Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is That My Recliner? by Christie Smith

Tonight my husband and I, along with 9 kids, walked up to the town square to get some ice cream. It was my daughter's tenth birthday and we had a few extra kids with us for her weekend celebration. As he and I hung back and watched the crowd of children in front of us, I found myself overwhelmed with thankfulness that I was here with this guy. I couldn't do this...the five kids, the birthday weekends, the Sunday morning getting-ready-for-church madness, the making it through the chaos of our lives...without THIS man. I've failed to notice that lately. 

It's kind of like that recliner we bought that was so new and exciting 12 years ago. My husband and I went and picked it out and I loved it. I'd walk into the room and it would just make me happy to see it. It was MY recliner. Then the years kept rolling on and I stopped noticing it. It's where I rocked my five babies to sleep. It's where I allow myself to sit down and rest in between the necessary chores of daily life. But I've stopped noticing it for the beauty I originally appreciated it for. Now, I just appreciate it for the function it serves. It's just a piece of furniture. And, sadly, that's how we sometimes start to view each other. We stop seeing the beauty and only notice the function. 

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it,” declared Confucius. I would add, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it FOR LONG." We see and experience overwhelming beauty from time-to-time, yet allow the mundane tasks of everyday life to put us in a cruise control coma. We're just barely awake in the moments of the day and let the true beauty of everything and everyone around us just slip on by. 

Tonight, God blessed me with a quick reminiscent glimpse of seeing my husband the way I did twelve years ago. If only for a split second, I felt the way you do when something beautiful pierces and wrecks your heart. Tonight, with no fanfare or fireworks, my heart was pierced again at the knowledge that this man I fell in love with over twelve years ago is not who I thought he was...he's ten times more than I could have ever hoped he'd be. I just haven't really noticed that in a while. Are there any people in your life you've failed to notice lately? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Deer in the Headlights by Tony Manley

I don’t think on this side of heaven that I will ever stop having “deer in the headlights” events! Situations that just cause my eyes to open as wide as possible, my heart rate to go out of control, my brain screaming “This isn’t real or happening” or “Where did this come from” or “I am going to run away”! I had one this week. In some ways, I think my brain and my eyes are still glued to the top of my forehead – I hear that Botox will relax that type of face!

In the midst of this week, the Bible study drove home the questions “Does God really care?” and “Can I trust God?”  I know these are such basic questions to this woman’s heart and they illicit a flippant “yes” response on the way out the door, but as I walk in new pastures with the Shepherd of my life, I am finding the layers of my heart and faith being peeled back IN ORDER TO be strengthened and filled with a greater love, trust, appreciation, and trust in Him.

At our house, we often say, “Don’t pray to be like Jesus if you don’t really mean it!” To be like Jesus is going to take me to the moments, settings, and headlights of being bare before the Lord.  How will I know God cares if I never am in a place of need or pain, misrepresented, misunderstood, betrayed, or rejected? These words describe the life of Jesus. How do I know I can trust Him if I never need Him to be greater than me?

The “deer in the headlights” moment has proved to be good for me. The scripture in Psalm 73: 2 “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold” was happening to me and I needed help. Emotions can be powerfully misleading and even defeating. But God, being the good Shepherd, took this sheep to the place of confrontation IN ORDER TO bring my heart back to trusting only Him. He showed me His care by placing me in the “headlights” of exposing my feet/heart slipping to the pit of emotions that was becoming the ruling powers of my life.

I agree with Asaph in verse 28 of Psalm 73: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of ALL Your deeds.” God’s deeds are always good, even in the “headlights” moments!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Kind of Love Story by Kim Wright

Don’t you just love a good “love story?”  It seems this time of year especially brings the thought of romance to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Music and movies abound with the theme. My personal favorites are the ones with happy endings…the one where the guy gets the girl in the end. 
One of my husband’s favorites ends horribly to me! The man and woman are obviously in love…but they choose to go their separate ways! 
“If he really loves her, why doesn’t he go after her?” I always complain.  

“He does love her, but he knows she’d have to give up too much to be with him…he knows he just has to let her go,” he always patiently replies. 

This kind of love story doesn’t satisfy me! I want someone who loves me enough to chase after me…to fight for me! I want someone who loves me too much to let me go!

Thankfully, I have a real life Love like that. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about a character of God that we don’t talk about much: His Jealousy. It seems a little strange...almost shameful to our simple human minds! We know what jealousy looks like to us. Our jealousy is clinging and insecure! It grabs and connives and manipulates. It is ugly and whining and fearful. Our jealousy is not the jealousy of which God speaks.

