What is happening

Ocean waves coming to shoreFather in heaven, I ask that those who will be reading this see Your words and not mine. Lord, remove all human involvement in these words and let Your lite shine through so very brightly. In Jesus name, Amen.

I have not been putting those prayers up as I had mentioned wanting to do. I was convicted of that on this post. I have had a very strange couple of weeks and just kinda wanted to share with you what’s been going on.

My neighbor’s husband passed away VERY unexpectedly. Their fifteen-year-old daughter came home from softball practice and found him. As soon as we heard about it, my daughter and I went down to her house. We found her in the exact same place and posture as we did two years ago in the same month right after she received the news that her son had just been in a horrific car accident and did not survive. Grief filled the space in their home that had just hours earlier been filled with hugs and kisses and promises to see each other that night at the dinner table. I held her while her body shook with emotion. My daughter retrieved a cool wash cloth for her red swollen eyes. We just did what we could.

Just a few days after this happened, my daughter’s beloved pet died. We had gotten our kids each their own bunny for Easter about eight years ago. (Real original, I know) She had gone in to feed them both as they roomed together in a large bunny hutch. She found him and of course tears followed. This had been her first pet that was her very own. We had been planning our yearly trip we take as a family and were leaving just a few days after this happened. The two bunny bro’s have never ever been apart. They were literally brothers. It was sometimes hard to tell them apart. When I would hold them up on one shoulder, they looked like a pair of bunny slippers. This became their nick-names. We feared my son’s bunny would meet the same fate while we were gone on vacation. My brother-in-law was coming over to the house to check on them and our kitty.

The day after we arrived, we got the dreaded call, “the other bunny has passed away”. Once again, a time of grieving. We had learned of a girl who had been in a terrible accident and they didn’t expect her to make it. She didn’t. Not someone we knew well, but another tragic loss.

Then I received a call just one night later.

I have written before about my two life long girlfriends that I took a trip with last summer. One was approaching her first anniversary after her husband’s untimely death. The other, Nina, had a sister that we all three called our little sister. She never really annoyed us like younger siblings can tend to do. She was just like that kid sister that wanted to be with her three cool older sisters, and we usually let her. She looked up to us and we didn’t mind having her around. Of course, as adults, we’re not that far apart in age anymore so we all had marriages, kids, jobs, homes and all of that in common. Erin (kid sister) still clung to some of her youthful ways like having a thing for boy bands, but she could share that interest with her daughter.

Whenever we got together, she always came along as adults. We never really made the distinction that she is Nina’s sister, she has always been all our sister. I love her, we all love her. Just two nights ago she and her daughter were going up the road to grab some dinner when they were broad-sided pulling out of their neighborhood. Emilee (the daughter) received minor injuries. Erin, like any mother would do for her child, took the worst of the impact. She died instantly.

My kid sister is gone. I’m out of state, Nina is out of state, Erin’s parents are out of state. Thank God our other third, Paula, was not far away. She went to the hospital and saw Emilee. She was doing amazingly well. She said there was such a peace as she saw her mother take her last breath just seconds after the crash. Thank God Erin’s thirteen-year-old son was not with them but he too feels a peace about how everything happened. Erin had been raising her kids to know and love Jesus. They obviously do. What an inspiration they are in this whole thing. What a testimony to Erin’s mothering. We will stay connected to Erin’s children thus remembering her forever. There will be a missing link in our chain that has linked our friendships, no, sisterhood, but she will be celebrated whenever we get together. I’ll miss her terribly, but I’ll learn a lesson from her amazing kids to find the peace and trust that God will be with her kids and they will lean on Him. Isaiah 40:31, “Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength…”

With all the things happening and me not doing very much cooking right now, I will return next week with some sort of recipe. Maybe one I have tried while on vaca. Blessings to all of you and I’ll see ya next week at the table.

