Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: Kickin' Back and Just Relaxin'

Blessed Beyond Measure: Kickin' Back and Just Relaxin': "Today is my third day in a row off from work. And today, I am just chillin' and not feeling too guilty about it! Catching up on reading..."

Kickin' Back and Just Relaxin'

Today is my third day in a row off from work. And today, I am just chillin' and not feeling too guilty about it! Catching up on reading is at the top of my list....books, magazines and the Sunday paper!

 Because I work a 10 PM to 7 AM shift at work, I don't keep the same kind of sleep schedule others do. I've found that what works for me - and this may seem a little crazy - is to stay up when I get home until about noon or 1 PM and then go to bed and sleep until 8 PM. I try to keep this same sort of schedule on my days off as well. Some days are more successful than others.

On Monday, for instance....I came home to frozen water pipes for the 2nd time in 3 days. I called my landlord who came later in the morning and had someone get it unfroze for me. I stayed up as long as I could and ended up going and laying down around 3 PM. I slept off and on until 2 AM. (I seem to recall getting up for a half hour or so somewhere in the middle of that time, but I'm not sure!)

So, what did I do? Well, what other people do during the day! I did the laundry, washed dishes, threw chicken in the crockpot for supper....paid bills and once it headed to 9 AM, headed over town to mail said bills and fill the car up.

Again, I went to sleep again around 3 in the afternoon and have been up since 1:30 this morning. This time, I have been watching a few shows on the computer, reading the news, following the weather, and just enjoying being home. I work again tomorrow night, but I'm leaving the vacuuming until then so that I remember to put the garbage out for the trash guys before I head to work!

I made a tasty noodle dish with the chicken in the crockpot that I made before I went to bed yesterday. Just had some for breakfast this morning - it turned out great! I had put a can of condensed cream of chicken soup in with the chicken breasts in the slow cooker, added diced onion, celery and carrots to that and let it cook. Once the chicken was done, I took it out and shredded it up, cooked the egg noodles and then mixed it all together. This will be an easy thing to warm up in the microwave for a few days!

Cady has been hanging around me today, too...sleeping on either the floor or the bed. She is currently laying on her side behind my chair on the bed. She's in a chillin' mood, too!

Sometimes we need to be reminded.....
I was reminded yesterday that God knows what I need and when I need it. Tax stuff is starting to roll in and I had a 1099 form come that reminded me that because I took my retirement funds early this past year (out of necessity), there will most likely be a penalty on that (because I didn't wait until retirement age). I started to become anxious as I pondered where the funds will come from to pay for that. But God quickly took me back to over a year ago when I was at the point of really needing Him to provide financially and how He did that.

I was reminded, again....He is faithful. He will provide. He has done it over and over and over again and knows what I have need of even before I ask. He spoke to my heart, "I took care of you then. I will take care of you now." He replaced my fear and anxiety with His peace.

I know I can trust Him to provide. I know that He has blessed me beyond measure time and time again. Being able to take those retirement funds early was a blessing by itself as it allowed me to wipe out my credit card debt. Something I don't regret! If He cares for the birds in the winter, in the fiercest of storms, how much more does He care for me and want to be my shelter in the storms of life?

So, today, I rest and relax in His ever capable hands....
and am
Blessed Beyond Measure!

May He be your peace today!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: This, Too, Shall Pass!

Blessed Beyond Measure: This, Too, Shall Pass!: "Last few days have been interesting to say the least. Biggest issues have been with the below-zero weather and my water pipes. They've froze..."

This, Too, Shall Pass!

Last few days have been interesting to say the least. Biggest issues have been with the below-zero weather and my water pipes. They've frozen up - twice! Yeah, and on the two coldest nights so far this year!

Last night, I did leave the water running in what I consider to be a small stream, but apparently that wasn't enough! Aargh! So for the 2nd time in 3 days, I called my landlord to let them know. (My way of thinking is that if I ever move, you might want to be aware of what issues this property you bought has!)

The landlord and his brother are here now working under the trailer to get it going. I do NOT envy them at all! Baby, it's cold outside! Yet, there they are! Thank you, Lord, for a landlord that will come and take care of the problems and not leave it up to me to figure out.

I have my heat turned up and even turned the stove on in the kitchen (I've melted snow twice so far in the oven for water to flush the commode with.). It's getting toasty in here, finally! I usually keep the thermostat around 69 when I'm home, but down to 65 when I go to bed or to work. Right now, the thermostat is set at 76. Compare that to the 10 degrees on the enclosed porch and I should be able to get a tan, don't you think?♫ ♪♫"It's a heat wave!♪♫♪♫

Cady is a little anxious about people being outside where she can't see them and keeps pacing. Her little tummy is acting up today - I keep hearing it make rumblies in her tumblie! Will have to keep an eye on her, for sure!

