Thompson’s B&B and Ministry Retreat

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Dave and I have always had a heart for turning our home into a refuge for friends and a retreat for couples in ministry. When we lived in Southern California, we bought our cabin in the mountains for that very purpose, along with using it for my writing retreat. I did more writing there than entertaining when we lived in So Cal, even though we repeatedly invited couples and family to come visit. But now that we’ve moved away, when we go back to the cabin, we’re “booked” solid. Funny how that happens more now that we’re gone then when we lived there. We’re just glad the Lord has allowed us to keep that cabin and use it for His glory.

When we moved to Idaho, our home has a basement apartment perfect for guests. Many friends and family have accepted our open invitation to visit and let us pamper them with food, fun, field trips, and peaceful relaxation.

A special treat has been opening our home to fellow authors/ speakers I know through AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association), or through networking among those of us in the ministry of writing and speaking. Even though we might not know each other well, we know that what we have in common as Christian writers and speakers is enough for us to have a blessed time together.

The adventure for my hubby, Dave, is that he has never met any of the authors and their husbands who come to stay with us. But he knows it’s going to be a great time because we’re fellow Christians and that’s enough to build a friendship and relationship.

I was talking to a friend who is not a believer and explaining how we’ve never spent time with, or in some cases even met, some of the guests coming to our home. She said, “Well you share the same morals and values so you know they’re not going to do you any harm.” I thought to myself, she gets it. Even though she’s not a Christian herself, she understands the camaraderie Dave and I share with fellow Christians and what a testimony this is to her and others.

The First Time

The first time I introduced my husband to the experience of hospitality with people neither of us knew was when we took a trip to Montana. I knew author/speaker Tricia Goyer lived in Montana at the time. So I contacted her online and said we would be visiting her town and suggested we meet for coffee. When we got into town and I called her, she invited us to come to her home for dinner instead of coffee. As we walked up to her front door, Dave said, “You’ve met Tricia before, right?” Chuckling, I said, “No, we’ve never met!” My husband was shocked and replied, “This should be an interesting evening.”

We both had the best time and stayed until almost midnight. After that wonderful experience, he has never hesitated when I say, “Guess who’s coming to stay with us for a few days?”

Opening Our Home to Traveling Friends and Authors

Kathi and Al Macias

Two years ago, author and speaker Kathi Macias and her hubby Al were coming through Idaho, and I invited them to stay with us. I knew Kathi, and had met Al at an AWSA conference where we discovered that we all attended the same high school. I was in the class ahead of them. We had a wonderful time during their visit with us, and Al and Dave quickly became great friends. When we visit our So Cal cabin, which is near the Macias’s home, they come to visit, and Al and Dave have even spent a day on the golf course together.

Bill and Pam Farrel

This past week, Pam and Bill Farrel, who have love-wise marriage ministry together, were speaking in Montana, and I invited them to spend a few days with us in Idaho. You guessed it . . . Dave had never met either of them before, but by now, he already knew it would be a great time. And so it was. The Farrels were coming off a speaking weekend and going home to face a home remodel, and hopeful sale of their home. They were so ready for a break, and that’s what we hope they experienced while here. We enjoyed our first float down the river with them, a mountain walk, and hours on the deck with deep and meaningful conversation, laughs, fellowship, ministry discussions, and again, making new forever friends in Christ.

floatingPam's collage

Recently, a friend from our Couple’s Bible study said, “You really have a lot of company.” We had hosted California friends in December and January, and always savor our times when the grandkids are here for a visit. Dave and I have truly come to know the blessing of the Apostle Paul’s advice: Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:9 NLT. We also have been the blessed recipients of cheerful hospitality from so many of our friends and family when we travel.

Dave and I offer our home and our hearts and invite friends, acquaintances, and fellow ministry workers for Christ to come and experience what we love about God’s beauty in our mountain paradise. Many have taken us up on that offer, and we pray that many more will enjoy what those who have visited call: “The Thompson’s 5 Star Bed and Breakfast.” But don’t worry; we’ll feed you three meals and snacks too!

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

You can read more about how God helped me become more hospitable and balance my Martha with my Mary, in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

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Love Your Body—Go Nuts for Nuts

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

“My mom always has her bag of nuts with her!”

My daughter, Kim, made that comment when my daughter-in-law asked her what she should prepare for my hubby and me when we were coming to visit since she knew we try to eat healthy, raw, and organic. Kim was saying: don’t worry about it. If my mom can’t find enough to eat, she’ll snack on her nut concoction.

cracked walnuts

I’ve always enjoyed a variety of nuts since I was a kid. I remember sitting with my mom shelling walnuts for hours from big bags we would fill from the walnut orchards that used to be so prevalent in Southern California. After their harvest, they let the public come through and glean walnuts. Great memories and great walnuts! My heart breaks as I watch so many of these walnut orchards destroyed to build new houses. I want to scream: “Don’t you know how good those walnuts are for you and how long it took for those trees to grow?” But I don’t think anyone would listen to me.

