For those of you who know me, no explanation is needed as to why these wise words are important. For those who don’t know me, a quick read through some of my posts will give you a clue (hint: change could be an issue for me). I’m work’in on it! How about you? Embrace change or not?
“That’s a wrap!” Words often used to signal the end of a storyline or season of a T.V. show, but today they’re words reverberating around in my chaotic mind. Part of MY story, a season of MY life is wrapping up and I’m going to have to wait for the new season to begin to see how things work out. Just so you know; I don’t like waiting……I don’t like change…….and I don’t like not being in control……even when the new season promises to be good, great even!
Our new house was ordered today. I’m packing the remaining odds and ends and we’re moving out this weekend. In six to eight weeks our house should arrive and we’ll begin to write a new story; live a new season! That means in this in-between time we must say goodbye to our old, blue house. In the world of television the time between seasons is full of reruns and it’s no different really for me. This time of farewell to our home of 18 years is sure to generate lots of memories to relive and retell.
I’m not really sure how to say goodbye to walls that protected our family and gave us space at the same time. To let go of bedrooms where books were read, sleepover giggles quieted, bedtime prayers whispered, and goodnight kisses shared. The upstairs porch with its once grand brick-a-brack railing , a place where little girls could get lost in their imaginations, will be hard to see go. Conversations while we ate together, games played, homework done, and Christmas cookies decorated made our dining room the heart of our home. As I sat this morning in “my chair”, a place made for lingering, a place that allows me to gaze out to our majestic pine tree and the bird feeders that hang there, a tightness formed in my chest as I realized that my view will never be exactly like this again.
That’s life isn’t it? We take the familiar for granted and then it’s gone. We get caught up in the day to day and forget we are creating memories. We blink. Things change. WE change. The season ends.
“For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 (NLT)
Yes, For now: “It’s a wrap!” It’s time to tear down. However, I’m so grateful it doesn’t end there. It’s also a time to build – build a new house – build new memories – Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 goes on and says:
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”
We all find ourselves leaving seasons behind and venturing in to new ones. What a wonderful promise that even when we can’t see where they lead; God has the whole beautiful journey planned for us, all the way to eternity! So let’s “wrap” ourselves in that!
Now for this weeks recipe……I couldn’t miss this opportunity to share with you a tasty WRAP recipe!
- 1 Tbls. olive oil
- 1 Lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 C. BBQ sauce
- 1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 C. pineapple tidbits
- 1/4 of onion, chopped
- 1-2 hearts of romain, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh chopped cilantro
- 4-5 large wheat or white tortillas (I used white)
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add chicken pieces to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring to be sure chicken is cooked through and a golden brown.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Add barbecue sauce and pineapple to the pan and toss with the chicken.
- Warm tortillas.
- On each tortilla, put a spoonful of chicken, sprinkle with cheese, onion, and romain.
- Put cilantro on top. (I found this to be very strong and would not use near the amount again)
- Roll burrito style and serve immediately.
Miracles of Living Hope
Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways even when she didn’t believe He would. “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.” The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.
Murunga had come to Marilyn and Living Hope High School hoping for a new, promising future. He was now a member of the first graduating class looking forward to attending college, but college takes money and money was something Murunga didn’t have. That didn’t stop him from planning, however. He had complete faith that God was going to work a miracle that would enable him to go on to school.
On the Sunday night before classes were to begin on Monday, Marilyn looked in on Murunga. She had given him a little money to buy new socks and under clothes. He had washed, ironed, and folded those and was singing as he packed them and his other clothes into his suitcase. The fact that he still needed over four hundred dollars….$476.00 to be exact…hadn’t chipped away at his rock solid faith.
Marilyn’s faith, on the other hand, was shaky. She was worried that God was going to let Murunga down. She considered anonymously paying the fees herself so God wouldn’t look bad to the young man. Marilyn just didn’t believe God would work it out at all. With a heavy heart she headed to the computer lab to catch up on her email. There was a message from her sister, Helen; so she opened it and began reading. Suddenly, she rose from her chair, went and woke one of the students telling him to wake all the others and gather in the computer lab in five minutes. The small, brick building quickly became jam packed with students, standing shoulder to shoulder inside, others crowding outside the door; all wondering why they were there. Marilyn asked Murunga to sit down and read the email she’d received. As he began reading he reported that someone had donated several pairs of tennis shoes to the school. “That was nice.” Continuing, he read that a new sponsor had been found for a student in need. “Great news!” When he recounted the last of the email message, prayer and singing flooded the room!
