Curried Chicken and Rice Salad

Several years ago I had the privilege of having a friend that had the gift of hospitality.  She always knew when someone was in need and was quick to serve in so many ways.  She always had a meal ready for those who were sick or had new babies.  I have several great recipes from her simply because she cared enough to bring meals during times of trial.

This is one she shared.

Thank you Suzanne…for the recipes and the memories!

Resurrection Sunday

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Matthew 28:6

This week the High Five Moms are discussing how we teach our kids the true meaning of Easter (Resurrection Sunday).  As I was pondering the topic, I thought about how far the Lord has brought our family.  And truly it is only by His grace, because I didn’t even know I needed to be brought along!

When the oldest kids were young, we celebrated “Easter”.  The kids were dressed up in new clothes, they carried little baskets, and we hid eggs for them to find.  The day was all about being merry, finding the goodies, and looking spiffy.

Several years later, I was saved and began to realize that we should focus more on the “true” meaning of Easter.  We made resurrection cookies (The recipe for these cookies has Scripture dispersed throughout, and the ingredients represent different aspects of Jesus’ resurrection.  They are also hollow, showing that Jesus is not in the tomb) and hunted for resurrection eggs (Each plastic egg has an item inside that represents the resurrection story).

While this was fun for the kids and they were learning the “true” meaning, I knew in my heart that I was still seeking to make something it wasn’t.  I don’t think resurrection cookies and eggs are bad and at the time I was truly trying to teach my children the true meaning of Easter.  The problem was that I still had one foot in the world.  I was concerned that my kids would somehow miss out if we didn’t do these things.

It has taken a few years, but we have slowly come to the point where we focus solely on the resurrection of Christ.  Our plan for this year is to read the Scriptures throughout the week, talk about His death and resurrection (and answer the hard questions…yes, Jesus suffered), and sing hymns that will remind us this.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Charles Wesley, 1739

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

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Check out the other moms and see how they teach their children the true meaning of Easter!

Brandy at The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae at The Happy Home

Stacy at A Delightful Home

Andie at Happy Andersons

Make Your Own Vintage Tea Towels

Several years ago my daughter made me some beautiful hand-knitted dish clothes. They sat in a kitchen drawer for over a year because I just couldn’t bear to use something so pretty to clean my dishes. One day she opened the drawer, pulled out a dish cloth, and made me wash dishes with it.

It is amazing how much more enjoyable washing dishes became. From that moment, I decided I wanted to use more beautiful handmade items in my daily life. These simple vintage tea towels bring me back to the days when handmade items were a part of every homemaker’s daily life.

Want to make yourself a vintage tea towel? Join me at The Happy Housewife where I am sharing how to Make Your Own Vintage Tea Towels!

Cooper’s First Steps

It is always exciting when your little ones take their first steps. It doesn’t matter how many times I experience seeing a child stand up, let go, and wobble along, I am always overcome by a mix of emotions. There is joy and thankfulness, that the Lord has blessed this child and it has grown and flourished. There is a bit of bittersweet sadness, knowing that the “baby” season for this child is coming to an end.

A couple of weeks ago, our baby Cooper ventured out into toddlerhood as he took his first steps. And while I certainly felt all the emotions I had experienced with our other children, there was another element playing on my heart as I watched him walk.

I stood watching the goodness of God being bestowed upon my child. I stood in awe of the gift of walking that was given to my child. I remembered the little feet I rubbed the night he was born, twisted and turned. And now I see these same feet, pitter pattering across my wooden floors.

God is good, all the time!

What I Learned at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival

Last weekend our family visited San Antonio, TX for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. This is the first time we have ever attended the festival. I have wanted to attend a Vision Forum event for years. We have many CD’s and DVD’s that our family has listened to and watched over the years, but nothing compares to actually being there. We chose to attend this particular event because my (soon to be 15 year old) son is interested in making films. We felt that this would be a great opportunity to encourage him to learn more about film making, as well as allow him to meet other people in the film making industry. We would have loved to attend the film making academy as well, but decided to “dip our toes in the water” this year and just attend the festival.

