2016!

Oh my goodness!  It’s 2016 already!!  And it’s ten days in – ALREADY.

Ok, so I know I’ve done this before, but I’m going to try and start blogging again.  Not that I think anyone will read this, but more as a place to put my thoughts.  We’ve been reading through the Bible (we started in Genesis last January, we’re mid-way through Ezekiel now — yes, we’re slow) and I’ve been learning a lot of stuff. So I want to write down what I feel God is showing me.

So here’s to new beginnings.  Maybe, also, I’ll post low-carb recipes that my family loves.  :)

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Update and thoughts

First, update on the chicken dinner – it turned out ok, considering I wasn’t too sure about the smell while it was cooking.  :)  Everyone loved the chicken.  It didn’t need 6 hours, it could have stopped at 4, I think, as it turned out a little dry.  But everyone here loves chicken, so they didn’t really care.  The potatoes were weird to begin with (I think they were old), so I didn’t get a really good read on how they did.  They needed more time, though, as they were still hard in the middle.  I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better to put the potatoes on the bottom layer.  But then they would be covered in juice and stuff.  hmm…

Second – thoughts –

I’ve been doing a lot of random thinking lately.  Instead of playing “The Sims” and shutting off my brain, I decided to write down what I am thinking.  These are just thoughts – just musings; nothing really fleshed out or complete.

This morning a friend posted a story on Facebook about a pastor pretending to be homeless.  Another friend last night had posted that the story was not true, linking to a Snopes article.  A friend of hers posted another article about a new pastor of a Methodist church in TN living like a homeless person for a week prior to accepting his new appointment.  This is really weird because I actually asked Jeff just the other day (Sunday) if he’d ever thought about “going undercover” and living like a homeless person for a while to see what it’s like.  (he said no.)  I think about things like this, because I wonder why some people are homeless.  I know for some it is a choice, made either by their lack of concern or by substance abuse or by being unemployed.  the part I don’t understand very often is why a person wouldn’t live at a shelter or somewhere safe, and chooses to live on the streets.  In the article about the pastor in TN, he went to various shelters during his one-week experiment.  He said one place only had five people waiting outside, and there was a lot of paperwork to be filled out prior to admittance.  Were there only five people waiting because they didn’t want to fill out the paperwork?  or were they unable to, due to language or physical barriers?  These are things I don’t understand.

In my response to my friend I said that I didn’t think the one article she linked to was real.  That got a response from one of her friends – “It doesn’t matter if it is true or not, it is a good reminder. I give money whenever I am asked because Jesus would give it. Once it has left my hands it is no longer my responsibility what it is used for…” This response killed me.  I did not respond online because I didn’t think it was worth the effort to get into what was sure to be a fight.  IMO, it IS our responsibility to make sure the money we give away – whether it is to a homeless beggar, or some charitable organization – goes where it needs to go.  That’s being good stewards of what we have.  And to just give money away is laziness – you’re just alleviating your discomfort by not caring what happens with the money.  Jesus never just gave away money; as a matter of fact, He often overlooked the presenting issue (e.g. blindness) and spoke to the heart issue (“your sins are forgiven, take up your bed and walk.”).  Shouldn’t we respond in kind?

What else have I been thinking about?  Let’s see …

talked to another friend about pastors and churches and the weirdness that exists when the pastor decides to leave.  From my experience with my father, he never told anyone until he was ready to leave – only ever giving them a month or so advance notice.  I never did understand this, and even questioned him about it (a rare thing for me, the peacekeeper) when Jeff and I were in IA for Spring Break.  He basically said they didn’t need to know until later.  Did Dad not want to deal with the flack he might get, or the hurt feelings of people?  I have seen other pastors do the same, or even worse (one pastor left on a sabbatical and never returned – totally used the church [they were still paying him, and they shipped his furniture to him].) and my question is why?  Shouldn’t there be open communication between pastors and their flock?  shouldn’t the church know that the pastor feels that God might be directing him elsewhere?  And why are Pentecostals so dead-set again the whole method of appointing pastors like they do in Episcopal (and other denominations) churches?  Doesn’t it make more sense to appoint a pastor?  Electing a pastor gives the church a whole lot of power over the pastor, but also allows the pastor power in his own right, in that he becomes kind of what the church is all about, or the driving force of the church.  Appointing a pastor means the pastor is simply an employee doing a job.  Is church supposed to be about the pastor, or is church supposed to be more than that – a body of believers working together?

