Green Beans

This makes wonderful green beans to add to a healthy meal:

Sauté 10 unsalted almonds, sliced, in 1 tsp. of trans fat-free margarine.

At the end, add 1 clove of garlic, minced. Sauté until you smell the garlic.

Add 1 cup of green beans per person. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt. Add 1 tsp. trans fat-free margarine. Add 1 c. fat-free or low-fat chicken stock. Cook until beans are done and stock has reduced to a thicker sauce.


They will know we are Christians by our …obnoxious political rants?

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
One of my best friends voted on a different side than I did. We are both Bible-reading Christians who came to different conclusions on what issues we felt were most important and who we felt would be the best to lead the country. Do I think less of her because we don’t always agree on politics? No. Will we call each other names or degrade the other one for making a different choice? No. We will still have spirited debates about why we believe in our side? Absolutely. Will we expect the other to continue to be educated about what is happening in our country and around the world? Yes. Will we agree in the next election? Probably not. Will we remain friends and love each other anyway? Without a doubt.
Christians, stop it. Quit calling names, posting political opinions that you agree with and then trying to tell anyone who disagrees that you don’t want to be political. Quit condemning the other side because you don’t understand how someone came to that conclusion. 
John 13:35 says that the world will know we are disciples of Jesus by our love for each other, our love for the other people who profess faith in the same Savior we do. No wonder the world is a mess. From my newsfeed today I cannot tell who is a believer and who is not. There is condemnation, hate, gloating, attacking, but almost no love, almost no attempt to understand the other side. How can we expect to show the love of Jesus to our lost world if we cannot find it in our hearts to love a fellow child of God whose opinion is different from ours because their life/experiences/economic status/geographic location/___________(fill in the blank) brought them to a different conclusion than our own. 
Christian brother or sister, how are you known today? By your love and care for other believers (because until we figure that out we can’t even begin to care for non-believers well) or by your hatred or opposition of a certain political party, figure, or issue?
*NOTE: I am not accepting comments on this post. This idea here is to encourage self-reflection, not a debate.

I’m the mom of the child in the gorilla enclosure….

Ok, so not really. But I could have been. And so could you. And for 27 minutes one summer day I was that mom.

Along with several sets of friends, I took my kids to a water park in the capital city of Taipei, Taiwan while we were living there. We had been to the park previously with visiting family so I knew where things were located. I had all three kids with me but my husband stayed home in order to attend a training seminar on a church management system. The older girls could both swim well and knew the rules of water parks. I put our little man, who was 3, in his U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation suit and we headed out.

The rule was that the kids had to stay within my eyesight unless they had permission to go off with another parent from our group. Toward the end of our time all three kid were playing in the same general area, though not together. My eyes were constantly bouncing from kid to kid…1…2…3…1…2…3, keeping track of them. Then it happened. 1…2…and no 3. Certain he was right there I walked a small circle around where he had been playing before I looked up to check on his sisters. He wasn’t there. Thinking he had joined his sisters or another group of kids from our larger group I checked. He was not there.

Panic set in. He was missing. At a water park. In a foreign country. As the minutes ticked by with no sign of him, my panic level rose. I couldn’t adequately convey what was happening to the Chinese-speaking lifeguards. No one in our group could find him. No one around us spoke enough Chinese to convince the guards to take some kind of action. I was describing him to everyone around who spoke any kind of English and people, complete strangers, began to search the water park for him. I went to all the places we had been that day. I looked around the ice cream stand and the food court. I looked at the slides he wanted to do but was too small. No sign of him.

As I returned to the area where he had been playing I was at a total loss as to where to look next and what to do. I began praying. Out loud. In English in a Chinese-speaking country. I took a deep breath, ready to go look again when a man came up to me. A dad. From Australia. He asked me what my son was wearing. He said, “I have little boys. I will find him.” I was grateful for his help, although a little surprised by his calm assurance that he would find my little man. He took off running, calling his name and yelling for his sons to help him find where a little boy was hiding.

I was left standing at the top of a slide platform, in an attempt to get a better view of the kids area and hopefully spot his bright green and blue flotation suit. I kept reminding my self that a panicking mom was no help and to keep a calm head. I kept reminding myself that he was wearing a flotation suit and would not drown. And I kept praying.

