Monthly Archives: August 2012

Help a rescued girl: Agape International Missions

***Updated 8/24/12: In less than a week and a half, the $44,000 needed for the girls to have heart surgery was raised! PRAISE GOD!!! Keep praying for these girls and for this wonderful ministry! ****

A little over a month ago I discovered the organization Agape International Missions and immediately signed up for their email updates and joined their Facebook page.  Agape International Missions (AIM) helps rescue young girl from s*xual (I don’t want any weirdos on my page) slavery and also focuses on putting an end to child s*xual slavery.  You can read more about this wonderful ministry here.

Last week, on Facebook, I read an update about an urgent need for one of their rescued girls who is in need of heart surgery.  When I looked again today, I realized that her teacher on the AIM staff is also in need of the exact same surgery for the same affliction.  It will cost a total of $44,000 to provide this surgery for both of the girls and they need our help in raising the funds.

So far, $28,000 has been donated for the cause.  Praise God! Miracles can happen when you and I step up and make an offering to help save the life of a young girl and her teacher.  God has already supplied the funds – we just need to open our bank accounts and our hearts and give.

Most importantly, pray that people will be generous with their money and pray that the girls will have the surgery they need.  Pray that God will be glorified through this miracle and pray that many will be saved.

You can find out about this special urgent need and how to donate here.

Blessings,

Amber

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11

“Share with God’s people who are in need.” Romans 12:13

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Scrambled Eggs and Vegetables

I love eating a home-cooked breakfast.  My husband and I haven’t had cereal in over a year and a half and we have not missed it one bit.  I make a homemade granola recipe for days when I’m too busy to cook breakfast in the morning but most of the time, I will cook up something delicious.

This dish is something that I just came up with in an attempt to eat a healthier diet.  I don’t have any exact measurements as this is something you can easily adjust to your liking.

Step 1: Cook your bacon in the oven.  My oven runs a little hotter so I heat my bacon at 350 degrees for 17 minutes or until nice and crispy.  You can do this directly on a cookie sheet but for easier clean up use foil.

Step 2: Chop up your veggies into bite size pieces

In the above picture, I used a green bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini.  YUM!

Step 3: When the bacon has about 10 minutes left in the oven, start heating a skillet over medium heat.  I like to use my iron skillet to cook this meal.  And yes, I am easily able to cook eggs in my skillet with an easy clean up.  But it took a few months of seasoning before I was able to do this.  After it was properly seasoned, it was better than a non-stick skillet.  I will do a separate post talking about using an iron skillet.

Step 4: Crack your eggs in a bowl and stir with a fork or whisk.  You can also add salt and pepper at this time, but I do this on my skillet because it helps season the skillet.

Step 5: With about 4 minutes left for the bacon, melt about a tablespoon of coconut oil, butter, or bacon grease in the skillet.

Step 6: Add salt and pepper to your skillet if you are using an iron skillet. Add chopped vegetables and cook for about a minute or two.

Step 7: Add the eggs to the vegetable mixture and scramble.  Serve with bacon, fruit, or toast.

Ingredients needed (if cooking for 2):

4 eggs

1 bell pepper (I only used part of the pepper)

1 zucchini (I only used part of it)

1 yellow squash (I only used part of it)

Salt and pepper

coconut oil, bacon grease, or butter

If you give this meal a try, I hope that you enjoy it and let me know what you think.

Blessings,

Amber

 

Paleo: Chicken & Veggie Packets

It has been a crazy busy week – wow! On Tuesday, I had a job interview, and on Wednesday I started my first day of work.  I’m no longer a full-time homemaker. Now I’m a homemaker and a working gal. I also decided to start the Paleo diet on Wednesday – I’m not sure how smart it is to start a new lifestyle change on the same week you start working, but so far it has been totally worth the extra effort.  I’ll talk more about why I’m doing this later, but for now, I’d like to share with you a simple and delicious Paleo dinner.

For this recipe you will need the following:

  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • baby carrots
  • sliced mushrooms
  • 1 sweet yellow onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • aluminum foil (4 squares)
  • a mallet (to pound the chicken)

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Flatten 4 chicken breasts using a mallet to 1/2 inch thickness

Step 2: Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper and just a little bit of thyme.

