An Attitude of Gratitude


We’ve all heard the story. We make pilgrim hats and dress our tables with turkey. But Thanksgiving is more than just Pilgrims and Native Americans eating together in harmony. It’s more than positive thinking and counting our blessings. Perhaps we’re so familiar with the story that we forget what really happened. Before the big feast.

Though it’s been told a thousand times, this story is near to my heart. It’s not just an American story. It is my story. You see, my relative was there that First Thanksgiving. He was one of those pilgrims who sailed the Mayflower, braved the new world, and shared a meal with the Wampanoag Tribe. A man who started a long line of descendants in the land of the free and home of the brave. To me, this is not just a story on a page in a history book. It really happened. To real people. To my family, generations ago. To a man who experienced real emotions, tragedies, and fears.

So stick with me as I retell the tale that could redefine your view of Thanksgiving this year. It is a story of hope. A story of providence. But most of all, the First Thanksgiving is a story of untarnished joy. [Read more…]

Favorite Thanksgiving Verses

thanksgivingIt’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already upon us, isn’t it? I’ve been telling myself for a few weeks now that this year I am going to be proactive. You know what I mean, right? Instead of adding more pins to my Pinterest boards, I’m going to look at what I’ve already pinned and actually make something. Instead of thinking about how great my mantle would look with that fall leaf garland that’s boxed up in the basement, I’m actually going to get it out and put it there. And when Christmas comes, we’re not going to starve on Christmas morning. I’m going to put the steel-cut oats with cranberries and cinnamon in the crock pot before I go to bed. See how serene and idyllic my holidays are going to be?

But before I get carried away with doing, I figure I should start by being, and Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday for that isn’t it? It is the gateway into the Christmas season and the perfect time to point our hearts and minds toward Jesus. I’m going to use Thanksgiving to enter into this holiday season with a mindset focused on God, the giver of all things. I am going to focus on being grateful, being thankful, and being mindful of all my blessings. In order to do this, I’ve put some verses together that capture the spirit of thanksgiving. As I gathered these verses together, I recognized many of them as lines in some of my favorite hymns and songs. Psalm 69:30 says “I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify him with thanksgiving.” A light bulb went off and I realized I may need to start a new Pinterest board after all.

Wouldn’t it be cool to use these verses to create a Thanksgiving playlist? [Read more…]

Sabbath Rest: a gentle challenge

pexels-photo-11523I get a little tightly wound on Sundays. This is how it goes down: every weekday, the daily chores and to-do’s take bites out of my time and energy. By 10:00 PM each day I’m spent mentally and physically…I’m just done. There are always things I didn’t get to, things I even like to do or want to do (like the year’s worth of photos in a leaning pile on my bedroom floor) that get moved from my “today” mental box to my “weekend” mental box. By the time the weekend rolls around, I have an overflowing mental box of things I have to do or want to do, like an endless stack of post-it notes fluttering around my brain.

You know. It’s really great when everyone in the house has clean underwear and the dog gets fed and there’s fruit in the house (how can we run out of fruit?!).

Saturday flies by…I might get a load of laundry done or a few more things checked off my list, but by the day’s end it’s multiplied again…there’s never enough time. There’s never enough of me.

So then Sunday rolls around again and that spring gets tightened. I want to enjoy the day: church, coffee, bike rides, a board game with the kids… I want to just allow the day to unfold with open time to connect and reconnect with my family and my God. But I lose focus. I get distracted by the clutter. Clutter around the house, clutter in my mind, the clutter of tomorrow! A big part of my stresses are my inner, self-imposed expectations. I am self employed and Mondays are my longest work day. I regularly have people in my home and want it to look presentable. I mean it’s a reflection on me, right? So, it all culminates in a Sunday stress-day.

