Sunday, February 28, 2010

Easy Beef Enchiladas

Easy Beef Enchiladas
Source: Old El Paso

20 oz Old El Paso Mild Enchilada Sauce
1 1/2 cup Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican-Style Cheese
1 pound cooked extra lean ground beef or ground turkey
12 Mission Carb Balance tortilla

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 13x9-inch glass baking dish. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in 3/4 cup enchilada sauce and 1 cup of the cheese.

2. Spoon enchilada filling onto tortillas; roll up and place seam sides down in baking dish.

3. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until hot.

Servings: 12 enchiladas ; 3 pointsplus, 2 points (per enchilada)

For Recipe Review, click here.

The Love Dare - Day 14

Love Takes Delight "Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life." – Ecclesiastes 9:9 HCSB

One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart. You should lead it. You don’t let your feelings and emotions do the driving. You put them in the back seat and tell them where you’re going.

In your marriage relationship, you won’t always feel like loving. It is unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill as the thought of spending every moment with your spouse. Nobody can maintain a burning desire for togetherness just one feelings alone. But it’s also difficult to love someone only out of obligation.

A newlywed takes delight in the one they now call their spouse. Their love is fresh and young, and the hopes for a romantic future linger in their hearts. However, there is something just as powerful as that fresh, new love. It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love him or her no matter how long you’ve been married. In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving. In many ways, it’s a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.

Left to ourselves, we’ll always lean toward being disapproving of one another. She’ll get on your nerves. He’ll aggravate you. But our days are too short to waste in bickering over pretty things. Life is too fleeting for that.

Instead, it’s time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate. Enjoy your spouse. Take her hand and seek her companionship. Desire his conversation. Remember why you fell in love with her personality. Accept this person – quirks and all – and welcome him or her back into your heart.

Again, you get to choose what you treasure. It’s not like you’re born with certain pre-sets and preferences you’re destined to operate from. If you’re irritable, it’s because you choose to be. If you can’t function without a clean house, it’s because you’ve decided no other way will do. If you pick at your mate more than you praise them, it’s because you’ve allowed your heart to be selfish. You’ve led yourself into criticism.

So now it’s time to lead your heart back out. It’s time to learn to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are.

It may surprise you to know that the Bible contains many romantic love stories, none more blatant and provocative than all eight chapters from the Song of Solomon. Listen to the way these two lovers take pleasure in one another in this poetic book …

The woman: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2:3-4).

The man: “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along! O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway, let me see your form, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:13-14).

Too sappy? Too mushy? Not for those who lead their heart to delight in their beloved – even when the new wears off, even when she’s wearing rollers in her hair, even when his hair is falling out. It’s time to remember why you once fell in love. To laugh again. To flirt again. To dream again. Delightfully.

Today’s dare may be directing you to a real and radical change of heart. For some, the move toward delight may be only a small step away. For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.

But if you’ve been delighted before – which you were when you married – you can be delighted again. Even if it’s been a long time. Even if a whole lot has happened to change your perceptions.

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you’ve promised yourself forever.

Today’s Dare: Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just to be together.

"Give me your heart … and let your eyes delight in my ways." - Proverbs 23:26

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fat Free Rice Krispie Treats

Fat Free Rice Krispie Treats

4 cups Kraft Jet-Puffed Mini Marshmallows
1/4 cup buttermilk
5 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies

In a large saucepan, over low heat, combine marshmallows and buttermilk. Melt marshmallows, stirring occasionally. When marshmallows have melted, turn heat up to medium and boil mixture for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Stir in Rice Krispies.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Turn cereal mixture into baking dish. Lightly spray a spoon with non-stick cooking spray. Press down cereal mixture with the back of the spoon. Allow to cool.
Cut into 2 inch squares.

Yields: 20 squares.

Nutrition Information: 58 Cal., 0 g. fat, 0 g. fiber

The Love Dare - Day 13

Love Fights Fair "If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand." – Mark 3:25

Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable. When you tied the knot as bride and groom, you joined not only your hopes and dreams but also your hurts, fears, imperfections, and emotional baggage. From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be.

Pretty soon your mate started to slip off your lofty pedestal, and you off of theirs. The forced closeness of marriage began stripping away your public facades, exposing your private problems and secret habits. Welcome to fallen humanity.

At the same time, the storms of life began testing and revealing what you’re really made of. Work demands, health issues, in-law arguments, and financial needs flared up in varying degrees, adding pressure and heat to the relationship. This sets the stage for disagreements to break out between the two of you. You argued and fought. You hurt. You experienced conflict. But you are not alone.

Every couple goes through it. It’s par for the course. But not every couple survives it.

So don’t think living out today’s dare will drive all conflict from your marriage. Instead, this is about dealing with conflict in such a way that you come out healthier on the other side.

Both of you. Together.

The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you’ll ever do (or ever have done) to your marriage will most likely occur in the thick of conflict. That’s because this is when your pride is strongest. Your anger is hottest. You’re the most selfish and judgmental. Your words contain the most venom. You make the worst decisions. A great marriage on Monday can start driving off the cliff on Tuesday if unbridled conflict takes over and neither of you has your foot on the brakes.

But love steps in and changes things. Love reminds you that your marriage is too valuable to allow it to self-destruct, and that your love for your spouse is more important than whatever you’re fighting about. Love helps you install air bags and to set up guardrails in your relationship. It reminds you that conflict can actually be turned around for good. Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate, and enjoy a much deeper connection afterwards.

But how? The wisest way is to learn to fight clean by establishing healthy rules of engagement. If you don’t have guidelines for how you’ll approach hot topics, you won’t stay in bounds when the action heats up.

Basically there are two types of boundaries for dealing with conflict: “we” boundaries and “me” boundaries.

“We” boundaries are rules you both agree on beforehand, rules that apply during any fight or altercation. And each of you has the right to gently but directly enforce them if these rules are violated. These could include:

1. We will never mention divorce.

2. We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.

3. We will never fight in public or in front of our children.

4. We will call a “time out” if conflict escalates to a damaging level.

5. We will never touch one another in a harmful way.

6. We will never go to bed angry with one another.

7. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work this out.

“Me” boundaries are rules you personally practice on your own. Here are some of the most effective examples:

1. I will listen first before speaking. “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

2. I will deal with my own issues up-front. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

3. I will speak gently and keep my voice down. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Fighting fair means changing your weapons. Disagreeing with dignity. It should result in building a bridge instead of burning one down. Remember, love is not a fight, but it is always worth fighting for.

Today’s Dare: Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

"Be of the same mind toward one another." - Romans 12:16

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crockpot Breakfast

Crockpot Breakfast

32 oz Ore-Ida Country Style Hashbrowns
1 pound cooked lean ham, cubed
1 cup onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican-Style Cheese
1 cup fat-free skim milk
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 eggs
2 cups Egg Beaters Egg Beaters

Divide potatoes, ham, veggies and cheese so you can create several layers of each in the crock pot. Start with the hash browns, then ham, onions peppers and last cheese. Repeat until you have several layers. Beat eggs, milk salt & pepper pour over layers in the crock pot cover and turn on low. Cook for 10-12 hours overnight.

Serves: 12; 3 pointsplus+

The Love Dare - Day 12

Love Lets the Other Win "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests others." – Philippians 2:4

If you were asked to name three areas where you and your spouse disagree, you’d likely be able to do it without thinking very hard. You might even be able to produce a top ten list if given a few more minutes. And sadly, unless someone at your house starts doing some giving in, these same issues are going to keep popping up between you and your mate.

Unfortunately, stubbornness comes as standard feature on both husband and wife models. Defending your rights and opinions is a foundational part of your nature and make-up. It’s detrimental, though, inside a marriage relationship, and it steals away time and productivity. It can also cause great frustration for both of you.

Granted, being stubborn is not always bad. Some things are worth standing up for and protecting. Our priorities, morals, and obedience to God should be guarded with great effort. But too often we debate over piddling things, like the color of wall paint or the choice of restaurants.

