Monday, August 1, 2011

New Website Launches Today, August 1st

Hello, readers!

Today is a very exciting day for Will and I!  We have spent the last few weeks preparing and are finally ready to share our special surprise with all of you!!!

Learning to Live a Surrendered Life has moved to its own (dot)com!

You can find us at:

Will designed the new website himself and created a wonderful one minute movie to welcome you to our new website home!

God is growing us in so many ways and we are thrilled to have this new location to stretch and share our journeys even more!

Please come join us for a month of new articles and devotions, great giveaways, new features and opportunities for our readers and opportunities to advertise your own ministries, businesses, or we celebrate the launch of our new website!

Just a note to our wonderful subscribers...Feedburner will only allow us to transfer the email subscriptions. If you subscribe to this Learning to Live a Surrendered Life blog site you will need to re-subscribe to the new website in order to continue following us in your e-readers.  We apologize for the inconvenience and want you to know how much we appreciate all of you!

Won't you come join us?

Dancing together at,

Will and Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Big News!!!!!

Good Morning!


Just a quick note to let you know that this blog will be moving to a new home.

Between getting ready for homeschooling and moving the blog…we will be taking a short break from writing  to get prepared for everything.

We won’t be gone long….I promise! Pay close attention to the updates on the Facebook page

Question: How do you prepare your family when you are making changes?

Dancing with Jesus at the foot of the cross,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review of "Do Hard Things" by Alex & Brett Harris from our daughter's perspective...

Today is our daughter, Annie,'s sixteenth birthday so we invited her to guest post today to help celebrate this very special day!!!

Annie was very excited when we gave her this book as an early birthday present last week.  So much so that she finished reading it in just a few days!  Because she spoke so highly of it, we asked her to share her thoughts on Do Hard Things with all of you and she agreed to do it!  We are so proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone!

I give you Annie's review...

The book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris is written by teens for teens.  It seems that doing hard things is hard for many Christians.  The Harris brothers tell the history of where the concept of "teenagers" came from.  It's a pretty new concept which was created in the early 1940s.

Alex and Brett challenge the thinking of teens and adults in the church alike as they go against the low expectations and stereotypes that society has set for them over the past 70 years, such as...

  • Getting outside of your comfort zone
  • Going beyond what is expected or required
  • Doing things that are too big to accomplish alone
  • Doing things that don't earn immediate payoff
  • Challenging the cultural norm

What I think would speak to a lot of people when reading this book is the section on "Doing Hard Things that don't ear immediate payoff".  Small hard things, I think, would be difficult for most people because part of doing small hard things like doing chores around the house everyday that seems not very important compared to doing things outside your home where you might get more recognition and seem to make "more" of an impact to the world than cleaning your room.
"You won't make it in the headlines for any of them ('Local Boy Cleans Bedroom and Does Homework!') or waking up looking forward to them ('Oh boy!  Today I get to obey my mom cheerfully!')".
I felt like the part that impacted me the most was the section about stepping out of your comfort zone.  The reason why I have such a hard time with this part was because I always have the question in my mind of "What if I fail?".  What helped me with this in the book was that it said...
"You can't get to success without risking failure."
That quote gave me the motivation to attempt to do more things for Christ and for the Glory of God outside of my comfort zone.  You just have to trust God and take the risk of failure to take a risk to succeed.

I plan on reading Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris again and I will be reading its sequel Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are  I also recommend this book to both female and male teenagers as well as adults.

You can learn more about the Harris brothers, their ministry, and their books at

At the foot of the Cross,

Annie Pershing
Annie is sixteen, as of today!  She is entering her junior year in the public high school in her home town where she lives with her mother.  Annie loves Jesus and is very involved in her home church.  She is also a member of her High School Jazz Band, Science Club and Math Club.  We are blessed to have her with us to visit as often as her busy schedule allows!  We really enjoyed our special time with her over the last four weeks, her time with us for this summer.  She is a blessing!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our God is Bigger!

