Monday, November 13, 2017

Redeeming Love

When I was in Texas late this summer, I asked my friend, Lei Ann, what her favorite Christian book was that she had ever read.  She immediately and without any hesitation said it was Redeeming Love.  I had never read the book, but I wanted to read it if it had been recommended by my dear friend.

I was able to take a wonderful trip to Hobby Lobby several weeks ago, and there at the check out stands were lots of great Christian books and devotionals.  Can I just digress and say how much I love Hobby Lobby? As I looked through those books, there was the book Redeeming Love sitting there front and center.  I snatched up the book and put it in my cart.

I usually read Christian non-fiction or sometimes biographies, but I really just wanted to not have to be an intellectual the next time I read a book.  I just wanted to get lost in a book, and this one sure delivered.  I started reading the book that same day and COULD...NOT...PUT...IT...DOWN!  I read the whole thing within the week.

The book is a fictional retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer.  If you have not read this story, it is in the book of Hosea in the Old Testament.  A short recap of this story is that God tells Hosea, a prophet, to marry a woman who ends up prostituting herself with other men.  The story is more complex than this, but it is a parallel God uses to show how Israel is not committed to Him anymore but how He still desires to redeem them due to His love for them.

The Redeeming Love story is set in the 1850s in the time of the California gold rush.  Michael Hosea obeys God's call to marry a woman named Angel who had been sold into a life of prostitution at a young age and to love her unconditionally.  The writer does a great job making subjects and situations which could easily be rated X in our day and age to a G or PG rating.  She gives you the idea of what has happened, but does it in a way which is not lewd, crude or too graphic.  I was impressed with this aspect of the book.   

At the end of this book, you will have an added depth of understanding of how forgiving, how loving, and how gracious is our God.  You will know at a deeper level how many times we as sinners turn our back on God and how He is long suffering with us.  You will have a better understanding of His redeeming love.  It is truly a great love story.

"Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods..." Hosea 3:1, NIV

Monday, November 6, 2017

47 Reasons I Feel Blessed On My Birthday

Today is my birthday!  Several friends asked me last week what I was going to do for my birthday.  I told them you reach a certain age when the birthday didn't mean as much as it used to mean. It was going to be a regular Monday after all with a blog post which I would probably procrastinate in doing which is exactly what I ended up doing. 

However, over the course of the day, as phone calls and messages popped up, I sure felt like I wanted to say how grateful I am for all of the things in my life.  47 reasons I am grateful today sounded like a good idea!

