Friday, January 31, 2014

Prayer and the Flu

We are in the throes of winter, which often means at least one bout with sick children. Or a sick mom. 

But hopefully not both. 

But Emeline shares in her guest post how God met her, even when sick.

 Prayer and the Flu
By Emeline Lehman

I didn’t ask God to send us the flu.

No, it wasn’t what I had in mind at all. I had prayed for something, yes, but I wanted something easy. I sensed an independent, I’m-doing-pretty-good-all-by-myself attitude in my heart. It bothered me. I wanted to lean hard on God, to feel my need of Him and His sufficiency in my life.

So I had prayed. Please, God, send into my life whatever it takes to draw me closer to You. A worried feeling crept over me. But please, please, God, I don’t want anything too hard.

A few days passed, and I forgot about my prayer. 

An ache stole into my bones. Weariness claimed me. My baby slept, my girls played, and I napped. I woke with a temperature of 102 degrees. I groaned when I tried to sit up. Not only did my head hurt, it whirled. I crept along hanging onto the wall as I headed to the kitchen for a drink.

I found my way back to the couch and assessed the damage. Never in my married days had I felt so awful. Carlos was six weeks old, Heather was three years, and Kelsey was five. They all needed my care. I also had a feverish, aching body, and a head so large and heavy that I couldn’t carry it, let alone my baby. I admit that my brain was operating under the influence of a fever, but a brilliant thought came to me. Call Mom. Maybe she could come and help.

I did. She could. 

So I gave myself over to being sick in earnest. It wasn’t easy.

When Mom brought Carlos for a feeding, I propped myself up. I had another brilliant thought.

“Maybe,” I said, “I got sick first so that I can sympathize when everyone else gets sick. But they had better wait till I’m better.

They didn’t.

Heather greeted the next morning with a fever. I did too. We moaned together. Carlos was his normal self, which means he needed plenty of care. Heather was her sick self, which means she also needed plenty of care. Kelsey was healthy and she occupied herself by wishing to be sick. 

The day passed and so did the night. The sun rose again. Heather and I still had fever, and Carlos didn’t seem quite right. Sure enough, he got up from his nap with a fever. Now I was alarmed. Babies as young as he was weren’t allowed to be sick at my house. He lay in my arms and made soft grunting, moaning noises. I knew exactly how he felt. In fact, I could have joined him.

Carlos kept groaning; Heather’s temperature soared to 104, and she wilted before my eyes. I was shaky and feverish, and not sure who needed my worry the most.

That night Carlos’s fever came down, and Kelsey got sick. Finally, she got what she wanted. It was not what she expected. 

I had three very sick children on my hands. Something about this flu seemed particularly nasty. 

The children’s fevers didn’t respond to medication, and they acted just as horrible as I felt.

My husband helped when he could, but even when he was home, we had more sick children then we had laps.

I started feeling depressed. I wanted to cry. I desperately wanted to do something besides care for sick children, and more than that, I wanted to feel well myself.
I was sitting on the big green rocking chair, Heather and Carlos on my lap, and Kelsey across from me in the glider rocker, when I had my third brilliant thought for the week. (Three brilliant thoughts in a week is nothing to sneeze at.) 

I prayed for this.

I confess my next thought was not, Oh, thank you, thank you, God for answering my prayer!

 Instead, But God, I did ask that it wouldn’t be too hard!

At that time, my brain was sleep-deprived and fever-fried. But my children all eventually got well and I did too. Since then, I have had some more thoughts about prayer and the flu. I know God does not send nasty things into my life because He wants to torment me. God loves me, and He seeks my good and His glory. I will continue to ask Him to draw me to Him, and I will trust Him to send what I need. It may be the flu, it may be something else. The important thing is for me to trust His goodness and His power. 

He will never let me down.

Emeline has been married almost nine years to Levern and has three children. She lives on a dairy farm in southern Pennsylvania. Emeline loves tea parties, used book shopping, good laughs, warm sharing with friends, quality time with her husband, and bedtime cuddles with her children.  She is amazed that although she heard about God and the Bible since she was born, she still has so much to learn! You can contact her at levern @

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Another yummy recipe from Flo!

