“Whatever”

A friend of mine told me that she didn’t believe her testimony would mean much to anyone. She explained that she didn’t think her story would have much impact because she’d been raised in the church and gave her life to Christ when she was quite young. So she didn’t think there was any exciting stuff to tell.

I’ve also heard numerous stories of people who’ve come to faith in Christ when they’re older, having lived a pretty wild lifestyle.

One might say that, in a simplistic way to differentiate between the two stories, my friend was saved ‘from’ a pattern of sin and the second person was saved ‘out of’ a pattern of sin.

Whatever.

Please don’t think I take my brothers’ and sisters’ salvation lightly. By saying “whatever” I mean that, although God is pleased that we are now his children, no salvation story is better than another. I say that for two reasons.

The first reason is that both people–the one saved ‘from’ and the one saved ‘out of’–were saved by the same grace and power of the very same God. His love and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the basis for both salvation stories.

This is God’s Love and Grace

The other reason I say this is because both salvation stories can have impact and both can glorify God.

I have friends who’ve seen family members come out of a wild lifestyle to become Christ followers and it convinced them of the truth of the Gospel. But I’m also familiar with a story of a man who wasn’t convinced even after hearing those testimonies. What convinced him was the power of God to enable a person to have no desire to ever enter into a wild lifestyle.

We all have a story to tell. Each one is unique and with value. We need to tell it.

When it comes right down to it, God says we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory. It really doesn’t matter what age we were or what we’d done or failed to do before we came to faith in Christ. We needed the grace he extended. So every testimony matters. Because when it comes to God’s love and grace, one size fits all.

Are you sharing your story? You might want to do that. You could be a blessing to someone today.

Acting on Affirmations

next-life-chapter-cropRead this quote all day until you have it memorized. Repeat it to your friends any chance you get. Type “amen” in the comments because you believe it’s true. Print it out and post it on your fridge. Do all those things if you want. But…

I’ve discovered we have to deal with whatever is in the former chapters of our lives and get over what’s hurting us. Those hurts can include resentment, regrets, and open wounds because we won’t forgive. Real and meaningful progress doesn’t occur if we don’t deal with those things.

Affirmations are okay. But an affirmation is only something positive we tell ourselves which doesn’t become real for us until we’ve acted on it. Take for example one I found on a list for Christians:

“I see others as God’s gift to me.”

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I believe this so-called affirmation is true. But if, in my daily walk-about, I don’t treat everyone as the gift I believe they are, my words are hollow.

God’s promises are the same. He offers so much to us that we don’t have to work for. However, even though many of those promises are a faith matter, even the most recognizable work in our lives can be accompanied by his “Now, go.” There’s usually something he wants his disciples to do so they will receive the full benefit of the gift.

Read about a man who was born blind in John 9:1-34. He wasn’t healed simply because Jesus put mud on his eyes. Jesus put the mud there. That was God’s part. Then Jesus told the man to go wash his eyes in a pool and he’d be healed. When the man acted on Jesus’s instructions, he went home with the gift of eyesight.

A friend of mine says, “God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw the worms into their nests.” Quite often,  God doesn’t just come through with our need and that’s it. On the contrary, we’ll discover that there’s work for us to do which coincides with the work he’s already doing for us.

Go ahead and read your “last chapter.” Then ask God how he’d like you to deal with it. I’m guessing that for you, as it was for me, he’s expecting you to do something. Listen with humility to what he’s saying to you.

Then, “Go.”

And be a blessing to someone today.

Foodie Friday: 8 More Ways to Use Herbs

Last week’s Foodie Friday post offered ten ways to use herbs. We saw tips on how to enhance the flavors of different meats and for creating your own seasoning blends. This time, let’s look at those same ideas for pasta and vegetables.

When working with pasta, you can add new twists to familiar tastes. For instance:

  • Using ground nutmeg smooths out the flavor of Alfredo sauce. Ground mustard, rosemary, parsley and black pepper go well with savory mushroom sauces. Sprinkle tarragon over a primavera recipe.
  • Thyme, rosemary, oregano leaves, garlic powder, and black pepper are good with any pasta salad recipe. Here’s a fruity take on pasta salad. Italian seasoning, basil, crushed red pepper, garlic and onion powders, and oregano give hearty flavor to pasta soups, stews, and casseroles.
  • The several varieties of sauces we use for pasta work well depending on the type of noodle used. Shape and size determine the best choices. Capellini, angel hair, fettuccine, linguini and spaghetti work the best with smooth, thin sauces or sauces with chopped ingredients. Shaped pasta like mostaccioli, penne, rotelle, rotini and ziti are best used with chunky and heavier sauces. Large shells and manicotti lend themselves well to being stuffed with a hearty red sauce or cheese sauce.
  • If you’ve never tried making your own pesto sauce, try this easy recipe which goes well with those finer pastas like angel hair, fettuccine, linguini and spaghetti.

