September 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 The Message
Quote of the Month: “Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

We are entering my favorite season – autumn. Brilliant lemony days of sunshine are bookended by crisp mornings and chilly evenings. Frost webs the deep green shoots of grass, and spiders spin several story townhouses against the porch rails. Hay bales and fat orange pumpkins dot the landscape.
The school routine is settled in, and after my week of requisite mourning (I always miss my blessings during the day), I am enchanted.
It’s time to begin baking season: cinnamon rolls, 1930s applesauce cake, pumpkin squares & caramel corn mix. It’s the season of fireplaces, cozy evenings and winding leaf-gazing drives.
In the midst of this, I’ve just returned from speaking in Alabama. Two-thirds of the way through the retreat, Carrie, a spunky, godly African American woman led us on a prayer walk. At each station, we were given something to pray for. Then we were to continue praying on the way to the next stop.
Periodically, she would look back at us and softly admonish: “Don’t forget to pray whilst you’re walkin’.” Don’t forget to pray whilst you’re walkin’. I loved this! It was a gentle, powerful reminder that I could take with me. We can pray while we’re walking through the airport, the school halls, the mall shops, the grocery store aisles. We can pray while we drive, while we wait. When our hearts are full of song, and when they are so heavy it seems our very souls are bowed low.
I have always taken “pray walks” to accomplish my daily lists, but this was a lovely reminder to “pray without ceasing,” to dwell in it, to be bathed in and soothed by conversation with my Maker.
I invite you to add your own conversation with a Father who loves you more than life! I pray this finds you doing life well. Truly well. I am praying for you, and don’t forget to pray whilst you’re walkin’ today!

Fast Facts:
There are 25 colors of M & M’s, the most popular candy (by sales) in the United States.
You need 2 vacations per year to lessen stress. Even long weekends count, according to a study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal. [All You, September, 2012]
New Year, New You
It takes 10 minutes of exercise to START burning fat.
5% of your body weight (if you are carrying extra pounds) is what it takes to reduce the estrogen fluctuations that can lead to breast cancer.
1 pound of body weight is equal to 3,500 calories. So to lose a pound a week, cut 500 calories per day from your diet. [All You, September, 2012]
Flossing is one of THE most important things you can do for your health. Bacteria left by brushing alone can form a gateway for all kinds of other infections.


A book with art, love and World War II intrigue! What’s not to love? Written by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey, this tale of adventure is set in Switzerland and Paris, two agents try to save one of the greatest works of art from the hands of the Nazis. Simply write a comment on the website, and a winner will be drawn at random!

On Our Table
Our oldest daughter, Eden, and precious 3 month old grandson have been home for a long visit. Ahhh! I take him for daily walks in his stroller and we treasure this time together. For family night, Eden made this dip that she tweaked from Pinterest.
Cake Batter Dip
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1 ½ cups plain yogurt
2 cups non-fat Cool Whip
Mix together thoroughly. Serve with Nilla Wafers, Teddy Grahams & fresh fruit. Delicious!

I will be speaking October 5 & 6 at the Tennessee Prairie Friends Church in Galena, Kansas – The Showdown: How God Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Life! Would love to see you there. As always, I treasure your prayers.
September is International Women’s Friendship Month! Call up a girlfriend and tell them how much you appreciate them. Better yet, meet for a cup of hot cocoa and some catching up.

August, 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “(He is the God who)calls things that are not as though they were.” Romans 4:17

Quote of the Month: “If things were simple, word would have gotten around.” Jacques Derrida

Speaking Highlights:

Saturday, September 8 (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) Fellowship Baptist Church, Joplin, MO – “The Chocolate Side of Life” and “Chocolate Comfort”

Friday-Saturday, September 14-15 – Lifebridge Christian Church, Decatur, Alabama – 3-Session Retreat “The Showdown: How God Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Life”

Friday-Saturday, October 4-5 Tennessee Prairie Friends Church – Galena, Kansas – 3-Session Retreat “The Showdown: How God Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Life”

Click here to see Cindy’s blog for Heritage Builders about Back-to-School: The Real New Year –

Something to Think About

I fell for it. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. On a mission to get from Target for last minute school supplies and then to a little shop a few doors down for ice pouches to keep the girls’ lunch boxes cold, I didn’t hear her calling to me at first.

“Excuse me, Ma’am? Ma’am!” The woman’s repeated address became more insistent.

I swiveled my head around. “Me?” I approached her at the end of the aisle of parked cars.

“Yeah, you. You going to drive back up that way to town?”

“No, I’m sorry. Afraid not. I’m not quite done with my errands here and when I leave, I’m going the opposite way.” I thought about how often my husband had cautioned me about scam artists and worse. Don’t worry, honey. I’m not going to drive her anywhere. “You could take the trolley,” I enthused. This was the ideal solution. It was going her way. It stopped just mere feet from where she was standing and it only cost one dollar.

“I don’t got a dollar.” She was pouting and scowling at me in disapproval.

“Oh. Well, I’m not sure if I do either, but let me look.” I shifted a bag to my other hand, squinting in the bright sunlight to dig through my purse. I did have one. Just one, crumpled at the bottom. “Well, here you go!”

As I handed it to her, I finally took in her total appearance. (I know, I know. I’d make a terrible detective.) She had on beautifully dark-washed designer jeans and carried a huge trendy purse along with several shopping bags. How, I wondered, do you not have a dollar but you dress like that? What did you use to pay for all the loot in your bags?

But then I thought about something else. Sometimes, things are not always what they seem. Sometimes, as they are for us in this strange season, dollar bills are extraordinarily hard to come up with.

And maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t so much the dollar she needed as someone to pay attention to her. To look at her. To reach in their handbag for a dollar bill, make eye contact with her and smile.

I patted her arm, and gave her the currency of human touch. “Have the best day!” I called out, and turning, went into the store.

Fast Food Fun?

According to a 6-year Spanish study of 9,000 participants, people who regularly eat fast food are more than 35% MORE likely to become depressed than those who don’t!

The Keebler company –with those cute elves—manufactures most Girl Scout Cookies.

June 2012 Newsletter

_Scripture of the Month: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good…honor one another above yourselves. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer…practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9,12

Quote of the Month: “I would sooner live in a cottage and wonder at everything than live in a castle and wonder at nothing.” Joan Winmill Brown



After a comedy of errors, and several middle of the night phone calls, we were on our way to Davenport, Iowa to witness the birth of my grandson, Tylan Blair.  An 8 ½ hour drive is never that fun, but less so when you’re jammed into a small rental car with 5 people, trying to arrive in time for a momentous occasion. My daughter was determined I would be there, and I was equally determined not to miss it.

As we drove, I was contacting neighbors about mail, watering flowers, taking care of the pool –details I was having trouble remembering. I had a texting festival with my sweet firstborn and my neighbor across the street. Updates were critical, as my husband (wisely?) would not let me have a turn at the wheel!