After 3 minutes, and 27 total minutes, the Australian man and his sons walked up to me, holding my little guy by the hand. “He was hiding by the pinball machines in the arcade. I knew right where to look.” I tried to thank him, but he just smiled at me and walked off with his arms around his boys. I don’t even know his name.

As I write this, tears stream down my cheeks. Tears over remembering the anguish I felt. Tears of relief that my son is happily banging on his piano 5 years later. Tears over the realization that very easily this could have had a very different outcome.

As parents, if we are honest, most of us will admit to losing track of our kids at one time or another. Maybe it is in a department store when they hide under a clothing rack or a grocery store where they run into the next aisle. Maybe its at a park where they wander to the swings when we thought they were on the slide. In most of these situations no one else knows that the child has wandered away. No new crew interviews bystanders about the experience. And no one is hurt. But in some cases the outcome is much worse. There are parents still waiting for word 5, 10, 20 years after a child wandered off. And while there are obviously cases of neglectful parenting that may have led to these various situations, often it is not because a parent wasn’t watching the child. I didn’t have a cell phone out. I wasn’t attempting to watch the kids from a distance. I simply looked away from the youngest one for no more than a minute to check that his sisters were still where they were a few minutes before and he was gone.

The truth is, these things happen. Maybe not as sensationally as a child getting into a gorilla enclosure, but they happen. They happen to most parents. Good parents who pay attention to their kids.

I have no idea what transpired to allow this child to get away from his parent(s). I have read accounts that don’t portray the parent as being on the phone or otherwise engaged, but I cannot testify as to what allowed this situation to occur. I would question the security measures in place that would have allowed a small child to accidentally gain access to this exhibit and I am sure the zoo will be doing the same thing. What I can do is offer a bit of grace to this parent. Because, for 27 minutes in 2011, I was this mother.



392145Each Friday night we host 20 adults and 15 kids in our home for LifeGroup. We eat a potluck dinner with a theme before teaching and discussing a Bible lesson. Tonight our food theme is Mexican. In honor of that theme, I am sharing my favorite Churro recipe with you. These simple treats are easy to make and add a little sweet fun to any fiesta or Friday night.

Photo credit:

New Year’s Resolutions


I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe you should wait until 1/1 to make a change that you know you want or need to make. I do see the value in taking this time to reflect on your past year and new goals for 2015. We review and update goals regularly: short term every quarter, annual, and 5+ year.

So whether you make resolutions or are just reflective this time of year, here is some help for common goals:

#1. Get Organized! You have definitely come to the right place. Here is a collection of organization tips. Or you can tackle your house room by room with these guides.

#2. Get Healthy! Click here for a variety of healthy menu plans and recipe ideas.

#3. Travel More! Check out these travel tips.

#4. Read More! Here are great reading lists for the whole family.

#5. Get Our Finances In Order! Here is a collection of financial tips.

#6. Promote Family! Start here by giving your family a vision and brand.

#7. Entertain More! Here is a collection of hospitality and entertaining tips.

#8. Start Home Schooling! Here are curriculum reviews and tips for starting your homeschool

#9. Focus on My Husband! Here are posts about marriage with tips, encouragement, and ways love your husband.

#10. Do More Projects! This is a collection of project ideas that range from sewing to building, practical to fun.

Myth: Adding Salt to Water Will Help It Boil Faster

salt2When you watch a cooking show on TV, you get evenly divided advice to either add or not add salt to water because it will affect the boiling speed. Those on the side of adding salt contend that it will speed up the process to add the salt, while those telling you not to add say it will slow down boiling.  So, will adding salt to water speed the time which it takes the water to boil?

This myth is confirmed! Adding a small amount of salt to a pot of boiling water will generally take some time, up to about 1 minute, off the time it takes to boil.

Now for the science: When water boils, the bonds that hold the 2 hydrogen molecules to the one oxygen molecule begin to loosen because of the heat. Eventually, enough heat (212°F) loosens the bonds so that the water boils. When salt is added it changes how the molecules move in the pot, making them move faster, which produces more heat. Because you are now heating the pot of water on the stove AND the salt is causing the molecules to move, the by-product of which is heat, the water in your pot will boil slightly faster. Basically, adding salt reduces the temperature at which water will boil – meaning you have to add  less heat from your stove because the way the salt makes the water molecules move adds heat too.

Remember that the salt in the water will alter the taste of the food you cook in it, so take that into consideration as you try this at home.

Week of 3/11 Menus



Breakfast Menu:
M: Eggs
T: Chocolate Zucchini Bread
W: Oatmeal
Th: Scones
F: Egg sandwiches
S: Egg braid bake
S: cereal/eggs/oatmeal
Dinner Menu:
M: Meatloaf, potatoes, corn
T: Chicken tender salad
W: Hot dogs, veggie stick
Th:St. Louis Style Pizza
F: Chipped beef on toast, peas
S: Tacos
S: Beef Roast (slow cooker with potatoes & carrots)


Week of July 9 Menus

Here is the grocery list for this week’s menus: 7/ 9 Grocery List


Breakfast Menu: Dinner Menu:
M: Eggs & Toast M: Meatball Subs
T: Blueberry Muffins T: Chicken & Potatoes, corn
W: Whole Wheat Pancakes W: Spaghetti, salad
Th: Cheesy Egg Tacos Th: Beef Stroganoff, peas
F: Chocolate Zucchini Bread F: Pizza
S: Bulls Eyes S: Ham & Rice, green beans
S: Orange Muffins S: Tacos Cups

Habits of Highly Organized People

I have always been a basically organized adult (my mom may tell you a different story about my teen years, but I was about the only kid in 90s high school who carried a day planner). But through all my organization habits and research I have come to know that there are some basic habits that organized people have.

#1. Write EVERYTHING down. Face it, you won’t remember it. So write it down. Or in this age, put it in your smartphone (I can’t remember the last time I actually made a list on paper). But no matter how you record it, take time to make a record of anything you want to remember.

#2. A place for everything, and everything in its place. This may seem trite, but it is true. Make a place for everything to be put away and then put things away when you are finished with them and teach your kids to do the same. This will eliminate the need for a large “clean up” and generally keep your home looking tidy.

#3. Purge regularly. Every season we get rid of clothes and toys that no longer work for us. Every birthday and holiday we get rid of one toy for every new toy someone gets. Four times a year we go through kitchen items and get rid of anything we don’t use regularly. Bonus – you can sell these unused items and make cash to pay down debt, take a vacation, or buy something you really will use.

#4.Keep a master calendar. Don’t have a different calendar for home, work, kids etc. Keep everything on one master calendar. Record everything (see #1). Check out my post for tips on making a Family Calendar. We use Google calendar to sync Husband’s and my calendars and then record the important events that relate to the family on the calendar in our kitchen. This makes sure everyone knows what is going on. Plus, by only maintaining one master calendar, you always know what time is free and what is already scheduled and you don’t over-book.

#5. Keep a on-going To-Do list. There’s an app for that. Every smartphone has tools for To-Do lists or Tasks. Outlook and various Mac programs have task lists. Use them. Put everything from reoccurring bills to chores to when the library books are due in your task list. Keep track of phone calls you need to make or emails you need to send in your task list. Set reminders for anything that has a deadline. Bonus – crossing something off your list gives you added satisfaction (science has proven there is an endorphin rush when we cross things off our lists!).

#6. File, File, File. This goes with #2. Everything has a place, including your files. Don’t make stacks of mail or bills. Open it, and file it properly. Set aside a specific time each day or week (schedule it with #4) to file things. This can mean putting paper files into folders, scanning documents into online storage, or downloading pictures off your camera or phone into their designated place on your computer or external storage. Whatever the case, take the time to file properly and regularly. This will keep things from piling up.

#7. Keep flat surfaces clear. Flat surfaces (tables, counters, dresser tops) can become a mess of things that belong someplace else (bills & mail, toys, laundry, computers). Follow #2. But in addition to that, keep all your flat surfaces clear and free of clutter (including knickknacks). This will keep your home looking tidy and neat, even if it isn’t freshly cleaned.

#8. Never leave a room empty-handed. No matter how strenuously you follow these rules, the fact is that there will likely always be something out-of-place that needs to be picked up. Before you set out of a room, do a scan and see if there is anything that should be taken to the room you are headed and then take it and put it away. This little trick adds only second to your exit of a room, but will save you from the dreaded whole-house tidy-up.