The Most Marvelous Enchilada Recipe Ever

I found this recipe on All Recipes, the all-knowing power of all things related to cookery. I tweaked the innards a bit to mimic a dish we had at a Mexican restaurant, so this version is my take on the original. I also halved the original recipe, and the directions reflect this.

Stuart loved this meal and ate 3 himself. That made my day. :-)

Beth's Version of "Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce"

* 6 corn tortillas
* vegetable oil for pan-frying
* 1 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast half, shredded
* 1/2 can enchilada sauce (about 5 oz)
* 1/4 cup frozen corn
* 1/8 cup butter
* 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1/2 can chopped green chiles, drained
* 2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas (one at a time) for 5 seconds on each side to soften and make them pliable. Add more oil to pan as needed. Drain between layers of paper towel and keep warm.
3. Cook chicken, enchilada sauce, and corn until heated through, divide among the 6 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in a greased baking pan.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until mixture begins to boil. Slowly add the broth, stirring with a whisk until thickened. Mix in the sour cream and chiles, heat thoroughly but do not boil, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture over the enchiladas.
5. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with Monterey Jack cheese and bake for 5 more minutes.

This recipe isn't as difficult as it looks, but it is a bit time-consuming. I felt that it was well worth the effort. I made this dish with Joanna's yummy refried bean recipe to round out the meal.

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May This Be My Prayer

I'm currently in a very encouraging women's Bible study, in which we are discussing the book of Proverbs. The lessons are thematic, rather than by chapter, and we have had many wonderful lessons thus far. I just returned from an especially meaningful one on the subject of money, prosperity, and wisdom. This prayer was the last topic for discussion of the evening:

Proverbs 30:8-9

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

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WFMW: Freezing Cookie Dough

My husband loves cookies, (and I love to bake!) but it can be so difficult to find time to make a fresh batch after a long day of work. Plus, since there are only 2 of us, we could never finish a whole batch, even if we wanted to! So, I've started freezing the leftover dough.

I've found with homemade dough, especially ones made with real butter, that it is nearly impossible to scoop it out once frozen. So, I freeze the cookie dough (chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal all work great!) in cookie sized portions and place them on a wax-paper covered baking sheet. I place them like that in the freezer for an hour or two, just until they have hardened a bit. After that, I place them in gallon size freezer bags which are labeled with the oven temp and bake time, as well as the cookie type and date of preparation.

When I'm ready to bake, I just take the desired amount of cookies and place them on a cookie sheet, then bake for 1-2 minutes longer than the recipe states. Fresh cookies, with little time! Works for me!

For more Works-for-Me Wednesday, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

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What's Happened?

Let me step on my soapbox for a minute.

The other day Stu and I headed out to the suburbs to return a shirt I had received for Christmas. (Apparently this was the only location for this store in Houston . . .) Anyway, this store was located in a regular old mall, and immediately upon walking in I felt uncomfortable.

I've avoided the mall lately since I tend to find myself wanting everything I see, which is not good when one is on a budget. (Plus it's the principle of the thing. I don't need more stuff!) This particular mall was an overstimulating zoo. My senses just simply felt attacked. Everything was from the floor to the ceiling decorations to the storefronts was brightly colored, loud music was blasting, and the smell of Cinnabon was drifting down the way. It was like being at the Discovery Zone, only with stores where you would be enticed to spend to your heart's content.

I don't remember malls being this assaulting. It gives me a headache just thinking about it! Growing up, the closest mall was a dreary shade of greens, mauves, and white. Is this a new trend? Are there other malls like this in Suburbia? Or am I just overreacting?

Okay, rant over.

Seriously, though, I want to pursue godly simplicity in my life, and it can be so difficult when surrounded by places that purposefully exist to drain my pocketbook.

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Sunday Ponderings: It Is Well With My Soul

Our pastor's sermon series continued this week on Joseph, and the topic was about suffering. We sang the hymn "It is Well with my Soul" during the beginning of the service, and I thought I would post on it today.

