Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork


Need a quick-to-fix dish to please your growing family?  Plop out your slow cooker and enjoy this simple “from scratch” teriyaki pork!

My friend Sheree* always tells me to, “Double the recipe to eat one and freeze one.”  Her advice keeps my freezer full of meals and dinner on the table with half the effort and mess.  

This recipe is big enough to get you started! My family loves it!

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork
Serves 12
Sweet, easy and delicious!
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Cook Time
8 hr
Cook Time
8 hr
  1. 5 pound boneless pork tenderloin
  2. 2 cups packed brown sugar
  3. 2/3 cup soy sauce
  4. 2/3 cup orange juice
  5. 1/3 cup honey
  6. 2 minced garlic cloves
  7. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  8. pepper to taste
  9. green onions
  10. sesame seeds
  1. Place the pork in a large slow cooker set to low. Mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, orange juice, honey, garlic, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Pour evenly over the pork. Cover, simmer on low until the pork falls apart.
  2. Serve over rice and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.
  1. This recipe is large enough to fill your teen's tummy and still have leftovers! Freeze the rest for another meal!
The Mom Initiative

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NASB

Praising Him through my pen,

Tara Dovenbarger

*Sheree’s husband is in Monrovia, Liberia today,  “…sharing the love of Christ through delivering cleaning kits, children’s medicine and the good news of God’s grace.”  Please pray for his safety amid the ebola outbreak and that many more will come to Christ.

Image “Lady Chef Showing White Blank Board” courtesy of Stockimages at


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3 Keys to Teaching Your Children Money Management


“I want that!” 

My daughter’s eyes widened as she grabbed a colorful stuffed animal at the toy store. At that moment, a wave of frustration came over me. After I just bought her a toy the day before, I could hardly believe my ears when she wanted something else.

Doesn’t she have enough? I thought to myself. 

Surely she can’t be that consumeristic, could she? 

As her face changed from jubilation to disappointment at my refusal to buy the toy, a startling reality came over me:

I caused her selfish attitude.

I didn’t do it intentionally. My husband and I posed limits on what she could have; setting boundaries and making sure she did not become spoiled. But it was more what we didn’t do that contributed to her “I want” attitude.

As parents, we are not only obligated to lead our children by setting appropriate boundaries, but it is equally as important to teach self-control and generosity as well. 

The difference between spending wisely and wasting foolishly is a hard balance to achieve. But with wise implementation of Scripture, we can raise a generation of children who resist the impulsive tendencies of our society.

Here are 3 things you can do to teach your children how to manage money wisely:

1. Set the example- Self-control is not simply born within us but something we need to train ourselves to practice regularly. Much like fruits growing on a vine, it takes the warm glow of the sun, the thirst quenching abundance of water and a healthy root for fruit to grow. In the same way, keeping our focus on Christ though reading the word and prayer helps the fruit in our hearts to grow largely enough to exemplify to our children.

2. Teach generosity- 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Take an honest assessment of where your money goes in your home. Do you give generously to make a difference in the world? Do you give to your church so you can enable the Gospel message to spread throughout the world? Do you give to missionaries? 

3. Make money a teachable moment- If your children are old enough to receive an allowance, teach them wise management from the start. Designate ten percent to go towards your local church or missions fund. Set aside another ten percent for savings. Talk with them and decide as a family what they will do with the rest. Demonstrate to them that money is a family affair not an individual decision. 

With a little creativity and some wise example setting, you can reduce the chances of your child becoming an entitled child to one of cheerful giving. 

Michelle-Luzarek-199x300Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor’s wife, bible teacher, mother, author and speaker. She gives discipleship tips on her weekly blog post (, a leads a community group for incourage, and writes articles on leadership for places such as Soli Gloria Deo Sisterhood, Just Between Us and Women’s ministry. net’s Tip of the Week. Please visit her website at, find her on Facebook at Michelle S. Lazurek or follow her on Twitter @mslazurek.




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Changing Our Position for a New Perspective ~ by Lynn Cowell


My heart was broken again; my crush crushing me. 

I remember questioning: Why, God? Why not him? Why break up now?

When God asked me to choose Him over him, my young heart obeyed, but not without a struggle. Lacking history with God, I hadn’t yet experienced the blessings of obedience. So I obeyed and hoped God knew what He was doing.

Through the breakups and broken hearts, God was moving me to a new place where He could reveal a side of Him I hadn’t experienced. I had to move “out of love” with a boyfriend in order to move “in love” with Him. I had to change my focus if I was going to truly reach my full potential.

