Monday, July 31, 2017

Easy Go-to Pasta Salads and Kitchen Command Centers


So you just found out there is going to be a potluck cook out and you don't know what to bring.... or maybe you did know but you procrastinated or got too busy with kids and gardening and LIFE but you want to WOW the other guests' stomachs with something tasty, filling and homemade.  I have just the solution!

I invented these salads years ago as I juggled 4 kids and company and found those "Suddenly Salad" boxed options just not up to par for quantity or quality.  I discovered I could spend less on ingredients that would get FAR more for my money and appetite.

These salads can be a meal in themselves and will feed even the most demanding crowds (even if that "crowd" is only 2 feet high and lives under your roof!)


Italian Pasta Salad
1 box cork screw or rainbow pasta, cooked and cooled
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 package pepperoni (open package and quarter cut the slices)
1 can black olives, drained and sliced
1-2 cups Parmesan cheese (fresh or grated)
1 bottle Italian dressing

Mix first 5 ingredients together (Parmesan to taste) then add Italian dressing until pasta salad mixture is well coated.  Serve or cover and chill until ready to eat.
*Optional add-ins: sliced green pepper, sliced red onions, fresh spinach


Photo Credit
Ranch Pasta Salad
1 box wagon wheel pasta, cooked and cooled
1 small bag frozen peas
1-2 cups thinly sliced and diced carrots
1 package bacon bits or 1-2 cups diced ham
1 bottle ranch dressing

Mix first 4 ingredients together, add ranch dressing until pasta salad mixture is well coated.   Let sit 30-60 minutes so peas can thaw just a bit.  If it is really warm in your kitchen, cover and set in refrigerator during this time.
*optional add-ins: sliced red onions, small chunks of cheddar cheese

Bon Appetit!


Kitchen Command Centers...
Consequently, when it comes to tracking menu items and events (and even those pesky household chores) I have a new command center set-up!



This would work with a dry erase or chalk board as well, but I like how this particular scenario works for us since our house is, shall we say, intimate... I don't have a ton of wall space! 

The top pages are our daily chore check-list:
We've been having a hard time staying regularly on-top of our daily to-dos with hubby's new schedule and our strange summer this year.  But we really started kicking into gear this past week (finally) and put the new command center check-list setup to the test Friday with some hard core cleaning.

While I have used this checklist for almost 2 years now, I usually had it with my housekeeping notebook; not so accessible to the family at large. As we dove into the dirty work Friday, it was great to see everyone checking the list on the fridge without me even reminding them to!  We blazed through our chores in record time with the team-work this centrally located reminder prompted!

This is my new weekly overview page for our command center.  The only items entered on this sheet are ones which affect the whole family or my kiddos specifically.  I set this up in Word using the "tables" feature (same with my weekly chore lsit) and then printed it off, embellishing with Washi tape (my new favorite crafting 'tool'!)

http://faithandhome.com/images//Documents/weekly.pdf
click on image to access PDF for printing to put to personal use
The "Daily Dos" section is for special things like Bible Study class or excursions or company coming, etc.  This is different from "Chores" which I usually scribble inside of with a general reference like, "floors" or "bathrooms" and often point to our main chore list for the details of the activity.  I use the bottom section, "This Week" to field things I am not certain what day will work best but helping everyone remember they still need to get done.

The 'kids' (aka, all my offspring from teen through adult still living in the house) are really enjoying having this information readily available in our 'command center'.  The amount of "what's for dinner" and "whose day is it to do laundry" I've been asked at the most inopportune times has decreased drastically!  The girls are enjoying their alternating dish days too and I see much less complaining and forgetting as a result!

Funny how life circles around!  Years ago we kept chore charts on the fridge for my kids when they were little.  For a while, they sort of outgrew that... and now we are back to square one... with a more mature theme.

What quick fix recipes do you have?  How about chore and task wrangling?  I would love to hear from you!  Speaking of which, Monday, August 14th, I am planning to post an article along the lines of "Last Bash of Summer".  I'm looking for ideas from YOU.  Does your family have a special party... a special dinner... do anything memorable to have a last-bit-of-summer blow-out?  If so, I would love to hear about it!  Either type a blog article or (if that is not your thing) throw together an email (pictures welcome) and send your link or content to amanda@faithandhome.com.  Don't forget your name and any other track-back info you want shared (don't worry, I will NOT share your email address).  I will share ALL applicable and family friendly input in my August 14th post!  I look forward to hearing your ideas!  All entries due by midnight August 10th.

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Would you like to receive a month-full of dinner ideas for FREE? 
In my NEW monthly newsletter you will receive this great FREE printable pdf feature in your in-box at the end of each month!  Some recipes and how-to's are even included!  Sign up on the side-bar and, when you do, this month's menu will be sent with your registration confirmation so you don't have to wait for the next newsletter to issue!
******

I pray the good Lord will guide you in all your to-dos and ta-das this week!

Blessings,









DEADLINE TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT!!!


Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
 
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   Even though the first issue mailed last week, everyone who signs up by midnight on tonight will still receive this month's issue!

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by tonight at midnight*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy. (If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)   UPDATE*** There will be TWO blessed winners, not just one!!

