scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bars

781603_index_boxBecause Lon and I both have gluten and egg allergies, I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that we can enjoy. Our daughters love to help bake in the kitchen and I’ve used that love for baking to teach them measurements.

They also love being taste-testers, although I don’t think my youngest will ever try baking powder again! 🙂

Check out this scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bar recipe. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts or any time of the year. If your diet allows gluten and eggs, simply replace the gluten free/egg free items below with wheat flour and eggs.

Scrumptious Gluten Free/Egg Free Pumpkin Bars

You will need:

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

egg replacer to replace two eggs (we use Ener G egg replacer)

pumpkins1 c. pumpkin

1 c. gluten free flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Please note that oven temperatures can vary. I usually have to instead preheat my oven to 340 degrees).

Mix all ingredients together except the pumpkin until lightly mixed. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Grease a pan with gluten free cooking spray and pour the batter into the pan. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until fully baked (cooking time will vary).

Frosting

4 c. gluten free powdered sugar

6 tbsp. of butter (if you are on a dairy- free diet, use dairy free substitute)

3-4 tbsp. of milk (if you are on a dairy-free diet, use an alternative milk. We use Rice Dream rice milk).

Mix thoroughly.

Allow the pumpkin bars to cool, then frost. Cut into small bars and enjoy!


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7 ways to make a difference in November

It’s hard to believe that it’s already November! So what are some ways to make a difference this month in the lives of others? Here are seven suggestions:

Combine chocolate with cheer. When our church announced it was looking for volunteers to serve in the hot chocolate ministry last year, our family immediately volunteered. What is a hot chocolate ministry? It’s a stand where we handed out free hot chocolate (with a spoonful of mini-marshmallows) to those who attended our town’s annual outdoor Christmas event that happens each year on the day after Thanksgiving. What a fun way to spread Christmas cheer!

hot chocolate

Remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Engage Magazine offers a way to write to persecuted Christians in North Korea to encourage them.  According to the website, in this unique ministry, letters will be delivered one of two ways: “hand-delivered to several Christians who have escaped North Korea” or “with broadcasters in South Korea who will periodically read letters, or passages of letters, to Christians across the 38th parallel.” All of the details can be found at Engage Magazine’s website.

Also included are tips on things to say to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, and also the super-easy form on which to write your letter and submit online.

 

1 Thessalonians 5 11

Make a terminally ill boy’s wish come true. Little Jacob Thompson is battling cancer and will be celebrating Christmas early this year. His one request? To receive as many Christmas cards as possible. He especially loves homemade cards. Have your kids decorate homemade cards and include a little tidbit about Christmas, their home state (Jacob lives in Maine), and a thoughtful Bible verse or prayer for he and his family. The full details, including Jacob’s address, can be found here.

christmas card

Ring the bell. It’s that time of year again…time when the Salvation Army bell ringers will be wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and collecting funds to help poor families during the holiday season. Why not partner with your spouse, child, or a friend and volunteer your time as a bell ringer this year? Check out the details at the Salvation Army website.

Share with those who have no one. Sometimes while we are enjoying our Thanksgiving dinners, we forget something very important…the fact that many people don’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner. Is there a widow in your church that will spend her first year alone? An elderly couple with no family nearby? A neighbor who lives alone? Why not make a difference in their lives and invite them to your home to share in your family’s festivities.

dinner

Learn CPR/First Aid. As part of my daughters’ curriculum for homeschool, they recently joined me to take a CPR and First Aid class. It was my fourth time taking CPR and First Aid, but things have changed a bit, even since the last time I took it. What better way to make a difference than to have the knowledge to have a role in possibly saving someone’s life? For more details on how to find a CPR/First Aid course near you, check out The American Heart Association’s website.

Share the love of reading with others. Our family recently boxed up several Christian adult fiction books in excellent condition that we no longer needed or read. I called a local assisted living center and asked if they would be interested in some books for their residents. They were ecstatic! Remember to always call first before making any donations.

books

Speaking of books, for more ideas of year-round difference makers, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

What are some ways you and your family are planning to make a difference in the month of November?

 

 

 

8 things I want my daughters to know

mom and daughter

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God endures forever.~Isaiah 40:8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies~ Psalm 36:5

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Husband. Parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we  garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. ~ James 5:16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

jeremiah2911

Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.

 

 

 

the one prayer policy

As I do each morning, I spend quiet time with the Lord praying and reading the Bible before embarking on my day. Sometimes the prayer lists are extensive, especially when the Lord brings to mind those people I need to pray for due to health issues, financial struggles, relationship issues, natural disasters, comfort due to a loss in their lives, or for the salvation of an unsaved loved one.

praying girl

“Oh, and Lord, could you please help…”

“Oh, and please come alongside…”

“Oh, and also, can you give peace and comfort to…”

“Oh, and…”

The list goes on and on. As an avid prayer warrior, I have found that there is no shortage of prayers needed for those around us. Whether it be those we know and love or those we have never met.

