Monday, January 31, 2011

Will post on Thursday...

I have family here for the next couple of days, so my next post will be on Thursday - unless I'm able to squeeze in some time earlier.  See ya then!

Friday, January 28, 2011

When the tears fall...

Blessed are those You choose and bring near to You...   Ps. 65:4a

The song, "When the Tears Fall," was birthed out of a hard time I was going through.  One evening I sat with my guitar and poured out my heart to God.  I found great hope and strength being able to express my pain, and in the midst of the doubt singing, "I will praise You.  I will praise You. When the tears fall still I will sing to You."  Initially, I thought it wasn't a song that could be sung in a church context.  We don't seem to sing many songs of lament.  However, as I read through the Psalms, I discovered many cries of worship that came from a place of brokenness.  Life is full of pain and sorrow. Loved ones die, dreams fail, people get hurt - we are left with unanswered questions.  That's the reality of the world we live in.  Yet in the midst of the pain, through the tears, God is good.  He is and always will be worthy of our praise.
Tim Hughes

When the Tears Fall

I've had questions, without answers
I've known sorrow, I have known pain
But there's one thing, that I'll cling to
You are faithful, Jesus You're true

When hope is lost, I'll call You Savior
When pain surrounds, I'll call You healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

In the lone hour of my sorrow
Through the darkest night of my soul
You surround me and sustain me
My defender, forevermore

I will praise You, I will praise You
When the tears fall, still I will sing to You
I will praise You, Jesus praise You
Through the suffering still I will sing

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.
Psalm 13: 1-2, 5-6

Decorating

We had a tall blank wall at the end of our stairwell and I just couldn't figure out how to decorate it.  I knew I didn't want to put anything on the wall that could fall off and injure anyone going down the stairs.  What about a long tapestry?  Hmmm... too expensive.  What about a quilted wall hanging?  I couldn't find a pattern I liked and I was coming up short on creative ideas.  Then, one night we were at a local restaurant that gives you the feeling you are dining on an Italian patio.  That gave me an idea!  The result is this faux window.  I'm still trying to figure out how I can make the wall look like a stone wall behind the window. Now that I'm blissfully unemployed, maybe I will tackle that project this spring...









I painted the "screen" and the window pane dividers on the wall using gray paint as a base then dry brushing white paint over the gray. The shutters, window frame and "stone" toppers were made from scrap wood from my honey's stash, then painted.  He attached them to the wall with screws.  I had purchased a metal garden basket with the straw-like insert at Walmart.  A florist foam block and two silk bushes on sale from Hobby Lobby finished the window.  Cute!

Today's Recipe - Onion Supper Soup
Soups & Stews Cook Book

3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
4 cups vegetable stock or beef stock
4 thick slices French bread
4 oz Swiss or gruyere cheese, sliced
Grated parmesan cheese

In covered saucepan cook onions and garlic in butter over low heat 20 minutes or till very tender, stir occasionally.  Add stock and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Bring to boiling, cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, toast bread then arrange slices on baking sheet.  Top each with sliced cheese; sprinkle with parmesan. Broil 2-3 minutes or till cheese melts.  Ladle soup into 4 bowls.  Top each with a toast slice.  Makes 4 servings 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

But trusting Him...





This beautiful sunrise from last week represents what happens in your heart and mind when you learn to trust God regardless what is going on in your life.  It's a lot easier to see the color in your life when the Son begins to shine...


And this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ...
Philippians 1:9-10

For whatever reason, God has let this broken world endure in its fallen state for a very long time.  God seems to value character more than our comfort, often using the very elements that cause us the most discomfort as His tools in fashioning that character.  This was true in the life of the apostle Paul, who prayed fruitlessly that his mysterious "thorn in the flesh" be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8).
In my own life, I am trying to remain open to new realities, not blaming God when my expectations go unmet but trusting Him to lead me through failures toward renewal and growth.  I am seeking a trust that "the Father knows best" in how this world is run.  I see that the way in which I may want God to act does not achieve the results I  might expect.
When God sent His own Son - sinless, full of grace and healing - we killed Him.  God Himself allows what He does not prefer, to achieve some greater goal.
Philip Yancey

Having an understanding that God can use illness and pain to bring about good in our lives, because He loves us and wants the best for us, is radical thinking that brings an unshakable peace to our lives.  In reality, our illness and pain is an awesome blessing because they bring us into a closer relationship with God.  And we can trust Him because He is trustworthy.

Crafts

I was wondering how I could creatively display my daughters' senior pictures when I got a great idea while watching Carol Duval one morning.  One of her guests made an interesting craft using an artist's canvas and some scrapbook materials and that got my creative juices flowing.  I chose a senior picture for each of the girls along with a picture from their preschool years, then picked out items, stickers and stamps that reminded me of each of them to embellish the canvases. 

The first step was to dry brush paint onto the canvases, then glue two layers of torn and inked scrapbook papers onto the painted canvases.  I applied the pictures, then embellished each canvas with the items that represented each girl, including inked chipboard initials for their first names.  To attach the skeleton key, I punched two small holes in the canvas and used thin floral wire, hidden by the ribbon, to secure the key to the canvas.  It's so fun to be creative!



Today's Recipe -  Minestrone
125 Best Vegan Recipes

 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup small tube-shaped pasta
1 (14-19 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 0z) can whole tomatoes, with juices
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp natural cane sugar
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds.  Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Add vegetable stock, potato, pasta and kidney beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook,uncovered, for 10 minutes or until potato is tender.
In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes with juices until smooth.  Add tomato paste and red wine vinegar and pulse to blend.  Stir tomato mixture into soup.
Reduce heat to low and stir in basil, sugar, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It is God who is at work in you...

Yesterday, I wrote that today's reason God allows suffering in our lives is the most important reason and that it is controversial, as well, but only because people tend to think of God as a human.  Well, He is not a human - He is God! 