Whether your vegetable dish is a salad or you’re dressing up baked or steamed veggies, herbs will prove a welcome addition.

  • Potato salads, green salads, vegetable salads perk up with dill weed, celery salt, paprika, and white or black pepper. For a new sensation, use lemon pepper seasoning on green leafy vegetables like salad greens, spinach, kale, mustard, collard or mustard greens. Season corn, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash with ginger, cardamom, dill weed, chives, onion powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mace, marjoram, or thyme.

When it comes to fish, they fall into categories of mild, moderate and full flavors as other meats do.

  • For delicately flavored fish like flounder, sole, orange roughy, or trout, enhance them with thyme, tarragon, dill weed, garlic powder, oregano or white or black pepper. The moderate flavors of salmon, snapper, catfish and rock fish peak up with dill weed, Italian seasoning, tarragon, lemon and pepper seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, or pepper. Tuna and swordfish are full-flavored fish. They wake up to the addition of basil, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, garlic powder, and red or black pepper. Tilapia With Corn Salsa satisfies a craving for Mexican food.
  • When cooking shrimp or scallops or for creating any seafood recipe, try tarragon, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper, red or black pepper or parsley. Whether steaming crabs or broiling lobster, the unique flavors of dry mustard, red pepper, lemon pepper and chives work well.
  • Substitutions are helpful to know because, when you’re out of something fresh, something from your cupboard comes in handy. For 1 medium-sized onion, use 1 tablespoon onion powder. One eighth teaspoon garlic powder. One half teaspoon garlic salt is a substitute for 1 medium clove of garlic. Substitute one fourth teaspoon ginger for 1 teaspoon fresh ginger. In general, for 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon dried herbs.

It may sound strange, but this Spinach Chicken Manicotti uses nutmeg and basil along with the main ingredients.

 And a fast, easy tuna dish, Tuna Crescent Rings.

Remember to have fun while you navigate the kitchen and try new herb combinations. You might even decide you’d like to start your own herb garden. Then you’ll really be a Foodie!

 

 

photo credits Taste of Home

 

 

 

Foodie Friday: 10 Ways to Use Herbs

Something great happened the day I decided to be brave and begin experimenting with herbs and spices. I still use recipes, especially for baking. But cooking “by guess and by golly” is generally pretty much how I do it. Now I enjoy cooking much more. I also enjoy the results more.

For instance, I never make my famous spaghetti sauce the same way twice. I may be using the same herbs, but never in the same amounts, and it always turns out tasty. More than one person has said I should market it.

However, knowing a little about which spices and herbs work well with different foods can help. It can also be a boon to have some spice blends on hand to use so you don’t have to buy those small bottles and packets with additives and cranked up cost.

Add These to This to Get That

  • To enhance the flavor of beef, use bay leaves, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, or thyme.
  • When cooking with pork, which has a mild flavor, give it some oomph with basil, caraway seed, ground ginger, Italian seasoning, oregano, savory, rosemary, or garlic powder.
  • Where I live, we eat wild game. Enhance those flavors with marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, garlic powder, or onion powder.
  • Turkey is traditionally flavored with poultry seasoning or sage, but you can also try oregano, black pepper, herbs de Provence, onion powder, rosemary, savory, or basil.
  • Chicken and Cornish hens come alive with such herbs as dill weed, basil, ginger, oregano, thyme, chives, bay leaf, garlic and onion powders, paprika, rosemary, sage, or tarragon.

Make Your Own Seasoning Blends

If you need a little jump start to try some new herbs, here are a few blends you can mix up to experiment with.

