Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turning leftovers into lunch/dinner makeovers creates 'happy plates'

Mediterranean Turkey Skillet

Did your mom ever call your clean plate a happy plate? My mom did. This recipe is sure to create some especially after that Thanksgiving dinner is memory.

The Recipe:
1 T Olive Oil
1/2c diced onion
1/2c diced red pepper
1 1/3 garlic cloves, minced
1c frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, or canned
2T sliced ripe olives (we deleted this ingredient)
1 1/2 c chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t thyme
1 1/2 c cooked turkey breast, chopped
1/2 c frozen green peas.
Heat olive oil in skillet over med. heat. Add onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook til onion is translucent. Add artichoke hearts and olives, cooking 2 min. Add broth, salt and pepper, thyme and paprika and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 min. Stir in turkey and peas and heat about 3 min. then serve.
The Response:
8 enthusiastic thumbs up! We all really loved this recipe. I served it over rice but she suggests serving it over a bed of fresh raw spinach.
The cost:
Under a buck a person. hardly can beat it!
The source, yet again:
Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way by Leanne Ely.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's NOT all about me.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very own self.

Luke 9:23

These words spoken by Jesus cut right to the heart of life issues. Where the world says, it's all about me, what I want, what I like, having it MY way is where it's at, Jesus says that living this way will cost me my very own self. I certainly find this to be true in daily life because I've searched, chased after my own dreams, my own desires, for my own comfort. What I've found, if I'm being honest with myself is a lot of emptiness. Having all the right stuff doesn't bring happiness that stays. It's short lived, much like the glitter of Christmas. Sure, there's the build up for two months about how great it will be to possess it, to enjoy it, to savor it, but when Dec.26 rolls around, life goes back pretty much to normal. The emptiness returns and it's on to the next thing.

So what next? What's the cure for the ill of me-ism? The prescription is to take my eyes off me, my, and mine. It's time to learn to turn the other cheek when someone wrongs me, it's time to consider others better than myself...this is the cross. Why is it called a cross? Because this stuff AIN'T easy. It requires real work, real sacrifice--something all but foreign to our day and time. We do all we can to avoid's a four-letter word and something we daydream about getting away from. Many of us are 'living for the weekend' which is pretty short lived until it's back to the grindstone. Beyond that, we do all we can to avoid pain, suffering, or deferment of our wishes. Jesus is calling us to more. He invites us to come share in his suffering, to be conformed to his death...appetizing, huh?

It is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Make me an instrument of your peace.

I want to know what it's like to follow you.

When men look at me,

I want them to see the Light of the World inside.
-St. Francis of Assissi

Oh may they not see me, but the Light of the World inside.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48

Houston, we have a problem! Does God expect me to be perfect, blameless, without fault, in my own strength? Should I expect myself to be that way? I have to admit, this verse could be very troubling were I to make those assumptions. The word used in this verse means complete, whole, not the way the language would lead me to think. See, I often struggle with something completely unrelated with this verse: perfectionism. Perfectionism is the SWORN enemy of contentment because reality has a way of trumping the notion altogether. You cannot be happy, content, or glad when you expect things to be perfect all the time...they just aren't perfect.

Case in point: Last week some time, I cooked a dish from Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way called Sesame Shrimp. It was basically a shrimp stir fry with green beans. It was an "eight thumbs down" dish. None of us really liked it. Now, my tendency in this situation has been to be a little miffed that my family is so picky. Honestly, though, the recipe was not spectacular. I'll post the regular details later, but there is something that I need to point out here--a turn in my thinking. It was not a reflection of my cooking that the family didn't like the dinner I prepared. It was a function of the recipe itself. Setting my hopes on the world being perfect is setting myself up for MAJOR disappointment! How in the world can anyone survive with such an unrealistic view of life? It's really difficult, lemme tell you. You end up frustrated just nearly all the time. You can never really be happy. That makes sense, well enough, but why do I continue to cling to this delusion? Isn't it "optimisitic" to assume things will go well?

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12

Here's proof right here..right in the black and white. Still one would think that I'd get it from life experience that it's NORMAL to struggle...NORMAL to have troubles, in fact, what I should be considering ABNORMAL is the absence of pressure, pain, and heartache.