What does the Bible say about a Sabbath Rest? The Old Testament is clear: the seventh day is a day of no work (Exodus 20:8-11). A trust exercise with God that He will provide to cover the downtime. [Read more…]

Create a Thankful Tree


For a fun craft idea for your kids this Thanksgiving season, follow these steps below!

1. Trace child

2. Cut out hand/forearm.

3. Glue hand/forearm onto blue paper at the bottom center of blue sheet.

4. Cut small slits across green strip of paper to make fringed grass.

5. Glue grass across bottom of tree/bottom of blue paper.

6. From yellow paper cut a sun and rectangle rays & glue rays to sun.

7. Glue sun to top corner of blue paper.

8. Cut a variety of leaf shapes out of red, orange, purple, yellow.

9. Talk with child about things they are thankful for (ex. home, siblings,

parents, grandparents, toys, friends, Jesus etc.).

10. Write one thankful idea on each leaf.

11. Glue leaves around/onto brown hand to form tree top.

12. Write child’s name “______’s Thankful Tree” somewhere

13. Write Psalm 95:2 somewhere on the paper, “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving…”

14.  Find a special place to display the tree at home, and talk about it often!



Women’s Christmas Celebration: Living Hope


During the Christmas season, we tend to have many hopes. We hope we can get all the shopping done. We hope the lights for the tree work. We hope the gifts we choose will be just right. In the midst of all our hopes, we can lose sight of our greatest Hope. Invite your friends and join us for a morning of great food and inspiration as our speaker, Elizabeth Murphy, invites us to consider a hope that will not disappoint… A Living Hope. Register here!

Saturday, December 5  Cost: $18
Doors open at 9:30 a.m.
Program begins at 10:00 a.m.
Radisson Paper Valley
333 W College Ave, Appleton

Brunch will be served
Speaker: Elizabeth Murphy
Event is for post-high school age and older
Registration closes on December 1 at midnight


Holiness: the role of God’s Word

holiness“God, why don’t you speak to me?! I want to hear from you so badly! Why are you silent?!”

It wasn’t long ago that I found myself pleading with God in this way. I don’t remember what particular insight I craved. What I do remember is how quickly I was silenced. How dare I accuse God of not speaking to me! If there is anything God has done, it is communicate with man. We walked away from God; He continued to speak. He sent us his prophets; we plugged our ears. Finally, God sent his son, Jesus. By then our understanding was so skewed that we accused God of lying. We crucified him. Nonetheless, the words that had been spoken were gathered together and preserved in a book, written down for us in black and white. No book in history has been as well preserved as this book, not even close. I possess one of these books.  Several, in fact. How dare I accuse God of being silent!

God has spoken! Now it is up to me to seek out those words and heed them. Have I put as much effort into seeking out his words as he has in getting them to me?

We shouldn’t become discouraged if we find that the Word of God is sometimes difficult to understand. Satan has been lying to us from the day we were born. Our understanding of life is completely disoriented (Prove. 12:15, 16:2,25). Therefore, the primary task we have as followers of Christ is to absorb as much of the Word as possible, swap it out with our old ways of thinking and conform our lives to it.   

God has not left us powerless on this journey. He has given us his Holy Spirit. Before Jesus ascended into heaven he said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear, but when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12). James 1:5 also encourages us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

With this in mind, let us pursue holiness by learning to practice disciplines of the Word. I will share some of these with you in future blogs, but first we must simply carve out time. Isn’t that the hardest step? We want so many things! There is nothing we want to give up! In fact, we want more! Let’s be people of faith and let some things go. For it is those who seek God with all of their hearts that find Him (Jer 29:13).

Philip Glass, a famous composer, determined that in order to find success he needed to train himself to sit uninterrupted for three hours a day. At 10:00 a.m. he would set the timer, sit down at the piano and not get up until the timer went off at 1:00. Eventually he started composing just to pass the time! It took him nearly two months to establish this habit, but it carried him to great success over the next forty years.  