God’s jealousy is righteous. It is the determination of One who says, “Take your hands off her…she’s mine!” He is the True Love who shows up at the perfect moment and professes His love… just before the bride that should be His is betrothed to another. He is the Lover who is willing to fight for His girl. 

He is the One who chases her when she runs away…

He is the One who continues to search for her until she’s found…

He is the One who tenderly takes her back, even though she was unfaithful…

He is the One who is willing to wait for her…

He is the One who comes to her rescue when she’s being held against her will…

He is the One who loves her so much…He’s willing to die for her.

Now THAT’s my kind of love story!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chicken Fried Brown Rice by Brenda Riden

I discovered this recipe by SouthernPlate. Delicious!

1 cup instant brown rice (or two cups cooked brown rice)
5 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic salt, divided
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce
To serve: Sesame oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic salt (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package directions; set aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Cook eggs, stirring until scrambled. Remove eggs from pan; wipe pan.
3. In a medium bowl, toss together remaining 3 teaspoons oil, chicken, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink in the center, approximately 4 minutes.
4. Add sesame oil, cooked rice, and peas to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Gently stir in eggs, carrots, green onion, soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with sesame oil, soy sauce, hot sauce, and garlic salt, if desired (we just serve it as is).
Serve hot and enjoy!

This makes just enough for 4 people but I've found that it doesn't really cost me more to double the recipe, so I usually do!

Brenda Riden
Pampered Chef Consultant

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fair...Is It a Good Thing? by Tony Manley

Is it good to be called fair? Is it better to be called just? As a teacher, I hear and say the word fair many times and in many circumstances. Being fair can be tricky. Fair can be driven by emotions, the information available at the time, and expectations of others. So is fair the best way in life?

As a Christian, I have the truth - God is just. Because God is not limited in His information, driven by others’ expectations, or swayed by emotions changing like shadows, I can know that what He does is just – right, correct, good, perfect. God’s just heart is so much better than fair. The second week of the Bible study I am working through deals so well with the truth that God is not fair; He is just. I am so thankful for His justice versus fairness.

Teaching is an area where I encounter the word fair a lot! Teachers and parents are notorious about fair in the world of learning! I am a proponent of fair also. But when I know something that is coming in a child’s educational life that is going to challenge him/her, it is my responsibility to see that the student is prepared when he/she encounters it. The tricky part of teaching is there is a system of education balanced with the differences of students and then meshing those two things together! The process of attaining success may be difficult and even feel unfair. Thus, the interpretation of fair is questioned and can even be devisive. This is where just enters into the picture of education and parenting! To have a heart full of just, is to have a heart that can see what is needed more than what is hard and then to continue working with the process of preparing. What one needs  should trump what is hard!

God’s heart of just is always good. He knows what each life will need to be like Jesus and He knows the process will be hard. He knows each life’s bents, weaknesses, backgrounds, current settings, tomorrows, and even each excuse. God’s character is perfect thus God’s ways are just – guided by truth – complete truth.

Knowing God is just – guided by complete truth – is the basis for why my life is to be driven by gratitude, forgiveness, and fruit. There is a rest that results from believing God is just in the good, bad, and ugly of my life’s events.

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because EVERYTHING HE DOES IS RIGHT AND ALL HIS WAYS ARE JUST.” Daniel 4:37

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leah's House Immediate Prayer Need

RaMona Callahan will be interviewed tomorrow by Tim Wildmon (Today's Issues) about Leah's House. To hear her, you can tune in to American Family Radio at FM 88.9 from 10:30-11:00 or you can check out 

Pray for her today as she prepares to speak, and then pray tomorrow that her passion and clarity will bring about many more donors for Leah's House. 

Word for the Week

Don't we need this reminder and encouragement from time to time? Especially when we get overwhelmed with life? I love the rest of the verse, too: "He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Let Me Tell You a Secret by Lynda Leeson

There is great freedom in approaching 71. It's easier to share and not be afraid of what others think. In my quiet time today, I read the following:

Psalm 4:7-8
You have put more joy and rejoicing in my heart than they know when their wheat and new wine have yielded abundantly. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.

Guess what! I've always been a little afraid of the dark. Not paralyzing but anxious about what "might" be there. It's not rational or just is or WAS. 

