Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Countdown 2010.......



 Is your heart racing?  Did you make it to the before crack of dawn sales after Thanksgiving?  I pray that you enjoyed yourself, but now that your shopping is finished, lets sit back and relax....enjoy the moment over some coffee or tea and think about how you want to do THIS Christmas differently than last year.


Some  years, I've been in such a mad dash to get to extra activities that I don't have  the time to really ponder the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth.  This year we are doing an advent devotional called Jotham's Journey.  I have never read it, but I hear it's wonderful.  I'm really purposing to focus on the reason for the season in our home and activities.  It's challenging to keep everything in perspective, especially since a baby may land on our doorstep at any moment....


One of the ways we start our Christmas festivities is a gathering of five generations of "Neely" women to share, laugh and play the "take-away" gift game.  The Neely women were a group of 6 girls that were led by a single mother and grandmother.  Those women taught six young girls integrity, faith and femininity.  They learned to trust their Provider.  


My grandmother told me a story about a time, when literally the cupboard was bare.  She said they prayed together for God to provide what they needed.  Instantly, they heard the "rag-man" calling for rags in the street.  They scurried around their modest home joyously gathering rags.  Those rags provided enough money to buy beans for their evening meal.  A simple,  modest and healthy meal.  He provided day after day.  


That life did not afford Wii's or amazing ski vacations or even a designer wardrobe, but it provided love, hope and joy.  I pray that all I do this year would be from that legacy my Grandmother "Memommy" left me!  


I've added Christmas music to my playlist.  I love it and I pray you enjoy as well.  

Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government there will be no end."


Hilltop Blessings, 
Sheri
 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are You Ready ? What Seasoning Are You Using?


As I was getting ready last night for my Thanksgiving preparations, God taught me a little lesson.  I got both of my silver chests out to find two distinctly different situations.  I opened my grandmothers box of very old silver and sadly discovered that it was severely tarnished.  Then I opened my wedding silver and discovered that it was sparkly and new looking. 

While doing this, I was thinking about all the people coming to my home and praying that they would be blessed and that I would be a blessing in any situation.  Then the Lord sweetly showed me that we can be just like that silver....we can be ugly and tarnished on the inside or we can be shiney and sparkly. 

"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34b

I pray that as you prepare to either have family in your home or be a guest in another home that you prepare your heart and mind to be loving, kind and gracious.  I pray that your words are seasoned with salt and that every precious child of God you come in contact with will be blessed by your encouraging attitude of love and grace and mercy.  (even if they don't deserve it!)

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone."  Colossians 4:5-6

To be quite honest sisters, I pray I'm not setting myself up for some terrible failure, but I know our Father wants us to be loving and kind in any situation.  Lets have a wonderful holiday season and rejoice in all our blessings.  Give Thanks To The Lord, For He is Good!  His Love Endures Forever!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri


 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Thanks To The Lord....even the little things!



"Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind"
Psalm 107:21

This verse took on new meaning for me recently and it being the season of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share it with y'all!

After living for several years with an oatmeal colored berber carpet, and three little boys who live in mud and dirt, our carpet cleaner refused to clean it again.  She had been faithful to the last gummy spot of black gumbo mud...but she wouldn't budge on that stuff again and I was glad.  It was time....time for some new flooring here at on the hilltop.

I looked for about six months and went back and forth on what to do.  Finally I settled on a laminate flooring that my husband and few angels laid down a couple of weeks ago.  My sweet man carefully cut the carpet in sections and neatly rolled it up and placed it beside the road along with the nasty carpet pad.  

There was a lot of the stuff and we knew that we were going to have to pay our trash service quite a bit to remove it.  I was happy to pay anything to have it gone!!!  Throughout the day, several people came and took a few rolls of it, but there was still A LOT of it left.  Towards the end of the day, I saw a precious woman standing at our gate.  

I went out to see what she wanted and in broken English she asked if she could have all of the carpet.  I was thrilled to give her the carpet!  What a blessing for me right?  Talk about my self-centered self....she needed it to cover her floors that had nothing on them!  She said she and her children were cold, because they had no heat.  She said that her husband had died ten  years ago and she had been supporting them on her meager housekeeping business, she said business was bad enough this last  year that she lost her home she had been paying on for 16 years!  She said so much in those few statements.  My heart broke for her.

Here I was getting new carpet because it was "old" and "spotty" and she just wanted to be warm!  I ran in the house looking for a portable heater and found a small one.  When I brought it out her sister was there.  They rejoiced over something so small.  Her sister brought a truck to remove the rest of the carpet that she couldn't cram into her small car.  They worked together packing the truck with the rest of the carpet.  

Then her sister "Karina" asked me the question: "Are you a Christian?"  I answered affirmatively and told her I wanted to pray for them.  I gathered hands right there on our busy little country road and prayed for my new sisters in Christ.  What a joy to share with them and rejoice at God's provision for them.  I was so humbled.

Berenice was able to have a family member lay  her carpet in her little home.  She was so thankful for her feet to be warm.  Can  you even imagine?  What a shift in my mindset on what I "need".  Since that time, I've been able to find another heater for the girls and their families.  They are so grateful to be warm.  

I'm praying that God brings us other opportunities to minister to the needs of people in our area.  I pray that as you go through this season of Thanksgiving, that He would show you ways to bless and be blessed.  God loves you and I pray you never let go of his unfailing grace!


Hilltop Blessings, 
Sheri




  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mercy and Grace are So Good!

It has been quite some time since I sat here to visit with y'all. It's been one of those seasons of  "Busy".  Ever had one of those?  One thing that I always take away from those seasons is that God's mercy and grace are new every morning!  I'm so glad!

In September, my Father In Law needed some special care that involved us driving to Minnesota.  We found out on a Wednesday that we would be leaving on Friday morning.  Any of you ladies ever try to figure out what to do with four children for a week.  You can't exactly throw out feed and leave!

Thursday afternoon, after I had seemingly moved heaven and earth to get everyone packed and ready to go, I notice that our little Katie wasn't "right".  I knew it then, that she was sick!  She was big time sick and I was  up with her most of the night.  Friday morning, after a hard night and disturbing phone call, we knew that we weren't going to Minnesota that day.

We battled for four days with our little one, before a specialist was able to fix her impacted ear...(don't even ask)!  By then, we decided to leave the following Friday morning.  I don't know about y'all, but when I plan to go on a trip, I like to get going early.  Well....we made it out the door before it was early afternoon!  It was ten am before we finally got on the road! 

We drove for four and a half days for a two and a half day stay in Minnesota!  We did get to see family and friends along the way and that was so special, but the road was long!  We did take all the children and it was the first time that we were able to try out our new 12 passenger van and that was so nice! 

My husband and his brother tried to help out where they could and encourage a little more.  They are good sons, and I'm proud of them.  It was nice to be in Minnesota rather than in Texas for sure.  We left a heat index of 105 and went to temps of 70!  Now that was refreshing!

