Friday, June 21, 2024

A Midweek Walk

            Murray and I have been able to walk four days most weeks at our high school track. But with our schedule this week, and the school being closed for Juneteenth, the only way we could do four this week was to walk outside Wednesday.

 

We usually walk 50 minutes, but, Murray said, with the sidewalks being rougher, he’d set his timer for 20 minutes, then we could turn around and come back.

 

I always use my right hand to hang on to Murray. I was walking next to the street, and I told him the man’s supposed to walk on the outside to keep the woman safe. I said that at least on the way home, he’d be on the outside. He said, “No, I’m going to cross to the other side of the street.”

 

We passed a high school, a car repair place, martial arts, an ice cream shop, dentist offices, family practice, lawyer’s, tattoo parlor. And a spot like those for “help yourself” to a free book, but this one had boxes and cans of food to pick up.

 

Then we passed a diner. “Want to stop?” Murray asked. I wasn’t sure. We walked a few more minutes, and I said, “Were you serious about going to the diner?” “I’m willing,” Murray said, and I said, “I’m willing,” so we turned around.

 

Lovely breakfast food. Murray said we better not walk on the street anymore. Too tempting. I said when we’re in our 70s, if it gets to the point where he can’t drive anymore, we could walk a lot and stop at diners. And ice cream shops.

 

And when we can’t walk so far anymore, we can use Uber Eats.

 

Just planning for our future.

 

Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Chihuahua Casserole, From Kathy's Kitchen

I made this again recently after I don’t know how long. Originally, over 30 years ago, we had a church potluck where we had to present a Spanish or Mexican-named dish. We took this simple, yummy taco casserole and gave it an appropriate name.

 

Brown one to two pounds ground beef with chopped onion.  Drain.  Add taco seasoning and jar of salsa.

 

Spread into greased baking dish layers of crushed tortilla chips, meat mixture, and shredded cheese. 

 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted.

 

Our daughter Sarah suggested adding sour cream and salsa on top. I’ll definitely make this again. 

Friday, June 7, 2024

The Jesus We Need to Know

I read about a book recently, about people who were raised in evangelical Christian homes who are leaving the church. It talked about how they disagreed with politics of some Christians and how they were turned away because Christians seemed to be saying those they loved, and they themselves, would go to hell.

 

As a mom, I longed to teach my kids when they were growing up how much Jesus loved them. But now, I wonder if that was the biggest thing I taught them.

 

In my own behavior, in what I said about other people, did I overwhelm them with Jesus’ love? Have I focused on teaching them, and anyone else I talk to about my faith, the way God is heartbroken to spend eternity with us? Or did I emphasize wrath and condemnation.

 

I’ve been studying the book of John about God’s grace and truth.

 

John 1: 14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

But, which do I focus on most? God’s grace or his truth.

 

I believe, in God’s love for us, the bible does say clear things about right and wrong. I also believe the bible teaches about a literal heaven and hell.

 

But what is it that those who know about my faith hear from me most? How do I try to lead them to God? Is it through fear and strict teaching about morals, or is it to rain on them the truth of God’s love?

 

I know the answer, because I know myself.

 

I do have a faith in God, but it’s often so weak.

 

Mark 9: 23-24: “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

I thank God that he included this verse in the Bible, to show it’s okay to beg for help with our weak faith.

 

I love studying the bible, and often many verses do give me comfort.

 

But I confess, most often, in my daily life, I cannot claim a real belief that God could love me, that he could forgive me. The Bible passages that sink deepest into my heart are about God’s wrath. If that’s true, how can I share his love with others?

 

So I want to start a new study. One of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey, has written a book called The Jesus I Never Knew. It’s been a long time since I read this, and I want to read it again, but the title gave me the idea for this new study: The Jesus we need to know. The Jesus I, my family, so many hurting people, need to know. I am excited about this journey. I pray that God will lead me to what I need to know and help me share it. I’ll finish with one passage that gives me great comfort.

 

Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Blueberry Scones From Kathy's Kitchen

This deliciousness showed up in my inbox from American Christian Fiction Writers.

 

These blueberry scones are deliciously moist and easy to make with juicy blueberries in every bite.

Submitted by Linda Letellier

 Tested by Allrecipes Test Kitchen

Prep Time:

15 mins

Cook Time:

20 mins

Total Time:

35 mins

Servings:

12

Yield:

12 scones

Ingredients

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup packed brown sugar

• 1 tablespoon baking powder

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

• 1 cup fresh blueberries

• ¾ cup half-and-half cream

• 1 large egg

Directions

1. Gather all ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in cold butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add blueberries and toss to combine.

