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Mealtime Mama: Something sweet for Valentine’s Day


We’ve shared this Sunshine Cake recipe before, but it’s worth repeating in case you’d like to make something extra sweet for Valentine’s Day dessert.

It’s pretty and delicious!

{You are my} Sunshine Cake

vintage valentine's day card1 Yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1 can mandarin oranges (don’t drain)

1 large can crushed pineapple (don’t drain)

1 box instant vanilla pudding

1 container of whipped topping

Directions: Blend these ingredients together well: the yellow cake mix, three eggs and mandarin oranges, including the juice. I put my batter into two round pans to make a layer cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or until it springs when you press it). Let the cakes cool thoroughly. Thoroughly, mamas! If you don’t, you’ll end up with melty icing. Speaking of icing, you make it by hand mixing together the box of instant pudding (just the powder), the can of crushed pineapple with juice and a container of whipped topping.

This is an awesome treat, trust us!

Happy baking!

Devotion in Motion: When the week flies by

11 ¶ And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  ~  Romans 13:11  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Well, loyal readers, I hate to tell you this: I don’t have a column today. I apologize, but I just have not had time to write anything. And besides that, it’s been so crazy and “random” here, I just can’t think of anything to write.

Since I’m not writing a devotion this week, I thought I’d just give a day-by-day (and blow-by-blow) account of what’s been going on.

hourglassOn Sunday, I worked really hard, like all preachers do every Sunday. I didn’t have time to write anything.

On Monday, I went back to work at my day-job as a schoolteacher. I was really tired, like all preachers are on Mondays. My mental state was such that I didn’t feel like writing anything. So I didn’t.

On Tuesday, I really had intentions of writing something when I got home from work. We even got out of school early, because bad weather was on its way. However, when I got home, there was a storm, and the electricity went off.  I couldn’t write anything, because my laptop would work. After a couple of hours, the lights came on again. I don’t remember why I didn’t write something Tuesday night, but I must have gotten sidetracked.  Probably a bunch of other stuff happened. At any rate, I didn’t write anything.

On Wednesday, I was really, really tired again. That because I only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before, because the electricity went off in the middle of the night. Without power, my sleep apnea machine doesn’t work. Susan suggested that I go sleep in the guest bedroom. I kept waking myself up because I couldn’t breathe very well. I guess that’s why the doctor gave me a CPAP machine.

Anyway,  I got up at 4:30 on Wednesday morning. I took Mr. Dub, the-yellow-outdoor-cat to the vet on Wednesday morning to have him neutered. Then I went to school and worked all day. After school, I picked up Dub at the vet.  (He was in a very bad mood.) Then I got the church building ready for prayer meeting. I ate a snack, took a shower, and then went to the church to preach. After that, we had choir practice. When I got home it was late. So I didn’t write anything.

On Thursday morning, Susan and I went to St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Meridian, MS for Pastor Appreciation Day with a little girl from our congregation. It was a very nice morning. Then we drove 50 miles to our school jobs. At lunch, the Forest United Methodist Church brought me a sack lunch with a big cup of chili. (This is my first time to eat a Catholic doughnut and Methodist chili on the same day. I had hopes that some Presbyterians or Lutherans would bring me something for supper, but it didn’t happen.) At 3:15, my school day was over.

That afternoon, I ran some errands. Then I went home. (Mr. Dub was still in a bad mood.) That evening, I sat down to write my devotion, but then my mother called me from her assisted living apartment. She told me that she got the package of Ricola cough drops that I sent her from Amazon. We talked for about an hour. After that I sat down to write again. Then Seth, his fiancée Leanne, and Stephen Brown started playing Monopoly at the kitchen table. They were making a lot of noise. I was glad that my children were at home playing board games instead of in a dark alley stealing hubcaps or running an illegal methamphetamine lab. But I still couldn’t hear myself think. So, on Thursday, I still didn’t write anything.

Well, now it’s Friday morning, and my deadline is 2 PM. Again, I’m sorry I don’t have a column, but you see what kind of week I’ve had.  Somehow, I think you’ll understand; I’ll bet many (if not all) of your weeks are as interesting, varied, and as hectic as mine.

But it’s really OK with me when I look back on a good week that’s flown by so quickly.