You got some 'splainin to do, Lucy!

The most important reason God allows suffering is to bring glory to Himself. Now, if you view God as a human then that would seem a little egocentric and is just not acceptable to a lot of people.  But, here's the truth - God is worthy of all our praise and He is worthy of every ounce of glory we bring to Him!  Again, we have to change our thinking and align it with the truth. 

And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned; this man or his parents that he should be born blind?"  Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him."
John 9:1-3

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our ultimate purpose in life is to bring glory to God, not to be comfortable and happy.  And He doesn't ask us to do anything He was not willing to do.  He sent Jesus to us as an example.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life...
Philippians 2:5-15 

Decorating

I have to thank my friend, Pam, for helping me think outside the box when it comes to decorating.  She has a pretty jar in her kitchen with treats for her dogs.  Great idea!  So, I used her idea in my kitchen.  I also got the tall decorative glass piece for my birthday with a Hobby Lobby gift card from my daughter and decided to do something unusual with it, as well, and put a bird's nest in it.  Of course, I can change it out with other items or use it to serve items at showers or holidays.  The cute pig cookie jar was my great grandma's. Fun!






Today's Recipe - Sausage Vegetable Chowder
Soups & Stews Cook Book

2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried dillweed
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups milk
1 - 10 oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables, partially thawed
16 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
12 oz pkg smoked sausage links, sliced

In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat.  Blend in flour, salt, onion powder, dillweed, and pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, till thickened and bubbly.
Stir the vegetables, corn and sausage into the soup.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or till vegetables are done.  Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Comfort...

Yesterday we looked at a reason that God allows suffering in our lives - to strengthen our faith.  The second reason God allows us to suffer is so He can use us to comfort others.  Have you ever tried to encourage someone who is going through a difficulty you've never experienced?  It's hard to know what to do or say.  But, it's a whole different ballgame when you have been through a trial and you meet someone who is going through something similar.  You have a pretty good idea what their struggles may be and how they feel about it.  And you definitely have a better idea what to do or say to encourage them. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.     2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I have learned that having a chronic illness is not a prison sentence.  It does not mean I must spend the rest of my life feeling depressed and angry, locked away from the world inside my little sick box.  It does not mean that I am useless and no longer have any gifts to share, but it may mean that I must develop some new ones.                            Joy H. Selak - author of You Don't Look Sick!

Tim Hansel wrote - He finally healed me of the need to be healed...I had discovered a peace inside the pain.  I finally came to the realization that if the Lord could use this body better the way it is, then that's the way it should be.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.  The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.  Habakkuk 3:17-19

The secret is learning to trust God and letting Him change how we think so He can use us to help other people along the way.  Let God comfort you...so He can use you.  Tomorrow we will look at the most important and controversial reason God allows suffering.  Hmmm...

Decorating

Sometimes, making an inexpensive change can have a big impact.  The hutch in my kitchen is painted white with glossy stained wood horizontal surfaces.  There are colorful items on the shelves, but it needed some pizazz.  I was reading a magazine at Barnes & Noble (free entertainment!) and saw a hutch that had fabric at the back of the shelves.  Great idea, but I didn't want to spend that much money.  So, I found some pretty wrapping paper, cut it to fit and used double-sided tape to attach it to the back of each shelf.  I like it!  And, when I get tired of it or it fades or gets torn, I can simply change it out for another wrapping paper to update the hutch. 






Today's Recipe - Hearty Black and White Bean Soup
125 Best Vegan Recipes

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, inced
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (broth)
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cans each (14-19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-19 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add carrots and celery and cook, stirring, for 3 mintues.
Stir in vegetable stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Makes 6-8 servings

Variation:  For a more filling meal, place 1/2 cup hot cooked pasta or rice into each soup bowl.  Pour 1 cup of the soup over the pasta or rice and serve. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Suffering seems so unnecessary...

Probably the most important thing I have learned about suffering is that God has a different perspective on it than I do.  Ok, that seems like a no-brainer, but I had a difficult time getting over a sense of unfairness and it was because I was only looking at suffering from my perspective. 

As a parent, there were times when I made my children do things they didn't want to do or wouldn't let my children do what they wanted to do because I knew it was dangerous or could be harmful to them.  Of course, that didn't stop them from pitching a fit because they thought I wasn't being fair.  Oh, boy!  I realized I had exhibited the same attitude towards God.  My sense of unfairness came out of a lack of trust in His love for me.  I didn't recognize God's love in my suffering because it didn't meet my expectations of how I wanted His love to be expressed to me. 

Suffering is truly an expression of God's love for me and you.  Of course, sometimes we suffer because God is disciplining us.  But, this week we are going to look at three other reasons why we suffer.  Today's reason:  to strengthen your faith.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.    James 1:2-4

But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  Job 23:10

Therefore having been justified, by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.      Romans 5:1-5

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.  We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.
Tim Hansel

Here's an interesting and convicting quote from George Bernard Shaw:
This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

As painful as the process may be, that which shatters our superficiality also shatters the fetters of our fragility and frees us to walk with dignity and might to our destinies.
Beth Moore

Do you ever feel like you still have so much to learn?  I'm with you there!

Crafts

I made this frame with a favorite Beth Moore quote for a friend's birthday.  I purchased a wooden frame at JoAnne Fabrics, painted it, then using Mod Podge, decoupaged some scrapbook paper onto the frame and some chipboard hearts that had been painted.  I also bought a wooden initial, painted it and then applied glitter glue over the dried paint.  I put it all together with my glue gun and printed the quote to put in the frame.  A fun glitzy reminder of God's love!






Today's Recipe -  Coconut Milk Soup
The Great Physician's Rx for Health & Wellness - Jordan Rubin

1 1/2 qts. fish or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups whole coconut milk
1 lb fish or chicken, cut into small cubes
3 jalapeno chiles, diced, or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, dried
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp fish sauce (opt)
2-4 Tbsp lime juice
chopped cilantro for garnish

Simmer all ingredients until meat is cooked through.  Garnish with cilantro. 

