Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Valentine’s Day Romantic Remembrance

A Promise KeptThis Valentine’s Day, I’d like to talk about a man who truly cherished his wife. His name is Robertson McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and later president of Columbia International University. At the age of 58, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the course of the next two decades, Robertson resigned his position and cared for her with such tenderness and affection that it can truly be said that Muriel was a cherished wife. Their story is told in this book, A Promise Kept, which says, “Sharing lessons learned from his own marriage, Robertson McQuilkin shows how weakness generates strength, servanthood births freedom, joy is found in a promise kept. For anyone who has ever loved.”

He writes, “In the summer of ’95 Muriel’s right hand went limp – the first major decline since she lost the ability to stand and feed herself eighteen months before. A little loss, you would think, but I shed a few tears. It’s almost like part of me dies with each of her little deaths. That precious hand, so creative, so loving, so busy for me and everyone else. But it wasn’t just the old memories. That right hand was the last way she had to communicate. She would reach out to hold my hands, pat me on the back when I hugged her, push me away when she didn’t like what I was doing. I missed her hand. Memories, sweet and bittersweet.”

My prayer is that we all  would learn to love as this man did. In our increasingly self-centered culture, it’s such a joy to know of people who devote themselves to God and family, and who love with selfless, tender care. springtime_tulips

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Hope for Poinsettia Killers!

POINSETTIAS

If you’re like me and LOVE beautiful, red-flowered poinsettia plants at Christmas but avoid taking them in because they unfailingly die slow, painful looking deaths in your house after the holidays are over, here’s some helpful info from:http://www.helpfulgardener.com/container/2003/poinsettia.html:

REBLOOMING AND CARING FOR YOUR POINSETTIA

Poinsettias are a widespread Christmas tradition both for gift-giving and holiday decorating. Yet many of these lovely plants end up in the trash once the holidays are over. Your poinsettia will not only make a beautiful indoor plant all year long, but can also be coaxed to bloom again each year in time for Christmas.

Poinsettia Legend and History

Poinsettias (euphorbia pulcherrima) are native to Mexico and Central America. The Aztecs called it cuetlaxochitl. Poinsettias were introduced in the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and quickly caught on as a popular Christmas plant.

Joel Roberts Poinsett, U.S. Secretary of War, ...

Poinsettias have thin, pale green leaves. When in bloom, they display brightly colored bracts (red, pink, or white) on the top of each stem. Although many mistakenly think that these bracts are flower petals, the actual flowers are the tiny yellow clusters found at the center of the bracts (Bract are simply leaves masquerading as petals). Another common misconception is that the plant is poisonous. Like most euphorbias, the sap is a little caustic and may cause skin irritation, and certainly indigestion if digested, but if you’re going to knock the hubby off for the insurance money (there’s a cheery holiday thought…), find another plant.


Forcing Poinsettias to Bloom

Poinsettias bloom in response to shortening daylight hours. If you wish to coax your poinsettia to bloom in time for the holidays, you will need to put the plant in total darkness for at least twelve hours (fourteen is better) each night for approximately ten weeks (this also applies to forcing Christmas Cacti to bloom). Late September or early October is a good time to begin this regimen. You can place your plant inside a box, a cupboard, or a closet to achieve complete darkness. Be sure to bring your plant out during the day and place it in a bright, sunny spot. After it flowers, gradually decrease the water until the bracts all drop, then allow the plant to dry out completely (like many of the euphorbias, this is a desert plant). Store in a place with cooler temperatures (50 degrees);  remember we are trying to recreate a Mexican Winter, so a 50 degree basement or garage makes a fine location.

When it really begins to warm up again (Late May for us, but just so long as you’re around 50 degree evenings), repot your mummy in the same pot with fresh soil and start to water again (we stopped gradually and that’s a good way to start) and fertilize (also gradually). Around August, cut the plant back by a third and make a decision. Do we want bushy with small flowers or shrubby with big flowers (my pick)? If we choose the latter we cut the plant back to three to five stems and grow it out (remember         gloves if you have sensitive skin). A poinsettia can look quite lovely when planted with foliage plants with contrasting leaf color, shape, and/or size. Don’t prune your plant any later than September, however,         if you wish to force it to bloom for Christmas.