I first remember connecting with this hymn at my grandfather's memorial service back in high school. The two stanzas especially have stuck with me through the years. Whenever I am struggling with something these words come to mind and comfort me. The hymn was penned in 1873 by Horatio Spafford.

From Wikipedia:

This hymn was writ­ten af­ter several trau­matic events in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chi­ca­go Fire which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While cross­ing the At­lan­tic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with an­o­ther ship, and all four of Spaf­ford's daugh­ters died. His wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spaf­ford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daugh­ters had died.
It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


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Psalm 139

This is one of my favorite Psalms:

Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

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Praise the Lord It's Friday

I'm looking forward to this weekend for no particular reason. It's one weekend closer to my sister visiting me, and one weekend closer to the Super Bowl, but the weekend itself holds no special excitement for me. And I like it that way.

After having so much fun last weekend, I'm hoping to get several things accomplished--starting some seeds, cleaning the bathroom and kitchen (again!), finishing a book, and tackling a sewing project. For tonight I plan on curling up on the couch with a cup of chamomile tea and a good book. It's my favorite winter pastime, and the Lord has seen fit to give us a beautiful cold evening.

The weekend is a glimpse of what my life would be like if I could stay at home. It can be hard sometimes to stay content in the situation God has me in right now, since working full-time is not my cup of tea. Sure, I enjoy aspects of it, but I would love to be able to set my own schedule and accomplish more at home than is possible now. I would love to be able to spend a week focusing on one sewing project, or a whole morning puttering in my garden. I would love to have a home that is clean most of the time, and a home where I can create a warm place for my husband and friends. *sigh* Pardon me. Here I go rambling again. It's not that I'm unhappy, I just long for other things. Good things, but not the best for me yet. God is just having me practice my patience, I guess.

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I set a few goals for myself this past weekend, and so far I have been able to sorta keep up. Tonight I made turkey broth with a leftover bird I purchased at Thanksgiving for 37 cents a pound. It's been chilling in my freezer ever since. With the leftover meat I made turkey salad for tomorrow's lunch, and I have also prepped the dough for tomorrow's calzones. But enough about food, I seem to have mentioned it frequently as of late.

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned my probable participation in the Puritan Read-a-long, but I have yet to receive the books I ordered. I've heard that the company I ordered from has received so many that they are running low on stock! I'm sure that's why it's taking so long. I'm still hoping to play along, but for now it looks like I will have to sit this out. I tried to reserve a copy of the first book at the library, but I guess Puritan greats are not high on the "must-read" list for the general public, so they did not have a copy. :-(

Oh, and I just won an adorable 1950s sweater from ebay. It will look adorable with a pair of jeans and a white-colored shirt. This was a treat for me using money received from Christmas, and I plan to use the rest of it for other fun, but more necessary things, such as socks. All mine have holes!

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I just arrived back home from a women's Bible study, so I'm dead tired and non-coherent, so I will update this blog tomorrow.

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Food Culture

I spent this past weekend creating a meal plan for the week, and I noticed something--almost every recipe is one that would be recognized as taken from another culture. Tonight I made curry, and later this week I plan on making quesadillas, Asian style pork chops, and Greek pasta. Barbara Kingsolver mentions in her book "Animal, Vegatable, Miracle" (which I still plan to review, someday) that American food is known for what it is not, rather than what it actually is. Can you even define something by what it isn't?

Does that sound accurate to you? What defines American food, and what does a quintessential American dish look like? Is it even important to identify with a food culture?

Speaking of food from different cultures: Ashley, guess what I saw at the grocery store tonight. Inca Cola. How about I buy you a bottle for nostalgia's sake? I'll bring it by next time I'm in town. :-)

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It's the Little Things

I just returned from Kroger, where I happened to find organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free milk, for 2 dollars. And this wasn't the little single serving carton size, this was a whole gallon. So I will be drinking a whole lot of milk in the next 6 days. (I do plan on freezing some for baking and cooking.)

