Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's Talk About...Pseudo Food

Just a heads up, any posts about artificial food colors will now be posted at Pseudo Food. Posts about other health topics, marriage, church, young women, and the rest of my interests will still be posted here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Does the Bible Say Women are Weak?


I’ve begun a new series with the girls at church about the things people say of godly women and whether or not they are biblically sound. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be looking at jewelry and makeup, whether women should hold positions of authority, if women should be quiet in church, what it means to be submissive, and other things that people say about us.
This week: Does the Bible actually call women weak?

I’ve heard it many times. “Women are weak, and the Bible says so.” The verse referenced is always 1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, likewise, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to them, as to the weaker vessel
I see a few major problems with using this verse to support the argument, so let’s break down the verse, piece by piece. First, though, please remember I am not a Bible scholar and all of the following is my own opinion.

1)      Who is Peter writing to? Husbands and wives. He is not addressing all men and all women but just how a husband should treat his own wife. Let’s think about the cultural significance of this time period as well. The Bible is written for anyone in any generation, but we can’t separate the fact that Peter was also writing to a specific group of people.  In general, men had the power and ruled over their households. Women were less educated and had fewer opportunities. In paganism and other religions, wives were seen mostly as instruments to satisfy the man’s needs and desires.

2)      “dwell with your wives” – or live with them. Got it. Husbands, live with your wives.

3)      “with understanding” – uh oh. Husbands, live with your wives with understanding? A man will never understand a woman (and vice versa)! What else could this part mean? First, the husband is to understand what God desires from the relationship. Second, he is to understand what his wife needs. This can only be accomplished with communication. The husband and wife must communicate in order to understand each other’s needs, and then meet those needs to the best of their abilities. Another translation says “living with knowledge” – so while men and women don’t understand each other, they seek to know each other, to know what each other wants and needs from the marriage. Here’s a personal example: Sometimes I cry for no apparent reason. Mr. T doesn’t yell at me “Shut up woman! There’s nothing to cry about!” Living with understanding or knowledge means, even though he doesn’t understand why I’m crying, he understands/knows that I need his comfort. Culturally (and for modern-day), this part was important. Peter was telling men that it’s not all about what the husbands want.

4)      “giving honor to them” – I think this is the most important part of the verse. Women were seen as possessions, as means for gratification and someone to bear children. Christianity brought a different concept – one where the wives are honored. When you honor someone, you respect them; you look up to them; you admire something about them; you see something about them that is better than what you have; they are your superior in some way. Now, I’m not at all saying women are better than men, but think about how it works in a good marriage, where both partners are happy. They both think they got better than they deserve! Peter is not saying women are better than men, but is calling husbands to treat their wives as if they are—as if they’re something special.

5)      “as” – One word can make so much difference. The verse says “giving honor to them as the weaker vessel.” Not is, but as. The verse never says wives actually are the weaker vessel, but that husbands should wives as if they are. If someone around you is weaker, what do you do? A caring person would help them however they could. For example, I’m perfectly capable of carrying groceries into our home, but Mr. T usually carries them for me. He treats me as he would someone weaker. Also, remember what was going on culturally. Husbands had the power, which meant they could beat their wives if they wanted to. But Peter is giving a call to husbands to not bully their wives or abuse their power.

6)      “weaker” – An average-muscled man is fairly strong, but if he stands next to a body builder, one of them is obviously weaker. The Bible does not say “weak,” but “weaker.” 2 people can both be strong, but one will be weaker.  Does the Bible say women are strong or weak? We’re told the Proverbs 31 woman “girds herself with strength and strengthens her arms.” (Proverbs 31:17) So nope, not weak.

7)      “vessel” – Some scholars think the verse means women are weaker spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Or basically in every area. Personally, I think the verse is only referring to physical strength because even in the original Greek, the word is “vessel,” which is the outer shell. Some English translations have changed this to “partner” instead of “vessel.” Biblos.com is my favorite site for checking original texts since some things are lost or easily misinterpreted when translated. In general, men have the potential to be physically stronger than women. Our bodies are built differently, plain and simple. Some men don’t take advantage of it, though, and some women work out to become buff.

8)      Finally, there’s more to the verse. When people quote it as proof that women are weak, they usually only mention the first part. The rest of the verse says “and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Husbands and wives are heirs together of God’s grace. God doesn’t put the husband higher than the man or give him a greater portion.  They’re equal. In the very last part, Peter says husbands better treat their wives well or else their prayers will not be answered.  
Image from pixabay
My conclusion: Peter did not write this to say women are weak. He wrote it to address a problem among marriages and to tell husbands how God desires a marriage to be.
What are your thoughts on 1 Peter 3:7 and the view of "weak" women?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Marriage Journal

I think my husband and I have a great marriage. There's communication, love, mutual respect, physical attraction, prayer time together, etc, but I'm always open for suggestions to make it even better. I came across one great suggestion on The Dating Divas: A Couple's Journal.

