Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kitchen Sanity

Kitchen Sanity!!!!  

Hello daughters of grace!  Chef Robin here.  At the Image of God conference some of the moms and I were discussing some stressors when it comes to cooking and providing healthy meals.  I have a lovely video all made up for you but I’m having some problems with getting it uploaded so I’ll just type it all up for you!

Chef Robin’s steps for destressing in the kitchen!

1) Frozen!  No, not the movie.  I’m talking fruits and veggies!  No guilt.  If you prefer organic those come frozen as well.  .

2) Freeze large portions.  Leftover lasagna, bolognese or taco meat.  Freeze it for later on when you are ready to pull your hair out because every kid has an activity on the same night.  

3) Keep it Simple - You are not superwoman.  You don’t have to have a six course meal every night.  Pasta with salad is fine!

4) Meatless Mondays - Meatless meals are normally less time consuming and no, you don’t need meat every day.  ;-)

5) Crock pots are your friends.  Buy one.  Use it.  Love it!

6) Raw veggies are your friends.  Serve them with pride (and a little light rance on the side is fine)

7) Simplify your kitchen.  All those gadgets take up space and have you ever really used that panini maker?

8) Take a cooking class - There is no shame in honing your skills and getting new ideas!  Plus they are fun!  

Hope these tips help.  What do you do to make life in the kitchen easier?

One more thing for you! An easy salad recipe to make your like easier!

Chopped Salad

6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 cups sliced red cabbage
1 large Apple, halved, cored, diced
1 Pear, halved, cored, diced
¾ cup mandarin oranges
Optional - 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Optional – toasted nuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup olive

  • In a large bowl, combine romaine, red cabbage, apple, pear, oranges and pomegranate seeds; toss to mix.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add dressing to the salad mixture and toss to coat.
  • Divide salad among plates. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts, if desired, and serve.
  • Enjoy!

Serves about 8 or 4 if you want more for yourself. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Life In Christ! - Courteney gets baptized and why The Church needs the disabled!!!

Wow ladies!...I am simply beaming!!!  My sweet daughter, Courteney, was baptized this past Sunday, Resurrection Sunday!!!

We decided a few months ago that we wanted Courteney to be baptized.  See, although Courteney is severely disabled and non-verbal, she loves the Lord.  His presence, His power, His mercy, and the Fruit of His Spirit are crazy evident in this young lady's life!!!!

Courteney, as well as many other disabled children and adults we know, have challenged our traditional "spiritual" thinking.  Her life and her relationship with God has caused us to have to simplify The Gospel.  Sometimes we make it so complex.  That statement is not to be confused with thinking that I am saying it is easy....following Jesus is anything but easy!!!! But, the truth is, sometimes we want to hear people say certain words, or perform certain actions, read so much of the Bible, and act a certain way to say that they are a follower of Christ.  God changes us...AMEN!!??  He gives us NEW LIFE!!!!   He gives us a new heart with new desires when His Spirit enters us upon belief!!!!  But, the question I am getting at is this....Do we believe that God is JUST as powerful in the disabled?  Do we believe, that although a child like Courteney cannot declare with her voice her love and dedication to Christ, God is any less active or less Lord of their lives because they can't say a "sinner's prayer" or take baptism classes?  I believe the opposite is true.  I believe God shows up in the weak!!

I see Courteney's life and I am amazed and truly humbled at the evidence of His residing in her heart. There is joy beyond belief (joy that I don't come close to having); there is great faith (as her character radiates a peace and trust in God to supply her needs); there is a LOVE for worship (as she waves her pink pom-pom to praise God or hits her light up tambourine - Courteney has set such an example of delighting in worship and finding freedom in that worship)....the list can go on and on.

A few days before we made Courteney's baptism testimony, we were made aware that there were many theological questions being asked and contemplated by our leaders of our church.  At first, my mama's heart got a little defensive.  Then we received an audio clip from our Pastor of theologian John Piper sharing his view on baptism of someone with cognitive impairment.   In the email Pastor Chad hoped this audio clip would encourage us.  Then the night before the baptism, Dan spoke with the Pastor who was going to be baptizing Courteney.  Not only did they discuss the logistics of the baptism, but Pastor Rick shared his excitement with Dan over this baptism.  We were realizing that our request for Courteney to be baptized was not just being tolerated, but it was being prepared for, rejoiced over, prayed over, and even researched!!  We are so grateful that our church leaders put so much time and effort and thought and prayer into this decision. At the end of this blog is where you can witness Courteney's baptism, as well as our Pastor's heartfelt explanation of why this was a good thing!

