Monday, February 28, 2011

Playing Favorites and Apple Pie Recipe

I struggle with arrogance.  I think I have all of the answers, and I can do things on my own.  Sometimes I tend to be a little arrogant with my cooking.  I'm not even a phenomenal cook, but when I do something well, I want others to experience all the joy my family looks forward to each night at the table.  (We had tacos tonight).

This is teachers' appreciation week at our school, and today, we provided the teachers with a meal.  I signed up for desserts for both of my girls' teachers.  But, this is the deal -- in signing up for their teachers, there is an understanding that the dessert may go to the faculty or staff member who has also been assigned to our class.  When I got to the school with my still warm, fresh baked apple pies, I handed them over to the moms in charge.  Then I asked if they knew who would get my pies.  Why didn't I just walk away?  I even hung around the 1st grade basket and persuaded the mom to give my dessert to the teacher rather than an assistant.  Did I mention this happened today?  I'm embarrassed to even be typing this.  The mom left to take the basket to the teacher, and I stayed to give the other basket (with brownies made by someone else) to the assistant.  I didn't know who it would be, and I still didn't know her when I handed over the basket.  She was so grateful and continued to say, "Did you do this for me?"  I felt a little uncomfortable, but the magnitude of what I had done still had not hit me.

While I was cooking dinner, the favoritism I had shown toward my child's teacher hit me like a ton of bricks.  At the time I was making my unfair decision, I wasn't intentionally withholding from the assistant, but I was definitely showing favoritism, and it was at her expense.

I've continued to be broken all night.  For that, I'm grateful.  While at the table, I told my family what happened.  When I was finished, Abby, my 7 year old, asked if she could pray for me.  Sidebar:  Abby does not show a lot of emotion.  She offers to pray the least of our children, and she appears (appears is the key word) to be the least spiritually involved.  Abby prayed for me personally, but she also said we look forward to mom making a pie for that lady.  

I'm grateful that I can't do things on my own and that I don't have all the answers.  I'm grateful for the blood that covers my shameful favoritism as well as the other sin issues you probably recognized in this post.  I'm grateful for a 7 year old that cares enough to pray for her hurting mother.  I'm grateful for the built in accountability of children.  I'm grateful for do-overs, so that I can try again at serving a well-deserving teacher's assistant.

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. James 2:1

Oh, here is the stupid apple pie recipe if you are interested.  It's my mom's anyway, and when you see how easy it is, you'll really thing I'm dumb for being arrogant.

Apple Pie
Frozen pie crust (2) one for bottom, one for top
1 can apple pie filling
1 stick butter
1/2 C sugar
cinnamon to taste
Cane sugar for topping

Dump the apple pie filling into the bottom crust.  Cut up half of butter onto apples.  Top with 1/2 C sugar and as much cinnamon as you like.  After top crust has thawed a little, put it on top of the filling.  It's ok if it falls apart a little.  Cut up the rest of the butter on top.  Sprinkle more cinnamon with cane sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven.  I like for the crust to be really brown and all butter to be baked in.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slowing Down to Live

In a previous post, I shared about struggling with fear.  I still struggle with fear to some degree, but I have had many breakthrough lessons along the way.

I will not desecrate this moment with ignorant hurry or sordid ingratitude.  Ann Voskamp

Because my fear was mostly about losing my children or my own life, I began to look on these lives with more gratitude.  Sometimes it's as simple as opening my eyes in the morning and thanking the Lord for another day or picking my girls up from school and being thankful that I get to see their faces another afternoon.  Overall, though, it has been about slowing down and living in the moments I have been given.  I drive slower and take in life.  I sit down and hug my children before they walk out the door.  (If I don't have time to drive slower and sit down to hug my kids, then my priorities are out of order.  I need to rearrange).  If my kids are making a lot of noise, I try to enjoy the sound of their voices -- even their fighting voices.  I let them take pictures and videos of me when I look terrible because if I'm no longer here, they'll want to see and hear me regardless of what I look like or how I sound.  I take every opportunity to teach in case it's the last.  I find joy in hanging a dirty little boy's coat because he is here today.  I try to let the little things go -- most things are little.  

