Sojourners to Norway, Part 1

Many people asked me, including my Norwegian relatives, why I named my Page on Facebook for my Norway trip, “Sojourners to Norway”.  Why didn’t I just say

Travelers?  Sojourners…what does that mean?

  • : a period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest

  • : a journey

Does that explain it a little better?  We traveled to Norway and stayed as a guest.  We journeyed to many places while we were

there, but we lingered as guest of some very special people.  I took my middle son and my grandson with me.  What an experience they had!

We left at 6 p.m. in the evening and flying all night, arriving in Amsterdam in the afternoon.  We flew from Amsterdam to Trondheim Norway and arrived at 4:40 p.m. It is about a 2 hour trip from the airport to their home.  We were tired but very excited to be there!!  Ethan did a happy dance in the airport saying, “I can’t believe we are in Norway!”  I did a little happy dancing myself!  We met up with my cousin and her husband, and started the drive home.  I thought they would sleep, but they were pretty excited to see what was around them.  It is a beautiful country and it is hard to take your eyes off of what you see.  It is full of farms, mountains, fjord, rivers and waterfalls!  You see it everywhere!  There is something about being there that just pulls on the heart strings…like coming back home.  It’s like a good friend said while I was there, “It’s my spiritual home.”  I can agree with that.  It’s not heaven, but it is pretty close.  You definitely see God’s gorgeous handiwork!

Here is a beautiful old farmhouse that I saw as we were driving and took the photo.  I love how it turned out.  In Norway you often see the farm houses with varied amounts of chimney stacks.  It usually indicates the size of the farm. Three or more means the farm is quite large.  It also means that it is multi-family dwelling.  Parents may live in one end and the son or daughter with family, who have now taken over the running of the farm, live in the larger end.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

We had some very busy days of traveling to see the sights in and around the area before doing some day trips to see other relatives.  I can’t even begin to thank our hosts enough for their willingness to take us around.  We saw relatives on both my father’s side and my mother’s side.  Aaron got to see where his great, great grandfathers and grandmothers grew up.  Ethan, even one more great.  That was awesome.  I have a Page called “Sojourners to Norway” where I have posted several pictures from Norway.  I also posted them on my website, JoAnnShiley.com.  A lot of the pictures I took were while driving by the country side.  But I didn’t want to miss sharing what it looks like for those that were interested.

The hardest part?  I think it is not being able to totally speak what is on your heart.  When you don’t speak Norwegian, it can be difficult.  However, many speak English and that helped a lot.  I found they are shy to speak English, just as I was shy to speak what Norwegian I knew.  Even at times when I thought I could use it, I didn’t.  Why?  I was afraid of my accent, or that I would use the wrong words.  Silly, really.  They would have understood it just like I could understand when many of them used English.  But, it sure encourages me to keep studying the language.  Ethan had a book and he wasn’t afraid at all to ask for help to pronounce a word or to use a word!  Love that!  I wish children were taught foreign language at early ages.  In Norway they start learning English in 2nd grade!  In the end, I have learned through traveling that you can speak with your heart and still understand each other.  But it does challenge me to work harder at it!

What did I notice about their culture?

  • The pace of their life is slower.
  • Tradition is important to Norwegians and they keep it alive.
  • They are completely dedicated to their children and their experiences.
  • They are out in nature at every chance they have.
  • They spend time together with family and friends.
  • Coffee and a special something is at the ready for guests.
  • Take coffee and lunch or treat with them on a drive, and stop to enjoy it at a spot along with way.
  • Definitely enjoy their porches to sit, have coffee, and enjoy nature.
  • Have winters where it never gets light.
  • Have times in the Spring and Summer where it is light all night.
  • Use their fork and knife for eating in a way different from ours.
  • Their homes have deep windows sills and they decorate them.
  • They have a light or lamp in many windows of the home and they are on at night, and some all night long.
  • Food revolves around different kinds of meat than ours.
  • All grounds are public roaming, so you can view areas anywhere for free.

Those are just a few I observed and there are many others.  But I found I really liked that lifestyle.  It fits nicely with my perspective on living a slow life so that you notice it.  We strive and strive to get somewhere our culture, and then pretty soon time is gone, and we wonder what happened.  I like enjoying nature and the people around me, as well as, listening to the birds, and the roaring of the ocean, or the quiet of a lake.  Breathing deep and dialing down.  It had the same effect on my son and grandson.  That did a mama’s heart good to see that.  I think it changed the way they may do life too, in their future.

