Favorite Soups for Cold Winter Days

As a missionary kid in Brazil, we never had winter: it was hot all year around. But that didn’t keep us from having soup! So when I moved to the United States and would hear comments about having to wait for winter to have soup for supper, it never made much sense to me. However, after living through ten winters in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I am beginning to understand that there is definitely something cozy and yummy about having a hot bowl of soup on cold winter days!

Even as I write this, today feels like a “soup day”, for snow is falling outside and the fire in the wood stove is going. And so, because we are still in the clutches of winter and have a few months to go before the birds start singing again and the trees begin to look alive, we have gathered up some of our favorite soups to share with you!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

I grew up having this chicken tortilla soup and it is still one of my favorite soups to make, even now as an adult. The key is all the toppings that you add at the table–make sure you pile them on! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced (or powdered garlic)

1 – 4oz can green chilies

6 cups chicken broth

1 – 10oz can cream of chicken soup

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ tablespoons A-1 steak sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cajun or taco seasoning

¼ teaspoon pepper

3-6 cups chicken, cooked and cubed/shredded

Directions

In a large stockpot, saute onions and garlic in a little oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.

When serving, load each bowl with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes. Cilantro, green onions, and avocados are also yummy toppings!


Hearty Potato Soup

This is my husband’s all time favorite soup! It is creamy, savory and hearty! Jeremiah is very happy when I make this soup and serve it with a side of warm dinner rolls! ~ Rachel

Ingredients

6 slices of bacon, cooked

1 onion, diced and sauteed

32oz chicken broth

10 potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 teaspoons flour

1 pack Ranch Dressing mix

2 cups half and half

1 cup sour cream

Directions

Boil potatoes in chicken broth until tender. Scoop out ⅓ of potatoes and mash them (by hand or with a mixer). Return to pot.

Add sauteed onion.

In a bowl combine flour, ranch mix, half and half and sour cream. Whisk into soup slowly. Do not boil.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with bacon and cheddar cheese.


Chicken Rice Soup

I just discovered this easy, gluten/dairy free soup and was so happy with the amount of flavor it had. My husband and all three kids loved it! – Chrystal

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, minced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried parsley

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 chicken breasts, raw

1 cup long grain white or brown rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook and stir for 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to turn golden.

Add garlic, parsley and thyme and cook 1 minute.

Add broth, chicken, rice, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low (a simmer), cover, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until vegetables and rice are tender.

Remove chicken from pot and shred. Add back to the pot and stir. Serve.


Chunky Chili

This is so easy to mix up and have ready for a quick meal! I usually make a big batch and then serve leftovers for a loaded potato bar or even for a quick variation of taco salad! ~Angie

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)

1 pound hamburger

3 – 15.5 oz cans of beans, undrained (any variation of kidney, pinto, black, or chili)

2 – 15.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained

Salt to taste

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Directions

In a large kettle, saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a little oil. Add hamburger and cook until browned.

Add remaining ingredients, except for cilantro. (Taste before adding any salt–I have found that I rarely need to add salt due to the canned ingredients already being seasoned.)

Just before serving, add chopped cilantro.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, Frito chips. We also like to add cooked rice at the bottom of our bowl for an even heartier bowl of soup!

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Learning to Number Our Days

A few weeks ago, we took down the 2019 calendar and hung up the 2020 calendar. We began a new year and a new decade.

Shortly after the New Year, I began to do what many of us often do at the beginning of a new year: my mind’s eye saw a brand new calendar, open for new goals and opportunities. However, my heart was simultaneously weighed down with question marks about what these new goals and opportunities should look like. The uncertainties of the upcoming months caused me to feel like I was literally carrying around a physical burden on my shoulders.

Perhaps some of you can identify with such emotions as you look at 2020, and you, like me, have wondered how to deal with them. Do we just try harder to “make our goals happen”? Do we give up before even trying because it is just too overwhelming?

Soon after the New Year, as I was pondering these things and feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty, I read Psalm 90. As my eyes read the divinely-inspired words of Scripture, my heart was encouraged by the chapter’s reminders of how we should approach our day-to-day life; consequently, these reminders also serve as timely instruction for how we should view our goals for this year.

God is everlasting
Verses 1-2 depicts God as everlasting: from being our “dwelling place in all generations” (90:1), to being God “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world” (90:2), God always has been and always will be. He is everlasting.

Man is but dust
Verses 3-11 then remind us of who we are: we are but dust. God is in control of man and has power to return man to dust (90:3); thousands of years are but a short while in God’s eyes (90:4). In comparison, our years are limited–seventy, or maybe eighty–and filled with toil and trouble (90:9-10). Compared to God, we are but a vapor, an early-morning mist that vanishes when the sun’s warmth wraps around it.