Step 3: Chop onion and pepper (fajita-style) and place on top of chicken

Step 4: Throw on sliced mushrooms and baby carrots and add more salt, pepper, and thyme over everything.

Step 5: Wrap the foil and place on baking sheet to cook for 20 minutes or until juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through

Step 6: You can also throw this all together and save in the refrigerator for a few hours if need be.  I did this for my husband so that he could have a freshly cooked meal instead of leftovers. (He doesn’t get off of work until late and now that I have to be up early for work, I have to go to bed way before he gets home.)

Step 7: ENJOY!

I hope that you enjoy and if you are also doing a Paleo diet, leave me a comment and let me know why you are doing it.

Blessings,

Amber

Original recipe source here.

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Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

This delicious cookie recipe only uses 3 ingredients and takes less than 2 minutes to prepare and about 12 minutes or less to bake. These are my go-to cookies when I want something sweet in a hurry.  I’m enjoying my last peanut butter cookies today as I will be starting the Paleo diet tomorrow when I go grocery shopping (I’ll share more about that later). Here’s how you make it:

You will need:

  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of peanut butter

Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar and egg.  For some reason, using a fork works better than a spatula.

Step 2: Now mix in peanut butter

Step 3: Roll into balls of your desired size and place on ungreased baking sheet or baking sheet with parchment paper

Step 4: You can cook it as is or you can use a fork to make a criss-cross design.

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack or plate to cool for at least 5 minutes more.

I hope that you enjoy!

Blessings,

Amber

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Sunday Fun Day

First off, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be starting my very first blog series called (drum roll please): Marriage Reading Challenge.  For the next 38 days, my husband and I will be reading “The Purpose Driven Life” together.  It’s takes 40 days to read and is 40 short chapters.  I say for the next 38 days because we have already completed the first 2 days of reading.  Once a week, I will blog about what I’ve learned and how this challenge has helped our marriage.  At the end of the challenge, I will also write a book review.

If you are married, I hope you’ll think about joining me in a marriage reading challenge with your husband.  It can be any book you want.  After we finish the purpose driven life, we will probably pick different books in the bible to read and study together.  The purpose is, to spend time together.

Yesterday was just a wonderful and fun day.  We went to the 9am church service and our new friends joined us.  For the last year, I’ve been teaching 6th grade Sunday school and yesterday, I was able to attend my very own newlywed Sunday school class.

I stepped down from teaching because I realized that teaching was not the ministry I feel called to serve in (though I am still a substitute teacher). I also decided to step down from teaching because I haven’t made any friends in church and I knew that getting into a Sunday school class with adults my own age was going to be crucial to making some friendships.

I feel really excited about this newlywed group.  Everyone was working together to help the class run efficiently; someone was helping with taking roll and greeting members; a different small group brings breakfast each week, someone made the class announcements, 4 or 5 men signed up to teach a series over the new few weeks; another person was in charge of the Facebook information page; another was in charge of event planning; another was in charge of prayer requests/praises and sending out email to everyone.

Although the class was rather large, it meets in small groups, outside of church once a month or more, for more intimate fellowship.  I’m extremely excited about the group’s commitment to fellowship with each other – I think that is what my heart has been missing out on over the last year and I’m excited that God has led us here.  This Saturday, the entire group with be meeting for potluck dinner and board games.  My heart is filled with joy thinking about how wonderful the next year is going to be.

After a lonely and heartbreaking year, my heart desperately needs the fellowship with other believers, and I’m so thankful to God for answering my prayers.  If he had not called on new teachers to step up and fill my position as a 6th grade teacher, I wouldn’t be able to participate in this wonderful newlywed group.

So, uh, I really got off topic here for a minute.  Where was I? After our Sunday school class, my husband and I taught 2nd grade BLAST.  It’s usually really hard to teach back to back Sunday school classes, but being able to attend my own Sunday school class, made it so much better. I actually enjoyed being there.  We only have one more week left of teaching BLAST and then we will get an 8 week break until we start a new teaching rotation.