3. Whisk cream and egg together in a separate bowl until well combined; slowly pour into dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until a dough starts to form.

4. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together, 3 or 4 times; don't overwork the dough. Divide dough in half, then form each half into a 6-inch round.

5. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet and cut each round into 6 wedges.

6. Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts

calories160

total fat 6g 

saturated fat 4g 

cholesterol 31mg 

sodium 211mg 

total carbohydrate 23g 

dietary fiber 1g 

total sugars 6g 

protein 3g 

vitamin c 1mg 

calcium 95mg 

iron 1mg 

potassium 64mg

 

These did happen in Kathy’s kitchen, and they were delicious. Because I pay attention to what my husband says—“Recipes are merely a suggestion”—I made it again with a variation. I used blackberries and baked it in a 9-inch square pan as a kind of cake. Not bad. With a little more liquid—another egg? A little more cream?—I expect to be quite happy with it. Enjoy. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

You of Great Faith (Rerun)

This was originally posted on my blog in April 2016.

 

Matthew 14:25-31: Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

 

This is one of my favorite stories about Peter. It makes me a little sad, though, because Jesus seems disappointed with Peter when he becomes afraid. But when I thought about it more, I realized that isn’t the main point. The most exciting issue is that Jesus expected Peter to have great faith.

 

The first thing Jesus said to Peter when he said he wanted to walk to him on the lake was, “Come.” Jesus believes we can have that kind of faith.

 

When the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8 shows his trust that Jesus can heal his servant without coming to his house, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Verse 10

 

When the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 showed her bravery and belief that Jesus would accept her, he said, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” Verse 28

 

He doesn’t expect more of us than we are able.

 

Matthew 17: 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

Sometimes in dark moments, I’ve felt I was only holding on to God with my thumbnails. But that was enough. Truly, it was not my strength that kept me holding on. God held me securely in his hands. John 10:28-30

 

God will help our faith increase, and he will do great things. Mark 9:23-34 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Grace and Truth, What Were They Thinking? John 18:28-40

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

 

What were the Jews thinking? They wanted to keep themselves ceremonially clean so they could eat during the Passover. They wanted to kill Jesus, and they were willing to let a violent criminal go free instead of Jesus.

 

What was Pilate thinking? He did not know what to think about Jesus, or what to do with him. Although Pilate was not known as a kind or just man, even he could find nothing against Jesus and offered to set him free.

 

What was Jesus thinking? Jesus said very little when he was questioned earlier by the Jewish leaders, but he had a conversation with Pilate. He admitted that he was a king and spoke of truth. I wonder if he was trying to lead Pilate to salvation. I believe that’s possible.

 

Jesus, let me listen to your truth. Thank you for wanting to draw me near to you. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Some Good Recent Reads

A dangerous legacy by Elizabeth Camden, delightful and scary adventure, above and underground, New York City, 1903.

 

Unspoken by Dee Henderson. I recently reread another story by one of my favorite authors. A fascinating, heart-grabbing story that includes likeable well-developed characters and a detailed look into the scandalous grace of Jesus.

 

Always remember your name: a true story of family and survival in Auschwitz by Andra Bucci,; Tatiana Bucci,; Umberto Gentiloni Silveri; Ann Goldstein. A story of two women, sisters, who, as young children, survived this famous death camp.

 

Just like us: the true story of four Mexican girls coming of age in America by Helen Thorpe. Four girls from the same background, living in similar communities, friends at school. Shows the difference in opportunities for them depending on their status as citizens, residents, or not legal.

 

American whitelash: a changing nation and the cost of progress by Wesley Lowery. On the day Barack Obama was elected president, there was hope for racial change. But the change that has happened since then has been horrific. Lowery discussed personal stories of violence since 2008. He says he does not claim to be encyclopedic or comprehensive, but, he gives history from the 1600s to the 2020s of opposition and violence in America because of racial, immigration, religious and other differences.

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; I probably first read this book in high school. It was published in 1967. It is one of my favorite books. I read it again recently, and I asked Sarah if she’d ever read it. She said she thought so, but “I think it was upsetting.” It is surely upsetting, but it touches me still. The copy I read recently was an audio book, and S.E. Hinton spoke before the book was read. She said she wrote it when she was sixteen, partly because she couldn’t find other books that talked about the reality of being a teenager. 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Psalm 20, A Prayer to share with and for Others

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

 Now this I know:

    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.

He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

Lord, give victory to the king!

    Answer us when we call!

