Friday, March 30, 2012

The Million Dollar Question

Seems like all I see and read today surrounds the monumental, historical Mega Millions jackpot currently sitting at a whopping $640 million with a cash option of $462 million.

"What would you do with the money?" or some variation of that question is all over facebook and twitter.  The answers are pretty much typical.  Pay off this, buy my dream that.  Help out my friend's dog.  You know, all that meaningless drivel.

Can you tell I don't play?  It's not that I don't like to dream.  I just prefer my dreams to be free.  But what I think would be so radically cool, if the winner were to say, "God has supplied all my needs beyond anything I can ask or imagine, I am giving the whole amount (minus the exorbitant taxes) to my church."  In Malachi it says, "Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

I believe that I would rather have those "floodgates of blessings" from the ONE who owns it ALL, rather than some measly millions.  But hey that's just me.

And for the record, my pat answer to the question above - BUY GAS!  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Esther's Crockpot Adventures - Jack Daniel's Bread Pudding

What do you do with leftover hot dog and hamburger buns?  I have found that turning them into bread pudding is one of the best uses for these leftovers.  They are too cheap to put in the freezer and take up to much space. I would rather fill my freezer with inexpensive meats.  A couple weeks ago we had the soccer team over after a tournament and I found myself with 2 bags of uneaten hot dog buns.  Today's temp is a balmy 95 so I would rather not turn on the oven.  And yet I need to use up these buns.  So I am trying my favorite recipe in the crockpot.

Recipe: Jack Daniel's Bread Pudding

6-7 cups of torn hot dog or hamburger buns (let stale overnight if possible.  A couple hours is fine too.)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)

4 eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla (
2 tsp Cinnamon (

Spray crock with non stick cooking spray.  Add stale buns, raisins and almonds.  For a Jack Daniel's infused flavoring, soak the raisins in some Jack Daniels while the bread is drying out.  My kids don't like it but my husband and I love it!  Mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. (This is one of those times I really swear Penzeys makes this better!) Add the egg mixture in with the bread and gently stir through the bread until it is mostly absorbed.  Cook on low for 3 hours.* When a knife comes out clean top with Jack Daniel's sauce.

*A word about cooking bread in slow cookers. Do not open the lid to check on the progress.  This will add lots of time to your cooking.  Learned this the hard way so trust me.  Let 3 hours lapse then do knife check.

Jack Daniel's Sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt
1/4 cup Jack Daniels (or rum, amaretto)

In a saucepan melt butter and brown sugar and salt.  Over low heat gradually add whipping cream.  Once this is nice and thick add Jack Daniels. Bring to a boil, but be careful it doesn't bubble over. After a minute turn off heat and let stand.  Pour this over bread pudding in crock.  Delicious.  Serve warm with cool whip.

Rating: This one easily gets 5 stars!

Source: The inspiration for this recipe came from Eastside Marios Restaurant. This is just my favorite restaurant. I always have to save room for their delightful Jack Daniel's bread pudding.  A few years ago I started to perfect this recipe at home.  Now I have transitioned this one successfully to the crockpot. This makes me happy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Rodens! This year we are moving into the 21st century and moving our annual update to the blog-o-sphere. This way we can go on and on in crazy details about our hectic life. Nah, we are just a bunch of tree huggers that don't want to waste paper. Well, that's not exactly true either. Let's just chalk it up to easier and leave it at that.

