Wednesday, December 11, 2013
This reminded me of something Jesus said, you may be familiar with it, you shall know them by their fruit. That caught my attention. Would people know I belong to Jesus by looking at my fruit, or rather by the way I live my life. Do I show love to others, do I exhibit joy in all circumstance, do I enjoy a peace that can't be explained.etc., Well do I? Do we? Does my life reflect my status as one of the redeemed or do I look just like all the other strangers around me. Could another Christian pick me out in a crowd, simply by observing the way I interact with the people in my life and how I react to the circumstances of my life?
Christmas is an easy time for most people to act like Christians. So what can we do to set us apart from the crow? How can we let the Son of Glory, which dwells in our hearts, shine brighter than the tinsel this year? It's more than saying Merry Christmas, though I will happily greet everyone I meet with the traditional Yuletide cheer. For me it's about seeing beyond the natural and loving humanity the way God does. Even a simple act of kindness like holding a door for someone can speak volumes in a world where such basic social manners have been lost.
We've been given the greatest gift from God above, so this year I'm going to share it with others and let it shine!
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
yes you heard me, I'm guilty...
guilty of being blessed that is.
Those of you out there who are also guilty know exactly what I am talking about, for the rest let me explain.
When my wife and I bought our first home we were extremely excited, almost too excited. We wanted to show everyone all the work we had done on our little fixer upper. I would beam when explaining how I had hung the cabinets myself and installed the dishwasher without getting electrocuted. I was working a very nice paying job that afforded us the luxury of owning a home. We were in a word, "blessed."
I really think it stemmed from us being young in the Lord. We had been convinced that if a Christian was successful then they needed to act like they weren't so people wouldn't think they were prideful. Wow, just thinking about that gives me a headache, no wonder so many Christians fall away from the faith. They are so tied up in knots that they can't figure out how they are supposed to have the "Joy of the Lord"
Don't feel guilty about how much God has blessed you. Embrace it, own it, and boast about it. Shout it from the roof tops just how great our God is and How much he has done for you and me.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
We usually stuff our turkey (the stuffing tends to flavor the bird from the inside out.) You do run the risk of the turkey drying out if you stuff it as it has to cook longer, we solve this problem in two ways. First I make some herb butter by mixing room temp unsalted butter with a combination of fresh and dried herbs and spices (remember what I said about something special ;).) This is then rubbed into the bird UNDER the skin. this will help with seasoning the meat, crisping the skin, and adding extra moisture to the meat. We also rub the skin with olive oil and season liberally with salt. Do not under season your bird folks! We then cover the turkey with foil until the last 30 - 60 minutes of cooking.
As I said we stuff our bird, and always make extra on the side. Our stuffing is actually my wife's grandmother's recipe and consists of stuffing bread, chicken stock, herbs, onions, green and red pepper, hamburger, and Chourico (Portuguese hot sausage pronounce Sher-eese). This hot and spicy stuffing is a family favorite and is very special.
Basic mashed potatoes are comfort food for me, so I tend not to mess with them. I'm not adverse to adding cheese, but beyond that LEAVE THEM ALONE!!!! What makes ours special is that we use my wife's stand mixer to whip the potatoes with butter and milk. Yum!!!!!
Okay, here is where I like to get a little fancy. Over the years I have tried various ways to make corn more exciting and this year I will be making creamy corn and spinach with Parmesan cheese. I've made this a few times and everyone seems to love it so, hey why not?
Candy them with butter, brown sugar, and mini-marshmallows. Do I need to say anything else about them? I didn't think so.
Green Bean Casserole
We don't make this ourselves, but my sister-in-law brings it every year, and it is delicious. Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.
Broccoli and Cheese
My mother-in-law loves broccoli and cheese and well, why should I be the only one to get their favorite comfort food. This is one is for you Mom.
I can't believe I almost forgot this one. I'm in charge of making the turkey gravy every year, and yes, I make it from scratch and it is to die for.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my dinner menu. Hey let me know what your traditions are, I would love to hear them. Next time I'll be talking about appetizers.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I thought that the well done speach at the end of the race was all the recognition we should require
I've learned over the years not to ignore the nudging of the Spirit, so that night during my prayer time I let God speak to my heart, and what I heard surprised me, "Thank You." Did I hear that right? God was thanking me? He was, and I realized He was thanking me everytime someone was touched by the worship on Sunday morning, everytime I was obedient to his leading, and everytime I helped our congregation to fix their eyes on Jesus.
