Friday, September 27, 2013

Sweet Sausage Soup----------The Impossible

The Food Stuffs:

This soup is best when you cook it slowly over the course of an hour. The extra time allows the flavors to merge together wonderfully. You'll only need a big pot (assuming your sausage is leftover.) As per usual, all measurements are approximate. Plan to feed an army because I don't believe in cooking soup in small portions! Or, you know, tailor as needed. 

-5 Cans of chicken stock
-4 Large potatoes
-1 Apple, finely chopped OR 1 container applesauce
-1 Package of maple sausage, cooked
-1 Cup of carrots, chopped
-1 Cup of podded peas, chopped
-1/8 Cup sugar
-2 Handfuls of fresh spinach leaves
-1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup
-Chili Powder

Cooking Instructions:
1. Fill a pot with the chicken stock and heat on stove.
2. Peel and chop potatoes into bite size chunks, add to the pot over high heat.
3. After five minutes, reduce heat to medium and add the finely chopped apples (or stir in applesauce.)
4. Begin chopping podded peas and carrots. Coat in sugar. 
5. After twenty minutes, remove apple chunks if any are left. Add the chopped and sugared veggies.
6. Allow ten more minutes to pass while chopping sausage up. Add the sausage and spinach, tearing the greens as you drop them in.
7. Clock ten more minutes. Add syrup slowly, gently stirring it into the broth.
8. Season to your preferences. Allow to simmer about fifteen minutes before serving.


PS: Great when paired with buttermilk biscuits!

Thoughts on Doing the Impossible 

"The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me."  -Judges 7:2

You've likely heard the phrase "God will never give you more than you can handle." Maybe I'm just picky, but that saying drives me crazy. God, in my lifetime, has set me up to encounter a whole lot of things that I could not deal with -on my own. I believe that God never gives us more than HE can handle. And He never even suggests we have to handle "it" alone. Quite the opposite.

I recently got to learn about the fantastic little story found in Judges 6-8. It talks about Gideon. Timid, weak, cautious Gideon. The one who God used to defeat the Midianites, a powerful group. 

Did God give Gideon an enormous army? Burly men? Extra super sharp swords? Nope. He actually had Gideon dismiss the majority of the warriors that showed up for battle. And my opening quote is the reason God provides. 

He puts Gideon, a pretty unlikely candidate, and 300 other men into an impossible situation so that everyone would know that it was God, not man, that saved the nation.

He gave Gideon way more than Gideon could handle. But God knew exactly what He was doing, and He says to Gideon in Judges 6:16:

"The Lord answered, 'I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive."

God was there, at work, all along. What an example of His grace and power! He does not expect us to rise up as mini-Gods and do extraordinary things. Rather, the Lord, through us and beyond us, does His will. We are privileged to witness the impossible subdued in the Lord's hands.

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 
-Matthew 19:26

What an important thing for me (and you) to remember when we are confronted not only by difficult situations, but also by the reality of our own shortcomings, weaknesses, and inabilities. The Lord is at work, and He will do what He wills. If He uses us in the process, we have an opportunity to witness his Glory!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Week of College Budget Recipes-------------Fearing Money

Somehow I managed to never get a picture of my college budget meals! Anyway...

My last semester of college, I was married, cooking for the first time, and financially poor.  But my husband and I survived and came up with a couple of tasty, cheap, quick meals in the process.

Sunday: Easy Burrito
-Ground Beef
-Soft Tortilla Shells
-Shredded Cheddar Cheese
-Taco Seasoning

1. Get your rice cooking according to package instructions. The less processed kind is cheaper and yummier, but it cooks slower, so do what you need to. Cook a lot of it, the left overs are great!
2. Brown your beef in a frying pan, adding the seasoning. Again, cook a lot of it for left over use. Be sure to drain the excess grease after cooking through.
3. Heat your tortilla shell, or however many you'll eat, in the microwave for a few seconds.
4. Use a vegetable peeler to shred some celery off the stalk.
5. Spread your tortilla on a plate and load up with beef, rice, cheese, and shredded celery.
6. Wrap it up and enjoy!

