Stuffed Peppers

My aunt came to visit this week and I asked her one afternoon what she wanted for dinner.  I gave her the option of cube steak or stuffed peppers.  She immediately said stuffed peppers and mentioned she had not had those in a while.  I was perfectly okay with this choice.  I love making stuffed peppers because they are pretty forgiving as long as the peppers are cooked.

I substitute so many things when I make peppers.  It basically boils down to whatever I have on hand as to what they get stuffed with.  I’ve made a vegetarian stuffed pepper for a meatless Monday.  I substitute different meats, but I have to say mixing the hamburger with onion sausage is on point.  If I have carrots in the refrigerator I will usually dice one up and sauté it with the onions and garlic.  I’ve also used quinoa in place of rice for a healthier choice.  If I do not have fresh tomatoes on hand, I’ll use canned tomatoes (drained).  There are so many options with this recipe, so try it and then have fun experimenting with your own flavorful creations.

Stuffed Peppers

Makes 8 peppers

Ingredients:

8 Bell Peppers

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Onion (diced)

4 Garlic Cloves (minced)

2 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tsp Onion Powder

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

½ Cup Beef Broth

½ Tsp Paprika

1 LB Ground Hamburger Meat

1 LB Ground Onion Sausage

(You can use 2 LB Ground Hamburger Meat instead of Onion Sausage)

2 Tomatoes (diced)

3 Squirts Heinz 57 Sauce

1 Tsp Black Pepper

½ Tsp Salt

Small Handful of Pickled Jalapeños (diced)

1 Cup Cheese

2 Cups Water

Ingredients for Rice:

1 Cup Rice

2 Cups Water

1 Tbsp Butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pan add olive oil and heat over low to medium heat.  Add onions and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Sauté until the onions are translucent.  Cook low & slow so they cook evenly & do not burn.  Transfer to another bowl.

Sauteed Onions

Add hamburger meat and onion sausage to the same pan.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Brown meat & drain excess fat (unless cooking with a lean meat like turkey or deer meat).  Hey I already said I was country, so yes, I do cook with deer meat.  If you are mixing the meat with onion sausage I would not add salt.

Combine the meat & sautéed onions.  Add Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, beef broth, tomatoes, Heinz 57 sauce, and pickled jalapeños.  (The jalapeños do not add a lot of heat.  I would start out with a small amount at first if you are unsure about the jalapeños, but they do add a little more flavor to this dish.) Combine & heat on low heat.Stuffed Pepper Mixture

Cook rice according to package instructions.

Add cooked rice to the meat mixture.  Add 1 tsp pepper & ½ tsp salt.  Add 1 cup of cheese (I used Colby and Monterrey Jack).

Prepare bell peppers by cutting the tops off, cleaning out the flesh and seeds on the inside and washing the peppers.  Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture as shown below and place in a 9 inch x 12 inch baking dish.

Stuffed Peppers

Add 2 cups of water to bottom of dish and cover with aluminum foil.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until peppers are tender.  Then, remove from oven and remove aluminum foil.  Sprinkle the tops with cheese and place back in the oven for about 4-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Stuffed Peppers

*NOTE* If you have leftover mixture, you can freeze it or you can eat it as is.

What is one dish you have not had in a while?  Comment below.

In my next post find out what I do with my plain leftover rice.

If you like this recipe be sure to check out some of my other recipes below.  Follow my blog by entering your email address on the right side of this page to get the latest updates and recipes.

Enjoy!

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Baked Apple Turnovers

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In keeping with my apple theme here is a fresh new recipe right out of the oven.  Enjoy!

To start you will need to make the Easy Pie Crust.  Click the link for the recipe.  When I made the crust for the apple turnovers, I sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar into the flour before I started cutting the shortening into the flour.  Try it!  I promise it is delicious!

Chill the pie crust for 30 minutes.

Pie Filling

Ingredients:

3 Large Apples (Jonagold)

15 Tbsp Apple Juice

½ Cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

¼ Tsp Nutmeg

½ Tsp Lemon Juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel, core, and dice apples.