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. residentcontact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 



Friday, July 28, 2017

What's In a Plan, the Bird's Eye View (Lesson Planning part 1)


 
Planning Season.  I mention that here every year about this time.  I don't know if it is daunting to readers when they see me write it... or if it peaks curiosity.  I know I am naturally curious and I love peeking into how others get it done.  So, I thought I would share how I roll out lesson plan season today (and the next 2 Fridays in part 2&3)

Before I get started I also want to acknowledged the pre-packaged prepared curriculum does all this for you but reviewing lessons is always helpful so you know what to expect.  ALSO, unit studies and lapbooks tend to cover the spectrum of subjects and save a lot of leg work as well.  These are ideal for younger years and still somewhat possible for high schoolers.  My kids actually like book-work (weird, I know) (and I love teaching it) so we are more eclectic meets a Charlotte Masony traditional homeschool!! Read on if you are intrigued....


What is Lesson Planning

For different people it can be different things.  For me, it is usually 2 straight weeks at some point in July where my husband practices patience with me while all our school books and worksheets are spread across the dining room table, not to be moved until I am done going through all of them and compiling a comprehensive list we can proceed to live the next 9 months by!  Sound chaotic?  It actually isn't and with my list-making personality type, I actually find this to be therapy!!  But even the most list leery person can draw some usefulness and encouragement if done to their fitting...

How I begin...

I actually start around April or May by estimating what we will be studying the coming year.  I don't commit these estimations in ink yet, rather, I draw up a general idea I can take with me to curriculum sales in May (in my area) and begin ordering the books.  I like to have all my main curriculum no later then the beginning of July.  There are usually some inevitable last minute purchases but the crux of our learning tools are on hand while I begin planning.

Shortly after we finish our school year, while it is fresh in mind, I like to sit down with a binder I keep of their records and notes on learning and assess how our school year was.  What worked for us, what didn't and make notes to myself as to what I want to be sure to try for the coming school year.  Once my notes are done I tuck my binder back for a month or so.  Moms need schooling breathers too!

How I get the ball rolling...
After a few weeks off and usually by July, I pull back out my binder.  I pause and I pray for God to show me what I need to see and guide me in what we need to do.  I review my notes not just from the school year we have finished, but from previous school years as well so I don't repeat the same mistakes!  I then add to my list of what I want to shoot for in the coming year both personally and academically.  I set goals which are reasonable but also a bit challenging.  For example, one year I had a hard time with my son injecting silliness into more serious learning segments.  I set the goal for the year for him to learn to listen better and hold silliness for more appropriate settings. I also drew out HOW we would work towards meeting the goal.

With all of these things in mind, I finally pull out the materials I have planned to use for the next year along with any other extension material which may be useful (i.e. worksheets or articles I have collected which pertain to different areas of study we will be covering).  I like to sort my potentials into piles based on subject.  And then, within each subject, based on student.  Sometimes I have multiple materials for one subject I am considering, for example, this year I was considering between 3 different spelling/vocab programs for Brooke.  They all went into the language arts pile to be considered and dealt with as I fine tuned my lesson plans  This phase is that simple: sort.


Getting my plan on...
Once my piles are sorted, I consider how long it will take me to plan out each subject.  Some subjects come with their own lesson plans I will just follow.  In those cases, I still like to set aside some time to review what will be expected of me and if there are any additional supplies they will need for the course.  Other courses I tend to pull from multiple sources and lesson planning helps me make sure I know what we are doing with each lesson (this is most common with us for History and Science since there are so many extension activity potentials with these).  Honesty moment here:  I tend to be forgetful.  If it isn't written down it may potentially be spaced out!

Once I have estimated how in-depth (or not) I need to go with each subject then I consider how much time I have each day for planning.  Some subjects will take multiple days to plan, and that is ok.  Hence the monopoly on the dining table!!  Wherever I decide to start, I grab that curriculum pile and jump in.  I will sort through any books I am trying to decide between (like my spelling this year) and narrow down to the exact ones I am using, skim them, and write out what pages and topics we will cover each day (more on this next week)


Don't forget the extras...
As I plan out lessons and resources I also keep a running list of school supplies.  You know, like the one the public schoolers grab at all the stores right now telling them how many pencils and markers and boxes of Kleenex they need for the year?!  Yeah, kind of like that.  Pencils and paper are a given and I will often check my back-supply in case I have extra.  However, you may realize you are doing a lot of maps this year and you need new colored pencils.  Our Language Arts Program requests a binder with 5 dividers.  I know Algebra will require graph paper at one point as well as a good calculator and ruler (the numbers are rubbing off on their old ones!)  You get the idea.  As you asses each subject, planning lessons, and/or looking over the curriculum requirements, be sure to get those supplies listed out and purchased while all the great sales are going on.  (consequently, Office Max/Office Depot and Staples offer teacher discounts even to homeschoolers!)

The schedule is important too...
Once I am done with lesson planning, and I try to keep each subject within a certain time frame (maybe 30 minutes long when they were younger and up to an hour now that they are high school), I look at our days.  What time do we want to start?  When do we want to be done by?  What is the best flow for our day and their learning ability.... Math in the morning or after lunch?  When do they start to phase out of learning for the day and which subjects require their best brain power so how can I schedule to optimize their learning.  I will literally draw this up, print it out and post it in our schooling area.  I even give a copy to hubby and grandparents so they know what we are up to!  (especially if they are tempted to call during that time!)

