Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nurturing a heart of gratitude

A friend (I didn’t get permission to share this so she will remain nameless) shared with me a reflection that she has been doing on a daily basis and I liked the idea so much that I had to join in. Each day, before she prays, journals and spends time in God’s word she’s been taking 5 minutes to journal and write down 5 things that she is grateful for about her husband.

By our one year anniversary in marriage Jeremy and I talked on and on about how easy it was to fall into the daily routine and take each other for granted. About how often and easily we nit pick each other rather than use our words for encouragement and gratitude (the things that we were so good at prior to marriage). About how easily criticalness can cloud out the gratitude when we’re not led by the Spirit. Since this talk occurred (6 months ago) I’ve been reflecting and trying to find ways to cultivate and nurture a heart of gratitude for my husband. To be more encouraging, and to, by God’s power, avoid criticizing him. When my friend explained to me what she has been doing (that I listed in the paragraph above) I thought it was something that I just had to try. She said that it has helped her to be more grateful for her husband, and to be less quick to criticize or be negative as a result of the abundance of gratitude. So I set out. Not to do a program, not to do it for a week, a month or any specific time frame, but as the Lord leads me. If I miss some days that’s fine. But most days I’m going to do this, indefinitely, until I feel that He is leading me otherwise. I think this is the perfect expression of Philippians 4:8 and focusing on the admirable, lovely, praiseworthy and just.

On a side note, the first day I sat down to do this Jeremy and I had just gotten in a bit of an argument or conflicting conversation. But dedicated to my new mission I sat down, journal in hand purposing to be grateful. So I stared at the paper for about 5 minutes before I wrote anything at all. It was almost embarrassing. It revealed to me how hard my heart was in that moment because I had to think and think hard to find something to be grateful for. I was self-absorbed, and absorbed in the moment and my emotions. It showed me the ugliness within my own heart and my need for God. Once I worked through the realization, at how bad I am inside, then I set out again to list 5 reasons that I love Jeremy and am grateful for him. Slowly the Lord softened my heart and I started listing things on the paper as my head flooded with ideas. Isn’t it just like God to use something I had planned and show me my need for Him through it? Isn’t it just like God to completely throw off exactly what I had planned in order to bring me back to Him? What good are any of my plans anyway if I undertake them apart from Him? So several days later I’ve approached this task several more times with a more loving heart from the start. I don’t think it’s a cure for a lack of gratitude (only God can change our hearts), but I’ve enjoyed the purposeful reflection.

I think this same method could be used for cultivating and nurturing a heart of gratitude for the cross. Do we as Christians take the Jesus’ sacrifice too lightly? Do we understand the depths from what we’ve been saved and the price that was paid? Do we understand what we’ve been given? Do we live like it? Perhaps meditating purely on this daily would help us not to take these things lightly.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Few of our Favorite Foods

Asian Lettuce Wraps

-1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves rinsed and dried
-1 lb ground beef (or if you like, ground chicken or pork)
-1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped
-1 small yellow onion, chopped
-1 bunch green onions, sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
-1 Tablespoon soy sauce
-1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
-2 teaspoons sesame oil
-1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Dippling Sauce (optional)
-1/2 – 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce (I use 1 Tablespoon, but that is pretty spicy, you may want to try less)
-1 teaspoon sesame oil
-2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
-2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground meat stirring often to break up meat. Drain, and set aside. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, and chili garlic sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil and ground meat, and continue cooking until the onions wilt (about 2 minutes). To serve arrange lettuce leaves on a platter, place meat mixture in serving dish and let guests pile their own meat into the center of their lettuce leaves, roll, and enjoy. If desired combine ingredients for sauce and serve along with the wraps.

Asian Cole Slaw

-1 (16 oz) bag Dole cole slaw mix (with red cabbage and carrots)
-5 green onions, sliced
-1/2 red pepper, sliced (optional- If I have it on hand)
-1 package chicken or oriental flavor ramen noodles, noodles broken into small pieces
-1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

-3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
-2 Tablespoons white sugar
-2 Tablespoons oil
-seasoning from Ramen noodles
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place cole slaw mix, onions and red pepper in bowl. Pour dressing over mixture and toss to coat. Chill 2-12 hours. When ready to serve add almonds, sesame seeds, and noodles and toss to combine.

(picture as it appears in slow cooker before chocolate is melted)

Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate fondue is one of our absolute favorite desserts. I like to serve it with assorted fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries and bananas) for dipping and pound cake (see recipe below) sticks for drizzling.