I am so grateful that the Lord doesn’t say, “Now, Penny. You’re prayer limit has been reached. Please reserve the remaining prayers for another day.”

Or…

“Sorry, Penny. Your one prayer is all you are allotted for the day. Pick which prayer that will be, pray it, then return tomorrow with another prayer.”

No, instead, God tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to be “faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Psalm 17 6In Ephesians 6:18, He tells us, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Psalm 145 18aJeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” It doesn’t say, pray only once or twice and reach the prayer quota, then be done.

No, the Lord welcomes our prayers. Prayers throughout the day. Prayers on any topic or for anyone.

No limits.

No maximum.

No one-prayer policy.

On that note, I think it’s time for a prayer of gratitude!

 

 

 

 

5 resolutions to make even though it’s not New Year’s

All right, so New Year’s is still a few months away, and we certainly don’t want to rush time away. However, here are a few suggestions for resolutions to make any day of the year…

1. Laugh more. In our world of stress, it’s nice to be able to find humor in the small things. “Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.”

laughing baby

The Bible talks about laughter – and let’s not forget who created laughter. He also created our mouths to turn upward, our tummies to shake, and our eyes to tear when provoked with humor. Kids provide the best humor and pets can bring about some laughter as well!

2. Stay in touch.  In our day of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with those we love. One night Lon called me from his cell phone while he was in the driveway arriving home from work. I answered the house phone and we had a great conversation, continuing as he entered the door of our house and as we stood face to face with phones pressed up against our ears.

Hey, it’s good for a marriage to communicate, right? Communication is indeed important, even if you are as different as an ostrich and kangaroo. 🙂

zoo

 

3. Make healthy lifestyle changes. It’s probably safe to say that most of us at one time or another have made a resolution to lose weight and/or get more exercise.

One evening Lon said as he rested on the living room floor, “I’m getting ready to do a sit up.”

I wondered why anyone would want to do a sit up at 8:00 p.m., so I asked him why not wait until he works out in the morning. “Because I’d like to have another cookie,” he told me. He was of the one sit up equals one cookie philosophy.

Another time, he decided to do an experiment. Before Christmas dinner, Lon weighed himself. After the meal, he weighed himself again. The prognosis? He’d gained five pounds in that short time after eating my mom’s famous Christmas dinner. However, men have it good. For us women, we need only to look at a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings to gain five pounds!

woman exercising

Not only can we make healthy lifestyle changes and care for the body God gave us, we can also make spiritual changes and vow to dig into God’s Word more frequently.

4. Vow to serve others.  Make a vow to serve others and truly love your neighbor as yourself as stated in Matthew 19:19.  Each morning before climbing out of bed, I pray that the Lord will show me someone to bless that day. Blessing others doesn’t have to be a huge project. Even something as simple as letting someone go ahead of you at the grocery store can be a way to bless someone.

 5. Use your gifts.

presents

God gave us all gifts to use to further His Kingdom.

Just be sure not to do things that aren’t your gifts. Case in point:  my oldest daughter downloads all my favorite songs onto my phone. Wow, what a pleasure to listen to my contemporary Christian rock music while working out at the gym! I learned the hard way, however, about adjusting to modern technology.

During my workout, I was rocking out to the fast-paced Newsboys song I am Second. I love the lyrics that speak of being second to my Savior and Redeemer and that He is second to none.

Somehow, in all my zest, I forgot that I alone had the earplugs to listen to this song. What I didn’t realize was that I was singing out loud. (Wasn’t everyone in the gym listening to Newsboys?!)

As I belted out the words to the song while running on the treadmill, I soon heard a familiar voice. One that was off-pitch. Yep. It was my voice (talk about embarrassment).

Singing isn’t my gift. Although I have won awards for lip syncing when I was a teenager.

But it is important to use the gifts we have been given. Are you gifted with kids? Why not volunteer to teach Sunday School? Are you gifted with a beautiful voice (I’ll try not to covet!) then use it to lead the worship team at church. Can you sew? Why not offer to mend some clothes for those who cannot afford new ones?

What resolutions would you make even though it’s not New Year’s?

9 movie series sure to be a hit for your next family night

popcorn-movie-party-entertainment

I’ve made it my mission to find movies that are suitable for families. In our culture of so many movies that aren’t suitable, it’s especially fun to discover ones that are clean and well-made.

So, pop up some popcorn and check out these movie series (in particular order) sure to be a hit on your next family night! (Click on the title to find out more information. Note: I am not affiliated in any way with either CBD or Amazon, but those are two of the places I did find availability for these movies).

