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Archive | December, 2013

Trading Perfection for Progress

31 Dec

Happy (almost) 2014! This time of year is a symbolic slate clearer. The New Year allows us to reflect on the year past and look ahead at the year to come. We stop and contemplate the changes we want to see in our lives. I am sure most of us are pledging to give up something or start something. I heard that 82% of resolutions fall by the wayside and I am usually no exception! This year, like maybe some of you, I want to give up resolutions….not because I don’t think change is good but because it is usually something fluffy (to be a better person) or vague (to be healthier).  I wanted to approach this differently and give depth and substance to change.

Years past, I made my resolutions without considering that maybe the Lord might have some things in mind.  I have spent the month of December carefully evaluating the past year and spent some much needed time in prayer.  A few themes kept coming up but one really stood out and that will be my theme for 2014.

My theme is Time.  I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.  I am a last minute with everything…actually I always say I work best under pressure but the truth is, yes, whatever it may be gets done but the stress really zaps my energy and joy.  I vow almost daily to make a schedule and have a plan but when night rolls around I tell myself I will do it tomorrow.  So everyday my tomorrows get busier and busier and it is easier to just keep with the same cycle. I really feel the Lord is placing on my heart that I need to be intentional with my time and use my days wisely.  I started by taking a week to write down what I generally do in a day from quiet time (but because of poor planning doesn’t take precedence), homeschool, cleaning, cooking, errands, and all the other little things in-between.  With a shiny new planner I have a schedule in place (penciled in….of course) including a weekly meal plan.  The month of January will be trial and error (one reason everything is penciled in) and fine tuning.  I pray that this will lead to a life less harried and that joy abounds in all that the Lord has in store for me and my family.

I think it is important to remember that what I am after is not perfection but progress.  I think that is why resolutions in the past have fizzled and died within weeks of the New Year.  I need to let go of perfection and excuses…neither lead to progress but to continued failure.  A Cycle I am ready to get off.  I love that the Lord doesn’t want to leave me where I am.  He is working and stretching me to make me more Christ like.

Do you have any resolutions or themes for the New Year?  What are some ways you’re intentional in making progress?

I hope you are all having a wonderful celebration with those you love! My prayer for you is that this year you will grow deeper in your faith, that your marriages will be stronger and more passionate, that you will find great purpose in being a great parent, to be more intentional with your friendships, and mostly, to find ways to be a blessing to others. May God guide your paths, comfort you, and give you peace as you embark on a shiny new year!

~Be Blessed and be a Blessing~
Rebecca

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Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved · www.andasprinkleoflove.com

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O Holy Night

24 Dec

~ O Holy Night~
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”. Hope, our great hope in Jesus Christ who came to the world in the most humble and lowly ways to be our sin bearer and to give us hope (Google Jesus and hope). When there seems to be nothing left to give, feel, or even take-we still have our hope in Christ and Christ alone. His mercies are new every single day! Amen!
“Chains shall He break,for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease”. He came to break the bondage of sin and Satan’s hold on us. There is a constant struggle of things that can hold us in bondage-grief, food, drugs, alcohol, p*rn, and just about anything else you can think of of this world. “For the slave is my brother” With Christ, you see a brother or sister in place where you might of just seen a prostitute, a drug addict, a beggar, a Muslim or Jew, or any other undesirable or different beliefed person we live among. To love them, so that even if they don’t seek or know Him, they will recognize Him in us.. Oppression of worldliness will no longer weigh me down in spirit and will cease to have any hold on my life.
Our Savior came to be the light of the world (John 8:12) and to save us from sin (Matthew 1:21). Rejoice with greatness and gladness that our Savior lives and our Savior brings with Him hope and life.

Merry Christmas. May you be filled with renewed wonder about the babe in the manger who came to live among us and die for us.
I leave you with a few versions of my favorite song-take a minute to really hear the lyrics and see how it resonates in your soul.
http://youtu.be/4Zh-yR0pbmU
http://youtu.be/lKSknasrE3k

~Be Blessed and be a Blessing~
Rebecca

“Image courtesy of [dan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved · www.andasprinkleoflove.com

Helping Those who are Grieving

16 Dec

The Christmas season, for most, evokes a feeling of nostalgia, warmth, and joy but for others it can be a time of great sadness.  Whether an extended illness, a family break up, or the death of a loved one, the holidays can be tough to get through.  Friends and family are quick to gather together to show love and support in the midst of the trial, but with time, we all resume our regular lives and fall back into our normal routines.

Let’s be honest, it is extremely awkward to bring up someone’s grief.  The truth is, is that the grief is there it just isn’t as visible as it once was and that is what makes it so uncomfortable to acknowledge.  Here are a few ways to help our friends and family through the hard times.  You just might find yourself being blessed in the process!

Find practical ways to be there for them such as bringing a meal or house cleaning.  Even in grief people sometimes have a hard time asking for help.  Ask, “What day next week is best for me to drop off a meal?” that allows you to help without having to be asked.  A hot meal, a clean home, and a good night’s rest is great medicine for the soul.

Send a card or note in the mail letting them know that you are thinking of them especially  during the holidays, anniversaries, or any other personal milestone.  It will make them feel good knowing someone remembers and that those days are still special and important.

Most importantly pray for them and let them know that you did.  We were never meant to carry our burdens alone-Galatians 6:2 tells us to, “Carry each another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

How do you bless those who are grieving? I would love to hear from you.

I pray this Christmas season has you in awe of the baby in the humble manger who came to give everlasting life.

