Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

17811f34fd634ab0ac10bf6f932a5cb5This dip is perfect for a game day get together or a family movie night! Easy, quick and oh, so good.

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 – 8oz blocks of cream cheese softened

1/2 cup ranch dressing

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup hot sauce

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

HOW TO:

Combine all ingredients except the chicken & cheddar cheese. Once the sauce is combined fold in the chicken. Pour in baking dish and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on the top and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until brown and bubbly on the top. Serve with corn chips and fresh veggies.

The Hands and Feet of Jesus

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So much has happened in our nation since the inauguration of President Trump. At times I have felt that I can’t keep up. Our new president is making some big changes and following through with many of the promises he made during his campaign. Although it is refreshing to see things being done, I find it a little scary and sometimes confusing.

One of the  issues that is flooding our televisions, social media feeds and conversations is refugee immigration. Over the past few days, I have listened to the arguments for and against. Angry people, happy people, sad people.  Although, I do agree with the president’s stand, I see merit on both sides. After all, we are dealing with real lives here; human beings, children. It’s hard for our hearts not to go out to the innocents that are caught up in the mess. It is easy to become swayed by the strong emotions that issues of this nature generate. It is also difficult to sort through media coverage and discern truth from lies. We can get so bogged down by news reports, blog posts and social media opinion that we fail to address these issues as we should.

So what am I, we, to do? Sit back and carry on with the day to day? Lobby our government officials? March on Washington? Amidst all of the chaos,  I am reminded once again to turn to the Word. What does God say? As Christians this is the first question we should be asking  before jumping on any of the multiple bandwagons available to us. God’s word has answers for every situation we deal with in life, if we are willing to find them.

The first thing I read is that we are to honor those in authority over us. Yes, whether you like it or not, that means our President. Romans 13:1-5 speaks very clearly on this issue. Honor does not mean to always agree, but it is an understanding on our part that the leaders we have are placed in their positions by God. His plan might not be obvious, but it is perfect. If we say we trust Him, then we need to obey what He has required of us. God has the ability to move the hearts of kings, we have to trust His plan.

Secondly, suffering is part of living in a fallen world. The harsh and ugly reality is that the poverty, persecution and suffering we see throughout our nation and world is as a direct result of sin, and the rejection of God by the people He created. We can not, nor will we ever end the atrocities happening in our day. The heart of man is wicked. Sin abounds. Matthew 24:9-14 tells us that Christians will be persecuted, that we would be hated by all nations. As our leaders start taking a stand against the evil that threatens our country, people will rise up against us. Even believers will turn away from their faith, because their hearts are stirred more by a cause than the truth of God’s word.

Thirdly, as Christians, the Church, it is our responsibility to take care of those in society who are hurting, lost, destitute, without hope. Whether they be Americans, foreigners or refugees. Our job is not to try and change the politicians that make decisions for our nation, rather we are to pray, and do that which God has asked of us. That, being to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV). To every people, to every nation. We have a mission field right on our doorstep. I have to ask, are we wasting that opportunity by arguing, being negative and divisive? The truth is, souls are at stake. Do we feel the true weight of that?

And it doesn’t stop there; for what are words if they are not accompanied by actions? They are merely a noise similar to loud and clanging cymbals. (1Corinthians 13:1, NIV). We are to exhibit our faith through our actions. Our love. Scripture clearly warns us not to turn away from the needy. “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses” (Proverbs 28:27 NIV). We are promised a great reward for taking care of the have-not’s and the vulnerable “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17, NIV)

My prayer is that the body of Christ would rise up. Not in protest or to voice it’s social opinion, but to extend hands that God can use to build His kingdom. That we would be able to properly separate our emotions from truth, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and leave the rest to Him.

Chicken Divan

Great for a potluck or family dinner! You can also assemble and freeze so you have it available for a quick week night meal.

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What You Need:

I package (16oz) frozen broccoli florets

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 whole cooked chicken (deboned & shredded) or 3 cooked chicken breasts (shredded)

3t lemon juice

1/4-1/2t curry powder (to taste)

2 cups shredded cheddar

1 cup breadcrumbs

How To:

Thaw broccoli and drain as much of the liquid as possible. You want it to be pretty dry. Place in a 9×13 baking dish. Layer with chicken. Combine the mayo, soup, lemon juice and curry powder and spread over the chicken layer. Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the whole casserole. Bake at 350 uncovered for 40 minutes. Serve over rice with a green salad. Enjoy!

Top 10 Tips for Parents of Teen Boys!