Last week, while we were driving down our street with our trip plan in hand, we suddenly heard a thump-bump, thump-bump, thump-bump sound coming from the rear of our car.  I slowly edged my way out of the intersection in order to pull over to the side of the road so we could check out the problem.

As Will and I thought, our right rear tire had blown out and was completely flat.  

Not that long ago, I would have panicked and allowed my emotions to take over as I would allow the situation to loom in front of me as a great mountain of "what will we do now?"  We are living on a VERY tight budget right now and this unexpected expense is quite a challenge and when you combine that with the fact that I struggle with an anxiety issues...I've struggled a lot with not letting my emotions get the best of me.

Here's the evidence of the work that God has been doing in my thought life...

Instead of getting upset and panicking, as I have in the past, I stopped, took a deep breath and thanked God for protecting us when the blow out occurred.  And an amazing, calming peace came over me.  

Then I thanked Him for where it occurred.  You see...we had pulled over right next to our town park/playground.  While Will started unloading the trunk to get out his tools and the spare tire, I cheerfully called to the children to pile out of the backseat and go play at the park while I stayed with Will to encourage him and assist as he needed.  

Again I thanked God for the provision of this happening while we have our teenage daughter with us as she volunteered to take care of her young brothers while they played so that I could be there for her Dad.  Again, the peace of God showered over me.

As I helped Will finish unloading the trunk and remove the spare tire, I was so grateful that we had a spare ready to go and was in awe once again of His provision as my husband makes sure we have the things we need to be safe while driving.

While Will worked on removing the damaged tire, I silently thanked God that the wheel itself was not damaged and would not have to be replaced.

Annie was watching her younger brothers, Will was changing the tire, I didn't think I was doing much to help and asked Will how I could better assist him.  He stopped and looked up at me and said, "Just having you standing with me, talking with me and encouraging me is more of a blessing and help than you will ever know."  I was so surprised...I didn't feel like I was doing anything important...but I could see from the look on his face and the power of his words that what I was doing was very important.

After the tire was changed Will and I sat on the curb calmly talking about what had happened our plan of action would be to get the tire fixed.  We were both so grateful that it happened when and where it did.  I was in awe of how God's peace continued to be present as we had our daughter join the conversation as we explained that we would have to make some adjustments to our travel and budget plans for the rest of the month in order to replace the tire and that the other rear tire didn't look really good and would need to be replaced as soon as possible too...this included canceling the trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house for her birthday lunch that following Saturday.

She looked at us calmly and said that it made perfect sense to her that we would need to change our plans.  She said that she would look at her schedule and find a different time to go down and visit them in the next couple of months.  She lives with her Mom out of town and this was her final week of visitation with us for the summer.

The boys calmly came when we called them and everyone agreeably got back in the car so we could drive to town to get the tire replaced.  There was no complaining or arguing or high emotions...just calm.

It was then that I was reminded of something very important...

As a stay-at-home wife and mother, sometimes its easy for us to overlook the importance of having a godly attitude and giving control of our thoughts and emotions to the Lord...trusting that He is bigger.  I am in awe of the peace and calm that I was filled with where fear and panic used to flood. 

 I have been working on surrendering my thought and emotional life to God over the past several months.  And I am in awe at how the first thoughts that filled my mind when it happened were thoughts of gratitude for our safety...instead of pure panic.  I am in awe of how God filled me with His peace of mind and spirit so that I was able to calmly send our children to play on the playground and remain calmly beside my husband as his helper and encourager in this difficult situation speaking words of life and belief instead of fear and anxiety.  All evidence that surrendering my thought life to him...trusting Him with the really starting to show in the way I respond.

As I watched everyone else's calm and agreeable response...I realized how much of an affect my attitude and mood have on each member of my family.  There was no bickering or complaining from our children and my husband's stress level was so much less...all because I chose to trust God instead of falling into my old pattern of letting fear take over my thoughts.

