Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 7: Another Butterfly

"Isn't it beautiful, Mama? Can we catch it?" Kate asked.

"Uhhh...I don't think we can catch it, honey. It's too fast," I said.

"Where's it goin'? To its home?" Kate queried.

"I don't know. Maybe," I said as we watched the beautiful orange, black and white butterfly from a distance.

"We have to be quiet, Mama," Kate told me. Could she tell I was new at this?

"Why do you think God made this butterfly, Kate?" I asked.

"I dunno," she shrugged.

"So we could experience its beauty and wonder, maybe? So we could know that God is a God of beauty and creativity who loves us and wants us to experience beauty, too?"

"Yeah!" Kate eagerly agreed.

"Kate, did you know you are more beautiful than this butterfly?" I asked. "You and Cora are much more beautiful. God shows me His love of beauty in you and Cora every day."

Do you see the beauty of God in your children? He made them for you to love and enjoy and to show you that He is a God of beauty.

Day 6: Daylilies

[Note: This is yesterday's post. I apologize for the tardiness.]

Kate, Cora, and I sat outside on the front porch. I suggested no talking for one whole minute so that we could listen and look for God. The eight-month-old, of course, was excluded. For about 50 seconds, Kate sat quietly, without moving.
But by then she'd had enough and announced, "Let's not be quiet anymore."

So, I asked her, "Did you see God or hear Him talking to you?"

"Yes, Mama," Kate said, "He's right there!"

"Where?" I asked, wondering what she was pointing at.

"Right there!" she insisted, getting up and walking over to the edge of the steps.

"In the flowers?" I asked.

"Yes, Mama. In those beautiful green flowers," she announced matter of factly.
These are the green flowers she was pointing to. She was actually pointing at the stems and leaves, but the flower was too beautiful not to photograph.

After a brief discussion of the beauty of flowers and why God might have made this particular kind, my energetic toddler began running in circles all over the yard. That is the attention span of a two-year-old.

Where have you experienced God today?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Faith: "A Necessary Virtue" in the Midst of our "Changing Moods"

"Now the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods."
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Do you have what C.S. Lewis calls "changing moods," where one day you doubt with every ounce of your being that God exists because, well, it just seems so improbable? You can't see Him. He doesn't always seem present. You don't get the response you want when you "pray without ceasing." It seems easier to not believe and just live life the way you want.

But then your mood shifts. God answers that prayer. You feel His presence once again. You get a pay raise and life is good. Suddenly you cannot imagine not believing in Him. How else can one explain the duckbill platypus?

If you're a living breathing human being, then, yes, you succumb to "changing moods." Your wavering moods rebel against your real self and make you second guess your reason for believing in and following Christ. And that is why, Lewis wrote, that "Faith is such a necessary virtue" (125). Without faith, we risk floundering between belief and unbelief depending on which side of the bed we wake up on. Our moods can control us if we don't control them, and that is where faith comes in.

Faith provides stability, security, and certainty, which are vital, especially on days when everything seems to go wrong. For if we, through our reasoning, have found that we believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, then no matter what mood we find ourselves in, we will hold firmly to our faith because we know with certainty that Christ and His kingdom will never pass away. Then, despite our fickle nature, "by faith [we will] stand firm" (I Corinthians 1:24). That certainty gets us through the dark and lonely times.

I know that for this stay-at-home mom of two small children, my moods are ever-changing. Many days it is only because of my faith that I don't throw in the towel. My faith in God's promises keeps me on track on days when the kids are inconsolable, the floors are caked with food, and there are no clean dishes and nary a diaper in the house. Faith keeps me truckin' on because I know there is something much greater, much more wonderful, in store.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Day 5: A Bird Singing in the Midst of a Storm

It was 5:30 a.m. Thunder rumbled outside, shaking the house. The baby was crying, and the rain poured down so hard, I could almost see the weeds growing in our garden. The power had gone off, and Daniel was getting ready for work in the dark. I said a little prayer as he showered, fearful of the lightening. I couldn't sleep. Thunderstorms always terrify me, especially living in Middle Tennessee, where tornadoes pop up in a moment's notice.

But then I heard a beautiful sound rising up amidst the booming thunder and pounding rain. It was a bird, and it was singing in the tree right outside my bedroom window. Not a frantic cry for help but a sweet melodious song shut out the clamorous noise outside and filled my entire being with peace.