I let God speak to my heart, and what I heard surprised me
God is telling His servants,
"Thank you and keep up the good work."
I realized that God is using those that come up and tell me how much they loved the music, or what a great voice I have, to let me know He appreciates my willingness to serve, to put myself out there (way outside my comfort zone I might add), and to be obedient to His call. I'm not saying these things to brag or to puff myself up, but rather to remind myself and others that God is telling His servants, "Thank you and keep up the good work."
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The next few days are going to be crazy busy. I'm going to training Wednesday morning for a new job. (I'm going to be doing some bookkeeping from home.) Then coming home to do some school with my daughter (she is mostly self directed but still have to go over her math and science lessons, plus she has a test in Bible.) After that I'm off to the church office to get some treasurer things done. Finally to round off the day I'll be teaching the K-2 boys at church. And that's just Wednesday.
The rest of the week is looking just as busy. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I know with my fibro I'm going to crash hard come Saturday afternoon, but I thrive on this kind of pace. My body may be screaming no, but my mind says bring it on. Oh, by the way, Christmas is just around the corner. LOL.
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Monday, November 11, 2013
I say all this because it's important to honor our parents while they are still with us. Even if they haven't done anything deserving of honor, God says to honor them because He gave them to us for parents. So today I want to honor my father, not because he was a great dad, or even because he was a veteran, but simply because he was my dad. I hope he found peace with God at the end, so we can sit down at the great table in heaven and talk about all the things we did have in common.
Dad, thank you for your service, I miss you and love you.
Living in an apartment, we gather around our kitchen table for dinner. It can expand to seat eight, though in a pinch we can seat ten ( we've managed to get 13 of us around it one year but that is just too crowded). This year we are looking at at least ten if not more. Any overflow will be set up at a smaller table in our parlor. The table I set for the photo shoot is set for eight.
Friday, November 8, 2013
I have an entire mariachi band.
I'm saying this because, as a stay at home dad, I have to perform some functions that are usually placed under the woman category by society, and even by most christians.One of those things over the past few years is planning our Thanksgiving dinner. I have really gotten into planning the menu and even creating a festive tablescape for our guests.
This year hasn't been any different, with the exception that I will be sharing my creation on my blog. I had just finished photographing the table, complete with place settings and burning candles, when my wife comment that I was just not like other guys. Even my own wife of 20 plus years is taken aback by my creative side at times. she got me thinking though.
I'm obsessed with table settings. Did I follow the correct etiquet rules, does the coffee spoon go to the right or on top, which side does the napkin go on??? Why am I like this? Then it hits me, my mom. One of my fondest memories from my childhood was setting the table everynight for dinner. And when I says setting the table, I'm talking the whole nine yards. Frist you hand to remove the table runner and all the knickknacks. Then you had to pick out a tablecloth. Followed by the dinnerplates, glasses, and silverware, which my mom would gently correct me if something was out of place. My mom taught me how to set a formal table, and and informal one, and indirectly taught me the importance of sitting down for a family meal everynight. The meal would almost always end with coffee and dessert, and then everything was whisked away into the kitchen to be washed and the table would get its runner and knickknacks replaced once more.
I'm obsessed with table settings.
Familty dinners around the table. Something that our busy modern families hardly ever have time for anymore. maybe that is why I obsess over the holiday meals, I'm trying to recapture the warmth and nostalgia of simpler times. By setting an elaborate table I'm not only providing a festive stage for our meal but also for the family to reconnect.
Hey dads (and moms to), how do you help your families reconnect
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
If you are considering a study on the electoral process (whether you're a homeschooler or not) the following resources may prove helpful:
Sunday, October 27, 2013
What is the likelyhood that you could get two churches of different traditions to work together for a common goal? How about 10 churches? Pretty slim right? Well what if I told you that this past weekend I participated in a prayer service involving not two churches, not ten churches, but twenty churches of different traditions, who came together as the body of Christ to pray for our city.
To me this is what unity is all about. Where we can put aside the things that divide us and concentrate on the things we have in common. Every church at this prayer meeting cares about vour city, loves Jesus, and realizes that He is the only one that is going to bring about a change in our city. It is not going to take more social programs, though God can use those to help the hurting. It is not going to take rallies or angry mobs, though God can use those to bring awareness. It is going to take God's people getting on their knees and praying for the people God loves (which by the way is everyone.)
Sometimes, I think what keeps God from moving is the lack of unity of His people. Maybe it is time we stopped trying to build our own little kingdoms and started building God's Kingdom. I'd love to hear your opinions.