4 centimeters. R U gone yet? 6 centimeters. Mom, hurry! Fast bathroom stops and faster food. 100 miles out and 10 centimeters. My neighbor is about to blow a gasket, texting me and taking her phone to church, trying to know if I’ve made it. 16 miles out, she needs to push. I am in tears, but still hopeful. First babies and all…we urge the GPS checkered flag to loom closer. We spot the hospital and I hit the ground running, pushing the revolving doors. A kind janitor, on his way home with his lunchbox cooler points me toward the elevators. I push 5th floor a jillion times. Arrive on the floor, but stopped by security phone. I pick it up and try to stammer out the vitals. See another father and toddler exit and fly in under their arms. I run to Eden’s room and burst in as quietly as I can, but my perfume bottle falls out of my purse and the lid shatters. Nick is a steady helper. She is busy. Concentrating. Miserable. I am there for the final three pushes and baby Tylan makes his way into this world.

I am undone. I am completely in baby love.

But I remember my mother’s advice not to ignore Eden for the baby. I kiss her forehead and gamely take pictures before stepping out to call Greg and the girls who are in the lobby. “Did you make it?”

“Yes! Yes, I did.” My breath hitches. I feel like God has held time up just for us.

There is rich emotion in my husband’s answer. We are blessed indeed.

June 7, 2012

7:16 p.m.

7 lbs. 3 oz.

21 inches long

7 days in the NICU

1 precious miracle

3 smitten aunts

2 adoring grandparents

New Year, New You

Call your mom! Turns out, hearing your mother’s voice, not merely texting or e-mailing, gives us the most comfort at any age!

Snail mail delivers more good feelings than texts, e-cards or other electronic exchanges. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned letter, full of news and cheer and the nuances of our days. One study shows that of 193 soldiers, recently returned from combat, those who had received tangible letters from loving family members had FEWER symptoms of PTSD than those who used instant messaging or video chat. Write an encouraging letter or card to someone you love today!

-Good Housekeeping, 41, June, 2012

Your mother was right—“Poor posture has been linked to aches, wear and tear on joints and arthritis; …good posture benefits the mind as well as the body.” Family Circle, 18,6/12

The average number of daylight hours on June 20 and 21st is 14.5. Get out there and enjoy the longest days of the year!

On average, women own 17 pairs of shoes—and buy 3 new pairs each year!

From Our House to Yours

Our family is now one larger and our hearts have grown to accommodate, of all things, a baby BOY!

We will be changing the format of the newsletter into four smaller chunks that will come out weekly, and there will be new blogs in between on the website that will hopefully, prayerfully help you with organizing, entertaining, savoring life, making marriage magic, laughing through the rough places and enjoying our children, jobs, friends and homes. Please leave us feedback at and “like” Cindy’s Facebook page for updates, articles, quotes and slices of life, from Writing Wednesdays to Madcap Mondays!

We are just 9 days out from celebrating the 23rd month since Greg’s kidney transplant! That date never ceases to amaze and bless me. We are thankful every day.

Summer is officially just a smidge over 1/3 done, and it’s been a crazy one: becoming a Nanna, adjusting to having a second driver in the household, having a flurry of summer birthdays and trying to squeeze in every moment with my precious sister and her family, here on furlough from Taiwan for the first time in 3 years!

Truthfully, it’s been hard to concentrate on anything, since my arms literally ache to hold baby Tylan again. After battling infection, and a spinal tap for meningitis during 7 days in the NICU, we grew to love him, root for him and delight anytime we got to hold him, including changing dirty diapers! My heart camera went crazy along with the real one, taking pictures. Eden is a fabulous mommy!

Blessings on the rest of your summer! May there be lazy days, cozy rainy afternoons, starry nights and lightning bug memories…


Speaking Highlights

June 23-24 – Responder Life First Responder Weekend – Silver Dollar City, Branson, MO

A schedule & details can be found at or in the Silver Dollar City Pathfinder when you get to the park! Also check out, a great new ministry resource for First Responders. All workshops will be at the Carousel Barn and will be presented on Sat. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and repeated on Sunday.

“Hot Chocolate for First Responder Couples”

+ 3 other great workshops especially designed for First Responders & their spouses, combined with Silver Dollar City fun!

July 17Carthage, Missouri Soroptomist Meeting – “The Chocolate Side of Life”

September 8 – Joplin, Missouri

September 14-15 – Decatur, Alabama

Contest Winner

Gayle Copeland is the winner of the Summer Reading Pak, chosen from the first 10 Facebook author page “likes” on my new Facebook author page! Congratulations!

On Our Table

Crisp Summer Vegetable Salad

(This recipe was given to me by a wonderful preacher’s wife & mother, Becky Storms. We’ve made a few adaptations. It is our favorite summer salad)

1 small head cauliflower, washed and cut into medium chunks

1 small head broccoli, washed and cut into medium chunks

12-15 baby carrots, cut into thirds


¾ c. mayonnaise

1 T. sugar

Mix together and chill. Before serving, add ¾ c. lightly salted (low sodium) peanuts and 1 lb. of low sodium bacon CRISPLY fried and crumbled. Toss.

May 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19, NLT

Quote of the Month: “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Joseph Addison

As I write, I can see a calico cat, stalking an unwitting avian victim outside my window. (It’s not my cat! We haven’t owned one since our farm cat, Cleocatra, lost her fight with a snake and went wherever semi-good, tornado-surviving cats go.) She is padding around the green grass on miniature lion paws, occasionally pausing to stop, tail twitching, planning her pouncing strategy. She is focused; it is only a matter of time.

While I watched this scenario, I thought of this month’s scripture verse. We don’t usually think about Joseph’s story in the middle of the Psalms, but there it was, this little nugget which jumped out at me that day. I don’t imagine that Joseph pictured his brothers literally selling him to the gypsies, or being thrown into prison unjustly and languishing there forgotten for more years than could possibly seem fair.

And yet, God knew something Joseph didn’t know. Joseph was poised on the brink of greatness. He would save the country and the lives of his brothers who had once sought to end his. He would be second in command only to Pharaoh. His dreams were about to come true and THEN some! He’d have money, honor, respect, comfort and yes, eventually reconciliation with his brothers and the chance to see his father, and his favorite little brother Benjamin, again.

If you are wondering about some difficulties that are popping up like thorns, dandelions, or worse yet, huge garden shears slashing an undesired path through your life just now, keep this in mind. There might just be things coming—in fact, I’m sure there are—that we know nothing about. Yet.

On a chilly, cozy night at the end of last October, a tiny corner of our lives imploded when our oldest daughter came home with the news that she was expecting a baby. Frankly, sharing my journey with you about that is as yet too raw, too personal. I will say this: we are proud of her for choosing life and our times together since then have been closer and sweeter than ever. We have been flooded with overwhelming support and more stories than I knew were out there! I cannot wait to see what God will do. It is only a matter of time.