It was God.

I knew it as soon as I heard the "chirrup chirrup chirrup." He was speaking to me through the music of His creation, calming me, easing my fears, and assuring me that everything was going to be all right.

And it was.

Shortly thereafter, the baby stopped crying, and we both drifted off to sleep.

Sometimes God appears when we least expect it to show us that He is there with us even when we are scared and feel all alone.

Sometimes God doesn't just want us to look for Him; He wants us to listen for Him.

Thank You, God, for speaking to me through that little bird today. Thank You for taking away my anxiety and filling me with peace.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 4: White Butterflies

My daughter returned from her grandparents this afternoon, so while baby sister napped, we resumed our search for God in the backyard. Kate saw this beautiful white butterfly fly by us while we sat on the iron rocker out back, talking about God.

She jumped up to chase the butterfly, but it fluttered quickly away.

We walked around the house talking, listening, and looking. Kate kept asking me, "Where is God?" And we talked about how God is everywhere: in His creation, in the dirt of the ground, even in us. Kate was intrigued by this idea of God being inside her. She didn't quite grasp that idea, but then again, neither do I.

Then it happened. That pretty white butterfly took a chance and flew right past us, alighting on my lavender bush.

"Mommy, mommy, look! The beautiful butterfly! It's God!" My two-year-old daughter said.

And she was right.

Where did you and your children see God today?

Are you taking the 30 Day "Come & See God" Challenge? Share with us what you are discovering and learning about our Creator and Sustainer.

Top Ten Ways to Use up a Squash Surplus

Squash, squash, and more squash. What does one do when the squash come all at once? Here are my top ten ways to use up a squash surplus:

(1) Fried squash. A classic Southern dish, fried squash is my favorite way to fix squash. There's just something about crispy-fried-cornmeal-covered squash that takes me back to my Mama's cookin'. I usually fry up some squash with pinto beans and cornbread. You can't get much better than that!

(2) Boiled squash. Do people still boil vegetables? I still have vivid memories of mushy, boiled-to-death yellow squash, no chewing required. You just let that stuff slide right down your throat. Ugh. But Daniel's grandmother boils her squash just right, adding some canola oil for good measure. Boiling squash is also good for making baby food. My eight-month-old loves her squash boiled, steamed, and roasted.

(3) Roasted squash. Tonight I roasted chicken for supper and while adding the vegetables, I thought, "Hmm...why not some squash?" So, after roasting the chicken for about an hour, I added sliced squash, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, onions, and peppers and poured chicken broth on top. Add some crusty bread and that is a meal in itself. Our family, including the two-year-old, ate it up!

(4) Grilled squash. While you're throwing steaks or burgers on the grill, why not add some squash kebabs? We like to cut up some squash, zucchini, peppers, and onions; toss to coat with olive oil; and add salt and freshly ground pepper. Then, put them in a grill basket or skewer them and put them on the grill until fully cooked. You can also cook the vegetables first, but we just throw 'em on the grill. There's just something about grilling vegetables that brings out their natural sweetness. Easy and good to eat.

(5) Sauteed squash. We love pizza, so I thought, "Hey, why not put some squash on there too?" So, I sauteed squash, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil, loaded them up onto homemade pizza dough, and topped it with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. My husband and I loved it! Delicious!

(6) Squash casserole. Honestly, I have never made squash casserole because I try to stay away from condensed soups, which most recipes call for. However, when we have potlucks at church, it never fails that some sweet lady has prepared squash casserole, and, yes, I pile it on. I like Paula Deen's recipe (no condensed soup) and think I'll try my hand at it soon.

(7) Yellow squash pie. Sounds pretty gross, huh? I found this recipe in my White Trash Cooking cookbook. (I love this cookbook for its photography and unique recipes.)

Ingredients1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup steamed yellow squash, mashed
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ginger
3 eggs
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell


(1) Add sugar, salt, and spices to squash and mix thoroughly.
(2) Beat eggs, add cream, and mix with salt.
(3) Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.
(4) Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Then, lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.
I must confess that I have never made this recipe either, but I am intrigued. I'm thinking it must be a lot like pumpkin pie. Maybe we'll give it a whirl if the squash keeps flooding in.