Our Little Patch of Ground

close up of hands planting a small plant in the groundThis week at my table is my dear friend and sister in Christ, Kasey McFarland. She has been studying the book of Joshua and found some things that have captured her attention and I’ve asked her to share with us what those things are. Kasey and I have known each other for a few years and have grown our friendship abundantly over the last year or so. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her as I see her wanting to follow hard after God’s truth and plan for her life.

You know those chapters of the Bible where the genealogies are listed… the ones where so-and-so begat so-and-so and half way through you want to gouge your eyes out and all you can hear is the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher until your ears burn? Ah…I see you know what I’m talking about! I love the Bible, but some parts are a much easier read than others. However, because the Holy Spirit directed God’s servants to write these letters and scrolls, there must be something important to be learned in every part, even the genealogies!

So…with that thought in mind, my Bible reading plan for today had me in Joshua chapters 16-21 and if any of you know about some of the chapters in Joshua after the little battle of big Jericho and the big defeat of little Ai and Achan’s sneaky sin, there are about a half a dozen or so chapters of how Joshua divided the promised land for the tribes of Israel. These chapters list all the tribes, sons, some grandsons, and all the Levite descendants of Aaron, the names of cities and towns, the sanctuary cities, and the border towns to the North, South, East and West and who got what. It is a monotony of names that you can’t pronounce, with directions you can’t understand, and people you have no emotional connection to. Remember that eye gouging, ear burning thing we talked about…yah, it’s like that.

So, on my way to work this morning, my audio Bible app began reading these chapters over the Bluetooth radio and because I had been studying the book of Joshua leading up to this section, I noticed something very interesting…there were names, places, and people that I recognized! My ears stopped burning and I tuned in!

To give a little context, In Joshua chapter 11, the last battle scene is a union of five powerful kings who gather all their war horses and an army that can’t be numbered and who go out to defeat the Israelites. But God wins the victory and the chapter ends with “so Joshua took the whole land according to all that Lord had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.” Finally, the battles for who controlled the promised territory was decided. And it was now time to parcel out the land.

Joshua called the remaining nine and half tribes (2 and half had been given land on the other side of the Jordan, which is a story for another time!) and one by one he designated where each tribes patch of ground was to be located. There were tribes that got more land than they could handle, and some who got too little who asked for more. There were some who shared their inheritance willingly, and some who needed to be asked to give a little more. There were tribes whose lot it was to give a portion to those seeking refuge for unintentional crimes, and some who gave a part of theirs to the Levites for their cattle because they had no inheritance (in accordance with God’s instruction to Moses and Aaron). Then there some who complained that they had too much forest area and requested an expansion into the fields in another tribe’s territory. Joshua gently dealt with each situation, sometimes accommodating an expansion, sometimes telling the tribe to put their shoulders to the grindstone and work out their own expansion. Some tribes even had those pesky defeated enemies still living in their territory who needed to be constantly dealt with. No inheritance was perfect. It was going to be work in one way or another for this war-torn land to become a peaceful, fruitful home. Everyone had a job to do and a part to play in the success of the whole nation.

So today, our Joshua has defeated the seemingly invincible enemy, securing for us an inheritance, and then He has assigned us each a patch of ground. Do you find your little patch of ground a little too big to subdue alone? Or too small? Is your inhabitable space closing in on you to the point that it’s time to get to work and expand into the trees? Maybe it’s time to open up a spot to those who need some refuge, or to provide a portion to the priests? Are the defeated enemies that seek to rule us getting stronger or are they still a defeated foe? What do you need to do today in your little patch of ground?

Joshua chapter 23 ends with this, “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which he has sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it, and dwelt in it…not a man stood against them…not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord has spoken to the house of Israel. ALL CAME TO PASS.”

It’s time to take possession of our little patch of ground…to settle down in it and work it. The promise is that no one will be able to stand against us, and everything that God has said will come to pass.

