Category: Resources (page 1 of 11)

Soul Food When There’s No Holiday to Celebrate

Ohmygosh ohmygosh! I don’t know about you, but February and March about kill me every year. Stay tuned cuz I’m working on something that I hope will sparkle the sox off us in March and carry us through. Meanwhile…

Two great books I’ve been reading…Highly recommend them both!

First, Jesus Outside the Lines: A way Forward for Those Who are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls. I love this fresh look at Jesus who won’t fit into our boxes. Here are some of the chapter titles:

Red State or Blue State?
For the Unborn or for the Poor?
Personal Faith or Institutional Church?
Money Guilt or Money Greed?
Affirmation or Critique?
Accountability or Compassion?
Hypocrite or Work in Progress?
Sexual Freedom or Chastity?
Hope Or Realism?
Self Esteem or God-Esteem?

“I am too conservative for liberals, and too liberal for conservatives.” – Everyone who follows the whole Jesus.

In Holding onto Hope, Nancy Guthrie uses her own personal story of grief as a prompt to look at the life of Job. There is an 8-week Bible study at the end.

This week I met with the leader of a local World Relief office to see how our church can help with sponsoring families, tutoring, providing legal clinics for refugees. I loved this story…

Many of you have probably seen this, but it’s such a day-brightener I just had to include it. 

Lastly, a cozy, soooo easy stew for winter nights, or for sharing with a new mama or someone who just needs a meal! 

4 Hour Beef Stew

In a large baking dish put:

  • 2 lb. stew meat
  • 1 medium onion cut up
  • 1 stalk celery cut
  • 6 carrots cubed

Blend together:

  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 Tb. tapioca

Sprinkle this over the meat and veggies. Add 1 can peas and 1 can condensed tomato soup (spread over top)

Cover tightly and bake @250 for 4 hours. Serve over Pillsbury canned refrigerator biscuits.

I pray you have a fabulous weekend with glimpses of God’s everyday graces.

*Some posts on this blog contain Amazon affiliate links – I receive a tiny commission on any purchases you make from links, but I’m not paid to recommend any particular item. I’d never include a link to anything I didn’t own or feel great about endorsing.

Soul Food For Valentines Day

I don’t care if you’re married or single or widowed or dating or whatever…in my mind Valentine’s Day is a chance to remind everyone that God’s banner over us is love, that God Himself is our ultimate husband, champion, warrior, shepherd, redeemer…

What better reason to celebrate, right?!

Spoiler alert: Not to be sexist, but if you’re a guy, or if you’re in a season with toddlers and NO TIME even to go to the bathroom, or you hate recipes or being “crafty” you may want to delete this right now. Ok, I’ve warned you…now carry on.

A couple of years ago at Easter, my friend Heather gave me this vase within a vase, filled with multi-colored jelly beans on the outside. I thought it was so cute I decided to adapt the idea for Valentine’s Day. Warning: Unless you choose a candy you don’t like, it’s hard not to eat the decorations 🙁 !

I’ve made star shaped croutons to give away at Christmas before, so I thought I’d try heart shaped ones.

Parmesan Croutons

English Muffin bread

Olive flavored cooking spray (I used butter)

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Place slices of bread on jelly roll pan and put in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove and use small heart cookie-cutter to cut croutons (I found them at Michaels).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat bread stars with cooking spray. Toss bread stars with cheese, salt, and pepper. Bake 10 minutes or til golden. Put in cellophane bag to accompany soup you drop off for a new Mama.

This salad recipe from my friend, Kitty doesn’t call for croutons, but it’s awesome and seems Valentiney 🙂

Salad part (you figure out how much 🙂 ):

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Green onion
  • Either raspberries or strawberries
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Blue Cheese
  • Candied pecans or almonds

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 cup raspberry vinegar

1/2 cup salad oil

1 t. salt

1 t. dry mustard

1/2 cup sugar

Blend in blender and add poppy seeds

I’m hosting a couple of gatherings over the next week so I pulled out the bunting I made last year.

 

The Most Neglected Mandate for Troubling Times

Confession: I probably gripe  5  10  15 times for every one time I pray for our leaders. Yikes!

