Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

It may sound funny, but blogging has helped improve my eating habits! When I link up my blog posts, I visit others who have also linked up, allowing me to find great healthy recipes like this one for Summer Veggie Slices from W.O.W. (Warm Over Wednesday). Not only does it taste great, it also looks great, making it an ideal side dish on those nights when you have guests for dinner. Best of all, it's easy!

  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 slices muenster or provolone cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
The only drawback I found with this recipe is that it took forever for the potatoes to get tender. Total baking time was suggested to be 45-50 minutes. Mine was in for 1 1/2 hours and the potatoes still weren't as tender as I liked, although the original baking time was fine for the other veggies. I spoke with a few other people who had tried this dish and they had the same problem.

My (untried) solution is to put the potatoes in the oven first, while you're preparing the other veggies, to give them a head start.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Spray an 8x8 baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray

Thinly slice the potato. Layer it flat in the baking pan and place in the warming oven.

Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic if you're using cloves. Spray a skillet with olive oil and saute the garlic and onions about 5 minutes, or until softened.

Thinly slice the remaining vegetables. Remove pan with potatoes from the oven and temporarily place the potatoes on a cutting board or in a bowl.

Once again spray the pan with olive oil, then spread the tender garlic and onion across the bottom of the pan. Place the vegetable slices, including the potatoes, in the pan vertically in an alternating pattern. (Since my tomato slices were so much larger than the others, I used 1/2 or 1/4 slice instead.)

(I thought it would be a good idea to place my extra veggies around the edge of the pan. It wasn't. The veggies at the end of the stacks were fine, but those I tucked along the other two sides came out inedible and seemingly permanently adhered to the glass.) 

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.

Cover the dish with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and lay the cheese slices over the veggies. The original recipe called for shredded cheese, but I prefer the slices because I think they give more even coverage.

Return to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

Do you think giving the potatoes a head start will help, or do you have another suggestion?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


I've been known to link up with: Monday's Reflections, Inspire Me MondayLiving Proverbs 31, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Soli Deo GloriaUnite, Titus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me Tuesdays, Tutorials and Tips, Knick of Time, A Little R&R Wednesdays, Hope in Every Season, Doing You Well Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Think Tank Thursdays, Thrive at Home, Inspire Me PleaseHome Sweet Home Funky Junk Interiors, Friendship Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Frugal Friday, Thrifty Things Friday,  #Fellowship Fridays, Heart-Filled Fridays,  Best Blog Post Ever, Make My Saturday Sweet, What Have You Redone, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays,

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments

Tips for Tuesday

With all the busyness I have organizing a mission trip to Kenya; a wise friend suggested I make some time for myself. (Okay, so I was freaking out a bit under all the pressure.) Her sage advice, combined with an interview with author Randy Singer on the radio program Chris Fabry Live and an unclaimed gift card abandoned by my son all converged to bring me to purchase "The Advocate."

I have to tell you, "The Advocate" was the perfect book for me; I absolutely loved it! It's a work of historical fiction based on fact that takes place during the Roman Empire. It was also great timing, because when I started reading "The Advocate" I had just finished reading the book of Acts in my Bible reading plan. 

I don't think you have to be a Christian or even familiar with the Bible to enjoy this book; it would be a great read for any history buff. While it does accurately recount Scripture as far as it's included, the majority of the book details life in the Roman Empire, its provinces and those who rule them.

In the Bible, Luke is the author of the books of Luke and Acts, both of which were initially written as letters addressed to a man named Theopolis. The salutation used in the book of Luke, "most excellent Theopolis," indicates Luke is addressing someone of high rank in the Hellenistic culture of that day.

In case you're not familiar with the book of Acts, it ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome, waiting for his trial under Nero. 

"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!" ~ Acts 28:30-31. 

Wouldn't you agree that's a strange way to end a book? Why didn't they at least include the outcome of the trial?

"The Advocate" is written under the premise that Theopolis is Paul's attorney in Rome, and that the books of Luke and Acts were addressed to him upon his request for the background necessary to defend Paul at his trial.

