Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homemade Yummy Treats

I've found a whole new world of homemade yummy treats this past week. We've started making our own yogurt, granola, and granola bars. All of them are super easy to make and taste SO much better than store-bought, not to mention being cheaper too. I also reached a whole new level of excitement with my baking this week. So many recipes claim that "you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry." Until lately I've always had to go buy most of them as I planned my menu for the week. When we decided to make granola, lo and behold, we had everything already here!

Here are the recipes I've been using:

1/2 cup of yogurt with active cultures (room temperature)
1/3 cup dry milk
4 cups of 2% milk
  • Heat milk to 180 degrees (or until beginning to froth)
  • Allow milk to cool to 110 degrees and add starter
  • Mix and put in oven overnight (I usually turn oven on for just a moment to warm it and keep oven light on overnight to help keep temp between 90-110 degrees.)
  • The next morning, put in freezer for a couple of hours and then transfer to fridge and enjoy! You can strain it with a piece of cheesecloth if you like the Greek style, super thick yogurt.
Granola bars - I've put chocolate chips or craisins in them instead of raisins. Experiment a little!

Granola - I'm allergic to nuts and not a big dried fruit fan, so I just leave all that out and just make plain granola. Again, this recipe is super easy to modify to fit your needs.

I'm off to decide if I want to conquer some homemade bread without the bread maker today or not....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring fever

So it's been two weeks since I last posted anything and I know myself well enough to know that if I don't write something today, it'll be two more weeks before I think about it again. I just finished writing my research paper for my Systematic Theology class. I'm so glad that the final is next week so I can have some time to relax! (well, as relaxed as you can be with 3 kids 3 and under haha)

I'm so glad it's finally getting warm outside and we're getting to spend time most days in the great outdoors. I'm making it a goal this summer that we go outside every day if it's not raining. Everyone stays in a better mood, we get some exercise, and the house stays cleaner too!

Jody's been busy with his new graphic design business and I'm so proud of him! He's already got lots of work and he's really loving getting the chance to use his creative talents. If you haven't checked out, you should! Look him up on Facebook too and share it with all of your friends!

Well, I'm off to finish cleaning the house before I pick up the boys from Parent's Day Out. I'll try to keep up more regularly again!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

House Cleaning for Dummies

At the park yesterday, one of my good friends told me about a website called Fly Lady, that helps her systematically keep her house clean. Upon returning to my dirt and fur-infested home, I decided to check it out and I was completely impressed!

She has divided the house into 5 zones that are targeted on a rotating cycle of 5 weeks. Each day are various tips to help you declutter, clean, and maintain your home so that it is always ready for company. You can subscribe to free daily emails or just check out all the tips online. Most everything is done in just a few minutes for each project, making it ideal for all of us who have decided that we don't have time to keep our homes super organized and clean. Everything is manageable and is presented in a straight forward manner that motivates you to get off the couch and get cleaning.

I've been in crazy cleaning mode the past few weeks anyway and now finding this site has encouraged me to keep going. Not only is my house cleaner, but I get a killer workout with Taylor or Elyse on my back while I clean. :)

The Fly Lady advocates getting rid of "CHAOS - can't have anyone over syndrome", making your home a welcoming place for company and for your family as well. It's a great feeling to know that if you wanted to invite someone over to your home, that the only thing you would have to do is set out another plate for dinner rather than spend 2 days trying to get everything in order first.

I highly encourage all of you to check out the Fly Lady and see how quickly making some small changes will revolutionize your home. Even those of you who already have a sparkling clean house will find some great time and energy saving ideas on her website.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I haven't blogged in over a week! Between a trip to Knoxville on Wednesday and Thursday, a visit to Sparta for the boys, and trying to catch up on house stuff around here, life has been crazy. Jody's been crazy busy trying to finish getting his website up and running and I've been trying to help him get resumes out and beginning the process of sorting through all of the "stuff" we've accumulated over the years.

I'm still amazed at the amount of stuff that has come to live in this house in less than two years, not to mention all of the stuff that made the move from Knoxville! We've officially finished going through all of the closets and I think I've already gotten 4 contractor size trash bags full of things for a yard sale. That both excites me and depresses me. On one hand, I've got all of these things that can be given to other people who want and/or need them! But on the other, I have all of this stuff that I don't need. I'm continually faced with the purchases that have been made over the years and am reminded of how blessed we have been.

