Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quote about Prayer

"If you want to learn to pray like Daniel,
be prepared to spend some time with the lions."

 ~A Voice of the Martyrs worker

(For more information about Voice of the Martyrs, check them out at Voice of the Martyrs.  Be sure to sign up for their free monthly newsletter.  It's an eye-opener of what believers around the world face today because of their love for Jesus.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Visit Four Grand Rapids Museums -- For Free!

Being a one-income family, we are always looking for fun things to do as a family that are free and/or relatively cheap.  If you are in the Grand Rapids area (or plan to visit our area), four of our museums have decided to be free to be public on certain days. 

These are the museums:
  • The Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • The Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum
  • The Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • The Grand Rapids Children's Museum
And these are the days they will be free (from noon -5:00):
  • January 22
  • April 15
  • July 15
  • October 21
Wayne has to work today, but I'm hoping that one of those Sunday afternoons he'll be off and we'll be able to visit at least one of those museums.

(For more information, visit Visit our Museums!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quote - Spurgeon on Discernment

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong;

rather, it is telling the difference between right


almost right.

~ Charles Spurgeon ~

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favorite Songs - Blessings

I had never heard this song before, but having heard it just once, I really like it.  I hope you appreciate it as much as I have.  Here's the link to her blog if you're interested in hearing the story behind this song:  Laura's Story

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What I'm Reading - Growing Up Amish

So, I saw this book sitting on the new bookshelf at our local library, and it intrigued me.  The Amish lifestyle has always interested me.  I love the simplicity of it.  At the time I picked up this book, I wondered if I would enjoy it.  I wondered if it would bash the Amish, and I told myself that if it did, I wouldn't bother finishing it.

Growing Up Amish is the story of Ira Wagler coming of age.  Born and raised Amish, he waffled back and forth and back and forth as to whether he wanted to be Amish or not.  The waffling got a bit "old" after awhile.

In the end, he decided to quit living as a Amish man.

There, I saved you a bunch of time reading the book.  ~smile~

I had hoped to gain a few insights into the world of the Amish, but this book was a disappointment in that regard as well.

On the Melissa scale: I did finish the book, but if I owned the book, I'd give it to Goodwill.  I wouldn't recommend it because there are so many other books out there that are really good!

What I'm Reading - Vanya

Our kids always like it when I read books to them.  But since they are 15, 11, and 7, they are a wee bit beyond the "Green Eggs and Ham" stage.  So, I pick books to read together that are longer.  It may take us a couple weeks to read through a book, but we enjoy finishing our lunch and spending a half hour or so enjoying a good book together.

The latest "read aloud" has been Myrna Grant's Vanya.  It's an older book (published in 1974).  I remember reading it in high school over twenty years ago. 

Ivan Moiseyev (Vanya) was drafted into the Russian military in 1970.  In 1972 Vanya's parents buried their son.  Why?  Because Vanya was a believer who would not recant his faith.  He stood firm to the end in spite of the torture he endured at the hands of his superiors.

The things Vanya experienced during his years in the military are beyond words.  Required to stand in sub-zero weather for hours in nothing but his summer uniform, Vanya was warmer than the soldiers who periodically came out to check on him, even though they wore big heavy coats, boots, and winter uniforms.

The miraculous accounts go on and on. 

What I appreciate about the telling of Vanya's story is that it is appropriate for young children to hear.  The details of the torture were things they could comprehend, but not things that would rob them of their innocence.  (However, there were a few words that must have been translated a bit more harshly than intended.  I skipped those few words in our read-aloud.)  This book also provided a good (and fairly recent) example of martyrdom. 

This book must have made an impression on me, because even after twenty years, I remembered many of the details of Vanya's story.  His rock-solid faith is one that I wish to emulate.  If I ever face persecution to that degree, his story will be an encouragment to me to stand strong.

Definitely a book worth reading and re-reading.

On the Melissa scale: This is a book that I will keep on my shelf to re-read at a later date.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quote about True Bible-readers

    True Bible-readers and Bible-searchers never find it wearisome. They like it least who know it least, and they love it most who read it most. They find it newest who have known it longest, and they find the pasture to be the richest whose souls have been the longest fed upon it. -- C. H. Spurgeon

Recipe - Biscuits

This is a rather simple recipe, but it's a good one that I recently stumbled across.  We enjoy it every week for breakfast with hot gravy on top.  And we're looking forward to June when our strawberries are ripe and we can have fresh strawberries with our biscuits!  I usually double the recipe.  They are also yummy with our homemade jam.  Mmmmm...


2 C flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1Tbs sugar
1/3 C shortening
1 C milk

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Cut in the shortening.  Gradually stir in the milk.  Knead it a bit. 

Pat it out to about an inch thick.  Dip a glass jar into flour and use it as a cookie-cutter to cut out the biscuits, putting them on an ungreased baking sheet.  Keep doing this until all the dough is used up.

Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes.

What I'm Reading - Things We Couldn't Say

I finished this book (Things We Couldn't Say) last night, and I will say that this is a book that will go back on my bookshelf.  (Once I read a book I either give it to the local Goodwill, give it to a friend, or keep it for myself.)  I appreciated this book enough that I want to keep it around in case I want to read it again at a later date.

What was so riveting about this book?  Well, for starters, it's an autobiography of a woman (Diet Eman) who was a young woman in the Netherlands when Hitler came to power and invaded her country.  Diet joined the resistance and did whatever she could to fight the Germans.  Her story alone is worth reading.

However, Wayne's grandparents also were young people in the Netherlands at this same time. Undoubtedly, they faced many of the same struggles that Diet and her fiance Hein faced.  This book gave me a lot of insight as to what Wayne's grandparents went through.

