Archives for November 2013

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I love Thanksgiving and the opportunity it gives us to take time to reflect on all of the blessings in our lives and to thank God for them.  I discovered this song recently when I was doing a search for Thanksgiving music.  Something about the simplicity of this song appealed to me.  So as you are making preparations for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving celebration, take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy this simple song sung by Johnny Cash.  (I think this is a clip from an old TV show “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman”.)

 

Wishing you a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

~Jen

 

 

A Healthy Comfort Food Recipe

This recipe is one of our family favorites and I have been making it since I first started learning to cook as a newlywed.  I am even able to to sneak whole grain pasta and (gasp!) mushrooms past my two picky pants and they love it!  So if you are wondering what to do with all of that leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, here is a perfect recipe!

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Turkey Tetrazzini

From: Recipes For Life Healthy Choice Cookbook

Ingredients:

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti, broken into 2-inch lengths (As you can see in the photo, I didn’t have spaghetti on hand the night I made it, so I improvised and used the whole wheat curly noodles which the girls thought were fun!)

1/4 cup margarine, divided (I don’t typically use margarine in recipes so I use butter for this-a little less than what is called for)

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 stalk celery, sliced (1/2 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (you could also use whole wheat white for a little more fiber)

2 1/2 cups skim milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups cubed fully cooked turkey breast or lean ham (I have even used chicken) (3/4 inch cubes-I had the deli slice 1/2-3/4 pounds of lunch meat one inch thick and then I cubed it.)

1/3 cup low-fat Swiss cheese (sometimes I use a little more than 1/3 cup-we love cheese!)

1 jar (2 oz.) sliced pimiento, drained (I have never used this in my recipe, but it would give it some nice color).

8 servings

1. Prepare spaghetti as directed on package.  Rinse and drain.  Set aside.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In 2-quart saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon margarine/butter, the mushrooms, celery and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until celery is tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.  Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons margarine/butter until melted.  Stir in flour.  Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until mixture bubbles.

3.Blend in milk, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 to 5 minutes longer, or until sauce thickens and bubbles, stirring occasionally.  In 2-quart casserole, combine sauce, spaghetti and remaining ingredients.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until hot.

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories: 241

Total Fat: 7 g

Sodium: 212 mg

Total Carbohydrate 27 g

Dietary Fiber 2 g

Sugars 5 g

Protein 16 g

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family does!

~Blessings,

Jen

Not Your Grandma’s Coupon Site!

save money 2Hi there!

Going in a little different path today, but I really wanted to share this with you. Last week a friend introduced me to a website called Hip2Save. This website shows you ALL of the top deals for most of the major stores including online, such as Amazon…my favorite shall I say!!! In addition to the daily specials it links you to all sorts of coupon sites, tells you who has the best price for redeeming those coupons and advice for saving money with coupons. I have found this to be a “one stop shop” for deals and coupons. As an example last week I bought a $60 John Deere dump truck for $25 through Amazon. You can also set it up so it sends alerts of the really good deals to your phone. With the holiday season fast approaching, I have found this to be a very handy site, and it is very user friendly. Check it out and I hope you get some great deals!!!

 

Peace

Julie

Be Inspired To Listen

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” Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  

                                                                                                           1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

I have been dealing with a back injury since February of this year.  At the time of the injury, I thought I could just work through it and it would go away, but it didn’t.  Ten months later I am finally starting to feel better.  This journey to healing has been a frustrating one, but I have learned a lot about listening to my body.  I have had to learn to be patient with myself and give my body time to heal.

Up until this injury, I was pretty active and ran five days a week.  After the injury, I kept running for four months despite the pain.  I kept thinking it would get better and I could just run through the pain.  The old adage of “no pain, no gain” was not working for me. I finally decided to seek some help, trying a few different options, until I eventually ended up with a prescription for physical therapy. One of the first directions my physical therapist gave me was to stop running.  This was a tough one to follow,  I had never had an injury that kept me from doing the things I wanted to do.  For me, running is not only a great form of exercise but it is also helps me to stay mentally fit!