We always had walnuts. We baked with walnuts and loved just snacking on them. I can remember eating as many as I shelled!

Then as I grew older and was always watching my weight, I started hearing how high in calories nuts were and I treated them like a delicacy…only adding to banana nut bread or an occasional crumb topping or Waldorf salad (apples, celery, and walnuts). But then there was a trend to put nuts in salads and I was all over that. How had we missed all those years how delicious walnuts or pecans are in a salad with strawberries or pears or any array of fruit? Oh and that was something new too. Salads didn’t just need to be veggies and tomatoes—fresh fruit of all kinds is fabulous in a green salad and topped with nuts and raspberry salad dressing, a real treat.

salad

Cancer Changed Everything

So over the years, I enjoyed nuts sparingly and guiltily. But all that changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began researching the best foods for fighting cancer. At the top of the list were nuts! Not just any kind of nuts though: organic and raw were the best because the high roasting temperatures used in roasting nuts can destroy many of the good nutrients and the pesticides sprayed on nonorganic nuts negate much of their nutritional value.

Nuts are little gifts from God, packed with powerful nutrients for not only fighting cancer, but heart disease, high cholesterol, endocrine and inflammatory problemsthe list is endless. Yes, they have calories, but they are such a concentrated source of nutrition, that you don’t have to eat many to gain the benefits. Nuts are good calories. Calories you want to include in your diet while you eliminate wasted calories.

So I make my own “trail mix” with a variety of organic, raw, unsalted, and if possible, sprouted, nuts. I always start with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, and then I might add pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamias, Brazil nuts, or pecans. Sometimes I add dried unsulphured fruit, but usually, it’s just a mixture of nuts, which I take with me everywhere and keep on my desk in my office while I’m writing!

Remember that raw nuts are unprocessed so keep any extras in the refrigerator or freezer. I like to buy raw, organic nuts in bulk and then freeze them. Then I’ll defrost some and make a big batch of my “trail mix” combining a variety of nuts and portion into smaller bags that I keep in the refrigerator and take out one bag at a time to enjoy.

Yes, if you walked into my office today, you would see my bag of nuts . . . in fact I just had a handful while I was writing this. If you looked in my travel bag, yep there would be a bag of nuts. When hubby and I go to town for the day, you guessed it, I have my bag of nuts if I want a snack while we’re shopping or watching soccer games or hanging out with the family.

It doesn’t take many of these powerhouse gifts from God, so a handful or two will do you nicely and probably quench your appetite so you don’t eat so much at the next meal. Think how much better this is for you than a bag of chips or candy bar or even popcorn. Popcorn does not have the nutrients of nuts, but you can add nuts to your popcorn and that’s yummy too.

Check out These Websites

So I’ve researched a couple of websites that I think you will enjoy. The first one, Why You Should Go Nuts for Nuts is one I really like. On the first page, after you read the introduction, hit on “View All” and it will take you to pictures of different nuts. When you hit on the picture, you’ll get a summary of all the health benefits of that particular nut.

And here’s a great article about walnuts, 10 Surprising Facts About Walnuts.

Tips for Going Nuts

  • If you find nuts hard to chew, try grinding them and adding to your recipes or chopping them.
  • Add nuts to your salads, cereal, oatmeal, granola, cereal, vegetables, cookies, cobblers . . . the list is endless.
  • If you can’t go raw nuts, Dr. Oz says in his book, You On a Diet, that it’s OK to cook them at 275 degrees for 9-12 minutes to roast without damaging the good oils and nutrients.
  • If raw organic are too expensive, I would opt for at least raw because roasting at high temperatures damages most of the nutrients. You might wash them off and then do a light roasting, as I mentioned above.
  • If you don’t like a particular nut, no problem. There are so many to choose from.
  • Substitute almond milk for regular milk. Some people like to make their own almond milk and I just discovered how to make walnut milk. Yummy!

What are some ways you’ve found to use nuts?

If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

*Pictures are from the websites listed in the article.

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Celebrate CHRISTmas with a Birthday Party for Jesus!

Christmas tree 2013

Our Christmas Tree

I posted the above picture on my Facebook timeline and received many questions about the Birthday Bag for Jesus in front of the Christmas tree. At our house, that Birthday Bag is a reminder that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.

A Christmas Party with Purpose

The tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday at Christmas started early in our marriage. Since our anniversary is December 19th (22 years this year!), it’s already a packed month for us, but we knew the Lord was prompting us to throw Jesus a party, and so we did. The first year, we invited a few family and friends and had the kids attending act out the manger scene which we set up in our backyard (you can do that in Southern California in December LOL). We had a birthday cake with candles and gave everyone a party favor that represented the true meaning of Christmas.