Lessons Learned on Our Trip

Our trip started off with the normal sight-seeing as we visited the Alamo before the festival began. Growing up in Texas, it made me appreciate the sacrifices others have made for this great state. It also made me realize how much I don’t know about Texas history. I found myself wishing I would have at least prepared better for our trip and read up on the battle of the Alamo. Then I remembered the memorials erected in the old testament. One of the reasons God had the people put up memorials was to cause their progeny to ask questions and seek out the history of their fathers.

Lesson 1: I don’t have to know everything in advance.

Remember when I talked about lighting fires…it is OK to have my own fire lit. I don’t have to be a bucket full of information. God wants me to be a fire. He wants me to ask questions and seek out the history of the past. Well, the Alamo lit a fire in me. I will be looking for some excellent Texas history books! {As an aside, we visited our church in Brenham as we were coming home.  At the end of the Wednesday night service, a gentleman stood up and quietly let everyone know that he had finished writing his fourth book and it was now available to order.  The book is called Father Forgive Them:  The Rachel Plummer Story.  Rachel Plummer and her baby were abducted from central TX in 1836 by raiding Indians.  I am looking forward to reading her story, but even more exciting is the fact that I can ask the author questions!} And this ties into the next lesson I learned…

Lesson 2: The Providence of God will place people in your path who need to be in your path.

After touring the Alamo, we took a leisurely stroll on the River Walk.  Because we had our Cadillac stroller (long, double stroller) with us, we had to take a secluded elevator down to the river.  As we stopped outside the elevator trying to decide which route to take, who do I see right behind us?  Colin Gunn–you know, the producer/director of IndoctriNation (which won Best Documentary at the festival)!  We were able to meet him and chat for a bit (after we got up the nerve to introduce ourselves, then had to chase him down because he had already started walking down the River Walk). I am so thankful that the Lord had put this opportunity before us.  Colin was very gracious and down to earth.  I later met his wife Emily and found the same to be true of her.  Amidst a crowd of people, she stood chatting with me, looking me right in the eye as she did so.  Have you ever talked to someone and could tell they were just being nice?  Not her, she made me feel that she really wanted to hear what I had to say.  I love it when I meet woman like her!

Lesson 3: What you see is not always what you get.

I think we all do this from time to time.  We read books or listen to speakers and because what we read or hear is sound doctrine, we elevate the author or speaker.  We make them “the standard” to which we must live by.  I don’t think it is wrong to have role models.  In fact, Titus 2 shows us that older men and women should teach and guide the younger.  I love watching the Duggars in action because it teaches me tangible ways to live out the Scripture. At the festival, there were many authors, speakers, and film makers that were well known.  Some of them were every bit as gracious in real life as they are in “media”.  We met a young lady named Amelia who starred in the film The Runner from Ravenshead.  She stuck out her hand and introduced herself and was such a sweetie.  There were a few other instances when I thought, “oh, I wouldn’t have expected that”.  Not that anyone was sinning or being ungracious, it just was not what I had conjured up in my mind. Overall it was just a great reminder that we are all still being sanctified and thankfully the Lord uses imperfect people to do His will.   as a blogger, I must remember to present myself as I truly am (a sinner saved by grace) and not lead you all to think that I am something special.

at the Alamo

To Sum It Up

The time we spent at the festival, and then the following week spent in Texas, was a great time of reflection for me.  There were several films (which I hope to share with you soon) that just pierced my heart.  Some of them have caused us to make immediate changes in our family, other films have planted seeds for the future. There were so many men and women who deeply, passionately love the Lord and are striving to honor Him through film.  What a blessing and encouragement they are to other believers!

~thankful~

That sums it up!

Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links.

Tips on Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthier

Our crew had dental cleanings this past week and two of them had small cavities.

Several years ago we had the same problem. I was told that it was largely hereditary and there was really nothing I could do about it. I didn’t feel like that was totally accurate. It was about this time that we began changing up our diet to a more “whole foods” diet. For years the kids were all cavity free.

Until now.

