Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Creative Storage

I seem to be blessed with great houses that have no storage. My first house was a tiny little "beach house" about 30 minutes from the beach. There was a shelf that counted as a pantry and a tiny little hall closet that counted as storage. We were a new couple, so we didn't have that much to store, and we had two extra rooms, so it wasn't so big of a deal. My second house was about 800 more square feet, and for some reason my husband and I decided to fill up...every bit of it. We had two children within one year, and suddenly we were filling up our house with baby stuff. Every closet, every inch of the attic (we had an attic now!), every available space became storage. Finally, the house we are in now is in between the sizes of the first two. The problem is we had to downsize our belongings. We were short 500 square feet and have little to no storage (and no attic space). Looking around the house, I realized that we are not utilizing the space we have been blessed with. We have a huge room that counts as a laundry room and a pantry, an additional room that could be an office, play room, extra bedroom, or storage room, and we have a large backyard...with a storage shed. What I needed is a refresher in creative storage. And I figured, if I needed it, so do others. So here's a few tips that might get you going in the right direction.

1. Get a support group
Okay, so I know it sounds crazy. I'm not expecting you to go to some community center, sit in a circle and say, "Hi. My name is ______" Hi, ___________ "And I need help organizing." What I mean is to find a blog, a website, or a really good friend or two to give you help in getting it all together. I found a great blog , "I'm an Organizing Junkie," by another mom who just loves to clean. I get an email every day or so where she gives tips on what she's doing to keep her house in order. 

2. Get a plan
Set aside a certain room for each day. Take a few weeks, yes, I said weeks, to put together each room. Don't try to do it all in one or two days. Really focus on a section of your house until is it done. The blog mentioned above has a sectioned called "52 Weeks". This may be what you need to find a plan. Another great website, which I've done, is through A Virtuous Woman. The author of that website has a plan that is 15 weeks long (Mon-Fri) and it includes a bit of a Bible study. This is great, great, great! And is also the reason my house looks so much better than it ever has. I totally recommend this to you. 

3. Finding storage
I don't have a lot of money. I cannot go out and buy tons of those little plastic bins that have drawers and place them all over the house. And in this wasteful society, there are so many things we can re-use as storage. I have recently been collecting items instead of throwing them away, and making them work as storage. Here are some examples: 
  • Gum containers: I chew a TON of gum, so I normally don't even get the packs; I get those little plastic jars gum comes in these days. And they work great as storage. When I'm done, take off the wrapper, label the jar, and then fill it with something that needs to be organized. For example, my son has a ton of little toy animals. They are generally spread all around the room, but when I gave him one that I labeled "Frogs", he finally had a place to store his little guys, and it was one less frog that found its fate inside my vacuum cleaner. 
  • Crystal light container: You don't have to use Crystal Light, but since that seems to be the preferred lemonade in my house, that's the package I use. The great thing about these packages, is that once you take the wrapper off, the container is clear. I use mine to store things from my craft room. I have one for buttons, one for bobbins, and one for hair pieces that I will eventually use to make my daughter her hair bows. 
  • Milk Jugs: these are really great for all kinds of stuff. You can clean them out, cut off the top, and have your husband store his tools, nails, or other "manly" things in them. You can also organize your snacks in them. If you get those BOGO deals that Publix always seems to have of little snacks, buy a few, and then separate them in the jugs. Sweets in one, salty in the other. 
  • Mason Jars: I love, love, love to use mason jars. They look great and can store all kinds of stuff. One example would be coffee. I just recently broke the little jar we had to store coffee grinds in, so I use a mason jar. I also use them to store my dried beans in. I empty the bag, cut the directions off the bag, and put it all in a mason jar. Not only does it seal the beans in, but it looks super cute in my pantry. 
  • Closet Organizer. Just recently Target has, over in its Dollar Section, storage bins. I grabbed quite a bit of items and began organizing right away. I used a cloth bucket in my car to keep all my kids' books. They love to read in the car, so this helped keep the books in good shape and kept the books off the floor. One of my new favorite organizing products is the Closet Organizer that Target had for $2. It's supposed to be one of those things you hang in your closet to hang your sweaters on. I used it to help organize my craft room. Before, I was shoving all the material I had in every available drawer. Now, I have neatly folded the fabric and have stored it in the closet organizer. 
There is really no limit to being creative in storage. Take a room at a time, decide what needs to be done in each room, and find ways to put things in their place. We really do waste so much here in the United States. Even the poorest here in America have it so much better than others do around the world. So while organizing your home, take the time to discard things you do not need (Goodwill!!) and instead of buying fancy storage bins, find creative ways to use all the things around you. 