At one, our friends came over and I served sloppy joes and chips. It was a simple meal, but it didn’t take long to prepare. I don’t like spending a lot of time in the kitchen when guests are over.  After we ate we spent all day playing board games and had a blast.  My husband and his friend already know each other pretty well because they were in the police academy together and they are police officers on the same work shift.  But his girlfriend and I are still getting to know one another and playing board games was a great ice-breaker.

I’m so thankful to God for our new friends.  A few months ago, I was having a rough night and I felt incredibly lonely.  I prayed to God that he would give me a friend (we moved to a new town last year and it has been a struggle to make friends).  That very night my husband came home and said that his co-worker wanted to double date with us.  We had a lovely first dinner together and afterwards, I thought, we should invite them to church with us.  Before we could even get around to asking, they asked if we would be alright with them coming to church with us.  I was ecstatic.  God is so good!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend, and please come back and join me throughout the week for recipes, frugal decorating, homemaking, and more.

Blessings,

Amber

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17

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The World’s Best Therapist

In the last year I have suffered from the loss of three babies to miscarriage.  Although this has been the worst season of my life, I have grown closer to God during this time, because I have discovered the secret that I can talk to God about everything.  I don’t have to be afraid of God; Christ died so that I can have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and He desires to have an open and honest relationship with me.

For the first six years of my life as a Christian, I only talked to God in my prayers before meals, and at bedtime.  I pretty much had the same prayer every night, because I didn’t really know what to say.

In my 7th year of being a Christian, I have discovered the life changing secret to having amazing fellowship with God.  Last year, while going through my miscarriages, my dad encouraged me to read certain stories in the bible that would be helpful.  During the first miscarriage, I read the book of Job.  During my second miscarriage I read the Psalms, and during my third miscarriage, I read about Jesus agonizing in the Garden before his death on the cross.

While reading through these stories in the bible, I discovered that the people who were suffering, didn’t hide the fact that they were angry, depressed, or in pain from God.  I discovered that they were confident in being honest with God.  I realized that God is merciful and filled with compassion – he is always ready to listen and help us.  In fact, he delights when we go to Him.

I heard this wonderful tip on the radio one day about a man who would put a chair in front of him and sit and talk with God.  When he was dying, he had the chair next to his hospital bed, and when they found him passed on, he had his arm stretched out across the chair.  He was talking with Jesus when he took his last breath.

I turned off the radio after hearing the story, pulled out a chair, sat on the floor, and wept and talked to God.  It was therapeutic and reviving to share everything with God.  I told him all of my problems, my anxieties, my feelings, my fears for the future, and my hopes for the future.  I laid all of my problems at the foot of the cross, and God listened.  God held me.  God understood.  God cared and God loved me.

Even when I’m having a good day, I love to pull out that chair, and sit and talk to God.  Sometimes I feel silly about the things I talk about, but I have to remember that God loves to listen.  He loves me – he really loves me!

For father’s day, I was feeling really nervous about going to my in-law’s house.  All I wanted to do on that day was stay home and not think about the fact that I couldn’t give my husband a child.  I was feeling angry about having to go and I was worried that I would feel horrible after going.  On the way there, I realized that I could tell God about my worries.

The dinner ended up being a wonderful night of fellowship with family and I actually enjoyed being there.  God was faithful in making this a wonderful night with family.

I was nervous before the woman’s fellowship event earlier this week.  I decided to pray before the event, and God was faithful in allowing me to have a beautiful evening with the women of my church.

Today was my nephew’s 2nd birthday party, and again, I was nervous and worried about going. Yet again, God was faithful in blessing the event.

Though we did have a really good time with our family, my heart started to ache when we were singing “happy birthday” to my nephew.  My sister-in-law was holding him and smiling, and it just hurt my heart to know that I’ll never be able to do that with baby Abiygale, Matthew, or Hope.

When I got home, I went to the bathroom, and cried to my Heavenly Father.  I told him how much it hurt my heart and how much I desire to be able to experience the beauty of holding my child in my arms, singing happy birthday.