It seems we have fallen off the healthy eating wagon. Little by little I have let “junk” seep back in to our diets. Part of it may be the fact that we moved to a foreign country and then back to the states (because of medical issues) within such a short time frame. I feel like I am just now catching my breath from it all.

To add to it, I have been having my own medical issues (currently waiting on results for celiac testing). It is time for this family to get back to eating healthier foods.

By the way, my friend Kerimae has a wonderful podcast on the topic of preventing and healing cavities.  I listened to it again this week after our dental visit!

Most of you know that I am studying to become an herbalist. I truly believe that the Lord has blessed us with many plants for our healing. However, our first line of defense against disease and illness is a solid offense. The Lord has provided an abundance of wonderful foods, created to work with our bodies to maintain health.

I thought it was very timely that the High Five Moms topic this month was “getting your children to eat healthy foods”. This is a “practice what you preach” topic, that’s for sure!

Here are a few things that have helped us in the past and will be re-implemented this week (We are traveling to the San Antonio Christian Film Festival this week, but we are still going to work toward better choices even on the road!).

Healthier Snacks

This is probably our biggest problem area. I have a child that is a wonderful dessert chef.  He can whip up so many yummy, sweet concoctions.  I was just telling him that he needs to write an e-book entitled “Carni Lovers Cookbook” — he made funnel cakes yesterday.  Ok, I am side-tracking I know.  See this is why I have so much trouble eating healthier!

1. So, our new food choices will include much more fresh fruits and veggies.  My children really don’t have a problem eating these as long as I make sure to have them on hand.  They love ranch dip, I just need to make sure and make my own so that we don’t get all the yuckies from the powdered packages.  For fruit, I will sometimes mix up fresh lemon/raw honey for them to dip it in.

2. My friend Brandy at The Marathon Mom has a ton of granola bar ideas.  My kids like the granola I make, but it is more of a cereal rather than a snack bar.  I am going to try to make more granola bars to have on hand, especially when we are on the go and need to grab a snack to take with us.

3. We also like to make smoothies.  I like them because it is easy to add in lots of healthy “stuff” and it still taste yummy.  On my to-do list is start a batch of kefir.  It has been years since we made our own kefir, but it is time to start back up.  If you don’t know what kefir is, here is a brief description from kefir.net…

Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem.” More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins.

Sounds like pretty good stuff, huh?

Healthier Meal Times

It doesn’t really matter how healthy you cook or prepare foods, if your kids don’t eat it.  Some simple “rules” we have at our house concerning foods…

1. Each child gets one food item to dislike (one item over all, not at each meal).  They don’t ever have to eat this one item (although sometimes they have learned to eat their one item, they are not forced to do so).  All other food items they must eat at least some of when they are served.

2. No picking out foods.  They can take out their one item if we are eating something that has it in it, but other than that they don’t make a habit of taking things out of their food.  Generally I try to not include their item on their plates, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

3. When making foods that aren’t necessarily favorites, I try to pair them up with other foods that are well liked.  This allows them to eat a bite of something not so tasty, then take a bite of something more appetizing.  For instance, I like to make fresh asparagus when I make baked salmon.  Some of the younger kids are still learning to enjoy the asparagus, but they readily eat the salmon.  By serving them together, it seems to ease the transition.

4. Start off with small amounts of new foods, or ones that aren’t well received.  Most of the time the kids will eat a small amount of foods they dislike without complaining.  This is also good training for times that you may be eating at someone else’s house or at church.  I teach the children that if they don’t like something (or if it doesn’t look appeasing) just ask for a small amount rather than say “I don’t like that” or “I don’t want that”.

5. I don’t usually make “kid meals”.  99% of the time, the foods I make are for all of us and they are regular meals.  I don’t make chicken nuggets and macaroni type meals just so the kids will eat (nothing wrong with healthy homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni, just using it as an example).  Rather I choose the best meals for the entire family.

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Need more ideas on getting kids to eat healthy? Check out the other moms and see what they have to share!

Brandy at The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae at The Happy Home

Stacy at A Delightful Home

Andie at Happy Andersons

Butter Cookies

When my older children were younger, we would often make “sugar” cookies for the different holidays. We had all sorts of cookie cutters. The kids loved rolling out the dough, cutting out their cookie, and then of course loading it down with a ton of icing and colored sprinkles.

