by Regina of reginatherrienstock


This was a big hit when I made it for our soup kitchen. The kids just loved it!

"Dirt Cake"

Ingredients:

1 box of moist chocolate cake mix using two 9x9 round cake pans.
Instant chocolate pudding mix
Gummy worms
Chocolate Oreo graham cracker pie crust

Directions:

Select the size pan you want to use as the sand box; but make sure it is deep. Work around whatever theme you want to use. I used the beach theme with a pail & shovel.

Once the cakes are cool, crumble one on bottom of sand box pan evenly. Add a few gummy worms. Then spread choc. pudding evenly on top of cake (the amount of boxes will depend on the size of the pan you are using but be generous). Next, crumble only half of the other cake evenly over the pudding (You can use the whole cake if you want to if you were very generous with the pudding. You don't want the end result to be too dry.) Add a few more gummy worms. Be creative! The final layer will be the graham crackers. I used the chocolate oreo graham cracker pie crusts, because it looks more like dirt. Spread graham crackers evenly on top (be generous). Add more gummy worms.


My dad loved to golf. One of the saddest parts of the diabetes was when it robbed him of his ability to see that little white ball fly through the air.

One of my favorite memories, though, was of him teaching me to swing a club in just the perfect way to send the ball flying straight and true to the intended goal.  The lesson was fairly short and sweet....once we got through that stupid very important grip.

Here is what I know...You have to commit to the swing.  Giving it your all.  Suppose you check the swing midway?  You are going to pull the ball to the right or the left.  Think you can get away with hitting the ball and then stopping the club?  Nope.  This is going to cause you problems as well.  Somehow the science requires the beginning, ball hit, and end of the swing to be as committed and fluid as they can be.

And so it is with our daily walk.  How does it work for you to be "half in" to your commitment to Christ?  It just isn't good.  Bad things happen.  There are so many things vying for our attention and not all of them are good.

As Believers we know the beginning, the day to day living and the end.  It is vital that we are committed to the entire journey as each part has impact.

I am not talking about a list of things that we must do.  I'm talking about our heart attitude.  One that earnestly follows after Him.  A constant dedication to finishing strong. One that knows that it must keep the end goal in sight to reach it.

Swing hard, my Christian friends.  Allow your testimony to fly straight and long.  Finish well at the spot of your goal.

Never give up.  If you end up in the sand trap of life....get busy and chip out of that thing.  Don't stay there or despair.  Grab a wedge...it is designed to lift that ball up and out.  Have a few "wedge" scriptures and friends handy.    :-)

Stuck in the trees/woods?  This is tricky....but you can carefully come out with prayer and support of those who love you.

Constantly seek the advice of your Caddie....The Holy Spirit.  It is even better than having someone walk beside you with encouragement and advice....This gift is in you with all the advice and tools you need to succeed.  Be practiced at hearing and obeying that voice.

So, while this may seem a silly exercise in comparisons I hope it comes back to you from time to time when you are tempted to care a bit less than you should.  Be committed....to the end.

Becky-Good Neighbors Candle Co.




Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:23-26 (NIV)
This past week I have been reading through The Ordinary Hero by Tim Chester because I was asked to review the book for my church's women's group.  The aim of the author is to encourage Christians to think about Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection.  And not just think about it, but think about how it really applies to our lives.  In other words, how can we practically apply and live out the cross and the resurrection in our day to day lives rather than just knowing it as an academic fact.
One of the many Bible passages referenced in the book is the one from Luke 9 above.  A passage which, if I am honest, challenges me intensely because my sinful nature doesn't want to deny self and make sacrifices.
But these verses are ones which apply to all Christians, regardless of whether we are suffering severe persecution for our faith as many of our brothers and sisters in Christ do in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, or whether we live in countries where there is relative freedom of religion.
I don't pretend to have hard and fast answers for those who struggle with taking up their cross to follow Jesus.  But I want to challenge you all to think through what this means in your life.  Does it mean not accepting a job or joining a sports club because doing so would mean you couldn't attend church?  Does it mean nurturing and encouraging your children, or spurring on a friend in their Christian walk even when you're tired and depressed and could use some TLC yourself?  Or maybe it means humbly putting up with ridicule and scorn because you refuse to join in with your colleagues' unethical behaviour at work.  And for some, it will mean physical death because of their refusal to reject Jesus.



However "taking up your cross daily" applies in your life, let us pray for each other, and for all Christians around the world, that we would stand firm in our faith and honour God in all that we do.

Deb - dspdavey/Domum Vindemia



My definition of "soul food" is the traditional ethnic food that our ancestors ate out of necessity or because that's all there was. One example of such a meal is Greens and beans. Or greens with some sort of pasta or other starch. These items were as close as the backyard kitchen garden. Every ethnic kitchen has a bit of flour in the pantry and some olive oil. The eggs with which to make the pasta could be found out in the hen house. Voila! dinner is ready.

Today, medical experts call this the Mediterranean Diet which is supposed to be a heart healthy diet.

Our ancestors didn't have this type of diet because it was heart healthy or trendy but because that was all there was to eat. Meat was costly and also meant that you would be killing your assets. Live chickens gave you eggs which you could eat and sell. A live goat gave milk to drink and to make cheese. Both of which could be consumed at home and some to sell as well.

The simple food of our ancestors is now on the menus of upscale restaurants. Who would believe it? I know my Grandmother would not.

