January 31, 2010

What's Leaving for Lent this year?

We are about 17 days away from Lent. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. Not all Christian churches observe Ash Wednesday or Lent, and the bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in the Old and New Testament.

My tradition of faith does not generally celebrate Lent, but many people in my tradition practice it privately on their own. I have followed Lent practices off and on for many years, as it is a time that brings a heightened awareness of focusing on Christ, the Cross and Resurrection. This time of remembrance is very sweet and special to me, not always easy, but in sacrificing something during the 40 days it has always brought blessings. I have sacrificed (given up for the 40 days) everything from television to sweets. Last year my oldest gave up video games. I haven't decided what my Lent fast will be this year, but I do know that I think more importantly than giving up something the sacrifice turns us to Christ and intentionally our spiritual disciplines are sharpened.

Lent starts on February 17th or the following Monday for the Christian Orthodox faith.

I was discussing this with a friend from church yesterday and she said that God was calling her to fast from Facebook, that the two minutes she spent checking status' she could be praying or reading a quick devotional in her day. That is a great fast. I am glad to have friends that spur me on in the faith.

January 27, 2010

A Precious Night, and a great quote.

My college classes are well underway. I am each day learning new details about life. I think all my classes are interesting. My astronomy class blows my mind EVERY day I am in there. I just can't even imagine how grand our universe is. To see the "not to scale" pics of our galaxy and all that lies within is amazing, and to look at pictures of planets that are 1800 light years away is more than my brain can even begin to comprehend but I am certainly amazed. I have learned so much and still feel quite overwhelmed in this class because of all the new terminology and ideas that I have never even thought about before, but I love learning about it. I had my first observation lab this week, but the sky was cloudy so there were no stars to see in the sky. I will have one more and am hoping for clear skies that night.

I have learned that a post I did several months ago about an egg sitting on it's end only one day a year, on the fall equinox was not correct. One of the kids teachers had told them this, but apparently you can sit an egg on it's end every day of the year, it is just a matter of being patient for the yolk in the egg to sink down to the bottom of the egg.

My Acts-Rev class is wonderful, we are studying Paul's missionary journeys right now in the book of Acts. Love every minute of it.
----------

Last night I was invited to a wonderful prayer meeting with 10 other ladies. It was such a wonderful night. A friend who I met while shooting her daughter's wedding was hosting a speaker at her home and invited several women to join her in fellowship and to hear some words from this precious speaker, the speaker's name was Peaches. It was a blessing of an evening, Peaches has been given many gifts and one is prophecy, although that is not what she called it. She just delivers a message from the Lord straight from the bible and then minister's to each of the women individually. As she was praying over me God had given her a wonderful message to share with me. I love what my friend Deborah told me once about this gift. She said, God rarely ever delivers a message through someone else when he hasn't already prepared you to hear it. So the words from the person are more like a confirmation to where God is already working in you. That was what happened with me last night. Peaches described bits and pieces of what God was giving her about my future, all of those bits and pieces had already been in deep places in my heart, places where I felt the call of God on my life. It was a sweet confirmation to me. Through the night she helped women address areas of unforgiveness, unworthiness, tragedies from their pasts. The night started with praise and worship music and finished with it, it was one of those special nights that God's love and Spirit was...how to describe it? God's presence warmed the insides and outsides of all there was in that house. His gentle and faithful love was present. I have wiped away tears today several times just thinking about the gentle touch of the Lord.

-----------
A great quote today from Mike Cope in class:

Mike was talking about how Paul and Silas were singing in prison after being flogged and beaten and put in chains. These words make me happy.

God I didn't sign up to follow you so life would be good, so my 401K would be large, and retire in a mansion. I signed up to follow you because I thought the story was true....as long as the story is true and I am contributing to what you are doing in this world...all is well.

January 21, 2010

What's Up?

Thursday night. Just arrived home from Derek's basketball game in Sweetwater tonight. I was so glad to find out that my Thursday night class only meets face to face every other week. I thought my basketball game watching was over for the season, super yea it's not.