The book begins with Theopolis in class with his contemporary Caligula; already self-absorbed and showing signs of the evil Emperor he would one day become. After an encounter with Caligula, Theopolis goes off to Greece to study to become a lawyer, or as they would say, an advocate. His first assignment upon returning? Serving three years as the assessore, that is, the chief legal advisor for a prefect "in a province where a strong-willed people hated him (the prefect) with barely restrained passion." That province was Judea and that prefect was Pontius Pilate.

Because of his position, Theopolis became an eye-witness to some of the events that took place during Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem; many years later he would even base a defense strategy on a method used by Jesus Himself. After His arrest, Theopolis was the one who suggested Pilate offer to release Barabbas, certain that Jesus would be the one chosen to be freed. The knowledge that his advice cost an innocent man his life would haunt Theopolis the remainder of his days.

Singer seamlessly weaves fact with fiction in this account, giving us insight into the Roman culture and answering the questions where Scripture is silent, such as:

What did Jesus write in the sand when the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him?

Why was Pilate's wife so adamant that Jesus be released?

What made Pilate fear the Jew's threats to complain to Caesar?

The book reveals there was a lifetime between the trials of Jesus and Paul. While serving Pilate was Theopolis' first assignment, defending Paul was his last. In between are the details of a very full life lived in the Roman Empire, complete with emperors, gladiators and vestal virgins. 

As a student of the Bible, I appreciate "The Advocate" because it reintegrates the history of Rome and the history of the Bible, placing the stories of Scripture into the context of world history. The events of the Bible make more sense now that I have a better understanding of the culture enveloping them. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of this book!


As always, all opinions are strictly my own and I did not receive anything in exchange for this endorsement.

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments

The most challenging home to visit on our third trip to Kenya was a small apartment within a large complex. Our destination was at least a quarter mile from the main road and in between it and us lay a veritable obstacle course. Which we walked. At night. Just after a heavy rain. (Kenya is located right on the equator and the sun sets about 6:30 each night. There are no streetlights, so when it's dark, it's DARK!)

After walking single file across a swaying bridge we made our way toward a steep slope. As the pouring rain met with the clay earth it had formed a slick sludge that now clung to my shoes. Despite my efforts to side step gingerly down the embankment, my slippery tennis shoes caused me to pick up speed at an alarming rate.

Suddenly I found myself in the dark, in the mud, barreling downhill at breakneck speed. The thought, "This is not going to end well," flashed through my mind. Fortunately for me our Kenyan host for the evening, familiar with the jaunt between the road and his home, saw my dilemma and took action. Actually, he didn't take action. Rather, he planted himself directly in my path, spread out his arms and prepared for impact. 

While I felt foolish having a high-speed collision with a relative stranger it definitely beat the alternative, which was being planted in the mud face-first. There were no other options.

Alas, just another day in Kenya. 

Recently, West Michigan was rocked by the arrest of a popular Christian radio DJ on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and his alleged confession of assaulting an 11-year-old boy. Things like this don't happen in a vacuum, as later evidenced by the shocking discovery of very disturbing items in his storage unit.

The list of those wounded by this event is numerous; the victim and his family, the DJ's step-son and bride of 7 weeks, their family members, his co-workers, the listeners. The list goes on and on.

The question, "How does something like this happen?" reverberates throughout our community.

I believe the answer is, "One step at a time."

"Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is drawn away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death." ~ James 1:14-15

Photo courtesy of rrenomeron and flickr

There is a reason why sin is often referred to as a "slippery slope."  Just as I had no intention of barreling down that hill, no one sets out to commit full-grown sin. Rather we justify taking one small step, believing the lies coming from the pit of hell that say "it doesn't really matter," and "it won't hurt anyone." 

Satan is the master of deception, convincing us it's possible to just take one little step and remain in control. The truth is, each step sends us further out of control and makes every subsequent step that much easier to take.

Just ask David.

It really DOES matter

I'm trying to get ahead in my Bible reading plan since we'll be leaving for Kenya soon, which led me to read about David this morning. If we look closely at the account in 2 Samuel 11 we can see the small steps that led David to big sin.