I’m thankful I have friends like Kathy, who remind me how neglected and how important this practice is.

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2‬:‭1-4‬ NIV)

Ouch!

What if every time we started to say something critical about our leaders, we prayed for them instead?

My friend also sent this powerful prayer, written for the inauguration by Duke Kwon. I have prayed through the whole thing a couple of times, but now am going to write out a section each day in my journal to pray ig. It was written for the inauguration, but is applicable for all leaders at all times. You can just insert other names or “our leaders” if you want. I hope this will be a helpful resource for you too.

The original post appears at the Grace Church website, which can be accessed here.

GRACIOUS GOD,

We pray on behalf of our nation this day, as Mr. Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Sovereign Lord, we “lift up our eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven” (Ps. 123:1).

We pray for our new President (1 Tim. 2:1-3). As he takes the Oath of Office, we pray he may do so with humility, a clear conscience, and due consideration of the weightiness of so solemn a responsibility (Jer. 4:2Ps. 24:4). As President Trump begins the execution of the Office, we ask that you would bless him with “the fear of the Lord” — a reverent sense of dependency and accountability that would become a well-spring of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Please protect the President from the many seductions of power: the will to “win” at all costs (Mk. 10:42-45), retaliation towards enemies (Rom. 12:17-21), exploitation of the weak (Prov. 22:22), failures of faithfulness to one’s covenant of marriage (Mal. 2:14). In particular, we ask that you would guard the President’s marriage. May his devotion to his wife Melania grow and flourish.

We ask that you would give the President the character and skill to lead our nation effectively. Restrain all foolishness and evil in the meditations of his heart, the words on his lips, and the work of his hands (2 Thess. 2:7Eccl. 4:13Matt. 15:18-19). Pour into his heart such virtues as prudence, compassion, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Make him a lover of truth (Ps. 51:6). Grant him grace to repent of wrongdoing when needed (2 Tim. 2:25). We also ask that you surround the President with friends and advisors who are just and wise (Prov. 19:20).

Please direct and “channel” the President’s heart, guiding it according to your Word and will (Prov. 21:1). We pray that the policies of President Trump and his administration would promote human flourishing in our nation and around the world. We ask you to grant President Trump your justice and your righteousness (Ps. 72:1, 12-14). In the coming four years, please protect the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our nation, whether through this administration’s policies and priorities or in spite of them. Send your Spirit and pour out your loving-kindness upon the orphan (including the functionally parentless), the poor, the immigrant and the refugee, the unborn, the elderly, the racial minority (black and brown neighbors in particular), and many others who are too often diminished and forgotten (Deut. 27:19Ps. 139:13-16Prov. 14:31Zech. 7:10; Jas. 1:27). Indeed, we are bold to ask, by your kind providence, that by the end of the term of this Presidency, our nation would be by certain measures more equitable, more compassionate, more humble, more generous, and more alive to your great grace. Jesus, could you please do this? Not because we are righteous or because we deserve it, but because of your mercy (Dan. 9:17-19).

We pray for ourselves, too. We ask that you would “inaugurate” in our hearts a readiness to offer whatever honor that is due to his Office (Rom. 13:1-71 Pet. 2:17) — not least, for those who are followers of Christ, by praying for the President with earnest petitions and appropriate thanksgiving (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Help us to remain zealous to do good (Gal. 6:9). Keep us vigilant against evil (Rom. 12:21Gen. 4:7). Save us from both political triumphalism and apocalyptic despair. Sustain our hunger and thirst for righteousness and grace (Matt. 5:3-6).

And we continue to pray for our nation’s healing after a terribly divisive election. Yes, we pray for civic unity, particularly among Christians of divergent political persuasions (Jn. 17:20-21). But even more so, we ask for grace for the process by which unity is forged. We pray for truth-telling, charity, empathy, repentance, and mutual understanding. We pray not for a negative peace marked by an absence of tension or disagreement, but a positive peace marked by the presence of hope, equity, and a Godward regard for one another as fellow image-bearers. Heal us, O Emmanuel.

