Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Italian White Bean Soup

2 T. Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 pound Italian sausage, without the casings (not the links. If you get the links, just remove the casing before adding to the pot.)
1 large potato, diced
1 T. minced garlic
1 can diced Italian style tomatoes
2 cans Great Northern Beans
1 T. Italian Seasoning
6 cups water

 Directions: In a large pot, heat Olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onion, bell pepper and carrot. Add Italian sausage and cook until  crumbled and browned. Add garlic and saute one additional minute. Combine the remaining ingredients in the pot and cook until potatoes are tender. Top with shredded Parmesan Cheese. Enjoy with hot, buttered rolls or garlic bread.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Armed with Love: Pride

"Love is not proud." I Corinthians 13:4

Pride is thought to be the root of all sin. We lie to protect our pride. We commit adultery to inflate our pride. We covet because we want to feel pride. Many of characteristics listed under "Love is not" in I Corinthians 13 stem from pride. Boasting is using pride in our words. Envy is pride in our desires. Rudeness is pride in our behaviors. The King James version translates "Love is not proud," to, "Love is not arrogant." Arrogance is pride in our attitude.

 Arrogance is described in Webster's Dictionary as an "offensive display of superiority or self importance." Nothing is more unflattering than an arrogant attitude. I tend to avoid people with this "self important" attitude. Famous celebrities seem to lose their appeal when they display superiority. Arrogance can also be subtle. Most often I battle arrogance in my family when I get the "eye roll." I now live with three teen age children who have perfected it. I get it when I ask for chores to be done, or homework to be finished. As soon as I look away they do it. I HATE THE EYE ROLL!!! I realised one day where they learned it. From me! I tend to accompany my eye roll with a sigh that says, "I will, but I don't want to!"

I do not want to portray arrogance any longer. How can we battle arrogance? By displaying a Christ-like attitude of humility. Philippians 2:5-11 says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Jesus has every reason to be prideful. He is God! When He came to earth he came to love the world as a servant. He humbled himself and lived a life of obedience that ultimately lead him to death on the cross. Even today the world does not appreciate this wonderful service. It was for love that he humbled himself. He wanted the people he loves to be spared an even greater suffering and death. If I want to battle arrogance I too must follow Christ in an attitude of humble service. Sometimes this means I will have to do humiliating things for people who don't appreciate it. I will do it with a joyful spirit keeping my eyes and my sighs under control.

When I loop my apron over my neck today, I will remember that I wear the uniform of a servant. I will remember the One who humbled Himself and gave an even greater service for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Armed with Love: Perseverance

I had the most sensual experience of my life recently. It was warm, sexy, filled with emotion and it happened in church. Yes, church. It was a typical Sunday morning for Larry and I. We wake up at about 8:30. Church starts at 9, so we were in a rush to get out the door. We arrive a half hour late. Shortly after we took our seats the sermon started. I reached over to hold the hand of my sweetie. Larry looked at my dry and over worked skin. He whispered, "You need lotion." Larry took some lotion out of my purse and rubbed the cream into my tired skin. It felt glorious. My hands soaked up the moisture. I watched as he massaged my hand. Our eyes met. Larry leaned over and whispered, "I'm always going to take care of you." His simple little message brought tears to my eyes. So much love in such a simple act.

Always. Always is the stuff marriages are made of. No relationship can stand the test of time without the promise of Always. On our wedding days we promise to Always be faithful, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Always.

As I read through the list of promises, one is missing. It is probably the promise that is most practical for married life. "I promise to always persevere with you through your good days and bad days."

1 Corinthians 13:7 says, "Love always perseveres."

This has been the year of weddings in my community. Even my little sister Elena tied the knot this summer. Watching all the young lovers excitedly make life long promises of  "Always" makes me reflect with love on my own "Always." We decorated Elena's wedding with family wedding photos. I looked at photos of my own special day and remembered how happy Larry and I were. I recalled how beautiful I felt as Larry looked at me as I walked down the isle on my father's arm. We promised "Always." Perseverance is implied, but not truly understood.