I took some pictures on Saturday of my intention to "rough it" when there was no water. I took my handy dandy snow shovel and one of my totes and went to the piled up snow and filled up the tote. I took a plastic container that I had and filled it up with snow to bring in the house. The rest is out in the tote on the front porch, just outside the door. I put it in a metal pan and melted it down.

What I discovered was this: a full container of snow melts down to less than you think. So the volume of snow we have, if it would just condense itself, really isn't so bad! (Yeah, believed that one, I can tell!)☺
This second one is the snow piled up around the front shed. Those white specs on the black building is frost on the inside of the porch window and not white paint! It even looks cold, doesn't it?

But, if you look on the bright side of things, this, too, shall pass. Spring will come again! Flowers will bloom, the grass...will grow....ummm...which leads to mowing.....Ah, such are the seasons of life! We must all endure them and what they bring. It's the attitude we have that will get us through them with our minds intact! And our hearts right before God!

I can deal with today's issues, one at a time. They will pass. Just as water passes through the faucet to my sink, like it flows from the stream to the river, from the river to the sea or the ocean....this, too, shall pass. I will stand firm, knowing Who has it all under control!

This just in.....We have water! Praise God!!!!

May the Lord bless you beyond measure today and shower you with His love!

Trusting Him,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: A Good Word From His Heart To Yours.....

Blessed Beyond Measure: A Good Word From His Heart To Yours.....: "All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.Psalm 21:2 Would you believe this Scripture has come up three different t..."

A Good Word From His Heart To Yours.....

All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Psalm 21:2

Would you believe this Scripture has come up three different times for me this week, and the first two times it was on the same day? I learned a long time ago that when the Lord allows this to happen, He's trying to get my attention the first two times. And the third time, well, it's kind of like the proverbial slap on the back of one's head, saying, "Hey, take notice here! I'm talking to you!"

I've been thinking alot lately about the power of our words. We have the choice to build up or tear someone down with them. Not only are we able to do that to family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, we also do that to ourselves at times!

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
Ever hear that one before? It's a lie, a lie, a lie! Words have the ability to wound, to scar, to cripple and cause the spirit to die within. All may look great on the outside, where it's easy to mask and disguise what is going on within. On the inside, however, it can be another story altogether.

I remember growing up feeling out of place, like the ugly, fat kid. I've been overweight for as long as I can recall and high school, especially, was not an easy time. The names people give you when you're not like the in crowd can be mean, to say the least. The best way I found to deal with it was to joke along with them. Did it change how I felt inside about the names? No, but it did make it easier for me to deal with the people doing it.

Because of things like that, I've found myself championing the underdog quite often. I don't like to see people teased unnecessarily or picked on because they are different. We are all different, each in our own way. God has created us that way, to be unique individuals. None better than the other.

What does this have to do with the verse? Well, I think we often take liberties with what we say and don't think about the impact it can have on another person. God knows our hearts. He really does.  He is fully aware of the attitude of our hearts when we open our mouths and say something. To make it more personal, He is totally aware of where my heart is when I open my mouth and knows whether I've thought about what I'm going to say and what kind of an impact that is going to have on the person I'm talking to ....or for that matter, about.

God knows us better than we know ourselves and we should examine our hearts often.

To encourage you today, there is a word that I read earlier this week that just so encouraged my heart. It was part of a prophetic word the Lord gave Julia Loren on New Years' Day. I am copying most of it here for you from the article I read from Elijah List ( this past Sunday.

This is what He is saying, to you:

Jesus: "Do you remember the day you first met Me? Or awakened to the idea of Me and found it so appealing that you struggled and pitched and rolled about like a ship in heavy seas, fighting the wind and the sea instead of running with it? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember when I opened your eyes to understand the Scripture and see Me in Word and Spirit? What amazement filled your mind as you 'saw' with the eyes of your heart? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember surrendering to Me head first? Heart second? Life consecrated, baptized, and coming up out of the waters unsure that anything was different but knowing that you had reached the point of no return – that you were now Mine and I was yours, forever? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember how I stood patiently by, listening to your objections, taking on your rages against the injustice of life, letting you release your anger and pain and suffering, your hands beating against My heart as if you could break Me open and spill forth answers that would calm your heart and make every mystery of man's free will and My dealings with the world make sense? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember the first time you felt My embrace as a Father enfolding His beloved child, the smell of My robe, the warmth of My expansive chest big enough to encompass the world but small enough to hold only you? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember how you felt when you were betrayed? So demolished by some man or woman that you felt you would never recover? And how I came to you, lifted you up when you were lost in your own pulsing blood and raging fear and blinding pain, screaming wordlessly deep within yourself, in a place that lay beyond tears, in a place where only I could reach you? And one touch of My love, one word of knowledge, one healing vision, set you free? I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember when satan stood before you and what happened next? I was so proud of you then, the way you overcame the enemy and did not give in that time. Oh you may think you failed other times but that time, I saw in you a reflection of Me and knew with a Father's joy that you would become more like Me than you ever thought possible. I loved you then and I love you still.

