18 November 2012

Other news

Flower took her first steps this past week! And hasn't taken more than one step on her own since then.

We have decided that Flower really likes to know that she can do something before she'll do it. She'll cautiously try something once, maybe twice, but if she doesn't feel comfortable doing it, she won't do it again until she knows she can do it.

So Flower is 15 months old now. I'm thinking she'll be walking regularly by the time she is 16 months old. Give or take a week. Or two.

She is doing really well on eating solid food. She now insists on "big girl" rice cakes over mummums. She actually replaced a mummum with a rice cake that was on the table. Pretty clever.

Butterfly is doing very well in school. She loves to see how things work and is very interested in the mechanics of things. She also has quite the imagination! She will play with her ponies or her baby doll or her butterfly pillow for hours. She is quite the gentle mommy. Butterfly is also a huge helper! At the commissary she gently put everything I handed her into the cart in its' proper place. I didn't even have to tell her to do that! She likes to have things neat and orderly (like her Mama!).

Little Man is definitely all boy! He loves to talk too and will talk your ear off if you give him the chance. And his newest thing is saying "What?!" in a very concerned way, with eyebrows furrowed, when you tell him something. It's pretty funny. He is definitely all about removing his clothes and running around the house or pushing the little shopping cart around. Today he had his cars inside the bus inside the shopping cart and was telling us all about this as he pushed the cart around the living room.

In more other news, I rearranged the house again. I decided that I was tired of having toys all over the entire downstairs, so I moved all the dining room furniture to the front of the living room by the window and moved all the toys and the kids' bookcase into the dining room. So now we have a "playroom". It really changes the feel of the spacing of the house. Mike and I like it so far except for one little thing. Everything for all the meals has to be carried all the way across the house at each meal time and after when I clean up. I'm going to invest in a tray. Eventually.

I like to set the table properly and put all the food on the middle of the table and have people serve themselves at meals (well, one of us serves the kids). It is extra work, but I really love the homey feel to it. Plus the food stays hotter that way. So you can imagine all the carrying involved at mealtimes to do that. A small price to pay I think though.

Have to go, but really quickly, Mike has decided in a career move! He is really excited about it and I am really excited about it and there are AF programs that he qualifies for out there. Lord willing he'll be able to get into one of them. :)

Life lately

I haven't felt much like writing lately, and when I have, I have been completely indisposed to writing. For example, I'll think of something I want to write about right before I fall asleep at night and through the course of the night, the thought completely leaves my head. ::sigh::

The Election has come and gone. I voted for Romney via absentee ballot. Honestly though, I would have been surprised no matter who won. So I'll just continue to pray for Pres Obama throughout the next four years. The Lord revealed to me several months ago that there are really only two things that I can concerning our countries political leaders. Pray and vote. And that's pretty much it.

So if you have been following my blog for a number of years, you may remember one or two (or more) politically oriented posts, including some that may have been a bit strong worded. I realized that really it's just pointless and it gets me worked up for no reason. There isn't anything I can do short of pray and vote. So why write about it? I sincerely doubt that I will sway someone's opinion of candidate or views by my writing. And it really does stir up dissension, which isn't right for a Christian to do. And since I claim myself to be a Christian, I decided to do my best to keep my mouth shut this election year.

I did mess up a few times on FB and I deeply regret that. (I posted various articles a few times). So I am trying very hard to not write politically oriented things.

The Bible is pretty clear that the Lord sets up kings and nations and deposes them. I know that He has this country in His hands. I just hope that we, as a nation, repent before it is too late.

In OTHER news, well, I guess I'll just write other news in a new post that isn't tainted by election things. 

14 November 2012

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08 November 2012

Will a 'silent exodus' from medicine worsen doctor shortage? - amednews.com

Will a 'silent exodus' from medicine worsen doctor shortage? - amednews.com

Obamacare's doctor depression | doctors, care, obamacare - Opinion - The Orange County Register

Obamacare's doctor depression | doctors, care, obamacare - Opinion - The Orange County Register

It's Pumpkin Time!