On a side note, I've heard that the above-mentioned variety of milk is much better for you than the regular kind, but my husband made a good point: Straight from the cow milk would have hormones as well, since the cow produces them naturally in order to lactate. So my question is, what is the big deal about cow's milk being "hormone-free"? Is it because they are artificial and worse for you than natural hormones (I'm not sure if that's true or not) or is being hormone-free a claim that organic companies make in order to sell more milk?

This isn't enough to stop me from buying it from time to time. I'm just curious.

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Sunday Ponderings: Desperate Housewife

Don't you just love these sermon titles? Our pastor is quite the creative guy. We continued the series on Joseph this week, and the sermon was based on Genesis 39:1-21. This is the story of Joseph's rise in Potiphar's house, and his subsequent fall after being falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife.

The pastor focused on the theme of temptation--the way of it, and the way out. He began by describing a flight into L.A, how the city is covered in smog. Once you're out in the city streets, you don't notice it so much, but when you have a bird's eye view it becomes obvious. Temptation is very much like that. It can be sneaky and near impossible to see once you are in the midst of it. He encouraged us to heed Jesus' words from Matthew 26, verse 41:

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
We should be vigilant and discerning in our lives to see the temptation around us, and pray that the Lord will deliver us.

The pastor encouraged us to look at Joseph's situation. He had had a difficult experience being sold into slavery by his brothers, and things were now just looking up for him. He had risen to right-hand man of one of the most powerful men in Egypt. He could easily have felt everything was in his own power and not a gift from God. It would have been easy for him to justify sleeping with his master's wife. Instead of giving in, he said to Potiphar's wife:
Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?
Joseph decide not to give in, because he knew to Whom he answered. In our lives, the greatest temptation is becoming complacent in our prosperity and thinking we have made ourselves great, when it is God who gives us all things.

When we deal with temptation, God will give us a way out. Like Joseph, who received time in prison for his obedience, it may not always seem as if God has delivered us, but He does if ask, even if it is not in this life. He gives us the ultimate prize, our Deliverer, His Son who died for our sins.

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I seem to have gotten distracted yesterday painting my fingernails a lovely shade of scarlet, and I quite neglected to post. Priorities, you know. So just pretend this was written on Saturday, okay?

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Lack of Motivation

I saw Meredith's post today about being in a frugal rut, and I know exactly what she means! I've been in quite a rut the past few months, especially with frugal grocery shopping and cooking. I mentioned my cooking rut before, which I still haven't gotten over. Getting up the motivation for coupon-clipping, price-comparing and self-denying is taking its toll. Grocery shopping isn't fun anymore, and I haven't even been to CVS in weeks!

I used to spend a lot of time coming up with cheap meals, using coupons, and buying the cheapest meats, but that usually left us with meals we didn't want to eat, or worse, hungry. Then we'd run to the nearest Chick-fil-A and splurge. I was satisfied with my grocery expenditure, but the money was still leaking out from other places.

This is where we are at right now. I'm burned out from frugal grocery shopping, and we eat out much more than I care to admit. I really, really want to keep spending less money, but I also want to spend more time making wonderful meals with fewer processed ingredients and more local and organic items. It's a hard line to balance. Right now free-range beef and chicken are way out of my price range. I would love to buy half a cow, but I don't have the space for a deep freezer. I would love to grow my own produce, but having 4 square feet of soil on a balcony will not feed a family of 2, no matter how much I try. Produce seems to be hard to find in my farmer's market (I believe since I get there so late.)

I'm hoping this weekend I can sit down and organize my thoughts to come up with a strategy. I'm planning on making a master list of all the recipes Stuart likes, along with several quick and easy ones I'm eager to try. From this, I'll look over sales flyers for meat that's on sale at the grocery store, then pick out the recipes that seem to fit with the meat selections. I'll by the veggies I need from the farmer's market, and pick up whatever else I need at the grocery store as well. I'm hoping this way will balance my desire to cook well and cook cheaply.