(8) Squash frittata. I found a recipe for zucchini potato frittata in Andrea Chesman's Serving up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables, which looked delicious. However, I intend to modify it to use yellow squash instead of zucchini. Chesman made a good suggestion: To get the most flavor out of squash, sprinkle salt on sliced or grated squash, and let it set for 30 minutes. When I used this technique, I found that there is a LOT of water in squash.

(9) Make squash geese. Yes, I went there. Someone who has a lot more creativity than me has come up with a unique way to decorate the table using two yellow squash, a small carrot, and two cloves. If you're crafty, you might consider using your surplus squash to make a tablescape and then turn those squash geese into soup!

(10) Give it away. This past week we picked over a dozen squash. I gave half to my mom and what we didn't use, we took to church and gave it to whoever wanted some. There are always people willing to take fresh homegrown vegetables off your hands.

What do you do with your excess squash?
This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Things I Love Thursday.

How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Money

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

I Timothy 6:10
We all know that money in itself is not evil; it is the love of money that causes problems. There is nothing wrong with having money, but when we put our wealth and possession before God, when we feel empty and fearful because our money for the week is spent, when we envy a friend who always seems to have new clothes or the latest gadgets, when our grip on money is so tight that we can't even spare a quarter to a man at Aldi who needs a shopping cart yet we easily drop half our weekly allowance on "stuff" for our kids, then we know we have an unhealthy relationship with money.

Yeah, that's me. And, yes, I did turn that man down when he asked me for a quarter. I am blushing now as I type this because of my stinginess, selfishness, and perverse views of money. But, thankfully, God has blessed me with a generous husband, who rightly shamed me for not helping someone in need, and who reminds me every day in subtle ways that the money we have is not ours; we are only stewards of what God has chosen to bestow to us. Thankfully, God is changing me, too; He is transforming my mindset about money.

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless."

Ecclesiastes 5:10

When I was younger, I never worried about money. I was blessed to have everything I needed, and any money I made working was for my personal use. I didn't save my money but spent it frivolously on entertainment, books, and new clothes. Spending money felt good. It gave me a sense of independence knowing that I could buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I was very fortunate, I know.

But when I got married and no longer had my parents' financial backing, my feelings about money shifted, especially when I stopped teaching to stay home and raise our children. That is when I began to realize my dependence on money for security. Without my own income, I felt dependent, weak, and fearful. On days when I felt the loneliness of the stay-at-home mom, I would drive to Target just to spend money, somehow hoping to feel better about myself. Yes, there was instant gratification after making my purchases, but as soon as I got home, I would feel guilty. Call it buyer's remorse if you want, but it was more than that; I knew I was trying to fill a void inside that only God could fill. Still, instead of turning to the Lord, I would turn to shopping.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5
After spending some money that my husband had allotted for us to buy new bikes, I knew my spending habits needed to change. My security lay in having money and being able to use that money for things I honestly believed my children needed. No, I wasn't spending our money on things for me but for the kids. Have you done that? It was easy for me to justify spending money on them; they could always use more clothes, books, and educational toys, I thought.

Can you relate? Isn't that what moms do? We want more for our kids; we want them to have it better than we did; we want to give them what every other kid has. They deserve it, right? Wrong! Our children deserve our unconditional love and their basic needs (food, water, shelter, and clothing) being met. That is it. Everything else is fluff. And when we give them fluff all the time, they come to expect it until there is no more fluff to buy because they already have it all. (Have you seen that Veggie Tales with the StuffMart?)

God is changing my mindset about money and fluff. Granted it is a slow process, but I feel liberated knowing that He gives me everything I need.

These are some of the lessons that I am learning as a mom and as a steward of our family's household income. I hope that you can benefit from them too.

(1) Learn contentment. We have more than we need and then some. Our bookshelves are overflowing, the toy box is filled to the brim, and our closets can't hold anymore clothes. Before I open my wallet, I need to stop and seriously consider my motive for making the purchase. Am I buying it to feel better about myself? Do my children really need it, or am I trying to buy their happiness? Instead of buying things for our kids, spend time with them. They will undoubtedly remember and cherish that extra time on the swing set or special one-on-one conversation with you more than a new toy, video game, or outfit.

(2) Give it away. If you can't let go of your money to help someone in need, then you have no business with it. It isn't yours anyway. As I have been trying to teach my two-year-old, "it's God's money." I need to remember this counsel myself and give generously to others. Find opportunities each week when you can give to others, even if it's just a quarter at Aldi. Fix a meal for a new mommy, donate to a worthy cause, take a friend to lunch, clean out those closets and toy boxes and give it away. Being generous with your money and possessions helps you appreciate it more and teaches your children how to have a healthy financial perspective. Plus, when you do, you serve others, and, in turn, God is glorified.