See, the truth is, it wasn't the theological questions that made my heart a little heavy, I think it was that I felt like many see her and many know her - but only from a distance.  So, my questions for you today are,  "Do you see someone with a disability only from a distance or do you rub shoulders with the disabled?  Do you know someone well who has a physical disability and/or a cognitive impairment?"  I'll be honest, if your answer is "from a distance," then you're missing something amazing, something life changing. You're missing the beauty.  Oh the Lord may give you glimpses of the beauty from a distance...but without a closeness, you can't experience the revelation that God can bring. This is just one of the reasons that Courteney's baptism was so powerful - it invited the church into her life and to know her.

I know lives are changed when God takes a lot our ideas of what we consider "spiritual" and turns them upside down.  You see, I have had the amazing privilege that I would never trade - this side of Heaven that is - of learning what is truly spiritual.  James 1:27 is a perfect example of when God rocks our comfortable little worlds and tells us that "Pure and faultless religion is this: to care for the orphan and widow in distress..."  Is that really what we consider to be true religion?  Or in Matthew 25:40, when Jesus Himself tells us "whatever we do to THE LEAST OF THESE, we are doing to Him (feeding, clothing, visiting in jail).  Wow.  Or in Isaiah 58 - when the Lord tells us what real fasting is - "spending ourselves on behalf of the poor and the shelter to the wanderer."  Jesus rocks our worlds and our thinking!!!!!  I am just going to be really blunt here....I find it spiritual to change my 13 year-old daughter's diapers each day.  I find it spiritual to wipe drool from her mouth.  I find it spiritual to find her the very best physicians who value her life.  I find it spiritual to advocate for her in the special education world.  I find it spiritual to pray with her and read the Bible with her.  I find it spiritual to provide her diligent, sterile medical care in our home.  I find it spiritual to go to the mall and walk her around with our heads held up high as almost every person stares at us.  I find is spiritual to manage her pain when she is hurting.  I find it spiritual to pray for her doctors and therapists.  I find it spiritual to not leave her alone when she is admitted in the hospital.  I find it spiritual to kiss her like crazy and tell her how much she is loved.  Do you see how closely intertwined all these are?

You may read that list and think that you would never want any part of it!  And I definitely don't want you to think that I am declaring myself and all special needs parents to be super Christians!  I am going to share with you a little secret - although many parents of special needs kids make life look easy and joyful - most of us never waved our hands to God and said "give me a sick, disabled child, please."  No, most of us were completely caught off guard when we learned that our children would have life long disabilities AND believe it or not, most of us grieved.  The difference in "most of us" is that God gave us something that we never would've chosen and He forced us to get close to someone who otherwise we probably would've distanced ourselves from, stared at, or not even made eye contact with. The Lord forced us, by His GREAT MERCY, to learn what being spiritual really means.  He made us love the James 1:27's, and the Isaiah 58's, and the Matthew 25's of this world and of His Kingdom and His Body!  He changed us and made us into the people that we never thought we could be.  He made us MORE into His image.  He rocked our spiritual worlds and showed us His great heart like we never would've known.

See, in our case with Courteney, He has opened our eyes to the depth of her knowledge of Him, making it possible for me to say she is the greatest Christian that I know.  Why is she the greatest Christian I know?  I think I know why... her simple little heart makes a perfect home for her Savior! She worships Him in spirit and in truth.  She may not be able to do and say the things that we deem as super Christian...but man, I ask the simple question...where else could her strength, her worship, her love, her joy, her forgiveness, her silliness, her perseverance, her beauty, her enthusiasm, her patience, her grace come from other than Jesus??  How else would life so align with the Word of God and display the characteristics that God promises believers would have?  Her life demonstrates to this world, as well as the rulers and powers in the heavenly world - as God sustains her life and gives His power to the weak!  The only explanation Dan and I can come up with is that, beyond our understanding, there has been a relationship started - I don't know when and I don't need to know when, but we just know. We JUST KNOW that "those who seem to be weaker are indispensable" (1 Corinthians 12:22) and "has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith?" (James 2:5).