Other times, of course, the stakes are much higher. One of you would like more children; the other doesn’t. One of you wants to vacation with your extended family; the other doesn’t. One of you wants to vacation with your extended family; the other doesn’t. One of you prefers home-schooling your kids; the other doesn’t. One of you thinks it’s time for marriage counseling or to get more involved in a church, while the other doesn’t.

Though these issues may not crop up every day, they keep resurfacing and don’t really go away. You never seem to get any closer to a resolution or compromise. The heels just keep digging in. It’s like driving with parking brake on.

There’s only one way to get beyond stalemates like these, and that’s by finding a word that’s the opposite of stubbornness – a word we first met back while discussing kindness. That word is “willing.” It’s an attitude and spirit of cooperation that should permeate our conversations. It’s like a palm tree by the ocean that endures the greatest winds because it knows how to gracefully bend. And the one best example of it is Jesus Christ, as described in Philippians 2. Follow the progression of His selfless love …

As God, He had every right to refuse becoming a man but yielded and did – because He was willing. He had the right to be served by all mankind but came to serve us instead. He had the right to live in peace and safety but willingly laid down His life for our sins. He was even willing to endure the grueling torture of the cross. He loved, cooperated, and was willing to do His Father’s will instead of His own.

In light of this amazing testimony, the Bible applies to us a one-sentence summary statement: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5) – the attitude of willingness, flexibility, and humble submission. It means laying down for the good of others what you have the right to claim for yourself.

All it takes for your present arguments to continue is for both of you to stay entrenched and unbending. But the very moment one of you says, “I’m willing to go your way on this one,” the argument will be over. And though the follow-through may cost you some pride and discomfort, you have made a loving, lasting investment in your marriage.

“Yes, but then I’ll look foolish. “I’ll lose the fight. I’ll lose control.” You’ve already looked foolish by being bullheaded and refusing to listen. You’ve already lost the fight by making this issue more important than your marriage and your spouse’s sense of worth. You may have already lost emotional control by saying things that got personal and hurt your mate.

The wise and loving thing to do is to start approaching your disagreements with a willingness to not always insist on your own way. That’s not to say your mate is necessarily right or being wise about a matter, but you are choosing to give strong consideration to their preference as a way of valuing them.

Love’s best advice comes from the Bible, which says, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield” (James 3:17 NKJV). Instead of treating your wife or husband like an enemy or someone to be guarded against, start by treating them as your closest, most honored friend. Give their words full weight.

No, you won’t always see eye-to-eye. You’re not supposed to be carbon copies of each other. If you were, one of you would be unnecessary. Two people who always share the same opinions and perspectives won’t have any balance or flavor to enhance the relationship. Rather, your differences are for listening to and learning from.

Are you willing to bend to demonstrate love to your spouse? Or are you refusing to give in because of pride? If it doesn’t matter in the long run – especially in eternity – then give up your rights and choose to honor the one you love. It will be good for you and good for your marriage.

Today’s Dare: Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first.

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." - Romans 12:18

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yoga Mat Package

Jon came home last night holding a package for me from Michelle. I took a picture of this, because I thought it was awesome! You see my dear friend Michelle sent me a yoga mat. I have wanted a yoga mat for quite sometime. Well Michelle bought the yoga mat for me, which was the easy part. The hard part was trying to figure out the best way to package the yoga mat and mail it. Thankfully the woman at the Post Office had a very creative idea. I hope that you enjoy this picture as much as I do. I am so thankful for good friends and faithful postal workers!

Beefaroni Casserole

Beefaroni Casserole
By, GILDJ002

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound 10% fat cooked ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
8 oz canned mushrooms, sliced
15 oz canned tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 cups dry whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican-Style Cheese
1/2 cup Reduced-Fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 375*F. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add beef, onion, and green pepper, and cook until beef is browned. Stir in mushrooms, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, sweetener/sugar, and garlic. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9" casserole dish sprayed with Pam. Spread cooked macaroni evenly over meat mixture. Layer cheddar and mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Cover and bake for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Serves 6 (each serving includes 1 tsp of healthy oil)

The Love Dare - Day 11

Love Cherishes "Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies." – Ephesians 5:28

Consider these two scenarios.

A man’s older car begins having serious trouble, so he takes it to a mechanic. After an assessment is made, he is told it will need a complete overhaul, which would tax his limited budget. Because of the expensive repairs, he determines to get rid of the car and spend his funds on a new vehicle. Seems reasonable, right?

Another man, an engineer, accidentally crushes his hand in a piece of equipment. He rushes to the hospital and has it x-rayed, finding that numerous bones are broken. Although frustrated and in pain, he willingly uses his savings to have it doctored and placed in a cast, then gingerly nurses it back to health over the following months. This too, probably seems reasonable to you.

The problem within our culture is that marriage is more often treated like the first scenario. When your relationship experiences difficulty, you are urged to dump your spouse for a “newer model.” But those who have this view do not understand the significant bond between a husband and wife. The truth is, marriage is more like the second scenario. You are a part of one another. You would never cut off your hand if it was injured but would pay whatever you could afford for the best medical treatment possible. That’s because your hand is priceless to you. It is part of who you are.

And so is your mate. Marriage is a beautiful mystery created by God, joining two lives together as one. This is not only happens physically but spiritually and emotionally. You start off sharing the same house, the same bed, the same last name. Your identity as individuals has been joined into one. When your spouse goes through a tragedy, both of you feel it. When you find success at your job, both of your rejoice. But somewhere along the way, you experience disappointment, and the sobering reality that you married and imperfect person sets in.

This, however, does not change the fact that your spouse is still a part of you. Ephesians 5:28-29 says, “Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”

This verse speaks to husbands, but notice how each member is viewed. They are both considered to be the same flesh. You must treat them with the same nurture and care that you treat yourself. When you show love to your spouse, you are showing love to yourself as well.

But there is a flip side to this coin. When you mistreat your mate, you are mistreating yourself. Think about it. Your lives are now interwoven together. Your spouse cannot experience joy or pain, blessing or cursing, without it also affecting you. So when you attack your mate, it is like attacking your own body.

It’s time to let love change your thinking. It’s time for you to realize that your spouse is as much a part of you as your hand, your eye, or your heart. She, too, needs to be loved and cherished. And if she has issues causing pain or frustration, then you should care for these with the same love and tenderness as you would a bodily injury. If he is wounded in some way, you should think of yourself as an instrument that helps bring healing to his life.

In light of this, think about how you treat your spouse’s physical body. Do you cherish it as your own? Do you treat it with respect and tenderness? Do you take pleasure in who they are? Or do you make them feel foolish or embarrassed? Just as you treasure your eyes, hands, and feet, you should treasure your spouse as a priceless gift.

Don’t let the culture around you determine the worth of your marriage. To compare it with something that can be discarded or replaced is to dishonor God’s purpose for it. That would be like amputating a limb. Instead, it should be a picture of love between two imperfect people who choose to love each other regardless.

Whenever a husband looks into the eyes of his wife, he should remember that “he who loves his wife loves himself.” And a wife should remember that when she loves him, she is also giving love and honor to herself.

When you look at your mate, you’re looking at a part of you. So treat her well. Speak highly of him. Nourish and cherish the love of your life.

Today’s Dare: What need does your spouse have that could meet today? Can you run an errand? Give a back rub or foot massage? Is there housework you could help with? Choose a gesture that says, “I cherish you” and do it with a smile.

"Answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”" - Mark 10:51

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sabatoge Starts in the Kitchen

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting on February 23, 2010.

The kitchen is where our success starts, how we fill our kitchen sets a pattern for what we eat-this week we shared lots of tips on ways to make our kitchen weight loss friendly.

One of the keys to long term weight loss is Managing our Environment-Don't allow your kitchen to be your enemy-What changes will you make this week to make sure your kitchen is figure friendly?