Friday, October 25, 2013
The quote is visible as you enter the side door from the porch (this is the main entrance used by the family and guests.) I really love the way it turned out. I used two complimentary colors (Valspar - Rich Chocolate and Bear Claw) that I was able to get in 8 oz. sample sizes. I drew the layout of the letters lightly in pencil and painted them freehand. The whole mural measures approx. 3 1/2 feet wide by 6 feet tall.I'm still trying to decide what to do on the landing between the second and third floors, but will definitely be sharing when I do.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I know not every church out there has a choir (we only have one at Christmas time) but there is something about the traditional choral selections at this time of year that resonate with people, especially the unchurched. Almost everyone is familiar with Christmas carols and when combined with powerful narration and scripture reading can make for an unexpected evangelical service. For many this might be one of the only time during the year that they are thinking about God or are willing to even attended a church service.
So, I would encourage you to start thinking ahead, and planning how you will proclaim not just Christ's birth this Christmas but also His death and resurrection. Choral music might not be your thing or fit into your church's culture, but the message of His coming and taking on flesh definitely ought to be. Take some time to plan out your holidays and feel free to let me know what your planning this holiday season.
Monday, October 21, 2013
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all the ingredients together and then working in small batches pulse the mix in a food prcessor until the white chocolate chips are finely ground and the mixture is uniform. This can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
To make Hot Cocoa put 1/4 cup of mixture in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk.
You can top this with whipped cream of mini marshmallows.
You can also substitute milk chocolate chips for the white chips, or even use mint chips for a real treat.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I forget that all important first step much of the time. I'm a very impulsive person with a bit of impatience thrown in for good measure. Put that together with being creative and having limited energy due to chronic illness and it's a wonder I finish anything. I either lose interest or become discouraged with the results (I'm a bit of a perfectionist as well.) With that said, some time spent with God in prayer puts everything back in perspective. It allows me to reconnect with the creator and be even more creative. It helps me to refocus my priorities on what is really important. I'm also reminded that I don't have to do things in my own strength and ability. As a matter of fact I shouldn't. I should be relying on God more and more.
Like a child holding his father's hand as you walk along, eventually you will tire and your father will pick you up on His shoulders. Not only will you find rest but also a new perspective on the world.
Monday, September 30, 2013
These are just a couple of the mason jar luminaries we have been working on. the first one is a fall themed one. I stippled yellow, orange, and red paint in vaguely leaf like shapes and then attached a silk leaf using jute.
I hope this gets you inspired. You might even want to try these with you kids.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like seabillows roll;
What ever my lot, Thou hast thaught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul"
Those simple words of that very familiar hymn came crashing through the cacophony of my thoughts and just like that my thoughts became captive once again. You see it is human nature to worry about things that we often cannot control, but as the hymn writer notes God has taught us to say "It is well". The Holy Spirit is the comforter. He brings peace to our hearts and souls.
I've often said that worship is all about our service rendered unto God. Sometimes the greatest service we can render is trusting Him.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I remember the first time I met my wife's grandparents. We had just started dating and she had invited me to go with her and her family for a visit. From the moment I met them they welcomed me not only into their home but into their hearts. Looking back I realize that they were simply following Jesus's command to love their neighbor.
Over time they became as close to my heart as my own grandparents had been and now that they are gone, my soul mourns their passing but at the same time rejoices in that they are with the Father in heaven. It is a bitter sweet feeling that cannot be put into words, for although my wife and I will miss her terribly, we also rejoice with the angels of heaven as they welcome her to her true home. There is great comfort in knowing that we will see Grammie and Grampie on that shore in the sweet by and by.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I really think planning is an essential part of preparing for a worship service. How else will the musicians be prepared for Sunday morning if they can't practice ahead of time. Most musicians and especially those leading worship want to bring their best. They can't do that if they can't practice.
Now, God doesn't require our worship to be perfect, but He does require excellence. If we are not bringing the best we have to offer then our worship is not acceptable to the Lord (remember Cain and Abel?) So what are some reasons we don't plan ahead?
- We don't have time to practice. Really? I mean even if you can't get together each week you should be practicing as individuals. How else are you going to learn new songs or become better musicians?
- I don't have time to plan. If you don't have the time to commit yourself to what a ministry needs in terms of time, then maybe you need to step down.
- We don't want to miss the Spirit moving. However you want to put this, it is a valid point but it doesn't negate the need for planning and practice. When we approach our worship services, we need to remember the idea of balance.