Hmm…1.65 is the average number of LIES told per day (Michigan State University sampling study).

9/10’s of us ALWAYS stock eggs. What is the one STAPLE that’s always in your house?

From Our House to Yours

May, as always, is filled to the brim with “last activities:” school concerts, track meets, field trips and graduations. There is the last day to use the library, write a check for school lunches or turn in extra credit. There is the bittersweet taste of endings and the giddiness of a whole summer stretched before us like a banquet for the choosing. It is the month that I begin to use our wrap-around porch in earnest. Writing there. Reading my devotions there. Reading anything there. Visiting with my beloved or my blessings or neighbors who stop by. Listening to the girls as they hang out, or play, the latter a sight that grows more rare as they get “too big” for such things.

We got to go with Ellie and the band kids to Silver Dollar City, which marked a different sort of milestone for us. I got home and wrote this:

So, I burst into tears after Thunderation — seeing the joy on my beloved’s face and hearing his booming laugh–the first time he’s gotten to ride since the transplant. He won’t be able to ride everything, but oh, what a blessing is each small thing! I am sooooo happy for him!

I love counting down the months and that we’ve successfully made it to month 21 post-transplant! Each day is an indescribable treasure.

On May 22nd, our town will be marking the anniversary date of last year’s tornado. Lives are being put back together, buildings go up daily and hurting people are learning to live with raw edges on their souls, holes in their hearts and empty places at the dinner table. I appreciate all of you who have prayed for so many.

At the end of this month, my precious sister, Angie Pagel, her husband and my nieces and nephews will be in the United States for a whirlwind furlough. I cannot wait. At some point within the next 4 weeks, I will become Nana Cinso to our oldest daughter Eden’s baby boy. Emmy will finish her second year of high school and Ellie will register for the first year there. Elexa will finish up 5th grade and the weeks will hurtle on toward fall. I am going to hang on to each sweet moment.

Barefoot in December, my first novel, has officially been sent out by my agent to publishers. I am trying to be patient with the sloooow process, and trusting in God’s plan for this. It has been an exciting, crazy thing in my life and I thank you for all of the encouraging e-mails and posts!

May your summer be full of the simple pleasures that hallmark the daily days. May life on your porch – real or virtual-be sweet and rich.

Blessings like crazy,


Other Blogs by Cindy:

New Year, New You

Get your ZZZs…as my daddy always told me, “Go to bed. Things will look better in the morning.” Turns out, he was right! “As you doze, the emotion-processing part of your brain is less reactive, so the rational part takes over.” University of California/Berkley study

After 17 hours of being awake, your cognitive ability drops to that equal of someone with a .05 Blood Alcohol level. 24 hours awake and you’re the same as someone legally drunk!

“Almost all the pleasure you get from high-fat or high-calorie food comes from the first few bites,” says Edward Abramson, Ph.D., author of Emotional Eating: What You Need to Know Before Starting Another Diet.” Knowing that, consider taking just 5 bites of pie or eating just 5 French fries. Ladies’ Home Journal, 100, 5/12

31% - How many cancer cases could be prevented if women:

1) ate more fruits & vegetables

2) avoided excess sun & infections like HPV

3) didn’t smoke, gain weight or drink in excess

According to a new mega British study. Good Housekeeping, 41, 5/12

Speaking Highlights

May 12 – Mother-Daughter Banquet “Laughter, Love & Legacies” Galena, Kansas

June 23-24 – Responder Life Event at Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri “Hot Chocolate for First Responder Couples”

July 17 – “The Chocolate Side of Life” Soroptomist Club – Carthage, Missouri


We are starting an author Facebook PAGE – Cindy Sigler Dagnan. If you are one of the first 10 to “like” the page, you’ll be eligible for the drawing for a summer reading pack of 3 Christian/Inspirational novels and a mini sunscreen![Hidden Affections by Delia Parr; Rekindled by Tamera Alexander; Heart of Texas, Vol. 1 by Debbie Macomber]

Winners of Always There

Erin Moreno

Sherri Jackson

Lindsey Bell

Melissa Thompson

On Our Table

Apple Snickers Bar Salad

This delicious, summery recipe was served at a luncheon where I spoke in Richardson, Texas. It quickly became a family favorite.


8 oz. cream cheese

8 oz. Cool Whip

¾ c. powdered sugar

Beat together and chill overnight.

Add 4 Granny Smith apples, cored & cubed

6 Snickers bars, chopped into medium pieces

Mix together and serve chilled.



April 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen, just as he said!” Luke 24:6

Quote of the Month: “No wonder Jesus borrowed a tomb—he knew he’d be giving it right back!” Craig Groeschel

I’d like to share a small story from my archives this month (circa 1998)…

The smell of the first chill, driving rain of fall wafted under the front door. Large drops drove under the wide white porch and pelted the rockers, porch swing and the weathered old wooden barrel, sporting checkers and a stenciled game board.

The noses of my oldest two girls pressed wistfully against the glass. Then they turned and fixed their baleful gazes on me. My husband also looked at me, eyes full of questions. How ‘bout it, Cinso? Would it be okay if we went ahead with our basketball game anyway?”

I think I gave my husband the shock of his life. “Go ahead,” I answered. “It won’t kill the girls to get sopping wet for ten minutes. I’ll have a hot bath and cocoa waiting.”

I snapped and tied hoods and sent them off amidst raucous squealing. The baby and I watched through the screen door, applauding any and all shots. The aroma of soggy earth and wet wood drifted in.

After a few minutes, one of the prosecutors from the office where my husband was the investigator, drove up the long gravel lane to deliver some papers for an upcoming trial. “Just in time for the game,” my husband invited. He shook his head in refusal and stared at the lot of us like we were crazy.

Maybe he wouldn’t nominate me for mother of the year, but I’m sure my then three and eight year old daughters thought I was in the running. As his car backed out of the driveway, I imagined that he might secretly be jealous of our rainy adventure.

Maybe we weren’t crazy, we were just enjoying the smells of home.

Writing a book about home and heaven, due shortly after my precious 56-years-young daddy had gone home to be with the Lord was beyond hard. But all it takes for me to summon the strength to the task at hand is to draw on those special memories of home and the anticipation of the Home we have to come.

My piece entitled, “Shelter in the Storm,” was accepted in the new MOPS publication, Always There: Reflections for Moms on God’s Presence, edited by Susan Besze Wallace. The release date is April 12th. I am offering the chance for TWO READERS, chosen at random, to win a copy of the book by leaving a comment ON THE WEBSITE about a time when you have felt God’s presence. I think you will be blessed by this strong compilation.

From Our House to Yours

I never lose the thrill of all of us going to church in Easter finery, watching the sun come bursting through the clouds, smelling the trumpet-like Easter lilies and worshipping together! The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed! The fact that even the grave could not hold Him offers all of us such hope!