Over the course of my treatment, my physical therapist taught me exercises that would help strengthen my back and improve my pain level.  I had a few setbacks during the course of treatment, when I would try to run and then realize my body wasn’t ready for that type of exercise yet. (I can be a slow learner sometimes!)  Over the weeks, I learned to really stop and listen to my body.  If I was in pain, I would try to listen to my body and  if  it was telling me I needed a  more gentle exercise or even rest, then that was what I needed to do!  It was a very hard lesson for me, to slow down and listen, but it was definitely one I needed to learn!

I started thinking about how listening to our body is something that often gets lost in this busy, fast-paced world.  I know I am guilty of rushing through my day, not always getting enough sleep or nourishing my body with healthy food.  When I really stopped to think about it, why wouldn’t I listen and care for myself?  Why would I take for granted this most precious gift of life from God?  I started thinking about how intricately God designed us, all that goes on inside our bodies each day from our beating hearts to the gift of sight and sound and all of the other many systems within that allow us to live each day.  This motivates me to want to take better care of myself.  In doing so, I can honor God and live my best life, a life of service to the One who created me.

I am human and I know I won’t always listen like I should, but I am going to try.  If I am tired, I will get some rest, if I am in pain, I will slow down and care for myself .  When I am feeling stressed, I will take a deep breath and try to manage it better.  If I feel like jumping for joy, I think I will do that too!  These are just a few of the things I can do to listen and take care of myself.  In a month where we focus on thankfulness, I can’t help but reflect on and be so very  thankful for this beautiful gift of life God has given me!

~Blessings,

Jen

A Call to Ministry

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I would like to introduce you to two very dear friends of our family, Don and Laura Gotham. I believe my family and their family became fast friends the day he became the minister of our church. Despite the fact that he has been transferred on to bigger and better things, we have remained friends. He was the minister for all 3 of my girl’s weddings. This picture of from my daughters wedding in Atlanta, GA!!! We have made so many memories and had so many laughs. I do have to admit, Laura is the fun one though!!! (Little inside joke!!) These two are just fun loving and happy people who truly love the Lord and have devoted their lives to serve them. My youngest daughter and their daughter Elise were the little ones tagging along at youthgroup. Like I said, so many memories. I asked Don to share his story of his call to ministry. I have found it pretty inspiring and I think you all will too. The Utica, Michigan United Methodist Church is very fortunate to have this family serving them. Read, and enjoy!!

Peace,

Julie

The Fleece was Elise

Jeremiah 29:11-14a; Judges 6:36-40

The Bible is filled with stories of how God and the people of God have interacted.  I would like to share with you some of the story of how I have interacted with God, and how it is that God called me into ministry.

When we began our marriage more than 26 years ago, we prayed for guidance.  We prayed for guidance in how our lives were to flow.  I assure you, we had very different plans than God did.  We had imagined our lives lived out in Saginaw.  God, on the other hand, had a very different journey in mind for us.

Working in retail management, we learned what it was to relocate for work.  Laura likes to comment that we moved more when I worked in retail that we have in ministry.  While I worked for CVS, we were moved to a far off place called Dowagiac.  Neither of us could pronounce the name of the town.  We had no idea where we would live, but we were pursuing the common track of making money, so we moved.  We were so intent on achieving our dreams, we were willing to live in a house we rented on a Hog Farm.

After we settled in Dowagiac, we ended up at the United Methodist Church.  The pastor there thought it would be good to have me get involved in ministry.  The church owned an adjacent house and they were interested in cultivating a college student ministry.  Southwestern Michigan College was there, and no one was reaching out to the college students, so Laura and I got involved.

At the church, there were members who began asking me if I’d thought of being a pastor, and the pastor would tell me something about the goings on at church, or his plan for something church-related, and would comment that I would need to know these things when I pastured my church.  I was convinced we had wandered into the Twilight Zone.  The people at the church barely knew me.  I was baffled as to why the people would say those things to me.  I was still pretty intent on making money, and everybody knows, if you are looking to get rich, the pastorate is not the place to pursue that dream.