I've been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  You can visit her website at I am amazed that many of her words are the things I've been learning, but when she writes them down, they look really pretty.

They say time is money, but that's not true.  Time is life.  And if i want the fullest life, I need to find fullest time...In Christ, don't we have everlasting existence?  Don't Christians have all the time in eternity, life everlasting?  If Christians run out of time -- wouldn't we lose our very own existence?  If anyone should have time, isn't it the Christ-followers?  Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup

I have to put this into words before I forget what I did tonight.  This soup is great for a cold night.  The ingredients are simple, but it did take some time.  I like to put time into my soup.  Time is what we have on this earth anyway, right?  It's all about what we decide to do with it.  When peeling potatoes, slicing onions and buttering bread, we are provided ample time to pray, meditate and reflect over God's goodness, His expectations and His Word.  So, here it is (the recipe):

2 garlic heads (roast with olive oil and salt @ 400 degrees for about 30 min) blended
6 slices bacon
2 T olive oil
Medium onion
2 (32 oz) cartons organic chicken stock
2 cups water
1/2 C milk (I use skim organic)
3 lbs potatoes, peeled, cubed
sea salt

Cut bacon into pieces and cook in a little olive oil.  Drain on paper towels.
Cook thinly sliced onion in remaining bacon grease on low heat for about 30 min.  The onion will all but dissolve into the soup.
Add chicken stock and water.
Bring to a boil.  Add desired amount of salt and pepper.
Add potatoes.  Boil until softened.  Mash about half of the potatoes.
Squeeze garlic out of heads. ( I added garlic with milk to Magic Bullet and blended)
Turn off heat and add garlic and milk.
Top with bacon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Freedom in Identity

"You doubt your value.  Don't run from who you are."  Aslan

This weekend, we saw the latest Narnia movie with our kids.  Lucy was battling with her beauty.  She wanted to be something she was not created to be.  We had a long discussion with our children about being grateful about who God made them to be.  We talked mostly to our girls about their faces and bodies.  I was mortified when my 9 year old said she is already struggling with that.  I asked later what she meant, and she said she has a unibrow and a "girlstache."  She said she was happy with everything else.  I laughed and was actually pretty relieved.  For many years already,  we have taught our children about their identity in Christ.  

I experienced great freedom in my walk with Christ when I began to understand my identity and who I was created to be "in Christ."  I lived my younger Christian years in confusion, not understanding that I was flesh and spirit and not understanding that I was no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness.  I had no idea there was freedom in Christ.  

Most of us trudge around bound by a false identity of sins we've committed or sins committed against us.  We place our identity in worldly successes or a lack thereof.  A name is our identity like mom, sister, mother, father, brother, friend, child, and we're confused when the expectations of these roles are not met.  The same goes for a title we hold such as CEO, President, Principal, Pastor, Elder, Director, and we're angry when we do not receive the respect we think we deserve.  Sometimes we place our identity in material possessions such as a car, home, decorating, clothing or recreational toys, and we're left empty when they are outdated.  We groom our kids for body image and sports, so much of our identity is learned.  (I'm giving myself the biggest guilt trip right now).

The problem with all of the above is that they were never meant to be our name tags.  In Christ, we were given a new name.  The old is gone;  The new has come.  And, these are not suggestions from our Savior -- They are stamps of identity.  

Below is a list taken from a website.   I love to meditate on these Scriptures and share them with my family when our mindset is unaligned.  It by no means exhausts all that we are in Christ, so please seek out who Christ has called you to be and live up to your new name.

