Menu Plan January 31- February 5, 2011


Tortilla Chips

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Chicken Stir-fry


Sloppy Joe
Cold Veggies


Thankful For My Christian Upbringing

After reading this article, I am very thankful for the strong homeschooling network that is in Grand Rapids.  Also thankful that Child Protective Services in MI has not been as picky as the different ones that the Jacksons have had to deal with so far.  I look at this also as a warning of what the future might hold as the governments around continue to try to gain more power and control everything in everyone's life.  I pray that God will soon bring this family back together.  I also pray that during this time of separation, the parents and kids will continue to stay strong in their faith.

Christian homeschooling family broken apart by N.J. agency
You can find the article HERE.


Menu Plan January 24-29, 2011

Since the menu changed a bit last week , you are going to see a couple duplicates for this week.

Beef Stroganoff


Breaded Chicken
Garden Rice


Baked Spaghetti
Cheesy Garlic Toast

Sloppy Joe
Cold Veggies


Job Interviews

Just wanted to share with you the latest excitement in our house this week.  Since receiving his green card to work in the US in December, Andrew has been applying at many different locations without any feed back until last week.  Suddenly he received 4 calls in like 3 days!  God works in His own timing and we are patiently (even though it is tough) trying to follow His guidance.  Andrew has a couple job interviews this week which we are praying will go well and lead into a potential full time position.  Seeing as these are only the first interviews, we not holding our breath, but simply trusting that if it be God's will for him to work at either location, He will bless the interview and open a door.


Heaven and Hell

This book is a must read for all Christians!  We are reading this book in a study right now and the more I read through it, the more amazed I am at what people (including supposedly christian scholars) view about hell.  Here are a couple example quotes from those who are fighting against the thought of hell.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote:
"I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.  It is a doctrine that put cruelty into the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture."

John Wenham, a notted evangelical Greek and New Testament scholar, stated in a 1991 conference:
"I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a blot on her presentation of the gospel.  I should indeed be happy if before I die I could help in sweeping it away."

Clark Pinnock said:
"I consider the concept of hell as endless torment in body and mind an outrageous doctrine, a theological and moral enormity.  How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness?  Surely a God who would do such a thing is more like Satan than like God."

Isn't it sad the extent that some people go to in order to argue against a doctrine that is so thoroughly written throughout the Bible?  The Bible speaks more on hell then on God's love!  It definitely has been a thought provoking study so far.  Donnelly starts the book talking about hell, then moves toward heaven and believers.  In a world that belief in hell has almost disappeared, we need to be fully equipped to stand for what is right.


Menu Plan January 17-22, 2011

Dinner at Rev. & Mrs. Ude's House

Split Pea Soup
Fresh Biscuits

Special SS Action Team Appreciation Dinner
at the VanderStel's house

Baked Spaghetti
Cheesy Garlic Toast

Book Study Mystery Dinner
at the Scholten's

Tacos / Burritos


Facebook Warnings We Need To Be Aware Of

Even though I am on Facebook as well as the rest of my family, we are pretty careful as to what we say and allow.  But, despite all our efforts, there still can be some concerns.  Here are just some helpful hints and warnings to keep things a little more safe.  I wouldn't want anything to happen to any of my family members, just because I was careless one day, and I am sure that you wouldn't either.

What You Facebook Profile May Be Telling ID Thieves

Seemingly harmless information can help ID thieves unlock key to your identity.

Your pet's name is a fraudster's best friend.

You may think you're revealing precious little when you tell your Facebook friends that you're dressing your pooch, Puddles, in your favorite color, red, for brunch at Grandma's on Sunday. But you've actually just opened a Pandora's box of risks.

The information consumers willingly, and often unwittingly, post on social-media websites can be a gold mine for fraudsters looking to steal everything from your flat-screen TV to your identity.

What's more, tidbits like your birth date, birthplace and the last school you attended are typically the challenge questions posed by bank websites and online retailers to verify your identity.

"Despite all the awareness that people have about identity fraud and privacy on social networks, there is a disconnect between [that and what they are] disclosing in online space and social environments," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, a San Diego-based consumer risk management firm.