But that’s not the end of the story…
It is easy to follow the tension in the Psalmist’s line of reason. The first part of the chapter outlines who God is. He is great and powerful, outside of creation for He is Creator, from everlasting to everlasting, He is God. In contrast then, the Psalmist portrays who man is: man is a vapor, subject to God’s wrath and anger; our iniquities are exposed to the light of His presence. A fearful thing indeed.

After reading these verses then, one could easily succumb to a fatalistic mentality: “Well then, what’s the point in life? What are we even doing here on earth? Our lives are just a blip on the radar of time, only to be soon forgotten. What does God even care about what we do from day to day?”

The Psalmist seems to anticipate such a response, for the final section of Psalm 90 gives us the answer to these very questions. In response to who God is and who man is, the Psalmist makes several requests of the Lord:

“So teach us to number our days” (90:12).

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love” (90:14).

“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (90:15).

“Let your work be shown to your servants and your glorious power to their children” (90:16).

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us” (90:17a).

“Establish the word of our hands upon us” (90:17b).

While each of these requests remind us of the reality that God is eternal and man is dust, they also point towards the reality that man has a purpose here on earth!

As I read these verses, my heart that had been weighed down with question marks about this coming year was encouraged by this reminder to live life purposefully and intentionally for God’s glory. No, I may not have all the details figured out, but I can have my heart focused on glorifying God’s with each new day, come what may.

So as we head into 2020, may we keep these verses in mind as we go throughout the year.

As we begin each day, may we number our days and be mindful that our time here on earth is, indeed, short.

When life feels like it is filled with toil and trouble, may our hearts turn to His love for our satisfaction. May we then rejoice and be glad in Him, praising Him even in the midst of affliction.

As we go about each day, may our lives reflect His works and His power so that all may see.

When we consider the responsibilities that lie ahead of us and our dreams and goals for the year, may we desire that the work of our hands be established by Him.

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Resources for Kids

Pointing children to Christ should be part of our normal routines. However, we can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is so much more than just keeping these kids alive and eventually launching them into adulthood. God wants us to be teaching our children of Him and encouraging them to know Him more deeply on a regular basis. In order to help us in the pursuit of intentional discipleship we’re sharing a list of some kid-friendly resources that we’ve enjoyed and found helpful for starting conversations that ultimately point us all to Christ.

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  • Tiny Theologians 

Young children are able to learn a lot more than we realize and Tiny Theologians capitalizes on this reality. With beautiful flashcards that have brief definitions and a verse or passage on the back, Tiny Theologians provides some excellent tools for teaching theology to children. Their flashcard sets include A-Z Attributes of God, the ABCs of Theology, and the ABCs of the Names of God. 

http://tinytheologians.com/

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  • Getty Kids Hymnal (CDs or Youtube)

Kids engage in song on a whole new level when they hear other children singing! The Gettys have put out a great collection of hymns (new and old) featuring children, for children! You can buy these CDs on Amazon or just listen through YouTube.

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  • Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God is an old one but still a good one as it works through basic Bible Doctrines on a child’s level. Both my husband and I grew up with this book in our homes and are now using it with our girls! 

Find it new or used on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Little-Ones-God-Teachings/dp/0802851207/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2QPWQ2TUXB6HA&keywords=leading+little+ones+to+god&qid=1579122551&sprefix=leading+little+ones%2Caps%2C479&sr=8-1

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  • Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible 

This story Bible has become a favorite around our house. With bright and bold illustrations and simple narratives, it is geared towards toddlers. We especially appreciate how closely it sticks to the Bible narrative and doesn’t add lots of extra details to make the story more exciting. There is also a brief application section at the end of each chapter that touches on a broad range of topics to help drive home gospel truths in the hearts of our little ones.. 

https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Gospel-Story-Bible/dp/1945270047/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=MSLPJK3UFFG9&keywords=beginners+gospel+story+bible&qid=1579120965&sprefix=beginners+gospel+st%2Caps%2C509&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExSDU4WVlLRkRLMzUyJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzI5NDU2MzVaTThGNU4wTTU5SyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDEzOTMwMzhIMlAyUTk5TFRGJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

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  • The New City Catechism Mobile App 

While this app is aimed at adults, this free app also has a children’s mode that provides songs to go with each question and answer. These songs are short and fun and help young children learn important doctrines without even trying! Every night before going to bed, our 2-year-old insists on singing the song for question 3 that asks “How many persons are there in God?” Even though she doesn’t fully understand now the concept of the trinity, the song will undoubtedly stick with her for years to come and remind her heart of the reality of the Triune God!  