Now, every year, for as many years as Laura can remember, she has spent about ten days of her summer at Simpson Park Camp in Romeo.  She introduced me to the camp while we were dating.  We have made it a part of our summer each year of our marriage.

We moved to Dowagiac in May, and that summer at camp, I felt God calling me to something new.  Every year at the Thursday evening service, there is a call to come forward if you feel called to vocational Christian service.  I didn’t go forward that year, and I didn’t confess to Laura my wonderings about what God might be calling us to.

We worked at our jobs, and were involved at church, and the people kept making those comments to me about what they saw in my future.  I kept telling Laura these people were nice, but obviously confused.

June of the next year, we moved again.  This time, we were moved to Grand Rapids, and quite unexpectedly, in a little more than a month, I was let go from my job.  I felt set adrift.  Laura and I were driven to seek the Lord, and his guidance even more earnestly than we’d done before.  In a strange city, without a job, and feeling our dependence on the Lord as we’d never before, we experienced God’s grace and provision.

You see, we’d moved to Grand Rapids for my job, and Laura had given up hers to make the move, and that meant we were without a source of income.  God’s incredible care for us still energizes our faith today.  We had rent to pay, car payments to make, and all that was taken care of, and neither of us will ever forget the multiplying sausages.  We had bought some bratwurst and each time we went to the freezer to take some out to cook, it seemed as if we’d never taken any out the time before.

That year, we headed off to camp again.  It was a very different experience.  I was feeling led to the pastorate.  That year following camp, I’d heard the comments of the folks from the church in Dowagiac, and I had wondered about what it was that God was leading me to do.  I knew the path of pursuing a fortune was not for me.

That Thursday evening at camp, I didn’t have the courage to go forward at the time of commitment.  I bargained with God.  I told God, “I’ll go to Africa, I’ll be a missionary, just please don’t ask me to be a pastor.  When the time of commitment came, I stood in my pew and trembled, but I didn’t go forward.  All in all, my bargain with God was pretty safe.  I knew God had not called me to Africa, so my surrender wasn’t all that magnanimous.  I just couldn’t go forward to acknowledge a call to ministry if it meant I was doing that instead of finding employment.

I had come to the point where it was more important to do what God wanted than what I wanted.  I didn’t want to be a pastor, and I surely didn’t want to do it if that wasn’t what God wanted.

So, while walking on the grounds at camp that week, I prayed a simple, honest prayer.  I prayed, “Lord, if it is your will for us to serve you in the pastorate, give us a child.”  We had decided to start our family, and some months had passed with no baby on the way.  I had not even read the story of Gideon at that point, and I hadn’t really considered the consequences of asking for what I did.  For sure, it had to be a prayer guided by the Holy Spirit, for had I thought it through, I would have asked God to provide the funds to pay for seminary.  Well, Elise was born 9 ½ months later, two weeks overdue.

When Laura started having the classic symptoms of pregnancy, I told her she was pregnant.  She thought I was confused, and when I told her why I was sure she was pregnant, she told me she thought it was a bit overreaching on my part to not tell her about my fleece before I laid it out.  It was then that she told me, God had spoken to her while she was in the tenth grade in high school, and told her she would someday marry a minister.  Laura had felt sure about marrying me, even thought she thought me not to be minister material at the time (Hmmm…is he leaving out some details here?????).  She thought maybe she had misunderstood God.

When I shared with the pastor in Dowagiac about my prayer, I told him I hadn’t been very practical, and that perhaps I should have asked God to provide the money upfront, but he told me I had indeed prayed for the right thing, as children are a gift from God, and meeting financial needs is something God does in time.

We moved back to Southwest Michigan, and Laura returned to her job, and I found new employment and had even more success with the new company.  I was manager of the year and my supervisors had me headed for advanced training.  I was asked if I wanted to go for the training, and the promotion, and I politely turned it down.  The human resources manager called me in to her office, and told me the big boss was still planning on my going, and asked if I would consent.  I confessed my plans were to go to seminary that fall, and that I would not be going to the training.  To my surprise, she told me she understood, as she had wrestled with a call to ministry herself, and when I told the big boss, he told me of his own call to ministry, and then pointed to his own seminary degree hanging on the wall behind his desk.

God had been so gracious, for I left my career in retail having again achieved success, and was able to leave with the understanding and appreciation for what I was pursuing, on the part of my superiors.

Ultimately, we were still moving to another state to go into debt, and neither of us had a job waiting for us when we arrived.  In a very short amount of time, Laura had a job, and then shortly after that, I had one.  I had committed to Laura that if she were accepted for her master’s degree program at the University of Kentucky, we would stay until she had completed her degree.

Laura waited a year before applying to grad school, so she would quality for in-state tuition.  She was accepted into the advanced standing program, and even though she started her program a year after I did, she finished a semester before me.

I finished my seminary time on a different note than most.  I had torn cartilage in my left knee, and needed surgery to repair it.  My surgery proved more difficult than had been expected, and I developed a staph infection in the knee.  The infection took me back to the hospital where I had some five surgeries over the course of 32 days.  The infection was so serious, I had become septic, and was close to death and the amputation of my left leg.

Why God would lead us this far with so much care and so much grace, only to leave us in this situation, was beyond my comprehension.  What was to be gained from this I wondered?  In my despair, I cried out to God, and while he didn’t speak words of comfort in my ear, he reminded me that I was never left, nor was I ever forsaken.

At one of the times I met with the Board of Ministry, I asked why they kept asking me to recount my call to ministry.  One very wise person responded that there would come a day in ministry when the call would be the only thing that keeps you there.  I have always been at peace in knowing I am called to ministry, and there have been days when truly remembering that call is the only thing that has kept me serving.

If you find yourself in a place like I did, where you need some guidance from God, and you want an answer so that you may follow where God would lead, put out your fleece.  And be cautioned, if you do this in an effort to follow where God wants for you to go, there is a blessing to be had, but if you do this just to test the Lord, you risk earning the wrath of God.  God knows the plans God has for you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Waffles

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Every once in a while, I like to mix up my standard breakfast routine, yet I want to try to keep things on the healthy side.  I tried this recipe for Blueberry Waffles and thought it was good.  I have to warn you however, my girls did not care for it (see Bread Wars).  In fact, oldest daughter said to me, “Of course you like it, you are used to eating things that taste like cardboard!”  Oh well, I will keep trying with those two picky pants!

There is not any added sugar in this recipe, but when you add your favorite syrup, it becomes plenty sweet. I used pure maple syrup, but I think it would also be yummy with a warm blueberry syrup.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Waffles from Food.com

Ingredients

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 2 eggs, separated
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 cup fresh blueberries or 1 cup frozen blueberries

Directions

  1. Separate the eggs, then beat the whites until they reach the soft peak stage. Set aside.
  2. sift together the flour, salt, and powder.
  3. blend the egg yolks, milk and oil into the flour mixture until well mixed.
  4. carefully fold in the egg whites.
  5. carefully stir in the blueberries–the more movement the berries have in the batter, the more likely they are to turn the batter purple.
  6. spoon onto a greased waffle iron.
  7. cook until done.

I used cooking spray (the blueberries can be sticky) and cooked them for about 6 minutes for a nice crisp waffle.  I also froze the leftovers since hubby and I were the only ones to eat them!  They defrosted nicely for another Saturday morning breakfast.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 (88 g)

Servings Per Recipe: 12

Amount Per Serving
Calories 167.0
Total Fat 8.7g
Sodium 136.4mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.5g
Dietary Fiber 2.7g
Sugars 1.3 g
Protein 5.2g

 ~Blessings,

Jen