Basically, you take a regular notebook, make it look special, and then take turns writing special things in it. What kind of special things? I told Mr. T to write "a special moment with me that you remember, something you appreciate that I did, a characteristic about me that you particularly like, a reason that you love me, a time where you felt the most loved/respected, or anything else that you want to write as long as it's nice." The Dating Divas has a list of starter ideas that can be printed and pasted in the front of the notebook.

Our notebook is a simple composition book with a piece of paper glued to the front. The quote at the bottom is a sticker that says "Now I know what love is." I have the intention of pasting a picture of us in that blank space, but it's over a month since we began and I haven't done it yet.

 
It stays in our bathroom. When deciding where to put it, I wanted 1) a private spot where company wouldn't pick it up and 2) a place where we would both notice it. The bathroom was the only place that fit those parameters.
 
We write whenever we feel like it -- maybe once or twice per week. So how could we know when the other had written in it without them having to say "hey, go read the book"? That's another reason that the bathroom has been helpful. A dry erase marker stays with it so that we can write a note on the mirror once we've included something in the journal.
 
I like the notes on the mirror almost as much as the things in the notebook. So far, the journal has been a place for loving sentiments, memories, and thoughts -- things we should say to each other but just don't think to mention in the craziness of the day. The mirror notes are cornier. Sometimes loving, sometimes just fun.
 
In the picture above, it says "Pigs give us bacon. Cows give us cheese. I love you so much, that writing why is a breeze." Before that, Mr. T wrote "Fire in the hole!" and "Looky, looky, I wrote something in the booky."
 
It's been good to have the journal front and center in the bathroom. Even if we don't read the sentiments daily, it's a visual reminder that they are there. And the mirror notes brighten my day with a laugh.

Have you done anything similar in your marriage?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dealing with Insecurity: Is High Self-Esteem the Cure?

I alluded briefly to this when I wrote of the conclusion of our Insecurity lessons for Sunday night Girls’ Club, but a few things I have read recently keep bringing it back to me.


I’ll use me as an example. I’m insecure about my looks, especially when I’m wearing my glasses. I’m thankful to have them so that I can see, but otherwise, I hate my glasses with a passion because of how they make me look. When a young woman who, I feel, is prettier comes around, my insecurity shows its ugly head. I sometimes become more introverted, with an irrational fear that no one will want to listen to me since I’m not as pretty as the other woman speaking.

Now let’s say I feel equal to or prettier than the other women around me. Can I be worry-free because my insecurities aren’t provoked? Nope. It’s false security. It’s a superiority complex. All it would take is one woman to walk in, and my false security would come crashing down. Feeling superior means I am judging someone else, I have put myself on a high pedestal, and I have transferred my insecurities on to someone else, as if I believe the other women around me should feel inferior like I do when someone prettier is there.  It’s messed up in so many ways.

In the study So Long Insecurity, author Beth Moore first brought this point to my attention: Superiority is not the same thing as security.

I originally wanted a title picture that demonstrated security and immediately thought of this one. How much more secure can you be than, as a grown man, allowing 2 young girls (who were strangers to him) paint his face however they wanted? Alas, simplicity won out in my decision, but this was one of the first endearing qualities my husband demonstrated when we met. But I digress...

Insecurity can be destructive when we allow it to control our actions, but superiority can be as much or even more damaging.

It can go by different names: superiority, pride, high self-esteem.
Wait. What? I thought high self-esteem was a good thing??  I’ve always heard high self-esteem be taught as a virtue, at home, in school, and even in church, but looking around, I can see the problems that arise from it.
Superiority, pride, and self-esteem all involve thinking highly of oneself. Romans 12:3 cautions against this: “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” (NLT) In other words, we’re not to judge ourselves by our abilities, wealth, appearance, or other material things, but to use another standard – to evaluate ourselves by our Christian character.

More than once, the Bible warns against pride and high self-esteem. Take Proverbs 11:2 for example – “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Instead of placing a high value on ourselves, God’s word calls us to be humble. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says humility is simply “not thinking of yourself as better than other people.”
I see two big problems with thinking so highly of ourselves. First, we’re thinking only of ourselves, which is incredibly selfish and conceited. We can’t help others when we’re focused only on ourselves. Secondly, it sets us up to fall. The more highly we view ourselves, the harder the fall can be.
Pride (or high self-esteem, superiority, or whatever else you want to call it) is always on the defensive. If we place value on ourselves for anything that we feel is better than other people, such as wealth, possessions, appearances, or talents, then we’re constantly vulnerable to someone better coming along. If a basketball player prides himself on being the best, but a new player proves to be better, the pride is shattered. If an artist has high self-esteem because of her creative abilities, but a tragic accident mangles her hands so that she can no longer create, her esteem will be destroyed.
True security does not depend upon circumstances, abilities, or appearances. It does not matter who is around or how we compare to them. It is not fragile or defensive. True security shows up when we know, truly know, that we are children of the Almighty God and saved by His son Jesus. This God-given identity cannot be taken away from us no matter who comes along.
Rather than trying to raise self-esteem in ourselves, our kids, and each other, what if we centered our lives on God and focused on the needs of others? We can’t be self-absorbed when we’re helping others. As for God-centered lives, He calls us to be humble. Humility is not saying “I’m horrible at the piano” even if you’re a musical prodigy. It’s recognizing that your value is not tied to that particular talent, that others are gifted in different ways so you’re not the only gifted one, and just simply knowing that your talent does not make you better than anyone else. We’re all wonderfully made by God, and He loves each us with the same agape love.
Want to read more about biblically-based self-esteem? I recommend these links:
1-Minute Bible Love Notes - A series on the
Dangers of High Self-Esteem
GotQuestions.org - How Should a Christian View Self-Esteem?
It's not just in the Bible. Science Daily writes "high self-esteem is not always what it's cracked up to be."
Note: This post contains affiliate links which help the author of this site.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian and Soy Free Dinners