Who knew that the division of the promised land would be soNOTboring! That it could teach us so much? It’s my prayer that our hearts are planted even more firmly in the spot that God has for us to work and that we will be wise to seek our leaders counsel for help, or expansion, or if we are called to work harder, go to battle, or allow someone else to shelter in our spot. Let’s resolve to tend our little patch of ground, as good stewards of the inheritance we’ve been given…with our eyes and ears intact!

BBQ chicken foil packs

Chicken breasts or tender loins cut into chunks

Pineapple tidbits

1 Red bell pepper

1 small red onion

2 cups BBQ sauce

Toss chicken bites and BBQ sauce together until coated. Spoon about ½ a cup onto individual foil sheets (big enough to make foil packets). Top with chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, and pineapple tidbits. Bake at 375 digrees, For about 40 minutes. Make as many foil packs as you have ingredients. This can also go onto the grill for backyard BBQ gatherings. Add any additional items you like! Serve over rice, or noodles, or just the packs. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh no! She saw me!

Hi everyone, welcome back and pull up a seat. I want to share another blast from my past with you. When I was about eleven years old or so, I had a paper route. My vision was not as such that it prevented me from having this first little job. I would walk up to the doughnut shop that was right across the street from my road and get a couple of cream filled long-Johns and a milk to start my morning.

I would walk the neighboring streets delivering my rolled-up newspapers that I had lovingly (more like grudgingly) rolled up and placed a rubber band around. I stuffed them all in my bag, slung it cross body over my shoulder, and laced up my sneakers. Off I went for about three hours, tossing papers onto porches. Then came the day of the week that I hated the most about this job. Collection day. Uhhh! It took at least five times as long because now I had to knock on all those doors to collect the money for the newspapers. Some people paid monthly, some people paid quarterly, but most people paid weekly.

On collection day, I walked along carrying my bright orange money bag displaying the name of our local paper. Most of the time it went pretty smoothly. There were some instances when people swore they paid me last week for this weeks paper. I would have to get out the card that showed when they paid and how much and that they signed it before convincing them to turn loose of that 25 cents. I always felt like I was taking a meal off their table when I presented the card that explained that they hadn’t in fact paid yet and they had to go search the couch cushions for a nickel, a dime, and ten pennies.

There was a time I remember very well when I came upon a house that had a glass storm door. I knocked and stepped back awaiting the homeowner. No one came. I knocked again a little louder this time… no one. I knocked one last time and while I stood there, I began swinging the money bag around in a circle. Then back and forth. Then… crash! My bag full of coins connected with the glass door.

My mouth gaped open and my eyes bugged out. I made a snap decision and bolted hoping not to be caught. Anyone could have broken that door, right? How in the world would they ever know it was me? I fled to the next house which was blessedly on the next street. My nerves were on point. I was sure the police sirens I heard in the distance were coming for me.

Quickly finishing my route, I raced home, tossed off my empty newspaper bag and went to the task of counting out the money. I would gladly chip in the quarter for the house whose window I just shattered. Getting all of that in order and realizing that the cops were not interested in putting me on the America’s Most Wanted list, I relaxed a bit and went about the rest of my day. Then it happened.

The phone rang. My mother answered and said “Hello? Yes, my daughter delivers the newspaper…” My stomach lurched. I paused and listened. “Uh, I’m not sure but I will certainly talk to her and get back with you.” I began searching for places to hide. It was no use, my mom marched into my room and posed that terrible mom question that no one wants to answer, “Do you have something you want to tell me?”

Arms folded and foot tapping, I responded with “mmmm, nope.”

She proceeded to tell me how the neighbor heard the crash and quickly looked out her back door to see the papergirl standing there looking shocked then bolting away. Just my luck. I hung my head and started to cry. “Now, now” , my mom had said, “you know it was wrong to do what you did.” She went on to tell me that everyone makes mistakes and we need to own up to those mistakes, take responsibility, and learn from it. I lifted my head and confessed my deed.

