Friday, June 29, 2012

Fancy-Free Friday

"Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands." ~Elisabeth Elliot

Happy Friday to you my friends!  I hope you had a good week!  Today I would like to share a few recipes that you could make for the upcoming 4th of July, or anytime this summer. 

My hubby has planted a garden for the last couple of years now, and if you've ever had home-grown veggies from your own garden, you know there's nothing quite like it.  My husband got his first tomato from the garden a few days ago, and used it to fix a fried egg, country ham and tomato sandwich.  I had to laugh when he took the first bite and exclaimed, "Life is good!" If you've never had tomatoes, fresh from the garden, you just don't know what you're missing.

Okay, so the first recipe is squash casserole, by Paula Deen (The Lady & Sons Too!).  I have made this casserole several times and it is so good.  I took it to a ladies get-together once and they raved about how yummy it was, so I think you will be pleased with it.

Squash Casserole:

2 cups cooked mashed yellow squash (I cooked it in a little olive oil in a skillet till it was soft)
2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup shredded cheese, such as Cheddar or Swiss
1 cup chopped onion (I didn't use onion because Brittany abhors onions)
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Pinch of sugar
6 tablespoons butter (You know if it's Paula Deen, it's gonna have lots of butter)

Place the squash in a large bowl.  Add the cracker crumbs, milk, cheese, and onion, and stir well.  Stir in the eggs, salt, pepper, sugar, and butter, and pour into greased 1-quart casserole dish.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  That's it!  Trust me, if you love squash, you will love this recipe!

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob:

4 to 6 ears of corn, or however many will fit in your oven (keep it in the husk because it holds in the moisture)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place corn directly on oven rack and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft
Peel back husk and silks, add butter, salt and pepper

I found this recipe by Tyler Florence.  I have not tried it yet, but I am a huge fan of roasted corn on the cob.  I remember eating it as a child when it was cooked in the ashes of a campfire.  Oh, it was so good!  Here's a link to the recipe I found online:

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

1/2 gallon milk
5 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup chocolate/cocoa (or you can always use fruit too if you don't want chocolate)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat milk on medium heat until warm.  Combine eggs, sugar and salt in a separate bowl.  Add chocolate or fruit.  Add all ingredients to warmed milk.  Add vanilla.  Place in ice cream freezer.  Add enough milk to fill freezer.  Homemade ice cream is one of the best things about summertime!  This recipe comes from one of my husband's cousins. Enjoy! 

Until next time my friends, be blessed!  Have a great weekend and stay cool!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Life's A Dance

Welcome back dear friends!  Happy Thursday to you! I hope you got a chance to read the first part of Brittany's story yesterday.  Today she shares how she has grown through those challenges and difficulties. Please feel free to leave her a comment in the comment section below.  I'm sure she would appreciate any encouragement you would like to share with her.  Thanks my friends!

And now, the conclusion......

"For a while I thought that was the end of the story.  I thought the same things would keep repeating over and over.  But thankfully, in this case at least, I was wrong.  That story took place about four or five years ago, after our dog chewed up my first pair of hearing aids.  And because they are so expensive, I wasn't able to get another pair for a while.  So, during that time, life was pretty bleak, as I'm sure you can tell from the previous story.

Thankfully, I'm not the same person I was then.  I've grown a lot, (not necessarily in inches) and I've learned a lot as well.  Despite how hard it is to deal with hearing impairment, which I know is even more difficult for those who are completely deaf, it has, and continues, to teach me a great deal.  There are many things I doubt I would have learned otherwise.  And I think, for the most part, I've come to accept that this is who I am.  Just as having hazel eyes are a part of me, so this is too.  Of course, that doesn't make it any less difficult, and some days I still get discouraged, angry even, and all those stupid questions come flying at me again.  So, I get mad, and sometimes I feel like crying, but then I remember all the things it's taught me.  I let go and move on.  Now I'm even able to appreciate my hearing loss, in a way, thinking of it as a sort of strange blessing.  Because even though I don't have all the answers, and I probably never will, that's okay.  God does.  If He wants me to know, He'll tell me.  I'll just have to be content with that.  Most of the time it's easier said than done, but I'm trying.

Having to deal with hearing loss has helped to shape me into the person I am today.  It's made me more compassionate and given me an understanding of others who are hearing impaired.  The kind of understanding that can only come from personal experience.  It's helped me be more patient with those who struggle with similar issues.  And though I probably won't ever master this one, it's helped me see that sometimes things happen that I may never know the reason for.  All I can do is try my best to accept that God allowed it for a reason, that He'll get me through the tough stuff, as long as I seek Him.  He'll give me the strength to make it.  I'll even be able to enjoy the scenery along the way, though sometimes I think I fail at that.  But that's okay, because I'm still learning.  I'm learning more and more how to deal with it.  Learning that it's okay to let others know that I can't hear them.  It's okay to ask them to speak up or repeat themselves.  And I'm learning that sometimes I will inevitably encounter people who are ignorant and don't understand.  I have to realize that it's not my fault when someone makes mean, inconsiderate comments or remarks.  I have to try my best not to let it affect me.  I know the things they say aren't true.  They're just being immature and need to grow up.  I won't waste my time on them.  There are more important things to spend time thinking about.

Finally, I'm learning that it isn't so much about the final outcome as much as it is about the journey and the lessons I learn along the way, and the things God is teaching me.  I'm learning not to get so caught up in my problems and where I'm at right now, that I miss out on His many blessings.  It's a long trip, so I may as well try to enjoy myself along the way."

This brings us to the end of Brittany's story.  I hope it has been a blessing to you my friends.  I am so very proud of the young woman Brittany has become.  She has inspired and encouraged me as I've watched her grow over the years.  There have been many difficulties, but there have also been many blessings.  I am one very blessed mama!

The time Brittany spoke of where our dog chewed up one of her hearing aids was one of those situations where the realization of what happened makes you feel physically sick.  We were sitting in the living room watching a movie, when I happened to hear this crunching noise.  I immediately looked under the coffee table only to discover our dog, Zoe, chewing on something.  I asked Brittany where her hearing aids were, and as she looked over at the coffee table, I could feel this horrible sense of dread come over me as I immediately knew what Zoe was chewing on.  I quickly bent down to grab the hearing aid from the dog.  Thankfully she had only chewed on one, but the damage had already been done, and although it wasn't completely destroyed, it was beyond repair.  The look on Brittany's face could only be described as one of deep regret.  She started apologizing profusely for leaving her hearing aids on the coffee table, and I knew she was truly sorry, but all I could do was cry.  I knew how hard it had been, financially, for us to get those hearing aids because our insurance did not cover the cost.  We were already struggling financially, so when I saw how damaged the hearing aid was, I knew there was no way we were going to be able to get another one anytime soon.  I walked in my bedroom where my husband was, feeling completely and totally overwhelmed in knowing that we would not be able to buy a replacement hearing aid, which meant Brittany would not have the hearing assistance she needed.  My husband immediately asked me what was wrong when he saw how upset I was.  I told him what had happened and he came over and held me until the tears stopped.  We were not able to get Brittany a new set of hearing aids for about a year, and even in that short amount of time, the cost had increased significantly.  It's really sad that people pay a tremendous amount of money to have insurance, yet the cost of something like hearing aids, which are desperately needed for the hearing impaired, are not covered.  Something needs to change.