1.    I am alive
2.    My husband loves me.
3.    I was born in a free, democratic country.
4.    I truly have some really amazing friends.
5.    I get to say the name of Jesus without being put in jail.
6.    I got to eat huckleberry mocha cheesecake for dessert on my birthday!
7.    I am blessed to not be the smartest person in the room but to not be the dumbest either, usually.
8.    I am thankful God has blessed me with children.
9.    I am thankful for a roof over my head.
10.  I am thankful I have never gone hungry.
11.  I am thankful I live in a country where you can dream a dream and have the ability to achieve it.
12.  I am thankful I have a job.
13.  I am thankful I have a body that is functioning and able.
14.  I am thankful I can see.
15.  I am thankful I live in a state where I can buy a Montana Mocha which is a huckleberry mocha.  Yum!
16.  I get to read my Bible.
17.  I have a car.
18.  I just got to drive my car back into my garage yesterday after almost 9 months of a home remodel which displaced lots of items into my car spot.
19.  It snowed today!  Another reason I am glad to be back in the garage.
20.  My dog greeted me today at the door like I was the best thing since steak on a stick.
21.  My daughter, Lauren, told me there are no words to express how much she loves me today.
22.  My son, Nathan, told me he was thankful for all of the things I do for our family.
23.  I danced in my Oula class today.  Not well, but I danced nonetheless.
24.  I had a generous friend set up something for me today that I am busting at the seams to tell, but I can't yet.  I will soon though so stay tuned!
25.  I didn't have to make dinner, but instead got to pick where I wanted to go out to eat tonight.
26.  My family is healthy and well.
27.  I had a sweet talk with my mother-in-law today.
28.  I am thankful for my husband who I still really like and want to spend time with.  Hubba Hubba
29.  I have many coats to choose from to wear in these Montana winters.
30.  I LOVE my heating pad!  What would I do without my heating pad to keep me warm?
31.  I am excited to spend some of my birthday money on some fun things as well as things that I need.
32.  I have a heart which overflows with joy to the point I get a catch in my heart at how much I love my kids.  
33.  I am thankful for space heaters and wool socks.  Being warm is good.
34.  I am grateful to have a healthy relationship with my family.
35.  I am thankful for my church and my church family.  Talk about amazing people.
36.  I am thankful my church speaks biblical truth and not fluff.
37.  I am glad that God is always with me.  He will never leave me or forsake me.
38.  I am thankful for accountability partners who encourage me and push me to be better, always better.
39.  I like that I can sleep, and I don't suffer from perpetual insomnia.
40.  I once was lost, but now I am found.
41.  I am thankful that Jesus washed me white as snow.
42.  I am grateful that we have heat in our house, running water, and indoor plumbing.
43.  I am thankful I can walk.
44.  I am glad I have toes that are long enough to do what my family calls "cat toes" as well as turn off the faucet in the bathtub.
45.  I love having ideas.  I always have an idea or two.
46.  I love that my brother was the first person to text me for my birthday, and he has been for as many years as I can remember.
47.  I am thankful that I get to write this blog every week.  God has truly used it to touch so many lives which is crazy cool to be a part of what He is doing.  He is good.

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given." 
John 1:16, NIV

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fiesta Lime Chicken Soup

This soup is super easy.  It is also low-fat without losing any of the delicious flavor.  It truly is a family favorite.  

Add the following to the crockpot
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15 oz can chili beans, not drained
1 15 oz can Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 pkg taco seasoning mix or 3 TB bulk taco seasoning
1 10 oz can enchilada sauce
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
Add at the end of the cooking time
Juice from one lime
1/2 cup sour cream
Cilantro, optional
Chili lime tortilla strips, optional

Add all of the ingredients starting from the chicken breasts and stopping at the chicken bouillon cubes to a large crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  At the end of the cooking time, use two forks to shred each one of the chicken breasts until they are all shredded.  I shred the chicken breasts while they are still in the crockpot, but be careful.  It will be hot.  You can also take the chicken breasts out of the crockpot and shred the meat on a plate.  If you choose this method, make sure to not only add the shredded chicken back into the crockpot but also include any juice which might have seeped out onto the plate.  Add the juice of one lime and stir.  Add 1/2 cup sour cream and stir.  Heat another 15 minutes or so ensuring the sour cream is heated through in the soup.  Serve hot with cilantro and tortilla strips as toppings.

To make the soup more lean, you can omit the sour cream and the tortilla strips.  I hope you love this soup as much as we do.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Mighty In The Scriptures

There are just those times in life when you feel like God is trying to get your attention.  It is kind of like with you have a child, and you spend so much time repeating the same thing over and over again.  You wonder if they will ever catch on.  I wonder if that is how God feels with me sometimes.

I have been thinking about and wanting to start doing some scripture memorization again.  My friend, Anita, and I used to memorize one scripture verse a week.  We could pick out any verse that we wanted.  On Fridays, we would call each other and recite the verse we had memorized to one another over the phone.  I cannot tell you how many times I took her verse or she took mine to memorize for the next week.

I will say when I remember scripture verbatim, it is usually one of the scriptures I learned when I was doing it with Anita.  There was accountability there so I couldn't cop-out, not call or flake out.  We did eventually fizzle out after about a year or more, but it was really such a productive time for me.

Psalm 119:15 (NIV) says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  When you have God's Word in your heart, it is easier to speak truth to yourself and others in the hard times.  It is easier to see and understand the truth when it is presented or whether it is a lie if we have God's Word written in our hearts.

I am currently in the process of trying to get my Biblical Counseling Certification.  There are so many scriptures I would like to memorize which will be used over and over again as is the nature in counseling, and I would just love to have a lot of those scriptures memorized. 

Two or three times this week, I have come across the reference of being "mighty in the scriptures".  That verse comes from Acts 18:24 which talks about Apollos being an eloquent man, and the fact that he was mighty in the scriptures.  Stephen, before he was stoned to death, was speaking in front of the Sanhedrin, and he quoted the Old Testament from Deuteronomy to Isaiah to Amos by memory as he spoke to those men.  In fact, I love what it says about him in Acts 6:9b-10 (NIV) which says, "These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke."  

Are most of us mighty in the scriptures?  I imagine that the majority of us are not, but it would be good if we were.  If I am having a tough day, it is good to know that God will never leave me or forsake me as in Deuteronomy 31:8.  When one of my kids does not seem to be remorseful about what they have done, I can talk to them about the difference between Godly remorse and worldly remorse as in 2 Corinthians 7:10.

It can be debated on whether or not the verse is more important than the reference.  I have heard both sides of this argument.  While I do think both are important, I think the most important part is the verse.  Jesus quoted scripture to Satan and did not quote where it came from and neither did Stephen.  I will be memorizing both, but I just try to not be so hard on myself if I forget the reference, because I believe that the verse is the most important part.

So, how do we become mighty in the scriptures?  We have to read God's Word, meditate on God's Word, and memorize God's Word.  You can find a friend like I did who is interested in doing accountability in the area of scripture memory.  You can memorize a verse a week, or I have even had friends who memorized a chapter at a time with friends.  There is also a great app I heard about from a friend called "Scripture Typer" which helps you to memorize scriptures better and keeps track of your progress.  I think I am going to try out the app to see how it works.  Let's all be motivated to be mighty in the scriptures!

"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord;  and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord..." 
Act 18:24-25, KJV

Monday, October 9, 2017

Madison Got Engaged!

I have some big news!  Some of you may or may not have seen that my daughter, Madison, got engaged.  Can you believe it?  Be still my heart!

She has been dating a young man named, Jordan, for about a year.  They have been talking about marriage for a while which so far we have been able to encourage them to hold off for a little while until they are older and more ready financially.  So, they have slowed their marriage plans out till next summer.

Jordan came to our house to ask Carl's permission to marry Madison.  I heard a knock on the door and got up to see Jordan standing at the door.  I went to the door expecting to see Madison standing there which him, but she was not.  I could tell that Jordan for upset or shaken up about something.  I was actually worried in the moment that something had happened to Madison, and he had come to tell us.

I asked him where Madison was.  He said that he was there to talk to Carl about asking permission for Madison's hand.  I have to admit.  It was quite a shock to me.  My baby girl!  How could this be happening? 

Carl was actually not home, but was off hunting with his friend.  I knew he would not be home until dark, and we were a couple of hours away from dark.  Jordan and I started to talk, and we ended up talking for two and a half hours until Carl arrived home.  I asked him every question I could think of such as how he was going to provide for her, God's calling on his life, and how he was going to push Madison out of her shell when she wanted to be introverted.

We talked and talked.  As we talked, I realized something which I had realized before as well, but I realized it in a more profound way than I had before.  There are some things which Jordan does which are a lot like Madison's dad, Carl.  He has the same tender heart like Carl has.

At some point in the conversation, I told him that he reminded me of Carl.  Jordan said that Madison tells him that all the time.  I was truly touched and thought it very endearing that Madison has gone out and chosen a future spouse who is like her very own daddy.