One thing that I enjoy thanks to my blog is the writing part of school. 5 years ago I would have been scared to death to write a paper, but now it seems that words just flow. Granted I am actually spellchecking and proof reading much more than I do on here.

As cold as the weather has been several weeks previous to this one is as beautiful as it has been this week. Loving 70 degree weather in January. I am ready to start walking again, I just need me some warm weather to get out there.

Not a lot to say, just wanted to check in and say hello. What's up with you?

January 15, 2010

1st Week Finished!

Week 1 of school is finished. My classes are: Astronomy, Acts-Revelation, Sociology and Adult Learning Theory. I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning, and the adventure of it all. I have also done well with balancing daily life with the school stuff. I wasn't sure if I would feel overwhelmed but I am actually more productive.... I have enjoyed my schedule, I have enjoyed the challenge of keeping up with the house and laundry and have set times that I am working my business. It is all good.

--------

Einstein Bagels opened up a location inside the campus center at ACU. Trying to resist visiting them each and every day. We in Abilene have not had a bagel shop for years and years. The best bagels we could buy were in the bag on the bread aisle...yuck. This is big doin's for us bagel lovers.

--------

The Coffee Group travels back to the Austin area at the end of February, to speak at the Brentwood Oaks C of C Women's Retreat. We are excited to have that in our near future and I always love listening to the Lord for the direction He has for me to take in my presentation. Very excited about that. To all of my prayer warrior friends will you please pray for us to hear what the Lord is calling on us to speak about.

-------

Shortly after that Jack has his 6 month MRI in Dallas. By then we might be warm again....freezing our toes off here in Abilene.

-------

I will leave you today with the set of scriptures that we spoke of in our bible class small group today at school. A set of scriptures that are dear to me and challenging in EVERY way.

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Have a blessed weekend.

January 12, 2010

One small step for mankind, one worthy step for me.

Starting my 2nd day of school. My first day was wonderful. Today...Sociology. Yesterday I attended Chapel which is required for most students, but not required for the Bachelor of Applied Studies program so I am not sure how often I will go, but decided today I will go each day this week to see if it should be something I keep in my schedule each day. It was wonderful yesterday singing praises to God after my first two college courses in over 2 decades. I do feel so blessed to be able to return to school, I feel blessed that I will be learning about subjects that I know nothing about.

As I was standing in Chapel yesterday amongst the thousands I was overwhelmed with emotion. Each step God calls me to in my life, each major step is out of my comfort zone, I definitely struggle with feeling like I am not good enough for many things in life, but I can trust God's worth for me as truth and realize my feelings for what they are...not truth. I am no better than anyone else, but no one else is better than me, were words I heard spoken on the television this morning by Joe Biden's mom who passed away. It is important for me to remember that I am worth the effort. I don't say that in any prideful way of course, scripture clearly states that we are to humble ourselves and put others first, but I don't think that means that we are to feel less than others, we are to value the creation that God made us to be and know we are equal, but then to choose to put others first. Not to put others first because we feel like we are lacking or worth less. That is a life lesson I have yet to conquer, but I am trying to allow the truth to write over the the brokenness, it is hard.

January 09, 2010

Back to the basics.

Saturday night. The Cowboys game is on the TV in the living room, and we are all about to play a game of Apples to Apples. Sophie REALLY wants to play ; ) One more day till school starts for me, I had a bit of a nervous afternoon yesterday, but then I realized that I am just being silly and now I am fine again. I will be glad once my first week is under my belt and my routine is established.

I have done a lot of cooking lately. Rob told me this week that he had mentioned to several people how he has been in heaven with all the wonderful meals at night for dinner, and then comments as a side note that he hopes it is not my swan song of cooking before school starts. I told him that I had hoped that it was not my swan song either. I have found a new kind of enjoyment of being in the kitchen.

Back to the basics of preparing a delicious meal where I am not just throwing something together which is what I feel like I have done for the large part of the last 13 years since having my first child...a meal that takes thought and care and is something to remember. I don't believe that I can prepare this type of meal every night but will start to at least once a week. Sharing a meal with others is such an important part of fellowship, breaking bread with friends and family is the heart of where the organic friendship and love grows.