My deceived heart kept up the fight, didn’t want to let go. It told me I was someone because I belonged to someone. God had a different message. He wanted to reposition me so I would know True Love.

Jesus had to change my position to change my perspective.

Out of His great love for me, Jesus didn’t leave me in the position where I was completely dependent on another person for love. Instead, He moved me to what was a lonely place so He could change the way I saw love.

It seems God often needs to change someone’s position so they can see things in a fresh way. Matthew 17:1-2 tells us “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Jesus had more to show three of the disciples, so He led them up a high mountain by themselves. A place away from others. A place not easily accessible. But a place where He would change their perspective. Here, before their very eyes Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and they heard God speak: “This is my Son” (Matthew 17:5a, NIV).

When the disciples had a change in their position, they experienced a change in their perspective on who Jesus was. It’s possible their self-perspective changed as well.

The breakup I went through as a young woman wasn’t the only time God changed my position to change my perspective. Moves, job changes, places I have held in people’s lives and people’s hearts … my position is constantly changing. Each change brings another opportunity for God to change my perspective. Like the disciples, I can see Him in new ways I haven’t seen Him before: my Provider, my Healer, my True Love.

Can you see an area where your position is changing? It may be in your responsibilities as a mom, a new job, at home or in your calling. In this new place, your loving Father wants to show you His perspective of who He is and what He wants to do in you and through you. Open your heart past the pain of change and ask God to change your perspective to see Him in this new place.

Lord, often change is painful and what I want isn’t always what’s best for me. Soften my heart to see past this pain and to see Your heart toward me. Give me Your perspective. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Lynn has just released a new book: Magnetic: Becoming the Girls He Wants. Magnetic empowers young women to: 

·      Stop feeling powerless over your emotions and people’s opinions as you gain unshakeable confidence

·      Limit the draining affect of “girl drama” so you can invest your time in becoming the best you

·      Replace the agonizing frustration of wanting to be noticed and liked with a deep assurance that you already are

You can order your copy here. 


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Homeschooling Sydney

God WantsWhen I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, I was already 10 weeks pregnant.  To say that we were joyfully surprised is such an understatement.  But early on, I heard the Lord whisper to me, “This one will be both a comfort and a joy to you.”

And she is exactly that!

An August baby, we made the call to enroll her in kindergarten earlier rather than later.  She had already been in pre-K for a year and she was ready! Or so we thought.  Within two weeks, the teacher had her pulled out regularly for extra help.

Now I confess, the teacher was young.  And I really had trouble understanding how Sydney needed extra help in kindergarten, of all places.  But times are a-changing and there are these tests and other things that perhaps are pushing the schools to have these kids further along than they did a few years before with our other three.

So we submitted.

By first grade, we were again two weeks in and the teacher sent home a note that Sydney needed to go back to kindergarten.  She was falling behind quickly, she said.

So we did.  Full day kindergarten.  And the beginning of what later would become an issue with Sydney….

She went through the whole year and they started her on an early learning intervention segment.  She was pulled out that whole year.  

Then first grade came along again–same teacher that said we should hold her back, whom we love and respect greatly. We made it through to March–with meetings in-between.  And our joy-filled, delighted child was stubbornly losing her way.  She did not want to read. She said the letters “jump off the page and get mixed up”.

She felt stupid and said some kids called her dumb.

Sydney ReadingBy March, with much prayer, we pulled Sydney out and began a couple of interventions for her ourselves: visual therapy and a reading program for kids with dyslexia.

My husband is dyslexic.  He is also a rocket scientist (yes, really) and a National Merit Scholar.  He really is brilliant.  But he cannot do foreign languages (cannot compensate with his dyslexia) and there are times when he still struggles greatly with those letters turning around on him. AND he is an avid reader.

We hope and pray the same for our Sydney.  We have worked together these past 6 months and in that time…

she accepted Christ and was baptized (we do devotionals every day in our homeschool–and missionary stories, too! I love it!)

she is reading a lot more fluently most of the time, but we must work on it daily.

she is growing confident again in her ability to think.

she is joyful again, twirling in dresses, drawing lovely pictures and loving to learn more about science (her favorite subject).

Sydney is our joy and comfort.  She has giftings and a calling that no one else on the planet can fulfill.

She is missing her classmates, though. And she is asking to go back to school sometime this year.

So our goal?  It is to get her reading fluently all of the time and reading without me prompting her to read. And she knows this.  She even prays daily to not only be able to read well, but to WANT TO READ.  I think that is pretty mature for an eight year old.

So this intervention?  Maybe it wasn’t just for Sydney, but for all of us.  