This Easter season was particularly delightful for our family because our oldest daughter, Eden, was home from Iowa and she will be staying here for 2 ½ weeks, even working a few shifts at her old job. I am happiest when all of my blessings have their feet under our table.

Emmy won third place in the 2-mile at last night’s track meet, in a very exciting, last stretch pass. Ellie is in constant demand to manage track teams and shoot yearbook photos with her strong work ethic and servant heart. Elexa is keeping us entertained with writing stories, regaling us with tales from the world of 10-year-olds and reminding me of my own obsession with Nancy Drew books.

Greg, Elexa and I traveled to St. Louis on April 4th for his kidney check-up. 20 months out, all is still going incredibly well. We do not return until next year! In fact, because his creatinine levels have dropped down to where they were immediately post-surgery, the doctors speculate that Trish’s donor kidney has grown to accommodate Greg’s specific needs. Isn’t God good? When the doctor asked us if we had noticed a marked difference in Greg’s health and energy, I broke down and wept. The transformation has been miraculous; we keep witnessing to the doctors and staff there because we just cannot help it!

To celebrate, we ate lunch at Five Guys Burgers & Fries, which is always a delicious highlight of any trip there!

The trip gave us 10 hours worth of time to talk shop, and with my little notebook computer perched on my lap, I got in lots of writing time and Greg’s invaluable input on several critical scenes. I turned in my first novel, Barefoot in December, to my agent yesterday, with all of the recommended rewrites. I am praying for it to find a publishing home very soon.

There are only 5 more Monday mornings left in this school year, leaving me wondering, as always, where the time went! Because of the unprecedented early warmth this year, all of my flowers are in, and the porch blooms with red geranium hanging baskets and pots of the hardiest flowers available. Let the season of porches and grilling begin!

I pray that these fresh spring days of new beginnings and fresh starts warm your hearts, sweep out your souls and bring amazement at the works of His hands.

Blessings like crazy,


Did You Know?…

From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. is the time when we feel the most upbeat…at least according to the Tweets of those who Twitter.

6 seconds is the length of the average yawn. Anybody sleepy?

Fun Facts

Americans spend more than $2 billion dollars on Easter candy each year!

76% of people eat the ears on a chocolate bunny first.

Marshmallow Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate treat.

-National Confectioner’s Association

New Year, New You

People who make their bed every day are 19% more likely to say they got a good night’s sleep than people who don’t!

-National Sleep Foundation, 2011 poll

You can burn 40 calories by laughing for 15 minutes! (Self, 105, 3/12)

April is Autism Awareness Month

All of your activity adds up to fitness every day. Try walking while you talk on the phone. Doing leg lifts while you brush your teeth. Taking multiple trips to the car to unload the groceries and up the stairs to put away the laundry. When you’re low on movement, deliberately add steps to your regular chores.

Upcoming Speaking Highlights

April 20-21 – Lifebridge Christian Church – Longmont, Colorado 3-sessionWomen’s Retreat, Cleaning Out Your Spiritual Closet: What Not to Wear; G.R.A.C.E.: What the Well-Dressed Woman is Wearing; A Quilt of Comfort; Workshop – Hot Chocolate for Couples: Practical Ways to Sweeten Your Love Life

May 12 – First Christian Church – Galena, Kansas – Mother/Daughter Banquet“Laughter, Love & Legacies”

June 23-24 – Silver Dollar City – Branson, Missouri – Responder Life Marriage Workshop – “Hot Chocolate for First Responder Couples”

On Our Table

Far East Burgers

This is one of my favorite recipes to have my husband fix on the grill.

1 ½ pounds ground beef

5 T. soy sauce

2 ½ T. sugar

1 ½ T. toasted sesame seeds (just toss them in a 400 degree oven in a small pan for approx. 7-8 minutes)

2 T. minced onion

1 ¼ T. olive oil

1 ¼ T. garlic

Cracked black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Form 6 patties, lightly pressing thumb in center for even grilling.

When burgers are done, serve with slice of muenster cheese, lettuce and fresh tomato slices!


March 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Phil. 2:9

Quote of the Month: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.” – Miss Piggy

“The name that is above every name.” That just makes me want to shout!

I have been home only twelve hours as of this writing. I’ve been on the other side of the world, speaking to missionary women on the island of Taiwan at their annual gathering. Getting there involves 24 hours of flying (or in this case, 36, thanks to flight delays and missed flights) with a 13 hour time change.

I’m exhausted. I’m exhilarated. I took my third-born daughter with me.

I spoke on the life of Elijah – The Showdown: How God Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Lives. The second session, I reconstructed the altar that Elijah restored on Mt. Carmel, reminding the Israelites of their fallenness. Of their abandonment to serving, yes, even worshipping.

In the shadow of homes whose balconies carried idols and personal gods, we shouted along with the repentant of Israel when the fire of the One True God fell from the sky and burned up Elijah’s sacrifice and everything around it—“The LORD he is God! The LORD he is God!”

Lights came on in some of those homes. I saw some folks creep into the alleys and listen, curious as to what we were up to. It was humbling.

It stirred our souls, gave us goose bumps and brought us to tears. There we were, ministering to those who minister to those who still worship idols. Who believe in false gods. Who place their trust in something that is not valid.

Our last day, I took my daughter to Lungshan Temple in Taipei. It was packed with those who needed to burn and wave  incense in front of a variety of gods. Those who were leaving offerings of fruit, oil, flowers, and yes, even Diet Coke. Those who were buying and burning god money in order that those they worshipped might not be angry. It was a fearful sight.

We prayed hard before we entered. Darkness and oppression and the cloying scent of incense blanketed us. It seemed I could hear the long ago echoes of the apostle Paul as he entered the Acropolis and beseeched them to worship the One True God, whom the people only knew as “the Unknown God.” How I wanted to stand up in the courtyard and preach a sermon!! I know this shocks.

Ellie’s eyes grew large as she took in the bustle, the noise, the sad, 3-D, live and in person demonstration of full-fledged idol worship. We walked quietly and prayed for the lost around us.

We prayed alongside my precious sister, Angie Pagel, a missionary there, who prayed for several women in Mandarin Chinese, having asked their permission to carry them before the throne of God. They were intrigued. Only one God.

After some early misgivings, they agreed, and she received a text from them my last day there, thanking her for her prayers and hoping that someday they “get to know this God.” Amen!

Only One God. Ellie and I have had many mini-conversations about this. You see, we worship idols too. We can worship at the idol of self-promotion, self-gratification and flat out selfishness. We can worship products, appearance, achievement and stuff. We can long for things and miss out on the real blessings.

We can place our trust in what we can do, buy and merit, forgetting that all of that can be gone in an instant. So then, sometimes we too forget, and need a Mt. Carmel reminder that the Lord, He is God.

Stones of remembrance. Get some. When your children see them and ask you why, tell them. It makes all the difference.