"Do you remember the first time you felt the overwhelming waterfall of My love raining down on you and knew that all would be well and that I loved you then and I always will?

"Do you remember that My hand is on you to bless you and that you are not a failure? That you have not missed your calling? The very fact that you get up after a fall and start to walk towards Me again and again, is an act of faith and trust in My faithfulness that speaks time after time, of the fact that I will never cast away anyone who comes to Me and am One who forgives infinitely. Even in your times of doubt and shame, do you know that I loved you then and I love you still?

"Do you remember your love for Me?
"Because I remember My love for you – every moment of every day – I love you still.

Those words, "I loved you then and I love you still", have so encouraged my heart this week and have come back to me many times during the course of my days and nights. It isn't always easy to focus on the positive when the negative wants to drag you down. But this is what I know....that as I follow Him wholeheartedly, He will lead, guide, keep and sustain me. He will fight my battles for me and He has good words He wants to speak to me.

What an awesome example He is for us! I'm glad that the attitude of His heart towards me is one of love! Because of that, I am, indeed, blessed beyond measure!

May He bless you today in ways that reaffirm to you just how much He loves you still!

Because of His great love for us,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: Monday is a day for .......

Blessed Beyond Measure: Monday is a day for .......: "It's Monday! I've been up for several hours now and have pork chili/stew in the slow cooker and a pizza in the oven. All at 7 AM! Let me exp..."

Monday is a day for .......

It's Monday! I've been up for several hours now and have pork chili/stew in the slow cooker and a pizza in the oven. All at 7 AM! Let me explain...

I'm finding that for me to get a decent rest, it works best for me to follow my work schedule. And since I don't always work the same days every week, or have the same ones off, this helps me to at least feel rested! Crazy, but it helps! I work this evening and will lay down later this afternoon to sleep before getting ready for work.

The pizza....two-fold, it's breakfast for me (as well as for packing in my lunch for tonite!) and it has helped to warm up my kitchen area considerably! I chose to make a chicken bacon ranch one today, using leftover chicken breast that I had done in the slow cooker previously. I used a store bought crust, put some spicy ranch dressing as my sauce, added the chopped up chicken and topped with fiesta cheese and bacon bits. I forgot the onions! I usually like to add onions to my pizza, but remembered too late! I'm eating a slice now...yummy! Who says you have to have cereal and toast and eggs for breakfast? Not me! ☺

I love using my Pampered Chef stone to do pizzas on - it heats so nice and even and is a breeze to clean up afterwards! I also like the metal carrying thing I use under it - it's a huge help in putting it in and taking that stone out of the oven!

As for my chili/stew...or whatever it is!...I had put the pork stew meat out to thaw yesterday morning, I just didn't know what I wanted to use it for. As I was reading this morning, I thought it would be great to do a bean stew in the slow cooker, but then again, I was really hankering for some chili. I could have thawed out some ground beef and done the chili in the usual way, but I thought, "Hey, why not use up some of the leftover veggies you have in the fridge and mix things up?" So..........

 First up, I added the veggies while the meat was browning up in the cast iron skillet.....I put in a can of corn, a can of northern beans, a huge can of kidney beans, two cans of chili ready tomatoes, leftover celery and carrots (diced up!), a diced up onion, some leftover diced peppers from the freezer......
 Added in the browned pork which I had seasoned with salt and pepper and Worchestershire sauce...

Added some chili powder, stirred it up and called it soup and set the slow cooker on the right setting for will be ready in about 6 hours from now! I can't wait to sample it! I will then let it cool down before refrigerating and will be eating this pretty much all week. I don't mind....chili only gets better! Wish the pics were a bit clearer so you could see all the beautiful colors! I love a soup with color!

I also put together a little snack mix with some other leftover things I found in the cupboard....I may add some dry Cinnamon Cheerios to the mix later on....

What we have here are leftovers....yeah, I make do with what I have...part of living simply with what I'm blessed to have on hand! In this mix is golden raisins, dried cranberries, slivered almonds and semi-sweet chocolate chips! Yummy! Just a little satisfies my sweet tooth!