Rappi with Pumpkin Gnocchi is one of my favorites. If you want to make it, here's how:
 
Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh rappi (or rapini)





1 package of pumpkin gnocchi (or plain potato gnocchi or tortellini or 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans)

1 small shallot diced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Optional: ½ cup of crushed tomatoes or sauce

Directions:

Bring a sauce pot of water to a boil while you prepare the greens. Cut off thick stems of rappi. Plunge the whole bunch into a sink full of cool water and swish around a bit. Drain in a colander. Snip the rappi with kitchen shears into bite size pieces. Plunge into boiling, salted water. Cook for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and drain again in the colander. Save the rappi water to cook the gnocchi according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Sweat the diced shallot in the oil.

Press the draining rappi with paper towel to remove as much cooking water as possible. Then add to the frying pan with the shallots. Stir around so the greens get covered with the oil. Saute while you boil the gnocchi in the rappi water (according the mfgr.’s directions). Remove the gnocchi from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the greens and shallots in the frying pan and continue sautéing. Add salt and pepper.




If you’re adding the tomato sauce, add it at this point. If you’ll add tortellini instead of gnocchi, follow same directions as for gnocchi. If adding beans, rinse them, drain in a colander and add to the greens.

Add a ladle full of the rappi water to the frying pan so that you have a semi-soupy mixture.





Serve with a dusting of grated Romano cheese over it and a nice crusty piece of Italian bread. Bon appetit.

By Rita of sammysgrammy
Jeremiah 29:11  I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

My father has always said get a job you enjoy doing because you will spend most of your life doing it.  He loves animals and has been a farmer all his life. Even when he retired from his lively-hood of raising chickens and pigs he joined the rare breads club and bought a handful of rare sheep, black chickens, white ducks and assorted other animals. Last winter, at the age of 91 he decided his physical health didn't allow him to walk to the barn for chores so brother took over. He has lived his life with peace and contentment because he loved his work.  
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Unfortunately Mother, had more of an influence on me. She was raised during the depression and feared poverty. Having a job to support you was more important than being contented.  Despite that I spent my youth daydreaming and wanted to go into the arts I took a construction technology course.  I was told to get my head out of the clouds, get grounded and an education where I could make money.  

For a few years I had construction jobs and the next one became worse than the previous one.  I was frustrated and not happy.   

Then along came God and told me to quit construction for he had a better plan for me.   I became a stay at home mom and God began to reveal things about me that I did not know. 

In 1994 I took a folk art painting course and wondered what I was doing there since I believed I had no art talent at all.  

Then God gave me an interesting dream.  I was in a room painted yellow, with an art critic.  My art work was on the walls and the art critic  was complementing it.  


My Painting of My Dog Lacey
The only art I had done was cute bears and flowers from patterns, not this art work.   I asked God what this meant and he said to forgive my mother for criticizing my painting and I would be blessed.  The interesting fact was, I started folk art painting 6 months after she died.  How could she criticize my art?  God knew best so I forgave her. 


I was tired of painting someone else's design in  folk art.  I join and art club and took an art lesson.   My first painting I did was a picture of my dog on the frozen lake.  As I painted this picture I was amazed that I could do it and wondered where this talent had come from.  God showed me that as a child I helped Mom paint, paint by number oil paintings.  I didn't stay in the lines and she would yell at me and tell me I couldn't paint.  This put a curse on me and told my child mind I had no talent.


The paintings gave me the confidence to do pottery and then paint on the pottery.  Having more confidence I decided to do something I wanted to do as a teen, play the drums.
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When it was time to learn pottery, art and the drums the supplies and teacher was there when I needed it.  God knew I needed these and he provided them.

If I wasn't a Christian I don't think I would be doing my joy and my passion.   No more frustrations and anguish. 

God is an awesome God.  He created us before the beginning of time and he created us all with different talents and gifts.  Our gift to him is to do what he has planned for us, for God cares for us and has a plan, a hope and a future for us.  

If you are struggling with a direction to go ask God, he'll direct your path as long as you have the faith to follow.   A word of warning, Satan won't like you getting out of bondage and for a time will attack, but the battle belongs to the Lord.

"In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God."  1 John 5:3-5 NIV

Have a blessed Sunday!


George Muller was a mighty prayer warrior. He obtained great sums of money for his orphanage, not by fundraisers or asking people but through prayer.  I have heard that it has been said of George Muller that he was never long in prayer but never long from prayer.
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Is prayer an important part of our day?  Can we go to God at any moment - while cooking, driving, crafting - to make our requests known? Do we begin our day on our knees seeking the One Who loves us, keeps us and knows our future?  Sometimes we may be at a loss of how to pray or what to pray for. Here is a short list of three things that should be a part of our prayer lives.

The First Thing - Forgiveness
Sin in our lives must be confessed in order for us to have a right relationship with God. 

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
Psalm 66:18
Psalm 51 is a great passage on asking for forgiveness.  David, the man after God’s own heart, had failed miserably. He wanted to be right with God and he knew that meant confessing his sins and asking for forgiveness.  

The Best Thing – Wisdom
God told Solomon, David’s son to Ask what I shall give thee” (1 Kings 3:5)
Solomon could have asked for anything.  God had not limited him.  Solomon’s request was for wisdom.

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (1 Kings 3:9)

This pleased God and He also gave Solomon great riches.  No one on earth has ever had the wisdom and wealth that Solomon had. The book of Proverbs emphasizes the importance of wisdom.
 
For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.  Proverbs 8:14

The Final Thing – Personal Needs
Of course we can pray for our own needs and that of our family, friends, and others.  But too many times we start and end there. We cannot ignore the first two on the list and skip to the third.
There are many places in God’s Word that teaches us to bring our needs to him.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
The study of prayer cannot be learned in one short devotional.  This little lesson is just a place to begin. Let us follow the example of George Muller and never be long from prayer.