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Archive for September, 2008

Taco Soup Recipe

“What’s taco soup?” “What does it taste like?”,  you ask.  That’s exactly what I said when I saw Taco Soup on the menu at a Christmas bazaar a few years back.  “Here, let me give you a taste.” The kind lady said, and since then, Taco Soup has been a family favorite!  It tastes JUST LIKE tacos, but it’s soup, and it’s DELICIOUS!  It’s a great alternative to chili.

You will need:

1 LB Ground beef
1 bag of frozen corn
1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning
2 cans of black beans
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 can tomatoes

You can also add a can of green chili peppers if you like it spicy, some people add olives too.

Brown your hamburger meat and drain it.  In a large pot, add hamburger, taco seasoning, corn, onions, tomatoes, beans(drained) and extras like olives or green chili’s (if you want) add 8-10 cups of water (depending on how strong you like the taco seasoning taste to be. If you add too much water, you can always add part of another packet of taco seasoning.) Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer until the onions, corn and beans are soft.

When you serve it, it’s great with tortilla chips or corn chips, sour cream and shredded cheddar.

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When should you forgive someone?  When they apologize and ask for forgiveness?  When someone offends or hurts you?  What if they don’t apologize, should I still forgive them?

Forgiveness is a tough subject.  Everyone likes to be forgiven, but it’s not always easy to forgive.

I nannied for a family one summer and when their children did or said something that they needed to apologize for, they would say their apology, and instead of replying with “Oh, it’s OK” “No worries” or “that’s fine”  their sibling would say “I forgive you”  I really like that.  What a better way to start teaching children about forgiveness than to have them forgive their sibling when they apologize.  Sometimes just those words “I forgive you” are hard to say.

Some people say “I forgive you” or they talk a problem out and say that they forgave the other person but didn’t really forgive them.  The Bible says that when God forgives our sin, He forgets it.  He doesn’t hold it against us any more.  As humans, even though we forgive, we still remember, but we should try our hardest not to hold it against that person anymore.  We should show some mercy and give them another chance.  How many times should we give them another chance?  (this is tough, even for me, a person who considers themselves to be forgiving…..) Well, Christ says that we shouldn’t forgive people just 7 times, but we should forgive people until 70×7, meaning don’t keep track of the offenses, just forgive people.  But what if they did it on purpose?  What if I know they didn’t really mean it when they apologized?  What if I know they’re just going to do it again?  Well, God forgives you and I EVERY time we ask Him to, even though He knows our intents, and He knows if we will do it again, He is still there waiting to forgive us.

Do you have to wait for someone to apologize to you to forgive them?  No.  Absolutely not.  Forgiving someone is about you, not about them.  Forgiveness allows you to “get over it”  it allows you to stop harboring anger toward the person, forgiveness stops you from becoming bitter over the situation. 

One time a co-worker said something very bad  to me, that was about me, in front of other co-workers.  What my co-worker said was not true, but at the time, they believed it to be true.  What they said was very hurtful.  Two days later, she came to me and apologized for the situation and asked me to forgive her.  My response was “I already have.”  She looked at me very surprised and said, “You already forgave me?”  I said “Yes, that night when I went home, I forgave you.” 

You don’t have to wait for an apology, and if they don’t apologize, you don’t have to go to them and say “remember those bad things you said about me two days ago?  Well I forgive you for them.” 

 Not at all, all you have to do is pray about the situation and make the decision to forgive that person, whether they EVER apologize or not.  Again, when you forgive someone else, it’s for your benefit, not their benefit.

But, you don’t understand….what they did to me was hateful, cruel, immature, uncalled for, TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE……..well guess what?  It doesn’t matter.  Again, this goes back to my post on things I can and can\’t control.  Can I control the other person and the fact that they haven’t or won’t apologize to me?  No, I can’t control that.  What I can control is my attitude, my actions, and my response to the situation.  Did Christ wait for the Romans to apologize to Him for beating Him and hanging Him on the Cross?  Let me think about that…..If I recall, He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  WHILE He was on the Cross, and I don’t ever recall an apology from the Romans. 