(3) Trust in the Lord. Instead of trusting in money and possessions that are here today and gone tomorrow, I need to place my trust solely in the Lord. When we do we will discover that empty void inside of us has been filled. It is liberating to know that God will provide everything we need. He promises never to leave or forsake us.

Do you have a healthy relationship with money? What steps have you taken to relinquish its hold on you? I would love for you to share in the comment space below.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Menu Plan for the Week of June 26th

Squash, squash, and more squash! We've got squash and cucumbers coming out our ears! So, this week's menu plan will definitely be incorporating some of both. Also, because this is July 4th weekend, the menu plan will go through Monday instead of Saturday as I will be shopping this week for the holiday cookout.

Sunday: Homemade pizza with sauteed spinach, squash, onions, peppers and mushrooms and pepperoni and fresh mozzarella on top

Monday: Rosemary squash & potato frittata and tossed salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Tuesday: Beef enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, fresh salsa, and sour cream

Wednesday: Black-eye peas, fried squash, and corn scones

Thursday: Blackened cod on Greek rice pilaf, tomato-cucumber salad, and green beans

Friday: Pizza Night! (Yes, we like us some pizza.)

Saturday: Sweet potato and black bean quesadilas

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday (July 4th!): Barbecued and smoked baby back ribs (Daniel's specialty), homemade potato salad (recipe to come!), grilled corn-on-the-cob, and mixed berry cream tart

What are you eating this week?

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Thanks and have a blessed week!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lemon-Dill Potato Salad

If you read my post from earlier today about growing your own herbs, then I hope this recipe further inspires you to buy some seeds and start planting. Fresh dill on a hot summer day is a balm unlike any other, except, of course, homemade ice cream.

I found this recipe on the Food Network's website but modified it to use the ingredients I had on hand and also to make it slightly healthier. I love the freshness and color of the potato salad with the lemon and dill and think this is the perfect picnic dish.

I apologize for the poor picture quality; the potato salad really does look much better than this.

Lemon-Dill Potato Salad

Total time: 30 min.
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 20 min.

3 pounds potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Place potatoes in a pot filled with cold salted water, and cook over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes until fork tender.
2. While potatoes are cooking, put peas in a colander and place on top of the pot of potatoes. Blanch for about 45 seconds or until cooked.
3. When potatoes are finished cooking, drain and place potatoes to cool for a bit in a large bowl.
4. While potatoes cool, mix together peas, onion, dill, yogurt, mayo, and lemon zest.
5. Pour dressing over potatoes and drizzle with lemon juice. Toss to coat.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 servings.

My husband liked it but suggested less dill next time. I think I added more than the recommended 2 tablespoons, but that is what I liked most about this recipe. So, if you are not a big dill fan, then you might shoot for 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons. I loved it though and ate potato salad for lunch every day this week. My mom and some friends came over for an impromptu lunch yesterday and, thankfully, I still had a little bit of this potato salad left to serve. Everyone enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday at

Frugal Fridays: Growing Your Own Herbs

One of my favorite things about summertime is the availability of fresh herbs. As soon as the ground warms up, I plant my seeds in eager anticipation. I love being able to go outside and snip what herbs I need for cooking and not have to run to the grocery store where I'd have to pay $3-5 for a small 1-2 ounce packet.

I have grown herbs for many years simply because they are so easy to plant and maintain. All you have to do is plant the seeds, water, and let God do the rest. Honestly, even if you have a black thumb like me, you can grow herbs!

Here are a few pictures of my herb garden.




Lemon Balm


I also have pots of herbs all around my house.

More Basil


Apple Mint

Growing your own herbs is easy, affordable and fun. If you grow perennials like oregano, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, and lavender, they will come back year after year. You can purchase the plants or you can just buy a packet of seeds from the dollar store, which is what I usually do. The basil, chives, thyme, rosemary, and lemon balm all originated from seeds, and each seed packet cost under $1. Now that's frugal!

Plus, you will save even more money if you harvest your herbs and dry them for future use. I like to dry my lavender (not pictured) and put it in vases in my children's rooms because of its calming qualities. It also looks and smells wonderful. I have also dried herbs to use in cooking.