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
RECOGNIZE which foods are helping you to succeed and also which foods may be hindering your weight loss.

REMOVE those foods that are hindering your success. If it is just impossible to toss them, move them out of sight-a higher shelve in the pantry or to the back of the fridge-the objective here is to not let these foods be the first things you see.

REPLACE those hard to handle foods with food items that are healthy. If hunger hits and the first thing you see is a fresh bowl of fruit sitting out on your counter or a low fat/fat free yogurt in the front of your fridge that will be what you go for...something healthy :-)

Take stock of what is in your fridge and cabinets and replace them with lower fat items.
Choose more lean cuts of meat and less fatty cuts.
Choose more egg whites or egg substitute and less egg yolks.
Choose more low-fat or fat-free dairy items and less of 2% or higher. (Milks, cheese, yogurt)
Choose more healthy oils and less tropical oils, butter, lard, full fat dressings.
Choose more whole grains and less white bread, pasta, white rice.
Choose more veggies prepared in a healthy oil or broth and less veggies prepared with butter or cheese sauce.
Choose more fresh, canned or frozen fruit and less fried fruit or fruit served with cream sauces.
Choose more fat-free frozen treats or low fat snacks and less candy and baked goods made with butter and sugar.

Here's a little poem a fellow Leader wrote, I changed it a little but she deserves all the credit:
Where Can I Hide Them?
I heard the candy call my name
From the highest shelf.
I tried to store it out of sight
But could not control myself.

Perhaps the freezer is the place
To store a trigger-sweet.
But I discovered, sad but true,
Frozen brownies are a treat.

At last I found the perfect place
For the triggers I adore.
When temptation comes, I'll be ok,
Because I leave them at the store!

Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs. of lean ground turkey
10oz frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup minced onions
2 egg whites
2 TBSP ketchup
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 375. Thaw and drain spinach. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a greased loaf pan pack mixture into shape. Bake for 60 minutes, or until top gets golden brown. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes after baking. Cut into 6 even pieces.

Servings 6

The Love Dare - Day 10

Love is Unconditional "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us." – Romans 5:8

If someone were to ask you, “Why do you love your wife?” or “Why do you love your husband?” – what would you say?

Most men would mention their wife’s beauty, her sense of humor, her kindness, her inner strength. They might talk about her cooking, her knack for decorating, or what a good mother she is.

Women would probably say something about their husband’s good looks or his personality. They’d commend him for his steadiness and consistent character. They’d say they love him because he’s always there for them. He’s generous. He’s helpful.

But what if over the course of years, your wife or husband stopped being every one of those things. Would you still love them? Based on your answers above, the only logical response would be “no.” If your reasons for loving your spouse all have something to do with his or her qualities – and then those same qualities suddenly or gradually disappear – your basis for love is over.

The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.

The Bible refers to this kind of love by using the Greek word agape (pronounced uh-GOP-ay).

It differs from the other types of love, which are – phileo (friendship) and eros (sexual love). Both friendship and sex have an important place in marriage, of course, and are definitely part of the house you build together as husband and wife. But if your marriage totally depends on having common interests or enjoying a healthy sex life, then the foundation of your relationship is unstable.

Phileo and eros are more responsive in nature and can fluctuate based upon feelings. Agape love, on the other hand, is selfless and unconditional. So unless this kind of love forms the foundation of your marriage, the wear and tear of time will destroy it. Agape love is in “sickness and health” love, “for richer or poorer” love, “for better or worse” love. It is the only kind of love that is true love.

That’s because this is God’s kind of love. He doesn’t love use because we are lovable but because He is so loving. The Bible says, “In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). If He insisted that we prove ourselves worthy of His love, we would fail miserably. But God’s love is a choice He makes completely on His own. It’s something we receive from Him and then share with others. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

If a man says to his wife, “I have fallen out of love with you,” he is actually saying, “I never loved you unconditionally to begin with.” His love was based on feelings or circumstances rather than commitment. That’s the result of building a marriage on phileo or eros love. There must be a stronger foundation than mere friendship or sexual attraction. Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstance.

That’s not to say, though, that love which began for the wrong reasons cannot be restored and redeemed. In fact, when you rebuild your marriage with agape as its foundation, then the friendship and romantic aspects of your love become more endearing than ever before. When your enjoyment of each other as best friends and lovers is based on unwavering commitment, you will experience an intimacy that cannot be achieved any other way.

But you will struggle and fail to attain this kind of marriage unless you allow God to begin growing His love within you. Love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7) does not come from within. It can only come from God.

The Scriptures say that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This is God’s kind of love. And thankfully – by your choice – it can become your kind of love. But first you must receive it and share it.

And don’t be surprised, when your spouse begins living confidently under its shade, if he or she doesn’t become even more lovable to you than you remember. You will no longer say, “I love you because …” You will now say, “I love you, period.”

Today’s Dare: Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse --- something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else. Wash her car. Clean the kitchen. Buy his favorite dessert. Fold the laundry. Demonstrate love to them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.

"He who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness shall surround him." - Psalm 32:10

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
By, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2003

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Serves: 1 loaf, 16 slices (serving size: 1 slice); 5 PointsPlus per serving

CALORIES 183 FAT 4.7g FIBER 1.3g

The Love Dare - Day 9

Love Makes Good Impressions "Greet one another with a kiss of love." – 1 Peter 5:14

You’ve covered some serous ground so far in this journey. Learning to demonstrate aspects of love patience, kindness, and encouragement are not always easy but are certainly crucial to a healthy relationship. So dealing with the way you greet your spouse each day may seem inconsequential, but this small issue carries surprising significance.

You can tell a lot about the state of a couple’s relationship from the way they greet one another. You can see it in their expression and countenance, as well as how they speak to each other. It is even more obvious by their physical contact. But how much importance should you give a greeting?

The Bible has more to say about greetings than you might expect. The apostle Paul took time to encourage his readers to greet one another warmly when they met. In fact, near the end of his letter to the Romans, he asked fellow believers to greet twenty-seven of his friends and loved ones for him. He even took time to list each one by name.

It’s not just about your friends, however. Jesus noted in His Sermon on the Mount that even pagans speak kindly to people they like. That’s easy for anyone to do. But He took it a step further and said that being godly included being humble and gracious enough to address even your enemies with kindness.

This raises an interesting question. How do you greet your friends, coworkers, and neighbors? How about acquaintances and those you meet in public?

You may even encounter someone you don’t necessarily like yet still acknowledge them out of courtesy. So if you’re this nice and polite to other people, doesn’t your spouse deserve the same? Times ten?

It’s probably something you don’t think about very often – the first thing you say to him or to her when you wake up in the morning, the look on your face when you get in the car, the energy in your voice when you speak on the telephone. But here’s something else you probably don’t stop to consider – the difference it would make in your spouse’s day if everything about you expressed the fact that you were really, really glad to see them.

When someone communicates that they are glad to see you, your personal sense of self-worth increases. You feel more important and valued. That’s because a good greeting sets the stage for positive and healthy interaction. Like love, it puts wind in your sails.

Think back to the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. This young, rebellious man demanded his inheritance money and then wasted it on foolish lifestyle. But soon his bad choices caught up with him, and he found himself eating scrapes in a pigpen. Humbled and ashamed, he practiced his apologies and tried to think of the best way to go home and face his father. But the greeting he was expecting was not the one he received. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed” (Luke 15:20).

Of all the scenarios this young man had played out in his mind, this was likely the last one he expected. But how do you think it made him feel to receive his father’s embrace and hear his thankful tone? He no doubt felt loved and treasured once again. What do you think it did in their relationship?

What kind of greetings would make your mate feel like that? How could you excite his or her various senses with a simple word, a touch, a tone of voice? A loving greeting can bless your spouse through what they see, hear, and feel.

Think of the opportunities you have to greet each other on a regular basis. When coming through the door. When meeting for lunch. When saying good-night. When talking on the phone.

