Foodie Pinspiration

Foodie Pinspiration Feb2017.jpg

Hello friends! I had to share another round of delicious recipes found on Pinterest. I tell you! Seriously, you need to give these a try! Enjoy and happy eating!

Maple Mustard Sausage Bites

We've made these a few times already. Took them to a Christmas party and everyone was loving them! The best part? Easy, easy, easy!!! Take them to your next party or just make them for yourself! :) Get recipe at Crumbs & Chaos.

Roasted Vegetables & Italian Sausage

We have this meal often at our place! If you don't have butternut squash and for some weird reason don't like brussels sprouts then you can substitute. I've tried it with sweet potato as well and have done it with just one vegetable as well. As long as you use a vegetable that will take the same amount of time to cook as the sausage. I used Trader Joe's chicken sausage so you can get creative with that too. Also, I have made a vinaigrette to pour over the sausage and veggies before and it makes it that much more delish! Find the recipe at Foodie with Family.

Coconut Lime Chicken

Oh me...oh my! This one is so good AND for my friends that have certain food restrictions, this recipe is dairy free, gluten free and paleo! Just have it with some rice and you're set! You can make this Baked Brown Rice recipe while you cook the chicken. Easy, peasy! :) Get the recipe at  A Saucy Kitchen.

Parmesan Zucchini & Corn

Have you ever sat there in front of the fridge trying to figure out what side dish to serve with your the rest of your meal? Well, here's a simple and easy and super quick one for you. It goes great with chicken and fish. I've even had it without the cheese and it is still delicious. Find recipe at Damn Delicious.

Music Monday :: Smile!

Yesterday the hubby spoke at church about being contagious...but not the spread-the-germs type of contagious. He was talking about the attitude-atmosphere-changing type of contagious.

"What is in you is contagious. Your spirit/attitude can be contagious. What are you passing on when you enter a room?" -Alex Penduck

And so, with that challenge in mind, I want to challenge us as we began this week to pass on more smiles and less of the attitudes that bring down the room. Let's be the ones that spread the good in this world! Things like joy, compassion, love. So as you get ready for the day, the week, remember...

"And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." (Col. 3:14)

And you can begin by giving out a simple smile...not just cause you may be in candid camera but because no matter what's going around you, a smile may not only lift your spirit, it has the ability to lift others too! :) And this song may just help give you the little push you need to do just that! :) 

Smile away my friend, be contagious!

What Keeps Us Going

Today is the last day of the first month of 2017! 

Wow!

Time flies, doesn't it? Christmas seems like it was forever ago. Life is back to 'normal' (whatever normal is) and that can be different from week to week, sometimes from day to day.

So here I am, sitting down at my dining room table as snowflakes are trying to cover my lawn and while doing my daily soul feeding I was reminded of what my husband has been teaching in church this whole month based on Hebrews 11:1,

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."

Faith is a journey. A journey that is often challenged by unwanted elements along the way. At times it will hasten us to walk through peaceful trails with amazing landscapes, the sound of a calm stream and the chirping of birds. Other times we'll be nudged to embark on journeys that will take us through rough terrains. Sometimes during this journey, the view will be crisp and clear, filled with a warm sunshine and beautiful summer blue skies while the next day we may encounter a rainstorm, perhaps a snow storm, a killer cold front, and as if that wasn't enough, a heavy fog moves in and obscures  the already limited view we had prior to its abrupt arrival. It is at these times when faith is the hardest to uphold because we feel breathless from the journey thus far and our vision is tired of trying to see beyond the disappointments. 

Faith often fights to remain constant in our lives and rise above the elements of the broken world that surrounds us. It is in the rough terrain that our faith is tested and it is also there where it can crumble but never forget that it is here also when our faith has the capacity to break through the unexpected, the harsh, the ruthless, the inconceivable. It is when we find ourselves in this very place that we must stop at the tracks and let not our sight but our faith drive us. It is at this moment, when our vision is focused on what we CAN see, that we must fight to focus on the unseen, the things of eternal significance. This is not about ignoring the reality we face or pretending it's not there for "Faith is not something that goes against the evidence, it goes beyond it." (Allister McGrath). 

So when faith seems to be at our weakest point, let's stop long enough to remember the ones that have gone before us, like those mentioned in Hebrews 11 such as Abraham, Sarah, and Noah. Those who have gone through it and whose faith remained through it all. 

