work in your life. Cry to Him as Hezekiah did, then watch to see how He will comfort you.

I pray your weekend is refreshing as you fellowship with believers and worship our great God!

Oh, wait…the first place winner of our game competition was Alli, and anyone who knows our family will not be surprised at that! Second place was awarded to her equally competitive mother!

What are some ways you keep everyone connected during family times?

Biblical Womanhood · Discipleship · Mentoring

The Final Chapter In Mentoring – How & Why

Final chapter of Adorned

Do any of these describe you?

  • A young mom fought for control of her children. Not knowing how to make them obey, she promised rewards, and also threatened they’d lose everything they owned. The children won; the mom was disheartened and worn down.
  • A husband and wife are on two separate pages. He does his thing, she does hers. The co-exist under one roof.
  • Self-control is on the back burner. Whatever she wants, she has, not even thinking of the long-term personal cost.
  • Depression is a way of life for her. She doesn’t even know how she’ll put her feet on the floor tomorrow.

On and on the scenarios go. It seems that every single day I’m reminded of the reasons behind books like, Adorned. Many times I’ve been one of the women I described above. But how I thank the Lord for the Gospel – the fact that Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again to give me eternal life and also abundant life in this present time. My life can have purpose, my marriage and parenting can gain direction. I am able to have wisdom to move forward and strength to overcome sin. That’s the story of the Gospel and the message behind Adorned that we’ve been studying for the last 15 weeks.

Who do you know that needs the truths we’ve talked about? Once we know these truths, we are responsible to share them with another woman so she can walk in growth and victory.

Titus 2:5

That they (the older women) may teach the young women…

Women need women to help them.

What’s the benefit?

  • Informally teaching these lessons can make an older woman realize she has purpose.  She won’t be lonely as she pours into younger women. She will look for ways to reach out. Even if you can’t leave home, you can call, Facetime, or chat with Facebook video.
  • Younger women won’t feel desperate as a single woman or wife.
  • Young moms won’t feel isolated or at a loss for what to do.
  • Women will be filling the need for relationships and conversation.

What to do to get started:

  1. Get a copy of Adorned and read it through.  Mark it up.  
  2. Keep growing in God’s Word yourself.
  3. Ask for the Lord to bring someone into your life – young or old.
  4. Read separately, then get together and discuss it.  
    ~What questions came to your mind while reading?
    ~How can I pray for you regarding this topic (loving your husband, submission, or kindness?)
  5. Pray together.
  6. Be available.

Or you could listen to the broadcasts that I’ve recorded that highlight each chapter of the book, Adorned.  Listen and then discuss the lesson together.  Stop it and talk.  Share from your own life experiences. Pray together.

Another idea is to do a version of Apples of Gold. I’ve shared lots of post about this ministry. You can search Apples of Gold in the search engine here on my blog and find LOTS of ideas.

The point is, there is no cookie cutter way to invest in another woman.  Pray and then allow the Lord to direct you.  Be watchful and open.  Then live out this passage of Scripture and be used of God to Adorn the Gospel – show the new life you have in Christ because He died and rose again!  Show the purpose you have as a godly woman whose life has been changed by the Gospel!

I’d love to know – are you currently mentoring another woman? If not, what’s holding you back? If you are, I’d love to hear how it’s going!

Refresh someone else by mentoring them!

Home decor · refreshment at home

Home Office Renovation

While many people have recently begun working from home, my husband’s office has been in our home for most of his 40 years of ministry. When we moved into our house eight years ago, we were thrilled that the first room off of the front entry way was an office. God took care of every need!

When a pastor has to have lots of books at easy access, it can really crowd up a room, so I’ve fought with how to make those books accessible and also look lovely, rather than crowded.

My husband is in this space for many hours every single day and I wanted to freshen up this space for him so it would be inviting, bright, and also reflect the things he loves. So one day I just went for it and started piling up books on our dining room and shifting furniture around until I found the best possible arrangement. Keep reading and you can see the amazing results that some simple changes made!

The picture below is the only BEFORE picture I took before I got in there and started my redo. I just get so excited about projects that call for redecorating!! You can get the idea of the old set up, which was that the desk was in front of the window with hopes of looking out on our beautiful view. However, the computer really blocked the view and also kept the window light from coming in. The ceiling light was a builder grade fixture that gave very little brightness and zero beauty!


On the picture below, move the slider over so you can get a feel for the before and after.

The first thing I did was to add the jute rug. I love that it warmed up the space and also added a masculine feel. Then I moved the desk so that it faces the door. It gives it more a feeling of a true office, and I also love that I can see my husband’s face when I walk up the hallway and he’s sitting at his desk!
The print over his desk was found at Hobby Lobby (where else?!). It was part of their spring decor (?) line and I get it 66% off! The mountain scene was perfect!

His leather recliner has just the space needed if he wants to stretch out, or if someone else comes to his office and needs a place to sit and chat. I hung the curtains I already had up a little bit off the window frame to lengthen the window a bit. The view of the mountains and the countryside can now actually be seen from his window!

My husband is an avid hiker and runner, so I hung his medals on the display board beside the bookshelf. The P. Buckley Moss print of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the perfect print for my Scenic Highway husband!

