Quick and Easy Apple Rolls

apple rollsThese Apple Rolls are perfect for a quick breakfast or brunch in the fall. Or anytime for that matter! They are quick, easy and delicious!

Ingredients:
1 large Granny Smith apple (peeled and finely chopped)
3/4 C chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 C brown sugar
3 tubes 8 count cinnamon rolls
1/2 t cinnamon

How to:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 2 muffin tins

Peel and finely chop the apples.

In a medium bowl stir together the diced apples with the walnuts and brown sugar.

Divide the apple mixture evenly into the muffin tin. Put cinnamon buns, cinnamon side down, on top of the apple mixture. Put the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the muffin tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Put a clean baking sheet on top of the muffin tin and flip to remove the sticky buns.

In a small bowl, combine 2 containers of the vanilla frosting with the cinnamon 1 to 2 teaspoons of milk. Mix until very thick and of pourable consistency. Drizzle over buns and serve.

Chicken Taco Soup

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. You can make it stove top or throw everything into the crockpot and let it simmer for hours, thicken with masa paste before serving. It freezes great too!

What you need:

4-5 cups cooked chicken (I usually buy a rotisserie chicken and use that)

1 -16oz can black beans or kidney beans (or one of each!)

2 -10oz cans chopped tomatoes with green chilies

2 cups frozen corn

1 package taco seasoning

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 the taco seasoning. 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. Pour 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!

Pornography- The Epidemic Taking Out Our Families

be careful

3,564,591,201 Can you guess what this number might be?

This number is the number of internet searches for pornography since the beginning of 2015. As I put the digits into this post, the numbers continued to climb on my phone beside me, I can’t keep up.

Over the years we have seen many prominent members of the Christian community exposed for their involvement in pornography and adultery. Lives lived in darkness brought out into the light. Many of us were truly saddened; we were disappointed, disgusted. Unfortunately, many stood in pious judgment, almost enjoying being a spectator of someone elses demise.

It has been a reminder to me, that Satan really does prowl around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Even so, I also know that God will not be mocked. He will not allow His people, to on one hand proclaim His name, while on the other live in sin. It’s time to face it! Pornography is no longer the dirty little secret that hangs out in the back room of a seedy store. It is no longer just subject matter for the frat house, or boys locker room. It is here – in our homes, in our purses, at our desks, in our schools, in our back pockets and unfortunately it has made its way into our churches and pulpits.. It is as easy to access as our favorite recipe blog. It’s free, available and it’s not going away. The statistics are staggering.

  • Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
  • 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch pornography at least once a month.
  • 51% of pastors say internet pornography is a temptation
  • 1 in 5 mobile internet searches are for pornography.
  • 24% of smart phone owners admit to having pornographic material on their device
  • 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before they are 18. Most are exposed by age 12. Many are exposed at church youth group.

I could go on. The statistics only get more heartbreaking. So, as Christians what do we do?

It’s an easy thing to push aside uncomfortable subjects within the church. We hope to keep inappropriate things outside of our four walls. However, as the church becomes more compromised and Christians become weaker in their faith, these issues have to be addressed. To be completely honest, I am tired of the devil gaining ground and God’s people not engaging in battle. I am over sin being called a disease or sickness. It’s sin, plain and simple.

But there is good news! God has given us everything we need in His word and through the Holy Spirit, to defeat the schemes of the enemy. There is nothing that we can be tempted by that Jesus did not endure. “Well, He was God!” you say. Yes, He was. He was also God in the flesh, a man. He was open and vulnerable to everything that we are faced with today, and He has provided a way for us to flee temptation and overcome sin. It’s our choice as to whether or not we take the way out.

So, you may be reading this and be thinking to yourself. “It’s easy for her to say, she’s never dealt with this”; “People get sucked in by accident!”; “It’s the devil’s fault!”; “It’s an addiction!”; “She doesn’t understand how hard it is!”

No, I’ve never had to deal with this issue personally. But I’ve walked with many that have. As God’s people, we need to stop putting the blame for sin on others. We each have a choice- a free will.

Men:

It is a choice to type those words into the Google search bar. It is a choice to open that email. It is a choice to click on those pictures. It is a choice to look with lust at the woman walking by you on the street. It is a choice to flirt with the co-worker in the office. It is a choice to watch an inappropriate TV show or movie. I could go on. In all of this, there is a common thread- choice.

The comforting thing is, is that God gives us the greatest choice- His Word. When Jesus was confronted with temptation, He used scripture to fight. God’s promises are for us today! Ephesians 6:17 gives us clear instruction to put on the helmet of salvation. Guys, a helmet is not attractive, or fashionable! We use a helmet for a practical reason. The helmet protects the mind from wicked and corrupt thoughts and schemes. Once again, it is a choice to pick it up and put it on. God has provided, but you have to do your part. Once your helmet is securely in place, do what scripture tells you to do; FLEE!! We are never instructed to fight temptation. We are to RUN!