A few weeks the kids and I went to Galloping Grace Pumpkin Patch sponsored by Galloping Grace Youth Ranch, which is a ministry to inner city youth in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.

We have been every year that we have lived here and we love it (and not just the kids). This year we weren't able to make it on a weekend day because either someone was sick, or we were out of town. I really wanted to take the kids, so even though we really missed Mike being apart of the fun, we headed out to the pumpkin patch.

The kids gravitated towards the animals almost immediately. They had goats, miniature horses, rabbits, chickens, and cows.

Butterfly was really excited about petting the miniature horses (that's my girl!).
 They had the usual corn maze (the kids didn't want to do that) and the hay maze, which we did, but the kids got scared about half way through, so it wasn't too fun after that.

They had some really cool blow-up horses to ride, but the kids weren't interested in that. They had a really cool tunnel slide built into a hill and the kids had a lot of fun climbing the hill and sliding down the slide.

It was a pretty chilly, autumn day, so we were all dressed extra warm for the cold snap that had moved into the region the night before. Our fingers were pretty cold by the end of our time there.

I decided to let the kids each pick out a pumpkin on the grounds that they had to be able to pick it up and carry it. In the picture below, Butterfly is kissing a pumpkin (she's really into giving kisses right now). Little Man is carefully examining a pumpkin.

The kids picked out really cute, small little pumpkins - in the pic above Little Man and Butterfly are carrying their pumpkins on the way out to the van.

It was a really fun time. It would have been even better if Mike could have been with us, but it just wasn't possible this year. Hopefully next year! :)

Butternut Squash Soup

A few weeks ago I made Butternut Squash Soup for the first time and it was so incredibly good! Like, where have you been all my life Butternut Squash?? kind of good. I must admit that I don't remember eating a winter squash until a few years ago when some friends invited us over for dinner and they served spaghetti squash as a side dish. That dinner inspired me to dive into the world of winter squash, but I hadn't worked up the nerve to make a dish with Butternut Squash yet. It's kind of an intimidating vegetable. . .

Well, I finally worked up the nerve to get a Butternut Squash (I got one from the Grower's Market) and found a recipe from a website that I turn to quite often when I need a good recipe, Naturally Ella, and got to it. 

I found Butternut Squash surprisingly easy to cut up and prepare - not much harder than a summer squash like zucchini. A very pleasant surprise. You can peel the skin right off with a veggie peeler! (You can't do that with acorn squash.)

 So here is the recipe, courtesy Naturally Ella.com, with some slight deviation on my part.

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
Onion, chopped
garlic, minced
2 tsp each: rosemary, thyme, oregano
Butternut Squash, cubed
3-4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Peel the butternut squash and cut into cubes, about an inch in size (see above picture). I used an entire butternut squash. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, add salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 375*F oven until softened, about 20-30 minutes. (This would be a great side dish, in and of itself).

Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet and saute onion until soft. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Stir in butternut squash. Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

NaturallyElla's directions say here to use an immersion blender or a regular blender to smooth out the soup. I don't have either one of those (at least not a blender big enough to use for this), so I used my electric mixer. If you use the electric mixer, prepare to make a huge mess and get little tiny burn spots all over your arms and face. Not really a good idea. I think a food processor would work here as well.

Anyway, the point here is do blend until the soup is smooth. Add extra broth as needed. Then return the soup to heat and warm. Add cream, then serve.

Or put in a jar for later. :) (That's what I did because I was making quite a few recipes at the same time, so we ate it the next day, and it was amazing!)

How to Save Fresh Pumpkin for Later!

I love pumpkin pie. And pumpkin bread. And pumpkin muffins. Mmmm . . . I plan on making some pumpkin soup this fall for the first time too - can't wait for that!

With that being said, I really prefer fresh pumpkin to canned pumpkin. There's just something about picking out a pumpkin and then preparing it so you can put it into whatever dish you want. There's something about skipping that middle step that involves a factory . . . It's even better if you can grow your own pumpkin. That failed for me this year, so I did the next best thing, I went to the Grower's Market here in Albuquerque.

