Recipe Contest Winners!

unknownNever have I gotten so much encouragement from a bunch of recipes. It isn’t so much that I’ve become better at holiday kitchen proficiency as it is that I’m just very excited that so many people are reading a blog and checking out a website that’s mostly just all about the Word. And then there are the recipes, too!…which are just icing on the cake…and the cake, itself…and the pie and the dip and the soup, too. I am pumped about cooking for the holidays around here. (When I say that, I kind of feel like that writer-lady on the holiday movie “Christmas in Connecticut”, because I don’t know how much cooking I’ll actually get done in the next couple of weeks, at the rate life is happening….And, if you haven’t watched that movie, you should!) Thank-you for participating and being the blessing to me that you consistently are.

At any rate, I’m sharing the winning recipes today  and I plan to share a recipe at the close of each post until you have them all! They are all that good! Of course, the “winning” is all so very subjective. But the winning recipes are all timesavers (that criteria was a must) and all of them sound good enough that I want to try them after my very next trip to the grocery.  

So, if you see your name on one of the three recipes below, email  me (byhcontest@gmail)  your home  address and the names of the two products you choose from here: Hurry to try and get in time for Christmas!

Winner #1…Wilburta Arrowood

Do-Ahead Six Week Raisin Bran Muffin Mix

Wilburta says, “My family loves these hot from the oven with butter. That and coffee

or hot chocolate is all we need.”  😉

I say “I love this because it feeds a crowd breakfast several times and because it has that long refrigerator life! Can’t wait to try it.”


4 eggs

3 cups sugar

1 quart buttermilk

6 cups raisin bran cereal

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup vegetable oil

5 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until well combined. Stir in

buttermilk, cereal, flour, oil, baking soda, nuts and salt; mix well.

Refrigerate at least 6 hours before using to plump raisins. Fill as

many as desired of your greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds

full. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted

near the center comes out clean. Batter may be stored, covered, in the

refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Yield: 5-6 dozen.


Winner #2…Marsha York

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

This one got me at tortilla strips. And, it’s obviously from a woman who is not wasting any time on presentation! It made me laugh. I guess we should thank Danita Coker (whoever she is) here, too…and even Lecia Eubanks. (We did get an extra recipe -and-a-half here.) Winner Marsha York says “Not in a Crock-Pot..but super easy..and no one will know you didn’t roll out dough for the dumplings. I made this today and instead of canned chicken, I threw 3 frozen breast in the Crock-Pot this morning and they were ready by the afternoon. I used that broth instead of the canned.”

unnamed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I

Winner #3…Allison Nix

Caramel Cobbler 

Ally says “Outrageously tasty. Super easy. What’s not to love? Great for a large group, too, because it’s so rich that a small helping goes a long way.” I agree.

½ c butter

1½ c self-rising flour

1½ c sugar

¾ c milk

1 tsp vanilla 

1½ c packed brown sugar

1½ c hot water

Melt 1 stick butter in 9×13 inch pan. Whisk together flour, sugar, milk, and vanilla, then pour over melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar over top of batter. Carefully pour hot water over butter and batter. Do not stir. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until golden brown. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Crockpot Christmas CONTEST!


unknownEvery December The Colley House has a fun contest and give-away. This year’s contest is unabashedly self-serving for me.  Perhaps it will be helpful to someone else who’s got a lot going on this Christmas, as well. Since I’ve got at least four Christmas dinners for which I’m preparing all or a significant amount of the food, I’m asking for your best and most SIMPLE holiday recipes.  Who’s in? Just send me your favorite holiday crock-pot recipe OR a simple tried and true recipe that your family loves around the Christmas table. It can be anything from appetizers to desserts or any dish in between. It can be for your football game gatherings during the holidays or even the cookies you leave for Santa. The key is simplicity! I want recipes that I can make quickly AND that will be popular with the family. (Popular food makes the cook popular, too!)  You can enter as many times as you like and the top three winners will get to choose any two Colley House products at no cost! (There are four new Colley House books published in 2016, so you might want to check those out.) I’ll publish the best of the recipes and I’ll think of you all while I’m cooking those holiday meals. (I know I could go to Pinterest, but I love sister recipes because they’re sort of a like a long distance potluck!) Deadline is December 16th at noon. You can email the recipes to So hurry and send me a taste of your holiday! Blessings and much holiday happiness to you and yours!

P.S. I’ll share first. Here’s the recipe for Caramel Popcorn Balls, the traditional tree-trimming snack at the Colley house:

1 box brown sugar–1/2 cup butter–1/2 cup light corn syrup–1 T water–1 t. salt
Mix all that up (you don’t have to melt the butter. Just throw it in there) Microwave all that for 10 minutes. But after five of those ten minutes, take it out and stir it and add 2 tsp. of baking soda.) Then finish microwaving. Then pour over or mix in 3 quarts of popped corn and 1 cup of peanuts. (We leave out the nuts and just add a little more corn, because Hannah doesn’t like nuts) Spread on foil or waxed paper to cool or form balls. (We like the balls and to do this I spread butter on a piece of wax paper and hold this in my hand while I “squish” the ball together. You need something in your hand, because it is very hot when you mold them.) We love these! (The original recipe says microwave 12 minutes, but my microwave burns the caramel at 12 minutes, so I guess you kind of have to play with that!) They are so yum. Ezra left little sticky “Ock-corns” all over the house! He went crazy over them!15250781_961064418549_1488882612686999350_o


Holiday Contest 2015: Family “Mug” Shots

IMG_0784 (5)Here it is. The Colley House has a tradition of a few give-aways during the holidays. This year we’re excited about our Digging Deep travel mugs. We’ll fill one with Christmas candy and send it your way if you are one of five winners. They’ll go good under your tree, especially if someone you love is one of the hundreds of women who are actively participating in the Digging Deep study.

Here’s all you need to do. Email me your favorite family holiday photo…funny, memorable, nostalgic or just sweetness along with your 50-word-or-less explanation of why you love the photo. We’ll share favorites with our readers and choose five winners. Email the photos to Be sure to include your name and address and have them to me by December 14th, so I’ll have plenty of time to get the mugs out to you by Christmas! You can enter as many times as you want, but send each entry in a separate email.

Here are some of our family favorites. I know you have them, too!















So go! Happy memory hunting! And if you need to purchase a mug for your favorite Digger, go here:!/Digging-Deep-Travel-Tumbler-Mug/p/54019059/category=7007069

And one more thing…Keep those family holiday traditions going strong. They’re tough fibers in the weave we call “family”.


Sister to Sister: Winner of the GRAND contest: Anna Adams

christmas cardAnna Adams is the winner of the annual Bless Your Heart contest. She submitted a great story about her grandfather who was determined for her to believe in Santa! Contact me, Anna, and receive your prize from

For today and everyday, remember He came to die for us when we were yet sinners….



Till Jesus

No offering for sin, No day at life’s end,

No victory to win…till Jesus.

No light in the night , no strength for the fight,

No plan for my plight…till Jesus.

No redemption story, no Bethlehem glory,

No empty grave, no power to save,

No gospel for taking to all of the nations,

No people of God for sanctification,

No song for the angels, no purpose, no peace,

No rest for the soul, for its guilt,no release.

No Shepherd leading, no one interceding

No self sacrifice, no pearl of great price.

No Saviour slain, no blessing in pain,

No heaven to gain…till Jesus.

No crosses to bear, no comfort in prayer,

No crown to wear…till Jesus.


Don’t Skip the Instructions

DontSkipThis is the final “Bless Your Heart” post for the year 2013. I can hardly wrap my mind around the volume of correspondence, the number of new friends contacted and the little limbs like “Digging Deep” that have come from this spiritual planting over the past few years. I believe there are around five or six hundred archived posts now (need to check that number when I get a minute).I’m grateful for those who read and for those who occasionally feed through this blog. I’m thankful for the family God has given me in this readership. I’m thankful for the one He has given me in the West Huntsville church. I’m thankful for the little family that gathered around the tree in my living room a few days ago. I’m, most of all, grateful for the worldwide family he has given me in His Son’s body and for the ultimate price that bought my place there.

As I look to 2014, I’m praying for our resolutions. I’m praying for our resolve more than our resolutions. (We usually get the resolutions right.) I believe God’s women in America today can affect the future of His worldwide family. We can nurture His future elders and preachers. We can uphold the hands of His faithful men even in 2014. We can influence those younger than ourselves to choose to be His meek and quiet women of faith (Titus 2: 3-5; I Peter 3:1-6). We can study with our non-Christian friends and we can take them to the waters for baptism into the great Family of God. We can do much with the resolve I about which I am praying. I hope you are on board. May 2014 hold many blessings and spiritual victories for us in Him.

And now…the final winning entry in the “Merry Moments” contest. Thanks to Kristina Odom for this story about a real live Christmas tree.