"The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in." - RC Sproil

Sight will often deceive you but faith will never fail you. When your sight is threatening your faith remember that the one you are placing your trust in is the God that can do the impossible. 

"It's what [and who] we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going." (2 Corinthians 5:8)

 

 

Make Space

How busy has your day been? Your week?

I don't know about you but for the last month and a half it's been a go, go, go for me. Too many 1am-2am bedtimes for my taste.

What do you do when you look at your calendar and realize all the stuff you have to do? How do you deal with busyness? How does it affect your mood? How does it affect those around you? 

If you are like me, there comes a time when, if you are not careful, all the busyness will affect how you treat others, how long your temperament fuse is, and sometimes it can even skew your perception of things and mess with body and mind.

It's easy to get busy. It's easy to fill up our schedules with all these stuff that we consider 'good'. But just because something is good doesn't mean it should find its way to our oh so precious calendars. 

Some time back I had to reevaluate how I handled business because here's the thing, some weeks and months are going to be busier than others and I needed to be able to accomplish it all without neglecting the things that are key for my faith and daily life. I was once challenged to ask myself these questions:

"Am I too busy to have a relationship with God?"

"Am I too busy to have a relationship with other people?"

I had to take heed of God's promise... "seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need" (Matthew 6:33).

Key words here, ABOVE ALL and EVERYTHING. Above all refers to all those things that try to steal every minute away from me. And, If by EVERYTHING God meant the whole caboodle then this means I can't disregard the importance of making space for Him in my life no matter what my day, week, month look like because He'll take care of me.

Whatever your calendar looks like today, do this

Make space for God.

Many have been the times when I've gone day after day with busy schedules that don't allow me to make space for God and more often than not, I end up mentally exhausted and I find myself complaining more, stressing more as well as more agitated. Somehow, when I carve space to silence myself before God, I find renewed perspective, hope, inner strength. I can think more clearly, I am more prudent in making wise decisions, I love others better. I like me better. :) 

Make space for relationships with others. 

Why? Because if you were intended to be on your own God wouldn't have placed you in a world with billions of others earthlings. Because He's always intended for us to have community with those around us and this not only includes your immediate family and friends, it also includes your church community, "Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another..." (Hebrews 10:25).

Make space for you as well because taking care of you (your body, your mind) goes hand in hand with making space for God and others. It will take you even further!

How do you make space in your life for God, relationships and to take care of yourself? I'm always up for growing in this area! 

 

 

 

Worries into Prayers

Praying this for friends today...

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (Philippians 4:6-7)

Listen :: Five Minute Friday

Have you ever stopped to listen to the silence?

The silence of someone's loneliness? Pain? Cry? Depression? 

This type of listening goes beyond the physics of sound. 

It takes a stop in the tracks. 

It involves visual listening. 

It calls for attention to detail.

It pleads us to listen with our eyes, with our hearts.

But that's not natural because "we listen with our ears" we are told.

Yet, there are some cries that can only be heard with the heart. 

Like pain, which is too often endured in the silence, in isolation, without uttering any sound to the world around us.

And depression. The silent killer of those beautiful souls that are crying in silence because there's no energy left to audibly express what's eating them inside. 

Oh! That we would stop long enough to listen to each other's nemesis because all of us will one day face an inescapable agent determined on being our downfall.

And when that day comes, may someone stop long enough to listen to our silence. 

And if we ever feel that nobody is listening, may we remember that

Silent prayers ALWAYS reach the listening ears of a loving God - who, though at times may seem silent, is ALWAYS present.

So, today, stop! Pay attention. Let your heart, let the spirit, lead you. Send a card, send a text. Pray for someone. Let them know you are listening.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community. Today's prompt word was: Listen


Music Monday :: Have it All

Sang this yesterday at our church and loved it. And what does it really mean to tell God "you can have it all?" 

The way I look at it is that when you truly know that God can have your trust then you also know that He can have every fear, every moment of loneliness, your times of disappointment, the tears, the worries, the anxiety and every part that makes up your every day. And you know you can place your trust in Him with all those things because in the exchange you will receive faith, peace, comfort, joy, love, grace, hope. 

Will you trust God with every part of your world?

"no one who hopes in me [God] ever regrets it" (Isaiah 49:23)

Fill 'Em Up!

Back in those glorious-how-did-I-survived-teenage years, I discovered a little nugget in a Bible story. One that still sticks with me today. One I pray for every single day, one I pray for my husband and for my son. Have you read the story of Solomon? It begins in the book of 2 Chronicles chapter 1. This dude, the son of King David. The son who inherited his dad's kingdom. And God was with him as He was with his father. 

This dude had an opportunity I would like to have myself...God appeared to him one night and told him, "ask for whatever you want me to give you." I mean, really? Lord, you know where I live, if you want to show up tonight and ask me the same question, I'm game! 

So Solomon did ask for one thing...Wisdom.

Yeap! That's it. Wisdom. 

Wisdom is so underestimated.

Wisdom, that good sense of knowledge when making decisions, when speaking out. Most think that wisdom is acquired by experience, by the accumulation of knowledge or life experiences throughout many years but that's not always the case. I've met 40 year olds with the wisdom of a 20 year old and vice versa. 

Here's the thing. Solomon recognized his shortcomings and knew that they would fail him time and time again. Solomon knew he was in desperate need of God to fill up His shortcomings with His wisdom and so...he asked for it! 

Ask for wisdom everyday because each day comes with its own challenges and gut wrenching decision making situations and well, because each day you will have the option to use that wisdom or leave it by the side of the road. And do not only use that wisdom in life making decisions but make sure to apply it to your spiritual life. Learn from Solomon, don't make the same mistake.

"While Solomon applied His wisdom to political affairs he did not always applied it to his spiritual life. He knew the right way to live but he did not always have the will to do it. Solomon's many wives turned his heart away from God, which eventually let to his downfall. His wisdom failed at this point. Solomon did not turn away from God all at once or in a brief moment. His spiritual coldness started with a minor departure. Over the years, that little 'thing' grew until it resulted in Solomon's downfall." (from the One year Bible Companion)

I've come to realize how essential it is in my spiritual walk. Perhaps this is why it is mentioned throughout the Bible and that's why I can't ignore it. Perhaps that's why it tells us in James 1:5,

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

I've got a lot of shortcomings and I'm desperately asking God to fill them with His wisdom. 

I'm sure He'll do the same for you. Just ask.

Foodie Pinspiration

Been some time since I've posted a blog about food and well, I couldn't wait any longer! I do love my food and love it when I try a new recipe and it turns out to be delicious! But I won't lie, I've tried some Pinterest ones that totally flopped! Been there? Well, here are some recipes that I've tried more than once (if not several times) that are yummy and easy! 

ONE PAN HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN

I've made this a few times and it is so good. The only thing I change is that I do sweet potatoes with red potatoes. One of the things I love about this meal is that it is super easy to put together AND only one pan! Win win! Get the recipe here!

ONE PAN MEXICAN QUINOA

This one pan meal is so delish! And again, SOOOO super easy! I add the avocado as a garnish on each plate! Seriously, you gotta give this one a try! Get the recipe here!

LEMON PARMESAN KALE SALAD

You may be like..."hmmm....not sure about this one". I made this one night because I had kale in the fridge and I wanted to use it and well, now it's been made a few times! Very tasty! You can find the recipe here!

EASY HUMMUS WITHOUT TAHINI

Yeap, you read it right, hummus with no tahini. Why did I even give this one a try? Well, let's see, I LOVE hummus and I wanted to make it at home but tahini is so darn expensive. So, I googled, "can I make hummus without tahini" and well, haven't looked back since! Now I will say, the key here is to peel your garbanzo beans (chickpeas) before hand. Trust me, it really doesn't take that long and it makes all the difference for a smooth hummus! You really can't go wrong with this one! I usually snack on this with sliced cucumbers and bell peppers. This yummy recipe is found here!

THE BEST PUMPKIN MUFFINS

I've made this recipe several times! When they say it's the best pumpkin muffins ever...well, I agree...so so good! Friends and hubby and son have approved and enjoyed time and time again! :) Instructions for how to make these are found here!

MESSY: THE NECESSARY BEGINNING!

Lately, I've been 'confronting' or maybe I should say, 'attacking' our closets, storage room, cabinets and drawers and doing some organizing, some cleaning, some purging. I've been finding things I think I've had for over ten years! Things I've been dragging with me in every move I've made from state to state and house to house.

Anybody can relate? 