God has been extremely faithful to us over the years. God has always provided Jody with a job (or two) that provided for our family and we are confident that He will once again do the same. Please continue to be in prayer for us as we seek God's direction.

On a side note, please read Jody's latest blog: The Care and Feeding of Your Youth Minister. He is an incredibly talented writer and deserves a great audience.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hi! My Name is....

Today we moved everything out of Jody's office and turned in our keys to the church. It's an odd feeling to not know what's ahead for us, not knowing where we'll end up or even knowing what job he'll end up in. The possibilities are endless and now it's up to us to try to discern where God is leading us next. The thought is a little overwhelming at times, but also very freeing as we learn to trust God with every decision and see how much greater His plan is than our own.

Next week, for the first time since we were undergrads, we'll be visitors in a church. It will be an eye-opening experience for us to be able to see church life from a completely different perspective. Since both of us grew up in and have always been involved in relatively traditional Southern Baptist churches, we plan to see how some local churches are approaching ministry and sharing the gospel in new innovative ways.

As long-term church members, you often forget what it's like to be a visitor. I remember when I was beginning vet school and began looking for a church home in Knoxville. I'm not an overly outgoing person and hated the thought of walking in by myself to a huge church where nobody knew me. At the recommendation of a friend who used to live in the area, I visited one church. On my first Sunday there, I walked in by the Welcome Center and was immediately greeted by someone. That same person walked me through the HUGE building to my Sunday School room and introduced me to the teacher. The teacher then took the time to introduce me to several students, one of whom immediately started a conversation. She stayed with me the entire time and then took me up to the sanctuary and invited me to sit with the other college students. She even asked me to come back for Sunday evening services. I was completely impressed by her warm welcome. I knew then that I had found my church home. Since I was a college student, I was out of town quite frequently. I always knew that if I missed a Sunday, though, when I returned everyone would ask where I was. Even though I was just a visitor, I mattered to them and they wanted to get to know me.

Now we begin again as visitors and all of the questions begin to float through our heads. What should we wear? What will our kids do? Will they find some place where they are comfortable? Will we fit in? Will we be singled out as visitors? Will anyone remember us if we come back next week?

Just thinking about this makes me wonder why anyone who hasn't been to church before ever walks through the doors. I'm comfortable with church and I know what to expect but the idea of going somewhere new is intimidating for me. I can't imagine how difficult it has to be for unbelievers to go. This will definitely be a learning experience for us and it will be something to remember when we see visitors elsewhere.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Replace Me

"Replace Me"
by Family Force 5


Needing You
Every last breath
I scream for you
Shatter me into a million pieces...Make me new

Crush me, tear me, break me, mold me
Make me what You want me to be
I am yours for You to use
So, Take and Replace me with You

This was one of the favorite songs the youth used to sing at South Clinton in our Ignite services. If you've ever heard this song, you'll know that it isn't exactly your typical church worship song. It's very loud, high energy, and even has some screaming! But if you read the lyrics, you'll soon realize that it has an awesome message.

As I was sitting in my car listening to this song on the way home the other day, I was struck with the truth of the lyrics. Am I so desperate for Christ to fill me that I scream for Him with every breath? Do I really long for Him to replace me with Him?

I've heard many sermons preached on how God is the potter and we are His clay, being molded into His likeness. However, most stop short of describing how intense of a process it really is. When a piece of clay hardens in the wrong shape, it is broken into pieces and reformed once again. "Crush me, tear me, break me, mold me." This is not a gentle movement, but a complete transformation. Change is difficult and often painful.

As I've said before, I'm a planner and I like to know what the future holds, but God's plans almost never seem to match what I have in mind. I get so focused on what will be happening sometimes that I forget to take things one day at a time. Rather than allowing God to gently mold me day by day, I start heading down my own path and the clay starts to dry so that He is forced to rock my world in drastic ways.

Jody and I officially begin our great adventure today as he starts looking for a job and we wait for our house to sell. We're not sure where we're headed but we know that God is faithful and that He will provide for our needs. We know that God has something great in store and that when we look back on this part of our lives, we'll be able to see His hand on everything that has happened. But that doesn't mean that it won't be difficult at times. Our responsibility is simply to trust God and allow Him to continue to replace us with Him so that He is all that is left.

