Friday, July 30, 2010

Honey and Flaxseed Wheat Muffins

recipe is adapted from Savory Tender Muffins found in Usa Weekend (usaweekend.com) Feb. 2009 from Cook Smart by Pam Anderson. I changed a few of the ingredients (left out dijon mustard and added honey and flaxseed. Also used 1/2 wheat flour and vanilla yogurt instead of plain.)

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 TB. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsps. sugar
10 TBS. butter, softened
2 TBS. honey
2 TBS. milled flaxseed
2 large eggs
1 & 1/2 to 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt

Heat oven to 375. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat sugar and butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in honey and eggs. Mix in flour mixture. Mix in the yogurt and flaxseed. Put into greased muffin tins. Bake until lightly golden brown. Cool in pan. Turn out onto dish rag or cooling racks. Serve with butter (and honey:)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Sacrifice of Praise (in adversity)

I am preparing to teach a study entitled Igniting a Passion to Pray by Fern Nichols, of Moms in Touch International. The focus will be on learning to pray according to God's Word using praise, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession. In the praising God department Fern talks about a sacrifice of praise--praising God even when our situation is dire and we do not feel like praising Him. Jeremiah 14:8 says "O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress." This is repeated at the end of the chapter where Jeremiah proclaims that our hope is in the Lord our God--the only One who is able to deliver.

I began to think about the idea of a sacrifice of praise--the sacrifice of praising when praise is the opposite of what we want to do; when praising seems a sacrifice of ourselves--when we've been wronged, when our child faces serious health problems or even death, when we are faced with a situation that just won't seem to change and go our way. The pastor recently preached on having peace. He talked about being a prayer warrior when we are in dire straits. A part of this is that we praise God in the middle of our circumstances--we focus on who He is. As Charles Stanley writes in his book, How to Handle Adversity; we must focus not on the problem, but instead on the Problem Solver.

Charles Stanley explains in his book that although it is not natural for us to praise in the midst of adversity, we praise because the adversity is what draws us deeper into the Lord. It enables us to be more like Him. "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 1:2-4.) Not that we find joy in the trial itself, but we have joy knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance--leading to spiritual maturity. We will not experience spiritual maturity without adversity. It is what we do with adversity that matters. Do we respond as the world does, with anger and to avenge ourselves? (That's certainly what I tend to do in my flesh.) Or do we respond as Christ did when he faced adversity? Do we offer up a sacrifice of praise in faith believing that God is Sovreign and Omniscient--He is in control and He is all knowing?

"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" (Romans 8:28.) As Charles Stanley explains, the good we will experience may not be the good we have in mind. God's good for us will be, at times, for us to experience adversity. Because His ways are higher than our ways, we may not understand why or how, especially in the middle of the crisis; but our circumstances are to make us more like Christ. The scripture in Romans goes on to say "for those God foreknew he also predestined TO BE CONFORMED TO THE LIKENESS OF HIS SON,..." We have been called according to His purpose...to be conformed to Christ, our ultimate sacrifice of praise in adversity. This is our high-calling.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's for dinner at the Parker's

Italian Pesto Chicken a la Jenny

4-5 chicken breasts
olive oil
butter
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 green onion
1 garden tomato
garden chives
garden basil
penne or other pasta
homemade pesto (see below)

Boil chicken until cooked in large skillet in water just covering the bottom of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Pour out most of the water. Add olive oil, butter, sliced garlic clove, cut up tomato, pinches of chives, and a few basil leaves, and let simmer in juices until juices are almost gone.
In the meantime, cook your noodles (penne or other) and make your basil pesto.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Put basil leaves, (pressed) into food processor with pine nuts. Pulse several times to combine. Add garlic cloves and pulse. Slowly pour in olive oil, scraping down sides in between pulses. Add parmesan cheese and mix. Add salt and pepper. Heaven!

Combine noodles, pesto, and chicken!! Delicioso!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eating God's Word

"When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty" (Jeremiah 15:16.)

From the NIV notes: When your words were found, I digested them; I made them a part of me; for I belong to you, my ever-present Savior (and I have your gracious presence (Jeremiah 15:16, 14:9, 7:10.)