Almost done with my laundry for today. I keep blankets on the couch and chair in the living room as Miss Cady likes to spread her fur around! And looooovvvvesss to sleep on the chair, so they were both in sore need of a wash! So two loads of laundry will soon be done! Oh, before I's a pic of Cady on our enclosed porch yesterday. Please note the's my attempt to keep snow from blowing in and the neighborhood cat from coming in as well! She wanted to go out and help me shovel snow so bad! But I figured her little paws would be cold enough just being on the porch.

Gotta share about the enclosed porch. I think originally it was a wood porch with no roof, just a rail. The trellis you see is outside that. A previous owner enclosed the porch using a lot of glass and windows. Seeing as how I rent the trailer (oh, yeah...I live in a mobile home!), I have no clue how they managed to find all the glass and things to enclose it. It has helped, though, to provide a break from the wind and I feel blessed that it's on the shady side of the home. That will mean nice shade this summer!

One last blessing to share today....see that snowman mug? A friend from church gave that to me for Christmas and I just got it yesterday. (It was my first opportunity to go to an AM service in awhile! Glad I got to go!) It was filled with hot chocolate (they know me!) mixes and the little snow man is holding a shovel that acts as a spoon to stir the hot chocolate. May God bless my friend Marty! I love surprises like that!

I also received some teddy bear items from my friends, the Bishes, yesterday as well. Both Ida and I like bears and have been known to collect a few in our time! I still have some of those items to go look through to see how I can use them. I have an idea for a pair of curtains they gave me....maybe turning them into a table runner for the dining area's just an idea for now!

The sky has turned blue this morning and while it's freezing out there, it looks like a great day. The sunshine was awesome yesterday and just what I needed! Hope for more of the same today!

 I pray you stay warm and that the Lord blesses you beyond measure, not just today, but always!

Thanks for dropping by - come again!

With a heart of gratitude,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: From the Heart, But Not Out of Duty

Blessed Beyond Measure: From the Heart, But Not Out of Duty: "It's been a couple of days. I've been working and told myself, 'Sue, you don't need to blog every day.' Yeah, giving myself permis..."

From the Heart, But Not Out of Duty

It's been a couple of days. I've been working and told myself, "Sue, you don't need to blog every day." Yeah, giving myself permission to not be loaded down by a responsibility that actually is meant to be an avenue of sharing from the heart, not a duty. Make sense? Or am I the only blogger out there who struggles with wanting to do it daily, yet not always having words to say?

The snow has been pretty to look at. The temps have been chilly so when I go out to shovel or sweep, there's the whole bundling up process to look forward to. I'm blessed in that I don't have much to contend with. Must admit that two mornings that I came home from work, it was frustrating to see the end of my parking spot all filled in with snow. The plowers of the road had done their job and the end of my space showed the aftermath of their work. Annoyed, I parked the car alongside the road and shoveled and cleaned out the space before putting the car in place.

I don't mind that it snowed. There's a purpose in it. It will water the earth as it melts. That means spring will come! I guess I'm just not appreciative enough of having more work made for me. And being human, yeah, grumbling and complaining kind of come naturally. And yes, I admit it....I definitely was grumbling while I shoveled!

It's humbling to admit that we're not perfect, any of us. I know I'm not. I fail, I fall, I stumble. Yet the grace of God picks me back up and sets me on the straight and narrow once again.

Here is where I want my heart to be:
Psalm 130: 5-7
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word, I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than watchmen wait
for the morning.
Put your hope in the Lord,
For with the Lord is unfailing love
And with Him is full redemption.

How grateful I am for His unfailing love, for His tender mercies and for His faithfulness which is renewed every morning. I am thankful for the hope I find in Him, for the grace to go on.

Proverbs 20:27
The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being.

One last thing to share today. Came across this in a book I'm reading by Jan Karon (one of my favorite authors - but then I have many favorite authors!), In the Company of Others. I know I've also heard it in a song as well:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love us,
Christ in the mouth of friend or stranger.

That's what I want....and all I need!

May you each be blessed today beyond measure!
From the heart,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Face Only a (Dog's) Mama Could Love!

This is Cady. Pronounced Kaydee, Katy, but not Caddy! She is an Australian Shepherd/Terrier mix who came to live with me almost 12 years ago this coming fall as a puppy.

The look on her face this morning, says, "Oh, come on, Mom, knock it off! I don't want to have my picture taken!"

She has on one of her cute bandanas,  with Christmas colors and stars all over it. She is also laying curled up on my bed, next to the pillows and awoke when I came close to her to snap her asleep. We all enjoy that, right?