Now, I'm gonna share about something that was illuminated this morning to me as I sat in Sunday School. Something was lacking in my 'religious experience' for many years and probably in my formative years as a believer, there was a lack of experience with people who had troubles so critical that it was, "Sink, Swim, Live, or Die" situations where one would be sunk if God didn't show up. Many people I was connected with in my early spiritual life never really NEEDED Jesus to SHOW UP...they had their bank account, their friends with connections, their own connections, their own ways of handling things, so they really had no testimony of God's power coming through at the right moment for them. Sure, there were the prayer requests for every number of things, but I don't recall a sense of expectancy or anticipation that the things prayed about were really gonna be was a kind of "prayer's a good thing for YOU because it opposes pride or some other such nonsense" I mean, what's the use of praying if God's not gonna do anything about it? I can't really fault 'em though, maybe they never met too many radical folks in their days either.

What this brings me to is this: Expecting life to be perfect makes no sense in view of reality. Knowing that I am not alone and that I have an omnipotent Help whenever things go south leads to a peace that is contentment for His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3, because of this, I know I can make it to the finish line, content.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Phillippians 2:14-15

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life...

This verse always makes me think of a song my roommate Kristel used to sing with the same words. Singing the words are so much easier than filling this tall order sometimes. It seems as though a lot of times the tendency toward complaining is more natural than just saying nothing. Kids don't have to be taught to complain, they come to it quite naturally. "Son, go take the trash out" *heavy sigh* "Aw, Mom, do I have to?" "I sure wish this rain would stop." "That movie was boring." See? We do it without even thinking about it.

The last two days have been a real struggle for me as I have completely bombed in this area. What I have seen and know to be true is that when I complain, it makes the problem or situation seem even worse to me. I have lent my lips to singing the praise of the problem. I have magnified, as with a magnifying glass that which I consider unpleasant. This really does have an effect on my contentment, as I have been moodier, more sensitive, and just plain negative.

So what is the antidote? What runs completely counter? How do I, "suck the poison of complaining and arguing out?" It's all in this verse...Don't complain. Don't argue. Sometimes, however, this is much easier said than done.

It has been said that Nature abhors a vacuum. (not a Hoover, but a void) So when I take something out of my life (complaining/arguing) I should seek to fill the spot that complaining and arguing filled up in my life. What is the opposite of complaining? Praising and magnifying God because He is bigger than my circumstances. In fact, He is in control of them. Should I only praise him when things are going well? Is he not always worthy of my praise? Can I not choose to focus on His goodness rather than my own discomfort? This is my task.

I will magnify the Lord at all times, His praise shall be forever on my lips. Psalm 34:1

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crock Pots bring happiness.

Who woulda thought that something so simple would point the way towards contentment? Sounds crazy, right? Since before Dan and I married, it was our custom to go out to lunch and 'continue the fellowship' over a meal made by someone else (preferably by someone who'd also clean it up). Now that things have become tighter, this is just not a reality.

Now, I could pine after my lunches out and disdain the simpler fare that would be available in minutes at my house--cold sandwiches, ramen noodles, frozen pizza, microwave meals, but sersiously, am I gonna rush home for any of those things? NAH not hardly. Cold sandwiches on Sunday is like going to the fair but not getting to ride any rides or better yet, to go and NOT get a hot crispy corn dog slathered with mustard paired with an ice cold Coca Cola. But then, there is this wonderful gift we were given when we got married--the crock pot. It's happy to slave away whilst we're worshipping with the body of Christ, filling my house with heavenly aromas. I cannot remember who gave us the crock pot, but will say that it's probably the most used item we've got. For now I can say with utmost confidence, I look forward to Sunday lunch. I'm grateful to have a hot meal waiting on me when I get home. The little things do matter.

