Sunday, March 31, 2013

Baking with Crosses

" . . . I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."         John 14:6

Cutting Crosses from Store-Bought Pie Dough
After a goosebump-raising, tear-welling Easter service at Troy United Methodist Church which included a thought-provoking slideshow of cross images, I realized there are reminders of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice all around us, for example, in the grids in windows, patterns in rugs, and logos on planes.  So, I thought why not reinforce this ideal with my partner-in-crime, my squirt, while baking a pie. . .
Layering the crosses on top . . .

of one another.

Egg Wash as Jesus Washed Away Our Sins
A Sprinkling of Brown Sugar

Ready for Quality-Control Tasting and Sharing
Courtney Winkler

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dannette's Devotional

Then, because so many people were coming and going 
that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 
"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
Mark 6:31
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, 
in quietness and trust is your strength, 
but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 30:15 
God spoke to me in Africa. Thousands of miles from home, I stood on the sidelines while the kid magnets in our group of Compassion sponsors played with 300 energetic children in the hot Ugandan sunshine. As I wondered what to do, a tiny hand grasped mine. The young girl wasn't seeking conversation or play; she was content to be near me. Her touch transcended the barriersof language and culture. As we held hands and watched the playing children,peace poured over my soul. I felt God whispering, "Be still, and know that I am God." Here at home, it's harder to hear God's voice. With my overcommitted life, I spend much more time doing than being. Long hours at work, too many "to dos" in my free time, and the magnetic pull of smartphone messages at all hours make it difficult to find quiet time and hear God's voice. Francesca Battistelli sings it well: "In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed..." The enemy enjoys distracting us from hearing God's voice. I am slowly learning that silence helps quiet my soul and strengthen me for those distractions. When I remember this truth, I drive for a few minutes without the radio, put the smartphone away, or simply take a few quiet moments to bask in God's goodness as I'm walking to my next meeting. Quiet helps me remember "how big I'm blessed" and when I focus on God's goodness, life doesn't seem so messy.
Dannette McKellar 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Join Us at the Beautiful U Conference

Beautiful U Conference at Troy UMC

Submitted by Suzanne Price

Create in the Central West End

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

                                                                                 -2 Corinthians 2:14-17 ESV

While reading the April 2013 issue of Midwest Living, I came across an article about a boutique in the Central West End where you can concoct your own scents for perfumes, shower gels, and lotions.  Excited to see a local business featured in the magazine, I decided to give it a try with my two girls.  At five and six years of age, they, too, were excited at the prospect of creating their own perfumes.  Across the river we drove to Cassie's Fragrance Boutique and Scent Bar . . .

A slew of samples were available to sniff.

After much sampling, finally, they were sold on the "brownie" scent, and I was sold on the "almond" mixed with "french vanilla."  We didn't want to leave the big guy in our house out, so we opted to surprise him with the "Egyptian musk"  (yes, men's scents are available, too).

Scents for Mixing

At work on our roll-on perfumes . . .

After hard work on our personal aromas, we had created quite the appetite.  We stepped out of Cassie's Boutique and Scent Bar only to walk two doors down to the Sub Zero Vodka Bar on Euclid.  We chose not to pursue a vodka sampling (afraid the girls might be carded), and, instead drooled over their Signature Burger Menu.*  The girls split an order of sliders and fries while I prided myself on the healthier choice of the Fresh Pacific Salmon Burger cooked to specification complete with red onion, capers, and dill cream cheese.  Okay, I did choose the deep-fried zucchini- crisp and tender- as my side, but, hey, it still counts as a veggie.

Knowing our creative juices were still flowing, we rounded the corner and entered FroYo on Maryland.  As you can see above, our tastes ran the spectrum from sprinkles and chocolate chips atop low-fat chocolate/vanilla twist to oreos falling down the sides of low-fat cake batter.  Low-fat = eat more = full bellies.  Is my reasoning ideal, or what?  For a further creative outlet, FroYo is sponsoring a t-shirt contest.  See the link above for details if interested.