  • Salad herb blend: 2 tsp. basil leaves; 1 tsp. dill weed; 1 tbsp. marjoram leaves; 1 tbsp. parsley flakes; 1 tbsp. tarragon leaves. If you like to add protein to your salad, match these ingredients to the list of which goes best with each herb.
  • Meat and vegetable blend: 1 tbsp. basil; 1 tsp. celery seed; 1 tbsp. marjoram; 1 tsp. onion powder; 1 tsp. thyme.
  • Taco seasoning: 1 ½ tbsp. oregano; 1 ½ tbsp. garlic powder; 1 tbsp. paprika; 2 tbsp. cumin; 1 tbsp. chili powder; ½ tsp. allspice.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and tweak the blends to your own taste. There’s no right or wrong combination. An advantage to using herbs and blends is that you can spice up your food without using salt.

What’s That Flavor?

Herbs naturally have different flavors. In addition, they fall into categories of mild, medium and robust. Chives and parsley are examples of mild-flavored herbs. Some medium-flavored herbs are basil, dill weed, marjoram, and mint. Stronger-tasting herbs are those like bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme.

 Tips for Keeping Herbs and Spices Fresh

  •  Avoid storing spices near the stove, dishwasher, sink or a window. Dried spices don’t spoil, but they can lose strength. Moisture and heat contribute to this. Be sure to never sprinkle or pour spices directly into a steaming pot since the steam introduced into the bottle hastens loss of flavor and aroma. It also results in caking. For the same reason, if you’re measuring from the bottle with a measuring spoon, be sure the spoon is dry.
  • Some folks like to use fresh herbs for everything and that’s a great idea. You can always substitute dried herbs for fresh if you know how, and vice-versa. Check it out here.

Next week, you’ll get ideas for enhancing other foods like pasta, vegetables and seafood. We’ll also have suggestions for substitutions, cooking tips, and a recipe or two.

Bon appetite!

Praying for Yourself With Humility

She prays this earnest prayer when she realizes she is prone to behaving like, as we used to call it, a ‘fuddy-duddy.’ I believe the prayer fits no matter what our age is.

Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and one day will be old.

Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains, they are increasing and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of other’s pains but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint, some of them are so hard to live with, but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talent in unexpected people, and give me O Lord the grace to tell them so. Amen

Anonymous Nun, Seventeenth century

Be a blessing to someone today

25 Simple Foodie Pleasures

We putter around the kitchen. We experiment with new recipes. We share a recipe with someone. When the kids are hungry, we get busy and feed them. Over the years, we accumulate cook books, gadgets and experience.

Foodies are usually well-versed in culinary activities. We share kitchen tips with others who enjoy baking and cooking. We’re also really fun to be with.

How many of these Simple Foodie Pleasures do you enjoy? Which ones would you add?

 

 

 

  1. Finding a new recipe that requires ingredients you already have in the pantry
  2. Using place mats and cloth napkins when having someone over for lunch
  3. Washing fruit, then seeing those pretty, clean colors mingle in a clear glass bowl
  4. Experiencing a new flavor or an ethnic dish never before tried
  5. Finding the bay leaf in a bowl of stew
  6. No-bake cookies
  7. Baked macaroni and cheese
  8. Anything homemade, especially pie
  9. Eating an occasional mushroom Swiss burger and the juices drip down your chin
  10. Slow-roasted rather than slow cooker
  11. Enough counter space in which to work
  12. When the bread rises just right
  13. Good conversation around the table
  14. Sharing a recipe with someone. Then they share it with someone
  15. Hasselback potatoes that come out just right
  16. At least 5 things you can do with a bountiful crop of zucchini
  17. Wearing a favorite apron
  18. Preparing some finger-licking good southern fried chicken
  19. A steak grilled to the exact doneness you like
  20. Greek kebabs and pita wedges with tzatziki
  21. Learning how to make perfect fried green tomatoes
  22. Pie crust that rolls out nicely and turns out flaky
  23. Buying fresh veggies from the local farmers’ market
  24. Eating some flaky beignets, baklava, or croissants (better yet, knowing how to make them)
  25. Eating well, but not getting stuffed

Eat Hearty

Top 10 Plagues Not Inflicted on Egypt

Today my evil twin is itching to play. I’m reading the Bible through to the end again this year and I recently finished in Exodus the story of the flight from Egypt and the plagues God inflicted on the people there. Think of the horrors God could have sent to let them know He meant business.

Disclaimer: When a post of mine is filed in “Stuff That’s Funny,” it’s because it gives me a chuckle. Feel free to roll your eyes, groan, or even chuckle with me.

Top Ten Plagues Not Inflicted on Egypt

10. Chariot traffic jams

9. Allergies to henna

8. Granaries filled with jalapeno-flavored Jelly Bellies

7. The scent of kiwi strawberry incense in the streets like a pestilence

6. Rap music day and night in the temples

5. The Nile River is transformed to partially-set grape Jell-O

4. Cat idols coming to life and knocking things off every flat surface

3. Boils. Oh, wait. Well, that was a good plague because boils are pretty nasty.

2. Every other sentence your firstborn says starts with “I want”. (All the other sentences are, naturally, “Why not?”)

And the number one plague not inflicted on Egypt:

1. A pharaoh who talks like the Impressive Clergyman in “The Princess Bride”

For other funny stuff from the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness, see Exodus 32:21-24. When Moses catches them all dancing around a golden calf, Aaron demonstrates a knack for passing the buck.

“So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take if off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

Yep, just like magic, it leaped out of the fire all polished and pretty. That naughty fire. Again, feel free to roll your eyes, groan, or chuckle along with me. But I didn’t make that one up. Aaron said that in front of God and everybody.

Oh my goodness, I do love reading God’s Word. And honestly, folks, I take God and my faith seriously, but I don’t take myself too seriously. Truth be told, I’m just like Aaron.

Be a blessing to someone today.

“Frog’s Rainy-Day Story” A Review

Frog’s Rainy-Day Story and Other Fables by Michael James Dowling; 72 pp; © 2019; Carpenter’s Son Publishing; Illustrations by Sarah Buell Dowling

“Frog’s Rainy-Day Story” presents fun ways to teach family values and lessons about life. Kids are familiar with animals like frogs, rabbits, foxes, crickets, beavers, owls, and all the other creatures who are the characters in this book. Through the animals’ conversations in each tale, children can learn how to interact with the world and one another.

Mrs. Dowling creates beautiful drawings of animals and simple scenery. I especially liked their expressions and how understated the color is. Rather than being in bold colors, the artwork doesn’t distract from stories that are meant for learning. That’s not to say the stories aren’t fun. They are. But the simplicity adds to the tone of the book.

Some of the lessons include being kind, making choices, generous or selfish attitudes, and spending money. Since the reading level is second grade, most children will understand, especially since the book provides a glossary at the end.

“Frog’s Rainy-Day Story” also welcomes families to dig deeper into the lessons by using their “Burrowing Deeper” study and questions on the website. The stories, used in this way, can help children with personal reflection and help families find a way to make family devotions fun.

When parents explain how the story relates to their child’s life, they’ll probably need to draw from their own knowledge of the Bible. Each of the eight stories ends with a comparison of worldly wisdom to biblical wisdom. These are helpful, but I sometimes didn’t see how the story depicted what the author was hoping to express. Most of them, however, have obvious morals.

This husband and wife team has a winner here. Not only is the book useful and fun, but it’s a quality publication. The size of the book gives it a typical children’s book feel and the fact that it’s a hardcover means it should last for years.

In addition to finding the book for purchase at the authors’ website, you can find it at Christianbook.Com and on Amazon.

This review is with thanks to Book Crash and the authors for providing a reader’s copy.

Our Responsibility: The Image of God

“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Of everything God created, we are the only creatures designed in His image and His breath is the breath we breathe.

We guard the image of man by respecting our bodies and respecting the image of God in others. We make decisions about right to life and quality of life based on what God sees and expects. We understand that, from conception to death, all human beings are people God loves. We know the things of God because we know His character.

We guard the image of man through our worship of God.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Praising God requires our breath–His breath. When we give honor to God we’re cherishing our own bodies, spirits, and souls.

God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” Genesis 1:28

In the beginning, God had a plan. His plan, which included you and me, was for a world where we live as stewards of everything He made. Ruling over God’s creation means being the authority. With that authority we undertake the responsibility of care. Caring includes listening, so we’re attentive to the needs of others created in God’s image.

We’re attentive to the needs of everything God created. “Every living creature that moves on the ground.” To ‘subdue‘ in Hebrew means to conquer and hold in bondage. We make it our servant. However, we must remember that God always saw harsh treatment of anyone in bondage as sin. Hence, while we may conquer Earth and everything in it, we respect those things that are under our control. We answer to God for that.

When the idea is a simple one, God is speaking. If we’re in tune with God, guarding the image of man and caring for everything he gave us becomes second nature. Implementing The Golden Rule in reference to our planet and in regard to others is the solution to our questions every time.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,

for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12