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
Shared by Florence Fox
 This is one of the first coffee cakes I ever baked. I got the recipe from my mom, and it stays in my file as a tried and true keeper.

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 ½ cups mashed bananas

1 cup sour cream

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

3 cups flour


½ cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips

Pour half of batter into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with half of filling. Pour remaining batter on top of filling, then remaining filling. Bake at 350˚ for 50-60 minutes.

Note: Because I prefer shallower cake and shorter baking time, I often divide the batter between two 9-inch square pans, or divide the recipe in half and bake in an 8x11 pan.


Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip. The story is illustrated with real photos, and professionally designed. Told from a child’s viewpoint, this account will entertain and educate young children who love wildlife. If you would like to order a copy, email Flo at The cost for one book is $8.99 plus $2 shipping and handling.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Makin' Hog Maw

Regina shares directions for making hog maw. Never heard of it? Read on.

Makin' Hog Maw
 Shared by Regina Rosenberry

If you didn't grow up with good old Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, then the dish, Hog Maw, may not hold any significance to you. But other Pennsylvanian country bumpkins may share my memories of the excitement and anticipation when Ma would announce, “Hog Maw for supper!” At times this dish was a family treat served for special occasions, other times it was just a hearty meal for a cold winter night.

If you don't know what Hog Maw is and have a squeamish stomach, you may want to stop reading now! Otherwise, let me introduce you.

Hog Maw is the Pennsylvania Dutch cover name for... Pig Stomach! (Don't say I didn't warn you.) When the oldsters claimed on hog butchering day that everything would be used except the squeal, they weren't far from the truth. The pig's stomach was cleaned then stuffed with sausage, onion, potatoes, and maybe cabbage for a delightful meal.

Since the husband and I haven't tried our hands at butchering yet, I rely on our local butcher shop or grocery store to purchase my pig's stomach. I find it for sale where sausage and other pork meat is sold. It will be labeled as either Pig Stomach or Hog Maw, and is cleaned and ready to stuff. As you can see, since I'm feeding a family of 7, I needed an extra large Hog Maw!

To stuff a regular sized pig stomach, you will need:

1 lb. loose country style sausage

1 large onion chopped

5 or 6 large potatoes peeled and diced

sliced cabbage if you desire (Growing up, mom made it at times with cabbage but not all of us children liked it. I have learned to enjoy it both ways)

I'm sure there are other variations of recipes, but this is the one of my childhood and the traditional recipe I am passing on to my own family.

A note: Some folks just bake sausage, onions, and potatoes together without stuffing the mixture in the pig stomach. This is good, but will not taste the same. The pig stomach bakes a certain flavor along with a little broth into the mixture you just can't get any other way.

Keep in mind this is one of those recipes where the ingredients are approximate and you may use a little more or a little less or none at all! Amounts will vary according to the size of the pig's stomach and your tastes. For example, my mother always used lots of sausage whereas my husband's mother used only a sprinkling of sausage and mostly potatoes.

Before stuffing, the pig stomach has two holes (don't think too hard on what the holes were for) that need to be closed so your stuffing doesn't come out.

My mother always used heavy thread and a needle and sewed the holes tight. I'm too lazy and took an easier route. I get a toothpick and thread the tooth pick in and out until the hole is closed.

Sew or close the smallest hole shut before stuffing. You will leave the largest one open until after the stomach is stuffed.

Now you are ready to fill the stomach. It doesn't matter in what order you put the ingredients. Just grab a handful of sausage and push down into the stomach, followed by a handful of onions, and potatoes with a sprinkling of course ground pepper, sea salt and garlic powder in between handfuls if you like.

Keep repeating, pressing the mixture together until the stomach is stuffed full!

Warning: Don't over-stuff the stomach or it may burst during baking. Leave a little growing room.

Grab a toothpick or your needle and close the opening until tight. If using tooth picks, it may take more than one.

