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.

 

 

 

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?

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?

every single detail

2 Isaiah 26 3

Three weeks ago, my husband, Lon, came home from work with a swollen knee that was painful and hot to the touch. We both knew exactly what it was…a staph infection. Lon has had five of these infections since 2009, all on the left-hand side of his body in three different locations.

In the next couple of weeks, we would go through a nerve-racking set of circumstances on the path to my husband’s recovery.

Throughout this entire experience, we saw God’s fingerprints all over the situation. A testament that the Lord cares about the big and the small things in our lives – and all the details in between.

After two weeks of oral antibiotics and IV treatment, both while admitted to the hospital and outpatient, Lon’s infection was not improving. As a matter of fact, it was getting worse. It had spread at a rapid pace down his entire leg to his ankle and foot. The orthopedic surgeon ordered and MRI.

The next day, Lon and I went to the hospital at the orthopedic surgeon’s request to meet with him. We thought we were to meet with him in between patients and find out our game plan. I suspected a surgery might be in order at some point, but I didn’t suspect the news we found out when we entered the doors of the OR.

The nursing staff placed Lon in a room and said they’d be in soon to prep him for an emergency surgery based on his MRI. The doctor would be performing a surgery to remove the infection from his knee. That gave me very little time to pray and to contact the insurance company to get pre-authorization for the surgery.

But God knew all this was to happen, and He knew the outcome.

The night before Lon’s emergency surgery (that we didn’t know he was going to have) he came upstairs late at night (his night owl wife was still up reading,) and said he had a super serious craving for popcorn. This was highly unusual, so after teasing him about being like a pregnant woman, I grabbed him some Skinny Pop. God knew that night that the Skinny Pop would be the only thing Lon would be eating for over the next 17 plus hours due to the emergency surgery. Lon would have never been able to make it if he hadn’t had that popcorn, since dinner had been several hours earlier.

A testament of God’s loving care for His children.

On our way to the surgery on Tuesday that we didn’t know Lon was having, we were pulled over. The officer told us, that unbeknownst to us, we had no brake lights – they had both gone out at the same time.

No brake lights.

At all?

At first, I was like, “Really? You had to pull us over outside of the hospital?! And right now?!” But then I realized what a blessing that was as we could have been rear-ended.

During Lon’s long post-surgery recovery in the OR, the nurse told me to take a break and run some errands, so I ran to get light bulbs for the brake lights. I was chatting with the guys at our local Napa store, when one of them walked outside with the light bulbs. “Your man is down, so we’re going to fix this for you,” he said.

God knew I would be running around town like a crazy person driving back and forth from the hospital, picking up Lon’s medicines at the pharmacy, etc., with no brake lights, and placed a kind guy in our midst to help us out. I am always amazed and again reminded at how God cares about the small things, as well as the big things in our lives. 

lon knee

Tomorrow is exactly three weeks since Lon was diagnosed with this most recent staph infection. Throughout this time, we have had big concerns, such as, that the infection spread to Lon’s heart or other organs. Thankfully, it hadn’t.

But through it all, whether the concerns were small or on a bigger scale, God had our backs. He went before us and guided us every step of the way. He heard our prayers and the prayers of our dear family and our faithful friends at church.

Today, Lon continues to recover.

And I will never forget how the Lord showed me once again how much He cares about every single detail in our lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your tender mercies.

 

6 Ways to Encourage Other Moms

mom13Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love ~Mildred B. Vermont

Motherhood has been said to be the best, yet sometimes hardest job in the world. And I agree. So how can we come alongside other moms and encourage them in this job?

Here are six ways to make a difference in your mom-friend’s life:

Schedule mom time. Whether one-on-one or in a group, plan some mom-time. It can be as simple as meeting at the playground, taking the kids for ice cream while the moms chat, or spending some time at the public pool. What a nice break to chat with and catch up on all the happenings (we moms benefit from playdates too!) Here are some great ideas for arranging a girl’s night out for a group of your mom friends.

Offer to babysit. Date nights can be few and far between, especially when children are babies and toddlers. Present a coupon to your friend offering to babysit her kiddos while she and her husband re-connect. What an awesome gift for your mom-friend and her marriage!

coupon

Be a listening ear. Recently, through tears, I spoke to a fellow mom about something close to my heart. I was grateful for the time she gave me and the down-to-earth suggestions she offered to me with unparalleled grace. Ask a mom-friend how things are going, take the time to listen – really listen without judgment – and to be her sounding board. Sometimes we moms carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. To have a trusted friend with whom to share those burdens is priceless.

Offer to pray. What a powerful thing prayer is! Ask your mom-friend what her specific prayer needs are and then dedicate to praying for those needs. Sometimes telling someone we’ll pray for them can sound so cliche and can often be forgotten in the midst of our busy days. Remedy this by not only truly praying for your friend each day, but also praying with her whenever you’re chatting on the phone.

Accept her as she is. For some reason, it seems as though mothers often receive the brunt of the criticism and are held to higher judgment. Why do we moms judge each other so harshly? I’ve seen moms judge other moms regarding choices and number of activities (or lack thereof) of another mom’s children; judgment about the way other moms are raising their children; the differences in priorities in families and what they choose to allow or not allow their children to participate in; or even how many sugary snacks fellow moms allow their children to eat in a week.

Moms, this should not be so! Instead, we need to come alongside fellow moms and accept each other the way God made us. Not to say we can’t offer suggestions when warranted (or asked for!) but unsolicited and unkind advice is never appreciated.

Sadly, there also seems to be so much rivalry between moms. Case in point: stay at home moms vs. work-outside-the-home-moms; homeschool moms vs. those who send their children to public school; moms who feed their kids organic health foods vs. the macaroni and cheese moms; sports-minded moms vs. the musical moms; jeans and t-shirts moms vs. business attire moms, married moms vs. single moms; and the list goes on. Put a group of women in a room and this becomes a sad reality as we size each other up in ways we should never do.

Commit to accepting your mom-friend as she is. Be her biggest fan and her most trusted confidante.

moms

Send an encouraging note. What about mailing a thoughtful note to your mom-friend telling her she’s doing a great job and how much you value her friendship? Such a gesture is sure to make her day.

Never more in our lives will we need close friends than as we journey through motherhood. And moms are some of the most awesome and important friendships God will ever bless us with.

How do you encourage your mom-friends?