Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Prep Continues-EXCITED

My family will be here for Thanksgiving. They have begun to arrive at various locations in the metroplex. We are already preparing for dinner and guests. We can hardly wait to be together. Our plans include ice skating at the Galleria, seeing The Christmas Carol, playing games, eating and visiting.

We are going to have fifty-plus people for our FUN-FILLED FAMILY AND FRIENDS EXTRAVAGANZA! We will be taking lots of pictures for a memory book and of course we will be posting on our blog. We just wish all of our family could be here with us.

I have my final Bible study today, will finish last minute cleaning and off to the grocery store I go. My three grandchildren have already told me they will be glad to help me with the shopping. I am sure they will have some input on the food selection. I hope everyone has a great time preparing also.

Our Thanksgiving Menu 2009

Garden Salad
Fruit Salad
Vegetable Platter
Relish Platter
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Cassarole
Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli Rice Casserole
Green Beans
Macaroni and Cheese
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie
Applesauce Cake
Dutch Apple Cake
Tea (hot and iced)
Hot Chocolate
Fruit Punch

Thank goodness we have three bases of operation to work at. I can hardly wait! Can you tell! HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY PREP!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicken Soup

Today is rainy and cold in the DFW metroplex. Well, not cold for northerners, but cold for here. I decided today would be a good soup day even though my grandchildren are fans of "real" food like Kraft macaroni and cheese, hot dogs or chicken nuggets. I decided grandpa and grandma wanted some real food so that is what we are having today. HaHa! The soup base can be made with only four chicken thighs so it is relatively inexpensive to make. Enjoy!

Chicken Vegetable Soup

4 chicken thighs
8 c. of water
1 onion diced
1/3 of a celery bunch sliced-I chop the leaves also-I think it looks pretty.
1/2 tsp salt per pound of chicken

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs or until tender. I always add water to keep it at same amount as I started with plus the stock continues to get richer.

I remove chicken from pot and add:
4-5 potatoes, cubed
1 bag of baby carrots? I usually eyeball it and add what I consider good for my family
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
3 or 4 chicken flavored boullion cubes

I put lid on and let vegetables simmer. Sometimes I may add another potato or two. Stir the vegetables around, make a judgment. I add a little thyme to my soup.

While the vegetables are cooking I remove the skin from the chicken and begin to tear it into strips and add the chicken to the soup. I discard the bones and fat and whatever broth and celery remains in bowl, I dump back into pot.

If I just want chicken vegetable soup I may combine a little cornstarch and water to thicken the broth to make it more stew-like. Most of the time it is seasoned perfectly at this time. You may want to taste and add salt if needed.

There are times I decide to add egg noodles to the vegetable soup for something a little different. If I decide to do this I do not add the cornstarch. The starch from the egg noodles eliminate the need for this step.

My husband does not like soups, he likes things with "substance" so I make our soups more stew-like. Otherwise, he walks away hungry.

This is fun, easy and yummy to make! ENJOY!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Fondest Thanksgiving Memory-Thankful Thursday #4

This week I would like to share with you the story of my Most Memorable Thanksgiving. This particular Thanksgiving takes place while I was a young mom, far away from home, and planning my very first Thanksgiving Dinner. John and I were both college students, trying to work our way through school. Before I go on, I must take you on a trip down "memory lane" so that you have my point of reference for Thanksgivings.

Thanksgiving at the Wright's home was a fun noisy time. Since we were a family of ten there was always something going on. Our home and yard was "the place to be" for the neighborhood kids. Most of the time, Thanksgiving's were celebrated with dinner at our home and then on to Grandma and Grandpa Wright's home on top of the mountain. We would go to visit with family, enjoy grandma's cookies, pies and or cakes. We might even get to play in the snow. I always enjoyed the drive to our grandparent's home after a newly fallen snow. The trees would be bowed over from the weight of the snow forming a canopy over the road. The sun would be shining causing the snow to begin to melt, then it would refreeze forming a sheet of ice over the remaining snow on the trees. This would shimmer and sparkle in the sunlight and create your typical Currier and Ives picture. It would be a veritable winter wonderland. After evening church services we would have a sledding party. The kids would bring their sleds, toboggans, or saucers. The youth leaders would build large bon fires in barrels. There would be tables set up with hot chocolate and we would roast hot dogs and toast marshmallows to make s'mores. Fun times! Our father would get our wagon or sleigh out and harness our horse, Fritz up to the sleigh or wagon. He'd put the bells on the horse, load us up on the sleigh or wagon and off we'd go. I loved the happy sound. My sisters and brothers and I have fond memories of this holiday.