Ed's update:
This Christmas is already much different than last year. Last year we were halfway around the world and wearing shorts. It was an amazing trip, teaching Indian pastors how to study the Word of God, and traveling around India and Dubai. Christmas dinner was a curry fish with an Indian dessert. Delicious, but definitely different. But we missed snow and Christmas trees and carols. Since we were gone there were no lights and no trees at the Roden residence. This year the tree is up, lights are twinkling, Christmas cards are going out, and we're trying to take it easy and enjoy each other and our friends through this season. And we're still on the crazy ride that God has us on.
I'm still at McGraw-Hill, and work has been work...reorgs and server issues and all-nighters and all the usual that goes with IT.
I enjoyed opening weekend of trout season with 3 friends on the Au Sable river - beautiful weather, some great fish, and unbelievable fellowship! Most of the summer was spent bass fishing from my birthday kayak, and lots of fish, including a monster 20" bass. Rachel in particular enjoyed being out in the boat with me.
Fall meant soccer season, and both Josh and I moved up to the varsity team. With Josh's knee injury, he ended up coaching more than playing. Fall also brought a family trip to Montana and a cabin on the Madison River (Esther knows how to spoil me), not far from Yellowstone. My dad joined us for a few of the days, and we enjoyed some beautiful weather, but frustrating fishing.
Esther's last minute trip to India in November found me as Mr. Mom with a very different schedule while she ministered there. And now it is Christmas time again, with snow and mistletoe, and musings on the incarnation of Jesus Christ - giving us a gift we can never repay.

Esther's update:
Wow! What a year. Every year I say it seems life gets more and more hectic, and this year is no different. So as Ed already told you we began our saga 8000 miles away. What a really amazing journey we had. While our Christmas was so different, it will be one that we will never forget. It will also make us appreciate more of what we have. Once home we eased back into our routine. Yeah, right! Having two teenagers in the house makes for a very delicate balancing act. Mostly, it involves driving around. A LOT!
This year I took up a new hobby - Couponing! Yes, you have seen some of those extreme coupon shoppers on the news. Or maybe you have found yourself behind one of them in the line at the grocery store. Yup, I am one of THOSE! But the good news is - we have enough shampoo and toothpaste in the house for a year - and I didn't spend a dime! FREE is my favorite four letter word and I took it to a new level this year.
We made a ministry transition in the fall to the Lake Orion campus of Woodside Bible Church. We are excited about how God may use us at this campus. This also opened the door to work with a group of women that went to India. I was meeting with them and helping prepare them for their trip to India. Little did I know that God had me in mind for that trip. 5 weeks before departure, I was asked to fill in for another woman who had to back out unexpectedly. After a crash prayer session and many answers to prayer, I sent off for another visa. And on November 11th I was off for another Indian adventure. You can read all about it on this blog. It was definitely a different trip from our family trip, but it was an amazing God filled time.
This Christmas I just crave one thing - SIMPLE. We have said "no" to a lot of good things in an effort to keep this December uncluttered and focused on how the birth of a Baby changed it all. I pray that you will also have a chance to focus on the real reason for the season.

Joshua's update:
Two words pretty much describe my life this year: soccer and school. This year I officially became a public school student. Well, I still do all my work at home. And mom is still my main teacher, but I am enrolled in a public charter school academy that is virtual. I like it for the most part, as much as a teenage boy can really "like" school.
This year I had a first in soccer - an injury. Yup - dad gave me his bad knees. In May I dislocated my kneecap. The rest of the month was spent in PT. I was able to finish out my season and try out for a different soccer league. I spent the summer being an assistant coach for our church's OnGoal soccer program. I enjoyed this so much. The fall soccer program began in August and I made it three whole weeks before I dislocated my knee for the second time. Only this time I was benched for the rest of the season. October found me in the operating room repairing the tendon in my knee. I am currently recovering quickly and I am glad that I didn't wait to have the surgery. I have another month of PT and then I will begin a training program that should see me return to the soccer field stronger and faster.
Oh yeah, I forgot one little thing - I have a girlfriend. Yup, her name is Kimberlee and she is wonderful. Who knew? Girls don't have cooties!