What is YOUR best tip for storage? Is there one thing that works great for you? Share with us! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Mason Jar Cobbler

There are a few things in my house that I love to use for multiple things, and mason jars are one of those. You can use a mason jar for the obvious: canning fruits and vegetables, making jams and salsa, and preparing gifts in a jar. I love the memories that also come from Po' Folks where they served all their drinks in mason jars. There's just something about that little jar that brings comfort. And then, there was cobbler...

I love cobbler. My husband loves cobbler. When we were dating, we loved going to Kaminsky's to share a mixed berry cobbler. The summer is the perfect time for cobbler because of the fresh fruit, but winter is just as good as that yummy deliciousness warms up a cool evening.

So last week I had extra blueberries that I needed to eat before they went bad. I didn't have enough to make a pie, but I knew that I wanted to make something special with them. As I was looking up healthy recipes for cobbler, I stumbled upon this wonderful idea of making pies in mason jars. Why in the world did I not think of that?! Each person can get his own jar of just the right amount of dessert, and you can see what you are getting. The website (in the link above) had a recipe for cobblers in the jar, which I have yet to try, but I was already set on what I decided on for cobbler. If you are following along, you can use the recipe I found or the recipe on the website, but either way, I suggest you do this. It's fun and yum!

"Healthier Blueberry Cobbler": (Note: it is a blueberry recipe, but you can use any fruit. The first time I did this recipe, I used 4 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of blackberries)

  • 6 cups blueberries

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup regular oats

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinammon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg*

  • 4-1/2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinammon

  • 2 cups vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt

  • Note: to reduce calories and fat even more, serve without the frozen yogurt

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; spoon enough cobbler in each jar that it is just over half the jar*. Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon, nutmeg* and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over the blueberry mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top each serving with 1/4 cup frozen yogurt.

    *Note: the italicized and starred parts are my addition or change to the recipe.

    Not only is this a really cool dessert, but you can freeze it (once they are cool) and pull out when you are ready to serve. They are also great to put in your or your husband's lunch. Give this a shot and see what you think! What is your favorite type of cobbler? What other things can you think of trying to make in a mason jar? Think outside the box and share! 

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Monday's Devotion: Scorched Plants

    Matthew 13: 1-9 "But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root." (v. 6) 

    I looked at my pitiful garden this morning with disdain. I have struggled and struggled to have the green thumb that my father has, my grandfather had, and my nana had. The most I seem to get out of what I grow is a few sad looking tomatoes and some herbs. This morning I was so discouraged by my lack of gardening skills, I wanted to just kick the half-dead plants and throw my hands up in the air. Everyone else seems to have flourishing gardens in this same, neverending scorching summer, why did my little garden not do well?! 

    I went back to my kitchen, got a cup of coffee, and stared out the window at my garden trying to decide my next best step. Then God's word came to mind. Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower as an example of how people respond differently to hearing His truth. For some, the Truth will land on some well-prepared soil, and they will immediately flourish, take root, and produce fruit. For others, the Truth will land on some rocky soil. The Truth will struggle to break through, but temptations and selfish desires will keep the Truth from really growing and little to no fruit will be produced. And finally, there are those that the Truth will be presented, but then completely rejected. The soil is not prepared. It's not willing to accept something that is so good! Jesus says they will wither because they have no root. My garden is like that second (and possibly third) group. Because the soil isn't just right, the possibility of good fruit to come from it is little to none. 

    All of this made me examine my spiritual garden. When God's Word is presented to me, have I prepared to accept what God has for me? Have I made my spiritual soil ready? If so, are there fruits? Do others see God's love through me? I do not want my spiritual garden to look anything like my shabby garden in the backyard. I want to produce fruit that will encourage others to also produce fruit. 

    Lord, you know my faults. You know how often I fail you. My worst moments seem to be when I am furthest from you. Guide me closer to you. Help me to prepare my spiritual garden for the Truth you want to plant there. And let others see your fruit through me. May others also desire you and produce fruit. In your name, Amen. 