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

2 Timothy 2:22 “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Men, for the sake of your wives, children or future wives and children, do not let the devil steal your future. Put on the helmet and FLEE!

Ladies:

Yes, I’m addressing you too! Even though we tend to think that this is a male problem, we are not off the hook. I am not out to purposefully offend or ruffle feathers, but if I do that in the pursuit of truth, so be it. Before I get attacked for blaming women for mens failings I want to say this; we are not responsible for the sin of others. Men and women make their own individual choices. Their sin is their own. However, we are called to be responsible to each other as believers.

Galatians 6:1-3 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

We are to bear one another’s burdens, not just physically, but spiritually. So while we aren’t directly responsible for the choices of others, we are responsible to help in bearing their struggles. We are to do everything in our power to not aide in the falling of our brothers and sisters.

1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

This doesn’t only apply to just food and drink. It applies to anything that may cause someone else to stumble.

So ladies, in short, this is what I ask; please keep your short skirts, and low hanging tops at home for your husband. The only breasts and backside my husband should be seeing are mine!

Secondly, I find it quite alarming just how many women within the church that are exposing themselves to what the world sees as reality when it comes to marriage. We are bombarded by Fifty Shades of Grey style books and Bad Mom movies, and we seldom blink an eye. We enjoy the escape from our boring, humdrum lives. For a moment we are able to leave to demands of house and home and be transported into someone else’s world. We are allowed for a short time to let our hair down, and laugh at those things we’ve been feeling or wanting to say for years. The problem is, (other than the fact that they are completely wrong, distorted and against what God created marriage and motherhood to be), they are leading women into a sense of dissolution with their own families. Visions of ‘life on the edge’ cloud our minds and fills them with falsehoods. Husbands are no longer enough. We long for something daring and freeing. Eventually women find themselves in a place of detachment and discontent. Stop buying in to the fantasy, it will inevitably leave you empty and broken.

Ladies, fix your eyes on things above! Be thankful for the call that God has placed on you as wives and mothers. Find your contentment in Jesus! Ultimately, God is the only one able to squash the desires for things outside of your marriage that are not good. Once again, we have a choice. A choice, that even when we don’t feel like it, we love our husbands anyway. Even when we don’t want to, we are patient and nurturing to our children anyway. Please ladies, fall in love with God’s plan for you. His plan is good and right and will result in blessing.

Parents:

Lastly, I want to address parents.

Our children are in the middle of a battle; a battle for their souls. As their parents, we will one day stand before God and give an account for how we have raised them. That’s a massive and heavy responsibility. We can no longer stand back from our teenagers and give them their space. They need you to draw close now more than ever.

If you want children that serve God, you have to spend the time teaching them how. You can not give them a phone, laptop, tablet or any other device, and not expect them to discover pornography. Whether intentionally or by accident, it is a click away. They will find it, and it will pull them in. Please take the time to check your children’s devices. My children know not to expect any privacy when it comes to their online activity. I check their texts, their device history, and question them often on their viewing habits. We talk, a lot! My kids know they can trust me and my husband as their parents. Do not let anger with their behavior cloud the bigger picture. If your children think you are angry, they will hide. Hide both their activities and their hearts. Ask the Lord how you are to respond. Go to scripture with your children, show them what God says. Pray with them, hold them accountable, forgive them, love them.

It has taken me an hour to write this post. The pornography hit counter is now at 3,565,319,907 and counting. It’s time to step up, stop making excuses for sin, cast aside those things that hinder us, and be the Christian (Christ Ones) God has called us to be.

For those who are stuck in the mire, struggling with this issue and don’t see a way out; there is hope, forgiveness and healing. He loves you and has a much bigger plan for you than you currently see. Don’t settle for the scraps, when you are invited to the King’s table.

Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea”

Lord, help us to be your followers. Help us to be blameless in Your sight. Strengthen us for the fight ahead. Help us to get off the bench and on to the battlefield, to stand on truth and not believe the lies fed to us by the enemy. We are belong to You- help us to live like we believe it! – AMEN

Pumpkin Bars

It’s fun when you cook something that brings back wonderful memories of great times and special friends. This is a recipe I used to make a lot when we lived in Alaska and my husband, Jasen and I were leading the young adult ministry there. It was always a favorite! It feeds a crowd and is quick and easy. pumpkinbars_s4x3_lg

Ingredients:
Bars
4 large eggs
2C sugar
1C vegetable oil
1 can (16oz) pumpkin puree
2C flour
2t baking powder
2t ground cinnamon
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/2t ground ginger
1/4t ground cloves
Frosting:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese
1/2C softened butter
1t vanilla
2-3C powdered sugar

How to:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of a 15″ jelly roll pan. Beat eggs, sugar, oil & pumpkin in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in all of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spread in pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until slightly golden and springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely

Beat frosting ingredients together and spread over cooled pumpkin bars.