Then I went through my healthy eating phase (ok, not so much a phase as a new way of life) and out went all the cute cookie cutters. I couldn’t let my kids eat “sugar” cookies, especially with all that icing and decorations. So for the last few years my poor younger children haven’t experienced the joys of rolling out cookies and decorating them…

until this week!

Join me over at The Marathon Mom where I am sharing a delicious Butter Cookie Recipe!

Extreme Couponing: What I Am Learning

When we came back to the states last January I started hearing about extreme couponing.  I watched the show a couple of times, but was turned off by the attitudes of the couponers and the fact that much of what they were getting would be useless to me.

I try to cook as much from scratch as I can, buying organic and natural products as well.  I didn’t want to buy products I didn’t use just so I could use coupons.  I really didn’t think couponing would work for us.

Oh and one other thing, I don’t like running to the store very often.  I prefer to go every 2-3 weeks and buy as much as I can to last us as long as possible.  I very rarely make shopping lists–I just walk up and down each aisle looking for things we need.  I have always bought what we have needed when we needed it.  If we were out of butter, I bought butter.

I am going to share something else with you…I don’t have a budget (gasp).  I know that I need to be a better steward of what the Lord has given us and I am working toward that goal.  In fact, I just received a copy of Money Saving Moms budgeting book.  I am working toward setting a budget working within the parameters of a budget.  (I will be sharing the journey as I go, but this was really the first step in that journey.)

Back to couponing…

For the last few months I have been learning to coupon and make it work for our family.  I wanted to share a few things I have learned so far (for you seasoned couponers, don’t laugh!)

1. It’s not always about the coupons! – We shop at the commissary on base, and I don’t buy alot of the items that usually have coupons.  However, through this couponing journey I have learned that the biggest way for me to save money is not necessarily through coupons.  I can save significantly by watching the prices on the items I already buy and stocking up when the price is at it’s lowest.  Even the local health food store has items on sale.  Just the other day our local health food store had coconut oil marked down.  So my first lesson in couponing was to buy low and buy in bulk when it is low.

2. Find coupons for the items you use – One of my little treats that I like to buy is Wholly Guacamole.  I love fresh avocados, but there are times when you just can’t find a good one.  I like to keep Wholly guacamole in the freezer for times like this.  However, it is a kinda pricey.  I hadn’t seen any coupons for it in the paper, but I went to their website and signed up for their newsletter.  Now I get a coupon at least every month.   Sometimes Wholly Guacamole is on sale, so I pair the saving with the coupon and I have a real deal!

3. Where to find coupons – The most known coupon source is the Sunday paper, but most of the ones there are for items we don’t use.  My son has helped me to find many of the ones I use online.  Again, newsletters are a great way to get coupons.  All You magazine is published once a month and it contains many coupons.  Watch for coupons inserted into products that you already use.  I bought a 3-pack of Puffs tissues and it contained over $10 worth of coupons inside for other items I use (paper towels, toilet paper, batteries).

4. How to organize – I have seen many different organization methods, but this one seems to work for us so far.  I had a 3-ring binder that I filled with business card holders.  I divided them up into sections (I tried to keep the sections the same as the commissary where I shop).  On the front divider in the notebook, I taped two envelopes to it.  One says “planning to use” and the other says “going to use”.  Before my shopping trip, and sometimes as I am shopping, I come across a coupon that I want to make sure and use–maybe the expiration date is coming up, or maybe the item is on sale.  Once I actually place an item into the cart, I put the coupon into the “going to use” envelope.

5. How to coupon – This section deserves it’s own post, really.  I will try and simplify, but if you really want to learn check out the resources below.  I will say this, it takes practice to get good at couponing.  It might be frustrating at first, and you might not see as much savings as you would like.  Stick with it for a while before giving up on it.  Once you start paying attention to details and practice pairing coupons and sales it will get easier.  I am always so excited that I can now look at most prices in our commissary and know if it is a good price or not.  I had never paid attention before.

