Friday, February 5, 2016

It Is Well

By: Sarah MacKinney

My favorite hymn of all time is It Is Well With My Soul. I love the words, I love the story about how it was written, I love the hope that it offers and the sweet assurance it reminds us of. But honestly, I have walked through seasons in my life that I couldn't sincerely sing it. After we lost our daughter, I desperately wanted to be able to say those words.  The truth was, it wasn't well with my soul. In fact nothing was well; not for a long time. I would sit and listen to it over and over and really try to get the words from my head to my lips, but it just wouldn't happen. And then I would feel guilty and pose questions to myself like, "If you were really a Christian, you would trust that God's plan is good," "If you really loved God then you wouldn't have this feeling of hopelessness." So then the guilt settles in. The shame screamed my name. The unfairness of it all threatened to overtake me. Knowing how I should feel, but not being able to find that peace the song speaks of, I became absolutely certain that nothing would ever be right again. Ever.


But then slowly; after the countless tears, the standing in the backyard yelling at the night sky, after so many prayers going up on my behalf and the sweet, wise counsel of Godly people, after the stumbling through my days barely able to breath; the heartache begins to fade. Slowly. The pain started to lose its grip. I found myself laughing again without having to force it. I began to think...."Maybe life really can be good again." I started to see the winter of my soul slowly turn to spring. Did I mention it was slowly?

Your story may be different. Maybe yours wasn't the loss of a child or loved one; perhaps it is a story of divorce or the loss of a job, a good friendship or financial woes. We all have different stories, but we all have one thing in common. A God who so desperately wants to sooth our aching souls. A God who hears our cries and reaches down and pulls us up. A God who sustains us through the lowest valley and the darkest of nights; a God whose compassion is never ending and unfailing. Would I have chosen to have this be part of my story? Would I have chosen to bury a child before I got to experience her first birthday? Absolutely not. And for many of you, you wouldn't have chosen the hardships that you have endured. But my good, sweet, gracious Father; so lovingly walked with me and I promise that He is walking with you too. It took me many years but I can fully say, It Is Well With My Soul. Not in an attempt to look super spiritual or because it's what I think I should feel; but because I believe God when He promises that all things work together for good to those who love Him. I believe God when He says He has a plan for me; a really good plan! I trust so fully in the Jesus I serve. Saying that it is well with my soul doesn't mean when I hear her name my heart doesn't ache a bit or that I don't ever wonder what dynamic she would add to our family. It doesn't mean I don't miss her; it simply means that if this is the road that was chosen for me to walk, then I'll walk it knowing who is on my side.  It means I will use my pain to help others. It means I can hold on to the hope that I will see her again someday.

If you aren't there yet, don't give up. Don't lose hope. I promise you that He is busy working on your behalf and joy will come. One day, as it was with me, you'll be able to belt out the words to that beautiful hymn with 100% honesty, because one day, it will be well with your soul.

Sarah

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Be holy...because I am holy:"

My reading this morning took me to Leviticus, chapters 11-13. The bulk of the reading was law concerning clean and and unclean food, purification after childbirth and regulations about skin disease. One verse really stuck out with me though. Leviticus 11:45 says, "I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy."
God IS holy...of that I have no doubt. My doubt comes from the last part of that verse..."be holy, because I am holy." How in the world do I...this unfinished, unworthy piece of a human...be holy? In my devotional this morning I read how miraculous it is that God offers us a set-free life through Jesus. We are no longer slaves to sin because we have been set free through the blood of Jesus! Because of this we can know the grace and forgiveness God gives His children. We can live an empowered life to honor Him. Our journey from set-free to promoted is nothing short of miraculous!!!
I am so thankful for the freeing hand of God! So blessed to no longer be a slave to sin!!! Take a minute or two and listen to this song...it speaks volumes!!
Have a wonderfully blessed day!
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Isaiah 40:31

By: Shari A. Miller







It is time for the Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday Link Up. We desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories in their comments.

Use hashtag #w2wwordfilledwednesday

Three rules to this link up:
1. Must be a {Christian} faith post.
2. Link back to W2W somewhere in your post. (Feel free to use our button if you want!)
3. Visit and comment on at least one other blog in the link up.

Woman to Woman Ministries

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mexican Chicken Casserole

By: Melissa Baker

Recipe courtesy of MyRecipeMagic.com
Ingredients:

1 cup chicken broth 
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, divided 
1 3/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons olive oil 
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup evaporated milk 
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese 
1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese 
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce 
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas 
  1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
1 ounce tortilla chips


Directions:

1. Combine broth and 1 can of chiles in a large skillet; bring to a boil. 
2. Add chicken; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning chicken once.
3. Remove chicken from cooking liquid, reserving cooking liquid; cool chicken. 
4. Shred meat with two forks, and set aside. 
5. Preheat oven to 350°.
6. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 can of chiles and onion; sauté 3 minutes or until soft. Add reserved cooking liquid, milk, Monterey Jack, cream cheese, and enchilada sauce; stir well. 
7. Stir in shredded chicken; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. 
8. Place 4 tortillas in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. 9. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture over tortillas. 
9. Repeat layers twice, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chips. 
10. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Monday, February 1, 2016

Homemaking God's Way...Your House

By: Jenifer Metzger


So far in our homemaking series, we've discussed homemaking with your heart, your husbandyour kids and your time. Today, we will discuss homemaking and cleaning.

