Friday, February 28, 2014

Choosing Life: A Celebration Baby Shower at the Hope Pregnancy Center

The Feet of Those Who Were Given Life

As part of a Mom's group, I recently had the honor of taking part in hosting a Baby Shower for many mothers-to-be at the Hope Pregnancy Center here in Clarksville.

Months earlier, many of the women in attendance found themselves pregnant & scared. There were many who didn't want to be pregnant, didn't want the baby, and considered having an abortion.

But they changed their mind. Some will choose adoption for their baby, and bless a loving and deserving family. But all of these women chose life.

Thank You Chick-Fil-A for
Donating to the Shower!

I admire their courage. In the face of fear they sought help and guidance. So many people, myself included, find it difficult to reach out in a time of need. I don't want anyone to think I'm incompetent. Besides, I'm an Army Wife, and we can do it all, right? 

Sweet Treats!
Their bellies were large, and their feet were swollen as these lovely ladies neared the end of their pregnancy. Were they still scared? I never asked, but to some degree, I'm sure they were. We chatted about due dates, gender, baby names, nursery rhymes and shared labor stories--women want those details.

The "Don't say Baby" game!
Listening, watching, and socializing with these women, I realized that every expectant mother deserves a baby shower. All of the shower stuff. From the fabulous food to the fun, right of passage baby shower games (I never lost my clothes pin!). Every mother-to-be deserves to be celebrated, especially these Mommas, because they chose life when they didn't have to, when they thought it would be easier not to, when they knew their families would disapprove of their situation and possibly abandon them. Even then, they still chose life. Now that is something to throw a shower for!

Gifts for All the Mommas!
No matter the circumstance, right, wrong, whatever the reason these women found themselves pregnant and at a Pregnancy Center, they are still a child of God. They are beautiful, worthy, loved, special, and hand crafted by our Creator with a purpose. The child they carry is not a mistake. That baby was handcrafted for a purpose, he or she is beautiful, loved, special and worthy of the best life possible.

I know I'm speaking for our group, but I'm praying that we as the host were able to bless these expectant Momma's as much as they blessed us.

Being an Army Wife, I've kind of adopted the saying of "grow where you're planted." For me, that means making a Kingdom impact on the community where I currently live. What better way to make a difference than partnering with a local pregnancy center to speak words of life and encouragement to women who may have found themselves unexpectedly expecting? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Salute to Love: Valentine's Day Tips & Recipes from Special Guest Author Joanne Bischof

Hate it or love it, Valentine's Day is almost here!

I get it. It's easy to understand how this Holiday can cause a case of the glooms. Gooey, unrealistic, mushy love movies are disgustingly addicting, and create insane expectations for relationships. And all those red and pink hearts. Ugh. It's like people have never seen real heart, 'cause if they had, they would know that a REAL heart resembles nothing like those we see posted EVERYWHERE on Valentine's Day! And what's with cupid? Since when is it EVER okay for a baby to wield a weapon!? And why hasn't someone put some clothes on that kid? It's February, and baby cupid is flying around in a diaper shooting arrows at people. Geez. Talk about some seriously bad parenting.

So yes, Valentine's Day or Cupid's arrows, may cause people some sore spots, but you know what helps boo-boo's? Yes, kisses help, but CHOCOLATE kisses work better. Throw in a hearty meal full of your favorite comfort foods, and BAM,  the Valentine's Day glooms dissipate!

I'm here today, with my sweet friend and author, Joanne Bischof, to help you make the most of this holiday! Enjoy the following tips, ideas and recipes to make your Valentine's Day memorable.

1:  Remember that though Valentine's Day may be cheesy, love isn't, and love is ALWAYS worth celebrating.
2:  Sit down with your children and make cards and candies for family, friends, neighbors (or even your deployed spouse).
3:  Create a list of all the things you love about your spouse, children, loved one, and send it to him/her or read the list aloud.
4:  Make the night/day special by creating a nice sit down meal, or special dessert (recipes below!).
5:  If you have kids, have fun creating and eating heart shaped foods (Pizza works great! Jello too!).
6: Take a Bubble Bath...that's a must anytime of the week!
7:  Decorate your table or eating area. Want romantic? Turn off the lights and ad your own! Think lanterns, oil lamps, mason jars! Want fun? Think red, pink, white tissue balls hanging around, or glitter/confetti balloons. Think, a living room fort for the kids, table for two for you and your honey...or just join your kids in the living room fort.
8: Dessert is a must! Author Joanne Bischof has a couple of recipes she'd like to share from her cookbooklet Heartfelt Recipes: A Cookbooklet Inspired by the Cadence of Grace Series that are sure to make anyone's heart pitter patter! Let's see what Joanne has cooking for us!!

Moonshine Pecan Pie
Joanne: One of my most popular recipes, this little crowd pleaser is a fun one for family gatherings and special events. The notorious not-so-secret ingredient adds a depth of flavor and a nod to one of the most iconic products of the Appalachian region. Of course, if you don’t have moonshine, or would prefer to leave it out, the pie is just as tasty without it! The butterscotch adds an extra layer of richness that will have your friends and family asking to take that last slice home.

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons moonshine

2 cups pecans

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

You will need one piecrust, either store bought or homemade. I have a tried-and-true recipe that I like to turn to, and I bet you do too! Use whatever piecrust you like best.
For the filling, heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan until bubbling. Allow to bubble rapidly for about a minute, stirring gently. Turn off the heat, and set the mixture aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and moonshine.
It will be important to temper the egg mixture now. Add a few tablespoons of the warm sauce to the egg mixture, and stir quickly. Repeat, adding a few tablespoons of the sauce, several times and mixing rapidly. Then pour the remaining egg mixture into the saucepan, and mix well. Gently stir in the pecans and butterscotch chips. Pour the pie filling into the prepared (uncooked) shell. If you’re feeling festive, you can use small cookie cutters to cut any leftover dough into pretty shapes to decorate the top. Gently place the pie in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for about one hour. Allow to cool and set, and it’s ready to serve!

Sweet Pea Moonshine
Joanne: I have a firm belief that all things taste better when sipped from a Mason jar. There’s just something about it that says “home.” My family calls this Sweet Pea “Moonshine,” and this nonalcoholic drink is a great way to beat the summer heat. It has a hint of zing, and is a bit healthier than popping open a can of soda. With its notorious name, but innocent contents, it’s a fun drink for parties and family gatherings.

1 quart Mason jar
Sparkling water
Sweetened grapefruit juice
Vanilla extract

Fill a Mason jar half full of ice, and add equal parts sparkling water and grapefruit juice. (For the juice, I use store bought which is sweetened. If you use fresh juice, you may want to add a bit of sugar to taste.) Stir in a small splash of vanilla. There are different kinds of vanilla out there, both alcohol and glycerin based. I’ve used both for this recipe but tend to reach for the glycerin base variety as it’s a bit syrupy and lends a nice taste to the drink.

 Thank you Joanne for being so kind to share recipes from Heartfelt Recipes!
Note to the Military Spouse: If your spouse will miss this Valentine's Day with you, I just want to say, hang in there. I understand.  It's okay to cry and feel down in the dumps, but don't stay there. Find a way to share this holiday with friends, family, etc. Take a bubble bath after you get the kids in bed, pop popcorn, watch a movie that will make you laugh. Make this day as special as possible for your spouse too. Send those cheesy heart covered packages, because it matters to you and to your spouse.