Sheila's Motto

"Endeavor to enhance the lives of others through education and encouragement."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Real Women - Real Answers: Make Eye Contact!

Am I putting too much stock into what others are saying to me? Surely they meant something by that gesture. She cleared her throat. Was that an eye roll?  What is the motive behind their kindness?  This is not leading into an article on conspiracy theories. However, as a woman, I feel a bit paranoid about what others are thinking about me at times. 

Women are emotional beings and we tend to hold onto every little thing and over analyze it. Recently, I saw this post: "Admire someone else's beauty without questioning your own."   Comparing ourselves to others is a trap that is so easy to fall into, but a very difficult one to climb out of on our own. We want to be pretty, smart, and talented.  We want others to take notice.  We admire these qualities in other women, but may have a tough time stopping at that. Instead we criticize ourselves for not having those same characteristics. This is an open door for the enemy to start whispering in our ears that we have nothing to offer.   

Here is one thing that I learned many years ago:  most women who seem extremely sure of themselves are actually very insecure.  I have met women who appear overly confident, some who could be professional comedians, and others who could be on the cover of a magazine. When I have taken the time to look these women in the eyes and get to know them, I realize very quickly they are wearing masks.  

Making people laugh, I learned, was their defense mechanism. The false confidence I was seeing in other women turned out to be a wall they had built to keep others out.   The women who were always looking in the mirror or taking multiple selfies everyday were not conceited and stuck on themselves. They didn't like the way they looked at all and constantly wanted to be reassured that they did look okay, but all they could see were their flaws. (There is actually a term for this: body dysmorphic disorder). 

My point is that there are so many hurting women out there.  If we could slow down from our busy days and take the time to look someone in the eye, how much healing could be done! We could get to know those around us on such deeper levels, enabling us to encourage each other instead of comparing ourselves to each other. I saw another post recently that I love. It said, "On the darkest days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy, I remember Whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown."  Remember Who created you. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Claim that and live like it!  

Take the time to tell someone how beautiful they are.  Chances are they need to hear it. For those that are always cracking jokes, slow down, open up and give them an opportunity to be transparent with you. For those women whose talents seem to stand out above the rest, comment on how you admire them for what they do.  The reality is that they are probably wearing themselves out trying to meet a standard they have been told they are not good enough to achieve. 

In doing this, however, do not let it in any way ricochet and make you feel less than. We have all been created for a purpose. Be assured of who you are and what you have to offer. I have learned to see relationships as a tag team situation. I have taken the time to discover the gifts that my friends have. Now if someone comes to me needing something that I cannot fulfill, I have a wealth of resources to which I can point people.  There have been people directed to me as well for the same reason.  

Instead of getting jealous of the gifts of others and falling into the self-pity trap, we can work together. Get to know the people around you so that you understand what they have to offer and what resource category they can fill for you.   Learn to appreciate their gifts and learn to recognize your own.  Learn to look people in the eye. You never know when they might let you SEE them. 

Contributed by JoEllen Claypool

JoEllen Claypool is the author of The Secrets Behind the Eyes, A Realist's Guide to Being a Pastor's Wife, Realistic Tips to Being a Pastor's Wife, Are You on the Verge of a Spiritual Heart Attack?, and a contributing author of the Eclectic Collage Volumes 2, 3, and 4.  She serves in the ministry with her husband who pastors a small country church in Caldwell, Idaho. Understanding the impact that one person can make, JoEllen is eager to reach out and encourage others to make right choices so that lives can be saved.  Check out JoEllen's blog posts: Making the Most of Every Opportunity 

Happy Reading as you search for real answers to real life issues!  
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sweet & Savory Tuesday: What's The Secret Recipe In Sheila's Soup?

Do you believe there’s a lot of psychology with respect to the color, texture, and appearance of food?  About a decade ago, I was asked to help with a large wedding reception in another state.  My job was to stand behind the buffet table heavily laden with brimming serving trays and refill the containers when they were near empty.  Since most caterers have an artistic and creative flair, the one preparing this spread was no exception. SCC had cooked up a couple of scrumptious sauces to go along with the two meat entrees and a colorful salad.  When it came time to clean up after the bride, groom, and their guests had departed, the two sauces and salad were virtually untouched, despite the fact that they were delicious.  Why, you might ask?  It was probably because of the overall appearance of the ingredients. So, before you reject this hearty winter soup due to its color ~~ read on!

Sheila’s Split Pea Soup

  • 2 cups dried green split peas
  • Approximately 8  - 10 cups of water
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup cubed ham, optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper, optional
  • Directions: 
  • Carefully sort through the peas to remove small rocks or other debris.
  • Rinse peas in a colander.
  • In a large saucepan or stockpot combine the peas, water, carrots, celery, onions, ham, bay and thyme leaves.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, skim the top surface if it becomes “frothy”, cover, and summer until peas are tender (which is approximately 3 hours).

