Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Planning & What happened to the Friendship Bread

Well I just finished my 3rd week of menu planning (2nd week on Menu Plan Monday). You can find lots of meal plans at - many of their blogs have recipes. We did really great on our plan this week. I am learning being flexible with the plan works the best- one night I forgot we were eating at church for Parent's Night Out and today we ate leftovers my mother sent home with us from the birthday celebration last night! So here is our plan this week.........

Monday - "On The Go Ravioli Lasagna" , Salad and Fruit

Tuesday- Breakfast Casserole (since we didn't have last week)

Wednesday - Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Thursday- Hamburgers, baked beans, chips

Friday- "Date Night" so we will eat out and FINALLY go see FIREPROOF

Saturday - Chicken Casserole, Broccoli, Hash brown Casserole, Corn on the Cob

Sunday- Leftovers

I am anxious to try the "On the Go Ravioli Lasagna". Someone brought us this dish while I was home recovering from surgery. It was very yummy. My sweet friend that brought it keeps forgetting to bring me the recipe so I found one on Recipezaar. I will let you know how it goes!

I will tell you I can't believe how much money eating out costs. Now on our third week of trying to eat at home because I found I liked eating at home during my 7 week recovery.

I will also tell you that my first CVS deal actually paid off. I purchased Flintstones Complete Vitamins- $7.49 but I had a $1.00 off coupon. Well they had this for buy one get one 50% off (wish I had printed two coupons). I had extra care bucks to cover my purchase - well I paid the tax- $.34! I wish you could have seen the ladies face at the cash register- she couldn't believe it. I do plan on going back and getting more Flintstones Complete Vitamins. For those of you who know I don't have children and are wondering WHY I am purchasing these vitamins- I am anemic and must take iron pills. I have a hard time taking iron- it makes me sick. My friend and co-worker "Meigs Co." told me she had started taking these vitamins for the iron and it was not making her sick. I checked and for adults it has 100% of the iron you need daily. So I too have started taking them. I am also wondering why I thought they tasted so good as a kid. Oh well, better than taking the other.

Have a great week! I pray you feel encouraged all day, every day!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm A Christian Now

After adding the post about the Giving Banks, I decided to share another resource I really believe is a must for children. I believe it in so much that at my church before a child can be baptized they must take the "I'm A Christian Now" class. I personally teach each one of these classes (well with the exception of one our Co-Pastor taught while I was out recovering from surgery). It is my desire to always teach this class at my church. It has been my privilege to have personally taken literally hundreds of children through this class over the 14 years I have been in ministry to children.
So you may be asking why do we require this class or why do I believe in this resource so much. Well so often many children do not fully understand what accepting Christ really is all about. I also believe that we as adults are so excited they are wanting to make this decision that we sometimes don't stop to realize they don't fully understand. Then we end up with adults who struggle with their salvation or realize they never truly accepted Christ. Thus this class. This awesome resource takes children through their decision- what it means and what it does not mean and what they should do after they accept Christ.

If you are in a church that does not have this resource or take children through something similar- I would encourage you to go to and purchase this resource on your own. The workbook is around $6.00. There are two books- a younger child version and an older child version. They also sell a teaching kit but the workbook can be used as a stand alone.

When we teach the class at our church (we advertise classes once a month, but some months do not have anyone register), I have gone to a one time afternoon class. We begin after our third worship service and I feed the children lunch (yeah! pizza). We meet for 2 1/2 hours. We visit the baptistery- most children are afraid of being baptized. Normally it is for one of two reasons- they are afraid of water or of all the people. I meet with each child one on one to discuss their decision.

It is a precious time. It is an exciting time. It is a time when I realize the huge responsibility I have in partnering with parents in coming alongside them to help in the spiritual growth of their children.

I have tried to "sum" up this resource and class quickly. If you have questions please don't hesitate to leave a comment. It would be a good resource to recommend if your church does not currently have something like this in place. It is my prayer that those children who come through the Childhood Ministries I have the privilege to lead, will understand their decision even if that means they are not yet ready. Children want our approval and want to make us happy. Remember, if your child is not ready to accept Christ please affirm their desire to want to learn more about loving Jesus.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giving Banks