 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Probably not what you think it is...

The fifth stage of grief is acceptance and it probably is not what you think it is.  Acceptance is not just putting up with the situation.  It is looking for the good that can come of it and realizing your personal growth because of the situation and your journey of grief.  It is also recognizing that it is possible to slip back into any one of the stages of grief, but you now have hope that you won't stay there.

All of us have had seasons when we feel we just can't keep going; we just can't take any more.  As with every other area of deception, the key to defeating this lie is to counter it with the Truth.

Whatever your story, whatever you situation, right now, His grace is sufficient for you.  His divine resources are available to meet your need - no matter how great.  That's the Truth.  And the Truth will set you free.                             
Nancy DeMoss - Lies Women Believe

It's also important to forgive people who fail you.  Mark Gungor, pastor and speaker, says, Unforgiveness is like taking poison hoping the other person will die.  Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting, but it does mean that you choose to not let it ruin your life.  It means having a survivor attitude instead of a victim attitude. Nancy DeMoss writes, By convincing us that our suffering is undeserved or unnecessary, the Enemy succeeds in getting us to resent and resist the will and purposes of God.

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.  We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds, wherever we go.            
Martha Washington

Mary Yerkes, who suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis, wrote, "Now ten years later (after the diagnosis), I've gained perspective.  Yes, my life is more difficult than I could have ever imagined, but it is also far richer than I could have ever dreamed.  Early in this journey of learning to live with a chronic illness, I took comfort in Isaiah 61:3:  To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.  NKJV

Be patient with yourself on your journey.  Take care of yourself with nutritious food, exercise and good sleep.  Journal your feelings or find someone with whom you can talk.  Grief is a journey, but you can come out a better and stronger person, used of God because of grief.  I will close out this week with these verses:

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.  It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.   Psalm 119:67, 71

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.   Acts 20:24

I urge you therefore, brothers (and sisters), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.    Romans 12:1-2

Consider it all joy, my brothers (and sisters), when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  
James 1:2-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Crafts

These are two more pages in my mom's grief journal.






We expect people to cry when they are grieving, but it is OK and even healing for them to laugh, as well.  Yes, that is a comic strip at the top of the left page.  I've always loved comic strips and cut out and collect the ones that I find especially fitting and have sent them to my family and friends.  I was that teacher that laminated comic strips and put them all over my classroom door and included them in my lessons.  It's important to laugh!  It's a great stress reliever and burns lots of calories, too!

Today's Recipe - Tortilla Soup
Creating Empty Bottle Moments - Clive Berkman

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 corn tortillas, chopped
1 Tbsp corn oil
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 medium onions, finely chopped or pureed
2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped 
2 medium tomatoes, pureed
8 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 qts. chicken broth

Garnishes
4 corn tortillas, cut in 1/2 inch strips and fried in corn oil
8 oz. chicken breast, grilled or poached in broth and sliced into 1/4" strips
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1 medium avocado in small cubes
Sour cream

Heat the oil in a soup pot.  When it's medium hot, add the chopped tortillas, garlic, chili powder and cumin;  cook for 2 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
Add onions, peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, and cilantro; bring it to a boil.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until it boils.  Adjust the seasoning. 
Add the broth, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Add extra broth if the mixture becomes too thick.
At this point, you can strain the mixture or you can serve it chunky without straining it.  Serve in bowls  Add garnish on top or allow your guests to choose their own.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

There's hope for depression...

The fourth stage of grief is depression - overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity, fear, mourning loss of hopes, dreams and plans for the future.  Feeling lack of control, feeling numb.  Perhaps feeling suicidal.

One of the lessons I had to learn from depression and grief is that just because I am going through a difficult time, it doesn't mean that God has abandoned me or doesn't love me.  God kept reminding me that He is my Abba, my Father, and that parents have to make decisions for their kids that make them unhappy sometimes.  But we make those decisions because we love them and know it is best for them in the long run.  So, the lesson learned - God allows difficult things in our lives not because He doesn't love us, but because He does love us and has a purpose in everything that comes our way.  And He is right there watching over us the whole time.

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power.     Isaiah 40:28-29

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.      1 Peter 5:6-7

Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.       Philippians 4:6-7

Depression tends to return to those who have experienced it.  That thought is depressing...  But, there is hope!  An article found on family.org was so encouraging that I want to share some of the information with you.  It is titled, "The Weapon That Depresses Depression," and is written by Mark Sutton and Bruce Hennigan, M.D..  They suggest that there are cycles of depression.  Some people are surprised when it returns and other people can see it coming.  The key is how you handle depression when you realize it's back. 

Perseverance.  After faith, it's the strongest weapon we have with which to fight depression.  It helps us break a deadly cycle of which we may not even be aware.  And breaking that cycle produces some positive side effects:  new, powerful habits that actually act as our allies.

The authors go on to state that many people just give up when they realize they are depressed again and let their depression control their emotions, giving way to black moods and doubt while waiting for the depression to go away.  But they suggest that there is a way to break that cycle and that you can actually have control over your depression.

You simply tell depression: "I'm never giving up or giving in to you.  You may continue to plague me, but I'll fight you with everything I've got... The process of deciding to fight depression, even when you don't feel like doing so, begins to give you more control over your emotions and helps you no longer feel like a victim.

(God) blesses you every time you get knocked down by depression and then get up, still trusting God and still willing to live for him.  Looked at in this way, depression does not make you a failure.  Instead, it makes you a strong Christian and a winner in God's eyes.

I can tell you that since I read that article, I have practiced perseverance.  And it works, praise God!

Crafts

This is another 2-page spread from my mom's grief journal.