Right now I'm attacking my kitchen cabinets and coat closet, this is what it looks like at the moment...

Here's the truth about cleaning and putting things in order...it is a SURE thing that a BIG MESS happens before things are back in place. In other words,

"...[it must get] messy in the middle [to be] gorgeous in the end" (Robin Sharma)

Isn't that what happens? There are times in our journey when we come undone by the stuff being thrown at us and it's at these times that we find it hard to find the beautiful in life. It's at these times that it seems easier to be enveloped in a cocoon than to deal with the ugly. But sometimes the ugly has to be confronted. Sometimes the ugly has to come out. And sometimes we have to deal face on with the stuff we know we should have dealt with long ago.

This means we may have to open 'cabinets', 'drawers', 'closets' in our hearts that haven't been opened in a while but we know it's about time. And when we open them up and begin to start taking stuff out it just simply gets messy...really messy...and then we remember WHY we've delayed in tackling them. But...

Sometimes MESSY is the necessary beginning to the making of EXTRAORDINARY! (Michele Cushatt)

Aah....NECESSARY!

Yes! Yes it is...because in the midst of the messy we get rid of the baggage and the weight we've been carrying for far too long and then the journey gets lighter, perhaps, even brighter. 

So why not make a mess? Why not, once and for all, allot ourselves the chance to make way for the extraordinary to invade us? 

Wherever you find yourself today, whatever it is that may need confronting, no matter what you may be facing, IT'S TIME!!!

It's time to open those compartments in your life that need some cleaning, organizing, decluttering, re-ordering.

And whatever it is you're trying to tackle, just remember, it will get messy, but don't sweat it! If you feel you can't do it alone then reach out to a friend or brother or sister or mom or dad...whoever you know will not mind making way for the messy to come out in order to pave the way for the extraordinary!

No past hurts, regrets, pain, fear should stop you from accomplishing this. 

Go on, begin the mess!

You've got this! 

 

 

 

Some can't be mommies...

Mother's day is the time to celebrate those whose love, patience, care, guidance, teachings, kisses, hugs and so many other wonderful and lovely things have marked our lives since the day we were born.

But this day of celebration is not happy for everyone. Some are dealing with the painful reminder of the one they felt inside their womb but never got to meet or kiss on this earth. Others may be dealing with having a little one fighting for their life in an ICU room. And there's also those dealing with the reminder that they can no longer hug their own mom this Mother's day.

But here's another reason...

Mommy day is a painful reminder for many because some can't be mommies.

Yes, this Mother's Day may not be so happy for all. 

Before I became a mommy, I dealt with infertility. I waited over 9 yrs to have a little one in my arms. I thought it was NEVER going to happen. And though we may not have taken the same steps along this journey, I know what you might be feeling. For those of you longing to become a mommy, remember this...

THE MIRACLE CAN STILL HAPPEN.

I became a mommy at 40, trust me, the surprise of a baby can still invade your world in the future. While you're in the waiting room, continue to pray, continue to live, and continue to hope. PRAY for God to give you strength and a still heart, especially on those days when the reminder of what you're lacking is staring you from every direction. LIVE out loud, for living fiercely will bring even more meaning to your life during this season. And HOPE. Hope because you're not alone in this journey, because others find themselves there right now and like others, a miracle may still come down knocking on your door.

YOU'RE QUALIFIED.

Being a mommy is a qualification that most any woman possesses. It is a trait that can be exercised with those you haven't even birthed. Don't let your mommy traits go to waste while in the waiting. If there's someone to be loved, love them. If there's someone to be guided, guide them. It there's someone in need of care, care for them. You're qualified to do all those and then some. While you wait for your miracle, be all these and more. It will enhance your journey. 

However, I do know that no matter what anyone may say to you today your reality is still staring back at you. You're still childless and still feeling incomplete. 

For all of you ladies in the waiting room of infertility, and for those mourning the little one you never got to hold, and all those of you tending to your precious prince or princess in an ICU room, and the ones remembering the mom you had to recently let go to heaven...

You're not alone and you're not unnoticed. Many are standing in the gap for you!

Remember that this Mother's day.

 

 

 

More Powerful Still...

I have so many dear friends going through some difficult times. For some is a time of deep emotional pain, for others a time of health battles, others are facing anxiety and despair, others find themselves at the crossroads of loss and mourning. And many of them desperately waiting for faith, prayer and hope to collide and bring about a beautiful miracle rendition.