More than 24 million Americans 18 years old and older are still leaving their social-network profiles mostly public, meaning they aren't activating privacy controls that limit who can see their information online, according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted in October for ID Analytics.

The survey also found that nearly 70 million U.S. adults on social-networking sites include their birthplace — one of the most common security questions asked by financial institutions — on their profiles.

"The information people are disclosing is not the entire piece of the puzzle but it's certainly helpful," Oscherwitz said. Thieves steal identities in pieces, he said, and layer them on each other for a clearer picture.

Say you post on a social-media site that you're at a tanning salon ahead of your week-long trip to the Bahamas the day after your birthday. You're telling potential burglars that not only are you away from home for an hour or so, but beginning Tuesday, your home likely will be empty for seven days.

"Even listing daily activities can let strangers know your routine and put you at risk," said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.

Too much information can hurt you in other ways. John Sileo, a Denver-based identify-theft expert, said your online chatter could equip an ex-spouse with ammunition for a court challenge. Future or current employers could have a problem with information about your personal life that they deem inappropriate for a member of their staff, he said.

You also could be furnishing a would-be stalker with information about your whereabouts. "We are giving people the little pieces of our trust or access to our trust that allows them to get bigger things out of us," said Sileo, founder of the ThinkLikeaSpy.com newsletter.

Tips to Stay Safe

Here's some advice from Sileo, who wrote the "Facebook Safety Survival Guide," about protecting online privacy on all social-networking sites:

• Never post your exact date and place of birth. It's invaluable information to identity thieves, particularly when the two are bundled together.

• Never post your address, phone number or email address. This is plum information to scammers and marketers who are looking for nuggets of your identity.

• Control who can see your personal information. Many social-networking sites have privacy features, but they change often. Know what they are, stay on top of them and restrict your page to your real friends, not friends of friends or someone you met in a bar.

• Limit information about your activities. If you must brag about a trip or a fabulous party, do it after the fact.

• Remember that what you post is public and permanent. Don't put up embarrassing photos that you wouldn't show your grandmother. Don't complain about your job or your boss. Don't say something to or about someone that you wouldn't say to his face. Don't threaten others.

• Know the four types of Facebook users: friends, outsiders, businesses and enemies.

• You should know exactly who wants to be your friend or is asking you to link into their network. Some people will befriend your friends to get to you or your company.

• Be wary of seemingly harmless quizzes. When someone invites you to take a survey, say, "10 Things Others Don't Know About You" or "My Favorite Things," it may be designed to harvest your data. The name of the street you grew up on or your favorite vacation spot could be clues to your passwords.

• Before you share any information anywhere online about yourself or your workplace, ask this question: What would the consequences be if this information fell into the hands of my boss, competitor or people who don't like me?

Jennifer Waters is a MarketWatch reporter, based in Chicago.

7 Things to Stop Doing Now on Facebook

Using a Weak Password

Avoid simple names or words you can find in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. A password should have at least eight characters. One good technique is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of a word, such as this variant on the word "houses": hO27usEs!

Leaving Your Full Birth Date in Your Profile

It's an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you've already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the Info tab, then on Edit Information. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all.

Overlooking Useful Privacy Controls

For almost everything in your Facebook profile, you can limit access to only your friends, friends of friends, or yourself. Restrict access to photos, birth date, religious views, and family information, among other things. You can give only certain people or groups access to items such as photos, or block particular people from seeing them. Consider leaving out contact info, such as phone number and address, since you probably don't want anyone to have access to that information anyway.

Posting Your Child's Name in a Caption

Don't use a child's name in photo tags or captions. If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn't on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name.

Mentioning That You'll Be Away From Home

That's like putting a "no one's home" sign on your door. Wait until you get home to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was and be vague about the date of any trip.

Letting Search Engines Find You

To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to the Search section of Facebook's privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure the box for public search results isn't checked.

Permitting Youngsters to Use Facebook Unsupervised

Facebook limits its members to ages 13 and over, but children younger than that do use it. If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends. Use your e-mail address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities. "What they think is nothing can actually be pretty serious," says Charles Pavelites, a supervisory special agent at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. For example, a child who posts the comment "Mom will be home soon, I need to do the dishes" every day at the same time is revealing too much about the parents' regular comings and goings.

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on Yahoo!