Since this is a holiday weekend for me (no work on Monday!) I have no excuse for my slack-offishness of late.

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Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Composed in the 18th century by Robert Robinson, this hymn originally had more verses, but was later altered for modern hymnals. This is another hymn that I really enjoy.

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

--Information from Wikipedia

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Excedrin Migraine is my Friend

No, I don't have an addiction problem. I don't take it all that often.

I saw this article on Ashley's sidebar discussing unusual triggers for migraines. I don't believe I have mentioned this before, but I am a migraine sufferer. It started a several years back before I got knew just how crazy my eyes were and how desperately I needed glasses. You see, I have one eye with near perfect vision, and the other, well, let's just say it is a bit myopic.

Okay, more than a bit.

As a result, I tend to have serious eye strain when doing computer tasks or driving. Before I got glasses, I would have these migraines about 3 times a week, sometimes so bad that I would have to throw up (pleasant, I know) or hide in a dark, quiet room as sounds and light would make the symptoms worse. Now that I have the glasses, the migraines are much less frequent and only happen when I'm in front of a computer for very long periods of time.

For me, there are only two ways to help get rid of a migraine. I can sleep it off, which really isn't a possibility if I am at work, or I can take Excedrin Migraine before it gets really bad. I'm the type of person who doesn't take a lot of medications, but this has really been helpful for me. The article mentions how the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine help bring relief. And it really does. God bless those scientists who discovered that.

Which reminds me that I had better take some now, as my head is already beginning to throb just thinking about all this stuff. Bleh.

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Time Flies

Goodness, I can't believe it is almost my bedtime already! Hubby and I headed to Central Market for some goodies for the week (I found some beautiful heirloom tomatoes), then watched a movie. By the time I sat down to get some stuff done, I found that it was already 10! Well, I imagine I'll have something a little more meaningful tomorrow.

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on Reading Good Books

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. --C. S. Lewis

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Sunday Ponderings: Dreams and Dysfunction

All I can think about right now is that fact that the Colts just lost, so my apologies that this post is short and incoherent. :-(

Today our pastor started his sermon series on Joseph. The passage for the day was from Genesis 37: 2-13,18-37 which is the passage where Joseph has his dreams about his brothers serving him, and the one in which he is sold into slavery. Our pastor discussed three themes from this passage. The first regarded dreams, the second family, and the third God's providence.

What I recall the most from the sermon was his discussion of God's providence. In Genesis 37, God is not mentioned at all. It may seem as if God is not involved in the lives of His people, or that the characters in this story are outside of God's control. It may seem like that in our own lives as well. Looking to later chapters, we find that God is orchestrating behind the scenes, as He uses Joseph to redeem His people during the Near East famine of the time. It is always good to be reminded of this during times of trouble.

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Vintage Clothing

I might have mentioned this before, but I am a huge vintage clothing fan. I think it all started with my fascination with the 1940s (thanks to a story I co-wrote with Ashley back in 7th grade), then it expanded to include clothing from the 1930s and 1950s as well. I'm not sure why exactly I find the clothes so pretty, but I do.

I recently found a dress pattern at the fabric store while purchasing supplies for another project. I fell in love with it, and since it was on sale for only 2 dollars, I went ahead and bought it. I finished it just in time for my cousin's wedding over New Year's, and here I am wearing it. (That's my sister Lauren in the picture with me. Sorry it's blurry!)

I shortened the skirt to a more modern hem, but otherwise kept it the same. I'm wearing a silver shawl in the picture, but I have enough fabric from the dress left over to make the matching shrug from the pattern as well. The pattern itself was inspired by a dress from the 1930s.

