Weekly Menu

This week’s menu will look quite similar to last weeks. That is because last week was ‘one of those weeks’. I went to sit down and plan the menu this week and realized I had not stuck to last weeks menu. I still had all the ingredients for the menu plan; so if figured instead of reinventing the wheel – I would just do the menu plan for last week this week.
It will be redundant; but here is this week’s menu:

Monday: Poppy Seed Chicken (from our church cook book pg 68)

Tuesday: Chicken Lasagna (also from our church cook book pg 72)

Wednesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole (my Mom’s recipe and also my brother’s favorite meal from my Mom’s kitchen)

Thursday: Spaghetti / Salad

Friday: Zippy Beef Tips (Fix it and Forget It Cookbook (FF) pg 100)

Saturday: Potato Soup (FF pg 61) / Homemade Bread

Sunday: Hearty Western Casserole (FF 111)

I suppose I should state that this is just the menu for the main dish served at dinner. I try to serve at least two vegetables along with the main dish. On a soup night (usually Sat) I serve a veggie tray along with the soup and homemade bread.

So what’s for dinner at your house this week?

Thanks for stopping by. So glad you did.

The Prayer

Tonight it was his bedtime prayer.


To the point.

Sincerely spoken.

Heard by the Almighty God who created the universe.

“Please God, help me to learn to read. Amen”

And in my heart I whispered, “Let it be Lord. Amen and amen”

Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you did.

The Sound of Obedience

I decided to take the little kids out on a walk. Their energy levels were in need of some outlet and I wanted to take in the sights of a town decked out in fall colors. We checked the temperature and decided against a jacket and headed down our street.

Now, the Mom in me seems to think that if we are walking anywhere, down the street or into the store it is always best to hold hands. I love holding my kids’ hands. My oldest is 18 and I don’t mind one bit grabbing a hold of her hand as we walk. This instinct is especially high when I am walking with any child under the age of 5. So, as we were walking down the street I grabbed a hold of my daughter’s hand.

Anna is three and wants the independence of her 18 year old sister. She detests that she needs help cutting her meat at dinner, or that she has to ask for help in getting the toothpaste onto her brush. So, if there is a task that she is capable of doing without help, she wants to do the task to the fullest, without one ounce of help. Walking would be a task that she has mastered quite well. She does not need someone to hold her hand; and on this particular walk her request was right in order. “Mom, can I walk by myself?”

I love developing my children’s independence. I firmly believe that I am raising my kids to be able to function on their own and try my best to allow them the ability to do things for themselves. With this belief in the back of my mind, I agreed that she could walk on her own.

She began skipping and jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk. She was completely enjoying the walk and her ability to do it all. by. herself. Then she turned and asked if we could play the game. The game is something we started a long time ago (perhaps when Abbey and Rachel were little – I can’t remember); but it is a game that is enjoyed by Anna as if she was the only one who has ever played it. The game goes like this: They run forward and wait for me to call out ‘stop’. Then when they hear the command, they stop until I call out the next command: ‘go’. Upon hearing the two letter word they take off until they hear the word ‘stop’ again. We just keep repeating the sequence; mainly to give mom (who is walking, not running) a chance to catch up.

I agreed and we played the game. “Go” is always followed by giggles and the patter of little feet running or jumping at will. Then I say ‘stop’ and the silence that follows is always music to my ears. Not that I mind the noise of giggles but because I love the sound of obedience. As I catch up to the kiddos I tell them to go and the giggles resume and I can’t help but smile.

On this particular day, we played our game. I shouted the commands and they played the game; but today my youngest decided to keep running on the command ‘stop’. She was testing the rules; not the rules of the game; but a principle we live by. Obedience. You see, that is the whole purpose of the game. In the game I am giving them a training session disguised in a game. I am teaching them that when I say something I want immediate obedience. I am teaching this because I want them to know that when they hear the word ‘stop’ they know immediately what to do. The training game was revealing that this child needed more training on the principle that I was trying to instill in her little heart and mind.