These are the banks I wrote about in my blog. If you have children I believe it is a must have! Matter of fact, our church gave them to every child 3 years and up last year when our church did a whole month of lessons on stewardship. To understand the commitment my church made and how much we believe in them - they purchased over 250 banks (and they do not give a discount for buying in bulk). Not only that each year the new group of 3 year olds will get these banks. Matter of fact the 3 year old Sunday School classes at our church will be receiving their banks in about a month. Here is what Crown Financial Ministries ( description is of this product-
The bank sells for $15 each. It also comes with a cd-rom to help parents teach their child about money.
The ABC Learning Bank
-->The ABC Learning Bank has been designed to teach your child the value of money and how to handle it in a way that is pleasing to God. It is a fun, 3-compartment bank made of transparent plastic.
Each of the 3-compartments (giving, saving and spending) can easily be separated – no more taking your entire bank with you! New stopper design is more durable and user-friendly. Free Bible-based information for parents is also included when you order from Crown.
(measures 12 X 7 ½ X 2 ¼ inches)

Mom's Nurturing Moms

One of the great privileges I have as the Minister of Childhood Education at my church is getting to plan for our moms. We have a mom's group called Mom's Nurturing Moms. If you have attended a MOP's group it is a lot like it with a few exceptions. MnMs is for moms of all aged children, and the activities are free- the crafts, speakers, give aways, etc. are all a part of the church budget. I also think in MOP's different groups are formed and they each help plan the meetings. I have the awesome privilege of planning the meetings and my incredible staff helps carry this out. Today 48 moms had RSVP ed which meant childcare for 87 children - requiring 20 childcare workers. It was a busy morning (not to mention Home school classes were also being held in our little corner of the world). Not everyone was able to come this morning but we had a great time.
The subject today was Family Budgeting and teaching your children about money. Our craft was making a Fall Wreath! I had two very talented ladies come - one that shared on the Money stuff and one who lead the wreath making (and made me a beautiful wreath that is hanging on my front door).
I will try and post some of the forms G.A. shared with the moms. My favorite part is when she shares that at the age of 3 is when her children began getting allowance and began having chores. At age 3 is when the "rite of passage" of getting a GIVING BANK also happened. If you do not know about these banks- they teach your children to give their tithe, save for short term things and save for long term things. G.A. also shared when the child turned 4 the "rite of passage" was getting to go to the bank and open up a bank account with the money they had saved all year long (in their giving bank).
Today it was clear from questions, comments, etc. that money is still a big issue for couples. Well for one there just never seems to be enough- or you differ on how to handle money. I walked away realizing how blessed I am to be on the same page as my hubby on this area.
I also can't even begin to talk about money without stressing how I wished everyone good understand tithing. Tithing should not be a chore but looked as an act of worship, obedience and a joyful thing. I also know how God blesses those who are honoring Him with their giving. I also believe God honors those who are trying to handle their money in a way that pleases Him.
Recently my husband and I set out on a track to get out of debt. Other than our house we do not have a lot of debt but just a lot of little different things. We are on the quest to do the snowball effect in paying down debt. Let me tell you what an awesome feeling it is to pay something off!
Back to the mom's group- I have a passion for this group of ladies. As I looked at a list of our group today- there are 77 different ladies who have attended in the 3 years who represent 16+ churches in our community- including some who do not attend church or are looking for a church. These ladies are in the trenches of raising tomorrow's leaders! I believe they like the fellowship and for 2 hours each month they get to leave their children in great care of our awesome First Care Staff (childcare staff) and enjoy the company of others like them. I love this group- they are a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing them each month. If you live in the Cleveland or surrounding areas and would like to join us- please feel free to do so. Next month our C0-Pastor's wife will be speaking on "a heart that makes a home". She is a wife, mom to 10 children, teacher to her children, and also a new mother-in-law! Our craft next month will be ceramic plates.
A lot of the principles G.A. taught about today came from Crown Financial Ministries - you can go to their website at !

What a Surprise!!