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10). 
I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). 
I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). 
I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14). 
I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (I John 5:18). 
I am holy and without blame before Him in love (I Peter 1:16; Ephesians 1:4). 
I have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5; I Corinthians 2:16). 
I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). 
I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). 
I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). 
I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding 
being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17,18). 
I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out 
demons, to speak with new tongues.  I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any 
means harm me (Mark 16:17,18; Luke 10:17,19). 
I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image 
of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9,10). 
I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men 
give into my bosom (Luke 6:38). 
I have no lack for my God supplies all of my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus 
(Philippians 4:19). 
I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). 
I can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). 
I shall do even greater works than Christ Jesus (John 14:12). 
I show forth the praises of God Who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). 
I am God’s childfor I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides 
forever (I Peter 1:23). 
I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). 
I am a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). 
I am a spirit beingalive to God (I Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 6:11). 
I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind (II Corinthians 4:4). 
I am a doer of the Word and blessed in my actions (James 1:22,25). 
I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). 
I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37). 
I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11). 
I am a partaker of His divine nature (II Peter 1:3,4). 
I am an ambassador for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20). 
I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (I Peter 2:9). 

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:21). 
I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (I Corinthians 6:19). 
I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13). 
I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). 
I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12). 
I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7). 
I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). 
I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 28:15-68). 
I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7). 
I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (II Timothy 1:9; Psalm 66:8). 
I am healed by the stripes of Jesus (I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5). 
I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 2:6). 
I am greatly loved by God (Colossians 3:12; Romans 1:7; I Thessalonians 1:4; Ephesians 2:4). 
I am strengthened with all might according to His glorious power (Colossians 1:11).  
I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward         
(Philippians 3:14). 
For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). 
It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). 


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contribution to "Missional Mom"

Some of my greatest memories of friendship and Bible study are with my friend Kyndi Rudzena.  It's been several years since we lived in the same place, and we rarely talk. But, I love that God is teaching us similar things and that we still have so much in common.  I posted her most recent blog on my site, and I would like to add a response of how God has led our family to honor Him in similar ways.

It is a constant battle to live in this world and not be of this world.  One of our biggest battles came last year.  Chris had been in construction for almost 15 years.  He had finally reached the position of project manager, a position he always wanted, and was renovating a popular hotel.  He was making more money than we ever thought we would see.  The problem is that the renovation was in Orlando.  We live in Memphis.  His company moved him to Orlando without me and our 3 children to come home one weekend a month.  We were devastated but stuck.  We have a house and a car note, but fortunately no other debt.  We were bound by our stuff.  We lived with the arrangement for almost 3 months, and Chris came home to look for a job.  The response I received from many suburban wives was, "You'll get used to it."  The problem was that I didn't want to get used to it.  We didn't want to get used to it.  We didn't want our children to get used to it.  

If we are to impress the commands of the Lord upon our children's hearts... at the table, when they lie down, when they wake up, [when we take them to school, when we pick them up], when we go on walks, etc., (as Deuteronomy 6 says), we have to be present at the table, be present when they lie down, be present when they wake up, etc... 

Our conclusion:  To point our children to Christ, we both need to be fully engaged in their lives.  While this seems simple, it obviously is not normal for the culture in which we live.

There are other small ways that we strive to live intentionally as a family.  We allow our children limited activities.  Currently, Tuesday afternoon is the only time our girls have an activity after school.  We offered our almost five-year-old an activity, and he turned it down.  We left it at that.  

We eat at the table as a family nightly.  We talk to each other.   Strange, right?  (See my earlier post entitled "The Table").

We are also on mission as a family to reach our neighbors.  This life is not about us.  While we are teaching our children to love God, we are also teaching them to love people.  We live on a fairly busy street in an affluent suburb.  We play in the front yard.  We grill out in the drive-way.  We have friends over and sit in lawn chairs in the drive-way.  We are the biggest red-necks around!  But, being outside attracts people.  We get a lot of strange looks, but we also get visitors.  We have conversations and opportunities that would never happen if we were hiding in the backyard.

Daily, it is a struggle to go against the grain, but we have to stay focused.  It will be so worth not giving ourselves over to the junk of this world.  He is so much better than what this world has to offer.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him...  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15,17  

The Rudzena Family: missional mom...reclaiming our family from the ame...

The Rudzena Family: missional mom...reclaiming our family from the ame...: "Lately, I have been reading The Missional Mom by Helen Lee and Radical by David mind has been swirling with their ideas about wha..."