Rejoicing after her baptism!  
We are humbled that we get to witness Christ unleashed in her life day after day.  I have learned from her what being a Christian really means - it means that following Jesus is worth anything. She KNOWS Jesus Christ - what greater knowledge could we hope for our daughter to have?  Although her life may not seem to have a lot, she truly has everything that she needs in Jesus Christ.

This is why Courteney was baptized - the evidence is astounding - her heart belongs to Jesus and He has given her New Life!!!!

It is my hope that each one of you reading this would do several things... be open to the unseen! God tells us that what is unseen is eteranal (2 Corinthians 4:18) - AMEN???!!!!  And what is seen is temporary!!!  AMEN! AMEN!!  Pray and ask God to give you spiritual eyes and a heart that doesn't miss what moves His heart.  Be comfortable being uncomfortable - one of the greatest things I have ever been challenged with by a dear friend of mine who ministers to the disabled.  God often takes us places or wants to take us places that in our flesh and our humanness we would never want to go on our own - it is often there that we find blessing and see His heart up close and personal!  Let God redefine your idea of what is Godly, worship, and spiritual.  And lastly, do you know, really know, someone with disabilities?  Jesus did.  He touched them.  He healed them.  He forgave them.  He didn't ignore them and He definitely wasn't distant!  What an awesome God we serve!!!!  May we desire to be as He was!!!!  Oh how my heart swells with love for Him even as I type this!  I was beaming with joy over Courteney when I started typing, now I am beaming with joy over declaring to you all that THIS IS MY GOD!!!!!!


Many Blessings!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Can't Complain

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIV

In honor of this past Resurrection Day, I want to take a moment to meditate on the second part of this verse, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". For the first time ever I actually took Holy week seriously and decided to spend some extra time with God praying and studying His word. I was already doing the bare minimum which in my eyes was waking up praying and reading a few verses everyday. I'm an intercessor at heart so being a prayer warrior is second nature to me, reading my Bible is where I sometimes struggle. So this week had to be different.

Diving deeper into His word, desiring to connect with Him on another level meant that I had to not only wake up an hour earlier but I also needed to begin reading His word continuously throughout my day and ending my day reading the word.  Every time that I picked up my phone to check my text messages, emails, or my social media page, I had to make a huge effort to redirect my attention to the Lord. I spent these moments reading a devotional or my one year Bible. The revelation was amazing and I felt a deeper connection with Christ than I've ever had.

I spent most of my time this week reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and they all illustrate the test and trials that the Lord went through before dying on the cross for our sins. I think about being in His shoes or shall I say sandals and I just wonder did He ever really consider giving up and leaving us all to suffer in our sins. I know in Matthew 26:39 Jesus says, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Can we say SELFLESS! And this is why He is so awesome because even though His human side asked for the cup of suffering to be removed, He was still perfect in saying "yet your will be done and not mine".

As Good Friday approached, my heart was heavy as if I was about to lose my best friend. (Jesus really is my best friend.) So after spending this entire week dating my Lord and savior, I was extremely torn as I reflected back on that day when He gave His life for me, for you, for everyone. I was in tears because I know that I am so unworthy of the sacrifice that He made by dying on the cross. He knew we would all fall short and He still died for just for us. Now that's love!

Many times we forget that Jesus was a real man, flesh and blood, tempted just like we are tempted today, dealing with the same enemy that we face every day. But He lived a sinless life and still died knowing that He was our only ticket to Heaven.

Knowing this I realize that I might not be where I want to be or have everything that I desire to have but I really can't complain. Even if the Lord never did anything else for me, He has clearly done enough. So now it is my time to play catch up which is impossible but I will still try. Every opportunity that I get to let His light shine through me, I will. Every time that I am tempted by sin, I will do my best to say no. When I see someone in need I will make every effort to help them. When I get frustrated, sad, anxious, or any feeling that is not pleasing to the Lord, I will just focus my attention on His goodness, grace, and mercy.
Living like He desires for us to live is the least that we can do for our Savior who died for us while we were yet in sin. I thank Him for His Amazing Love and Grace. Lord God you are Awesome! I Love and Appreciate You!