Above all else, though, I cherished the quality time I was able to spend with my squirts  while taking part in a new adventure.  If you have an adventure you'd like to share, please e-mail

*A create-your-own burger option is also available which includes a lengthy list of unique toppings.  Yummo!

Courtney Winkler

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sock Drive for Troops

Submitted by Carol Pigg

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Powder Ingredients;

1/4 cup black pepper
1 1/2 cups parsley flakes
1/2 cup garlic salt
2 tablespoons sea salt (or kosher salt)
1/4 cup granulated garlic
3/4 cup granulated onion (or onion powder)
2 tablespoons dill week

1.  Combine all ingredients and store in airtight container.  Makes about 3 1/2 cups of dry mix.

2.  To make the dressing, whisk together 2-3 tablespoons of dry ranch mix with 2 cups each of mayonnaise and buttermilk, 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Makes about 1 3/4 quarts of dressing.

Credit:  Dressing mix is from "One Good Thing" by Jillee.

*This makes a great marinade for fish and chicken prior to sauteing, baking, or grilling.

Submitted by Christin Friederich

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Living Rich on Less

Submitted by Julie Ford

Night at the Museum

The Fam

Maybe you've seen the movie Night at the Museum, but have you had a chance to live it?  We did just that last night.  Hearing about this event from a fellow Girl Scout troop leader, Tonya Yanchunas, my family and I signed up for this adventure.  What's nice to know is that one need not be a Girl Scout to participate in this Night at the Museum.  The girls had never been to the Arch, so this was a perfect opportunity.  

This view makes my belly feel  oogey googey.

For $15/person, a ride to the top of the Arch, free parking, a meal (comprised of hot dog, chips, water, and cookie), nine activities, and a child's (3-15) ticket for a Gateway Arch Riverboat Sightseeing Cruise are included.  Shazam!  Who doesn't love a bargain?

Right before entering the egg-shaped elevator to the top.
We're on the way to the top of the Arch and not sure what to think.

"I can see the Cardinals from here!"
Working on one of the nine activities . . .
A completed Night at the Museum log.

A visit to the gift shop will result in fun patches . . .

or a book to remember this adventure.
To discover more adventures, click The Arch Adventures

Courtney Winkler

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Easter Story Cookies

1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
a pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon
your Bible and your children

On the Saturday night before Easter, preheat oven to 300 F.

Place pecans in a zipper baggie, and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break the pecans into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.  Read:  John 19:1-3

Let each child smell the vinegar.  Put 1 teaspoon of vinegar into a mixing bowl.  Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  Read:  John 19:28-30

Add egg whites to the vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.  Read:  John 10:10-11

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand.  Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.  Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers and the bitterness of our own sin.  Read:  Luke 23:27

Add 1 cup sugar.  Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know and belong to Him.  Read:  Psalms 34:8 and John 3:16

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.  Read:  Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.  Read:  Matthew 27:57-60

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door, and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape, and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed.  Read:  Matthew 27:65-66

Now . . .  go to bed!

Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.  Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.  Read:  John 16:20, 22

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface, and take a bite. 

The cookies are hollow!

On the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read:  Matthew 28:1-9

He has risen, and He shall reign forever!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Packing Away the Past