One of my blogging friends- has awarded me my first blogging award! I was so surprised! Thank you Tami! I appreciate your kind words about my blog! Thank you, Thank you!
The rules are:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate 7 (minimum of 5) other blogs
4. Add links to them on your blog
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blogs
My nominations are:
1. A friend of mine from church has started this email! Gloria has done an amazing job of getting the word out about exciting things to do in and around the Cleveland, TN area. She also shares ways to save money! She does this while working a full time job both at home and outside the home! She is a great friend, wife, mom, employee and BLOGGER!
2. My friend Christine has a great blog. I always learn something from reading her blogs. She is always sharing ways to impact your family's life and it helps that I know her personally and know she lives out what she says! I love all the neat pictures she takes to illustrate the things she blogs about. I also am still trying not to covet her craft area- you need to look at her pictures! WOW!
3. My friend Jennifer can make you laugh, cry and well her blog most recently on shoppers convicted me. She speaks honestly and from the heart. It has been neat for me to read her blog and see how God continues to use her family to do great things for Him.
4. My friend Laura's blog shares about her life with her hubby and her 9 children. On top of all that she home schools them! I love keeping up with her family through her blogs. Her honesty about raising her children to love God, her transparency about raising a child with Downs Syndrome and her willingness to share honestly about running a household with 11 people in it amazing. She also does amazing things with pictures........ she is going to have to teach me. It is my privilege to call her "friend".
5. Alyssa is my friend from the blogging world that I admire. Her mission says it all
Honor God with my finances.
Encourage and equip others to do the same.
Discover new and creative ways to reduce spending in order to increase giving.
Balance this journey with marriage and motherhood

One of the reasons I really admire her is for her integrity! Read her recent post and you will realize she is serious about saving money but honoring God is number one! Way to go Alyssa!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Friendship Bread!

What is the world coming to? Okay so Meal Planning is a stretch for me. I am happy to report that so far for the last 9 days- I have only changed my plan one time. So I finally get the nerve to tell the crew at work that I am doing this and yes they did laugh. They said they were proud of me and then before the Parent's Day Out staff left you will never guess what happened!
The Director calls me into the kitchen and says there is a Ziploc bag of friendship bread starter left...... do I want it. I am like what is it? What do I have to do? She told me it has instructions, so I am like sure I will try it.
THEN I read the instructions................
Squeeze it? What is that about?
Well we will see if I can keep up with the task of making Friendship Bread. I mean come on I am not eating out every night but I am not sure I am up to this great task.

I also want to share if you are a CVS shopper- all their candy is on sale. If you purchase $15 worth of certain brands (which is easy to do with the big bags being $4.99 a bag) you get $7 in the extra care bucks. SO............ for those of you who go to churches who ask for candy for the Fall Festival they will host later in the month- stop by before Friday (Cleveland, TN is on the new schedule for CVS sales- here a new one begins every Friday). So if you spend $15 in candy- which you need for Fall Festival, yourself (I got peanut mnm's), children's parties, or trick or treater's- you will get $7 to spend later. I also bought Dum Dums so all my little friends can continue to stop by and see Dynamic and me. How is that for plugging candy donations for Fall Festival's!!!! :)

Speaking of saving money- Dynamic (Childhood Ministries assistant) and Resourceful (Resource Coordinator for Childhood Ministries) saved our church LOTS of money today. Well over $1,000 dollars. We did this two ways- one cutting out unused literature from our quarterly order and two- realizing we have most of our craft stuff for our Christmas Party because we bought last year during the "clearance" season from a crafting company! Way to go!

Also I personally racked up on skinless, boneless chicken breasts today. I visited for the first time Cook's - a local grocery store in Cleveland, TN. I noticed in the grocery story ads that they had the chicken for $1.99 per lb. I was headed to Bi-Lo where it was $3.69 per lb. when I remembered seeing this special. Well - now my freezer is stocked with this chicken for a while.

So, share with me how you have saved money recently...............
And stay tuned to see how I do with my friendship bread, can someone tell me why you squeeze this mixture?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Planning ... Don't laugh!

Okay, I know some of you who know me well are laughing--- I mean really laughing. Yes, I am doing menu planning for my hubby and I. This is my second week. After having meals brought to us for 6 weeks during my recovery surgery - thank you lovely people at my awesome church- I really liked eating at home. If you know us personally you know we eat out ALOT. The Lord has convicted me at different times that we waste TOO much money on eating out. So this is my second week trying to do better - reading all the blogs on being frugal, meal planning, etc. also inspired me. My good friend- triathamom - who teaches Cooking Live classes at my church also is a huge inspiration to me. Being a working woman it was nice to come home last week and the past two Sunday's and have most everything already ready. The Sunday meal is nice because I have been using my crock pot. Ask any children's minister and by the time they get home on a Sunday after morning services and ministries they will tell you - you are worn out most mornings. Whoever, invented the crock pot- what a blessing!