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Our family has become addicted to this wonderful show that has a combination of romance, drama, comedy, and even some action! Four postal employees solve mysteries based on letters in the “dead mail” office. The employees, Oliver, Shane, Rita, and Norman will soon have you rooting for them as they solve mysteries and provide happy endings.

Father Murphy

If you loved Little House on the Prairie, you’ll love Father Murphy. Set in the same era, actor Merlin Olsen and Katherine Cannon team up with Moses Gunn to provide a home for orphans. There’s always a nemesis, and in Father Murphy, there are two: Miss Tuttle and Mr. Rodman. Together, they provide underhanded efforts to take the children from the orphanage to their work house. Faith, adventure, romance, and good lessons round out this wholesome pick that family members of all ages will enjoy.

Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye

Sue Thomas is a deaf woman who can read lips and speak. She’s lived a sheltered life for the most part, so when she’s accepted for a job with the F.B.I. hours from her hometown, she knows she’s embarking on an adventure.

Based on a true story, this series is one of the best I have ever seen and is on my top-ten favorites list of all time.  Sue Thomas F.B. Eye  has everything that makes a movie good – a touch of romance, drama, humor, action, and adventure. What’s more, the writers and producers managed to pull off this feat without the use of the distasteful Hollywood variety of violence, crass humor, foul language, and sexuality.

Sue Thomas F.B. Eye is a wholesome show, but it’s far from dull.

Anne of Green Gables

I promise you this series will soon become a favorite! This is the original Anne of Green Gables series that was produced by Sullivan Entertainment in 2002 and includes the following: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables the Sequel, and Anne of Green Gables, the Continuing Story. Viewers watch as Anne Shirley first goes to live on Prince Edward Island with a charming elderly brother and sister. She gets into mischief, falls in love, becomes an adult, and does her part in the War in this endearing series. (Note: this is not the most recent version of Anne of Green Gables, but the one, as mentioned above, that was produced in 2002. I personally do not advocate the most recent version).

Doc

This series, peppered with faith, humor, and touching stories, stars Billy Ray Cyrus as a doctor who travels from his practice in small town Montana to New York. Taking a job in the big city, however, is no easy task for the cowboy who sees the good in people and always makes time for those in need of help.  A small town girl myself, I can only imagine how a move might make a huge impact on someone unaccustomed to city life. 🙂

Viewers find themselves growing attached to the characters, who seem to come to life as they wrestle with everyday problems. Great lessons abound, including discussion of topics such as humility, greed, selfishness, putting others first, and the importance of faith no matter what our chosen profession.

It is great for the entire family and contains nothing objectionable.

Love Comes Softly

My first-ever Christian romance novels given me as a gift were from my grandma. Yep, they were Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly. Fast forward many years later to a movie series based on the books. While some are better than others, this collection is a win-win for those who love a good series with faith, romance, and endearing stories.

When Calls the Heart

A newer series, this drama set in the early 1900s in Canada is sure to draw fans who enjoy drama and romance with a dash of comedy. My absolute favorites are Lee and Rosemary, who provide comedic relief as well-developed characters. This series is also based on Janette Oke’s book series by the same name. While the movies may not be quite historically accurate in every sense, this series an enjoyable watch and wholesome and clean as well.

Little House on the Prairie

All right, show of hands…how many grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, whether the first time it showed or after it had been released on VHS or DVD for some time? Growing up, we watched re-runs on Channel 12 at our house. And yes, I did have a crush on Almanzo. 😉 This series is perfect for those cold winter evenings when the family wants to escape into simpler times.

The Beverly Hillbillies

I had never seen this iconic movie that aired in 1962, many years before I was born. Corny and farfetched at times, this is the perfect antidote to take a break from the serious issues that plague our world today. My youngest daughter had even perfected the voice of Granny as she said her memorable, “Elly Mae!” Toss aside the amazing graphics of today’s movies and settle into a goofy series from yesteryear.

What is your favorite series of all time?

vhs

 

delectable gluten free chocolate powder poo cookie recipe

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Digging through my mom’s archive of recipes, I came across this recipe for delectable gluten free chocolate powder poo cookies. They are truly addictive, and I’m not even a chocolate fan on most occasions! 🙂

Now my oldest daughter has taken the reins and regularly bakes these cookies for our family.

Mix in a medium-sized bowl the following:

1/2 c. butter

2/3 c. gf brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

1 egg*

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp. soda

1/4 c. gf cocoa

1/2 c. milk*

2 c. gf flour

Stir until ingredients are well-mixed. Roll a ball of batter between palms, then roll through a bowl of gf powdered sugar. Place on the cookie sheet and gently push down on the cookie with your palm. Do not completely flatten!

Bake at 325 degrees. Check after 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

*if you are egg free or milk free, substitute Ener-G egg replacer and Rice Dream rice milk.

What’s your favorite gluten free dessert?