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    A Call for Help with 31 Days of Praying for Teachers

    August is almost here, which means the weather is about to turn cooler, football season is just around the corner, and teachers and students will be returning for another 180 days of fun, fellowship, and education. As a former teacher, I always took the summer to pray for my future students and for my sanity to make it the entire 180 school days. Now that I have school-aged children, and I no longer teach, I have spent this summer really focusing on praying for my children, their classmates (future and past), and their teachers. My first child is smart, smart, smart! and the typical 1st born child.  My second child is a handful. VERY smart, but a handful nonetheless.

     I used to post on Facebook daily prayers from "31 Days of Praying for Your Husband," "31 Days of Praying for Your Children," and "31 Days of Praying for Your Pastor." I searched and searched for a similar plan for praying for teachers...and I couldn't find any. I was a little disheartened that people spend so much time accusing teachers for not teaching their children properly, but yet may not be willing to pray for the teachers. Notice I said two things there 1) "disheartened", not "surprised". As a former teacher, I have been called some really horrible things by parents (for example, I was called "the worst mother any child could ever be cursed to have" by a mother who was mad that her son failed my class and then could not graduate). So it's not surprising, but very disheartening. and 2) I said "may not be willing". I just don't know if parents really think about praying for teachers. I think many people just don't really understand the amount of work and stress a teacher goes through during the entire year (not just the school year).

    ::stepping down from my soap box::

    So with school coming up, I wanted to post some prayers and scripture for us to pray for our teachers. I would like your help. Please submit a prayer (and a verse, if possible) for teachers. It does not have to be long (1-3 sentences). I will collect these, resubmit them, and then, if you follow me on FB, will be posting them starting August 1st. Also, if you have a link to some prayers, please share them as well. Maybe we can all get some more ideas on how to put this together.

    Here are some additional links to prayers (not for teachers, but for those in authority) that may be adapted for teachers:

    And here is an example of a verse and prayer a friend of mine sent me when I sent out this plea:

    "Read Psalm 19.

    Prayer: Oh, Lord, You have given us, both, a tremendous honor, and a tremendous opportunity to teach others about you. And though we work through many different avenues, some teaching in public school, others in private school, online, or right from their very own home, it is joy to be Your servant. May we, as a very wise college professor once said, "strive not just to be teachers who are Christian, but rather, strive to be Christian teachers."

    May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 
    be pleasing in your sight, 
    O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." 

    Please search your hearts and help me in praying for those who are in charge of preparing those who will be leading our country in the future.

    Some of the incredible teachers in a long line of teachers my children and I will encounter for next 16 years. 

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    (Okay, so it's not Tuesday's) Food: Cappuccino Pancakes

    I didn't get up early enough to make coffee for Joe and me, and since I only drink about 1 cup, I didn't want to make an entire pot, only to waste most of it. I did want, though, that good coffee taste this morning. I don't know if it's really caffeine that helps me get moving in the morning, or if I've programmed my brain to perk up when I taste that wonderful coffee taste, but I needed my coffee fix somehow. And since Thursdays are pancake/waffle day for breakfast, I came up with the great idea of making cappuccino pancakes! They tasted incredible, and because I used decaf, I felt okay to give the kids a few flapjacks. So here's the recipe:

    What you need:
    2 cups all purpose flour
    3 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 Tbsp white sugar
    1 1/4 cup milk
    1 egg
    3 Tbsp butter, melted
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 packets of single serving instant coffee (you can use more or less depending on taste. I started with one, did one round of pancakes, tried one, and decided I needed one more)
    Powdered sugar (Optional)

    1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients together. Pour wet ingredients in to the large bowl and stir. Make sure that the majority of the instant coffee grinds "melt" into the batter.
    2. In a skillet or frying pan, and on medium-high heat, cook pancakes until brown on both sides.
    3. Serve with light powdered sugar.

    Since it's summer, you can also prepare the dry ingredients in a ziplock bag, and add the wet ingredients while you are out camping with your family. Pancakes are one of my favorite things to make while camping because they give you the necessary fuel for a day's hike.

    I do have a picture, but haven't uploaded it yet. I will add it soon. Give it a try and let me know what you think or what you would add to it (or not add)

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    (Not necessarily Monday's) Devotion: Ever Present God

    Psalm 139: "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me..."

    It's Wednesday, and it has been a busy, busy week already. My little niece was born Monday, my dishwasher is finally getting looked at by some very friendly maintenance gentlemen, and my laundry seems to be never ending. So I know this is a little late, but it seems like this is what God has been placing on my heart this week:

    Someone posted on FB yesterday "Why do get to the 'good part' of a book right about the time I need to be sleeping?" and I thought, "Yeah! Why is that?!" I have to remind myself that those characters, in that time, in that moment, will stay frozen until I pick up the book and begin reading.