Yes, you can buy dried or fresh herbs from the store, but when it's so easy and inexpensive to grow your own, why not give it a try?

Do you grow your own herbs? If so, how do you use them?

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at

Day 3: Spiders, Oh My!

Are you participating with me in "The 30 Day 'Come & See God' Challenge"?

I hope so! We are slowing down, opening our eyes, and looking closely at our Maker's world.

My daughter has gone for a visit with her grandparents for the weekend, but I have decided to continue the challenge for the next few days without her. Mamas need to "see" God, too. :)

Here's what I saw while walking in my garden this morning:

Yes, I was reaching down to pick some lettuce and nearly picked this little guy. Wowza!

Now if my daughter had seen this spider, she would have said, "That's di-sgus-ting!"

And my brother would have probably screamed like a girl and high-tailed it back to the house. Or stepped on it. He's a stalwart arachnophobe.

But I just stared in awe.

Spiders don't frighten me, albeit they are creepy with their eight spindly legs and multiple eyes. And the fact that they liquidize and grind up their prey before eating it is pretty horrific. Still, a spider's ability to produce silk and construct intricate webs to catch its prey reveals true artistry and skill that can only attest to God's perfect design.

God made spiders to achieve a specific purpose, too. For the farmer or gardener, the spider is an ally in eradicating those pesky bugs that eat and destroy our plants.

We can certainly see God's creativity and forethought at work in the spider despite the spider's frightful appearance. Spiders are pretty amazing creatures, aren't they?

Where have you seen God today? Will you share? You can send a link from your blog or just post a comment below.

And if you haven't already, would you consider following Growing in His Glory or subscribing via email? We would love to have you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 2: Raindrops on Hydrangeas

As the rain poured down, Kate and I went out and sat on our porch swing to watch. The leaves on the hydrangeas filled with water. I thought, "This is the perfect place to see God."

Here's our conversation:

Me: "Kate, do you know who made the rain and where it comes from?"
Kate: "I dunno."
Me: "God. God made the rain. Why do you think He made the rain?"
Kate: "Why?"
Me: "To water the earth. To give the plants a drink. You know how you get thirsty and need a drink of water? Well, flowers and trees and plants like those in the garden need water too or they will dry up and die. God takes care of His creation. He knows what everything needs and provides for it because He loves what He made. "
Kate: [Running and jumping up and down...She is only 2.] "Can we go swing?"

At this point the rain had stopped, so I acquiesced.

We raced to the swing set to get some swingin' in before another storm broke loose. It wasn't two minutes before the rain started falling again. Still, Kate got her swinging in even though she was drenched by the time we made it back into the house.

There's just something about a rainstorm that draws you closer to God. You feel His presence coming down with each drop, giving life, providing nourishment, and slaking your thirst.

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us in the rain. Thank You for cooling off the hot earth, for watering the plants, for giving sustenance to all Your creation. Thank You for knowing our needs and always meeting them in Your way and in Your time. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Where have you seen God today?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

See What's Growing in Our Garden & a Recipe

We have had A LOT of rain these past two weeks and our garden is growing pretty bushy and green...also very weedy.

Here are some of our lovely squash plants. Tuesday night I fried us up a few "squish" for dinner. Yum-yum!

Haven't had fried squash? You must not be a Southerner.

That's okay; I won't hold it against you. :)

Here's my EASY fried squash recipe:

1. Slice up some squash (I like to throw in some onion and peppers, even zucchini when it's in.).
2. In a small bowl, mix cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
3. Add veggies and toss.
4. In cast iron skillet, pour in 1/4 cup oil and heat on medium-high.
5. Once hot, add cornmeal-breaded veggies in a single layer and let set until squash begins to brown. Don't turn the squash a lot or it will get mushy. Let it get crispy and brown.
6. Continue adding cornmeal and oil as needed. Like my dad, I love the taste of nearly-burned cornmeal, so I tend to add extra cornmeal.
7. Enjoy!
I planted some zinnia seeds around the border of our garden to attract bees and just because. I love zinnias. They're so English-looking.

See our jalepeno and banana peppers! Bring on the salsa, please.

We've also got some tomatoes and tomatillos growing over here. Ignore the grass growing everywhere. I really need to teach my two-year-old how to weed. Or get a goat.

What's growing in your garden?

This post is linked to Amy's Finer Things.