Monday, September 27, 2010

HE is my constant!

I sometimes feel as if I'm living on an emotional roller coaster. Some days I'm up... some days I'm down. Some days I don't know where I'm headed or what direction I'm going. And then there are days that are just a little more 'ride' than I can handle. You know... the ones that make you sick!

Sick of life. Sick of work. Sick of people. Sick of doing. Sick of being...

I have days when I like everyone and everyone likes me... (or so I'd like to think.) And then those days when I wish I could be alone. Or maybe I just don't fit in. Or... maybe everyone else would like me to go away.

I have days when I feel like I do everything well. I feel confident. I can cook, clean, pay the bills, and get the kids to school on time. I think I look pretty good for my age. I feel good in a certain outfit.

Followed by days of feeling like I'm not good at anything at all. Like I'm a failure. I'm not a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend... or whatever hat I may be wearing at the time. Like I don't take care of myself the way I should. Nothing I wear fits or flatters me. I need to lose weight. Eat healthier. What am I teaching my kids?

Sometimes I feel like trying my best, being my best, and being a success.

And then the next moment... I think, "Why bother?"

There are days when I'm happy with exactly where I am in life and who I turned out to be. And then days filled with... 'if only's' and 'what if's' and 'why didn't I's'.

My thoughts... my feelings... my opinions about life. They may change every day, or every hour for that matter. They change with the circumstances or with the weather. I don't know how I will feel from one day to the next. But there is one thing I know for sure...

                   HE is my constant!

                                            God will never change!

He is the same YESTERDAY,
                                                                 and FOREVER!

God's Word tells me EXACTLY how He feels about me, what He thinks about me, and WHO HE SAYS I AM!

It just doesn't matter how I feel. It can NOT change the TRUTH of God's Word.

I doesn't matter what circumstances or challenges I may be facing... God still feels the same about me.

I can feel alone. I can feel far from God. But that won't change the truth that He will never leave me or forsake me. 

Someone may not like me... but that doesn't make me less in God's eyes. He loves me the same.

I may feel that I can't do anything. And while I can't do everything, it won't change the truth that I can do ALL things through Christ.  If He called me to it... He will see me through it!

You see... God loves me. God loves you. He sent His Son to die for our sins! How much more could He possibly do to show what we mean to Him? To show that He loves us. And yet so many of us doubt and wonder if He really does. How can this be?

It's because we're not spending time with God. Any relationship needs TIME and TOGETHERNESS or there is no relationship. (A post for another day...)

While God gave us 'feelings', our emotions should never be in control. They only serve as a guide. They can lead us in the wrong direction at any moment if we give in to them. We need to stick to the truth of the Bible! If our emotions don't line up with God's Word... don't follow them.

How do we know if our emotions line up with God's Word? Keep Christ at the center at all times! READ the Bible! Spend time in God's Word. Hide it in your heart.

You see... we can live a whole different life in our minds. Our perceptions can be distorted from reality. That's why God tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And the only way to do that is by the TRUTH of GOD's WORD.

My prayer is that we all would take time today to read God's word and spend time with Him. Let's not believe the lies our emotions tell us. Let's believe God instead.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Blog Re-Do

I'm trying to learn how to make my blog what I want it to be. Only thing is... I'm not exactly sure what I want it to be. My ideas could change at any moment... depending on my mood.

I guess I'm having a hard time trying to determine what is the most important part of the blog.

Should I make it appealing to others? Or appealing to me? You know... I want to attract readers. But I also want to like it and be drawn to it myself so I'll come back and write.

I see so many other blogs that are just outstanding. Crafty, colorful, homemade, professional.... you name it... it's out there.

I wonder how I will ever draw anyone to my own blog...

I guess deep down, I want my blog to reflect ME. I'm not really a girly-girl. I'm not very crafty. And when it comes to color and embellishments... I guess I'm sort of a plain-Jane. I like warm earth tones. Dark colors. No... I'm not gothic. But I like calm. Simplicity.

I am trying to learn new things in the blogging world. I'm trying to change my blog name for one. I want to change my URL. And I'd love to have a logo.

I bought myself some books on how to use the software I own... Dreamweaver and Gimp. I figure the cost of the books are much cheaper than the price of school itself. And I've been trying to learn a little each day. You know... learning was much easier when I had someone to MAKE me do it! But I will persevere! I am determined!

So.... there may be a few changes to my blog in the coming weeks. Hopefully for the good. And I'm sure a few mistakes as well. I may even begin to like some of the artsy-crafty kind of things. Who knows? The more I learn to do myself... the more fun and challenging it becomes.

