Friday, February 22, 2013

We can overcome!

Evil has a way of showing up in large and loud and destructive ways.  It seems that evil isn't content to be small and unobtrusive.  And when it comes in such large, overpowering doses I wonder what are we to do?  

I'm imagining that many are wondering what is going on in our world right now.  Why do such terrible, horrible, unthinkable things happen?   What is the world coming to?

I heard those questions posed from many sources after the tragedy in Connecticut.   I, myself, was tempted to wonder what are we to do.  I prayed that God Himself would put an end to the madness, that He would come quickly to snatch us away from this world of senseless evil.  I have carried a heaviness inside of me that has brought me to my knees and tears to my eyes.  And I have wondered is it possible to survive in this insanity.  I have wondered how God can be glorified in this mess.

Then God spoke: 

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
 (Romans 12:21).

But I asked: 

"How can we come up with enough good to overcome THAT evil?  How can smiling at the grocery store cashier counterbalance the pain in a mother's heart somewhere in Connecticut?  What is a insignificant small town Nebraska empty nest homemaker to do?  

And God answered:

"Do good."

As I have pondered this conversation I have concluded that the Evil One shows up in loud and explosive ways because he is so desperate.  He wants me to think I can't win, that I can't stand up against such "power".  He wants me to panic and feel hopeless, to roll over and play dead.

But God says, 

"Don't panic.  Just do good."

He wants me to remember that He has already won. 

 "I have overcome the world"
John 16:33
There is no reason to panic.  There is hope because the Evil One has already been defeated.  And He wants me to know that as an insignificant small town Nebraska empty nest homemaker there is something I can do.  

Be Good!  

Every act of kindness and goodness I share each day is more powerful than the "atomic bomb" of the Evil One.  And when we all work at this together our deeds of kindness accumulate and the effect of each one is magnified and overcomes evil.  Jesus spoke this very truth.  

"In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."  
John 16:33

And what overcomes the world and all the evil that seems to be overwhelming?  

Do Good! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recipes for 16 Meals in 2 Hours Flat!

Because the I am not as smart as I think I am and the link I set up for the recipes for 16 Meals in 2 Hours Flat! didn't work, here are the recipes I used.  Sorry about that!

6 Italian sausages (or chicken sausage)
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
2 Tb.s Italian seasoning

Add ingredients to bag, seal, mix, freeze

Cooking instructions:  Add drizzle of olive oil, cook on low 6 hours, serve over hot noodles.

Small bag baby carrots (or 4 large carrots, cut in chunks)
Red onion , cut into large chunks
2 large cans pineapple, undrained
4 garlic cloves
4 Chicken breasts
1 cup teriyaki sauce

Add all ingredients to bag, seal, freeze

Cooking instructions: Add ¼ cup teriyaki sauce to crock pot.  Cook low 6-7 hours. Serve over rice.

Approx. 36 meatballs
16 oz. grape jelly
20 oz. BBQ sauce

Add  ingredients to bag, seal, mix, freeze

Cooking instructions:  Cook on low 2-4 hours. 

2 lb. Beef round steak cut into strips
2-cans Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with green chilies)
1 large onion
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 tsp. cilantro; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 tsp. chili powder, 2 tsp cumin,
salt and pepper to taste

Add ingredients to bag, seal, mix, freeze

Cooking instructions: Cook on low 5-6 hours.  Serve with tortillas and fixings.

3-4 lb. boneless chuck roast
1-2 T. steak rub
1-2 T. olive oil
¼ c. water
2-3 large onions, peeled and sliced thick
1 c. beef stock, reduced to ½ c.
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup tomato sauce

Rub meat with steak rub.  Heat oil in heavy skillet. Brown roast on both sides in pan.  Bring 1 c. beef stock to boil in saucepan and cook until reduced to ½ c..  Cool slightly and mix in vinegar and tomato sauce.  Deglaze skillet with ¼ c. water and add to sauce mixture.  Add roast, onions and sauce to freezer bag.  Seal and freeze.

Cooking instructions:  Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lb. beef stew meat
2-6 oz. cans tomato paste
4 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. pepper

Add ingredients to bag.  Seal, mix, freeze

Cooling instructions: Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.  Add 1/2 cup sour cream about 10 minutes before serving.  Serve over egg noodles.

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lb. ground beef
4 celery stalks
6 red potatoes
2 individual can V-8 juice (or 1 ¼ c.)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen green beans
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. beef broth
2 T. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. basil, dried
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 T. sugar

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic.  Cool slightly, add to bag with rest of ingredients.  Seal, mix, freeze. 

Cooking instructions:  Add 1 ½ c. water and 15 oz. beef broth to crockpot along with frozen ingredients.  Cook on Low for 8 hours

2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 zucchini, chopped
2 onions, chopped
6 red potatoes, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 chicken breasts
1 T. quick cooking tapioca
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. yellow mustard
½ tsp. salt

Add ingredients to bag.  Seal, mix and freeze.

Cooking instructions:  Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours.  Serve over rice or noodles.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Get a Grip!

Although I am sure I am not a candidate for "The Hoarders" television show, I can be a tight wad when it comes to getting rid of stuff, especially if I think there is any remote chance that I can use it again or if I sense any hint of value in the object.  

Case in point...the extra mattress and box spring set that we had to decide what to do with last weekend.  It all started when Hubby and I upgraded our bed set last fall.  After discovering that neither one of us was sleeping very well and that I had developed the habit of "noisy sleeping" we concluded that the mattress was the villain and that it needed to be switched out for a newer model.  Much to our enjoyment the newer king size bed solved our sleeping dilemma; it even put an end to my bad nocturnal habit of "noisy sleeping".  

However, now came my new dilemma...what to do with the extra mattress.  I know, I know.  I can hear you saying,

"What!  You haul that baby to the dump right now!"

But, let me give my side of the story.  Sure it wasn't working for us to sleep on every night but that didn't mean it wouldn't work for the occasional house guest or for one of the kids to sleep on when they come home, which is rarely I might add.  (Hum, do you suppose this story will encourage more visits especially when they discover that they are sleeping on hand me down beds?)  And the mattress looked fine...not worn out at all.  

It still had life in it.  
It still had some usefulness in those springs.  
It still had value.  

At least that was the argument going through my warped brain.  Oh, maybe I am a candidate for the aforementioned program.  I spent months (yes, I said the network!) debating which mattress to pitch, our former one or one from another bed which could then be replaced with our former mattress.   It pains me now to think how much brain energy I put into this question.  

Finally, last weekend I decided that enough was enough and the oldest mattress in the house would be the candidate for the landfill.  Hubby was more than willing to help out and haul it off.  But as we carried it down the stairs, out the front door and placed it in the pickup, I started sensing my hand gripping it tighter with a reluctance to let it go.  I jokingly commented that if I took a knife and sliced up it's fabric cover or stained it with a pot of coffee or can of paint maybe I would have a clear conscience as he drove away with the set.   And to make this story even more pathetic I must tell you that the mattress that left my house that day was almost (brace yourself) 30 years old!
"Hello.  My name is Mary and I am a hoarder."

Okay, now that I have shared that ugly story with you let me share what God had to say to me later.  I read Ephesians 5:15-17 (Phillips Translation)

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God. 

God encouraged me through these verses to hold tightly to what I know He wants me to do just as my silly ridiculous self wanted to hold tightly to a mattress, of all things.  I had to spend some time examining my heart.  

How tightly was I grasping God's will for me in my life?  

I realized that rather than hold on with a white-knuckled grip to God's direction for me I was vaguely holding it with a limp wrist and letting it slip through my fingers.  

How did I know this?  

I looked around me and saw unfulfilled applications from His word.  
I saw poor choices of how I had spent my time lately.  
I saw a lot of cutting corners in taking care of responsibilites. 
I saw some unhealthy habits creeping back in. 

Comparing my grip on God's will for me and my grip on an old mattress I concluded that I was expending energy grasping the wrong thing.  

I don't know if God really cared about what I did with that old mattress but I do know that He cares about what I do with His will for me.  

He says to hold on tight and don't let go!