When Carl came home, he saw Jordan but also began to look around expecting to see Madison.  Carl said, "Where is my Madison?"  That is when Jordan told him why he was there.  Carl did give his permission after getting over his initial shock and after some more discussion.

Jordan did insist that he wanted to do Christian pre-marital counseling and financial counseling with Madison before they got married.  Carl and I wholeheartedly agreed.  Our pastor and his wife will be doing the pre-marital counseling, and Carl and I will be doing the financial counseling with the two of them. 

Are you ever truly ready for that moment as a parent?  I can honestly say I really didn't want to tell anyone about it right away, because it was too emotional for me.  I bawled like a baby after my brother got married, because it was the end of an era.  Here I am looking at another end of an era square in the eye. 

This has been a season of so much change with Madison from her graduating high school, moving out on her own, starting college and now getting engaged.  Last week I held her hands and gazed into her eyes.  I let her know it was just a lot of change in a short amount of time, and I was trying to catch up to where she was.  I just needed a little time.  

Would you join me in prayer for the next many months as they go through their counseling, wedding planning and the like?  I pray it will be a growing opportunity for both of them, and that they will always keep their eyes on Christ.  I pray that they will grow in their relationship with Him through this process.  

Will you please pray for the parents too?  Jordan shared with us last night that his mom has been crying a lot trying to get used the marriage idea.  I don't think I have cried, but it is a lot to wrap my head around.  I am excited about the wedding planning part, but sad about the approaching end of an another era.  She is my sweet Madison after all!

"Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Please Get A Carbon Monoxide Detector

Last night was a little scary for us.  Lauren was in the throes of getting ready for bed.  Carl was cleaning his gun in the living room.  I was doing the dishes.  It was a typical night at the Daggett abode.  

We starting hearing a beeping sound which didn't really sound like the smoke alarm, but I assumed it was because of the beeping.  We have smoke detectors which are wired into the house, and when one battery goes out, it will sometimes make one or more detectors on the system sound.  So, I really was thinking maybe it was that.

Carl set out to find the source of the sound.  We have two carbon monoxide detector plug-in units with one downstairs and one upstairs.  Carl discovered it was the downstairs unit sounding its alert sound and not even a minute later the upstairs unit started going off.

We have had the battery go out in one of the units before so that was our first thought, but when the other unit started going off, I knew we most likely had a problem.  The units were bought separately and do not communicate with one another so I knew if they were both going off, they would have to be really be detecting carbon monoxide in the home.  

Carl took one the units outside in our backyard, and it stopped alarming while the one in our house was still going off.  I called 911, and they told us to close up the house so the fire department could get an accurate reading and to leave the house which we did.  The fire department was there within 5 minutes and took readings.  The reading was 67 when they got here, but I believe it was probably a smidge higher since Carl & I had opened the windows and door wide open for several minutes before we called 911.

The 911 dispatcher called our utility provider who sent out a service tech to come take readings.  We had to open up every window in the house, turn on the ceiling fans, and turn on any vent such as bathroom fans and the vent-a-hood until the house got down to a 0 rating. 

While we waited for the house to get down into the 0 range, I asked the service tech how much carbon monoxide was normal in a home or acceptable.  He said, "Zero."  I then asked him about our readings and whether they were low or high.  He said while raising both of his eyebrows that it was a "significant amount".  

Once the house got to a reading of zero, we closed the house back up, and he began to take readings again to try to see where the level was building up.  We have been told twice (once from our home inspector when we moved in and once from an energy audit we had done on our home) that our water heater emits a small amount of carbon monoxide which we were told was OK as long as it was vented properly.  The water heater was indeed the culprit.  It went from 0 to 6 to 12 within only a few minutes and just continued to climb. 

So, the service tech turned off the water heater and tagged it.  We are not supposed to use it until we have someone come look at it.  It is either done for and a new one is needed, or it is not venting properly to the outside of the house which would mean the vent needs to be cleaned out.  There could be a bird who made a nest in there, for example.