Place your stuffed stomach into a 9x13 pan or roasting pan. Put around two inches of water on the bottom, and sprinkle the stomach with pepper and any seasonings if you like.

Note: You can also cook your filled pig stomach in a kettle on the stove top. Fill the kettle with water till the stomach is mostly covered. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back and cook at a very gentle boil till the potatoes are tender, approximately 2 ½ to 3 hr.

Cover your pan, put into the oven and bake at 350 degrees. Plan around 2 ½ to 3 hours for baking. Again, this will depend on the size of your pig stomach and how full it is stuffed. Bake until the potatoes are very tender (jab the point of a knife through the stomach to check) and the stomach is lightly browned. As you can see, I didn't heed my own advice, got a little hogish and filled the pig stomach too full and it burst!

By now, the house will be filled with delightful aromas and the children will be at the table with their forks in their hands.

Carefully remove your toothpicks or pull out your thread so no one chokes. Using a large knife, slice your Hog maw (the skin may be a little tough) and enjoy every mouthful along with a squirt of ketchup if you like. And you must try some of the “skin!” My husband thinks the stomach is a delicacy and my sisters used to fight over this part, but I've never acquired a taste for it. One bite is enough for me.

And welcome - you are now a Pennsylvanian Country Folk! 

Regina enjoys life with her husband and five children on a farmette. She takes pleasure in digging her fingers in the garden soil and tending her milk cow, chickens, and goats.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Her Job in the Kingdom of God

Ever feel like what you do all day - the laundry, wiping noses, and scrubbing floors - doesn't really count?
Her Job in the Kingdom of God
By Tina Fehr
She draws strength from God’s living Water and she glorifies God.

She takes many moments to pray and she glorifies God.

She cooks and bakes and presents on tables for dozens and she glorifies God.

She opens her mouth to bring forth songs and kind words and she glorifies God.

She flies across ocean waters or crosses a street corner to tell about Jesus and she glorifies God.

She dances her fingers across keys or strings, inspiring melodies filling the room and she glorifies God.

She washes and scrubs and the clothes come out crisp and clean and she glorifies God.

She teaches with patience, love, and kindness and she glorifies God.

She presses black squares with letters and brings forth encouragements and she glorifies God.

She creates and makes and gives a gift and she glorifies God.

She places a flower here and a sprig there and the occasion is delightful to the eyes and she glorifies God.

She helps her darling husband and she glorifies God.

She takes a small hand in hers and she glorifies God.

She knows just what to buy and where and when and she glorifies God.

She cuts and arranges in jars and in winter they eat the fruits thereof and she glorifies God.

She rubs with a cloth and swishes with long handles and the places gleam and she glorifies God.

She digs a small hole and puts in something smaller yet;
She waters and watches it grow and she glorifies God.

She cuddles and rocks and guides little ones and she glorifies God.

She sheds a tear for some soul and she glorifies God.

She takes fabric, cuts it into various size pieces, and sews it into one piece again and she glorifies God.

She wears a smile and the beautiful garment of praise and she glorifies God.

She makes big ideas little for young minds and she glorifies God.

She bandages wounds and encourages the brokenhearted and she glorifies God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart:
and I will glorify thy name for evermore. Psalm 86:12

 Tina and her husband Jake live in southwestern Ontario, Canada. She is Teacher-mom to their five children. She enjoys all aspects of homemaking (yes, even cooking), teaching, reading, and writing. Her book Daddy on the Mend tells the true story of God's love and care for them when Jake broke his leg.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Sacred Calling

Marilyn reminds all of us mothers of the eternal importance of motherhood.
A Sacred Calling
 By Marilyn Wiens

My husband and I smiled at each other as a bamboo steamer of shrimp dumplings, and leaf-wrapped bundles of sticky rice were set before us.  We sipped green tea from tiny cups and listened delightedly to the Mandarin chatter around us.  A little boy, playing with a set of chopsticks, sat beside us—the link between us and this restaurant full of people.  We were elated to have found such an authentic Chinese restaurant in Canada.