When we got home, it was time to jump deep into school, activities, church responsibilities and seasonal allergies!  Glory, glory!  We also finished our home study, to become an active foster family again.  We are awaiting that call that says there is a little one on her way to our home!  We look forward to that blessing!

God has been so gracious to me throughout these days of testing and trials!  I know I've said this before, but I really do believe His mercy Is new every morning.  His grace is enough for me at the moment I need it!  We are precious in His sight and He loves us.  I also know that if He does it for me, He will do it for you!

I pray that whatever is on your plate today, that  you would taste and see that the Lord is good, and know that He will carry you through anything that comes your way!  See His goodness and His mercy anew today!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Proverbs 31 Woman......Is it possible?

We've all read about her, joked about her, dreamed of being her, but really who can do it? I'm all about providing for my family, and loving my husband, but this gal's light doesn't go out at night! Who is she?

She is a continually evolving woman just like you. She is you.... Our Father didn't give us the Bible and say, swallow it down today and live it all out today. Nope, He who reveals Himself to you, will enable you to be this wife, mother, woman day by day!

So let's just say if you are married then each morning you have the opportunity to be a virtuous wife. You fling back those covers, stand up and there you are in all your glory a virtuous wife! You may stumble into to where ever you go first and smile because you woke up to another day!

If you have a baby, you may have already done this several times in the past few hours, but now it's over and a new day has begun! Your husband's heart does safely trust you, because you will guard him and protect his honor! As his bride, you will do anything you can to further his career and reach his goals!

If that first part wasn't hard, then you are ready to graduate to the next step....verse 12 "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." I'm so thankful that the Lord allows us a few "do-overs", because on many occasion my mouth has not done my sweetie good! I'm so thankful that there is forgiveness on both the part of the Lord and my husband! This is where the "gentle answer turns away wrath part comes in"!

Now that you have loved and been kind the real work begins, you've got to figure out where in the world wool and flax are going to be, so that you can work them with your hands! Well in the North Texas vicinity there is a fresh shortage on flax. I think I could figure out where to get some wool, but not sure about that flax unless we're talking the kind we occasionally put in smoothies!

For me, my wool and flax are making things last longer around her. Passing down clothing to the next child. Making several meals out of one piece of meat. Spending time wisely. Those are the ways that I look for flax and wool.

While you are out looking for flax, let's multi-task and bring some food from afar. This certainly doesn't jive with the "green-living" folks. The new mantra is to buy local. So to compromise, lets bring in the best meals for our family that we can. Lets make them as healthy as possible and stir in lots of love in the process!

Now here comes the sleep deprivation part. Verse 15 "She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants." First off, for all you mothers with babies, you are rising while it is still night and providing food for your household! If I had a maid servant, I promise you I would do back flips in the night for her! I would make sure she had anything she wanted if she was going to do my laundry and keep that demon from biting me everyday!

I think the applicable part here is that we make sure we have time to do all that is necessary to keep our homes running smoothly. We make sure that our families have what they need to start their days in a peaceful manner.

Next, if you enjoy getting on realtor.com and looking at the homes and land, guess what....you can't count that part as considering a field and buying it! However, you can consider how you can either stretch your husband's income and or extend it! We can profit from using coupons when we have them, and then using the savings to buy groceries! It takes actual study to learn how to save and spend wisely.

In verse 17 this woman is girding herself with strength and getting strong arms! Why strong arms? Because the tasks that the Lord has assigned us aren't easy! They take much more than those butterfly presses at the work-out club! Yes my sister, this is the strength of character to occasionally walk a lonely walk with an upbeat pace while holding a baby on your hip and struggling through the latest challenge of life! Those are the arms that don't sag!

So much of the way we see our lives is from our view of perception. Perception can make or break us! If our attitude towards what God has provided is good, then life is good. If we spend time complaining about how bad things are...well then things will be that bad! But each day we can perceive that our merchandise is good even if it's meager!

Our lamps can be on in a moment if we are needed. We just need to be available to any need that the Lord would have us to minister. We also can continue to give to others who have needs that we can meet. Lets not only reach out our hands to the needy, lets embrace them! Let's offer them all the love that our Father in heaven has extended so freely to us! Don't try to mold them into some idea of what you think people ought to be, just love them and trust the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts just like He speaks to yours!

When we love others, there is no fear in tomorrow. The snows will come, but we will continue to clothe our families with the teachings of Jesus. Our children will know that the scarlet blood of Jesus covers their tattered rags! As we persevere in these things, honor and glory do cover us, because it is the will of Jesus!

Orderly, peaceful homes bring recognition to our husbands! These men are able to do all that God has called them to, because they can! They aren't torn away from work for one crisis after another! They are able to serve at church and in the community if that is what they desire. They are known for their wisdom, because you were there for them, when they needed you!

We can all glean so much from this woman. The state of her family truly does rest on her strong shoulders. She can rejoice because she knows there are days coming that don't require cleaning up the mess of a toddler, settling the disputes of brothers and comforting the adjusting heart of an adolescent all in a span of five minutes! This gutsy gal makes sure her words are seasoned with kindness while making the most out of every moment!

So virtuous woman, rejoice! You who watch over the ways of your household and diet from idleness, your children will rise up and call you blessed. Your sweet man will as well!

I'm sure that this is not an exhaustive explanation of Proverbs 31, but it's a start. I would love to be this woman 24/7, but lets dig in and see how God can change our hearts and minds to be the women He created us to be!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today



In the summer of 1985 I was seeking....didn't know what....but I was lost and looking to be found. I thought I was a Christian because I was American and I had gone to church my whole life. Sang hymns, knew creeds, even led vacation Bible school. Obviously the church didn't have anything for me.

I spent a lot of empty time with friends doing what young adults do...looking.. looking for something that will make them feel whole and like "they are supposed to feel like" whatever that is.

I was on the top of a hill overlooking downtown Ft Worth in a vw rabbit convertible. My friend asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 how I would rate my relationship with Jesus Christ. I lied and said about a 5.

He then asked me to compare if 1 on the scale was cold and 10 was hot, about what temperature would my relationship be.....I fell hook line and sinker! I said "oh about lukewarm, maybe a little warmer. But just good ole lukewarm water"!

My friend then quoted this verse:Revelation 3:16-17 "So because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

The sad thing, I wasn't just lukewarm, I was frozen and destined for hell. I was lost. Thankfully, the Lord put this young man in my life and it caused me to do a lot of searching and looking. I just didn't know Jesus had left the 99 and had come looking for me! He found me! He redeemed me!

When I first got saved I was part of a fellowship that taught so much about service to God and the body of Christ. This was something that a 21 year old selfish girl really needed to learn. One sweet precious friend took me to buy a Bible. I had no idea that they were so expensive. I mean really...$60 for a Bible!