See … my brain just goes everywhere!  My friend Kristi talked to me this morning about how we as Christians tend not to know how to quiet our minds like they do in Eastern religions.  The psalmist David talks about meditating on the law day and night.  What does it mean to meditate on God’s law?  What does it mean to long to be in His presence?  Do we do that?  Do I do that?  Would my life be different if I did?

Why am I learning all that I am learning now, rather than before or later?  What does it mean to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?  Am I bringing glory to God?  I sure don’t feel like I am when I yell at the kids or am rude to my mother-in-law.  Does glorifying God require you to be a doormat, or to not speak out, or criticize or to be an enabler?  I don’t think so.  I think God wants us to help others, to encourage and exhort each other to life and godliness.  But what does that mean?!  How does it look, how does it play out in real life?  the early church was persecuted all the time – really persecuted – hunted down and fed to lions – and yet people came to know Jesus in swarms.

So, I’m still thinking, and ruminating, and pondering all these things (and more).  But I will stop here, in case anyone is actually reading this, and take a break.  Time for a walk with my hunny.

 

 

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Fabulous Dinner?!

Well, here goes … I’m attempting using my crock-pot again, in an attempt to feed my family better AGAIN.  Seems like I’m always failing on the whole menu planning, grocery shopping, saving money and eating well areas of my life!  So, today I planned to make stuff in the crockpot while we were all at Sea Scouts.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, but it is from a blog I’ve followed before – A Year of Slow Cooking.    The Pinterest recipe calls for ribeye or some other steak, 3/4″ thick, but then says you can use chicken, too.  Since I don’t have any steak on hand, I’m using chicken.

Here’s what I did.  I’ll let you know how it turned out later.  :)

Bottom layer – 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sprinkle of garlic powder, sprinkle of savory herbs, 1/4 c. brisket sauce (because, well, I thought it was BBQ sauce, but found out it wasn’t :( )

Second layer – five (rather small) potatoes, poked, oiled, salted and wrapped in foil.  Didn’t have corn on the cob and didn’t think there was room to do a packet of frozen veggies.  I’ll just make some on the side later.

Covered crockpot, turned on “Auto” and walked away.  :)

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Wedding Bells

No, we’re not renewing our vows or anything ~ yet!  😉  Summertime is here, and that usually means weddings … when we were in college, the first weekend after Graduation a whole slew of our friends and acquaintances got married!  Why then?  Well, EBC did not allow you to get married during the school year unless you were willing to miss a whole term.  While the intention was good – they wanted newly married couples to not have to deal with being newly married and have the stress of college – it didn’t exactly do what was intended because Spring term had a lot of girls way more focused on wedding plans than actually learning!  Talk about stress.  :)  Anyways, I digress.

Today I was talking to a friend about the Church in America.  We were talking about the different things the Church focuses on, and how, to us, those things seem like distractions.  The image came to mind of a woman getting ready for her wedding day, flitting about from project to project, worrying over the seating, the guest list, the flowers, the dress, and the food, while all the while completely ignoring her bridegroom, and sometimes, even care of herself.  She is disheveled, distracted, frantic, and a little OCD.  Instead of drawing close to her fiancé, and learning more about Him, and learning who He desires her to be, she is chasing down the latest in technology, wanting the ceremony to be sure to be the newest and best.  Instead of studying the letters He sent her, she studies letters others have written about Him.   Instead of focusing on Him, she focuses on the guests for the wedding and making sure she gets everyone possible to come.

This bride is all about the outward appearance of things.  Half of her body is hurting, a quarter of it is diseased, but she covers all that up with makeup and hopes for the best.  She doesn’t want to admit she is sick, tired and needs help.  She won’t listen to the gentle voices telling her to rest and meditate on her bridegroom, instead, she pushes herself harder.  She thinks, maybe, if she ignores the diseased part of her body it will just get better.  She knows for a fact the hurting part of her body can just suck it up and keep moving.  Her hands no longer work, they’ve given up, since they can’t move properly, due to her elbows having arthritis.  Her feet are bare, cracked and dirty because since her hands don’t work, she cannot wear shoes.  Her heart is failing, because her arteries are clogged, due to trying out too many wedding cake samples and reception menu ideas.  Her eyes have told her knees that they won’t work with them anymore because they are not doing what the eyes think they should be doing.