After our food came, my husband said, “Let’s pray.”  I peeked over at Riley and watched as he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. His chubby fists came together, and he bowed his head.  My heart constricted, and a knot formed in my throat.  Our son was surrounded by people with Communist roots, and he was praying!  Such a simple observation, but it blessed my heart.  In the ten short months since Riley had joined our family, he had already learned so much.  What if we had not taught him to pray?  What if one of the first tunes he learned to hum wasn’t Jesus Loves Me?  His little heart and mind were so impressionable; it was sobering to think of what all he could have learned if we had not been teaching him the ways of God.

What an awesome responsibility I have as his mother.  God has called me into partnership with Him for the salvation of this soul.  The calling of motherhood is a sacred one, no matter how God brings our children to us.  I thought of my two sons, one by birth and one by adoption.

God needs me to be broken in His hands, so that I, in turn, can teach my children obedience and submission.  He is counting on me to tenderly nurture their innocent faith and to help build their character.  In today’s world of fashion, my sons need to see a meek and quiet spirit in me.  In a society of crumbling marriages, they need to witness love and a solid commitment in my relationship with my husband.  They need to hear kind, gentle words to everybody and about everybody.  They need to see a compassionate spirit in me—one that has the patience and time to help and reach out to the hurting.   In being a loving, sweet, godly mother, I am forming their concept of God and shaping their future.  And it could mean the difference between heaven or hell.


This devotional was taken from A Child to Call My Own, a devotional book offering meditations to comfort and inspire women on their journey from infertility to adoption. God’s blessing is on adoption. His heart is toward His people who are willing to get in the trenches and fight for the defenseless little ones. Without our willing hearts and welcoming homes, these little ones may never know who Jesus is. To order your copy, contact Children of Promise Publishers at

Marilyn lives in Rosedale, British Columbia with her husband, Leroy and two sons, Tyler (9) and Riley (4). She enjoys photography, graphic designing, and cooking.  She was one of the editors and writers for the book A Child to Call My Own.  She has a sensitive heart for women walking the heartbreaking, lonely journey of infertility and enjoys a personal ministry of connecting with and ministering to them. You can contact her at

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adoption Reflections

Adoption Reflections

By Kaylene Hartzler 

God is a fountain of life, light and love. In Psalm 36, David praises God for His excellent loving-kindness to the children of men. Verse nine says, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” The defining attribute of a fountain is in its ability to well up from within and spring forth. God satisfies us out of the abundance of His house. When we pull from His resources, they can never be depleted. God’s love is like the majestic Niagara Falls – powerful, unending, and unstoppable.

Adoption is costly. “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5) To redeem means to obtain the release or restoration of by paying a ransom. What was the price God had to pay for our adoption? It cost Him the price of His Son’s life. The adoption journey takes its toll on our finances, emotions, and our time. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely more than any cost we will ever incur in adoption and raising children. 

Adoption involves legal status. God’s justice demanded that we be punished for our sins. Jesus satisfied all legal demands by shedding His own blood. When we accept Jesus’ shed blood as the sacrifice for our sins, we acquire the legal status of adopted sons and daughters of God. As our relationship with God deepens, we grow in our love for Him and our desire to please Him. The legal proceedings of adopting our children usually come before the family has experienced a complete emotional and physical bond. 

Adoption is blessed. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). God pours out a spirit of belonging upon us and grants us His affection. He does not leave us alienated without feelings of love and acceptance. There should be no difference in our affections for our adopted children and our birth children.

Adoption brings to us rights and duties. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Adoption means full membership into God’s family. We gain an Elder Brother and become heirs to the Father. All God’s children inherit from the Father together. All our children, whether biological or adopted, need to receive equal portions of our inheritance. 

Adoption is planned. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself” (Ephesians 1:5). Our adoption was planned from the beginning of time. Children by birth and children by adoption each have their own uniqueness. The choice to adopt may come second in our family history but it must not be secondary in importance to us. Growing a family through adoption can be as precious as having children by birth.