Maybe, just maybe, God is going to use this interruption for the good of generations to come behind her, as she speaks confidence and joy into children, like her, who may not feel quite as smart as the other kids or quite as worthy.

Perhaps, she’ll just pass it on.

So as you face decisions about your own kids today, remember God cares about the details.

And remember: God wants to use His interruptions more powerfully, amazingly, wonderfully and incredibly than your best thought, well-laid out plans.  

Let the interruptions now be seen as blessings and see what God works out in the process of it.

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Five Tips for Moms of Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

wedding 1

Many people get a chuckle out of the flower girls and ring bearers at weddings. I have been to many weddings where the ring bearer would start saying something silly or the flower girls would dump out all their petals right at the end of the aisle. They always look darling in their nice outfits and they are a sweet reminder of how Jesus loves us. But, if you’ve ever been the mother of a flower girl or ring bearer, you know how rewarding and difficult it is to have your children in a wedding.

wedding 2

My brother recently got married and our twin girls who are four were flower girls in the wedding. I was so honored that my children got to participate in their wedding but I had some struggles in keeping them obedient and well-behaved before and during the ceremony. It was a learning lesson for me and if we are ever asked to be in a wedding again, I have a better idea on how to parent my children without being stressed out. Here’s my advice on keeping the flower girls and ring bearers happy, entertained, and obedient:

1. Pictures – Typically, pictures are taken a few hours before the wedding but the flower girls and ring bearers should come toward the end of the picture taking time. They should be in a few shots with the whole wedding party and with the bride and groom. There is no reason for them to be there the whole time, they just get restless and need more things to keep them entertained. They also need an afternoon nap/quiet time so they are not whiny during the rest of the wedding.
2. Food - Pack your child’s favorite snacks and juice. Even if your child is older, pack a bib for them to wear over their outfit in case of spills. Some great pre-wedding foods for children are the go-squeeze applesauce, Cheeze-Its, grapes, and granola bars. Be careful that the juice straw doesn’t overflow and spill on their dress when they take their first sip.
3. Activities – I have one child that loves to color and draw. A dilemma that we had at the wedding was every pew had a pencil in it for attendance and all the rooms had pens and white board markers all around. I couldn’t put them all away fast enough. Bring her own set of crayons and coloring book or even better, one of those magnetic boards so there is no potential for mess. My other child loves to play games on the iPad. Don’t worry about the amount of screen time on the day of the wedding…if the iPad keeps her quiet and entertained, use it!
4. Game Plan for the Wedding Ceremony – I sat in the back with the girls to keep them quiet as the wedding party walked down the aisle. Once it was time for them to go, I passed them off to the wedding director and the maid of honor – much like giving them to their teacher at school – and slipped away. They didn’t have a chance to cling to me or get scared and not go. But, when they saw me on the first row, they immediately came and sat with me. It was difficult to keep them quiet while also wanting to watch the ceremony. I would suggest having small board books or their favorite stuffed animal on the pew to help preoccupy them during the wedding.
5. Have help! – My in-laws came to the wedding and they were a tremendous help. They took the girls to the pictures on time so I could finish getting ready, they held my baby boy during the wedding, and they took the kids home from the reception so we could stay later. If you don’t have family that can help, it is worth it to hire a babysitter or ask a friend to help. You want to enjoy the day and celebrate your loved ones and sometimes that is difficult when you don’t have help with the kids.

wedding 5

Being a flower girl or ring bearer is exciting and scary for your little one. I hope this advice can better equip you as a mom to help your child enjoy this special moment in their lives.

Question: Do you have any funny stories from your child being in a wedding? What advice do you have for moms of flower girls and ring bearers?


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Comfort In Spite of ISIS





Hey mom, I just read Isis is the name of an ancient Egyptian goddess from the time of Moses. She was an ancient powerful mother goddess who was extremely popular from the time of the Pharos all the way to the age of the Romans.  Her name meant “Throne” and she was crowned with a throne representing her power*.

 Our children cannot escape the horrors swept into our homes by this newly resurfaced name.  

Shocking news penetrates our homes of the new ISIS expanding their religious throne by demanding complete worship and brutal death delivered to anyone who refuses.  

Fortunately for each of us, we are provided with a history book which was as true in the time of the goddess Isis as well as the ISIS of today. And this book also reveals future events for our comfort and assurance.

What does this ancient history book, the Bible,  provide to reassure his own children during this time of fear and uncertainty?

  • First, the Bible reminds us not to be shocked. Written in A.D. 64, the apostle Paul directed by the Holy Spirit wrote,  “Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” In Paul’s greek language the word difficult meant harsh, fierce, savage.** The Bible equates these last days to pain-filled birth pains, and this is part of His sovereign plan before Jesus returns in majesty and splendor.
  • Second, in the midst of these harsh, fierce savage days, we can strengthen our kids when we remind them who is and has always been on the one, true throne.