 First, you cut up your pumpkin (very carefully, so you don't slice off any fingers). Remove the seeds (you can save them to bake later). Cut into pieces like so, above. Place in a baking dish with about an inch of water.  Then you bake it in a 350*F oven for 60 - 75 minutes. It's done when you can pierce the pumpkin easily with a fork, and it's nice and soft.
Then remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin and put into a big bowl, see the picture below.
 This is what the pumpkin looks like before you blend it. Of course, if you have a food processor, that is where that piece of kitchen equipment would come in really handy. If you're like me, though, and don't have a food processor, just get out the old electric mixer and plug 'er in.
Start mixing! You have to stop pretty often to scrape the sides of the bowl so that all the gooey, yummy pumpkin pulp gets mixed. I start on low speed and work my way up to high speed. You have mix for at least five minutes.
Once your pumpkin is blended until smooth (there won't be any more strings or lumps and it will be a little more orange). I scoop about 2 1/2 - 3 cups into a freezer quart size ziplock bag. Lay the bag flat in the freezer. After it is frozen, you can store it up right for several months.

Just thaw in the fridge or warm water when you're ready to make a delicious pumpkin dish!

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

From the opening sentences of Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, you are drawn into the world of Lydia Pallas, and her world is in Boston in the 1800’s. I love a good historical fiction novel, and this is a great historical fiction novel! The novel is about a Greek immigrant who was orphaned at a young age and has extraordinary talent for languages (she speaks half a dozen!).

Camden pulls you into the world of Boston in the late 1800’s, and draws from issues that were current events at the time (trying to shut down the sale of opium in children’s medicine) and uses actual places (the Navy Shipyard and other places around Boston) to make her novel feel so real – and it does.  Besides the wonderfully written details of historical and regional nature, Camden uses a touch of romance and the intrigue of a good thriller to keep the pages turning, and they turned really quickly for me! It was really hard to put her book down. The deeper you got into the book, the more drawn you were into the lives of the characters (Lydia and the mysterious Alexander Banebridge) and the story.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good historical fiction book and/or loves a good thriller, especially if like a touch of romance thrown in. You’re sure to be enthralled with Against the Tide as I was!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Orange-Cranberry Pancakes

It has been a while since I linked up with Premeditated Leftovers (or posted a recipe!), and I have a few minutes to blog while the kids are playing nicely (yes!). I've even finished the morning chores and then some - and all before 0900! (Yes!)

The Hearth and Soul Bloghop is a blog hop where bloggers can share various recipes (Yes!). (I like saying Yes! today - it's a Yes! kind of day!) The purpose of the bloghop is not only to share recipes, but recipes that are close to your heart - recipes that warm body and soul on a cold, autumn day or recipes that bring back memories of a favorite person in your childhood who cheered you with a delicious meal made with love (and good food).

With that being said, my recipe today is Orange-Cranberry Pancakes, an autumn special. There are several foods, to me, that just shout "I'm an autumn food! Eat me, and it's like you're participating in this special, wonderful season!" Autumn is one of my favorite seasons - I love the weather, it's not hot, but it's not cold yet and the fall rains (if you don't live in the southwest) start coming in from the north, ushering in all the seasonal changes; I love the colors the trees turn, the brilliant golds, luxurious reds, soothing yellows and oranges; I love the food of the season - pumpkins, squash, cranberries, cinnamon, turkey; I love the big holiday of the season - Thanksgiving - a special time to gather with the people in your life that you love and cherish and celebrate all that you are thankful for; and, of course, I love that Mike and I got married in the autumn - a glorious Oklahoma October day. Wonderful memories, just wonderful! (Yes! Okay, I just had to throw that in there.)

So anyway, my recipe, right, back to the food part - Orange-Cranberry Pancakes. It's a wonderful combination of all things fall for the taste buds! Yummy!

1 1/2 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 - 1 1/2 cups orange juice
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cranberries (I used frozen)

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well for the egg, add egg and beat. Add butter and orange juice. Mix well with a spoon. Add in cranberries.