-12 oz dark chocolate (can use a bar and chop up, I use a bag of Nestle morsels)
-1/2 cup half and half or whipping cream
-any variety of chopped nuts (optional- I like pecans)

Combine chocolate, cream and nuts in small slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 30-60 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking. Will keep for up to 2 hours on low.

Can be made in microwave or on stove top. If cooking using other methods melt chocolate and cream together, but do not boil.

5 Flavor Pound Cake

-2 Sticks Butter Softened

-1/2 Cup Crisco Shortening

-3 Cups Sugar

-5 Eggs Well Beaten

-3 Cups Flour

-1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder

-1 Tsp. Salt

-1 Cup Milk

-1 Tsp. each of vanilla, lemon, almond, coconut and butter flavor extracts.

Combine butter and Crisco. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs; mix flour and baking powder and salt, alternately with milk. Add extracts. Pour into well greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool completely before you turn it out of the pan.


Monday, January 12, 2009

scavenger hunt

this weekend jeremy and i hosted a scavenger hunt for some of our friends. we all got together and had snacks at our place and then set out on our mission to perform the tasks at hand. after the hunt was over we met back up at our place for more snacks and to laugh at all the great photos that were taken throughout the evening. the guys were the declared winners, but both teams had some disagreements over whether or not some pictures counted for the tasks. here are the pics from the guys trip, the girls pics are on kim's camera so i don't have those unfortunately.

myrtle beach scavenger hunt

-all of these tasks must be performed in public, no going to a home
-all team members must be back by the agreed to time, deduction of 5 points for tardiness
-all tasks will be worth 1 point unless otherwise noted
-team may not split up to complete tasks, it’s a group effort
-for tasks noted entire team, each team member must be in the picture which will require you to have a stranger take the photo
-for tasks noted someone, the person can be a stranger, friend or teammate
-no sabotage of opposing team
-have fun!

( ) 1. entire team in a bath tub
additional non-player +1 per person

( ) 2. entire team wearing their clothes backwards

( ) 3. entire team jumping in the air, all team members must be off the ground

( ) 4. someone purchasing $0.07 of gasoline

( ) 5. someone pushing a teammate in a wheel barrow

( ) 6. someone with a fu-man-chu beard

( ) 7. entire team leaving a bathroom with toilet paper stuck to their shoes

( ) 8. teammate making out with a face drawn on their hand

( ) 9. entire team with a french fry in each nostril

( ) 10. teammate as ray charles at the piano

( ) 11. teammate with head out the car window like a dog (car must be moving)

( ) 12. teammate with entire pack of gum in mouth

( ) 13. entire team and burger king employee wearing burger king crowns

( ) 14. entire team doing a good deed

( ) 15. teammate blowing their mouth on a window (blowfish face)

( ) 16. teammate chewing on a dog bone

( ) 17. teammate in a suitcase

( ) 18. teammate running with scissors

( ) 19. teammate literally dumpster diving

( ) 20. teammate licking their own toes

( ) 21. teammate hula hoping

( ) 22. entire team under an umbrella

thanks to all who came and participated!!!! we had a great time full of laughter and fun and will enjoy these great photos for years to come!


Friday, January 9, 2009

The With Factor

At the Your Next Step Institute right now we are reading the book The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. It is a quick, easy read, and is a simple direct book on studying Jesus' methods for evangelism and discipleship. Each of us has been given 10 minutes to present one chapter of the book to the class. Below are the notes from my presentation on Chapter 2- Assocaition from Wednesday.


What is it?

Jesus spent time WITH them… (p. 48 top) primary task was to be with and build up leaders who can give personal attention to others… (just as we talked about last semester, as one person we can’t minister in quality to the masses, but if we select a few, who are faithful, then we can build them up as leaders and they can then in turn build up other leaders, so it starts with association… being with them… and quality, not quantity.

How did He do it?

He didn’t use a school, study guide or formal training program, he was with them, he taught through demonstration, he taught them along the way as they went, he spent time praying with them, talking with them, eating with them and the teaching just happened

He didn’t teach laws, he taught principles… his followers weren’t known by conforming to rituals, they were known by being wtih him, they were known for following him

Jesus’ time paid “double dividends (p. 45 bottom). Without neglecting his ministry to those in need he maintained a constant ministry to his disciples by bringing them with him. Then they were able to get more in depth teaching after the group teaching was over.

Who are examples from Scripture?

Abraham had Lot Genesis 12:4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran., Genesis 13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Moses had 12 with him Numbers 1:4 "With you, moreover, there shall be a man of each tribe, each one head of his father's household. Moses also had Joshua with him in Exodus when he went up on Mount Sinai.