  •     Sheila’s suggestions:
  •          I usually double this recipe as it freezes well.
  •          I cook the soup in a crock pot for approximately 4 hours on the high setting as opposed to cooking it in a stockpot on the stove top.
  •      Using the food processor, I blend the carrots, celery, and onions together to where they are almost to the puree stage before adding them to either my crockpot or stockpot.  This seems to help the overall consistency of the soup once it is finished.
  •      Since I don’t always have a bone-in ham, what I have found to be the easiest and fastest is to purchase an 8 ounce package of the already diced up ham.  Some grocery stores carry these handy dandy containers wherein the ham has been cut into about ½ inch cubes or some are about ¼ inch cubes.  If you can score the small cubes, they cook up quite nicely in the soup.

The Secret Ingredient:
·        The dried thyme leaves really enhance this recipe!  Years ago I made a large container of this soup and took to a family engaged in the middle of fall harvest.  The husband, who originally could not stand that “gaggy green soup”, could not get enough of it!

Suggested Condiments:  (I would suggest experimenting with these to see which ones you might like.  I would not use all of them at the same time!!!)
  •     Diced tomatoes or salsa
  •      Large dollop of sour cream
  •        Fresh cilantro
  •        Coriander
  •        Seasoned croutons
  •        Parsley

Achieving the consistency that you might like in this soup might be a fun exercise.  My husband likes thick soup, you know, the kind that you could throw against the wall and it would stick.  I like it just about the consistency of water.  So my goal is the Happy Medium.  Works every time!

If you have a variation to this hearty winter soup, please leave a comment below.

Happy Reading & Cooking!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Faith Filled Friday: Filling A Prayer Box

How is your faith level these days?  I wanted to share how a little 3.5 x 2.5 inch metal box sent my faith soaring this past Saturday.

Ali Faith’s Faith

What a blessing to be living during the days of the technological boon of Ipads, Iphones, Iclouds, and on ad infinitum.  All of the aforementioned certainly help us to stay connected when our loved ones are far away. 

At 8:55 a.m. on Saturday, January 16th, I received the following text from one of my daughters,

“Good morning momma!   How ru guys?  We are great!  We have about 8 inches of new snow here and snowing now.  There’s a huge praise re pastor saaed!  Check out my FB post!”

I immediately dialed up her Facebook post which read,
“God DOES answer prayer!! So thankful that the 4 imprisoned Americans are free.”

Those of you who know me would agree that I am not always the calmest person on the planet, so when this news registered with my already caffeinated brain and nervous system, I was praising the Lord as loudly as I could. 

Suddenly, I remembered my birthday and Mother's Day gift from my precious granddaughter, Ali Faith.  It felt as though I was walking on air as I entered our bedroom, opened the top drawer to my dresser, and retrieved the little prayer box. 

After opening the lid (or as Ali Faith used to pronounce it, 'lib'), and reading the top prayer request, my eyes welled up with tears which freely flowed down my weathered cheeks.


Implementing my trusty Iphone, I propped the little prayer box next to my ceramic coffee cone, snapped a few pictures to achieve the full effect, and texted them back to my daughter who shared them with her family.  Ali Faith and her younger brother were in awe of how God had answered a specific prayer that she had uttered so many times.  She attended the Prayer Rally for Pastor Saeed on the steps of our great state capitol building along with many other people.  In addition, during the summer months, Ali would round up some of the younger children in her neighborhood and invite them to her little tree house.  After making a lunch of sorts, she would read to them from the Bible, after which they would pray for Pastor Saeed. Yes, these would appear to be very early signs of an evangelistic anointing arising which is music to this grandmother’s ears.

On Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, He came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan River.

“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’  And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”  [Mark 10:13-16.]

Children portray a profound sincerity of heart, trust, exuberance, child like faith, and total dependence on their parents.  The kingdom of God is comprised of those who respond to Him with that same type of trust that a young child renders to a parent.

While there have been a multitude of sermons preached on the subject of faith and libraries full of books regarding the same, there’s just nothing like first-hand experience that increases our faith and compels us to testify.

I would encourage you to read this blog post to your children and grandchildren and comment below with their responses.  Who knows?  Perhaps they might like to start a little prayer box of their own as they grow in their child like faith.  And I can only imagine how happy Pastor Saeed’s children and family members are to have him back home after 1,000 days!

Here's a freebie regarding the number 1,000: in a Biblical sense it is symbolic of divine completeness and the glory of God.

Are we giving glory to God for the release of Pastor Saeed along with the other three Americans?  You better know we are!

Happy Reading and Keep the Faith!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winning Wednesday: A Turkey Baster Builds Confidence

I like to assign an empowering adjective to each day of the week.  Read on to find out how this handy dandy kitchen gadget helped me to conquer one of my greatest fears.

