“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Anthony!

My husband's birthday is today. We had a wonderful time exploring...one of our favorite past times. We went to St. Simon's Island, GA. Here are some pictures:

Happy Memorial Day- our day to remember

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
— General George S. Patton

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oh, my...Dark Cherry Mocha Muffins

I told you I was going try making a muffin inspired by Starbuck's Dark Cherry Mocha.

Well, I did and let me tell you it IS good. I mean, GOOD. Here's the warning- they are not sugar free, low-fat or anything. Well, I did use egg whites 'cause that's all I had in the frig. Other than that we're talking full calorie sinfully delish!

The Starbuck's Dark Cherry Mocha is around 400 calories and I'm sure these little babies are right up there. Ok, enough of the calorie talk....and on to the recipe:

Dark Cherry Mocha Muffins

2 cups flour

3/4-cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

2 eggs

1- 21 oz. can of cherry pie filling

½ cup espresso

6 tbsp canola oil

1 bag chocolate chips (oh, yah)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins or use paper liners 2- 12 muffin pans (may not make quite 24 but mine made over 12). Sift together all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well and add beaten eggs, espresso, oil and cherries; stir until moistened; then add chocolate chips. Do not over stir or the cherries will pop. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake around 20 minutes or until risen and firm with a bounce. Let cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Domain name possibilities-what do you think?

Here's some ideas for new domain names that are not taken:


Chime in and leave a comment with your vote or a different idea....

Thanks for playing the home edition! ;)

One more thing, regarding the muffins and Foodie Friday...

Well, no one sent me any recipes. I'll try not to take it too personally. Since no one sent in anything- I'm keeping the Starbucks card. :) Thanks for the Americano people!

I'll share with you my idea for a muffin recipe: Dark Cherry Mocha Muffins
This is my tribute to Starbucks latest drink. I haven't made them yet, but I will- I promise.

This Friday, I made something sublime! A sugar-free (yes, I said sugar free) White Chocolate Cream Pie infused with Chocolate Hazelnut tea. Sounds crazy, huh? It was some kind of wonderful...

It was easy to make-
2 boxes sugar free white chocolate pudding
1 chocolate hazelnut tea bag
3 cups skim milk

1 cup heavy cream (You could use whipped topping, but why would you?)
Splenda- to taste
Vanilla extract- to taste

1 graham cracker crust

First, heat a cup of the milk and seep the tea bag for 3-5 minutes and let cool. Next, mix the pudding per box instructions using the infused milk and 2 more cups of milk. Pour the pudding into a graham cracker crust. Whip the heavy cream with Splenda and vanilla 'til stiff. After the pudding has set, spread the whipped cream on top. Let chill for a few hours or until you can't resist cutting a slice. Please note that although this pie is sugar free it is NOT calorie free, a point I had to keep telling myself. BTW, this was husband approved, too. So, you know it's good. Happy calorie counting! ;)

An update on the status of Hope and a Future Ministries.

At Hope and a Future Ministries, we are in transition. Our website is going to change soon. Our hosting service is expiring and we're in the process of changing. It will most likely include a domain change, too. I'm looking for something shorter. Do you have any ideas? Some of the domain names I'd choose are already taken.

In addition, on paper, Hope and a Future Ministries has been dissolved. Originally, we were a for-profit corporation. This year, I filed the dissolution papers. I will be filing nonprofit corporation soon. This will include becoming a 501 3 c. In the meantime, we are on hold.

Once the paperwork is complete, we'll be up and ready for business or should I say, ministry. We'll be providing life coaching, workshops and counseling.

Check back with us. I'll give you an update on the website and everything else we're doing!

Thanks for following us.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hmm. Rethinking Mondays

Ok, so in my mind, Marriage Mondays sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, Mondays are not good for me to blog. You see Mondays and Thursdays are my long days. I don't get home 'til 8:00 PM. On Mondays, I have to watch Chuck. That is what I was doing last night instead of blogging. I was watching Chuck.
Anywhoo, I did not post my marriage post. Here's the other clincher... My couple that I was going to interview Sunday afternoon wasn't able to meet. That means no interview....bummer. Good thing is I found another couple to interview, too! This couple has been married for 42 years! Isn't that awesome?

Well, I've got 4 couples lined up to interview. I will be sending them the questions this week. I played around with the idea of not giving them the questions but I had a wife ask for them ahead of time. I thought, why not? It might help us get richer answers.