I also call her a 'danna or danner dog because of the bandanas. But she looks so stylin' in them! Not to mention, one of the perks of using them is that if she gets loose, she is easy to spot with her flash of color!

She loves to have her belly rubbed, which is what she was doing in this next picture. She had rolled onto her back for me to scratch her belly. I gladly complied and was rewarded with a much more still pose! See?
I love my dog. Yes, she's like a kid to me. In fact, I gave her the name I would have given my own daughter, if I'd ever had one. Kathryn Jolene. Cady Jo. Cady Jo Jo.

 When she is bad, she gets the whole Kathryn Jolene. You know...just like your mom does/did when you're in trouble with her...first and middle name! 

She is spoiled but I love her. She is great company and a wonderful alarm dog. Who needs a doorbell when Cady is on duty? She will announce very loudly that company has come to call!

She is a great example of unconditional love and exemplifies the Father to me. Even when she gets in dutch with me, she willing comes and holds no grudges for my having to reprimand her or discipline her. She keeps coming back, again and again.

God is like that.....He never gives up, never walks away. Always faithful. Ever near. Closer than the very air we breathe.

We are blessed in so many, many ways and we often just need to stop and say, "Thank You for loving me so much and so unconditionally!"

Yes, we are blessed....beyond measure!

May He keep you enfolded in His care and wrapped in His loving arms today...and always!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Warmmmmmmm Winter Wishes!!!!!!!

Warm winter wishes is what the little sign outside my front door reads. The past few days, I have spent either out shoveling snow, or inside sleeping, reading, cooking or baking. In other words, enjoying my weekend off! Spending time playing with Cady and keeping warm inside were great options when the snow is falling down around. Amazing how quietly, yet how quickly it can accumulate!
A New Addition to Blessed Beyond Measure!!!!
I'm excited to add pictures to my post today. I have been searching all over to find the connection for my Fujifilm camera....I know the box I need, I just don't know where to find it! My guess is that it's still in one of the totes I need to go through in one of the bedrooms. Instead I found an even smaller digital camera that I forgot I had. After playing around with it, I think I have figured out how to use it! I still need to find the other camera, but for now, this is working awesome. Thanks for the blessing, Lord!

For those who don't know, I moved into my own place the beginning of October after having stayed with my parents for 13 months upon moving back to Pennsylvania. Prior to that, I lived in Gainesville, GA for 10 years. Due to circumstances, I prayerfully decided to move "back home" and my folks were gracious enough to allow me to stay with them.

The opportunity to move into my own place again was a blessing and I'm happy to be here, with Cady, making a  home out of this little three bedroom trailer. One bedroom is my master bedroom/office. A second is my spare bedroom/craft/sewing room. The third? Well, it's supposed to be my pantry/storage room. Currently, though, it's 75% storage and 20% pantry, with the other 5% being bare space. Once spring (or warmer weather, whichever comes first!) comes, I will resume going through the totes and transferring to the storage sheds outside. (I'm blessed to have two sheds, both with shelves to store the totes and locks!)

My car in my little neighborhood!

Just a little bit of snow, as you can tell! Just a little! This was taken this morning, so the snow on the car is from yesterday morning until this morning. Obviously, I did do a little shoveling yesterday, but then called it quits once I was done. And blessing beyond measure, the sun is out today and there are blue skies out there! Weather forcast is calling for at least 6 more inches between now and Wednesday morning. I've got my shovels (yes, I own two!) ready - one on the porch and one in the car, so I think I may be ready to do some more shoveling!

Except for the cold and the drippy nose that I get from being out in the frigid air, I don't mind working in my yard. I even enjoy mowing grass in warmer weather! It often gives me time to think and pray and reflect. And, from time to time, the Lord actually has something to say to me, if I'm willing to listen!

I recall one time mowing grass when the Lord distinctly spoke to my heart and told me that He had given me a voice and He wanted to speak through me. Talk about humbling! I remember asking Him what that was supposed to look like. I now know that it looks like any number of things, from encouraging notes, emails, words for others, to things like posting notes on Facebook and even this blog. What matters most to Him is that I keep in relationship with Him, listening for His Voice, and when He tells me to say something, to open up and speak it forth!

This isn't just my call,'s for each one of His children!

Heavenly Banana Bread!
Keeping the Kitchen Warm
I had some leftover bananas the past few days that just kept crying out to me....."Use me, Use me!" Now, normally, I end up throwing those very brown, very spotted bananas in the garbage. Why, you might wonder when I could freeze them and use them to bake banana wonders later on. Well, one thing I learned from doing that in Georgia was that all I end up with is a collection of brown frozen bananas. And I do mean a collection. So, I know, rather than let them go to waste, it would be better if I used them rather than waste money I spent on them.