When she pointed out the one I needed, I just about fell over. Immediately I said, "Now, I don't want to invest too much into this. I've tried a lot of these things. I've tried Shaklee, and a whole bunch of jobs and I don't seem to have much stick- to- it -ness, so...is there a little less expensive one, just in case this deal doesn't stick?!"

My friend was a little exasperated with me. She said: "This isn't like any of those things at all and if you'll just buy this Bible and read it, I promise you it will stick!" Thank you Paula, it stuck!

Well I read it. I read it so I could figure out how I could make all my other heathen friends feel guilty. If I was going to jump onto the Jesus wagon, I wanted them to come too. I told them that if they didn't repent "They were going to see the firey dance of death before their very eyes and it was going to be too late!" Needless to say, I didn't have a revelation of the love of Jesus. Nor did they, and they left me and my new found Jesus.

It came. It came when a precious woman told me that Jesus loved me, no matter what I did. He loved me as much today as He would love me tomorrow. I was precious in His sight. She even shared that if there was only one person left on earth and it was me....He would have still died for me!

That did it. That led me to the heart of Jesus! It lead me to see Him in all His glory. It showed me that religion and pounding out a message to make people feel bad was not what He was about. It showed me that "all had sinned and come short of the glory of God".

Our pastor spent much time preaching from the book of Ephesians. The truth had made me free! I wanted to love people. I no longer felt rejected. I was loved and finally able to love others. No longer was I desperately looking for "it"! I found it...it was HIM...JESUS....my SAVIOR....my REDEEMER!

Galatians 2:20
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if rightiousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

Many years have gone by and I wish I could say, I've done more for the Kingdom of God than I have, but this one thing I do know is that He will enable me to do His good works. He will enable me to tough it out through the really hard times. He will reveal Himself to me, when I think I'm about to drown. He will hold out His hand to me, when I really don't deserve it! He will hold me up and not let go of me. He will help me to walk through fires, hotter than anything I could ever have imagined and enable me to smile in the midst! He is a good and faithful God and I stand amazed at His goodness!

The really awesome thing....He will do it for you! Thank you for sharing this little birthday tribute with me. God deserves all the glory. He is the one who has done great things! He took me out of darkness and brought me into His marvelous light!

Hilltop Blessings!
Sheri

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Invisible Woman

I love this video. Sometimes it so easy to feel neglected, or ignored, or _____________you can fill it! This video came from a precious encouraging mother. This video can encourage you on those days that you feel deeply buried in the trenches of forgotten glory! You know those days.

I had one the other day. Girl child covered herself and crib in....well I don't have to say it here, you know! It's those moments we have to either cry, laugh or dare I say remember that we asked God to be wives and mothers! Don't say..."what in the world was I thinking"!

God graciously gave those precious gifts to us. Let us remember with those gifts come more blessings...we just have to look up! Thank You Lord Jesus!

Be sure to go down and turn off the music or you will have a hard time hearing the video!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whew! The Tornado Has Passed!


We have been on a busy ride here on our hilltop! I can't begin to list all the things, but let's just say things have been twirled up like a tornado came through! We're okay and the barn is still standing!

We had been praying about having more foster children and the Lord took us up on our prayers...at least for a week! We did respite for another family and took their two boys. What a joy and what a challenge. The ages of the boys in our home were 11, 9, 8, 7 and 6! Then of course there was two year old girlfriend! Boy oh boy what a time we had. We had legos and Kinex from one end of the house to the other!

These boys were a lot of fun. They have been around the street, but God rescued them in time and they are a joy! There are moments that the Lord allows, to let us know everything is going to be okay. I'm so glad! One of the boys stated emphatically that he had no plans to ever work. In chorus our boys said: "We were created for work"! Can I hear a yeehaw!

Then my oldest decided that these boys need a lesson from proverbs! He very clearly explained that we were to look to the ant for direction in work. The sweet little fella looked at his tutor like he was crazy! Then Ben just said:"Have you ever seen an ant be still? No, you haven't and that's what we are to be like, so there, you have to work if you want to be happy!" Go God!

This was a great experience, but we decided they were shoes that didn't fit! We would welcome these boys again, but we aren't putting a sign out for older foster children while we still have youngsters at home. We are still praying about another baby.

Our garden is a burned up mess of weeds and tiny shriveled tomatoes! It just got too hot and I decided these pitiful little tomatoes and herbs were getting very expensive, since we were watering them everyday! I would be better off buying a bushel of beautiful organic tomatoes and still have some money left over! Oh well, I did try really hard! I think I'm still a fair weather gardener!

We did see God move in an incredible way. My van bit the dust. The same day, we found a new nine passenger van from a wonderful godly man. He sells these vans to large families all over the DFW metroplex at a very reasonable price. We found out about our van, found the guy, found the van and signed papers all on the same day! God is good!

Homeschool plans are moving right a long. We will be starting in just a couple of weeks. I like to wait until September, so we still have a bit of time left. I think we are all ready! This year we are going to try the Mystery of History, Teaching Textbooks and continue with some of our ACE Paces. This gives us a bit of everything. I love being hands on with everyone, but I've got a toddler and someone that is still learning to read, so I can send others off to do independent work as well!

One thing that I learned from my flower garden this year was about growth. Some plants look absolutely beautiful at the garden center. They are full and bending over with blooms. Then there are others that you transplant. They may have only one little green leaf, but they have a single little root. Which one has the best chance of becoming part of a beautiful garden? You would think the one from the plant store with lots of blooms. But that's because we looked at the outside of the plant.

The heart of a plant is what is hidden, its rootstock. The beautiful plant was so root bound that it could never soak up any more water. Without the nourishment, it died! It died a slow painful death. I tried everything. I watered, I weeded, I deadheaded it. Nope it could no longer flourish. Why? Because it got real comfortable living in one place and became ingrown. It couldn't stretch out it's roots. It was only beautiful for a moment. It's gone now. Such a waste of my time and money.

Now the little pitiful cutting that had one leaf and a tiny root? It is beautiful. It has grown into a huge plant. It has stretched out it's roots, it has filled up lots of space. It has been nourished with only simple provisions. No extra care was needed. Well, it had to be replanted several times, because Katie was fascinated by it's little roots and she kept planting it! But it lived!

I will be able to share cuttings of this little plant with others. It will have offspring in other parts of my garden. Which plant do you want to model? It's so easy to want to just stay in one place and not venture out of our comfort zones. God says we are to move on out and experience all the joy and blessings He has for us in the deeper places. Even places that don't look so good!

Well that's all I have today friends, hopefully, I can get back on here again soon, but I'm not sure I can do pictures and blog stories at the same time. I'm just swamped. Love you all, have a great day with your precious families and look for ways to expand your borders!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spill, Fill and Faint!



Remember Spill, Fill and Thrill? Well here is what my first little planter looked like in early April. She really has really put down deep roots!


Just look at her now! She has become a little overgrown and Miss Lavender has taken up more room than her fair share! She needs to be pruned back a bit. The petunias have just about given all they can give. I'm going to try to cut them way back and see If I can get some fall flowers.