Step 1: In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war...David remained in Jerusalem. (:1) David's first misstep seems innocent enough - failing to do the work God called him to - but this was the first step towards his downfall.

Step 2: Failing to work led to idleness, putting David directly in sin's path. David...walked around on the roof [and] saw a woman bathing. (:2)

Step 3: Rather than turning his head, David stared long enough to see she was very beautiful. (:3)

Step 4: Instead of leaving it at that, David sent someone to find out about her.

Step 5: After being informed that this was Bathsheba, daughter of one of his mighty fighting men and wife of another, David sent messengers to get her...and he slept with her. (:4)

And that may be the last David thought if it, at least it was until he received word from Bathsheba saying "I am pregnant" (:5) with what was undeniably David's child. Then he went into panic mode, desperately trying to cover up his sin.

Step 5: David sent word to the commander of his army, ordering that he "send Uriah the Hittite [Bathsheba's husband]." (:6) 

Step 6: Following some idle chit-chat about how the war was going (:7) David then sent Uriah home to take it easy (:8). This included, presumably, sleeping with his wife. But Uriah was a man of honor, saying when he was questioned the next day, "How could I go to my house...and lie with my wife" while my fellow soldiers are camped in the open fields? (:11)

Step 7: Rather than leaving it there, David invites Uriah to "stay here one more day" (:12), giving him time to come up with another plan.

Step 8: This time, David attempts to lower Uriah's inhibitions by "making him drunk" (:13) but still, Uriah refused to go home to his wife.

Step 9: Ultimately David resorted to sending Uriah back to the battle front, carrying his own death warrant! "In the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab [his commanding officer] and sent it with Uriah. (:14) In it he wrote "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is the fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die." (:15)

David would have never stood on his roof and plotted the death of one of his finest warriors; yet in just nine steps, there he was! 

How many of those steps seem innocent to you? 

How many of those steps (or the equivalent) have you actually taken?  

All it takes is one step in the wrong direction - entertaining a thought, telling one little lie, picking up a magazine, a click on the internet, a glance at the television - and before you know it, you find yourself tangled in something far worse than you could have ever imagined. 

David may have thought he had gotten away with it, successfully covering his sinful tracks, but nothing misses God's attention. Nearly a year later, after the birth of his son, God sends Nathan to confront David of his sin. To his credit, he doesn't deny it but confesses, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin." (2 Samuel 12:13)

Did you catch that? Immediately after David confesses his sin, "Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin." But even though God had forgiven him, David still had to live with the consequences of his actions.


- Nathan prophesied, "the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite." (2 Samuel 12:10)

- Then "the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David" (2 Samuel 12:15)

- David's son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. "When David heard all this, he was furious," (2 Samuel 13:21) yet he did not confront Amnon. Could this be because he was afraid Amnon would bring up Bathsheba?

- Because David didn't act, Tamar's brother Absalom took matters into his own hands and had Amnon killed, (2 Samuel 13:28) not unlike the way David ordered Uriah's death.

- David refused to speak to Absalom and after years of silence Absalom attempted to overthrow David as king, assisted by David's own counselor, Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Samuel 15:12). In the list of David's mighty men found in 2 Samuel 34, Ahithophel is listed as Eliam's father (:34). In 2 Samuel 11:3 we're told Bathsheba's father is Eliam. If these two Eliam's are the same person, it would explain why one of David's trusted advisors would assist his son in a coup.

And on and on it goes. David lived with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, forever connected to his sin:

"For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.(1 Kings 15:5)

David's sin followed him all the way into the New Testament where it's mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. "David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife." (Matthew 1:6)

But then, something interesting happens. Although the name "David" is mentioned 59 times in the New Testament, it is never again connected with his sin against Uriah. 


Because now it's connected to Jesus.

You see, when Jesus died on the cross He took on the sins of the world.

David's sins.

Your sins.

My sins. 

That means that once we confess our sins, God no longer associates them with us. "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12 

So where do you find yourself today?

Have you taken a step or two in the wrong direction? 

     - Confess to God and ask Him to open your eyes to the magnitude of your sin.

