Wellspring Devotion March 18, 2014

 

This week I am happy to share the Wellspring devotion written by my dear friend Stephanie! May you be blessed by these words and keep this verse from Joshua 1:9 in your heart and mind always. These are some powerful words!

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my mind takes my thoughts on a frightening walk through my brain, visiting all the possible scenarios that could happen in a given situation. Much of the time, these scenarios are apocalyptic, worst case scenarios.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Imagine how comforting these words were to the Israelites as they were about to march into Canaan, against some rough and very tough warriors. These words comfort me in times of fear as well. Over the last nine months, I have learned that God is indeed there for me, no matter where I am.

Romans 8:31 asks us, “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

How true and powerful these words are! Every person is fighting a battle of their own, whether it be a physical one or a purely spiritual one. In all of my battles, I have learned that the best way to fight the fear and darkness is to call out to my God and ask for comfort, strength, wisdom, whatever it is I may need. God may not always grant this in the way I request, but He is always there, and He is always on the side that is best for me, providing me with what He knows I need.

As you go through these next few weeks, remember that you are a mighty warrior of God. He has instilled in you a strength and fearlessness, in His name. Be strong in Christ and watch what happens around you!

Prayer for the week: Heavenly Father, I come to You with all my fears and worry. Take these from me and give me the courage to move forward into whatever plan You have for me. I surrender my fear of all that is to come.  I hold you up, Lord, and recognize you as my mighty warrior. With You in my corner, I can never be defeated by this world. In your name I pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

Can you think of someone that has faced something in their own life that you personally fear?

How did they handle it?

What did you learn from their experience?

How do you handle your own fear?

A new way to make pork

 

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We all know it can be scary to try a new recipe that we have never made before. It is always an adventure to see how something will turn out. For the first time in awhile, we (ok, mostly my husband) made a brand new recipe that we had never made before and it exceeded all of our expectations.

I have to admit when Doug first told me about the recipe over the phone I was not sure what to think. But I loved that it was a new recipe and it had good ingredients. And as soon as the cooking was under way, it smelled delicious!

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 We used a dry red wine from one of our favorite local wineries, Calico Skies Winery in Inwood, Iowa. The American Chambourcin is a nice dry red that is packed with flavor from the oak barrels it is aged in. If you are ever in the Inwood area definitely check out this winery owned by Will and Ashlee. They are such nice people and they have a beautiful business!

With our pork chops we had Haricot Vert green beans (French green beans) cooked in bacon grease (keepin’ with the pork theme) with fresh garlic. They tasted delicious with the pork meal. We will definitely make this recipe again. It tastes so different than any way I have had pork. The flavors were awesome!

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Pepper and onion pork chops

4 boneless pork chops

1.5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 red onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 red peppers, cut into slices

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup dry red wine

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet heat olive oil. Put chops in skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side (until browned). Remove from skillet. Add tomato paste to skillet and stir for about 20 seconds. Add onions and peppers to skillet and season with garlic salt. Cook stirring occasionally  until vegetables start to cook, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

Add wine and bring to a boil, stir in any brown bits in the skillet. Then put the pork chops back in the skillet, covering them with liquid. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook about 5 minutes and then turn chops over and cook another 4 minutes or so. Remove chops from skillet and let them sit for 4 minutes.

 

My aunt’s incredible weight loss journey

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This is a blog post I have wanted to write for a while and after just spending a week with 10 of my family members, including my aunt Jolene, in the Dominican Republic now seems like a great time to tell her life-changing weight loss journey. The photo above is a photo of us taken just a few weeks ago in the Dominican. Even when we were on a relaxing tropical vacation hundreds of miles from home Jolene was disciplined and I was inspired watching her dedication to her new lifestyle changes.

You see between May 15, 2012, and Sept. 16, 2013, Jolene lost more than 139 pounds and what I love most about her story is she has done it right—by exercising and radically changing the foods she eats.

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“I had been a gym member at Anytime Fitness in Mt. Pleasant since it opened and I went faithfully in the beginning and then I quit going and for 1½ years I did not go,” recalls Jolene. “Then they had an offer for personal training get five sessions for the price of three and I decided I needed to start going to the gym or quit my membership.”

And she credits her personal trainer Carlos for changing her life. “It took him three months to convince me I needed to change my diet. He kept telling me diet was 70 percent and exercise the other 30 percent to lose weight.”

During those first three months, Jolene trained twice a week with Carlos and went to the gym other times but she did not want to quit eating the carb-laden, processed foods (especially ice cream) that made up the biggest part of her daily diet. When she realized the exercise alone was not helping her drop weight she started to try a few of the recipe ideas that Carlos gave her.

“I thought I will try it and see and I can always go back to cheating at what I eat like I did every other time I tried to diet,” Jolene remembered. “The minute I started eating the way he told me to the pounds started falling off.”