I had fun looking through shops too!  I found my number one purchase goal just a few days into the stay.  My bread trough.  Oh my!  So cool!!  It is vintage and even had some of the red color to the outside of it.  THAT was one thing I have wanted for a very long time.  The fact that I got it in Norway?  Priceless!!  It looks great on my kitchen on the table.  Someday soon, I hope to have it on my dining room table.  It was very special to me to bring back.

I will leave you with these thoughts and share more in Part 2.  Get out in it!!  Even IF the sun isn’t shining, it doesn’t mean you can’t put on a jacket or sweatshirt, and take a walk, or have coffee on the porch or deck.  Listen to you heart and soul…it may be trying to tell you to change your every day life so you notice what you have around you, as well as, creating a life that counts for even more!

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

 

 

Looking Back To See Ahead

Looking back to see ahead…what an interesting concept.  I was reading a photography blog from Scott Davenport, and he was talking about that.  He was looking back over photos he had taken from a certain area as a way to determine what he would do differently in the photos he took this next trip.  Looking back to see ahead….what a wonderful life attitude!  Excuse the play on photography here, but I think it really lends itself to making this point.

I have been doing something similar this week in reviewing some of my pictures taken in Norway a couple of years ago.  I found that I have been doing something similar.  I have looked at them and thoughts such as:

  • I would change this angle this time.
  • I should change the lighting for that shot if I have the opportunity.
  • I want to look for the unusual shots more.
  • I want to get more cultural type shots.
  • Maybe I should consider taking my tripod so I have more control on the distance shots.
  • Maybe I want to get up early to catch the sunrise on the fjord, rather than let my tired jet-lagged body sleep a bit longer.
  • I know I will catch the sunsets for sure, but maybe from different angles or places?

Many of my photos last time were from a moving car.  I couldn’t expect them to stop all the time for my photo taking.  Thus, I took man of them on the move.  So I am looking back to see what I did, so that, (you know I love those words) I can see ahead to this trip and make adjustments.
What IF we treated looking back on our lives the same way?  We all have things we would change from back there if we could.  So… what if we look back on those experiences and we made some adjustments in our lives at present?

  • We changed our perspective.
  • We make different decisions then we did then.
  • We see how this or that didn’t work.
  • We change our self-talk.

Even as he talked about the post processing of the photos, I thought, “Well, we can choose to process various hardships in our lives in a different way.”  How is that, you ask?

  • We can bring more light to the dark places.
  • We can take out the glaring light and bring them into more balance by taking the highlights down to see better what is in that picture.
  • We can use reflective light to bring light up more on the subject.
  • We can lay over a filter on a certain experience which changes how we see it; brings out the best in that photo of our life.
  • We could involve the Stabilizer in our lives more, and ask Him to give us stability to stand firm with what we see, so that we might see more clearly what can be ahead.
  • We can shine more of the Light into our lives so we don’t have to live in the dark, or fear it.  He will light up the dark places at times, so we can understand them better, and heal from them.
  • We have Him as our spot remover, our healer over an area of our lives that seems to distract us from the what our life picture can look like.  It may be something that doesn’t belong in the picture.  He can remove it.  The devil wants us looking through a crack, when God wants to show us our lives without the hindrances of our perspective.

We could use that philosophy with great success if we looked at our lives a little more this way.  Looking back to see ahead…it gives us the hope that it can be different looking ahead.  We can learn by looking back, and we don’t have to stay there.  However, the gaze back can be of great benefit to us.  We may have some areas in our lives that have left lasting consequences for us.  My hope is that you grasp the idea that we can still can change how it turns out, as well as, how we respond to those circumstances, if we ask for guidance.

I guess for me, it has pretty much been the way I have lived my life.  I just didn’t have those words to put with the idea.  However, this fits me.  Life has had MANY challenges for me!  Some real hard knocks.  But I know, that I know, the Holy Spirit helps me see things for the truth that they are, not for a lie from the devil that makes me think its how it always will to be.

So this week, be good to yourself.  Look back with the purpose of seeing ahead.  As it has been said so many times, “I am not what I want to be, but thank God I’m not what I was.”  I am growing.  I am looking ahead having learned from looking back.  I can have hope looking at what has made my life album, and see things in a different perspective than I  have before…through the eyes of my past.  Then, I can truly look ahead to what it can be, with God’s help.