OK, so generally what I do is find out what items are on sale.  I still only shop every 2 weeks or so (and I don’t run around to other stores).  I then see if I have coupons for any of those items, or if I can find coupons online.  I also try to get store coupons.  In my case, the commissary has military coupons that I can pair up with my manufacturers coupons.  I then buy a “reasonable” amount of the item on sale with my coupons so that I will have the item on hand until it goes on sale again.

6. Think outside the box savings – One way I have used this system to save is to use sale items for hospitality events.  For instance, I have been able to buy Rice Crispies and marshmallows are really cheap prices.  When we attend events where we need to bring a snack or dessert, we can whip up Rice Crispy treats and it doesn’t cost us much (not to mention they are super quick and easy!)

Resources

I have found the following websites very useful as I have tried to learn how to coupon.  I know that there are lots of sites out there, but I wanted to learn from women who loved the Lord and saw this as an opportunity to become better stewards — not merely hoarding up all the freebies they could find!

Southern Savers

Money Saving Moms

The Happy Housewife

$50 Vision Forum Giveaway

~~~~~~~~~Congratulations Caroline!  You won the $50 Vision Forum gift certificate!!!~~~~~~~~~~

Last night my oldest daughter and I attended a meeting for her upcoming graduation. In just over 3 months my husband and I will be graduating our oldest daughter and first homeschooled student. I can’t begin to describe the emotions that fill my heart when I ponder this thought!

My mind starts to wonder and think of all the things I have not taught her, that I have somehow missed. Then I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes:

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. ~Socrates

What a great metaphor used to describe our role as a homeschooling parent. How freeing it is to know that I don’t have to choose everything to put in my daughters vessel, I just have to kindle the flame. My goal is to teach my children to love learning!

This week we had the chance to review one of Vision Forum newest products, WWII: D-Day and the Providence of God Study Course. This history course covers much of the history surrounding World War II and the D-Day invasion. The study set includes 4 DVDs, 1 MP3, and a study guide with questions and Bible verses to memorize (that pertain to the learning for that episode).

When we received the course in the mail, the kids were a tad bit disappointed that I didn’t get the zip line to review.  I was excited because I have a 14 year old who loves making movies, especially “war” movies.  We haven’t studied much on World War II, so I was hopeful that this would fill the gap (here I go again trying to fill that vessel).

The older kids and I sat down to watch episode one (there are 7 in all), and I had to keep pausing the movie to explain or talk about different topics the film was covering.  I was surprised by how attentive the kids were and how thought out their questions were.  The film is shot in Europe, and I felt that this helped to bring the topics to life.  Having lived in Europe twice, it is such a different understanding when you can see the old cobblestone streets where prisoners were marched along versus the modern streets here in the states.  I loved that much of the series was shot on location.

We haven’t worked our way through the entire series yet, but so far the kids and I are learning so much.  Kendra was working her way through the Civil War, but after watching episode 1 she asked if she could pause the Civil War and learn about World War II.  She then went on to read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and Hitler by Albert Marrin (flames being kindled…I love it!).  Everyday she has something new to tell us about Adolf Hitler.

$50 Vision Forum Giveaway

I know that many of you would absolutely love this study course.  I am so thankful to Vision Forum for the opportunity to review it.  I am even more thankful that they are going to give one of you a $50 gift certificate!  $50 can go a long way at Vision Forum right now–there is a great sale going on until the end of January.

Entering the contest is easy…

1. Visit the Vision Forum website and tell me in a comment below which product you would like to get with your $50 gift certificate.

2. Share this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and leave me a comment letting me know you did so.

3. Like Ponder the Path on Facebook or subscribe to Ponder the Path by email (and make sure to leave me another comment to let me know).

Contest ends Friday, January 27th at midnight.  I will choose a random winner and announce the winner on Saturday morning.

 

Note:  The above links are my affiliate links.

 

Should Christians Use Herbs? (part 2)

Should Christians Use Herbs? @jasminejlucero

Should Christians Use Herbs? (part 2) has been moved to my new herbal site, The Christian Herbal.