On most of the pages I used scrapbook paper and pages from an old hymnal as a foundation, used a brayer to layer paint over the paper, then used an ink pad to "age" the pages.  The pages were embellished with stamps, stickers and rub-on letters.  I recommend when working on a project like this, to use an extra strength glue stick when gluing the foundation paper down.

Today's Recipe - Roasted Vegetable Soup
Eating Well For Optimum Health - Dr. Andrew Weil

3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, trimmed and roughly cut
1 large onion, roughly cut
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 cups water
1/4 cup dried mushroom pieces (Italian porcini, if possible)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and black or red pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500F.  Place the carrots, celery, and onion in a small (8x8) pan with the olive oil.  Toss to coat the vegetables.  Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, add the garlic and toss again.   Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are browned.
Remove pan from oven, add 1 cup of water and stir to loosen any vegetables that may be stuck.  Pour this into a pot with the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and black or red pepper, and serve or use as the base for other soups, stews, or pasta dishes.  Makes 4 servings - 239 calories per serving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Begging, wishing, praying...

Bargaining is the third stage of grief and is expressed by begging, wishing or praying for the situation to go away.  When my dad died, this stage was intertwined with the anger stage.  I knew the situation would not go away - Dad was gone - but I did beg for help from God to cope with the grief.  However, when I was going through the depression and all the health issues, I did try bargaining with God...a lot!  My prayers contained many pleas for God to help me to survive until the next big milestone in my daughters' lives.  All those pleas came from a place of deeply rooted fear in my heart and mind.

As I continued to study the Bible and bring my requests before God, He lead me to the truths in His Word and helped me apply what I was learning to the stronghold of fear in my life.  It took awhile to root out all the lies I had believed most of my life.  It is so freeing to know and believe the truth!

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.       John 8:32

The point is - know that this stage is part of the grieving process.  Don't belittle yourself if you are in this stage.  Recognize it for what it is and take it to God, waiting patiently for Him to work in your heart and mind.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 
2 Corinthians 12:9

Note:  Nancy DeMoss has written an excellent book, The Lies Women Believe
 
Tomorrow - Stage 4...depression

Crafts

This is one of the two page spreads that were included in Mom's Grief Journal.





The left page has a program from Dad's celebration service along with some reminders from the day.  The right page left room for Mom to write down her thoughts from that day.  The yellow square is a sticky note letting her know the purpose of the page.

Today's Recipe - Maureen's Cabbage Soup
Creating Empty Bottle Moments - Clive Berkman
I had the privilege of preparing a Passover celebration meal with Clive at our church.  I learned a lot about preparing a meal for a large crowd and had a blast working with Clive.

2 pounds short ribs
1 large cabbage, shredded
28 oz can tomato puree
1 large onion, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice  

Place the meat in a large soup pot, cover with water, and boil over medium heat for 1/2 hour.  Remove the meat from the water and set it aside.  
Drain the water and fill the soup pot with the remaining ingredients.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the meatballs and short ribs and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Meatballs
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef or veal
1 Tbsp plain breadcrumbs
1 tsp chicken broth powder or crushed bouillon cube
1 chopped ripe tomato, skinned and seeds removed
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
A pinch of ground ginger
1 egg, beaten
2 qts. chicken stock

Mix all the ingredients together, roll into small balls, and place them in boiling chicken stock for 10 minutes.  Then add the meatballs to the soup.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yikes...

I have to be honest with you.  The second stage of grief is the one that really threw me for a loop.  It is anger - anger at God for allowing the difficult situation or death, anger at doctors for not being omniscient, anger at friends and relatives for not responding the way you wanted them to, anger because of a sense of unfairness,  anger because your life is not going the way you had dreamed...thus, the title for today's post.  Yikes!

I was embarrassed by the anger that rose up in me when I was struggling with depression and painful illness.  I was embarrassed and shocked by the intensity of the anger I felt after my dad unexpectedly died.  I mean, really - as a Christian, shouldn't I have a peace and calmness no matter what life brings?  Did the anger mean that I am immature and shallow as a person?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?           Psalm 22:1

This verse is in the Bible for a reason!  David wrote it.  Jesus asked the first question on the cross.  And we need to wrap our brains and hearts around the fact that anger is a part of grief.  The problem is if you stay there.  So, what do you do when you acknowledge that you are grieving and the anger comes?

Again, I am not a professional counselor.  I am just writing from experience and what I find in God's Word.  The Psalms and Job are two books that are especially comforting for those going through the stages of grief.  David and Job were honest about their grief, but they always took those thoughts and feelings to God.  And God helped them reason through their feelings and brought them comfort.  Both men eventually stated that they would choose to trust God no matter what came their way. 

God has done the same for me.  He was not surprised by my response to grief, even though I was.  He knew exactly what I needed to work through and how long it was going to take.  The anger and sense of unfairness did not start to fade until I turned to my Counselor, Jesus, who has felt the same emotions and understands.  He has taken me again and again to Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:6-7 -

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace that surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


If you feel you are stuck in this stage and nothing is helping, please seek professional Christian counseling.   A trained counselor can see things that we don't want to acknowledge and help us work through issues that keep us stuck in any of the stages of grief.  There is also a ministry called Grief Share that is so helpful. You can look it up on the internet and find where a group is meeting near you.

The next stage is bargaining.  I wasn't in this stage much after Dad died, but was there a long time when dealing with depression and illness.  Tomorrow...

Craft

I had read about making art journals from artist notebooks to use as a place to note and draw or paint ideas for crafts.  Some of them are also used as an outlet for daily emotions.  The artists used a variety of materials to make their pages, almost like mini scrapbooks. What a great idea!  I wish I had more time...maybe after I get all those closets cleaned out.  Hmm... maybe I just need to do it! 