As it turned out, Helen had attended Main Street United Methodist Church in Petersburg, WV that morning. She was not scheduled to speak during the service but, God had other plans.. Standing up, she made a plea for support for Murunga. The congregation graciously took up an offering and when the money had been counted, it was not the $476.00 he needed. No, it was $486.00!
Murunga, Marilyn, and the students continued to sing and dance for an hour; expressing overflowing joy that Murunga had received his miracle from God! Marilyn knew that she had been the “ye of little faith,” while Murunga’s faith had been unwavering.
The next morning before dawn, Murunga gathered up the bag he’d packed, no longer a high school student, he was now college bound. The extra ten dollars raised at Main Street Church allowed him to purchase a bus ticket and even a rare bottle of water for the trip. God knew exactly what Murunga needed; Murunga knew that God would find a way; Marilyn knew that the offering was a perfectly-timed miracle; and that Murunga’s great faith would serve as an example to her and to all who heard his story!
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)
copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya
For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254.
What happens when opposites get together? I’m left handed, he’s right. He’s a morning glory, I’m a night owl. I love my music up loud, while he prefers the volume to be down low. My husband and I are completely different in almost every way possible and after 33 years together, we STILL find ways that we contrast each other. Yes, night and day, up and down, left and right, Cindy and JD…..as unlike as can be! It reminds me of Paul when he was struggling with opposites in Romans 7:19:
“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (NLT)
Good and bad, right and wrong, somehow we find ourselves attracted to both! I can’t count how many times I’ve set out to do the right thing and only a short while later find myself doing the reverse. It’s not necessarily the big things that send me in the wrong direction, but rather those little, I know it’s not right but “maybe no one will know”, “what can it hurt”, “everyone else is doing it” kind of things that bring me straight to the same place that Paul was: in deeep “do do”! (do, do not do, do, etc.)
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)
Thank goodness God knew we’d need help! He doesn’t wait until we’ve got it all right. He met Paul then and he meets us today, right where we are; even if it’s in messy, deep do do. There’s nothing more radically different than our sin and the perfection of Jesus! But….put those two opposites together and We. Have. Victory!
Like JD and I, today’s recipe takes two opposites, puts them together, and makes something great! I first had this dish while on a girl’s get away to the lake with my mom and sisters. The sweet pineapple, sour sauce, crisp vegetables, and juicy chicken make it a family favorite here! And it’s pretty too! So, remember in people and in food…..different can be good! Enjoy!
- 1 20 oz. can pineapple chunks
- 2 cups Minute Brown Rice, uncooked
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut in bite-sized pieces
- 2 Tbls. all purpose flour
- 1 Tbls. vegetable oil (I used Sesame oil for that oriental flavor)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 c. sugar snap peas
- 1 jar sweet and sour or duck sauce (2/3 cup) Found in the oriental cooking section of the store
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- sliced green onions (optional) I liked them!
- Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Measure reserved juice and add enough water to make 1 3/4 cups of liquid.
- Prepare rice according to directions on the box using the juice/water mixture.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Toss chicken pieces in the flour.
- Cook chicken about 5-7 minutes or until golden.
- Add pineapple chunks, pepper, and snap peas and cook until slightly softened (3-5 mins.)
- Add sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, and orange juice to mixture in pan. Cook until sauce begins to boil and thickens.
- Serve over rice.
- Top with green onions if desired.
- Makes 4 servings.
“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” Famous words spoken by the Big Bad Wolf in the children’s story “The Three Little Pigs”. (Second Grade teacher at heart and mind, remember?) Each Little Pig had built themselves a house: one of straw, one of sticks, and the last pig built his of brick. As the story goes; the Big Bad Wolf is true to his word and blows the house of straw down. The first Little Pig runs for shelter in his brother’s house of sticks. After a visit from the Big Bad Wolf, the house of sticks lay on the ground and the two Little Pigs run for shelter in their brother’s house of bricks. Ending happily (for the pigs), the wolf huffs and puffs, puffs and huffs, and huffs and puffs again but is unable to blow in the house of bricks. The Three Little Pigs learned a valuable lesson….seek shelter in a solid place!