I can’t know why any of this happened to me, but I can trust that God has been and will be with me through it all.  I can trust that God grieves with me.  I can trust that God cares for me, and I can trust that God loves me.  I can trust that if I just keep fighting the good fight, and keep in the fellowship with the Lord, someday, I will make it home.

I apologize for the lengthy post, but if you stuck with me, I hope that it will encourage you to talk with God.  You don’t have to be afraid of God.  He desires to be your friend – you can share things with him like you do with your husband or your girlfriends.  He wants to help you through your problems and he wants to share in the joy of your victories.

Blessings,

Amber

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2 (NIV)

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Frugal Ideas to Save Money

When my husband and I first married, we realized pretty quickly that we needed to come up with a budget and learn how to cut back on spending.  Thankfully, I had spent months prior to our wedding, doing research on cooking and frugal living.

Here are some of the ways that we have cut back to save money:

1. Cell phones:

  • We reduced our minutes to 500 minutes a month.  My husband was worried that we would go over minutes at first, but we’ve never even come close to going over.
  • We picked the most basic phones that also happened to be free after a mail in rebate. (Speaking of: if you get a mail in rebate, make sure you use it. If you don’t use the rebate that is wasted money and it is so easy to fill out the information and put it in the mailbox.)
  • We cut out text messaging and internet and any other extras that are not necessary. I haven’t missed it yet – though my family and friends do complain. They got over it 😉
  • We save $70/month. That’s $840 a year.

2. Entertainment:

  • We got rid of cable. We save $80/month not having cable. Instead we use Netflix and if there is a show that I really want to watch, I’ll purchase it on amazon instant video.  I use swagbucks to get amazon gift cards (more about that later).
  • We rented movies from home instead of going to the movie theatres. We got lucky, however, and we get to see movies for free at the theatre because my husband is a police officer and they give officers for our city two free tickets.  It’s pretty awesome!
  • We don’t go out to eat unless it is a special occasion.
  • If we want to do something fun, we try to plan a frugal event. Last week we went window shopping and we also took a drive out into the country and looked at stars.
  • Staycation. It’s a vacation but at home! Basically you just do things that you normally wouldn’t do.
  • By not having cable we save $80 a month. That’s $960 a year!

3. Food:

  • Menu planning.  If I don’t get organized and plan a menu and grocery shopping list, I always end up spending more money.
  • Cooking and baking from scratch.  It was a little expensive when I first started just because I had to build up my stock and purchase kitchen supplies, but it paid off.
  • No fast food.  It might seem cheap, but it adds up quickly.  Plus, your health will end up costing you more down the road when you get sick.
  • My husband brings his lunch to work. (Sandwich, cookies, apple, carrots, trail mix, and a camel back for water.)
  • We don’t buy bottled water. We drink from the tap.
  • We don’t buy sodas – again we just drink water.
  • We don’t buy packaged items. Candy, chips, frozen dinners, etc. If I want something sweet, I bake it myself.
  • We save $300/month (possibly even more) by eating from home. That’s $3,600 a year!

4. DIY (do it yourself)

  • Homemade laundry detergent  = Savings of $10/month
  • Foaming hand soap = Savings of $2/month
  • Shredded cheese
  • Home decorations
  • I cut my husband’s hair = Savings of $30/month
  • Small car repairs (we have a friend that is very helpful with this)
  • We save about $42/month by doing things ourselves.  That’s $504 a year!

5. Household/Misc.

  • We keep the air higher during the summer and off during the winter (it doesn’t usually get cold enough for the heater in Texas.) We also unplug electronics that are not in use and make sure to turn off lights =We usually save about $30/month in electricity
  • We use old t-shirts as rags to clean instead of using paper towels. (I still buy paper towels, but I don’t use them as often. I buy a pack of 6 for $3 about once a month.) =Savings of $10/month
  • We are careful with gas consumption. I try to do all of my grocery shopping and errands in one trip.  = We usually save about $50/month or more
  • We cancelled our gym membership. = Savings of $40/month
  • We buy used clothing and other items second-hand.  I’m not sure how much we save because we generally just try not to shop and use what we have until we actually are in need.
  • We save about $130/month. That’s $1,560 a year!