15304392_10154486145241130_4933238415767947997_oHow many times have you heard “Oh, you have teenagers! I’m so sorry” or “The teenage years are so hard—I’ll be praying!” I’m sure you could give many examples of comments and advice you’ve received from those who have gone before.

We currently have two teenagers in our home and two kids fast approaching the teen years. In looking back and remembering some of the things I read and heard about teenagers, I guess I always expected my kids to go to bed on their twelfth birthdays the sweet, loving, carefree children I had known to that point and wake up on their thirteenth birthdays acne-filled, moody, rebellious semi-adults I didn’t know anymore.

So for all of you naysayers and fearful parents of preteens, let me lay down some truth: I love the teenage years! In fact, I think this is my favorite stage of raising kids so far. Yes, my teenagers can be a little unpredictable, moody, spacey, and a little sassy at times, but I love it all.

What I am witnessing before me is God growing my boys into the men He has called them to be. The mood swings, unpredictability, and sass does not compare to the fun, laughs, deep life conversations, and growth that are taking place in our family. It also doesn’t hurt to have big muscles developing and practical help around the house!

People often ask me our secret to raising well-mannered, sweet teens who love God. My first answer is, “We are very blessed!” We gave our children to the Lord when they were born, and we understand that they do not belong to us but are gifts given to us for a time. What a huge responsibility God has entrusted us with. Because of that, my husband and I pray individually with our children every night. There are two things we want our kids fall asleep with: first, the knowledge that God hears their requests, and second, that their parents love them and are concerned with their thoughts and needs. I believe God is blessing our investment. He promised He would.

But on a practical note, there are some things we have learned along the way to help us and our kids navigate the teen years. Here are my top ten!

1. Never forget, you are the parent, they are the child! We need to behave like parents, not children! The teen years come with a number of frustrations. As parents, we are pushed and challenged on a regular basis. Oftentimes we are met with grumpiness, sour moods, and silence. It is easy to take these things personally and react rather than respond. Reacting is quick, sharp, and defensive. Reacting typically results in a negative exchange, which in turn causes a teen to shut down and walk away angry. Instead, respond. Take a second, pray, then speak. Now, we cannot give our teens a pass for a bad attitude or a disrespectful tone. Teens have to learn to control their emotions, even when it’s difficult. That’s life. Our job is to teach them how. The most effective way is through our example. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” is not and should never be a part of the conversation, ever! If we don’t respond in a godly, respectful, and reasonable way, how can we expect the same of our kids?

2. Don’t nag! This is a lot easier said than done. However, if we can back off on the little things that really don’t matter and pick our battles, so to speak, our teens will learn to relax, let down their guards, and be more willing to open up. If they know they won’t get barraged with advice every time they speak to us, they will be a lot more willing to not just listen but actually hear what we say when it really matters. Let your teens know what your expectations are, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

3. Never stop telling them you love them! Even on the bad days. Even when it seems awkward. The last thing all my kids hear before they close their eyes at the end of the day is “I love you.” Our love is not conditional. It does not depend on performance or behavior. Our children should know without a shadow of a doubt that they may not always have our approval, but they will always have our love.

4. Never give them space and hug them often! This is so important in the teen years and something I think we get so wrong most of the time. Yes, our teens need to accept responsibility. Yes, they need to learn independence. Yes, they need room to grow into adults. However, our job is to help them, shape them, support them, and keep them accountable—not move away from them so they can figure it out alone. I make it a point to ask my boys what’s going on in their hearts and minds. I monitor what they watch and look at online. I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to be able to pray for them where they are and help them make wise and godly decisions. My goal is to point them to Jesus in all things.

5. Be their parent, not their friend! Sometimes our teens aren’t going to like this. Sometimes they will see us as the enemy. That’s okay. Scripture calls parents to provide, to discipline, to teach their children. Proverbs 22:15 tells us that foolishness is bound up in the hearts of children. We have a great responsibility before God to shepherd our children, to teach them by using our wisdom and God’s Word. As parents, we will stand before God one day to give an account for how we stewarded that which He gave us. May He say, “Well done.”

6. Teach them to work hard, and teach them to serve. “When we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10, NIV). Our children’s generation is quickly becoming the laziest and most entitled generation of our time. Hard work has been replaced by device time. Learning practical life skills in school has been replaced by meaningless busy work. If our children do not grab the concept of work for reward, the future of our society will not look good. Work together as a family. A family is a team. Accomplishment is a great reward for teens, and our appreciation and recognition of them shows that we value their time and efforts. In our selfish world it is so hard to teach “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NIV). Our teens can be pretty self-focused, and at times it seems that they believe the whole world revolves around them. However, if they are taught to give, to serve with their time, to help at home, then that will naturally translate to the outside world. Once they understand that the family doesn’t work as well without their participation, they will be able to understand it in the bigger picture of their community, church, school, and world.