When John went Home in October, 2012, I realized that I would live alone for the first time in my entire life. That meant in the daylight and in the dark. That's when confident trust showed up in a major way. It was weeks before I realized that I was not in any way fearful and I was startled actually. I'm always surprised when I receive what I pray for. (sad face) The Sweet Lord had removed the fear and the anxiety. Recently about 2:30 a.m., I heard knocking on the brick outside my bedroom window. I lay there listening, waiting, and the truth of this scripture flooded my heart with peace and I went back to sleep.

I guess it's taken me nearly 71 years to believe in my heart that if and when The Word says it's true then it is. Can it be any more encouraging that His truths are there for the taking and apply to the slightest things in our lives?  

Another favorite this morning was:
Psalm 5:11-12  
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them (even in the dark); let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.
For You, Lord, will bless the righteous; as with a shield You will surround him (especially in the dark) with goodwill, pleasure and favor.

I don't know, or need to know, what your secrets are...but The One Who knows your thoughts and intents has promises and solutions to even the smallest details of your life.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When Your Garden Is Invaded (Max Lucado)

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26: 36, 39

The Bible is the story of two gardens. Eden and Gethsemane. In the first, Adam took a fall. In the second, Jesus took a stand. In the first, God sought Adam. In the second, Jesus sought God. In Eden, Adam hid from God. In Gethsemane, Jesus emerged from the dark. In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to his death. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to our life. 

If he (Satan) has invaded a garden of your life, then invite Jesus to reclaim it. Open the gate to God. He will enter and do what he did at Gethsemane. He will pray, and he will protect, and he will reclaim. 

~Max Lucado in A Gentle Thunder and Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional, Day 23

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chicken Tetrazzini by Brenda Riden

1 (16 ounce) pkg. vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 c. chopped, cooked chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1 (6 oz) jar sliced mushrooms
½ c. shredded Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1. Prepare vermicelli according to package directions; drain. 
2. Return to pot and toss with chicken broth. 
3. In a large bowl, stir together the chopped cooked chicken, soups, sour cream, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  
4. Add the cooked vermicelli and toss well. 
5. Spoon mixture into 2 lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dishes. 6. Sprinkle evenly with the cheddar cheese. 
7. ***Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

***Unbaked casserole may be frozen up to 1 month if desired. Thaw casserole overnight in frig. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature and bake as directed. 

Brenda Riden
Pampered Chef Consultant

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just a Reminder

At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, "Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly..."

And Jesus answered..."Bring him here to me." Matthew 17:14-17

Whoever we might be concerned about, or whatever difficulties we may be facing today, Jesus says to bring them to Him!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Word for the Week

This was Hagar's name for God. She had run away...and God pursued her. And because He pursued her, she said, "Have I truly seen the One who sees me?" 

What hard place are you in today? Are you running from something you just can't handle anymore? Has your strength run out? Or your courage? Or your money? 

Remember, "the Lord has heard your cry of distress" (Genesis 16:11). 

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Good Place...On the Same Page by Tony Manley

Today I heard about another broken relationship. Another broken car, appliance, schedule, toy, pipe…these can be frustrations and nuisances. But broken hearts, marriages, children, relationships, businesses, churches – these are more than frustrations and nuisances. These are flat out hurts. Heart hurts. So I started thinking about the “brokens” that affect the heart.
When people or organizations are broken, I believe there is a lack of being “on the same page.” I love the sound and experience of being “on the same page” with another person. There is something peaceful and restful (even in the midst of a storm) when both of us are in a place of trust, respect, desire to see the other succeed, and an agreement in achieving God’s results. Being “on the same page” encourages, strengthens, and produces good fruit, not to mention the emission of a fragrance that others will be drawn toward. A marriage where both are “on the same page” is a picture of the bride and the Bridegroom. When children are “on the same page” as their parents, the picture God paints of that family is a replica of His body, the church. As a teacher, I know the results with my students are greater when the parents and I are on the same page. The same is true for the place I serve/work, my heart is more fruitful and productive when I am in agreement and support of - “on the same page”- as my authorities. Within the church, I am called to be “on the same page” with the Word, God’s message of life to me as a fully devoted follower of Christ.

In contrast, not being “on the same page” results in discouragement, a weakening of the heart, and the beginning or continuing of a break in relationships within homes, work environments, and even the body of Christ. To be in a broken place circumstantially can be draining on the heart and mind. I think about the year that David spent covering his sin toward Bathsheba and Uriah. The emotional drain, the weakening of his heart, and the broken fellowship with God yielded a death and a lifetime of consequences. Yes, thankfully, he confessed and repented, but there were sown seeds that would grow into some pretty ugly fruit and consequences that followed.  