And as I hear their stories, their pain, their sorrow, I ask myself, "what can I do?" At times, all I can do is listen and let them know I hear them and I'm here. But even more so, I know that there are situations in which only one response is the most fitting and yet,  sometimes the most overlooked or the most underused. 

Prayer.

Even though at times what to pray for exactly is not as clear, I know who I am praying to and I know that He knows exactly what they need. And here's one thing I'm certain of, 

"But powerful though our anxiety may be, the promises of our Savior-God are more powerful still" (Jane L. Fryar). 

This statement is not just some wishful thinking. I know because I read a book full of promises after promises from a God that loves us. And I know because I've seen and heard time and time again the testimonies and accounts of those who have experienced God's promises. And yes, I know, because I myself have experienced them. 

He's a God that promises peace, hope, comfort, a future and He doesn't just promises it for your today, His promises are for your tomorrows, till the very end...

"Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save." (Isaiah 46:4)

And, if you are going through a time of despair, anxiety, trial, don't deprive someone the opportunity to pray on your behalf for you will be depriving yourself and those praying for you a tremendous blessing.

I'm praying His promises for You today because they are more powerful still.

Watch Out for Foreign Rabble!

Do you know what complaining means? The Merriam-Webster's dictionary says that complain means to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something; to find fault. 

Keeping that in mind, how many times have you complained today alone? It's easy to do isn't it...

"It's far too hot."

"It's far too cold."

"I never get time for myself."

"My clothes are too tight."

Yes, I'm guilty of it as well. Sometimes it's easier to find fault in something or someone and 'talk' about it than it is to do the right thing. But what exactly is the right thing to do? 

I've always been fascinated by the story of the Israelites in the Bible. They were slaves in Egypt but then God freed them by using a man called Moses. But soon after all the rejoicing and celebrating the Israelites turned to complaining. Oh! the complains! You can read all about it in Numbers 11. They complained about not having enough food, about not having a specific kind of food, they complained about the food they did have (which was plenty by the way, they just got bored of it). In Numbers 12 we have Miriam and Aaron complaining about the leadership God had put in place, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he spoken through us, too?" Complaining permeated across the camp. What is interesting is how it all got started!

Numbers 11:4 says, "Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain." The Message Bible version puts it this way: "The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining." Foreign rabble, riffraff, and as other Bible Versions put it "mixt mulititude". Who were these people? They were basically non-Israelites that had attached themselves to the camp. One of the Bible devotionals puts it this way, "They were the rabble that came with the Israelites out of Egypt expecting almost instantaneous fulfillment of the promise land. When the fulfillment was delayed, they became pestilent discontents. This leaven worked its way through the whole community of God's children and wrought great evil. They infected the Israelites, who quickly copied their ways."

What an example this scenario is to the importance of surrounding yourself with people that push you to be a much better human being that you currently may be. I don't like to be around complaining people, do you? I tend to separate myself from complainers. It's just energy zapping to be around people like that. And not only that, but I have noticed that if I'm around complainers, it is far easier for me to do the same. It is far easier to become unhappy, to talk about the stuff I don't like, to find fault in things and in people and talk and talk about it until somehow I feel a bit better. 

My husband was preaching about relationships in his #GETFIT series last month and he said this, "sometimes people come to you with what they see as a 'concern' but in fact, because they may be unhappy about something, in their quest to make it better (or feel better) they in fact end up looking for an ear that will join in their [complaining]. Be careful that you don't offer your ears to enable someone else's complaining or gossiping." 

The Israelites offered their ears to the riffraff and soon they began to complain too. If they would have only followed Moses' example.

The people complained to one another-and only destruction was accomplished. Moses took his complaint to God, who can solve any problem. 

Here's the thing, Moses got fed up with stuff too. Much like you or I get fed up with things that happen in the world around us. Good Lord, I probably would have reacted much more like the Israelites did if I had to lead them/deal with them. Life is not always pretty, many times is just plain ugly. And people won't always treat you the way you feel you need to be treated not will you be everyone's cup of english tea. The thing here is not that you are to be restricted from voicing your frustrations, the thing here is HOW you go about it. In Numbers 11:11 Moses was very aggravated and complained but his complaint went straight to God. 