Reading about these art journals gave me an idea.  What if someone who is grieving the death of a loved one or the loss of their health had a journal that was started for them that they could use to write down their thoughts and emotions?  Hmm...  So, I made one for my mom and it actually helped me as I worked on each of the pages.  The cover was inspired by the artwork of Kelly Rae Roberts.





Not sure why the picture is on its side...  Tomorrow, I will show you some of the pages. 


Today's Recipe - Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup
Reader's Digest

7 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into large pieces (about 1 1/2 in.)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15.5.oz) cans clack beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp Tabasco
1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Toss tomatoes, onion, and garlic with oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in large bowl, then transfer to baking sheet.  Roast until garlic cloves have softened, edges of onions are browned, and tomatoes have collapsed, 35-40 minutes, stirring once after first 20 minutes.
Transfer roasted vegetable mixture to 4-qt saucepan.  Add broth, beans, cumin, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and blend until smooth with immersion blender or in batches in regular blender.  Stir in hot sauce.  Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of cilantro.

 

Monday, January 17, 2011

The first stage of grief...

We cannot claim to know Christ and to honor Him if we refuse the path He calls us to follow.
Erwin McManus

The first stage of grief is denial and is expressed by not accepting or acknowledging the event or change in one's life.  As I stated last week, you can experience grief during any kind of change in your life.  It doesn't occur just when there is a death even though that's when everyone expects to grieve.

Denial, for me, has been a coping mechanism.  When something or someone causes me emotional pain, anxiety or worry, I just refuse to think about it and try to go about my day, distracting myself with activities.  The problem is that I'm not really coping and it soon becomes evident when I snarl at my husband or my dog or go around mumbling about people's ignorance all day.  Um...yeah, that's not coping!

In order to get through the stages of grief, I must first acknowledge that I am indeed grieving.  Then, I have to figure out why I am grieving.  Has something changed and taken me out of my comfort zone?  Do I miss the chaos of having kids at home?  Do I feel adrift without a set work schedule?  Do I feel like I am not contributing to my marriage or to society?  Do I feel like I will be a pathetic sick person the rest of my lie and won't ever have a normal life?  Has a relationship changed when I was comfortable with how it was? Have I grieved before and just don't want to go through it again?  I could go on, but hopefully you can apply this idea to your own situation.

It's extremely helpful to ask God to help you figure out if you are indeed in the stage of denial.  Then be ready to deal with it because He will reveal to you whether you are grieving or not and why you are grieving.  Once you get the first step figured out, then you will experience the second step, which is anger.  We will talk about this tomorrow...

Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?  But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God;  Who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number."             Job 2:10, 5:8-9

Creativity

I would like to showcase my oldest daughter's artwork again today.  She painted four of these last year for Christmas for herself, her sisters and me.  They beautifully express our relationships.





She paints with unusual tools - bubble wrap, credit cards, screen, stencils, stamps, cans dipped in paint...  I love the colors, too.  There's so much texture and detail that the photograph just doesn't do it justice.  But I hope it is inspiring.

Today's Recipe - Cheese Soup with Broccoli and Cauliflower
Cuisine at Home - Slow Cooker Menus

1 head broccoli, chopped, reserve 2 cups florets
1 head cauliflower, chopped, reserve 2 cups florets
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups shredded white American cheese (12 oz)
2 cups half-and half
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toss together chopped broccoli, chopped cauliflower, onion, celery, carrots, and flour in a 4-6 qt slow cooker.  Stir in broth, garlic, and 1 tsp salt.  Cover; cook until vegetables are tender, on low-heat setting for 3 hours.  
Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth.  Return pureed soup to the slow cooker.
Stir in cheese, half-and-half, lemon juice, and cayenne.  Cover soup; cook on low-heat setting for 10 minutes.
Add reserved broccoli florets and cauliflower florets.  Cover soup; cook on low-heat setting until florets are tender, 45-60 minutes.  Season soup with salt and pepper.  Makes 8 servings/ 298 calories per serving 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Trash in the temple...

Thank God for the wonderful and beautiful churches we have in this country to worship in.  So how would you feel if someone walked up the middle aisle of your church with a bag of rotting garbage over his right shoulder?  Shocked, right?  Then how would you feel if he dumped its stinking contents all over the place?  Blasphemy, right?  You'd be furious at that individual for dumping garbage inside your beautiful church.  Yet everyday God's people all over the world are poisoning their bodies - God's temples - without giving it a second thought.        Jordin Rubin

Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  
1 Corinthians 3:16

Ouch!  We do dump trash in the temple and find way too many excuses for not eating healthier.  And yet, God has provided exactly the food we need to help our bodies function the way they were designed to function.  Unfortunately, too many of us have become hooked on sugar and trans-fat laden foods and we are starting to pay the price, especially the children, for our poor choices.  So, how do we change?


I have spent hours on the internet, in the library and reading books I have purchased.  Not all of you have that kind of time, so I will try to summarize what a healthy diet looks like.  First, let me just say that we all need to get moving and not all of us can afford to or have the time to go to a gym.  But, we can all put on some great music, push back the coffee table and dance - even if you have two left feet!  The point is to move and get the blood and oxygen flowing for 30 minutes every day.  It is better if you can walk outside in the sunshine, but any moving is preferable to sitting like a lump.  And if you have depression or chronic illness, it is so important for you to work past the pain and fatigue to move your body.  It helps work out the toxins in your cells and you will begin to feel better.

Eat a piece of fruit or a cup of berries every morning with breakfast and eat vegetables with your lunch and your dinner every day.  The kind of vegetables you want to buy are those in the produce section of the store; the way God made them.  Eat them raw, steam them or stir-fry them in organic coconut oil and spices.  But eat them every day!  Switch to organic milk, real butter instead of margarine and eat yogurt sweetened with pure fruit juice instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Use whole grain (not whole wheat or white) breads, cereals and pastas and brown rice instead of white rice. Eat lean grass-fed meat and wild fish instead of breaded meat parts ground together and formed to look like a piece of meat. Add some delicious vegetarian dishes that use beans instead of meat for protein to your menu.  Drink water with lime or green tea instead of sodas or sports drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners.  If a product has chemicals or anything artificial listed in the ingredients, it's best not to put it in your mouth. 