So here is my menu plan for this next week and two of my favorite recipes.................
Sunday- BBQ wings, green beans, mac & cheese, corn casserole
Monday- Lasagna, Salad, Fruit, Bread
Tuesday- Grilled Cheese, Nachos & Chips
Wednesday- Dinner at Church
Thursday- Breakfast Casserole, Fruit
Friday- Crunchy Chicken Bake, peas, hash brown casserole, grape salad
Saturday- Dinner with Family for a Birthday
Sunday - Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Applesauce

I am going to post the recipe to two of our family favorites:

Crunchy Chicken Bake
6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup herb stuffing
2 Tablespoons melted margarine
Place chicken in a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Spread soup over chicken and cheese. Combine margarine and stuffing. Sprinkle on top. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. (Taken from my church's cookbook)

Chicken Enchiladas
1 large can chunked chicken
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz. tub of sour cream
1 small onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
8 to 10 flour tortillas

Combine chicken, soups, sour cream and onion in a large skillet and heat. Spoon in a portion of the mixture into a flour tortilla and cheese and roll up. Place in a 9x9 baking dish. Pour the remaining mixture over enchiladas; sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until hot thoroughly. (from a church cookbook where I served on staff)

So how many of you out there need to do a better job of planning meals? Okay if not that what about could you find some ways to spend the money you are going to save by not eating out? Okay, I thought that would get you............ visit to be inspired with over 200 meal plans for this week! Maybe you will find some inspiration! Better take a nap before AWANA- cya!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do You Have Something in Your Throat?

This is a question one of the moms at church recently asked her young child. You see he was making all kinds of noises- burping, uggggggggg, coughing, etc. He said I am trying to cough up Jesus. She said WHAT? He said well you said He lives in my heart now and I just wanted to see what He looks like!

Now that is a classic! I love it............ our "churchy" terminology so often does confuse children. Oh my, I don't know if I can ever look at this little child without thinking of this. His mother shared this with me when she picked him up from the Check - In desk........... she was running a little late and the teacher brought him to me. I was telling her it was no problem that he had made me laugh the WHOLE time- that I never realized how funny he was- actually hysterical. And then she proceeded to tell me the above conversation she had with him. Oh out of the mouths of babes!

Hope you enjoyed this- do you have an "out of the mouths of babes" story? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Week One - Check

Well for the most part - the office part- my first week back at work is complete. I am off on Friday's- as is all the ministers and administrative staff. Well our lovely receptionist works on Friday's from 8 - 12 and the ladies in the office rotate working so she will not be by herself. I can't say all of that without saying all my friends on the Maintenance Staff works all day on Friday's. Bless their hearts I think they work non-stop.

It was harder than I thought but I know it can only get better. It was a week of catching up on stuff - mail, phone calls, emails, more mail, catching up, etc.

Friday I get to attend the Kick-Off luncheon for Operation Christmas Child. If you are not familiar with this awesome organization - please check it out at ! I will have to post an awesome story another time about a neat story that connected two families- all through a shoebox!

Childhood Ministries is also sponsoring a trip to the ATLANTA Braves game. So I am headed to Atlanta on a motor coach with other families from our church to cheer on the Braves. I am a hoping the sitting on the drive, the walk to the stadium and the sitting at the game isn't too much. The good thing is I can walk around on the drive if needed, I can take as long as I need to get to the stadium and there are lots of places to visit while at the stadium- mainly the dipin' dots vendor :) !

Thanks for your prayers- they are greatly appreciated.
Have you thanked God today for the many, many blessings in your life?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day One- Check

Check it off- day one back at work is over. It was lots of fun- seeing all my little friends (and adult friends too) and meeting new friends. I couldn't believe all the new faces that have arrived on our church campus while I was gone. Exciting but tiring. I am worn out. I am going to bed early so I can get ready for my second day back. I have not been to staff meeting in about 7 weeks so I am anxious to get back and see all the guys! Have I ever mentioned I am the only female on the ministerial staff at our church - same thing at my last church too. But that is a blog all in itself for another day! So I am excited to rejoin them tomorrow. It seems like forever because in the summer we all are going a thousand different directions with camps, vacations, Vacation Bible School, mission trips, etc. So it has been a while and I think our whole crew will be present tomorrow!

Half way there!

Just wanted to let you know I survived the morning. Oh how much fun I had getting lots of hugs and high fives from little friends. One little boy asked me this morning- where did you go all this time? Well I wish I could have told him to a spa at the beach BUT that is only wishful thinking. I gotta run get a nap before I go back this afternoon.