What about us? Where do we run for shelter when trouble is huffing and puffing all around? I don’t know about you, but I first tend to rush and dwell in my emotions. Whether sadness, anger, disappointment, fear, or whatever I’m feeling, I move in and try to become a permanent resident. In reality, I wallow. Taking longer than I hate to admit, it eventually becomes evident that like the Little Pig in the straw house, staying there while things are falling apart around me isn’t an option.
Where do I run for shelter next? You guessed it. The “stick house” of worry. Ever lodge there? Somehow I, and maybe you too, think that by residing with worry we’ll be protected from all that lurks around us until WE can find a solution. Wringing hands, churning thoughts, spinning stomach, all become familiar roommates and if we stay too long we end up in a heap beneath the weight of our trouble.
I’m realizing that in times of trial, trying to find refuge in emotional “straw” or “twigs” of worry keeps me exhausted and hopeless as I’m battered by what’s raging around me. Surprisingly enough, I’m learning the same lesson as the Three Little Pigs! Stay with me…..Jesus said:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)
There are always going to be “Big Bad Wolves” knocking on our doors. Even though they’re different for each of us our reaction is often the same…..to run for shelter.
The Pigs learned to seek shelter in a solid place and So. Should. We.
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection, my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2 (NLT)
Isn’t it comforting to know that even when we’re still living in places that so easily crumble; we have a fortress: a place of safety, a place that will not fall, waiting for each of us. Just as the Third Little Pig welcomed his brothers, God waits for us to find our refuge in Him. I wish I could say that I’ve left my straw and twigs behind and run straight to the house of brick every time. I’m working on it and reminding myself and you, that OUR happy ending comes when we’re running for shelter straight to the One who saves us!
“Running for shelter” is this weeks discussion at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com
Mine is on the “Most Wanted” list!
Anyone else out there looking for a lost (stolen) dream and then realized YOU left the door unlocked so the thief could get in? These words have been a huge Ah-Ha for me! Procrastination is one of the biggest personal struggles I face! I’d love any input/advice you have on “arresting” it ! Meet me in the comments!
What would you say if I told you that I have a recipe for you today that’s called a “Salad” but tastes like a “Dessert”? Woo Hoo is my response! Remember eating Cracker Jack and finding a prize in the bottom? Who doesn’t love a “Buy One Get One” sale or qualifying for a free upgrade? We humans know what we want and like it much better when we get even more!
Before I got married I had three qualities I was looking for in a husband. Are you ready? Older than me. Taller than me. Could sing. (I know, you can roll your eyes. I was young) Guess what? I married a man who’s younger, shorter, and mmmm….not quite the singer I’d imagined. But guess what else? I got much more! A man of faith, a good provider, and a man that shows his love for me by making my coffee every morning! (That’s better than a singer any day!)
So, what about me? Us? If we like getting more, and we do; shouldn’t we be giving more? If we’re looking to find a prize inside or get two for the price of one; shouldn’t WE be offering the same to the world? To our family? Thinking about it, I must admit, I don’t always give my best self to the ones I love the most. I’m pretty sure my kids have wished for a mom upgrade a time or two! In these days of sadness, hate, and just plain tasteless behavior; we need to stop and ask ourselves: are we being “a salad that tastes like a dessert”? Are we going above and beyond? Providing an unexpected richness to those around us? Are we making the effort to be the upgrade people aren’t anticipating? I want to try. I wish we all would. Whether its a smile, touch, or kind word. A door held, an opening into traffic offered, or patience in a long line. An apology, an invitation, or forgiveness. Wherever we go, with whomever we meet; let’s be what we want to see in others, but not stop there. Let’s be the prize… the real deal… the dessert…. I’m guessing, if we work at it, WE’LL be the ones getting more than we ever expected!
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)
Now, on to this recipe! I recently sent this salad with my “young” husband for a work event. The bowl came home empty and he had requests for the recipe. Let me know what you think of it. As usual, it’s easy and delicious. So go ahead! Have your dessert (salad) and eat it too!