So here’s looking back with you, to see ahead!  May you find freedom.  I know that the years I have ahead, can still be the best I have lived yet!

Until next time,

~~JoAnn~~

Live the Dream!

Hello sweet readers!  Thanks for being faithful to read the posts here on the blog!  I appreciate you!  Your comments make it all worth while! 🙂  Where am I off to?  Norway, of course!

I’m having fun this week as I put together the last plans for our trip to Norway!  I have had a blast texting my son and grandson about the trip; counting down the days til we go!  Eight more sleeps!!!!  What a blast!  They are very excited about it, which thrills me to no end!  I have had pants hemmed, hair cut, shopped for toiletries that are new so I don’t have issues at the gate if it’s checked, ironed clothes, pre-packed so I know if it fits well into the suitcase, charged batteries, picked up new ones, SD cards…all the things I need to make the trip.  By the way, the packing pouches for your various clothes items is the bomb!  Helps so much in organizing the suitcase.  I think I will invest in another pair.  They work great!  The anticipation is so fun, and so is the planning.  That’s always the beginning of the fun part of the trip for me.

My hope is that Ethan can chronicle this trip with his camera and get it from his perspective.  To think of him going and making this a three generation trip, is very exciting to me.  I think of my parents when I go.  They always wanted to make the trip to Norway.  I’m excited to share how his ancestors lived and worked, as well as, what led to them immigrating to the United States.  It is hard for someone to understand the connection to your home country, but seeing it first hand is how we can learn it best.  THAT is a memory never to be forgotten.  I’m sure I will be burning FB with some stories and pictures.  I’m thinking of starting a page just for the trip so the pictures and stories don’t get lost in my personal feed.

Do you know what else?  I’m teaching myself to speak Norwegian!  It’s hard but I was determined to learn!  I will keep pressing on.  I will be paying closer attention to the Norwegian language this trip!  I have a group of people learning with me via Facebook.  We share a challenge each other to learn and practice.  Great experience.

So since this is a fun week to plan and dream, I decided it would be a good time to enjoy the deck and the sunshine too!  I sat out there today with one of my favorite magazines, enjoyed my mocha, looked a project my girlfriend and I are going to make together, walked around the yard to admire all the pretty flowers that are popping up, AND even did some planning to change-up the cupboard doors in my kitchen!  Came back to an original idea I had for them, so will see if I can make that happen!  I think I may add a rosemaling border to my kitchen above the cupboards too, IF I can find it!  My creative juices are in high gear!!!  Makes life fun and interesting.  I mean, who doesn’t love to make their home more inviting?  I know I do!

While I’m just having fun this week on the post, I want to share a gadget with you that totally rocks!!!  It like an external hard drive for your iPhone!!!  You can totally off load your photos on to this little gadget, and free up space on your phone.  When you want to access the pictures that you off loaded, then you just plug it back into the phone to use the picture.  So awesome.  I was doing some research for my trip and thought this is a great way to give me more space for….of course…more pictures!!!  Love technology!!  I have a couple extra chargers for charging my iPhone too, since I know we will be out for the day at times and I need my phone at the ready along with my camera.  Such a kick to have these memories to revisit and share when we come back home.

Why do I share these random thoughts with you?  I am here to say that dreams DO come true.  Write it down, pray about it, ask God to direct your steps and to open doors for that to happen.  You will be amazed at what God does to bring that dream about.  It really IS about how we think.  How we think, is the way our life direction goes.  It’s that serious.  What actions we take to change our thinking can really make great things happen in our daily lives.  I will look forward to sharing my trip with you.  I may not be writing a blog post, until after the trip, or it may be a short one, but you will be on my mind and heart.

Dream.  Feed your heart and your soul with good things.  Until next time…

 

 

 

This…Right Here, Is The Best!

Before I begin the post, I just want to take a moment to wish all the Moms out there a blessed and wonderful Mother’s Day.  You are amazing!  My mom was one of those amazing people.  She was there for me; behind me to support and to help when I needed it.  She went through a bad patch when I was in high school for a couple of years, but God took care of that matter.  She was always willing to help someone, and loved to craft and had many projects going at one time.  She was also known to have a completely different looking room or house by the time we got home from school.  It was wild a few times!  I will always be grateful for all she did for me, my home, my kids and my life.  Thanks mom.