O Lord, on this Inauguration Day we place neither our ultimate trust nor our ultimate fears upon President Trump, a “mere mortal” whose heart is directed and re-directed by your sovereign will (Prov. 21:1Isa. 40:23Ps. 56:4; 146:3-4; Matt. 10:28). “Others besides you have ruled over us, but you alone do we worship” (Isa. 26:13). You are the King of the nations and the true Lord of history (Acts 17:26Ps. 22:28Isa. 40:21-24). Indeed, “you alone are God” (Ps. 86:10). So we gloat not; we despair not; we shrug not. King of kings, we place all our hope and trust in you.

In the name of Christ and for his glory alone,
AMEN.

 

5 Tips I’ve Learned From Great Gift-Givers

This post may be a little untimely. After all, you’re probably not thinking about Christmas shopping for next year.

But maybe you have friend with a birthday coming up and who doesn’t love giving and receiving gifts just because it’s Monday, right?

Or maybe you’re an employer who can’t give your team a raise, but wants to encourage and acknowledge their hard work.

I’m super easy to buy for because so much delights me! Give me a copy of Country Living UK to lose myself in and I’m as happy as if you had given me a car. (I’m really not a car person, so that’s probably not a fair comparison.) But not all people are so easy.

Anyway, whether you’re easy or not, don’t you know people who are just awesome gift-givers? I want to learn from them, so this past Christmas I paid close attention to gifts that particularly delighted me and made some notes.

Here’s are 5 things I came up with:

Continue reading

Soul Food When Injustice Seems to Overwhelm

I think this from Bustle on Instagram sums up what many of us are feeling at the end of a long week of upheaval, anxiety, and unrest.

So I’m thinking we need some good news for the weekend. 

This is my favorite picture from the week. The world is really just a small village and we belong to each other.

If you’re like me, you may resonate with the question Chris Nye poses in his article titled “Does Knowing ‘God is Sovereign’ Really Help”?

“There are times when God allows the consequences of human error to play out. And sometimes we have to suffer through it to learn, once again, to trust Him, whose kingdom and dominion never end.”

Read the whole article here.

I was so heartened to hear of lawyers offering free legal help to those immigrants confused and stuck at airports.  

But many are asking, “What can I do?” My friend Dale Hanson Bourke wrote a fantastic article titled, 6 Things Your Church Can Do During the Refugee Ban. Take a look!

And then there’s this song from the Brilliance that I want to keep playing on repeat.

When I look into the face
Of my enemy
I see my brother
I see my brother

Lastly, who can’t use a little bunny inspiration?

 

Have a great weekend, friends! Remember you’re not alone!

Soul Food Favorites For a Birthday Girl

Today is our daughter, Katy’s birthday. She is a thoughtful follower of Jesus. She is kind, loyal, soft-hearted, intelligent, driven, responsible…The short version of her job description as liaison between USAID and the Hill is “to make congress care about global poverty.”

In short, she’s amazing. And no, I’m not prejudiced at all. In honor of her, I thought I’d devote this post to some of her favorite things.

First, like all Crosbys, she is a West Wing groupie. Our family speaks in West Wing dialog, and watch the episode “Shiboleth” every Thanksgiving.

via GIPHY

Second, like her father, is a VORACIOUS reader. Here are two books I’ve read recently that I know she’d love. I recommend them to her and to you.

Small Great Things is an amazing fictional account of a black labor and delivery nurse, a white supremacist who accuses her of killing his baby, and a public defender. Picoult writes chapters alternately in the voice of these three characters – an incredible challenge! I thought the book helped me better understand racism, white privilege, and stereotypes. Great read!

Third, she is a foodie. She is beloved by her co-workers and interns because she is always bringing them treats. She shared this recipe that she tried recently and loved from Half Baked Harvest.

Cream of Mushroom Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

  • prep time: 15 MINUTES
  • cook time: 45 MINUTES
  • total time: 1 HOUR

yields: SERVES 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 ounces wild mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/2-1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often until the onion is soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cremini mushrooms and the wild mushrooms, cook another 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are caramelized. Stir in the thyme and cook another minute longer. Remove the pot from the heat and ladle out half of the wild mushrooms. Transfer the remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add 2 cups broth and pulse until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Return the mixture to the soup pot and add the remaining 4 cups broth plus 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to boil and stir in the rice and chicken. Cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the chicken has cooked through. Shred the chicken in the pot. Stir in the milk and parmesan. Season the soup with salt + pepper. Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.