I would love to be able to sew well enough to make my own vintage inspired designs. I had so much fun making this dress, and I learned a lot as well.

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Be Thou My Vision

I have developed an affection for old hymns over the past few months, but this hymn has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I remember when I was little that my mom had an a cappella version of this song on cassette, and we would listen to it while working in the kitchen.

While I was in the middle school choir at my church, I was asked to sing the fourth verse of this hymn solo. Although, I tend to believe it was because I could remember all the words, not because I have a good singing voice.

Then, four years ago, my husband and I used this hymn at our wedding.

This hymn is Irish in origin, and is said to have been written in the 8th century by Dallan Forgaill. It was translated from the ancient Irish in 1905, and put into the present form in 1912. Like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, this hymn was part of a monastic tradition, although I don't think the present melody was used until later.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

--all information from Cyber Hymnal and Wikipedia

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Quick and Easy Stir fry

Okay, so the inspiration for this recipe came straight from my head, and the fact that I had several pork chops taking up space in my freezer. It's based on several recipes I have made in the past, or something I read in a magazine. I can't remember which. This makes enough for two, so double the recipe if you plan on serving more.

Easy Sweet and Sour Pork Stir fry

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork chops, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 can diced pineapple, unsweetened
1/4 cup jarred sweet and sour sauce.

Cook pork cubes and pepper strips in oil over medium high heat for about 7 minutes. Add pineapple and sauce, stir well. Cook an additional 5 min. over medium low heat. Serve over rice and enjoy!

The beauty of stir fry is that you can throw in pretty much any kind of veggie, use more or less oil, and more or less sauce. My hubby enjoyed this one, so it is definitely a keeper!

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This coming year I am hoping to spend much more time reading, both the Bible and any other quality book I can get my hands on. I have learned so much this past year in my readings, but I feel like I have only nipped the tip of an iceberg. To keep myself motivated (and accountable) I plan on updating my "Currently Reading" selections more frequently, and I am keeping track of everything I read in 2008 in the sidebar as well. (I listed Jane Eyre as completed in 2008, even thought I read the bulk of it in 2007, so it isn't entirely cheating.)

I also found a blog hosting "The 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge," and I am planning on jumping in this as well. The basic gist is that there will be one short Puritan book "assigned" each month, and the host will be giving background information and such for each book. I have been meaning to read some of the Puritan classics, but never knew where would be a good place to start. I'll be keeping a button for this on my sidebar as well.

Finally, if anyone has any great books that changed your life, provided wonderful encouragement, etc, please let me know and I will add it to my "must read" list!

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Beautiful Glossy Catalogs

I usually don't get so excited about such things, but today I received not one, but TWO seed catalogs. Beautiful catalogs with gorgeous pictures of all the stuff I could grow if I only had a back yard.

Perusing seed catalogs would be so much more enjoyable, however, snuggled up with a blanket, a kitty in my lap, and a cracking fire in the grate. A steaming mug of hot cocoa in my hands would complete this magical picture. But, alas, that will never happen as it is 80 degrees here today. *sigh*

My favorite catalog comes with the most delightful descriptions of the vegetable seeds they sell. Each one sounds precious and like a priceless work of art. I can imagine myself picking the most earthy-flavored beans, or harvesting the crispest lettuce, or pulling up the most succulent carrots. Each of these would be prepared in the most delicious way and served outside on my back terrace with jazz music and red wine. Okay a girl can dream a little can't she? :-)

I know I'm romanticizing gardening just a wee bit, as I leave out all the hard work. Scanning the catalogs and picking out seeds is just a sliver of the work involved in growing your own food. I look forward to this opportunity someday, but for now I am content to dream.

Above is a picture of my sad little tomato plant

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Sunday Ponderings: Heidelberg Catechism Q. 1

Our pastor was planning on beginning a series on Joseph (of "coat of many colors" fame) but ended up being out sick, so we had a guest pastor in his place. So I will just have to wait a week before I can blog on that series.

