Sunday, February 24, 2013

Contributing to Beauty

Do you ever feel worn out, just burdened by so many things, on the verge of exhaustion, overwhelmed, inpatient, etc? If you are a Mama then the answer is "Yes". Lately, I have felt all these things, often at the same time. This morning in church, I could feel the tears on the crisp of falling. I fought to hold them in because I was fearful that if they started to fall it would be an avalanche of brokenness. I am not good at expressing my feelings or my hurts, and they often get bottled up inside only to surface at the most inappropriate times in a not-so-pretty manner.

Right now our family is burdened with two house payments, raising provisions for our adoption, health issues, family concerns, ongoing grief over our daughter in heaven, insecurities, and recovering from two months of sicknesses in our home. Exhaustion mentally, physically, and spiritually overwhelms daily.

So when I first heard this song, "Worn" last week, I felt like God was speaking clearly to me (song link is below). He is able to carry my burdens, to give me the rest I seek, to heal our sicknesses, to sell our home, to give peace in our grief. My God is Able in ALL things. How often I forget that.  I think as Christians we often get so consumed in our messy lives that we forget who can make beauty from those messes. God sees the final picture, and that picture is a beautiful masterpiece. My current messiness is just a small part that contributes to that final beauty. So, I can choose to see my discouragement and anxieties as contributors to beauty or as a mess. When I choose the "mess" option, my heart will feel the same-an utter mess. However, if I focus on who I know God to be (Faithful to keep His Promises; Able to perform miracles; Always Present with me; Always for me; Always loving me; Never giving up on me) then, and only then, can I view my circumstances as "contributors to beauty."

No matter what you face today, dear friends, your circumstance is a CONTRIBUTOR TO BEAUTY,  so surrender it to God. He is the only who can bring beauty from ashes and joy in the morning.

"Worn" by Tenth Avenue North

Romans 8:28
The Message (MSG)

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Easy Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Pie

My hubby loves chocolate and he loves cheesecake. Each year on his birthday and Valentine's Day I make him one of my famous from-scratch cheesecakes. They are enormous and take forever for him to eat (no one else in our family likes cheesecake). So this year, I experimented a little and came up with a quick, easy, homemade smaller version of his favorite dessert. He declared it to be absolutely amazing, and he says he looks forward to eating all eight small slices :-). This would be the perfect dessert to make when cooking dinner for a new mom or some one who is sick. It is delicious, easy, and the perfect size to share. 

Enjoy my friends! You are dearly loved by your Heavenly Father and prayed over! Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us that our Heavenly Father rejoices over us with singing! Wow! That humbles me with the knowledge that He loves me that much! How Awesome is our God!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Pie

Makes ones 8-inch pie
INGREDIENTS for Cheesecake:
  • 1 (8-inch) store-bought graham cracker crust – chocolate or regular*
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
INGREDIENTS for Chocolate Glaze:
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I use 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
  • ¼ cup whipping cream (or milk)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange 1/2 cup chocolate chips on the bottom of the crust.
Beat together cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix well.
Carefully pour on top of the chocolate chips in the crust.
Bake 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or just until set. Cool completely.
Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and whipping cream together over low heat, stirring often (I do this in the microwave for 45-60 seconds.
Pour over the cheesecake and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top. Chill several hours before serving.
*NOTE: If making your own graham cracker crust, keep in mind that this recipe is designed for an 8-inch pie pan (and many pie pans are 9-inch). If you use a 9-inch, you will probably have to adjust the cooking time (and obviously, the finished product will be slightly thinner).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Chex Mix

I whipped up this super yummy and easy Valentine's Chex Mix this morning to share with friends and my family. The red and pink candy make it look so pretty-almost too pretty to eat :-).  Almost :-).

Mix some up to share and show God's love to others with a smile and a yummy treat that lets them know you are thinking of  them.

John 15:13 (the Message)
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father."


Valentine's Chex Mix

1 box Rice Chex cereal
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Valentine M&Ms
1/4 cup Valentines sprinkles or red and pink hearts
Place cereal in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, microwave the butter, peanut butter, and white chocolate chips uncovered on high 1 minute (stirring at the 30 second mark). Stir until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the cereal, stirring gently until all cereal is evenly coated.
Place 1/2 of the cereal in a paper lunch sack or gallon-sized ziploc bag. Add the 1/3 cup powdered suar. Seal the bag and shake until the cereal is coated with the sugar. Spread on wax paper or foil-lined cookie sheet to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir the m&ms and the valentine sprinkles into the remaining cereal mixture. Spread on wax paper or foil-lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes to cool.
In a large bowl, mix both cereals together gently and then store in cute valentine themed bags or a sealed containers. Share with friends.
Makes 11 servings (1/2 cup each)

Toddler Valentine's Snack Mix

Today, I enjoyed making a yummy Valentine Snack Mix for my precious little Bella and her toddler MOPs class. Twice a month, I am blessed to attend Mothers of Preschoolers at our church. While Mommy gets some girl time, craft time, etc.., Bella enjoys playing with her toddler friends in Moppets. This Friday, we were asked to bring a Valentine Snack for the kiddos, so I whipped up this Valentine themed Cereal Mix that seemed age-appropriate for 18 month olds. You can adjust the mix with your favorite cereals or dried fruits. I have posted the recipe and a few pics below.

