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Enjoying Everyday Life

I, Mary, just received my winter edition of ENJOYING EVERYDAY LIFE, by Joyce Meyer. The first thing that caught my eye when I opened the magazine was an article entitled, The Ultimate Stress Reliever. Seems we need such wisdom in our troubled world today.

The article reads, in part:

               “Trusting God is the greatest stress reliever in the world.

Joyce Meyer goes on to say…  “We cannot rely on our own insight and understanding, endlessly thinking about our problems, trying to figure everything out ourselves. Worrying is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives.”

In John 14:27 Jesus says, “My (perfect) peace I leave with you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”  (Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.)

The truth is, God knew about your problem before you ever got it, and He already has a plan for your solution. In the meantime, you can choose to enjoy your life while you wait. With God’s help, you can trust more and stress less.

For complete article go to:  Joyce Meyer Ministries, joycemeyer.org

Killer Kale Salad

Are you ready for some “Greens”?  Not more Christmas greens, but beginning the new year with a huge delicious salad?  I, Mary, turn to The Pioneer Woman, Ree, after the Christmas bulge. Her recipes are quick, nutritious, and easy. Enjoy!

Killer Kale Salad

Prep: 10 Minutes Level: Easy
Cook: 25 Minutes Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into Bits
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Red Onion, Halved and Sliced
  • 8 ounces, weight White Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces, weight Goat Cheese Crumbled
  • 3/4 cups Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme Leaves
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch Kale

 

Preparation

Fry the bacon bits until slightly crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

Pour out most of the grease and add the butter to the skillet. Add the onions and cook them over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until soft. Remove them to a plate. Add the mushrooms, stir, then add the wine, and salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the mushrooms for several minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft. Remove them from the heat and set them aside.

Add the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper to a mason jar and shake it to combine.

Remove the kale leaves from the stalks, then roll them up in batches and slice very thinly. Place the kale in a bowl. Add half the dressing and toss. Then add mushrooms, onions, and bacon and toss again. Finally, add the goat cheese and more dressing if needed, and toss. (Reserve extra dressing for another use.)

Serve it up and enjoy!


by 
Ree | The Pioneer Woman

Salads

Webpage
http://thepioneerwoman.com

 

 

The Gift of Change

We are delighted to welcome back Rev. Edwin Hollen, a return guest blogger

The Gift of Change

“I will” is a great resolve when focused on a needed positive change. It is always interesting to hear the comments of some as we come near to the close of a year. Has it been the disappointment of a wrong choice in the year just lived? Or is it the hope that finally the new year will be the year of fulfilled dreams?

One thing is a lesson we all learn soon or should learn. We become the sum total of our resolves, choices made daily as well as yearly. The combining of our decisions determine our road of life and also the closing. The easiest part is to make a statement as to what we are going to do. The follow-through is probably where most fail. Endurance and focus is critical in fruition.

When I was young, I knew of a man given to heavy drinking (today he would be referred to as an alcoholic). He met his drinking buddies one day with a new decision: “I quit drinking!”

Their response: “For how long?”

“For life!” he responded. Their laughter provoked an immediate response. “I’ve done it before, I can do it again” he declared.

“For life”?

Remember follow-through is where the fulfillment of our resolve happens. One said, “Words are cheap—to make it happen is costly.” The story of the prodigal in Scripture is a great resolution story. Nowhere are we given a hint as to the time of year it was, nor does it matter. He has lived out a decision. He has now come to a daily regret and with remorse, awakening one morning, he makes a momentous decision. Hesitating, no longer suffering over the mistakes of the past, the resolve is made:

“I will arise and go,” and go he did.

The one innate gift the Creator has given us is the ability to change our thinking (harder for some than others). To resolve, to decide, to make choices is a cherished gift to a human life. God does not respond to just certain dates (like the New Year) to allow change or to a select people. “Whosoever will may Come.”