Although we all struggle with different challenges in this life, each of our stories are important.  Every chapter of our lives matter.  The challenges we go through are what has shaped us and helped to make us the person we are today.  We are not alone in the things we go through.  We may often times feel that way, but God is always there.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well." ~Josh Billings

"Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." ~Helen Keller

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Feeling Alone, Even in a Crowd

 "The hopeful man sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm." ~O.S. Marsden

Hello my bloggy friends!  It's finally Wednesday and I get to share my baby's post today!  I know, I know, she's twenty, but she's still my baby, and always will be.  I asked Brittany if she would guest post on my blog about three weeks ago because I really felt like her story needed to be told.  I will be breaking her story up into two separate posts, so make sure to come back Thursday for the conclusion.

Yesterday I filled you in on some of the details of the challenges we've been through with the vision problems and hearing loss.  Today, Brittany will share things from her perspective.  She will share her heart with you and how difficult it's been for her.  I teared up while reading what she wrote.  As hard as I know it's been for her, reading her account of the pain and loneliness she felt makes my heart break for her all over again. 

Her story begins like this......

"I stand amongst a small group of people.  People my age.  People I call friends.  I look from one face to the next, trying to read the expressions I see, trying to figure out which of them is talking.  Someone must have told a joke or said something funny because everyone laughs.  Everyone except me.  Not because I don't think it's funny.  I probably would have.  If I'd heard it.  But I didn't.  In fact, I don't hear anything that's being said.  I just stand here watching everyone else contribute to the conversation, wondering what they're talking about, wondering what's so funny, wondering if they see me at all, or if my lack of hearing makes me invisible to them.

Some of these people, who I call my friends, know.  They know I have hearing loss.  They know I can't tell what's going on. Yet, they make no effort to include me.  They act as though I'm not there at all.  I'm just empty space.  I'm invisible.  I'm trapped inside my own glass bubble, shut out from everyone else.  The sound isn't loud enough to penetrate through this barrier between me and everyone else.  Between me and normal.  I am an outsider.

Since I don't want to seem weird or stupid, I just put on a smile and pretend to look at something out the window.  I find myself actually hoping that no one will talk to me, because, although I really do wish to be included, it's easier to be left alone.  Because I'm afraid.  If someone does talk to me, I won't know what they're saying, and if I have to ask them to repeat themselves more than once, they'll most likely get annoyed, say forget it, walk away.  Talking to me is just not worth the trouble.  I know this all too well.  I've been there many times before.  But most people don't bother at all, so I don't have much to worry about.  To them, I'm the quiet, "shy" girl, who keeps to herself.

At home, in the comfort and safety of my room, I've got so many questions going through my head.  Why me, God?  I don't understand why some people have perfect hearing and others don't.  Why do some people's lives look so easy, while mine is a challenge to get through ordinary things?  Why can't I hear the preacher?  The squeaky bathroom door?  The microwave beeps?  Why can't I hear the birds sing in the morning?  I don't understand and it doesn't make sense.  It gets lonely and depressing.  Having this problem makes everyday conversation difficult.  I dread coming in contact with other people.  I try to stay home as much as possible.  Become depressed.  Lose faith.  I worry that some day I'll lose what hearing I have left.  I feel so alone.  No one knows how I feel.  No one understands.  Every effort to be normal, to be liked, is pointless.  It all fails.  I'm stuck alone.  Forever."

This is where I will close for today.  Please come back tomorrow for the rest of Brittany's story.  Hope is never far away.  Until then my friends, be blessed!

"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us." ~Samuel Smiles

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Turning Our Mess Into A Message

 "It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal." ~Helen Keller

Good Tuesday to you my friends!  I hope your week is starting off to be a good one!  Yesterday I talked about how each of us has our own unique challenges, or obstacles, that we go through in life.  I shared a little about some of the challenges my older daughter, Brittany, has faced already in her young life.  I would like to take a few minutes in today's message to tell you a little more about those challenges.

Brittany told me one day when she was eight years old, "Mom, I can't see the cow clock."  The way her bed was positioned in her room, she could see the cow clock on the wall in the dining room if she were laying on her bed with her door open.  At first I wasn't sure what she meant, so I asked, "What do you mean, you can't see it?"  She said it was all blurry and she couldn't see it.  She had never had any vision problems up to this point, so this all came as a surprise to me and my husband.  This was the beginning of our journey with these vision problems.  Her vision got so bad that she could not read anything at all, unless I re-typed it in the largest font, which was a 72, and even then it was still difficult.  I am so thankful we were homeschooling, which allowed me to make adjustments to suit our situation.  The vision problems improved slowly over the course of a year after they started, but even after the improvement, her vision did not go back to the way it was before.  She is able to see most things fairly well, but will probably never be able to drive at night, nor can she see in the dark.  She wears glasses to watch t.v. and see things far away, and even then, some of those things still aren't totally clear.  After all the doctors, exams, and tests she went through, and there were many, not one of them could tell us what was wrong or why she was having those problems at the time.  Brittany went to see my optometrist for a yearly eye exam a few years ago, and he seemed to think that the problems she had came from a bout of optic neuritis.  He actually asked us if anything had ever happened with her eyes while he was examining her because he could tell that something had happened.  Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to repair what damage has been done, but I will however, continue to pray for the Great Physician to heal and restore her vision.  He is my Hope, even against all the odds.

As far as the hearing loss I spoke of earlier, that has been a whole other story.  If you've never been through a similar situation, there is no way for me to explain the pain of seeing your child struggle with something like this.  I have wished, more than one time over the years, that I could take the hearing loss on myself and give her my hearing, so she could have normal, healthy hearing.  I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed over the years for God to heal and restore her hearing, all to no avail.  After all that she went through with the vision problems, I felt very angry that God would allow this to happen to her.  I have cried many, many nights because I felt so helpless to be able to help her or to make things better for her.