    My children love to hear books on cd in the car. When we go to the library, that is the first place we look. Their love for it has brought back my love for listening to someone tell me a story. So, I Googled free audio books to download on my computer that I can listen to while cooking, cleaning, or washing the dishes. What I found, though, was this incredible book of poems by a lady of yester-years talking about home life. It's called The Verse-Book of a Homely Woman, by Fay Inchfawn. Her words, frustrations, worries, and happiness reminded me so much of my own, a young mother, years later. Here is one of her poems:

    The Housewife
    SEE, I am cumbered, Lord,
    With serving, and with small vexatious
    Upstairs, and down, my feet
    Must hasten, sure and fleet.
    So weary that I cannot heed Thy word;
    So tired, I cannot now mount up with
    I wrestle -- how I wrestle! -- through the
    Nay, not with principalities, nor powers --
    Dark spiritual foes of God's and man's --
    But with antagonistic pots and pans:
    With footmarks in the hall,
    With smears upon the wall,
    With doubtful ears, and small unwashen
    And with a babe's innumerable demands.
    I toil with feverish haste, while tear-drops

    (O, child of mine, be still. And listen --

    At last, I laid aside
    Important work, no other hands could do
    So well (I thought), no skill contrive so
    And with my heart's door open -- open
    wide --
    With leisured feet, and idle hands, I sat.
    I, foolish, fussy, blind as any bat,
    Sat down to listen, and to learn. And lo,
    My thousand tasks were done the better so.

    After hearing those words, I realized that so many times I forget to "put down the book of life" and focus on what's really important: God. That's why I referenced Psalm 139 in the beginning. That entire Psalm talks about how well God knows us and is waiting on us to make HIM important. When we take the time to focus on Him, we can find that "[our] thousand tasks were done the better so". Both the Psalmist and Mrs. Inchfawn comment on how troubling this world can be if we lose our focus on God. There are always going to be chores to do. The children are always going to need to learn discipline (I say this as my oldest is looking at me longingly from the back door window. I won't let them in because they are letting the cold air out and the bugs in...while I'm cooking dinner...and blogging). We have to remember that life can take a break, just like those characters in a story all freeze while I set it down, and all the troubles of the world are made better by the peace that God gives us when we give Him our time.

    Lord, you know me. You know how easy I can get wrapped up in keeping the house clean, making sure my children are responsible and respectful at home and in public, in maintaining a healthy relationship with my husband, and finding my purpose. You also know, Lord, my limitations better than I know them. Continue to remind me that making You the primary focus of my day is what makes all those other tasks all worth it. Bring peace to my friends, whether they are working moms or stay at home moms. Show them the importance of putting you first. Thank you for the many blessings. and Thank you for simple reminders. In your name, Amen. 

    Link I found for free Audio books: http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/
    Link to poems by Fay Inchfawn: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/IncBook.html

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Thursday's Crafting (belated post): Making the Tooth Fairy a little more manly

    I was going to write about a new skirt I made, but then an opportunity came up for me to talk about the Tooth Fairy (or in my house, for my boys, the Tooth Larry). I did a little research on trying to make the Tooth Fairy a little less girly, but something they would remember. A friend of mine, Tara, had some great ideas on her blog on how to make it special for a girl. I followed the link she suggested and read the comments. There were moms just like me who needed to know how to adjust the Tooth Fairy for little boys. Why should girls get all the cool, memorable stuff? So I took The Twirling Tooth Fairy idea and a few of the suggestions from the comments and made something special for my little man who just lost his first tooth.

    The first thing you need to do is talk up the Tooth Larry (or Barry or Bob the Tooth Man or whatever). Tell him you've been talking to the Tooth Larry. Tell your son that Larry asked if your child wants money or a _____ (since my kids like books, that is what I suggested). My son asked for a book, specifically about cowboys and the West. Tell your child that each Fairy has a different color and that the chosen Fairy tends to leave traces of that color. Make sure you have a different color for each child, and make it a surprise. I chose blue for my son (red is his favorite color, but I was afraid everything would turn out pink, so I went with blue).  Once your son has lost his tooth, prepared things for the Fairy, and has gone to bed, it's time for you to get to work! 