Hopefully I didn’t forget anything here. By making little sacrifices here and there we are able to save a total of $622 a month.  When you add that up over the course of a year, we save a grand total of $7,464! That is a nice chunk of change. If you have debt to pay off, you can make a huge difference in just one year.

I also like to think, that if we continue to live a frugal lifestyle over the course of my husband’s career, in 30 years, we can save $223,920! That is amazing – don’t you think? You can help feed a lot of hungry people with that money saved. I LOVE IT!

Other frugal ideas:

  • Swagbucks. I started using swagbucks in October and I have since earned $25 in amazon gift cards. I’ve used my amazon gift cards to watch tv shows and even ordered food online. Instead of using google, you can use swagbucks as your search engine and you earn swagbuck rewards.  One you earn enough swagbucks you can redeem the swagbucks for prizes, such as gift cards.  You can check out swagbucks here (If you use my link, I can earn extra swagbucks – YAY!)
  • Cloth diapers. We don’t have a baby yet but when we do I will be investing in cloth diapers.  I’ll do a cloth diaper series in the future to talk about this great money-saving option and how easy it can be.
  • Making homemade baby food. Again, I don’t know much about this, but it will be something that I do when the times comes.
  • Second hand shopping.  Thrift stores, consignment stores & consignment events.  If you have young children, this is a must. They grow out of their clothing so quickly.
  • Clothing swaps: Here’s a post from one of my favorite Christian bloggers, Courtney at womenlivingwell.org.  She and her girlfriends had a clothing swap and it looks like a great way to get new-to-you clothing and also a great way to enjoy a fun night with the girls.
  • Selling items that you don’t want anymore: think eBay, Craigslist, garage sale, consignment shops and consignment events.

Now, I would like to add something from a spiritual perspective.  Sometimes I’ll refer to the frugal things that we do as sacrifices, but the truth of the matter is that we are so very blessed.  We have more than we need while many people in the world don’t even have clean drinking water or food to eat.  There are parts of the world where children die of starvation before the age of 5.

If you are ever lacking in motivation to live a frugal lifestyle, just remember that the choices you make with your spending, could bless someone else.  We have a lot of credit card debt, student loan debt, and medical bills to pay.  Sometimes when I am focusing on just paying off the bills, it can feel overwhelming.  But then I remember how truly blessed I am, and I remember that because I have been given much, I have a great responsibility to give much to others.  The sooner we take responsibility and pay off our debt, the sooner we can be more generous with what God has graciously given us.

I hope that this post will offer you encouragement to live a frugal lifestyle and if you have a story to share about how frugal living has given you the opportunity to bless others, please share it below in the comments, or email me at thefrugalwed@yahoo.com

Blessings,

Amber

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

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Women’s Fellowship Dinner

Every year our women’s ministry at my church hosts a fellowship event at the end of summer/start of fall. The theme for this year was “On the Dot: God’s perfect timing.”

I had been excited to go for months now as I very much enjoyed the food, music, and testimonies given last year.  A few weeks ago I had invited a family member to go with me and they agreed to go.  But when I called to see if they still wanted to go, they no longer were interested.

I was angry over it and I spent the rest of the day feeling sad for myself and debating on not going.  I enjoyed last year’s event but it was a bit awkward and lonely as I didn’t have any friends.  And I was nervous to go by myself again, because I didn’t know if I was going to have anyone to sit with or talk with.

An hour before the event, I decided to just pray about my worries and ask God to bless the event.  When I first walked into the fellowship hall, I was instantly nervous when I saw everyone sitting at tables and talking together.  I stood in line to get a salad and almost started to cry.  As I was getting my water, I bumped into an older woman who I had met at a grief recovery class.  We decided to sit together and it was nice to have someone who I knew and that I could talk with.

Then another woman who I’ve recently become friends with found us and joined us at our table.  After dinner, we all played an activity together, where we formed into smaller groups.  It was a way to meet new people and share experiences with one another about God’s perfect timing in our lives.  It was really fun and everyone was laughing and having a great time.