The highlight of the party was the Birthday Bag. We made “birthday” cards on the computer and gave everyone a card as they came through the front door. The heading on the card had the date, Happy Birthday Jesus, and “This year I give Jesus….” They were advised to think about what they would like to give Jesus as a gift . . . maybe more of their time, or energy, or money . . . and then write it on the card. Perhaps getting involved in a ministry, or spending more time with family and less time at work would be his or her gift.

They could sign the card or leave it anonymous and place it in the birthday bag. On Christmas Eve, our family read the gifts and prayed that each gift giver would stay true to their intent.

An Annual Event

As the years went by, the party grew larger and larger. People heard about it and wanted to come, and those who had attended in previous years started expecting it each year. It also became an outreach as we invited neighbors and unchurched friends. One year, we had someone offer to take pictures of guests in front of the manger scene and then we gave them a printed picture. Our Birthday Party for Jesus became the highlight of many people’s Christmas season.

We have since moved to a rural area, and while we don’t have the Birthday Party, we do have the Birthday Bag under the tree with the “birthday gift cards” and guests to our home are invited to give Jesus their gifts. We also have a manger scene that our grandkids enjoy acting out the first Christmas, and on Christmas Day, we have cupcakes or a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

Our Idaho Manger scene

Our Idaho Manger scene

Below are some tips for throwing your own Birthday Party for Jesus and setting up a simple manger scene in your home.

Throw A Birthday Party for Jesus!

Keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and invite friends and family to help.

For the manger scene:

  •     Buy hay at an animal feed store
  •     Use a barrel, box, large pot, wash basin, basket…for the “bed” and cover it in hay
  •     Wrap a lifelike baby doll in a baby blanket and place on the hay
  •     You can add lights or small artificial Christmas trees
  •     Hang a paper star over the manager
  •     Put stuffed animal sheep and donkeys around the manger

Let the children act out the manger scene and Christmas story.

  •     Shepherds and Joseph: Use large bath towels and cloth ties to wrap on their head,
  •     Wise Men: Drape colorful pieces of material around their heads and adhere with cloth ties.
  •     Mary: Take an old sheet, cut a hole to go over her head, and cinch at waist with a tie. Drape another piece of sheet over her hair.
  •     Angel: Again a white sheet works great with gold ties.
  •     Have enough towels, ties, and pieces of material for every child who wants to participate.
  •     Have someone read the story from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20 as the children act it out.
  •     Sing several Christmas carols the children will know.

Here is a short video of my grandchildren acting out the first Christmas. As we started having grandkids, I bought Christmas costumes for them. I highly recommend Little Adventures Nativity Costumes…they’ve lasted well through all my grandkids!

Keep Food simple!

Serve finger foods so you don’t need silverware (use plastic if you do use it). If people want to bring something simply say “Sweet or sour finger food please.” That way you get a variety.

  •     Can also purchase a 5-6 ft Subway sandwich
  •     Birthday Paper plates, cups, and napkins
  •     Punch and hot cider, hot chocolate, and coffee
  •     Put candles in cupcakes or have a decorated birthday cake

Invitations, Favors and Birthday Cards for Jesus

  • Use Birthday invitations or make your own on Christmas stationary, and mail or  send out online. Be sure to give your kids a stack to give to their friends.
  • I found Christian, inexpensive party favors at Oriental Trading Company or you can check at a party store or Christianbook.com. Be sure the favors relate to the theme of the party. One year we gave everyone a small battery operated “flame” with the theme of the light of the world being born on Christmas.
  • For the Birthday Cards to give a gift to Jesus, design them on the computer and then print four to a page on cardstock. Or use Christmas stationary or we’ve even found birthday cards with four to a page and we can print “Happy Birthday Jesus! My gift to you this year is:” and the guests write out their gift to Jesus. Be creative!

IMG_0413Gift to Jesus Birthday Cards

  • Decorate with birthday balloons and I found a flag to fly in front of our home.

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The most important thing about the party is to remember the Guest of Honor. Have a joyous fun time doing everything to the glory of God. Be ready because your guests are going to want you to do this again next year too!

Many people tell me they did similar things when their children were little, but we never grow too old to have a birthday party, right! I would love to hear about your Birthday Party for Jesus or creative ideas for the party. Please share in the comments for everyone to enjoy.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

 

 

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Sunny California Day


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of doing a book signing on Balboa Peninsula which is just a couple blocks from the beach. It was such a beautiful day in February that the bookstore set me up out on the sidewalk to talk to people as they strolled by walking dogs and pushing baby carriages. My best friend joined me and here is a picture of us together.

The motorcycle in the back pulled up while we were sitting there and a young man and his little grey haired mother got off the bike. It was not a common site and I made the comment to her that a mother’s got to do what she’s got to do to spend time with her son. And she said “You’ve got it absolutely right!” My friend then said that she hoped when her son was that age he would be driving her around in a convertible but she would still be wearing a crash helmet too!

It was a fun day people watching and signing a few books. Enjoy

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