Here's the next thing I am going to tell you. I am not going to promise the interviews will be posted on Mondays. I'm interviewing most of the couples Sunday afternoons. With my long Mondays, it's too hard to polish up the interviews and share them with such a short turn around. Bear with me, I'm new to this blog thing. Please stay posted though, I'll share the interviews as soon as I get them done!

On another note---no one, I mean no one has participated in the muffin contest. Doesn't anyone bake anymore? Do you have any ideas? I'll leave it open until next Monday (May 24th). So share your recipes, people! I'm giving away Starbucks coffee. I did come up with a yummy idea inspired by Starbucks. So, if no one submits his or her recipe then I may make my own muffins and use the Starbucks card myself! :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love Happily Ever After?

Today, it is hard to believe in happy-endings, especially when 50% of first time marriages end in divorce in the United States. Many of us go into marriage with a “Hollywoodified” idea of what it should be like. Others say, “All I know is I don’t want to end up like my parents.” There is hope. A happy ending is possible.

Dr. Robert Epstein, a researcher from California, recently reported some interesting findings in the January/February 2010 issue of Scientific American. He found that through certain techniques, like “soul-gazing” or “love aura,” people could grow their love for one another. He explains, “Americans want it all-the freedom to choose a partner and the deep, lasting love of fantasies and fairy tales. We can achieve that kind of love by learning about and practicing techniques that build love over time.” What are these techniques?

There are eight fun techniques to try with your mate. You can read more by going to Dr. Epstein’s site: http://drrobertepstein.com/

1. Two as one: Softly, hold your partner close. Notice the other person’s breathing and slowly begin to breath with him or her.

2. Soul Gazing: Stand or sit around two feet away from your partner. For around two minutes, gaze deep into the other person’s eyes as if you are looking into his or her core. Next, talk to your partner and take turns telling what you saw.

3. Monkey love: Stand or sit close your partner. Move your hands, arms, and legs anyway but it has to match what your partner is doing. Although it might be challenging, at the end you will feel linked with your partner.

4. Falling in Love: This is a trust exercise, one of many that increase mutual feelings of vulnerability. From a standing position, simply let yourself fall backward into the arms of your partner. Then trade places. Repeat several times

and then talk about your feelings. Strangers who do this exercise sometimes feel connected to each other for years.

5 Secret Swap: Write down a deep secret and have your partner do the same. Then trade papers and talk about what you read. You can continue this process until you have run out of secrets. Better yet, save some of your secrets for another day.

6 Mind-Reading: Game Write down a thought that you want to convey to your partner. Then spend a few minutes wordlessly trying to broadcast that thought to him or her, as he or she tries to guess what it is. If he or she cannot guess, reveal what you were thinking. Then switch roles.

7 Let Me Inside: Stand about four feet away from each other and focus on each other. Every 10 seconds or so move a bit closer until, after several shifts, you are well inside each other’s personal space (the boundary is about 18 inches). Get as close as you can without touching. (My students tell me this exercise often ends with kissing.)

8 Love Aura: Place the palm of your hand as close as possible to your partner’s palm without actually touching. Do this for several minutes, during which you will feel not only heat but also, sometimes, eerie kinds of sparks

Friday, May 14, 2010

Foodie Friday: Contest! Can you make wow-worthy muffin?

Hey all! Not too long ago, I bought this cute little cookbook called, "1 Mix, 100 Muffins.” The premise of the cookbook is that you have one basic recipe and then the author gives 100 different variations. I've discovered it makes foolproof muffins...and I love muffins. My love affair started as a teenager making Jiffy muffins on a Saturday mornings. Then, when I went to college, there was this little corner cafe called, "Muffin Break.” My favorite was the Chocolate Chip Muffin. *sigh* They were sooooo good, like eating a chocolate chip cookie in muffin form (maybe that's why I gained 10 lbs my freshman year!). Unfortunately, the place closed and now a Bartell Drug store is in its place.

About a month ago, I made white chocolate chip, coconut and date muffins. I must say they were pretty good. Then recently, Debbie made cranberry coconut muffins and brought them to work. Hers were tasty, too. As she told me the recipe, I realized it was a variation of the basic muffin recipe from my cookbook. That gave me an idea! (visualize a light bulb just came on).