Copyrighted 2009, Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook

The whole social networking phenomenon has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and dozens of similar sites. But there are a handful of personal details that you should never say if you don't want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind, according to Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

The folks at Insure.com also say that ill-advised Facebook postings increasingly can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for everything from auto to life insurance coverage. By now almost everybody knows that those drunken party photos could cost you a job, too.

You can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?

Your Birth Date and Place

Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you've just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.

Vacation Plans

There may be a better way to say "Rob me, please" than posting something along the lines of: "Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!" on Twitter. But it's hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don't invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you'll be gone.

Home Address

Do I have to elaborate? A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing. Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn't even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren't confident that their "friends" were really just people they know.


You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. Need proof? In just the past few weeks, an emergency dispatcher was fired in Wisconsin for revealing drug use; a waitress got canned for complaining about customers and the Pittsburgh Pirate's mascot was dumped for bashing the team on Facebook. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for "misuse" of social media.

Password Clues

If you've got online accounts, you've probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom's maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song. Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You're giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Risky Behaviors

You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney? Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to Insure.com. So far, there's no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare. But the technology is fast evolving, according to a paper written by Celent, a financial services research and consulting firm.

taken from http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/111722/what-your-facebook-profile-may-be-telling-id-thieves?mod=series-m-article-a


Temptation: What To Do

Another great sermon from Dr. Bilkes on Genesis 39:12b from Sunday evening.

"...and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out."

Following Joseph's method of fleeing from temptation no matter how much it will effect our reputation, ego, or status in life.

You can listen to the whole sermon HERE on Sermon Audio.


Men's Brain vs Woman's Brain

Andrew and I had to chuckle when we saw this video, so I hope you enjoy it just as much! :)


When God Melts Us Down

An amazing sermon from Dr. Bilkes this past Sunday morning on Isaiah 48:10, so I wanted to share it with you all.

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."

Many times we all feel like we are being put under much pressure and stress in life for no reason, but God always has a purpose for everything He does.  Here he uses the example of a silver smith melting down ore to clean out the impurities and to shape it the way he wants. God watches us with full attention as he refines us even as a silver smith maintains steady attention on the piece of metal he is working with at the time.  But in the text, it talks about God choosing to melt us in the furnace but not exactly like silver.

There are a few differences between how God refines and what a silver smith does. 1) When God refines His people, it is an invisible process. 2) Dr. Bilkes pointed out that when a silver smith works with silver, he starts with a chunk of ore which contains some silver in it, but we are different in the sense that we don't have anything good in us to start out with, God has to totally transform us into what he wants us to be. 3) When God refines His people, he doesn't use a literal furnace, but the furnace of affliction.  God will put you in a furnace of affliction as often as He needs until He has us the way He wants us to be.

What We Lose while in the Furnace of Affliction:
1) that feeling of having it altogether - of being secure, strong, safe, in control

2) something of our hardness and independence

3) those impurities and sins - many times we see sins that we never knew existed
"Afflictions don't bring the dross, but reveal the dross"

We have to be careful in our approach to those around us who may be experiencing their own affliction. What may seem like a minor affliction to us, can be a major affliction to someone else.  Also, we have to be careful not to compare, saying that we have been through way more, etc.

What We Gain while in the Furnace of Affliction:
1) greater self knowledge - 

2) greater views of the Lord and of His grace - Often we feel that God is not there while we are going through affliction, but just like the concentration of a silver smith, God has more concentration on each person going through affliction than any other time.

"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" - God has chosen His people from everlasting, but while they are in the furnace, he focuses more attention on them.  One day in the furnace teaches you way more than you could ever learn outside of the furnace.  The furnace is the "workshop of election".

3) greater conformity to Christ - if you are in the furnace right now, you have a companion....Jesus Christ.

Have we ever melted before the Lord?
Must God conform to you or will you conform to Him?

You can listen to the whole sermon HERE on Sermon Audio.

African proverb - "A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor"


Stop Perpetuating Dependent Behavior - part 4

A Word to Wives: Things Not To Do #4
by H. Norman Wright

This week, we will consider lines to avoid crossing as wives. These problem behaviors often plague marriages.