John and I would not be able to go to his home or my home to celebrate Thanksgiving 1978. This year, we would have to stay home and celebrate the holiday for the first time, on our own. We were disappointed. I began to plan and dream about what I would do make our time really special. I had never cooked a turkey or made stuffing before. I had helped but never had I planned or had to do the cooking before. I am about to get a reality check.

Not long after this news, my husband gets laid off from his job. Now there really is no money to go home and we are definitely on a budget for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I began to wonder what I was going to do. I had a garden during the summer and had canned and frozen a lot of things for my family. But I wanted the Thanksgiving I dreamed of having and was determined to have. Slowly, my plans began to crumble and I began to grumble. I had plans and things were not turning out as "I" had planned. My attitude had definitely soured and I was not very happy with the way God was allowing bad things to happen and I began to cry.

I subscribed to a women's magazine called "The Joyful Woman" and sat down with it and my Bible knowing I needed an attitude adjustment. I petitioned God and voiced my complaints and believe me there were many. I was not Joyful. I cannot remember the details of the article I read but I do remember the conviction of my ungrateful spirit. IThess 5:18 says, In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I did not understand that nothing comes my way unless it first passes by God. He is aware of everything going on in my life and it is not by happenstance. Roman 8:18 says, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Our sufferings in this world will produce in us the character that will enable us to live a life that brings honor and glory to His name and bring others into His kingdom. I was able to get up from that chair with a different perspective. I was able, with guidance from the Lord, to go into the kitchen and prepare the best Thanksgiving Feast ever.

That particular Thanksgiving, though not what I had envisioned, has become my fondest Thanksgiving memory because of a work he began in my life and continues, to this day. It has not always been an easy journey but it has been a worthwhile journey. Phillipians 1:6 says, Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Praise God!

Lest I leave you hanging, we did not do without. I had preserved a lot of food for my family and we were able to have a true feast even with our skinny chicken. If memory serves me correctly, I believe we had:


Roast Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Homemade Bread
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Crisp
Hot Tea
Most of the food was grown in our garden. I even cooked and preserved our own pumpkin and made apple pie filling. I never dreamed how handy it would become to our family. See, God always supplies our needs.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Mississippi College

Mary and I had a great trip to Mississippi. Our goal was for Mary to be able to visit with some of the professors, go to class, talk to the volleyball coach and students. This was something she was able to do on Saturday.

The college had a great day planned for prospective students and their families. Lots of good information was given to us in the morning sessions. Mary was able to attend a Chinese language class and meet her professor. She of course, enjoyed the time. She learned her name is highly desired in China as it means beautiful. She was able to speak to the person who heads the business department and he was able to give Mary some tips also. They had tables set up in the cafeteria so you could meet the professors and booths set up outside so you could check out the clubs on campus. At days end, Mary had made up her mind that this is where she wants to go to college. It seems like a good fit for her. We now begin the process of applying to the school as well as scouting for scholarships. If this is the school for Mary then God will provide the means to be there. Pray for us as we begin this process.

I enjoyed my weekend with my daughter. I know this is just the beginning of the countdown so I tried to take pictures and make it a special time for the both of us. My beautiful, tiny little baby is almost grown up. Sad--but happy days ahead. I wonder who will be the worse basketcase as we see the last duckling leave the nest, myself or John?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mary's Five Hundred Dollar Story aka Thankful Thursday #3

I've heard recently a story Pricilla Shirer tells of her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Tony Evans. She shared her parents struggles while her father was attending seminary. Reaching for a can of beans, the only food in the house, her mother burst into tears. Her father came home to find his wife crying because she was tired of their scant existence. Her mom felt awful for the way she felt about the life her father was able to provide. She said if God would provide just $500, enough to get some food in the house and take care of a couple of other things she felt she could keep going. Her father told her mother that if God did not answer her cry, he'd quit school and get a full-time job. They prayed. The next day he went to his campus mailbox and found a $500 money order. This story serves as a reminder of God's faithfulness in their lives and encourages them to rely on God in the good times and the rough, resting in the knowledge that God is always in control.