37 precious missionary women at Taiwan
Missionary Fellowship Annual Retreat

From Our House to Yours

It was indescribably sweet to hug my nieces and nephews and brother-in-law, but especially my wonderful sister, after three loooong years. We
snatched as much conversation as we could between my duties there, a six hour car
trip to the bottom of the island where I’d be speaking along with six other
missionary women, and indignant cries from my nieces and nephews that my sister
was being a “Cinso” hog. (I got to have a little tea party with my youngest
niece; watch the ballet DVD of my oldest niece’s performance, visit a bit with my
oldest nephew and watch the soccer moves of my youngest one.) If you have a
sister here, hug her neck hard. Take her out for a cup of hot chocolate. Send
her a card. Share the precious memories of your growing-up years and resolve
not to take her for granted.

Having my third-born, Ellie, accompany me on this trip was wonderful. I’ve been trying to take the girls with me one at a time, so they can encourage their cousins and see what is being done in God’s church around the world. Ellie was responsible
for preparing and explaining the craft for the English-Bible class for children. It’s theme was “Jesus is the Light of the World,” and she did an outstanding job. There were 26 precious children there, one of whom was 60 years old! She saw the flyer, but she too wanted to learn about Jesus. Ah, the child-like heart is a joy to behold.

We’ve been fairly sleepy this week, but have gamely tried to carry on with as normal
a pace as possible. Thank you all so much for your prayers on our behalf.

At the beginning of next month, we will be traveling to St. Louis for Greg’s kidney
check-up. We anticipate good news.

I threw in this month’s quote, because as we are assaulted with new spring fashions and photo-shopped images of perfect bodies, I want you to grin as you remember that you are God’s beloved, hand-crafted and lovingly fashioned by Him. You are God’s workmanship and you, precious girlfriends, are holy and dearly, dearly loved.

Blessings like crazy!



New Year, New You

Use the Six D’s to Fight Off Cravings:

DELAY – wait 10-15 minutes before re-evaluating

DISTRACT – do something else to get your mind off of it

DISTANCE – leave the room; take a walk

DECODE – think about your true feelings. What do you really want? Are you really hungry?

DECIDE – you are more powerful than your urges. Exercise some self-control.

DELIGHT – You did it! Reward yourself with something small that isn’t food. Build a treat allowance into your week so you don’t go crazy.

[adapted from All You Health & Fitness, February, 2012]

Every two hours of television you watch each day increases your risk of diabetes by 20%!

-Harvard study

130.6 – average number of pounds of sugar and other sweeteners consumed by each American in a year. YIKES!

Upcoming Speaking Highlights Soroptomist Club – “The Chocolate Side of Life” Tuesday, April 17th, Carthage, MO

April 20-21 Women’s Retreat – Lifebridge Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado “Extreme Takeover”; “Cleaning Out Your Spiritual Closet: What Not to Wear”; “G.R.A.C.E.: What the Well-Dressed Woman is Wearing”; “Chocolate Comfort”; “Hot Chocolate for Couples” workshop

Mother-Daughter Banquet – “Laughter, Love & Legacies” – Galena, Kansas, Saturday, May 12th

Responder Life Event at Silver Dollar City – June 23-24 – “Hot Chocolate for Couples”, Branson, MO

CHEESE is the world’s most frequently stolen food item! [Real Simple, 4, 2/12]

84% of couples married more than 10 years rate themselves as “very in love,” “intensely in love,” or “very intensely in love.” What great news!

Social Psychological & Personality Science Journal in Real Simple, 4,2/12

On Our Table

Quick Éclairs (These are my oldest daughter, Eden’s, very favorite)

2 packages French vanilla instant pudding

1 package white chocolate instant pudding

3 ½ cups milk

1 container of Cool Whip

Mix together and set aside.

Layer bottom of 9 X 13 pan with graham crackers. Top with 1/3 of mixture, alternating graham cracker and mixture layers to four, finishing with layer of graham crackers. Ice top layer with can of whipped chocolate fudge frosting. Chill in refrigerator. Delicious!

February 2012 Newsletter

Quote of the Month: “If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer. Intercession is a way of loving others.” –Richard J. Foster

Scripture of the Month: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

NATIONAL MARRIAGE WEEK is February 7-14! Take the Focus on the Family “Three dates in three weeks” challenge! Call the sitter. Make the plans. Just do it.

“Ooh, look at you, all fancy and dressed up!” two of my friends and neighbors gushed, as I walked into the home that was scheduled for our neighbor get-together. “Did you have to speak today?”

 I decided to be perfectly candid. (Perhaps we should make that imperfectly. You can picture me cringing right here). “Nope. I’m having a ‘mad at the world, don’t want to see-talk to-be nice to anyone’ kind of day. Everything and everybody got on my last nerve. And I had to write.”

 They laughed. “But I’d have on my rattiest sweats on that kind of day,” one of them said.

 “If I were wearing those, I would allow myself to act that way, not just feel it on the inside,” I explained. “Tryin’ to fake myself out here. Work with me.”

 “Gotcha,” they commiserated. “You’re trying to dress the part of loving people like you know you should.”

  “Exactly. Cause on my own today, I would’ve said, ‘I am so glad that Jesus loves you, because I just can’t.’”

  Luckily, they love me and they just hooted with laughter. “We’re so glad somebody else occasionally feels that way!”

  “Yeah,” acknowledged the other woman, “I’m just not usually so, well, so forthcoming about it. And, it sounds like we should be glad you’re dressed up!”

  I’m not proud of it, but often, my feelings run ahead of my self control, which means that sometimes my mouth runs ahead of my brain.

  Anyone else? You’re trying so very hard to extend grace, believe the best of the other person, but sometimes life’s rough edges feel like they’re as rough on your soul as sandpaper on cheekbones!

 We slog through days that seem too daily for our tastes. We encounter crushing disappointments and smaller irritations that lodge like burrs in our jean pockets.  We pray and wonder and worry and clench our lips so tightly together to keep from speaking unkindly that it looks like we’ve landed with our mouths around a sour persimmon bush!

 Ah, precious girls, that is life. Even for Jesus girls. The fabulous news is – and trust me, I don’t mean this in a cliché manner, nor am I taking your hurts lightly; I am preaching to myself too—we serve a God who can rescue and save. He is a faithful God. We do not cry alone. We do not exist in a vacuum. He sees. He hears. He cares. And just in the nick of time — HIS time, He will show up! Hold on. Hang in there.

 I can’t wait to hear all your stories about how He is working in your lives! I am praying for you even this moment and if I could sit down by you and give you a hug and listen, I surely would.

New Year, New You!

Although I admit that my endorphins come from peanut M & Ms and not, regrettably, from exercise, I still know that I feel better and look better when I do it. Need more incentive for working out just 30 minutes, 5 times a week? If you’ll DO it, it will lower your risk of:

Heart disease by 40%

Breast cancer by 20%

Depression by 30%

Hypertension by 40%

Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 58%

[American College of Sports Medicine, Redbook, 108, Nov. 2011]

Did you Know?