I am not in any way a promoter of those easy-on bumper stickers. Perhaps I would be one to oppose even their production, however I saw one so eye-catching and true—life-altering:

On the road of life, God allows U-turns

It is not a New Year’s thing. It is an “any day” thing with you and God. Though it is easier in younger years, change is possible in any season of life. Every life is filled with decisions. Could we find one who has made them all correctly or wisely?

Some twenty-five years ago, my wife, Phyllis, and I had just returned from ministry in the Netherlands. We visited the advanced-training center of Teen Challenge in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, where our youngest son, Paul, was on staff working with those whose resolves had brought them to a condition of despair. His job was to travel fulltime into schools, churches, and gatherings where those in the program of restoring could relate their stories. Their group was named U-Turn.

As I spoke that morning in a chapel service and looked out over the sea of faces making new resolves, it was the apex of the summer. It left a lingering truth in my spirit. Oh, the gift of change!

Perhaps some reading this have lived this past year or even a lifetime of regret over wrong resolves and choices. Live there no longer, in that state of disappointment and despair. U-turn yourself and turn around. Resolve with determination to “arise and go to my Father.” Relive the prodigal story! Jesus said, “Come!”

Thank You!

Thanks for following along with us on thewisejourney this year!

You might have assumed that we chose this name for our blog because we thought WE had a lot of wise advice to offer YOU.  Not so!

We’re blogging for the fun of it,

and because we believe that the only truly wise journey is the one set out for us by a Creator God who sent his son, Jesus, 2,000+ years ago to redeem us.

May you be blessed with JOY and PEACE as you rejoice in this gift of God’s Son.

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS !

Mary and Sharon

 

P.S.  We’ll be featuring some guest bloggers whose PERSPECTIVES we think you’ll enjoy in 2018.  Stay tuned!

What God Means to Me

Thanksgiving: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime by Sharon Sheppard     Last week I shared with you in alphabet form a lighthearted list of a few of my favorite things.  Some of them were frivolous, some not.

This week, I invite you to pull up a chair and sit down at my Thanksgiving table as I offer a rich feast from the pages of The Holy Bible.  The preparation has taken a while.  After losing my cherished husband to cancer several years ago, I spent a period of time grappling with what it means to be alone. Gradually I discovered in a new way some old truths.  One of the most profound is that I’m never alone!!!

What God means to me

He is my . . .

A      Advocate  1 Jn. 2:1a-2  If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…

B       Burdenbearer  Ps. 68:19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

C       Counselor  Jn. 14:16 & 26  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever…but the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things.

D       Defender  Ps. 27:1  The Lord is my light and my salvation—The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

E       Encourager  Rom. 15:5  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

F       Friend  Prov. 18:24…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

G       Guide Jn. 16:13  But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

H       Husband  Isa. 54:5 For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

I        Immanuel   Mt. 1:23  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’

J        Justifier   I Cor 6:11  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

K       King  1 Tim. 6:15b-16  God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.  Amen

L       Lover  Song of Songs   Jer. 31:3  I have loved you with an everlasting love.

M      Messiah   Jn. 4:25-26  The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

N       Name-above-all-Names  Phil. 2:9-11   Therefore God exalted him to the  highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

O       Overcomer  Jn. 16:33  In the world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

P       Protector   Jn. 17:11   Jesus said, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.”

Q       Quietener  Zeph. 3:17  The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

R       Redeemer Eph. 1:7-8   In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us . . .

S       Savior  Ps. 89:26   You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior.

T       Teacher  Jn. 14:26   But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things . . .

U       Upholder  Ps. 37:24 . . . though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

V       Vindicator  Rom. 8:31-34  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died… is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

W      Way   Jn. 14:6   Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

X       Example   Jn. 13:15   I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you….Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Y       Yoke-bearer  Mt. 11:28-30   Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Z       Zenith  Ps. 8:1ff  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens….When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Thank You, God, for a few of my Favorite Things

At a time when complaining is rampant, I choose to be thankful, By Sharon Sheppard

Psst…One of the Secrets to Happiness is Gratitude

 

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

Thanks, God, For a Few of My Favorite Things…

A       Apple pie (the taste and aroma trigger warm memories of home)

B       Books (I just finished reading Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale:  It’s excellent!)