During the event, I realized that the nervous energy that I felt today was just the devil trying to stop me from going to such a powerful event.  I’m glad that I was able to go and I’m so thankful for the faithful members of my church and my women’s ministry for pulling off such an amazing night of fellowship.

The best part of the night was when an older woman gave a testimony of God’s perfect timing in her life and of His provision.  She shared 4 different events in her life, but I’d like to share two with you that blessed me to hear:

  • When her baby was 10 days old, her husband left her and her other small children.  She had to move to a different state to start working and wasn’t sure how it was all going to work out.
  • On the first Sunday at her new church she attended a financial freedom course and they talked about taking responsibility for debt and making payments on every debt that you have, every single month.  She didn’t know how that was even going to be possible but she wanted to be faithful to God and to take responsibility for her debt.
  • When she wrote out all of the checks for her debt that month, she discovered that she would only have $25 left for food.  Her hands were shaking as she placed the bills in the mailbox and she desperately wanted to take back just one bill.  But she was faithful and let go and trusted God.
  • When she got home, there were 11 grocery bags left on her doorstep.  No one knew who dropped them off.  (Do you have chills? I did! God is so amazing!)
  • She continued to speak of God’s faithfulness to provide for her and her children’s needs; throughout the year, people were always giving her extra food.  Sometimes people would even bring a meal to her family and then leave a $20 taped to the container.  How awesome!
  • This is my other favorite part of the story: her mother would take her two meals and she would cook them up and share the 2nd meal with others.
  • After a year, they had moved into a new house.  Right before Easter, she told her son that they had been so blessed over the last year and she wanted to do something to bless someone else.
  • Her son said that he wanted to leave groceries on someone’s door, knock on the door, and then leave.  They both agreed to go back to their old house, where the very same gift had been given to them.
  • As the reached the door, she could hear a mother playing with her babies in the room.  She felt so thankful for the wonderful memories she had caring for her own children in that house.  They left the food, rang the door, and drove off.
  • That Easter Sunday, she started to talk to a new member and asked where she lived.  It turns out that this woman was the very woman who lived in their old house and that had received the groceries on her doorstep just the day before.  It was a huge blessing to that mother!  TALK ABOUT A GOD MOMENT! How great is He!

I totally didn’t do her story justice, but I sure hope that you will be as blessed as I was to read about God’s faithfulness.  Trust in God and He will provide for you beyond your wildest imagination.  For nothing is impossible with God!

Blessings,

Amber

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Suffering: A curse or a blessing?

Losing three babies to miscarriage was heart breaking but one of the most difficult aspects of this journey has been the challenge of believing the word of truth or lies from the evil one.

In our culture, whenever something good happens we tend to thank God for the blessing he has given us. The blessing of a child, the blessing of a job, the blessing of good health, and so forth.

I often see Facebook status updates exclaiming, “We are having a girl. What a blessing – God is good!”

But how often do you hear someone say, “I lost my job. God is good!”?

We don’t often think of painful events in life as a blessing. In fact, when you are the one suffering in pain, you might feel as if you have been cursed by God. You might even feel as though God is punishing you and wonder why.

Satan is the great deceiver. He deceived Eve into eating that apple and he deceives many into believing lies that can damage our soul and turn our hearts away from God.  And he doesn’t come after you with lies when everything is going well. He tells you this lie in your worst moments of weakness – in the moments when you are broken – in the moments when you struggle to remember your worth.

I have fallen for his lies time and time again. I have foolishly believed the lie that God is against me instead of for me. I have believed the lie that God doesn’t care about me. I have believed the lie that I can never find happiness until I give birth to a child. I have believed the lie that says, “I have failed to have children. I am worthless.” I have believed the lie that I have suffered in vain and God has no purpose for my pain or for my life.

But the truth is that God is for me, not against me. God loves me. True joy does not come from our circumstances but from a loving relationship through Christ Jesus. The truth is that I am precious and valued to God – so much so that Christ died on a cross for me.  The truth is that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Every ounce of pain I have suffered and every tear that I have cried will be used for His glory. The truth is that, through Christ, I have a unique and holy purpose in this world – one that is not defined by my ability to conceive children, but by the work of Christ on that cross.