Note: Why celery? Because it's hard to eat lettuce before it spoils. Celery, on the other hand, lasts longer, has a subtle taste, and makes for a great snack, especially with peanut butter!

Monday: Superhero Ramen
-Package of Ramen (spicy chicken or regular chicken flavor)
-Half a chicken breast
-Baby Carrots

1. Boil chicken on the stovetop until cooked through (about twenty minutes.)
2. Chop up a handful of baby carrots and celery.
3. Get your ramen ready according to package directions.
4. Chop up the cooked chicken.
5. Add the veggies to the ramen and heat on low for two minutes.
6. Add the rice (Already cooked! See the leftover use!) and the chicken.
7. Heat on low for another two minutes.
8. Enjoy your souped up (aha) ramen.

Note: Baby carrots are cheap, nutritious, and also great for snacking! Especially with peanut butter.

Tuesday: Fancy Mac n' Cheese
-Deli Ham (like you'd put on a sandwich, or, the single slices found near the frozen meats)
-1 Box of Macaroni and Cheese

1. It's exactly what you think. Make the macaroni and cheese according to package directions, and add the chopped ham in.

Note: If you want to get extra fancy, chop up some bell pepper, warm it up, and add that in too.
Extra Note: Extra, extra fancy meal? Add a little extra milk and some of your own shredded cheese. When the new cheese is mixed in well, crumble some bread in along with the pepper and ham bits. Then bake at 350 for five minutes. You now have cheap macaroni and cheese casserole.

Wednesday: Beefy Quesadillas
-Soft tortilla shells
-Leftover taco meat
-Shredded Cheese (Cheddar or Mexican Blend)

1. Place a tortilla on a plate.
2. Cover with leftover taco meat and cheese.
3. Add the second tortilla on top.
4. Microwave for about 40 seconds or until the cheese is melted.

Thursday: Chicken and Veggies on Rice (2 options)
-Leftover chicken
-Leftover Rice
-Chopped Veggies (carrots, celery, bell pepper, and add in some broccoli if you can)
-Soy Sauce OR Butter
-Garlic, Italian Seasoning, Salt, Pepper

1. Heat a little oil or butter in a frying pan on medium.
2. Drop chopped veggies in and cook for two minutes.
3. Add soy sauce to taste, along with seasonings.
OR 3. Mix butter with seasonings until it smells great, then pour over vegetables.
4. Sprinkle chicken bits with salt and pepper and then add in.
5. Keep the meat and veggies on the stove over low heat. Reheat rice separately.
6. Spread rice on plate, add meat and veggies on top.
7. Voila! Flavorful meal!

Friday: Ham Baked Potato
-Deli Ham or a Slice of Ham
-A baking potato or two
-Shredded Cheese
-(Sour cream, if that's your thing. Yuck.)

1. Rinse your potatoes and wrap in foil.
2. Poke some holes in the potato with a fork.
3. Bake at 350 for about an 50 minutes.
4. Pull out of the oven, unwrap, and slice open potato(es). Add butter!
5. Tear up some ham and cover the potatoes.
6. Return to oven for 10 minutes.
7. Add cheese to the top of the potato(es) and ham. Continue cooking until cheese is melted.
8. Enjoy the carb-o-load!

Saturday: Poor man's Pizza
-Soft tortilla shells OR slices of bread
-Tomato sauce (like the pre-made stuff from a jar)
-Shredded cheese (cheddar works)
-Left over meat (bacon, chicken bits, ground beef)

1. If you are using tortilla shells, all cooking will be in the microwave. Bread will be oven baked.
2. Heat tortilla shells in microwave for 30 seconds or bread on a tray in oven at 350 for 2 minutes.
3. Spread a layer of sauce on top of the carb base. Heat in microwave 45 seconds or bake for 2 minutes.
4. Add cheese. Microwave for 1 minute or bake for 5 minutes.
5. Add meats on top. Microwave another 30 seconds or bake another five minutes.
6. Cheap sort-of pizza! Yum!