The perseverance of  First Corinthians 13:7 is the Greek word hypomeno. Hypomeno is a verb which means to endure, bravely and calmly: ill treatments. Perseverance bears the ill treatments of another bravely and calmly. Wow! This is a very practical characteristic of love. Perseverance puts up with another when they lash out with ugliness, when they say mean things, when they don't treat us right, when they treat us completely wrong!

I know this may be hard to believe (wink,wink), but I can be ugly sometimes. I say mean things when I'm angry. I waste time and avoid housework. I complain about other's behavior that I tolerate in myself. I overreact and treat my husband with an unkindness he does not deserve. I'm glad for love that perseveres. My sweetie perseveres with my ill treatments and shows love when I'm unlovable. That is perseverance. Showing love when others have been unlovable.

As much as I am glad for "hypomeno," it is harder to give than to receive. Perseverance comes into play in our day to day lives when our loved one's failures are just plain annoying. This is a difficult kind of love. Loving when he's late from work and doesn't call: perseverance. Standing firm with a teen who's language is abusive: perseverance. Staying calm when you come home to a dirty kitchen and a sink full of dishes: perseverance. Reminding someone to do the same chore day after day: perseverance.

Sometimes when we've had enough ill treatments we get angry and we think, "I don't deserve this! I'm done! I've had enough!" James 5: 11 reminds us of Job, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." If ever there was anyone who didn't deserve the ill treatment he got, it was Job. He was the best man on the planet, yet God allowed him to be tested. He lost everything, yet he "hypomeno." In the end his life was fully restored.

How do we persevere when life is getting the best of us and the ill treatments seem to much to take? Hebrews 12:2-3 gives us the answer, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Endured is the word "hypomeno" in these verses. The joy set before Christ motivated Him to keep persevering the worst treatment known to men. That Joy was the salvation of you and me. We can persevere knowing that it is making us more like Christ and through his example we can endure. Through that endurance we can have hope for the salvation of those who we love.

Romans 5:3-5 says, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

If we persevere, it produces Godly character conforming more into the likeness of Jesus, and through that character we have a hope that will never disappoint us. Is enduring fun? No. Am I joyfully persevering the bad treatment of people who are supposed to love me? No. But God promises that by doing so He will pour out His love into our hearts and we will have a hope which does not disappoint. I need that supernatural love to pour out when I have no more love of my own to give. I can have hope that in the end, it will be worth it. I won't be disappointed that I've persevered.

Today I will tie on my apron and persevere. God's love will be poured into my heart and I will joyfully pour His love out on others.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Armed with Love: Hope

1 Corinthians 13:7, "[Love] always hopes."

I got a tattoo. Yes, conservative, frumpy, old me got a tattoo on our last family vacation. You won't be surprised by what it is. An apron with "Love Always Hopes" on the front now adorns my foot. Yes, it hurt A LOT. I regret it just a little, but no use in dwelling on it. Every time I look down I will have a constant reminder that "Love Always Hopes." Sometimes I wish I didn't have that reminder when life is hard and I want to give up. God has a sense of humor sometimes.

My three children are in the wonderful and outrageous world of teenagedom. I prefer to call it "teenage dumb." All three of my kids are very outgoing, which is a wonderful trait to have. They are the life of the party, popular with friends at school, and enjoy the spotlight. (I wonder where they get that from?)

They are incredibly funny. At a restaurant recently, they got me laughing so hard it was embarrassing to my husband. I do not have a little, lady-like laugh, but a loud, obnoxious laugh. We were that awkward table at a restaurant everyone stares at and wishes would be quiet so they could enjoy their dinner. Let me take the time to apologize to each and every one of you.

This outgoing trait does have it's evil dark side. The kids will do or try anything, which means not showing a lot of good judgment. I cringe when the phone rings and I can see that the school is calling.We have been having a lot of, "What have you done now?" moments lately. After my daughter received a two day disciplinary "vacation" from school, I asked her, "What where you thinking?!" Her answer was simple and true, "I wasn't." When they fail to think before they act, I often feel discouraged about my parenting. Haven't I taught them to make wise choices, think before they act and try to honor God and others? My hope is that they become successful adults. My therapist would say I have high expectations. Not high expectations, Mr. Therapist, high hopes.