I’ve met several people in the last few months that have treated other people poorly because of something someone else did, or because of how someone else has treated them.  If they have truly forgiven the people in their past who have hurt them, they wouldn’t be bitter over it now and taking it out on other people.  Do you see how forgiveness is about YOU?  If you don’t forgive someone, they will never know.  They won’t be hurt by it and they’ll just move on with their life, while you continue to hate them, be angry at them, and become bitter over the situation.  This can go on for YEARS and even an entire lifetime. 

God calls us to be Christlike, and part of being Christlike is forgiving, WHETHER or NOT they apologize, WHETHER or NOT they forgive you, WHETHER or NOT they do it again.

Forgiveness is a very important part of our physical and spiritual lives.  Not forgiving people can even cause health problems. 

I’ve had many people ask me how I ever got over the abuse, the hurt, the pain, the emotional and psychological scars.  I’ve had a couple of newer friends of mine ask how I became a single mom, and when I say that I was in an abusive relationship and I decided to leave rather than be murdered, their eyes bug out and they say “I had no idea.”  “I would have never guessed.”  “How are you not a basket case?” 

It has taken time.  Lots of time, and lots of prayer.  As I look back, one of the first steps toward healing was forgiveness.  I wasn’t able to forgive him right away.  It took me several weeks, it was really over a month before I could bring myself to forgive him.  Did he ever apologize?  No.  Do I ever expect him to?  No, but that doesn’t matter.  I forgave him and allowed myself to start moving on with my life. 

 So does forgiveness mean that everything is all better and I’d marry him anyway?  Absolutely not.  It just means that I am not going to become angry or bitter because of the situation.

In addition to forgiving him, I also had to forgive myself.  For the longest time, I kept asking myself  “How did I let this happen?”  “Where did I make the mistake?”  “What did I do to deserve this?”  “What did I do that caused him to abuse me?’  These are very common thoughts for a person who’s been abused.  Abusers are very good at convincing you that abuse is your fault and that you brought it on yourself.  I had to stop one day and tell myself that it didn’t matter how I let it happen or where I had made a mistake.  It happened, it’s over with, and I can’t make myself feel guilty or responsible for bringing abuse on myself. 

When you start forgiving people, I mean truly forgiving them, whether they deserve it, whether they ask for it, and no matter how many times they offend you, it helps you keep your focus on Christ and off of other people, it helps you heal, it helps you be a better person, it gives you a fresh start and most importantly, it brings you one step closer to treating people as Christ would treat them.

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God Sees The Heart by Jamie Turner

Our God measures man by His standard divine,
For He sees underneath every outward design.
He looks past possessions and costly attire;
He studies the heart, every thought and desire.

Our God does not judge by how tall we may stand,
Or how much we possess, or the rank we command.
His gaze goes far deeper to things that endure;
He honors the man (interjection: or woman) who keeps his heart pure.

For the eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro,
We have no secrets that our God does not know.
Our Father knows our thoughts, He understands every part.
Man sees the outside, but God sees the heart.

This is another one of my favorites.  I love songs that have strong lyrics, songs that could be a sermon in themselves.  Basically is what this song says is that we cannot impress God. (The good and most pure things we can do are filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness and holiness.) We can’t be pretty enough to go to heaven, rich enough, powerful enough, popular enough, nothing that we can do will ever make us worthy of heaven, only by accepting Jesus as our Saviour and getting His forgiveness on our sins can we go to heaven when we die.

This song also says that “We have no secrets that our God does not know”  God knows our thoughts, and he knows our motives.  This goes both ways, God knows when we do things to bring glory to Him.  He knows when we do something anonymously to be a blessing to someone else, but He also knows our secret sins, He knows if we do something out of pride or arrogance. 

I’ve learned to be transparent with God.  He knows it all anyway, don’t try to hide from God or hide things from God.  He knows about it anyway, so you might as well tell Him and get it over with, and keep a pure heart.  That’s tough sometimes.  People do and say things that upset or offend us and we have a hard time forgiving them, sometimes we become bitter.  We become prideful in our appearance or with how good we are at things.  People do things intentionally to hurt us and we become angry.  We think bad things about other people, and worse, sometimes we SAY bad things about other people.  As pure as we try to be, our hearts are wicked. 

I think that as a Christian, sometimes it’s really easy to “look the right way” “say the right things” and “do the right things” so that we look like the perfect person outwardly to people.  I’ve known many people over the years who outwardly look like they are the model Christian, and inwardly, they are bitter, angry, filled with hate, pride, unforgiveness, wicked thoughts, and the list goes on. 