I am super blessed with a sweet toddler who loves giving kisses and hugs and loves her Mommy. She brings my heart so much JOY daily. She is a constant reminder to me of God's Abundant Love! I pray that each of you knows the depths of your Father's Great Love for you!

Ephesians 3:18

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is."

Toddler Valentine Snack Mix

1 box Elmo X&O cereal
1 box Strawberry Shredded Wheat
1 box Welch's Yogurt Covered Strawberry Fruit Snacks
1 cup Craisins
1 cup Valentine M&Ms
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl gently, and then store in bags or an airtight container. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mocha Cappuccino Munch

My dear hubby has been out of town for work all week, and I miss him tremendously. Thankfully, he is coming home tonight so I whipped up this yummy treat as a surprise. He loves mocha cappuccinos and chocolate so this is the perfect combo for him.

Blessings my dear friends! You are deeply loved and prayed for by your Heavenly Father.

Mocha Cappuccino Munch
1 box Rice Chex
1 Tablespoon instant coffee
2 Tablespoons very hot water
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Jif Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter
2 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 bag chocolate covered espresso beans or mini espresso cups (found at Walmart or the Dollar Tree)

In a microwaveable safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, chocolate silk peanut butter, and butter. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Stir ground coffee into the two tablespoons hot water until the coffee is dissolved. Add the coffee and the shortening to the chocolate mixture and microwave for 45 seconds more. Stir until smooth. Place the rice Chex in a large bowl. Pour the chocolate mixture over the top and gently stir until all cereal is coated. Place the powdered sugar in a large plastic bag or paper sack.  Spoon the Chex mix into the bag. Shake until everything is coated. Spread onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and let set. Sprinkle the chocolate covered espresso beans over the mix. Spoon into storage containers. Store in a sealed container for 7 days. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

God is My Refuge, my Constant, my Hope!

In the past five years our family has experienced heartache,the loss of a daughter, a new job and subsequent move, many changes, a crazy adoption journey, redirection and financial uncertainty. Each day, I wake up, and my only choice is to surrender to the fact that God sees it all and He is my only CONSTANT and He is Always, Always in Control.

In recent months, there has been one resource that has helped me trust God more completely and run to Him and Him only on the days when I feel so overwhelmed. I have been so blessed to be a part of the review team for a new 12 week Devotional entitled "God is My Refuge" by author, Kathy Howard (

I recently blogged about how much Kathy's chapter on Healing had ministered to me on a day when I was feeling so very weak and burdened. You can read about that here:

If you are struggling with fear, brokenness, worry, illness, weariness (this applies to all us mamas :-)), grief, discontentment, temptation, loneliness, or facing troubles of all kinds, then this devotional will be a huge blessing to your soul. Below I have included an interview with author, Kathy Howard, so you can understand more about the book and her heart for helping women find refuge in God through prayer, time in His Word, and scripture memorization.

I pray you each consider using this resource in your daily quiet time. I wanted to share one of my favorite worship songs that helps me remember that God alone is my REFUGE and NOT FOR A MOMENT WILL HE FORSAKE ME. Blessings dear friends!
"Not For A Moment" by Meredith Andrews:

God Is My Refuge: 12 Weeks of Devotions and Scripture Memory for Troubled Times

Interview with the author, Kathy Howard

1. How can this devotional book help and encourage Christian women?
Christian women are not immune to trials and difficulties. In fact, Jesus clearly warned His followers that we will have trouble. We live in a fallen world and the effects touch everyone. However, believers have a safe place to go in the midst of trouble. Our God invites us to take refuge in Him. He is our “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.”
Most Christians believe God can help, but many don’t know where to go in the Bible to find the comfort, peace, and guidance He longs to give. God Is My Refuge provided the direction Christian women need to discover, understand, and apply the “ever-present help” only God can give.
2. What makes God Is My Refuge different from most other devotionals?
God Is My Refuge is more of a purposeful quite time guide. The overall intent for the book is to help women discover the help God offers in times of difficulty. Each day’s devotion includes the following components:
• Scripture reading of 5 to 8 verses
• Brief illustration and commentary on the verses
• Three questions for personal reflection and application
• Prayer prompt
• Memory Minute
Each of the 12 weeks focuses on a specific area of trouble like financial need, illness, broken relationships, grief, or fear. Each week highlights a verse that the reader is encouraged to memorize to internalize God’s truth. The daily “Memory Minute” gives quick, practical steps to facilitate memorization.
3. Tell us about how God used this book in your life while you were writing it.
Not long after I began working on this devotional our family entered a time of crisis. God used every moment I spent searching His Word and studying His promises to minister to me in my time of trouble. I needed what I was preparing for others. He comforted me with His Words of love. He filled me with the peace that can only come from Him. He strengthened me with the presence of His Spirit. God has truly been my refuge and ever-present help.
4. This devotional includes a Scripture memory component. Why is this important?
Memorizing God’s Word solidly entrenches it in your heart and mind. When you internalize His truth like this, God can use it to minister to you in powerful and personal ways:
• Provide you with comfort, encouragement, peace, and strength (Col 3:15-16; Ps 1:1-3)
• Give you guidance and wisdom (Ps 37:31; Ps 119:24, 98, 105)
• Foster your spiritual growth (2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 4:12; 1 Pet 2:2)
• Prepare you to share your faith with others (1 Pet 3:15; Acts 18:28)
• Fill you with joy and pour out His blessings (Ps 119:24, 47, 103; James 1:21-25)
5. Memorizing Scripture overwhelms many Christians. How does God Is My Refuge help readers overcome this?
Memorizing Scripture is often overwhelming because we are looking at the “big chunk.” We see the end – having a verse or section memorized – and think “there’s no way I can do that!” You’ve heard the old saying about how to eat an elephant? The answer is “one bite at a time!” The same is true with memorizing Scripture. This devotional gives readers small, daily, doable steps to help them succeed. One bite at a time, until the verse is memorized! We also review all the verses throughout the course of the devotional to help them stick.
6. What is main takeaway of God Is My Refuge?
Christians will have trouble in this world, but God is there is help us in the midst of it. He will not leave us to stumble around on our own. He has the desire and power to help us. We just have to turn to Him. This devotional helps us do just that!
For more information about God Is My Refuge, and to download a free day’s devotional, visit Kathy’s website:
To purchase a copy of God Is My Refuge on Amazon:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Goodwill Boutique! What a Discovery! Oh the Joy of Thrift Store Shopping!!

This Saturday, I was blessed with some free time after my hair cut appointment. Because every mama knows that you cannot shop for clothes for yourself when accompanied by your mischevious 18 month old :-). My husband was watching our precious kiddos, and I stopped by our new local GW Boutique. It is a new store that Goodwill is trying out in select markets. They only sell new with tags or like-new Women's clothes, shoes, purses, and jewlery from upscale stores like Ann Taylor, Anthropologie, Talbots, Hollister, Banana Republic, the Gap, etc..

Oh my! Let me just say that the GW Boutique is AMAZING and will be my go-to place to shop for clothes. I have visited several local thrift stores in the area with the hopes of finding cute clothes for myself without spending too much money. Finances are tight when you are a stay-at-home mama with two kiddos, two house payments, and an upcoming adoption (but that doesn't mean that I have to sacrifice looking cute :-)). I have visited Plato's Closet and the Clothes Mentor, but, honestly, I was disappointed in both. Their clothes were not in great condition, and they seemed overpriced. I can often get a better deal at the retail stores with my coupon codes. But, then I discovered the GW!

The GW Boutique sells high end new (with the retail tags still attached) and like-new women's clothes super cheap (nothing over $8.99). I got 7 items (all brand new with tags) from Anthropologie, Gap, Calvin Klein, Hollister, Aeropostale, Chicco, and Ann Taylor for less than $50.00 total! I just wanted to share my finds in case there are other blessed mamas' out there who could use a wardrobe update but don't have a lot of money to spend. Don't be afraid to check out the thrift stores in your area. You may even have a local Goodwill Boutique. You can find your local stores by searching here: Just remember that there are regular Goodwill stores and then there are these new speciality boutiques. Here are my awesome finds:

New with Tags ANN TAYLOR Jacket
(this has the CUTEST bubble sleeves and FUN buttons)

GORGEOUS New with Tags Velvet Swing Coat from ANTHROPOLOGIE (brand FREE PEOPLE)

Close-Up pic of the BEAUTIFUL Buttons on the Anthropologie Coat

CUTE New with Tags Ivory Sweater/Cardigan from Hollister

New With Tags Blue CALVIN KLEIN Super Soft Long-Sleeve Shirt

CUTE New with Tags Navy Swing-Sleeved Cardigan from CHICOS

 Basic Long-Sleeved New with Tags T-Shirt from the GAP

ADORABLE New with tags long, super soft cardigan from AEROPOSTALE
Thrift stores rock and totally help this mama wear cool clothes on a tight budget :-). Do any of my awesome readers have any thrift store tips or experiences to share for this newbie?  I love a good bargain!

Have a BLESSED day my beautiful friends!

Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it."