Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breakfast Bliss: Chocolate Chip Waffles

On Monday I brought you a patriotic dessert that is pretty enough to use as a centerpiece and so tasty it'll be gone within moments of biting in. Today I bring you one last recipe because if your family is anything like ours we LOVE to do family breakfast.

So what is my favorite? You ask.

Chocolate Chip Waffles

You will need:

Cooking Spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fat free milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate minichips

To make them:

1) Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray, and preheat.

2) Lightly spoon flour into drying measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place milk, butter, vanilla, and egg yolk in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Beat egg white and sugar with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into flour mixture. Fold in minichips.

3) Spoon about 1/2 cup batter onto hot waffle iorn, spreading batter to edges. Cook 3-5 minutes or until done; repeat procedure with remaining batter.

You can serve these plain or, if you are a "dessert first" kind of person, top them with vanilla ice cream and chocolate minichips. You could also stay festive for the Fourth of July with blueberry and stawberry syrups. :)

Yield: 6 servings (serving size = 1 waffle)

As you gather around the table with family and friends you love, I pray that you will first celebrate the One who taught you how to love (1 John 4:19). After all, it is because of freedom in Him that we truly have a fulfilling life.

God bless and happy eating!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Festive Fourth of July Food: Patriotic Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and it is time for some fun food recipes! Many of us with be gathering with family and friends at our homes, camp sites, and fun vaca spots and, as we prepare, there is one question heavy on our mind

What am I going to bring?

Fear not, my bloggy friends, I have the perfect solution for you. A dessert that is both tasty AND makes for a pretty centerpiece. Awesome, right?!

Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza

I whipped up this awesome Betty Crocker recipe for my Bible Study and it was a hit. So let's get cooking! Here is what you will need-

1 box (1 lb 2.4 oz) brownie mix
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup apple jelly

To make it

1) Preheat your oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray or shortening.

2) Make batter as directed on brownie mix box. Spread in pan.

3) Bake 26 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

4) In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Carefully spread mixture evenly over brownie base.

5) Arrange your berries over cream cheese mixture. Form the raspberries into a circle shape over the center, surround with the blueberries, and then place the strawberry slices between the blueberries and crust edge.

6) Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled.

To serve, simply cut into wedges like you would your pizza! Store covered in refrigerator.

Voila. Pretty. Easy. Good.

You can't find a better combination, my friends.

Enjoy your dessert and check back Thursday when I bring you my favorite breakfast recipe!

Now I'm off to prepare my family supper, welcome my husband home from work, and work on a cool addition to my second book with Pam Stenzel. And, speaking of Pam, she is currently on a mission trip with about 350 teen girls with SUSIE in Ecuador. They will be growing in faith and "adopt a village" through Compassion International. Please pray for them and feel free to follow their experience.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Capris...And Facing Your Fears

They sat on top of the box next to my dryer. Each time I'd enter my laundry room they seemed to taunt me

Are you gutsy enough to try me on today?

Fear would get the best of me.

Not now. Soon.

My "regular" jean capris with no stretch feature. Of course, I wanted to try them on. Ava is here and my pregnancy is over so I want to be back in my own stuff. But, everyone knows that it takes time for a waistline to return.

In order to prevent feeling like a failure, I've continued to wear a few of the early maternity items or comfy, stretchy regular clothes. Ironically, I still didn't feel "good" because I wasn't wearing what I aspired to.

The annoyance mounted enough that this morning I broke. When I went down to the laundry room to begin today's wash, I looked at them, picked them up, swallowed my pride, and tried them on.


Elation overwhelmed me. Smiling as I grabbed a few more regular pairs in the pile, I heard God say,

This is just a tiny example of what you do so often in life.

I am guilty of, at times, living in the "in between." I don't try the things I really want to because I am afraid - afraid of failure, afraid of feeling badly, afraid the denim won't fit. So, I set a goal for myself but place it an arms length away. After all, I have felt the sting of trying on the denim to soon in the past.

But this is no way to live.

God has planted within us goals and dreams that we need to chase. If they are from Him, whether we fail or succeed from our perspective is not the point because He will most certainly use the result for our good - to shape us, mold us, challenge us, and increase our dependence on Him.

What are you afraid of trying today? I'd encourage you to quit saying, "Not now. Soon." and attempt it. I mean, who knows how long these capris have fit while I've been passing them by. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011


One of our greatest human longings is to be loved and one of the most beautiful expressions of love is baptism. In the waters of baptism, the awesome God who pressed the stars into place, formed the mountains, and set the world spinning on its axis, meets us personally to claim us and say,

“You are treasured all the time for all time.”

