The Hands and Feet of Jesus

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So much has happened in our nation since the inauguration of President Trump. At times I have felt that I can’t keep up. Our new president is making some big changes and following through with many of the promises he made during his campaign. Although it is refreshing to see things being done, I find it a little scary and sometimes confusing.

One of the  issues that is flooding our televisions, social media feeds and conversations is refugee immigration. Over the past few days, I have listened to the arguments for and against. Angry people, happy people, sad people.  Although, I do agree with the president’s stand, I see merit on both sides. After all, we are dealing with real lives here; human beings, children. It’s hard for our hearts not to go out to the innocents that are caught up in the mess. It is easy to become swayed by the strong emotions that issues of this nature generate. It is also difficult to sort through media coverage and discern truth from lies. We can get so bogged down by news reports, blog posts and social media opinion that we fail to address these issues as we should.

So what am I, we, to do? Sit back and carry on with the day to day? Lobby our government officials? March on Washington? Amidst all of the chaos,  I am reminded once again to turn to the Word. What does God say? As Christians this is the first question we should be asking  before jumping on any of the multiple bandwagons available to us. God’s word has answers for every situation we deal with in life, if we are willing to find them.

The first thing I read is that we are to honor those in authority over us. Yes, whether you like it or not, that means our President. Romans 13:1-5 speaks very clearly on this issue. Honor does not mean to always agree, but it is an understanding on our part that the leaders we have are placed in their positions by God. His plan might not be obvious, but it is perfect. If we say we trust Him, then we need to obey what He has required of us. God has the ability to move the hearts of kings, we have to trust His plan.

Secondly, suffering is part of living in a fallen world. The harsh and ugly reality is that the poverty, persecution and suffering we see throughout our nation and world is as a direct result of sin, and the rejection of God by the people He created. We can not, nor will we ever end the atrocities happening in our day. The heart of man is wicked. Sin abounds. Matthew 24:9-14 tells us that Christians will be persecuted, that we would be hated by all nations. As our leaders start taking a stand against the evil that threatens our country, people will rise up against us. Even believers will turn away from their faith, because their hearts are stirred more by a cause than the truth of God’s word.

Thirdly, as Christians, the Church, it is our responsibility to take care of those in society who are hurting, lost, destitute, without hope. Whether they be Americans, foreigners or refugees. Our job is not to try and change the politicians that make decisions for our nation, rather we are to pray, and do that which God has asked of us. That, being to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV). To every people, to every nation. We have a mission field right on our doorstep. I have to ask, are we wasting that opportunity by arguing, being negative and divisive? The truth is, souls are at stake. Do we feel the true weight of that?

And it doesn’t stop there; for what are words if they are not accompanied by actions? They are merely a noise similar to loud and clanging cymbals. (1Corinthians 13:1, NIV). We are to exhibit our faith through our actions. Our love. Scripture clearly warns us not to turn away from the needy. “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses” (Proverbs 28:27 NIV). We are promised a great reward for taking care of the have-not’s and the vulnerable “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17, NIV)

My prayer is that the body of Christ would rise up. Not in protest or to voice it’s social opinion, but to extend hands that God can use to build His kingdom. That we would be able to properly separate our emotions from truth, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and leave the rest to Him.

Chicken Taco Soup

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This is a family favorite and so easy and versatile. You can tweak the recipe to accommodate what you have on hand in the pantry. It freezes great too! Here is the base.

What you need:

4-5 cups cooked chicken

1 -16oz can black beans or kidney beans

2 -10oz cans chopped tomatoes with green chilies

2 cups frozen corn

1 1/2 T cumin

1 1/2 T coriander

2T chili powder

ground red pepper (optional to taste)

salt & pepper to taste

6 cups chicken stock

2T vegetable oil

masa or corn flour mixed with water to make a smooth paste

How To:

Pour the oil into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the chicken and spices. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the spices are fragrant. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn and stock. Stir until it comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Combine the masa or corn flour and water until it is a smooth paste. Stir into the soup stirring until the broth thickens a little. Ladle into bowls, and top with your choice of garnish. E.g. sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado or guacamole and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping!