The topic for my February posts will be dedicated to getting out more information on healthy eating on a budget and some good sources I have found for recipes.  It should be a delicious month!

Decoration

My oldest daughter painted these for my living room.  The meaning of the words:  Yahweh - God, Yireh - God Provides, Rophe - God Who Heals.  It's a wonderful reminder of what God has done in our lives.






Today's Recipe - Cuban Black Bean Soup
 Cuisine at Home - Slow Cooker Menus

1 lb. dried black beans (2 1/3 cups) or canned black beans
5 cups chicken broth
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and diced or a jalapeno pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
2 strips uncured bacon
1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Soak beans according to package directions; drain and rinse.  Combine beans, broth, onion, celery, garlic, chile pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, coriander, and bacon in a 4-6 qt slow cooker.  Cover soup; cook on high-heat setting for 5-6 hours or on low-heat setting for 8-9 hours.  When 1 hour remains, check to see if the beans are cooked.  Remove and discard bacon.  Stir in vinegar; season soup with salt and pepper.
Puree 4 cups of the soup in a food processor.  Add pureed soup to soup remaining in the slow cooker;  stir to combine.  Makes 6 servings at 322 calories per serving

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Depression, illness and your relationships...

I had no clue how my years of illness had affected my family until a recent conversation revealed the impact on them.  My oldest daughter shared that she had felt that she couldn't be a child, but had to take care of her little sisters.  Her sisters also shared how they missed out on things because I didn't feel well enough to take them. It was hard to hear, but it was important for them to be able to voice their feelings and for us to talk about them.  They needed to hear an apology from me and an acknowledgment that I understood their feelings and wished it could have been different.  They also needed to know that I was doing the best I could at the time, that I wasn't just choosing to ignore their desires.  The conversations were very healing.

My husband did the best he could and tried to understand what was going on with me.  Once, when he had the flu and was aching all over, I explained to him that that was how I felt most of the time.  All of a sudden, he understood because he was literally feeling my pain.  Since then he has been very supportive and encouraging when I don't feel well, asks questions until he understands and goes out of his way to do things to make those days easier.  He is a blessing!  I am learning to be honest with him about how I feel and what I am able to do without acting like Eyore.  Since I have been on a gluten-free diet for almost five years, I am feeling better all the time and my episodes with Epstein-Barr  and depression are milder and shorter.  My honey was going over our bills from last year on the computer and called me in to the den so I could see that I had not needed to go to the doctor all year other than the normal yearly visits.  WooHoo!  He has never said it, but I know the medical bills have been a burden to him.

There are some things I would suggest for families who are living with someone with depression or chronic illness.  If you have children at home, hold a family meeting and explain what is going on with the family member that is suffering.  Explain what that person can and cannot do and how they feel about it.  Let each member of the family express how they feel about the situation. As a family, come up with a plan to get done what needs done each day.  Plan weekly family activities that the ill person can realistically participate in. It is common for family members to experience depression if issues are not resolved.  If there are things that come up that you don't know how to handle, seek help from a professional Christian counselor as a family.

For the person suffering from depression or chronic illness, make it a priority to discover your spouse's and each child's love language (The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman) and express love to them daily.  Explain your love language to your family and give them practical ways they can express it to you.  With your spouse, set an example and create an atmosphere of love, acceptance and forgiveness in your home.  Be nice to each other!

Come up with a daily plan for communicating limitations and abilities for the suffering family member.  Make refrigerator magnets or use sticky notes.  I've seen small labeled peg boards with a small heart that can be moved from peg to peg.  Be very matter of fact as you communicate and avoid temptation to come across as, "Poor little me, I'm sick again..."  If you have a stuffed Eyore and find that you commonly communicate with the attitude of a victim, find a box or a drawer that you can put Eyore in as you remind yourself that you are going to have a positive attitude regardless how you feel.  The visual reminder and action can help you break the habit. A sense of humor is a great help as is voicing your blessings each day.  Family members can pray for each other and share meaningful Scripture or quotations with each other.

You can have a wonderful family experience that will teach your children how to handle the trials that life will bring their way - even in the midst of depression or chronic illness.


Housekeeping

I have two area rugs that have fringe on the ends.  They have been vacuumed and run over enough that some of the fringe has broken off and sheds on other parts of the floor.  They just always look messy. So, I decided I could see if I could remove the fringe.  It took four hours to take the fringe off the ends of one rug, but is worth the effort.  It looks so much neater and no longer sheds.  I'm definitely going to de-fringe the other rug, as well.
Before: (sorry this picture is sideways - it won't turn...)

      After:
                                                  
 Much better!

Today's Recipe - Cream of Broccoli Soup
The American Cancer Society Cookbook

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 small stalk celery (with leaves), sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup uncooked rice
3 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan, combine onion, carrot, celery, garlic and chicken stock;  bring to a boil.  Add rice; cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender.  Add broccoli; cover and simmer until broccoli is tender, about five minutes.  Transfer to blender or food processor and puree (may be done in batches).  Return to saucepan; add milk, salt and cayenne.  Serve hot.  Or let cook, cover and refrigerate until serving time.  8 - 3/4 cup servings  70 calories per serving

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Five Stages of Grief...

Grief does not just happen when a loved one dies.  I found out that grief is a part of many of life's different events, even the good ones.  For instance, you can find yourself grieving when your first child goes to kindergarten or off to college, when children get married or move away, when your family has to move because of a job change or a job loss. You can grieve when a relationship changes or when life just doesn't go the way you had dreamed.  Grief can strike when the holidays come around and your kids don't come home. Chronic illness and depression can also cause grief because of the loss of life expectations and dreams. 