http://newcitycatechism.com/mobile-apps/

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  • The Big Picture Story Bible

I’ve really enjoyed sharing this story Bible with young children. The vivid illustrations help to hold their attention as they listen to foundational truths about man and God. And I love that this book shares both the bad and good stories, showing both the depravity of man and in turn, the loving-kindness of our God.

https://www.amazon.com/Big-Picture-Story-Bible-Book/dp/1433523914

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  • The Big Picture Bible Crafts 

This is a new resource for us, but it looks promising! For parents with children always wanting to make crafts, this book has 101 crafts to correspond a wide range of Bible stories (and also correspond with The Big Picture Story Bible.) With reproducible pages and multiple levels of difficulty for each craft, this craft book is ideal for multiple age groups! 

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-Bible-Crafts-Reproducible-pages/dp/1433558696/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3993CV43A5RP0&keywords=big+picture+bible+crafts&qid=1579122675&sprefix=big+picture+craf%2Caps%2C220&sr=8-1

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  • Bible Visuals International Family Format Series

Bible Visuals International has recently taken some of their short missionary visual stories and turned them into a book format for the whole family to enjoy together. They have ones on John Newton, George Mueller, etc. Our family has really enjoyed the one on the life of Martin Luther and have found it to lead to great engagement and conversation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Martin-Luther-Family-5760-CS/dp/1933206934/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=bible+visual+martin+luther&qid=1579054470&s=books&sr=1-2

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Giving Thanks, Even When It Is Hard

First Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In everything.

Give thanks. 

That means we are to give thanks when the harvest grain bins are full; it also means give thanks when they’re empty.

That means give thanks in the good times and in the bad.

Why? Because it is God’s will. It’s that simple.

For this reason, we’ve looked around us to see ways that we can cultivate a thankful heart, even in the often unpleasant and undesirable circumstances of life.

We can be thankful for…

  • The rent check we just wrote because have a house to live in.
  • Dirty dishes because our family has food to eat.
  • Dirty laundry because we have clothes to wear.
  • The water bill because we have clean water to drink.
  • The toys strewn across the house, the spills at the dinner table, the poopy diapers, the interrupted sleep…because we are blessed to have children.
  • The long car rides because we get to spend time with other people.
  • The wait-time at the doctor’s office because we have good health care.
  • The cold weather because we have variety in seasons.
  • A husband who hunts because I have a husband. 😉
  • Busy seasons of transition because we have a new house, child, etc.
  • Long hours of solo parenting because our husbands have a job.
  • Dirty floors because our children enjoy playing outside.
  • Unknowns because we have a God who knows and is in control.
  • Hard parenting days because it brings opportunities to trust God and point our children to His grace.
  • Rough patches in relationships because they help us learn to love and understand each other better.
  • Limits in finances because it presents us with opportunities to be content, to be frugal, to learn to pinch pennies.
  • Friends who live far away because it helps us appreciate it so much more when they come to visit!
  • Changes in the seasons of life because they help us learn to trust God with the question marks of the future.
  • Rotten food in the refrigerator because God provides.
  • Being forced to step out of our comfort zone because it allows God to do a work in our heart and give us joy.
  • Suffering because it exposes our weaknesses and forces us to depend on God.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving season, may our hearts learn to give thanks in all things.

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Miscarriage: When You Have One

My last post on miscarriage, When Your Friend Has Onegave a few ideas on how to minister to your friend who has gone through a miscarriage. However, because of the statistics, it is likely that you yourself may have also had a miscarriage. In this post, I’d like to share a few practical things that ministered to my heart in a very specific way as I worked through the loss of our twins

1. Music

I don’t know about you, but music is a incredible balm for the soul. Shortly after our miscarriage, several songs became very special to me, for they reminded me of who my God is. Those songs, along with some select albums, are now part of a special playlist. I like to think of those songs as my go-to songs to help “lift my eyes to my Savior” when the emotions flood my soul or when I am tempted to wallow in a private pity party. This playlist has played so many times…and over and over, I’ve wept as the words remind me of who my God is. Through the tears, these songs have helped me worship my God who is forever good and faithful towards His children, even in the valley.

2. Special Memorabilia

Because our miscarriage was pretty early on in the pregnancy, we didn’t have any physical souvenirs to indicate that our twins had ever even existed: no ultrasound picture, no special outfits, no wristbands from a hospital stay, no indication of whether they were boys or girls, no names picked out. Nothing.

In some ways it felt like they had come and gone and it was all just a figment of our imagination.

But of course it wasn’t.

