Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autumn Soup------------Committing to Heart

The Food Stuffs:

This soup is thick and hearty, perfect for the chilly weather! Plan to work on this soup for about an hour before enjoying it. My measurements are loose, so tweak according to your taste. 

-2 Cans Chicken Stock
-3 Medium Potatoes, peeled and chopped
-3 Cups Pumpkin, cooked and mashed
-1/2 Cup Applesauce
-1 Squash, chopped
-1/2 Cup Carrots, chopped
-1/4 Cup Corn kernels
-1/8 Cup Sugar
-Fresh Spinach leaves
-Italian Seasoning
-Chili Powder

Cooking Instructions:
1. Warm chicken stock on stovetop on high.
2. When it begins to boil, add chopped potatoes.
3. Once the potatoes are cooked almost through, stir in pumpkin and applesauce. Reduce to medium heat.
3. Continue stirring over heat until well mixed. Add squash and carrots. 
4. After about ten minutes, stir in both corn and sugar.
5. Once the sugar is dissolved and the soup is an even texture, tear the fresh spinach leaves and stir them in as well.
6. Season to your taste, stirring all the while.
7. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer for about ten minutes before serving. 


Thoughts on Committing to Heart

"My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,..."  -Proverbs 6:20-23

How quickly I forget the things that I should commit to heart. Words of encouragement, wisdom, or correction, spoken in truth. These are the first things I forget to remember when pushier and more aggressive thoughts come up. Whether it is fear or disappointment or worry, I so easily open myself up to what is not the Lord's. 

In the process, I loosen the binds of what He has provided to protect and to guide me in His way, for His glory. I tear the words from my heart and His instructions off my neck. 

A new guard is stationed by my heart. A new yoke placed around my neck. They are not His. 

Why do I do this? Why do I forget who my master is and submit instead to the one that comes as a thief, threatening me? 

I am so blessed to have people in my life that seek and speak the truth. Their words, given and used by the same Spirit active in Scripture, are treasure. They are light along this way of faith. My prayer is that I will remember, instead of the things that demand my attention, the gentle and unwavering words shared with me by those who follow the Lord. 

There are so many different things said. And done. And promoted. And disguised as good. It is hard to keep closer to the truth than such things. 

Yet, we are to bind such truths to and to guard these hearts: 

"Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." -2 Timothy 1:13-14

Because these hearts have been: 

"...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." -2 Corinthians 3:3

I'm praying that the Lord will help me to tie more tightly the bindings He provides around my heart. And thanking Him for so many loving, truth-seeking people who have spoken and speak such treasures to me. It is hard to listen, it is hard to remember the things of the light when darkness creeps in on you. But thank the Lord for the work of the Spirit!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Doodles-----------Fearing Friendship

The Food Stuffs:

***Note: This recipe is actually for two types of cookies (Pumpkin drops and Snickerdoodles) but the batters can easily be combined together to make Pumpkin Doodles.

Prep for both Batters:
Get a bunch of bowls ready! You're making two different batters here, and then combining them. Batch produces about 5 dozen cookies. Have the oven preset to 360 degrees. Use parchment paper on the baking sheets if possible.

Pumpkin Drops Recipe
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
-1 cup of heaping, cooked, mashed, pumpkin
-1 large egg

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking Instructions:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. 
2. Beat the sugar and butter until well blended. 
3. Mix egg and vanilla extract into the sugar butter blend. 
4. Stir in the pumpkin thoroughly
5. Add the flour mixture into the wet blend slowly, mixing as you go. 
6. Mix together powdered sugar, milk, and butter to make a glaze to your liking. 

*You can bake these just as they and produce delicious pumpkin drops. Bake for about 12 minutes, allow to cool on tray for 2 minutes. Glaze after they are cool. 

*OR, pop the bowl into the refrigerator until your snickerdoodles are ready for combining.  

Snickerdoodles Recipe
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
-1 cup granulated sugar
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons cream of tartar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon salt

Cooking Instructions:
1. Cream the softened butter. 
2. Add the sugar and vanilla to the butter, beating thoroughly.
3. Mix in the eggs.
4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. 
5. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet, stirring all the while. You may have to stir by hand because the batter is extremely thick. 
6. On the side, stir together granulated sugar and cinnamon for the topping. 

*Again, you can bake these just as they are. Roll them up, dip in the topping, and then bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool on tray for two minutes before removing. 

Making the Pumpkin Doodles
Now, for the fun part! To make pumpkin doodles, add the snickerdoodle batter to the pumpkin batter. If you want the fun texture and look of combo-cookies, barely combine the batters so that you get a little bits of snickerdoodle in the softer and puffier pumpkin drops. For a more even texture, mix the batters thoroughly. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture before baking. Bake for about 12 minutes, allowing the cookies to rest on the tray for two minutes before removing. Then, add the glaze and more cinnamon! Yum!

You can add chocolate chips to either batter or to the pumpkin doodles. Even better!!


Thoughts on Fearing Friendship

This is another thing that might just be me, but I don't think it is. 

It's that feeling you get after you have shared something special with a friend. Your friend has gone away. The phone call ended, the texts finished, or the both of you departed for your own lives. At that point, the fear creeps in...

Maybe I talked too much. That particular story I shared might have been a downer. What I said may have been too much of a burden for her to hear. Perhaps he was just being nice and really dislikes what I said. It's possible she doesn't actually enjoy spending time with me anyway. I might be an obligation to him. She must see me so differently since I said that. I didn't listen enough. He probably will feel that the friendship is unbalanced now that I've relied on him so much.

I imagine that anyone who has ever lost a friendship, ended a friendship, or watched any relationship ail, fall apart, disintegrate, or simply disappear can relate to such fears. And how much more difficult this seems when God gets involved!

Because we aren't alive to please other people.
Because we know that the Lord alone knows us wholly.
Because we see that no one can love us as unconditionally and perfectly as the Lord. 
Because we are more keenly aware of our sins and of who we truly are.
Because we recognize grace and yet sometimes fail to find it.
Because we sometimes dangerously project our human notions of relationships onto God.
Because we have been asked by the Lord to love others and we know just how hard that is. 
Because we sense that other people, including ourselves, are not always Christlike.
Because we struggle to be truly vulnerable with God, and how much worse with others.
Because we are told by Evil that people, even friends, have good reason to leave us. 

And there are many more reasons than these. 

Yet all of these things evidence fear. We are afraid because our eyes are not fixed on the Lord and His glory. Rather, we are transfixed by what our friends think and feel, how fallen humanity is and how impossibly unable we are to be all that we wish people could be. 
Or, we are obsessed with our own unsightly condition, forgetting that Christ is at work in us. We so strive to do all things right that we miss the truth of His presence, character, and actions in -yes!- even in our relationships.

We cannot look at the people and relationships and think to ourselves "I ought to see the Lord here"  or even, "I see the Lord here" simply because the person does something kind or remarkably honest. If we allow ourselves to think in this way, then what happens when our friends fail us, leave us, or disappoint us? Is there Lord still there in them? This risky line of thought allows us to confuse what God does and what people do, who God is and who people are.

When the Lord works through a friend, it is incredible. What a blessing to see evidence of His grace in a friend's forgiveness, or proof of His comfort in a friend's encouragement. Even being corrected by a friend can show us God's ongoing work of shaping. The Lord gives us friends and He uses friendships.

Being fearful in friendship of being rejected, abandoned, judged, criticized, or otherwise potentially damaged is normal. But it is normal because people fear such things as much as they fear the Lord. We have to remember, actively and intentionally, that people are in fact broken, imperfect, struggling people. But God is, in fact, working perfectly through people, and in people. Including ourselves and our friends. 

While having difficult conversations, sharing burdensome stories or prayer requests, or simply hanging out and feeling just a little insecure...we need to pray. We need to remember. We need to recognize the Lord and his worthiness and not fear ours and our friends inadequacies. Fearing such things turns our eyes from Christ and gives the power to people.

Accountability is good. Sharing is awesome. Carrying each others’ burdens is a blessing. Fearing our friends and relationships is wrong and displaces the Lord from our focus.  

His grace is sufficient when ours and our friends’ are not. 

"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God." Philippians 1:3