Back to the basics of sharing time with friends and family. I have felt a call to hold the hand of my grandfather, to look in my husbands eyes for more than a split second, to be in the moment with my children more. I have allowed shallow parts of my life to muddy the purity of relationships. How often to you spend time with someone who you feel like you are the most important thing to them at the moment? How long has it been since I have sent a birthday card instead of writing it on someone's wall on Facebook? A long time. It seems to me that with the social networking opportunities we have it makes the snail mail even more valuable and precious.

The day I allowed the cell phone to become more important than the person in front of me was a sad day for me. It was a day that I devalued the worth of the person in front of me, and it was the day I cheated myself from engaging in what was real and right in front of me. I will not do that anymore.

Back to the basics with Jesus. Just believe. Believe His Spirit will transform me, believe that if I share His love with others that the joy of Christ will emanate and believe that I need to be still and know that He is God. Believe that His love endures forever.
Believe that if I want to know Christ I must know His Words in scripture and pray for a passion like no other that draws me to Him.

Back to the basics.

=======
Tonight's meal was easy but rich and satisfying for Sophie and I. I made omelette's and filled mine with goat cheese, dill, and chopped grape tomatoes. Sophie chose cheddar cheese and tomatoes. I also made English Sausage Roll's regular and with jalapeno's. They remind me of my time in Australia, my english neighbor next door gave me her recipe and I made them tonight. They went perfect with our omelette's. The boys all wanted the leftovers or grilled cheese and the sausage rolls.

January 06, 2010

Yummy Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff
Layer following Ingredients in Crock Pot
2-3 lbs stew meat
3 cans golden mushroom soup
1 packet Beefy Onion Lipton Soup Mix
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Chopped Onion
1/2 C Water


Cook 6-8 hours on low, or less if on high.
1/2 hour before ready to serve add: one block of cream cheese (8oz). It will take a while for the cream cheese to melt and blend in. I used Neuftachel Cheese, just like cream cheese but 1/3 less fat.

Saute mushrooms and either add to the stroganoff with cream cheese or serve on top of plated stroganoff.

While the cream cheese was melting I cooked a bag of egg noodles.

Serve Stroganoff over cooked and drained egg noodles with mushrooms on top. Add a dollop of sour cream on the top layer if you choose, I did and it was yummy.

The stroganoff made enough for 2 meals, so you can either freeze the leftovers, or refrigerate and serve again the next night which is what I did and I can't wait to serve it again tomorrow it was SO yummy!!

------

I got this recipe from my favorite online recipe site, www.allrecipes.com. It was one of the highest rated recipes in their "crockpot" section. One of the commenters towards the top had looked through everyone's comments and changes and put them together in a helpful comment. I used several of the adjustments and this is what I came up with. Here is the original recipe post.

------

January 05, 2010

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole/My 2 Scriptures for 2010

After the holidays are over I always have a left over frozen turkey in my freezer. Sometimes I try and save it up for Easter, but most of the time I am just wanting the space back in my freezer so I cook it up in January. Yesterday was that day, I cooked a yummy turkey and sides to go with it. It was delicious. I have a half a turkey for left overs, which for me always makes me think of a yummy recipe I got from my sweet friend Sug, Turkey and Stuffing Casserole. Sug is as sweet as sugar which is the pronunciation of her name, just take the word suger and leave off the er and that is how you say Sug. Sug is a woman at my church who always has a smile and a hug for all who cross her path. So today I am thinking of Sug while I prepare the casserole for my family. This recipe is not for those who are already on their New Years Diets...f.y.i.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole
8oz box of stuffing
2 1/2 C Chopped turkey or chicken
1 C chicken broth
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped celery
1/2 C Mayo or miracle whip
3/4 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 C Milk
1 stick butter
2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Melt butter in 9x13 pan. Coat pan, then pour excess butter in the bowl with all ingredients except soup, eggs and milk. Pour into 9x13 pan. Mix 1 can of soup, eggs, and milk then pour over casserole. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for later. Spread one can mushroom soup over top. Bake 325 degrees for 40 minutes. You can sprinkle some cheese on top then bake for 10 more minutes if you wish at this point. Serve with Cranberry Sauce.