The sad part is, she thinks she knows what her Bridegroom wants.  She thinks she has Him all figured out, so she doesn’t need to listen to Him or study Him.  The bride thinks that she needs to be large and boisterous, not healthy and wise, even if that means being smaller than what society says is good.  She is selfish, wanting all the best of everything, instead of listening to her Bridegroom, Who calls her to come away with Him – to leave all the fuss and bustle behind.

 

 

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Blessings upon blessings

What have you been up to so far this summer?  Our summer has been fantastic already, and it looks like it will keep being fantastic!  We’ve started writing down all the stuff we’ve been doing in a “thankful” jar so we can remember.  For goodness sake, we went fishing at Alder Lake this past Tuesday, but it already feels like that was weeks ago!

Already this summer we’ve been to the Mountain twice, Jeff and the boys have been out on boats in a lake and in Commencement Bay, we’ve been to the Zoo (I got sunburned), we’ve gone fishing, hung out with friends, have plans to hang out more and checked out Sea Scouts (which was totally awesome!!).  Upcoming plans are to camp out in Kamali & Tina’s backyard, go to more parks, go hiking with several different friends, hang out on Ruston Way on the 4th of July & hang out with friends on the 4th of July, join Sea Scouts (which means spending Saturdays on the water!!), see a Rainier’s game (Jeff and I were blessed with tickets for the weekend of our anniversary), celebrate 18 blissful years of marriage (yes, there have been rough times, but God is faithful and the mosaic He’s created is far more beautiful than how we began), celebrate 44 years of Jeff and 14 years of Daniel, participate in the 300 and the 4US event, go to Warrior Camp, see far-away friends and relax at Rockaway Beach.

God has blessed us so much.  In all of this He has continued to give Jeff jobs and make it possible for the boys and I to keep working.  :)  How’s your summer going?

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muffins gone wrong :(

Two mornings ago I made Cream of Wheat.  Cream of Wheat and I have a love/hate relationship.  See, I love to eat it, but the family only tolerates it.  I love to make it, but am usually trying to do too many things at once with a foggy early-morning brain which usually leads to the milk boiling over and a big huge mess.  A friend advised me that I can cut the milk with water (do half & half) and that should solve my boiling over problem … she didn’t realize she was speaking to me – who seems to have a penchant for boiling over milk in whatever state it’s in.  Because of my relationship with Cream of Wheat, I’ve started using a really big pot to cook it.  Practical Sonja decided the other morning that it would be better to make more than enough so there could be leftovers.   Because, well, even though they tolerate it, sometimes they ask for more.  Instead of making 4 servings, that I stretch to five, I decided to make NINE.  Nine servings of Cream of Wheat is a LOT.  We all had big bowls and there was still a good-sized Tupperware (six cups+) leftover.  No problem, I thought.  I’d recently seen a recipe for leftover hot cereal muffins.  I LOVE muffins, as does the fam.

Fast forward to this morning – decided I should try and make said muffins because, well, we don’t want the Cream of Wheat to go bad.  So I made these –

Leftover Hot Cereal Muffins makes 2 dozen

from Real Life Home

2 cups leftover hot cereal 1 1/2 cups milk 1/2 cup melted butter 2 eggs

2 cups flour (all whole wheat or half whole wheat and half unbleached) 1 cup sugar 4 t. baking powder 1 t. salt 1/2 to 1 cup optional extra additions (craisins, raisins, coconut, nuts, seeds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two dozen muffin cups.

Place all the wet ingredients, including hot cereal, in the blender and blend briefly to combine. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the blended wet ingredients and stir to just combine.

Scoop into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve warm with jam and butter or eat plain.