During the service we usually will have a series of call-and-responses or a catechism question in which the congregation will give the answer in liturgical fashion. Growing up, I never understood the reason for liturgy, and so I found it rather dull and meaningless. I've grown to appreciate it more, however. In today's service we responded to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism. How wonderful it is to raise up one voice as the body of Christ in speaking this biblical truth:

Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death?

A. That I belong--body and soul, in life and in death--not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

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It's been a very lazy day here and I can't think of anything remarkable to say other than it's warm outside and my kitties are cuddley and way too cute. You can never speak too much about kitties.

I'll be returning to more thoughtful fare with a "Sunday Ponderings" post tomorrow.

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What to Do?

When one is in a overwhelming cooking slump?

Anyone who knows me knows just how much I love to cook, but this unwillingness to get into the kitchen is beyond me. I think I have only cooked a meal 5 times in the last month, and those only grudgingly. I've got steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops, and a turkey in my freezer, but I have yet to come up with a plan on how to use them.

Any thoughts on overcoming the cooking blues or any recipes for those I-just-don't-want -to-cook days would be most appreciated!

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A Year of Abundance: A Review

This past year I have more or less participated in A Year of Abundance, sponsored by A Gracious Home. The basic premise was to enjoy the abundance that God has already bestowed upon us, instead of seeking more and more things. The Depression era motto "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without" were words I strove to live by this past year, although not always successfully.

I hoped to spend less money on things such as new clothing, craft supplies, gifts, and the like and use or wear out what I already owned. I also hoped to spend less money on things such as eating out and food. I started with good intentions like always, and I think I did fairly well with cutting back on my desires for things in the former group. I found several creative ways to use up items instead of purchasing new. My favorite was the quilt I made a friend who was expecting a baby. Towards the end of the year, I did spend money for new projects instead of concentrating on the old, and so I do still have many crafts to work on.

Budgeting for food and eating out was way more difficult than I had originally thought. It was very hard to try to give it up, and I don't think it worked out very successfully. It is something that my husband and I both really enjoy, so it just didn't happen this year.

For me, the Year of Abundance was not just cutting back on things in a legalistic way, just to see how little I could spend. It wasn't about depriving myself, but about learning that I don't need things in order to be content and developing a mindset wherein I am more aware of the blessings that I do have and the Lord who has given me all these things. I was surprised by just how easy it was for me to let go of some things, like new clothes, but not others, like dinner out. I'm hoping that the knowledge that I have gained will become a way of life for me in the years to come. This next year I am hoping to direct my focus more outwards by concentrating less on my own needs and more on the other people around me. I plan on leaving up the Year of Abundance tag on the sidebar to remind me of this in 2008, even if it is officially over.

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New Year

I'm typing this in our big comfy easy chair with a kitty cuddling in my lap and football on TV. It's wonderful to be home to relax after a busy holiday season visiting family and friends on both sides. Now that I have the chance to wind down, I have had more time to reflect and realize just how truly blessed my year has been.

In January, we adopted a brand new kitten. Lucy has been an absolute joy to have in our home! (Even if she does like to rip up carpet!) Stuart started his third year of medical school and rotations. I got to be a bridesmaid in a wedding this past summer for my younger sister. I'm so happy for Julie and my new brother-in-law, Tyler. I received a promotion at work this past fall, and we also decided to adopt another kitten. We love our Lily, who is such a cuddler! Over Thanksgiving, I was able to see old friends and get back in touch with one I hadn't seen in a while. Christmas brought more good times with family and my cousin's wedding.

But more than all this, it has been wonderful to know how much the Lord cares for us. Along with the good, we have also experienced the bad, but I know that the Lord is faithful. I'm excited to see what He has in store for the coming year.

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#1 Lesson Learned Last Year

Never, ever, ever under any circumstance fly to Chicago in the middle of winter. You might end up in St. Louis instead. That is all.

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