Poinsettia Care

Poinsettias like lots of bright, indirect sunlight and prefer humid conditions (so you may want to mist your plant if your home is very dry due to heating or climate). As for watering, let the soil dry out between         watering. The soil should be dry to the touch. Also, be sure not to let  the plants pot stand in water at the plants base or saucer(A layer of pebbles in the bottom of the tray keeps the plant out of the water and         increases the humidity around the plant). Poinsettias are sensitive to extreme temperature, so don’t place your plant next to a heater or near a drafty window or doorway. A daytime temp of around 65 degrees         and nights around 60 degrees will provide perfect conditions for your  poinsettia. Whitefly can sometimes be a pest for this plant; check your purchase closely. If you pick it up, and things fly, and they’re white,         well, there it is. Pretty easily taken care of with insecticidial soap or my favorite indoor pesticide, pyrethrine (made of daisies; it’s organic and safe if you don’t drink it).Poinsettias

Poinsettias are a beautiful holiday tradition, but your enjoyment of these charming plants does not have to end when the Christmas tree comes down. With just a little effort, you can derive pleasure from your poinsettia all year long and bring it to bloom for many holiday seasons to come.

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Don’t Tell Me Your Kid’s Sins – by Megan Hill

Reblogged from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/11/13/dont-tell-me-your-kids-sins/

This is a great post from Megan Hill at The Gospel Coalition – how easily we do this! – MEH

My husband and I have three sons. They love Risk, backyard baseball, anything with a screen, and their daddy. They aren’t crazy about lima beans or black-eyed peas. They’re bursting with energy. (Why, yes, we do have a trampoline in our living room.) And, as you might imagine, my boys also regularly sin. I won’t pretend they don’t. But I’m not going to tell you about it, either.

huff-shutterstock_57014537-231x300I do talk about my kids. I often tell other parents stories about the day they made a cage out of bricks, in case they ever catch a bird, and the time they all ate jalapeños at the dinner table just to prove they could. I can remember the childhood pleasure of hearing my parents tell stories about me, and I hope that by telling stories about my kids, my children know that I love them and find them fascinating.

And when my child is ensnared in a sin, I sometimes get counsel. Several times, I lacked wisdom about how to address a sin pattern in my child’s life, and I privately sought wisdom from another godly person. When I quietly tell my child’s sins for the purpose of his rescue, I do well.

Not Public Property

But I want to caution fellow parents against telling us your children’s sins as if those stories are community property. The prevalence of this kind of sharing may have lulled us to believe it’s not a big deal. But it is.

Perhaps one of the most popular examples of telling children’s sin is the viral Tumblr “Reasons My Son Is Crying.” The site was launched by Greg Pembroke, who posted photos of his children in distress because of seemingly insignificant events. The captions describe tantrum-inducing moments like “I broke his cheese in half” and “the neighbor’s dog wasn’t outside.” Parents from all over the world resonated with the scenarios, and they began submitting photos of their own complaining children. Six months since its launch, the site has become so popular that Pembroke has included his favorite submissions in a book, recently released in the UK—with a U.S. edition scheduled for publication in the spring.

Christian parents might feel above this kind of crass oversharing, but, often, we are not. From blogs to Bible studies—wherever parents gather—stories of children’s misbehavior flow freely. It’s not unusual for a mother to walk in to a gathering of Christian women, sullen child in tow, and proceed to tell everyone about her young child’s last hour of disobedience. Frequently, the women of the group will listen, roll their eyes, and groan in sympathy. Most parents have been in a similar situation, and perhaps we have told some of the stories ourselves.

Parents announce their children’s sins for a variety of reasons. Being a parent is a lonely job, and we can wrongly use our children’s sinful antics to build camaraderie with other parents. We can also be personally frustrated by our children’s actions and leverage the telling of their sins to justify our own impatience and anger. And, particularly online, we sometimes tell our children’s sins as a way to establish our family’s authentic credentials as “real” and “broken” people.

None of these is a good reason to forget that our children are also our biblical neighbors. I may have authority over my children, but I don’t own them or their stories. My children are neither my possessions nor extensions of myself. They are image-bearing individuals with souls that will last forever. And one of my first obligations to my children is to treat them with kindness and dignity as my neighbors. I am obligated to look out for their interests (Phil. 2:4), and I must treat my children as I desire to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Even when it comes to their sin.

Gospel Distortions

But my silence is about more than merely kindness. It’s about my children’s perception of the gospel. This is serious. Telling my children’s sins publicly can misrepresent the gospel I otherwise work so hard to communicate to them.

When parents retell our children’s sins, we often leave the impression that we are the ones who have been wronged. This is not the attitude of Scripture. David’s confession in Psalm 51 makes it clear that sin is primarily rebellion against God himself. We parents may have been disrespected or disobeyed by our children, but we are not the chief offended party. We distract our children from the real significance of their sin—and the real sweetness of their Savior—when we make it sound like their sin is about us rather than about God.

In broadcasting our children’s sins, they may begin to think that sin is not so serious. The wry chuckles and eye-rolling of parents can make children believe their sin is funny, or at least something expected. This attitude only serves to make Christ and his sacrifice seem unnecessary. If sin is not so bad, our Savior is not so important either.