The painting of the old church was done by a gifted artist in SC and gifted to us by his niece, a dear friend of mine! Again, a perfect piece for a pastor’s study. I had tucked this away, looking for the perfect place for it. I’m glad I didn’t just slap it up somewhere because I loved it so much, but waited for the best place where it would be seen. Patience pays off!

I couldn’t get a good shot of the ceiling light that we replaced, but I found a ceiling light at Lowe’s marked down to $20 and it’s so pretty. It adds about 10x’s the light the old one did! What a difference that made!

My husband is really enjoying his new office space and that makes me happy! One day while I was out, he sent me a text saying how much he loved his new space and thanked me for the work I’d put into it. That made it worth it all!

I truly believe the greatest difference in the office was the rearrangement of the furniture. I spent around $25 on the canvas behind the desk, and $180 on the rug. All the other decor was already in our home. Lots of leg and muscle work went into this room when I consider how many books I moved, but again, it was well worth it!

What room do you have that just isn’t drawing you in?

Why not try to refresh that space first with some muscle power of furniture rearrangement? Maybe, like my project, everything else will fall into place easily after you get the placement right!

Tell me what room you’re thinking about changing!

Biblical Womanhood · Discipleship · Mentoring

This Changes Everything

Adorned #14

I don’t know if your mother had a saying that you remember, but my mom used to tell me and my sisters to “Act pretty.”  It has nothing to do with outward appearance, She was telling us to be kind.  We all have to be reminded of that…even in our adult years!

Paul tells us in Titus 2, Older women are to teach what is good, and to train the young women to  love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, and kind.

Why does he have to remind us of this?  Because it’s so easy for us to DO all the things we should be doing, but with the wrong attitude.  We can do the laundry, cook a meal and make the house spotless, but be huffing and puffing a bad attitude while doing so. (I’m So guilty!)

In her book, Adorned, Nancy paints the picture of Mary and Martha in Luke 10.  She reminds us that we  are sometimes “distracted with much serving, worried and bothered about so many things.”  We become stretched thin and stirred up, bothered and brittle.

On this occasion, Jesus and his followers gathered at the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus.  There could’ve been two or three dozen people! Martha, with her take-charge temperament, moved into hostess mode for this impromptu gathering.  

I imagine that she is excited to see Jesus and others there in her home, thankful for the joy of hosting her friend here where she lived with her sister Mary and brother, Lazarus.  Martha began to clean and cook and make sure everyone was properly served and comfortable while Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him teach.  Can you just imagine the thoughts that were running through Martha’s mind when she spots her sister sitting while she’s working?

Nancy reminds us that her thoughts included popular sins we all deal with:

Self-centeredness – Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Tell her to to help me. Notice the words pointing to herself.

Insensitivity – People had gathered around to listen to Jesus teach.  But that didn’t keep Martha from barging in, interrupting Him, disturbing everyone.  She was more concerned with how she was being inconvenienced.   

Accusation –  Asking if someone would give her a hand would have been  an understandable request.  But her words were accusatory – both towards Jesus and Mary.

Resentment –  Can you just hear her in the kitchen loudly and purposefully banging the pans around in her disgust? Her inner martyr had likely been muttering under her breath for a while now.  What tone does she use?  Is she whiney, loud and unkind?  Probably so.

Serving was no longer her joy and privilege – it was a burden.  

It’s so easy to get to this place where Martha is.  It’s easy to feel that we have a heavier load and then to feel resentment towards the ones we are serving.  But when we feel this way, we must stop and ask ourselves the question we have been pondering in this passage – Is my thinking sophron right now?  Am I thinking sound, biblical thoughts?  Realizing that we are serving and doing what we are doing for the Lord can bring our thoughts back to solid ground.Our thinking will change our attitude and our attitude will show in our changed actions.  Out will flow acts of kindness rather than resentment.

After we’ve discussed subjects that are weighty like sophron thinking and being sober and reverent, isn’t it a little trite to end by talking about being kind?  Hardly. Why? Because women set the tone of the home. We’ve heard the saying, If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. There is much truth to that!   

Kindness begins at home! Our family should get the first of our efforts and energies.  The baked bread, the home cooked meal, the kind gestures that we fuss over for our guests.  Let it be done FIRST for our family. 

We must remember that we first learned kindness from our Savior. 

Titus 3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

4 But after the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, He saved us not by works of righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost,

Kindness is at the end of the list of traits in Titus 2. It’s a fitting ending, reminding us that all that comes before it must be done wrapped in the beauty of kindness, the type Jesus has towards us every day. Having a kind attitude truly does change the atmosphere. Even if you have to do something hard, like rebuke a child, entertain guests when you feel ill prepared, or have a conversation on the phone with a needy person, if we ask the Lord to give us His kindness, the situation will be far more pleasant for our own heart, as well as the one we are encountering!

Look back over the last couple of days and ask the Lord if your attitude has portrayed kindness or resentment. The blessing is that even if we’re convicted of wrong motives, the kindness of our Savior forgives us when we confess!

Refresh your attitude of service to one of kindness.