Naomi had Ruth with her Ruth 1:22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

Jesus had 12 with Him Mark 3:13-15 And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.

None of these leaders used formal training programs, they all developed and built into others simply by being with them, teaching as they went, and sharing their lives together, through this they were able to bear fruit.

Why spend time with others:

Preaching to the masses will never suffice in equipping leaders

Young (in faith) followers usually get a new believers class or something once a week for a month or so but then are left to themselves the rest of the time to flounder around. No wonder about half of those who make professions eventually fall away, and even fewer are growing in their relationship with God. There simply is no substitute for getting WITH people.

Solution in paragraph on page 50.

How do we apply that?

2 Timothy 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Don’t wait for free time in your schedule to open up to be with people, sweep them into whatever you are already doing.

If you are going to the grocery store, for a walk, playing sports, taking a ride somewhere, picking up kids from school, doing home repairs, yard work etc, invite someone along the way.

Ex/ When we would be at the Dorman’s Doug used to invite Jeremy to go along for the ride to pick up the kids from school, youth group or sports practice.

Ex/ When we were doing premarital on Tuesday nights and a child had a birthday that Tuesday they wouldn’t cancel on us, they would invite us to take part in the festivities, we got to see the whole family interact and learn about marriage, parenting and keeping all of that at the feet of Jesus just by being with them… we learned not by reading a book, or being told a theory, we observed and saw them doing it.

Spend time with people until it communicates your faith

What are you currently doing to be with people?

What could you do be doing better to spend time with people?


Friday, January 2, 2009

Freezer Cooking

I've been really interested in freezer cooking for quite some time, but have never gotten up the motivation to get started on it. I got this book for Christmas and it was the inspiration that I needed.

Here's a great post by Aimee that gives the introductory information on what freezer cooking is. this website provides lots of great free freezer cooking recipes and articles on tips and practices this website provides lots of free freezer cooking entree recipes designed for once a month cooking

For my first session on New Year's day I started out really simple. I bought 5.87 pounds of ground beef from the local warehouse club for $2.79 per pound. While Jeremy enjoyed football I browned up a little more than 3 pounds of meat with taco seasoning that I had purchased in bulk. I divided that into 3 quart freezer bags to be pulled out later for chili, taco soup, taco salad, enchiladas, tacos, or mexican lasagna. I browned up the remaining over 2 pounds using the Sloppy Joe recipe below. We ate one serving for dinner that night and the rest I froze with some whole wheat buns to be enjoyed on another evening.

This weekend I'm hoping to tackle one of the pork chop or chicken breast freezer recipes from the book that I got for Christmas also. I'm excited to have a freezer stocked full of dinners that are already made and can just be put in the refrigerator the night before serving to start thawing and then are ready to go when we need them. These recipes also enable me to buy bulk sized portions of meat to save money and to already have a plan in place for what I'm not using immediately.

Sloppy Joe's

-1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey if you prefer)
-1/2 yellow onion, chopped
-1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
-2-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon prepared mustard
-3/4 cup ketchup
-3 teaspoons brown sugar
-few dashes of hot sauce

In medium skillet over medium heat, brown beef, onion, garlic, and green pepper; drain off liquids. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes (or put in a crock pot and simmer until serving).

Are you using any type of freezer cooking? If so, does it work for you? Where do you get your recipes?


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Recent Cooking

Here are some of our favorite things that we have been eating lately.