- 1 container of Cool Whip (Lite is fine)
- 1 box of Jello Instant Cheesecake Pudding
- 3 containers of Strawberry Yogurt (I use Dannon)
- 16 oz. of fresh strawberries, sliced
- Miniature marshmallows (I use about a half of bag)
- Mix the first three ingredients together thouroughly and refrigerate at least an hour (can be overnight). When you are ready to serve, add strawberries and marshmallows. Stir to blend. I top with a few slices of strawberry in the middle.
- ***The last time I made this, I couldn't find the cheesecake pudding mix so I bought a Jello No Bake Cheesecake mix and used the powdered cheesecake in it. Also, the original recipe calls for sliced bananas in addition to the strawberries. I usually make this to take somewhere and bananas don't hold up, so I just leave them out.
- ***I think this would be good with raspberry yogurt and raspberries or blueberry yogurt and blueberries, too.
I collect words! I savor them. Linger with them. Ponder over them. They can touch my heart and satisfy my soul. Whether they are words in a devotional, a speech, a song, a book, a sermon, a poem, a conversation, or even a blog post; wisdom abounds! This love of words has influenced me to try something new…..Ta Da!….Wise Wednesday is born! To be honest, it’s as much for me as it is for you. It’s my hope that by sharing bits of wisdom which have inspired me, caused me to pause and think, or to look at something differently than I have before, will do the same for you AND it will allow me to create a gathering place for the words of others that have resonated with me in some way: like to motivate a change, encourage, reassure, spark an idea, gain a deeper understanding, or kindle a dream.
Some weeks I’ll share my connection with the “Wise Wednesday” words. Other times, I may simply post the quote and let it stand on its own. Either way, I would love it if this compilation of words will be an invitation for conversation between us and an opportunity for you to share YOUR wise words with me! So, here we go……….
I’m in the midst of an on-line book study. The timing of it is no coincidence! The book is Come With Me by Suzanne Eller. Her previous books have had a tremendous effect on me and so far this one is no different. My “Ah-Ha” moment came with these “wise” words:
“Whisper yes where no wants to take root.”
Since retiring, I’ve felt God calling me to do things, but out of fear of failure, lack of confidence, and selfishness with my time; I have ignored Him and put them off. “No has taken root!” There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s time for me to say, “YES”. It’s still scary and will require some sacrifice, and I’m pretty sure my “yes” WILL start only as a whisper and not a shout, but these wise words are inspiring me to rip up the old roots holding me back and follow where God is leading me.
Have you felt called to do something that you too, have ignored? What’s holding you back? Are you in the midst of fulfilling God’s call? What helped you to step out and follow? I’ll meet you in the comments to continue this conversation!
To learn more about the “Come With Me” book study, go to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com
The O’Jays, 1975
It’s so nice to see
All the folks you love together
Sittin’ and talking’ ’bout
All the things that’s been goin’ down
It’s been a long, long time
Since we had a chance to get together
Nobody knows the next time we’ll see each other
Maybe years and years from now
It’s that time of year! Time for grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and everyone in-between to come together for a family reunion. I love to see pictures on Facebook and in the newspaper; pictures of all the different generations of a family posing together, arms interlocked, with smiling faces, and a look in their eyes that says “we’re home”!
Home. The definition changes for me. When I’m with my mom and sisters in Michigan, I’m home. After being away and the “Welcome to West Virginia” sign passes overhead, I’m home. Sitting within the protection of the walls of our old house…..home, and soon, new walls will provide the security of being home. But…..nothing says home to me more these days than having both our children, their spouses, and our grand baby within arm’s reach! Yesterday I was HOME! Sitting around the table with our four “children”, grandson, my husband, and my mother-in-love filled this ole gal’s heart to overflowing! I so treasure these times of reunion.
Because here in the mountains of West Virginia, most family reunions require a covered dish; I thought I’d share a recipe that is perfect for just such occasions! It’s easy to make, easy to transport, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have to worry about what to do with leftovers because there won’t be any! So, kiss your aunt, play horseshoes with your cousin, hold your granddad’s hand, and cuddle that grand baby! Our time on this earth is short. We DON’T know when we may see each other next. Isn’t it a comfort, that a Reunion awaits us one day; where there’ll be no more sorrow, no more worry, no more pain…just rejoicing and love, and who knows? Maybe horseshoes and a covered dish!