A child’s first Christmas is always special. You buy them “My First Christmas” outfits, you wrap their presents that you will probably have to unwrap yourself, you take lots of pictures, you hand them to a red suit wearing white bearded stranger to pose for a picture; the stranger smiles, the baby screams, you pay $$$ for this adorable picture.

Ben’s first Christmas was no different. We being first time parents wanted to make it extra special, so that year we decided to buy a real tree. Because we all know kids remember every little detail about their first Christmas. We headed to the hardware store to find the perfect tree. We were young and have never bought a real tree before. The only thing I remembered from my childhood was it’s not wise to lay under one, you’ll end up poking your eye on a needle and get sap on your face and fingers.

Justin knew how to pick the perfect tree and how to take care of it, so we bought one, brought it home, set it up, decorated it, and watched it die two weeks before Christmas. We over looked the little tag attached to the tree. The one that said you need to cut about an inch off the bottom before setting it up. We over looked it because we were young and thought we knew better, because we didn’t own a chainsaw, a hacksaw, a jigsaw, or a rickshaw and a steak knife would take forever, and because we wanted to put it up as soon as we got home. We were excited and didn’t want to wait for the stores to open the next morning to buy what we needed. Thankfully an almost 6 month old can’t read a calendar and didn’t mind opening his presents early so we could throw out our dead tree before it could burn the house down.

The moral to this story… Don’t ignore the instructions no matter how excited you are. Instructions are there for your benefit. Just because we thought we knew better, even though we thought we could get by without the proper tools, and were simply filled with excitement, didn’t stop that tree from dying. Ignoring that one step caused our tree to die before its special day. Ignoring one step from our ultimate instruction book, the Bible, can cause us to die a second death on that special judgment day (Revelation 20:12-15). Thinking we knew better than the tree farmer wasn’t a good idea. Thinking we know how to worship God better than He has planned is a very bad idea. Our thoughts are nowhere near His (Isaiah 55:6-9). Even that wise Proverbs writer has said “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (14:12)”. What seems right can cause more things to die than just trees!

The Twelve Hills of Christmas

uphillGina Simpson submitted this winning entry about a holiday feat of athleticism. I know you will enjoy reading about her family’s tradition, which is a new twist on the twelve days of Christmas.

The Twelve Hills of Christmas
To say I come from an athletic family may be an understatement. I’m the oldest of three and my younger sister is a physical therapist who runs marathons, my little brother is professional golfer, my sister-in law was a collegiate gymnast, and my parents’ vacations include biking hundreds of miles around various states. With three kids I have only gotten back to the gym in the last three years since my youngest was born and I am slowly working back up to being in shape. All the background leads up to one of our family Christmas traditions: the twelve hills of Christmas.
My husband, kids, and I always spend part of the Christmas holiday at my parents’ house and once my sister and brother and his wife get there it is time for the adults to don their running shoes and head out to “the hill.” The stretch of road that runs next to my grandfather’s house and is probably close to 100 yards long and very steep so of course who wouldn’t want to run up it? So the tradition goes that we start at the bottom and run up the hill and once at the top we walk backwards (apparently you activate different muscles walking backwards downhill) down the hill while singing the 12 days of Christmas song. Picture this: my mother, my sister, my sister-in law, my husband and myself (hmm come to think of it my father always volunteers to watch the kids, but only for this part of the day) all running up this hill as quickly as we can and once we reach the top and are all out of breath we attempt to sing, “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” It is a pretty tiring but fun time as we strive to make it up the hill, but also hilarious as we try to figure out exactly what happened on each day of Christmas and some of us go the traditional melody while others go the Muppets Christmas version and we slowly catch our breath. After the twelfth hill is run and the final verse is sung someone (I suspect my sister, but it could equally have been my brother) decided a few years ago that we need to run up a thirteenth time to ring in the New Year. While we’re opening presents later that day we are all also secretly stretching our hamstrings and calves as we bend over to retrieve the next present from under the tree.

The morals of the story are:

  • You can’t run 13 hills once a year and expect to be able to keep up with those who exercise year round. (Acts 17:11)
  • The more we train the easier it is to get up the hill. (1 Tim 4:7)
  • The reward and feeling of accomplishment at the end is worth all the pain and it is easier to go through it together. (Heb 12:1-2, 2 Tim 4:7-8)
  • We should really learn the words (and probably the tune) before we sing Twelve Days of Christmas. (1 Cor 14:15)