I do think being “on the same page” is a battle worth fighting – the battle to exemplify the presence of Christ over the presence of entitlement or self. The battle to obey God’s words and ways as being more important than me obeying my works and ways. 

God has given me everything I need to live “on the same page” with Him. I can be with Him. I can trust Him. I can experience the fruit He makes available by His indwelling presence all the time. I pray I will embrace Him in order to experience the “on the same page” relationship He offers me daily. 

What a good place to be, the place of “on the same page” with Christ.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's Your Donkey? (Max Lucado)

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." Matthew 21:1-3

All of us have a donkey. You and I each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road. Maybe you can sing or hug or program a computer or speak Swahili or write a check.

Whichever, that's your donkey....

~Max Lucado, excerpt from And the Angels Were Silent and Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional, Day 19

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cheeseburger Soup by Brenda Riden

Since it's still cold and dreary, here's another soup recipe to warm you up.

Cheeseburger Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 lb. Hamburger meat, browned and grease drained
8 cups potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, grated
3 cans Chicken Broth

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour

1/2 lb. Velveeta Cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

 salt and pepper, to taste

1. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a large 5 qt. pot and saute the onions and the celery until clear. 
2. Add cooked hamburger meat, potatoes, and carrots along with the chicken broth. Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender. 
3. While this is cooking, put the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat. Add the flour. Stir until thick then set aside. 
4. Once the potatoes are done to your liking, add the flour mixture to thicken the soup. Stir well. 
5. Add the cheese cut into cubes along with the milk. Stir occasionally, until the cheese is melted.  
6. Right before serving take the soup off of the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until incorporated and then serve.

Brenda Riden
Pampered Chef Consultant

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Daydreaming by Christy Smith

I'm a daydreamer. I dream about what might be...what might have been. About things I wish I could do again...the good times, the times I'd have done it differently. I've learned not to spend too much time regretting because, frankly, it just makes me sad. "Of all the words of mice or men, the saddest are, 'It might have been.'" Kurt Vonnegut

If I had the ability to relive moments in time, to relive days that seem to stick out in my mind as particularly special ones, it seems those days aren't really the "special" ones at all. The weddings, the births, the birthdays...they've been wonderful no doubt. But there are other days that I'd love to have again. Summer days with my babies running around in swim suits playing in the waterhose. Chilly days at the beginning of spring spent digging up daffodils at the farm and then roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Sunday afternoons at my parents' eating lunch and spending time with family and friends. You see, the most important days aren't the ones spent celebrating special occasions (although those are memorable). The days you'd do over are the ones where you were fully there. The days where everything seemed right and you truly remember the details and the feeling of total satisfaction and happiness. Do you remember a day like that? We have the opportunity to have those kinds of days every morning we wake up. Instead of rushing out the door in a chaos of activity preparing for the day, we have the chance to actually sit down with our kids and eat breakfast. The day may come when the only chance we have to share a meal with them is when they come to visit with their own families. And even though I know I will cherish the sight of my babies having babies of their own, right now I want to cherish the fact that they are still MY BABIES. They still need me to kiss their boo-boo's and cut the crust off their sandwiches and buckle them up because they can't. One day they will need me in different their kids for them, give them advice, loan them money...the big needs. Today I'll cherish their "little" needs because they are things I can do. And because I can do them, my kids think I can do anything. They think I'm superwoman. I will cherish their innocence for as long as possible. I will cherish the small wonders of every normal, boring day because those will be the days I'd travel back to if I could. 

We all have them. We all have very special, very boring lives. We get some big, extraordinary days along the way. But the most special days end up being the ones we didn't plan, the days that seem to fall into place. And it has nothing to do with the activities we had planned. It had everything to do with us and where our hearts and minds were that day. We were fully there, fully aware, and fully thankful for the overwhelming blessings. Maybe we should stop daydreaming and just start living. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Word for the Week

This was my verse for a certain time period in my life. I clung to it knowing that "He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

What harvest are you wanting to reap? Remember, it takes consistency in doing good and not giving up. 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bible Study and Cancellation Policy

Just a reminder that one of our Bible Studies has already begun, but you may want to be involved:

Precept upon Precept
Luke Part 1, a new 12 week study
Tuesdays, 9am-11am
Jan 21 - April 5

The other Bible Study begins this Monday night and Tuesday morning:

Jennifer Rothschild
Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense
7 weeks
Monday nights, 6:30-8:00
Tuesday mornings, 9:30-11:15
Feb 3,4 - Mar 24, 25

Bible Study will be cancelled if Northpoint Christian or DeSoto County Schools are closed due to inclement weather.