Helping Your Friend Move

Our family recently went through the process of selling our old home and buying a new one. It was a crazy time of showings, inspections, paperwork and packing. Our new house was in need of some TLC before we could move into it and many of our friends were right there alongside us as we cleaned, painted and moved. We couldn’t have done it without them! Today I thought I’d share some of the things I discovered to be extremely helpful to someone going through the moving process. Trust me, your support and encouragement can make a huge difference! 

1. Pray for them. Moving is draining, both physically and emotionally, and your friends need the extra prayer support from you. Pray that they will have extra energy. Pray that they will have extra patience with their kids. Pray that they would have extra compatibility/humility towards their spouse as they work together on a lot of decisions/details. 

2. Ask if you can come over and wash the dishes for them while they work on packing.

3. Offer to bring some food for any cleaning/moving helpers they may have on moving day, etc. Let your friends know you will bring fresh fruit, bottled water, a veggie tray, etc. for everyone so your friends have one less thing to worry about during this process. 

4. Provide them a meal. Drop off soup and bread. Stick a freezer meal in the freezer that they can pull out on a day when they are so busy unpacking/setting things up that they don’t have time to restock groceries. 

5. Give them gift cards for Subway, Little Caesars, etc. 

6. Supply them with a huge supply of paper plates, cups and plastic silverware. This will come in handy over a time when the dishes are packed in boxes, but it will also help to ease the load in the days following the move when your friends would rather be hanging those curtain rods instead of doing dishes. 

7. Put together a housewarming basket with practical things like dish soap, scrubbing pads, toilet bowl cleaner, tape, a candle, etc. Your friends  may not know where some of those items got off to during the move and having someone to supply these things can really help make everything seem a little more like home for them. 

8. Offer to help babysit their kids. 

9. Tell them you want to help with cleaning/packing/moving and that they are to just give you the time and place and you’ll be there! Repeat your offer so they can remember and know you meant it. 

10. Offer to come over after the moving day to help them unpack boxes and move furniture. 

11. Ask what they need from the store, whether it’s the hardware or grocery store, and offer to pick it up for them on your way over.

12. Show them you care! Ask how everything is going. Ask how they are feeling with all the changes and if there is anything else they need that you might not have thought of.

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!

Ways to serve in church

The local church is so much more than a building and its purpose is much deeper than just a “community get-together.” It is a body; the bride of Christ. Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

The gathering of believers within a church building is just one opportunity where we can “consider one another” and  “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” It is a place where we encourage one another to “hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering” until the day Christ comes back for us, His bride. How we go about encouraging one another might look different from person to person but the goal should always be the same; stirring each other up to love and good works so that we might pursue Christ and His Kingdom. 

“But I’m not good at teaching, playing piano or singing a solo,” you might say. True. And God has not called everyone to minister in these ways. Yet, God’s command to encourage/stir up our fellow believers remains. 

There are many, many ways we can go about obeying this call but we’ve collected a list below of ways that may, or may not, even be on your radar.

 

Be welcoming

  • Be friendly. Introduce yourself to new faces. 
  • Greet people at the door. Serving in this way makes people feel welcome and opens the door to get to know them and better serve them.
  • Pass out the bulletins.
  • Make an effort to sit with the single or widowed people in your church. Invite them to share the pew with your family. 

Lend a helping hand

  • Help in the nursery.
  • Help in the children’s classes. Whether that is teaching or just being an extra set of hands.
  • Help with music.
  • Help in the kitchen during church functions.

Care for the building

  • Arrive early/stay behind to set/clean up.
  • If you’re handy with maintenance, be available to take care of small maintenance projects around the church building. 
  • Like to decorate? Volunteer to help with decor. 
  • Sign up to clean the church between services.
  • Help with seasonal cleaning. 

Give supplies

  • Provide snacks for the children’s ministries. You don’t even have to make them yourself – a case of animal crackers from Costco will do perfectly!
  • Provide cleaning supplies or diapers and wipes for the nursery.
  • Provide supplies for children’s ministries.
  • Line up meals for moms with newborns, someone grieving, or for the sick/elderly.
  • Offer to arrive early to make coffee or bring refreshments. Quality fellowship often happens around food 😊

Serve the people

  • Pray for your church leaders. 
  • Pray for ministries your church puts on.
  • Be quick to offer your home for traveling missionaries, evangelists, etc. 
  • Arrive on time. Being late to practice, teach or perform nursery duties can really inconvenience others. 
  • If nursery isn’t provided, offer to help keep an eye on the young children of church leaders who have responsibilities during the service.
  • Express your gratitude to your pastor and church leaders for their ministry  
  • Offer to visit the sick/elderly/home-bound. 
  • Send birthday cards. 

 

See something that needs done? Volunteer to do it! No task is too small. If it is something that needs done, it can be a way to serve!

Taking God at His Word — A Book Review

Have you ever wondered why it is important that we read the Bible?

Or why we spend so much time at church studying the Bible?

Or why we believe that the Bible is superior to any other book that has ever been written?

Or does the Bible really address all the needs and questions that we may encounter in life?

If you’ve found yourself asking these kinds of questions or have had someone ask you these kinds of questions, Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung would be a great book to read. Having a total of 124 pages, this little book is a powerful reminder of the importance of Scripture in the believer’s life.

To lay the groundwork for the rest of the book, DeYoung starts the first chapter by pointing us to Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is filled with statement after statement about what God’s Word does in the life of the one who reads and treasures it. DeYoung then directs us toward specific attitudes a person should have towards God’s Word: we should delight in it, desire it, and depend on it.

To summarize the objective of Taking God at His Word, DeYoung says that “the goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible” (pg. 22).

It is with these points in mind then–what we should believe, feel, and do about the Bible–that DeYoung proceeds to walk us through what could be described as a layman’s study of Bibliology. The majority of the book then discusses why the Bible is enough, why it is clear, why it is final, and why it is necessary for life. Or, if you want the more theological terms, DeYoung discusses the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of Scripture.

While the style of this book lends itself to being an easy read, DeYoung does not shy away from digging into passages and explaining words from the original Biblical languages in order to show from Scripture why the Bible is so vital for the believer’s life! For this reason, I would suggest reading this book slowly and devotionally, for ultimately, Taking God at His Word is more about learning to love and treasure God’s Word than turning the last page and having a bunch of facts to rattle off about the Bible.

After my husband finished reading this book, he made the comment that “it would be hypocritical to say ‘that was a good book’ and not proceed to then immerse oneself in the Bible.” And it is true: This little book elevates the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible to such an extent that we cannot miss the point that the Bible is the Word of God and as such, we would do well to make reading it and studying it an intentional priority in our lives!

As each of us go about life in whatever role God has called us to, may we remember that the Bible is a divine book that God has given for us to love, treasure, and study so that might grow in our walk with the Lord. God’s Word is indeed clear, final, necessary and enough, for our every-day life!

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.