I’m asking you to begin this journey towards holiness by carving out 30 minutes in your day. Put your kids to bed half an hour earlier. Stop by a park on your way home from work. Wait thirty more minutes before turning on the TV.   

Once you find your space isolate yourself from all interruptions (that means your cell phone). This is your time with the Word. You could begin by opening your Bible and simply reading. You could follow one of the many reading plans available. You could memorize a Psalm or review the scriptures used in Sunday’s sermon. If you have trouble staying focused, try writing scripture verses in a notebook. The important thing is to just get started!

Is 30 minutes too big of a first step? Just do what you can. But if you find yourself saying, “I can’t. I can’t”, you will never move forward on the journey. What can you do this week to start moving toward God? Do it!



My Masterpiece

masterpieceI learned something about myself today. I was painting my son’s room a neutral tone – the result of a spring project that got supersized and would require an entirely new update of explanation. But painting the wall made me happy. Not just a little happy, but happy from the inside out. Happy enough that I caught myself smiling.

Was it because I loved the color so much? Softer Tan by Sherwin Williams – oh so yummy. Beautiful? Yes. But this was different. Was it because a fresh new coat of paint made things new? Maybe. But this is not where my heart was headed. Was it because I locked myself in a room, other than the bathroom, and let someone else watch my children for a few hours? Although this was strangely rewarding and did bring relief to my tired soul, I was certain that this wasn’t it either.

And then it dawned on me. I was bringing something to completion. I was able to paint the last corner of that wall and see that it was finished. When was that last time I did something that actually stayed done? I do the dishes, we eat lunch. I do the laundry, we change clothes. I vacuum the floor, the kids and the dog come in from outside. The list is painstaking and endless. It seems that everyday moms are on the hamster wheel of parenthood. Doing the same thing over and over again with little or no tangible thing to show for it. The wall of parenthood is so big that is seems like we will never able to progress or finish painting it.

But in my weariness, I remembered that becoming a mother is one of the things I can say beyond a shadow of doubt was God’s will for my life. He chose this for me. He chose them for me. He chose this canvas and the beautiful color of each of my blessings. And we have an amazing promise in Philipians 1:5-6, don’t we? “Because of the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So sweet sisters, fear not! We are making progress. And we have a painting partner. He is a Master Designer. Just keep consulting His blueprints. And then one day we will get to see the finished wall. But when He finally lets us step back to admire it, it won’t just be a wall of softer tan—but the Mona Lisa!

Be Blessed!


Pumpkin Pie Squares


CRUST (divided)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter


  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl combine the flour, oats and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Press half of mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. The remainder will be used for the topping. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

In a large bowl beat filling ingredients until smooth; pour over crust. Sprinkle with remaining crust. (unless making alternative topping below) Bake for 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Yields: 16-20 servings. Serve with whipped cream! 


Instead of crust topping you can use this nut topping. If making this topping, make ½ the crust recipe and use it all for the bottom crust.

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened

Do not top with crust mixture before baking. Bake bottom crust and filling for 45 minutes and then add topping. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over filling. Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

**This recipe can be cut in half and made in an 8×8 pan for 9 servings. Adjust baking time to 12 minutes for crust and 35-40 minutes for the final baking.



Fall Fitness Pre-Holiday Tune Up

fitnessThe leaves are falling and so are the temperatures. I want to put on a cozy sweater, grab a good book and mug of hot chocolate, sit down beside a bowl of candy corn and wait for spring. This is the time of year most healthy habits begin to break down. Either we didn’t reach our previous goals, it’s hard to keep up with our schedule changes, or we just think we’ll wait til New Years. But there’s a lot that can be done between now and those resolutions and there’s still time to accomplish some of this year’s resolutions too!

We don’t need another diet fad or extreme plan. They never stick anyway. What we need is to take an honest look at our lives and see where we can make small changes. We need to make a big commitment to live healthy lives for all the right reasons. So here are my top five tune-ups: [Read more…]