"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "




Remember what promise this little planter showed? Even though I faithfully watered or almost faithfully watered.....it got hot....real hot!




Now she definitely needs some attention! She is leggy, (I wish I was) and some of the little plants have served me all they can serve. It's time to replenish and revive! Often when I've served all I can, I need some reviving! The basil has been oh so good and I have used it weekly!






"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Don't you just love that verse? It was one of the first verses I learned. How many times the Father has graciously picked me up, dusted me off and renewed my strength to try again....and succeed!

Tomorrow I'm going to post how I changed up my planters and what I've learned from my flowerbeds this year. I love to garden, it's just been so hot. We are praying for some afternoon showers, but we haven't seen any this week!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Weeds and Fruit




Proverbs 24:30-34
"I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."



Yesterday, I observed the field of my family. We had a lot of weeds growing in our hearts. We were a bit unkind to one another. Some were taking liberties that were not permitted and I had grown lazy in my training. It was time to weed!

Since we have had a lot of rain lately, weeds had taken over our garden! Isn't it great when God shows similarities in the natural realm that touch the core of your heart? We got out to the garden early this morning before it was too hot to work. Some were happier than others, and some felt it was too much work, but together we were able to dig, tear and pull out the weeds!



It felt so good to look back and see some progress. It didn't take long with all of us working together to see some real change. Change also began to slowly appear on faces! Smiles and words of encouragement for one another began to flow! A little work seems to move out the uglies!



Hidden in the weeds we found some treats. God began to show me, that just because we had let some things go didn't mean that there wasn't any fruit. We all want fruit in our lives. Just because we mess up as wives or mothers or friends, doesn't mean that everything is bad! It's so easy to look at one situation and think that EVERYTHING is terrible! No dear one, there is still some good fruit hidden amongst the weeds. He loves us and makes sure to show us our faults and then reveal the good fruit that He was growing all along! Sometimes, we need to ask our Heavenly Father to give us eyes to see the fruit that He is growing in us!



We have cantaloupe! One lone little melon hidden in the weeds! There are some starts of others, but this one is actually doing something! I'm so excited! We've never had one grow before. I'm not even sure when it's supposed to be picked. I'm sure we'll figure it out. Did I ever tell you that I wasn't raised on a farm or have gardening experience? None, nada, not any experience! I'm more of your fair weather type gardener, I like to start big and then kind of fade into the cool of my home when it gets hot and dry. This year I have committed to sticking this thing out! That means that when all of my corn died, I didn't give up! Surely perseverance will pay off!



I have determined that plants that are watered and weeded regularly will grow better and bear more fruit. Isn't that interesting....if we water our spirit with the washing of the water of the Word of God, we bear more fruit. If we address sin in our hearts, we bear even more fruit!

Thank you Lord for revealing your truths to us today!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some Yummy Breakfast Recipe's

I get up early with my husband to make his breakfast. To be honest, I'm not an early morning kind of gal. When we first married, it was the only time we would see each other until bedtime, because he was in school. I would make breakfast for him and then we would read a devotional written for newly married couples.

We did this until I had our first baby. At that point, he had to fend for himself until I could get my wits about me. The one thing we have never stopped doing is to pray with each other in the morning. That morning prayer has helped us to forgive each other so many times. It's just too hard to hold hands and pray with someone if you're mad!

Anyway, back to breakfast. Since my man eats and leaves most mornings before the children are up, I've come up with some breakfasts that can be made quickly and then eaten at different times. I certainly am not up for eating at 6:15 am! When we were first married, I was given a packet of recipes that were all 9x13 breakfasts. I have used these for years and adapted them to meet the taste buds in our home! You do the same!

Both of these recipes can be made the night before and reheated in the morning. If you are industrious, you can make them early and still have them early. I often make Cinnamon Toast Cake on Saturday mornings. You can also freeze them in individual serving portions.

Here are a couple of Recipes for you to enjoy. I will say that I use freshly milled wheat, if you don't have freshly milled flour, don't worry use what you have. Whole wheat is better, but don't get stuck, just use what you have and serve your family lots of love with it!

Pancakes In A Pan
(This recipes keeps me from flipping pancakes at the stove for what seems like eternity!)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
3 T. raw sugar
1 1/2 t salt
2 eggs
41/2 melted butter, oil or coconut oil
1 1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375. Measure flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and mix. Put milk, egg and melted butter or oil together in a small bowl and blend. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Place batter in a 9 x 13 baking pan (spray or grease it first). You can sprinkle the batter with pieces of cooked bacon or sausage if desired before cooking. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden and pick comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve warm with butter and syrup if desired. This is easy to reheat in the microwave. Enjoy!



Cinnamon Toast Cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup raw sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Softened Butter
Cinnamon and Sugar mixed together

Heat oven to 350. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a medium size bowl mix the oil with the milk and vanilla. Hand mix the dry ingredients ingredients into the wet mixture. Spread batter in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 20 -25 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, spread with butter all over the top, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Pop under the broiler for a minute or so until the top is bubbly. Be sure to watch closely so it doesn't burn!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we have. More than anything, I pray that you enjoy cooking and serving your family lots of love. I'm writing this just as I have spoken very sternly with three little boys today. This is one of "those" training days. I think it's time for mama to come up for air and breathe a minute, before I go back into the trenches. The garden needs weeding. Looks like we can all work out our frustrations together! God bless each and every one of you.

I pray that you would know that He loves you and that you are precious in His sight!
Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Never a Dull Moment!


Okay, so this blogging thing is good and bad..... I enjoy writing because it gives me a creative outlet, but it does take up time. I will think of something to write, but I won't have a picture, or I will have a picture and nothing to write. I'm sure those of you who blog have realized this little struggle. I thought that instead of thinking up a whole topic, I would share what has been going on around our little farmette and all our critters! As you can see by the picture, there is always something happening here!

I could hardly wait to harvest my first ear of corn. It was going to be such a moving moment to see all those neat rows of yellow corn kernals ready to burst with flavor! Not so. I've had a corn crop failure! We've had a lot of heat and no rain. My sweet husband even bought me a special chair to sit in while I watered the corn every day. I was watering it by hand for almost an hour some days! I think all that water just made the corn more tasty for the nasty little worms that moved in to the ears! They had the corn party! The chickens enjoyed the worms and what was left of the corn! They were the ultimate partiers!

Bugs of all kinds love heat. The plants are stressed and seem to be easier to attack! The eggplant had beautiful little purple flowers just peaking out when they were infested by an army of something that ate all their flowers in one morning! Alas, not all has been wasted! My tomatoes are beautiful. I planted several varieties and they are producing half a dozen every day! I'm going to put up tomatoes this morning. I've also got plums to magically turn into jam. I just love to see my shelves begin to fill up with jewel toned jars of jelly and jam.

Our chickens are panting for a breath of cool air every afternoon, but they are still faithfully producing eggs. I had a double yolked egg the other day. I had not seen one before. The egg was huge.