My interpretation: I eat your words Lord, I digest them, I make them a part of me--they are my joy and my delight--I have the unbelievable priviledge of bearing your Almighty name.

Wow--this verse hit me hard today. God continues to make me uneasy about what I'm eating and what I'm allowing my children to eat --our addiction to sugar and processed foods. I am considering a fast and an overhaul of my family's entire diet. I am wanting a new and fresh in-filling of the Holy Spirit for the upcoming Bible study I will be teaching, (Igniting a Passion to Pray.) I am wanting God's favor, God's answers, God's healing, God's work in me to experience anew a sacrifice of praise. I desire to focus not on what food I will eat but on eating God's Word, assimilating it into my life--making it my own, being the real deal--allowing it to be my joy and my delight, to have God's gracious presence--to be one worthy of bearing the Name of the Lord God Almighty.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recipes for Sunday

Breakfast: Jenny's Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

Sister Schuberts Yeast Rolls
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
a bunch of cinnamon

The night before set out Sister Schuberts yeast rolls (in the aluminum tin they come in.) (You can buy these in the freezer section of the grocery store. They also come in a bag. Once you start buying Sisters rolls, you will never attempt to make homemade yeast rolls again.) The next morning, the rolls are thawed. Slightly pull them apart but leave in the aluminum tin. Melt 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon for about a minute in the microwave. Stir together. Sprinkle cinnamon over tops of rolls. Then pour butter, sugar, cinnamon mixture over rolls. Put into cold oven. Set to 350 degrees. Go take your shower. Let them cook for about 10-15 minutes once the oven gets to 350 degrees. Cinnamon sugar mixture will be crunchy on the top. Serve them to your family and listen to them tell you they are the best cinnamon rolls they've ever had:)

Lunch: Jenny's Crock Pot Pork Chops

Ingredients:

Butter
Carrots (about 4-5)
Potatoes (about 4-5)
Celery (about 2 sticks)
Onion
Garlic Clove (1)
Pork Chops (4-6)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package lipton onion soup
salt and pepper

Butter (grease) bottom of crock pot. Cut up carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, and garlic clove and put in the bottom of crock pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir to mix in crock pot. Place pork chops seasoned with salt and pepper on top of veggies. Mix soups with at least 1/4 cup water. Pour over pork chops. Set on high for about 4-5 hours. Come home from church--lunch is ready!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Undivided Heart

Man, I am so tired. Last night I had insomnia. I was still up at 1:30 a.m. I had committed to meeting my running buddies at 6:00 a.m. We are beginning our training for a half-marathon, my first. At 1:30 in the morning I thought there was no way I could get up at 5:30 and run at 6:00. But lo and behold, I woke up without the alarm clock at 5:30 something. I met my girls and we ran. I'm a little concerned about preparing for this half-marathon. I'm already exhausted and feeling run-down physically and emotionally (I have been sick the past couple of weeks with upper respiratory junk.) And I don't have a plan for exactly how I'm going to train yet. But I know I'm going to have to start running more frequently and longer distances to be ready for the Bass Pro Half-Marathon in early November.

Here are some of the other reasons for concern about training: I will be 39 in less than 2 months. Its not like I'm training for this in my early 20's. I have two young children and they start back to school and preschool in a month. I don't want to waste any precious time we have left of our summer. I don't want the days to go by without me teaching something of God to my children. And I know I need sleep and energy to accomplish that. I am also preparing to teach a six-week Bible study I've never taught before that starts next month. I am trying to form a Moms in Touch prayer group for my son's elementary school. I am debating about going back to school by taking some classes at seminary. I also plan to facilitate a Bible study in September. I've been approached about helping teach a small group at church; and about heading up a prayer team for another ministry. And I'm wondering if I should continue to volunteer my counseling at the church in the fall. Oh yeah--and I have a husband:) He is a good man.