“Who has announced this from old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me.

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God and there is no other.”    Isaiah 46:21b-22

The one true God has declared and announced His plan from long ago.  We His children can rest in His sovereign plan! 

  • Third, when our children know Christ as their King and Savior they can rest because, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7    God is our protecting fortress  during these fierce, uncertain days.  The God who created the universe personally knows those who run to Him for defense!  
  •  Fourth, we can comfort our children by teaching them our God is with His children, no matter the situation.  Melekh Yisra’el  is Hebrew for, “The Lord is in your midst,” Zephaniah 3:17.  
  •   Lastly, we can teach our children to confidently look forward to the day when Jesus will return as our victorious warrior.  As God delivered Moses and His people from the Egyptian gods, including Isis, the Bible tells us to look forward to the day when Jesus returns to deliver us.  Like Moses we will sing, “Adonai ish milchamah, Adonai shemo, the Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name,” when the final enemy is destroyed.  Exodus 15:3  


But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.  Psalm 73:28

Mom, are you daily teaching your children where to find true peace? Have you made the Lord God your refuge? How has God’s Word comforted you in spite of ISIS? 

Praising Him through my pen,

Tara Dovenbarger


* The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World by Jane Bingham, Fiona Chandler, Jane Chisholm, Gill Harvey, Lisa Miles, Struan Reid & Sam Taplin

**The Road to Armageddon, by Swindoll, Walvoord and Pentecost


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The Redemption of a Messed Up Life


I was a teen mom and a single mom, whose 3rd marriage was a mess, but Jesus changed everything.

If I could share anything with the young mom teen and single mom that I once was, it would be to think through the decisions I make and how each of them would affect my children rather than just doing what seemed to come next… and to let Jesus pave your parenting path instead of just responding to the moment.

Today, I want to share with every mom who has lost her way and every wife who is struggling in a hard marriage. This is a reminder that EVERYTHING YOU DO affects your children… that Jesus can heal a messy marriage and even if you’ve blown it, JESUS STILL REDEEMS!

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The best (and easiest) applesauce you’ll ever make

With cooler weather approaching and fall just around the corner, I’m starting to look forward to making some warm, cozy recipes. And today I thought I’d share one of my favorites (that also happens to be a favorite with my kids).

I got the recipe a few years ago, right in the middle of soccer season. One of the families from my son’s soccer team had a beautiful apple orchard on their property, and after a tournament one Saturday, the whole team went to their house to hang out and spend time together.

Everyone ended up going home with a huge bag of gorgeous apples. 

One of the other moms on the team just happened to have an applesauce recipe that she shared, and I’m telling you, it was the best (and easiest) applesauce we’ve ever made.

In fact, this recipe is so easy, it doesn’t even need words:

Crock Pot Applesauce:

applesapples1 apples3 apples4 apples5

How easy is that?! And after leaving the apples and cinnamon in the crock pot all day, the whole house smelled like apple pie. This really is the perfect fall/winter recipe. The applesauce was hot and delicious and it can even be served as a dessert on top of vanilla ice cream!



When the Idea of Mentoring Makes You Cringe

Even though I’ve spent years mentoring teenagers and younger women, along with writing how to simplify the whole mentoring process, I still have my moments when the mentor word makes me want to cringe.

I wonder if my investment of time is really worth it. I question if I am doing it just-the-right-way. And I still long for a mentor to live next door and have time to sip a cup of coffee with me face-to-face.  Yet God never seems to allow me to wallow in my self-pity for long before reminding me of the beauty of mentoring — like bringing back into my life a young woman who I mentored a decade ago. But before I tell you that story, I want to give you the chance to think about what mentoring means to you?

Mentoring Biblically is about Following Christ Distinctly

What does mentoring mean to you?

“The word mentoring carries such a stigma, both positively and negatively. Those who have experienced the blessings of mentoring use the word with fondness and passion, understanding the purpose and seeing the tangible benefits. However, those who have never experienced healthy mentoring relationships tend to face the word with fear, hesitation, and sometimes a bit of bitterness or resentment.

I’ve been on both sides of the mentoring continuum. I’ve mentored others and have seen tremendous blessings in being mentored as well. Yet I also know that feeling of longing for a mentor and of growing resentful when I wasn’t the one picked, so to speak. I’m sure my face turned three shades of red, embarrassed by my own intense jealousy, as I heard a woman I deeply respected publicly declare her mentoring role in the life of a woman nearly my age. I wanted that proclamation!  And then, as I shared in Impact My Life, I remembered the truths God impressed on my heart about the roles of mentors:

The fact is that many women lack eyes to see the opportunity to mentor and miss noticing when they have been mentored by others.