Add apple juice to pot.  Add apples, lemon juice, and vanilla.

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Cook on low to medium heat until apples are tender & break apart when stirred, about 15-20 minutes.  Mash the apples when done.  I leave some chunks.

Mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.  Mix well.

Add sugar mixture to apple mixture.  Stir and cook until a gooey mixture forms.IMG_3172

Set to side to cool.

Roll dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.  With a large cookie cutter or a container cut the dough into circles.  I don’t have a large cutter cookie, but the Tupperware container I used was between 4-5 inches in diameter.  The Tupperware did the job and did it well!

Fill each pastry circle with 1 tablespoon apple filling.  Wet the edges of the pastry with water.  Fold over and pinch the sides together with a fork around the edges.

Place on cookie sheet and I suggest greasing the cookie sheet.  Brush the apple turnovers with an egg wash.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes until tops are a golden brown and bottoms are lightly browned.

Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar.  Let cool 10 – 15 minutes.

If you prefer a glaze instead of sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar, you can prepare the glaze below while the turnovers are cooling.

Apple Turnover Glaze

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Butter

¼ Cup Milk

1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Confectioner Sugar

Directions:

Melt butter over low to medium heat.  Add milk and vanilla extract.  Stir in sugar until glaze thickens just a little.   Drizzle the glaze over the apple turnovers.

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If you glaze the turnovers they are perfect by themselves.  If you sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, you can serve them with ice cream.

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As we say in the south this will make you want to slap yo’ mama it’s so good!

If you like this recipe and more make sure you follow my blog by entering your email address on the right side of this page.

If you’re looking for a quick filling for these turnovers and you made my apple butter you can use that in place of the pie filling.

Enjoy, until next time!

Credits: Photos provided by Leaves, Loaves, and Life. All rights reserved.

Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie

Apples

In my prior posts I mentioned a day trip that my husband and I took to the mountains of North Carolina and then to Apple Country in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  For the past two weeks I’ve been using apples upon apples.  Check out my prior post which includes a recipe for apple butter.

What is your favorite dessert?  If anyone ever asks me, my answer is always the same…warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top.  Since I have so many apples I decided to make a homemade apple pie.  Talk about delicious!  This recipe is a light apple pie recipe that is not very sweet.  It is a must to serve it warm with vanilla ice cream.

With any apple pie you have to have a crust, right?  This is the easiest pie crust recipe ever!

Easy Pie Crust

Ingredients:

2 2/3 Cup Self-Rising Flour

1 cup Shortening

10 Tbsp Ice Cold Water

Directions:

Measure the flour into a bowl.  Measure the shortening into the bowl and cut it into the flour until it looks like pieces of cookie crumble.

Apple Pie-Flour

Next add about 5 tablespoons of the ice cold water.  Make sure it is ice cold.  Toss the mixture around with a fork.   The mixture will start to resemble dough.  Add a few more tablespoons of the ice cold water and continue to mix with a fork until the mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Your dough for the pie crust is done!  See..super easy!

I like to split the dough into two equal balls.  I flatten the balls just a little and wrap it in saran wrap and stick in the fridge while I prepare the apples.  When the dough is chilled it’s much easier to work with when you go to roll it out especially if your kitchen is a little warm like mine usually is.

Skillet Apple Pie

Ingredients:

5 Apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)

½ Cup Sugar

1 ½ Tsp Cinnamon

Dash of Nutmeg

2 Tsp Lemon Juice

3 Tbsp Butter

1 Egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After you peel, core, and slice your apples.  Again I used a mixture of Jonagold (2) and Gold Delicious (3).  Place the apples in cold water with lemon juice and a little salt.  This will stop them from browning while you are working with the dough and mixing the other ingredients.  To make this process quick and easy use this nifty gadget. If you use this gadget all you have to do is cut a slit down the side of the apple to have your individual slices instead of ringlets.  Click on the picture for more details.

In a small bowl add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix together until ingredients are incorporated well. Set to the side.

