Welcome to my corner of the world. I believe our experiences are not only for our benefit, but should be shared. I hope you will find something in my journey to encourage and inspire you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Walking by faith

This is a very challenging time for me. Our youngest has started college and our older children are beginning to step out on their own. I've spent twenty five years raising our family and now I need to find what God is leading me to do with the next twenty five years. I've been anxious and unsettled about the future because I want to see what my life will look like years from now instead of  looking for what God is asking me to do today. I'm living by sight, not by faith.

When I think about living by faith, I think of Abraham’s journey with God which was filled with times when he had to walk by faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith this way: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (NASB)

Abraham's life reveals the way to follow God a day at a time. Only the eyes of faith could see that seemingly impossible things would come to pass in Abraham and Sarah’s lives. I can’t imagine having to leave my home and family to follow God to an undisclosed land. He must have met tremendous  resistance from his family and friends. How many times was he tempted to give up and turn back as the difficulties of the journey overwhelmed him?

Not only did God promise Abraham land, but numerous descendants. Abraham and Sarah were already old. That must have seemed impossible, but Abraham chose to believe God when there was no human way for them to have a child. When they finally had their precious son who restored laughter to their lives, God told Abraham to sacrifice him. The Bible doesn't reveal his internal struggle, but it must have been fierce. Why would God give this child only to take him away? Without Isaac, how would the promise be fulfilled? Abraham trusted God, believing in resurrection long before it had been seen.

Faith wasn’t dependent on anything Abraham had to offer, or on his limited human abilities. Faith depends only on how trustworthy the object of our faith is. God’s promises are always true – He is completely trustworthy and faithful. If we have enough faith, we will trust Him for everything. Because we have a God who is always faithful, we have no need to fear. This requires keeping our eyes on God and not our circumstances. My anxiety can be a thing of the past if I learn to walk by faith.

God had a plan. He knew what was on the horizon even though Abraham couldn’t see what was to come. God revealed His plan to Abraham a little at a time, when the time was right. Abraham trusted and took one step at a time.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose trust is the Lord.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NASB)

He has a plan for my life too. And He will reveal His plan as I need to know the details. I can choose to trust and follow Him in faith and help bring His plan to pass, or I can walk by sight and fumble around in anxiety and insecurity hindering God’s plan. It is up to me.

Keith and Kristyn Getty's song By Faith shares how the theme of faith is woven through God's word. The chorus says:

We will stand as children of the Promise.
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul's reward.
'Til the race is finished and the work is done.
We'll walk by faith and not by sight.

Here is the video of the entire song:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Better Marriage Requires a Better Me

We live in a microwave culture. We want everything NOW! We eat fast food, and get angry when we are stuck behind someone driving the speed limit. Texting and the internet allow us instant communication. And we want instant results when our lives need to change.

I’m working through Enhancing Your Marriage by Judy Rossi right now with a bunch of ladies over the internet. The strange thing about this study is that we are beginning week 4 and still haven’t learned anything about marriage. I was skeptical at first, but as I have taken time to consider my own spiritual life, I’ve realized that my marriage can’t grow much if I don’t change and grow first.

When I see attitudes and character qualities in my life that need to change, I think I should be able to pray a quick prayer and presto – the fruit of the Spirit will be perfectly lived out. I have spent so many years asking God to change my heart and mind without seeing the results I expected.

OK, until the last couple of years, I was trying to change in my strength instead of trusting God to change me. I still clung to my pride and selfishness. I wanted to change some or only in some areas. That just isn’t how God works. He asks for all of our heart and soul and mind and strength.

As I have learned to yield to Him, I have still been frustrated by how easily I fall into old habits. I still want that quick fix. As I read Exodus this week there was a verse that I hadn’t noticed before. (Does that happen to you too? A verse jumps out at you that you have read a hundred times before and never noticed.)

“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” (23:30) God was going to remove the inhabitants of the Promised Land, but not all at once. If He did, wild animals would have taken over much of the territory. If God worked little by little, the population of the Israelites would increase so they could inhabit all of it.

The same is true of our spiritual lives. If God revealed everything that needed to change at once, we would be overwhelmed and give up. So God works like a sculptor, patiently chipping away at a piece of marble until a masterpiece is revealed. When I look back over the last couple of years, I see how I have changed and grown. No, I am not where I think I should be, but I’m not the person I was either. God continues to work. “He says trust me. If I brought you into this, I’m going to bring you through it. JUST DO AS I COMMAND AND WATCH ME REVEAL MYSELF.” (Judy Rossi)

So I will give God my life and my obedience and will trust Him to change me in His time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cheeseburger Soup

On this bitterly cold day, it seems like a good time to share this hearty soup recipe. Cold, dreary days make me long for the comfort of a hot bowl of soup. This is our middle daughter's favorite dinner. I did not anticipate how emotional I would be when I made it for her last week. I won't be able to make it again for her for a while since she just got married and moved out of state. 

The first step is to brown the beef and soften the vegetables with the basil and parsley in a large pot over medium heat. If your family doesn't like basil, substitute oregano or leave it out altogether.

Then add the chicken broth and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Mix the flour into 1/2 cup of cold water in a small jar with a tight fitting lid (or combine with a whisk in a small bowl).

 Add the flour, water mixture to the soup stirring constantly until the soup thickens. Turn the heat back to low and add the remaining ingredients except the sour cream. Heat, stirring occasionally until the cheese is melted. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sour cream. I serve this soup with rolls and fresh fruit or carrots and celery.

To make the soup in a slow cooker: Brown and drain the ground beef and add it to the slow cooker with the vegetables, parsley, basil, chicken broth and potatoes and cook on low for four to five hours. Turn slow cooker to high and bring to a boil, add flour mixed with 1/2 cup water and stir until thickened. Stir in the milk, cheese, salt and pepper and continue cooking and occasionally stirring until cheese is melted. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.  

To freeze the soup: I don't like the texture of potatoes that have been frozen, and sour cream tends to separate when it has been frozen so I don't freeze the completed soup.  The way I get around this is to double the beef, vegetables and herbs and cook them as for the original recipe. At this point, I remove half of the mixture and cool before placing it in a zip top bag and freezing it. This does make assembling the soup quite a bit quicker. You could simply double the recipe and freeze half if these aren't issues for you.

 Cheeseburger Soup

1/2 pound ground beef
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup carrot, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups water and 3 bullion cubes)
4 cups potatoes, cubed (1 3/4 pounds)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
8 ounces American cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

Brown ground beef over medium heat in a dutch oven, drain.  Add vegetables, parsley and basil and saute until tender.  Add broth and potatoes; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Mix flour with water, stir into boiling soup.  Cook and stir for two minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper, cook and stir until cheese melts.  Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.

8 servings (about 10 cups)