Through this whole process, if at any point I feel overwhelmed in the decision making or unsure of what to choose, I pause and pray and Seek God's guidance.  Sometimes I have to sit something down and come back to it later in the day or on the next day so I can clear my mind of all the jumbled mess.  This is also why I start in July... I have plenty of time to work through it all.


As I finish my lesson plans for the coming school year I will take a lot of pictures and plan a final post in this short series so you can see how it all looks for me (the pictures above are from previous years).

This process may seem daunting but it isn't as overwhelming as it might sound.  It is a measure of work, yes,... but it is worth it to be organized and ready for the year.  Our first few years of schooling I wasn't as committed and I wish I had been... I think we would have been able to relax more knowing what we had going on, what to expect next, and not worrying about falling behind!

More next week!

As for today, however you plan or prepare for your year, I pray God guides you right where you need to be in it all!

Blessings,










Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
 
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   Even though the first issue mailed on Thursday, everyone who signs up by midnight on July 31st will still receive this month's issue!

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)   UPDATE*** There will be TWO blessed winners, not just one!!

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. residentcontact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Listening, Hearing and Turning Back


You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, 
although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants and prophets...
 Jeremiah 25:4

Jeremiah.  A hard-to-read book.  As Christians, we look at God's warnings through this persecuted prophet and we wonder; how could an entire nation of people keep turning their backs on God, especially in a time when King Josiah was on the throne calling for spiritual reform?  Does it happen all at once; "Everyone, TURN".  Or is it a gradual distraction and pulling away?

I have to imagine it wasn't an instantaneous mass-exodus of apostasy, rather, Bill next door turns, taking his wife and kids along.  Then Mary sees Bill's family worshipping differently and checks it out, she and Bill's wife are friends and she wants to do what her friend is doing so she joins and persuades her family to come too.  At the well, Mary tells all the other ladies about this 'cool' new worship experience, how much her family likes the change of pace and invites all the other women to try it with their families while Bill is at work bragging about how he was so tiered of the temple requirements and this new religion gives him more freedom to his own personal desires and begins to 'sell' this new experience to others.  Gradually, I imagine, the masses grow and, before you know it, it seems like a mass-exodus of apostasy.

Once religion is cheap, anyone will buy it.

But God didn't stop speaking.  He didn't stop pleading for their hearts through the prophets and through others who served Him faithfully.  Yet, there was this utter refusal to LISTEN and HEAR His warnings.

That's right, did you notice that?  "Listen nor hear".  I think we often take that for granted.  How often do you listen to your kids talking on and on about their day but you couldn't repeat or act on half of what they said because you aren't really hearing them?  (guilty here!)

Yet, here, notice, it isn't bad enough they didn't hear, but Jeremiah says they aren't even listening!

Wow.

A person has to stick their fingers in their ears or completely leave the presence of another to not even listen.  And if you aren't listening... of course you are not going to hear because their is nothing to hear.

What were they thinking?  They were God's chosen, they knew better... right?

But is it really just them?  Are they really such an anomaly?  We don't do that today in our culture... do we?

Sadly, I feel like we can and we do.

Some sell-out to cheap religion, one that may look like God but honestly isn't because they really don't honor the precepts of His Word.  Others, and I feel this is just as common, get wrapped up in the world around us and we put-off what should always be #1 - we forgo listening to God and really hearing what He is saying.  We don't make time to be quiet and seek Him and His voice.

Quiet time gets lost (especially for moms).
It gets lost with busy businesses.
Often, oddly enough, it even gets lost in the midst of ministerial pursuits.

We get our own idea of what it looks like to fulfill our purpose in God.  We plug forward with God in mind (most of the time) and good intentions going before us... when at the core of our heart we are just trying to look like the good Christian, get accolades for our selves, or smather on that 'love' thing because Jesus did - yet our heart is either resentful or feeling a tug in a different direction, while we ignore.


Yes, even (and especially) the Christian lifestyle can become idolatrous when we put the work of God before the plans of God?
  • We get too busy for good Bible Study and settle for a marginal 2 minute devotion or one-paragraph read in our Bible then claim we 'didn't get that much out of it', and move on with our day.
  • We say a quick superficial prayer for ourselves and/or our day simply from rote, not even caring that we are talking to God or trying to hear from Him... and then move on doing whatever we want.
  • We pray and tell God ONLY what we want Him to do for us thinking our idea of a situation is best and forget to see and seek what HE wants for us.

What happens on the other side of all this?

Distance from God.
Dissatisfaction in life.
Spiritual amnesia.

And so many more not-so-great side-affects.  All these, of which, lead to a life that begins to reflect Christ less and less.  If our purpose is His purpose through us in order that His Glory should be known... then is something wrong with this picture?

If selling out to cheap religion, being too self-absorbed, surrendering to often unassuming other-types-idols and misguided goodness is the problem, what is the cure?


My son, keep your father's commandment, 
and forsake not your mother's teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down,they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
Proverbs 6:20-24

 #1- Get with God.
You may be subtly (or completely) aware that your relationship with God has become more about relationships with others or strapping on the Christian label while you do your own thing.  Sit down, quiet your life for however long it takes, and get with God.

