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Wordless Wednesday: Just Relaxing

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Preparing Our Hearts for Easter

Loving Father, give me the courage to trust in you for all that I face. ~Max Lucado, On Calvary's Hill

Special thanks to Family Christian for providing a review copy of On Calvary’s Hill by Max Lucado for this post.

Easter falls on April 5th this year. In stores, the Easter decorations started showing up right after Valentine’s Day. There are rows of candy, stuffed animals, plastic eggs, baskets, and all kinds of little goodies just waiting to be bought. The focus is on all of the material things of Easter rather than on the ultimate sacrifice that would should be remembering. I, personally, think that Easter egg hunts, colored eggs, and Easter baskets can be lots of fun, but as a Christian family, it shouldn’t be the primary focus.

Lord, help me to love as you love.

While Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection did not take place in the spring, it was chosen some time ago as the time of year that we would remember the salvation that comes with His crucifixion and resurrection. It’s fairly easy to get caught up in the commercialism of Easter, so we need to make sure that we’re preparing our hearts and minds for Resurrection Sunday.

Father, thank you for loving me just as I am.

In On Calvary’s Hill, Max Lucado shares 40 readings that will help us focus on the real meaning behind Easter. Each reading has a passage of scripture, a reading, and a prayer. The readings take us through the days leading up to the cross and conclude with the days after His resurrection. We are reminded of all that Christ went through not only on the cross but also in the days leading up to that fateful day where He took our sins upon Him, where He made the ultimate sacrifice, where He carried all our burdens, our sins, and our shame. He took our place and paid for our sins so that one day, if we accepted His amazing gift, we would be able to join Him in paradise.

Whether you are looking for a book for personal reflection or a book for family quiet time, On Calvary’s Hill can help you prepare your heart, your family’s hearts for the Easter Season.

On Calvary's Hill by Max LucadoBook Description:

It’s early in the final week. The props and players for Friday’s drama are in position. Five-inch spikes are in the bin. A cross-beam leans against a shed wall. The players are nearing the stage–Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, Judas, the centurions. Players and props. Only this is no play; it’s a divine plan. A plan begun before Adam felt heaven’s breath, and now all heaven waits and watches. All eyes are on one figure–the Nazarene.

Join bestselling author Max Lucado in an exploration of the final days in the life of Christ. In On Calvary’s Hill, you’ll draw near to the Savior and prepare to celebrate the greatest miracle ever conceived through 40 devotional readings that feature Scripture verses, prayer prompts, and favorite passages from many of Lucado’s best-selling books.

About the Author:

More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718031326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718031329
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Retail Price: $9.99
  • Audio and Digital formats also available

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March Madness – Family Style

March Madness Family Style

I’m happy to team up with Family Christian to talk about making March Madness fun for the entire family. This post contains affiliate links.

When March Madness rolls around, people seem to either get really excited about it or they get frustrated because their favorite shows are on hold for basketball. Granted, there are some people who don’t care one way or another. For as long as I can remember, D and I have enjoyed watching basketball together (when he wasn’t playing), and March Madness is no exception to that. Munchkin, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly share our enthusiasm for the game unless it’s a live game.

While we enjoy watching the games, we always wanted to make sure that Munchkin knew that she was more important than any game. What that meant was there were times that we had to miss a game or two to do something that she really wanted to do, but most often, we would just make sure that we made March Madness family friendly.

March Madness: Play Ball - Stay Hydrated

Outdoor Fun – Shooting Hoops

If the weather cooperated, that could mean shooting some hoops outside. While I didn’t always get in on the action, I definitely enjoyed watching my husband and daughter laugh and goof around while playing ball. Munchkin started out with her own smaller ball but quickly moved up to a women’s ball and then a full size men’s ball. It was not only a time of fun, but also a time of bonding for them. It also helped work off some of the energy before sitting down to watch a game or two that day.

We always take either a tumbler of lemonade/iced tea or a water bottle filled with water with us when we do outside activities. You do not want to get dehydrated as that will just ruin the fun day.