Cream of Wheat stretches a lot.  The recipe says it will make 2 dozen.  It made 24 plus a pan of mini muffins.  Not a big deal, as the family loves muffins.  :)  However, I must’ve done something wrong because my muffins turned out flat and squishy.  :(  And they are a little plain.  So I think I’m going to experiment.  I’ll get back to you soon (there’s still half a container or more of leftover Cream of Wheat!!)!

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Old Facebook Discussion

Ok, so awhile back, I asked these questions on Facebook –

Why do Christians feel they have to act differently than non-existent stereotypes the world chooses for us? Have you ever run into a minister like the guy in “Footloose”, or someone who preached ‘hell-fire & brimstone’?

I received a lot of different answers, and some people were confused about my questions.  (Sometimes I think we read into questions people ask on Facebook, and don’t just take them at face value.)  Now I have time, and I would like to revisit this discussion, which kind of leads into the next discussion I want to tackle – the one I posted about Christians not understanding basic theology.  But first – let me clarify my position on the first of the above questions.

When I asked, “Why do Christians feel they have to act differently than non-existent stereotypes the world chooses for us?”, it was  in response to some posts I had seen where people (Christians) were wanting to downplay the “judgmental” aspect of Christianity.  I keep seeing references to Christians as being like the dad in “Footloose” or being super-critical or judgmental.  But these stereotypes are non-existent in my mind, because the Christians I know and the churches I’ve been to aren’t like this.  However, it seems to me that mainstream Christianity is responding to these stereotypes and changing actions, speech and even thoughts to combat them.  Why is this?  Why do churches feel like they have to be nice – so nice, in fact, that some refuse to point out sin – and we can’t say anything to anyone (even those within the church with us)?

I feel like the world has set up an image for us that we are trying to tear down, when that image was an improper representation of who we are from the beginning.  The world set up an image of Christians not based on who we were, but who they saw us as – filtered through their sinful nature.  This image is a reaction to sinful people being convicted of who they are.

So, why do we feel the need to change our image in the world’s eyes?  Why do we need them to like us?  The Gospel, in and of Itself, is offensive, and a stumbling block … (Jesus’ and Paul’s words) … people will see us the same way (Jesus said so).  I understand the present thinking that we want to make the Gospel more open, or palatable to non-Christians.  Can we not share the Gospel without reinventing ourselves?

When we reinvent ourselves, or change how we act in response to how the world perceives us, we are degrading and detracting from the Gospel.  The thing we seem to forget is that God doesn’t need us to be anything.  We seem to be under the belief that we have to look our best, do our best, make everything pretty, in order for the Gospel to be accepted.  Truth is, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5)  We do not have to make the Gospel nicer, we don’t have to have a pretty church.  In all honesty, we don’t even have to be nice people!  Because, the Gospel is not dependent on US.  If we believe that it is, we have a tiny, tiny God.

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Baked Oatmeal

My friend Mary, over at Barefeet in the Kitchen, sent me this recipe for baked oatmeal.  She is so awesome, she just wrote it off the top of her head!  I’ve tweaked what she gave me originally, to make it like we like it.  You can find many more oatmeal recipes over on her blog, as they LOVE oatmeal!  :)

Baked Oatmeal 

3 cups of rolled oats

1/2 cup, plus 2 TBSP of sugar

2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1/4 cup applesauce

1 cup raisins, cranberries, blueberries …  today I chopped two, small, fresh apples and used them because I didn’t have any dried fruit.  I’ve also used canned peaches – that was really yummy!!

 

Mix all of this together and pour it into a 7×10 (or something smaller than 9×13) dish.  Doubled recipe completely fills a 9×13 pan.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

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For real this time! (for sure!)

Okay, so here we go again … Jeff is awesome (as always) and has made it so all my old posts are here together.  :)  He also made it so I can blog from my phone, a device I am relying on more and more.  So we’ll see how this goes!

The boys are awesome, also.  :)  They bring so much joy to my life.  I really cannot believe how blessed we are.  My joy is so much deeper because of all God has wrought in my life.

Maybe now I will be able to write down all the thoughts flying about in my head, and not only write them down, but refine them, and clarify them.  Here’s hoping!  :)

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Fox! He blends, doesn’t he?
Thankful we were able to take this trip! I’ve been wanting to do more stuff like this!

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