Finally, and perhaps worst, is the possibility that our children will believe their sinful condition is hopeless. Parental exasperation—throwing up our hands at one more instance of misbehavior—can communicate to our children that their sin is so far gone as to be beyond hope. Retelling and broadcasting our children’s sin can magnify it to an unsolvable proportion and thus push Jesus and his sin-covering blood out of the grasp of tiny fingers.

God dealt with our sins individually and personally, and, likewise, parents do best when they whisper the gospel into the ears of the little rebels on our laps—whose cookie-snatching, wall-decorating, and tantrum-throwing was specifically and lovingly atoned for on the cross.

So, no, I won’t tell you why my son is crying. That’s between him and the Savior of small sinners.

Megan Hill lives in Mississippi. She is a member of St. Paul Presbyterian Church (PCA) and writes about ministry life at Sunday Women.

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Watching My Heart

April Cassidy at Peaceful Single Girl invited me to guest host today!

Peaceful Single Girl

Watching My Heart

By Mary Elizabeth Hall, Author of Amberly, a thrilling Christian romance

www.maryelizabethhall.com

Blog Post Photos 039

I don’t know about you, but my heart’s a wild thing!

 

I’m writing this to piggyback on April’s fabulous Feb 13 post (The Power to Create Attraction – http://peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/the-power-to-create-attraction/). God has truly gifted women with the power to attract men, but like all gifts from God, we’re to use it with care. Society bombards us with messages hyping women who put great effort into attracting men, but the wise woman who seeks to honor God will consider her ways, wanting instead to serve the men around her by dressing and acting modestly. What does modesty mean? It means not trying to draw attention to oneself. When I choose an outfit or decide how to interact with someone, do I seek to please God or men? Do I aim to help or hinder…

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My 2-Year-Old Judges Books By Their Covers

Check out this viral reblog – hilarious!

101 Books

My son will be 3 years old in June, and I love the fact that he’s into reading. A day usually doesn’t go by without him asking me or his mom to sit down and read a book with him.

During all those reading sessions, I’ve learned that he’s an imaginative little guy.

So I decided to put that imagination to use and see what he thinks about the books I read, not just the books about Elmo and Thomas The Train and Lightning McQueen.

So I grabbed a bunch of classic books, got him to sit in my lap, showed him the cover of each book, and then asked him one question: “What do you think this book is about?”

He took it from there:

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Map Illustrations

Map Illustrations

I love illustrating as much as writing, and have a background in graphic arts and figure drawing. I specialize in maps for novels. If you’d like to inquire about a map for your book, please contact me using the form on  my illustration page. Here’s the map I drew for Amberly:

Amberly 72 DPI for Website

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Simple, Sensational Stir-Fry!

Simple, Sensational Stir-Fry!

pexels-photo-2181151-Stir-fry

My hubby loves sampling different types of foods while on trips to Japan.  Here’s a delicious, easy, healthy stir-fry recipe my family enjoys a lot.

Ingredients:

– Cut up chicken, beef, or shrimp

– Vegetable assortment – sliced bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow peas, radicchio, spinach leaves, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc. Maybe toss in a few of those tiny little corncobs (do you suppose they’re all grown on tiny little fields by tiny little farmers with tiny little tractors? I’ve always wondered..)

-Peanuts, almonds, or cashews (or all three!)

– Cooked rice – we like either brown or long-grain Jasmine rice cooked in our Aroma rice cooker from Costco.

-Oil: peanut tastes nice with stir-fry, but others are fine too.Blog Post Photos 034

-1 cup beef broth, mixed with 1 tsp flour (wheat or arrowroot)

-1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos.

“A good, well-lived today makes every yesterday a dream of a good future,

and every morning is a vision of hope.”

– Asian proverb

Method:

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a wok or large skillet.

2. Dissolve Better than Bouillon into the hot water. Add last two ingredients and stir with a fork to break lumps. Set aside.

3. Spoon the meat pieces into the skillet and stir until lightly browned (cut a piece to make sure it’s cooked inside), then remove to a bowl. Don’t overcook! You will cook them more later.

2. Add more oil to the skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and toss in the vegetables. Carrots and other tough veggies take a bit longer than the soft ones, so you may wish to add these first. Stir-fry for a few minutes to heat and soften. They should still be a little crisp.

3. Return the meat pieces to the mixture and stir until it reaches desired doneness.

4. Add the nuts.

5. Now add the bouillion mixture and stir briefly. It will thicken quickly. Remove from heat.

6. Spoon over rice and enjoy with some nice plum wine and pretty chopsticks!

“Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo!

Thine own has reached the shore.”

– Another Asian proverb

 

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