Yes, I want to eat meat from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. No, I can't afford the price very often. One solution seems to be incorporating more meatless meals. I tried vegetarian (almost vegan) for a few months because of health reasons and discovered my body is not meant to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. It's great for some people, and it's not for others. I'm in the latter category. However, that doesn't have to stop me from having some vegetarian meals.

The only meatless meal my husband and I have regularly is vegetable soup, and I'm ready to find other meals to try. There was 1 catch on my search, though. I wanted soy-free as well. Have you priced soy, tofu, and meat-substitutes? Their price isn't much better! And I would want organic since most other soy is genetically modified. Also, I'm laying off of soy to see if that helps any with my hormone issues. So far, so good.


Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful network of foodies and creative cooks who don't need meat (or soy) in every, single dish. The majority of these are egg-free, as well.

Pasta and Quinoa
1. Pumpkin Thyme Rigatoni from Whole Living
2. Hearty Vegetable Lasagna from AllRecipes
3. Pasta with Marinara and White Beans from Real Simple
4. Easy Cheesy Veggie Salsa Mac from Mom Foodie
5. Warm Cauliflower and Israeli Couscous Salad from Oh My Veggies
6. Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables from Dishing Up Delights
7. Festive Fall Quinoa from Mom Foodie -- with peppers, onion, sweet potato, and sun-dried tomatoes

Soups and Stews
8.Winter Lentil Soup from Carrots n Cake
9. Moroccan-Style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew from The First Mess
10. Roasted Tomato and Rosemary Soup with Kale and Potatoes from Food52
11. Bean Soup with Kale from All Recipes
12. Creamy, Light Potato Soup (except without bacon) from My Recipes
13. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from Chow
14. Hearty Potato Minestrone from Simply Potatoes
15. Mixed Bean Chili from London Bakes

Salads
16. Inside Out Chinese Spring Roll Salad from Better Recipes
17. Autumn 3 Bean Salad from Internet Cooking Princess
18. Peach, Feta, Pistachios and Romaine Hearts with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette from Internet Cooking Princess
19. Spiced Eggplant and Cucumber Salad from A Couple Cooks
20. Heirloom Tomato and Nectarine Salad from Vegetarian Times

Sandwiches
21. Grilled Pesto, Mozzarella, and Tomato Sandwich from Joyful Homemaking
22. Wild Mushroom Melt Panini from Panini Happy
23. Farmer's Market Vegetarian Quesadilla from All Recipes
24. Mexican Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Bakeaholic Mama
25. Grilled Vegetable Wrap from Vegetarian Times

Vegetables
26. Asparagus and Tomato Bake from Grandma's Kitchen
27. Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Orange Cumin Dressing from In Pursuit of More
28. Ratatouille from AllRecipes
29. Rustic Ratatouille with Chickpeas from Self
30. Vegetable Goulash from Grandma's Kitchen
31. Burrito Bowl from A Couple Cooks
32. Roasted Potato Salad with Dijon and Goat Cheese Dressing from Mom Foodie

Other
33. Vegetarian Tacos from Taste of Home
34. Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Tomato, and Feta from Eating Well
35. Portabella and Kale Pizza with Roasted Garlic Sauce from Oh My Veggies
36. Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza from Simply Potatoes

What's your favorite meatless meal?