John 3:30 - He must become greater; I must become less.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Growing Up

Elyse is already 7.5 months old and I'm still trying to figure out where the time went! It's so much fun getting to watch her grow up and learn new things each day. This past week she has finally decided that it is worth her time to roll from her belly to her back and that sitting up is far more fun than laying down. Two huge milestones in just a week! She actually rolled over months ago, but until this week I could count on one hand the number of times it has happened. It just wasn't worth it to her. Now she is experimenting with her new-found mobility and learning how much fun it is to sit up and play with her brothers rather than to lay idly beside them watching.

Every time that Elyse tries to sit independently she takes a risk. On the road to learning how to crawl and walk, there will be many bumps and bruises, lots of falls and tears, but in the end she will succeed. She's not going to be content to just lay on the floor and watch life happen around her.

How often do we sit back and watch life happen rather than jump in with both feet? Maybe we're afraid of what might happen or maybe we're just apathetic. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we can't do what God is asking of us because we just don't want to do it or it's not comfortable to us. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Elyse would never walk because everyone else would care for her or that she deemed it too difficult. So why do we do the same thing with God?

It's easy to stay safe, not rocking the boat. We're afraid of what other people will think and it's often much less resistance to merely maintain the status quo rather than to take risks. God doesn't call us to live safe lives but He does call us to be obedient to Him no matter the cost. Are we willing to risk our relationships, our jobs, or our ministries, or even our lives to reach a lost world for Christ?

1 Corinthians 13:11 - When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Praying for Rain

James 5:13-18 - Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to talk to several people that I would consider to be amazing prayer warriors. When you share a prayer request with them, you know that it isn't just going to be a passing thought, but that they'll bathe your request in prayer just as they would their own struggles. Isn't this what we're all supposed to do as Christians? Aren't we called to pray for one another?

I know I'm frequently guilty of offering a quick "I'm praying for you" comment when all it means is that I prayed for you when I heard the request and then totally forgot about it. God doesn't ask us to just pray once, He commands us to "pray without ceasing." Prayer should be the language of the heart, always on our lips and our minds.

When I was a teenager, I was very faithful to keeping a prayer journal. What happened? Did I not have enough time any more? Did I not see prayers answered? If I'm honest with myself, it's because I became complacent and apathetic, two of the biggest dangers in the Christian walk. I decided I was too busy and nothing amazing was happening, so I quit. Besides, someone else would take up the slack, right? Notice my focus was on what I thought I was doing for God, not what He was doing in and through my life. It was all about me.

God has spent the past 10 years or so teaching me to trust Him in all things. He has humbled me time and again when my pride begins to rear it's ugly head. He's carried me through many things I never saw coming and every time He has shown me that His plan is always better than mine.

God calls all of us to be prayer warriors. Time and time again, He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things through prayer. Often it isn't in our timing, but our prayers are always answered in God's perfect timing. Are we faithful to continue to pray even we aren't seeing results? Are we willing to submit our requests to His will even when it means we don't receive the answers we were looking for?

Maybe it's time I started keeping a journal again...

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dust Bunnies

As we moved all of the furniture in our house into the center of each room to paint, I was amazed at how many dust bunnies live in the dark corners where no one disturbs them. Even when a house appears to be impeccably clean, all you need to do is look under the refrigerator or the oven to find an assortment of dust, pet hair, crumbs and all of the things that have been missing for months.

Dirt and dust accumulate in the dark recesses, either forgotten or ignored until something brings them out into the open. Most people don't worry about the dirt under their appliances until they are faced with the sight of it and then they quickly move to clean up the mess.

How true is this for our own lives? Do we appear squeaky clean on the outside to onlookers, but have sin hidden deep in the corners of our hearts? Do we tuck the dark things back into hiding so that no one can see them?

I think sometimes when we are trying to get rid of a specific sin in our lives, we tend to clean like we do in our houses. All of the visible dirt is gone, but sometimes that sin lingers in the corners, waiting until we are tempted again.

Psalm 51:10 - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Christians too frequently put their focus on fixing bad behaviors instead of changing the core: sinful thoughts and attitudes. Living the Christian life isn't just about doing the right things, it's about doing the right things for the right reasons and with the right attitudes. If the heart isn't on track, the rest of it doesn't matter.

Luke 6:45 - The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

How many dust bunnies do you have living in dark corners? Maybe it's time to shine a little light on them and do some deep cleaning.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Thank you to everyone who took time out of their Saturday to come help us paint our house! Your support means so much to us! We really appreciated the help painting, the food, and most importantly, the company during a long day of exhausting work. Your help took well over a week's worth of work and turned it into a great day. Now hopefully all that beautiful new paint will help the house sell quickly!