March Madness: Family Game Time

Indoor Fun – Playing a Game

Sometimes, going outside and shooting hoops wasn’t possible due to weather or someone not feeling well, so we’d pull out games to play. I’m not a huge fan of playing board games, but I would make an exception here and there for the sake of family time. We’d play board games before and/or after the televised games as well as at half time (if we weren’t eating). There were even a few times that we played during the game as Munchkin really wanted/needed the extra mommy/daddy time.

Once the interactive gaming systems came into our lives, we added those into our game day routine as well. I have to tell you that D usually beat both Munchkin and I when it came to the basketball games. Hmm… That was rather like the real life games. **grin**

March Madness: Crafts and Movies

Game Time

As Munchkin got a little older, we started to get into filling out the brackets for March Madness. It was a little fun competition to see who would get the most guesses right by the time the tournament was done. It was interesting to see who picked which team to win it all.

Now that Munchkin is older, she sits in the room with us and watches the games while doing other things, but when she was younger, I always made sure that I had a variety of things for her to do – especially if I really wanted to see the game. I generally picked up at least 1 new dvd for her like Veggie Tales, The Sugar Creek Gang, or Mandie. (I still like to pick up the dvds when they are on sale at Family Christian and set them aside for times when I want to give them to Munchkin. Family Christian has some excellent video sales throughout the year.) I also tried to make sure she had some crafts or art projects to work on. Polymer clay, modeling clay, was and still is one of the craft activities that she enjoys as it allows her to be really creative.

March Madness Finger Foods

Game Day Food

Of course, you can’t have game day without food. I like to try to keep things simple as the last thing I want to do on game day is spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Normally, it’s all about finger foods. To make clean-up easy, I like to use paper plates.

We like to do make-your-own-pizzas so everyone can have exactly what they want on their own pizza. Since we’re gluten free, I either have to make our own pizza crust, purchase a premade crust, or use brown rice tortillas as the base. I tend to utilize the brown rice tortillas for our crusts. Not only is it an easy, delicious thin crust for the pizza, but it’s also a fast way to make pizza. You just place it in a cast iron skillet, add your toppings, and cook it until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is crisp.

Of course, no game day is complete without something at least a little sweet. Munchkin loves carrot cake, so I decided to go with some gluten free carrot cake cupcakes with a healthy cream cheese frosting. I prefer to use the silicone baking cups when making cupcakes as you don’t need a muffin tin. You just place them on a cookie pan and bake. They are easy release for perfect cupcakes every time. Once they come out of the oven, you’ll just place the cupcakes on a cooling rack until they are completely cool before frosting them.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
 
These gluten free carrot cake cupcakes are moist and delicious. The cream cheese frosting has honey as an alternative to processed sugar.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Gluten Free Baked Goods
Serves: 10 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • ½ Cup Gluten Free Oat Flour
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Liquid Coconut Oil
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • 1½ Cups Grated Carrots
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • ½ Cup Gluten Free Oat Flour
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Liquid Coconut Oil
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • 1½ Cups Grated Carrots
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Honey (add a little more if you like sweeter frosting)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cupcake Instructions:
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, oat flour, sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, and honey.
  5. Mix grated carrots into wet ingredients.
  6. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  7. Fill silicone baking cups or a lined muffin tins ¾ full.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. (I’m high altitude, so I bake for 22 minutes.)
  9. Place on cooling rack and completely cool before frosting.
  10. Garnish with shredded carrots and finely chopped pecans, if desired.
  11. Frosting Instructions:
  12. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese.
  13. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
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Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Munchkin loves carrot cake, so I’ve been working on creating a moist gluten free carrot cake with a healthy cream cheese frosting. These cupcakes are super moist. The frosting is not overly sweet, but can easily be made sweeter by adding a little more honey. If you want to make them completely grain free, you can just substitute more almond flour for the oat flour.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten Free Oat Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Liquid Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 1/2 Cups Grated Carrots

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp. Butter
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Honey (add a little more if you like sweeter frosting)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Cupcake Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, oat flour, sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, and honey.
  4. Mix grated carrots into wet ingredients.
  5. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  6. Fill silicone baking cups or a lined muffin tins 3/4 full.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. (I’m high altitude, so I bake for 22 minutes.)
  8. Place on cooling rack and completely cool before frosting.
  9. Garnish with shredded carrots and finely chopped pecans, if desired.