I went to sleep last night knowing that we were safe, but still wanted to crack the windows in each of the bedrooms just to be on the safe side.  I also knew those detectors worked, and they would work again if something else happened.  Carl and I both had been really tired yesterday which is not too abnormal for our lazy Sunday afternoon, but last night we both had taken some Tylenol for a headache within an hour of each other.  I don't know if it was related or not to the carbon monoxide, but it sure makes me wonder!

What would we have done if we had not had those alarms?  We would have had no idea.  Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas.  We would have tucked Lauren into the bed, and we would have gone to bed with a headache and not known why.  The levels were probably not high enough to make us really sick or kill us, but over time how much would have built up in our home without us knowing?

It just made me realize that carbon monoxide is not something to play around with, and I was so grateful that we had those detectors.  As of 2013, Forbes magazine reported that 20,000 to 30,000 people get sick from carbon monoxide and 500 people die from it. 

So, I just wanted to write this blog today to encourage you that if you don't have a carbon monoxide detector, please get one.  They really are very affordable, and they really do keep your family safe.  I am thankful today for God's protection and for those little carbon monoxide detectors.  I have posted two links below for your convenience to click on, if you are interested, to order a carbon monoxide detector for your home.  I am not affiliated with any of these companies or brands, but we have the First Alert brand so that is the brand I am recommending.  It sure worked for us.  God bless!
You can buy a two pack of First Alert brand through Wal Mart for about $30. Click here
You can get a single one from Amazon for about $15. Click here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tres Leches Cake

Oh my word!  This Tres Leches Cake, which in Spanish means 3 milks, is absolutely one of the best cakes I have ever had.  It is called 3 milks, because you use 3 different types of milk to soak into the cake.

I cannot take credit for this recipe.  I use the recipe from The Pioneer Woman's cookbook1.  I love to make it when we have Mexican food for dinner such as tacos or enchiladas.  This is a multi-step recipe where you actually make the cake and the whipped cream topping from scratch, but don't worry.  It really is super simple.  I promise.

Tres Leches Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/3 cup milk (The original recipe calls for whole milk, but I use 2%.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 14oz can evaporated milk
1 pint plus 1/4 cup heavy cream
Maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 13x9 inch baking dish. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.  Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, reserving both.  Add the egg yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar to a mixing bowl.  Beat with a mixer until very light in color.

Add the milk and vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture.  Beat until just combined.  Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently to combine with a spoon.  In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.  Add 1/4 cup of the sugar then continue beating until the whites are stiff but not dry.  

Gently fold the egg whites into the bowl with the other ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix, but stop just short of everything being totally mixed together.  Spread the batter in the baking dish and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely in the pan.

When the cake is cool, invert onto a platter.  I use a Tupperware sheet cake container.  Poke holes in the surface of the cake with the tines of a fork.  Combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup of heavy cream together.  Pour the milk mixture very slowly and very carefully over the entire surface of the cake including the edges.  Most of the liquid will be absorbed but some liquid may ooze out, but this is normal.  I use the back of a large tablespoon to corral the liquid and spread it where I want it to go.  Allow cake to sit for 30 minutes to absorb the liquid.  In a medium sized bowl, beat 1 pint heavy cream with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick.  Spread it all over the top and the sides of the cake.  Decorate (if desired) with maraschino cherries.  I drain the cherries for several minutes on a paper towel so the cherries will be dry and the cherry juice will not run all over the top of my cake.  I usually put the cherries in a 4x5 grid or a 5x5 grid pattern making 20 pieces or 25 pieces of cake respectively.  Keep leftovers refrigerated.  This cake is even better the second day!

This cake is so delicious.  I invite you to try it.  You may just fall in love. 

Enjoy, Andrea

Copyright 2017

1 The Pioneer Woman Tres Leches Cake recipe