1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God so wants to extend forgiveness when we ask for it. We could try and bolt from our wrongdoings but like a parent, God always knows what we do or don’t do. It’s not that He is waiting to punish us, He is giving us the freedom to choose His forgiveness. God will never force His will or mercy on anyone. No, He offers it as a gift to be accepted freely. When we do accept it, He is faithful to wipe that sin away like marker off a white board. No trace of it left behind. Each time we come to Him with a wrong doing, He simply asks us to tell Him what it is we did so we know why we are asking for forgiveness. Then He says, “because I love you and I know you will make mistakes and you are coming to me with it now, I forgive you and you can forgive yourself too.”

It took me a little bit but after I told the homeowner what I had done and why I ran, she said she understood that I was probably scared and didn’t know what to do. But once I got everything out in the open, I could put it behind me and learn from my mistake. I’d like to tell you that I confessed everything I’d ever done after that, but that wouldn’t be realistic. It’s a process to get there. I’ll keep ya posted as to when I am close.

God isn’t looking to bring the hammer down. Friends, He already knows everything about us. He is waiting not with arms folded, but with arms open waiting to hold us and say “I forgive you”. No toe-tapping, no tsk-tsking, no finger shaking. Just patient love waiting to be poured out over us. Run into His open arms and receive that forgiveness.

Winter Fruit Salad

mixed fruit with sauce in a bowl1 can pears

1 can peaches

1 can chunk pineapple

1 can mandarin oranges

1 can cherry pie filling

Open cans and drain liquids from all but the cherry pie filling. Empty contents of all cans into a pretty glass bowl for visual appeal. Stir together and serve.

Note: For an added bit of sweetness, top with whipped cream or sprinkle on dry instant vanilla pudding and stir in. This makes a great party dish. Just double or triple cans if needed for the size of your gathering. You could also alter the pie filling to your favorite kind; apple, blueberry, peach, whatever you like.

 

I Thought he liked me… but he didn’t

Hi all! Welcome back! We are nearing the “month of LOVE” as they say. I will be having a dear friend of mine guest posting in February on this topic. But I wanted to share an experience I had in high school with you that actually had to do with St. Patrick’s Day but sort of intermingled with Valentine’s Day too.

As I have mentioned before, I was not the girl in school that all the guys wanted to date. In fact, I was the girl all the guys wanted to make sure they DIDN’T date. Not many guys at that age were willing to go out with the chick who couldn’t see! You can imagine the jokes and inferences that went around about that.

Well long about St. Patrick’s Day, my school student body put together a “send a shamrock” type event. Students could purchase a card stock cut out of a shamrock, write a message on it, attach a Blow Pop sucker, and have it waiting for their recipient at lunch time. In the words of Charlie Brown… “I know nobody likes me, why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?”

I knew there was not likely to be a shamrock waiting for me on the lunch table that day, but for whatever reason, my friends and I decided to check out the table in the event THEY might have received one from that special someone. As they were sifting through the pile, one of my friends said “Cyndi! Here’s one for you!” “WHAT!” I yelped in disbelief. She thrust it at me and I quickly turned it over to see who it was from. I could still read large enough print at that time and the messages were written in marker. My mouth gaped open and I very noticeably shrieked… loudly! I couldn’t believe who it was signed by. The coolest guy in school! He was a friend of my brothers and I had been crushing on him for two solid years. More like full blown in love with.

He would come over to the house to work on cars and jam out to the latest tunes. He had a super cool swagger to his walk. He played football and was just the whole reason I got up and went to school for two years.

Now here in my hands I held a paper shamrock signed by him, to me, with the message that surely meant we were going to prom together, going to the same college, then getting married and having children together!

It said… Have a nice day!