The truth is that I do have mentors, just not ones who have a platform from which they can announce their influence in my life. There are at least five women who I know, without a doubt, who exemplify what I describe as a biblical mentor in Impact My Life — women who follow Christ distinctly and from the overflow of that relationship, speak truth, life, and hope into my soul.

Women who offer counsel based on the wisdom founded in the Word.

Women who provide encouragement through their thoughtful actions and critical times of support.

The world might simply call them friends, but I call them my biblical mentors because these relationships span the generations, occur outside of the routines of life seasons, and are rooted in our shared faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

      ~ Excerpted from Impact My Life Study Guide, a companion to Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified

What if the idea of mentoring was simply about living out God’s story for your life?

These Christ-with-skin-on mentoring relationships continue to surprise me — usually right at the time when I’m ready to quit mentoring all-together. It’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t see the fruit. But God is at work in our relationships, enabling us to mentor others when we feel like we’re doing nothing — or doing something seemingly small.

That young woman I mentored over a decade ago — well,  she’s all grown up now, married to an amazing young man, and journeying through the early stages of motherhood — right next door. As I watch her immerse back into our community as a spouse of a teacher instead of a student, I stand in awe of the young woman she has become and how God continues to weave of our stories together.  I get to put on my mentoring hat again, now embracing this young woman as a friend and getting to love on her child, too. And she gets to put on her mentoring hat as she reaches into the lives of my own teen daughters, who think it’s amazing to have her in their life again.

And it all started with one simple prayer, that had very little to do with mentoring?  

    “God, who would you like us to ask to be our date-night babysitter?”

Jessica emerged from the pack of teens in our life as the one to choose, and to our delight, she said yes!  Of course, I knew in my heart that God was calling me to make time for her, as He’d done in the past with our former sitters. It was my tradition to walk in the door from our date night and plop down on the couch to chat away — that’s we’re the mentoring would happen, informally and yet on purpose long before I called it mentoring.

And now, the young girl whose heart I got to shape is going shape the hearts of my girls. Is there anything more beautiful than that?

So, let me ask you:  What would it take for the mentor word to no longer make you cringe?  How can you think different about mentoring, while doing it purposefully, giving God the opportunity to weave your story together with another woman, younger or older?

If you’d like to begin thinking of mentoring differently, grab a copy of Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified and get involved in the free Mentoring Training groups offered at More to Be.

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Is your faith life more fired up or fizzled out?

I’m super excited to share with you a powerful post from my sweet friend, Cindy Bultema, who has written a MUST READ BOOK entitled, RED HOT FAITH! She has graciously offered to give away a copy to one blessed winner, so BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN! 


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How I long for a faith life filled with purpose, passion, spark, and meaning— but truth be told —most days I feel caught up in the whirlpool of life.  

After long days jam-packed with a house full of kids, never-ending chores, and our zany dog—I barely have energy to change the sheets, much less change the world.  

Maybe when my family life slows down, then I should serve. When I lose weight, then I’ll be more comfortable sharing my story.  Or when I learn more Scripture verses, then I’ll be a better Bible teacher.  

In the meantime, it’s easy to settle into a lukewarm routine, filling my days being busy with “good” things, while allowing the “best” opportunities God has for me to pass on by. 

I wonder if you can relate.

You read about women who are moving mountains with their faith, blogging to billions, caring for orphans, and you want that life!  You declare “Use me, Lord!” But when it’s time to talk to your neighbor, sign up to serve, or pray for the hurting friend, you hide behind your badge of busyness and settle in to accept comfort over calling, simplicity over serving, hiding instead of hospitality.     

Thankfully God never intended for “lukewarm” to become our norm. 

I’ve found the key to living with fresh passion and purpose tucked in a letter to the ancient church of Laodicea, also known as Revelation 3:14-22.  The people in that church were not very different from you and me today. They struggled with being lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—and Jesus had the perfect remedy for their lackluster faith.

Sweet friend, what if God has purpose for us in the midst of our most mundane days? What if we went from just “believing in God” to allowing Him to ignite every part of our faith lives? 

Let’s learn from the lukewarm church and say “no” to lives of complacency, staleness, and stagnation and instead pursue a life of Red Hot Faith!



image003With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss.

Cindy’s Bible study, Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church, was released in July 2014. Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her dog Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school. Visit Cindy at


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