I knew that Grandpa had been in hiding, but I didn't know why.  Perhaps it was because they were hiding Jews, or perhaps it was because any man in the Netherlands who was fit for work was sent to Germany to work so that their young men could fight.  (Hmmm...  I never knew that...)

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to our next visit with Grandma.  I have a lot of questions that I want to ask her.

Regardless of whether or not you have ancestors who lived in the Netherlands during World War II, Diet's story is one that will touch your heart.  The constant danger she is in...  The emotional struggles she goes through as she is imprisoned and separated from the one she loves...  The loneliness...  The spiritual highs and lows...  Her book is painfully honest.

What I also appreciated about the book is the update at the end as to what happened to most of the people in the book.  She must have done a lot of research to find out who moved where and what they did for a living after the war.

If you're looking for a good read, look no further.  "Things We Couldn't Say" is definitely worth picking up.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recipe - Sausage Skillet Supper

I ran across this recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine, and I can't count how many times I've made it since.  I like to buy the sausage when it's on sale.  Sometimes it's in a one-pound package, sometimes it's the 12-ounce package.  It really doesn't matter.  But when it's on sale, I'll stock up and put it in the freezer.  Everything else is stuff that lines the shelves of our pantry.  And as a bonus for us, I made up a bunch of salsa a couple years ago that we really didn't care for.  But, I didn't want to throw it out either.  It works perfectly in this recipe! 

1 pound bulk pork sausage (I use the hot stuff.  It's really not that hot when mixed with other stuff.)
1 can (14.5-ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained  
1 can (16-ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 C uncooked rice
1 C water
2/3 C picante sause or salsa

Cook, crumble, and drain the sausage.  Add everything else.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender.

That's it!  I hope you enjoy it as much as our kids do!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reading Through the Bible

At some point most people make it a goal to try to read through the whole Bible at least once.  Having read through it a number of times in the past few years, I thought I'd take a break from reading it through this year and focus on studying a book or two of the Bible instead.  But then a blog from someone I admire crossed my email desk, and now I'm rethinking that decision.

Ray Comfort's daily blog (which can be delivered to an email address) now lists Scripture references to read as well as a bit of a commentary on the reading.  If you follow his reading plan, you will read through the whole Bible in a year.  Here's the link to his blog:

Happy reading!

How to Cook Scrambled Eggs in a Stainless Steel Pan

After seven years of marriage, I didn't get an itch, but the pans I had received as a wedding gift were shot. They were non-stick, and because of all the meals I had prepared in them, the non-stick surface was beginning to come off, even though I had never used metal utensils in them.

So, I purchased a new set of non-stick pans. They worked great... until they, too, finally succumbed to their seven-year itch.

I did a bit of research and decided to go with stainless steel. I LOVE my "new" pans. I suppose after having used them almost every day for the last four or five years, they are no longer new. But they still look like new. And they still cook exactly like they did when I opened the box for the first time.

I have learned to cook a little differently, and maybe that has helped. I no longer use high heat. I cook everything over medium heat or lower. Sure, it takes a bit longer for water to boil, but at this point I'm not planning on ever replacing these pans.

However, as much as I love these pans, I could not figure out how to cook scrambled eggs without them sticking dreadfully. However, this morning, I made my first batch of scrambled eggs in them with no sticking!

This is how I did it:

I put my pan on the burner over medium heat. Then I prepared my eggs. Once the pan was nice and warm, (I held my hand over it and felt the heat rising from it.) I added some oil and turned the pan to coat it completely on the bottom and the sides. Immediately after coating it, I added the eggs.

I couldn't believe my eyes! I stirred the eggs as normal, and it was just like using a good non-stick pan!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year ~ 2012!

As I found myself taking down our 2011 calendar and replacing it with the 2012 one, I wondered if our lives will ever slow down. Starting tomorrow we have something on the calendar every day for three weeks. Ugh! But we will get through it, and at the end of those three weeks, our oldest will have his permit to drive. So, yes, it will be worth it. ~smile~

A few years ago I found myself at the beginning of a new year and feeling like I should join the masses in making resolutions for the new year. However, I found myself not even wanting to think about it because, after all, aren't most resolutions broken after the first week or two?

That's when it hit me! Rather than set myself up for failure, why not set up an "Annual To-Do List?" I have done this for a few years now, and for me it is definitely the solution to the problem of New Years resolutions.

I have different categories for some of the things I hope to accomplish in 2012. Categories such as spiritual, physical, intellectual, homemaking, home improvement, hobbies, relational, and financial help me map out what direction 2012 will take. This way, I won't get to the end of the year and wonder what I accomplished that year.

For example, in 2011 I read through my Bible and I listened to the whole Bible on CD. I finished writing the Step by Step lessons for church. I read a number of books and took a sewing class. I had a garden, started some blueberry bushes, asparagus, and rhubarb and did a lot of canning. We went kayaking as a family and slept out under the stars (until it started raining!) We took the kids to Alabama, to Branson, and to the trailer. I met my goals for geocaching, had people over to our house, had a family picture taken, and kept up on my correspondence. We also compelted a lot of minor home improvement projects.

Whew! What fun it is, though, to look over my to-do list for 2011 and remember all the things that I did. Oh, I didn't get to every thing on my list, and there are some things that will be on my "Annual To-Do List" every year, but for me it's a great way to plan out the coming year.  As I make up my weekly list of things to do, I consult this annual list.  It keeps me on track, and if I decide not to persue a particular goal, it's a conscious decision to do so, rather than being forgetful, lazy, or busy.

Give it a try. Other than a piece of paper and a bit of your time, what do you have to loose?