I called her to me. “Anna, Momma told you to stop and you did not obey.” She understood exactly what I was saying because I could see the guilt in her eyes. I continued, “When Momma tells you to do something I expect you to listen and to obey. Because you did not listen to Mom you will have to hold my hand for a little while and think about listening.”

We walked on a little further. Hand in hand. In a few minutes I asked her if she wanted to play the game again. She nodded in her agreement. I loosened the grip on her hand and said the command, “Go”. She took off skipping and laughing. I let her go a little longer than I normally do before I gave the “Stop” command. “Stop” I said making sure it was loud enough for her to hear. Immediately her little feet stopped in their tracks and she stood there waiting for the “go”. I repeated the game a couple more times. She played along perfectly; then she turned around and looked at Zak. It was her insight that amazed and pleased me.

“Mom is teaching us to obey.”

Then she turned around and looked at me with a great big smile on her face, “Look Mom, I am obeying you!” She was as pleased with herself as I was.

So we finished our walk playing our game and we came home all the ore better because we had learned. Anna had learned another valuable lesson in obedience and I had been reminded once again that training takes place all day long and in every situation that we have.

“God give me wisdom to seize each training opportunity that is presented to me. God help me to parent on purpose. To allow every walk, every meal time every school lesson to be an opportunity to reach the heart of my child and claim it for God.”

Date Nights

We have always tried to have a date night. It was easy when we were first married. Every night was date night. Then we added the kids (perhaps because of the frequent date nights); and then the date nights were a bit more sporadic. We would do things that were inventive. Get the kids to bed, watch a movie and have a special night all by ourselves. The time after the baby went to bed was our time - our date.

When we lived in the Dakota’s Rob worked with the teens of our church. When your husband is the youth director – date nights are possible more often than not. We seldom had a trouble finding a teenager that was willing to watch the kids. I loved going and getting the teenager, giving the instructions for the kids’ dinner and bed time and then heading out on a date with my husband. On these dates, we found our special places that we enjoyed and became ‘regulars’ on our nights out. Perhaps, my personal favorite place was a coffee shop a few blocks from our house. A lady had taken an old Victorian house and converted it into a coffee shop. Every room had a different theme and there were places all through the house where you could find to sit and enjoy your coffee and conversation. Old closets with the door removed and wiring brought in made for a nice quiet nook to occupy and read a novel or magazine, a lamp on the corner table next to the chair, not only lighting your book but warming the tiny spot with an atmosphere of seclusion. When we were there together, we would sit at a round garden table with two chairs, a coffee in my hand and a hot chocolate in my husband’s. The soft lighting and the quiet atmosphere lent itself to romance. In North Dakota, that was my favorite date spot.

Then we moved to the Green Bay area of Wisconsin. The dates were still frequent, like they had been in North Dakota. Every month or so would find Rob and I heading out the door, kids being watched by a baby sitter and the two of us ready to enjoy our date. Our date spot changed with the move and we found ourselves frequenting a book store in town. We would browse the shelves for books and bargains, enjoy dinner out at a restaurant and head home after a stop at an ice cream shop.

Then Rob’s job changed, he became the senior pastor of the church and life seemed to get busy. Very, very busy. Date nights seemed to be few and far between; and when we were able to fit in the time for a date, my husband was too tired to want to head out and find something to do. Then, we sat down and had a talk. Date nights would need to start back up. We needed time as a couple; and the deacons insisted that he take a day off from church work. So, on his day off, we made the daylight hours family time and in the evening we got away from the normal schedule and had time for each other. In the midst of a job change, something else had happened. The kids were getting older and the need for a babysitter was not there. We had a built in babysitter in Rachel. Oh joy, oh delight! The book store was frequented more often, as was the Goodwill and local thrift store. Rob built a good part of his library during those date nights. Goodwill seemed to always provide a place for him to find a book or two that he needed for his growing library.