After many years of struggling with this situation and trying to understand why, I finally came to the conclusion that God has a greater plan for my daughter than what I can see.  Things are not always as they seem.  He can work in and through her situation regardless of the challenges she lives with every day.  He would not have allowed these things to happen, if it were not for her good, and for the good of others whom she may be able to encourage and help one day.  I will continue praying for her hearing to be healed and restored, but I'm also praying that God will use what she has/is going through for His glory.  I want Him to do something beyond our comprehension with these challenges she deals with on a daily basis.  I want what she has gone through to be an encouragement for someone else who may be feeling discouraged and forgotten.

I know I'm her mom, and my opinion may be biased, but I think she is pretty darn amazing in the way she has handled these challenges.  She told me something not too long ago that really made me stop and wonder how in the world she could say that.  She said, "I don't think I would want my hearing back even if I could have it back."  I just looked at her and said, "What?!?!" "Why would you say that???"  She told me that if she had not been through what she had, with the struggles she faced every day, she would not have the understanding and compassion for others who struggle with similar problems.  She would not know how they feel or what it's like to have those challenges in life, if she had not walked it out herself.  She is very passionate in her stand against people being bullied and teased because they are different, no matter what that difference may be.  It bothers her a lot when someone is made fun of or picked on.  She knows how it feels to have someone make fun of you. She knows what it feels like to be ignored.  She knows what a struggle it is to feel left out because you can't hear and keep up with a conversation.  She has handled all of these things so much better than I have.  She inspires me and encourages me.  I am excited about the things that God is going to do in her life.  I know He must have some really big plans for her because of all the challenges she's been through so far.

I will close here today my friends.  Please be sure to stop by tomorrow for Brittany's guest post.  She will share what it's been like to personally walk through this journey so far.  Never underestimate what God has planned for you.  Even when it seems that things are at their worst, God can cause something good to come from it.  He can take our mess and turn it into a message.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are." ~Arthur Golden 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pearl of the Day: The Obstacle Course of Life

"Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.  Peace has it's victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Obstacle courses are not easy things to get through.  They require a great amount of strength and endurance.  We each have a different set of obstacles for our own course in life.  We may be required to run, jump, crawl, climb, swim, and even maintain our balance as we walk through the challenges we face.  The main point of an obstacle course is to test ones abilities, speed, and endurance.  No matter the course, it's something no one else can do for us.  Life can definitely be an exhausting obstacle course to get through at times.

Some of the obstacles we go through are things not everyone will understand, no matter how much explaining we try to do.  Empathy only comes from walking in another person's shoes.  I've learned that there's nothing quite like personal experience to give you a deeper understanding when someone else is going through a similar situation.  Just as I have a deeper understanding and compassion for people who suffer with chronic pain issues because of the challenges of fibromyalgia I live with every day, each of us can relate on a deeper level with others who have been where we are. We all walk through our own unique set of challenges in this life, and having someone there who can relate to you and what you're going through can make all the difference in the world.

My older daughter is an example of someone who has had her share of challenges in the obstacle course of life.  She is only twenty years old, but she has already walked through so many difficult things up to this point.  She was diagnosed with a hearing loss when she was eleven years old, and suffered with serious vision problems before that.  She has a deeper understanding of the challenges this particular obstacle course presents.

As her mama, the things she has gone through have pierced my heart in ways I cannot explain.  I will be sharing a little more about that tomorrow, and she will be sharing some things with you on Wednesday because I have asked her to write a guest post about her journey with hearing loss.  Please be sure to stop back by for that.  Until then my friends, be blessed!

"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way." ~Gloria Gather

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fancy-Free Friday

Look at the lilies and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.   And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?  And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink.  Don’t worry about such things.  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. ~Luke 12:27-32 (NLT)

Happy Friday to you my friends!  I hope your week has been a good one!  Today I'll be sharing some of my favorite photos with you, as well as some of my favorite songs and quotes.  I hope you will be blessed and enjoy them!  Have a great weekend!

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were big things." ~Author Unknown

 "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain." Author Unknown

 "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." ~Robert Louis Stevenson

 "God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me." ~ Author Unknown

"A bend in the road is not the end of the road....unless you fail to make the
 turn." ~ Author Unknown

"You may not be able to make a difference to everyone, but you can make a difference to someone. Don't live your life thinking you don't matter. You do matter! Don't hold back.....pour your life into those people God brings into your life, no matter how long that may be, or what the end result may be. Don't withdraw from life and love because of past hurts. A life worth living is worth loving." ~S. Hastings (me)

"Never take someone for granted, hold every person close to your heart because you might wake up one day and realize that you have lost a true diamond while you were too busy collecting stones“ ~ Author Unknown

"We all want to know that we matter, that we're worth fighting for, that when the going gets tough we won't be left by the wayside alone. Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He gave His very life because He loved you and thought you were worth all the pain and suffering He had to endure. No greater love will there ever be than His love for you." ~S. Hastings (me)

 Inspirational Songs:

Check out my playlist for some of my favorite worship songs (listed below):

*Revelation Song
*Power of Your Love
*I Lift My Hands
*Holy Is The Lord
*Oh How He Loves Us
*Amazing Love
*What Faith Can Do

"Every day may not be good, but there's something good
 in every day."  ~Author Unknown

Until next time my friends, be blessed!  Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Just Say No to Assumptions

Don't make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. ~Miguel Angel Ruiz

Have you ever assumed something that wasn't true?  Maybe you assumed someone was mad at you, or didn't like you, because they didn't speak to you.  Maybe you went out of your way to help a friend and they didn't respond in the way you wanted, so you assumed they didn't care about you, or that they didn't love you.  Maybe you assumed something about someone else based on what you heard about them.  I've made the mistake of assuming things quite a few times in the past, only to find out later that my assumptions were totally wrong.  When we assume things, we create our own reality based on what we think and how we feel, not necessarily on what is true.  Assuming things can be dangerous and it can cause undo stress and conflict, especially when you react in a negative way based on those assumptions.

How many times have you heard something negative about someone and assumed it was true?  This is another area where assumptions can be dangerous and harmful.  I recall one occasion where a person was telling a story about a situation with some people I knew personally.  Not only was this person telling me their version of the story, but they were telling it to a room full of people.  The story being told was painting a very negative picture of these people.  As I stood there listening to this, I could actually feel myself getting angry because the people being accused were not there to defend themselves.  My sense of wanting to defend them rose up and I spoke out against what this person was saying.  Instead of just assuming that what was being said was true, I later asked the person who was being talked about if there were any truth to what had been said about them.  They told me they never said or did what they had been accused of.  As a matter of fact, they broke down crying because it hurt them so bad to know that someone was saying such unkind, untrue things about them, especially in front of a room full of people.  I knew this person well enough to know that they would tell me the truth, even if they had done what they had been accused of.  Thankfully, in this situation, I didn't just assume what was being said was the truth.

It's best not to make assumptions, or jump to conclusions, in situations where we don't know all the facts.  Don't just assume someone knows how you feel.  It's more likely that they don't have a clue.  We make a huge mistake when we do this.  No one knows how we feel unless we share that with them.