How many joys and blessings do we miss out on because we don’t see them, or we take them for granted?  I have been thinking about that this week as I have pursued getting healthy after a horrible sinus infection.   I have a trip coming up in two weeks and I don’t want to deal with being sick while I am gone.  I am better but still not 100%.  As I rested and resisted pushing myself, I was thinking about the opportunities that God has given me in my life.  It’s so easy to get cruising with life, and forget that we have the life we have because of the blessings God has bestowed on us.  It has once again caused a shift in my thinking.  I seem to have had a lot of those shifts lately.  I think God has a plan.

Because of this shift, I found myself on my first drive out after being sick, pulling in to park at our home, and just feeling an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for our home.  God has been good to us, providing this home, and giving us many of the items we desired to have in our home.  For me, He has given me many of the dreams that I was looking for in a home for this season of my life.  That isn’t just happenstance.  I have found myself, in spite of the troubles with my eyes and sinus these last months, feeling very thankful for being healthy over all, and able to take this trip without worry or concern.  It has filled me with wonder as I consider God’s provision to take my middle son and my grandson on this trip. I’m also very thankful to have a husband who believes that this is important enough in my life and that of the boys, to help make it happen.  It means so much to me.  It is hard to describe how I feel when I go to Norway.  It is like going home.  It is hard to explain, but it is there non-the-less…that deep connection.

That anticipation has continued as the sunny days showed up this week and last weekend.  I loved being out on the deck and enjoying it.  I was out there most of the day.  Again, not missing the moments of flowers growing, a hummingbird coming to visit, the quiet, the breeze, and an overwhelming sense of feeling “just right” with the world.   I realized that I don’t want to miss any of those kind of moments.  I want to:

  • take the time
  • see the sunset
  • see what is around me that God has given me to enjoy
  • be a legacy example of how to live

I don’t want to just see it, but see it in the way that helps me experience it at that moment.    I want to have more and more of those times when I say, “Wow!  This right here?  This is living!  This is a great moment!”  As Andy Andrews talks about, “It is also about creating those perfect moments…”.  I agree.  I do that for myself and family whenever I can.  It is just a great way to live.  We have to become intentional about it, however.  I have become more and more aware of how God wants me to stay in tune with that.

I was even excited to get my old glass frames with new prescription lenses put in them, so I have glasses that not only work better, but I like them better than my current glasses.  So now, I feel better about that too each day.  Saved $200 by doing it that way too.  Score!  It’s in the little things that God does for us that makes up the whole of a life well-lived.

As I have thought about the upcoming trip, I am having fun planning and executing the schedule so it comes together well.  I have my ironing board out to iron this next week so I can finish packing.  I have connected with the airline to find out what time we need to be at the airport, and about checking bags, and all those little details.  What fun!  My youngest son is bringing his brother and nephew down to the airport, so we will meet up and have a nice lunch before going to the airport to check in.  The anticipation of going is pretty exciting for the three of us.  This will be Ethan’s first time on a plane, let alone traveling internationally.   I got a kick out of him as we talked about the money.  He thought it was so dumb that our money wasn’t the same as theirs, and that given one day or a few days later, could be worth even less, or maybe worth more.  So cute.  But he will learn all about that exchange first hand.   Learning first hand is always best.  I hope this trip will be something they will never forget.  I love the idea of giving them some historical background about where they came from.  I am also very thankful to those who make it possible while we are there, to meet up, and share history with us.  And of course, anytime I can walk outside and immediately see the fjord, I feel like I am getting a glimpse of heaven.  I thank God every day I am there for the beauty!

So grab those moments of joy where everything feels right.  Create them in your lives, as well as in the lives of those around you.  Don’t wait for the special times to come to you.  Instead create them.  Look for them.  Take pictures of them.  Write them down.

Speaking of writing them down… I now have a prayer wall.  I have a window between my cabin/office and the dining room.  It is a wavy glass window; not real practical.  I have my kitchen queen on the dining room side, and so I thought I might as well make good use of my side.  So I made it into my prayer wall.  It’s coming along nicely.  I’m digging in and not letting the devil get any foot hold here!  Prayers up!!!

