Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oh Give Thanks!

Hello daughters of grace!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks for all the blessings we have received.  As I sat down to write this blog a hymn that we sing at church popped into my head

Oh give thanks unto the Lord! For He is good.  Yes, He is good! (repeat)
For He is worthy, worthy!!  For He is good. Yes, He is good! (repeat)

For some of us thanksgiving is a wonderful time of family and friends, joy, laughter and in the case of my family serious games of Scrabble!  For others it may be a time of heartache or pain.  For others, working is taking up your day.  I just want to encourage you that no matter your situation – God is still good!  He loves you and He is always on your side.  Take some time tomorrow and just thank the Lord.  Change your focus or make your focus even more laser sharp on Him.  As Paul said to the church at Philippi: 

Phil 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Spend some time with the Lord.  Thank Him for every little thing you can think of.  Right now I'm thanking Him for Hebrews 4:15-16.  Read it when you get a chance!  Changing our focus works wonders for the soul!  I encourage you – Think on these things.  By the way, Thursday is my birthday.  Thank the Lord with me for blessing me with another year.  

For those who were not able to attend the Mom Squad Luncheon you missed an AWESOME time in the Lord!  I had the pleasure of teaming up with Josh Booth of the Fish and I offered some wonderful time saving tips to make your Thanksgiving easier.  I also shared my “not so low-fat” Corn Pudding recipe!  If you missed it I’m going to give it here just for you.  Have a blessed thanksgiving and God bless you!  An after turkey day tip!  Be on the look-out for the Mom Squad New Years Get Healthy & Fit Challenge presented by Sonia and myself

Chef Robin’s Top 5 Time Saving Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Sharpen your knives!!  Sharp knives mean fewer chances for cutting yourself and easier cutting! 
  • Only try one new recipe for the holidays.  Stick to what you know so you don't have unhappy family. 
  • Make what you can in advance.  Maybe a pie that can be prepared and frozen days or even a week in advance saves time.
  • Make a list!  This may seem like a shocker but be like Santa - check that list twice.  Check your pantry before you make a list.  Also, that nutmeg from last year, toss it.  It's time for a new one. 
  • Get everyone involved.  A professional kitchen always has several chefs and cooks working to make your meal excellent.  You don't have to be superwoman so put that cape away and accept some help with the cooking!

Corn Pudding

1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, melted
6 cups fresh corn kernels (about 12 ears) or 6 cups frozen whole kernel corn (thawed)


Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together eggs, cream, and butter.
Gradually add sugar mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn.
Pour into a lightly greased oblong baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes OR until golden brown and set.

Let stand 5 minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Mom Squad Holiday Celebration "On Ice"

Sara Carnes with The Mom Squad 
From left to right:  Christine Boyle, Sara Carnes, Sonia Maranville, Kathleen Horvath, Rachel Scott, Lisa Burns
Missing from picture:  Marlia Brionne, Josie Valley

The Mom Squad Holiday Celebration (presented by 95.5 The Fish and Klaben Auto Stores) was held on Saturday, November 22nd at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake.  Over 400 women braved the icy roads and cold weather to be a part of this fun and uplifting luncheon celebration.  In case you missed this event, here are the highlights!   

The event was hosted by Sara Carnes

Sara, the new co-host of the Family Friendly Morning Show with Len Howser, opened the luncheon by telling us how "Sara Saves." When she was a stay-at-home mom, it became  "her job" to save money.

Sara Carnes:  "It became my
job to save money

What is Sara's favorite way to save money?  

Salvage grocery shopping

For more information and to find a list of the salvage grocery stores in the area, visit the Mom Squad Facebook, look for this picture of Sara, and click the link provided.    

A Prayer and Thank You - The City Mission

Linda Uveges from the City Mission offered the luncheon prayer. She thanked everyone who donated diapers for Laura's Home. The cost of diapers each year at Laura's Home can exceed $14,000.  

Praise and Worship by Lori Triplett 

Musical artist, Lori Triplett, led the praise and worship for the day by performing several songs with her band including "O Come All Ye Faithful" and one she wrote herself, "Your Love is Extravagant." 