I've learned that the majority of the time, the people we make the assumptions about didn't even know there was a problem.  Many times people have stressful situations going on in their own life and they do not intentionally ignore us.  They may be feeling overwhelmed because of things going on.  I've had that happen to me where I was not intentionally ignoring someone, but that's what they assumed.  At that time I had so much stress in my life and I felt like I was ready to have a melt down.  Sometimes we also assume that just because we would handle something a certain way that we think everyone else should be able to handle it that way. We all handle things differently.  My way is not going to be the same way someone else does things.

Here are some alternatives you can use instead of assuming:  Instead of assuming something you've heard about someone to be true, why not go and talk to that person?  Instead of assuming someone is mad at you because they didn't speak to you, or respond in the way you wanted, why not seek them out and talk with them?  Instead of assuming someone doesn't care because they aren't treating you the way you would like, why not give them the benefit of the doubt and talk to them about how you feel.  It would save us so much confusion, conflict, and drama if we would kick those assumptions to the curb!

I will leave you with a quote by Henry Winkler (Fonzie from Happy Days, for those of us old enough to remember that show): "Assumptions are the termites of relationships."  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Be An Original

 "If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise." ~Johann von Goethe

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like what you were going through just didn't matter to someone?  Have you ever shared your struggles with someone only to be belittled for how you felt, or have them just brush you off, or even worse criticize you for feeling that way?  I don't know if there's anything worse than feeling like you don't you aren't important enough for someone to listen to you and try to understand where you're coming from.

We each have our own life and our own unique set of circumstances that we're going through, and we all handle those things differently, so don't let anyone else try to make you feel like what you're going through isn't important.  Your life and your struggles are important.  You matter!  Just because you may not handle things the same way someone else does, doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.

If God wanted us all to be the same, He would have made us that way.  He chose to make us all different and unique.  He chose different colors for our eyes, hair, and our skin.  He chose different personalities for each one of us.  He chose different families for us to be a part of.  He chose each of our lives to be different, yet special.  He even chose each one of us to have a completely different set of fingerprints.  There is no one else on Earth with the same set of fingerprints that you have.  If God chose all those ways to make us different, then why in the world do we think we have to be just like someone else, or do things the way they do?

Stop beating yourself up!  You are not meant to be a cheap copy of someone else.  You were made with a divine purpose by the Creator of the Universe.  He knows you intimately.

Don't be sucked into the lie that you don't matter, or that no one cares.  Once you grasp the truth that you are important and that you matter, you may find that you're no longer drawn to people who don't genuinely care about you.  Life is too short to spend it with people who don't truly care about you.  You were made for so much more than that.

Allow yourself to be who God made you to be.  An original work of art is so much more valuable than a copy.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"You were born an original.  Don't die a copy."  ~John Mason


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Fear Not

 I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~Nelson Mandela

Fear-- a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.  How many of you struggle with fear?  I'm not talking about the healthy kind of fear that protects us and keeps us from harm, but the fear that can rob you of the freedom and the peace you were meant to walk in, the kind of fear that consumes your thoughts and steals your dreams, the kind of fear that seems to suffocate you and paralyze you.

I have had my fair share of struggles with this monster.  Growing up in an abusive home contributed to a life consumed with fear.  I was fearful of everything as a child, and this unfortunately carried over into the majority of my adult years.  Here are a few examples of how I struggled with fear:  When I was newly married, I was so consumed with fear that many mornings when my husband would get up to go to work I would cling to him and cry, fearful of letting him go, because I was afraid that something would happen to him and he wouldn't come back home.  I loved him so much and I was afraid that he would be taken away from me because of the insecurity and fear I grew up with.  I would also cry and cower in fear each time a severe thunderstorm would come.  I literally feared for my life at times like this.  When I was a child, my mother was so fearful of storms that she would take me and my brother and sit with us inside a closet until the storm was over.  She would jump and grab a hold of us each time the thunder and lightening clapped.  Sometimes she would take us and ride around in the car until the storm was over because she was so afraid that the storm would destroy the trailer we lived in.  Her fear of storms was passed down to me and it consumed me each time one came up.

The fear I felt living in a home full of physical and emotional abuse was carried with me as I was growing up and into my adult years.  After I had children, I decided I would not pass this fear on to them.  I decided it was going to stop with me.  The journey to overcome this fear has not been an easy one by any means, but the freedom that I have now has been well worth it.  Fear is not something that goes away by itself.  It requires determination and diligence to overcome this battle.  It requires a power greater than anything this world can give us.

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  The combination of God's power and God's Word helped me overcome a life filled with fears.  I had to constantly speak God's Word aloud, many, many times over the years to get to the place I am now.

My younger daughter had a season, when she was younger, where she felt fearful about some things.....the house catching fire, someone breaking in, sleeping by herself in her room.  I decided that the best way to win this battle was to attack it head on with the Word of God and prayer.  We wrote Scripture verses down on paper and taped them all over her walls.  Each time she felt fearful about anything, she knew to speak those verses aloud, as many times as she felt she needed to, until she felt that fear leave.

If you've ever struggled with fear, you know it is not an easy thing to live with.  The good news is it can be overcome.  God has given us everything we need to be victorious against the spirit of fear.  He is greater than all of your fears. Until next time my friends, be blessed!

*The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7 (ERV)

*Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world.~ 1 John 4:4 (CEV)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Hard Places=Much Growth

 God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.

 Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure. ~Psalm 23:1-4 (MSG)

How many people do you know who enjoy going through difficulties?  If you're like me, not too many. As a matter of fact, I don't recall anyone in my lifetime saying they enjoyed walking through hurt and pain. No one, that I know of, enjoys feeling pain, whether it be physical or emotional, because, well, it hurts.  Unfortunately, the likelihood of living a life without any pain, or hard places, is pretty much non-existent. We will all have pain and hurt at some point in our lives, but sometimes it feels like we have more than our fair share, doesn't it. 

Those painful things can come out of nowhere.....people may betray us and hurt us, relationships may end, loved ones may pass away, finances may take a turn for the worst, and people or circumstances may change.  Whatever the situation may be, it can be a struggle to walk out our faith during these hard times.

How can something that hurts so bad, work out for good?  I've had many days where I have struggled to understand how things could work out for my good.  When the pain and hurt was fresh, it was hard to think about anything good coming from it, but as time has passed, it has been encouraging to see the growth that has/is coming from these struggles.  It has helped me to see that there has been a reason for what I've gone through.  The pain has been great, but the growth has been greater.

I would like to share a few of those areas where I have grown through the hard places. These may seem like simple things to some, but to me they were major areas of bondage and struggle for me.