Next grease your cast iron skillet very well with shortening so the pie crust does not stick to it.  You will need to grease the bottom and the sides.

Now, you will want to roll your dough out on a floured surface.  Roll it into the shape of a circle the size of the cast iron pan.  I used a larger skillet so I had to roll the dough a little thinner which was great.  I don’t like a lot of dough, but you need it thick enough to hold the ingredients when you cut a slice to take out the pan.  Place the dough into the pan and mash it lightly around the bottom edges, then fit the dough around the sides of the pan.  You can cut the excess dough from around the edges.

Sprinkle some of the sugar mixture over the top of the bottom pie crust.

Layer your apples.  You can sprinkle more of the sugar mixture over each couple of layers.  Add the lemon juice around the apple layers.  Cube the butter and scatter the cubes over the top apple layer.  Sprinkle a little more of the sugar mixture on the top layer of the apples.

Apple Pie-Apple Mixture

Roll the dough out on a floured surface for the top crust of the pie.  You can roll it into a circle, place on the top of the pie, cut the excess from around the edges, and cut a few slits in the top.  If that doesn’t appeal to you, then roll the dough into a square or rectangle and cut thin strips that are ½ inch in width.  Layer the strips to give a weaving look.  This is the way I went with the top crust.

Apple Pie-Weave

Lastly, mix-up an egg wash to brush over the dough.  Beat one egg with about 3-4 tablespoons of water.  Brush this over the crust and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top.

Apple Pie-Finish

Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes until apples are tender and crust is lightly browned.

Let pie set for 5-10 minutes, and then serve with vanilla ice cream.

If you like this recipe, please follow my blog by entering your email address on the right side of this page.  You can also follow my Facebook page.

Enjoy!

Credits:

Pictures by Leaves, Loaves, and Life.  All rights reserved.

Applelishousness

Apples

Good Morning!  In my last post I mentioned that my husband and I went for a little day trip to Black Mountain and Old Fort, North Carolina.  We had a blast hiking and spending much needed quality time together.  The weather was absolutely perfect and I could not have asked for a better day except that maybe it could have lasted a little longer.  Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?!

Am I the only one who feels that the work week drags on and on and then the weekend flies by?  I have this theory that production might be a little higher if the work week was only four days and the weekend a mandatory three days.  I know! I know!  I’m dreaming again!  If only, right?!  The point is enjoy your weekend only if it is one or two days.

After my husband and I finished hiking in Old Fort we decided to drive to Hendersonville, North Carolina.  Oh yes…can anyone say APPLE COUNTRY?!!!  It was so pretty with apple orchard after apple orchard and the mountains in the background.  It was absolutely beautiful!  We stopped at one of the orchards called Grandad’s Apples.  We drove in surrounded by apples trees on one side and a fenced area on the other side with goats and a donkey.  In front, was a large barn.

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We walked inside and the aroma of fresh baked apples filled the air.  Oh my goodness it smelled heavenly!  Inside the barn was a bakery, cider slush machines, jars of different jellies, jams, and oh yes apple butter along with many other items for sell.

We continued to the back of the barn where the barn was open to the outside and there sat rocking chairs for customers to enjoy their baked goodies.  But as soon as we reached this area of the barn my jaw dropped open and a sense of jealousy rushed through me.  If only I could enjoy this perfect view every day!  The view was gorgeous and relaxing!  There were apple trees upon apples trees on one side and on the other side a huge corn maze and a playground for kids.

Apple Orchard

There were picnic tables between the barn and the apple trees in the back of the barn.  That is where my husband and I spent about 30 minutes just sitting there talking and enjoying the view…and of course enjoying our goodies which included an apple dumpling topped with ice cream and a cider slush.  It was so delicious!

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This was the perfect ending to a perfect day!  Before we decided to head back home we picked up a bushel, yes I said a bushel of apples.  I wanted to make apple butter, but after experiencing the apple dumplings and the cider I had other ideas in mind for these apples.  What was I going to make with ALL of these apples?