This post is linked with A Humble Bumble's Healthy Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm an Informed Bad Decision Maker


I can get a little discouraged when I see blogger posts of impeccably clean homes, perfectly behaved kids, and 5-course dinners. Especially when I can’t find a clean spoon, and I’m in 3-day old jeans because I need to wash clothes. I guess that’s the time I should stop reading blogs and pay attention to my house.
But anyways, I finally realized a lot of these pictures are posed. Or they may only have a great dinner 1 night a week. Or the kids are bribed to smile for the picture. Or the dirty dishes are cropped out of the frame. Okay, not all of the pics are posed. Some people are just good like that. But most of us are guilty of wanting to show only our best to all of you strangers.
Guilty as charged.
I realized I’ve posted so many healthy food posts lately that you probably get the wrong idea about my reality. The truth: I’m an informed bad decision maker. I read and learn what I can about organic, free-range, nutrition, and other health-related things because I want to be informed. That doesn’t mean I always follow through with what I know is best.
In fact, I just ate a few Ritz crackers. That doesn’t exactly follow my grain-free plan that was making me feel so much better. And it’s not the fermented or soaked grains I was planning to try once I was ready to eat grains again. But there it is. I ate Ritz.
My husband has been asking me for Italian breaded baked chicken breasts. I was at Sam’s and bought what they had…definitely not free-range nor organic.
I rarely buy organic produce. It’s true. I believe pesticides and genetically modified foods are a big problem for our health and the environment, but I rarely buy organic fruits or veggies.
 

Here's a peak at a few nonorganic things in our pantry right now. And yet I can't say I feel guilty about any of them. They're still a long ways from the snack cakes and Pop-Tarts that used to fill our pantry.
Our budget dictates the kinds of foods we can buy. When we have a few extra dollars, I splurge on grass fed animal products (meat and milk). I believe the effects and benefits of grass fed vs. conventionally raised meat and dairy is a bigger deal than organic produce. We’re also growing some of our own produce so that we won’t have to worry about it. Peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes are a few on the dirty dozen list that we grow ourselves rather than buy.
I’m far from perfect when it comes to food choices, but I am doing much better than I ever have been. The point is, I’m trying, which I believe is the best each of us can do. I’m a firm believer in baby steps – taking 1 step at a time in order to live a healthier lifestyle. My first step was almost 5 years ago when I gave up sodas.
What was your first step towards living healthier? What would you like to do next? Do you have a particular unhealthy weakness that you can’t quite give up yet?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Girls' Club: Insecurities

I lead Girls’ Club once per month at church for young women ages 12 and up. Last week, we wrapped up our lesson on insecurity. Know what I learned? We deal with a bunch of junk!

I think it’s safe to say every woman (and likely every man) deals with some kind of insecurity, and it can show in very destructive ways. We loosely followed Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity study (book and workbook), changing our flow as needed to accommodate the girls and what they’re currently experiencing. The study itself was ok, but maybe not Beth Moore’s best. Insecurity is a very touchy subject, and it was too easy to leave the girls more down and insecure than they were to begin with.
Beth Moore had some really good points though. I won’t get in to it here, but the section on pride stemming from insecurity hit me hard.
Look inside the book at Amazon.
 
While looking for the link to the book, I came across So Long Insecurity, Teen Edition. That would've been nice to notice before I started this lesson.
Anyways, in this last meeting with the girls, we reviewed some of the main points. I had a couple of large papers tacked to the wall to write our lists on, which thankfully encouraged participation. Sometimes (rarely) these girls get quiet and don’t respond during the lessons.
What are we insecure about?
Looks
Popularity/whether people like us
Abilities (athletic, book smarts, talents, etc.)
Our value or worth/if we’re valuable
Our future
If we can trust people

Where does it come from? What are some roots of insecurity?
A past failure
A time we were embarrassed
People we love putting us down or insulting us
Not having our basic needs met at home or not feeling loved by family
Society/media that pushes the “perfect” image

What do insecurities make us do? How do we react?
Cry or get depressed
Grouchy, have a bad attitude
Ready to fight
Manipulative/controlling
Worry
Envy
Not start or finish something because of a fear of failure

How can we fight insecurities?
Pray
Read Bible
Memorize a relevant verse to quote when insecurities arise
Face them – don’t hide from what makes us insecure
Avoid – know our triggers and avoid them (like not flipping through magazines in the checkout line if looks is an issue)
Exercise/Laugh – get those good endorphins going
Serve others – insecurity is a form of selfishness because we’re consumed only with ourselves. Serving helps us to think about others, getting our minds off of ourselves and our problems
Refuse to accept it, get stubborn
React differently – we can’t always change our emotions, but we can change our actions and add better thoughts. Our emotions will eventually follow our actions and thoughts.
Why battle the insecurities?
Ephesians 6:12 “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.”  Insecurity is one of the devil’s weapons. We’re not fighting against flesh and blood, but it is most definitely a war! We can choose to give in and give up to the devil or we can refuse to accept it, to fight our insecurities so that we can do the work God has planned for us. We may always be insecure about something, but we can choose to not let them control us or stop us from our intended purposes!
Note: This post contains affiliate links which help support the owner of this blog. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Menu Plan 9/29/2013

Yep, it's definitely a little easier to stick to my eating goals when I have a plan, even when I don't follow that plan exactly. I never got around to the spaghetti squash recipe, though I did take the receipt for the rotten one back to the store for a refund.

So this week. There's not much in the house besides vegetables. Veggies are good, but meals of only veggies? I would have one very unhappy husband. My plan tomorrow is grocery shopping that matches my menu.