While I am on a rabbit trail of good things to help make us strong, I am also reading Priscilla Shirer’s book called, Fervent.  GREAT book!!  That will fire you up!!!

I will close this post with a hope that you are finding more in your life to notice that is good, than what isn’t going the way you want right now.  It’s so much more fun to look for what is right than what is wrong.  A whole new perspective will come into view!  It is my wish that you think again about what makes life good for you and do more of it!  It’s all waiting for you…call it in.

God bless you to that end.

~JoAnn

 

Different? I Dare You!

What do you think it means to be different?  Does it mean that you think in a unique way from others?  What about how you take care of your outward appearance, is that what it means?  Or maybe it is the way in which you live out your life?  Or what about the kind of house you live in, or even the way you raise your family?  What is it that you think makes a person different?

I was just thinking about these questions over this last week, and then one of my books I have been reading talked about this very thing in today’s reading!  So I decided to explore this a little bit with you.  I think we have always had trouble being different.  We have grown up competing with each other.  If a child has a birthday party that is out of this world, then we think we have to do that too or kids wouldn’t come for our child’s birthday because it wouldn’t be as cool.  It might be a friend that has a really expensive prom dress, we feel we should too because she we feel we have to compete to make a statement about ourselves.  After all, we want to look good.  Maybe I am a home owner, and I see someone who got a new house… then all of a sudden, mine doesn’t look as nice.  I begin to desire to make some changes in my house to feel better.  Let’s say that I am a young gal, and I choose to make a choice to dress modestly, wear less make up or no make up at all, or I don’t go to parties and drink or smoke.  That would definitely put me in the “different” category.  What if I chose to follow Jesus no matter what the costs were to me or the changes I might need to make to follow Him where HE leads, instead of where I want to go?  Getting the idea?  We are constantly comparing ourselves to a standard that really may only be average at best.  Because if we are choosing to live differently, than we wouldn’t be comparing ourselves to the same people.  We  would look to other types of people to admire.  We would be looking for what is Godly, not what the world has.

Let’s look deeper…when we were young, we may have grown up with ideas of what our lives would be:

  • I’m going with this guy or gal, and I think its serious.
  • We will get married.
  • Have our own home.
  • Have children.
  • Be a close-knit family and enjoy doing things together.
  • He will take out the garbage, she will be a good cook.
  • We will have enough income and be able to travel here and there.
  • If you are a Christian, then you will marry a guy who is a Christian, or, you might even think that if he isn’t a Christian, he will come to the Lord after you get married.
  • Then…the kids…he will be a great dad and help with the children.
  • She will be a great mom and be able to handle the children and the house and cooking and washing and…

…and all these ideas of what our life would be like is what we sort of grow up expecting to happen.  We may have heard that there will be struggles, but we can handle that…together.  We love each other!  Right?

Then comes the struggles.  Let’s say for the sake of sharing, that you are now into that life of expectations and as you sit in your chair with a messy house, crying kids maybe, not even the house you planned because it may be an apartment, and you may be even asking yourself, “What you are doing here.?  Where did I go wrong?”  So and so seems to be doing just fine.  Here comes a thought…If I had what she had, I could do fine too. Maybe you experience a loss of a parent, child, spouse, or, just lost yourself in your efforts to make things better.  You begin asking yourself where God is in all of this.  For some reason, we don’t think God had THIS in mind when He was talking about struggles.  It’s not supposed to be that way for Christians or good people.  We get disillusioned.  Our thinking goes south, along with our faith.

You know, one day I was wishing something in my life was like my friends, and God very clearly told me, “If you want what she has, you would need to be willing to live ALL her life.  Do you want to live her life?  Then you have to take all of her life with it.  You don’t get to pick and choose what you want of hers.”  I thought about the struggles that have been part of her life, and decided I didn’t want to put that on my plate either.  I had enough of my own.  But it cleared up something for me.  We compare ourselves to someone or something, but we don’t really know much about what goes on in their lives.  Young people think another friend’s life is great, and that their life is really hard.  However, they don’t know all the trials that person goes through each night at home.  Or let’s talk about the home idea…we don’t know the sacrifices that a family has made together to have the home they have, or the trip to Norway they can take (Me).  Maybe there have been very frugal in all their family activities, so that, they can have a home that is debt free or a lower mortgage because of the choices they have been making all along!  You might think, “She has a closer relationship with Jesus than I do it seems.  She is always so happy.”  Well…you can bet it is because she has done something different from most…spent time with Jesus and she gets herself into the Word.  She has spent time in prayer and because of her commitment, she is seeing results in her spiritual life and her daily living.  Those that are considered different are different because they think differently, and live their lives differently.  They are different because…they are different.  It isn’t because we can’t stop comparing, we can.  But we have to change our the way we think; our perception.