If you, my dear friend, are suffering in pain, please know that God is with you.  Don’t believe the lie that separates you from God. Trust in the truth that God loves you. God is for you. You are precious to Him. You are His unique creation and He has a purpose for your life. Cling to the cross and trust in His word. He will lead you with loving hands.

Dear Heavenly Father, I lift up in prayer my dear readers that you will give them the strength to endure the painful trials of this life. I pray that they will seek your will for their lives and trust in the promise of your word. I pray that they will know the value of their faith and the worth they have through Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Blessings,

Amber

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:7-9

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Linking with Courtney from women living well:

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Elmo Cupcakes and Cake

My nephew turned 2 years old today and we will be celebrating his birthday next weekend. The party was originally planned for this weekend, but the poor little guy was sick all Friday evening. I made the cupcakes and cake on Friday, but thankfully my in-laws have a big freezer in their garage to store the cupcakes until next week.

Supplies you will need to make Elmo Cupcakes:

  • Red cupcake liners
  • Cake mix (Or you can make it from scratch)
  • Red icing
  • Disposable Wilton piping bag
  • Wilton star tip (#21)
  • Orange peanut m&ms (for Elmo’s nose)
  • Oreo cookies (cut cookies in half for Elmo’s mouth)
  • Large marshmallows or white fondant (for Elmo’s eyes)
  • Black decorating gel (for eyes)

Supplies you will need to make individual Elmo cake:

  • 6 inch cake pan
  • Cake mix (or make it from scratch)
  • Red icing
  • Piping bag
  • Wilton star tip (#21)
  • Same items for Elmo’s face as cupcakes

I usually like to make everything homemade, but when I tested this out earlier in the week, I failed to get my icing red. It was a bright pink and it tasted horrible. I decided not to be such a perfectionist and to use store-bought cake mix and icing. I recommend looking for baking supplies at a Hobby Lobby or Michael’s craft store.

Here’s how to make Elmo cupcakes:

Step 1: Bake cupcakes (either from scratch or homemade) and allow to cool completely before frosting. I decided to go with a funfetti box mix:

Step 2: Prepare your frosting if making from scratch and put about 1/2 a cup into piping bag with Wilton star tip (#21). Twist the piping bag at the top and use one hand to apply pressure and the other hand to help guide you.

Step 3: Slowly and with careful control, apply light pressure. Make a star and quickly pull up moving quickly across the cupcake. (I used a cupcake icing from a can with the star tip because it was the only red icing I could find. It worked out really well!)

Step 4: Continue design until you have covered the top of the cupcake (I left a little cake showing around the sides so that it would be easier to pick up.) And, of course, I forgot to take a picture.

Step 5: Make Elmo’s face. If you are using marshmallows for the eyes, cut it into a round shape. If you use white fondant, roll it into a ball (I recommend this option – much easier. You can purchase white fondant at Hobby Lobby.) Use half of an oreo cookie for the mouth, and a peanut m&m for the nose. Draw black circles on the eyes using black decorating gel.

And there you have it: Cute Elmo cupcakes – perfect for a child’s birthday party!

They look so cute lined up together.

Now, for the Elmo cake:

Step 1: Bake cake in 6 inch greased cake pan (It took about 32 minutes to bake my cake. Use a toothpick inserted into the middle of cake and start checking at 28 minutes. When there are just a few crumbs on the toothpick, continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean, it is ready.)

Step 2: Allow to cool completely. Remove cake from pan and cut off the top of cake to make it level. Use a cake spatula or knife to spread read icing over the entire cake (the sides and top). I found it very helpful to use a cardboard box below the cake to help move it.

Step 3: Decorate the top of the cake using the same instructions from the cupcakes.

Step 4: Make the face. I made the white fondant eyes a bit bigger for the cake.

Use the cardboard box to help you move the cake in and out of the storage container. It is definitely not perfect, but I am happy with the results and I think my nephew will really enjoy this for his birthday party. If you give this a try, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Happy baking,

Amber

Linking up with Courtney from:

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