Healthy grieving starts with recognizing the different stages of grief, letting yourself experience each stage and learning how to work through them.  Today, I will just list the different stages along with a simple description of each one.  Next week, we will take one a day and explore them a little more.

The Five Stages of Grief

1.  Denial - No crying. Not accepting or even acknowledging the change in your life.

2.  Anger - Wanting to fight back and blame.

3.  Bargaining - attempting to make deals with God.

4. Depression - Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity, fear, mourning loss of hopes, dreams and plans for the future.  Feeling lack of control, feeling numb.  Perhaps feeling suicidal.

5.  Acceptance - Finding the good that can come out of the situation.  Goals turn toward personal growth.

I also learned that generally you don't go through each stage once and then you are done grieving.  You can go back and forth between anger, bargaining and depression several times before you come to acceptance.  Some people get stuck in denial and think they are actually dealing with the situation quite well.  It's important to know that you must go through each stage of grief and come to acceptance before you can be healthy mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  Of course, not working through each stage in a healthy way can also affect you physically.

Tomorrow we will touch on depression and chronic illness and their affect on relationships.

Decorating

Decorating for baby showers is fun but can be quite costly.  So coming up with some inexpensive but cute decorations has been my challenge.  Several years ago, I saved up and purchased some pretty white Martha Stewart luncheon plates at Kmart to use specifically for showers and teas and also purchased small wine goblets at Target with which to serve punch.  They have helped save hundreds of dollars that would have been spent to buy cups and plates for each shower. 

Decorating the table starts with stacking large books or using different size boxes under a white tablecloth.  Then come white lights under blue tulle topped with some wrapped boxes, labeled with sections of the poem, "What Little Boys Are Made Of".  I've done the same with the "Little Girls" poem, as well, with pink wrapping papers. A couple of cute teddy bears completes the scene and there is plenty of room for the plates, goblets, napkins, silverware, punch and food.


I used these for several baby showers (different people) but soon had to come up with another idea.  This one just might work for each baby shower because it will be easy to personalize it for each baby.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought paper mache letters for the baby's initials then decoupaged scrapbook papers onto the front of each letter that coordinated with his nursery.

 
Hmmm...not sure why it cut the bottom of the picture off.  I would download some more pictures so you could get a better idea, but it is taking 15-20 minutes to download today.  Alrighty, then!  I will be making another set for a little baby girl's shower this weekend.  Maybe I will be able to download the pictures...

Today's Recipe - Italian Vegetable Soup
Taste of Home

1 lb ground beef 
1 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz can tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can red kidney beans, undrained
1 cup water
14.5 oz can beef broth
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup small elbow macaroni
Parmesan cheese

Brown beef in large heavy kettle; drain.  Add all the ingredients except cabbage and macaroni. Bring to a boil.  Lower heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Add cabbage and macaroni; bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.  12 servings


                       

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

They are lies...

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.             Isaiah 61:3

I LOVE this verse because I have experienced the Lord pouring out His oil of joy in my life and clothing me with a garment of praise when I really thought those things were permanently gone from my life.  For too long, I fell prey to and believed lies that kept me from joy and praise.  If you do not suffer from depression or chronic illness, this list of lies might seem bizarre to you.  If you do, I'm sure you will be able to relate.  Here's my list of the top ten lies Satan told me while living with illness and depression and some of the Scripture God used to set me free:

1.  God can't use you to help others.  You don't have the physical stamina.  You have nothing to offer.
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

2.  You're going to die soon...perhaps right now!
...and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.  Psalm 139:16  
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

3.  Focus on your pain and any strange sensation that makes you feel like you could pass out or die. Be afraid...be very afraid!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

4.  This is not fair!  This is proof God doesn't love you!
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He  may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.  I Peter 5:6-7

5.  You are worthless. Look at all the time and money you spend at doctor's offices and the hospital.
For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:13-14

6.  No one cares about what you deal with on a daily basis.  You are all by yourself...alone.  Darwinism is true - it's all about survival of the fittest.
...I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5

7  This is all God's fault.  He could have kept you from getting sick.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

8.  You are a burden to your family and friends.
Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

9.  Jesus doesn't care about sick people and has no clue how you feel. 
Jesus wept.  John 11:35
Jesus had compassion on them... Matthew 20:34
My (Jesus') soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death...Mark 14:34

10.  Look at how much of your life has been a waste.
 And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?"  Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.  John 9:1-3

Note:  I am not a professional counselor or doctor.  I am writing from my own experience and from what I have learned from talking to others who live with depression or chronic illness.

I am tempted to become angry when I think of all the years I spent believing these lies.  The truth is that I did believe those lies for a long time and God has miraculously freed me from every one of them so that I can live with joy and am able to praise Him with a glad heart!  Has He freed me from celiac disease or Epstein-Barr?  (I have asked and pleaded...)  Nope!  Has He helped me learn how to live victoriously in spite of disease?  Yep!  Have I been used by God to bring hope and encouragement to others because I understand?  It's very humbling to know that God has used me...

One of the things that I have learned is that the lies cause us to grieve the life we are living and the life we could have had.  Tomorrow we will talk about the five stages of grieving

Decor

Our guest room has a large window that lets in lots of light - ok during the day, but not so much at night when the street light shines in through tree branches...tossed around by the wind...


We could have just bit the bullet and spent the big bucks to get plantation shutters made, but after a lot of time was spent searching for an inexpensive solution, I finally figured it out.  My honey cut a piece of 1/4" MDF to fit over the window, then attached it to a 1x4 to make it free-standing.  I painted and stenciled the window cover and it works perfectly.  Doesn't look too bad, either! It actually makes the room look bigger - go figure.