That's a practice I want to master. I'm so not there yet, but If I don't like to have people around me that complain, that zap my energy, then I must not become one myself. In place of complaining I'd rather master the art of thanksgiving!

The antidote to complaining is giving thanks more. It's looking for those roots of good things among the stuff that is unsettling us, frustrating us.

The time is now. Time to not only watch out for foreign rabble but also from becoming one myself and it's also time to complain less and give more thanks. 

Music Monday :: Intentional

The little lad and I have been jammin' to this song in the car as we go around heading places and running errands. Every time I listen to a song for the first time I tend to pay close attention to the lyrics. When I heard the lyrics to this song I couldn't help but smile and couldn't help but lift my voice to the heavens and thank God for how intentional He's been in my life. Cause oh boy, He sure has! The message in this song is very simple:

"All things are working for my good cause...He's Intentional!"

A message found in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God,"

God. 

He's intentional.

Deliberate. 

With Him there's no coincidence.

But I get it. Not everything in this world is good.

Illness isn't good.

Losing a loved one isn't good.

Abuse isn't good.

But God is.

And the plans He has for you and for me are to give us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He's intentional. Engrave it in your mind.

And because He's intentional, you can trust that even the bad things we may be confronted with in this world, God can turn around for good. When the ugliness of this world collides with the cross what's left is the beautiful hope we have in Christ. And when our hearts collide with this hope we then begin to grasp the promise given to us in Romans 8:28.

Remember this next time you come face to face with a trial... 

Somehow, in the deepness of your situation, God is weaving a perfect, intentional, purpose.


You're not in the driver's seat!

Do you remember the first time you got behind the wheel? You know, that first time when your dad or mom or granparent or sibling or aunt or uncle started to teach you how to drive? Oh yes, I remember mine. I was a late learner, 17 years of age to be exact. My dad was in the passenger seat. My brothers had tried but they were definitely not like my dad. He was so patient, that's he's nature. Dad has always been that way. I remember driving down the road and not knowing what to do at a 4 way stop sign. I kinda froze and I had people honking at me and my brother telling me to hurry up, but my dad, not him, with all the patience in the world he said, "don't worry, they will be fine, take your time and just do this..." OH yeah, I forgot to tell you, they were teaching me to drive stick shift. :) The car had stalled and I got stuck in the middle of this 4 way stop sign. Oh Lord, I thought the world was coming to an end (yes, I was a dramatic 17 year old). Anyway, I finally got going and we got home. That night I decided I was going to buy an automatic car; and I did! 

How about the first time you drove all by yourself? Do you remember that? It's exhilarating, isn't it? You feel so grown up, so adultish! You offer to go get the groceries mom forgot, get the dry cleaners, take other siblings places, pick up grandpa or grandma. Aaaahhh...yes, and our parents probably loved it.

Years later, or perhaps, a few months later, the joy of driving becomes another thing in the list of actions we perform on a daily basis and the time comes when driving becomes a chore that we no longer want to perform regularly because most of the time we do it to do tasks we rather not accomplish. Tasks like going to work, taking the kids to school, to doctors, to activities. 

I remember going to India back in 2006. Upon arrival we were assigned a driver. The reason was because Kolkata traffic can be a bit nerve wrecking...a bit like this...

Seriously, I remember being in the car and seeing a few cows, a tram, mopeds, bikes, rickshaws, taxis, buses...all on the street at the same time and many going in different directions. Hence why our kind hosts gave us a driver. And I tell ya, it was nice to be dropped off places and being asked, "at what time do you want me to pick you up?". No need to find parking, Amen to that!!! Can you imagine having a driver? Yes, imagine someone to take you to work, pick you up, take you to the mall, that crowded mall during Christmas time when there are no parking spaces in sight? Yes, that would be superb!

Now imagine someone doing that in your life? Someone that tells you, "I know you're tired, let me take it from here. I'll drive!". And yet, that offer has been available to you, and to me, for a long time now. But, who likes to be the passenger driver? Really, we may be stuck with someone that doesn't drive as fast as we would like to or maybe they drive a bit too fast for our liking. And what if we get the driver that constantly hits the breaks abruptly or the one driver that never puts on the turning signals? No thanks! In addition, to be a passenger driver means we would give too much control to someone else, and even if we don't feel like driving, we take the wheel because we think we can do better. 