Dilemna that comes with a move is you wonder where things are. Now I am totally aware of where my cookbooks are but the usual banana bread recipe....well, that was going to mean a search. I opted, instead, to seek out a new recipe. When I read the recipe, I was kind of wondering how it would taste when it was done, but I'm happy to report, it turned out delish! And yes, I even adapted it because I didn't have two of the ingredients in the house. The pic above is the end result! Tasty! added benefit? My kitchen and living room got warmed up as well!

The following recipe is for Miss Doris, who is my cousin Sam's mama-in-law. She and her family are great folks with wonderful hospitality....and they can cook! I've been to their home and have benefited from both!

The recipe itself comes from JoAnna Lund's The Healthy Exhanges Diabetic Desserts Cookbook.

Heavenly Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf, serves 8

1/2 c plain fat-free yougurt
1/3 c Kraft fat-free mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten, or equivalent in egg substitute
2/3 c (2 medium) mashed ripe bananas
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 (4 serving) pkg Jello sugar-free instant banana cream pudding mix
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c chopped pecans
2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, egg, and mashed bananas. Add flour, dry pudding mix, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix just to combine. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place loaf pan on a wire rack and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling on wire rack. Cut into 8 servings.

My adaptations:
I used Miracle Whip in place of the fat-free mayo (it's what I had on hand!) and instead of banana cream pudding, I used sugar free French vanilla. I made two loaves with my leftover bananas and have put one in the freezer (yes, you can freeze it!) to enjoy later on. I have to admit....I wasn't real sure about it when it was calling for both yogurt and mayonaise, but it turned out very well. Nice and moist and the nuts and chips give it a little surprise that cheers the winter blues away!

May you keep warm today, both inside and outside your home and may your heart be blessed beyond measure by the Father's love and care for you!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Baby, It's Cold.....Inside and Outside, Too!

Ok, I have to admit it....Even if I make a mean Pioneer Veggie Soup, I would most likely make a lousy Pioneer! The electricity was off for about an hour this morning and I thought, what on earth can I do to make it warmer in here? I called Penelec to let them know there was an outage (LOL, I think they probably had heard from more than just me!). Then, I crawled under my blankets to keep warm.

Yep, a real wuss.....

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to have been an early pioneer settler? Would you have been able to adapt, not having known any of the luxuries we take for granted today? No electricity would have meant no fans, no lights, no heaters, no electric blankets, and alot of other things we use daily. (The washer and dryer come to mind and the hairdryer!)

I would hope, had I been born at that time, I would have adapted to my surroundings and lived life simply, but well. Less rushed, less frantic, slower-paced. Maybe fewer worries and concerns.

I've been to other countries where things are not like they are here. For instance, rolling power outages are the norm in the Dominican Republic. They carry on with life despite them. People living in half built houses with rebar sticking up thru the roof for a potential second story, not finished due to lack of funds. Some of what I have seen in my travels to Jamaica, Mexico and the DR make me grateful for what I have and also speaks to my heart of living life more simply.

Why? The best gifts we give come from our heart, not from our wallet. To take focus off of stuff means we can then focus on relationships instead of things. And, in the end, if all of our stuff is stripped away, isn't it better to be left with great relationships than none at all?

So, today, I count myself blessed....yes, beyond have friendships, family and relationships that are worth more than gold or silver. They are treasures unto themselves for which I am grateful.

Oh, and, Lord, by the way, I'm grateful for those people who know how to get the electric working again! Please bless them today! ☺

Enjoy the blessing of today,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cady Fur and Heart Worm Pills

My sleep patterns are disrupted this week with a whacked out schedule for work. I'm working every other night this week until the weekend. In essence, it's a short week as I will only work 22 hours at Walmart. BUT...yeah, working every other night leaves me not knowing if I should be asleep or awake!

Was up at 5:30 this morning and chose to get up and do some household stuff like laundry, the dishes, and vacuuming. While in the middle of vacuuming, I noticed that Cady (my Australian Shepherd/Terrier mix) had some little clumps of hair sticking out. OK, then.....time to brush her out again! (Cady is pronounced kay-dee).

I'm always amazed at how much hair she has for a small dog. Granted, she's no short-haired terrier, but still....I had enough today between her brushing and the vacuum cleaner, I could have dressed a hairless chihuahua in Cady's fur alone!

After the task of brushing was done, it was time for me to give Cady her monthly heartworm pill. This is always the one area where my dog becomes very stubborn and will not just take the pill and be a good girl. Nope, every month, it's the same song and dance with us. I have to literally almost shove it down her throat to get her to chew it up. She's good....I open her mouth, put it in and hold her snout. She makes like she's chewing it, only for it to come out the side of her mouth and onto the floor. We must do this like half a dozen times....until she eventually does get it chewed up and down her.