#2- Admit your shortcomings.
So you are sitting down, getting with God, life is (if forcibly) quiet for the moment but..... nothing.  What do I say?  Where do I start?  Let's face it, we can't even admit to ourselves, let alone to God, that our eyes are in the wrong place and, worst of all, we have no clue how to bridge the gap and get re-focused.  Guess what?  You're not fooling anyone, let alone God.  So go on, admit it.  What's that saying?  Oh, yeah, admitting you have a problem is the first step in getting better.

#3- Submit
So you are sitting there, in the quiet (I don't remember quiet being THIS quiet... scary), you've just admitted {gulp} that you are off.  That you can't seem to get turned on and you don't know what to do.  Good.  We are in a GREAT direction.  Now... submitAdmitting isn't submitting.  Admitting is preparing to submit.  Within submission you begin to surrender.  You say, "I can't do this on my own, I need help."  I know, those are three of the hardest words to say together in the English language.... especially in American culture.  BUT, once you admit them to God, HE is faithful to respond.

God wants to help, but sometimes we need to get out of His way, submit, and let him.

#4- Wait.
That may be harder then submit!  Sometimes God answers right away, but other times, it is a waiting thing.  Either way, get into the Word of God to Hear God, to know God, to find Guidance, to get clarity on life and His messages as they come.  Not just the superficial 'I did my 2 minute devotion today...', NO.  Make time for God's Word, even if you have to get up earlier or stay up later or turn off the t.v. when you would usually have it on.

It doesn't have to be a 2 hour Bible study, however, it should have substance.  Read God's Word (listen) and then really observe what God is saying in it (hear); cross-reference scripture from the footnotes in your Bible, read a commentary, write down what you find.

When you're done, don't just close it up and put it away, instead, soak it up and ask, 'how can I live in light of God's truth today'.  Maybe you need to change something you are doing or thinking, maybe you need to give others more grace, maybe you are simply strengthened and encouraged for a difficult season.  Whatever it is, respond to God's Word. That is the crux of Proverbs 6 here.

#5- Pray
As you wait, pray.  Pray God's Word that you have just studied and ask for his help in walking it out.  Pray to be made aware of His presence each moment of the day.  Pray for a love of Him and His Word to grow deeper.  Pray repentance and deliverance.  Simply: pray from your heart.  Give God the attention you like to receive when you are having a good conversation with your husband or kids.  Engage with your mind and your heart and just believe... he hears you.

"The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; 
He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. 
Do not fear or be dismayed."
- Deuteronomy 31:8

Within all of this, just keep stepping forward in prayer and Bible Study and trust.  Even if it has to be baby steps for a little while.  Don't give up on experiencing God.  Simply trust Him, He will sustain you, you will begin to feel and notice the difference.

The rest of the story is this: God gave the Judeans over to their sins and sent them packing as captives for 70 years.  But when they sought Him, with their whole hearts, they were eventually delivered.

I pray you will be encouraged, dear friend, everyone gets distracted at some point in their life (some more than others). And while my hope for you is that you are walking perfectly in light and truth today; if you are not, I pray you would find restoration through those deliberate steps forward into His loving arms until you bridge that gap, find His presence and get your ability to listen and hear back on.

Blessings,









Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)   UPDATE*** There will be TWO blessed winners, not just one!!

Please note:  The Debut issue of my monthly newsletter comes out on July 27th, if you want to receive this issue, be sure to sign up before then.

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. residentcontact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dog Days and Summer Salads


We are hitting on those proverbial Dog Days of Summer aren't we?  I know in our neck of the woods we haven't been out of the 90s and 100s much more than a day or two for a few weeks now... and there seems to be no end before we start back to school in mid-August!



In my newsletter coming out Thursday I will be talking about some ways to beat the heat while showing hospitality (be sure to sign up, I'm including a recipe for a delicious twist on an old summer favorite!)  Today, however, I thought we could talk salads...


As summer ramps up, many families crank on the grill and whip together some greens.  Living in a non-air-conditioned house for most of my adult life (until 4 years ago anyway) I know this was our go-to.  We didn't turn the oven or stove on until the heat of the day passed and we grilled out as much as possible... serving cool (non house heating) sides like salads and chips and anything we could figure out how to grill!


I know, I know, for many people, salads get boring which is why I wanted to share a few out-of-the-box ideas.  These salads are family favorites, easy to make, cost effective and filling when served as a main-dish.

A tip before we start: it is best to NOT use iceberg lettuce for main-dish salads as it has little caloric or nutritional value, though you can mix it in with other types of lettuce.  I typically use Romaine.  Tomato types in my recipes aren't too particular but more of a personal preference or what you have on hand.


1) Ground Beef  
Burgers are easy to grill but tiresome to continuously consume.  Go ahead, grill that burger but then cut it up (or just crumble and fry it inside) and try these salad-twist ideas:


- Cheese Burger Salad  
Lettuce of choice, tomato of choice, red onion, cucumber, cheese of choice, crumbled burger, bacon bits (if you like bacon burgers!!) and croutons.  Top with choice of dressing, I personally like ranch or avocado.


- Taco Salad
Lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black olives whole or sliced, chopped green onion (we use scissors to cut ours) ground beef, sour cream, avocado, salsa, crumbled Doritos in flavor of choice (hubby likes re-fried beans with this as well)

- Stuffed Green Pepper Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, green peppers sliced, green onion chopped, ground beef, dash of oregano, Italian dressing .... serve with rice crackers

- Supreme Pizza Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, green peppers, black olives, fresh sliced portable mushrooms, sliced red onion, dash of oregano,  ground beef, shredded Italian mixed cheese (usually 5-cheese package in deli section at the grocery store), Italian dressing... serve with French Bread or Bread sticks you can buy at the store

2) Chicken  
Grill chicken and then cube it and try one of these...