“This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home that is yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)
- 1 Bag frozen, shredded hash browns, thawed (1-2 minutes in microwave)
- 1 Cup onion, chopped
- 1 Can Cream of Chicken soup
- 1 Pint sour cream
- 1 Stick butter, melted
- 1-2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 Bag or so of crushed potato chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine thawed potatoes, onion, soup, and sour cream.
- Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with Pam.
- Place potato mixture in pan.
- Melt butter and pour over the top of the potato mixture. (I make holes in mixture with the end of my spoon first)
- Sprinkle cheese on top of butter layer.
- Cover entire casserole with crushed chips.
- Bake 1 - 1 1/2 hours until chips are golden and casserole is bubbling.
What means home to you? Share that and your favorite dish to take to a reunion in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
Marilyn Uhl will be the first to tell you that establishing and running Living Hope High School in Bungoma Kenya could not happen without God. She will also tell you that the longer she’s in Africa, the stronger her faith grows. Marilyn has seen God work things out in strange and powerful ways, even when she didn’t believe he would. “I don’t know why we don’t have total faith because He never lets us down.” she reminds us. “He might not answer us the way we want or when we want, but He always has our good in mind.” The Living Hope journey continues with these true stories of the miraculous ways God is working in the lives of Marilyn and her students.
Murunga’s Story: The Drug Deal
Murunga had one dream: to go to High School. He’d worked hard every year in primary school and graduated from 8th Grade with top honors. Despite all he had accomplished; his family was not able to meet the costs for him to attend 9th grade. His mother had passed away and his father had sold all their property to support his drinking habit. Having families and problems of their own, his brothers were also unable to furnish the money he needed.
The yearning Murunga had to go to high school did not diminish. He not only longed to attend; he knew he needed to attend to live the successful life he dreamed of. If money was what was standing between Murunga and school, then he would find a way to get the money.
With 8th grade graduation behind him and the goal of attending high school in front of him, Murunga became a “Boda Boda” ….a motorcycle taxi driver. Because he kept his bike clean and in good shape and he never ran out of gas, Murunga built a regular customer base. He worked long hours for little pay. On the rare occasion that he was given a little extra money for the ride, he bought one thing he knew he’d need for school: a pencil, a notebook, a small can of shoe polish. Each precious item was put in his “faith box” hidden beneath his bed.
Despite Murunga’s hard work and belief that he would one day be a high school student, two years passed. Discouragement began to set in and waiting became almost more than he could bear. One day, a man from the village approached Murunga and offered him the job of being the transporter in a drug deal. It sounded easy. All he had to do was carry a box of drugs, worth more money than Murunga could imagine, from point A to point B. He knew it was wrong, but it was the only way he could see to get the money he needed for school. He decided to take the risk and do it.
In preparation for the transport, he drove his motorcycle down to the filling station. As he gassed up, Pastor Martin, a teacher at Living Hope High School, pulled in to the pump right next to Murunga. Both were from the same area so Pastor Martin was well aware of Murunga’s family situation. He struck up a conversation with him and as they talked, Pastor Martin told Murunga about Living Hope and that there was one spot left open in the Freshman class. The words rang in Murunga’s ears and his chest felt tight. After what seemed like an eternity to Murunga, Pastor Martin said the words he longed to hear. He asked him if he’d be interested in filling that spot and become a Freshman at Living Hope High School. Without realizing it, Murunga had been holding his breath. As air escaped between his lips, he remembered that the drug deal was to take place in less than two hours. Once the delivery was completed, he’d be paid a large sum of money: more than he could have ever hoped for!
The promise of money did not compare with the desire Murunga had to attend high school. He’d waited so long for this moment to come and so, without hesitation, he accepted. Before they headed off to Living Hope, Murunga had one stop to make. Pastor Martin followed him home.
Yes, God works in strange ways. Murunga would have risked everything, even his life, had he completed the drug deal. He hadn’t seen any other way until in the eleventh hour God stepped in and saved him. The waiting was over. With hands shaking in excitement, he pulled the cardboard box from under his bed. For two years he’d faithfully collected supplies he knew he’d someday use at school. Once the cargo was loaded on the back of Murunga’s motorcycle, the two, teacher and student, began the journey down the road to a brighter future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
copyright Living Hope High School, Bungoma, Kenya
For more information on Living Hope High School, go to www.livinghopehighschool.org or call Marilyn’s sister, Helen Markwell at 304-567-2254