If that’s not a marriage proposal, I don’t know what is. I walked… no… floated through the rest of my day and clutched that shamrock to my heart. I never did eat the sucker. I thought maybe he would want to use it to propose with. The feeling and wedding plans came to a screeching halt when I found out that it wasn’t really him who sent it. It was from someone who knew I had strong feelings for this boy and tried to give me some joy. It truly was not meant in malice, it was from the heart meant for good. Unfortunately, the emotions I experienced after learning that all my wedding plans were for not, still left me with a devastated heart.

When we feel such a let down from people, it’s easy to think we must not be very valuable. We must not be important enough for someone to find us worthy. Sometimes we can project these feelings of not good enough, not valued, worthlessness, onto our heavenly Father. For me it often sounds like this…

If this person who is physically, tangibly, part of my life doesn’t find me valuable, then how can the creator of all the universe find me valuable. I mean of everything He has made— mountains, oceans, jungles, and every living thing known and unknown, these have to be higher on His list of valued creations then little ol’ me. Have you ever felt like that? Let me share a couple verses with you…

Genesis Chapter 1— and God “said” let there be light, and there was light, and God saw that the light was “good”…  and God “said” let the waters under the heavens gather together into one place and let the dry land appear… and God saw that it was good…and God “said” let the earth sprout vegetation…

You see where this is going…

Now in verse 27, it says God “created” man in His own image.  Do you see the difference? God spoke all His creation into existence. But He Himself CREATED you and me! Created with His own hands from what He already spoke into creation.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that God formed man from the dust of the ground. I can imagine God getting down on His hands and knees and lovingly molding man like a child makes forms out of mud and presents it like a master piece to his parents. God loved you so much that simply speaking you into existence was just a little to impersonal. He wanted a hands-on approach for this job. Then He breathed His own breath into you and gave you life! Even then, God gave of Himself for you and for me. Oh, and He called this creation “very” good!

If a God like that values you and me this much, no shamrock in the world can compare!

It took time to get past my hurt over the shamrock sham, but I eventually did. I also got over the two year hold that boy had on me. God had another plan. A plan to lead me to a man that cherishes me and values me. God also lead me to Himself, the one who cherishes and values me more then even my husband could; and friends He has this same value and love for all of us. Trust His message for you over any ol’ shamrock message.

So now that we have our spiritual nourishment, let’s grab a “soup-er” easy soup recipe. Soup is so very comforting, kind of like God’s word, only His food needs no extra flavors…

 

5 Can Mexican Soup:

Bowl of Mexican Soup topped with cheese and sourcream1 can corn

1 can pinto beans

1 can diced tomatoes with chilies

1 can vegetable broth

1 can black beans rinsed and drained

½ pkg. taco seasoning if you want to kick it up a notch.

 

You quite literally dump all the ingredients together in a Dutch oven. Liquid included, minus the liquid from the black beans. Sprinkle on some Mexican style shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream and mmm mmm, so good!

I want the pilot to lose my baggage

an empty baggage claim conveyor belt at an airport
It’s so good to have all of you at the table today. Have any of you flown before? Has anyone gotten to their destination, only to discover that your baggage has been lost? Oh how this can put a very large crimp in your plans. I have not actually had that experience myself… yet. But it is a fear I have. Not that I fly a lot mind you, but we took the kids to Disneyland and when they were younger and I had nightmares before the trip worrying that our bags would fall from the underbelly of the plane scattering little T-shirts, sundresses, and those embarrassing items that you would prefer that no one see, even if they would never know it belonged to you!

I dreamed of having no clothing to spend an entire week in a place like Disney Land, where you and your kids are getting dirtier by the minute. Spilled drinks or food, sitting on all those rides, and of course sweating immensely throughout an 80 degree day at an amusement park. I envisioned having to hand wash every article of clothing every night in the hotel sink, repeatedly making calls down to the front desk asking for more bottles of liquid soap. I figured on wearing damp clothes every morning. I dreamt of this calamity for weeks before our trip. Thankfully this horror did not occur.