Currently our home looks like a tornado knocked on the front door and spun around in every room leaving only mass chaos in its path. We are in the process of packing for a move coming up in just a few short…very short days. Although, having moved 6 times in our 12 year marriage, this is the first move where I was not completely consumed with caring for very small children and felt I had the opportunity to not only start months ahead, but to take the opportunity to open all the boxes that have traveled with us through the years and have yet to be opened and to purge, purge, purge. I really wanted to do this move right, do it organized, do it as stress-free as possible. Having all my kids in school full-time has made a huge difference in the process already, but with the flu arriving at our house and deciding it really likes it here and staying on and off for the past few months and having two snow days this week leading into a long weekend, it has felt a bit like I do have little ones at home again.
During the process of opening up these long-term parked boxes, rummaging through their contents and deciding what is trash, what gets donated and what gets packed, I realized I was moving at an incredibly slow pace. What I had envisioned as being a freeing and fun process directing me down the path of super organized she-woman was turning me more into a woman painfully trying to crawl through the sludge and pain of my past, a past staring back at me for the first time in years. It was released from its sleeping chambers, gasped breaths of fresh air and without hesitation pulled me into at moments paralyzing and painful flashbacks of the past. Seeing pictures of old friends who weren’t such a great influence in my life or finding love letters written by past relationships that should have been destroyed years ago all reached their long boney fingers up from their boxed graves and tried to pull me down to the depths of darkness and sin in my past. It was as if I could feel the shackles tighten around my wrists, and I could feel the weight of condemnation and despair flood my soul.
Just as quick as the darkness of my sinful past tried to cover my spirit and breath death into my heart, the light that burns inside of my soul spoke out with an even louder voice of truth. I heard as clear as day a voice say to me with strength and certainty “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"  2 Corinthians 5:17.  Such comforting words during this time. I felt my soul cry out “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” Psalm 51:10.
Joy filled my soul like water filling a bathtub. I once again had strength that only comes from Christ to keep the past in my rearview mirror and to look with great anticipation and hope to the future. The words of Jeremiah 29:11 whispered ever so sweetly in to my heart, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We know without a doubt that this upcoming move is a gift from God and is His way of preparing a future for our family that we could not have even imagined only four years ago when we were homeless and surviving off of generous gifts from loved ones and government financial support while my husband was desperately searching for a job to support our family. Our present and future looked like nothing but a long, cold hike down the path of uncertainty and suffering. Not a great place to be with a one-year-old, a three-year-old and a five- year-old in tow. Feelings of helplessness and anger were pervasive. As He always is, though, God was moving even then. We were focusing on the challenges of the moment and were finding it extremely difficult to turn our eyes up to heaven. As He promised though, He was preparing a healing path for us to take that would restore our souls.
When God is moving, Satan uses his elite forces to distract, confuse, depress and lead astray God’s chosen children. I also know without a doubt that there is a war raging every day for our souls. We are distracted by our business, we are confused by relational conflict or our current circumstances, we fall deep into depression and our eyes fall from looking up to the King of Glory to focusing on haunting memories of our past or the place of suffering we are journeying through today. It is important to remember that there is a war going on right now for your soul. Ephesians 6:12-13 tell us “For our struggle is onto against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The apostle Paul then tells us how to put on our spiritual armor of God in order to defend our souls from the enemy. Read Ephesians 6:13-20 to hear his instructions.
When is the last time you allowed distraction or business to create a hole in your armor for the enemy's poisoned arrow to lance your soul? When is the last time you took time to quiet the noise of life in your head and heart and to abide with the lover of your soul?
My encouragement to you is even amongst the business of moving through life, never knowing what the next box life has for you to open, but living and moving by faith that you would grasp ahold tightly to God’s word. That you would carve out time in your busy day to abide with Him, even if only for a few minutes. That you would fill your heart with His promises and that you would navigate your life with purpose and fervor towards your new identity in Christ.
May you fight the good fight.

Heather Budwell

Sherri's Savings

Okay, talking with Miss Sherri last night at TGIW, I learned that I could buy children's shoes for myself at a discount resulting in being feet twinkies with my 5-year-old and 6-year-old girls.  Win win in my book!  See for yourself . . .

Florida here I come!  $6.98

Everyday summah!  $4.98

Water aerobics!  $7.98

My bunion is happy as well as my wallet.  What more could a girl want?  Check back for more of Sherri's Savings . . .

Submitted by Courtney Winkler

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
- Colossians 2:6-7

Overflowing with thankfulness. Isn't that a beautiful thought?!

Sue Busler

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We are currently out of the office on a hiatus.  
Please check back with us next month!