Cherry Coffee Cake

I usually save this yummy coffee cake for the holiday season, however for some reason I didn’t make it this past Christmas. It is a perfect weekend breakfast or brunch treat. This recipe divides perfectly into 2 8×8 foil pans that can be given away as gifts! Just a thought 🙂

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What you need:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 beaten egg

2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can fruit pie filling, such as cherry, apple, strawberry, peach, or blueberry

Glaze – 1/2 Cup powdered sugar, a drop of vanilla, splash of milk

How To:

  • Grease and flour a 9×13 pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine flour and granulated sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Set aside 1/2 cup mixture for topping.
  • Stir baking powder, soda, nutmeg, and salt into remaining crumb mixture. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl combine egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to nutmeg mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Set aside 1 cup batter.
  • Spread remaining batter onto bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan or dish.
  • Carefully spread the desired pie filling on top.
  • Spoon reserved batter into small mounds on top of filling.
  • Sprinkle with topping.
  • Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 30 minutes or until slightly browned and your knife comes out clean.
  • Let cool. Mix up glaze ingredients and drizzle over cake. Enjoy!

Is Your House Clean?

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Have you ever noticed how God uses the ordinary, mundane things of life to teach us? I love that the lessons He has for us are not usually sent by audible voice or great revelation but by everyday things that we can all relate to. It’s a new year! A time for new beginnings, resolutions, and plans.

By the time January 1 arrives, I find myself rather grumpy at the clutter of Christmas decorations and chomping at the bit to take them down. As much as I love Christmas and the beautiful décor that comes with it, I enjoy putting it all away and refreshing my home just as much as I did putting it up! Am I weird, or can you relate?

So earlier this week, I grabbed my storage boxes from the garage and started pulling down my garland and unplugging my lights. But as I did, I noticed something unpleasant: my house was dirty!

I’ve always considered myself a good housekeeper, one of those “a place for everything and everything in its place” type of people. But as I went deeper, I started noticing the crumbs and dust bunnies under the furniture, the dust on the top of my kitchen cabinets, the sand and debris under the living-room rug. Everything looked great on the surface. But those hard-to-reach hidden places that I don’t look at on a daily basis needed a lot of attention.

As I rolled up my sleeves and started to pull apart my house to take care of those neglected areas, it was almost as if the Lord nudged me. “This is what I want to do with you,” I heard Him say.

As I went deeper and moved more things, I found more dirt, more dust, and a couple of stains that I hadn’t known were there. What God wanted to speak to me was so evident. How often do I, do we, look nice and clean on the surface but hide dirt, dust, cobwebs, and stains inside? This is a short and simple truth, but it cuts right to the heart of our Christian lives.

Matthew 23:25–26 says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (NIV). Jesus was speaking to the religious, self-righteous, learned men of the day. He saw their pride and was unmoved by their words and actions. He saw beneath the surface, into the heart of each one.

What was spoken back then is still being spoken today. Not to the Pharisees but to us, God’s people. We spend a lot of time working on the surface stuff that people see, but much like in our homes, we don’t go deeper very often. I believe that as we move further into this new year, God wants us to dig deeper, to move things around a little so we can expose the dirt and stains in our lives that maybe we don’t even realize exist.

As I finished up my cleaning project and started putting my home back together, it felt good to know that even though those hidden places are usually unseen, the layers of dirt and dust in them were stripped away. They were spotless. For now. But I realized that it will be necessary to uncover those areas more than a few times a year. I made a decision to incorporate that task into my regular cleaning routine.

May it be so with our spiritual lives. I pray that God will continue to nudge me this year. To show me through the mundane, everyday activities and jobs I find myself in that He is interested in me, in my heart, and that He wants to make things new and fresh. May we recognize His voice, pull out the feather duster, move around the furniture, and respond.