Hope is often described as a dream, or wish. Hope to some is a longed for desire. Hope in the dictionary is described as, "to desire with expectation of fulfillment." When I am hopeful, what I long for in my heart I expect to happen. I have a hard time with hope. Hope is not a dream unfulfilled. It is a dream I expect will be fulfilled. Hope waits in expectation that my desires will come true. Usually when I say, "I hope so," I am thinking, "That would be nice if that actually happened, but it probably won't." I've been thinking this all wrong! If I say "I hope so," I actually think that it is going to happen! There is a sense of confidence I never considered before.

The Bible actually takes another little spin on Hope. 1 Corinthians 13:7(NIV)says, "[Love] always hopes." Thayer's lexicon says this hope is to "wait for salvation with joy and full confidence." With hope, we joyfully wait with full confidence that salvation will come. Boy, have I been missing it. Hope means joyfully anticipating. When my kids are making mistakes, gigantic or small, I can't say I am very joyful about it. The only thing I joyfully anticipate is that they will some day move out! When my kids make mistakes, I am not joyful. I am usually pretty discouraged about the choices my kids are making and the consequences they will have to face. I have also been learning that when my kids make mistakes, it does not mean I have been a bad parent. The truth is, I've been a good parent! I've been dedicated, attentive, provided many privileges and experiences, brought them up in church and taught them right and wrong. My children still have free will. They make their own mistakes. Their mistakes are not my mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are painful to me. Being joyful it all circumstances is something I still have to work on.

With hope, we also anticipate with full confidence that salvation is coming. When troubles come our way, I think, "That's it! We will never get past this. Everything is ruined." If I love with hope I know that whatever we are going through, God is using it to bring salvation to the people and the situation involved. With hope, I can have the confidence that we will be saved. Sometimes the mistakes are HUGE and carry enormous consequences. I can't imagine how God is going to turn it around. One of my children has stepped far beyond my control and the justice system is now in charge. The mistake has been heartbreaking for my husband and I. I want to give up. I want to blame myself. I want to write my child off and say there is no hope. I have spent many sleepless nights questioning if there is any hope for my child. One thing I know is true. God loves my child. His word says, "Love always hopes." Because I know this, I know I can wait joyfully with expectation that salvation will come for my child. God will use these circumstances to show my child love. My child will be saved.

As you can imagine, the tattoo on my foot carries a whole new meaning for me now. It is a daily reminder that "Love Always Hopes" and God will bring salvation. I can joyfully anticipate the outcome.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Homemade Jam or Jelly

While cleaning out my stockpile a few weeks ago, I discovered a few jars of Pear Butter and Carmel Apple Jelly I made last year. I decided to post them for sale on a local yard sale and swap meet site. Within minutes, all the jars were sold and I had many requests for more. I spent the next few days trying to keep up with orders. Homemade jam and jelly is easy to make and very satisfying. I love the look of homemade jelly in jars. It is so pretty! When fruit is out of season, I happily used canned fruits and sauces. They work just fine and make flavorful jelly. I hope when you find out how easy it is make homemade jam and jelly you will give it a try.

Homemade Jam or Jelly

8-9 Canning Jars with rings and lids
4c. Fruit, pureed
1 package fruit pectin
2 T. Lemon Juice
cinnamon or other spices to taste
6c. sugar

Preparing the jars:
Put jars, lids and rings in a large stock pot. Fill with water. Bring water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars, lids and rings from the pot carefully. Keep water boiling

Preparing the Jam:
Mix 4 cups pureed fruit, 1 package pectin, 2 T. Lemon Juice and spices in a medium pot. Allow to sit for 10 minutes with no heat. (This is key in getting the jelly to "jell".)
After 10 minutes, heat to boiling, stirring continually. Add 6 cups sugar all at once. Continue stirring and return to a boil. When jelly comes to a rolling boil, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. With a metal spoon, skim the foam off the top of the jelly. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean. Attach lids and rings tightly. Return jars into the boiling water. Water should cover the jars completely up to an inch over the top of the jars. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from the water. As the jars cool, you will hear the lids make a "pop" sound. This is a sign the jars have sealed properly. Store jars for up to a year. Enjoy!