Thursday, April 30, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Redemption

If God is good, why is life often so hard? Doesn't the Bible say that "Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" (Psalm 34:10)?

So why do long-awaited children receive cancer diagnoses? Why are new brides left widows? Why do loved and prayed for babies enter heaven instead of earth? Why do couples silently suffer the pain of an empty womb?

WHY?

WHY!

I don't have any answers. Yet I can't believe, as Rabi Kushner, that an all loving and all powerful God would not allow bad things to happen to good people, that He must either not be loving, or not be powerful. We have too limited a view of what is going on around us. God, however, sees from the beginning of time until the end. He knew Christ would die a hideous death before Adam and Eve ever sinned in the garden, and that through that death we'd find life. He knew that Abraham would never own an inch of the land promised to him, and yet hundreds of years later millions of Israelites would take the place by storm. He knew that David's mighty kingdom that was to last forever would crumble the minute his son Solomon's body was cold, and yet his Son will sit on the throne for all eternity. I guess all I can offer is that sometimes love and power just don't look quite right from our eye level.

One thing I am sure of is that this world, all of it and all of us, are anxiously waiting for redemption. Even the most beautiful things about life are not as they were created to be, and no matter how many pretty Band-aids we slap on, only Jesus can fix what's broken. Take a look at how Paul says it in Romans 8:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25)

I don't have a clue why so many folks around me are experiencing very painful suffering. I don't have any idea what God has in mind for their troubles or for my own. All I can offer is the thousands year old plea of Asaph:

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let’s Dish! Day 6

Do your kids sit still in Sunday morning service? Let’s just say mine are “statically challenged.” And it doesn’t help when their breakfasts have worn off by the time they get to church. I want them to have a good dose of protein to help them keep their minds on the Lord instead of on their tummies. With little time to fuss on Sundays, I usually make one of these easy freezer-friendly egg breakfast dishes:

French Toast Casserole

5 cups bread cubes
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease an 8x8 pan.

Put bread cubes in pan.

Beat together eggs, milk, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and vanilla. Pour over bread. (If you’re going to freeze it, do so here.)

(If frozen, thaw before this step.) Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Dot with butter.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Serve with pancake syrup.

Crustless Quiche
(Makes 2)

3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup cooked ham, sausage or bacon, diced
veggies of your choice, diced
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Grease two pie plates. Mix cheese with flour and divide evenly between the plates. Do the same with meat and veggies.

Beat together eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour half into each pie plate.

To freeze: cover with wax paper and foil. Thaw before cooking.

To cook: bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until filling is set.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let’s Dish! Day 5

I love Tex-Mex food.  When I was prego with the girly-girl it was all I wanted to eat.  So here’s a recipe for crock-pot enchiladas that will make you wanna slap yo mamma.

Crock-pot Enchiladas

1 lb ground beef
2 fresh jalapeños, diced (and seeded if you don’t want the heat)
1 large onion, diced
2 cans pinto beans (I soak and cook 1 cup dried—extra yum!)
1 large jar of salsa
1 package of taco seasoning (or homemade equivalent)
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package flour tortillas
salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with onions and jalapeños.  Drain meat and mix in pintos, salsa, taco seasoning, salt and pepper. 

Layer meat mixture, tortillas and cheese in your crock-pot, ending with cheese on top.  Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-6 hours.  Serve with sour cream, green onions, and pico

If you want to make this ahead, put it all together and stick it in the fridge overnight, then pull it out to cook it the next day.  This recipe easily doubles for a crowd. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prayer Request

Early tomorrow morning a small child will lose a kidney and gain a new chance at life.


Reese Milligan is my second cousin's little miracle baby. Kirk and his wife had prayed for a child for years and were blessed with a baby girl last April. A few months ago Reese was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She's been through many tests, scans, and a round of chemo and tomorrow she will have surgery to remove the tumors on her kidneys and likely the entire left kidney.

Please pray for Reese and her family. Pray that the doctors will have great wisdom and skill and might even be able to leave the left kidney. Pray for Reese's subsequent healing. And pray that God will grant great strength and peace to Kirk and Jenn as they bear witness to and walk humbly before their loving Heavenly Father.

Read the rest of their story here.
UPDATE FROM KIRK:
"The surgery went well, although long. They were able to salvage the left kidney. They removed about 1/3 of it. The surgeon felt he could remove the tumor (size of a small egg) without destroying the kidney. So, we are very happy about that. However, she is not out of the woods yet. The initial pathology on the removed portion showed some cancer cells along the border of the part that was removed. So, that indicates there are probably some cancer cells along the corresponding border of the part of the kidney that remained. We are awaiting the results of a detailed pathology to determine whether or not those cells are dead or alive. Results will be in 48 hours. If the cells are dead, then no worries. If they are alive, and they survive the remaining chemo treatments (thru Jun/July), then the doc will go back in and remove the kidney.
With regards to the right kidney, the small tumor (fingernail size) was removed without complications."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Heart Issue

This is . . . the difference between the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true saint.  The [hypocrite] rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy: the [true saint] rejoices in God . . . True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God.  And this is the spring of all their delights, and the cream of all their pleasures . . . But the dependence of the affections of hypocrites is in a contrary order: they first rejoice . . . that they are made so much of by God; and then on that ground, he seems in a sort, lovely to them.