And now for the analysis:

The Dish: No Hurry Crock Curry

The Goods:
1lb lean beef, cut into 1" cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 med onion chopped
1 sm. red bell pepper chopped
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed (I like to mince since the pickier folks in the house like that)
1/4 c tomato puree
2 t curry
2 t paprika
2 t ginger root, grated

1 c plain yogurt
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

Place beef, oil, salt, and pepper, curry powder in ziptop bag and mush around. (marinate overnite for best results, or for at least one hour prior to cooking) Brown meat in skillet, dump in crock pot, add a little oil to skillet and saute onions and peppers. add to pot. Deglaze pan with 1/2 c. water. Add ginger root, tomato puree, and paprika. Cook on high 4-6 hours, low 7-8 (ours cooks fast so it was ready after 4.5 hours on low). Garnish with yogurt and cilantro. Serve over Basmati rice (indian rice).

The result:
Didn't really give it to the younglings because curry is such a pungent spice. They ate homemade mac and cheese because I could fix it quickly, get them fed, and in the bed (the goal for sun. afternoon). This dish was a two thumbs up, and two other thumbs enthusiastically way up. I'll let you guess which was which.

The cost:
Under $2/person including rice. YUM

The source:
Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way by Leanne Ely

Saturday, October 3, 2009

James 4:2b take two

You have not because you ask not.

Why revist this verse? It will not let me go. How many arguments might I have avoided had I simply asked rather than pout, cajole, manipulate, sweet talk, gripe, whatever. Being content with what one has comes with an understanding of what one has and does not have. When I come to the place where I recognize my need, I must be willing to humble myself and ask someone for it. More often than not, however, I try to get it on my own, without help. This does not work with God and it doesn't work with my husband. And in the end, I end up frustrated because I don't get what I want/need. So many times, I just want him to read my mind, go ahead of me without humbling myself, admitting my need. Why am I so afraid to ask for help? What do I hope to gain by doing it all myself?

The only thing I have gained is stress. I'm stressed out because I can't get it all done. I'm stressed out because Dan won't read my mind and just fix my problem/help me with stuff. I suppose that makes me crazy...I keep hoping for a different result...continuing to hold out hope that someday, there'll be a telepathy feature built in and I will no longer have to face my shortcomings and ask for help. I'd rather just be self-sufficient and God. UH-OH. Herein lies the problem. I am NOT God. I can never be God. Trying to live as though I am God brings me frustration and depression, not contentment. Lord, I lay this all down and say, YOU are God all by yourself. I'm glad that you are, that I am not. Thank you for being so much bigger than me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

James 4:2b

You have not because you ask not.

Sounds simple, right? Simple yes, but somehow not easy. As many times as I have heard this verse, it has never sunk in as deeply as it has today. It is churning inside me as I look at my bank account and the need to buy groceries for the next two weeks when we get paid again. The first part of our month is really slim because that's when the mortgage and the utility bill get paid. It simply doesn't leave a whole lot of room for error in spending. So, this morning when I set out on my shopping errands, I prayed. I prayed that God would help me find great deals on what we needed so that I would not spend all the grocery cash we had. I am ashamed to mention that this thought had never occurred to me, even as long as I had been a Christian. Were the lessons not there or worse yet, had I never listened to them?

I took out $75 and God was faithful. I got $31.50 worth at Aldi, $.86 at Mary Carter, and $28.00 (even. really.) at Kroger, all of which included the meat and produce for our dinners the next 2 weeks. I was left with a grand total of around $15 bucks and a greater appreciation for the Lord and his desire to intervene in my life as I give him permission. What I learned is that I can ask him for anything and that he can and will come through for me. And this is how it is possible to praise him in every situation. He is walking right beside me through our time of need. Is being in need easy? No, not really, but he is there to lighten the load.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A side trip, but recurring theme.

