March 4, 2016
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18-19
I‘ve held onto a thoughtful note sent to me several years ago when I was going through a particularly rough time. The writer sent it to me about this time of year. The last line reads, “All good wishes for the coming of Spring when God is busy making all things new for us to enjoy.”
What a lovely thought.
And how quickly I can ruin it by questioning the newness He brings. By longing to stay put and not budge from my comfortable spot. Gambling with missing the blessings of the Spring because I’ve been lulled into a Winter’s nap.
It’s not that I’m a spring scrooge. It’s just that I’m not quite ready for it.
Maybe I just want to stay curled up under blankets on the couch. Maybe I just want hot chocolate and pots of soup to still be appropriate. I’m not ready for my fair skin to be exposed to shirt sleeves, away from bulky sweaters. I want to linger for a little longer in the comfort of a warm house and sweatpants.
But it’s coming regardless. The sun that calls us outside and allows us to leave the coats on the hangers. The daffodils popping up in yellow contrast to the brown grass that surrounds them. Pollen will soon swirl in the air inducing sneezes and watery eyes, causing us to question this seasonal change.
But what if we crawled out from the covers long enough to notice that the watery eyes could be tears of joy springing from the newness He brings? The plans that had to lie dormant during the winter are now ready to pop up and be fulfilled. It's time to remove our old, cumbersome ways that weigh us down and move freely into a new season of life.
God is at work. Watch it as the flowers bloom. Hear it as the birds sing. Feel it as the sun shines. Discover it as He works for you. Newness and life.
"Hear the birds start to sing
Feel the life in the breeze
Watch the ice melt away
The kids are coming out to play
Feel the sun on your skin
Growing strong and warm again
Watch the ground: there's something moving
Something is breaking through
New life is breaking through
Spring is coming,
Spring is coming
And all we've been hoping and longing for soon will appear
Spring is coming,
Spring is coming
And it won't be long now, it's just about here"
Lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman/ "Spring is Coming"
What are you hoping the Spring will bring? Share in the comments.
February 17, 2016
By the time dinner rolls around, no one is looking to become the superstar. I mean, you’ve worked, you’ve washed thirteen loads of laundry, you’ve helped solve homework math problems involving trains and speeds and other pressing life matters. Preparing dinner isn’t about receiving culinary accolades. It’s about surviving. Feeding the people and pressing onto that finish line of bedtime.
But gotta day when you’re going to be hanging around the house without a million errands to run or appointments to make? Maybe a Saturday when you have the rare luxury of staying in donning your sweats and an old t-shirt? An impending snow day on the horizon? I have the dinner for you.
Only two qualifications. Number one, you need time. At least six hours. And number two, you need to be ready to receive applause and saucy kisses of gratitude. You are about to become dinnertime’s newest hero.
Oven-Roasted Pork Roast
1 5-7 pound Pork Roast (I typically use a boston butt.)
3 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
February 2, 2016
When your kids have to wear uniforms to school and it’s 9 PM on Sunday and you’ve spent your weekend sleeping in and eating out and forgetting school’s in session, you tiptoe into the laundry room with fingers crossed checking for clean uniforms.
When the clock all of a sudden reads five and it’s slipped your mind that these people need a meal and all packages of meat in the freezer are solid lumps that refuse to thaw in a few minutes, you peek into the pantry with one eye open in hopes there’s a jar of spaghetti sauce and some sort of pasta.
When the breath-holding and wishing don't go your way, there’s always Febreeze. There’s peanut butter and jelly to make a meal.
But when it comes down to our lives…I mean the real life stuff…the relationships, the decisions, the goals, the temptations. We can’t approach those things with one eye peeking into the future while momentarily coming up for air. I mean, we can. But we certainly don’t have to.
Not when we’ve been given a tool to equip us with power to approach the Throne of God with our praises and requests. The power of prayer.
And yet how often we don’t use it. I don’t use it. I make measly attempts to survive my days relying on my own strengths to defeat the temptations coming at me. Relying on my own knowledge to decide what’s best for my life. And I am a woman that doesn’t trust myself to go to the grocery store without a list in hand. And yet time and again, I attempt life without offering up thanksgiving, without seeking His wisdom, without arming myself with the power of prayer.