We've added two sweet little kittens to our critter list. It was so funny to see our dog explain that he was friend and not foe. He is huge and looks a bit menacing, but is quite the gentle giant. He "caught" them with his paw and held them down and licked them until they were a hissing wet rag! Now they follow him wherever he goes!

We have adopted a laid back homeschooling routine and it is wonderful! We school three days a week and use one day for catch-up and cleaning and the other day for swimming and play! It's great. We are spending quite a bit of time reading books that we didn't get to during the school year. I love to see my children read!

We have begun the remodel on our basement. It is going to take some time to get it all done, but the garage and workshop have walls. There is such a big difference in temperature down there now. The car doesn't heat up the "living" part of the basement anymore! Eventually we will have three bedrooms an office and a family room down there.

We are praying about fostering another baby girl. The Lord has been faithful to lead us step by step. Our first step towards fostering is to get caught up on our classes. We will take the first one next week. We haven't signed on the dotted line, but it seems that we may go that direction again. I love children and struggle with how the enemy endeavors to destroy them at such an early age! I pray that we can make a difference in the lives of children.

Once we adopted Katie, we thought we had our girl and were done! Then repeatedly I would be giving the children things to do or just checking where everyone was and found myself looking for another child that was no where to be seen! Maybe she is waiting in the wings.... The Lord knows!

Well, I have a son that is hungry yet again! A little girl that needs some attention and another son that is trying to bring a bug collection in and another son that would like me to look at his school work. I guess it's time to get a move on! Have a wonderful day!

Hilltop Blessings!
Sheri

Sunday, June 13, 2010

He Is Sweeter Than Honey or Chocolate!

Psalm 104:34
"May my meditation be sweet to Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the Lord."


Psalm 119:103
"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"


Psalm 19:9-10
"The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb."

Psalm 34:8
"O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him."


Psalm 86:5
"For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You."

I pray that each of you enjoys the goodness of the Lord this week! His mercies never come to an end! They are new every morning. He is faithful! I just couldn't help putting Katie's first "pan lickings" up with verses that are about our Father's goodness ! Somehow they seemed to go together!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Friday, June 4, 2010

Here a Chick There A Chick!




Well, it's been much longer than I thought it would be to add the latest installment to my last post. We live such a thrilling life, that I just haven't had time to post.

You know my only qualifications for being a wanna be farm girl was that I had read all the Little House books at least nine times! I had never even seen a chicken lay an egg. I didn't even know that a chicken can lay an egg without having a rooster around. So yet again, I assured my sweet husband, that I had read all about chickens and knew exactly what to do......



He went to France for a business trip and I went to Home Depot to get the supplies to build myself a chicken yard! My father, wanting to help me, volunteered to build the Chicken Chalet. All I had to do was get them a yard. How hard could that be?

Armed with T posts (I felt so knowledgeable when I went in to Tractor Supply for T posts. I knew what they were!), chicken wire and zip ties, I was set. Yes I said zip ties. I didn't know how to use anything else. I bought bags and bags of those little things to attach the chicken wire to the t posts. It was October and 90 degrees. I worked like a crazy girl getting the yard all set up for the girls. I even built a door. Well I built a rectangle and made an opening.... I got poultry netting and put it all over the top and held it up with broom sticks that had bleach bottles on the ends. It was a sight to see! My husband was so surprised! Did I say that he is an engineer? You know the the kind that would never rig anything and does everything just so....

Well the day after he came home, I went in the truck to get the girls and their man. Our friends sold us nine chickens and one rooster. I was so excited I could hardly wait! Did you know that chickens aren't keen on being shoved in a dog crate? Did you know that when you let them out of said crate they go crazy? Did you know if you leave the door to the chicken yard open, they all run for their life?! Did you know that when a huge puppy Great Pyranees sees these chickens, he feels it's his job to chase them and bring them to you?

Then of course during this fine moment, I responded just like a loving wife should wondering aloud why her husband would leave the gate open? Wondering why those chickens weren't strutting into their new home. After all, there was this red faced man running at them with a butterfly net!


The first night at the Chicken Chalet, only had about half as many chickens as I had planned on. I finally managed to trick them into the pen. Then came the tornado. Yes we had a tornado that came through our land and literally turned the coop upside down and tore loose all the netting. Those post with the bleach bottles could only withstand so much. Again all the chickens were "free-range". Free-range means, that they live on your front porch, in your flower beds and anywhere you wouldn't want them to be. Anywhere but in the nice coop I had so lovingly made!



This past winter, I declared war on the chickens. I was tired of them, flying into their coop, eating the feed and then moving on to my garden for the remainder of their meal. Who knew chickens could fly. Laura Ingalls didn't mention flying chickens.

My husband and I armed with scissors, a ladder and flashlights, set out to find them one winter evening. Paul climbed the ladder with me holding back branches and shining the flashlight into the trees. We managed to gather up all the chickens and bring them into the chicken yard. Some of those chickens screamed like a girl when we grabbed them out of the trees. I think I would scream too if I was being dragged out of a tree from a dead sleep!

One by one, we proceeded to cut everything off of them that would prevent them from flying. My husband suggested we just cut off their wings! He added that no one eats that part anyway! Needless to say, we just trimmed their feathers real close. The next morning I walked out to the chicken yard to see the most pitiful group of chickens on my front porch! Yep, they could still get out. I really was thinking of cutting off their wings at that point!

The next night we set out to gather up our wayward girls. What could we cut now?....We cut off their tail-feathers! Now they really looked terrible, but guess what? They stayed in the pen! Poor things, they just paced the whole day!


I've noticed that chickens really are like women. They may be happy with what they have until they see another gal with something else. The something else doesn't even have to be better. What lures the discontent gal is that the other gal is "acting" like what she has the best thing since dinner last night! I've seen one girl drop a perfectly good grub to chase after her sister friend who has a blade of dried up grass! Oh Lord, help us to be content! More on girl chicken relationships later!

We are kind of a morbid group here...every time the boys bring me a lizard for examination, I suggest they go throw it in the chicken yard. It is so fun to watch those gals grab and run for their life. Rarely does the original grabber get to hang on to her prize.

Thanks again friends for sticking with me while I share a nugget (not chicken) from our life. We love it here. I pray that you prosper where the Lord has placed you. Have a wonderful week. Next time, I'll share about the vermin that love to haunt me and my vain imaginings while I work in my garden.

Hilltop Blessings!
Sheri

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Adventures In The Wilderness!

When we decided to move to the country, we knew there would be changes.....I just didn't know how many I would make! I had the vision of the quaint home in the country, with pretty flowers and gardens. A large dog on the porch, kittens in the barn, chickens in the barnyard, perhaps goats or sheep in the fields. Doesn't that sound like the perfect picture of country living?!