There are times when I don't do this very well and my reaction can cause my husband undue stress and frustration that could be completely avoided if I stopped and trusted our situation to God instead of making a mountain out of it.  It is an area that I am continuing to work on trusting that our God is bigger and can handle it better than I can!

I am so grateful that I started today with "refueling my spirit" so that I was prepared to be the help-meet my husband needed at his side and the mother that my children needed to lead them through it.  On the drive to town we talked about God's amazing provision and protection in this challenging situation and how Our God is bigger than any challenge we will ever face.

I am so humbled as I see how much that me having a Godly attitude and response affected they way that my husband and children responded as well.  

It is with a grateful heart, that I thank God for using this car challenge to show me the evidence of the work His is doing in my heart and mind.  I am SO glad that our God is bigger than anything we will ever face!  I am more committed to renewing my mind and emotions in His Word and Spirit so that He will continue to transform my anxiety issues into trust...and my reacting into responding with patience and grace!  
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7
I have a long way to go but I am so grateful that our God is bigger!!!

Question:  Do you ever have the tendency to forget that our God is bigger?  

Dancing together at the foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Be sure to stop by:

Marriage Monday with Julie at Come Have a Peace
Make your Home Sing Mondays at Moms the Word

Friday, July 8, 2011

A week with our family in review...

We've had a week filled with summer fun, learning adventures, special projects, and lots of cooking!

Annie and Michael playing follow the leader in the soaker sprinkler

Josh celebrating victory as he finished a USA Map puzzle by himself!

Celebrating with our town at the town fireworks display on Independence Weekend!

I had to try taking a picture of the display...this is the best one I got...I still have a lot to learn but it was fun!

Lots of fun family cooking with our daughter while she was with us this week! 
(This is whole wheat tortillas)

Michael decided to bake his own "Lego Cookies" to share with all of us while we were cooking.  
He LOVES to pretend cook for us!

We've had trips to our favorite public library...playing board games...lots of lego building and trucks and cars and a few airplane creations and some relaxed learning thrown in!  We've had lots of reading aloud, pretend playing, tickle wars, and walks around our town, staying up late watching family movies...and my new favorite evening activity...Family Bible/Worship Time which we are now enjoying led by Will on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after dinner.  

Today Will and I will be going on a short date to town in the morning...with the gift of free babysitting of her brothers by Annie!  Later in the afternoon, Josh, Michael and I will be finishing up our homemade birthday cards for Annie...then after the littles go to bed, Annie and I will be working on a special writing project together!

And tomorrow we celebrate Annie's Sweet Sixteen with a small family celebration at home.  Her actual birthday is on Tuesday, July 12...but her last week of her summer visit comes to an end on we will make sure she is showered with love before she leaves!  

She has picked her favorite dinner that she wants to make with me...a Tex-Mex chicken rice with rotel tomatoes, onions, green peppers, corn a few other things and some fun seasonings followed by sugar free chocolate cupcakes topped with lite cool whip, crowned with a whole strawberry. (She wanted something that her Dad could enjoy with us.  Such a sweetie!)

We are hoping to have a special guest post on Tuesday to celebrate her birthday...Yay!

Will and Annie have been working on some special projects for his private music lesson studio and with me on our super special top secret  It is SOOOO hard for me to keep this secret!!!!

Question:  So what has your family been up to this week?  Are you enjoying the summer?

Dancing with my family at the foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Counting my Blessings...Don't you love to bless him?

When I count my blessings...

I have to count my amazing, dedicated, encouraging, godly best friend/husband!!!

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to partner with him here on Learning to Live a Surrendered Life!!!

Will usually writes on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays...but he is very busy working on a BIG SURPRISE for all of YOU!  LOL  It is SO hard to keep it a secret!!!  

I also count it one of my biggest blessings to be able to BE a blessing to my sweet husband by helping him in any way I can!  

So I volunteered to do my part by filling in for him anytime he needed me to in our writing schedule.  So that's why you have been seeing me around more often this week!  He will be writing as often as possible but you will see me around a little more often than usual over the next few weeks.  