“I used to drink diet soda all the time,” Jolene explained. “I went cold turkey on pop and started drinking lots of water. I drink between 100-120 ounces per day.”

Jolene, who was a picky eater when it came to healthy choices like vegetables, has learned to like many foods that she used to despise. “It’s like you always say Amanda you have to try things 10 times or so before you acquire a taste for it,” she said. “As I started eating more vegetables and incorporating more into my diet my palette changed.”

Over the years, Jolene has tried nearly everything available on the market to help with her weight loss but time after time she did not get the results she desired and they left her feeling disappointed and like a failure. She is adamant in letting people know diets don’t work. “It’s a lifestyle change. You can’t look at it as diet. You have to make lifestyle changes,” she said. “You have to be ready and dedicated and determined. No one can make you do it until you are absolutely ready in your mind.”

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Every morning on our vacation, Jolene got up and ran on the beach and one morning Jolene and my cousin Emily and I did boot camp on the beach. Wow, these girls are in good shape and pushed me to work hard (and thanks to Carlos for providing Jolene with the “boot camp” work out). This dedication is definitely a lifestyle change and as we all know change is never easy. Exercise has now become a part of Jolene’s daily routine. She continues to go to the gym five days a week. She works on endurance and strength and is training to participate in a Mudderella event this spring and she plans to participate in some more 5Ks. And there might even be a 10K in her future. Time will tell!

When people ask Jolene how she eats she describes it as clean eating. She tries to avoid processed foods most of the time. Meats and vegetables are the bulk of what she eats. In the summer she grows her own garden and eats and preserves the produce from that. When vegetables are not in season she buys fresh or frozen ones at the grocery store. She avoids canned vegetables because of the extra sodium they contain.

For others looking to lose weight Jolene offers these words of encouragement, “Take it one day at a time, making small changes that you can do for a lifetime.”

Not only does my aunt look completely different on the outside, but she has seen many other benefits from losing the weight. She is no longer on blood pressure medicine and is no longer pre-diabetic. And she has the same warm, caring spirit she has always had but she is more outgoing and willing to try new things. Just a few years ago, Jolene would never have agreed to go on a tropical vacation. It is exciting to see her have a new outlook on this adventure we call life

After vacation Jolene knows without a doubt she will keep this weight off. On vacation, she ate more carbs than she does on a regular basis and she noticed a big difference in how she felt. “I had that miserable feeling like I had all the time before I started eating clean,” she said. “To be honest, Saturday when I got home I was ready, really ready to get back to eating healthy. I don’t want to feel tired and miserable all of the time anymore.”

 

 

Wellspring Devotion March 4, 2014

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                                              Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) –                                                 He has made everything beautiful in its time.

When I was asked recently to speak at the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group on the theme “Beautiful Mess” I immediately decided this was a great topic for a devotion. I chose the Ecclesiastes verse because it reminds us God has made each of us women a unique, beautiful person. We are constantly a work in progress and we grow closer to Him through our daily messes. When we many times feel like a mess or like our lives are a mess God loves us anyway. His love for us is never ending and he knows our “beautiful messes” are all for a greater plan – his eternal plan for our lives.

When we feel like a crazy mess, we have peace in knowing that God is our father and he loves us through everything. He uses all of our messes for the greater good. God is able to forgive our every sin and take it from us. We do not need to hang on to our anger and guilt because when we ask God to forgive us for the messes we create he does just that. In him we have peace and comfort and we can look forward to each new day as a beautiful adventure.

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A beautiful mess comes to mind when my two nieces come to visit my house. They get fingerprints on the walls, they have toys and books placed throughout the house and sometimes they make a big mess by spilling juice and food. This is all a part of the beauty of having children in our midst! One time when my niece dropped a piece of a sticky banana on a page of my Bible—I made a note in my Bible that reads, “Chloe’s banana fingerprints” and I wrote down the date. Every time I pass by this page in my Bible is brings a smile to my face to think of my sweet niece. God has given us precious time with children and we must not get caught up in the small, trivial messes they help create, but see them for the Heavenly blessings that they are. Children are one of God’s most precious gifts and we are called to care for them well. So sometimes even when we feel like our life is a mess, see the beautiful mess for what it is- a true gift from God.

Prayer for the week: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for making everything beautiful in its time. Help me to be patient in waiting for your time in all that I do. Thank you for giving us the hope of eternal life! And thank you for the “beautiful messes” you put in my every day life so I can see your beauty and grace that surround me. Help me this week to see all of the messes in my life as a gift from you and please use these messes to draw me closer to you. In your precious name I pray, Amen.

Discussion questions:

Share a “beautiful mess” you have experienced lately.

How did this “beautiful mess” draw you closer to God?