Stubborn....that's what she is....stubborn. The look in her eyes is one of, "I dare you, can't make me!" And she almost wins! I, on the other hand, am determined she take it because it's good for her. So I persevere!

I'm grateful, that in the midst of my own stubborness, God also perseveres with me. He doesn't give up or walk away, throwing up His hands. He hangs in there with me and gently, but firmly, directs me back to where I need to be. That is a blessing beyond measure, because left to my own desires and whims, I would be so off track and lost.

I was reading in my devotions this morning (Joyce Meyer's Starting Your Day Right) and read this paragraph:
The Bible says God's mercy and loving-kindness are "new every morning" (see Lamentations 3:22-23). His mercy isn't there just waiting for us; it is new, fresh, flowing, and powerful every new day. We need to get in the flow of God's river of life early each day and learn to float on the power of His presence.

In other words, go with His flow and don't fight against the stream, but relax and rest in Him!

Psalm 36: 8-10 says this:
You cause them to drink of the stream of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light.  O continue Your loving-kindness to those who know You, Your righteousness (salvation) to the upright in heart.

Be blessed today beyond measure as you rest in His love for you!

Blessings to you always,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pioneer Vegetable Soup and Other Stuff

Per a request yesterday for the soup I was making, I'm gonna share said recipe. It comes from one of Joanna Lund's cookbooks, A Potful of Recipes.

I have a number of her cookbooks and they have been very useful in the past when I found out that I was a Type 2 diabetic. She authored numerous Healthy Exchanges cookbooks which made preparing healthy and delicious meals easy. I've used this particular cookbook time and time again as all the recipes in it are for the slow cooker or crockpot! Yep, get it ready, set it, and forget it! Well, at least until it's done!

Oh, and I write in my cookbooks....rate the recipes on a 4 star system. Write how I've adapted them for myself. For instance, Joanna uses a lot of pimentos in her recipes. Sorry.....this gal (meaning me!) is not gonna use pimentos in anything except maybe a game of Scrabble if I have enough letters!

So, for Nen, who asked, here's the basic recipe for Pioneer Vegetable Soup!

Pioneer Vegetable Soup
One of the first tasks of the brave settlers who staked their claims in the harsh new land of the plains and prairies was planting a vegetable garden. A good harvest of root vegetables meant food (like this soup) to sustain them and their families through a long winter. (Joanna's description)

1 3/4 cups (1 - 15 oz can) Swanson Beef Broth
1 1/4 cups water
1 c chopped onion
1 c sliced carrots
2 c diced raw potatoes
1 c diced turnips
1 c diced celery
2 c (1 - 16 oz can) tomatoes, coarsely chopped and undrained
1/8 tsp black pepper
16 oz lean round steak, cut into 36 pieces

Spray a slow cooker container with butter-flavored cooking spray. In prepared container, combine beef broth and water. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips, undrained tomatoes, and black pepper. Add steak pieces. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Mix well before serving.

Serves 6 (1 1/2 cup servings)

My variations:
I don't like turnips, so I didn't use them. In place of the coarsely chopped tomatoes, I chose to use a can of zesty spaghetti sauce instead. It made the liquid part a bit more...well....zesty! ☺ I also used stew beef in place of the round steak. The stew meat was already cut up for me. Today, I have added peas, corn, green beans and northern beans (all from cans) to the mix. And a little bit of red pepper flakes to, as Emeril would say, bump it up a notch. I'll have to let you know how it turns out! (All the different colors sure are pretty to look at!) A loaf of French bread, a little butter, maybe a salad and you're set to go! Altho, to be honest, the soup is plenty all on it's own!

Oh, and before I forget! You can also freeze this, if needed!

Other Stuff:
Last night, I had a customer come thru my line who was using one of our motorized scooter carts. He looked tired and had a lot loaded in his basket. I asked if I could get him another cart and we'd be happy to help him take his purchases out to his vehicle. The very last item I had to scan was a large, heavy turkey that the tag was missing from. To say the least, the customer became irate, not with me, but with my immediate supervisor, who wisely called management after he started to yell at her and cuss her out. We got the turkey situation taken care of and one of our door greeters helped him out to his vehicle.

Part of his story is that because of health issues, he had been in the hospital for about a month and a half and had to have one of his legs amputated. When I shared this with two of my co-workers, their reaction astounded me as they didn't feel this justified his actions. I can see where they were coming from, but was left with the thought of, "Where is your compassion, your empathy, for your fellow man?"