Chef Robin Blair and Josh Booth - Cooking Tips and Recipes  

The Mom Squad's Chef Robin shared her top five tips on how to de-stress your holiday cooking routine. Check out The Mom Squad blog for more great cooking tips and tasty recipes from Chef Robin.  Josh gave us plenty of ideas on what to make with that left-over turkey! Check out Cooking with Josh for more delicious recipes.  

Keynote Speaker - Robin Swoboda

Robin is a gifted speaker who can make you laugh hysterically one minute and cry the next.  She is very "real" about what happens to women's bodies during "the change."  She tells you like it is! She explained she used to be more of a perfectionist.  That was before children. "When you become a mother, you throw the idea of being a perfectionist right out the window."  The core of Robin's message was that happiness can come only from God. "If you want to truly be happy, get to know Jesus Christ...the God of the Bible.  Make Him the Lord of your life."

2014 Willing Hands Award Recipient - Rita Reed  

Rita Reed was chosen as the winner of the 2014 Willing Hands Award (sponsored by Universal Windows Direct).  Watch the video to see why Rita was chosen as this year's recipient and to see how many lives Rita has touched and changed.  We were honored to have had the chance to meet Rita and her daughter, Evelyn.  

Wheel of Fortune - "Fish Style" 

Klaben Auto, the title sponsor for this year's celebration, donated a $100 gas card to the one who could solve this puzzle.  The puzzle was solved in less than one minute with only two letters showing!  Can you solve the puzzle?

These are just the highlights!  For more pictures, go to The Mom Squad Facebook page. "Like us" to get updates of future Mom Squad events you won't want to miss. 

To all the ladies who took the time out of their busy weekend to come and share it with us, we can't thank you enough. We hope you were blessed by the program and we hope to see you again soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I choose ACTION!

Hi Ladies! 
I am used to hearing "err on the side of caution."  You too?  Even though I tend to have a decisive personality, usually I still err on the side of caution.  Recently, I began reading the new marriage book by Francis Chan You and Me FOREVER- Marriage in Light of Eternity.  I am a huge fan of Francis Chan, his books and sermons, so I was thrilled when I saw that he had a new book coming out.  I'll warn you, it's not just a normal marriage book though.  It's about being so focused on eternity and God's purposes, that your marriage works and thrives as a result.  

By page 16, Francis began sharing some truths which I could testify to.  These truths were also a re-challenge to me and my own marriage.  You see, he states that "sometimes people are paralyzed by fear of failure. They are so afraid that they might do the wrong thing that they do nothing."  This resonated with me. I have been going through a challenging season, with difficult situations in the medical world with my son and daughter's medical care.  I remember just a week or so ago feeling so overwhelmed that I just needed to not make ANY decision because I had no clarity and no peace.  I felt crippled and lost.  But Francis proceeds to say, "So many won't do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do.  Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait?"  Wow.  Isn't that the truth!!??  We just don't hear this in the Christian community, because we have become so good at playing it safe.  

Francis finishes that paragraph with a BOLD statement, "For example:  Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to?  Wouldn't that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James
1:27)?" With it being National Adoption Month, I thought it would be perfect to share a time that I erred on the side of action.  