Well ladies...it's all imaginary! Don't get me wrong, we love the country. We love our country home and all the critters that live here! It has just been a journey of hilarity mixed with tears!
We moved here in the midst of a drought. It was 107 degrees the day we moved in. The ground was a lovely shade of parched gray! If we could have sold poison ivy from our woods, we would be millionaires! Instead we were hot and itchy!

Upon arrival, we got the house liveable. Then we took a breather until the spring of 2007. We knew if we didn't get a head start on the poison ivy, we were going to be in trouble. Goats seemed to be the answer. Interestingly enough, they think the stuff is candy! To have goats, you have to have a fence. To have goats, you have to have a guardian livestock dog, unless you want to feed your goats to other wildlife. To have a dog to guard the goats, you have to have fencing.

Ahh fencing. If you have ever fenced, you know it's not on your bucket list of things to do! After pounding in a few hundred posts (exaggeration) we decided to have the fence put up. That was another journey of fun. There was a very sweet man that we hired to come and fence. I noticed that my boys were lined up watching him work with very serious expressions. No words, no pushing, just very serious expressions. Finally I asked them what they were doing.

Jonathan: Shhhh! We are waiting for him to die. Me: Whatttt!!!! Ben: Shhh! He is going to die soon! Daniel: Look mom, he's got one of those smoke sticks in his mouth! Me: Whattt!!!! Ben: You said if we smoke cigarettes we would die. This man has smoked so many today, we know it's going to be soon! Me: Hysterical laughter. Boys, you must not sit here and wait for this man to die. Ben: No mom, we aren't, we have shared the gospel with him and are waiting for him to make a decision!

Later I spoke with the man about his audience. He told me we have very interesting children. I told him why they were so interesting! He laughed so hard and said that they had continued to ask him if he knew where he was going to go when he died!

Well, the fence did get put up without any deaths! Then came the dog! We arrived home with the dog before the fence man had even left. He instructed me to not get the dog out of the van until I had taken it to the vet for shots and a checkup. You see, this was a "free" dog. More on "free" another time. After parting with more money at the vet, we took our 50 pound flee and tick infested puppy home.

Fence up-check, Guardian dog-check! Now for those sweet little goats!!!!! We fenced a special little circle for the goats. We didn't have a barn, so they were going to use large dog crates with tarps over them for temporary shelter. (two years)

We had strict instructions to not allow them to get "bloated" or they would die! I was so afraid for them to eat too much, that we watched them like hawks on road-kill! They finally acclimated to our woods and true as told, they ate the poison ivy! They ate the honey suckle, they ate the grass, they ate the weeds and they loved roses!

One thing they did not like was to stay put! They loved our front porch! Do you know what it's like to look out your windows and see a heard of goats laying in the heat of the day on your front porch!!! They also left droppings on my front porch! My front porch with the pretty white furniture and the pretty hanging baskets. My front porch with the pretty roses planted in my flower beds! Did you know that goats can wiggle under a three inch hole in the fence? With that picture in mind, let's leave the goats on the front porch and move on to the sweet little kittens!



Our "first" kittens were named "Sweetie" and "Lou". They were so sweet. Little black kittens from a friends farm. They were going to be our mousers and snakers! If there is one thing I hate, it's snakes! A snake welcomed me the first night in our home. I found it in the basement. Fortunately, it was stuck on one of those sticky traps! It was a copperhead!

Little Sweetie and Lou were going to love us and keep us safe. We just forgot one important fact....kitty's like to travel. They like to go across the road. Okay, so now we were looking for more cats. I decided we would name our next cat "Hope"...Hope you live! She did! So did her babies and her babies after that!



We had lots of babies. The babies had babies! We were becoming a cat farm! I mean we were thriving!

This little saga is going to have to be continued tomorrow. Thanks for going on my journey! Lest you think it has all been hard, don't. We have had a wonderful journey. Can you guess what is our next addition to this little farm?



Hilltop Blessings!
Sheri

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pressure

Recently, I was all distressed over a situation with another mother. Whenever we as moms do something different than another, you know the assault on the brain! We all want to be the best mother we can possibly be and don't care to be challenged in our decisions. We would walk over red-hot coals for our husbands and children.

I always have to come back to that "center" place in my brain . God loves me. He chose my children for me. He knows who they will be and what they will need. In my own incompleteness, I'm the best mom for my children. The way the Lord has directed me to parent, is the best way to parent the children He has entrusted to me.

It's so easy to get distracted when you see another family doing something different from the values your family shares. I asked myself why the situation bothered me so much and I'm still not sure why it did, but the bottom line is it did.

I felt anger, frustration and almost dislike for this other person. Then the Godometer went off. I wasn't walking in love, nor was I walking in the Spirit of who I am in Christ. Perhaps this mother needs grace and love from me. I don't have to change my family values to love and encourage this other woman and her family. She may be frustrated with me or even verbally share her feelings, but I can remain loving and kind, because I'm secure in my position in Christ! Whew! That's tough, but it's really where the Lord wants us. We are to be secure in Him and not what others think of us!

I'm not responsible for how another person perceives me or how they feel about a decision I make for my children. If my husband and I are in agreement with what we do, then that is the safe center place for our family. I'm also not to feel that I am superior to anyone regarding the choices we make for our family!

As I realized these truths, the pressure and weights disappeared! I don't have to worry about another families motives or values or choices, it's not my place! How freeing is that?! Isn't God good to give us comfort in the midst of pressure?

As we make decisions for our family that aren't always popular, it teaches our children to do likewise. It teaches them to follow the inner leading of the Holy Spirit. Isn't that what we really want? Isn't our goal to raise men and women who love God and follow after Him with a whole heart?

I've been so thankful for God to give me ideas to show our children how He intimately cares for us on a personal level. I know that the more "real" Jesus is to our children, the easier it will be to follow after Him in the tight places further down the road in their walk with Him.

Sometimes our path as a daughter of God, takes us through difficult places. They are rugged, dirty, uncomfortable and sometimes even bloody, but through it all, we are helped by the Father who loves us with an unfailing love. I pray that today as you seek the will of God for your family that you feel His love, mercy, grace and peace. I pray that you would be encouraged and strengthened in your walk with Him today. We are to run this race with endurance. Let's not give up. Let's do what Christ has called us to do with our families.

I'll leave you with these verses from Ephesians 3:16-20.

" I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"

Hilltop blessings!
Sheri

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mentoring Women

I owe a lot of who I am to the incredible women that mentored me and encouraged me as a young woman. There were women who loved on me, women who redirected me, women who encouraged me to be more...., women who inspired me. Get the picture? God poured out incredible wisdom through these women into my life. It made me who I am today.

Just recently, I reconnected with one of those ladies on Facebook. It meant the world to me. I was so glad to find her and let her know I was well! These ladies in essence became mother's to me. As a result of this amazing teaching and training, I have a desire for women to know they are precious to the Lord and for them to be all they can be for the Lord and their families.

You all know the verses in Titus 2, but let's just refresh ourselves a moment.
Titus 2:3-5
"Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble. So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kind-hearted) adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).

I'm so thankful that there were women who heeded these verses and took them to heart. I want to encourage you today to be that Titus 2 lady. Are there younger women around you that need to be loved on and encouraged, maybe even gently nudged? I pray that you would even reach out to the young woman that is a bit "messy".

I was pretty messy and it took a lot of women to help me receive the healing I needed to be the woman I am today. I pray that as the Lord lays one of these ladies on your heart, you would wrap your arms around her and encourage her today!

If you are the young woman that needs some mentoring, find that lady that you admire and find out a need she has and meet it. Does she need some help with childcare, yard work or house work? If you know you need what she has, lighten her load so she can help you. If you are too beaten down to help, than just take that first step and ask for some assistance.

The Father of all mercies is so good to me that I can't even end this post without saying Thank You Carla, Thank You Susan, Thank You Nancy, Thank You Debi, Thank You Janice, Thank You Marilyn and the many others that have so graciously poured themselves out for me. I'm a vessel that can be poured out for others because each of you poured yourselves out for me. I love each of you and can't say thank you enough! Blessings to you.

Okay, so it's sort of sappy today, but look out there and see who you can bless and encourage today. It can change the course of a person's entire life! It did for me!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri




Monday, May 10, 2010

Enjoying The Moment!

I feel like the past week flew by so fast! I was so busy and at the same time dealing with an injury that was dragging me down! I just hate it when I want to get so many things done, but can't!

When the Lord slows me down, I'm reminded of the essential things! My husband, my family, my home and just the "real living" of life. Each step I took last week, was painfully obvious! In the midst of the pain, I realized that every choice I make counts! It counts for spiritually nourishing my family. It counts for blessings them and training my children. I didn't spend much time on the computer, and I was amazed at home much can be done!

There was even an added sense of peace in our home. I'm sure it was because my children had more of "me". This week, I'm feeling so much better, and I'm going to purpose to make each moment continue to count. I pray that I would look at what the Lord has given me and count it all joy!

One of the things I did last week was to get a new book about managing my metabolism. I was so grateful for the Lord to put words and "how-to's" in my hand. Everything I read, was what had been on my heart to do! This just had recipes!

I'm going to be using a lot of new recipes this week and I'll share them as I go. I know that the more energy I need, the better the fuel must be for my body. Sometimes when I get bogged down, I realize that the fuel I've been feeding my body is low quality!

I'm starting to plan what materials I will be using next year for school. I can hardly wait! We are going to be using the Mystery of History. I think it will be fun and packed with great information. My boys make teaching them a lot of fun.

Over the weekend, I made the Laundry Soap from Homestead Revival's blog. Instead of it being a big tub of goo, it's a powdered soap. It was so easy to make and certainly cost effective. If you've never made laundry soap before, try it just for fun. It's very inexpensive and goes a long way.

I'll leave you with one of the recipes I'm going to try this week and you make it and we can compare notes!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
zest of 1 orange
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup 70% cocoa chocolate chips

Spray a muffin pan with olive oil or line with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk together the milk, honey, olive oil, egg, and orange zest. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir just until moistened. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Fill mixture into muffin pan and place in oven that is preheated to 425. Once in the oven lower temperature to 400. Bake until done about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm.


In my reading of Proverbs 10 this morning, I once again was reminded of verses 12-13. I pray that you have a blessed week and enjoy your family moment by moment!

Proverbs 10:11-13 (amplified)
"The mouth of the [uncompromisingly] righteous man is a well of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions. On the lips of him who has discernment skillful and godly , Wisdom is found, but discipline and the rod are for the back of him who is without sense and understanding."


A moment forever locked in time. Texas Bluebonnets and my children!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Monday, May 3, 2010

He Is New Every Morning!


I went out this morning and took some pictures of my flowers. I love flowers. They remind me of God's faithfulness. Sometimes we have to wait a long time to see the promises of God unfold. He is faithful. When I plant flowers, some give me instant gratification and others take some time.




Even the flowers that give me beautiful color and a bold display all summer long, need pruning and water. I realize that with my own life, God desires for me to lay hold of a destiny. It isn't just given to me on a silver platter. Some things are easier than others, but some things are really hard. Some things only come with consistent work, prayer and more work and prayer! Ever had some of those things in your life?



Recently, I realized that some of the things that I want so badly have sadly been put on a back burner. They were just too hard. I just couldn't keep on day after day. Then the Lord allowed me to see how important they were. How? Pain... Yes pain, there is always pain when we lay aside the very things that God wants us to push through. Push past the "I don't want to do that", push past the "I don't have time..." even push past the "It's to hard...." Ever feel that way?

Paul said it best in Philippians 3:12b-14
"..but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward"

Early in my walk with the Lord, someone told me that "to press" meant to go forward with determined and energetic effort without ceasing. Now that is really pressing! Today I've determined to press on! To go forward with God and all that He has for me. I've determined to do those things that I don't want to do and be grateful that God has given me the ability to do them!

I'm looking for ways to be thankful! That's an easy one! God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing! He has provided such a rich bounty of grace to overcome anything that get's in our way! I'm going to forget the mistakes in the past! I'm not going to listen to the voices that scream FAILURE. They are lies anyway! We just have to look up! I'm going to do that today.

He is a good and faithful God. His mercy's are new every morning! He loves us and He will see us through the good and the bad. I'm not just trying to post a little bit of fluff, but real hard living and walking with God. It's tough sometimes! God is even tougher! He will uphold us with His right hand.

Sister I encourage you in the Lord this morning! I pray that the blessings of God would overtake you and that you would see that He is faithful and that you are loved! Have a wonderful Monday!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday's Supper



Today's meal is sort of put together with two things in mind. Last week I mentioned that I was going to see how many meals I could make with two free range chickens as well as how can I be as budget minded with both my time and my resources.

Soooo let me tell you what I was able to do. I cooked the two chickens in the oven and also cooked roasted vegetables at the same time. Obviously the vegetables didn't take as long as the chickens, so I cooked them towards the end of the chicken cooking time. That was one meal. The second meal I made from the More with Less Cookbook. I made a chicken loaf, mashed potatoes, peas and the best gravy I have ever made. I used the drippings from the cooked chicken.

Now let's get to our Tuesday's Supper! This third meal was Chicken Pot Pie and sliced apples and left over muffins. I was really dragging my heals about this pot pie, because I don't like to make crust! Truthfully, I'm terrible at it! So I went looking and hunting and came up with a really forgiving recipe! I found it at Thy Hand Hath Provided. She has an awesome blog, and if you haven't checked it out, your probably should! She has a ton of recipes. Anyway, she has a pie crust recipe that makes eleven pies! Atleast it makes eleven pies for her! I made six crusts and then cinnamon sticks from two of the crusts. Like I said, crusts are not my thing. They may be more my thing now, because of her recipe!

So to begin with I made crust.
7 cups white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup coconut oil (you can use shortening if you like)
1 1/2 cups butter
2 T sugar
4 t salt
2 T vinegar
2 eggs
1 cup water ( I had to add more)

mix it all together and roll it out! Then place in your pie pans. You can then put them in grocery store bags and freeze them. I stacked them with wax paper in bags of two's. My son Jonathan helped with some rolling. (that way I knew where he was!)




For the Chicken Pot Pie, I used 2 1/2 cups of cut up chicken, leftover roasted vegetables, leftover gravy and put it in the crust. Topped it with another crust and it was finished!!! I kept it in the fridge until it was time to cook dinner. Since dinner was done, I moved onto another job I had been putting off.

During the winter, we were buying 40 pound boxes of Pink Lady Apples. They were wonderful, but we finally began to get tired of them and just left them in the basement. I can't let all that goodness go to waste! I got out my handy dandy peeler, corer apple slicer that I got at the thrift store for $1.99 and went to town. I filled up a whole crock pot full of sliced apples and set them to cooking. When they were done I added one cup of raw sugar and some cinnamon to it and used my little stick mixer and mixed it all up to mush. Canned it in clean jars and voila, I had canned applesauce!


So my two chickens have given my family three full meals, some lunches and inspired me to make crusts and then move onto applesauce. That's a lot of goodness! I also got 4 quarts of delicious rich broth and 1 1/2 cups more chopped chicken that will be used for a Brown rice, lentil and chicken casserole.



This was our meal and it was yummy. The roasted vegetables added a wonderful flavor. I was especially happy, because I was able to actually overcome my fear of making pie crusts!

While making this meal out of "leftovers" I was thinking how as wives and mother's we are always trying to make more with less and stretching what we have to be good stewards of what God has provided. Here are a few verses that although slightly taken out of context make sense for what we are doing!

1 Timothy 4:4-6

"For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer. If you lay all these instructions before the brethren, you will be a worthy steward and a good minister of Christ Jesus, ever nourishing your own self on the truths of the faith and of the good instruction which you have closely followed. "

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Muffins!



We stretch a lot of meals and snacks with muffins. I have found that just about anything can go into a muffin. I use zucchini, leftover oatmeal, chocolate chips, cheese, left over apple sauce, or even just cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top!

The thing to NEVER put into a muffin is one of those hard sugary Easter eggs that are pastel colored with white goo inside! NEVER! NEVER! My mom wanted to surprise us one Easter morning with a special eastery breakfast. It was raining and she wanted to make the morning a little less gloomy! Even Jesus wouldn't have tried to resurrect those muffins. Picture faded melted goo in the center of each muffin! Oh those were sad muffins! Bless her heart, we have never forgotten those muffins, so I guess my mom did create a memory that morning!

On to muffin making....I do grind our wheat to make flour, but I didn't always and I like to use a natural sugar. Other than that, just about anything is fair game. Here is my basic recipe. I will say, that sometimes they are heavy, or light or very large muffin tops or not..... It just depends on the ingredients, and if you don't mention all of the ingredients, the children will gobble them up!

Muffins

2 cups flour or 1 cup flour and 1 cup of another grain
1/4 - 1 cup sugar depending on how sweet you like it
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 egg
1- 1 1/2 cups milk (I prefer sour milk if I have it)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of some type of fat: coconut oil, olive oil or canola oil

Then there are extras that you can add like blueberries or that 1/2 cup of flakey cereal that's getting pushed back into the cabinet because nobody wants it. You get the picture. You can safely add up to about 1 1/2 cups of add ins. Just be sure you balance the wet ingredients. Remember this isn't a science project and you can fiddle with it as it's very forgiving!

Mix everything together. If you want, you can mix dry and wet ingredients individually or just dump it all. If you are adding blueberries, mix them into the flour first and then they don't fall to the bottom of the muffin. (so they say)

I cook these on 350 and watch them until they are ready. If you want them to go a little further, put them in the mini muffin pans.

Tonight the muffins I made were blueberry and a batch of cinnamon applesauce. I had some homemade applesauce that needed to be used up and I just dumped about 1/3 to 1/2 cup in the batter. I often add vanilla or lemon juice to the batter depending on what type of muffins I'm making.

These freeze well and make a great quick breakfast. I also need to give the book The Tightwad Gazette credit for my muffin madness! She has a Universal Muffin recipe that I based my recipe on. Enjoy!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Best Dinner Ever!

How often can you start a post with "The Best Dinner Ever"? Well it was! I have enjoyed a few moments of the program Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I never have time to see the whole thing, but while I give Katie a breathing treatment, we watch it on Friday nights. (I really live on the edge of excitement)!

I went to his website and found this oh so healthy and yummy recipe. I encourage you to go to his website and see all the great ideas he posts. I'm posting this recipe because it's so easy and you probably have most of the ingredients.

Meatballs and Pasta

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (how much is a sprig? I used about a tsp and a half)
12 plain crackers (I doubled this recipe and used 1/2 cup of oatmeal)
2 heaped tsp. of dijon mustard (I used regular mustard and didn't measure)
1 pound good quality ground beef or pork or a mixture of the two. (I used 2 lbs of grassfed beef)
1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano
1 large egg (I used 2)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil
Small bunch of fresh basil
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a fresh or dried red chile
2 cans of tomatoes 140z. ( I used 1 can and then 2 cups fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ( I used red wine vinegar)
1 pound of dried spaghetti or penne
Parmesan cheese for grating (I used the already grated kind not the shake kind)

To make your meatballs

Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and finely chop them. Break up the crackers into crumbs. ( I use whatever "binding" agent I have on hand. You can use bread crumbs, cracker crumbs or oatmeal) Add to the bowl with mustard, ground meat, chopped rosemary and oregano. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together. Divide into 4 large balls then divide each ball into 6 and roll into little meatballs- you should end up with 24. I doubled this and ended up with 71! They were small, but they went a looong way! I froze half uncooked. Drizzle them with olive oil and jiggle them so they all get coated. I cooked them in the oven on 350. I don't know how long I cooked them, but be sure you don't overcook them.

To cook your pasta and sauce

Pick the basil leaves, keeping any smaller ones to one side for later. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Finely slice the chile. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Next, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add 2 lugs of olive oil. Add your onion to the frying pan and stir around for 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. Then add your garlic and chile and as soon as they start to get some color add the large basil leaves. Add the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Bring to boil and season to taste. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the pasta is ready.

Serve with the small basil leaves sprinkled over the dish and fresh parmesan.

We loved this dish. Must say I didn't sprinkle small basil leaves over the dish! Go figure. I put it on the plates and we ate without anyone saying what's this green stuff!!! I served this with garlic bread. I was going to make a salad, but decided this was enough. Next time, I'm going to double the sauce recipe. I think this sauce would be wonderful as a pizza sauce! The meatballs are in the freezer, so next time it will be a quick meal that only needs sauce! If you have any questions, please ask!

Hilltop Blessings,
Sheri