Heat skillet or grill on medium-high. Spray with cooking spray (I use olive oil in a spray bottle - you wouldn't believe how much money you save doing that!). When a drop of water sizzles on the skillet/grill, add pancake batter. I make smaller pancakes, so I use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  Heat a few minutes. These pancakes will not bubble like regular pancakes, and they take a little longer to cook. When golden brown on the bottom side, flip and cook until done.

Serve with honey or syrup. Enjoy!

Feel free to come back and leave me a comment letting me know how you liked them! :)

07 November 2012

PWOC Prayer Devotional

Today I had the honor of giving a prayer devotional at PWOC. A friend who lives thousands of miles away asked me for a copy, so I told her I would put it on my blog.

Just a reminder that International Prayer for the Persecuted Church is this Sunday, 11 Nov. 

If you were at the devotional this morning, you may notice some things missing, that is because I ended up putting some things into the devotion as the Holy Spirit led. :) Anyway, without further ado, here you go:

Prayer Devotional 7 Nov 2012

As I was thinking about how to present this devotional during the past few weeks, the Lord kept placing 1 Thes 5:17 in my mind “Pray continually” and not just that, but also the verses surrounding it – “be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What does that look like? How do you do that?

I’d like to start by briefly reviewing the ACTS model of prayer:

A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication

Just a brief run through of definitions :
Adoration is the act of paying honor; worship. Praise  focuses on who God is; it is an acknowledgement of His holiness, works, benefits, excellence and an admiration of His attributes. Worship is our reverence for God. “Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.” 2 Sam 22:50 “I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Ps9:2
Confession is acknowledgement or disclosure of sin. It is admitting that we have done wrong and asking forgiveness. “We all sin and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)
Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks or grateful acknowledgement of benefits. Thanksgiving  focuses on what God has done in our lives. “ I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.” & “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.” Ps 118:21, 28
Supplication is humble entreaty or petition. I really like the use of humble in that statement.  While we can boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16), we should not be demanding this or that of God, but ask God out of meekness. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24

Things to thank God for when we pray:
That we have received the word of God and it is at work in us (1 Thes 2:13).
For other Christians (Col 1:3, 2 Tim 1:3).
When we pray asking for anything, we should always ask with a thankful heart (Phil 4:6) – when we ask in thankfulness, the Lord tells us that He will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

What does it meant to pray constantly?
The short answer: pray all the time. When you’re driving, when you’re cleaning, when you’re getting dressed,  when you’re taking care of the kids, when you are cooking, when you are working, even when you are making love to your husband (did I just say that?! Yes, but that’s another devotion for another time).

Okay, so that is praying constantly, but HOW do we do that?
For me, I sort of have a running conversation with the Lord in my head. Invite Him into every area of my life – He wants us to do that. Psalm 121:8 says he knows our coming and going both now and forevermore. The Lord has given us, as believers, the Holy Spirit, who abides, or lives, in us, (2 Tim 1:14, 1 Cor 2:12) and not only that, but intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray. I am so grateful for that – there have been times in my life when I have been in such emotional pain or intensity that I couldn’t even muster the words to echo the sentiment in my soul – times when all I could pray was “Oh God” and cry. The Holy Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes for us, according to God’s will. (Rom 8:26-27). Eph 6:18 says that we can pray in the Spirit on all occasions and will all kinds of requests. And then with this in mind, we should pray for other Christians.

Paul set an example to us when we constantly remembered his fellow believers and workers in Christ (Rom 1:9-10). Not only did he remember his fellow believers in prayer, but he prayed with joy for them because of their partnership in their gospel (Philippians 1:4-5). In a broader scope, the early church that is talked about in the book of Acts constantly joined together in prayer for each other, before Pentecost and after (Acts 1:14, 2:42). Pentecost is the when the Holy Spirit was given to men, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul also prayed the work of Christ that was being done by his fellow workers for the faith, a labor which was prompted by the love of Christ and for their endurance that was inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes 1:3).