When we moved to our current house we made a commitment to our date nights. Despite a job change that paid less than the pastorate we were determined to spend one night a week with each other. We would just have to do it on the thrifty plan. We were in a quandary; not only did we not have money to spend, but our small little town did not offer a lot to do on a weekly basis. There were no coffee shops, no thrift stores and no book stores to occupy our time out and away from the kids. In our town, restaurants are few and far between; and though all of them in town are good, the money in our wallet did not match being able to frequent them each week. I will say though, we have become pretty well known at the Chinese restaurant in town. They know what we want before we ever sit down! On the nights we go there we share a plate on General Tso Chicken. (You might just want to visit Mayville and try it! It is quite good!!) We wanted, though, to find someplace that was ours. The selection was as limited as our budget! We drove the country roads and looked at farm steads and dreamed of what life would be like in the country with a couple of acres of land. We enjoyed the drives; but we still lacked a place to call our own.

Then we found it! Our special date spot turned up in the most unusual of places during one of our country drives. We found a steep hill and drove up to the top. The sight was breathtaking as the view before us was miles and miles of the farmland that surrounds our town. We knew it the moment we stopped the car and took in the view that we had found that for which we had been searching. This would be our date spot! It is the most favorite of all the date spots we have ever had. It also is located in the most unusual spots we have ever frequented. You see, the hill offering us beauty, peace and quiet and seclusion is located at the local cemetery on the edge of town!

When we need time to get away, or have a date night that requires no errands to be run, we head up to ‘our spot’. We get to the top of the hill, roll down the windows, turn off the motor and take in the view. The land surrounds us like a quilt that changes with the seasons. In the fall the golden wheat blows like a flag upon the land. Its beauty is breathtaking. I feel that perhaps, there is not a rose as beautiful as a field of wheat golden with the sun hews, blowing in the wind and waiting for the day of harvest to come. In the fall, we sit and enjoy the golden view as we talk; taking in the colors of brown, gold and red in the quilt before us.

In winter, the hills are covered with a blanket of snow. Blinding white fills our gaze as we take in the miles and miles of quiet earth sleeping beneath the snow so white. We sit in the car, windows rolled up, a warm drink in our hands as we talk. We dream about the future, talk through the present and reminisce about the past. On the hill, the present surrounds us to the right. Hills of white blind us as we look at the quiet countryside; but on the other side of us, to our left, the grave stones are a reminder that we won’t always have the present. Perhaps it is rather odd – this date spot we have found - but as we sit there on the hill in the cold of winter, I am reminded to enjoy the little moments because death will call all of us and we will be left with precious memories of days gone by. It seems fitting, really, to see the reminder often. Sometimes in a marriage and family it is easy to forget to live today and enjoy each other. Winter on the hill reminds me that life is always changing.

In the spring our spot has a beauty all its own. The brown earth, not yet a canvas of life, lies before us as a quilt. A quilt that, though plain and lacking color, offers a promise of warm days coming soon in the near future. The ground before us is empty and brown; but finally can be seen now that the snow has melted its way into the depths of the soil. Soon there will be grains and seeds placed within the brown mounds, and life will be surrounding us in a few short weeks. The windows stay up on the car as we talk - the spring air too cool yet to enjoy it blowing through the car as we sit there. We spot flocks of birds flying overhead as they make their return to their summer home. The Canadian Geese seem to honk their hellos as they fly overhead. I restrain the desire to roll down the windows and holler a “welcome home” to the returning birds. I love the return of the birds to our area every spring. Our hearts are light as we have the assurance that warm sunshine is coming and winter’s cold grip is being loosened. I think we dream more about our future and make plans for our family more in spring than any other season.

Summer allows us to enjoy picnics and talks up on the hill. We sit on top of the hill, roll down the windows of the car and allow the fresh air to fill our lungs. In the summer we watch as the farm land becomes alive with the crops of the season. We see the small green leaves peaking up through the brown dirt; only to find on our return visit the small leaves are now big plants. Each visit they are bigger and I wonder within my mind if I am the only one who is amazed at how fast a crop can take shape. Are there are others that are in awe that so much of the food that feeds our land is grown in just a few short weeks? We sit on summer nights and watch as the bats make their entrance into the evening sky. We tend to roll up our window upon seeing the flying black creatures; but I always am amazed at their flight patterns and enjoy watching them in the protection of our vehicle. Forty-nine cent cones are enjoyed as we talk about our days and plans for the next school year. Summers on the hill bring a close to a long day and gives us opportunity to enjoy being able to talk in solitude without children interrupting or squabbles requiring us to referee.

So when we need to get away, when the kids need to be out of earshot of our conversation, you will find us on the hill enjoying the view. Through the years we have had our date nights, we have had our places of business to frequent; but there has never been, and there will never be, a better date night place than we have here - on the hill. It’s ‘our spot’.

Our Menu this Week

I wanted to post my menu for the week. I have been diligently planning a menu and I like not having to figure out what is for dinner; but rather just look on the fridge and see what is on the menu. So, here’s what’s for dinner at the Spurgeon’s this week:

Monday: Pot Roast (this was on the menu for Sunday; but since we weren’t at church as a family – I moved it to Monday)

Tuesday: Chicken Lasagna (this is a recipe that is in our church cookbook. I am excited to try it.)
Wednesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Thursday: Zippy Beef Tips (Fix it and Forget It Cookbook (FF), page 100)

Friday: Spaghetti / Salad

Saturday: Potato Soup (FF, page 61)

Sunday: Poppy Seed Chicken (also a recipe in our church cookbook. I have had this before and it is delicious!!)

When I make my menu I post it on our fridge for the week. Rather than write out the whole cookbook name where I can locate the actual recipe, I have abbreviations for each of the cookbooks. I then just put the abbreviations and the page number where I need to turn to. This works out great for quick reference!

So, what’s for dinner at your house?

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great week!

A Plan for Zak

Our little Zak has been in school now for a little over a month. Most of his days have been half days; but we have been transitioning into full school days. He is loving school. One of the reasons he has been in school for the half days is so that a team of professionals can test and evaluate him. Because of his unique and special needs it is mandatory for the state to run an evaluation if we so request. We have been hesitant to open this door; but through prayer and counsel felt that God was leading in this direction. Testing and Evaluation started a little over a month ago.
Hours and hours of testing have been done. I have sat in on some of the test and watched as they ran went through the questions. I have come into school at the lunch hour and watched him working with his physical therapist. The tests there were physically challenging for him and I enjoyed watching what they were testing for and his endurance level as they did their evaluation.

Well, yesterday was the date set to go over all the results from the team of professionals. It was the day I had been waiting for since we started down this road. The day when everything is laid on the table, so to speak, and we are able to see exactly where he is at developmentally. If all the professionals come to the table and in their area of experience reveal that their testing revealed areas of delay, an IEP is set in place for his academic year. So, I headed to the school yesterday at 10:30 for his IEP meeting. I knew there would be a lot of people there; because there have been a lot of people who have tested him. I also knew that they would be talking about what they had found with Zak’s abilities.

I told myself that this could be discouraging to spend an hour or so listening to a team of people tell you what is wrong with your child. I prepped myself for the meeting; but was a bit nervous about it. For as nervous as I was about it, I was that excited. For years we have been working with Zak and have come to a brick wall. We just cannot get him any further. We have been stuck, so to speak. So there was an excitement within me as I knew that I would find out exactly what was wrong and listen to the different people talk about what we need to do to get him to the next step. I headed to the meeting with mixed emotions and with questions in my head.

The meeting had to be moved to a different room because of the amount of people that we present at the meeting. That made my nervousness increase by leaps and bounds! I told myself to stop moving my feet around and stop twitching my hands and biting my lips. (All of my nervous habits that come to the surface when I feel vulnerable). Then the meeting was started, one of the school staff who I have worked with a lot started the meeting. It was comforting to hear her voice and to have her assure me that these meetings can be a bit overwhelming and that if I needed a break anytime in the meeting I could call for one. She also explained that they all have come to really enjoy and like Zak and that while they were talking about the problems they wanted me to be assured that the saw the good things too. I took a deep breath and we started the meeting.

Paperwork upon paperwork was handed to me from the different departments that had evaluated Zak. There was speech and language, and advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing, physical therapist, occupational therapist, a school psychologist, the third grade teacher, special education teacher, the head of special education department in our county, the school principle and an autism specialist, and audiologist. Each of them took their turn and showing me where Zak landed on their test scores and gave their evaluation findings to me in paper form (my stack kept growing). In every department Zak scored seriously delayed. At first I felt overwhelmed with the charts in front of me; because it revealed why we have been having such struggles with moving forward with his education. The line for ‘normal and average’ was highlighted and Zak’s lines were far from the colored part of the page.

The autism specialist revealed that he indeed is on the autism spectrum and falls on the severe side autistic. (This surprises people because Zak is so vocal and loves being around people!). They also diagnosed him with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This combined with the autism can be quite challenging in knowing not only how to take him to the next level; but even what the next level is for him. Speech showed that his speech problems are not due to his hearing loss; but rather due to the neurological problems that he has present in his brain.

This was all the ‘bad news’, if seeing the facts is ever really bad news. Seems to me when you know right where you are – when you are staring truth right in the face – you are empowered to be able to move forward. So, with the truth sitting right there in front of me I felt charged with a new unction that I have not felt in a long time with Zak. OK – where do we go from here?

Then they started the other part of the meeting. This was where they pulled out their plans and started with where we are sitting right on the table they started handing over the sheets that showed where they wanted to go; and then (this is the good part) how they are going to plan to get there. When we walked away from the table a plan was set in place just for him. All in all the meeting lasted over 2 ½ hours. I left exhausted from all the information; but also charged with a new hope.

So, in the next two weeks we will be transitioning Zak into a different part of the school. He will be changing teachers, classrooms and will have a new aid for most of his day. He will be included in a normal third grade classroom for one subject a day and for recess. During this time his aid will work one on one with him. (This is good for Zak; because he loves his Mrs. G.) In two weeks time everything will be in place to start him on a new course that has been set for him.

I write this post to tell you, not only about the meeting and findings, but to ask you to pray for Zak. This is all different for him. He is going to have some issues with the changes; but they are changes that need to be made for his good. For example, he will use a different door to go into school. (This caused a major breakdown this morning when I dropped him off. Handling change does not go well for Zak). So, he could use your prayers in the next two weeks. Pray that he will have a peace of God in his little heart that will free him from the anxiety that comes with change. Pray for him to connect with is new aid. The first weekend that followed his start of school was really hard for us and for Zak. We entered into crisis mode with Zak for several days due to the issues that arose at home with his feeling overwhelmed. The same might happen again here for a couple of weeks. Pray that we have the patience to work with him and see him through this.

I end this post to tell you that at the table, surrounded by all these professionals they all said that Zak is one of the most well behaved children that they have seen come in with his issues. They also said that it was obvious that we love Zak very much and that we have ‘poured ourselves’ into him. Somehow, hearing this was such an encouragement to me. We have struggled and worked with him so much. It was so exciting to see that we have made a difference in Zak’s life and to know that people can see, that despite the challenges, we love Zak more than even we can explain in words. Because of our love for him we have to try everything we can to take him as far as he can go. I am thankful that God has provided us with a team of people to come along side and help us in our endeavor.

So, we begin this new phase. I cannot tell you how excited I am to start taking this next step with Zak, and I thank you for your prayers in the next two weeks.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I love to have friends vist. :)