In my life, I have chosen to live differently than most.  Some may even find my life a bit strange.  But I know the joy that comes from doing my life this way, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.  I have had some real hard struggles, no doubt.  I have times that I wish something wasn’t what it is, but I can always come back to God with the knowledge that He knows what is best in everything!  Personally, I would rather live in a tiny house, with little possessions, with love, my camera, and my family than anything else that money can buy. It’s kind of like the book I was reading.  The author talked about the fact that if I wanted to be different, I am going to have to be different!  I agree!

Let me share something you may not know.  When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pastor’s wife.  I felt that was a calling.  I also wanted to teach choral music, or travel with a group.  I also wanted a family orientated Christian man in my life.  None of those desires came to pass.  However, I made the choices I made, even when I think at times God was telling me to make other choices.  So what do we do with that?  I’m not disappointed.  I found other ways of being involved in those areas that have been very satisfying to me.  I come to understand God’s forgiving ways, and ask Him to make where I am MORE of what He wants for me.  Does that mean I haven’t made some other choices that I could have made differently?  Nope that’s not true.  But I ask God to make the choices I have made into more of what He would desire for me.  He has.  He has helped me have a life of joy and restored some areas that were difficult.  Not all of them, but many!  I have also determined that I go to Him first with any decision I am making and He helps me choose what is right.  Takes the pressure off of me!

We would be so much better off if we realize that if God has our lives in His hands, then everything we do or have, is from Him.  That includes the house we live in that isn’t quite what we want, or the car you drive all your life that you pray will start, but because you are diligent, he gives you your dream car later in life (me, because He gave me husband that thinks having a dream car is important enough to sacrifice for).  Or it may mean less of a wardrobe because you aren’t trying to impress someone with your clothes OR cover up insecurities by dressing to the “nines”.  Maybe less in all areas for the sake of a getaway with your sweetheart or family.  Living debt free, while so many others have credit card debt.  Not getting credit cars just because you can.  THAT is being different!!  Spending consistent time in the Word…that is different for many.  We often don’t give God enough of our time.  Let us not look to what isn’t in our lives, but to what IS!  Let those youthful ideas of how your life would be, go on the wind and let God replace them with the joys of what is today.  Live in THIS moment, not in the past, or in a world of constant comparison.  What is going on next to you isn’t for you.  God has a design just for you.  Live it out.  I have a good life, and supportive family that I love very much.  I don’t take it for granted.  And when I feel the rub of doing life differently, so that, I have a different life, I just ask God to help me do the next right thing with His grace.

GO BE DIFFERENT SO YOU CAN BE DIFFERENT!  Remember, God may even be the “instigator or the rub” because it is the only way to move you forward.  Step up!

From my Norgeshyatta (Norwegian Cabin) to your heart and soul…

~JoAnn

Journeys of My Heart… in the Kitchen

Want to settle in with some fun new ideas from your kitchen?  With all the rain we have had in my part of the world, getting in the kitchen is something fun and cozy to do!  It always reminds of me of mom when I try a new recipe.  I don’t collect recipes like my mom used to, but I do like new recipes that are simple.  My mom had a drawer FULL of them from newspapers, magazines, or hand written from friends, and her recipe box was full too!  But you know, money was tight and those recipe books weren’t out there so readily as they are today.  There was no internet to look them up either!  But… I find that the older I get, the more like her in the recipe department I get!  So let me share a couple with you!

This is something that could be used as an appetizer, or breakfast, or like myself tonight, I used it as our dinner.

Sausage Muffins

  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 pound cooked sausage
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • Blend together
  • Spoon into a muffin/cupcake tin to almost the top, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Here is another one that I used on Easter as our dessert.  I was asked for this recipe also, so here it is!

Brownies Extraordinaire  (Don’t remember the exact name, but it fits!)