Which leads to why I think I had insomnia last night:) My husband and I were arguing before I went to bed. And I kept saying I just wanted to go to bed because I knew I had to get up in a few short hours to go running. But the thing about our exchange is that my husband let me know for the first time how he feels about all my activity. We had been to my son's last baseball game and then to the after-party at a pizza place. But I wanted to stop on the way to get the coach a card and gift. So my son was worried about being late, and then my husband was worried about being late. And then we got there and I was running around helping everyone. I could tell my husband was annoyed with me, which annoyed me. So we got into it before bedtime--and he let me know that he just wanted me to stop worrying about everyone else and sit down with him and our son. He said that there is always something...I'm always worried about a child that's crying or worrying they are being abused, etc; that I'm always trying to help every child. Last night I wondered how this could be a bad thing and I responded by telling him I wish he would focus on the positives about me and be appreciative:)

So today I met with a sweet sister in the Lord--my regional rep. for Moms in Touch. She opened her Bible and read this verse: "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." An undivided heart. God had shown me over this summer that my focus needs to be on my children. I want to work on being a mother that doesn't just react to my children but one that actually teaches them something. I know that sounds crazy but there are days that have gone by where I feel that I haven't taught my children anything of value. I know that I need to take time each day to read the Word myself, but also with my children. There are many days that I fail at this.

All the things I want to do are good things--and helping others is good. But when I get overly involved even in good things, my heart is divided. I must pray that God will give me an undivided heart. I must be completely dependent on and devoted to God to save me from myself -to stay true to Him; to fear Him; to do nothing, even good things, without going to Him first. In this season my ministry is to my husband and children. I am reminded of Matthew 6:33 which instructs me to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." I know all the other good things I want to do have to be in God's timing. I can't do it all right now, but those desires and opportunities will still be there when the time is right.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prayer and Fasting

I have been feeling lately that I should fast and pray. I am not in a regular practice of fasting though I know it is one of the disciplines of a Christ follower. I believe that God is bringing me into a new season of prayer. I also see this parallel the pursuit of prayer happening in my church. We are doing Jim Cymbala's DVD series on When God's People Pray, which I have just finished watching myself. It stood out to me that the church is to be a house of prayer. It also reminds me that nothing should be done without first praying about it. I believe Christians and churches have moved away from the practice of bathing issues in prayer. We must pray and we must repent of our individual and our corporate sins as God's people and as a nation.

I have recently been going through a painful time in a close relationship. In the midst of this I had been on my face in prayer crying out to the Lord and in the process asking Christ for more of Himself. He showed me through the painful relationship that in repentance of my sin and in forgiveness of other's sin do I receive more of Christ. I am made more like Him only in my willingness to forgive --as He so willingly did as He suffered immeasurable pain while hanging on that terrible cross for each of our sins. If He could sacrifice Himself for me and for all of us and love us and forgive us, then surely I can forgive. If Brother Yun, Pastor in China, author of The Heavenly Man, who has suffered unbearable torture and persecution for his faith in Christ Jesus can forgive, then so can I.

In talking with the Lord today, I felt God was telling me that it is time to fast and pray. As I continued dialoging with the Lord, He told me to pray that there will be an outpouring of prayer amongst His people and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit amongst us. I am to fast and pray for healing; healing for our nation, our government, our relationships, our churches. He told me this should be the focus of my fast today. He showed me that the wisdom that I ask for will sometimes come moment by moment, bit by bit. Healing and blessing will occur. I will fast and pray for this day. Today's devotional from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life email tells how to have a quiet time with the Lord. To begin with Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." I will be still before you Lord. I know that you alone are God. I will exalt you. You will be exalted among the nations and in the earth. Then in Isaiah 30:15, "This is what the Sovreign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"

As I'm reading in Jeremiah 5 today, I see as I saw in Isaiah the book of the prophet, that God has given us guidelines, rules, boundaries, that we have not followed. I read Jeremiah 5:27-31 that speaks of God's people "like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor. Should I not punish them for this? declares the Lord. Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?" It seems God is talking to our nation and to our churches--to Christians who have fattened themselves up but who aren't doing the real work of the cross--pleading the case of the fatherless and defending the rights of the poor. I am encouraged to not just read the Word for knowledge and information to build up myself, but that as Rick Warren says, I must feed on His Word to know Jesus more--to be more like Him. As I look at the story on the MSN homepage today about the obesity of people in our nation--and see which states are the most obese--I see that we have done as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of many years ago--we have grown fat and sleek physically and spiritually as a nation. We are all guilty of this. We must confess our sins of pride, lust, envy, greed. We must repent and turn from our sin. We must be in prayer for healing. First comes confession and repentance. Then comes healing.