Now I need to paint a faux plantation shutter on the other side of the cover so it will look better from outside and put grommets in the curtains to make them easier to open and close...

Today's Recipe - Smoked Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Cuisine At Home - Slow Cooker Menus

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 smoked turkey leg, meat removed and shredded (2 cups)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup dry wild rice
1/2 cup each diced carrot and celery
1/4 cup dry sherry (you can probably substitute red wine vinegar or cooking sherry)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp dried thyme 
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sliced scallions
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Toasted slivered almonds


Combine broth, turkey, onion, wild rice, carrot, celery, sherry, flour, and thyme in a 3-4 qt. slow cooker.  Cover; cook until rice is tender, on low-heat setting for 4-5 hours.
Stir in milk and scallions just before serving; heat through, about 5 minutes.  Season soup with salt and pepper; garnish each serving with almonds.  Makes 6 servings
 

Monday, January 10, 2011

My encounter with depression...

It's seems like I just woke up depressed one morning, but I'm sure it was a slow slide into that awful summer.  I had noticed that I just didn't find enjoyment in the people and things that normally brought me pleasure.  But the dark cloud seemed to descend on me overnight.  My physical symptoms - traveling pain, joint pain, headaches, inability to sleep or focus, digestive issues, a wacko thyroid and overwhelming fatigue - did continue to worsen until I finally sought help from doctors.  They ran lots of tests and ruled out many illnesses, but still no answers to why I felt so bad.  I was treated for anxiety with an anti-depressant which helped me function.  Towards the end of the summer, a nurse put me on a very strict diet of fruit, vegetables and lean meat with supplements and I felt amazingly better after a couple of weeks.  I was able to quit taking the medication after two months.

I know, now, that all of this was caused by undiagnosed celiac disease.  In fact, if I inadvertently eat some gluten or too much sugar, I will wake up the next morning with depression symptoms which usually take a few days to go away.  I know that there are many more causes of depression, but I have discovered that there are some things that we all can do to feel better.  I have learned not to freak out if I feel depressed, but to reason out the cause with God's help and know that it will subside and I will feel better.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.  Psalm 145:19

This week we will be talking about depression and what I have found that helps tremendously. 

Decor

I went with one of my young friends to Good Will to find some lamps for her living room.  She had seen my daughter's lamps and loved them.  We purchased these "beauties" for $16.





With the help of some spray paint and new drum shades from Lowe's, they ended up looking like this -


They are fabulous in her living room!  So much fun!!

Today's Recipe - Chicken Chili Verde
Cuisine at Home - Slow Cooker Menus

(Bone-in chicken breasts add extra flavor and have less tendency to overcook than boneless breasts.)
3 poblano chile peppers
1 1/2 lbs. tomatillos, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed, divided
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 lb bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed, chicken seasoned with kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
crumbled queso fresco cheese

Roast poblanos over a gas burner (or under a broiler) until blackened.  Transfer poblanos to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap. When poblanos are cool enough to handle, remove skin and seeds.  Chop poblanos.
Layer poblanos, tomatillos, onion, 1/2 cup cilantro, garlic, cumin, salt, and sugar in a 4-6 qt slow cooker.  Place chicken on top, meaty side down; add broth.  Cover; cook until chicken is tender, on low-heat setting for 4-5 hours. 
Remove chicken from slow cooker; allow it to cool slightly.  Shred meat, discarding bones.  Add chicken, lime juice, and remaining 1/2 cup cilantro to the slow cooker.  Turn slow cooker to high-heat setting; cook 10 minutes.  Serve chili with crumbled cheese.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The benefits of suffering...

Ok, that's a strange title for a post!  At least that is what I used to think.  When I look back over my life, it's easy to see that I grew the most during the difficult times.  Mary Yerkes says there are five things that suffering does for us:

1.  Suffering produces intimacy with God
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.  Psalm 40:1-3

2. Suffering equips us to comfort others.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

3.  Suffering refines us.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  Isaiah 48:10

4.  Suffering produces growth and maturity.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-3

5.  Suffering conforms us into Jesus' image.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  Romans 8:28-29

Paul Jackson, a Tucson pastor, watched as his wife suffered with breast cancer before she passed away.  He comments, "If we are willing to sit still and let God work, we will find ourselves being transformed into the image of Jesus.  Through this horrendous experience, God did incredible things.  Her mother accepted Jesus Christ as Savior...God also changed those who cared for her.  Our lives were enriched by suffering.  Simply put, when we seek God through His Word and prayer, we find Jesus.  Remember, Jesus understands our pain because He, too, suffered."

Our suffering can be a testimony to God's glory.  We can be honest and say, "I don't like it.  I don't get it.  But, you have a purpose in this suffering and I am going to trust you, Lord." 


Decorating

I wasn't sure what I was going to put in the tall apothecary jar on the mantle when I emptied it of the Christmas ornaments.  I really didn't want to spend any money so I looked around the house and found nothing that would work.  Hmmm...

Then, my honey and I were walking at a nearby park and discovered these fabulous seed pods that had fallen from some of the trees.  Free decorations!  I may spray them with a glossy clear acrylic to preserve them.







Today's Recipe - Cheeseburger Soup
Cuisine at Home - Slow Cooker Menus

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
1 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups peeled and diced russet potatoes
2 cups sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper
ketchup
prepared yellow mustard
chopped dill pickles


Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add sirloin, cook until meat begins to brown.  Stir in onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and basil; cook 5 minutes.
Add flour, stirring to coat meat; cook 1 minute.  Stir in milk until mixture is smooth.  Bring mixture to a boil; cook 2 minutes.  Transfer soup to a 3-4 quart slow cooker.  
Stir in broth and potatoes.  Cover soup, cook until potatoes are tender, on low-heat setting for 3-4 hours.
Add Cheddar just before serving, stirring until cheese melts.  Season soup with salt and pepper; garnish each serving with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.