Hannah's update:
This past year God has really taught me that I am one person that He can use in His great plan of rescue! He has shown me that you might be a long way from home, but you need to trust in Him for what you need. We went to India last winter and that really opened my eyes. It was hard to be away from my home and my friends, but it was a chance to see other parts of God's creation. India brought me a lot closer to God and made me want to learn more and more about Him.
Over the summer I had a chance to return to Angel House - a mission field just miles down the road. This place is located among the largest Muslim population in the U.S. It was weird to experience such similar circumstances as we did in a Muslim country (we stopped in Dubai before India). It was fun to see a lot of familiar faces.
In the fall our Wednesday night program called Oasis started up again. This has really been making an impact in my life. We have been talking on a series called "Rescue IS Coming". It covers everything from the beginning of creation all the way to the end of time. It is sad to see the perfect world that God created a long time ago, and look at it now and see that is so... Not that.
Also in the fall, I joined in a homeschool group for choir. I have really enjoyed all the music I have been learning.
That pretty much wraps up my year!
Mom edit - I wish it were this simple. I spend many hours each week keeping Hannah socialized!

Rachel's Update:
My mom tells me that I am the easy child. Insert evil laugh! I am definitely the tag-along child. I get to go to ALL my brother's soccer games and my mom drags me to the store to coupon shop. Ugh! But this last spring I joined the city soccer team. I loved it! I spent all my time in the back field talking to my new friend Teddy. Sometimes I even kicked the soccer ball. I also finished up dance in the spring.
My summer was filled with summer camp and soccer camp. Oh, and fishing and kayaking with dad.
This fall I ditched dance to take up guitar. So far so good. I have my first concert coming up. I am a little nervous about performing, but I really enjoy learning this instrument.

From the Roden Household: May you find Joy and Peace this Christmastime and all through 2011. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 8 - Ending on a High Note

Big day today! We woke early and got an early start. Today was the convention. It started out rainy. Sadly, rain closes the city. There are no street sewers to collect the runoff and streets flood very quickly. Getting around becomes very difficult. We really didn't know what to expect for a turnout. All we knew was that there was a pre-registration number of 800. We all quickly took up posts around the registration tables. And slowly they came. As the 10 o' clock hour drew near more and more came. When all was said and done there were over 1000 women.
And so it began. The next three hours were spent in worship and in Word. Carolyn Ciocan delivered the message. Mano also delivered a message. The whole team sat on the stage with the stage lights shining in our face. To look at Mano was very difficult as it required staring directly into the lights. Combine that with a different language and it was the perfect sleepy medicine. Only 1000 women were watching. It seems that all of us struggled at some point keeping the peepers open. Sorry Mano! It wasn't you, really! The band played for us as we performed our prepared music. Only it seemed that all the music here, while recognizable has a polka kind of beat. It was just funny. Still endearing and just one of those Indian things.

After the conference concluded lunch was served to all the attendees. I don't know what we were expecting, but it was a scene to behold. The registrants were all given tickets for lunch. The registration tables became serving tables. Each lunch was individually packaged. But watching these women scramble for the available lunches was just crazy. They were 7 and 8 deep surrounding every table. You would have thought we were giving out thousands of dollars not chicken and rice. Part of the funds that we raised for this trip went to providing this meal. As I looked on in absolute fascination, I couldn't help but think of the words of Christ, "If you love me, feed my sheep."

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Our ministry for this trip had concluded. And the adrenaline that propelled us forward was now depleted. We headed back to the hotel. I don't remember our van ever being that quiet. It was certainly a time of reflection and pondering. But even though we were done, Mano's staff just kept at it. The ladies came to the hotel and brought henna paint. They proceeded to decorate all of us. Just one more of those Indian experiences that we can take home. There were four of us interested in getting tea. The problem was no transportation. No problem! There are Rickshaws. Yes, this was my suggestion. I wanted to try this. I guess I just have a propensity to live life on the edge. Chalk up another adventure. I could stick my hand out of the rickshaw and touch the city bus. CRAZY! But I never once felt unsafe. The power of the Holy Spirit.

Once back at the hotel we finished up our packing and weighing of bags. Off to the airport. The airport was a trip. Talk about throwback to the eighties. Nothing was digital, the signs flipped for current boarding. No western toilets here, only squatty potties. We have outhouses cleaner than this place. Our flight was over an hour delayed. Huge bummer. We all had home on the mind. Finally, the waiting ended and we boarded. Could it be only 8 days ago we arrived? It seems as if time has stood still. It seems an age ago when we arrived. Eleven individuals, now unified by our time together here in this place. We will never be the same. Praise be to God.