You and I have been called to be passenger drivers in this life. Did you know that? God invites us to follow Him and let Him be the driver. And yet, most of the time, we rather treat him like a back-seat driver. We put Him in the back and when He tries to lead us in a direction we don't think we should go we simply ignore Him or shush Him, because really, who likes back-seat drivers anyway?

Oh, if we were only more willing to let Him lead, to let Him drive. 

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat, I am." (Mark 8:34-MSG)

There's a reason why He's asking us to let Him be the driver. He sees far beyond the road that's in front of us. His vision is perfect. He knows the turns we should take that will keep us safe, that will keep us from danger. And even though He is in the driver's seat, He knows that the ride won't always involve sunny skies, so He doesn't promise that but He promises to show us the way.

"Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how." (Mark 8:35-MSG)

He knows that at times we'll have to drive through storms and some rough terrain but He will show us how to make it through it! And even better, He promises to be with us, always. In our ignorance, well...more like, in our stubbornness, we choose 'us' instead of God. We think we can do better. We think we know ourselves better and no one better than us to take us to where we need to go. And there's God, waiting, just waiting to 'let Him take the wheel' (thank you Carrie Underwood for the analogy...LOL!). But to do that seems like such a sacrifice at times...

Yet, in the beautiful surrendering of the 'wheel' we will find a Savior, and in that Savior we will find our true selves...

Yes, the self that gets lost in the many turns and roundabouts of life. And in the midst of all the wrong turns we end up losing the self that should distinguish us from others, the self that knows that we were once lost but now we are found; found by the Savior that extends grace and mercy and joy and peace at every turn we take in life. So the question now is, why not? Why not let Him drive? Why not become the passenger and follow Him? After all, the road of life will one day end, no time to get lost trying to find our true selves in all the wrong places.

"What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?" (Mark 8:37-MSG).

Nothig. I can't think of anything worth trading.

One day, you will get stuck in the middle of a four way stop sign as the honking of people and the messy stuff of this world comes at you from every direction. And there, in the passenger seat, you will find God and He will look at you and say,  "now, will you let me be drive?."

You're not supposed to be in the driver's seat...God is! And rumor has it, He's pretty good at it!

 

Tried & True winter recipes Pinspiration

Have you ever seen something on Pinterest and it looked soooo yummy then you go and try it and it's a big flop? Yeap, been there too. Makes you think twice before you try another recipe from Pinterest. But no worries, here are a few recipes I've tried myself that were splendid! Not only did I approve, the hubby did too! Okay, so here are 4 good and easy recipes to try this winter! 

Oven Roasted sausage and sweet potato

Okay, I tried mine with butternut squash instead because that's what I had on hand and it was great. Now, this recipe doesn't ask you to coat the veggies in a bit of oil and I was a little skeptical about it because I had a feeling the veggies would be too dry. Once the meal was done you just have to coat the veggies with the liquid remaining in the pan and they are good BUT I think I will coat my veggies with a bit of oil next time, just enough so they're a bit more moist. But the flavors in this are absolutely fantastic! Do give it a try! Get over here, grab the recipe and start cooking!

roasted sausage and veggies.jpg

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Squash with Dried Cranberries and Dijon Vinaigrette

Listen here, if you are like NOT a fan of brussel sprouts let me ask you a question, "have you ever had them roasted?". If you haven't PLEASE give them one last chance by roasting them. But let me be honest, in my opinion, veggies are way yummier when roasted, the flavor is amazing! So, don't write off the poor brussels just yet. This recipe added some cranberries which I have to say I forgot to add when I actually did it and it was still just fine (but I will give it a try next time because I do love cranberries). And what brings it all together is that deliciously simply vinaigrette. Really friends, so easy and so good, you just can't go wrong with that combo! This delicious recipe is found here!

roasted-brussels-sprouts-and-squash-with-dried-cranberries-and-dijon-vinaigrette-5.jpg

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I LOVE soup! My husband hasn't quite been a fan of soup, that is, until I began to introduce them to some of this type of yumminess! When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I thought to myself, "I love orzo, I love chicken, I love lemony stuff, what could go wrong with this soup?" and I was right, nothing could go wrong. It was absolutely delightful! I would dare say you could even try it with some of that leftover turkey you may have from Christmas! :) Go here to get the recipe!