- My Pastor doesn't tell me the theme or Sermon topic until the last minute. This is a though one. In my case my Pastor hardly ever tells me the theme or topic of his sermons. After all if we are both going to the same well then we should be on the same page. There are a few things you can do in this case: Ask you Pastor to give you the theme or topic sooner, or ask your Pastor if you can select the songs ahead of time. His answer in both cases may surprise you. You could also limit your song selections to a small list of songs that your worship team knows really well. They should also be practicing those songs during the week.
So how do I plan? I send out the song list for Sunday a week in advance and try to have at least a months worth of set list planned out. I also try to remain flexible as God may put a specific song on my heart at the last minute. We also have practices every Thursday night where we go over the songs for Sunday as well as any new songs we will be introducing in the next few weeks. This year I will also be challenging myself as well as our worship team to learn ten songs by heart that we can play in case the spirit begins to move or if we are called to play at the end of the service. When planning a month out I try to remember any special holidays or service and incorporate songs that fit those themes (i.e. Communion or Missions Sunday.)
In the end, if we are serious about our worship we need to plan. If we don't plan ahead we can't prepare. If we don't prepare we can't bring our best.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I don't think there is any right answer to that one. It really all depends on what works best for your family, and that may even vary from year to year. One of the joys of homeschooling is the flexibility it gives us to do school around our lives and schedules and not the other way around.
So if you feel you need to do school even though public schools are closed then go ahead, (that is what we are doing this week as we have a big family vacation coming up next month and our homeschool co-op is also staring up next month so I don't want to fall behind anymore than we already are (-: ). On the other hand if you feel it is more important to your children to go outside and make a snowman or go sledding then by all means do that. We've done both and we have even taken a snow day or two even when the public school is still in session.
Our days off don't have to line up with the days the public school are taking off. We can manage our school schedule to fit the circumstances of our own individual families. So go ahead and do what is best for your family and stop worrying about what other schools and families are doing, and remember you can even do "school" while having fun. Field trip to Sea World anyone?
Like I always said when I worked as a Training Facilitator "Let's have fun and learn something!"
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Monday, February 4, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Some of my favorite games also teach some basic and not so basic concepts. Today I want to go over a few of my families favorite games and what makes them so special.
My daughter began playing Carcassonne at age 6, though much of the games mechanics were lost on her at first (she really liked to complete roads so that they looked pretty.) No at 14 she can give me and my wife a run for our money. So why is this a great learning game? Well, let's start with the whole scoring system that involves basic addition and multiplication. Then there is the spacial reasoning and also the ability to plan ahead. Resource management is also something to take into account. You could also go extra geeky and look up the actual city of Carcassonne on which the game is based.
Made for Trade
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
So after a long hiatus we are back with our series on the names of The Lord. If you want to get caught up or refresh your memory you can check out Part 1 here.
So this week I want to focus on the name Adonai (pronounced a-doh-NIE). It first appears in the book of Genesis in chapter 15 verse 2. Lets look at it in context:
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
this week I'm going to be making spinach and ricotta stuffed crepes with roasted chickpeas. Sounds ambitious I know, but I've been dying to make crepes for a while and this is an excellent excuse.
I'm very curious if anyone else has tried Meatless Mondays, and if so what meal ideas you might have.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
This past Sunday our pastor presented his theme for the new year, "READY."
He defined Ready as follows:
Ready 1. Standing in the place of anticipation 2. Having a made up mind 3. Poised for action.
Being a worship leader I of course began to think about this in the context of my ministry, and I began to ask myself, "am I ready?"
First, am I standing in a place of anticipation? Do I approach Sunday mornings with an attitude of an obligation that I need to fulfill or do I come expecting, anticipating great things every Sunday? There is a great song by Matthew West called The Motions, that sums this feeling up.
I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me.
the second definition really made me think about the songs we sing. Do they convey what we believe? Do they present a clear and honest picture of the God we serve? As a worship leader, I take my job extremely seriously. I spend hours in prayer when selecting songs for our worship services, but I still scrutinize every song we do. Also when I sing a try to think about the words and their meaning, allowing the emotions those words stir inside me to be evident on my countenance.
The last thing is being poised for action. Am I ready to respond to when the Spirit moves? Do I allow room for Him to move? Is my set list more important than what God is doing in the service? I like to believe that if God begins to move in our service that I would be sensitive enough to His Spirit that I could change my set list on the fly.
So, this year I'm going to challenge myself to be READY, and I want to extend that challenge to my fellow worship leaders. Are you willing to be READY?