Mandarin Salad
We eat a dinner salad at least 1 or 2 nights a week for dinner. We had this last week and this week and are really enjoying it! I've listed the recipe as I make it, but you can change the nuts to your favorite (i.e. almonds, pecans etc) and same with the cheese (blue cheese, gorgonzola, or none at all).
-1 bag of your favorite salad mix (for this I like romaine, red leaf or butter)
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes
-1 large can mandarin oranges, drained
-feta cheese, crumbled
-6 scallions, sliced
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon sugar
-fresh ground black pepper
-1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine first four ingredients and place in bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Toss dressing with salad and serve.
Devilled Eggs
These are Mom Mangerchine's devilled eggs that she made when she was here for Christmas. Jeremy and I eat these up in no time, they are great! They get their unique flavor from Grandma Lou's homemade pickles, with store bought I just don't know if they'd be the same.
-6 hard boiled eggs
-¼ teaspoon sugar
-salt and pepper to taste
-¼ cup grandma’s chopped pickles
-3 tablespoons mayo
Slice eggs in half, scoop yolks into mixing bowl and combine well with remaining ingredients. Spoon back into egg whites, and sprinkle with paprika if desired.
Cinnamon Sticks
These are cookies that we love that Mom Mangerchine made while she was in town.
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 cup white sugar
-¾ cup shortening
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-2 eggs
-3 cups sifted flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup black walnuts, chopped
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream sugar and shortening; add beaten eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients sifted. Pack in a small bread tin. Place in refrigerator overnight. Slice and cut in strips. Bake about 10 minutes in moderate oven. Yields many cookies.
Marinara Sauce
This sauce can be used for spaghetti, manicotti, zitti, lasagna, chicken parmesan or your favorite Italian dish. As shown I combined it with ground beef and rotini pasta. Make a large batch and freeze in smaller bags to always have on hand and ready.
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
-2 teaspoons dried oregano
-1 pinch red pepper flakes
-2 teaspoons dried basil (or if I have fresh on hand I snip it and stir it in at the last minute instead)
In a large pot combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, vinegar, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Stir all together and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Aunt Lois' Olive Dip
I made this for our Christmas Eve snack food buffet. My Aunt Lois has been making this dip since I was a little girl and I always associate it with the holidays because that's when I would see her, and because of the red and green color of the olives.
-1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
-1 (8 ounce) jar green olives, chopped
-1/2 cup mayo
-1/8 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-2 tablespoons olive brine, from jar
Combine all ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers.

I also made this dip for our Christmas Eve snack buffet. This is my very basic recipe for hummus. I like it because it doesn't have olive oil and therefore is less fatening than most recipes, and doesn't have tahini and therefore is cheaper than most other recipes. You can take this recipe and substitute white beans for a different dip (and maybe add some rosemary). You can also add different herbs and seasonings to make a flavored hummus, I like roasted red peppers, cilantro, jalepenos, cumin, and dill.
-1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans/ chick peas, drained with liquid reserved
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1 large clove garlic (or 2 small)
-few dashes of hot sauce or cayene pepper
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2-4 tablespoons reserved bean liquid added until desired consistency is achieved
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Serve, or chill until serving. Serve with pita chips, pita bread wedges or veggies.

Grandma Judy's Breakfast Casserole... My way
Ever since I was a little girl my grandma has been making breakfast casserole and I have loved it. I have been making it for years, a slightly different way, and I even altered it again a little this year. As Jeremy said this year was the best yet, here is how I did it. This is our go to breakfast for Christmas morning because I can make it the night before and stick it in the refrigerator, then just pop in the oven while we all open present Christmas morning and by the time we're done the casserole is ready and the house smells great.
-1 package regular flavor turkey breakfast sausage
-10 eggs, lightly beaten
-3 cups milk
-2 teaspoons dry mustard
-1 teaspoon salt
-slices of whole wheat bread with crust removed
-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1 large can mushrooms
-6 green onions, sliced
Preheat oven to 325 F. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard and salt; stir well. Distribute half the bread evenly in a buttered, or sprayed 9" x 13" x 2" baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pepper, half the cheese, half the sausage and half of each the vegetables. Repeat layering using remaining bread, pepper, cheese, sausage and vegetables. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole. Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly. Note: May be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking (I usually assemble it the night before and bake in the morning).
Two more things that we enjoy eating just about every time the Mangerchines get together are Butter Beans and Corn and Banana Bread. We got to enjoy plenty of both of those last week as well! Now that we've stuffed ourselves full for a week and our family is gone it's back to work.
Grandma Lou's Butter Beans and Corn
This recipe was originally developed by Grandma Lou using the fresh vegetable from her or her relatives gardens, but here's the version for those of us who aren't so privileged.
-One bag frozen butter beans
-One bag frozen corn kernels
-One table sized package Sweet N Low (that’s how she makes it since Grandad is diabetic, but you could use any artificial sweetener or sugar)
-Grandma’s canned tomatoes (I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any on hand… from the looks of her consistency I would used crushed tomatoes to best duplicate her consistency)
-Cut up ham
Cook the butter beans and ham on the stove in water according to package directions. Add tomatoes, corn and sweetener. Simmer for at least 5 minutes or until serving.

Banana Bread
Mom Mangerchine makes the best banana bread that I've ever tried. This is the recipe she uses. If you really have a sweet tooth try adding chocolate chips to the batter, the result is divine!
-2 sticks oleo
-3 cups sugar
-4 eggs
-½ cup milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-6 large mashed bananas
-4 cups flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 cup chopped nuts
Cream oleo and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk, beating well. Alternately add mashed bananas and flour and baking soda. Stir in nuts. Pour thick batter into 3 greased and floured loaf pans and bake 50-60 minutes at 325 or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

What are your favorite holiday comfort foods?