It doesn’t have to be bold and dramatic every time. But adding warmth and enthusiasm gives you the chance to touch your mate’s heart in subtle, unspoken ways.

Think about your greeting. Do you use it well? Does your spouse feel valued and appreciated? Do they feel loved? Even when you’re not getting along too well, you can lessen the tension and give them value by the way you greet them.

Remember, love is a choice. So choose to change your greeting. Choose love.

Today’s Dare: Think of a specific way you’d like to greet your spouse today. Do it with a smile and with enthusiasm. Then determine to change your greeting to reflect your love for them.

"For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love." - Philemon 7

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dark Chocolate

Here is the latest email from Dr. Jacobs.

Okay, for all of you who have been thinking, “All of these health people – all they do is tell me what NOT to eat and what NOT to do!”, here is an article for you:

Dark Chocolate Please
Even though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, you may have a few delightful chocolate treats leftover from one of those special heart shaped boxes. You will be happy to know that those tasty little chocolates may be packed with some potential health benefits. Mounting evidence links some types of chocolate with these benefits:
•Improved cardiovascular health
•Lower blood pressure
•Increased insulin sensitivity
•Cancer prevention
•Elevated mood

The Natural Wonders of Chocolate

What is it that makes chocolate so wonderful other than the obvious creamy texture and rich flavor? Chocolate is special because it is full of antioxidants. One cup of hot cocoa has up to three times the antioxidants found in a cup of green tea and about twice the amount in a glass of red wine. However, not all forms of chocolate reap equal health benefits. Dark chocolate and cocoa (cocoa content of at least 70%) are the heavy hitters in the chocolate line-up due to their high levels of flavonols. Flavonols have been shown to help ward off certain diseases. Also, dark chocolate is far less processed than milk and white chocolate and contains less sugar.

You can however get too much of a good thing. Since, all chocolate is high in calories and fat, it is best to eat only small portions. Even with the health benefits of chocolate, it does not take the place of eating your fruits or vegetables. A good alternative is to include some other flavonol rich foods paired with one (yes, one) square of chocolate.

•Tea and coffee and moderate amounts of red wine

Nutrition at a Glance

One ounce of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
•160 calories
•11 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat)
•14 grams carbohydrates (3.5 grams fiber)
•3 grams protein

Chocolate and cocoa naturally supply minerals such as magnesium, copper, and potassium. Though not a low fat food, dark chocolate is lowest in fat and sugar than other forms of chocolate.

Myths and Facts
•Chocolate is not high in caffeine. An ounce of dark chocolate has 28 mg of caffeine compared with 95-140 mg in a cup of coffee.
•Chocolate is not linked to tooth decay; in fact the tannins in dark chocolate may actually reduce this dental problem.
•Chocolate cannot cause addiction. If you or someone you know is a “choc-o-holic” that just means you have a strong preference for the taste, texture, and aroma.
Here are some delicious ways to get your chocolate fix:
•Have a bite-sized piece of dark chocolate
•One packet of low-fat hot cocoa mix
•Chocolate covered strawberries: 1 ounce dark chocolate melted over whole strawberries (try with grapes, dried apricots, and banana slices)
•Nonfat dark chocolate pudding
•Add cocoa powder to a smoothie made with banana, yogurt, frozen berries, and a touch of honey
Chocolate recipe substitution:
•When a recipe calls for chocolate, use dark chocolate or better yet cocoa powder.
•To substitute 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate, use 3 tablespoons of dry cocoa plus 2 tablespoons sugar plus 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

Bottom line, a little bit of chocolate goes a long way. Just ¼ ounce or 30 calories a day of dark chocolate has been linked to lower blood pressure, without causing weight gain. Currently, there is no recommended serving size of chocolate to reap heart healthy benefits. So go ahead and eat small amounts once in and enjoy every morsel.

By Elana Zimelman, R.D., L.D., C.D.E., Cooper Clinic Nutrition.
Just remember – moderation!

Apricot Glazed Pork Medallions

Apricot Glazed Pork Medallions

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/4 cups apricot preserves
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp Pickled Sliced Ginger

Season both sides of pork with salt and black peper. Add pork and sear 2 minutes per side. Add apricot preserves, soy sauce and ginger and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes, until pork is cooked through and sauce reduces.

Servings: 6; 8 PointsPlus per serving (this does not include the rice)

For Recipe Review, click here.

The Love Dare - Day 8

Love is Not Jealous "Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire." – Song of Solomon 8:6 NIV

Jealousy is one of the strongest drives known to man. It comes from the root word for zeal and means “to burn with an intense fire.” Scripture pointedly says, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4).

There are actually two forms: a legitimate jealousy based upon love, and an illegitimate jealousy based upon envy. Legitimate jealousy sparks when someone you love, who belongs to you, turns his or her heart away and replaces you with someone else. If a wife has an affair and gives herself to another person, her husband may have justified, jealous anger because of his love for her. He is longing to have back what is rightfully his.

The Bible describes God as having this kind of righteous jealousy for His people. It’s not that He is envious of us, wishing He had what we have (since He already owns everything). It’s that He deeply longs for us, desiring for us to keep Him as our first love. He doesn’t want us to let anything take precedence over Him in our hearts. The Bible warns us not to worship anything but Him because “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).

With this established, we will shift our focus to the illegitimate kind of jealousy that is in opposition to love – the one that is rooted in selfishness. This is to be jealous of someone, to be “moved with envy.”

Do you struggle with being jealous of others? Your friend is more popular, so feel hatred towards her. Your coworker gets the promotion, so you can’t sleep that night. He may have nothing wrong, but you became bitter because of his success. It has been said that people are fine with our succeeding, just as long as it is not more than theirs.

Jealousy is a common struggle. It is sparked when someone else upstages you and gets something you want. This can be very painful depending upon how selfish you are. Instead of congratulating them, you fume in anger and think ill of them. If you’re not careful, jealousy slithers like a viper into your heart and strikes your motivations and relationships. It can poison you from living the life of love God intended.

If you don’t diffuse your anger by learning to love others, you may eventually begin plotting against them. The Bible says that envy leads to fighting, quarreling, and every evil thing (James 3:16, 4:1-2).

There is a string of violent jealousy seen throughout Scripture. It caused the first murder when Cain despised God’s acceptance of his brother’s offering. Sarah sent away her handmaiden because Hagar could bear children while Sarah could not. Joseph’s brothers saw he was their father’s favorite, so they threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave. Jesus was more loving, powerful, and popular than the chief priests, so they envied Him and plotted His betrayal and crucifixion.

You don’t usually get jealous of disconnected strangers. The ones you’re tempted to jealous of are primarily in the same arena with you. They work in your office, play in your league, run in your circles … or live in your house. Yes, if you aren’t careful, jealousy can also infect your marriage.

When you were married, you were given the role of becoming your spouse’s biggest cheerleader and the captain of his or her fan club. Both of you become one and were to share in the enjoyment of the other. But if selfishness rules, any good thing happening to only one of you can be a catalyst for envy rather than congratulations.

He may enjoy golf on the weekend while she stays home cleaning the house. He boasts to her about shooting a great score and she feels like shooting him.

Or perhaps she is constantly invited to go out with friends while he is left home with the dog. If he’s not careful, he can resent her popularity.

Because love is not selfish and puts other first, it refuses to let jealousy in. It leads you to celebrate the successes of your spouse rather than resenting them. A loving husband doesn’t mind his wife being better at something, having more fun, or getting more applause. He sees her as completing him, not competing with him.

When he receives praise, he publicly thanks her for her support in aiding his own success. He refuses to brag in such a way that may cause her to resent him. A loving wife will be the first to cheer for her man when he wins. She does not compare her weaknesses to his strengths. She throws a celebration, not a pity party.

It is time to let love, humility, and gratefulness destroy any jealousy that springs up in your heart. It’s time to let your mate’s successes draw you closer together and give you greater opportunities to show genuine love.

Today’s Dare: Determine to become your spouse’s biggest fan and to reject any thoughts of jealousy. To help set your heart on your spouse and focus on their achievements, take yesterday’s list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he or she recently enjoyed.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." - Romans 12:15

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli
By, Weight Watchers

12 oz uncooked pasta
1 2/3 tsp table salt
10 oz cooked broccoli
1 tsp light butter
1/3 cup(s) dried bread crumbs
1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups fat-free skim milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Shredded Mexican-Style Cheese
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions, adding broccoli to water 3 minutes before pasta will be done; drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer crumbs to a small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and set aside.

In same saucepan (wipe clean if necessary), whisk together milk and flour until blended; add onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Pour over cooked, drained pasta and broccoli; toss to mix and coat.

Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle top evenly with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbly at edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

Servings: 6; Point: 7

The Love Dare - Day 7

Love Believes the Best "[Love] believes all things, hopes all things." – 1 Corinthians 13:7

In the deep and private corridors of your heart, there is a room. It’s called the Appreciation Room. It’s where your thoughts go when you encounter positive and encouraging things about your spouse. And every so often, you enjoy visiting this special place.

On the walls are written kind words and phrases describing the good attributes of your mate. These may include characteristics like “honest” and “intelligent,” or phrases like “diligent worker,” “wonderful cook,” or “beautiful eyes.” They are things you’ve discovered about your husband or wife that have embedded themselves in your memory. When you think about these things, your appreciation for your spouse begins to increase. In fact, the more time you spend meditating on these positive attributes, the more grateful you are for your mate.

Most things in the Appreciation Room were likely written in the initial stages of your relationship. You could summarize them as things you liked and respected about your loved one. They were true, honorable, and good. And you spent a great deal of time dwelling on them in this room … before you were married. But you may have found that you don’t visit this special room as often as you once did. That’s because there is another competing room nearby.

Down another dark corridor of your heart lies the Depreciation Room, and unfortunately you visit there as well.

On its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you about your spouse. These things were placed there out of frustration, hurt feelings, and the disappointment of unmet expectations.

This room is lined with the weaknesses and failures of your husband and wife. Their bad habits, hurtful words, and poor decisions are written in large letters that cover the walls from one end to the other. If you stay in this room long enough, you get depressed and start expressing things like, “My wife is so selfish,” or “My husband can be such a jerk.” Or maybe, “I think I married the wrong person.”

Some people write very hateful things in this room where tell-off statements are rehearsed for the next argument. Emotional injuries fester here, adding more scathing remarks to the walls. It’s where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease. People fall out of love here.

But know this. Spending time in the Depreciation Room kills marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room and violent plans are schemed. The more time you spend in this place, the more your heart devalues your spouse. It begins the moment you walk in the door, and your care for them lessens with every second that ticks by.

You may say, “But these things are true!” Yes, but so are the things in the Appreciation Room. Everyone fails and has areas that need growth. Everyone has unresolved issues, hurts, and personal baggage. This is a sad aspect of being human. We all have sinned. But we have this unfortunate tendency to downplay our own negative attributes while putting our partner’s failures under a magnifying glass.

Let’s get down to the real issue here. Love knows about the Depreciation Room and does not live in denial that it exists.

But love chooses not live there.

You must decided to stop running to this room and lingering there after every frustrating event in your relationship. It does you no good and drains the joy out of your marriage.

Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, love makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible, love focuses on the positive.

It’s time to start thinking differently. It’s time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write “COVERED IN LOVE” in huge letters across the walls.

It’s time to move into the Appreciation Room, to settle down and make it your home. As you choose to meditate on the positives, you will learn that many more wonderful character qualities could be written across these walls. Your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read. Dreams and hopes have yet to be realized. Talents and abilities may be discovered like hidden treasure. But the choice to explore them starts with a decision by you.

You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial step as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse. It is a decision that you make, whether they deserve it or not.

Today’s Dare: For today’s dare, get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative things on the second sheet. Place both sheets in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

"If there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things." - Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Corn Dog Muffins

Corn Dog Muffins

1/2 cup uncooked yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
1 item egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp light margarine
4 fat-free turkey hot dog

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray five muffin cups generously with cooking spray, or use paper muffin liners. Fill remaining cups with cold water.
In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, dry mustard, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, egg, and melted margarine or oil. Mix until smooth.
Cut hot dogs into 1-inch lengths. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup. Place 3 hot dog pieces in each muffin cup.
Bake 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: 5 muffins; 3 points

The Love Dare - Day 6

Love is not irritable "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city." - Proverbs 16:32

Love is hard to offend and quick to forgive. How easily do you get irritated and offended? Some people have the motto, “Never pass up an opportunity to get upset with your spouse.” When something goes wrong, they quickly take full advantage of it by expressing how hurt or frustrated they are. But this is the opposite reaction to love.

To be irritable means “to be near the point of a knife.” Not far from being poked. People are irritated are locked, loaded, and ready to overact.

When under pressure, love doesn’t turn sour. Minor problems don’t yield major reactions. The truth is, love does not get angry or hurt unless there is a legitimate and just reason in the sight of God. A loving husband will remain calm and patient, showing mercy and restraining his temper. Rage and violence are out of the question. A loving wife is not overly sensitive or cranky but exercise emotional self-control. She chooses to be a flower among the thorns and respond pleasantly during prickly situations.

If you are walking under the influence of love, you will be a joy, not a jerk. Ask yourself, “Am I a calming breeze, or a storm waiting to happen?”

Why do people become irritable? There are at least two key reasons that contribute to it:

Stress. Stress weighs you down, drains your energy, weakens your health, and invites you to be cranky. It can be brought on by the relational causes: arguing, division, and the bitterness. There are excessive causes: overworking, overplaying, and overspending. And there are deficiencies: not get enough rest, nutrition, or exercise. Oftentimes we inflict these daggers on ourselves, and this sets us up to be irritable.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This means you must balance, prioritize, and pace yourself. Too often we throw caution to the wind and run full steam ahead, doing what feels right at the moment. Soon we are gasping for air, wound up in knots, and ready to snap. The increasing pressure can wear away at our patience and our relationship.

The Bible can help you avoid unhealthy stress. It teaches you to let love guide your relationships to so you aren’t caught up in unnecessary arguments (Colossians 3:12-14). To pray through your anxieties instead of tackling them on your own (Philippians 4:6-7). To delegate when you are overworked (Exodus 18:17-23). To avoid overindulgence (Proverbs 23:16)

It also exhorts you to take a “Sabbath” vacation day every week for worship and rest. This strategically allows you time to recharge, refocus, and add breathing room or margin to your weekly schedule. Establishing these kinds of extra spaces will place cushions between you and the pressures around you, reducing stress that keeps you on edge around your mate. But there is a deeper reason why you can become irritable –

Selfishness. When you’re irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 NKJV). Some people are like lemons: when life squeezes them, they pour out a sour response. Some are more like peaches: when the pressure is on, the result is still sweet.

Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule. But selfishness also wears many other masks:

Lust, for example, is the result of being ungrateful for what you have and choosing to covet or burn with passion for something that is forbidden. When your heart is lustful, it will become easily frustrated and angered (James 4:1-3). Bitterness takes root when he is provoked (Ephesians 4:31). Greed for more money and possessions will frustrate you with unfulfilled desires (1 Timothy 6:9-10). These strong cravings coupled with dissatisfaction lead you to lash out at anyone who stands in your way. Pride leads you to act harshly in order to protect your ego and reputation.

These motivations can never be satisfied. But when love enters your heart, it calms you down and inspires you to quit focusing on yourself. It loosens your grasp and helps you let go of unnecessary things.