With that note, I want to seg-way into praying for other believers. The National Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up on this Sunday. I want to give you some information about the persecuted church in our world and how we can pray for those who diligently uphold the faith,  even to the point of being martyred.

There are over 50 restricted nations in the world. By restricted, I mean, they do not have the freedom to meet together as believers and pray and worship Christ.

Here are some statistics for you:
1.       The Pew Forum estimates that Christians face persecution in over 130 countries, presenting 2/3 of all nations
2.       The Germany-based International Society for Human Rights, a secular organization, estimates that 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world are directed against Christians.
3.       Some 150,000 Christians are killed for their faith each year, according to both the Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need and the evangelical group Open Doors.
4.      In Nigeria in 2011, the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram killed 510 Christians and destroyed more than 350 churches using guns, gasoline bombs, and even machetes

5.        163,000 Christians die every year for their faith. Half of all the Christians who have ever died for their faith did so in this century alone, some 35 million! 15,000,000 of these were Orthodox or Catholic Christians who died under the Soviet regime between 1917 and 1980, primarily in prison camps.

6.        The top ten persecuting countries are: Burma/Myanmar, China, Egypt, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (2 million since 1985), Vietnam.

What can we do?
Pray – pray, pray, pray – more than 300,000 churches in over 100 countries are going to participate in International Prayer for the Persecuted Church day (it’s this Sunday, 11 Nov)
Pray specifically that (a) God would be glorified, (b) the great commission would be completed (which will, of course, initially increase persecution), pray particularly Peter’s prayer for boldness in the face of persecution (Acts 4:29), (c) that Jesus would come, (d) that the Holy Spirit would first purify and then comfort his church (Rev. 6:10-11).
Write letters, for example to Christians who are currently imprisoned – you can visit  prisoneralart.com to write to prisoners around the world
Symbolic suffering – make a personal sacrifice or inconvenience to help you remember your brothers and sisters in the throes of suffering
Stay informed – for example you can visit persecution.com for updates on the persecuted church. They have a free periodical that they put out called “Voice of the Martyrs”
Give to relief efforts

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes 1:3

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thes 2:13

 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. Rom 1:9-10

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Eph 6:18

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, Col 1:3

 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 2 Tim 1:3

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Eph 6:18 cross reference:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Rom 8:26-27
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, Phil 1:4-5

 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:14

Acts 1:14 cross reference:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 4:42

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. Acts 4:24

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Tim 1:14

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Cor 2:12

1,2,3. http://www.ucanews.com/2012/09/12/persecution-kills-150000-christians-every-year/
5, 6. http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/acts/persecution.pdf

What Your Husband Isn't Telling You by David Murrow

When I saw the title What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You: A Guided Tour of Man’s Body, Soul and Spirit, by David Murrow, I must say that I couldn’t resist. And I am so glad that I didn’t resist! Murrow takes wives into the heart of what a man is thinking – about everything (from work to sex to relationships), and why he doesn’t always share what’s on his mind.

It was an eye opening book, and I even theory-checked it with my husband, who agreed with a lot of his points.  Murrow goes from the Foundation of Man and Manhood, using Biblical references and illustrations, through how to understand a man through various “male” lenses – including his mind, body, soul and spirit, to how a woman can understand her man and help support him in his God-given role and abilities.

I loved how Murrow not only used his own voice as narrator, but added two others: “Provider” and “Protector”; he explained how a man thinks from the standpoint of each of those roles – how instinctual and hard-wired they are in his brain. How being a Provider and Protector drive him to take care of his family and why men do things the way that they do. He also brought up when these roles aren’t functioning like they should – when they are either hyper- or hypo-functioning.  I appreciated Murrow’s bluntness, although I can see how some women might take offense at his wording and tone (I didn’t).

The only thing I found lacking was in the “What’s a Woman To Do” section. I felt like there was huge build up to this last section, but it seemed to be lacking . . something. To be honest, I’m not sure what. Maybe I just need to read it again. Overall, I am so incredibly glad that I read this book and intend on sharing it with other women. I highly recommend it to every woman who is interested in her man and how and why he thinks and acts the way he does.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”