Because of the intimate power in those waters, June 12 was a very special day in our home. On that morning, Ava Marie was held over the font and received the promise of new life from her Creator.

This mama shed a few tears.

Wearing the very same white dress that her older two sisters and I wore, Ava unknowingly came before God and a public relationship was born. It wasn’t about her. It was about the One who chooses to love us.

As she grows over the years, I pray that relationship will mature because one day it will be up to her to make a personal profession of her own faith. But, we and all who love her will be encouraging her, presenting Bible Truth to her, and in fun ways inviting her into a closer relationship with God because

the reality is that EVERY earthly relationship we have can fail us or end, but NEVER will a relationship with God.

Godly love finds us, holds us, protects us, leads us, and ultimately, gifts us with an eternal home.

And that is reason to celebrate!

God wants you. In fact, He was excited about you long before you were here. His Word says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ…” (Eph 1:4). So, if you are feeling lost or unloved, spend time with the ONLY ever present, always loving One who can bring true fulfillment.

He’ll put a new skip in your step! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Can We Help the "Teen Mom"

This week “Teen Mom” Amber Portwood made the news for an alleged suicide attempt, and I must say my heart breaks for her. Obviously I do not know Amber and, to be quite honest, I’ve only watched one episode of “Teen Mom.” But, while she hurts, the nation is gawking at the situation and rolling their eyes at the ongoing drama in this young woman’s life.

Because of my work with Pam Stenzel and crisis pregnancy center ministry, I am struck by the recent news. Clearly Amber has made sinful choices. (But who hasn’t?) Her decision to have sex outside of marriage hurt her chances to have a successful relationship and the pregnancy created new hills for her to climb. I don’t care how cool someone might think it is to be on “16 and Pregnant” and become a quasi-celebrity. The fact of the matter is that Amber dropped out of school to try and raise her baby, bringing immediate academic success to a crashing halt. Beyond that, her life is forever connected to a man she thought she “loved” as a teenager. If she marries anyone else, she will not be able to escape Gary -the guy from her youth. Her past choices will follow her.

From all that I’ve noticed in the tabloids while waiting in line to purchase my groceries, Amber and Gary have tried to make their relationship work. Sadly, their on again/off again status and tumultuous twists and turns with the law and child custody further muddy the waters.

While I KNOW Amber’s choices have brought her to this place and there are always consequences to walking outside of God’s design, we have a responsibility in this too.

“Teen Mom” focuses on the struggles teen moms face. Millions of viewers tune in to watch kids struggle to raise kids hoping for good gossip the next day. And how does that help these young people??? It doesn’t.

Last I checked we were supposed to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thes 5:11) in love not toss a camera in front of a struggling person’s face with a simple “good luck.” We should be gripping these girls that courageously chose life in grace so that they can grow in character and experience a better life. Not to mention their babies.

These are real people walking through real situations enduring real emotions. It is time to stop glorifying the problem while these young people sink further into despair and start highlighting tools to help teen parents achieve personal success and healthy future relationships.

My prayer is that a Godly mentor will enter Amber’s life and help her see herself through the eyes of her Maker. God, who loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3), created us in community not to be bystanders but to be His hands and feet to those around us. We can listen and offer hope through God’s love letter, aka the Bible, promoting heartfelt change. We can pray with them & meet at the coffee shop to discuss book studies that provide encouragement for the future. (My book with Pam has been used this way) We can show the teen parent that they are loved.

And, what we can’t do on our own we can refer for. Crisis pregnancy centers (1-800-395-HELP) will help evaluate their relationships and set new boundaries so that their past relationships choices aren’t their future ones. Doctors can provide medical assessments and instruction. School programs will help meet academic goals. Area groups like Teen MOPS and online sites like will provide a setting to motivate and achieve success. The list goes on and on.

There is hope and when we quit watching and start helping everyone benefits. So, let’s be a part of the change that gives hope to tomorrow. Starting now.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear Ava (Newborn Pics)

Dear Ava,

Children are a gift

from the Lord;

they are a reward

from him. (Psalm 127:3)

Your sisters

know this is

true of you,

and we



We love you!

*A special thanks to Michelle of Photos by Michelle for taking the amazing pictures. If you are nearby Southeast SD I'd suggest that you check her out (605-759-7188). She has a VERY REASONABLE sitting fee and then she doesn't copyright the photos so you don't get gauged for printing. With a full disc of more incredible photos than you know what to do with, you can go to anyplace you'd like for the photo size and options you want!*

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Not Feeling the Love?

Ever felt like life was suffocating you?

I have always loved Jeremiah 29:11 (“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.”) but I’m not going to lie. Recently, I wasn’t feeling it.

A few months ago major changes were made in my husband’s place of employment. While the company was a perfect fit for our family for many years (job success, wonderful hours, great insurance, etc), newly implemented changes had a major financial impact on our family and, for me, it translated like this: B-U-R-D-E-N.

One of my favorite titles has always been “Mrs. Charlie Nesdahl.” I cannot say enough wonderful things about the man I married. Even when people around him at work were acting visibly upset, he remained calm and looked for the positive. Even when tears would fall down my face, he would wipe them away and assure me that God’s plan for us meant we would be okay. And, even when all the factors outside of his control went against him, he kept moving forward in confidence. I love my man!

We both felt very certain that God was calling us to a new situation, but this meant going outside our comfort zone. I’m not a fan of change and while my husband rolls well with the punches he has never worked elsewhere since college graduation. It was scary and I felt suffocated.

As my husband looked for work that he truly felt God calling him to, I supported him and asked God for my own patience. Admittedly, that isn’t always my forte.

A few months went by and one afternoon I found myself on my hands and knees just spilling my heart out to God. Lord, you say that you have plans to prosper us and give us hope but right now I don’t see it. I trust your Word to be true, but please show me something, anything, so that I can see a light at the end of this tunnel.

Have you ever been there?

The thing about God is that He is awesome and in His time He reveals how there is hope and a future in the midst of our broken situations. It doesn’t always come with sunshine and roses, but His answer does show how He protected us and how he blessed us in the midst of our trial.

Just this last week my husband started a new job. (As I type this, I’m grinning from ear to ear). It is one that he is proud of and looks forward to going to each day. His boss is a Christian and through valued conversation they are building their faith lives and the business. From the home front, I simply love seeing him smile again and the passion in his voice…not to mention that he looks pretty dapper in a suit and tie. :)

However, this perfect new fit, this answer, has stretched us. To make all the pieces fall together, he will get another part time job a few hours a week and I have committed to new writing goals. God’s will has challenged us to “add” in ways that we would not have asked for so that we can fully abide in Him like we have asked for. It looks different than we anticipated and yet it is so much more fulfilling.

And, God blessed us in the midst of our struggles as well. Romans 5:3-5a reads, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” I can now see this to be true. As we endured the situation, our character was developed. My husband and I communicated even more about what we valued and what we dreamed of. We took a look at our finances to trim the unnecessary fat and still give in ways that glorified Him. We completely laid our lives before Him…and we experienced the always present hope of our loving God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. As individuals our faith lives grew and as a couple we blossomed as a stronger, unified front.

Life is not easy for even the most faithful of people. It presents twists and turns that throw us for a loop. The question is: will we trust as we transition through the valleys? God wants to hear from your broken heart. He wants you to communicate with Him. ALWAYS. And, as you do, He will wrap you in His love and help you to put one foot in front of the next until you can one day look back and see how He was working out all the unique details of your life to give you hope, a future, and a story to help you glorify the Kingdom.

Remember this even in the toughest of times: His Word is true. No situation you face hasn’t been filtered though His hand. And, you are always fully loved.

PS- Charlie, I’m uber proud of you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Appetizer Fun: Taco Cups

Tis the season for grill outs and fun summer gatherings!

But, let's be honest. Life doesn't slow down in the summer.

In the midst of returning to writing (after having Ava), making major adjustments in our home, and trying to come out of the "adjust to no sleep" newborn haze, the older kids are asking to bike to the park, check out the zoo, and hit up the pool now that the weather is nice.

So, I thought today I'd just post something fun - an appetizer recipe (I found on Disney Family)!

Taco Cups

1 can refried beans
1/2 pound cooked taco-seasoned meat
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 bag Tostitos "Scoops!"

Set the "Scoops" chips on a large platter and layer with beans, meat, cheddar, salsa, sour cream and black olives.

Yep. It's that easy. You can put them together in just a few minutes and they have "cuteness" written all over them!

Perfect for a busy parent who wants to put together something fun but spend their TIME investing in memory making with the children rather than kitchen.

Or, if your kids are old enough, you could make them together. My girls are all about helping out with what they can. :)

We all want to hit a home run with our food gathering contributions while still getting done all that we are called to. I pray this helps you strike the perfect balance!

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