Still a grain-free plan.


Breakfast
Smoothies
Kefir with fruit and honey

Lunch
Salads -- tomato, carrots, and homemade Italian dressing
Tuna salad over lettuce
Leftovers -- planning to make an extra Hasselback sweet potato just for lunch

Snacks - just in case
Carrots
Muscadines

Dinner
1. Baked fish with steamed broccoli and fried squash
2. Omelets with tomatoes and peppers
3. Italian chicken (marinated in homemade Italian dressing) with sauteed okra and Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
4. Chicken stir fry -- pan-cooked chicken bites and veggies in soy sauce (broccoli, squash, and carrots)
5. Crustless Pizza with side salad
6. Taco Potatoes

What's on your menu? For many more ideas, check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

30 Recipes that Add Vegetables to Breakfast

For breakfast, I grew up eating things like muffins, pop-tarts, cereal, donuts, and pancakes. Sweet things. Frosting could even be included if it was on a "breakfast" food like cinnamon rolls. Then I grew up and included fruit because I knew it was good for me. But usually the sweeter fruits like bananas, grapes, and strawberries dipped in powdered sugar. I've realized something over the past couple of years: I need to change my breakfast habits.

Vegetables are the hardest healthy thing for me to include on a regular basis. I like veggies. Really, I do. But if I have an option of fruit, something bready, or especially something sweet, veggies take a backseat.

I need more vegetables during breakfast. That's the conclusion I have come to, so I've been searching the internet today for recipes that sound delicious. And I didn't just find 1 that I'd like to try -- I found 30!


No big surprise, my first stop was the bread category. I'm still off of grains, but I figure I can find some recipes for the future.

Muffins and Pancakes
1. Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffin from Super Healthy Kids
2. Gluten-Free Maple Almond Zucchini Muffins from Gluten Free Goddess -- These are amazing! It's one of the few recipes listed here that I have already tried.
3. Pumpkin Bread from The Fresh Loaf
4. Mashed Potato Pancakes from Natasha's Kitchen
5. Carrot Cake Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen
6. Pumpkin Pancakes from Heavenly Homemaker
7. Winter Squash Waffles from Reader's Digest

Sandwiches and Wraps
8. Pancake Panini from Super Healthy Kids
9. Breakfast BLT from Natasha's Kitchen
10. Breakfast Burritos from The Pioneer Woman -- with potatoes and bell peppers
11. Easy Breakfast Burritos from Heavenly Homemaker -- with salsa
12. Breakfast Quesadillas from The Pioneer Woman -- with peppers and onion
 
Egg-based
 
13. Hash Brown-Crusted Mediterranean Quiche from Incredible Egg
14. Mini Crustless Quiche from Heavenly Homemaker -- Use the optional veggie add-ins
15. Sausage-Kale Breakfast Strata from The Pioneer Woman
16. Spinach Frittata from Simply Recipes
17. Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushroom from Power Hungry -- If I ever decide to try runny yolks...
18. Veggie Scramble from Heavenly Homemaker
19. Tomato and Green Pepper Omelet from Taste of Home
 
Smoothies
 
20. Green Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade from Mind Body Green
21. Carrot Mango Smoothie from Power Hungry
22. Raspberry Cauliflower Smoothie from Here's the Dish
23. Kale Orange Banana Smoothie from AllRecipes
24. Key Lime Pie Smoothie from Cook at Paleo -- with avocado
25. Cherry Zucchini Smoothie from Pure Fitlosophy
 
Other
26. Zucchini Fritters from Natasha's Kitchen
27. Johnsonville Sausage Potato Hash from AllRecipes -- with Russet potatoes
28. Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Bell Pepper Hash from McCormick Gourmet
29. Breakfast Crock-Pot Casserole from Heavenly Homemaker

And lastly, I added one of my own.
30. Fruit Salad with Pineapple Honey Glaze from Notes From a Pastor's Wife

What's your favorite way to add veggies in the morning?

Fruit Salad with Pineapple Honey Glaze

I posted it in my weekly menu but never got around to making it. I've stuck with smoothies instead since I have plenty of frozen fruit but very little fresh fruit in my kitchen right now. During the spring and summer, when fresh fruit is abundant, this fruit salad is my go-to dish to bring to potlucks and family dinners, though I usually skip the spinach and place it with the desserts when I'm taking it to other people.

The recipe is very versatile, so you can add or remove almost any fruit that you want. Grapes and blueberries are sweet additions. For a good presentation, try to include a variety of colors.


1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp honey
1 orange
1 apple
1/2 lb strawberries (~2 c)
1 kiwi, peeled
1 banana
1/4 of a whole pineapple, peeled and cored
1/4 c chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
Spinach

In a large bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice and honey until combined.
Dice the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Toss all of the fruit into the pineapple mixture. Note: The apple and banana need to be tossed with the juice immediately after cutting to avoid browning.
Add nuts and gently stir.