I have had friends this has happened to and they have shared the experience with me. Doing similar things to what I had envisioned having to do. Some articles were washed in sinks, some were wearable for more than one day, and new clothes were purchased to replace a few of the lost ones. It was not a pleasant event though in any of the situations I have heard about. In fact, most people get down right ugly when this happens. Yelling at the airline attendants, filing complaints against the airline, demanding refunds… we’ve all seen or heard of these actions being taken. I’m sure I would be on the list of complaint filers.

But another thought occurred to me. I wonder if anyone has ever been happy about their bags getting lost? Can you imagine a person getting the news that their bags were lost from an airline? They pause a moment, then a smile spreads across their face. They proclaim “that’s awesome! I hated those bags anyway! I also hated everything in them!”

“Um… what?!” is the response I can imagine the attendants having. “Yes” this person says again “I’ve wanted to dump that baggage for years. I’ve wanted to dump the contents of that baggage too!”

“But… but…”, the attendant sputters, “Uh, the pilot is responsible for your baggage, sooooo…”

“Wonderful! Where can I find Him to thank Him!” the person replies.

Oh I want to have that experience! Friends Jesus is the Pilot! He can rid us of all our baggage and all of its contents. He is flying the plane if we will let Him and He has placed our baggage where we don’t have to see it. Then while we are in flight, He releases that baggage over the ocean. Micah 7:19, “Once again You will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under Your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean.”

I want my baggage lost in the depths of the ocean, don’t you? I can just imagine my life’s plane directly over the deepest part of the ocean and the Pilot opening up the belly of the plane and… woosh! All my baggage falls out and breaks open from the force. Its contents flying in all different directions! Scattered so much that there is no possibility of recovery. Friends, Jesus is longing to be our Pilot and He longs to dump your baggage for you over the depths of the ocean. Won’t you let Him loose your baggage for you? No need to file a claims report, no need to stand at the baggage claim looking for your baggage. Just let the Pilot fly the plane and loose your baggage!

Well often times the food on planes isn’t all that terrific so let’s see if we can find something better eh?

Shepherd’s Pie

a serving of shepherd's pie on a plate1 lb. ground beef or turkey (to make this vegetarian, use 1 large can vegetarian baked beans)

Approximately 6-8 large potatoes

1 can corn

1 can tomato soup (no water added)

If using meat; brown in fry pan. Drain. In 9 x 13 casserole dish empty contents of tomato soup. Spread evenly in bottom of pan. If using beans; no tomato soup is needed. The sauce from the beans is enough. On top of meat/beans empty contents of corn and spread evenly over meat/beans. Prepare potatoes for making mashed potatoes or simply use box potatoes if you prefer. Drain softened boiled potatoes. Add butter and milk to the consistency that you like mashed potatoes. (maybe just a smidge thinner so they are easier to spread) Frost the corn with the mashed potatoes. Looks like a cake! Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes. Prepare some gravy to pour over top if you like. Serve with rolls. MMM-MMM.

Learning important lessons from my dog

Hello again friends and welcome to my table! I hope you all had a fabulous week. Do any of you have a dog? I have a fifty pound Retriever mix who loves to play with anything that’s full of air. Balloons, bubble wrap, packing pillows… literally anything filled with air. If we get any sort of package delivered to the house, she is right there, paws on counter, just waiting to see how many packing pillows or bubble wrap bubbles she gets to “kill.”

Our loveable Winnie is most definitely a member of the family. She is loyal, faithful, loving, honest about her feelings… Hmm… she has the very qualities I long to possess! Well, let me examine this a little more closely.

When I come home from somewhere, Winnie doesn’t ask me questions like “what are you doing here” or “why are you wearing that” or “how much money did you earn today”. No, she simply wiggles her way up to me, excited that I’m present to spend time with her. She flops over onto her side, belly exposed, ready for a good scratchin’. She doesn’t ask me to wash my hands first, she doesn’t ask me to change my clothes, she doesn’t even ask me to show her my pay check to see if I’m worthy to pet her.