I know I don't post enough... but I'm working on that too. Sometimes it's hard to decide what to do... post or learn? It's a learning process. Some days I just get carried away reading all of the great blogs I follow and the new ones I come across. They're so interesting!

I will keep working on my own blog. It's become sort of a personal challenge for me.  Can I do it? I hope you stick around long enough to find out!

Whatever I do... I will do it with all of my heart... unto the Lord!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hey Ladies! Women of Faith Writing Contest

Have you ever wanted to publish your own book? Well... I just came across the Women of Faith Writing Contest. I was so excited I just had to tell you about it.

Women of Faith is teaming up with WestBow Press to host this contest. If you win, you will have your story published and offered for sale at a Women of Faith conference.

Entries must be submitted by January 15, 2011. Seems like a lot of time... but I'm sure it will go by quickly. If you're interested, jump on over to their websites and see all the details and official rules for yourself. (Click on the blue links above.)

Happy Writing!
Mary Ann  :)

"Seeds Of Turmoil" by Bryant Wright

Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright is an excellent resource on the Biblical roots of the Middle East conflict.  The author takes you through the genealogy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the promises of God for their future generations. He also teaches about Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, Rebeka, Jacob and Esau... their faith and lack of it, their waiting on God and their impatience that led to 'helping God out' to fulfill His promises to them. And how all of their decisions led to the crisis that is still going on in the Middle East today.

For me, this was a very interesting book. At first I thought it repetitive, but after reading, I realized it helped me commit more to memory. I have read the Bible for years, read about all the people the author speaks of, and heard or read about the crisis in the Middle East. For the first time... I have a very CLEAR understanding of who these people are, their religions, the decisions they made and how those decisions affected the crisis in the Middle East and the fighting over Israel. This book helped to put it all together for me like never before.

Not only does it help in understanding Biblical history and genealogy, the Middle East and Israel... it has some valuable lessons to be learned as well. It teaches what can happen when we choose to go ahead of God or to 'help God out' as the author puts it. It teaches that our decisions can have an effect like we could never imagine. Maybe for generations to come. All in all.... I found some valuable information and great lessons to ponder. I would recommend this to anyone trying to understand Biblical history or the crisis in the Middle East.

Thanks for reading!
Mary Ann :)

*Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.-Thanks Thomas Nelson! :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"I'm Only Hurting Myself"... and other lies the world taught me.

I've heard that phrase so many times in my life. Usually by someone who is doing what should not be done... and does it knowing they shouldn't do it. That's their way of justifying whatever it is they want to do even though they know they shouldn't do it. They say "I'm only hurting myself." Are you following me? Good.

Do you know how I know this is true? Because I've done it. I've said it. I've had things in my life that I KNEW were wrong and yet did them anyway. Why? Because I believed that 'I was only hurting myself'. Or at least that's what I'd tell myself to ease the guilt. What a deception.

Does anyone agree with me? Is there any way that you can do whatever you please and not hurt anyone but yourself? Absolutely not! And do you know why? It's because you are not alone.

God sees. Your family sees. Your friends see. And it hurts them tremendously to see you hurting yourself. Besides hurting the people you love emotionally, there is a strong possibility that the wrong choices you make today will have a long term affect on their life as well. Maybe hurting them physically or by altering the direction or circumstances of their life.

For example...

I have seen my family through alcohol abuse as a child, and later through drug abuse as an adult. While either of these family members would be quick to say they were 'only hurting themselves'... I beg to differ. I don't recall a time more painful than those spent watching my loved ones destroy themselves. Emotional pain. It took away precious time with these loved ones that can never be replaced. It made them absent from our family... either mentally or physically. It altered our circumstances.

Then there's my mother. She has Emphysema. She has scarring on her lungs. She has trouble breathing at times. She coughs. She has mucus all the time. (Sorry, gross.) And there is nothing they can do to fix it or make it better. The thing is.... my mother doesn't smoke. She got it from second-hand smoke. Someone she lived with who smoked. I'm sure the person (people) thought they were 'only hurting themselves'. But in reality... they hurt my mother physically. I know it wasn't malicious or intentional. But it hurt her all the same.

And being a mom... let me tell you. I could not begin to list all of my bad decisions. The selfish things I did and then tried to justify it with "I'm only hurting myself". (Closely related to "Well... I'm not hurting anyone!") So not true! I bought the lies, planted them, and then my kids reaped the harvest. I made poor choices that altered the direction and circumstances of their lives.