Serve over spinach. I didn't include an amount for the spinach because it seems everyone wants a different amount with the fruit. Some people love the taste of greens and others drown it with the fruit.

It's best served the same day, especially if using strawberries, as they tend to color the other fruits red.

This post is linked to Wonderful Food Wednesdays at Mom's Test Kitchen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Free Printables: Let's Make Like a...

My husband can be a strange man. Almost every time we leave home, he says "Let's make like a..." and finishes with something crazy. His current favorite is "Let's make like a baby and head out." It seemed only fitting to invite him to go out by using some of his favorite sayings, and in case you have a man or friends who enjoy them as much too, they're here as free printables.

They're sized as 4"x6" but there's a link at the bottom of the post for 5.25"x3.5" versions that all fit on 1 page. I uploaded them to Box, but you don't have to register with them to download the printables. Just a note: When the print box comes up, click "actual size" instead of fit to page.

There is room underneath each saying to write the details of the date, getaway, or outing. For example, with the tree invite, I'd write something like this:

You, me, and a picnic in the park
This Saturday for lunch
 
PDF download: Let's Make Like a Tree
 
And on the sunset, I might write:
Let's get away this weekend and head to the beach!
I've already talked to ____ about borrowing his timeshare.
 
 
Finally, for the tomatoes, I could write something like this:
I canceled my plans for Saturday evening
and have a babysitter lined up
(at least, that's what I'd write if we had kids...)
How about a date?
 
Or it'd be a great one to send to a friend:
It's been too long! Have any time on Friday to hang out?
 
 
PDF  Download: Let's Make Like a Tomato

Want them all? Here's a PDF with them all on 1 sheet. I shrunk them to 5.25" x 3.5" in order to fit on 1 page.
 
It's my first time attaching PDF files, and I'd love to read some feedback. Were you able to pull them up?

This post is linked with Turn it up Tuesdays on Epic Mommy Adventures.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Menu Planning 9/23/2013

I was really starting to feel better, and then I messed up. I figured one little bite of junk wouldn’t hurt me. But one bite led to another and another, and I realized again that I have no self-control when it comes to sweets and bready foods. Then I felt the consequences and remembered why I had decided to eat healthier in the first place.

The junk food in my home is synonymous with convenience food -- processed granola bars, cereals, cookies, etc. The things I can grab-n-go without dirtying any dishes. They were too tempting so I gave them away. It was weird looking at my pantry after that; there was no “food,” only ingredients.
I know myself well enough to know the only way I’ll stick to this is to make a plan – to figure out ahead of time how in the world I’m going to put these random ingredients together. My goal this week is to go heavier on the vegetables, moderate on the meats and fruits, and very little grains or sugar.


Breakfast
Green smoothies
Fruit salad - fresh fruit over spinach, with honey pineapple glaze
Sweet potato hash - I haven't decided how I want to do this yet. Maybe Maple Sweet Potato Hash from Iowa Girl Eats or something more savory like this Paleo Sweet Potato Hash with Kale from The Paleo Pathway.

Lunch
Salad with a side of watermelon
Tuna salad on lettuce (except I've never tried dill weed in it like the recipe calls for)

Snacks, just in case
Carrots w/ hummus
Fresh figs with nut butter

Dinner
--Veggie soup x3
--Cauliflower pizza bites
--Baked fish topped with butter, minced garlic, dried basil, and diced tomatoes. Fried squash and steamed broccoli on the side
--Spaghetti squash with roasted vegetable ragout from First Day of the Rest of Days (if I get a new squash)
We have a late family lunch on Sunday with my in-laws, so I usually don't prepare dinner for then. Leftovers or sandwiches will suffice. 

I’m scheduled to be at work at 6:00 AM. I don’t do well trying to prepare breakfast and lunch that early in the morning, so I’m going to prep as much as I can in advance. Preferably today.

Today’s Prep List
1. Make smoothie. Put some in fridge for tomorrow, and freeze the rest in individual servings. To thaw, I’ll put one in the fridge the night before I want it.
2. Dice tomatoes and carrots for salads
3. Make homemade Italian dressing for salads
4. Cook vegetable soup
5. Roast spaghetti squash – I was ready to do this but got a nasty surprise when I cut it open. It looked fine on the outside but had rotted straight across the middle on the inside. And it stunk!

Have you planned a menu for this week? What are typical meals for you? And do you make it a habit to prep food in advance?

Check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday for more menu ideas and organization tips.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Role as Wife

 
I can’t say I’ve truly been healthy since I’ve been married. As soon as one problem was under control, another problem showed up. And my amazing husband really has stuck by me through thick or thin these last 5 years. I finally started doing better around a year ago, and TK said “It’s so good to have my wife back.” I was so consumed with my own health problems that I didn’t see how much it was affecting him and our marriage. I’m finally taking control of my health and feel ready to be the best wife that I can be, the woman my husband should have. I love him enough to give him my best.