While working on my Bible study, and moving through this section, I decided that I would like to share some of my own stories of God's faithfulness in my own life. I want to thank God for his faithfulness and remember them and honor him in the retelling and sharing with other people.

John just graduated from Maranatha Baptist Bible College and had been asked to come on staff at our former church in Woodbridge, Virginia. The plan was for John to go on ahead, begin working and find a place to live. He would also send money as he could. Once everything was set up down there we would join him. We were so excited. I had just had our third child, Michael was almost two and Matthew was four. I had a paper route to supplement our income. This route was in the country and was run once a day, six days a week. If I could not run the route, I could get someone to take it in my place, however, I would have to pay for it. At the nearly two month mark that John had been gone, money began to get a little tight. I rode the bus from the college to church to save on gas expenses and did what else I could to watch our money. My gas tank was getting low and I had been praying and asking for God's provision for our family. I would pray, and when the mailman would come, I'd run to the mailbox thinking this is it, and look for a check--something. I'd be so excited, open the mailbox and look in expecting something.............but there was nothing like a check or money. I'd do this day in and day out all the while watching the needle on my gas gauge get lower and lower. I believed God could and would provide, after all, I'd heard many stories of miraculous things God did to provide for the needs of others and believed that he could and would do the same for me. I must say by the end of the second week I was getting pretty bummed out. I was worried and was chiding God about my need and the fact that I had to have gas to work. I was upset and began to tell God I was going to run out of gas and it was going to be his fault.......so there. As the time neared for me to leave, I prayed and asked God to take care of the need. I waited for the mailman one more time. I was disappointed once again, there was no money to take care of this need. I got my children dressed and into the car. I asked God to help the gas stretch so I could complete my route. I got into the car and turned on the car. Tne needle began to move...upward. Yes, I said upward. I paused my car, stunned, as I watched the needle on my gas gauge climb to nearly a full tank. When I parked my car the day before my gas gauge was showing pretty close to empty. All I could do was cry, and tell God how sorry I was for not trusting him and to please forgive me for my big mouth. I don't know how long I cried that day and told God how sorry I was for not believing he would take care of my family but it was a time I would not forget. It was one of those "mile marker" times in our lives that he "refreshed" me so that I would be encouraged to continue the journey.

Most recently, our family was the recipient of all brand new stainless steel appliances. You heard correctly, all new appliances. We do not know who gifted our family with this wonderful surprise but this is just another way God has take care of this family. Totally unexpected out of the blue.

I serve, we serve, a wondrous God! Job 42:5 says, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Bumps in the road, snags, trials, troubles, journeys, call them what you will, these are the times God uses in our lives so that our faith can be built and we too can say with Job these same wondrous words. If our lives were perfect, bump free, we would never mature.

Thank you, Lord, for all you've done in my life and what you will do in the future. May I honor you with my life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heartbreak and Great Joy!

On Monday afternoon my daughter-in-law, Becky, called me. This was to have been the day she and Michael were to find out the sex of the baby. They were so excited. I could tell by the tone of her voice that something was wrong. She was trying not to cry. During the sonogram the doctor told Michael and Becky that their baby had fluid around the brain and that these babies do not live very long. He then moved the scope downward to check the baby's heartbeat and found none. The baby had died. Michael and Becky were heartbroken. I was, as their mom, and the grandmother very sad also. They turned to the Lord for their comfort. Michael shared that he was looking to God for wisdom in this time. He was reading Romans 8:18 and found great comfort in the words, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Powerful words from our All-Powerful God. I am so grateful that they are learning to go to our Lord for strength and encouragement. She will deliver the baby tomorrow and is looking forward to holding the baby in her arms one time. Pray for strength as they go through this journey in their life.

On Tuesday, Michael officially received word that he was Ensign "select" Amon and would be reporting for OCS in Newport, Rhode Island on December 6. This is something Michael and Becky have been praying about for a long time. This was their joyful news in the midst of their sad news. They will be moving out of base housing before Thanksgiving and getting ready to relocate. Pray for strength and help for them during this move.