Stop Perpetuating Dependent Behavior

First, don't do anything more for your man that he should be (meaning, that he is capable of) doing for himself. If he asks you for something, and you're used to getting it for him, let him get it for himself. Don't make suggestions. Don't pick up after him. Don't bail him out of experiencing the consequences of his lack of action. Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband - click here

Yes, it probably means that your life could be a bit more frustrating for a while. But you need to stick to your commitment. If you hear complaints, let him know that you know he's capable of assuming the responsibility himself.

You may be the person in his life to show a belief that he can be different.

Treat him as though he is reliable. I've seen so many women who end up being the clock, calendar, key finder, garbage enforcer and appointment regulator. Don't rescue! Don't bail him out!

If a man is functional at work and not at home, there's some kind of game-playing going on that needs to be exposed and stopped.

Sometimes a husband may not act capable because of other reasons such as fear of failure. When a husband fails in one area, he will take on only "safe" tasks. The combination of "forced" responsibility and praise and encouragement is the best combination.

Taken from Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband by H. Norman Wright. Published by Regal Publishing. Copyright 2010.


Menu Plan January 10-15, 2011

Glazed Ham
Sour Cream 'n Chives Mashed Potatoes
Carrots & Brussel Sprouts

Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry

Split Pea Soup (with the leftover ham)



Garden Rice


Abort the Resue Efforts - part 3

A Word to Wives: Things Not To Do #3
by H. Norman Wright

This week, we will consider lines to avoid crossing as wives. These problem behaviors often plague marriages.

Abort the Rescue Efforts
Similar to reminding is another approach: It's called rescuing. Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband - click here

How do you know if someone is playing the role of a rescuer? Would that man be incapable of functioning in his daily life without your help? If so, don't rescue. Encourage growth.

Do you tend to be stronger than him? If so, don't reinforce his weaknesses and foster dependency. Find his potential and encourage growth.

Does he tend to be unhappy unless you're doing something for him? If so, don't play this game. Encourage by showing you believe in capability to do it himself.

Does he make excuses for himself or do you make excuses for him? Remember that excuses cripple and perpetuate helplessness.

But aren't you to love your husband by helping and serving him? Yes, but it can become rescuing when you believe that it's your responsibility to solve his problems or protect him from the results of what he's done.

Sometimes women gain fulfillment by being a rescuer. It makes them feel good and look good in the eyes of others. The downside is that you could end up angry, resentful, feeling exhausted or even demeaned.

Rescuing is a great diversion. You don't have to deal with your own issues if you're busy saving others.

Taken from Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband by H. Norman Wright. Published by Regal Publishing. Copyright 2010.


Unhelpful Reminders - part 2

A Word to Wives: Things Not To Do #2
by H. Norman Wright

This week, we will consider lines to avoid crossing as wives. These problem behaviors often plague marriages.

Unhelpful Reminders
Avoid mothering the man in your life. Let me say it another way. Never, but never, mother a man. When you act like a mother with your spouse, you can't encourage him. Treating an adult like a child is demeaning and makes you a controller! If you mother him, he will continue to act in a way that makes you continue to want to mother him, and on and on it goes.Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband - click here

How do mothers sound? They remind. They actually make the other person (child or adult) rely on them to bail them out. Why would a person remember to do something when he has someone who will remind him?

Have you ever made statements like these? "Honey be sure you've got your wallet." "John, if I've asked you once, I've asked you a thousand times...." "You didn't call for the plane tickets. I'll do it for you...again."

You may be thinking: What's wrong with those statements and questions? Aren't they just helpful reminders? Perhaps - if you remind so that he learns to remember by himself and you won't have to remind him anymore!

Reminding once in a while may be helpful, but if you have to repeat again and again, it's obvious the reminders are not working.

They're what I call bailout responses. They take the responsibility away from the other person. These statements say, "You're a child; you can't remember anything. I'll do it for you."

Taken from Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband by H. Norman Wright. Published by Regal Publishing. Copyright 2010.


Controlling One Another - part 1

I get regular emails sent to me from Marriage Vine's book club with a 5 min snippet from a particular focus book of the week. I have learned to really enjoy reading these little 'pointers' (as I will call them) because they are all focused on practical living, relationships between husband and wife, or relationships with others, etc. They are doing a mini series from Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband by Norman Wright and I thought I would share it with you as well!  I am hoping to make this the first of many books I will post on here.