7. Talk to them. Put down the device, and make them do the same. Gather around the table for dinner—no phones allowed. Contrary to popular belief, teens really do like to

talk, and they want to know that we are interested in what they have to say. Give them an opportunity to have a voice, to offer their thoughts and opinions about various subjects. You will be surprised at their insight and blessed by the time spent with your teens.

8. Give them responsibilities, and allow them to follow through. Do not come behind to fix what they’ve done. Accept the imperfect. What we are building in our teens is so much more valuable than the results we may prefer. Give them a chance to get things done. Trust them to follow through with what you’ve asked of them.

9. Let them be kids! For the most part, teens like to be considered adults. I find that my oldest would often rather sit and chat with the adults than be outside playing. Unless it playing involves basketball! However, there will be times when our teens will be silly, goofy, playful, and extremely immature. I am delighted when I see this side of my teens. It’s fun to watch them throw caution to the wind and not be bothered by the opinions of others or feel the need to be cool. They are still kids. We would do well to join them in their silliness on occasion. Too much adulting is unhealthy for anybody!

10. Never be too proud to say you are sorry! I know it’s not fun to admit, but as parents we often blow it. Apologizing and asking forgiveness does not just apply to the adults in our lives. Apologizing to our children does not mean we lose our parental position. It shows them that we are human, sinners, in need of grace, just like they are. Humbling ourselves is part of life, and admitting we’re wrong is part of life. Get over yourself, and do it!

My husband and I are not done raising our teens yet. We have a ways to go. However, I am thankful that God has given us everything we need in His Word to raise them well. He is willing and able to pour out wisdom and grace when we need it if we take the time to ask Him. On the days when I feel inadequate, I ask God for strength. And the times when I am out of patience, I ask for an increased measure of grace. For those occasions when I mess up and fail, I humble myself, ask forgiveness, and move on.

I leave you with this: “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20–21, NASB).

DIY Cleaning Scrub

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I made a natural cleaning scrub this week and decided to try cleaning my tile grout!! It literally costs pennies to make and I’m happy not to be breathing chemicals. I’ve used it on my grout, stove stop and granite counters. You can use different oils, but this combo smells awesome!
Recipe:
3/4 C baking soda
1/4 C castille soap
1T water
10 drops peppermint
10 drops lavender
Mix together. Should resemble a soft paste.
Store in a glass mason jar!

 

Chicken Taco Soup

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This is a family favorite and so easy and versatile. You can tweak the recipe to accommodate what you have on hand in the pantry. It freezes great too! Here is the base.

What you need:

4-5 cups cooked chicken

1 -16oz can black beans or kidney beans

2 -10oz cans chopped tomatoes with green chilies

2 cups frozen corn

1 1/2 T cumin

1 1/2 T coriander

2T chili powder

ground red pepper (optional to taste)

salt & pepper to taste

6 cups chicken stock

2T vegetable oil

masa or corn flour mixed with water to make a smooth paste

How To:

Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the chicken and spices. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn and stock. Stir until it comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Combine the masa or corn flour and water until it is a smooth paste. Stir into the soup stirring until the broth thickens a little. Ladle into bowls, and top with your choice of garnish. E.g. sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado or guacamole and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping!

Cherry Coffee Cake

I usually save this yummy coffee cake for the holiday season, however for some reason I didn’t make it this past Christmas. It is a perfect weekend breakfast or brunch treat. This recipe divides perfectly into 2 8×8 foil pans that can be given away as gifts! Just a thought 🙂

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What you need:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can fruit pie filling, such as cherry, apple, strawberry, peach, or blueberry

Glaze – 1/2 Cup powdered sugar, a drop of vanilla, splash of milk

How To:

  • Grease and flour a 9×13 pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine flour and granulated sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Set aside 1/2 cup mixture for topping.
  • Stir baking powder, soda, nutmeg, and salt into remaining crumb mixture. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl combine egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to nutmeg mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Set aside 1 cup batter.
  • Spread remaining batter onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan or dish.
  • Carefully spread the desired pie filling on top.
  • Spoon reserved batter into small mounds on top of filling.
  • Sprinkle with topping.
  • Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 30 minutes or until slightly browned and your knife comes out clean.
  • Let cool. Mix up glaze ingredients and drizzle over cake. Enjoy!