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!

 

My word for 2019

Since many of you shared your word for 2019 after reading Beth Vogt’s post a couple of weeks ago, it inspired me to share mine as well. I had never really thought about a special word like that to focus on until last year. My word for 2018 was “whole.” But I needed to rid myself of the words like “broken,” “damaged” or “unusable”. I also set three goals for myself in 2018. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet those goals in the way I had hoped. I do feel However, that I have made progress on being “whole.” After reading, praying and talking with many spiritually lead women, I feel I can let go of those negative words. In fact, I’ve written quite a bit more on the book I’m writing on the subject. This will be part of my 2019 goals.

I have chosen my word for 2019. It will be (drum roll please), “Renew.”

Psalm 51:10 says, “Create a clean heart in me, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

I want to be Renewed by God in this new year. Renewed in every way! Spiritually, physically, in my writing, in my acts of obedience, in my relationships, and so much more. I love that Psalm 51 says a “steadfast spirit.” The word “steadfast” means- – Firmly fixed in place. Unwavering. WOW! Wouldn’t it be awesome to be fixed in place where our faith is concerned? Unwavering in our relationships?

As I move forward in this ministry, I want to be steadfast in my faith that God will grow it in His timing. I want to make the commitment to be present for my husband and kids. I want to be fixed on the word of God and in turn being His hands and feet. That’s the beauty of a new year. We get to “renew”.

This was just a quick note to share my word with you all. Will you choose a word? Pray and ask the Lord what He would have you to learn about in this new year.

Well as you know, the holidays are a bustling time of year. We all need some time to rest after all the festivities. I’m going to take some time to be present with my fam and get “renewed” for the new year. We have lots of left-overs ‘round here as I’m sure that you do. Finish off those yummy goodies and I’ll have a recipe for you in the new year. I’ll meet ya back here at the table on January 9. I can’t wait to see how the Lord moves in this brand-new year! Happy New Year!!!!

Sleepy Dog.jpg

My gift to you

Small house with a lighted window in a snow covered pine forest
Well as promised… here is your gift for celebrating Around The Table’s birthday with me and a special Christmas gift! But first, grab a mug of that cranberry tea (recipe below) and snuggle in by the fire or under a fuzzy blanket to read a holiday story! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Click here to read “Christmas Dream or Memory”

Cranberry tea

1 qrt. WaterCeramic mug with steam rising form it nestled in in a sprig of pine and pinecones in the snow

16oz Whole cranberries

In a dutch oven filled with the quart of water, bring water to a boil then add cranberries. Cover pot and let all the berries burst. This should take about 10 minutes. Using an aditional large stock pot, place strainer over stock pot and drain cranberries reserving the juice.

Add to juice-

1 qt water

¾ cup cinnamon candies

1 ½ cup sugar

12 whole cloves

2 cinnamon  sticks

Simmer 7 minutes, drain using dutch oven again so as to reserve juice. Return juice to stock pot.

Add to juice-

6 oz. frozen orange juice from concentrate

6 oz. frozen lemonade from concentrate

3 qrt water

Simmer 15 minutes to blend flavors. Serve hot. Your house will be filled with a glorious smell of Christmas spices!

Putting it into words

There are many aspects of blindness that can be a Struggle. Sometimes it can even be a struggle to verbalize what the struggles are…

The following video clip of this young woman’s struggles with blindness put things into words that just… well… say a lot. It resonated with me on many levels…

As for this week’s recipe, I’m including it along with your gift that posts this Friday! See you in a couple of days!

Celebration time!

Hey everyone! There is a celebration to be had! Around The Table is one year old this month! Par’tay!

two small dogs, one wearing a party hat, are sitting amongst party decorations and plates of treats

To celebrate, let’s sit “around the table” and read something a little bit different together. This is something unusual that all of you haven’t seen from me before. Interested? Well stick around the table to find out what’s new!

If you love to share gifts with your friends and family at this time of year, tell them there is a place setting with their name on it here at the table. There is plenty of room for everyone. My faithful table family will receive this freebie next week along with new family members as a special Around the Table birthday/Christmas gift. Tell folks to head to:

www.cyndiwoods.com

And sign up to get Table posts in their inbox weekly, as well as periodic bonus posts!

Or forward the email with the link to make it as easy as possible for friends and family to get the freebies.

Thank you all so much for pulling up a chair and getting full at the table. See you in a few days with the surprise gift for the birthday party.

And be sure to subscribe to the blog.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!