Butternut Squash Soup

Tis the season for winter squashes and well, I had some butternut squash left from the half I roasted the night before so I went on Pinterest and looked around for an easy soup recipe. Well, this one was a hit and you know how I know that? Not only did I LOVE it but my I'm-not-a-fan-of-soup hubby ate it and liked it! BUT let me say, I did add a couple of things that the recipe didn't call for. So with mine I added some milk at the end (after I pureed it in my food processor), I also used vegetable broth because it's all I had AND I added some crumbled spanish ham on it! Oh yes, it was muy delicioso!!! I paired mine with Trader Joe's Pizza made of French Thin Crust topped with Brie and Tomatoes (it's heaven). :) You could try just making your own homemade pizza instead, if I would have had the time I would have! :) Enjoy friends! You can find the recipe here!

Blue Apron Review

So, there are a few trends going on with food at the moment. One is the short 'How to' video recipes like the ones from 'Tasty'. Have you seen them. I will say that I did try the Cauliflower Fried Rice and it was oh so yummy! - I did adjust the recipe a bit but this gives you an idea.

Healthy Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

Posted by Tasty on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The other trend are the fresh meal kits from places like Hello Fresh and the one I tried, Blue Apron. I don't know about you, but every time I saw an ad about one of these on FB or on TV I wanted to give them a try. I thought to myself, "Oh, that seems like so convenient..." So, the day I saw the offer to get it half off I decided to give it a try.    

Okay, so here's the scoop on it!

After you order it, the meals come your way all nicely packed in a box with ice an all so the perishables don't go bad. I was soo excited when I got home from work and saw the box! Yes, I'm one of those annoying people that actually enjoy cooking! I opened the box and began to look through all the goodies!

Blue Apron also includes 8 1/2 x 11 full color recipe cards which is great because now I have them at my disposal so now I can cook these delicious meals any time I want. The front of the cards gives you info about the dish and the ingredients and the back of it has step by step instructions with pictures.  

The ingredients are really fresh and for the most part you will be receiving meals that will use produce that is in season at the moment. Each ingredient is labeled and for the most part, it is already rationed. 

The meals were very tasty. And for the most part, they were very easy to make. Our box included four recipes, Hoisin Pork Burgers, Chicken Tinga Tacos, Crispy Catfish & Roasted Potatoes and Steak Gyros & Corn on the Cob. Our favorites were the tacos, gyros and the burgers! They were all so delish! The fish was okay too but I don't like frying fish; however, the aioli dressing for the green beans was delicious! I'm making that again. 

But here's the bottom line, would I try this again? Would I recommend it? Yes and yes, but let me explain. I do think that the price is a bit expensive for what you get. I gave them a try before I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom, meaning, we had more money then. I don't think I would pay the full price being that I know I could get some of these meals for less if I went to the store myself. What you're paying for here is the convenience and THAT is the best part of it, specially for those who don't enjoy going to the grocery store.

For some, the portions may not seem enough but for us they were on point. We got the box with meals for 4 servings and so we ate left overs the day after for lunch or for dinner again. 

Now, here was the bummer for me...I thought that the ingredients would be all ready to simply turn the pan on, heat the oil and just add the ingredients but that's not the case. You still have to chop all of the ingredients that need chopping. If you are thinking that this will make cooking go faster, well, it won't. The only step you are cutting with this type of meal kits is the trip to the grocery store and some of the rationed items that already come pre measured. For me, in cooking, what takes the most is the washing/prepping/chopping of all the ingredients. So that was no different from the everyday cooking I do. But as I mentioned earlier, the products were great and the meals were very tasty. 

I will say that Blue Apron was great to work with. Their customer service was amazing! For that reason alone, I would go with them if I ever do another meal kit again. I had a bit of a hiccup with them. When I purchased the meal kit, I didn't realize that I had signed up to get meal kits every two weeks or so. It took my husband one look at our account and a phone call to realize what I had done. When I called customer service, they had already sent the box. I barely finished telling the customer service rep that I had made a mistake when she said, "that's okay, we will credit your account and you can just keep the box when it arrives to you." So, we got another box for free. That's excellent customer service, so excellent in fact, that when I get money again, I will give them another try! 

This may not be for you, you may not be able to afford it or may not want to spend the time it takes to still cook a meal, but it you like great ingredients, tasty meals and the convenience of not having to go to the grocery store then this might just be the thing for you. 

Happy cooking!