Wrong choices have plagued us since the beginning of time. How were Adam and Eve to know that the selfish decision they made to eat the forbidden fruit would somehow affect not only them, but every person that would ever exist? I don't even think they had time to say "We're only hurting ourselves!" After all... they were the only ones there. Had they known... would they have made a different choice? I'd like to think so.

The Bible is full of examples of people just like you and me and Adam and Eve, who made decisions to follow their selfish desires. People who thought that what they did wouldn't hurt anyone but themselves... only to find the opposite is true. Take a look for yourself.

And now that you know that what you do can and will affect others... will you make better choices?

If we read God's Word... pray and seek Him... He will lead us. God's Word is a 'lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path'. Trust Him.

Until next time... Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Tip For Mom's With Kids in Diapers!

The information below is from the "Everyday Cheapskate" email newsletter from Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living. It stated that I could share this info... so I'm passing it along.

After raising six kids... and having two in diapers at the same time... I know how big of an expense this can be. I don't have any kids in diapers anymore.... Yay!... but I thought this might be helpful to those who do. And in this economy I think any money saved is helpful. 

"DIAPER DIVA. I get free diapers, plus $10 for doing surveys for diaper companies. Arquest, a spin-off from Johnson & Johnson, is one of the research companies that I use. It's as easy as calling to give your name, phone number, your child’s gender, weight and diaper size. They will call you when they have an opening. For girls, call 1-888-342-7372 ext. 646 to speak with “Georgia.” For boys, call the same number plus ext. 634 to speak with “Chelia.” Or simply press 9 when you hear the automated prompts to leave your information for the Diaper Survey. If you have not heard back in a month or so, call again. When they perform a survey for your child’s size, they will send you the diapers for free. Then, you fill out a three to four page survey and they set up a 10-minute phone interview. During your interview, you read through your survey answers. They are very professional. Then you receive a $10 check four to six weeks after you complete the interview. If you have more than one baby in diapers, you can participate in multiple surveys. Michele, Pennsylvania

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark"

Check it out! And, by the way, Mary Hunt's website Debt-Proof Living has a lot of great information on finances, being frugal and getting out of debt. Even if you get her newsletter... you will have some great tips and I'm sure you'll find something you can use.

Have a great day!
Mary Ann :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Best Homemade Soft Pretzels I've Ever Made

Oh... ok. So they're the ONLY homemade soft pretzels I've ever made. But they're still delicious! They taste like the ones you buy in the mall or one of those little pretzel shops at the grocery store. And they're incredibly easy to make.

My 10-year-old... 'Baby Boy'... was begging me to make homemade pretzels. It was our 'pajama' day, and I had been promising to make them for some time. I guess he was tired of waiting... and he went searching the internet for a recipe. He found this one from the Food Network, printed it, and we made them. They were great!

*This recipe is taken from but the photos are my own and added by... me. :)

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007

•1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
•1 tablespoon sugar
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 package active dry yeast
•22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
•2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
•Vegetable oil, for pan
•10 cups water
•2/3 cup baking soda
•1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
•Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds.

Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

We made whole pretzels and pretzel bites.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


David Crowder Band - How He Loves (Official Music Video)

This is such a great song! I love the lyrics. I could sing this over and over. And I sometimes do. David Crowder is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it.


God bless! :)
Mary Ann

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Perfect little devotional for women!

"LOL with GOD" is a great little devotional to add to my daily Bible reading. I like to arrive early to pick my children up from school each day... it gives me some much needed alone time and allows me to read my Bible (I keep a small one under my car seat). So I've added "LOL with God" to my Bible reading time. It's perfect for me. It's light-hearted, fun, encouraging. Not at all meant to take the place of Bible study itself... but it does give me a little lift in my spirit. Helps me set the mood before starting the rest of the day with my kids.

Each devotion includes a Bible verse, a short story related to the verse, a prayer to follow with other scrtipures and then is followed by an "LOL"... a short story that will most likely put a smile on your face. Anyway, I enjoy this devotional very much. It's well written and full of humor. I love these ladies!

As a bonus... this book has a lot of fun 'texting' info. LOL... for example. I try to keep up with technology as much as I can (Charles Stanly's advice for staying young... I need all the help I can get! LOL). So, while some of the verses were hard for me to decipher in the 'text' lingo, it was fun trying to figure them out. They do give the original verse at the bottom of each page to make it easier.

So there you go! Some great lessons shared with Biblical truth, by a couple of women just like us... sprinkled with a little humor to help keep us pointed in the right direction. I enjoyed it! I hope you will too!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

*Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. -Thanks Tyndale House!  :)


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