When time goes slowly, I cherish the hours and savor my blessings. But when time goes by quickly, I can be happy for that, too. I rejoice that I’m another week closer to the time when we’ll dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Time won’t be a problem then.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 30 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Mr. Dub is walking like John Wayne, and is still in a bad mood.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

The Rockwood Files: From tummy time to life skills

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

When you bring a baby home from the hospital, all the baby books say you should do something called “tummy time.” It means you should let the baby spend a little time on his tummy when he’s awake. Tummy time helps the baby strengthen the muscles in his neck, shoulders and upper body – muscles he’ll use to sit up on his own one day. There’s only one problem with tummy time: Babies hate it.

Because the baby hates it, parents tend to hate it, too. I remember watching my babies the first few times I put them down on their tummies. They’d squirm and struggle to lift their giant heads. They’d turn their face to one side, furrow their brow, grunt, whimper and then eventually cry after only a few minutes of being in this “beached whale” position on the living room floor. It was hard to watch.

adorable-20374_640My maternal instincts would yell “Pick her up! Hold her! Comfort her! Make it easier.” But that’s not the point of tummy time. The point is to get stronger so the baby can one day help herself.

After an initial “I hate this” period, babies get used to tummy time and even come to love it when they figure out how to roll.

My three kids are now 14, 11, and 9 – many years past tummy time – but, in a strange way, I feel like we’re going through a second phase of it as we teach them how to take care of themselves. In only four short years, our oldest will leave the nest and, if we haven’t taught him properly, he’ll nosedive right out of it or make a U-turn and fly straight back.

So my new maternal mantra is “life skills,” and right now I’m focusing on three main areas: food, clothing, and shelter.

Food: I stopped packing lunches. These days, if the kid doesn’t want to eat what the school cafeteria is serving, the kid packs his or her own lunch. But a bag full of jellybeans and Pringles doesn’t count. (They tried it.) They’ve also learned how to make a simple dinner, and they’re getting pretty good at hosting Taco Tuesdays.

Clothing: Slowly, they’re learning to use the washer and dryer. I posted detailed instructions for how to wash whites, darks and towels, and we make them do a load on their own at least once a week. (Note: If you try this at your house, be sure to write the words “EMPTY ALL POCKETS” in bold, capital letters, lest you find shredded tissues and gum wrappers in every load.)

Shelter: I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll ever master the art of cleaning up after themselves. I still find stray socks all over the house, which I believe is part of their secret plan to drive me insane. (Almost there, kids!)

Last weekend, we had them help us rip old carpet out of a room, prep the walls, paint and then move furniture back into place. They didn’t really know what they were doing. They got frustrated easily. We heard quite a few grunts and whimpers, and they definitely didn’t like it.

As I watched them furrow their brow and grudgingly work at it, I flashed back to those “tummy time” days when they strained to hold their heads up. Then I flashed forward to a vision of the future, when they might need to rip old carpet out of their own fixer-upper house.

So despite the moaning and groaning, we forged ahead and they learned a few things. The experience made me realize that the real struggle for me will be allowing our kids to struggle. Part of me desperately wants to step in and manage the world for them – to make things easier.

But those of us who are a few decades past “tummy time” know that life doesn’t always serve up a big plate of easy. And during those times, it’s important to know how to carry on, work hard and hold your head up.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

The Friday 5: Fun things to do this weekend in NWA

friday 5 png file

1. Mardi Gras parade in downtown Fayetteville. Saturday is the 25th anniversary of Mardi Gras Fayetteville and the Parade of Fools will be downtown at 2 p.m.

Fayetteville Mardia GrasThe Grand Marshal is Dan Skoff. There will be costumes, beads, floats and fun!

Click here for more information.

2. Glow Swim at the Bentonville Community Center. The community center (at 117 Central Ave.) is providing the exciting nighttime experience of swimming in the dark on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. The center will turn off all the pool deck lights, and leave on all the water features (slides, adventure river, and play structures).

Swimmers are encouraged to bring glow sticks to play with, and they’ll give glow sticks to the first 30 participants. This event will be lifeguarded and the lights inside the pool will stay on for safety reasons.

The event is free for Community Center members and non-members can purchase a day pass for the event.

For more information, click here. 

Bentonville Community Center pool

Bentonville Community Center pool

3. Monty Python’s Spamalot. This Tony award-winning “Best Musical” is ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Spamalot retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and features a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and French people. The show will be at the Arkansas Public Theatre in downtown Rogers on Feb. 5-7, Feb. 11-14, Feb. 18-21.

Click here for more information.