Let’s just say my Labor Day Monday was filled with apples after apples and I stayed in the kitchen for the majority of the day.  It was really nice though because my Mom and Dad came by for an unexpected visit, so Mom helped me in the kitchen whipping up all kinds of wonderful apple dishes.  We made apple butter, apple dumplings, and my personal favorite apple pie.  I’m a sucker for fresh apple pie right out the oven!

The rest of this week my blog will be filled with wonderful apple recipes that my Mom and I whipped up.  Enjoy!  If you enjoy any of these recipes please drop a comment and let me know.  Happy Apple Season!

I found this product helpful for speeding the process up for peeling, coring, and slicing the apples.  Click on the image to see more details about this product.  I highly recommend!

APPLE BUTTER

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Ingredients:

20-25 Apples, peeled cored and sliced

3 Tsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ to ½ cups Water

1 ½ cup Brown Sugar

3 Tsp Cinnamon

¼ Tsp All Spice

¼ Tsp Nutmeg

2 Tsp Lemon Juice

10-12 Tbsp White Sugar

Directions:

Place apples in a crock pot.  Add all the other ingredients over the apples and stir.  Cook the apples on low for 6-8 hours until apples are tender and break apart when stirred.  You can add more sugar if that is your preference.  I used a mixture of Jonagold, Gold Delicious, and Fuji apples.  Jonagold and Gold Delicious are sweet-tart apples and Fuji apples are sweet.  This combination creates a good balance for apple butter where a lot of sugar is not required.

After I cooked the apple butter, I sterilized some jars in a hot boiling water bath.  I poured the mixture into the jars to the bottom neck of the jar and added back to the hot water bath.  I boiled for about 10-15 minutes.  I then took the jars out of the water bath, set on a counter, and listened to the pops of the lids while I worked.  Hearing the tops of the jars pop is like music to my ears.  It lets me know my job is complete.

I hope you enjoy this apple butter as much as my husband and I do!

Apple Butter-2

Credits:

Pictures provided by Leaves, Loaves, and Life.  All rights reserved.

Quality Time

After a long grueling week of work my husband and I decided to take a day trip this past Saturday.  It was spur of the moment, but was an awesome trip.  Every couple needs some quality time together and this was our time.  We decided we were going to North Carolina and wanted to go to the mountains, just wasn’t sure where.  We settled on Black Mountain, North Carolina.  It’s a quaint little town with several shops.  We decided to stop at the visitor’s center to see what trails were around there.  The guy working led us to Old Fort, NC where we hiked Catawba Falls Trail.

This trail was off the beaten path.  We had to take a side road down to the end of another road.  If the guy at the visitor’s center had not told us about it, we never would have known about it.  When we first walked up to the information area there were warning signs of bears and what to do.  Oh my!  Bears!  This could be good!  The signs mentioned walking in groups and if we saw claw marks or even spotted a bear we needed to start singing and making noise.  I really wanted to see a bear….well from a distance of course.

With that notice we started on our hike.  The hike did not start out well.  Let’s just say there were some rude people, a tense husband and wife, and some air that needed to be cleared between my husband and me.  After that, we were good to go.  The hike became very enjoyable and was exactly what the doctor ordered.  When I am out in nature it is so easy to see all of God’s beautiful creations.  I started snapping pictures of trees, leaves, rocks, and what we think was a tiny cave on the other side of the water.

After recalling the end to an enjoyable day I could not help but think there are so many times when we let our agenda cloud our ability to see things for what they are and see the beauty in it.  I personally have been at my wits end with my day job which is somehow turning into a day and night job.  Last week I only posted two blog posts because I was working late at night almost every day.  As much as I want my blog to take off, I still have to help provide for my family; however, this doesn’t mean I do not deserve a little play time too.

To be honest I have taken the entire weekend off from my day job.  I brought a stack of work home measuring about 8 inches high.  I haven’t even touched it yet on this Labor Day weekend.  I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute of this weekend with my family.  Spending quality time with my husband is exactly what he and I needed to keep us going.  We have both been working crazy hours and with that comes exhaustion and stress and well…you know what that can cause!

Before my husband and I got married we loved to go hiking.  We hiked up until about two years after we got married from there life took over and we let everything else consume us.  With the adoption, my approach was we can’t spend any extra money which meant traveling was out.  Wrong!!!  We just needed to get back to the basics.  Moving forward my husband and I have decided that at least once a month or every two months we would take a day trip somewhere and just spend time together.  Making memories is what it’s about, not spending money or trying to work ourselves to death.  There comes a point when we have to step back and realize God gave us this life for a reason.  We can let work and everything else consume us or we can step back once in a while and let God open our eyes and be awed at His beauty and what he has created.  We all need that breathe of fresh air to help us realign our focus and priorities.

What gives you that breathe of fresh air?

In my next article find out what else my husband and I got into while we enjoyed our quality time together in the mountains of North Carolina.

If you like this blog please subscribe on the right hand side of this page, so you can be notified when a new article has posted.  You can also like my Facebook page (also on the right hand side).

Until next time!

A Tribute to My Parents

A Tribute To My Parents

This week my parents will celebrate 36 years of marriage.  Wow!  That is such an accomplishment for my Mom.  Just kidding Dad!  It’s an accomplishment for both of you!  It’s something that both of you should be proud of.  Not many people these days can say they have been married for 36 years.  Instead of getting you two a card, I thought I would do a tribute blog post to you and your marriage.

I want to personally thank my parents for being great role models when it comes to marriage.  When they say opposites attract…man they got that right with my parents!  We used to pick at Mom because we always said she robbed the cradle when she married Dad.  Mom is a few years older than Dad, but age is just a number.  Dad was a young whippersnapper when he and Mom got married.  Seriously though, my parents were complete opposites.  Mom was very quiet and introverted and Dad was a little more vocal than Mom and was extroverted in my opinion.  This is funny though because over the years I think this has changed a little bit.  Mom is more outspoken and Dad…well…sometimes…you just don’t know what Dad is thinking.  There were several people who said these two wouldn’t make it.  Well…to those who said that Mom and Dad can now look back and say “How you like me now?!”

You have to understand though; I don’t want you to get the wrong impression.  Their marriage hasn’t always been picture perfect, but they did work to make their marriage last.  In fact, they faced some really tough times.  My Dad was injured at work at a young age and then was let go from his job and to this day is in time because of his injury.  My parents could no longer afford the family car or the house.  We stayed at both of my grandparents’ houses for a while.  During this time my parents were separated for a little while.  This was a very dark time for my family even for my brother and me.  There were moments when I wondered if my parents were on the verge of a divorce.  It’s not easy for children to be faced with a situation like this and I know it’s even worse for the parents.  However, there was a glimpse of light.

To this day I am thankful for my paternal grandmother who introduced my parents to God and a wonderful church family.  My parents eventually got into church and accepted Christ into their lives.  This was a turning point for my parents.  Christ, family members, and the church really helped my family during this tough time.  They gave my family hope.

During this time my parents were able to work through their differences and continue their marriage as one.  To this day, I look to my parents for guidance when I’m facing a situation in my marriage because I know that whatever my husband and I are going through my parents have probably already experienced it.  It’s actually pretty funny.  Both my husband and I look up to my parents and consult them for different things in our marriage.  I normally go to my Mom and my husband normally goes to my Dad.  A while back we told my parents that we know each of us consults with one or the other.  My parents popped up and said, “Yeah we know.  We talk about it together afterwards.”  We all kind of laughed at that comment.  At least I know my parents will never steer us wrong and they have our best interest at heart.

So, to my parents thank you for always being there for each other in the end.  Thank you for living up to your marriage vows.  Thank you for raising me to know what marriage is about.  Thank you for sticking it out even in the tough times.  Thank you for communicating with each other even when you didn’t want to.  Thank you for being marriage counselors to my husband and me.  Thank you for your love and support throughout the years.  Thank you for putting God first in your marriage and in everything else.  Thank you for being a constant reminder that marriage is great when each person puts 150% into it.  Thank you for reminding us that marriage is not always easy, but as with anything hard work, dedication, and a lot of prayers make it a little easier and smoother.