Love will lead you to forgive instead of holding a grudge. To be grateful instead of greedy. To be content rather than rushing into more debt. Love encourages you to be happy when someone else succeeds rather than lying wake at night in envy. Love says “share the inheritance” rather than “fight with your relatives.” It reminds you to prioritize your family rather than sacrifice them for a promotion at work. In each decision, love ultimately lowers your stress and helps you release the venom that can build up inside. It then sets up your heart to respond to your spouse with patience and encouragement rather than anger and exasperation.

Today's Dare: Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.

"I always do my best to have a clear conscience towards God and men." -Acts 24:16

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Crockpot Maple Ham

Crockpot Maple Ham Recipe
By, Stephanie O'Dea

7-8 pound bone-in spiral-cut ham
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup all natural maple syrup
2 cups pineapple juice

Use a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Unwrap the ham, and discard flavor packet. Place it into your stoneware, flat-side down. Rub brown sugar on all sides. Pour on maple syrup and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If possible, baste ham with collected juice from the bottom of the crock an hour or so before serving. When cooking is done, remove carefully and let it rest on a cutting board for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Points and servings vary based on the ham you use.

For Recipe Review, click here.

The Love Dare - Day 5

Love is not rude "He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him." — Proverbs 27:14

Nothing irritates others as quickly as being rude. Rudeness is unnecessarily saying or doing things that are unpleasant for another person to be around. To be rude is to act unbecoming, embarrassing, or irritating. In marriage, this could be a foul mouth, poor table manners, or a habit of making sarcastic quips. However you look at it, no one enjoys being around a rude person. Rude behavior may seem insignificant to the person doing it, but it’s unpleasant to those on the receiving end.

As always, love has something to say about this. When a man is driven by love, he intentionally behaves in a way that’s more pleasant for his wife to be around. If she desires to love him, she purposefully avoids things that frustrate him or cause him discomfort.

The bottom line is that genuine love minds its manners.

Embracing this one concept could add some fresh air to your marriage. Good manners express to your wife or husband, “I value you enough to exercise some self-control around you. I want to be a person who’s a pleasure to be with.” When you allow love to change your behavior—even in the smallest of ways—you restore an atmosphere of honor to your relationship. People who practice good etiquette tend to raise the respect level of the environment around them.

For the most part, the etiquette you use at home is much different than the kind you employ with friends, or even with total strangers. You may be barking or pouting around the house, but if the front door chimes, you open it all smiling and kind. Yet if you dare to love, you’ll also want to give your best to your own. If you don’t let love motivate you to make needed changes in your behavior, the quality of your marriage relationship will suffer for it.

Women tend to be much better at certain types of manners than men, though they can be rude in other ways. King Solomon said, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife” (Proverbs 25:24 niv). But men especially need to learn this important lesson. The Bible says, “It is well with the man who is gracious” (Psalm 112:5). A man of discretion will find out what is appropriate, then adjust his behavior accordingly.

There are two main reasons why people are rude: ignorance and selfishness. Neither, of course, is a good thing. A child is born ignorant of etiquette, needing lots of help and training. Adults, however, display their ignorance at another level. You know the rules, but you can be blind to how you break them or be too self-centered to care. In fact, you may not realize how unpleasant you can be to live with.

Test yourself with these questions:

• How does your spouse feel about the way you speak and act around them?

• How does your behavior affect your mate’s sense of worth and self-esteem?

• Would your husband or wife say you’re a blessing, or that you’re condescending and embarrassing?

If you’re thinking that your spouse—not you—is the one who needs work in this area, you’re likely suffering from a bad case of ignorance, with a secondary condition of selfishness. Remember, love is not rude but lifts you to a higher standard.

Do you wish your spouse would quit doing the things that bother you? Then it’s time to stop doing the things that bother them. Will you be thoughtful and loving enough to discover and avoid the behavior that causes life to be unpleasant for your mate? Will you dare to be delightful?

Here are three guiding principles when it comes to practicing etiquette in your marriage:

1. Guard the Golden Rule. Treat your mate the same way you want to be treated (see Luke 6:31).

2. No double standards. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers.

3. Honor requests. Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not do. If in doubt, then ask.

Today’s Dare: Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only.

"The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious." - Ecclesiastes 10:12

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Letting Go For Lent

A few days ago I remembered something about my time at Multnomah Bible College. There was one year in particular that I choose to fast for Lent. I remember that it helped to prepare me for Easter and helped me to be more reflective in forty days leading up to such a significant holiday.

I honestly haven't thought about it much more after that until yesterday morning. While I was getting ready for work, the Lord reminded me that it was Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. I felt a very strong urge to fast and give something up for the next forty day. There were two things that I considered fasting from, chocolate or TV.

To make a long story short, TV won over chocolate. I was so excited when Jon decided to do this with me. It is always easier to do these things with other people by your side. When Jon came home from work last night he decided that we were going to put the TV away for a while so that it would not be such a temptation for us both.

I am praying that God blesses our lives and our marriage over the next forty days as we are on this journey with Him. TV was also the idol that God has been asking me to let go of for over two and a half months. Well last night I let that idol go in obedience to the Lord and am walking in faith that God has something better planned for my life. God will help you to let go of whatever it is that you think is better then Him.

So of course we rearranged the living room after we took out the TV. Here is what it looks like now.

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers
By, My Mother in Law

6 bell peppers
2 Tbsp onion, chopped
1 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp garlic salt
15 oz canned tomato sauce
3/4 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
1 pound 10% fat cooked ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice

1. Cut thin slice from stem end of each pepper. Remove seeds and membrances; rinse. Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover 5 min; drain.

2. Cook and stir in ground beef and onion in a 10inch skillet until ground beef is light brown; drain. Stir in salt, garlic salt, rice and 1 cup of tomato sauce. Heat through.

3. Stuff each pepper with ground beef mixture; stand upright in ungreased baking dish; 8x8x2 in. Pour remaining sauce over peppers. Cover; cook in 350 degree oven 45 min.

4. Uncover; cook 15min. Sprinkle w. cheese.

Servings: 6; 5 pointsplus+, 4 points

For recipe review, click here.

The Love Dare - Day 4

Love is thoughtful "How precious also are Your thoughts to me. . . .How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand." — Psalm 139:17–18

Love thinks. It’s not a mindless feeling that rides on waves of emotion and falls asleep mentally. It keeps busy in thought, knowing that loving thoughts precede loving actions.

When you first fell in love, being thoughtful came quite naturally. You spent hours dreaming of what your loved one looked like, wondering what he or she was doing, rehearsing impressive things to say, then enjoying sweet memories of the time you spent together. You honestly confessed, “I can’t stop thinking about you.”

But for most couples, things begin to change after marriage. The wife finally has her man; the husband has his trophy. The hunt is over and the pursuing done. Sparks of romance slowly burn into grey embers, and the motivation for thoughtfulness cools. You drift into focusing on your job, your friends, your problems, your personal desires, yourself. After a while, you unintentionally begin to ignore the needs of your mate.

But the fact that marriage has added another person to your universe does not change. Therefore, if your thinking doesn’t mature enough to constantly include this person, you catch yourself being surprised rather than being thoughtful.

“Today’s our anniversary?”

“Why didn’t you include me in that decision?”

“Don’t you ever think about anyone but yourself?”

If you don’t learn to be thoughtful, you end up regretting missed opportunities to demonstrate love. Thoughtlessness is a silent enemy to a loving relationship.

Let’s be honest. Men struggle with thoughtfulness more than women. A man can focus like a laser on one thing and forget the rest of the world. Whereas this can benefit him in that one arena, it can make him overlook other things that need his attention.

A woman, on the other hand, is more multi-conscious, able to maintain an amazing awareness of many factors at once. She can talk on the phone, cook, know where the kids are in the house, and wonder why her husband isn’t helping . . . all simultaneously. Adding to this, a woman also thinks relationally. When she works on something, she is cognizant of all the people who are somehow connected to it.

Both of these tendencies are examples of how God designed women to complete their men. As God said at creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). But these differences also create opportunities for misunderstanding.