------------------

My scriptures for the New Year. I have a couple of scriptures that I am keeping front and center in my world right now. I have scriptures in front of me daily, whether they are through Heartlight.org's emails, my personal study, my walls, my fridge, my sticky notes on the computer. I have them everywhere, so I can keep focused on God's Word. There are two that I want to focus on in the midst of all the others.

2 Corinthians 5:9
"So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it."

James 3:6
"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

I need the first to be a continual reminder that everything I do must be centered in pleasing God. I read a facebook blurb from a facebook friend, Denise. I don't remember her words exactly but what I took from it was I should be able to add the words "In Jesus Name" after my actions or my words and it should work together. If I were to speak something ugly and add the words "in Jesus name" then there is a disconnect, those two statements can not work together. I can apply that to every situation, movies, t.v., thoughts, daily choices. When I read that on facebook it didn't realize how much that would affect me, but it stuck and it has certainly been a "check" in my spirit several times, thanks to the Holy Spirit. Especially with my words, can I say ___________ and add the words to it and hopefully have it flow seamlessly. Sometimes not and it has been a tool for me to use and then make a better choice with my words, or just say nothing at all. And that flows into my second key verse. I can work with the homeless, share God's grace over my life, study the bible, send a card to encourage, but if my tongue is allowed to reign then that sets the course of my life, and my life will be guided by fire that was ignited by darkness. Without God's Holy Spirit in me I would not be able to be victorious in either of these area's but because the power of God is more powerful than my flesh then if I will just humble myself to God's leading I will be able to be more pleasing to God.

Thanks be to God.

January 04, 2010

Earth Shattering Silence/God's Road

My kids just ran out the door to catch the school bus which was about 2 minutes early, with a slam of a door and a picture falling off the wall as the final explosion all is quiet now, very quiet. The older my children get the more I treasure us being together. The holiday breaks mantra used to be "just make it through" till school starts back up again. Now we all drag our feet together as the days close in to the holiday break being o.v.e.r. Something has happened to my children as they have grown up, they have become self sufficient. I read a parenting book years ago that had written in it...if a child is able to do something for themselves, then it becomes their responsibility...i.e. dressing themselves, getting a snack or a glass of water, cleaning their room, making their bed. We are still working on the bed making part, but most of the time they are very self sufficient. I am glad that they are...self sufficient in what they are able to do, but I sometimes miss those chubby little fingers and hands that would hold on to mine and not know how to do anything for themselves. Most of the time though I am thrilled that my kids are turning into young adults right before my eyes...in the blink of an eye they will be adults. I am cherishing all the moments.

---------------

Somethings about to change...it could be the melting of the last frost on the ground before spring, the smell of a fresh rain that is making it's way to you, the fall of the first leaf in autumn. I feel that way right now, in one week I will be taking a full load of classes at ACU. I am heading back to finish my bachelor's degree, I have 21 hours down and a lot more to go. The smell of new adventures is in the air. The adventures will be furnished by the Lord. He has put it on my heart to go back, and truth be known I don't know exactly why. When I decided to follow God's plan I felt it necessary to have the next 20 years of my life planned out, to justify this crazy act of going back to school to others and myself. My thoughts went something like this..."yes, Lord, I will go back to school, but that sounds pretty crazy to me, so let me come up with a plan of my own to take some of the "unknown" out of it." When asked I would say that I thought I would go back for my bachelors, masters and then look into teaching as I would work on a ph.d. Each time I said it none of it rung true in my ears, I just felt like I needed a plan. Because people ask...and I didn't want to sound flighty...but each time I spoke this plan out of my mouth I would feel the Lord saying, that's not My plan, I haven't given you A. B. and C. yet, just A. and A. is to go back to school and study the bible. I have no idea the road God will lead me on, but I do know from vast experience that His road is much more worthy than the roads I have chosen for myself. I like my roads straight, dust free, and without foliage so I can see where I am headed. God's roads however are generally the opposite of mine, but they are much more exciting and beautiful.