*I am valuable and loved.  No matter how other people treat me and no matter what they say about me, God sees me as a treasure. My worth and value come from Him, not other people.

*Always seek God's approval over man's approval.  I've learned you cannot please everyone all the time, and even if you could, you would be miserable yourself because you aren't living your life for you, but for others.  There will be times when God calls you to do something that no one else will understand. That's okay, do it anyway.

*It's okay to say no.  It's okay to stand up for yourself.  Having boundaries is a good thing.  I am not responsible for how others feel, think, act, or for what they say.  That is their stuff and I am not going to carry it.  I am responsible for me and my own feelings, actions, words, and thoughts.

*Walk in truth and integrity, no matter what anyone else is doing. 

*Don't try to pay back evil for evil.  God is well aware of the actions of others and He will take care of things in His way and in His time.

*Happiness is a choice.  The circumstances of my life do not determine my happiness, I do.

These are just a few areas I have grown in.  I have not, by any means, recovered and healed completely from the hurts I've been through in this season, but I am on my way.  I know God will continue to work things out for my good, because that's what He has promised.  I have not enjoyed the pain of this season, but I have come to the conclusion that the growth I've experienced may not have come through any other means, but by that which has transpired.  God knows what it will take for us to move to the next level He has for us.  The hard places may not be where we would choose to go to grow, but in my experience, it's been the most likely place for growth.

I don't know what hard places you've been through or may currently be going through, but please know my friend, that God is there too.  He does have a plan and a purpose for everything we walk through. The hard places will bring much growth if you allow God to work it out for your good.  How do you do that?  Trust Him.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

The video is from a song called "Blessings", by Laura Story. I hope it blesses you as much as it does me when I listen to it. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fancy-Free Friday

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." ~Dale Carnegie

Well it's Fancy-Free Friday again! Today I will be sharing another recipe with you, as well as some links to a few blogs that may be of interest to you.  I may sneak in a few other little surprises too.  The above picture was taken at a park where me and my two daughter love to visit.  I have always had a love for roses anyway, so whenever we go to this park I take lots of pictures of the rose gardens.

Frozen Pumpkin Mousse

30 small gingersnap cookies
2 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon canola oil (I used coconut oil, but you can probably use whatever type of oil you have)

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg (I used the ground nutmeg that I already had in my spice cabinet)
2 pints (4 cups) frozen low-fat vanilla ice-cream, softened

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9 inch deep dish pie pan with cooking spray. (I used a glass pie plate)

*Prepare crust: Combine gingersnaps and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add oil and pulse until well blended.  Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.

*Bake the crust until set, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

*Prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well.  Add ice-cream and stir until well blended. Spoon the mixture into the cooled pie crust.  Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Let the pie soften slightly in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

My family loved this recipe! I hope you will enjoy it as well!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Making a Way

 "If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful.  Christ cannot deny who he is." ~2 Tim. 2:13 (CEV)

Do you ever doubt that God will come through for you?  Do you ever think, "There is no way God is going to be able to make a way in this situation."  I have been there and done that, more times than I can count.  There have been so many times where something would happen and all I would think was, "Not again!"

Have you been there too?  Have you been to the point of actually feeling like you're just going to scream, or have a melt down, or pull your hair out, if one more thing gets added on top of the pile of problems you're already trying to deal with?  Things seem to go that way sometimes don't they.

The phrase, "When it rains, it pours" is definitely something I am familiar with.  Let me tell you about a time when it was "pouring" and how God showed up to make a way for us.

We live on a small farm here in the country that consists of seven goats and three horses.  It can get costly to take care of them, as far as feed, hay, and regular medical care, not to mention when emergencies come up.  There was a season about four years ago where it seemed like it was one thing after the other with one of our horses.  The one we kept having problems with was an old mare we had gotten as a rescue a few years before this.  Every time we turned around we were having to call the vet for an emergency visit because of things going on with this mare.  I think we called the vet at least five or six times over the course of year with this one particular horse.  Our finances were stretched to the max and we were paying for these emergency visits with our credit card.  If you've had any experience in getting in debt with a credit card, you know how quickly that can happen before you realize it.  We had decided shortly before all this stuff started happening with this horse, that we were going to stop using the credit cards so we could get out of debt.  Well isn't that the way it seems to go?  We make the decision to stop using the cards, and then we get hit with all of the situations with this horse.  I felt angry and frustrated because it felt like we could not get our head above water before something else would happen.  We were already struggling financially, so this situation just added more stress on top of what I was already trying to deal with.  I was at the end of my rope.  I remember one particular day, shortly after the vet left from another emergency visit, sitting on the back porch steps with my husband.  I sat there weeping, wondering how we were going to pay for this last vet visit.  We had asked the vet if she would just send us the bill instead of us charging it on our credit card again.  She agreed to do that and told us we could send the full payment in the mail after we got the bill.  Well, this particular vet is located in one of the surrounding counties, so we knew it would only be a few days before the bill would arrive.  I did not see how we were going to pay this bill.  We did not have any savings whatsoever.  We did not have extra money that we could count on to pay this bill.  We had decided not to use the credit cards anymore because we were only digging ourselves deeper and deeper in the pit of debt, so that was no longer an option.  As I sat there on the steps that day, I remember telling my husband, and God too, "Well unless God can make the money appear before Monday, I don't see how we are going to pay this bill!"  I was so angry when I said this.  I did not for one minute think God was going to come through for us.  I felt like He hadn't helped us so far, so why would He do anything to help now.  This was just one more instance where my stinkin' thinkin' was rising to the surface again.

Me and my husband were taking a marriage class with a group from a church we used to go to at that time.  At class that particular night, each person in the group was sharing something that was on their heart or that they needed prayer for.  When it was my turn, I shared about how I had been struggling with the issues with our finances and how we had made the decision to stop using our credit card so we could get out of debt, and how just that day we had one more emergency vet call for this horse, and I didn't know how in the world we were going to pay this bill because it was a substantial amount of money.  As soon as I got done sharing what was on my heart, another person in the group looked at his wife and she nodded her head at him, and he then told me that he believed God wanted him and his wife to pay that bill for us.  What????  Oh my goodness!  I am sitting here now with tears rolling down my face, once again, as I share this story with you.  I cannot begin to tell you how I felt in that moment.  I could not say anything, all I could do was just cry.  I could hardly believe what was happening.

God came through even when I had the wrong attitude and doubted that He would.  He came through even though I had no idea how He would do it.

It brings tears to my eyes every single time I think back to that time.  This couple God used to bless us by paying that bill, are some of the sweetest people I know.  They have such a heart for God and their obedience to Him is evident in their life.  What they did back then will never be forgotten.  I don't know if they realized what a difference it made in my faith for them to do what God told them to.  That has been a major memorial marker for me when hard times come along.