**These bars freeze really well. Layer them with wax paper and wrap well**

 
 

Prayers for the Battlefield by Heidi St. John – Book Review

Over the last three months I have had the privilege of being part of the launch team for Heidi St. John’s new book, Prayers for the Battlefield. I have followed Heidi’s ministry for quite some time, and as a fellow counter-culture mom I am always blessed by her encouragement of women to stand uncompromisingly on the truth of God’s Word.

In a day where we are short on voices that point us toward Jesus and the narrow road that He calls us to walk, I am thankful for Heidi and her obedience to walk that narrow road for the sake of the gospel. Heidi’s challenge to get off the bench and engage in the war for the souls of our children is much needed and vital for the advancement of God’s kingdom into the next generation.

In Prayers for the Battlefield, Heidi addresses many of the situations todays moms might find themselves in. From moms who are burdened by the challenges of the daily grind; to moms who struggle with their own short-comings; to the mom who just needs to trust God in the releasing of her arrows.

As I read through Prayers for the Battlefield I was encouraged, challenged, prodded, comforted and convicted. I laughed and I cried- yeah, I cried a lot! The personal stories that Heidi shares throughout each chapter are heartwarming, endearing and real. Each chapter ends with a prayer that is taken and adapted directly from scripture.

I love this book! I see myself reading it over and over as I continue raising my children to be world changers. My heart is to be the mom that passes along everything I have to the next generation, and to launch my arrows straight and well. I am so thankful that we don’t have to walk this journey alone, but that the Lord chooses to give us women such as Heidi who unapologetically walks in the calling He has given her.

We Don’t Have a Gun Problem- We Have a Parent Problem

Once again our nation is wrestling with devastating news, this time out of Texas. Another school shooting. And once again people immediately start demanding more gun control, more legislation, more security measures, more mental-health screenings. All these knee-jerk reactions are common in the wake of a tragedy such as this. But sadly, this type of horrible event is going to happen again. Why? Because we have a generation of parents who have relinquished the responsibility of raising their children to others.

We have a generation of parents who are convinced that their children need more things rather than more of their parents’ time in order to be content—and as a result, we have children who are ungrateful and believe they are entitled to whatever they want.

We have a generation of parents who have been told by a consumer-driven culture that in order to be successful, they need a bigger house, a newer car, and the most up-to-date phones. With that comes larger debt, strained schedules, and two parents working outside the home just to make ends meet.

We have a generation of mothers who are no longer content to stay home and raise their children. They have believed the lie that being a stay-at-home mom is not a noble and fulfilling occupation. As a result, children are farmed out to daycares and public schools, raised by strangers just so parents can pursue equality and self-worth through a career or position.

We have a generation of fathers who have decided it’s ok to leave their families in order to follow their own lusts and desires; all because sometimes family life is hard and the pressure is too much.

We have a generation of parents who are so tired and stressed out that they allow devices to babysit their kids.

We have a generation of parents who insist God be taken out of their everyday lives, but then want to blame Him during times of crisis.

We have a generation of parents who believe their teenagers want nothing to do with them, when the reality is they need them more than ever.

We have a generation of parents who are ignorant of the dangers of social media and the depth of their children’s involvement in it. “All the kids do it,” they say. “It’s no big deal.” Parents fail to see that oftentimes social media becomes an outlet for their kids because it’s somewhat anonymous, a place where our kids don’t have to face reality. Children find belonging and family among strangers rather than the people in their own homes.

We have a generation of parents who are content with the average of thirty-four minutes of meaningful conversation per week they have with their children. Yes, you read that right—thirty-four minutes per week!

 We have a generation of parents who sit in churches all over America being taught that it’s ok to fit in with the culture; that biblical parenting is now old fashioned, irrelevant and offensive.

We have a generation of parents who are overweight, tired, and unhealthy,  who simply do not have the energy to get out of their chairs and engage in activities with their children. Instead, they over-schedule their kids with activities so they don’t have to deal.

We have a generation of drive-through parents who don’t have time to cook meals, sit at the table, and connect with their children.

We have a generation of parents who have bought into the lie that they should be friends with their children instead of parents. Discipline has become abuse, and punishment is seen as an infringement on children’s rights. So children are being raised with no boundaries or limits, and as such, they are unable to handle disappointment or hardship. It’s nonsense!

We have a generation of parents who are so concerned with selfies, status updates, and sports scores that they don’t take the time to look up from their phones on the odd occasion that their children do try to engage them. I’m preaching to the choir here, folks!

