Friday, September 27, 2013

A Change Of Season

Autumn is officially here and I couldn't be happier about it.  This is without a doubt my favorite season.  I'm so thankful for the changes that come with a new season.  I love the change of temperature, the changes in foliage, and the recipe changes!  There are certain dishes that just seem to go hand-in-hand with fall.  I can't wait to get in my kitchen and start testing new dishes, and making the old standbys as well.  The autumn foliage is amazing.  All of the wonderful colors melting together to create a beautiful canvas for us to enjoy.  It seems like when there is a change of season, it gives us a chance to take a deep breath and have a do over.  We get busy with decorations, and yard work, and cooking and making plans to celebrate the harvest.  We feel happy renewed.  I'm so thankful that we have been given the opportunity to feel renewed each and every day and do not have to wait on a change of season.  When we give our heart to Jesus and become a new creature in Christ, our hearts are renewed and we have been given a second chance in life.  The changes become apparent for all to see just like the changing foliage.  I'm so thankful for the work the Lord has been doing in my life.  Take the time to enjoy this new season of autumn.  Grab a cup of coffee and sit on the front porch and relax.  Life is sweet and precious, use it wisely.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Press Toward The Mark

My brother preached a message some time ago about always pressing toward the mark.  You might ask yourself what does that mean?  To me, it means to always be heading in a direction that takes us straight to the Lord.  When I meet Him face to face I want to hear Him say "Well done thou good and faithful servant". How do we reach "the mark" when this old world weighs us down and tries to take us farther and farther in the opposite direction?  First of all, we have to get rid of the things that are holding us back.  We must forget our past failures and successes.  Our sins are in the past, they have been forgiven.  Most of us have no problem forgetting about something we have failed at, but many may question why we should forget about our past success and strengths.  Philippians 3:13&14 -  "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but THIS one thing I DO, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  We have a tendency to feel proud of ourselves when we've done something good or have been successful at something. The danger in that is, we lose sight in the fact that we were able to accomplish that thing because of the Lord.  As Paul said in the previous verse, we need to put it all behind us, good and bad, and look toward what we can do in the future.  We have to always be "pressing toward the mark".  It's hard to move on when you have failed, and sometimes I think it's even harder when you have succeeded.  I think about the high school football player who reached the highlight of his life at 16 or 17 because he couldn't move on past the success on the field.  Thankfully, God has given us a's His word.  Phillippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me".  We must RELY on the Lord.  Without Him, we are nothing, but with HIM we can do ALL things.  We need to REJOICE in the things of God.  I Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice evermore".  We need to have RESOLVE in the things of the Lord.  We have to make up our minds to do whatever the Lord is calling us to do.  Phillippians 4:11 " Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content".  It's interesting that Paul says he has learned to be content.  Sometimes, the Lord has to teach us lessons so we will understand that it's much better to be in His perfect will than to be outside of His will.  He has a plan for us and we have to resolve ourselves to His will.  We need to REALIGN our thinking.  Phillippians 4:8&9 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and it there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.  Our thinking has to stay focused on the Lord and His word.  Even nonbelievers understand this concept.  I have seen and read many "self help" books that talk about positive affirmations and positive self talk.  They understand you will become what you are putting into your mind.  We must put the things of the Lord in our minds and in our hearts.  Finally, we need to REMEMBER what Christ has done.  Psalms 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, as far hath he removed our transgressions from us".  Hebrews 10:17 "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more".  Jesus died for us so that we can have life eternal.  Romans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved".  He didn't specify a particular race, or religious group, or male, or bible says "WHOSOEVER".  This is a special week for Christians.  Passion week....take time to think about what Christ did for us and especially take time to tell someone who doesn't know Him.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and enjoy the time with family and all the good food!  Thanks for reading today, I promise my brother did a much better job in the pulpit, but I hope I was able to get some thoughts across for you to ponder.  Love you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Life Is Not Always On Time But God Is!

Hey ya''s been a few days since my last post.  I have been so busy with my "new" life.  A year, or even 6 months ago I would have never believed this would be my life.  When I think about where I thought I was heading with my life and the detours that have taken me down a different path it's mind boggling.  The peace I have experienced in the last month is over whelming.  My whole life has been filled with anxiety...always worrying about how I was going to accomplish things or financial worries, finally I'm happy.  It's very interesting to see how the Lord works, how He puts the pieces together and how perfectly they fit.  My husband is a bit cynical about things sometimes, bless his heart.  He has been known to say that when something good happens, he waits for the bad to happen.  What I have seen is that when something seemingly bad happens, something GREAT is coming!  When you get that bad news just remember that the Lord already knew about it and He is already working it out for you.  I don't have all the answers about life, I'm at the beginning of my journey and I know I have many miles to go.  Bad things happen to good people.  I get it, I know bad things happen.  I also know that if we truly submit our lives to the Lord and let Him guide us on every step, we can experience peace and joy and He will give us grace to get through the bad stuff.  Listen, I have been the person who had to do it "my way".  I grew up in church and became a Christian when I as just 3 years old, or so I was told.  I don't remember any of it, however, what I do remember is being in church, and growing up in a Christian home, and being prayed for by a Christian mama and daddy.  It's taken me 42 years to appreciate it and fully understand how much they loved me.  I have always been the "wild child" in our family.  My personality is, let's say, extremely outgoing.  I'm the first to try it, and that's not always been a good thing.  With that personality, came a very strong, stubborn will that as I look back has gotten me into so much trouble.  I hate to say that I had to be broken, but when I think of the song Molding a Masterpiece, I can see that the Lord had to heat me up so I could become easily molded in His hands.  It's not easy being heated up ya' gets hot!  I'm so glad to be turning into the vessel that He would have me to be.  I don't know what the future is, but I'm excited to see what God has in store for me.  Remember life can really beat us down, but God is there to pick us up and dust us off.  
Here are the words to the song mentioned above, it means a lot to me and I hope it will encourage you.  Love you all.

Molding a Masterpiece by Ron Hamilton

Master Potter, why do You labor all day,
Giving such effort to rough, worthless pieces of clay?
Why such feeling in Your hands? Why such care in every touch?
Why all the struggle? Your creation is nothing but dust.

I'm molding a masterpiece, a work of great beauty.
I'm molding a masterpiece; My labor's not done.
A trophy, a treasure or worth beyond measure
I'm molding a masterpiece, a masterpiece of love.

Loving Jesus, why are the children all here,
Gathered around You and eagerly clinging so near?
Urgent matters clamor loudly, and the children interfere
Why do You hold them, and so tenderly dry every tear?
I'm molding a masterpiece, a work of great beauty.
I'm molding a masterpiece; My labor's not done.
A trophy, a treasure or worth beyond measure
I'm molding a masterpiece, a masterpiece of love.

Heavenly Father, sometimes I question Your way:
Why do You ask me to mold simple pieces of clay?
Give me eyes to see the future, though it's hidden from my view;
Give me compassion as I'm molding a treasure for You.
I'm molding a masterpiece, a work of great beauty.
I'm molding a masterpiece; My labor's not done.
A trophy, a treasure or worth beyond measure
I'm molding a masterpiece, a masterpiece of love.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pretty Is As Pretty Does...

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard my mama tell me "pretty is as pretty does" through the years I would be a rich lady.  I can remember standing in front of my mirror putting the final touches of makeup on, getting ready for a big moment (prom...) and hearing my mama tell me I was beautiful BUT "pretty is as pretty does".  As I got older, I thought I understood what she meant.  If I was nice to people, helped them in their time of need, went to church on Sunday, paid my bills on time, etc, then surely that would make me a good person and that goodness would shine.  All of those things are true, but the goodness or "pretty" comes from the inside and works it's way out.  It is important to be a good and kind person and help in our communities, and attend church.  However, the goodness comes from our Lord and Savior and He alone makes us "pretty".  When He is filling us up, we can't help but be beautiful people and His love for us in turn causes us to love others.  We aren't doing the good things for ourselves to make us "pretty", we are doing good so others might see Christ in us and hopefully will come to know Him as we do.  I'm thankful for my mama giving me those early pearls of wisdom and I'm thankful for my Savior for giving those pearls an even bigger meaning for me.  Our purpose on this earth is to love others and help them to meet Jesus.  When you think about His life here on this earth, that's what He did.  He loved.  Of course I like to put on my makeup and fix my hair and hear my husband tell me how pretty I am, but more importantly, I want to hear my Lord tell me that I'm pretty because He is proud of the person I am on the inside.  I hope ya'll have a great rest of your day and I hope I've been an encouragement to you today.  Love ya'll!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FABULOUS Thursday Night Supper

Hey ya'll I hope you're hungry because I have some FABULOUS recipes for you to try. Tonight for supper I fixed meatballs in mushroom gravy, braised cabbage with bacon, cream potatoes, and a wonderful hummingbird cake. I have some photos and the recipes for you...hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients for meatballs:

4 bread slices (I used white bread Walmart brand)
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion - chopped fine
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Soak the 4 bread slices in 1/2 cup water.  Add 2 eggs and mix well.  The bread will be a gooey ball.  Add the ground beef, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, onion, salt and pepper and mix together well.  This will require getting your hands dirty!  Form the mixture in whatever size meatballs you desire and place on a cookie sheet.  Brown in oven for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Ingredients for gravy:

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk

In a large pot, mix the cream of mushroom soup and milk.  Add the meatballs to the pot and simmer over med heat for 30 minutes.  Be sure to keep eye on it and don't let it stick!  I serve this with cream potatoes or you can use white rice.  Enjoy!

Braised Cabbage with Bacon

Dice 4 strips of bacon and fry on medium in a large pot.  Let the bacon cook about 10 minutes and add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.  Cook these ingredients together for another 5 minutes, then add cabbage.  I add about 1/2 cup of water and let the cabbage cook for 25 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.  Before I serve the cabbage, I add 1/2 stick of butter and stir.  Drain cabbage before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.  

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

1 1/2 cup butter - softened
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
2 cups mashed bananas (ripe)
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 (8 1/2 ounce) can crushed pineapple - well drained

1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees - grease and flour 3 (9 inch) cake pans.
2.  In a large bowl combine butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed with mixer until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
3.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Gently stir in banana, pecans, and pineapple.  Spoon batter into pans - bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
4.  Frost cake.

Icing Ingredients:

2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup butter - softened
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 cups confectioners sugar

In a large bowl beat cream cheese, butter, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg at medium speed with mixer until creamy.  Gradually beat in confectioners sugar until smooth - be careful to not cover you and kitchen with sugar!!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Self-Help Books Don't Work

Happy Wednesday ya'll! Hope your week is going just the way you want it to...if not, the weekend is almost here so smile!! I had to get out and about this morning to run some errands and decided to stop by Barnes and Noble. I was checking to see if the new Southern Lady magazine had been put out yet and was there! On my way out, I always stop by the bargin books section to see if anything looks interesting. I could not help but notice the shelves were full of self-help books. Usually I am drawn to these books, I've bought so many of them I should be one FABULOUS lady by now. However, today I felt totally different. Each book I picked up and thumbed through basically said the very same thing. We spend so much money on how to clear our minds, how to lose weight, how to look and act pretty.....and none of them seem to make us into that FABULOUS person! The very words "self help" seem to say that this is something we can do for ourselves. If we read enough and do exactly what the book says, we will become the person we are searching for. As I have grown closer to the Lord and have spent some time in His word, I have come to understand that it is HIM who can transform us into the people we want to be. Without God, we are nothing and there isn't a book on the shelf that can change that. It's interesting that his "help" plan is free to us when there is so much money being made by all the gurus. We don't have to spend one cent but what a FABULOUS make-over it will be. You see that price was paid for us by Jesus and all we have to do is accept it. His word tells us clearly what we need to have a better life. I was talking with my husband about this today at lunch. I asked him why do people spend so much money and time searching for things to make them better? The authors of the books are people....just like you and me. His response to me was "people are not happy and they are searching for a way to be happy". I can tell you from personal experience, buying books will not give you the happiness you desire. I have been searching my whole life for that happiness and I can tell you my bookshelf is full. What has worked for me and yes, it will work for you too, is to get in God's word, pray, and listen for His voice. There, in the perfect will of God, you will find that happiness you are looking for. In bible study we are in II Corinthians and Paul is explaining that God will lift the veil from their eyes. I feel as though He has "lifted the veil" for me. I have been so tired in this life...always searching for something....I am renewed in His word. I hope you too will seek His face and find comfort, peace, and rest in His spirit. Thank you for reading today and I pray that I have been an encouragement to someone! Love you all!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Praise Him In The Hallway!

Hey ya'll! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a FABULOUS week! I hit the ground running today. I've just now had a chance to sit down and get my things in order. My baby girl Hannah (she's 14 but will always be my baby girl) had a doctor's appointment first thing this morning. After I got her fed and checked in school, my baby boy Paul (he's 19 hehe) called and asked for some help. It seems he had been nominated to pick up the food for a preacher's conference today at church. Being as we are Southern and Baptist, ya'll know that involved a lot of food. It took us 3 trips to get it all unloaded from the car! By the time I got home it was dang near lunch time and my husband had his first guitar student coming at 1:00. I tell you....busy! Having worked a full-time job just about all of my adult life and never having the opportunity to be a "stay at home mom", I have been trying to figure out when I had time to work. I had ideas of getting my house all organized, coming up with fabulous new recipes to try and post, piddling around town for new thrift stores....hasn't happened. Just in case you haven't heard, I lost my job last week. I've been tying to put my life in perspective and decide what I need to do next. My loving family are asking "what is your plan"? I have no idea how to respond. When things happen to us in this life, we have to understand that God is in control and whatever the circumstance is, He knew about it before it happened. I don't think it's a considence that at this particular time in my life I lost my job - I know there is a bigger plan for me. Through the years I've thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up....nurse, teacher, all different kinds of things. I did not have the opportunity to finish my education. Life is about choices, and going through a door when it is open, but being patient and waiting when it closes. It's only been a week and I know I have time to be patient and wait on the Lord. I'm excited to see what He has in store for me. I took both of my children when they were just six weeks old to my mama every morning. At the time, I had a job that required me to be there early in the morning and many evenings it was 8:00 or later when I picked them up. I know how fortunate I was to have my mama and daddy take care of them during the day, but I never had that chance to be mama. Maybe the Lord is giving me time now to be able to sit in the pick up line at school, meet my son for a quick lunch between his classes and have supper on the table when my husband comes home from work. When things happen that we perceive as "bad", maybe we should take the time to just be patient and see what God has in store for us. Yes, there are still worries, financial struggles and more, but I believe that if we are in the perfect will of God, it will all work out. Thank you for reading today and I hope I have been an encouragement. Many of us are on the same journey, let's be excited about what He has in store for the future! I read something recently that said "when the door closes in front of us, praise Him in the hallway"....there's a whole lot of truth to that! Love ya'll.