I look back on that time and remember that God was faithful.  He came through for us.  He made a way, where there seemed to be none.

As far as what happened with the old mare that had so many problems, we had to eventually put her down because the vet believed she probably had cancer of the liver.  She got to the point where she was losing weight and was having problems getting back up after laying down.  That was another tough day for us, but God was there to comfort and strengthen us as we walked through it.  I still miss hearing her whinny to me at feeding time, but I know she's not suffering anymore.

Please know my friend, that no matter what you're going through, even when it seems the darkest, God is there.  He will make a way in the desert.  He will come through for you.  I don't know how and I don't know when, but He will.  He has not forgotten you.  He is faithful.

Until next time my friends, be blessed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Hopelessness

 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. ~Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

I am reading a wonderful book called, Hope Being Gone by Cherie Hill.  I cannot begin to tell you how spot-on this book is for the season I'm going through, and have been going through for a while now.  I have underlined almost the entire book so far. That's how good it is.  If you're feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the things you're going through, this would be a great book for you.  Here is just one quote from the book, "Hopelessness arrives at the most inopportune moments.  It doesn't care that you've got a job or that you've got bills to pay.  It doesn't appear to matter that your health is failing, relationships are falling apart, or you're in too much pain to even pray.  It doesn't seem to mind that you're already drowning in despair, as you struggle through the troubles of life.  Hopelessness comes, makes itself comfortable, and waits for us to demand that it leave.  If Faith doesn't return soon, Hopelessness may just be moving in for good.  But, it's just not that easy.  Hopelessness can drag conversations out and wear us down.  It's argument is compelling, and Hopelessness, in a twisted sort of way, becomes our friend.  Hopelessness even surprises us with it's awkward comfort.  With hopelessness around......we can give up.  We don't have to waste our energy trying.  We don't have to waste our time believing in anything.  Hopelessness gives us a great excuse as to why our life is falling apart at the seams, and we're resolved to watch it simply unfold without Hope and Faith.  With Hopelessness around, we don't see Faith much anymore."  I could go on and on, but I would highly recommend this book if you are going through a season of feeling hopeless.  I don't know about you, but when I am in the waiting season where I am struggling to hold onto faith and hope, it's so easy for me to make hopelessness a constant companion.  When things aren't happening in the time I want them to, when I can't see God doing anything to change certain things, or certain people, when prayers feel like they're only getting as high as the ceiling, those are the times when hopelessness whispers in my ear.  It tells me things that I want to hear in that moment......"What's the use?  Things never work out the way you want them to anyway.  He's not gonna come through for you.  Just give up.  It's been so long and you haven't seen anything change.  You're just gonna be disappointed.  He doesn't care."  It's a struggle to refuse to listen and agree with what it says.  These are the times when I have to push through and grab a hold of my faith, no matter how hard it is, because if I don't, all will be lost, and I've come too far to give in now.  I have to fight harder than ever if I'm going to get through this.  God is there whether I can actually see Him working or not.  He knows where to find me.  I haven't been lost in some unknown corner of the universe where He can't find me.  He is well able to take care of all that concerns me.  Waiting doesn't mean He has forgotten me.  For me to be still and know He is God, is one of the hardest things for me to do.  I always feel that I have to be doing something to help Him along.  He doesn't need my help.  He is more than capable of taking care of all the details of my life.  All He needs is my obedience, and to trust Him.  Do you struggle in these areas too?  Do you feel like hopelessness is trying to take up a permanent residence in your heart?  Oh my friend, you are not alone.  I want you to know that God is there and He is working in your situation, even though you may not be able to see anything changing.  There is a greater purpose for what you're going through than what you can see.  He is shaping you and molding you to accomplish all that He has in store for you.  Our plans and God's plans are usually not the same thing.  He has made promises to you that He will never leave and never forsake you.  He is not a man that He should lie.  You can trust Him with your heart.  I will leave you with one more quote from the above mentioned book that I hope will encourage you. Until next time my friends, be blessed.

"You may feel like He's shut you out, but what He's really done is "shut you up."  In your moments of utter helplessness, it's the hard places in life that threaten to destroy your faith.  It's those places of complete hopelessness where God will strengthen your faith in ways that you cannot imagine.  You want a way out---He's making a way through.  You crave comfort and He brings you to the Cross.  It's the place where God's greatest works are done.  Though our faith seems crucified, God's merely working out His plan.  He's working within us, dissolving our doubts, and whittling down our worries. He's "shutting us up" until all we can do is "look up."  He's growing you in unseen ways.  He's giving you faith feet.....He's building a bridge through your faith that will enable you to walk across the chasms of life.  Though your faith seems to be failing, it is really growing. God is strengthening your faith by asking you to walk upon it.  It is in your darkest moments that God is "proving you." God is proving you by shutting you up in the testing room of faith." 

Here is a link to Hope Being Gone by Cherie Hill:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pearl of the Day: You've Got The Power

 "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Did you know that you have control over your own joy and your own happiness?  That's right.  It's all up to you.  We sometimes think that our circumstances, or other people, control our happiness and our joy, but that's only true if we allow it to be that way.  Let me give you an example:  A few years ago a situation happened where some very hurtful things were said and done to me and my family that caused a tremendous amount of heartache.  The people involved never knew how much pain was caused by the choices they made, or by the words they spoke.  The situation that surrounded this incident was one of the most painful things me and my family have been through.  I carried those hurtful words around with me for a very long time.  I allowed that situation to affect my happiness.  I allowed that situation to take away my joy.  I even allowed that situation to affect my health.  You may be thinking, that's crazy, why would you do that?  I didn't understand at the time, that I could actually determine how I would let that situation affect me.  I had yet to understand that no one can "make" me feel a certain way without my consent.  I didn't know that I am not responsible for other people's feelings, actions, or words.  Other people do not have the power to make us feel anything other than what we allow them to.  Yes, other people can influence what we believe, but we have control of what we choose to believe, and how we respond to what we believe.  What you believe about yourself will determine how you handle situations that come up.  What you believe about yourself can cloud how you see and hear things, emotionally.  If you believe you aren't good enough, then no matter what other people do or don't do, you will always feel that way.  What you believe, is tied to how you feel.  It's not about how others see you, it's about how God sees you, and how you see yourself.  I had to get to a point of asking myself if I wanted to continue to live this way, or was I finally fed up enough to make a change.  I had to finally realize that it's okay to allow myself to feel the negative emotions because that's the only way to deal with them, but not to allow them to determine my happiness and joy.  I had to finally realize that I have no control over what others say about me and sometimes it's better just to walk away from certain situations.  We have the power to examine and change what we believe.  By changing what we believe, we can change our responses to situations and to others.  So, what do you believe about yourself?  Do you see yourself the way God does, or have you listened to a bunch of lies?  Have you allowed the situation you're going through, or other people, to determine your happiness?  We can't always control our circumstances, but we can control our responses, and how we choose to allow them to affect us.  Don't let others determine your happiness.  Don't let what others say about you determine your worth and value.  Aristotle said, "Happiness depends upon ourselves."  You've got the power!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Sandpaper Moments