Men, for example, tend to think in headlines and say exactly what they mean. Not much is needed to understand the message. His words are more literal and shouldn’t be overanalyzed. But women think and speak between the lines. They tend to hint. A man often has to listen for what is implied if he wants to get the full meaning.

If a couple doesn’t understand this about one another, the fallout can result in endless disagreements. He’s frustrated wondering why she speaks in riddles and doesn’t just come out and say things. She’s frustrated wondering why he’s so inconsiderate and doesn’t add two and two together and just figure it out.

A woman deeply longs for her husband to be thoughtful. It is a key to helping her feel loved. When she speaks, a wise man will listen like a detective to discover the unspoken needs and desires her words imply. If, however, she always has to put the pieces together for him, it steals the opportunity for him to demonstrate that he loves her.

This also explains why women will get upset with their husbands without telling them why. In her mind she’s thinking, “I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him. He should be able to look at the situation and see what’s going on here.” At the same time, he’s grieved because he can’t read her mind and wonders why he’s being punished for a crime he didn’t know he committed.

Love requires thoughtfulness—on both sides—the kind that builds bridges through the constructive combination of patience, kindness, and selflessness. Love teaches you how to meet in the middle, to respect and appreciate how your spouse uniquely thinks.

A husband should listen to his wife and learn to be considerate of her unspoken messages. A wife should learn to communicate truthfully and not say one thing while meaning another.

But too often you become angry and frustrated instead, following the destructive pattern of “ready, shoot, aim.” You speak harshly now and determine later if you should have said it. But the thoughtful nature of love teaches you to engage your mind before engaging your lips. Love thinks before speaking. It filters words through a grid of truth and kindness.

When was the last time you spent a few minutes thinking about how you could better understand and demonstrate love to your spouse? What immediate need can you meet? What’s the next event (anniversary, birthday, holiday) you could be preparing for? Great marriages come from great thinking.

Today’s Dare: Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you." - Philippians 1:3

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Take Charge when Dining Out

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting on February 16, 2010.

It is very possible to dine out successfully without going off plan or feeling deprived, simply use one or more of these tips that were shared in this week's meeting and get your CARD punched next week!

*The #1 TIP that really will help you be successful is- Know where you are headed and have a plan-Most establishments have their menus on the WEB just do a search or call and have them fax you over a menu. Your Pocket Guide is a great tool to have on hand when Dining Out-Dining Out ideas start on page 44 and you can find a simple guide to portion sizes on page 50.

*If not knowing the portion size of a FILLING FOOD try the SETPOINTS, this is the number you see in parentheses in your pocket guide, dining out companion, e-tools, complete food companion, etc. To learn about how to use SETPOINTS check out pages 42-43 in your pocket guide, you will also find a list of foods that SETPOINTS can be used for. A plain baked potato is a great item to use this technique on, it is really hard to determine the portion size of a HUGE potato from McAllisters, Texas Road House etc. SETPOINTS takes the guessing away and you can enjoy that potato....remember to eat until satisfied not stuffed :-) (Remember to count extra for any toppings…the setpoints is just for the plain potato!)

*Share an entree/dessert.

*When you order have the waiter bag half your meal and bring it you with the check.

*Order from the Kid's menu-these are appropriate portion sizes.

*Order from the lunch menu not only will you save money but also calories since lunch portions are typically smaller.

*Order RED sauce, not White sauce (unless of course the white sauce is part of your PLAN)

*Get food prepared the way you want, you are paying so don't be shy!

*Ask for dressing on the side. One member suggested dipping your fork in the dressing first and then stab into your salad!

*If the Bread or Chip Basket gets you every time ask that it not be delivered to your table or put it far away and not at hands reach.

*Substitute the white rice or pasta with a whole grain pasta or brown rice.

*Double up on Veggies!

*Soda and mixed drinks can add up quickly in points. Opt for Diet soda or mixed drinks with diet soda or tonic water. WATER is an excellent substitute and will cost you ZERO points :-)

*USE those 35 Weekly Points and ENJOY your next Dining Out experience without Guilt!

*If you have E-Tools check out the interactive Cheat Sheets!
For more tips on Dining Out The Smart Way check out

"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret" ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Sticky Chicken or Pork Chops

Sticky Chicken or Pork Chops

1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp unpacked brown sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp mustard
4 chicken breasts or pork chops

Mix wet ingredients, spoon over meat and bake 350 for 20 minutes.

Servings: 4; Points: 3

The Love Dare - Day 3

Love is not selfish "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor." — Romans 12:10

We live in a world that is enamored with “self.” The culture around us teaches us to focus on our appearance, feelings, and personal desires as the top priority. The goal, it seems, is to chase the highest level of happiness possible. The danger from this kind of thinking, however, becomes painfully apparent once inside a marriage relationship.

If there were ever a word that basically means the opposite of love, it is selfishness. Unfortunately it is something that is ingrained into every person from birth. You can see it in the way young children act, and often in the way adults mistreat one another. Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. Yet you cannot point out the many ways your spouse is selfish without admitting that you can be selfish too. That would be hypocritical.

Why do we have such low standards for ourselves but high expectations for our mate? The answer is a painful pill to swallow. We are all selfish.

When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that’s a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that’s a sign of selfishness. But love “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Loving couples—the ones who are enjoying the full purpose of marriage—are bent on taking good care of the other flawed human they get to share life with. That’s because true love looks for ways to say “yes.”

One ironic aspect of selfishness is that even generous actions can be selfish if the motive is to gain bragging rights or receive a reward. If you do even a good thing to deceitfully manipulate your husband or wife, you are still being selfish. The bottom line is that you either make decisions out of love for others or love for yourself.

Love is never satisfied except in the welfare of others. You can’t be acting out of real love and selfishness at the same time. Choosing to love your mate will cause you to say “no” to what you want so you can say “yes” to what they need. That’s putting the happiness of your partner above your own. It doesn’t mean you can never experience happiness, but you don’t negate the happiness of your spouse so you can enjoy it yourself.

Love also leads to inner joy. When you prioritize the well-being of your mate, there is a resulting fulfillment that cannot be duplicated by selfish actions. This is a benefit that God created and reserves for those who genuinely demonstrate love. The truth is, when you relinquish your rights for the sake of your mate, you get a chance to lose yourself to the greater purpose of marriage.

Nobody knows you as well as your spouse. And that means no one will be quicker to recognize a change when you deliberately start sacrificing your wants and wishes to make sure his or her needs are met.

If you find it hard to sacrifice your own desires to benefit your spouse, then you may have a deeper problem with selfishness than you want to admit.

Ask yourself these questions:

• Do I truly want what’s best for my husband or wife?

• Do I want them to feel loved by me?

• Do they believe I have their best interests in mind?

• Do they see me as looking out for myself first?

Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation in the eyes of those around you, especially in the eyes of your spouse. But is it a loving reputation? Remember, your marriage partner also has the challenge of loving a selfish person. So determine to be the first to demonstrate real love to them, with your eyes wide open. And when all is said and done, you’ll both be more fulfilled.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Today’s Dare: Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Get Fit

Last fall I signed up to be apart of a "Get Fit" group. I receive emails from Dr. Jacobs, the dean of Education, on a regular basis. It is often such good information about healthy living and weight loss that I would like to share it with you.

Here is a list from the Harvard Medical School:

Here are 10 small steps to get you on the road to better health in 2010.

1. Take a 10-minute walk. If you don’t exercise at all, a brief walk is a great way to start. If you do, it’s a good way to add more exercise to your day.

2. Give yourself a lift. Lifting a hardcover book or a two-pound weight a few times a day can help tone your arm muscles. When that becomes a breeze, move on to heavier items or join a gym.

3. Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive, taste good, and are good for everything from your brain to your bowels.

4. Make breakfast count. Start the day with some fruit and a serving of whole grains, like oatmeal, bran flakes, or whole-wheat toast.

5. Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out just one sugar-sweetened soda or calorie-laden latte can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. Over a year, that can translate into a 10-pound weight loss.

6. Have a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts are good for your heart. Try grabbing some instead of chips or cookies when you need a snack, adding them to salads for a healthful and tasty crunch, or using them in place of meat in pasta and other dishes.

7. Sample the fruits of the sea. Eat fish or other types of seafood instead of red meat once a week. It’s good for the heart, the brain, and the waistline.

8. Breathe deeply. Try breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes a day. It can help you relax. Slow, deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure.

9. Wash your hands often. Scrubbing up with soap and water often during the day is a great way to protect your heart and health. The flu, pneumonia, and other infections can be very hard on the heart.

10. Count your blessings. Taking a moment each day to acknowledge the blessings in your life is one way to start tapping into other positive emotions. These have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, just as their opposites — chronic anger, worry, and hostility — contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Crockpot Lazy Chicken

Lazy Chicken Crockpot Recipe
By, Stephanie O'Dea

Frozen Chicken Breast or Thighs
Bottled Marinara Sauce

cook on low for 8 hrs, high for 4. Shred chicken with forks; serve over hot pasta or rice.

Other Variations:

Use BBQ sauce or your favorite salad dressing or any of those ready-made marinades or sauces such as sweet and sour, curry, teriyaki, etc!

This technique works great with beef, lamb, pork, and hardy vegetables.

The Love Dare - Day 2

Love is kind "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." - Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in order to minimize a negative circumstance, kindness is how love acts to maximize a positive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive. These two sides of love are the cornerstones on which many of the other attributes we will discuss are built.

Love makes you kind. And kindness makes you likeable. When you’re kind, people want to be around you. They see you as being good to them and good for them.

The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3–4). Kind people simply find favor wherever they go. Even at home. But “kindness” can feel a little generic when you try defining it, much less living it. So let’s break kindness down into four basic core ingredients:

Gentleness. When you’re operating from kindness, you’re careful how you treat your spouse, never being unnecessarily harsh. You’re sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you’ll bend over backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible. You speak the truth in love.

Helpfulness. Being kind means you meet the needs of the moment. If it’s housework, you get busy. A listening ear? You give it. Kindness graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying about her rights. Kindness makes a husband curious to discover what his wife needs, then motivates him to be the one who steps up and ensures those needs are met—even if his are put on hold.

Willingness. Kindness inspires you to be agreeable. Instead of being obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible. Rather than complaining and making excuses, you look for reasons to compromise and accommodate. A kind husband ends thousands of potential arguments by his willingness to listen first rather than demand his way.

Initiative. Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn’t sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. They don’t require the other to get his or her act together before showing love. When acting from kindness, you see the need, then make your move. First.

Jesus creatively described the kindness of love in His parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the Bible—Luke, chapter 10. A Jewish man attacked by robbers is left for dead on a remote road. Two religious leaders, respected among their people, walk by without choosing to stop. Too busy. Too important. Too fond of clean hands. But a common man of another race—the hated Samaritans, whose dislike for the Jews was both bitter and mutual—sees this stranger in need and is moved with compassion. Crossing all cultural boundaries and risking ridicule, he stops to help the man. Bandaging his wounds and putting him on his own donkey, he carries him to safety and pays all his medical expenses out of his own pocket.

Where years of racism had caused strife and division, one act of kindness brought two enemies together. Gently. Helpfully. Willingly. Taking the initiative, this man demonstrated true kindness in every way.

Wasn’t kindness one of the key things that drew you and your spouse together in the first place? When you married, weren’t you expecting to enjoy his or her kindness for the rest of your life? Didn’t your mate feel the same way about you? Even though the years can take the edge off that desire, your enjoyment in marriage is still linked to the daily level of kindness expressed.

The Bible describes a woman whose husband and children bless and praise her. Among her noble attributes are these: “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). How about you? How would your husband or wife describe you on the kindness meter? How harsh are you? How gentle and helpful? Do you wait to be asked, or do you take the initiative to help? Don’t wait for your spouse to be kind first.

It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.

Today’s Dare: In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

"What is desirable in a man is his kindness." - Proverbs 19:22

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Permanently Sweet Tooth

One of the most important things I have had to learn this year has been to find a balance between over indulgence and deprivation. The main reason that I chose to follow the Weight Watchers plan is that I could eat anything I wanted, nothing was off limits. All too quickly I learned that you don't want to use all of your points on cake and ice cream, because that just will not keep you satisfied throughout the rest of the day. At the same time, you have to retrain your body, so that it does not expect sweets all day, everyday.

The entire time that I was losing weight I was very strict about the sweets that I would and would not eat. Since I have gotten on maintenance I have slowly added more of those foods back into my weekly diet, because I enjoy them. But you know what I have learned in the last few weeks? I do not think my sweet tooth will ever go away, it is here to stay. It is so hard to control, because it feels like it just wants to take over and eat every last cookie in the house. It may feel that way, but I am not going to give in to that, I have worked too hard to get to where I am at.

I'm sure that I am not alone and that there are others out there with a rage sweet tooth like mine. All I have to say is hang in there. Let yourself enjoy sweets, but don't let it be something that rages out of control.

I moved!!

When I started the morning I thought that I would create a blog that had to do with The Love Dare. You see I took the KLOVE Love Dare Challenge 41 days ago. However, 40 days is not long enough to let God really work out the issues in my marriage that He needs to work on. I was going to blog for the next 40 days, each day posting the devotional and the dare in case there are others out there who want to take up this challenge as well. However, as I was considering this I was thinking about website that I already have, that I have practically neglected since November 2009. It was called Living a Changed Life.

When I started that website in August 2009, I thought that it was all about my weight loss journey and helping others through their journeys as well. But it is more than that, people need help through their journey called Life. The person who will help them through that best is Jesus Christ. So that is why I will not be updating my website anymore, but moving here a blog format.

I will blog about my weight loss maintenance journey as well as other things that God puts in my path. I will try to post recipes and low point foods for those who want it. At the same times each day I will post The Love Dare devotional and dare for that day. Living a Changed Life is about every aspect of your life and that’s what I am going to blog about!

The Love Dare - Day 1

Love is patient "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." — Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Love works. It is life’s most powerful motivator and has far greater depth and meaning than most people realize. It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it like our lungs need oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living. Relationships become meaningful with it. No marriage is successful without it.

Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these two attributes. And that’s where your dare will begin. With patience.

Love will inspire you to become a patient person. When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation. You are slow to anger. You choose to have a long fuse instead of a quick temper. Rather than being restless and demanding, love helps you settle down and begin extending mercy to those around you. Patience brings an internal calm during an external storm.

No one likes to be around an impatient person. It causes you to overreact in angry, foolish, and regrettable ways. The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep breath. It clears the air. It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room. It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil.

If your spouse offends you, do you quickly retaliate, or do you stay under control? Do you find that anger is your emotional default when treated unfairly? If so, you are spreading poison rather than medicine.

Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.

Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying. Patience stands in the doorway where anger is clawing to burst in, but waits to see the whole picture before passing judgment. The Bible says, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).

As sure as a lack of patience will turn your home into a war zone, the practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (Proverbs 15:18). Statements like these from the Bible book of Proverbs are clear principles with timeless relevance. Patience is where love meets wisdom. And every marriage needs that combination to stay healthy.

Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.

But can your spouse count on having a patient wife or husband to deal with? Can she know that locking her keys in the car will be met by your understanding rather than a demeaning lecture that makes her feel like a child? Can he know that cheering during the last seconds of a football game won’t invite a loud-mouthed laundry list of ways he should be spending his time? It turns out that few people are as hard to live with as an impatient person.

What would the tone and volume of your home be like if you tried this biblical approach: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally. But wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their marriage relationships. That’s a good starting point to demonstrate true love.

This Love Dare journey is a process, and the first thing you must resolve to possess is patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s a race worth running.

Today's Dare: The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often eflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.


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