One final thought: I am leaving this utter most part of the earth. A desperate land in need of hope. And in a few hours I will land in my own Jerusalem. And while everyday life looks so different, the reality is my Jerusalem is in desperate need for hope. We don't need more religions or gods, we need more encounters with Christ. And the song that began the trip rings just as loud today.

I wanna be Your hands & feet.
I wanna be Your voice every time I speak.
I wanna run to the ones in need, in the name of Jesus.
I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdom's sake.
Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus.
In the name of Jesus.

~Esther Roden

On behalf of the team we would like to extend special thank yous. To Mano and Sheila - thank you for sharing your ministry with us. For the staff at FPTL, Merci, Merci Rebecca, Mary Ann, Hannah, Stephen, Mr. Ross, Martin and sweet Miltyboy! Your love to us made us feel safe and comfortable in your city. To our supporters - know that you helped feed sheep, administer medicine, and sow seeds. Your reward is waiting in heaven. To Woodside Bible Church - thank you for taking the command of the Great Commission very serious. Thank you for letting us- in such a small way - partake in it. ~Women's India 2010 TEAM.

Day 7 - Moving On

How do you move on after yesterday's emotional day? Without a doubt it moved us all. It was a defining point in our trip. A day that will be imprinted into our memory banks and forever give a a new lens to view the world. There seems to be an appropriate song for everything, but the lyrics that come to mind are, "keep me from just singing and move me into action." Our hope is that somehow, someway we can take these visions home with us and share them in the hopes of bringing some kind of change. What that all looks like remains a mystery, but I don't think God revealed all that so we could come back unchanged.

Thankfully, today was a lighter ministry day. In fact we were ministered to more than we ministered to others. This morning was staff devotions with the FPTL. They fast each Friday morning and pray. And when I say pray, I mean pray! They have hundreds if not thousands of requests from around the world. They split up in small groups and cover all of them. They lay hands on a map of India over the different regions and pray for the pastors there. The persecution they suffer. And that the Gospel of Christ will penetrate further and further into the hearts of the people. We had a time of singing and sharing from God's Word.

Up next was lunch and shopping. I know it seems like we did a lot of shopping but really it was a shop here and a store there. Nothing major.

Our final destination was the AFRA orphanage. While we loved the orphanage, all would agree that we needed a lot more time with the kids. It was over an hour away and we had all of 45 minutes with the kids. We would have preferred a few hours. The kids here were older and spoke English. It would have been great to talk and get to know them. In our brief time we sang with them, played a few games and left all the crafts and snacks for them to enjoy another time. Another hour in the van put most of us over the edge. We were so sick of driving in this city. It is so congested. Many are starting to have tummy issues.

Just a quick note about Prasad our driver. We were suppose to head to his house today and meet his wife and family. But sadly, we couldn't fit it into our busy schedule. I know that he was bummed. While he tried not to show it, he became very quiet. Tomorrow is one more day to minister to this man.

Just a quick note about pictures. One of the reasons that not many pictures are up is because we don't have the necessary cables for all the camera types to download everyone's pictures. The new media specialist on staff with FPTL has been taking hundreds of photos but we won't see them until we get home. He is cutting us all CD's of the week. So we will get those pictures up upon our return. I know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Experiencing it all is priceless.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Find other blog entries

You can find day 3 and 4 and 5 at the following links. I wrote them so I didn't rewrite for this blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Hell...then Hope

We started off today with another medical clinic. Only, I will be honest I think that the Monday clinic was just a dry run for us. The minute we stepped out of the van it smelled as if we had landed in the middle of the sewer in a third world country. As the waves of nausea rolled over me, I sent a quick prayer to heaven for my olfactory senses to be taken away. Once they adjusted we walked over the makeshift tent that we were to do this clinic in. Looking around was a sight to behold. It was gross, disgusting, and every kind of nastiness you could even imagine. The fishermen's wharf yesterday looked like palaces to this place. Even our Hindu driver would not take us down the slum alley opting to drop off us in the main street and having us walk. We were pretty clueless as to the danger that we were in. But where we ministered at today is known as the underworld. Frequent murders, drugs and every form of filth. Even the police don't enter this area.