Let's face it, cleaning isn't really a fun thing to do. But it is a necessary thing.

My biggest problem with cleaning is that nothing stays clean. I know I cannot possibly be the only one who walks into a room less than an hour after cleaning it and wonder how on this beautiful earth can it possibly already be dirty again! I mean, seriously people! My kids have pretty much learned that if I clean a room, they have to stay out of it until dad comes home from work. I want him to see that the room was actually clean at one point in time.

I like my house to stay clean and organized, which isn't always easy in a home with 6 people plus pets. But I have learned the messier my house is, the more chaotic I feel. The cleaner my house is, the more calm I feel.


Because I homeschool my kids and babysit a little one, I cannot spend all day cleaning. If you are a homeschool mom, you understand. Your attention is focused on schooling, not cleaning. The best way to handle this, is do what you can before school starts for the day. Once the kids are in a place where they can work independently (like writing their spelling words or practicing math problems) do some housework. If your kids are still little, try doing housework before they wake up and again at naptime.

Today I am going to share with you 10 of my tips for cleaning.
  1. My biggest tip in cleaning is something I tell my kids on a daily basis. It's easy. It's simple. You already know it. But sometimes we need reminded. What is it? Put things away where they go when you are done with them. Boom! That simple friends. I know we get tired, I know we don't feel like it, I know we think we will do it later. But the truth is, it is so much easier to do it immediately. As soon as you are finished with that dish, place it in the dishwasher. As soon as you take off those shoes, put them in the closet. As soon as you take off that jacket, hang it up. As soon as you are done with that blanket, fold it up. It's so much easier to do it right then and I promise you, it will help you keep your house cleaner.
  2. If you keep things picked up, following the above tip, it is easier to keep the house clean. Let me explain. My bedroom stays clean. Each morning when I wake up, I make the bed immediately, pick up anything that might be out of place, carry dirty laundry to the laundry room, close the closet door and then scan the room to make sure everything is put away. It literally takes me 10 minutes. Once or twice a week I dust and vacuum the room which only takes another 10 or 15 minutes. If you don't let things accumulate, it is so much easier to keep up on things.
  3. Baskets are your friend. I love baskets and bags (Thirty One bags and dollar store bins are my faves!) because of the organization they offer. We have a basket for the kids' video game things, a basket for regular games, a basket for phones to go into at night (I call it the Phone Zone), a bag for all of my Bible study supplies, each kid has a basket for their bathroom items (like toothbrush, deoderant, etc) and a bag for their travel bathroom items for when they go to a friend's house. Baskets, bags and bins help you stay organized and give everything you own a 'home.'
  4. Deep clean your home regularly. I try to do this on a weekly basis. Deep cleaning to me is scrubbing the toilets, scrubbing the floors, dusting the ceiling, corners and baseboards, those kind of things. If you do it regularly, you will be able to keep up on it and it won't take you all day. When your cleaning isn't done regularly, it can get out of hand and once you finally get to it, it takes much, much longer than it should.
  5. Do light cleaning every day. Other than simple putting things away when you are done, some things that should be done every day are your kitchen and bathroom. Keep your kitchen and bathroom counters clear of clutter so that they are easy to wipe down each day. I typically wipe down the kitchen counters after each meal. The dishes need done each day. The trash cans need emptied each day. These are things that just need to be done each day to help you keep up on things.
  6. Keep up on the laundry. Let's be real. Mount Laundry is a struggle to climb. Especially when it gets out of control. With 6 people in our home, I used to do at least 4 loads of laundry every single day. A couple of years ago we started making our kids do their own laundry. Now that I only do laundry for my husband and I, I can get all of our clothes washed, dried, folded and put away in only 2 loads. That is pretty easy to manage. Our kids each do laundry twice a week.
  7. Keep your cleaning supplies simple. I use a vinegar solution for most everything. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant so it gets things cleaned. It is super cheap and doesn't leave harsh chemicals to harm your family. Vinegar can be used for furniture, bathrooms, kitchens, floors, it is pretty much safe for everything! For the deep cleaning days, I use ajax for the toilet bowl and windex for the mirrors (hubby thinks vinegar leaves a film on the mirrors, I disagree but use windex so that it shines like he wants). We use old shirts cut up for rags. This is much cheaper than buying paper towels to clean with.
  8. I love candles! I love the ambiance. Candles feel peaceful and inviting to me. I also love filling my home with a good fragrance. Each day I light 2 candles, 1 in the living room and 1 in the kitchen.
  9. Have the kids help! All of the responsibility should not fall on your shoulders. Kids of all ages can learn to do chores. Even a 1 year old can learn to pick up their toys and feed the dog.
  10. Be proud of your home. I am not talking about sinful pride. I am talking about contentment. If you love your home, you are content with what you have and you are thankful for what you have, you tend to take better care of it. Don't be jealous of someone else's home or what you see on Pinterest. Be thankful for what God has blessed you with and take good care of it.
This week's action plan:
Be intentional about cleaning. If the mess in your house has gotten out of control, take it one day at a time. Do what you can today then do a little more tomorrow and so on. Once you get things back in order, it is so much easier to keep up on it. This week, pick one room or one task and start. You can't finish if you don't start,