Today's the Big Day

Well after being out recovering since my surgery on July 29th- I return "officially" to work today. I am anxious and excited. My doctor told me this week he thought I was good to return to my normal activities but cautioned I ease back into things. Those of you who know me well- that statement will be hard for me to follow.... I don't usually "ease" into anything- I plow right through it! However, more than any other time in my life I am trying to do what the doctor says and others have advised. Many of my friends and even some I have encountered I don't know well have stressed to me how important being careful and not overdoing it is when returning to my normal activities. And the time has come.....................
Today will be filled with 3 worship services (meaning 2 Sunday schools, 1 kid's church and 1 worship care for the Childhood Ministries area) and AWANA tonight! I will come home during the afternoon- my husband has spoken. A lot of times I will stay on Sunday afternoon. A lot of times it is so quiet then and I can get a lot accomplished. My husband is a marriage and family therapist. He is the counselor at our church part-time. Sundays are normally full of sessions. So we are just both at church. However, he says I will need to come home and rest before AWANA- he is so right I was already thinking (but really thinking it after a trip to CVS and Wal-mart wore me out on Saturday night).
I can't tell you how thankful I am for him. God gave me a gift in this precious, sweet, wise, patient and handsome man. My honeybunches is so funny- but he is so quiet not many people are able to see this side of him. Not to mention how glad I am the Tennessee Vols won on Saturday so he was much happier than 2 Saturdays ago.
I am also thankful for my second family- the Childhood Ministries Staff. I can not tell you how amazing they are. Two that have been there over a year now- I'll call the "Dynamic Duo". They are amazing that help set the pace. Then there is "Resourceful" who kept everyone happy with supplies and thought of things I didn't - my brain hasn't be working right. Two summer staff members have gone now but did so much as well - "Senorita" who is finishing up her last year of college and "Triathamom" who I still get to see on occasion (she would be proud my crock pot is ready with one of her new recipes to be plugged up in the morning). "Rosy" is back from her sabbatical this summer - I like to prefer to it as her "Road Trip". She has come back blazing a trail with the kiddie boo's not to mention keeping us in name tags. "Meigs Co." kept us covered in childcare and help cover so many other areas too. "Techno Momma" kept right on plugging away with buckets, childcare, volunteers all the while being the taxi driver to her girls. That only leaves "Double Trouble"! Not only have they done more than there fair share but they can consistently make me laugh. I always know they are up to something when they say - Am I in trouble because I did __________; only to find out I have no idea what they are talking about OR am completely happy they made a change or handled something.
These ladies worked long hours, covered things not their responsibility, delivered messages that were happy and some no so happy, solved problems, covered things I was suppose to and well just took care of anything and everything. A staff member's husband has dubbed be as the Big, Bad Boss Lady (BBBL) or sometimes just Boss Lady and BBBL and Boss Lady want them to know I am forever grateful to them. THANKS!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Recovery - Still

Well today is week 5 from my recent surgery. Many have asked what exact surgery did I have- it was a hysterectomy. It was not able to be laparoscopic so that has made recovery longer (and harder). They also found out I had endometriosis and had scar tissue everywhere- which required a much longer surgery- what was to be an hour to an hour and half turned into a little more than six hours. They ended up saying some organs were not where they were suppose to be so they have me back better than when I went in surgery. I had to have a blood transfusion (which was my second one for July). Anyway........... enough of that!

I am feeling a lot better each day. I am still slow and sore. Lifting is what seems to be the hardest thing. Well other than my emotions. I cry a whole lot right now. Part they say is my hormones, part psychological- being a social and working woman and being taken out of that and grieving the finality the surgery brings to my life. Although I have been told for a while they didn't think I could have children I have held on to the hope secretly inside for a miracle baby. That hope is gone and my heart is broken. I have read a lot lately about God closing and opening the womb on blogs, devotions and all the talk about make the choice for life (of which we are HUGE supporters). I know we all have something we wonder about and if when we get to heaven if it would matter we would ask (which I know then it will not matter) but my husband and I desire children and I wonder why not us. I know God sees the big picture but I will just be honest it hurts. We are also at a standstill on trying to adopt two little girls. My heart wonders why we don't know what to do about that either. I am praying hard God will show us what to do.

One of the things that always amazes me is despite not being able to have children the Lord has called me to Children's Ministry. So I often like to think that no I do not have one or two children I have hundreds at church. I treasure my time with them and thank God for those relationships. It does take some of the sting away.

Please pray as God continues to heal me physically but also emotionally.

Pleases pray God will make it clear to Mike and I about the adoption we are pursuing. We are discouraged but do not want that to be a lack of faithfulness or Satan trying to attack me especially when I am already a little down.