Well, here's my idea- I'm going to give you the basic muffin recipe. Over the weekend, come up with your own variation and then submit your variation to me via email. I will then try the recipes. My friends and I at First Baptist Counseling Ministry will vote. You have until Monday, May 17th to submit your recipe via email. I'll announce the winner next Friday. The winning recipe will get a $10 Starbucks card. Are you up for the challenge?

Email your version (and an optional photo of your creation) to my e-mail

Here's the basic recipe:

2 Cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/8-teaspoon salt

Heaping 1/2 cup of sugar (your choice of sugar)

2 eggs

1 Cup milk (your choice of milk: buttermilk, cream, soy, etc.)

6 Tablespoons oil (again your choice: sunflower, canola, melted butter)

1 teaspoon extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the eggs in a large pitcher or bowl, and then beat in the milk, oil, and vanilla extract.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients. Stir gently until just combined; do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until well raised, golden brown and firm to touch.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcome to the planet...

I had the song “Dare You to Move” going through my head today. This is the chorus:

I dare you to move

I dare you to move

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor

I dare you to move

I dare you to move

Like today never happened

Today never happened before

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what God wants us to do in our lives, especially when things haven’t gone the way we thought they would. Have you ever noticed that? However, I am realizing we can’t just pitch a tent in our self-pity and feel sorry for ourselves. Even if we are feeling down in the dumps or unsure of what to do or whatever- we need to get up and move! Remember, God has given us salvation. All we have to do is say, “yes!”

Max Lucado (2004) wrote a book called, “It’s Not About Me.” In it, he writes, “Look at you. Living in a dying body, walking on a decaying planet, surrounded by a self-centered society. Some saved by grace; others fueled by narcissism. Many of us by both...What we need is a glimpse of God.” God tells us in Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end” (The Message). So, get up and move toward God.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just another manic Monday...

Yes, I realize it's Tuesday. Monday was manic and well, I did not get my "Marriage Monday" post, posted. So, although it's Tuesday, I'm still going to post what I planned to post on Monday. Does that make sense? Well, if it doesn't stay with me, 'cause the rest of this post will make sense.

As I told you last Monday, I am not going to share with you a couple until next Monday (May 17th). Instead, I was going to share an exercise you could do with your spouse. Do you remember me telling you about my mom's landlord who adored his wife? Well, then you might remember that he said the key to his happy marriage was communication. I don't know about you, but I have heard that a lot. But what does that mean and how do you improve communication with your spouse? This exercise is designed to just do that- strengthen (or improve) communication.

First things first: You must understand the objective of this exercise. That is to change the patterns of communication so you can better show your love to your spouse.

Miracle Script

Each person needs to write a script on how your marriage would function if a miracle happened and your communication with your spouse was perfect. Think of it this way, you wake up one morning and Viola! a miracle just happened and you and your spouse have perfect communication. Now, really think about the specifics for what you would say and what your spouse would say. (I didn't say you wouldn't have to think!). One caution- DON'T focus on how the other person would NOT communicate, i.e. you would not yell at me. Instead, say, "you would talk in a normal voice."

After you both have written your scripts, find a quiet place to sit down with your spouse. Sit close but still able to see eye to eye. Then take turns reading your scripts to each other. After the one person has read the script, explain why this is perfect communication to you. Remember stay away from the negatives such as, "you make me feel bad when you talk to me sometimes" or "you don't listen.” Instead say, "I feel good when you say encouraging words to me like, 'yes, uh, huh, or I understand'. It lets me know you are listening.” Then let the other person share. After both of you have finished reading your scripts, tell each other what you heard the other person say. Check in and make sure you got it right by saying, "Did I get that right that you like it when I say, 'yes, I understand' when we are talking?” Don't leave until you both get it right. When you're done, make a commitment to one another that you will work on incorporating at least one thing from the miracle script in your communication with one another.

Happy Conversing!

Adapted from Worthington, E. L. Jr. (2005). Hope focused marriage counseling: A guide to brief therapy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Foodie Friday: Delicious Scrambled Eggs with Spinach

This recipe is my contribution to Foodie Friday and our Lose it for Life Group.
These eggs taste like a splurge but are actually healthy and relatively low calorie. My husband, Anthony, even likes them. Enjoy!