So I’ve been thinking: What kind of wife do I want to be? What kind of wife am I now, and what parts of that role are the most important to me?
1.      Respectful – Not degrading or patronizing, especially in front of others. After reading part of a marriage book, I asked my husband if he’d rather be told “I love you” or “I respect you.” He said respect. The book said most men will answer that way. News to me…

2.      Supportive – We watched John Q. recently. IMDB summarizes it as “A down-on-his luck father (Denzel Washington), whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.” While he holds them hostage, the police negotiator talks to John Q.’s wife, but she refuses to help. She says she is on her husband’s side, not the negotiator’s, and will always be on his side. She refused to be used against her husband. She said it much better than I can summarize it, but I really liked her response.

3.      A helpmate – (Genesis 2:18) I want to help my husband achieve his goals and dreams. Being a helpmate also involves helping out with household chores. It's my least favorite part, but an important one for our sanity and marriage.

4.      A lover – Need I say more on this one?

5.      Nurturing – Preparing nourishing meals for our small family and, if we have any, raising kind-hearted, God-fearing children

6.      Intriguing – Keeping the marriage interesting and keeping my husband interested in me through occasional spontaneity, thoughtful conversations, and making an effort to spend quality time together (which is one reason we don’t have satellite, cable, or Netflix).

7.      An equal in decision-making, but with TK as the spiritual head of the household. Biblically, he is to be the head of our home, but that doesn’t give him the right to ever “put his foot down” or make a decision with the reason “because I said so.” I’m not going to stand behind him with my head down but will walk beside him, united in whatever we do and wherever we go.
 
If you’re married, are you where you want to be in your role as wife?


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Frugal Way - What Works for Me

I recently looked at our household budget again, editing the things that have changed. After that, I started looking at more frugal and money-saving blogs.

My husband is an associate pastor, and I work in a bakery. We don't have the expense of kids yet, but we do have my student loan, his current college tuition, and a house payment. Neither of us make much, but fortunately I don't feel that we really do without. God has truly blessed us. We also cut corners in many areas so that we can occasionally splurge in other areas, while paying off the debt at the same time.

After reading part of the Prudent Homemaker's website and blog with her Frugal Accomplishments for each week, I started thinking about where my husband and I actually are frugal and where we could work harder. Here are some of our more recent frugal accomplishments:


1. I'm learning to cook more than just pasta and scrambled eggs. Now, we go out to dinner about every other month. I'm still working on figuring out lunch, since my other half sometimes spends it at the hospital waiting for a church member to get out of surgery. How do you get around going to the cafeteria? Pictured above is vegetable soup and cornbread. The heart-shaped pan was a freebie from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for having a wedding registry with them.

2. We leave the windows open when the weather is nice in order to save on the power bill. It dropped almost $50 just by opening them for a few days out of the month!


3. We dropped our health insurance and switched to Medi-Share. Neither of us have health insurance through work and paying out of pocket, even for a HIGH deductible, was a crazy amount. We're saving almost $100 per month by going through Medi-Share, and the deductible is half of what it was with insurance. Fortunately, we haven't had to use Medi-Share yet, so I can't give a review of whether it's a smooth process to get payment for medical care.

4. When I wrecked my truck last winter, the insurance money would have bought a car, but not necessarily a reliable one. It was too old of a truck to get enough out of it. So we bought a used motorcycle for my husband, and I drive his truck. We were able to pay cash for the bike out of the insurance money and do some much needed work on his truck. We're also saving on gas since he drives the bike almost 45 minutes one-way in order to attend school.

5. We garden. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it doesn't. Each year, there are certain crops that do great and some that fail. This year, okra has outdone itself, but the corn was a bust. We save by not going for all the bells and whistles that can make gardening expensive, like premade beds, plant starts instead of seeds, and exotic plants (they don't do well here anyways).

6. I shop when the price is right. I have a wishlist of things I'd eventually like for our home, and our budget is flexible enough to allow the purchase when I find them for the right price. I'm also part of reward programs to any store that I might possibly shop at, since the savings can unexpectedly add up. Most can use a phone number instead of a card, so there's nothing for me to keep up with. Thanks to this, Sears' Shop Your Way Rewards program sent me a code for a free $20 worth of points when I redeem $20+ in points. So that's no money out of my pocket, but I get more points to redeem later? Yes please! I think I can find something at Sears off of my wishlist or Christmas present list.

7. We enjoy free entertainment. We took the plunge and cancelled satellite TV. We were spending too much "quality" time watching it rather than actually talking, and the promotional rate expired. Full price didn't fit into our budget. Now, we occasionally watch movies or TV online or rent a Redbox movie, especially when they send a mobile code for a free movie. We sometimes borrow movies from friends. Mostly though, we changed our view of entertainment. Walks in the park and reading a library book together are 2 things we have been enjoying with the TV off.

8. We tithe 10% and give extra each month. Our budget prevents things like elaborate vacations or a brand new car, but I will always give. Acts 20:35 records Jesus as saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive." There's even scientific proof to back it up!