    Things for the Tooth Larry:
    1. Homemade pillow for the tooth
    2. Sugar Water

    Things from the Tooth Larry:
    1. $1
    2. Prize of choice
    3. Fairy dust
    4. Changed sugar water
    5. Special note
    6. New toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss (I didn't get a chance to do this because the tooth came out right before bedtime, but we are going to make a special trip to the store today to get these things)

    How to make:

    1. The Pillow: (Have child pick out fabric for the pillow. Try to steer child towards something that the kid will be happy with still in a few years. I had to encourage J to not get Transformers).
    a. Cut two large squares of fabric (I cut 10.5 in. X 10.5 in.) and one small square (I cut 3.5 in X 3 in).
    b. On one large square, pin the small square, folding down 1/2 inch for the pocket opening. Sew on 3 sides. I did a zig zag pattern around the edges and the only side I folded down was the top. If it begins to fray down the road, it would be okay because it is a boy's pillow.
    c. With the right sides of the large squares facing each other, sew 3 1/2 sides of the pillow, and then turn right side out.
    d. stuff pillow (pillow stuffing found in craft section as well, but you could also do small pebbles to make it more "rough" for a boy. If you do the pebbles, though, be extra careful when you sew the opening closed).
    e. Do a zig zag stitch around all 4 sides of the pillow. This adds a little extra pizazz for the pillow and closes the opening. DONE!

    2. Sugar Water: 
    This is really easy. In a small glass jar (I used a small mason jar), mix 1/2 cup of sugar and fill up the jar with water. Have the child mix until the sugar has melted. Tell your child this is a gift for the Fairy to drink since he is going to be busy collecting teeth.

    3. Changed Sugar Water: 
    While your child is sleeping, mix a few drops of food coloring (blue, in our case) and some glitter. I recommend using white or silver glitter. In the morning, you and your son will talk about what color his Tooth Fairy is and how exciting it will be to see him again next time!

    4. Special Note:
    Items needed: 1 manilla folder, fast drying metallic paint (again, the craft section), paint brush or Bounty paper towels, glue and glitter (again, white or silver)
    a. Cut one side of the manilla folder off. You can use the other side to catch the glitter when you get to that part.
    b. Be Careful on this Part, it could go bad if you are not over a sink and paying attention. With a lighter, burn the edges of the side of the folder you cut. This gives it a more of a "boy" look. Knock off any burnt edges.
    c. Roll the burnt folder and unroll it to give the note a curved look.
    d. Using the metallic paint, cover both sides of the note with the color of the Tooth Fairy (again, blue in my case).
    e. Once dry, write a note from the Tooth Fairy (Larry) in glitter. It's cool if your child knows a baby who is about to get new baby teeth. Mention that baby in the note. It makes it more special for your son because he will think it's cool his old tooth is now in some other kid's mouth.

    While your child is sleeping, mix the color in the sugar water, set up the gifts (my son got $1 anyway because we talked about how he made a smart choice, and the Tooth Larry thought so too!), and spread glitter (white, silver, and the color of your Fairy) all around the pillow, the glass, and the gifts.

    My son absolutely LOVED this. He was so stinkin' excited. I hope this helps for those who also have boys and need something a little less girly. Tis the season, so it seems, for my generation's kids to start losing teeth!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Wednesday's Cleaning: Organizing Menu Planning

    I have found in the year that I've been home that a staple of being a SAHM is to do menu planning. I honestly don't know why I wasn't doing this while I was working. I think it would have kept us from going out to eat so much. You know how it goes: you come home from work exhausted as well as your spouse. You haven't really thought about dinner, and you and your spouse look at the fridge and pantry sighing. "Wanna just go out?" And Scene! Yup that's happened to us more times than I can count. I feel that if I had been preparing my menu plan, it would have been less tempting to just load up the car and go somewhere.

    I don't have a nifty chalkboard, like my friend Meredith.  I definitely haven't gotten myself in the habit of planning for my menus two weeks at a time, like my friend Tara. What I do have, though, is the intense need to just have consistency. I want to provide a variety of healthy, hearty meals for my family for each  meal. So, I've done a few things to get on the right track. It has helped me in the mornings, knowing which mornings I can sleep a little longer because I am serving cereal. I'm also planning on bringing this to packing a lunch for the boys this year when school starts (33 days!!). They will know that every Monday to expect PB & J. This not only gives them consistency, but it also gives me the opportunity to surprise them with something different (Surprise! there's pizza in your lunch box today!!)