     - Praise Him for removing that sin from your life and make a U-turn back to Him.

Do you feel like you're barreling out of control towards disaster?

      - Reach out to God. Ask Him for forgiveness and invite Him to do whatever is 
        necessary to get you off that path. 

      - Find someone you can trust to plant themselves between you and calamity.

Are you still hung up on a past sin that God no longer associates with you?

     - Lay your sin at the feet of Jesus; 

     - Let it go; 

     - Don't pick it back up!

    - Remember that once Jesus has taken your sin upon Himself, God no longer 
       attaches it to you. 

Father, we praise you for the gift of forgiveness you have given us through your Son Jesus. Forgive us for condemning the sins of others while ignoring our own.  Free us from the burden of sin already confessed and forgiven so that we may live in the freedom you so graciously provide.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 22 comments

Dude is into construction vehicles big-time these days and as a result I know far more about front-end loaders, excavators, grapple trucks and the like than I ever thought possible. (Honestly, before Dude came along I hardly knew what any of those even were!) Since this is his current passion, my handy husband Bob decided what Dude needed for his third birthday was a dump truck bed!

It's reported that when Michaelangelo was asked how he made his statue of David so lifelike he said, "It is easy. I just cut away anything that didn't look like David." In making the dump truck bed Bob did just the opposite - only putting on what looked like it belonged on a dump truck. Therefore, there is no pattern for me to share with you. However, you can see the truck in its stages and get a good idea of how to construct it if you're familiar with this type of thing.

The bed is primarily built out of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard - and yes, I had to ask what that is) with 1" x 3" maple around the top edge of the "bed" of the truck for durability.

It's always good to plan ahead! Bob built the bed in pieces so he'd be able to fit it into his truck and get it into Dude's bedroom.

Early in the afternoon Bob (aka "Papa") said he'd bring the bed over after dinner. Dude thought a minute and said, "Can we have dinner now?" It was a long afternoon for two little boys waiting for a special delivery!

Bob put the frame on wheels so the bed can be moved easily once it's set up. A crib-sized mattress will sit on top. Below is plenty of room for storage (or, let's be realistic - playing!) 

Dude practices getting on board by grabbing the handle and putting his foot in the toehold just like Papa taught him.

Despite all the planning and much effort on the parts of Papa and Uncle Steve, the corner was a little too tight so a bit more disassembly had to take place in order to get the bed to its final destination.

The sides were built high enough so that even with the mattress in the truck bed there's no way Dude can accidentally fall out. (Now jumping, that's another matter entirely, not that my grandsons would ever do such a thing!)

Still in the process of assembly but the boys are ready to take it for a test drive! Good call on my part to install TWO steering wheels, for obvious reasons :) The wheels spin too, and the boys like turning them just because.

Inside the cab, the ceiling is reinforced just in case for when the boys get the idea of climbing on top and jumping onto the mattress. There is a handle to assist with the step up into the cab. The driver's seat also serves as a step up to the mattress, so a second handle was placed there. 

This is the best view of the front of the truck/bed. Bob used reflectors as lights.

Looking in from the back you can see more reflectors and all the space for Dude to store his toys (theoretically.) Mama did her part by going online and finding these cool construction sheets.

Construction jammies are on and Dude is ready to take his new dump truck bed for a spin! Do you think Dude likes his Papa, maybe just a little bit?

Next year, Bubba turns three, so of course there will be another bed in the works. His passion is dinosaurs; only time will tell what Papa comes up with for that!


I've been known to link up with: Monday's Reflections, Inspire Me MondayLiving Proverbs 31, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Soli Deo GloriaUnite, Titus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me Tuesdays, Tutorials and Tips, Knick of Time, A Little R&R Wednesdays, Hope in Every Season, Doing You Well Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Think Tank Thursdays, Thrive at Home, Inspire Me PleaseHome Sweet Home Funky Junk Interiors, Friendship Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Frugal Friday, Thrifty Things Friday,  #Fellowship Fridays, Heart-Filled Fridays,  Best Blog Post Ever, Make My Saturday Sweet, What Have You Redone, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays,

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