I pray that God continues to bless you both with many more years of happiness.  I pray that God will keep you both healthy and that your marriage will continue to inspire others as it has inspired me.  I pray Mom continues to say that with each passing year their marriage only gets better.  Lastly, I pray that if something does happen Mom will give Dad 5 minutes to pack his things so he can go with her! (Dad ALWAYS says this).

I love you both so much and I could not ask for better parents!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…”  1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 NIV Bible

Credits:

Picture from Pixabay.com

Don’t Lose Your Joy

Don't Lose Your Joy-Photo 2In church today the message was about being happy in the place you are in.  I feel more people need to hear this.  I know I needed to hear this.  Too many times we let things get to us and we make mountains out of mole hills.  The scripture referenced was Philippians 1:18.  The message hit home because of the struggles I have gone through especially with infertility.

It is so easy to be happy when things are going in our favor.  We sing happy songs, we whittle, and we smile big.  I personally whistle when things are going well.

What happens when things do not go as planned?  Do I have you thinking now?  Think back to the last time something did not go as planned or maybe someone hurt you…yeah now you’re thinking.  How did you react in that situation?  Could people still see your joy or could they see your bitterness?  This is where many of us will do that hard swallow where you know I’m talking about you.  That’s what I did in church today.  It’s not easy to be joyful in times where we seem to be down on our luck.

I have two life events that I thought of during the message.  In one event I was done wrong and some people really close to me hurt me.  The other event is my battle with infertility.

In the first event where I was hurt by two people close to me I will tell you it is not easy to deal with a situation like this.  I will be honest in saying that I let bitterness overtake this situation recently.  As most of us have heard “two wrongs don’t make a right.”  We have to stop letting bitterness take over our emotions and situations.  When we let bitterness in we let numerous other things in like hatred or the feeling of revenge.  If I let the bitterness stay in this situation nothing will get accomplished and it will probably drive a wedge between myself and the others involved.  Going forward I need to bring joy back into this situation.

The other event is my battle with infertility.  My husband and I have been fighting this for a while.  Let me tell you infertility is more serious than some people make it out to be.  Infertility can mess with your mind, emotions, and it’s already messing with your body.  When I first started going through all of the infertility stuff I felt horrible, miserable, and less of a woman.  There were times where it did affect my marriage because of my emotions.  I was in the valley and in a rough part of my life; however, I turned to God.  Thankfully, I have a husband who is supportive, talks me through things, and helps to keep me grounded.  He also showed me a great deal of compassion during this time.  There have been moments during my infertility journey where again I let bitterness in.  Let me tell you one of the most painless things is when you and your husband have been trying for several years to get pregnant and someone very close to you tells you they are pregnant.  I didn’t know what to do accept to cry.  It’s a feeling I cannot begin to describe.  The best way I can put it is as we say in the country you feel like someone sucker punched you.  It takes the breath and words right out of you.  I did overcome this and actually became very excited for them.

During this infertility obstacle my husband and I have had many ups and downs, but through it all I would like to think that we kept our heads held high and we’ve learned how to bring the joy back into our situation and we continue to look towards God.  We’ve left the bitterness out to dry.  We are finding our joy through adoption.  As we continue through our adoption process we will continue to sing and have joy with each obstacle that we face along the way.  We know God puts us in places to build our faith.

Don’t let bitterness in.  Keep your joy like Paul did in Philippians 1:18.  No matter how many mountains we face God gives us the courage and strength to climb them.  When people can see your joy in the tough times it becomes a testimony for Christ.  We have to realize that some of our biggest obstacles can bring one of our greatest blessings.  Speaking from experience I can tell you that one of mine and my husband’s biggest obstacles of infertility will produce one of our biggest blessings…a new member to our family through adoption.

Keep your joy no matter what comes your way and keep singing your song because no one can sign your song better than you can.

Credits:

Picture from Pixabay.com