Sin is sin in God’s eyes, there are no sins that are “better” or “worse” in His eyes.  When I tell a lie to someone, my sin is no better to God than a person who committed murder.  Sin is sin, but I firmly believe that inward sins are more dangerous to us as Christians than outward sins. Inward sins can be “hidden” for many MANY years, people can take ugly inward sins with them to their grave and no one will ever know about them.  Harboring inward sins can cause us to take our focus off of God, they can harbor for years, they can cause us not to serve God the way we should.   I constantly try to search my heart to make sure that I’m not holding grudges, not being unforgiving, not being unkind, not being prideful, and keeping my thoughts pure.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. 

I would much rather have a pure heart and a close relationship with God, only read my Bible 4 days a week and be criticized for not doing things that other people think the “perfect Christian” should do than be someone who falls into the trap of doing all the right “motions” and has bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness in their heart.

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the Heart.”

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10 years ago, I was in college and my boyfriend was they guy that every girl dreams of marrying.  He was good looking, talented, had a great voice, and was one of the most amazing piano players I’ve ever heard.  He had a passion for God and a love for the things of God.  I just knew that we would get married. 

One day, my roomate mentioned something to me that I had never thought of before.  She said that it’s not God’s plan for everyone to get married.  For some people, God’s plan for them is to not get married, and that she struggled with this area in her life and she finally gave it up and told God that if He didn’t want her to get married, then she was OK with that. 

As she was telling me this, I was thinking, “wow, that’s great for you.” but I just “knew” that God’s plan for me was to get married.  Inwardly, I struggled with this for many weeks.  I knew that God wanted me to surrender this area of my life to Him, but NOT getting married?  Was I really ready to tell God that I would be OK with it if it’s what He wanted?  I wanted to be a mom, a wife, have a beautiful family.  But most importantly, I realized that I wanted what God wanted for me.

After struggling with this inwardly for weeks, we were at a church service and I knew that it was time, I had to give up this area in my life and give it completely over to God.  At the end of the service, with the man I dreamed of marrying next to me, I sat down while the Pastor was praying and started talking to God.  “God” I said “if it’s not your plan for me to get married, I’m OK with that, I want your will for me.”  I was crying, and it was the hardest prayer I have ever prayed.

From that point on, I knew that it was in God’s hands, I wasn’t on the lookout for someone to marry.  I was more concerned with what God wanted for me than with marriage.  Singleness is a gift, right?  So I embraced that gift and started my journey.

Many days, months and years passed, I met another man who seemed to be every girl’s dream.  This one was incredibly fantastic.  He took me to operas, we went on trips, he loved music, had given his life to God and we began making plans to get married. 

Shortly after we were engaged, he changed.  His temper flaired up regularly, he became abusive, and I didn’t know what had happened.  He broke things, he swore, he spent all of my money, he stopped going to church and wouldn’t let me go to church.  Shortly after that, he became sexually abusive, and in a few months, I found out that we would be having a baby.  He began telling me that he wanted to kill me, and I couldn’t take it anymore.  I never once doubted God.  God wasn’t the reason for the abuse, and my faith is what helped me through many dark days while I was in this relationship and after I called off the wedding.

It’s been almost 3 years since our relationship ended, and God has done a miracle in my heart.  He’s healed my mind and emotions, He’s brought me so much joy and laughter, I love being Grace’s mom, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. 

Several people have asked me things like “Does Grace meet the guys you date?” or “Who are you dating?” or “When are you going to start dating again.”  My answer to them has always been “I’m focused on being Grace’s mom right now, I’m not worried about dating.”  While my answer was partially true, it was also a cover up.  For awhile, I told myself that I’d never get married, then last year, I decided that I could see myself getting married “some day” but not anytime soon.

I don’t think about marriage very often, but in the last few weeks, God has been working in my heart, and I realized that I need to give up this area in my life and let God be in control.  Several times, the thought came into my mind “you need to let go and let God take control”  and I kept pushing the thought to the back of my mind or coming up with excuses like “Yea, but what if He sends me someone who’s a total geek?”   “I don’t want to go through all that again”  “I don’t want Grace to get hurt.” so, I refused to pray about it. 