We really appreciate your patience as Will pours himself into this very special top secret project!!!

Aren't our husbands wonderful?!!  Don't you love to bless him?  What's one way you love to bless your husband?

Dancing with my husband at the foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Surrendering in the Kitchen...Chicken Fajita Pasta

One of the areas of our lives that the Lord is asking me to surrender to Him is how we eat...more specifically...what we eat.  There are SO many foods that look so appealing and we know from experience are VERY tasty, that it is difficult to remember that they are not healthy for us.  

My husband, Will, has Type II Diabetes and really needs to watch his blood sugars and caffeine intake.  I need to lose quite a bit of weight in order to get healthy which isn't just about how I look but how I feel including my energy levels, moods, stress, and ability to focus.  Our boys do a lot better focusing and with their moods when we eat more healthy meals and less junk and refined sugar as well.  

When looking at all of these facts, the Lord began to show me that the main problem is that we need to honor God in all we do including what we eat and how much we eat of it.
 Well, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for God's glory.    --1 Corinthians 10:31
I also realized that even though Will and I both really enjoy eating...the purpose for eating is to give us the fuel that we need to serve and bring glory to God.  

The Lord has been challenging me to really look at the kinds of foods that I am preparing for our family and to ask myself these questions...

Are they good, healthy foods that will provide us with enjoyment and the fuel we need to be able to have the energy, focus, and stable moods to better serve Him in our daily lives?  

Or are they foods that we enjoy eating but are mainly empty calories that give us a burst of energy but also put us on a blood sugar and mood roller coaster and do not help us to focus and thereby not being able to do the work that the Lord calls us to do to serve Him?

And there was one more question too!!!

If they are good for us and give us what we need to better serve much of it are we eating?  Are we being gluttons by indulging in more than we need or is good for us?  

This is a journey of surrendering that we are still on...some days we do better than others.  But in the process, I am learning a lot about food and what happens to different kinds of foods as our bodies digest it and how it can help us or hurt us.

I am on a mission to find good tasting, healthy foods that help stabalize our blood sugar, moods, energy, focus.

I've been asked about some of the recipes I am using lately...some of them I have found in great cookbooks or on-line...others are the result of my experimenting with different ingredients and seasonings in our kitchen at home.

So we have decided that I will share some of the recipes for foods that seem to be winners with our family.  I would love to hear about some of your healthy favorites too!

So here is one that evolved in our kitchen with Will and I bouncing some ideas around as I was cooking one night.  I hope you like it!

Chicken Fajita Pasta

3 Chicken Breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 medium green bell pepper (use whatever colors you like!!!) cut in large chunks
1 medium sweet onion cut in large chunks
1 medium granny smith apple cut in large chunks
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
2 cans of diced tomatoes or 4/5 fresh tomatoes including the juice and seeds cut into large chunks
1/2 cup cup olive oil
1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil flakes or 6 leaves of fresh basil
1/2 cup of lite Italian Dressing
1 pound of whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Put olive oil, Italian dressing in a 4-6 quart pot and add chicken and seasonings and saute.  When chicken is almost done add the onion, green pepper, spinach and apples (if you have fresh tomatoes add them now).  Continue sauteing.  If you are using canned tomatoes add them now.  Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

I hope you will forgive the fact that I didn't remember to take pictures of the steps before the sauce was ready to simmer...but here it is simmering on our stove...

When you only have about 10 minutes left of simmering time...boil pasta until el dente and then drain.

Add pasta to sauce in pot.  Toss/stir thoroughly so that all of the pasta is coated with the sauce.  Serve with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled over each portion.

We were very surprised at how well it turned out!  For the was Will who came up with the secret ingredients.  The Granny Smith apples really set off the other flavors nicely!  

Question:  What are some things you do to stay focused on bringing glory to God through the meals we eat?  I would really love to hear about it!

Dancing with my family at the foot of the Cross,

Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

Be sure to check out these other helpful resources...

Raising Homemakers Wednesday Homemaking Link-Up

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace