Saturday, July 31, 2010

Things that make you go hmm...

Trials are the monsters that will kill our idols if we'll only release their cold, vile grip.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Foodie - Orange-Beef Stir-Fry

I love stir-fry, especially in the summer. It’s quick, you can use veggies that are just hanging around your fridge waiting to be used up, and you don’t have to turn on the oven. Wash it down with an ice-cold Pellegrino water garnished with a slice of orange and you’re good to go.

Orange-Beef Stir-Fry

12 oz. beef top round steak
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant beef bouillon granules
2 tablespoons cooking oil
4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-in. pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sugar peas, bias sliced into 1-in. pieces
½ of an 8-oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 cups hot cooked rice

1. Trim fat from beef. Thinly slice beef across the grain into bite-size strips. Set aside. For sauce, in a small bowl stir together orange peel, orange juice, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, and bouillon granules. Set aside.

2. In a wok or large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic and sugar peas; cook and stir in hot oil for 1 minute. Remove green onion mixture from wok using a slotted spoon. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to wok or skillet. Add beef to hot wok. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or to desired doneness. Push beef from center of wok.

3. Stir sauce and add to center of wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return green onion mixture to wok. Add water chestnuts. Stir all ingredients together to coat with sauce. Cover and cook for 1 minute more or until heated through. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday {Debbie}

This week I'm thankful for Debbie, my doctor's assistant.  She has been one of the sweetest, most compassionate and helpful people I have ever dealt with at any doctor's office.  When you're not feeling well, talking to a kind and sweet spirit makes all the difference in the world.  So, thank you, Debbie, for blessing me more than you know and making my life just that much better!  In a world that seems to be getting snarkier and more impersonal by the minute, it's people like you who make this world a much brighter place in which to live.   

"And finally, all be of one mind, having compassion on one another, loving the brothers, tenderhearted, friendly."  (1 Peter 3:8)

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dying to Bring Glory

It's been my pleasure again to contribute a devotion to the monthly newsletter for my favorite online Christian store, Halas & Phos, Salt & Light.  I hope you'll check out their huge assortment of merchandise, from Bibles and skateboards to t-shirts and jewelry and much more.   You can sign up to receive their newsletter by email here, and be notified about new merchandise, the latest sales and other encouraging devotions and stories. 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24 NKJV)

A brilliant field of flowers begins with a single flower, and that one flower begins with a seed. The seed must die before it can sprout into a seedling and mature into a beautiful blossom. The blossom then sends out many seeds, the wind carries them and they come to rest in the ground. The cycle repeats itself over and over until the field is ablaze with color and beauty.

Life is brought forth through death.

(read the rest at Halas & Phos here.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Foodie - Dijon Potato Salad

Cool, tangy and perfect for summer.  Enjoy your weekend, friends. 

Dijon Potato Salad

2 lbs. red potatoes, cubed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 celery rib, finely diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain well and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool.

2. Combine the mustard, vinegar, dill, tarragon, sugar, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to form an emulsion.

3. Combine the cooled potatoes, celery and scallions in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday {2nds}

This week I'm ever so thankful for 2nd chances.

And 3rd...and 4th...and 5th...well, you get the idea.

"This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him!'"  (Lamentations 3:21-24)

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I decided to drag myself out of the house yesterday, and pulled my family along with me. I’d been hearing about the movie, Despicable Me, and a lot of people had been saying some good things about it. So, despite the fact that it’s an animated movie and my family consists of 3 grown men and me, I was able to lure them out from their t.v. and video game haze.

We were first in line and the moment the theater was clean and the doors opened, my oldest son headed inside and straight for the 14th row, middle seat, eyeing the screen first to make sure his aim was right. He sat down, I sat next to him, then my husband, and then our other son.

We had plenty of time to discuss snack selections. In all my movie-going years, I’d never had Dippin’ Dots before and I decided to take the plunge. So my husband and the oldest headed back down to retrieve the snacks. When they came back up the oldest had a thing of Dibs. He loves his ice cream. If we’d been at home he would have had a big glass of milk to go with it.

So we sat there watching Despicable Me, the youngest and me with our delicious Cookie Dough Dippin’ Dots, my husband with his movie theater popcorn, and the oldest with his Dibs. We laughed and laughed at the silliness on the screen. The laughing felt good and almost made me forget that I’d been feeling as though I could identify with the movie’s name. The enemy of God and of His children had been hard at work aiming those fiery arrows and getting some pretty direct hits, and I’d been weary from the combat.

I finished my Dippin’ Dots and shoved the empty container into the cup holder next to me. We laughed some more. And suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, without a word, my son handed me a single Dib. It was one of the nicest things anyone had done for me in a while.  It was made even more special knowing that my son guards his ice cream with the tenaciousness of a Rottweiler. I took it, without a word, smiled, and ate it. It was the best tasting Dib I’d ever had.

I think of the irony of it now. The enemy had been calling “dibs” on my heart and mind for weeks, making me feel useless and unloved. And with one symbolic “Dib,” one simple but kind gesture, God reminded me that I am loved and that He has called dibs on my soul and I will never belong to another.

“But now so says Jehovah who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday {Faithfulness}

So, I'm reinstituting Thankful Thursday and I hope you'll join me!  1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  Christians are always wanting to know what God's will is for them.  Well, this is it - to give thanks in everything.   

It's easy to give thanks for our children (when they're behaving ;O) ), for a beautiful sunrise, for our jobs (if we have one), for our kind friends, and all those fun things in life.  And we should give thanks for those blessings.  But what about when the children aren't behaving?  Can we give thanks that God's not done with them yet?  And what about when there's been a devastating storm or there is no job?  Can we give thanks that God is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider?  What about those difficult people in our lives?  Can we give thanks that God has poured out on us His forgiveness and grace and mercy and that we can then turn around and offer those to someone who may be having a difficult day, or a difficult life? 

So let's give thanks for the  blessings, those that are easy to see and those that we may have to see with God's vision.  And isn't that a blessing in itself?

Today, I'm thankful for God's faithfulness. 

God's faithfulness in my life never depends on me and that's a good thing.  He is faithful to see past my attitude, deep into my heart.  And even more, He lives there.  Just as Jesus Christ was willing to humble Himself to come to earth and live among us, the Holy Spirit is willing to humble Himself and live in my heart.  It's a place that isn't always accepting of His ways and it's a place that's been known from time to time to reject Him.  Naturally (as opposed to supernaturally), it's an inhospitable and weary land with more cracks and crevices than the Sonoran Desert.

But the faithfulness of God through the Holy Spirit makes that desert an oasis as His love washes over me and His balm of healing  ministers to my pain.  His mercy makes all things new and beautiful again and blossoms of new life begin to grow once more. 

He has set up residence within my heart and promises to never leave.  And for that I am and will eternally be thankful. 
What are you thankful for?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Psalm 27 A Song of Hope

"A Psalm of David. Jehovah is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, my enemies and my foes, came on me to eat my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an army should camp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I am trusting.

One thing I have desired from Jehovah, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to pray in His temple.

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His shelter, in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies, my encirclers; and I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. I will sing; yea, I will sing praises to Jehovah.

Hear, O Jehovah, when I cry with my voice; and have mercy on me, and answer me. My heart says to You, Seek my face; Your face, O Jehovah, I will seek;

Hide not Your face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then Jehovah will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O Jehovah, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies. Deliver me not over to the will of my enemies; for false witnesses have risen up against me, and he that breathes out cruelty.

I would have fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of Jehovah in the land of the living.

Hope in Jehovah; be of good courage, and He shall make your heart strong; yea, hope in Jehovah."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Resistance is Not Futile

Have you ever been going along just fine when out of nowhere negative thoughts just seem to get dumped into your head? I have, too. I think those are the times when satan and his scrawny, little minions have been famished for destruction and have gone to the fridge of life, peered in and spied one of us in our little corner of it, looking all righteously juicy, and decided to pull us out for a bite.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that “your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour.” The devil hates it when he sees believers loving God and furthering His work here on earth. And he’ll try to do whatever he needs to stop it, even devouring us one lie at a time.

He’ll remind us of that time way back when someone rejected us, and he’ll tempt us to become bitter about it. He’ll tell us over and over that we’re no good and our service to God isn’t counting for anything, until we believe it and quit. He’ll tell us God doesn’t love us or care about what we’re going through, and when our circumstances don’t change, if we believe the lie, we are tempted to turn our back on God and run back into the waiting arms of the tempter’s world.

So what do we do? How do we resist becoming fodder for the devil? James gives us the answer in James 4:7, “Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

As always, we can learn from our perfect example: Jesus. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he fasted 40 days and nights and then was tempted by the tempter. (Matthew 4) I can imagine satan shadowing Christ through the wilderness those 40 days and nights, watching Him, studying Him, learning His weaknesses to use against Him in order to pull Him out of His impending ministry and into the world. And when Jesus was at His weakest and most vulnerable, the tempter spoke.

Jesus was hungry, so he tempted him with food. Jesus was the Son of God, so he tempted Him with proving His Father’s affections. Jesus was the Mighty King living far away from His Kingdom, so he tempted Him by offering Him the world – by offering Him the world – as His kingdom, if He would only give in and worship the tempter.  Each time satan's tactic was the same as it is now: mingling some truth to make the lie more palatable. But Jesus countered each attack with the full truth of God's Word. 

Satan is well aware of our own weaknesses, too, and he’ll target us with those things that will personally tempt us, but also at a time when we are emotionally or physically weak. So how do we have the strength to resist when we are at our weakest? The answer is, we don’t, but the Holy Spirit living inside us does. Remember the first part of James 4:7, “submit yourselves to God.”

The enemy counts on us trying to counter his attacks in our own flesh. And sometimes, if we deem ourselves strong enough and the lie small enough, the very temptation can be to say, “Heh, I got this one.” The very temptation can be to fight in our own strength.

When temptation comes, whether it’s to do something or to believe a lie, if we will humbly submit ourselves to the Lord by acknowledging that we’re only human and weak in and of ourselves, no matter how long we’ve walked with Him, and rely on God's strength, opposing satan's attacks with prayer and countering the lies with the truth in God’s Word just as Jesus did, we will be victorious and Christ will be glorified. The tempter will have no choice but to leave us alone. He is a powerful foe for us, but He is no match for the power of our Almighty God.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Foodie - Deep Dark Brownies

Way back there in the back, behind the sweet tooth, I have an even bigger chocolate tooth. And to me, one of the greatest chocolate foods ever concocted is the brownie. I’ve searched high and low, near and far, hither and yon for the best brownie recipe, and I believe I’ve found it. (Not that I’m going to stop looking, mind you.) These are by far the most sumptuously rich (thanks to the espresso powder, which I get at Cost Plus World Market), the most delectably moist brownies I’ve ever had.  So, if you have an affinity for chocolate comfort food, too, give these a shot. You’ll be in brownie heaven.

I topped mine with Ben & Jerry’s Crème Brulee ice cream. *sigh*

Deep Dark Brownies

¾ cup flour
1 tablespoon good, quality cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
¾ teaspoon espresso powder
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips, optional (pshh, yeah right)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, combine butter and espresso. Place over low heat and stir until butter has melted. Add chocolate and stir constantly until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in both sugars until well combined.

4. Add eggs and vanilla and continue stirring until well incorporated and mixture no longer appears grainy. Sift flour mixture over batter, and stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Pour batter into baking pan; smooth top with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Let cool on a wire rack. Dig in.