Frosting Instructions:

  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

Yield: 10 cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
 
These gluten free carrot cake cupcakes are moist and delicious. The cream cheese frosting has honey as an alternative to processed sugar.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Baked Goods
Serves: 10 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • Carrot Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • ½ Cup Gluten Free Oat Flour
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. Liquid Coconut Oil
  • ¼ Cup Honey
  • 1½ Cups Grated Carrots
  • Frosting Ingredients:
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Honey (add a little more if you like sweeter frosting)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cupcake Instructions:
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, oat flour, sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, and honey.
  5. Mix grated carrots into wet ingredients.
  6. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  7. Fill silicone baking cups or a lined muffin tins ¾ full.
  8. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. (I’m high altitude, so I bake for 22 minutes.)
  9. Place on cooling rack and completely cool before frosting.
  10. Garnish with shredded carrots and finely chopped pecans, if desired.
  11. Frosting Instructions:
  12. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese.
  13. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

 

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Prayers for Your Children

Let none of us be content... until [Jesus] has received our children, and has so blessed them that we are sure that they have entered the Kingdom of God. ~Charles Spurgeon

Special thanks to Family Christian for providing a review copy of this book. This post contains affiliate links.

I started praying for our sweet Munchkin before she was even born. As the years have passed some prayers remained the same while others have changed according to the season we are going through in our lives, in her life. As a mom, I want the best for my child. I want her to grow up to know the Lord in a very personal way. I want her to achieve great things in her life. Sometimes, all of these heart desires for my child keep me from having the right words to say as I call out to the Lord. How do I pray?

In the scriptures, we see the disciples asking Jesus the exact same question. If His disciples, the men who were with Him day after day, needed guidance in how to pray, I can understand how I would also need help sometimes. Thankfully, we have the scriptures to guide us in our prayers. We can pray the scriptures for our child(ren).

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. I Samuel 12:23

In Prayers for Your Children, James Banks gives 90 days of prayers for children. These prayers take various parts of scripture and incorporate them into prayers for our child(ren). The prayers are broken down into 13 weeks that each feature a different topic – knowing, growing, walking, loving, protected, faithful, fruitful, thankful, humble, pure, hopeful, overcoming, and blessed.

While some of the prayers seem a bit flowery, the ideas covered help me think of ways that I can and should be praying for my child. I like all the scripture passages that are given throughout the prayers as it gives me places to look and read throughout the Bible to help make my prayer life for my daughter more effective. I’m not a fan of using a variety of different versions/translations of the Bible just to get the right wording for the prayer, so that is a negative for me. I understand why it’s done, but it’s something that I’ve never personally liked whether it’s in a sermon or in a book.

Prayers for Your Children

I like that I’m able to utilize this book, these prayers in a manner that best works for me and for my prayer life for my daughter. That means that I can read a prayer a day in the order in which they are written or I can turn to the section on the topic where I feel like I need to focus my prayers. I can use the book to not only better my prayer life for my daughter but also use it as a study tool by using the scripture passages covered in the prayer. It helps me stay focused in my prayers which I appreciate.

Prayers for Your Children by James BanksBook Description:

What greater gift can you give your child than faithful prayer on his or her behalf? Many parents believe in the power of prayer over their children—but their lives are so full that finding time for prayer can be a challenge.

Inside Prayers for Your Children, author James Banks offers parents the help they need with Scripture-based prayers to cover children through every season of life. These powerful, encouraging prayers help you speak God’s promises back to Him—and will inspire you to pray all the more. Ninety prayers, combined with true stories of God’s power to transform lives in answer to prayer, address such important needs as:

• Knowing Christ as Savior
• Growing in relationship with God and others
• Experiencing God’s protection and direction for life
• Walking in purity and love
• Living with hope and faith for a lifetime.

Partner with God through prayer, and speak life-changing blessing over your child both now and for eternity!

James BanksAbout the Author:

Dr. James Banks’ bestselling writing on prayer has encouraged over a million people in many countries. James has been a pastor and church planter for over 25 years, and is a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. He and wife Cari have been married 30 years and have two adult children. For more information visit JamesBanks.org, PrayersForProdigals.org and James’ Facebook Author Page.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery House (March 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627073337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627073332
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Retail Price: $12.99

Disclosure Statement

 

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