Lastly, her love language is cute dogs. She knows the names of every one on her walk to work and befriends them everywhere.

So Happy Happy Birthday Sweetie, and the rest of you, have a delightful weekend with glimpses of God’s grace!

Cozy Soul Food for Cold Winter Days

Happy Friday!  Hope you all have a terrific weekend and get out to bike if you live where it’s warm, or cross-country ski like I’m going to try to do here in the frozen tundra, or just cuddle up by a fire with a bowl of soup. Enjoy a few things I’ve found this week.

 Bustle is an Instagram feed I like and this made me smile and groan in agreement the other day.fullsizerender-135

But then there’s Obama’s farewell that inspires, and there are videos like this that, in spite of the short days and winter stretching out looooong ahead of us, just give us hope.

 

I told you last week I was going to try this. Before I share, a couple disclaimers:

  1. I totally butchered the original recipe and basically made it up as I went along. Other than sautéing the onion first, I just threw it all together and let it simmer a long time.

  2. I cut down on the spice, but it was still a tiny bit spicy (we are TOTAL wimps in the spice department). However I liked it enough to pass it along.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Meat
  • 1 1/4 lbs Chicken breasts, boneless skinless (I used rotisserie off the bone)
Produce
  • 1 (15 oz) can Black beans
  • 1 cup Corn, frozen (I froze a bunch of fresh last summer and used more than a cup)
  • 1 tbsp Garlic
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped (1/4 cup) (I omitted)
  • 1 (15 oz) can Pinto beans (I omitted)
  • 1 (15 oz) can Tomatoes with green chilies (I used Mild Rotel)
  • 1 1/2 cup Yellow onion
Canned Goods
  • 1 (32 oz) carton Chicken broth
Baking & Spices
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oils & Vinegars
  • 1 tbsp Canola oil for sautéing the onion
Dairy
  • 1 cup Cheese
  • 2/3 cup Heavy cream
  • 1 1/3 cups Milk
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
I cut the cream and milk back, but used more (light) sour cream. I served it with tortilla strips on top and extra cheese and sour cream.
 Got scarves cheap to use instead of placemats for winter theme.
Lastly, I just finished reading A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White.

Note: This is a beautifully-written, thought-provoking novel, but is graphic in places and not always comfortable to read. It is about the intersection of three outcasts – an old African- american woman, a wealthy 40-something divorcee, and a young gay man, son of a pastor from the south. Most of the book focuses on the young man and I found his nuanced story very compelling.

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Some posts on this blog contain Amazon affiliate links – I receive a tiny commission on any purchases you make from links, but I’m not paid to recommend any particular item. I’d never include a link to anything I didn’t own or feel great about endorsing.

The Small, but Important Shifts that Will Make You a More Effective Helper

My sister-in-law Susan, is a young widow of a year and a half.  She is outside trying to stay ahead of the fat, heavy snow that is falling fast and piling up faster. She struggles on her own to shovel her walkway with an injured back, when a neighbor and his young son walk up, with shovels in hand.

“Can we help?” asks the little boy.

The father gently corrects him. “No son, remember, that’s not what we say. We say “We’re here to help!”

What a brilliant shift!

If someone says, “Can we help?” what’s our go-to response?  “Oh no, that’s ok.” Right?

But in the face of an enthusiastic “We’re here to help!” it becomes a community activity.

It’s fascinating to me how little tweaks in what we say can make a big difference. 

Most of us have had someone ask “How are you doing?” in a season when we want to hurl things at them and scream “I’M A HOT MESS OF PAIN HERE AND WANT TO DIE, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT???” However, it’s so natural, we ALL ask the question without thinking about it. When you know people are going through a hard time, consider alternatives like:

  • “I’m so glad to see you (or to hear your voice).” Then stop and just listen.
  • “I can’t imagine how hard this is for you, but I’d like to better understand what you’re going through.”
  • “I love you.”
  • Give them a hug and say, “I’m here. I can’t imagine what this is like for you, but I’d love to take a walk and listen.”
  • “What’s on your plate for today?” Often if you ask people what they’re doing, they’ll tell you how they’re feeling.
  • After someone dies, over the long-haul when others have stopped asking, say “What do you miss most about ________?”