~Be Blessed and be a Blessing~

Rebecca

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Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved · www.andasprinkleoflove.com

Talking to our kids about Boston

14 Dec

In light of yet another school shooting I wanted to share something I wrote a while back. May God’s love abide within each of you.

.....and a sprinkle of love

This was something I wrote and shared on our MOPS blog right after the Boston bombing. My thoughts on talking to our children about such things

It seems more and more we are having to be so deliberate to shield our children from never ending bad news. Shooting, war and now a bombing.

I still remember the morning more than a dozen years ago when I turned on the TV just in time to watch live as a plane took out the second tower. It was the first time I knew that I couldn’t hide the bad news from my then five year old, Alison. Minutes later my nightgown wearing barefoot daughter made her way sleepily to the living room. As she snuggled down deep next to me she knew that this morning was different. You don’t necessarily think when you are cradling your baby in your arms that one day you would…

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The Weather Outside is Frightful but the Beef Stew is so Delightful……

5 Dec

The temperature here has dipped below zero. Being a hearty Minnesotan I should be well seasoned to the brutal winter cold. “Should” being the key word, LOL! Besides wanting to scoop up my babies and curl under a nice warm blanket, nothing seems to warm you up better than a nice hearty, steamin’ bowl (or two) of beef stew. This is a recipe that I have adapted over the years to change with my growing family and their ever changing taste buds. This is a meal everyone in my family gets excited about. No grumbling and empty plates at the table, a mama’s dream:) Also, easy on the budget! With a few fillers like rice and bread you can easily stretch this meal to feed more without spending more. I can definitely appreciate that!

To get started, grab a gallon size Ziploc bag, 1 Cup all purpose flour,
1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp black pepper. Place flour
and all the spices in the Ziploc bag and give it a good shake to mix
flour and spices well. Set aside, you’ll need this in a few minutes.
Thinly slice 2 large onions, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 carrots.
In a large pan or pot heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over
medium-high heat. When pan is hot add your chopped
veggies. Cook 5-8 minutes or until veggies are tender
stirring occasionally.
While veggies are cooking heat 1 1/2 Cups of water and one
beef bullion cube to a boil. Turn heat off as soon as the water
starts to boil and give it a stir. The bouillon cube should
melt into the boiling water. You will need this to make a
little broth for your beef stew. You can absolutely save a step
and used canned beef or vegetable broth.
I am using 1 1/2 pounds stew meat. I usually end up cutting
each piece of stew meat into bite size pieces and cutting off
excess fat (but not all, some fat is good and with the length
we will be cooking the stew the extra fat will just melt into
stew giving it added flavor). Once your stew is cut to desired
pieces, go ahead and put half of it in your Ziploc bag and
give it a good shake to coat each piece .
Veggies are done when they are soft and the onions are translucent.
Remove from pan and set aside.  Once veggies are removed
add 2-3 more Tablespoons of olive oil in pan and bring back
up to medium-high heat.
When pan is hot again start adding your stew meat. You might
have to do this in 2 shifts. Brown stew meat well on both
sides.  Coating the meat in the flour mixture helps not only
to brown the meat and add flavor but it will also be the thickener
to the stew.
When all the stew meat is browned add to the veggies back in,
one small 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and the beef broth.
Stir well. Cover and reduce heat to medium- low. Cook 4-6 hours
stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning to your taste. If the
stew is starting to look too thick add more liquids, I usually just add water.
Cooking low and slow helps tenderize the meat and to
really let all the wonderful flavors develop. The onions, carrots
and garlic will actually melt into the stew leaving behind
their delicious flavors.
Almost finished!
When you have about 1 hour left of cooking you are going to
add 1-2 cans cut green beans (use fresh if you prefer, grocery
store did not have good looking fresh beans) and 2-3 chopped
carrots (use canned if preferred). Cover and continue to cook
until the veggies are tender.  Taste your stew occasionally to
adjust the spices to your taste.
We like to serve ours over some white rice. And for a special
touch we sometimes (OK, more like every time) serve crispy homemade french fries
over the top.

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
1 gallon size Ziploc bag
1 Cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4-5 carrots separated, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
olive oil
1 beef bouillon cube or 1 can beef or vegetable broth
1-8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1-2 cans of cut green beans or 2 Cups fresh green beans

Directions
*In Ziploc bag combine flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Set aside.
*Thinly chop 2 large onions, 2 carrots and the garlic. Add 1-2 Tablespoons
olive oil to large pot or pan and heat to medium-high heat. Add the chopped veggies
and cook 5-8 minutes or until veggies are tender. Remove from pan.
*While veggies are cooking prep your stew meat, cutting the pieces into smaller
bite size pieces. Place stew meat in Ziploc bag an give it a good shake to coat the meat.
Add 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil in your pot or pan and heat over med-high heat.
Add the stew meat and brown well on both sides.
*While meat browns heat 1 1/2 Cups water and one bouillon cube to a boil,
turn off heat and let the bouillon cube dissolve (skip this step if you are using
canned broth).
*When meat is browned, add back your cooked veggies, broth, and tomato
sauce. Stir, cover and turn heat down to med-low. *Cook low and slow 4-6 hours stirring
occasionally and adjust seasoning to your taste. You might also need to add more liquids depending on how thick or thin you like your stew.
* 1 hour before serving add your 2 cans or fresh green beans and your reserved carrots.
Continue to cook until veggies are tender.
A delicious and hearty meal sure to please even the pickiest eaters! Enjoy alone or over white rice and oven warm bread. I hope you enjoy!
~Be Blessed and be a Blessing~
Rebecca
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Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved · www.andasprinkleoflove.com

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