Prayer offers daily communication with our Maker. Oxygen for the believer. Let’s stop the tip-toeing and wishing and boldly approach the Throne. Make prayer a priority rather than a last ditch effort.
“God’s plan for you is to move you into a position of impact by infusing you with truth and employing you in prayer. You don’t need to be a genius to do it. You don’t need to learn ten-dollar words and be able to spout them with theological ease. You just need to bring your honest, transparent, available-and let’s just say it-your fed-up, over-it, stepped-on-your-last-nerve self, and be ready to become fervently relentless. All in His name.” (Priscilla Shirer, Fervent)
January 26, 2016
“I just don’t know what to say.”
We’ve all been there, right? We get in situations and conversations when the words, especially the appropriate ones, just can’t seem to be found.
I’ve been there. Perhaps I’m still there. Call it writer’s block. Blame busyness. Cite all the distractions. Whatever the cause, I’ve taken an unplanned, unintentional break from writing for the blog.
And I’m not happy about it. Oh yes, the holidays took their expected toll on my time for writing. However, an ease off the gas turned into a screeching halt.
Staring at a blank screen yielded no results. Going over past notes and ideas: zero return. The mental conversation running in my head for the past month or so began with “I just don’t know what to say,” and evolved into “Maybe I have nothing left to say.” Final destination: frustration. And an internal hissy fit over what in the world to say.
The latest round of my struggle came to an end last week as I walked away from another empty Word document and drove away to work. I continued the conversation with myself and offered up a prayer for clarity. “I just don’t know what to say,” I repeated.
By the time I arrived at the next red light, my answer blared out from the radio,
“When you don’t know what to say,
Just say Jesus…”
Well, yup. There’s the answer. Loud and clear.
And truth be told, it wasn’t merely the answer I had been seeking about the blog and my writing. It was the nudging I needed for my life as a whole. You see, the busyness, the distractions, my attitude. Those weren’t just creating a writer’s block. They were limiting my time and fellowship with Jesus. Therefore, life’s rhythms were out of sync.
When the distance feels real, just say, "Jesus."
When gratitude is due, just say, "Thank You."
When sorrow overcomes, just say, "Help."
When rejoicing floods, just say, "Praise Him."
When the prodigal returns, just say, "Welcome me."
At a loss for what to say, just say, "Jesus."
Take time today to pause and listen to what Jesus has to say to you.
**Song lyrics from 7eventh Time Down’s “Just Say Jesus”
January 5, 2016
Okay, okay. I’ll admit it. My first recipe of the new year should not include pasta and a heaping load of cheese. I know resolutions, specifically those including smoothies and waistlines, are on the minds of many. Mine included. I gently stepped on the scale yesterday morning. Because the alarm clock and back to school mode wasn’t enough for a cold Monday morning.
I also quietly inserted leftover Christmas candy into my mouth not long after. The candy is here. It needs to be consumed so that I can move on with my life and my goals.
Sitting in the fridge were also two containers of Ricotta cheese. Leftover from a festive lasagna that never came to be. And so it had to be used. And it was. In stuffed shells.
Make up a batch and then we can get to the recipes that contain green things and whole grains and air. Until then, it’s cheesy yumminess compliments of holiday leftovers.
1 Box Jumbo Shells
½ pound Ground Beef, cooked and drained
2 16 oz containers Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 24 oz jars of Spaghetti Sauce
Shake of each: Parsley, Oregano, Garlic, and Basil
Salt and Pepper
Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine beef, ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, egg, and spices.
Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of 9 x 13 pan. An additional small dish will be needed for the full recipe.
Fill each shell with cheese mixture.
Place shells on top of sauce. Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Bake 35 minutes on 350.
Hints and Tips
*Recipe serves 10. It easily halves to serve a smaller crowd.
*Undercook shells by about a minute so they will be sturdy enough to work with.
*Leave out the ground beef if a meatless meal is desired.
*Italian sausage or spinach are welcome additions.
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