C       Chocolate (dark or light, gooey or chunky; brownies and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups)

D       Daydreaming . . .

E       Excellence in the art, music, and literature of creative artists past and present

F       Family & Friends: what a gift!

G       Grandsons!

H       Husband: sweet memories of the one who was my all-time best friend

I        Imagination

J        Joy…the everyday kind

K       Kisses: chocolate, or otherwise

L       Love: God’s unfailing love, and the love of others

M      Mother:  My sensitive, caring role model

N       Nature:  God’s creation: lapping lakes, flaming autumn leaves, stars against an inky sky

O       Offspring: Jonathan and Caroline, who bring me so much joy

P       Piano: from a childhood of yearning to an adulthood with time to play whenever I please

Q       Quietness: I lap it up and savor it

R       Rice Pudding (City Cousin Mary’s is the ultimate)

S       Sonnets, symphonies, and Scrabble

T       Thanksgiving Day: an annual reminder of what we should do every day

U       Unscheduled time

V       Variety

W      Writing, words

X       Xylophone:  a whimsical gift from my husband–and time to play!

Y       Yelp: The lively online opinions of customers who help me make shopping decisions

Z       Zest for life that nips in the bud any inklings of depression

 

Butterscotch Cheescake

As I write (Mary) we are almost into November. Hard to believe how time marches on. When I think November, I think of my daughter and my father who were born on the same date. Their birthdays on the 25th often fall on Thanksgiving Day. I also think more of being thankful. I think of warm fires and a good Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. If your family is like mine, we don’t think pumpkin pie that day, it isn’t even on the menu. Typically, it is apple pie or pecan pie. If you are up for trying something new, this recipe at first glance may look complicated, but it is not. Compliments of Betty Crocker, this Butterscotch-Maple Torte is a knockout. Enjoy!

Butterscotch-Maple Cheesecake Torte

3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

¼ cup sugar

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

1 package (11 to 12 oz.) butterscotch chips (2 cups), melted

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

Maple Cake

1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ butter recipe yellow cake mix

Water, butter, and eggs called for on cake mix box

2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Maple Frosting

2 containers Betty Crocker™ Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting

2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Butterscotch-Maple Drizzle

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

½ teaspoon maple flavoring

¼ cup butterscotch chips

 

Preparation Steps

Heat oven to 300°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a circle of  parchment baking paper.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add 1 can condensed milk, and beat again until well combined. Add melted butterscotch chips, and mix well. Add 4 eggs and the vanilla; pour into pan.

Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until puffed around edge and center still jiggles slightly when moved. Cheesecake will puff up around the edges and then sink when taken out of the oven. Allow cheesecake to cool 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until chilled. Level top of cheesecake with large serrated knife.

Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Generously spray bottoms and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray with flour. In large bowl, beat Maple Cake ingredients with electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined. Pour into pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out on cooling racks to cool completely, about 1 hour.

In large bowl, place contents of both frosting containers. Beat in 2 teaspoons maple flavor with electric mixer on low speed. Remove 1/3 cup of the frosting, and place in decorating bag fitted with large star tip; set aside. Place 1 cake layer on serving platter or cake stand; frost top with thin layer of frosting. Top with cheesecake layer, and frost top with thin layer of frosting. Top with final cake layer, and frost entire side and top with remaining frosting. Pipe icing stars around top edge of cake.

In 1-quart saucepan, heat Butterscotch-Maple Drizzle ingredients over medium-high heat until melted and mixture can be stirred smooth with whisk. Let cool until barely warm but still pourable. Drizzle mixture over cake.

Enjoy! If there are any leftovers…cover and refrigerate them.

 

We’re Having a Baby

We’re Having a Baby!

What we’re doing to prepare (and who knows what we’re doing wrong!)

By Jamie Griffin, who runs a personal finance blog www.mrjamiegriffin.com to help families get out of debt.

 

The title says it all, We’re having a Baby!!!! I can’t even describe how excited I am to be a Dad. My wife and I get giddy just thinking about being parents, and learning about all the amazing ways our tiny baby is growing. In case you’re wondering, at 19 weeks, the baby is the size of a tomato and weighs half a pound!

For the most part, we don’t feel too freaked out or terrified that we’ll soon be responsible for an entire human life. I mean, there’s a good healthy fear, but we’re not anxious or overwhelmed.

We Want to Be as Prepared as Possible

It’s our first, and so as you’d expect (especially if you have kids), we have no idea what we’re really getting into! We’d like to think “we’ve got this” and we’ll be amazing parents and our kid will always listen to us. I can almost hear all of the parents out there laughing and rolling their eyes, haha.

We’re also pretty realistic and know there’s no way we’ll ever be fully prepared. We’ve definitely got a plan of attack, but I’m sure there’s so many things we have no clue about.

What We Are Doing to Plan for Baby #1: Saving for Medical Expenses

It’s a no brainer that babies are expensive. That’s why we’ve waited so long to have kids. We started trying to have kids after about two and a half years of marriage, instead of right away like we wanted. Having $90,000 of student loan debt was a big deterrent.

Based off our income to debt ratio, it seemed irresponsible to have kids with that much debt. Of course we could’ve figured it out, but we didn’t want to be in over our heads. Now that we’re debt free though, we can plan and save the way we want to.

Related Posts: Goodbye Student Loans: We Are 10 Days From Being Debt FreeHow We Paid Off $29,500 of Debt in 2016

Our first big priority was to stash some money away to cover medical costs. In September, we were lucky enough to have an extra paycheck month. First off, extra paycheck months rock! Secondly, all of our monthly bills are covered with the typical two paychecks, we put the entire 3rd paycheck toward future baby costs.

Going forward, we plan to add $100 a month to our baby fund. When baby comes, we don’t want to worry about paying for unexpected costs. Also, if we need to buy stuff for baby, like a stroller, or diapers, or a car seat, it doesn’t need to affect our monthly budget.

Still need a stroller. So excited to push our little soybean around!

We Have Free Baby Stuff

Now that I’m pretty immersed in the world of all things Baby, I’m learning that I went into the wrong career. It’s like the wedding industry. If you attach the word “wedding” or “baby” to the name of something, the price increases by roughly 8,000%. I might be exaggerating, but baby stuff is crazy expensive and I really don’t want to pay full price for anything in general, especially when it’s hyper inflated.

Here’s a list of free items we’ve gotten so far:

  • Crib: our friends don’t need it anymore and our payment is, “please never give it back”
  • Baby Gate: we’re a long way from needing it, but we can dual use it for our dogs
  • Baby Rockers/Swings: our friend got them for free and is paying it forward
  • Baby Outfits: I’m convinced everything tiny is adorable, especially shoes.

Seriously. Baby shoes are the cutest thing ever!

We’ve already saved so much money by not needing to pay for these necessities. New cribs are hundreds of dollars, a baby rocker is $100, a baby gate is $35, and new baby clothes are way overpriced for how short a time the kid actually fits into it! Long story longer, we are really stoked we got a few freebies.

Of course, we are nowhere near done preparing our house and getting all the necessities. But it sure feels good to take a few off the list.

Planning Ahead for Day Care Costs

In our city, finding a good day care is ridiculous! We started calling at 10 weeks and one day care center had a wait list until 2019. 2019!!!! That means families who aren’t even close to pregnant are getting in line and taking all the good spots!

When my wife heard that, she put down the phone and immediately freaked out! Safe to say we didn’t call anyone else that day.

Luckily we found a family day care a few blocks from our house run by the parent of one of our students. It fits our price range, we trust her, and it’s on our way to work. No waiting until 2019 for the Griffins!

Day care costs are basically the same amount as our student loans were. So sadly, our debt free lifestyle will only last for about 10 more months. Thank goodness we paid those buggers off!

Maternity Leave Will Force My Wife to Take a Pay Cut

The perfect timing for a teacher to have a baby is in the spring. If it happens just right, maternity leave will end right as summer vacation starts. Unfortunately we missed by a few weeks, so Jenna will need to go back to finish off the school year. During her maternity leave, she will get six weeks off, but it’s at 70% pay.

Part of our growing baby fund will got to offset the difference in pay. Like I said before, we want to avoid tampering with our regular budget.

What We Don’t Know: We Still Don’t Have “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

I think we’ve done a lot right in preparing for our little soybean. One thing we haven’t done is, be prepared for shock and awe, read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. It’s basically a right of passage for all new parents, but we just haven’t gotten around to buying it. I’m sure there’s 10 copies sitting on the shelf at Goodwill, so I’m not sure why we haven’t grabbed one yet.

Last week we browsed a few pages at Barnes & Noble, a favorite date night spot. It was really interesting, and would be an awesome resource. For some strange reason though, we still didn’t buy it. We’re only halfway through so there’s still time for us to come around. We’ll see what happens.

What the Heck is an HSA Account and When Should I Start One

Confession, I know an HSA is a Health Savings Account, and I mostly know how they work. A bunch of my coworkers have HSAs and they love them. What I don’t know is when we should open one, or how much to contribute to it.

We’ll also need to research and talk with our HR director to see what benefits an HSA provides. When the time gets a little closer, we’ll need to elect new health benefits, and this is a top priority.

How Do We Introduce Our Baby to Our Dogs

We have two wonderful dogs that we love. Since we don’t have a baby in the house yet, our dogs don’t have much exposure to little kids. They definitely seem to be more protective over my wife and are extra affectionate lately. We hope this means they will lovingly accept our new baby into the house.

Look at these snuggle bugs! All loving, most of the time!

The advice varies depending on which article you read, but we’re doing everything we can to learn how to do this safely and smartly. Is smartly a word? I’m going with it anyway. We don’t plan on leaving our baby alone with the pups under any circumstance, or let the baby sit on the floor without direct supervision. Our dogs are good, but we don’t want to take any chances.

Wrapping It Up

We’re having a baby! We’re prepared for some things and clueless about others. In the end, we’ll figure it out and hopefully be really awesome parents!

Let Me Know in the Comments

What did you do to prepare for your first baby? Any tips or suggestions of big things we’re missing?

Want more advice on achieving financial freedom and getting your family out of debt? Subscribe to be the first to get new posts and get a Free Budget Spreadsheet and Debt Log!

 

Corn Bread Muffins

As I write, there is falling rain and a chill in the air. Perfect autumn weather. The Minestrone Soup is on the stove (see recipe archived from October 2015) and I am about to make the Corn Bread muffins that go so well with this soup. I am including the recipe here, so that you may also enjoy this comfort food.              ~ Mary Zigan

 

 

 

Corn Bread Muffins                                                                                       Bake at 400◦

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

2/3 cup sugar

1 teas. Salt

3 1/2 teas. Baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup oil

Pepper-Jack cheese (handful)

 

Combine dry ingredients, stir in the egg, oil and milk.  And toss in a handful of grated pepper-jack cheese. Divide in a 12 portion muffin pan and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Letting Go

Letting Go

The action of trust is letting go.

The act of trust is faith.

The result of faith is hope.

That is what gives me courage to let go and trust again.

Letting go is hard.

The how of letting go; goes something like this:

-turning over my worries to God and asking for peace

-waiting

-owning the feelings I am experiencing and talking about them.

-mostly it is not acting out in self-will, manipulation, justifications, excuses or control.

 

Kindness to myself and others is the hallmark of recovery!

 

Terri Johnson

Professional Life Coach