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

I must tell you my friends, I was having a really hard time coming up with a post for today.  I just felt like everything that came to my mind had already been blogged about.  I wasn't getting anywhere.  I think I started at least three or four different times and ended up deleting what I had written.  After hitting a brick wall over and over, I decided to look back through my facebook page for some inspiration.  As I was scrolling through lots of posts, quotes, comments, and pictures, I came across some old posts from some people who are no longer in my life.  I found myself, once again, thinking of how much I wish things would have turned out differently in those situations.  Perhaps you've gone through a similar experience.  Maybe you've had a relationship that was severed with someone close to you, and you don't understand why things happened the way they did.  Maybe you've had a hard time letting go of the hurt, or maybe you're still grieving the loss of that relationship.  You are not alone my friend.  It's very difficult to let those people go that we cared so deeply about.  I believe God brings people into our lives for a greater purpose than just our happiness though.  I believe He uses other people as a way to sand off the rough edges in our hearts.  He can use those situations we go through to expose areas where we are not all that He wants us to be.  He can use those sandpaper times to launch us into a new level of understanding and growth.  Does it hurt to have the sandpaper treatment?  Oh yes, no doubt!  The sandpaper process, or the process of change, that God takes us through does not happen overnight.  It requires time and patience, and unfortunately, lots of sanding down, molding, and pruning.  It has taken me a very long time to finally understand that even in the painful, difficult times, God has reasons for allowing certain things to turn out the way they do.  If we are praying for God's will to be done in our lives, and we want His best, then that means we give Him complete control to do what He knows is best for us.  He knows our full potential.  If a relationship is not beneficial for us or is hindering our walk with God, then perhaps it's best to allow Him to move those people out of our lives, so He can get us where He wants us to be.  Perhaps He is also working in that other person's life to get them where they need to be too.  The work that God does in our lives is sometimes very hard for us to go through.  We can't pick and choose just the good things or the easy things.  There will be times when we will have to go through some difficult things because that may be the only way we will walk in victory and freedom in certain areas.  Even though I have grown a lot because of those situations, I still feel sad that those people aren't a part of my life anymore.  I still miss and love them.  If it's God's will for those relationships to be healed and restored then He will cause things to work out in His way and His timing.  If things don't work out, well, I choose to believe that's His best for me, and for them too.  Until next time my friends, be blessed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fancy-Free Friday

 The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
       Your ways are not like my ways.
 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. ~Isaiah 55:8-9 (NCV)

Happy Friday to you my bloggy friends! I hope this has been a good week for you.  How do you feel about the changes I've made on my blog this week?  Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on that.  I hope you have been blessed and encouraged by the "Pearl of the Day" messages so far. There is one more change I wanted to share with you....Fancy-Free Friday!  Fridays on my blog will be a little different as far as what I post.  It won't be the normal devotional-type message, but something more relaxed and fun.  Today I am going to share one of my favorite pictures, one of my favorite Bible verses, and one of my favorite recipes with you.  The picture above was taken by my daughter, Taylor.  She absolutely loves taking photos of just about anything.  I think she does a great job at capturing the beauty of God's creation.  I will be sharing more of her pictures with you on my blog in the future.  The verse under the picture is one of my favorites because it helps me remember, in those difficult times when I just don't understand what's happening, that the way God works is sometimes beyond my understanding and above the way I would do things.  Just because He isn't doing things the way I would like, doesn't mean He isn't at work in my life.  And finally, the recipe!  You will absolutely love it!

Banana Bread-  (You don't need to worry with an electric mixer with this recipe.  It stirs up easily by hand.) 

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 ripe bananas, mashed up ( I peel the bananas and put them on a plate and mash them with a fork)

I have also added raisins or chocolate chips to this recipe and it always turns out delicious. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. (If you don't have a big loaf pan, you can always use two smaller ones.)  In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar; mix well.  Add the salt, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and bananas, and mix well.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.  I normally have to cook mine a little longer if I use the big 9 x 5 loaf pan.  If you use a smaller pan then it's best to keep an eye on it because it's not going to require the full 50 minutes.  You can check to see if it's done by inserting a butter knife in the center of the loaf.....if it comes out clean then it's done.  Cut you a big ole piece and smother it with butter!  Mmmm!  Enjoy!

I hope you will enjoy this recipe.  I absolutely love it!  It's from a recipe in Paula Deen's cookbook- The Lady and Sons, Too!  Here is a link to Amazon if you're interested in checking out her cookbooks.

Have a great weekend my friends!  Until next time, be blessed!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pearl of the Day: You Can Trust Him With Your Heart

"Trust- reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence."

Trust can be a very difficult thing for many people.  I include myself in this statement.  Our hearts and our trust get battered and bruised by the things we go through when someone breaks the trust we have in them.  Sometimes it literally feels like our hearts are being ripped out.  If you've been through a storm like that, you understand exactly what I mean.  Trust isn't something you give easily once something like that occurs.  Trust can sometimes take years to restore.  We pull back and withhold our trust because we don't want to take a chance on getting hurt again.  It's like a defense mechanism to protect the fragile state of our hearts.  We are afraid of putting our heart out there again.  Being cautious to trust again is not a bad thing, in fact, it can save you from being hurt needlessly.  Most of us base our trust in people by how they've treated us.  We want to know that they can be trusted with our hearts.  The problem comes when we withhold our trust from God because of the trust issues we've gone through with people.  I did this for many years.  I would trust God when things were going well, but as soon as something hurtful or difficult would arise, I would draw back and put that wall up again.  I had the misconception that if I went through difficult things then God couldn't be trusted to keep me safe and protect me from those things.  I thought, if He really loved me then I wouldn't be going through these painful things.  Thankfully, I have learned over the years that the things I go through are not an indicator of how much God loves me, or if I can trust Him.  The messed up ways that people treat us is in no way a reflection of God's love for us.  The love God has for you is much greater and much deeper than any love you will ever know here on this earth.  God can be trusted with every part of your heart and your life.  He wants you to trust Him completely.  People change, circumstances change, feelings change, but God never changes.  That right there should give us such a tremendous amount of comfort and peace.  You can trust that He will NEVER change.  We can rest assured that His love is unending and His mercies are new every morning.  God has promised to NEVER leave you, NEVER forsake you.  Now that sounds like someone I can truly trust with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Trust doesn't come easily for me, and to get to where I am today has been a long, painful journey, but my trust in the Lord has grown much more than I ever expected.  As I've learned to trust God more, I've also found that I am more willing to open myself up to others and trust them.  Trust is a foundational aspect of any healthy relationship.  If you're in a relationship where trust has been broken, please know that it can be rebuilt if both people are willing to work at it.  It won't happen overnight, in fact, it may take a while before it's rebuilt, but God can help you overcome whatever has caused this break in trust.  Open your heart and allow Him to start the healing process.  God has proven Himself to be most trustworthy indeed.  Will you open your heart and trust Him today?