I'm always (especially now!) looking for more ways to save $$$. What works for you?

*Medi-Share is a referral link. If you register through here, I will get some much-appreciated credit for it.

This post is linked to Joyous Notions Homemaking Blog Hop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sinners in Church

 
 
I heard about a conversation recently of a woman who is undergoing a divorce. She doesn't want to go back to church right now because she's afraid people will see her as a hypocrite.
 
The biggest problem I have with that statement is that she's right. People will likely see her as a hypocrite. How often do we hear (or say...) "How can they go to church when they do that?"

It seems we have it backwards. In Mark 2:17, Jesus told the Pharisees "Healthy people do not need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." I imagine a divorce is an incredibly difficult thing, especially for a Christian who believes it's not what God had planned for her. This is the time when she needs Jesus and the support of her Christian brothers and sisters the most. Healthy and supposedly righteous people don't need Christ. Sinners do (and we're all sinners).

If she goes back to church soon, she'll most likely attend with her head high as if nothing is wrong. The guilt and pain of the divorce will not be obvious, reinforcing the idea of a "hypocrite," of someone who follows Christ without acknowledgement of their own sin. It's what we as fellow church-goers force her to do when we talk behind her back or judge her.

Judgment isn't what she needs. Neither are sly glances or whispers of her sinful past. We are called to love, which is the one thing she needs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

VBS 2013 - All in 1 Day

I've heard it said at plenty of church conferences and workshops: 10% of the people in church do 90% of the work. Vacation Bible School is no exception, and that's the main reason we decided to do it as a 1-day event. My husband and I did most of the planning, so having it only for a day saved some of my sanity. We were also hoping adults would be more apt to help if it weren't multiple evenings when they're already tired from work. Our hopes came true! More adults were willing to help this year, and more kids showed up. We hosted it on a Saturday from 11:00-4:00, though we could've ended at 3:00 and been fine.

DH and I came up with the curriculum: Fishers of Men. We decided on a modern-day setting of Jesus calling the disciples. We wanted to show that Jesus is still calling disciples today, with each one of us, and thought the modern-day setting would help drive the message home. Modern-day also meant we didn't have to find costumes or spend a bunch of time and money on decorations!

We set it up almost like a play that the kids were participants in. We began in the sanctuary, with the kids divided into family groups. That worked much better last year than the years they were divided by ages. The family groups varied in age so that siblings and friends could stay together, and older kids could help the younger. An adult and at least 1 teenager were part of each group. Everyone stayed together the whole day, but dividing into family groups made it easier to keep track of everyone, since I gave each adult a roster of their kids.

In the sanctuary, we had praise and worship and ice breaker Minute-to-Win-It type games. Then I stood behind the pulpit to "begin a message" when a man ran through the door. "There's this crazy man named Jesus out there! Ya'll have to come hear the wild things he's saying!" he yelled. So of course, we followed him outside.

A boat with a blue tarp around it to symbolize ocean waves was outside. Simon Peter and another disciple were gathering in their empty nets when Jesus walked up to ask for the use of his boat. Simon Peter grumbled but agreed, and Jesus taught a message from the boat to the kids. It was HOT, so thankfully someone had let us borrow a tent to set up earlier for the kids to stand under through this.



At the end of the message (and Simon Peter pulling up fish with his net), Matthew ran over and excitedly invited everyone to his home for a celebration, with Jesus as the guest of honor. We walked to the gym where lunch was set out on a banquet table. It was a simple lunch of hot dogs, chips, cookies, and brownies, but it was decorated very elegantly (kudos to our decorator who has done some catering and has lots of fancy/pretty things!).

Before beginning the meal, Matthew gave a brief testimony of how he was a tax collector and a cheat, who nobody liked, but Jesus accepted him anyways. Jesus spoke briefly of how everyone, no matter what they've done, can be followers of Jesus. As the kids were finishing eating, a Pharisee stood and demanded "Why is Jesus eating with these sinners?!" Jesus told the story of the prodigal son and reiterated that God loves everyone.

Next, the family groups went to different areas of the gym where one of the older teenagers were waiting. The teenagers told the rest of the story, of how Jesus died on the cross for each one of us. They led the kids in a prayer of salvation if they wanted to follow Jesus.

Finally, we met back in the sanctuary for a little more music, follow-up questions, and prizes. Then it was time for water games!

The kids stayed with their family group and rotated between the water games, which were led by the teenagers and young adults. We did the same games as 2011, with the addition of Water Balloon Baseball. The family group was divided into 2 teams. To start, 1 team batted (with a plastic whiffle bat) and 1 team pitched the water balloons. The pitcher tried to throw a balloon into a bucket, and the batter stood next to the bucket to try and hit the balloon. Each kid had a turn pitching twice and batting twice. The team who got the most balloons into the bucket won.

It was hot and sunny so all of the water games were a hit, but the water slide was the favorite...just a tarp, a water hose, and some baby shampoo.