After months of struggling with this emptiness, I finally got to the point where I just really, really, really had to have something physical as my special reminder of the little ones God gave us for such a short little while: I decided to go with a simple heart necklace. It is the only necklace I ever wear and I love wearing it.

However, now that I think about it, there are other items scattered throughout our home that remind me that our twins have not been forgotten: dried roses in a vase from a bouquet that friends sent, that
small stack of cards from friends and family, a wall plaque my mother-in-law gave around the one-year anniversary of our miscarriage.

So perhaps you have a name ring, a Christmas ornament, a necklace, an ultrasound picture, a special onesie for a souvenir box, or something altogether different but it holds special meaning to you. Whatever it is, find something that reminds you of your little one. As strange as it sounds, there is an element of comfort in having something more than just a memory to remind you of your little one.

3. Topic-Specific Reading

While there is an abundance of articles and blog posts on the internet discussing personal experiences with miscarriage, be careful of those that are absorbed with all the emotions surrounding miscarriage, particularly if they come from a secular perspective. I agree that there is an element of encouragement in knowing that “you’re not the only one going through this,” but this encouragement is only temporary. As a believer, your ultimate comfort should not be in the warm emotions of fuzzy feelings and virtual group hugs from people you’ve never met or who may not even know Christ as their Savior. Rather, as a believer, you have access to a lasting comfort: the comfort that is found in your Savior.

With perfect timing, God brought along the book Inheritance of Tears by Jessalyn Hutto, as well as Courtney Reissig’s blog. Both of these ladies have gone through multiple miscarriages and have written on the subject to help point other ladies towards a gospel-centered comfort. The truths that these ladies have written were instrumental in refocusing my heart on my Savior in the midst of the sorrow.

Another resource that was highly influential in showing me more of the character of my God in the middle of my sorrow was the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. While not specifically about miscarriage, Trusting God deals with learning to trust Him in our sorrow, even when we don’t understand His ways (which is exactly what we struggle with, is it not?).

One last resource that I am currently reading is Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul Tripp. This book is an incredibly down-to-earth look at how we are to view the suffering that God takes us through in this life. Even though it has been almost five years since our miscarriage, Suffering is beginning to unpack and shed new light on so many of the hard emotions of grief that filled my heart after our miscarriage.

If you are longing to make Biblical sense of why God has called you to walk down this road of losing a child too early, I believe these resources can help point you in the right direction. I highly recommend them!

4. Scripture

This is perhaps an obvious statement, but I cannot emphasize it enough. If you don’t remember anything else that I have written here, please do remember this: saturate—and I mean soak in, marinate in, drench, flood–your soul with God’s Word.

As emotional of a journey as a miscarriage may be, don’t get caught up in just the emotions. Fight the tendency to wallow in the emotions and offset it by rehearsing to yourself the unfailing truths from God’s Word.

God’s Word is true and living–the only source of lasting comfort–for it reveals the character of it’s author.

It the Word that reveals the one who created the little one you lost.

It the Word that reveals the very nature of the one who knows your every thought and emotion going through your heart during this time.

It is in the Word that you will begin to see more clearly the God who is sovereign over all things, even your miscarriage.

It is in the Word that you will begin to understand the reason for the sorrow and suffering that we have in this world.

And it is in the Word that you ultimately will find true comfort–because it will point you to finding your comfort in God.

So read the Word, listen to sermons, study the Word, read it some more, write out passages that God uses to cause your heart to worship Him, pray the Word back to God, read the Word some more.

If you’re at a loss as to how to saturate your soul with the Word, start reading the Psalms. Over and over again, the psalmist depicts a state of sorrow, despair, and anguish—all emotions we can identify with as we try to make Biblical sense of our sorrow. However, after sharing his heart’s state of despair and anguish, the psalmist points his reader to the specific character of God that upheld him in his darkest hours. And that is what our souls need: a rehearsing of who God is. The Psalms remind us that even though our world feels like it has just crumbled around us, we still have our unchanging God, good and faithful in all of His ways.

So cry out to God. Plead with Him to make His Word to be living waters for your parched soul to drink from so that your heart might rejoice in Him.

Pray that He would be true to His character and show you His goodness in the sorrow of your miscarriage.

Pray that He would cause you to again sing praise to Him and give thanks to Him forever (see Ps. 30:12).

Pray that you would experience that He is, indeed, good and that His steadfast love is everlasting (see Ps. 118:29).

Pray that you would be able to testify that it is His steadfast love that is the very thing that upholds you when you are about to slip (see Ps. 94:18).

Find your ultimate rest and comfort in the God who is sovereign over all of creation and who very purposefully and intentionally created your little one for His glory.

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