I sit on the floor cooing at her while rubbing her chubby belly. She gazes lovingly at me with an expression that says “I love you and I’m so glad your home.” We spend a few moments like this, appreciating one another, and I think of all the people who can’t seem to accept me for the way I am… blindness and all. Those who would rather not work with me because I “probably wouldn’t be able to do ‘such and such’ anyway.” People who find MY “affliction” their biggest burden. People who can’t see past my disability to see my capability.

But Winnie, she just loves me and doesn’t care about any of that. She teaches me to love unconditionally. She teaches me to look past all my imperfections and see who God created me to be. Even when others seem to look past me because I can’t look at them, I am still Gods child. In Jerimiah 1:5, God says “I knew you before I formed you in your mothers womb, before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my profit to the nations.” Before I was ever born, God knew me and He is the very one that formed me!

As I ponder this scripture and the thoughts of my value to spite my blindness, I’ve heard God whisper to me “I see you. You are MY daughter.” Sometimes learning to love and accept unconditionally means loving and accepting ourselves unconditionally. Even if no one sees us, God does see us, and we are His children. I don’t have to seek approval or strive to be seen because God already sees me… and friends, He sees YOU too! Love yourself with the unconditional love that your best furry four legged friend does. No need to measure up to expectations. God is just waiting to have us come to Him and He is waiting there with arms open wide and saying “I love you and I’m so glad your home.”

Well our unconditionally loving buddies need goodies to eat too, so here is something a little different. This is something your pooch will love and devour…

Liver Snaps dog treats

img_53011 carton (1.25 lbs.) raw chicken livers (found in meat department)

1 cup rolled oats (or steel cut, which ever you prefer or have on hand)

1 cup unbleached flour

1 egg

1 tsp. dried parsley

Empty carton of livers into a blender. Add the egg. Snap down the lid and chop until livers are liquified. In separate medium size bowl, place flour, oatmeal, and parsley. Sift together with hands. Pour in liquified livers and mix well. It will be similar to cake batter. Grease 9 x 13 cake pan. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pour batter into pan and gently shimmy pan back and forth to level out the batter. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool, then cut into approximately 1-1 ½ inch squares. You can keep some in the fridge for up to a week. Place remaining livers in freezer for up to 3 months.

My dog is completely hooked on these so they most assuredly don’t last 3 months. This is a great alternative natural treat for your best bud. Oh, BTW… Winnie eats them frozen as well! Crazy dog!

 

Well that went terribly wrong… didn’t it?

It’s sooooooo good to be back here with all of you! Did you have a blessed Christmas? Was it maybe a little difficult this year? It occurred to me several times over the holiday that sometimes Christmas isn’t always the joyous season that it’s supposed to be. If you’ve lost a loved one, if you’ve spent the holiday alone, if expectations don’t seem to be met and it leaves you feeling less than… many things can play a part in how we feel at Christmas time. But ya know what the good news is? It’s a brand new year!

This is a time for God to be able to do a little more healing, a little more mending, and a little more fulfilling.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I spoke for the first time at my church. (If you prayed for me for that, thank you!) It was to be the “Christmas message.” Meaning I was to put the words out there that moved everyone from a Grinch state of mind to the final scene of A Christmas Carol when Scrooge has had a change of heart and is now “Father Christmas.” No pressure, right?

I had been praying over the last several months that if God wanted me to speak for Him, it would have to come by invitation. This was the only way I would be sure that it was Him asking and not seeking out the speaking engagements on my own desires. So after some time praying, the phone call with the invitation came. To which I responded with “Ya know I’ve been praying about this and God has done what I prayed for, so… Yes, I’d be honored.” Then immediately after hanging up I said “God I didn’t really think You were gonna do it!”

Have you ever done that? Prayed and prayed for something and it got answered and you kinda freaked out? Let me explain why I freaked out… I cannot have notes, teleprompters, flash cards… nothing. If you are new at the table, let me fill you in… I’m blind.

So I had to speak from memory. Now people will usually say that they would rather hear a message spoken from the heart rather then note cards anyway, but most people still have just a few notes to guide them along. Well this being my first time doing this, I was V E R Y nervous! I carefully chose my outfit, I already knew what scripture God laid on my heart, I prayed, I studied, I prayed some more…

After a week of curve balls like my computer crashing, getting a concerning health report about a close family member, the death of a dear friend, and my vision getting a little worse (I do have a little vision, 90% vision loss), I felt a bit unsteady. The day arrived and my stomach was in knots.

I spent the morning mentally going over what I wanted to speak about. I wrung my hands. I paced all around. “What if I mess up God’s message?”, “What if I trip on my heels and fall flat on my face up there?”, “What if I get the hicc-ups while I’m speaking?”

These were all my concerns and more. It was time. I walked up with the elders and deacons. I sat in the front row awaiting my turn at the microphone. I listened to the elder doing the prayer, he spoke a prayer over my message. Then the mic was handed to me. I stood before the congregation… and forgot EVERY word I wanted to say!

I once heard Jennifer Rothschild (a blind speaker and author) tell how she prepared for her speaking engagements. Obviously notes and such did not work for her either. She said she pictured in her mind a ladder. The verses she wanted to use were the rungs of the ladder and the message between each scripture was the space between the rungs. Y’all my message was nothing more then a step stool at this point. NOTHING… I could remember nothing. I babbled my way through, praying all the while for God to help me. I was sure I had visible beads of sweat on my forehead. I couldn’t wait to be done. I actually asked how much time I had left to speak. “Until you are done with your message” our head Elder replied. Wonderful! I’m done then.

I spoke for exactly 33 minutes. I walked down the isle on my husband’s arm, stepped out into the foyer and tried like crazy by biting my inner lip, not to burst into tears. I dreaded all the people coming out and giving me that sympathetic pat on the arm and saying “Well it was ok for your first time.”

Lord just get me through the next few minutes so I can go home and have a good cry and make my vow to never do this again.

Ya know what happened then? Person after person came out of that sanctuary, shook my hand, and told me how much the message touched them! People saying it was just what they needed to hear that day! Men and Women saying they had never heard that passage of scripture explained that way and would always remember it now!

WHAT???!!!

Were these people in the same church service I was?

I even had a woman in the church who has always been very forthcoming about sermons she wasn’t fond of, come and tell me it was “the best sermon she’d ever heard!” I was dumfounded. I don’t know what they heard come from my mouth but it surely was not from me.

I share this with you because I want someone to read it with an understanding that if God asks you to do something… have no fear of how it will turn out. The more we try to do “it “ perfectly in our own strength, the more we worry. The scripture found in Philipians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” was lived out that day in a huge way for me. That verse doesn’t say “most things” or “some things” or even “almost everything.” No, it says “ALL things”

Friends if you are feeling the call to do what God has placed in front of you no matter how big or small it may be… trust that He will help you do it. It might be scary, it might be nerve wracking, it might be down right knee knocking, teeth chattering, beads of sweat visible to everyone dripping down your face kinda terrifying. But if God has called you, He will not leave you! Discover what He is asking of you by praying then be ready to live it out loud for Him! He loves you too much to let you do it alone.

So now we have our spiritual food, let’s munch on some physical food…

Egg Nog French toast

1 cup eggnog

2 eggs

½ tsp. cinnamon

Splash of vanilla

¼ tsp. nutmeg

In pie plate, scramble eggs with a fork. Pour in all remaining ingredients. Blend well with fork. Use a large skillet or electric fry pan sprayed with cooking spray or better yet, melt a couple tablespoons of butter. Using a good thick bread, soak the slices one at a time in the eggnog mixture, turning over to coat both sides. Place soaked slices in pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Spread on butter and pour on the syrup and let the yumming begin!