The pastor of this slum organized the people and one by one they came for meds. A bit more about deworming, today we learned that people here need to be dewormed every 6 months. If they do not the worms will travel into their lungs and eventually kill them. We saw Hepatitis patients. Anemia is quite common here as the dietary deficiencies are overwhelming. Diabetes, scabies, impetigo all common. It was all truly heartbreaking. Where is the hope? One woman was picking the lice out of her sisters beautiful mane of hair and throwing it to the ground. Yes, just like you would see the primates doing at the zoo.

After seeing about 50 patients we walked through this area just praying. We would stop and pray at one believer's house and then move on to another. When I say house, I really mean a 5 x 5 box of a room if that. The longer we prayed the more nervous our handlers became. We walked through feces and urine running in the street. One woman tried to hand her baby to us in the hopes of a better life for the infant. Desperation, Despair, Depravity. I am so glad my sunglasses were on as the tears just poured from my face. Why God? This is so terrible. This isn't living it is mere survival. How did you choose these people to face this rather than me? What is so special that I could be born in total affluence compared to this? How can I bring change?

As we came back to the hotel all these questions kept circulating. Once I got to my room I just wept over my bed. It just wasn't fair. And in a still moment, the Holy Spirit spoke, "Why do you think the conditions were so different today, than a day 2000 years ago when Jesus entered the world? This Word brought a whole fresh round of tears because the reality is, it probably was not a lot different. They had no toilets and there was animal feces all around. And yet the Creator of the Universe came to a dirty, crowded, disease filled land to save humanity. Yes, my Bethlehem story looks very different now. Gone are the clean stables and purified versions that we have made it.

I have to admit at this point I was so broken I had nothing left. My cup was empty. And we still had one more stop. We were doing pastoral home visits for the slum pastors. Honestly, it was like I was in the Christmas Carol nightmares. "Lord, no more. Please, I can't take anymore." And with that small whisper He said, "No, you have to see this." This time our van pulled up in a different alley. Still bad just not as wretched as the other. Our group split up half one way, half another. And one by one we entered shacks and prayed for the Christian. People who love the Lord. An area were God has planted 4 different churches and they are growing daily. People turning their lives over and being rescued from drug abuse and alcohol addiction. People who were content, yet active prayer warriors. We ended at the pastor's house. Here we talked about his ministry. The joy on his face as he talked about what God was doing took my breath away. All the while our van driver sat on the porch and listened to us pray over him.

I want to introduce you to Prasaad. He is our driver for the week. He let us know early on that he was strong Hindu. We never said anything about conversion, but we entered into lots of dialogue. He started out very reserved and quiet and now he is a regular chatty Cathy. He is relishing his job as tour guide. He speaks very good English and even has a sense of humor. We have laughed and joked with him and he is loving the attention of 11 women. But today was different. When the 5 in my group finished up and went back to the van, he said, "you guys sure like to pray a lot!" And we simply said, "That is why we came." He then became quite serious as he asked us if we would come to his house tomorrow and meet his wife and child. I have no idea what his house is like but he saw what kind of houses we headed into today so he figured we wouldn't be too shocked. We looked over our schedule for tomorrow. We had a site seeing event that we quickly scraped and slotted a home visit in. Only this home visit is very special. Please pray for this man and his family. That the Holy Spirit would open his eyes to the joy of Salvation.

As we headed back to the hotel for the night, there was a song in my heart. "You ARE God of this City!" And He is. He is doing a work here in the midst of utter despair and darkness. He needed to show us the Light that is flickering to encourage our hearts. HOPE! That is what He brings. And my heart is full. My cup is restored. Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes!