Saturday, February 25, 2012

What Did He Just Say?

The seas were churning and the wind was howling and it didn't look good for this ship headed to Tarshish.  The crew out of desperation calls for a throwing of the dice to determine who is responsible for this terrible predicament.  And the winner is...


My imagination sees a group of very scared, very angry, very desperate men surrounding Jonah, maybe even grabbing him by the lapels, giving him a good shake, yelling over the roar of the storm,  
"Who are you!?" 

"Where do you come from!?"
"What have you got to do with this mess!?"

"Tell us, NOW!!!!"

Jonah's response to their demands puzzles me.

"I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of Heaven who made the sea and the dry land." 

This from the guy who responded to God's call to go to Ninevah by running the other direction as far and as fast as he could?  Seems a contradiction to stand up and be identified with the Creator of the sea they were sailing and to say he feared this One.  The words just don't jive with the actions, do they?  

I came to two different conclusions as I thought on what was going on here.

Option 1--How easy it is to say one thing and do another.  Jonah called himself a Hebrew, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  A member of God's chosen race.  An Israelite.   He said he feared God.  He reverenced Him.  He trusted Him.  So why was he on the ship bound for Tarshish, in direct disobedience to God's call?  Did he not see that his relationship with the Lord God of heaven would be affected by his disobedience?  Disobedience can't sever a relationship with God, but it does create a barrier.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.
Isaiah 59:2

It is so easy for the words to roll off my lips, too, sometimes.  

"I'm a Christian."

"I'm a child of God."

"I love God."

"I believe the Bible is God's Word."

God wants those statements to match up with my actions.

Option 2--Maybe Jonah meant what he said with his whole heart.  Maybe Jonah had a change of heart once he boarded that ship to Tarshish.  Maybe it dawned on him after his rash decision to run that he had made a grave error.  He had already admitted to the crew earlier in the voyage that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord.  He had confessed his motives for booking passage to Spain.  Declaring his allegiance to God could have been his way of saying

"He is God, I am not, I blew it."  

Was this Jonah's way of waving the white flag? Of admitting his disobedience? Of surrendering himself to whatever God was going to do to him now?  

I see a defeated man, resigned to the worst that he could imagine.  Maybe there is even a hint of humility in his statement.    I don't think I have ever considered Jonah to be humble.  Running from God seems more like arrogance.  I'm getting a new perspective on this man reading through his "book" this time around.  I admire his willingness to "own up" to his disobedience.   

The winds may still be blowing the ship toward Tarshish but Jonah is taking the first steps toward turning back to God.



Choco-Nana Cake

It's was a Thursday.  My "stay-at-home-all-day" day of the week.  The wind was blowing to beat the band outside.  (I have no idea what that means.  It's a phrase from my childhood.  I think.)  And I wanted to bake.  But I didn't want to go to the store because since it was my "stay-at-home-all-day" day I was not looking so store worthy.  I perused my kitchen for some inspiration from the ingredients on hand and spied these bananas that were on the edge. 
They said, "Eat me now or I am a goner."  There was my inspiration.  Something with bananas. Continuing my search I ran across a recipe that I had dog-eared in an older recipe book but had never prepared.  Perfect.  I had all the ingredients.  It was a quick mix and bake type of recipe.  And it needed bananas!

Besides a large banana, you will need a half of a devil's food cake mix, vegetable oil, chocolate chips (mini or regular), egg, water. Walnuts are optional except in our house where someone doesn't like to eat things with nuts in them.

All of the remaining ingredients, minus 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, are mixed together right in an 8-inch square baking dish. Hey, one less dirty dish to clean!

Once the ingredients are well mixed together and spread evenly in the pan.....
sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top of the batter. 
The cake is baked at 350˚ for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
I may have been a bit anxious to get this out of the oven this time around as it was a bit gooey when I tried to slice it.  Or else maybe I didn't let it cool enough.  It is a very moist cake with a great chocolaty banana flavor.  I like that it makes a smaller cake for smaller families or for those times when you really don't want leftover chocolate cake sitting on the counter tempting you to eat it for breakfast.  

Another perk of the recipe is that you will have half of a box of chocolate cake mix left to mix this up again when you have a "stay-at-home-all-day" day.  Next time I may try it with peanut butter chips rather than the chocolate.  Ooooo!  Just thinking about that may make the next time come sooner than later! 

Choco-Nana Cake

1 3/4 cups devil's food cake mix
3/4 cup miniature or regular chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup (1 large) mashed banana
2 T. vegetable oil
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 350º.  In ungreased 8-inch square cake pan, combine all ingredients except 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips.  Beat with fork until well blended.  Spread batter evenly in pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.  Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool. 9 servings 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Comfort Zone????

Today I sat down to start reading through the book of Jonah and much to my surprise I made it through 3 verses only.  Why was I surprised?  Ah, I know the story of Jonah.  I've studied it before in various formats.  I've dissected it verse by verse before, referred to Jonah as an example in Bible studies before, read the story of "Jonah and the Big Fish" to my children before.  Yada, Yada, Yada.  So why only 3 verses today, you ask?  Because I asked myself one question...

"Where was Ninevah?"

...which led to another question...

"Where was Joppa?

...which led to another question...

Where was Tarshish?  

In all the times I had read this short four-chapter book of the Bible I don't remember ever really asking those questions.  Or if I did, I didn't take the time to find the answers.  But today was different.  I pulled the Bible almanac off the shelf, gave it a bit of dusting and looked up the names of these locations in the index. 

Applying what I read with my great geography skills (Ha!) I decided that Ninevah was located in the northern part of today's Iraq and Joppa was situated along the Mediterranean coast line in Israel.  I think I roughly knew that before.  But the next discovery was enlightening.  Tarshish sat on the coast of Spain.  


On my, that is like all the way across the Mediterranean Sea from Joppa where Jonah went to catch a boat after God called him to go to Ninevah.  I knew that Jonah had tried to run the opposite way from Ninevah but I don't think I had ever considered how FAR he was trying to run.  

At that time of civilization, Spain had to be on the outer edge of the world to these people.  And just think of what ocean cruising must have been like in that age.  Sure, it was probably pretty uncomfortable.  No ocean view cabins with private balconies and towels folded to look like bunnies. But what about the dangers encountered on that voyage?  And how long did it take to sail from Joppa to Tarshish?  That had to be a lot of discomfort and danger for a very long time!  Did Jonah even consider this in his decision to run from Ninevah and God's call.  

What was he thinking!  

Jonah wasn't thinking, period.  I can look at Jonah from my comfy chair and see that he didn't consider the consequences of 

A: running from God 

B: running to Tarshish.  

God was asking him to do a scary thing-Go to Ninevah, one of the vilest cities at that time, and tell them that the Lord God was coming to wipe 'em all out. And fear does have a way of making us check our brain at the door.  But, come on, Jonah!  A boat ride to Tarshish is better than facing the wickedness of Ninevah?
Okay, enough hammering on Jonah.  

What about me?  Do I stop and consider the consequences when I tell God, "No Way!" and book a ticket on a ride going the other direction?  Do I let the fear of obedience cloud the danger of disobedience?  When God says "Leave your comfort zone, Mary" do I say, "No, thanks" without realizing the danger in which I am putting myself?  Jonah sought security and comfort in the place that really was the most insecure and uncomfortable.  My "comfort zones"  aren't exactly as comfortable and safe as I think they are, either, especially when God calls me to step out of them.  Yup, in my relationship with God I wonder if the term "comfort zone" is a misnomer.  Maybe there isn't any genuine comfort in my "zone".  The truly safe and comfortable place is right where God calls me to be.  It may be a bit scary out there but if I am honest with myself it is a great deal scarier in the hull of the ship heading in the opposite direction from God.  

But he who listens to me shall live securely,
and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.
                      Proverbs 1:33

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Did it THEN Pinned It!

This week's version of the Pinterest challenge had me trying it before I pinned it.  I recreated a recipe somewhat similar to the Healthy Crock Pot Chicken I posted about here.  The main difference is Tex-Mex Turkey starts with cooked turkey (or chicken) and thus is much faster to get to your mouth table.  

The ingredients include:

1 lb. chopped, cooked turkey or chicken (approx. 3-4 cups)
1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
And diced tomatoes. Canned, Rotel or fresh will work just fine.  Use whatever you have on hand.
Cook the chopped onion in 1 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil on medium high heat until soft.
Add in the chopped turkey,
the garlic powder,
and tomatoes.  If you use fresh tomatoes add an additional 1/2 cup water along with them.
Lastly, stir in the chopped cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. 
And there you have it.  Already for tacos or burritos or enchiladas or quesadillas or...
Although this is very, very similar to the Healthy Crock Pot Chicken which I think I prefer, it sure takes a lot less time, especially if you have leftover turkey still in your freezer from Thanksgiving. Yup, that would be me.

The verdict is still out about Pinning this one.  

Friday, February 17, 2012


I'm still reading through the minor prophets in the Old Testament and finding that they may be "minor" but had "major" things to say.  Of course, everything they said came from God which is major in itself. 

The prophet Amos had these words to share:

      "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan 
       who are on the mountain of Samaria,
       who oppress the poor, 
       who crush the needy,
       who say to your husbands, 
       "Bring now, that we may drink!"   
                            Amos 4:1                                                                   
What?  Did you hear that last line?  Cows have husbands?  I know they have bulls, but husbands?  

Maybe there is more to this verse than meets the eye, suppose?  Of course, there is.  God isn't concerned about the husbands of some mountain grazing cows.  Upon further study (I read the footnote in my Bible) I discovered that the phrase "cows of Bashan" referred to the Israelite women, who are being likened to the fat cows of Bashan, a rich, grain-producing land.  


Did you get that last line?  

God was calling this group of women COWS! 

Now that got my attention.  I do not want to be thought of as a cow!  So why were these gals being called such?

They oppressed the poor.

They crushed the needy.

They ordered their husbands to bring them something to drink, now!

Sounds selfish, self-centered, self-serving.  Lacking compassion and lazy.  Visions of lounging in the sunlight on a grass covered hill chewing one's cud come to mind.

Seems clear now.  If I don't want to be considered a female of the bovine category, I should look out for the interests of others, serving them when and where God enables.  I should desire to serve rather than to be served, especially in my own home.  I am convicted of a few tasks around the house that I am perfectly capable of doing and have the time to do but leave them for my hubby to do when he comes home because... Well, I have a number of lame excuses.  

So it's fine for cows to promote Chick-Fil-A but I don't think we need one in our house.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pinned It AND Did It

Back when HGTV became available from our cable provider I devoured the DIY shows.  If I was home the TV was probably on, tuned to channel 52 and I taped episodes of my favorites so I wouldn't miss anything.  Eventually I realized that I was living vicariously through the DIY hosts and their projects.  I would watch a fireplace transformation and walk away feeling like I had just completed the project myself.  Nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it is a whole lot cheaper and way less messy to "finish" a home improvement task that way!  But I decided I would get a heck of a lot more satisfaction out of DIY than WSE (Watch Someone Else).  So I determined to select some DIY projects and just do them!  And it was more fun.

I am having the same dilemma with the Pinterest craze that is sweeping the nation.  I love collecting ideas and recipes but don't want to be just a pinner and not a doer.  The people that have signed up to "follow" me on Pinterest are probably a bit disappointed in my boards.  They are rather bleak.  And that is mainly because I want to take it slow and put to use the ideas I am collecting.  Maybe not all of them but at least some of them.
With that goal in mind I give you my "Pinned It and Did It" post for this week.  (I may be setting a rather lofty goal to do it once a week but that's where I will start, anyway).
Today I prepared Easy Healthy Crock Pot Chicken from  I followed the recipe with one added twist.
The recipe ingredients are:

Boneless chicken breasts, salsa, Rotel tomatoes, taco seasoning.

 I used 
  • 6 frozen chicken breasts (Mine were thawed but I think you could put these in the crock pot frozen.)
  • Salsa (Recipe called for 16oz. jar but I only had about 1/2 of a jar in my frig so that is all I used)
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (to make up for the missing salsa)
  • Taco seasoning mix (I substituted my own homemade mix for the 1 package of store bought mix)
It all goes into the crock pot.
And cooks for 4-6 hours on low.

I wondered if it would have been a good idea to drain the Rotel tomatoes but the extra liquid resulted in a very moist chicken.

 Using the two fork method, I shredded the chicken breasts.

 With a slotted spoon I took some of the tomato, salsa goodness from the cooking liquid and added it to the shredded meat.

A mountain of chicken yumminess!

 And I immediately did a taste test, filling a whole wheat tortilla with the salsa chicken and shredded cheddar cheese.
I have no pictures of me enjoying my salsa chicken wrap because it didn't take long for it to disappear.  It was good!  A think my hubby would like this in a quesadilla.  And according to this is a Weight Watchers recipe.  That qualifies it for two thumbs up!!

So my first "Pinned It and Did It" is a success.