  • 1 package Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Chunk Decadent Brownie Mix
  • Water, oil, and eggs called for on the brownie mix box (used the cake like brownie)
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup rice krispies
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and 8×8 inch baking pan.  (I used a round cake pan, because I wanted it to look like a cake)
  • Combine brownie mix with water and oil and eggs in a large bowl with a wood spoon until blended.  Spread batter into the pan.  Bake 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Sprinkle marshmallows on hot brownies and return to the oven for 3 minutes or until marshmallows are softened.  Remove from the oven and place pan on wire rack.
  • Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until smooth.  Stir in rice krispies.  Spread chocolate mixture over marshmallow layer.
  • Cool on wire rack 20 minutes and then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chilled.  Cute into bars.

It’s fun to find these gems that are easy, yet unique.  And… anytime I can bring memories of home to my heart and mind, its a good thing!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

From my escapes to the kitchen, to your my heart and soul…

~JoAnn

You Got Prayer?

I have been going through some things in the last three weeks or so, and I think there is a lesson in this process that I am supposed to share with you.  I will share it in hopes that you too, may find hope and not feel alone when you are hit with it.

What happened, you ask?  I decided to get involved in my local church.  I accepted an invitation to lead a class for new believers as the class appears on the schedule.  I also decided to lead an online Bible Study.  As for the online study, I  have led many of them.  It is a great way to study together for those who find it difficult to get out to a study, or their schedules have conflict.  I love doing that.  But what happens when you decide to step out and serve God in any way?  You come against the enemy and his cronies! He doesn’t want you to serve, and least of all, help others find a deeper meaning in their relationship God, or to FIND Jesus.  His methods can be severe or just plain irritating.  He wants to keep you down at all costs.  Maybe it is with fear.  Maybe it is with a lack of confidence.  Maybe it is financial.  Whatever it is, he will bring it!  In my case, it has been with weird things like sores around my eyes, or horrible back pain, and most recently, a cut to my thumb that could have been serious.  You see, I don’t believe that all those circumstances are just random.  I believe that the enemy will use what ever he can to discourage us, such as, making us mad so we say and do things we shouldn’t, and then make us feel guilty and unworthy to do what we are being called to do.  Clever, isn’t he?  Most recently, since my husband and I will be leading a Grief  Share Group at our church, my husband has gotten sick.  I don’t want to be sick.  I’m leaving for Norway in a month, I don’t want that to happen to me.  Yes, he will use anything and everything.  He knows us and the buttons to push.  Has He been pushing yours???

Why do I share this?  Because I know it is no different for me than for you.  I also want to tell you that God knows, and God sees.  We have to pray down when these times hit us.  Actually, we should start praying even before we begin a new thing.   Ask for prayer warriors to pray for you because you are stepping out into service; you know what that can bring.  Ask God in your prayers to shed some light on areas you may need to address as you consider the next steps.  I got too busy in the process to give it the prayer cover I needed.  Oh I prayed about it.  Yes I did.  But I didn’t ask for the cover I should have.  We need to do that so our way is clear from satan’s whispers.  The more we push through in prayer, the more we will hear God’s voice and direction.  That is the goal!!  The whispers whispers of the enemy are subtle and can change your thinking in a moment.  All of a sudden, it can seem like a big mountain before you that you cannot climb!  When he comes knocking with all his sneaky ideas, just let Jesus answer the door!  It really is about the little things.  One small thing; the whisper of the name of Jesus.  I want my small thing to always be prayer.  Now, I know that prayer is no small thing.  It’s a big thing!  But the act of making a decision to pray is a small thing.  It IS action!  It will affect the outcome!  We sometimes think that our prayers aren’t that important, but they are!  It can change generations!  Your prayers will make BIG changes and moves for God!

So let me ask you today…are you stepping out into new territory?  Do you want to do something new?  Are you feeling like God wants you to become involved in a particular activity?  Or, maybe it is just changing something in your own personal life and/or relationship with Him.  Then, take heed to this message.  It may seem simple, and it is in head knowledge, I suppose.  But our heart and emotions can lead us in the wrong direction when it is led by the wrong voices/thoughts.  Ask for those cheerleaders to be in the prayer closet for the whole process from beginning to end.  Seek out your prayer warriors. Ask for that covering.  I pray my insight about this experience will be a light on your path today.

Encouraging the heart and soul escapes…

~JoAnn