Here's the ingredients you'll need to make enough for two people:
1 Cup Egg Whites
1/4 Cup Mozzerella
2 Tablespoons Reduced Fat Sour Cream
2 Cup Spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste (one teaspoon each)

First thing, heat up a saute pan with pan spray on medium heat.

Then toss the 2 Cups of spinach into the pan and saute until it starts to wilt.

Next measure the egg whites...

and the sour cream...
and the mozzerella cheese...
Put all three ingredients plus salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.

Now, pour the egg mixture over the spinach.
Toss the eggs around just like you would making regular scrambled eggs. Cook until no longer runny and watery. The spinach will continue to wilt.
Viola! All this yummy goodness for only 130 Calories. Serve with toast, turkey sausage and it is 395 calories (bread, smart balance spread, jam and 2 turkey sausage links).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Power of God to Change Lives

Eleven plus years ago, I was married to a very different man. Before we married, I prayed, "God is this really the person you have more me?" At the time, he was a long haul truck driver Nothing against long haul truck drivers, but I was sure I was going to marry someone who would go into ministry with me. While I was praying, I felt the Lord say, "He doesn't even know the calling on his life." With that, I thought, "OK, God you are up to something." And well, I married him...

Early in our marriage, however, we had struggles (don't get me wrong we still have our ups and downs but not like back then). Around year three, I was told about a book called, "The Power of a Praying Wife." At first, I poo-pooed it as a fluff book. I was going through a period of only reading Christian books by C.S. Lewis, Spurgeon, etc. Then, I actually read it and started praying for my husband. Amazingly, I really started seeing changes. Some days after praying a certain prayer for him, Anthony would tell me that he had been going through the same something I had prayed for him about and how he got through it. By the way, I would never tell him what I had prayed for him about until afterward. Inside, I would be doing cartwheels. I thought, "This works!"

The last few years, he has been changing exponentially. God has begun moving in his life and doing amazing things. In fact, this is why I'm telling you this today. This week, Anthony has been getting up early to pray. Instead of complaining about waking up early, he has decided that God would want him to pray. Well, this morning, I was in the shower, when Anthony comes in to say good bye and he says, "I prayed for you this morning that you would have a good day." Then it hit me- this is the man I prayed for. Literally, God has created the man of my dreams.

So, don't give up! Keep praying for your husband. God has the power to change lives. In fact, what I didn't say earlier is I'm not the same person either, God has also changed me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Marriage Monday: Questions

Several years ago, I had this idea to put together a photo-journalistic book that asks couples who’ve been successfully married for over 30 years, “What’s their secrets?” Since I used to travel a lot through eastern Washington, I had this romantic idea of stopping in small towns and go to the local diners where the farmers hang out and ask them.

Well, it never happened.

I think I got the idea originally from my mom’s old landlord. He was a hardworking elderly man who loved, I mean adored, his wife. He was always saying sweet things about her. One day, I asked him, “What makes your marriage work?” He simply said, “Communication.” He told me that he and his wife talked about everything. I have an idea there was a little more to it but I did not think to ask him more questions. Now, I’ve got more questions, more couples to ask and I plan to share the answers with you.

I’m taking some questions from Worthington’s (1999) marriage intervention, “Learning About Love” (p. 181). The exercise is for young (or troubled) couples to interview older couples, “whom they believe to have a good marriage.” Here are his questions:

· What difficulties have you and your spouse faced throughout your married life?

· When your spouse had problems, what did you do to support him or her?

· When you had problems, what did your spouse do that you particularly appreciated to help you deal with the struggles?

· How did you resolve your differences?

· What do you think is primarily responsible for your happy marriage?

I then decided to ask some young marrieds, "if you could ask a master married couple anything, “what would you ask?” Here are their questions (Sorry, Brenda I accidentally deleted your question and couldn’t remember what you asked!):

Amber asks, “With all the changes that happen throughout life, how do you keep in sync with each other, especially when there are so many pulls in different directions?”

Matt asks, “How do you keep things fresh?”

Katrina asks, “What is it that you do that keeps your marriage fresh and compassionate?” “How do you keep that fire?”

(The funny thing is Matt and Katrina are married and asked the same question without knowing what the other asked!)

Do you have any questions you want asked? Leave me a comment…

I’m going to post my first couple May 17th. Next Monday, I’ll post another Worthington (1999) exercise that I would like to do myself…I don’t want to tell you too much about it- I want to build up the suspense, HA!