And sometimes it’s not the words, but the silence that matters.

I’ve written before on some other practical suggestions, and if you want a terrific book on this, check out What Grieving People Wish You Knew about what really helps (and what really hurts”).

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Soul Food for a Holiday Hangover

One of the things I hate about post-Christmas is the disappearance of shiny things. I texted my daughters that I wish twinkle lights were appropriate decor year round. Maggie replied that if I lived in a dorm room they would be.

Since I don’t, I like to try to think of what will cozy up our home after Christmas and not leave it looking so bare.  Candles, soup, snowmen, mittens, fires in the fireplace… I’ve collected plaid scarves on sale to use as a runner down the middle of my table, and cross-wise instead of place mats.img_2203

Tonight I’m trying a recipe for Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup. If I don’t kill anyone I’ll share it next week, but for now…

I didn’t ever try brussels sprouts til a couple years ago, but I adapted a recipe at Thanksgiving and could probably live on it alone all winter. Here you go, and you’re welcome!

Bacon Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • 6 Slices Bacon
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Rosemary, fresh
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a large baking sheet, season brussels sprouts, bacon, and garlic with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and toss until combined.
  2. Bake until brussels are tender and charred, 30 minutes.
  3. Drizzle balsamic glaze over roasted brussels sprouts and serve.

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We saw several movies over the holidays, including Lion, based on the true story of a boy in India who gets separated from his family as a 4-year-old. It is intense and slow towards the end, but also very moving and beautiful. Michael Gerson wrote a fantastic article here on the story and its parallels to spiritual homecoming.

I’m trying hard not to buy as many books this year, so one of the eleventh-billion books I got on reserve is Wonder.

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Loved this book that is really probably for pre-teens, but is amazing – about a 10 year old boy with a facial deformity. One of my favorite quotes from this book is:

“Everyone deserves a standing ovation once in their life.”

Another book I have on hold at the Library (that I’m still waiting for) is Chip and Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story.

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I loved this blog post that Chip wrote about living a restoration story!

If I misjudge people and am wrong, I want to be wrong having assumed the best about them. Chip Gaines

I wrote Tuesday (?) about my One Word for 2017. If this is something you’d like to explore further you might take a look at the YouVersion 4 day Bible reading plan around discovering your word for the year.

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A Little Merry for Your Christmas Mess

So this was my update the other day on Instagram.

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Since then another bough has fallen down and it’s still too cold to get out and fix. I didn’t mention it, but our tree looks like a hot mess this year (if that’s even possible), and there’s a big snowstorm coming in tonight – the night of our staff party.

Can we all make a pact and say “Let’s laugh and roll with it!”?

So today on the blog, just a little joy and help to make this week easier…

First, the easiest appetizer that is the one everyone always asks for – Cheesy Crab Bites. You can make these wayyyy ahead and have them in your freezer ready for whenever (New Year’s Eve?)

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Ingredients:

  • 7 oz. of crab
  • 1 stick of butter
  • small jar Kraft Old English cheese
  • 2 TB Hellmans
  • 1/2 ts. Lawrys seasoned salt (I’ve also used garlic powder or garlic salt – you can play with amounts)

I soften the butter and cheese in the micro-wave for about 20 secs then mix everything together and spread on English Muffin Bread. Freeze for about 15 minute and then cut into squares. Freeze til ready to use (can store in freezer bag)

Bake at 350 on baking sheet for about 15 minutes or til as done as you like. I’d do these in small batches cuz they’er best right out of the oven.

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Secondly, I came across a brilliant idea this week that I thought I’d pass along – use a lint roller to get up all those stray pine needles that drive you crazy! I think there’s a bigger version of lint roller I’m going to look for, but this works!

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And a little joy for your day…John and I rang bells for the Salvation army this week. We looked nothing like this.

And lastly, when Katy was little, one day she took me by the hand and led me over to the manger scene under the Christmas tree. She sat down and pulled me down next to her. “Sit. Stay. Watch.” she said. This week, I hope you’ll take time to just sit and watch. Look at Jesus, look at your Christmas lights.

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