- Garden Fresh Chicken Salad
Lettuce, tomato, grated carrots, sliced red cabbage, green or red onion sliced, green or sweet peppers sliced, chicken with herb seasonings, cheese of choice (I use feta and cheddar), ranch dressing and croutons or fresh bread if you want the starch

- BBQ Chicken Salad   
Lettuce, tomato, sliced red cabbage, sliced green onion, cheddar cheese, chicken cooked with BBQ sauce of choice, blue cheese or ranch dressing (this recipe works great for BBQ shredded pork as well!)

- Greek Style Chicken Salad  
Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green or red onion, chicken cooked with Greek seasoning, feta cheese, cucumber dressing, croutons on top or french bread on the side

-Southwestern Chicken Salad
Lettuce, tomato, green onions, black olives, cheddar cheese, chicken cooked with Mexican seasoning, salsa, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, tortilla chips  (I like black beans on mine as well)




These are just a few to get you started.  For any meal you want to turn into a salad, think, 'how can I replace those ingredients with fresh vegetable alternatives'.   (My hamburger salad was developed on that concept... what do you think each ingredient represents from a typical burger?)






For a month full of menu ideas, subscribe to my newsletter (on side bar) and get a FREE exclusive download in each issue!

I pray your dog-days of summer aren't too doggie but instead full of delicious meals, great times with family and friends, and cooooool, despite the heat!

Blessings,








 
 
 Don't forget... time is running out to register BEFORE the newsletter issues on Thursday and the drawing closes a week from today....


Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)

Please note:  The Debut issue of my monthly newsletter comes out on July 27th, if you want to receive this issue, be sure to sign up before then.

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. resident, if you are not a U.S. resident, and would like to enter to win, please contact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law.   
 
 
 
Also, I didn't suddenly get super-amazing with my camera!  Except for my header (which I did take and tweak) the above pictures were found on a great image sharing website: https://www.pexels.com/
 
 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What's the big deal about a Newsletter?

Soooo, I've been buzzing around the blog and Facebook lately talking about this newsletter thing.  I've been trying to wiggle out some time to share with you about it some (been working a lot behind the scenes on getting it ready.... and lesson plans... both totally awesome and fun things....)

Let me see, what can I tell you without giving too many surprises away???....

I did say "tell", not "show"!  You have to sign up for my NEW MONTHLY NEWSLETTER to see!  I can say, it echos the website BUT is it's own separate periodical packed with interest and inspiration.  Just to name a few general ideas....
 #1 - There will be EXCLUSIVE content in the newsletter you just won't see on the blog including (but not limited to) FREE printables and inspiring downloads.
#2 - I get to grab my three main writing themes (Faith, Home, Homeschool) and shoot from  a slightly different angle with concise yet compelling articles

#3- Super-special site announcements will appear in the Newsletter before they pop up anywhere else (that's right, you'll have a jump on new items, give-aways, and themes)
 Those are just the first 3 things which come to mind but there is so much more.

Still, maybe you are wondering what's in it for me, the writer, to have you subscribed to and reading the newsletter.... honestly?  Nothing.  Nope, not a thing.

I don't care about analytics or breaking any personal records (Have you seen my "Upside Down Blogger" badge? Thank you Ann).  I don't get a kickback of any kind from having you sign up.  The books and other resources I will be giving away and offering for FREE, come out of my personal resources God calls me to use.  Sound backwards?  Seem odd?  Not to me.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- Acts 2:42-47 

You see, ever since I was a little girl discovering the power of pencil on paper, I have LOVED words.  As a Christian that love has not waned and, as a matter of fact, God consistently fans the flames through His Word and the testimony He has given me of His presence in my life.  I can't stop writing if I tried.  It is the Power of the Spirit in me.  In part, it is how I worship, and if I write and share with myself.... it is such a sad use of the gifts God pours into me intending that they should go into all the world.

So how do I get the words from God's mouth, through my fingers and to your eyes and ears?  

This.

This site, the free e-books and resources I've shared here, and, now, the newsletter.  It is a dream I have had for some time.  I used to produce monthly newsletters and lead workshops in my earlier mama days.  I sort of shelved a lot when we first began homeschooling while I gained my bearings.  I started working with newsletters again when we went into missions and it made me realize how much I missed it!  I've worked with words for 30 years now and, for a long time, I think I took for granted how much God has created that as a part of me.  Now, finally, I feel God has opened the door to expand the platform He wants to work through using me.

And the give-a-ways?  Well, reference Acts 2 for that answer as well.  I may not see you in the literal temple, but we can come and learn together through books and Bible studies and LIFE.  We can sharpen each other, encourage one another and continue to grow in Christ together.... the newsletter is just one more wonderful arm of that great Purpose.

Think of it like this:  when you find something positively wonderful you know could encourage, bless, or help another, what to do you do?  Do you say, 'Hmm, this is great, I need my ME time to enjoy it for MYSELF'?  No.  You tell everyone you can get to listen to you that they need what you have found.  You become the best sales-person of that thing because you know how amazing it is and you don't want, not for a second, that anyone else should miss out.

That is how I feel.  This newsletter, these give-a-ways and free down-loads... are not mine.  They are all God's.  I would be too ashamed NOT to shout an invite from the rooftops.  He could use anyone (and he does) but he chose me for this and I will do all He leads me to and strengthens me for so that others see HIM in all that he does with this site, the newsletter, and all our lives as we grow closer in our virtual sisterhood.

I don't know what all God intends with little me and a website and a newsletter.  But God said to walk in this direction - who am I to say "No".  Instead I will Go and I will invite all I can to join me in this journey.

Will you join me?

I pray that you would.  If you have any questions or apprehensions concerning signing up for the newsletter, please don't hesitate to comment below or shoot me an email.  I would love to chat!

His words here (in video above) echo my own heart.  Enjoy..


The newsletter launches, Thursday, July 27th, 8am mst be sure to sign up before then to get your first issue!  Deadline for the book drawing is Monday, July 31st at midnight.  TWO winners will be picked!

Blessings,













Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)   UPDATE*** There will be TWO blessed winners, not just one!!

Please note:  The Debut issue of my monthly newsletter comes out on July 27th, if you want to receive this issue, be sure to sign up before then.

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. resident, if you are not a U.S. resident, and would like to enter to win, please contact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Every Christian Ought to Know

There is just something about books.  I can't explain it.  Those beautiful bindings and word-filled pages lined up on shelves, stacked on tables or (best yet) nestled in my lap as I curl up on my couch to soak their message in.

While I LOVE books and think they are positively beautiful, I am picky.  Busy, homeschooling, bloggy mom of four... I don't have time to waste on a non-fiction with bad theology or a fiction with too much fluff and non-sense.  When I read, I want to know the time is spent being filled with meaningful words which can grow me as a Christian (yes, even good fiction should do that!)

So.  As my kiddos browsed for treasures in another section of our city library at the beginning of summer break, I felt Led to wander through the 'Faith and Spirituality' section.  Highly skeptical but, as I've admitted, loving all those lovely bindings standing in a row, something caught my attention.


"What Every Christian Ought to Know"  Hmmm.  Mr. Adrian Rogers, you have caught my attention.  I slid the book off the shelf, still a bit skeptical after so many fluffy-faith-types I've read before, but something was compelling me to give this one a chance.  I turned it over to read the synopsis on the back.
Whether you are just beginning your faith journey, or have been a believer for decades, What Every Christian Ought to Know will establish you in the core Truths of the Bible, equip you to confidently articulate your faith, and empower you to live a dynamic Christian life.  In his refreshingly relateable style, Dr. Rogers covers essential topics such as salvation, eternal security, prayer, the Holy Spirit, resisting temptation, and finding God's will, and unpacks their practical application for your every day Christian walk.
My eyebrows went up.  Thinking a book like this must be meant for new believers, the claim here said it was meant for ALL believers, no matter how long they had been Christians.  Oh, and the part about finding God's will, have you noticed the blog lately?  Purpose has been kind-of a theme for me.  Glancing down at the list of endorsements I saw Billy Graham's name sprawled under his personal statement.

More intrigued then ever, and just about certain the Holy Spirit was nudging me, I flipped the book back over, and thumbed through the index and subsequent pages... into my library bag it went.... and a short month later, after I had gone through more tabs then I can count in marking passages and pages, it arrived in a nice little box from Amazon... my own copy.

Ladies (and gentlemen if you are reading this too), remember, I am a HUGE skeptic of "Christian" 'self-help' books.  HUGE.  But I'm telling you, this book gripped me from the Preface. 

What I thought would be a basic 'introduction-to-the-faith' and how to walk out the precepts better has turned into my ALL-TIME, #2 (The Bible gets #1) book to recommend to EVERYONE (did I mention every.single.person.I.know kind of everyone?)  I have already bought 4 additional copies for people and my oldest daughter (now 19) was so moved by it she bought one for an old co-worker!  If I could, I would give one to every.single.one of YOU!  Sadly, I have to pay bills and buy food and stuff like that though!

But I digress.

So what is all the hype?

Well, Dr Rogers lays out the precepts of our faith in such a way that anyone can understand but no one feels as though he is infantilizing the topic.  He serves up steak and you can chew it like a burger.  He begins with the basic thesis that Education is costly, but ignorance may be devastating.  Essentially, what you don't know CAN hurt you.  He quotes Proverbs to drive home his point:

Buy the truth, and do not sell it
Proverbs 23:23

  • We must prize the truth
  • We must purchase the truth
  • We must preserve the truth

He goes on to suggest we should Get a bulldog grip on the truth and never let go.  Hence, and so, What Every Christian Ought to Know

He covers the entire gamut of topics and, as someone who grew up witnessing a deeply devout grandmother and has been a Christian most of my adult life and served in full-time missions, I can honestly say I had chapter-after-chapter of WOW moments reading this book.  I felt so filled, so equipped with knowledge and truth, that I couldn't stop talking about it to anyone I could get to stand still long enough to hear me carry on with animated excitement!  It isn't Adrian's word that sells this message, it is God's Word as Dr. Rogers unpacks it in big A-HA pieces you want to gobble up.

He shoots out of the gate discussing the foundation of knowing the Bible is the True Word of God and how It can be Trusted.... showing the reader, through God's Word, this truth.  He has an overtone of apologetics without being argumentative but, rather, tastefully compelling.

He moves on to share what it is to know the assurance of salvation and, for those reading the book who may be skeptics of the faith, he invites them to the opportunity of Knowing Christ.  For the rest of us and everyone in-between, this chapter provides reassurance to our own walk as well as equips the reader to reach out to the unbeliever.  Overall, the chapter on faith assurance pulls no punches - but you don't feel beat-up, you feel invigorated... even challenged!

He also jumps into those touchy topics of sin and temptation including the intriguing point of what happens when Christians sin.  (after all, we are all sinners falling short of glory... right?)

I could go on and on about the AMAZING themes and messages within this wonderful book, but this article would get far too long and I bet you have other things to do today then read my blog!!  So, to sum up the content, the basic chapter list is as follows:

Every Christian Ought to Know...
...the Bible is the Word of God
...The Assurance of Salvation
...about Eternal Security
...What Happens When a Christian Sins
...How to Handle Temptation
...about Believers Baptism
...How to Discern the Will of God
...about Faith and How to Have It
...How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
...How to Discover His Spiritual Gift
...How to Pray (with Power)
...How to Understand the Bible
...It's How Much you Grow  

And he ends each chapter with thought-provoking discussion questions for personal reflection or group settings.

Dr. Roger's own words aptly sum-up the over-arching take-away in the Epilogue of this book:
The ultimate yardstick of your life as a believer is not how much you know but how much you grow.  The purpose of this book has not been primarily information or inspiration but transformation...

And then he points the reader to Ephesians 4:13-16 to back this statement up.

My 17 year old son took this book to camp for his down-times and was completely absorbed.  He ended up sharing what he was learning with one of the adult band members who was so encouraged that when the band pulled out they left behind a stack of their CDs for my son to thank him for his Godly inspiration!

No kidding.

So, remember how I said I want to buy this book for EVERYONE I know?  Since I can't do that I thought I would start with one or two.  I haven't decided for sure how many yet but what I do know is, if you are interested -or- if you are still skeptical as to whether or not this is a book you want to invest in, then take your chances with a drawing first! Yup, Giving Away a FREE copy!!!... or two.. or... like I said, I haven't decided how many yet!  And all you have to do to enter is sign up for my monthly newsletter!  See below for details.

While I believe What Every Christian Ought to Know is a phenomenal and, yes, transformational resource to have, whether you check into this book or not, always remember, your best 'self-help' and inspirational, transformational book you can get is the Bible itself.  We are blessed with insightful, Godly leaders who pen great prose with God's hand as theirs, but let us not forsake the daily drinking in of the One True Word of God ♥

Blessings,











Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:
Why am I doing this give-a-way?  #1- I'm super excited to share this book with YOU!  #2- I'm just as excited to share my new newsletter as well!  I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

 So, to be entered for a chance to win a FREE copy of "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers simply sign-up for my monthly newsletter by July 31, 2017*.  That's it!  Easy-peasy.
(If you already signed up prior to this announcement, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!) 

Please note:  The Debut issue of my monthly newsletter comes out on July 27th, if you want to receive this issue, be sure to sign up before then.

*Give-a-way rules: Must be a U.S. resident, if you are not a U.S. resident, and would like to enter to win, please contact me to discuss alternatives. The drawing will occur on August 1, 2017 with a winner being randomly chosen. The winner will be contacted that day and will be announced on Facebook and this blog.  If the winner does not wish to have name announced, this must be stated when contacted for mailing address.  A copy of the book (up to $10 value) will be mailed directly to the winner from Amazon, shipping times may vary. I will contact the winner for address information using the e-mail submitted to my newsletter database.  If you do not want to receive your package directly from Amazon, the winner needs to let me know when I contact them for their address and we can discuss alternative source methods.  No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Talking Donkeys and Recognizing Purpose


Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
 Numbers 22:28-31

Talking donkeys?  I don't think that is the issue here.  I mean, after all, is it so strange?  Surely you've seen the YouTube video of a dog saying "I love you", why not a donkey whose mouth has been opened by God to say "Knock it off, I'm trying to keep us safe here..."

No, the bigger issue comes in Balaam's disobedience. 

I'm going to confide here, no matter how many times I read his story found in Numbers 22, I'm always a bit perplexed...

 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, 
“If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”  
So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
Numbers 22:20-21

Didn't God just tell Balaam to GO? I mean, before this whole donkey whipping, donkey talking incident, verse 20-21 occurs.  So if Balaam arose and went, wasn't that what he was suppose to do?  Why did God get angry with him?  Why did he stop him?

Last Wednesday I shared a Word on purpose.  I will admit, I threw an idea out there but I left out the solution.  If our 'purpose' is not ours but God's and He gifts us and works through us to fulfill HIS purpose... how do we know?  How can we be sure we are on His path and not our own.

Well, there are many ways, actually.  But today, I'm going to talk about Balaam's way. 

You see, to the easy reader of Numbers 22, one might draw a contradiction in God's Word.  Balaam asked, God said no.  Balaam asked again, God said fine... didn't he?  Matthew Henry explains this best:
He seemed to refuse the temptation; but he expressed no abhorrence of it. He had a strong desire to accept the offer, and hoped that God might give him leave to go. He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart's lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.

So what we see here isn't a contradiction, rather, a conviction.  Henry commentary on this passage in it's entirety (link in his name above) points us back to the first visit from this contingent of Balak's and reminds us: God had already spoke on the matter.  Yet, Balaam pushed and it would appear, by all evidence, he had hoped God would change His mind... on a sheerly secular matter which He has firmly already spoken on.  If that isn't eye opening enough... the most haunting statement in Henry's commentary causes us readers to sit and take notice:

many call God theirs, who are not his

Ouch.

Christian, be at ease.  I am not calling you 'not a Christian'.  There are those out there... snake oil salesmen types... who are in it for a show.  Their pride runs the course and their faith is merely for gain, not for God's glory.

No, for us, stumbling fumbling Christians who just want to understand how do we know God's purpose, where do we step?  How do we step?  Am I going the wrong way now?  Well, back to Balaam and his donkey...

If you read this whole scene in context (and I hope by now you grabbed one of the links or your Bible and did that) you will notice Balaam's donkey tried to divert course at God's prodding via the Angel of the Lord, THREE times (for you number enthusiasts: 3 = signature of God!)

What was Balaam's response each time?

Yup, that poor donkey got whipped and yelled at.  Balaam becomes angry and threatens the poor beast.  And then the donkey talks.  Or should we say (on our theme of GOD's purpose) God opens the mouth of the donkey and speaks through it.

Dear Christian who wants to know if you have gotten this whole "purpose" thing upside down or upside right..... is God diverting your donkey?  Are road blocks to the work you feel He is calling you to do constantly popping up and gradually upsetting and frustrating you more and more?  Are these road blocks the work of Satan who is trying to stop you from God's work and will?  One sure way to tell (and a favorite piece of encouragement a missionary friend gave me when we first went into field work)

If you aren't sure whether or not you are doing the right thing 
or in the right direction, 
go back to the last thing you clearly remember God telling you to do 
and do that.

God will speak through his Word.... no fuzzy or twisted interpretation... simply speak.
God may also use your circumstances and/or people around you.

God.will.speak. and HIS peace will be what will prevail... even in the trials Satan may try to throw in your path.

But if it isn't from God....
Peace will be out the window.
You'll be beating your donkey.
NO good results will appear.  At.all.

Most of all: check your heart, check your motives.

God's purpose through you is for his glory alone.
Not your gain.
Not money and riches.
Not your name in bright lights
Not self recognition.

If any of those are why you are doing a thing as "God's purpose for you", I would encourage you to step back, get right with God, recharge your purpose and... if necessary... pull out of whatever path you are on to get on the right one.

That may mean stepping out of a ministry at church because you realize you are't the one God called to the job.  (I can't tell you how many churches we have worked with over the years who had spiritually sick leaders and/or teachers who kept on because of pressure and ignored God's call to re-situate their hearts or step down thinking 'no one else' could take their place... but that is a whole other message!)

It may mean he calls you to slow down.  Take some non-essentials off your plate to make more room for peacefully walking in the essentials.  (Too many people in our culture and time seem to think they need MORE MORE MORE in their schedule and in their lives when, in fact, God is calling us to less, less, less!)  Check out this new song from Danny Gokey for some encouragement today:


And finally... (especially you moms out there)... God's purpose through you isn't always at the head of a Bible Study class, ministry, or MOPS group.  God's purpose takes on many forms, especially in the lives of women. 
  • Raising children with eyes on Jesus is a HUGE purpose, don't sell yourself short.  
  • Providing Biblical hospitality is a HUGE purpose which God uses to minister to the weary souls of others.  
  • Caring for your husband and household is a HUGE purpose which reflects the servant attitude Jesus often modeled to his Disciples.  
What's that theater saying?  Oh, yeah:

There are no small parts, just small actors!

I pray for you this week, as you walk the path of life, that it would be the path God has laid for you and, if you are on the wrong one, that you wouldn't beat your donkey, but instead, stop, get off, and turn to face Jesus asking in all honesty; "What is the last thing I clearly heard Him tell me".  Be encouraged sweet Christian, you are never too far gone for God to reach down and pull you close.... simply let him!

Blessings,







Consequently, I read a PHENOMENAL book this summer:
Click on picture to see more details
Click on picture to see more details

I will be sharing some notes in a new monthly thread coming out this week, "Notes from my Reading Nook".  I was so blown away by this book and it's over-arching profound message I want to give it to EVERYONE I know!!!! No kidding!  No matter where a person is in their faith walk from new Christian all the way to a veteran in the faith, EVERYONE will be moved and empowered by God's message through Adrian Rogers.

Well, I can't afford to buy a copy for everyone, but I'm starting with a give-away to one reader this month!  Who knows, maybe I will make it two!  Sound interesting?  Read below to see how you can enter to WIN!



Be sure to go to the sidebar and sign up for my Monthly Newsletter (I promise, I won’t spam you!)  It looks like this:

I started this sign up around my 8 year blogaversary a few months ago and then my dad became sick so I wasn’t able to get the newsletter in motion right away.  However, I am hard at work behind the scenes praying over and putting together a periodical which I think everyone can find something in to enjoy in their email box at the end of each month.  There will be some exclusive content you won’t find on the website!   

Also, everyone who signs up this month will be entered into a drawing to win the amazing book, "What Every Christian Ought to Know" by Adrian Rogers.  (If you already signed up, don't worry, your name will automatically be entered!)