Studies show that women spend 35% MORE money when they shop with their kids. Hmmm….who needed a STUDY to tell us THAT? LOL

What are the odds of being born in a leap year? Exactly 1 in 1,461!! (Family Circle, 18, 2/12)

8,962 the number of people who made snow angels five years ago outside the capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota, earning the Guinness World Record, thus stealing the previously held title from Michigan!

Longing for Springtime?

This is my kind of lazy gardening – Seed Bombs are wildflower pods comprised of seeds, fertilizer & red clay. Toss them on the ground (no digging, even!) & wait for rain to break them apart. Order now, wait until April to drop them; expect plants in 4-6 weeks.

February 20-26 is the World Ice & Snow Sailing Championships in St. Ignace, Michigan

Register for this giveaway – a copy of the newly released “Everything Romance,” which also includes two short stories by yours truly!


From Our House to Yours

By the time I write next month’s newsletter, I will be thoroughly jet-lagged from my upcoming trip to Taiwan, to speak for the missionary women’s conference and then have the privilege of sharing at my sister and brother-in-law’s church that Sunday before I fly home.

I am taking my third-born, Ellie Grace, with me, and she will be helping with crafts at English-Bible class! Twenty-four hours travel; fourteen hour time difference. But, oh, what a chance to be an encourager, to make a difference, to share Jesus!

We would treasure your prayers for this venture, along with those for my beloved and my mother who will be managing the rest of the crew! [Prayers for my laundry might also be necessary]. Seriously, we need specific prayers for safety of journey and for a special gift of “restedness” and energy to accomplish all of our duties with excellence, and for a lack of homesickness.

Greg passed the 18-month mark of his transplant and is continuing to do remarkably well, with a few lab number scares.  Next month we will travel to St. Louis for his “big” check-up at Barnes-Jewish. Thank you for your continued prayers.

It has been a mixed season for our family, as I know it has been for many of you. Big moments. Huge blessings. Small meltdowns. Daily slogging. But all of it with an ever-faithful God.

Hugs & chocolate blessings,


Speaking Highlights

Marriage Retreat – February 3-4, with my husband, Greg – Maranatha Retreat Center, sponsored by Countryside Christian Church, Pittsburg, Kansas

February 26-March 5 {speaking March 1-4} “The Showdown: How Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Lives” from the life of Elijah

April 20-21 Women’s Retreat – Lifebridge Christian Church, Longmont, Colorado “Extreme Takeover”; “Cleaning Out Your Spiritual Closet: What Not to Wear”; “G.R.A.C.E.: What the Well-Dressed Woman is Wearing”; “Chocolate Comfort”; “Hot Chocolate for Couples” workshop

On Our Table

Hot Chicken Dip

Spread 1 pkg. low fat cream cheese in bottom of 12 X 8 pan. Mix together 1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chili sauce and ½ cup Ranch dressing. Spread over cream cheese. Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I slow cook 2-3 chicken breasts all day in the Crock Pot) and top with 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar (or other cheese your choice).

Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Serve with whole wheat crackers & raw veggies. Naturally, tortilla chips work too.

January 2012 Newsletter

Scripture of the Month: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” Psalm 102:18 

Quote of the Month: “In a way, winter is the real spring, the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.” Edna O’Brien, Irish Novelist

Fast Facts: Only 40% of women consider themselves to be beautiful. –Dove Research

On average, there are 3 BILLION cups of TEA consumed every day, worldwide!

Family Circle, 11,10/11

Harvard researchers pin-pointed some specific “bad foods” responsible for the average American’s 3.4 pounds gained over 4 years: potato chips, French fries, sugary drinks, red & processed meats. –Good Housekeeping, 53,10/11

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Monday, January 16 – Professional Development Day – Carl Junction Schools

Keynote: “Take Your M.E.D.S!”

Workshop: “Disappearing Childhood: Why Our Kids are Growing Up too Fast & What Parents & Teachers Can Do About It”

Monday, January 30 – “The Chocolate Side of Life” Women’s Event – Crossroads Christian Church, Baxter Springs, Kansas

February 3-4 – Marriage Retreat with Greg Dagnan, hosted by Countryside Christian Church, Pittsburg, Kansas at Maranatha Retreat Center

February 26-March 5 – travel to Taiwan & speaking at the Taiwan Missionary Women’s Conference – March 1-3. “The Showdown: How God Fights for Us in the Battles of Our Lives” – from the life of Elijah

From Our House to Yours

As always, it seems that the ethereally beautiful holiday season flew past. New Year’s Day, it was all packed away in boxes, awaiting next year. The family room and mantle seemed especially bare without garlands and light and the glow from the tree and candles. It always makes me a little melancholy.

But talking about it with one of my girls, I resolved to try a different attitude: what a clean slate to begin with! A chance to throw away, organize, rearrange and enjoy the simpler, cleaner rooms. I would be overjoyed (or at least try to be) with the prospect of fresh starts and shiny beginnings.

And it helped. Mostly. On the mantel sits a cheery red carved wooden word – “Happy”—flanked by snowman candle holders, made of baby food jars, decorated by Ellie and Elexa’s elementary school thumbprints and a small, silver tree, glittering with light.

Coincidentally, my book club/accountability group girls and I are reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project for January. I have thoroughly enjoyed the new things I’ve learned and laughed at the fact that I have always seemed to have had an ongoing, unstructured “happiness project” of  own; I just hadn’t know what to call it.

While there is certainly a wealth of ideas to mine in order to make us more deliberate and mindful of what makes us happy in order that we might bless others [happier people are more generous, patient, etc. with others & circumstances], I was saddened to discover that faith, although an element she explored, is not something that Gretchen embraces. I can’t fathom how to survive this live without personal knowledge of our great God. Perhaps if I’m ever in New York, I can treat her to a happy dessert and a Diet Coke with lime!

At any rate, we are wishing you an incredibly happy beginning & a whole box full of fresh slates, dreamy goals and fun starts!


Ideas for Flinging in the New Year

  • Have a family cleaning party. When the decorations come down, have one person help you box things up, another one dust the now naked mantels and table tops, another vacuum and another begin placing sparser, clean-lined winter décor out.
  • If your child received six gifts for Christmas between you, siblings & grandparents, have them choose six toys, etc. that can be donated to Good Will or the Salvation Army. Mom – you set a good example by getting rid of a sweater in your closet as you fold and put away the new you one that you got as a gift.
  • Go through toys and clothing deciding what’s special, what no longer fits & what play things have outgrown her interests. Bag and box those up too. Clean thoroughly, choose outfits for the first few days back to school to make that transition easier. Brag on her, take a break to read a story and have some hot chocolate. Make a pact to remind each other how much easier it is to keep things clean when there are less things to clean!
  • Use the fronts of Christmas cards for winter crafts on snowy afternoons. As you cut them apart, pray for each family before placing the rest of the card in the recycle bin.
  • Set a timer, and together, go through each room in the entire house and choose one item to pass along to someone else. Our rule is if you haven’t used it, worn it, enjoyed it or seen it in a year – fling it out!
  • This is a great opportunity to create a family tradition of character resolutions. Just as you’ve been tossing out things in your home, check with each other to see if there are some traits you don’t need to hang onto. Decide which new character trait you want to cultivate in its place.
  • Remember to fill up the empty places from all the bad habits and belongings you’ve gotten rid of, with the solid goodness of God’s Word and some pro-active new activities!


 On Our Table

Little Doughnuts

3 tubes of Pillsbury country style biscuit dough. 1 ½ -2 cups sugar; 2-2 1/2 t. cinnamon. Canola oil for frying.

Cover larger frying pan with oil to about inch depth. Heat on medium heat until bubbly. Mix cinnamon & sugar in bowl. Set aside. Open tubes of biscuit dough and gently make a hole in each one, arranging on plate in preparation for frying.

When oil is hot, fry batches of  “doughnuts” as much as your pan allows without them touching. Working quickly, use tongs to turn doughnuts. When golden,  dredge in cinnamon-sugar mix. Place on paper towel lined plate and serve warm with milk!

*My daddy made these for us growing up as a special treat. I could easily eat 10 of them! They aren’t in the least bit healthy, so I usually only make them about 4 times a year for my girls. It’s the memory that makes them all the sweeter. Enjoy.

[No, the irony isn’t entirely lost on me that this appears just about the healthy tips; just grin along with me!]

New Year – New You: Healthy Tips for 2012

  • Skin loses an average of 15 ounces every day. It can lose even more with the drying elements of harsh winds, cold air and dry indoor heat. Up your intake of water; take shorter, cooler showers; slather on lotion while your skin is still slightly damp; if your hands & feet are extra dry, put lotion on just before bedtime, sleeping in thick cotton socks & gloves
  • You sleep much better in a cooler room. Lower your thermostat to 67 degrees (or slightly less) and pile on the blankets.
  • Place an index card over the bright lights on your alarm clock & close your blinds for less distracted sleep.
  • Go to bed 20 minutes before you need to have lights out. Use that time to unwind with reading [not TV; the light mimics day time and wakes up your brain].
  • Light a lavender candle or spritz lavender pillow spray on your linens an hour before bedtime.
  • Unplug! For every two hours you watch TV, your risk for diabetes increases by 20%; your risk of heart disease, 15%. (The Journal of the American Medical Association; All You, Nov. 2011)
  • Exercise helps you sleep better, shed pounds and boosts your mood. Walk in place or around your room holding 2-5 pound free weights during your favorite show! Climb the stairs three times every time you use them to put away laundry.

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”

-Joey Adams

December 2011 Newsletter

 Scripture of the Month:

“And [Mary] brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.” -Luke 2:7

Quote of the Month:

“I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love, even more than I usually do. And although I know it’s a long road back, I promise you…I’ll be home for Christmas…” – I’ll be Home for Christmas, Kim Gannon, Walter, Kent & Buck Ram, 1943

Greg and I were going Christmas shopping, and had only been away from the house for 29 minutes when the cell phone rang with a call from our girls. It’s an on-going joke as to whether or not we’ll get all the way to our destination before the phone rings and it’s one the kids. This time, there was no “emergency,” not even any sibling squabbles to referee. Emily just wanted to share a funny story. The day was overcast, so the outside dusk to dawn lights were still on. Joy Puppy had trotted over to one of the porch doors and spotted the angel, graciously waving a candle in her arms. After some frantic barking, she remained posted at the door, emitting a constant low rumble, grrrrrrrrrr, fiercely protesting the presence of a stationery, plugged-in angel. I’m sure the orange glow from the candle’s “flame” and the sheen of the angel’s cream satin skirts were terribly threatening! And yet, sometimes, that’s how we are, stressed and grumbling about a perceived stressor, allowing it to rob our energy and focus from both real problems and the enjoyment of life. We spend our time growling at a “fake angel,” missing out on the beautiful garland and lights and the reason for this season. I have no idea what your “fake angel” distraction might be this season. We’ve had several thrown our way these past few weeks and the temptation to let them overshadow the joy of Christmas has been strong. But then I think of another time, another set of impossible circumstances involving taxes, mean occupying soldiers, a long trip and an unwed mother, and I remember. That baby grew up to be our Savior, Redeemer, Friend. Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, Almighty. He was Holiness. His grace and His position at the right hand of the LORD of Heaven’s armies means that He can take on any distraction, any hurt, any problem that I might encounter and turn it into victory! No growling required.

Fast Facts The quietest shopping days at the mall are Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, according to GGP, a mall management firm. On those days, foot traffic is only 12% of weekly traffic. Have fun finishing up Christmas! [Woman’s Day, 12/11,48]

5,822 – the average number of accidents that involve holiday decorating, landing Americans in the emergency room. Most occur from falls off ladders, roofs and furniture! Be careful! – CDC

 96 – the number of times you sing “la” while caroling “Deck the Halls!” Fa la la la la, la la la la! [Real Simple, 14, 12/11]

 $3.49 is the price of a live mistletoe spring at PUCKER UP!

From Our House to Yours:

The girls talked me into decorating for Christmas a day earlier than usual this year. To be honest, it wasn’t that hard. There are not enough days for me to listen to carols, bask in the twinkling lights, treasure secrets, wrap stockpiles of presents, enjoy the hustle and bustle of going to town, the ritual Christmas movies, the traditions of our Nativity set and our Adornaments. I love nothing better than snuggling under a fleecy blanket and reading a book in front of the fireplace, reading stories or playing Clue with Elexa or watching an episode of Monk with our two middles after she has gone to bed. In the midst of all this came a wonderful event – the long-awaited completion of my first novel, Barefoot in December! I had been working on it off and on for six years. Last year at our December meeting, when we choose our book club books for the entire next year, my precious book club/accountability girls chose my novel as their November book. “But it isn’t finished!” I protested. “Better get writing,” came the unsympathetic response. They bought me a little writer mouse named Huxley, who pens tales with his tail and some ink for inspiration. My deadline? Halloween, so they would have a month to read it. Yikes! But having lived most of my life with deadlines, I met it. My friend Vickie hosted that month and my friend Sharris wrote questions of both beauty and depth to accompany the novel. I was equal parts teary and excited to listen to these intelligent, awesome women discuss with lively passion, the characters, the themes, the outcomes. They even gave me a completion gift with hot cocoas, Starbucks paraphernalia and a full circle “Bearista” in December to celebrate! Barefoot has been sent to my agent, and man, would I ever appreciate your prayers for it to find a publishing home! Our oldest is slowly finding her way back to her Heavenly Father; our second born is ecstatic over her driver’s permit and is involved in every activity under the sun; three is getting ready to march in the Christmas parade and help me with the one-too-many programs I’ve promised to direct; the “baby” has lost 4 teeth in 3 weeks and reports that 2 more are ready to come out. My beloved is still doing amazingly, wondrously well 16 months after transplant. Life is bittersweet. It is hard. It is good. But our great God is unchangeable. The Redeemer of every situation. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Cindy

On Our Table Christmas Brunch Ring Press 2 packages of ground Italian sausage and 1 package of ground maple sausage [we use Jimmy Dean] into a Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour until done. Drain grease. Invert sausage and set on platter. Meanwhile, beat 12 eggs and add ¾ c. half & half; lightly pepper to taste. Pour eggs in center of sausage ring. Garnish with orange slices, twisted to form a curve.

November 2011 Newsletter

Quote of the Month:  “There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.” – Mary Little
Scripture of the Month: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Jeremiah 31:3
I was recently reminded of one of my girls’ favorite family stories, one that I often remember when I hear the echo of my daddy’s words: “The best gift you can give your children is a good marriage.”
     We drove through the Taco Bell drive-through for a quick dinner out of necessity, not choice. In the rush to get to Wednesday night choir practice, kids’ club and youth groups, when my husband called to ask about meal plans I told him: “Meet you at the Taco Bell on Seventh Street.”
     Strangely enough, he ended up being the car just behind us in the line. When I got to the payment window, I felt the Spirit, stirring up my ornery streak to good purpose.
     “How much,” I asked the pony-tailed gum snapping clerk, “is the order for the car behind me?”
     “Um, $3.89,” she replied, puzzled.
     “Well, I’d like to cover that, please. Oh, and one more thing – when he gets up here, would you please tell the driver that I think he’s hot?”
     Her jaw fell open and she motioned to another teen pony-tailed gum snapping employee. “This lady wants to buy the guy’s dinner in the car behind her and we’re supposed to tell him that she thinks he’s hot!”
     “Do you know him?” asked the other girl, either intrigued or appalled.
     I just smiled mysteriously and thanked them as they handed our bags through the window. Thankfully, my girls were shocked into silence.
     As we drove away, they burst out laughing. “Mom! Why did you do that? Those girls think you’re crazy – you are crazy!”
     “Girls,” I explained to them, “it’s been quite a week already. I just thought your dad could probably use a reminder that I love him and if I had to do it all over again, I would still choose him.”
     When we pulled up to the church parking lot and I saw him get out of his car, I knew it had been worth it. He practically strutted from the car to the building.
     My sweetheart was beaming, my girls were giggling, and we had cemented the bonds of family life along with another miniature lesson on the importance of marriage and the place their dad holds in my life. A sweet place of precious permanence.
     May this be a season in which you create, recreate, tell and retell the family stories that will be handed down from generation to generation.
From Our House to Yours
     Gazing out on the chilly, rainy November morning, I was spectacularly unmotivated. I marveled at how our moods can change. Just last week, I was leaping around my office, over the moon with joy since I had finally, FINALLY, finished my first novel, Barefoot in December! But it was a new week, a different one, full of different challenges, unique hurts and soul-crushing circumstances.
     That particular moment, I couldn’t think of a thing to write. I didn’t want to write and didn’t even want to fulfill the obligations I had already scheduled which had anything to do with writing! When I tried to analyze why not, I had a moment of insight – I needed to give myself a break. No, I didn’t need to blow off my commitments, but I did need to free myself from the relentless pace which I’d been requiring of myself. My ugly recovering Type A tendencies were rearing their ugly collective heads.
     So I leaned back in my chair and thought about the twelve-year-old me. The young girl with dimples and a vivid imagination who loved books and history best of anything in the world. The younger me whose very first crush was on an imaginary character, based on a real-life aspiring writer – John Boy Walton. Yep. I’ll put it out there, knowing that it cracks my girls up every time I tell them about it.
     I was certain that if we could meet, it would be true love at first sight. I reveled in the stories, mingling faith and family and the strength which it took to overcome the unique challenges of a country thrown into a Great Depression.
     I jotted down my to-do list, prioritized it, and then I sat down in Greg’s recliner with a cozy throw, a fire in the fireplace, a bowl of puppy chow, and then a good book. I read for an hour and decided to put in an episode of The Waltons.
     I was charmed all over again and very much refreshed by my three hours of playing hooky. I’m betting that as this beautiful, but packed season of celebrating begins, that you also need a day of hooky. A Sabbath break from your obligations. Burrow down, settle in and then, please write and tell me all about it.
     What inspires you, precious friends? I truly want to know. Because God has clearly shown me, that you are very much part of what inspires me.
     Blessings from the Walton’s Mountain of my great imagination and Happy Thanksgiving!
Doing crossword puzzles is the number one indoor pastime! Studies show that such activity can be good for preventing Alzheimer’s as well.
Only 9% of Americans are bi-lingual, compared to 65% of the rest of the world.
Upcoming Speaking Events
November 4-5 “God’s Got It Covered: A Quilt of Joy; A Quilt of Comfort; A Quilt of Victory” – 3 session retreat – Tiak’o’khata Resort – Jackson, Mississippi
November 12 – “The Chocolate Side of Life” 11a.m.-1p.m. keynote/luncheon – Racine Christian Church – Racine, Missouri
November 14 – “Hot Chocolate for Couples” – Carterville Christian Church – Mom2Mom – Carterville, MO
Get organized this Christmas and focus your heart and home on baby Jesus. Grab a copy of Karen Patterson Ehman & LeAnn Rice ‘s new e-book Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday. Simple and delicious recipes, doable decorating ideas, creative gifts, outreach suggestions and how to craft a Christmas planner to organize it all!
I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for this practical, inspiring stress-free guide to the upcoming holiday season! If you have an e-book, grab a copy today.
The names of the two marble lions in front of the New York public Library’s main entrance are Patience & Fortitude.
November is Georgia Pecan Month. The largest pecan pie ever baked weighed 41,586 pounds!!!
The average amount shoppers spent on Black Friday weekend last year was $365.34.
On Our Thanksgiving Table
Chocolate Pecan Pie
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup Light corn syrup
4 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
¼ t. almond flavoring
2 ½ T. melted, unsalted butter
1 t. vanilla
 1 ½ cups pecan halves
1 unbaked piecrust [I use Pillsbury, in the red box]
*This is a sneak preview of a recipe that is mentioned in part of my first novel, Barefoot in December. This is also the dessert which I always took home to St. Louis to celebrate Thanksgiving with my folks. It was my daddy’s favorite, and so even though we were two hours away from home when I realized I had forgotten it, fearing that it would be our last Thanksgiving with him since he was so sick with cancer, my heroic husband turned the car around and we went back for it! I am so glad he did, for it was indeed our final Thanksgiving celebration with daddy this side of heaven. I hope it finds a place in your home.

Cindy Sigler Dagnan

Author; Speaker; Chocolate Lover!

Hot Chocolate For Couples

Hot Chocolate For Couples

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