This statement sums up our choice to adopt our then, very sick son, Kevin, from El Salvador.  We had known Kevin since he first arrived at Love and Hope Children's Home at age 3.  I met him while visiting there.  My heart was sensitive to his delicate condition - 3 years old, 14 pounds, skin and bones, chronically agitated, serious respiratory issues, and recurring vomiting - because back home I had a very medically fragile biological daughter, Courteney.  So, although I had compassion, I never thought of what actions could be taken to change his life, to really help him.  The following year I went back and met Kevin again.  This time, thankfully, the Lord was using a book, by Joni Eareckson Tada, about suffering to speak truth to me.  Basically, I realized Jesus WOULD NOT come here and see Kevin and do nothing.  It was as simple as that.  The thought of adoption terrified me, so we thought maybe a medical Visa for him would be most sensible.  I remember returning home from El Salvador and saying to Dan that I think we need to do something for Kevin.  We decided to look into a medical visa, which we quickly learned are only for curable/treatable conditions.  And so the scary word "adoption" started to makes it's way into our conversations.  We purchased a bible study on adoption from Family Life and began that study together.  The study encouraged us to make a list of pros and cons of adoption.  Our list of cons was WAY bigger than our list of pros.  How do you push two kids in wheelchairs?  What do you do when one is admitted in the hospital and one is home?  Lord, we don't have $30,000.  We live in a two bedroom apartment.  We are content with just Courteney - we really don't want more kids.  The list went on and on.  The truth is, I could have taken this list to some of my most godliest of friends and it would have been very likely that I could have justified to them why Dan and I should NOT adopt Kevin and they would have agreed - probably using phrases such as "you guys have enough on your plates."  But PRAISE GOD that this bible study took us through the bible, the scriptures that speak about adoption, orphans, and "the least."  Dan's response was very clear (even though I know he was scared).  He said "none of these reasons (referencing our list of cons) are good enough to stand before Jesus and give someday."  You see ladies, I don't know what you believe, but we believe with all of our hearts, what the Bible states, that someday we will stand before God and give an account for our lives.  So I hope you aren't missing this....we weren't emotionally ready to adopt, we definitely didn't have all the answers, we didn't have an emotional calling to adopt....we read the Word of God and we feared the Lord.  It led us to make one of the best decisions we could ever make.  I will be completely honest, it has been one of the hardest journeys I have ever traveled with Christ, but it has been so worth it.  No one could have prepared me for the ups and downs, and I am glad of that.  I may not have otherwise done it.  Dan and I were able to take the LONG four year wait for Kevin one day at a time (with lots of tears).  There were many times we wondered, "Why in the world it was taking so long?"  And, there were so many heartaches and complications.  The truth is, I am SO glad our choice to adopt Kevin was based on God's Word, which is His will, and NOT on our emotions.  That truth kept us confident through the storms.  

I want to jump ahead to the 18 months that we have had this little boy.  We have seen his healing come quickly, a desperate prayer I prayed for him according to Isaiah 58. No, he is
not healed entirely, and that isn't what I prayed for, but I knew God was bringing him to Cleveland, Ohio to be better!!!  And better he is!!!!  His story alone, of God's redemption and love through adoption, has given us COUNTLESS opportunities to share about Christ.  People are amazed!  I don't know how else to say it.  They are amazed - because they see Christ in it!!!!!  All the glory goes to Him.  There is nothing good in me or Dan - apart from Christ we would have NEVER done this!  My feet would have never touched the soil of El Salvador had it not been for Christ.  It is HIS story!   Thank you, Jesus that we didn't miss this!!!

There is a lot to think about and consider: 
Marriage - it will be most beautiful and most reflective of Christ when you and your spouse have a healthy fear of God.  When you are living on a marital mission - meaning you truly can't do alone what you are doing together - your focus remains clear and with eternal purpose. Click here to know more about the book You and Me FOREVER by Francis Chan (100% of the net proceeds will go towards various ministries that include providing food, shelter and rehabilitation for thousands of orphaned children and exploited women around the world)​.

Adoption - it is undeniably the heart of our Father.  Anyone who knows God as Father and Jesus as Lord and Savior has been adopted....amen?!  How can you play a part in adoption?  Click here to learn more about the Bible Study Dan and I did.  Click here to learn more about Show Hope - a movement to care for orphans - started by singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman.  

Action - it is good to remember that we will make mistakes and we will fail at many things. But at least we tried!  Amen?!  The enemy loves when we don't do anything.  Often, we may not "feel" clarity or direction but through God's TRUTHFUL Word we can gain His clarity and direction - our decisions/choices don't have to be emotionally based.  Although we may fail at times, there are also times of blessing and successes that will come too!!!  We don't want to miss out!  Action is required. 

Many Blessings!!