The ultimate purpose of adopting children is not giving them parents or filling our empty arms, as important as that is. The most important reason for Christians to adopt is to provide children with a home where they will be taught about Jesus and have opportunity to receive the Gospel. The culture of the church can be changed by the example of one couple who steps out in vibrant, patient and practical faith. Often it is enough to encourage many others who are just waiting for direction. Let’s partner with Jesus one adoption at a time. Our labors in the Lord will never be in vain!


This devotional was taken from A Child to Call My Own, a devotional book offering meditations to comfort and inspire women on their journey from infertility to adoption. God’s blessing is on adoption. His heart is toward His people who are willing to get in the trenches and fight for the defenseless little ones. Without our willing hearts and welcoming homes, these little ones may never know who Jesus is. To order your copy, contact Children of Promise Publishers at

Roy and Kaylene Hartzler live on nine acres in the country in central Georgia. God has blessed them with four miracle children, Megan, Dixie, Jackson and Carter. Kaylene enjoys cooking, yard sales, sewing, scrapbooking, and reading.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Miracles We Need

The Miracles We Need
By Marilyn Wiens

“Did you ever stop to consider that God may not give you the miracle you want, but instead give you the miracle He knows you need?” the minister asked.  He mentioned some of the miracles that Christians pray for—cures for terminal illnesses, answers to financial setbacks, babies to fill the empty arms of childless couples.

“But, dear friends,” the pastor said, “we can win; we can triumph!  No, we may not make it through the battle with cancer.  God may not spare the life of our sick child.  He might not answer the desperate heart-cries of the childless couple.  God might not miraculously send a generous amount of money in answer to our financial crisis.  But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care.  He always answers our prayers, but it may be in far different ways than what we’re wishing for.  If we come through these fires shining as gold, that’s victory!  If we come through our trials bowing in submission to God, then we’ve been successful!  Don’t forget, loved ones, sometimes God gives us the miracle He knows we need instead of the miracle we want.”  

Tears stung my eyes, and I buried my face in my son’s hair and squeezed him tight.  What if I had tenaciously clung to the miracle of a biological child and missed the incredible miracle of adoption?   

My mind went back to those years when I thought my prayers weren’t being answered.  They were turbulent years—filled with pleading prayers, bitter tears, and wearying soul-struggles to accept what God was doing in my life.  

God knew the lessons I needed to learn.  He knew the things He wanted to teach me—the new awareness of life and its blessings, a gentleness of spirit and compassion for others who are suffering, and the realization that joy is so much deeper when it comes after pain and emptiness.  God saw the dross; He saw the “me” that needed to be swept away.  He knew how much heat my will needed to make it soft and pliable, and He worked His perfect refining in me by denying me the miracle I thought belonged to me.


This devotional was taken from A Child to Call My Own, a devotional book offering meditations to comfort and inspire women on their journey from infertility to adoption. God’s blessing is on adoption. His heart is toward His people who are willing to get in the trenches and fight for the defenseless little ones. Without our willing hearts and welcoming homes, these little ones may never know who Jesus is. To order your copy, contact Children of Promise Publishers at

Marilyn lives in Rosedale, British Columbia with her husband, Leroy and two sons, Tyler (9) and Riley (4). She enjoys photography, graphic designing, and cooking.  She was one of the editors and writers for the book A Child to Call My Own.  She has a sensitive heart for women walking the heartbreaking, lonely journey of infertility and enjoys a personal ministry of connecting with and ministering to them. You can contact her at

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Cream-Filled Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

Flo is back with another of her wonderful coffee cakes. She said that this recipe is in her top five favorites!

Cream-Filled Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
Shared by Florence Fox 

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream

½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped pecans
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 TBSP cornstarch
¾ cup milk
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Beat just until combined. 

Pour into two greased and waxed paper-lined 9-in. round baking pans. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Lightly cut through with a knife to swirl. Bake at 350˚ for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. 
In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and milk until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minute or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. In a small mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and chilled milk mixture; beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes.

Place one cake on a serving plate; spread with filling. Top with remaining cake. Store in the refrigerator.


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