We are not born with confidence.  We have to build it.

Do you believe that you can do something well or succeed at something?  Great!  Everyone is proficient in at least one thing as we have all been given gifts and talents. Those are easier to recognize and identify as opposed to our aspirations which can present far more of a challenge.

Since writing and public speaking often go together, I desired to break the barrier that I had constructed around myself in order to address others in a public setting.

A barrier prevents movement or access.  It is also a circumstance or obstacle that keeps people or things apart or prevents communication.  Well, since I was focused upon communication, this barrier surely had to go.  I envisioned myself being wrapped inside tightly constructed netting.  So, how could I break free to accomplish my goal?

Believe it or not, I rounded up a couple of kitchen helpers (not the human variety) to assist me.  Allow me to introduce them to you:

Suddenly, I realized that I would need an audience of sorts.  I walked into our living room, stacked four white banker’s boxes on top of each other which served as my pretend podium, (at this point you’ve probably been able to discern that I am not overly tall), turned the timer to the right according to the required minutes, picked up my “turkey baster microphone,” and began to speak.  Child’s play you may say!  Granted, this could be considered so by some critics, but it definitely worked as baby steps for me.

Each time I implemented this humble procedure, it was as if I was using my kitchen shears to help the netting disappear.  The inanimate objects, i.e., my couch, old writing desk, rocking chair, were beyond helpful as they did not have the ability to boo, hiss, form disapproving facial expressions, yawn, fall asleep, and who knows what else in order to discourage me.

Next I graduated to my lovely 32 x 21 inch mirror, mirror on the wall in our entryway so that I could view myself when I spoke, especially if there were passages in my messages in which I wanted to insert more emotion.

Thankfully, my initial human audiences were smaller to help me gain self-confidence as time went on prior to me being invited to speak to larger gatherings of people.

Today I can proudly say that I was able to conquer one of my greatest self-imposed fears, all with the help of a little bit of this and that at my fingertips.

Suffice it to say, there have been a plethora of books written by a myriad of authors on countless ways in which to help ourselves build confidence.  Sure, we can partake of those which can be of great benefit, but there comes a point at which we must implement what we have read and/or studied.

I did not spend a whole lot of time studying the art of public speaking and the steps I implemented would probably not have been previously published in a book somewhere, but now they will be via my blog!  I am so excited to share this information with you.

I would love to hear back from you if there are areas of your life in which you initially lacked confidence, but were able to achieve the breakthrough, and add another rung to your success ladder.

A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.

Happy Reading, Writing & Speaking!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Welcome to Sagacious Stirrings

Welcome, everyone!  I am happy to be joining the blogosphere.  Stayed tuned for a variety of encouraging and inspirational messages mixed with humor, scrumptious food, and occasional poetic posts.

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Guest Blogger: Carol M Green shares her Sugar Cookie Recipe

Meet my guest blogger, Carol M Green (M stands for Magnificent, actually). Carol is a grandmother and she runs. Running is one way she helps ensure that she will be around to enjoy many years of grand-mothering. Her motto is “Learn to laugh and laugh while you learn,” because - what else are you going to do? Once you have learned, put it on paper and help others to learn. Carol shares her talents as a book coach, speaker, and social media coach.

I am excited to be Sheila's first guest blogger! I'm sharing this recipe I adapted from one I obtained from my sister.  It's been years, but I think I added more shortening. I never vary from Butter Flavor Crisco! (NO SUBSITUTES) These almost melt in your mouth!  Make a batch for Valentine's Day!
Carol's Sugar Cookies
  • 1 C Butter Flavored Crisco
  • 1 C Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 C Flour
Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Blend in one cup of the flour. Add baking powder and salt and blend well. Add remaining flour - reserving about 1/4 cup for rolling dough. Mix well.

Dough will be soft. Do not refrigerate. Use remaining flour to keep dough from sticking while rolling out. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies and bake in 400 degree oven for seven minutes. Do not allow edges to brown. Baking times may need to be adjusted.
Allow cookies to cool and decorate with your favorite frosting recipe. (Mine is in my head!  I just add ingredients until it looks and tastes right, but here are some things to help you...)

My Favorite Frosting Recipe

1/4 - 1/2 C butter, softened
1 tsp Vanilla
Powdered Sugar
Milk (about 1/4 cup)
Dash of salt

Cream butter and add vanilla.  I then begin adding powdered sugar and milk alternately until I have a fluffy white frosting. When I am happy with the consistency, I add a dash of salt. A seasoned southern belle once told me, "The salt makes the sweet sweeter."

Add food coloring and sprinkles - or not. It's really about what makes you happy!

Let them melt in your mouth!

You can find Carol at Running Granny Green or on Facebook.

Visit my Guest Bloggers page to get to know all of my blogging friends.

Happy Baking!