Note: Garlic bread on the side? Rolls work best, baked in the oven for a few minutes with butter and garlic powder on top. If you have to use sliced bread, use the toaster. When the toast is just slightly brown, butter and sprinkle with garlic.

These recipes are certified by someone who can say:

Thoughts on Fearing Money

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 5:10

My goodness is money an eager, tempting, and demanding master! Everything in this world suggests you need money- and lots of it. Not just to be happy, but to survive. And it is so easy as a person who seeks to honor the Lord to become obsessed with managing finances because it is easy to believe that if money is something God gives you, it is up to you to be righteously responsible with it. 

The trouble with such thinking is the assumption that God actually handed something over to you completely and that you, yourself, actually have the wisdom to use that resource entirely to His glory.

I'm guilty of that sin. For years, I hoarded money. It was better, in my opinion, to never have new or unnecessary things, like cookies or socks without holes in them, than to lose the precious money God gave to me. When friends wanted to have fun, I would generally only participate if it was free. If it came to eating just one small, pseudo meal a day, I would do that rather than spend $5. In my "spiritual logic," I reasoned that other people lived on less than I had, so I should live as their equal -in a form of self-decided poverty. 

There were other reasons I lived that way, too. I was afraid of a lot in life (some things even justifiably, in the world's eyes) and money in the bank was security that something could always work out. That I denied myself and friends opportunities to grow together, that I wreaked havoc on my health, that I barely got by a lot of the time....these even became sources of pride at times. 

And isn't that how it always goes? 

We want to please God. We are afraid of something other than God (like money.) So we seize control of that thing, simultaneously succumbing to it as a new master by allowing it such influence in our lives. The more we cling to the reins, the less we realize that we are doing things for God (that is, instead of relying on God.)

When we suffer to maintain our own reign, we are "nobly" living in this wretched world, ruling over ourselves and the things that we fear to make God proud of us. Which, in turn, makes us proud of us. 

"Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have." Hebrews 13:5

When we find ways to cope with the things we are afraid of other than looking to the Lord, we grow prideful in our solutions. Our fears are only multiplied as we struggle to remain in control and to gain even more control. Every little situation is cause for distress. 

(For example, even things that should assuage our fears cause great confusion. Like a gift of money from friends who felt the Lord ask them to support you. Receiving such a gift sends us into turmoil -we could use that for good. We could use that to glorify God. And it would be wrong not to, right? Or would it be wrong to give it away because He gave it to us? How do we do the right thing??)

The Lord has promised to provide. In the well known words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 6:31-33:

"Do not worry, then, saying 'what will we eat' or 'what will we drink' or 'what will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you."

There is no need to fear money (I tell myself as much as anyone else.) There is no need to fret about controlling it and mastering it (lest it master me!) Christ is our master and Lord. If we serve Him and look to Him in all things, then we can trust that whatever we need, whenever we need it, will be there. 

Why do such simple things escape us and morph into lies that misguide us?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Leftover "Mexican" Shepherd's Pie------------The Price

The Food Stuffs:

I'm a big fan of not wasting food, so I try to get creative with leftovers. The components of a shepherd's pie are all things I tend to have leftover, so this was a convenient, fun (and tasty) experiment. You just need a pie tin or another small baking dish. If you don't have leftovers of any of the components, make them fresh. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. All measurements are approximate.

-1 Soft Tortilla-2 Cups Taco meat
-1/2 Cup Corn
-1 Cup Spaghetti Sauce
-1/4 Cup Taco Sauce
-2 Cups Mashed potatoes-Garlic-Salt-Pepper-Shredded Cheese (Try Cheddar or a Mexican Blend)

Cooking Instructions:
1. Grease your pan and lay the tortilla in it.
2. Spread the taco meat and corn on the tortilla evenly.
3. Mix spaghetti and taco sauce together and then pour over meat and corn mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
4. Spread the potatoes over the dish as evenly as possible.
5. Season the dish according to your sense of smell.
6. Bake for about fifteen minutes to warm ingredients.
7. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven until the cheese is melted.  


Thoughts on the Price
Paul refers to a price in 1 Corinthians 7:23. He speaks of the price that Christ paid for us on the cross. The price is separation from God, taking on the sins of the world, and dying on the cross. We are reminded by Paul in this passage that “you were bought with a price, do not become slaves of human beings.” 

We also pay a price in dying with Christ to live in Him. Philippians 3:8 says: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

Following Christ is worth every cost on this earth. And yet...we have a price. 

I've found, anyway, that I have a price that I tend to count and agonize over when it comes to surrendering everything and following Christ. It seems that a lot of people I love do too.

Remember the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18. You probably know it. A young guy approaches Jesus desiring to have eternal life. He says that he has kept the commandments. This guy appears to be earnest in his desire to get to heaven. But Jesus tells him he has to sell everything he owns and then follow Him. The price is too high for the guy, so he walks away sad.

For him, the price was worldly possessions. For me, I hate to give up the feeling of being in control. When following Christ requires that I not be in control, it makes me a little antsy. Saying that God should be in control, that He is perfect, that my life isn't my own anyway....yeah, those things help...a little.

When it comes down to it, I still subversively try to have some semblance of the feeling that "I've got it." It might be that I've got it figured out, when I'm really just filling in the blanks to make myself feel better. Or, it might be refusing to share emotions with others because I don't want my feelings to be out of my realm of influence...and its easy to guise such guardedness as introversion, shyness, or a lack of time and deep relationships. Even simple things like when activities occur (ask my husband) have to be on my clock, or it makes me anxious. 

You probably have a different price. It might be that you have a disdain for displeasing others, even if it's Godly. Maybe you cannot stand to feel as though you've failed, or aren't important, or are wasting time by spending simple, relaxed hours with others. There are so many different prices we set.

It makes sense. Look at the way our lives work in this world. Everything has a price. Value is attached to all things -your personality, your skills, what you do, what you own, how you spend your time. Yet none of these things will qualify you for heaven. More than that, none of these things, no matter what they are worth on earth, cost too much for Jesus.

What's your price? He's got it covered. He already paid. It's already His. Would you rob Jesus of what is rightfully His? I know I try. When I have to surrender control, I try to justify keeping it for Christ. And sometimes I probably mean well by it. The fact it is that control is already his. Success, relationships, money, time, emotions...all of these are already His. 

The price has been paid for me. He has gained all things. So, I can and I should just let it go. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tangy Nuggets-----------Whom We Please

The Food Stuffs:


Have a frying pan ready and a plate to batter the chicken lightly. Making the tangy chicken nuggets takes about 20 minutes, prep included. The nuggets are light, flavorful, and delicious on top of fresh spinach leaves!


-2 Boneless Chicken Breasts, thawed
-1/2 Cup Flour
-Chili Powder
-Garlic Powder
-Dried Basil
-1 Egg (see note)
-Lemon Juice

Cooking Instructions:

1. Trim thawed chicken breasts, cutting into nugget sized chunks.
2. Crack egg into bowl, mix with a little water (or see note at the end of the recipe.)
3. Spread flour on a plate, mixing in all of the spices listed according to your sense of smell.
4. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then lightly flour on plate.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oil in a frying pan over medium.
6. Drop lightly battered nuggets into pan, turning over as each side browns. 
7. Once the first side has browned and chicken is flipped, squirt lemon juice over chicken. 
8. When the nuggets are cooked through (about ten minutes, slice through a nugget to see if completely white,)
     squirt more lemon juice on nuggets. 

Putting It All Together:

After the nuggets are cooked through and squirted with lemon juice, drop directly on to fresh spinach leaves. 
Excellent if served with mild macaroni and cheese.


-Instead of an egg, you might try a mild sauce or marinade. For example, a slightly spicy or acidic marinade will add a little more flavor than egg, but serve the same function of getting the flour to stick to the meat. 
-Reduce heat if your batter is browning too quickly while the insides are not cooking efficiently.


Thoughts on Who We Please

I'm fairly certain I was born a people-pleaser. Ultimately, that is the result of my sinful nature and self-seeking tendencies. I would like to think, however, that at least a small part of my tendency to constantly please others comes from a common misconception.

My husband, who is not a people-pleaser (but is a kind, gentle, friendly, loving person anyway) pointed out this misconception to me. Repeatedly. It still hasn't completely sunk in.

Pleasing people is not the same thing as loving people. Displeasing people is not the same thing as hurting people. 

There, I said it. Whew. I hate to hurt people. It bothers me to ever be in a situation in which I might have to say or do something that won't make everyone around me happy. Surely in part because I don't want the flack that comes from making others less than happy, but also because it makes me feel like I did something wrong when someone else is not pleased with or by me. And I don't like to do the wrong thing. 

But it isn't necessarily wrong to say no. Or to point someone to the truth, even if they don't believe it. It is not actually wrong to hold others accountable. In fact, when you care about someone deeply, you sometimes have to call them out or say things they don't want to hear. The Bible has something to say about that.

" that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." -Ephesians 4:14-16

It is more loving, sometimes, for me to displease others by speaking the truth. Or exemplifying the truth. Or pointing toward the truth. And, more than that, it isn't just for other people's sakes' that I have to do that. Sometimes pleasing the Lord looks very different than pleasing other people. When it comes down to it, glorifying the Lord is always more important. 

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." -Galatians 1:10

Although I've done it many times, the fact of the matter is that is does a disservice to others and to myself to choose making others happy over speaking the truth lovingly. More than that, though, is the truth that doing right by others is never an excuse for failing to glorify God. No matter how you swing it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Veggie Lasagna with Peach Sauce--------The Limits of Spiritual Logic

The Food Stuffs: 


Since all parts of this dish are homemade except for the pasta (and there are a lot components) expect to use a lot of cookware. I made this at my in-laws house and my kind mother-in-law did all the clean up....which was a ton! You'll need at least an hour to put this all together and your oven should be preheated to 350 degrees. 

Veggie Lasagna Ingredients:

-1 Summer Squash (Small)
-1 Zucchini
-1 Chayote Squash
-1 Pckg Lasagna Noodles
-3 Chicken Breasts
-1 Container (15 oz) Ricotta Cheese
-2 Eggs
-1 Block Mozzarella Cheese
-Italian Seasoning
-Basil Leaves
-Butter (unsalted)

Veggie Lasagna Instructions:

1. Clean and then thinly slice the vegetables.
2. Meanwhile, boil trimmed chicken breasts and noodles (separately, of course.) 
3. Melt enough butter in a frying pan to just cover the bottom. 
4. Add the sliced veggies and salt. Keep over low heat until almost completely cooked to your liking.
5. Shred chicken and season well with all of the herbs and spices listed.
6. Using a grater, shred the mozzarella as you like it.
7. Combine two eggs and the ricotta cheese in a bowl, whipping lightly.

Peach Sauce Ingredients:

-6 Tbsp Butter (unsalted)
-2 Tbsp Flour
-4 Juicy peaches, skinned and finely chopped
-1 Tbsp Shredded mozzarella
-1/4 Cup Sugar

Peach Sauce Instructions:

1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
2. Stir in flour over medium-low heat.
3. Add peaches, with as much natural juice as possible.
4. Stir over low heat until peaches are no longer solid.
5. Add shredded cheese and seasonings, stirring all the while. It should taste just a little bit sweet. Keep the sauce over the low heat until it is finished. 
6. Add milk and sugar intermittently. Continue stirring throughout. Only add milk until a consistency you like is achieved.
7. Add seasonings (including sugar) to your taste. 

Putting It All Together:

1. Place a little butter in a lasagna dish. Bake at 350 until the butter is melted.
2. Spread first layer of noodles in the dish. 
3. Add a layer of chicken, then of mozzarella. Next layer ricotta mixture. Cover with a layer of vegetables.
4. Spread the peach sauce over the entirety of the veggie layer.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4. Top with mozzarella.
6. Bake, uncovered, for about twenty minutes. 
7. Allow the dish to rest before slicing. 


-Add a little olive oil to the water for the pasta. This will prevent the noodles from sticking together.
-Timing all of the components may be tricky. If anything is done early, simply keep it warm until the assembly. 
-In the picture, you can see I have noodle on top. I put a layer of noodles on top and it was just too much for me! If you are big on carbs, feel free to add them back in. 
-If you aren't a fan of extensive dairy, use skim or part-skim products. This includes the milk in the sauce! I don't use heavy cream like many cream-sauces do. Instead I use a "roux" to achieve thickness, which is the butter and flour combo directed in this recipe. 


....And Topping It Off:

Make garlic bread. Add a little basil and choose (or bake) a slightly sweet bread variety. Top with Parmesan. I didn't use a recipe, but, for example, here is what I made to pair with my dish:

Thoughts on the Limits of Spiritual Logic

"Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 'Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?" -Job 38:1-2

The first time I read Job, I was not a Christian. In that time, the story was bewildering. All of the things that Job's friends said to Him made sense to me, but God seemed to dismiss them. They weren't speaking anything that I knew of as "wrong" and they weren't even claiming to know better than God. Eventually I settled for the explanation that the entire point of the story is that God uses our suffering. 

Now, while I would be far from honest if I said I understood the meaning of the story, I notice something different. It might be minuscule, but oh, does it speak to me.

A recent conversation with a friend set me on this thought-trail. She was talking about her current struggle with understanding what God planned for her life. All of these things she had done -that she believed were in obedience to the Lord- pointed to a particular career path. And yet, she just wasn't at peace with the remaining necessary next steps towards the "goal."

This set me to thinking...about her story, about mine and my husband's ongoing experience trying to understand where the Lord wants us and what we should be doing, and about some wisdom shared with us recently.

The bit of wisdom, given through some friends who have walked in the faith for a long time, was simple. That the Lord has one goal and one purpose for our each of our individual lives is a lie. 
He did not create me to be a writer and only ever a writer my whole life. 
There is nothing to say that my husband has to be a pastor for his entire life in order to meet his "calling." 
God asks us to Him and to love others for His glory. He asks us to do all things to His glory. His call comes more than once, and for more than one thing in many people's lives. 

This is refreshing and sobering! I cannot sit and wait for the Lord to tell me what I am going to do for the rest of my life. The truth frees me from the stress of never having found my one and only true calling. At the same time, that means I have to listen for the Lord to guide me through many plans and circumstances and decisions. Not having one true call requires a lifelong process of listening, growing, and changing. Worst of all....without any clue as to what (even vaguely) my life will be like in fifty years. 

Yet, we (myself included) look for trajectories that the Lord doesn't lay out. 
We look at what God has done and then follow a sort of spiritual logic that is flawed. 
From the Bible and the Lord's work in our life we can learn things about the Lord.
...Things like the character of the Lord. 
But we cannot determine what our future steps will be based off what we have seen so far. 

Walking with the Lord is a daily commitment and experience. There is no instance in our lives in which the Lord reveals to us, even in the vaguest of ways, what we will do until we die. We cannot escape the reality that the Lord will continue to work in us and change us (and the things that are tied to us like our jobs and relationships.)

That someone has primarily studied, for example, Christian Education, and then worked with youth, and then pursued more opportunities in the "field" does not mean that working in youth ministry is what the Lord will require of that person. 

That does not mean that the person was wrong or disobedient in studying and working as they did. Nor does it mean their studies and work were wasted. All things done to the glory of the Lord, all things which the Lord uses to work in our hearts, and all things that the Lord somehow uses to do His work are not wasted. Often, we have no idea what His purposes are. But that does not excuse us from obedience. 

I think, in summary, that what I have been learning from the Lord recently is to not look past his light on the path. When I do that, I peek ahead at shadowy figures and behind at things past. I do this only to attempt to decipher the present. But it is not the future or the past that the Lord is illuminating. 

It is in the present that He reveals His way, continually in the present. Running ahead and staring behind are great ways to get lost, no matter how logical my predictions may be. My words are without knowledge, and my Lord is the only one who can speak the whole truth into my circumstances right now, and in each changing moment to come. 

"There are those who rebel against the light,
    who do not know its ways
    or stay in its paths." -Job 24:13

Sunday, September 1, 2013

PB + Nutella Cheesecake -----------Fearing Joy

The Food Stuffs:


Make space in your freezer or fridge, that's it! This one is easy!


-1/2 Cup Nutella (A chocolate hazelnut spread)
-1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (Creamy!)
-8 Ounces Cream Cheese
-1/2 Tsp Vanilla
-8 Ounces Cool Whip
-1 Oreo Pie Crust
-Crushed Pretzels and Bits of Dark Chocolate


1. Add nutella and cream cheese to a bowl. Cream together until thoroughly combined. 
2. Add peanut butter and vanilla to mixture. Cream again until well combined.
3. Fold in the cool whip until all ingredients are mixed and cannot be distinguished apart from each other. 
4. Smooth into pie crust.
5. Shave dark chocolate over the cheesecake and then sprinkle with crushed pretzels and chunks of remaining chocolate.
6. Freeze at least two hours or refrigerate at least four hours. 


Thoughts on Fearing Joy

(Ironically, this recipe makes my mouth very happy, but I'm writing about fearing joy. Anyway....)

"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!" -Philippians 4:4

Sometimes I fear joy. It might be more accurate to say that I fear what comes after joy, but that doesn't exist unless the happy part comes first. I find myself avoiding really feeling joyful sometimes because I don't want the part that I'm sure will come when the joy goes away. And it always goes away eventually.

Admittedly, I'm not the best at being happy to begin with. Contented, satisfied, peaceful, friendly, easy-going...I can put those on and wear them around for days. But simply, truly joyful? That requires a lot that I'm not comfortable with.

But isn't it silly to be scared of such a good thing, of a thing that the Lord even desires for us? If He is to be our joy, then this seems especially ridiculous. I think I love the Lord. At very least I believe that I want to. There are plenty of great things that I love that the Lord "is." The Lord as my hope is very comforting. The Lord as my refuge has been proven over and over in my life. The Lord as my joy...I'm afraid to believe that.

Joy ends. Joy requires, in my life, that I put aside a ton of things I like to keep close. You can't be joyful when worry, insecurity, a need to please others, risk, heavy responsibility, and a myriad of other things are tying you down. But then again, those other emotions that I (at least) do not fear can hardly really occur when I'm clinging to such things. What is it about joy that causes it to stand out as scary?

I'm not sure what to say or to think. I don't think I'll have any conclusion at all right now. It's a mystery to me.

My best guess is that joy is unique because it is so steadfastly based in the present. When I consider the Lord as my hope, I can tell myself I just have to wait for what He will do next. If I think of the Lord as my refuge, I usually have an example in mind that comforts me, and it usually comes from the past. I like the Lord future and I like the Lord past. I don't like the feeling of the present.

The present is still happening. It is immediate, it is out of my control so far as how I think of it and the insight I have about it. In the present, my emotions are hard to avoid and harder to analyze and control. I tend to feel pressured when I am "in the present." So joy isn't an option. That would require trusting God to fill me up and work in me right now.

And what if He doesn't? What if He comes just for this moment and never again? I want Christ in the beginning and the end of my thinking and my living. But to have Him right now, ruling over me....imperfect, struggling me...that requires a sort of abandon I'm not comfortable with. And joy in the Lord does too.

Unfortunately, I'm sure there is even more to it than that. Lord, remove me from my own way.