Finally, I gave in just 2 days ago.  “God” I prayed, “if it’s your plan for me to get married, I’m OK with it, I just want your will for me and Grace.”  It was the second hardest prayer I’ve ever prayed.  I went to bed and I remembered the prayer I had prayed 10 years ago….It’s funny that in those days, I struggled with the possibility of not getting married and now I’m struggling with the possibility of getting married…and I am amazed at the work that God has done in my heart.

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This morning, I woke up and my eyes were VERY tired.  By noon, it was a full fledged headache.  After Grace and I had lunch, we laid down for a nap so I could get rid of this headache before teaching piano lessons this evening. 

When I woke up, I felt a lot better, and I thought back to just a few months ago when I would have a bad headache at work, push myself through the day, and still have 2 hours of piano lessons and Grace to take care of when I got home. 

I said a prayer to thank God for His blessing in my life to allow me to stay home with Grace the majority of the day, and just have to leave for a few hours each day to teach piano lessons.  I am very grateful that I was able to take a nap today and sleep off my headache instead of pushing myself like I used to have to do.  I thanked God for giving me the strength to make it through each very long day that I’ve had for the last 2  1/2 years while working on this goal of being a full time mom and piano teacher. 

So even though I don’t like to have headaches, today I am thankful that I was able to take a nap to get rid of it instead of making myself more sick by pushing myself to do things on my “to do” list and not resting like body is telling me to do.

I don’t like to take medicine if I don’t have to, so here are a few things I do to get rid of headaches:

  • Soak in a hot bubble bath
  • Drink coffee (I only drink coffee once or twice a year, so when I have a headache, it’s pretty effective for me.)
  • Get Fresh Air
  • Go to the Chiropractor
  • Get a massage (if it’s REALLY bad, and I have the money for it.)
  • Go to sleep early
  • Take a nap
  • Use an ice pack
  • Heat up an aroma therapy bag
  • Cut cold cuccumber circles and put them on your eyes to help them relax

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I Thes 5:18

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I love technology.  I love being able to solve a crisis while standing in line at the grocery store.  I love staying in touch with friends via email, facebook, IM, etc.  The internet has done so many amazing things for us.  ebay, blogging, social networks…….who would have thought 10 years ago that we’d be able to connect with people all over the world via the internet.  It’s amazing to me where technology has taken us.  But there are days…….

There are days when I get tired of my phone ringing constantly.  There are days when I get tired of answering emails.  There are days that I turn my phone off, or only answer the calls that I want to answer.  There are days that I wish I could spend the week at an Amish farm so I can get away from it all. 

 Then I remember that I’m not a morning person.  The thought of waking up with the sun makes me feel like I could use a nap and the thought of only taking a bath once a week grosses me out.  Plus the Amish family I end up staying with would be scared when they see me all week with no make up and my hair would be out of control since I wouldn’t be able to use my straightener……..But the thought of some peace an quiet for a week is tempting…….and I would like to try some shoo fly pie.

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Notice that most of my recipes are EASY?  That’s because I like to eat things that are good, but that don’t take a lot of time to prepare.  Yesterday, I made chicken salad wraps for lunch, they are delicious.

You will need:

1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken breast
1-2 Medium size apples
1 cup of chopped grapes
3/4 cup of chopped celery
Mayonnaise (no certain amount, just whatever your preference is.)
Flour taco tortillas

Bake the chicken breast (I bake it on 350 for about 30 minutes or until it’s not pink anymore)  I sprinkle Red Robin Seasoning on my chicken before I bake it…….it adds a little bit of extra taste to the mixture.

While the chicken is baking, chop up your apples (you can leave the peel on) celery and grapes and mix them in a large bowl with about 1cup of mayonnaise.  When your chicken is done, let it sit a little while so it’s not too hot when you’re cutting it up.  Chop the chicken up and mix it all together.  Let it chill in the fridge and then serve on tortillas.

You can also make this as a pasta salad by adding cooked and drained penne regatta noodles and more mayonnaise.  When I make it this way, I usually add another apple and another 3/4 cup of chopped grapes, I also use some celery seed (as much as you like to add flavor.)

Either way, it’s very good.  It just depends on if you want wraps or a pasta salad.

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