4. Paula Poundstone comedy show. You may know Paula Poundstone as a regular panelist on NPR’s popular weekly news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.” We’re lucky to have her on stage at Walton Arts Center on Friday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. to enjoy that wry, intelligent and witty comedy.

Click here for more information.

sona5. SoNA Presents Valentine Pops: American Songbook. Enjoy America’s beloved popular music from the first half of the last century, with a generous helping of songs about love.

This Symphony of Northwest Arkansas show will feature guest vocal soloists at Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Walton Arts Center.

Click here fore more information.

5 Minutes with a Mom: Jerri Dwyer

Jerri Dwyer Family

Name: Jerri Dwyer

Kid’s names and ages:

Elizabeth, 6

Kaytlin, 11

Kaleb, 16

My nephew, Kaleb, moved in with us after his mom passed away last year. He has been such a fun addition to our household.

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions or do you avoid those? 

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I tend to find them difficult to follow for the long term if I label them as a resolution. However, I have committed to lowering sugar and processed foods in my family’s diet.

Tell us about a day in your life:

Like most moms, my typical day is busy. As a homeschool mom, my daily routine revolves around my kid’s school schedules. Except for weekends, my days look something like this:

I wake up at 5:30 am and get my nephew ready for his early bus ride. On most mornings, while I am energizing myself with my morning coffee, we have a visit from a young man in our neighborhood who waits with us for his bus, occasionally, he will bring his electric guitar which really livens the house up early. When the weather is good, my family treats our pug to a mile walk in the neighborhood, while I stay home getting ready for the day. By seven o’clock, my husband and I enjoy our green smoothies and he is off to work.

Then, the house becomes full of energy and life, while the girls practice their Irish Dance. During their workouts, I am usually motivated enough to get some of my own therapy exercises done.

By 8:30, we are in full swing for homeschool. The girls have eaten breakfast and are crafting, while I read aloud a living history book. Right now we are studying Early American History and have enjoyed some great books like Amos Fortune: Free Man, The Witch of BlackBird Pond, and Johnny Tremain.  Throughout the school day, both my Kindergartner and sixth grader complete courses in Bible, Writing, Botany, English, Math, Reading and Spelling.

My oldest makes lunch for her and her sister, while my husband and I enjoy another green smoothie. After lunch, my 6th grader completes her day with Latin and Typing. With the exception of Friday, homeschool is completed by 2pm. Fridays are designed to be lighter school days leaving time for field trips and trying new recipes out at home.

Most afternoons, we are cleaning house and completing chores followed by running around somewhere. On Tuesday afternoon, my girls attend Ecclesia Prep where they enjoy class time with peers. Tuesday nights, we attend Bible Study Fellowship and an additional three nights a week, we have Irish Dance practice. As we all know, being a mom is living a life full with activities and love. Such is my blessed life!

What’s the best part about being a mom?

For me, being a mom was a dream come true. We struggled with miscarriages, adoption waiting lists, and failed adoptions for ten years. Then God blessed our family through adoption. I try to enjoy every aspect of motherhood, but some of my favorites are the hugs, kisses, snuggles, and laughs.

Tell us about some traditions you’ve started with your kids:

Touring and taking photos at the Fayetteville square during Christmas. Going to the Christmas festival at Silver Dollar City. Making a gingerbread house at Christmas. Making tie-dye t-shirts before the end of each summer. Collecting ornaments from every place that we travel.

What has been one of the most surprising things about motherhood?

The amount of grace that my kids display to me. I could make a long list of all the things that I regret saying or a reaction in a given situation. It seems that I remember these more than my kids, they forgive me and keep on going.

What are your favorite hobbies?

Fishing, taking the kids to the park, watching movies, reading books, hanging out as a family.

What was the last thing you really laughed out loud about?

My kid’s impersonations of different family members. They have an interesting view of each other!

If you could vacation anywhere in the world this winter where would it be?


Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

Drew Barrymore

What would the movie be titled?

“Team Jerri: Winning the Spirit Award”

God knew my life would be a wonderful adventure, yet would also include some struggles, so he surrounded me with His LOVE. Love expressed in all the family, friends, and strangers – beautiful faces – cheering me across the finish line.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn?

Scuba Diving

How do you relax at the end of the day?

Watching a Netflix show and enjoying a cup of hot tea

What’s one thing you’d want people to remember about you?

That I lived a life trusting in God and encouraging others

One word to sum me up: