Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ham and Broccoli Mac N' Cheese

Servings: 3
Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 1/4 Cup Uncooked Pasta (Shell, Penne, or Elbow)
  • Water for Boiling
  • 2 Tbsps Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tbsps Flour
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 Cups Cheese (Mexican blend with cheddar, asadero, whatever else you like)
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Ham
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Broccoli
  1. Boil water for pasta. Pasta should be finished cooking by the time the rest of the meal is prepared.
  2. In the meantime, melt butter in a saucepan on the stove and dice up ham and broccoli if you have not already done so.
  3. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour over medium heat to create a roux.
  4. Allow the roux to simmer over low heat two minutes. 
  5. In a separate pan, season and steam the ham and broccoli.
  6. Return to your roux, slowly adding milk and whisking to create a slightly thickened sauce.
  7. Slowly add cheese into the sauce, altering milk and cheese portions to taste.
  8. Season to taste.
  9. Combine the ham, broccoli, cheese sauce, and pasta, mixing gently.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cleaning Heart: Is It On Your To-Do List?

Ever sat in your mess for so long that it just became normal? Then, when you found out that you had company coming over unexpectedly your “okay” home was suddenly seen for what it was: a disaster!

Most of us try to keep our homes from getting to a crisis point. We do dishes, sweep the floors, and take the trash out on a (slightly more than) as-needed-basis. Our homes may not be spotless, but they’re comfortable when we keep up with our to-do lists.

Our hearts are the same way.

We go through our days accumulating “stuff” in our hearts. Our feelings, thoughts, memories, attitudes, and so on build up. The stuff of this world and of our flesh isn’t neat, tidy, or glamorous. It’s not too hard for our hearts to get messy.

Our hearts get loaded up with a lot of stuff that we even need to have for a short time. Feelings like anger or doubt are natural and have a purpose. Bad attitudes often develop in reaction to circumstances that we have to face. Our harsh thoughts and feelings of bitterness can help us to be discerning.

That doesn’t mean that all the gunk in our hearts is right. It also doesn’t mean that the stuff we’re supposed to let the necessary stuff sit and stew after it has run its course.

Take, for example, the Bible’s commands concerning anger. “Be angry and do not sin.” It’s not wrong to be angry –God gets mad. But, at what point is our anger sinful? When it accumulates in our hearts to overthrow other commandments, like wishing evil on people or taking revenge, our anger has begun to rot. “Leave room for God’s wrath” we read.  

For there to be room in our hearts for the Lord’s wrath (or the Lord’s hope, patience, or compassion) we have to do the work of cleaning heart.

Like our homes, we have to be aware of what comes in (can you say no muddy shoes?!) as well as what we do with what we have going on in there. Scripture outlines the way to sort out what's inside:

1. Acknowledge the Mess

Cleaning with your eyes closed doesn’t go so well. Neither does cleaning in the dark. It may be difficult to face what’s in your heart, but you need to. “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

2. Repent of What’s Gone Bad

What happens in your heart may or may not trickle out before you get to cleaning house. Either way, the Lord sees it. A sin in the heart is still a sin. Get rid of it, surrender it to the Lord in repentance.
As Acts 3:19 puts it: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Out with the junk, make room for His refreshing.

3. Get Washed

And then go further than choosing to “remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes.” “Put on the shining armor of right living.” Get clean and live accordingly. There is no need to wait, to dwell on the dirt, or to mourn the gunk that’s been removed: “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”

That’s it. Praise the Lord that He is the One who “creates in us a clean heart.”

Isn’t that amazing? Our Lord goes before us to make us able to be confident before God (despite all the junk in our hearts.) The Holy Spirit lives in us, making room in these dusty, dirty hearts. 

We are free to live comfortably, knowing our hope is in Him even when our hearts are downright disgusting. And we’re free to be washed –inside out- anytime, anywhere.

Is going to the Lord for a cleaning of your heart on your to-do list today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, Intentionally Pursuing, and Titus2sday.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Your Plan B is His Plan A

All together now: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

We need that verse, and we need to know it’s true. As we prepare to head off to college, to become parents, to enter a ministry, it’s important to know that the Lord has a plan. In the good, the bad, and the just plain scary, He does.

Sometimes the Lord’s plan isn’t much like ours, though.

As Proverbs 16:9 famously says: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
Plans change, don’t they? Life comes up. Relationships arise unexpectedly. We get new jobs, we face health trials, we find that our best laid plans simply go awry. It happens.

And when it happens, we go to plan B.

Ever been there?

You made a choice that you might now call a mistake. You laid out a future that seemed right and good but life made a choice for you, and now you’ve got to try for something else.

The “else” is plan B. But the good news is, our plan B always fits into His plan A.

“Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”Proverbs 19:21

That sounds like a paraphrase of the earlier Proverb reminding us that the Lord lays out our steps. Read it again. The Lord’s purposes prevail.

Job 42:2 phrases the truth this way: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Meanwhile, Joseph echoes: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

In Esther 4:14, we read the implication: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Looking to just these few examples out of many, we see the pattern. Life does not always go our way. For Job, Joseph, and Esther, plan A probably didn’t involve wild risks, great loss and suffering, or separation from loved ones. Plan B probably didn’t either…these characters were likely on plans G, N, or Q. But God wasn’t. His greater plan isn't just about us, but it wholly accounts for each of us as well. 

Our Lord knows what’s up before we’re even born. He knows our mistakes before we make them and knows what’s going to change before we’ll ever admit that things aren’t the same. He’s beyond time and wisdom. 

In His goodness, He gives us free will. Our choices are ours. But we can rely on this:
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

All the things He’s working together for good are a part of His plan A. So don’t worry if you’re on B, or E, or K. You’re still on His course, walk in freedom, obedience and repentance accordingly, rather than living with regret, bitterness, or that nagging “what if?”

Gratefully linking to: Esther Girl, RaRaLinkup, and Testimony Tuesday

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chicken Wrapped Veggies


  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Large Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


  • Place flour, a beaten egg, and seasoned bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. You will need enough to lightly coat chicken breasts, so portion accordingly. Sprinkle some salt and pepper in the flour as well.
  • Trim chicken breasts and pound until very thin.
  • Dice up about a cup's worth of asparagus and red bell pepper. 
  • Sprinkle veggies over a half of each chicken breast and then fold the meat over, wrapping the vegetables up.
  • Dip each stuffed breast into flour, pressing to coat.
  • Then, dip the coated chicken into the beaten egg and then the bread crumbs.
  • Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and continue baking ten minutes or until juices run clear.
Tastes great with roasted veggies and potato cakes or homefries!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Have You (Re)Learned a Word Recently?

I spent a few hours in my husband’s truck the other day helping him make a repair. It was actually a lot of fun, and I learned a new word: bezel. A bezel is a secure but removable cover for the inner parts of a car. There’s probably a bezel over your radio system and your dashboard, keeping it smooth and attractive.

It might be silly, but I really enjoy that word! I love learning new words because they push me to expand my thoughts.

Previously, I would have just called that part of the truck “the plastic part” or “the dashboard,” but those terms aren’t really accurate. When I say “bezel” the term applies very specifically. It represents the desire to keep the mess both protected and out of sight.

There’s another word that I’ve been learning the definition of recently: reveal.

Yes, I knew the term already. But as I read Daniel 2, it’s like I’m re-learning it.

In Daniel, the Lord “reveals” a whole lot.

For instance, in the NIV the chapter uses the refrain 8 times.

What does it mean to “reveal?” Often, the word used in the chapter is related to “galah” in Hebrew, which is more literally translated “uncover” or “remove.” It’s the same word used to describe the Israelites being removed, or carried away, from their land to be brought into exile in Babylon.

Though not considered so wonderful or miraculous, that, too, was orchestrated by the Lord.

Daniel 2 describes King Nebuchadnezzar having a troubling dream and growing so agitated when his best magicians and wise men couldn’t interpret it that he commanded the whole lot be put to death. But Daniel stepped up.

He didn’t know what the dream was or what it meant, but Daniel knew that He could pray to the One who did know…the one who does know.

God saw fit to uncover that which was in darkness, to cease to protect a mystery and begin to employ it instead. As Daniel received the vision and interpretation from the Lord, he began to praise God:

He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.

What is it that dwells in darkness these days in my life and in the lives of those I love? The One who reveals will bring all things to light! (Luke 8:17)

In verse 30, Daniel continues on, saying: “As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.”

What the Lord reveals to us isn’t about how special we are or how wise we seek to be. The mysteries of the Lord, the things hidden in darkness, the things we wonder but are afraid to ask about…these are all known to God.

His perfect will includes moments of unveiling, uncovering, and carrying us away from what we once thought into a new place that is equally a part of His plan. He reveals stuff so that we can know it, so that we can be warned, humbled, and corrected (as in Daniel 4.) But also simply that we better understand.

I’m glad I re-learned the word “reveal” recently, and even more grateful to see the Lord actively at work uncovering things formerly shrouded in darkness.

Are there any words the Lord is re-teaching you?

Happy to be linking to:  RaRaLinkup   and Testimony Tuesday!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Brokenness in the Body of Christ

Last week I fell victim to one of the main work hazards of being a writer. I was engrossed in my writing when suddenly the battery signal flashed. Desperate to save my work, I leapt up to grab my computer cord. I promptly discovered that my leg was asleep, crashing to the ground and injuring my foot and ankle in the process.

A trip to the ER, two crutches, and warnings that I won’t be walking normally for a couple of weeks later…

Don’t worry! My work got saved.

However, the ordeal and the ensuing adventure of hobbling around on one foot have got me thinking about what it means to have brokenness in the body of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 21-27, we read:

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

We often discuss the body of Christ in terms of unity, of working together to achieve more, and of being inclusive.

But what happens when a part of the body is injured, suffering, or broken?

I can think of few things:
  • ·         You experience pain
  • ·         You have greater difficulty doing everyday things normally, or as you have usually done them
  • ·         Your other muscles must compensate to keep up
  • ·         You must be careful not to overwork other parts of the body to the point of injury
  • ·         You have to rest the injured part and follow instructions for healing
  • ·         You are reminded of just how indispensable that damaged body part is!

Think about how easily these “consequences” of brokenness in the body might apply to the body of Christ.

When someone in the body of Christ is suffering, we are to share in the suffering, not cut each other off or ignore one another until all is well again (Romans 12:15). As the passage in 1 Corinthians states, members of the body are to have concern for each other and to treat even the weaker parts of the body honorably and equally.

At the same time, we aren’t to push the weak or injured members of the body, but to deal graciously, gently, and patiently (Ephesians 4:2). All the while, we’re to watch that we don’t fall as the injured part has (Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 10:12).

In all of these instructions, it seems that one theme is clear and must be kept in mind: brokenness matters because the body is knit together, unified, in Christ.

When you and I are broken, we are no less a part of His body and no more dispensable. Our value isn’t in our strength, our ability to perform, or ability to fit in tidily and make everyone else’s jobs easier.

Our Lord has a long history of cherishing, using, and repairing brokenness by:

  • ·         Leading broken men and women, like Hannah, Job, Jacob, Ruth, or Joseph to glorify God
  • ·         Justifying all of us by the broken body of Jesus Christ
  • ·         Healing and making well the broken-hearted and broken-bodied
  • ·         Sufficiently working through us and on our behalf, despite our weakness and brokenness
  • ·         Using the foolish things of the world to shame the wise

Injury, suffering, weakness, and most of the things that cripple us are challenging. Whether you’re experiencing physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual anguish, it matters to the Lord and it doesn’t count against you in His economy.

“However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). 

Your work, inability to work, or lack of being able to work as you usually can and do have no bearing on your position before God as a part of His body.

Take heart, you suffering! Today you may be or feel like a broken part of the body of Christ. But remember that one who…

·         Rose from the dead
·         Gives us new life
·         Created our bodies
·         Will provide us with heavenly bodies
·         Healed the crippled and raised the dead
·         Teaches us to care for our bodies

…That Jesus is the same Christ whose body we are a part of!

What assurance we have in Him, and what conviction to treat each other accordingly. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Soft Strawberry-Banana Muffins

Tasty, rich, and super soft and moist! Add in chocolate chips or a bit of peanut butter for extra yumminess!

What You'll Need:
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • 3 Very Ripe Smashed Bananas
  • 1/2 Cup Melted Butter
  • 3/4 Cup of Sugar 
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Strawberries

What To Do:
  1. Combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients, beating on medium with a mixer until fluffy.
  3. Shake the strawberry slices in the dry ingredients.
  4. Gently add the dry ingredients to the wet.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until JUST combined.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.