Parents, we have to do better. We can no longer push the blame onto guns, schools, organizations, politicians.

Newsflash: our children are our responsibility. It is our responsibility to be intimately involved in their lives. We have to do whatever it takes to connect with them.

If it means downgrading our cars and our houses to lessen our debt, so be it.

If it means saying no to our children’s wants or activities so we can spend more time engaging in conversation as a family, then we need to say no.

If it means sacrificing material desires so Mom can stay home, we have to do it.

If it means pulling our kids out of school to teach them at home, we need to get over ourselves and do it!

If it means turning off our phones and placing them in a drawer so we can’t see them, then we need to turn them off!

If it means looking at your teenagers social media, email and texts, look at it! You pay the bills, don’t you?

We are losing a generation, and it isn’t anything’s or anybody’s fault but ours. Rise up, parents! We need to stop pointing the finger and do our jobs!

Lord, we need You so desperately as we raise our children in this day and age. Help us rise up and take responsibility. Help us put aside our own needs and wants, and live sacrificially for the children You have placed in our care. Forgive us for pointing the finger of blame at others, and help us do whatever it takes to engage with our children—love them, discipline them, and nurture them so they can grow to be the people You designed them to be. Amen.

Raising Kingdom Minded Kids

Parenting is hard. Being responsible for shaping future generations is a huge responsibility and oftentimes feels like an overwhelming task. So many things in our culture pull at our children, and as parents, we find ourselves simply trying to keep our heads above water and do our best.

Through the years I have had many conversations with other parents in regard to raising children, and it seems that we all struggle with the same basic questions: How do we get our children to be good kids when they are growing up in a godless society? How do we keep them in church? How do we get them to read their Bibles and pray? How do we get them to make right choices when they are faced with the pull of this world? How do we get them to walk with God?

The answer is, we don’t.

Now some of you may start preaching the biblical standards for training up a child and quoting the “spare the rod, spoil the child” scripture, but before you do, let me tell you where I’m coming from. I absolutely believe that the discipline and correction of our children is biblical and necessary. When they are young, it is imperative that they learn right from wrong, boundaries, and good manners and receive all the behavioral training that little ones need. I believe we should start teaching these principles early and be consistent with them. I’ve raised four little ones, so I know how it goes. However, once our children get to a certain age, and are able to make moral judgments for themselves, we need to start focusing less on their behavior and more on their hearts. If the hearts of our children are set toward the Lord, then their behavior will follow.

As a mom of teens, at times I find myself trying to control my kids’ decisions, actions, and responses rather than focusing on shaping their hearts. In doing this I encounter resistance and frustration from my children. This is not necessarily because they want to be rebellious, which is what we may naturally think, but because they are learning to walk out their lives independently with the Lord, and I am getting in the way! If our children are going to live in true and lasting relationships with Jesus, we have to step back and let the Holy Spirit convict and teach them—just as He convicts and teaches us. Our kids should not live to please us, their parents; instead they should live to please God. Out of love for Him should flow their obedience, respect, and honor for us.

Now I’m not suggesting that parenting will always be a bed of roses and we will somehow grow perfect children! Will our kids make mistakes? Yes. Will they cop an attitude now and again? Absolutely! Will they get discouraged? Yes. Will they make unwise choices that get them into trouble? Of course. Might they walk away from the Lord for a time? Maybe. But doesn’t this also describe us? There comes a point in time when our role is to disciple our children’s hearts and choices, not dictate their behavior. Our children’s relationship with the Lord is theirs, not ours, and it may look different than what we expected. Their lives may be led in a different way than we desired, and this is where we have to be reminded once again that we are raising arrows in order to release them. The key word is release! An arrow kept in the quiver has no use and will never be effective.

If our children are going to develop solid, real, and lasting relationships with Christ, we have to get out of the way. Our responsibility is to be quiet and allow God to speak so our kids can hear Him. If our children don’t learn to recognize the voice of God when they are young, then they will always be looking to others for direction and will likely be misled.

So instead of telling our children how to live, we need to show them by example. I recently read a quote by author and preacher Charles Spurgeon that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go—but be sure you go that way yourself.” How can we pass on something we don’t possess? Our children will look to us when they are young and become like us as they grow. We can’t expect them to become spiritual giants if we live lives contrary to the one we are telling them they should live.

We should pray with our kids! When they have a question, or when an issue arises in our homes, our responsibility is not to preach at them; we should go with them to the Word; go before the Lord together. We need to let God’s truth speak to their hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to bring change. He is on His own timetable, not ours!

Lord, help us shape our children into that which You have called them to be by getting out of Your way and trusting that You will guide, direct, and speak to them. May we find joy in the relationships our children develop with You. Give us Your grace to walk alongside them day by day! Amen.