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. ~Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity].  ~Psalm 9:10 (AMP)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Hurry Up and Wait

 As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. ~Henry David Thoreau

"I will be so glad when ______!" (Fill in the blank)  Do you find yourself saying things like that?  I do that more often than I would like to admit, especially when going through a very long waiting season.  The longer I have to wait, the harder it is for me to keep a positive attitude because I start struggling with doubt.  It seems to be much more difficult to keep our attitude and our heart in the right place when we are walking through the dry, parched desert.  The longer we have to wait, the more likely it is that we will start doubting, and complaining.  We can sometimes be like the Children of Israel when God led them into the desert after Pharaoh let them go.  They started doubting God's faithfulness when things didn't go their way and they had to wait, which in turn led them to start complaining.  They actually wanted to go back to Egypt, back to being a slave, when they started getting tired and thirsty, when they couldn't see how things were going to work out.  When we can't see how, or we can't see when, we start feeling like God has forgotten us.  God has not forgotten you, my friend.  He knows exactly where you are.  He sometimes leads us into a season of waiting because He is doing something deeper than what we can see with our human eyes, or understand with our human minds.  God is faithful.  He will do what He has promised.  God didn't lead His people into the desert for them to give up and die, He led them there because He wanted to do something deeper in them.  He wanted to test their hearts to see if they would remain faithful, even when they had to wait.  Waiting is not easy, especially when we live in a society that thrives on instant gratification.  We want what we want, and we want it now.  I have learned, through much fighting and stubbornness, when I'm in a waiting season, that is when God is doing something greater than I could ever imagine.  God is working things out for my best.  He is doing a deeper work that requires time and patience.  It requires me to wait.  Will we stand at the shore of our "Red Sea" and wait to see God part the waters for us to walk through, or will we turn back and remain a slave to our doubts?  Will we choose to remain faithful in the waiting season, even when we feel doubt trying to overpower us?  Don't put off enjoying your life each day because you're waiting for a specific thing to happen first.  Rejoice in each day God gives you, even while you're in the waiting season.  Before long you will look back and see how faithful God was to work things out for your best.  Until next time my friends, be blessed! 

"Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." ~Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pearl of the Day: It's My Peace and You Can't Have It!

 Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] ~John 14:27 (AMP)

I have a story that I would like to share with you about something that happened yesterday as me and my daughters were on the way to run some errands.  A little side-note before I get started: Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a very careful driver.  I take driving very seriously because not only could my own safety be at risk, but my two children as well.  I believe more people should take greater care while driving instead of acting like they are the only ones on the road.  Okay, I'm getting off of my soapbox now.  Back to the story.....As we were driving down the road, I came up on a white van, which was driving slower than I was, so I got in the passing lane.  Well, the next thing I know, this truck comes out of nowhere and is tailgating me as I am in the process of passing the van.  I have a huge issue with people tailgating, but I won't get into that right now.  That soapbox will have to wait for another day.  As soon as I got past the van, I put my signal light on to get back over in front of the van.  Apparently, I did not do this fast enough for the guy in the truck behind me since he gave me a certain hand gesture as he was passing me.  It wasn't a friendly wave either, if you know what I mean.  Okay, so my first thought was not, "Bless him Lord."  I was ticked!  How dare he do that when I didn't do anything to him!  I was minding my own business and he comes along acting like he owns the road!  Needless to say, I had my little fit for about ten minutes and then it was all better.  Isn't that how things happen sometimes?  We're minding our own business, when all of a sudden we are caught up in drama that we didn't even create.  We are taking on another person's stuff.  I have to remind myself in situations like this, that other people's opinions and actions are not a reflection of my worth and value.  What that guy did is not a reflection on me as a person.  He might have been having a bad day and he took it out on me.  Instead of getting upset and letting what he did bother me, I should have just let it go instead of taking it personally.  I allowed what he did to take away my peace and joy.  If we refuse to take on other people's stuff, this will save us a lot of unnecessary hurt and frustration.  Let's decide today to keep our peace no matter what other people say or do.  Just because they are having a bad day, or a bad attitude, doesn't mean we have to lose our peace and joy.  It's yours, hold onto it!  I think the next time something like that happens, I will do what my husband does, smile and wave!  Haha!  Till next time my friends, be blessed!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pearl of the Day: No Regrets

 "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Welcome back my friends! I mentioned on Friday that there would be some changes coming up today.  I hope you will be blessed by these new changes.  Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.  Have a great day!

Pearl of the Day: No Regrets

Have you ever thought to yourself, "If I had that to do over again, I would do things differently." I cannot tell you how many times I have thought that about quite a few situations over the years.  You've heard the phrase, "Hindsight's 20/20."  The meaning of hindsight is looking back, and 20/20 is perfect vision.  Most of the time we can see things more clearly later down the road, when we've gained a little more wisdom and grown in our walk with the Lord.  As much as we might like to go back and do some things differently, we know that's just not possible.  If it's not possible to go back and re-do or un-do some things, why do we stay stuck in the past?  Why do we continue to beat ourselves up about those past situations?  It won't change a thing.  There is nothing we can do to change the past.  Please hear me my friend, do not make a weapon out of those mistakes to beat yourself up with.  Don't allow those past mistakes to pull you down into that slimy pit of regret.  Don't let the past keep you from moving forward.  Let those past mistakes make you wiser.  Let them prepare you to respond better in the future should a similar situation ever present itself again.  Let them propel you forward in knowing that no matter what mistakes you've made, God is greater.  Lay your past mistakes at the feet of Jesus.  Give them to Him to take care of.  He knows you intimately and He loves you no matter what mistakes you've made.  He is more than able to give us beauty for our ashes.  He has promised to cause all things to work together for our good.  He came to set you free from the bondage of your past.  He came that you might have life, and have it in abundance!  I know from personal experience that He can give you a fresh perspective on the past, and even in situations where you can't change someone else, He can change you.  I have made many mistakes throughout my life, but I am happy to say that I have also grown from those mistakes.  God used those things for my good.  Did it hurt to go through those things?  Oh yes, more than I can tell you, but the wisdom and knowledge that was gained made the pain worth it.  Since we can't change the past, why not give it to God and allow Him to give you something better; freedom and forgiveness.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!