Lord, help us to hear Your voice and act in humble obedience to it. May we allow You to expose the dirt that we try to keep covered and hidden. I pray that we would be transparent and allow You to do the work in us that You desire to do. Amen.

Happy New Year!

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Good-bye 2016! Wow! What a year it has been.

From the Olympics to the US election, from the devastation of global unrest and violence to Chewbacca Mom’s viral three minutes of joy, 2016 has had ups and downs, uncertainty and unrest, hope and despair. In the midst of it all, I have found myself reminded over and over again that the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills holds everything in the palm of His hands. Nothing happens without His knowledge.

For my family and me, it has been a good year, one of provision and blessing. I am so grateful for my hardworking, faithful, godly husband and my precious children.

For me, 2016 has been a year of learning to be content where I am—to bloom where I have been planted. In the past, living in Florida was never on my radar, so moving here six years ago was not in the plan—well, my plan! I am definitely a four-seasons type of girl. I love the fresh air and new life of spring; the changing colors of fall; and cold, cozy winters. Living among palm trees, sand, and 80 degrees year round is not something I get excited about or particularly enjoy.

This year however, I have come to accept that I am here in Florida for a reason, or, you might say, for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, ESV). It’s only taken me six years of complaining to figure this out! I don’t know what the purpose for being here is, but I am resolved in 2017 to rest in God’s plan for my family right where we are. You see, God knows what we need and wants to be intimately involved in every area of our lives.

As the great preacher and writer A. W. Tozer said, “Outside the will of God there is nothing I want. Inside the will of God there is nothing I fear.” That is my heart for 2017. God is in control, and I choose joy while placing myself under His will.

Moving forward into 2017 comes with a little trepidation. Big changes are coming for our nation, and in turn, our world. I am hopeful, but we really don’t know what these changes will bring. However, we do know who holds our future!

I am reminded of Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (ESV). It doesn’t matter who the president is or who is running our government. We trust in the Lord! He has the final say.

I pray that as Christians, as the church, we would not continue to be complacent. That we would not rest on our laurels because we now have a God-fearing president and a few Christian leaders. We are still called to be light and salt. The world is still lost and in darkness. Let us be awake in these days, alert, bold, standing firm for truth and ready for whatever we are called to do.

May your 2017 be full of blessing, learning, and God’s mercy and grace. Amen!

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;  the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26, ESV).

Easy Peasy Baked Spaghetti

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So being a mom of four and having to make my food budget stretch, I love it when I can make simple, easy, cheap AND nutritious meals for my family. Winner, winner, spaghetti dinner!

Ingredients:

1 pound spaghetti thin or regular

1 pound Italian sausage or ground beef

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

4oz cream cheese softened

3-4 cups mozzarella cheese

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the noodles.

While the water boils and the noodles cook, brown the meat in a pan. Drain the fat.

When the meat is cooked add the sauce and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.

Drain the pasta just short of al dente, as it will cook a little more when you bake it.

Return the noodles to the pan and add the meat mixture and the cream cheese. Stir until well combined.

Pour into a 9×13 pan, top with mozzarella and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the top is melty and golden. Serve with a salad or steamed veggies. Enjoy!

Ham & Egg Scramble

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I am always looking for great ways to use all of those leftover meats that hang out in the fridge after the holidays. Here is a great, quick and easy breakfast!

Ingredients:

Ham diced into small pieces

Eggs (2 per person)

Splash of half & half or milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Cheese (optional)

How to:

In a small pan add a little butter and sauté the ham dices on medium low until slightly browned.

While ham browns whisk together the eggs, milk, salt & pepper.

When ham is browned add the egg mixture and let it set for a few seconds. Slowly fold the eggs until they reach your desired consistency. Sprinkle cheese and give one last fold.

Enjoy!