Out of necessity as much as principle, I made a commitment last month to cook more at home rather than go after the restaurant fare. I'm using the book Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way written by Leanne Ely of Flylady fame. We've enjoyed so many of the recipes, I thought it would be fun to catalog those that we cooked and the family response to them as well as the cost per serving. So here goes:

Tonight we had Roasted and Chicken with Peppers. First of all, I'll give the disclaimer. This is NOT cosmetic food and I'm not a photog. Additionally, I'll say that this recipe was easy and quick.
The goods:
4 breast of chicken (i used boneless, skinless, but the recipe calls for split or on the bone breasts)
2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 t rosemary, crushed
1 medium red onion
1 red pepper cut into strips
The process:
chuck all the ingredients into a large ziptop bag (if u do it the nite before, all the better)
set your oven to 500 degrees. Dump ingredients onto roasting pan and roast (b/s chick for total of about 15min turning once. chicken on the bone gets 10 min each side.) Serve with veg piled on top of chicken. DELISH!
The response:
The adults like it though both thought that the rosemary was a little much. Both recommend scraping some of it off before eating. The kids both ate it without a fuss.
The cost: (roughly, that is)
under $2/a person including sides. (take THAT Chili's!)

Tuning into God's Frequency.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it? You turn the dial until you can hear someone coming through clearly. (at least back in my day...nowadays there are automatic tuners that tune at the touch of a button with precision accuracy). It's hard to think of it, but really, there is a lot of static coming at us from all directions: TV commercials, the 'Joneses,' department store circulars, that little imp inside you that wants it her way or no way. They are all saying the same thing: you need more because you deserve it.You shouldn't have to suffer. You don't need to wait, have what you want NOW! (Can't you just hear Billy Mays?) You can have it all: a career, a great relationship with your husband and kids. It's all about you and what makes you comfortable.

The sad part is most of the stuff we clamor for brings short-lived, if any, real satisfaction. There's a line in a song by the late great Rich Mullins that haunts me with this truth: Surrender don't come natural to me/I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want than to take what you give that I need. It's a real battle not to try go after this stuff, to make something happen with MY own power, influence, and foolishness. All along, God is saying, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it with the richest of fares" (and this is no Krystal burger. We're talking US Prime Ribeye from Ruth's Chris). He says to wait--and yes, in that still small voice that is so difficult to hear over the noise. He won't shout over it, he wants my heart. He wants to see if I'll take the time to seek him and his narrow way.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13,14.

I want to be one of those few, don't you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More on the bowl

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.

Ps. 16:5

So, what is the bowl anyway? Really, it's me. I'm a clay vessel, not ornate china, not glassware, but clay--dependent upon the One who made me to fashion me into the likeness of His Son. Because of this, it is not my business to look at the other 'cups' out there wishing I had gold leaf, beautiful artistic patterns for all to enjoy. My sole purpose is for that of the Great Potter. He has a plan for me unlike one for anyone else He has created. He will mold me and form me into whatever he wills and I must let him.

Ultimately, it is his decision what I'll look like and further, it's His decision about what sort of things he will place in my cup--challenges, blessings, lessons. This is my portion, carefully hand-selected just for me. What a multifaceted God He is! For in everything, He is with me on this journey that is just mine and His. Sure, there are folks who go thru similar situations, face like challenges, take the same 'tests' I take, but because of who He is, I'm sure to have my very own road with him right beside me.

Phillipians 4:11b-13

...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hunger, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Why does this secret seem to be so elusive to many of us these days? It shows itself in various forms, in all sorts of situations: eating what I have at home or going out for the more interesting fare at a restaurant, drooling over the things in the Target ad that would make my life so much better, searching for that perfect shirt that will make me look like a supermodel...ok, not really. What I can see is the thing I'm doing that keeps contentment far away: looking in someone else's 'bowl' for satisfaction.

Truth be told, I'll never find the thing that is for ME in someone else's bowl. My job, as it were, is focus squarely on reality--what I have, what I have been given, and to be thankful for it. My Heavenly Father knows exactly what I need and is EAGER to give it to me. So why do I spend so much time craning my neck to see what someone else has, what someone else's been given? It seems that this is part of 'the fall.' Being inundated on every front with what others have, what others can do, what I don't have or can't do sets me up for frustration.

The good news is, contentment can be learned. So through this blog, it is my hope to set my heart on what I have been given and being thankful for it, to move into that secret place of contentment for "Godliness with contentment is great gain."

About Me

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I belong to Jesus. I am married to Dan. I am mom to Pearce and Garner. I am a musician, a cook, a taxi driver, a teacher, a manager. I am me.