Good news for us! We get to spend Thanksgiving with them. I only wish our son Mark, Jamie, Anya and Kekoa could be here with us. Our special time would be complete then. Much of our family will be here to celebrate this holiday together.

I have been blessed to watch Michael and Becky handle a heartbreaking event in their lives with grace and dependence on God. This brings much peace to my heart. Thank you Lord, for walking with my family.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our Church's Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration

We had a great time this weekend at church. Our church celebrated with a special dinner and program on Saturday afternoon. We had a special Sunday service with Fuzzy preaching, more fellowship with members and former members. We also had another meal after the service and a great time of fellowship. I really everyone with ties could have been there.
My sister Charlotte and her son, Christopher, were able to come. She fell in love with Ms. Nellie Crow's Oatmeal Crisp Cookies. Mrs. Crow was kind enough to write the recipe down for her and bring it to church on Sunday morning.
We enjoyed looking at pictures. My sister enjoyed seeing some of the pictures of her niece and nephews. Some of the pictures she would have like to have "helped" herself to but she was at church. HaHa!

I enjoyed hearing Carrie singing again, it has been a long time. It was good to hear Lori sing and I really enjoyed hearing Sandy sing. My sister really enjoyed Sandy's song. I also appreciated the hard work and time Judy took in preparing the special song that the children took part in by playing instruments. Jacob, Josiah and Alaina really enjoyed the opportunity to play the guitar.

Abigail played the hand drums, Alaina was on the guitar and Samantha played the xylophone.

Great job girls!

Jacob and Josiah really liked playing the guitars during the service. All of the children were excited to be a part of the celebration. Thank you for giving them the opportunity.

Mark, I thought you would enjoy knowing a little bit about the part your children played in the celebration.

To my family and friends, thank you for allowing me to share our special day with you through words and a couple of pictures. Love you guys!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday #2

Today has been one of those busy days when it seems as though you are on the go all day long. I went to my Bible study using the book, One in a Million, shopped for long sleeved shirts for the boys for church and found some cute red bows for Alaina. I picked the kiddos up from school, worked on homework, fixed dinner, showers were next and then I did Mary's hair.

What am I thankful for, you might ask? I could pop off a couple of answers but that is what they would be-replies. I want this to be a thoughtful, sincere time.

I would like to say I am thankful for my husband, John. We have been married for thirty-six years. During that time, my husband has always been a very hard working provider. He has worked long, hard hours to support his family while he put his four children through school, put himself and his wife through school as well as meet the day to day financial obligations a family incurs. He has faithfully read his Bible each day as well as spending time to pray. My husband will often put his feelings of being tired to help me with homework, dishes, laundry and yard work. My husband has lived the scripture found in Eph. 5:25. I hope these next thirty six years are even better. I love him and hope our love and friendship deepens as we get ready to step into this next phase in our lives, "The Empty Nest".

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Weekend!

We have had a busy weekend. MaryEllen went to San Antonio for volleyball playoffs. I went to visit my sister and get ready to take my grandchildren trick or treating. We attempted to go to a fall festival and found that it must have gotten cancelled. We came back to our neighborhood to go trick or treating. Alaina was dressed as Tinker Bell, Jacob and Josiah were both dressed as phantoms. They received plenty of candy!

Mary's team did not make it to state this year. I felt really bad for them, but not nearly as bad as the three seniors did. I felt bad because it became her final game. We had already made plans to go to San Antonio for the final four and the state championship game next weekend.

I have a question? How did I ever find the time to work? I got up and had everyone dressed and fed and out the door by 7:15. I took them to school and came back home to help Mary out the door, two loads of laundry was done next. I went to school to put money on the boys' lunch accounts and then went to the grocery store. By this time it was well after 11. I couldn't believe how quickly the day had gone by.

I am enjoying my time at home. I know this is not forever so I am enjoying these moments. I need to finish the beds and get to my Bible reading. I also wrote an old friend I hadn't heard from since high school. Okay, don't ask, cause I really don't want to think about how long ago that was. I am going to try to put some pictures with this later. I have been unsuccessful thus far. Thanks for reading my ramblings.