    So I started with something simple. I made a list of all the breakfasts and lunches for every day Monday- Friday. This meant that the only meals I HAD to plan for were dinners. If I wanted to do something different, I could, but this plan was easy for me to fall back on. I could also plan some of the the night before so I all I had to do is pop them in the oven in the morning while I am doing my devotion.

    I then took it a step further. When I was browsing Target the other day, I found, in their Dollar Section at the front of the store, those nifty notecard organizers (Pocket Chart Scheduler). I grabbed two thinking I would use them this school year for the boys' vocab words. Until then, I am using it as a menu plan organizer. I grabbed a pack of multiple color note cards and began to work. The great thing about this is that I have about 15 meals I make on a regular basis. If I make notecards with those items, I can just store them until I know that I am going to make that meal for the week. I put it up just to take a picture for the blog, but found that not only does it work, but the kids were so stinkin' excited about it. I might just have to make another trip to Target to buy another Pocket Chart Scheduler. 

    If you have any meal planning ideas or links (even if it is to your own blog), share here. The best way to find out what works best for your family is to do a little research and look at what others have done. I hope my ideas help you, and I would love to learn from you! 

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Tuesday's Food: Mini smores

    So I've had this idea brewing in my head for a while about a new way to make smores. I was hearing all the rage about others making smores out of peeps, and thought, "Huh, I'm sure there are TONS of other ways to make smores." So I dug through my pantry, purchased some marshmallow fluff and created (I'm sure it's an original idea) mini smores. They only took about 5 minutes to make and 1 minute to be completely gone (by the whole family...I promise I did not eat them all by myself).

    Things needed:

    1. 20 vanilla wafers
    2. semi sweet chocolate pieces, melted 
    3. marshmallow fluff


    1.  Separate vanilla wafers into pairs. This will make 10 cookies.
    2. One one wafer per set, spread 1 tsp of marshmallow fluff and then place the other wafer on top to make a sandwich.

      3. Dip entire cookie into the melted chocolate until it is covered and place on wax paper. 

      4. You can refrigerate the cookies until hard or just let set for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens. 

      Oh my goodness! Yummy, delicious, insane! I actually like these because of their size. I know that I will eat only 2, and that is plenty enough! It's a quick solution to those chocolate cravings so many of us women tend to have, and the entire family can enjoy it! 

      Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

      Monday, July 11, 2011

      Monday's Devotion: Fear and God

      "God is [my] refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

      I am afraid of the dark. I have always been afraid of the dark. I'm a grown woman, and I still turn on all the lights in my house as I walk down the hallway to my bedroom. I run to the room at night and snuggle under my covers before my husband can turn all the lights off in the house because I do not want to be engulfed in the darkened room.

      When I was in my teens I made a point of memorizing Psalm 46:1. This verse came in handy when I found myself in darkness. One of my first jobs was to be a camp counselor at the Girl Scout Plantation in Cordesville, South Carolina. One week in particular, my "hour off" was right after the sun set. Instead of going to hang out in the Counselor's lounge or go watch the only tv on the plantation, I spent that time in a secluded place with the Lord. Unfortunately that meant I had to walk back to my campers' site in the dark, by myself. I repeated Psalm 46: 1 over and over again (and very loudly at that). Was I ever really in any trouble? Beside the possibility of running into a bob cat or two, not really. The only trouble I have ever truly been in every time I fear the dark is the lack of trust I put in God. Isaiah 55:8 says that God's thoughts and actions are not my own. Thank God for that! In all those times I run from the dark, I am also running from the comfort of God's thoughts and actions.

      Now I have my own children, all three who seem to have their mother's fear of the dark. My prayer for them is to learn early on to put their trust in God. It is so easy for us humans to fall right into Satan's traps of disobedience. Not putting trust in God separates us from the blessings he wants to put on us. So yes, I will continue to remember Psalm 46:1, but more importantly, I want to teach my children, and I want to remind myself that I need to "trust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and to lean not onto [my] own understanding" Proverbs 3:5.

      Lord, so many times I put my trust in ME. I sin outright by not trusting in You. Who am I to think I have it all planned out perfectly when You see all things and you know what's better for me? Your plans for me are perfect. So many times I look at those plans from right here and right now and my fear is that I can't see the end. But you have a plan for my life that is perfect and complete. Forgive me for my lack of faith in you. Guide me in trusting You in every aspect of my life. And open my family's eyes to see your good and perfect will for their lives. Help them to remember to trust You much sooner than I did and to hold on to that truth when they are tested. In your incredible name I pray, Amen.