How often do we not stop and put ourselves in someone else's shoes, in an attempt to understand why they might say what they do or act in the way that they do? Yes, such behavior is should not necessarily be tolerated, but if we, for a brief moment, could put ourselves where they are, would we be more patient, more understanding?

How grateful I am that Jesus always had compassion on "the least of these." That He chose to heal the sick, the lame, the blind. Not just to make them more tolerable to those around them, but because He wanted to bless them and draw them to Himself. That should be our goal: to be more like Jesus.

How often we fail and need His grace to carry on! We, too, are like the "least of these", in need of a Savior of love and compassion and grace and mercy.

There's my humble thought for today - I am in awe of my God Who sees my need and choses to meet them despite my being unworthy. I am blessed.....yet again!

May His blessings be upon you today - and always!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Couponing Expedition, Here I Come!

So glad to see Mr. Sunshine today! However, he let his buddy, Mr. Wind, come along to play! Brrrrrrr....together they teamed up to become big old Chilly Billy Wind Chill Factor and, what can I say, made me shiver and I'm not talking with delight!

Despite all that, started the morning off making Pioneer Vegetable Soup in the crockpot. It's not quite soup yet, (few more hours to cook) but the smells coming from my kitchen....oh, I think it's gonna be good! And, of course, I adapted the recipe juuuuuust a little to make it mine! That was one of today's ways of living more simply.

I scooted over through Brookville to the Boulevard (if you're from here, you know there's only one and where it is!) and checked out gas prices. They were all the same today, so I opted for Flying J's as it was the last place I checked! Air was chilly, wind was blowing, but the sun.....ahhhh, the sun felt so good on my back as I stood waiting for the tank to fill! Too bad the warmth I felt wasn't a little bit more penetrating or the wind not as breezy! I gladly got back in the car and cranked my heater back up! Such are the simple pleasures.....warmth, gas to get me where I need to go, and blue skies!

My morning of fun was rounded out with what I will term a "couponing expedition." Armed with my Mike's Comet flier and trusty coupons, I went grocery shopping. I had looked that flier over prior leaving the house and went thru my coupons and was ready to shop. Would I find any deals, save any money? After filling up the car with gas, I was sure hoping for a positive response!

I'm blessed again today! Using my coupons and their deals of the week, I managed to save $10.40! I wasn't aware that they doubled their coupons, so this was like a gift! I bought mainly frozen veggies which will come in handy later this winter.

Working at Walmart (I'm an overnight cashier), I've had customers come thru my line that only buy items they have coupons for. I had wondered if it was worth the time and, I proved to myself, yes, it can be!

You may wonder why I didn't go to Walmart. Well, simple enough - I was in the mood to support my local economy and Mike's is really close by. Not to mention, there was a little splurge item I was hankering for! Farmer's Cheese! And you can't find that at the Clarion Walmart!

What a skies, sunshine, gas for my car, groceries for my freezer, money saved, soup in my crockpot, and a God who delights in showing up in little things like couponing expeditions!

Until next time, may you be blessed beyond measure!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My First Blog!

Wow, is this crazy! I've been wanting to do a blog for the looooonnnnnngest time! But didn't have a clue as to where to start. And here I am....doing it! I'm so excited to get started as I believe the Lord has things to say to me that I'm to share with others. So here goes!

Coming up with a name for my blog was no easy task. I wanted something that reflected me, yet others could relate to. Blessed Beyond Measure is what I settled on, mostly because...well...I am!

Another option was gonna be Living Simply in a Complicated World, but I thought that might be a little on the heavy side. Not to mention, I've only just begun to figure out for myself what living simply in a complicated world might look like!

So, here we are, day two of 2011. Yesterday was a quiet day of rest, listening to the rain on the roof, while sauerkraut and pork simmered in the crockpot. I chose to spend time reading, praying for friends, watching a movie, and doing things around my home that would make my life more simple. Funny how something as mundane as clearing away clutter from the top of my desk just eased my mind!

Today, a special gift from the Lord came in the form of my landlord and  his helpers....I now have a new door on my enclosed porch and the other one closes! And the fan/vent above my kitchen stove was replaced as well as one of the hasps on a storage shed (with a new lock and keys for it!). They also dug up some heavy metal circular objects that were intended to be a sidewalk of sorts, but in the snow, were slippy and hazardous. So, I am blessed! ☺

And I was told today that my bathroom will be completely redone sometime in the next month or so. There are some issues with said bathroom, so this news is like another present! I know that when the time comes, it will be a inconvenience to have it all torn up, but in the long run, a blessing!

May you find your blessings today in the small things that the Lord does .... they may be hidden, waiting to be found by you. They are there...if you just look!

Blessings to you always,