A Word to Wives: Things Not To Do
by H. Norman Wright

This week, we will consider lines to avoid crossing as wives. These problem behaviors often plague marriages.

Controlling One Another
It's easy to fall into thinking you either have to control or be controlled. But God never advocates domination of one marriage partner over another. Sometimes, however, one partner ends up being smothered by the other.

If you end up letting the other person control you, the result is that you end up feeling unnecessary. Total dependence on another is not the way Christ called us to live.

Nancy Groom, in her book Married Without Masks, states:

Adam (even after the Fall) would have been disappointed if Eve had refused to engage with him as his partner in the work God had called both of them to do. He did not need a slave; he needed a woman who knew who she was and was confident in her gifts. An alive, vibrant woman gives zest and excitement to her husband's life. He needs that.

Encouraging your husband does not mean that you become so absorbed in him that your identity and value come from him.

It doesn't mean becoming a doormat with no ideas, opinions or voice; not does it mean becoming an appeasing woman.

Encouragement is not manipulation. It's not done for the purpose of reshaping him for your own dreams, desires, or wishes. Absorption, appeasement and manipulation are actually forms of control.

Taken from Bringing Out the Best in Your Husband by H. Norman Wright. Published by Regal Publishing. Copyright 2010.


Our Painted Kitchen

Here are some pictures of our painted Kitchen. You will get to see it with the winter/christmas garlands (which are coming down soon) that I have displayed on top of the cabinets.  These pictures also give you a better idea of what the new laminate looks up against the cabinets compared to the original vinyl.  There are other things we would like to do in here as well, but due to cost, we are holding off on those things till later.



Future Projects:
You see that wall between the Kitchen and Dining Room? We would like to eventually cut that in half and open it up a little more between the rooms.  Also we hope to put in a new counter top, sink, back splash, and lighting.


Menu Plan January 3-8, 2011

Here is my first attempt at making a weekly menu plan. Hoping this will help me feel more organized as a few more items are planned ahead and I don't have to worry about it the day of!

I am focusing on dinner as breakfast is kind of on the fly with with cold or hot cereal or fruit and lunch is either left overs or sandwiches.

Garlic Toast

Pork Steak
Redskin Potatoes
Green Beans



Beef Stroganoff
Garden Salad

Sloppy Joe
Cold Veggies

I also found this cute little poster that I hope to have printed soon so that both Andrew and I can see what is planned for dinner. Since Andrew does a lot of the cooking (as he is home before I get home) he often has dinner waiting for me when I get home from work. Isn't that great? I bet you all wish you had a husband that could do that, right? :)

You can find the link to this weekly menu plan HERE or HERE.


Old Year Review & New Year Resolutions

Do you make resolutions each new year?  I have tried to do so in the past and yet found that over the course of the year, I would slip away from my original resolution and back fall into the same old life patterns.  I am sure that many of you probably struggle with the same, or maybe some of you have found ways to keep on top of it.  Well, if you have, feel free to share.  I would love to hear what you have found to work.

As for me, though, I am bound and determined to make some resolutions and stick with them this year.  I look forward to starting a fresh new year, as a now married woman, I know my wonderful husband will be willing to help me along, with encouragement and accountability.  Some of my resolutions are spiritual and some are physical.  Here are just a couple that I will share with you.
  • Time Management: Setting goals for each week.  As a career woman right now, it is more challenging to do everything that I would like to do or would potentially have a little more time to do if I was at home all day.  I like Sarah Mae's idea (you can see it HERE) of making a list of 6 main things that need to get done.  Although she used it as a daily list, I am going to use it as a weekly list, at least to start out with.  As the year goes on and I feel I can adjust it some, I will.
  • Menu Plan:  I hope to be more on top of our groceries this new year.  With that said, I know a few others (as well as my mom) who would always plan a week's worth of meals and purchase groceries accordingly.  I am trying to learn more from my mother, who with 8 children was able to keep the grocery bill way below the average for a family of 4!  As a family of 2, I feel I should be able to do pretty good, right?
How about you?  Do you have any new years resolutions?  I hope and pray that together we will all be able to keep on top of them this year.