~Jonathan Edwards, The Religions Affections

 

God help me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let’s Dish! Day 4

Over the past few years I've struggled to find the meaning of "healthy eating."  Does it mean raw, organic, free range, low carb, or low fat?  I still don't have perfect answers on those buzz words, but I do know it means consuming fewer processed foods.   But processed foods are fast and readily accepted by the little people around here and many of my casserole dishes contain at least one highly processed ingredient.  Being that I already prepare a lot from scratch, including biscuits, salad dressings, pancakes, and brownies, I figured I'd try my hand and un-processing those needed ingredients.  Here are a few that work from The More-with-Less Cookbook:

Non-canned Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp. onion, grated or finely chopped
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk

Sauté mushrooms and onions in butter.  Blend in flour and salt and stir until bubbly.  Slowly add milk, whisking all the while to prevent lumps.  Cook until thickened.

Non-canned Cream of Chicken Soup

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning or sage
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth

Melt butter.  Blend in flour, spices and salt and stir until bubbly.  Slowly add milk and broth, whisking all the while to prevent lumps.  Cook until thickened.

 

My next attempt is stuffing mix from scratch.  I haven’t tried it, but the Homemade Chicken Stuffing Mix at Tammy’s Recipes looks pretty good.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Let’s Dish! Day 3

Before discovering her family had numerous food allergies, my friend Anika and I used to get together for a day and cook a month’s worth of meals for our freezers.  This is one of the recipes I acquired from her:

Spaghetti Pie
(makes 2 pie plates)

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1-16 oz. tub sour cream
1 bunch green onions
1 lb. box spaghetti noodles
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
cheddar cheese

 

Cook spaghetti.  Meanwhile, mix cream cheese, sour cream and onions in a very large bowl.   Place hot drained spaghetti into bowl with cream cheese mixture and toss until combined.  Place half of spaghetti mixture into two greased pie plates.

Combine meat and spaghetti sauce.  Top the spaghetti in the pie plates with meat sauce.   Do not mix.  Sprinkle with cheddar.

For tonight:  Bake at 400 until bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.

For later:  Cover and place in freezer.  When ready to use, thaw completely and then bake as directed above.

This is terrific with garlic bread and a green salad.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let’s Dish! Day 2

When I was growing up my family was never into casseroles; my father didn't like them.  All casseroles except this one:

Chicken and String Bean Casserole
(serves 8)

This is just like the green bean casserole you eat during the holidays, but with chicken added.

Combine and mix well:

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. soy sauce

Fold in:

3 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 16oz. package green beans, thawed and drained (we like French style)

1/3 cup chopped onions

Pour into casserole dish, cover, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Uncover and top with French fried onion rings.  Return to oven for 7 minutes. 

Terrific served with corn muffins or crescent rolls and a green salad.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let’s Dish!

Being a homeschool mom can be exhausting, to say the least.  I think I get most of my exercise circling the table as my three little chickadees keep chirping, "Mom.  Mom. Mom."   Being at home all day does have its benefits:  we can school  in our pj's or take the dog on a walk for PE.  But after taking a look around, I've decided that living in this house 24/7 is starting to take a toll on our dwelling.   Average families exit the house for a while most every day, leaving only their pets to make a mess.  We, on the other hand, canvas every room all day long, emptying toy bins, spreading out books, flushing toilets, dirtying dishes, the list goes on and on.  I have trouble keeping my house "respectable" clean, let alone "Better Homes and Gardens" clean.

And then there's the food.  We're hungry Americans: not only do we have to eat it, but our lives often revolve around it.  With the schooling and the laundry and the cleaning, gourmet has gone out the window and family-friendly has come sailing in.  Whether you call it a covered dish, a casserole, or a hot dish, the one pot meal has supplied my hungry hoard with balanced meals and given me those much needed moments to fold my laundry, sweep my floors, and even blog occasionally!

Throughout the month of April I intend to share some of our family's favorite casseroles, many of which make two meals, one to eat and one to freeze, starting with tonight's dinner,  Cordon Bleu Bake.  ( Sorry there's no photo, the lions were circling! ) If you have any dishes to share on your blog, please leave a link  in the comments.  I’m always looking for good ideas!

 

Cordon Bleu Bake
(makes 2 pans)

I found this recipe while perusing one of the Taste of Home publications (can’t remember which one) at the piano teacher’s house.  I like the fact that all of the ingredients are available at Aldi.

2 packages stuffing mix
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
8 cups cooked cubed chicken
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 lb. deli ham, cut in 1” strips
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Prepare stuffing as directed on the box.  Combine soup and milk and set aside.  Divide chicken between two 9x13 greased dishes.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Top with ham, Swiss, 1 cup cheddar, soup mixture, and stuffing.  Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. 

For tonight:  Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes.

For later:  Cover and freeze.  When ready to use, thaw in refrigerator.  Set on the counter for 30 minutes before baking as directed above.