 

This is a lovely prayer we can offer for others in hard times, in scary times, and in times of hope and anticipation. We can join with others and offer this prayer to glorify God, to trust him and call to him and boldly ask for his help. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

Road Trips are Always a Lot of Fun

We didn’t think this trip was going to be that much fun last week when we headed toward Nebraska. We started off at 3:00 a.m., thinking we’d get to Omaha early in the evening. With car trouble from our rental car, it took us nine hours to get out of Ohio, when it usually takes three. We got to the hotel at 10:30 in the evening. A long first day.

 

Things definitely got better. We spent a great weekend with Rebecca and Steve. A lot of friendly sparring between those two. Steve wanted to tell Rebecca the proper way of cutting onions, different from how she was doing. She turned around and started reminding him who was in charge.

 

Steve showed his love for Rebecca though when we taught him how to play spades. Rebecca bid nil. Those of you who know spades will know that meant Rebecca did not want to take any tricks that round. Unfortunately, I played a low spade, and the only spade Rebecca had was higher than mine. She was not happy with me.

 

After a minute, Steve said, “I don’t ever want to hear anything from you again,” and he played an ace of spades.

 

The next day we taught my mom how to play spades. Murray won, of course—I never expect to beat him—but I was proud that Mom won second place.

 

What was Ping-Hwei’s favorite part of the trip? We went with Steve and Rebecca to have lunch at Olive Garden. Ping-Hwei dropped his phone through a crack between the seat of the bench and the frame.

 

Rebecca tried crawling under the table, but couldn’t get it out. Our server tried, then went and brought two more people to help. Finally the manager said, “I’m a big guy, so give me room.” He crawled under the table and figured out just how to lift the bench to get it out. A few minutes later, the server came back, looked at Ping-Hwei and said, “You let him sit there again?”

For the rest of the trip, Ping-Hwei kept asking us to tell people that story.

 

Besides spades, we had a good visit with Mom. While we were eating lunch in the activity room, maybe the loudest fire alarm I’ve ever heard went off. A nurse came in and told us it was a drill they did once a year, and they had to do 100 percent evacuation. As we stood outside, Mom told me that I could add this to our adventure, that we had to go outside for a fire drill and stand in the rain.

 

While Mom and I waited for Murray and Ping-Hwei to go buy lunch, Murray called me and said, “Your Big Dummy is here.” That’s Ping-Hwei’s nickname for my brother Rodney, and they’d run into him in the grocery store. Always such a joy to see my mom and Rodney.

 

One evening we stopped by Murray’s brother Myles’s house to have dessert with his family. They have chickens.

 

This winter, one of their young roosters was frostbitten, and his foot fell off. They have him in a cage on the sun porch while he heals. He was so excited we were there visiting and greeted us again and again. I asked Myles, “Does he wake you early in the morning?” He said, “Oh yeah.”

 

On our trip home, we stopped to have breakfast with Murray’s aunt Vangie. She’ll be 90 in a week or so, lives alone in the same house her husband built for them in 1960, and she still drives.

 

Murray asked how her husband knew how to build a house, and she said, “He was really smart.”

 

We took bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, and she also made a cheesecake. We said we’d never had cheesecake for breakfast before, but we were willing.

 

As we drove through Indiana on the way home, Ping-Hwei saw a White Castle along the road, so he bought us lunch. Especially nice, since we don’t have a White Castle nearby anymore.

 

Murray and I listened to a Jeffery Deaver book and started a new one by John Grisham. I read 12 chapters of 1 Samuel for us in the car. Rebecca helped me make a cheeseball from Mom’s recipe for Mom’s birthday. It was a fun road trip. 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hope For Hypocrites

Our church is studying hard questions friends may ask about the church and our faith. This week we talked about how people say they don’t want to go to church because there are so many hypocrites there. The first thing I thought was, yes, there are hypocrites in the church. I am one.

 

Josh, the teacher who spoke this week, reached out to people who have had trouble from someone in the church in their lives, and to veterans in the church, those who need to make sure we are showing people the truth of Jesus.

 

Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

These are some of my favorite verses, and I believe they can help both people who have been harmed by hypocrisy in the church, as well as veterans in the church, those of us Christians who know we are not perfect.

 

Matthew 23:13,15: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”

 

Josh said that it is not okay with Jesus when people in the church keep others from getting close to him. It hurts Jesus. It makes him mad.

 

Christians are often accused of judging others’ actions, while not being truthful to god’s ways themselves. I know I do this, but that is not what Jesus wants to do. He loves you and calls you to let him walk beside you and help. Matthew 11:28-30.

 

For those of us who are long-time Christians who are caught by sin, Josh said it may not be because we are evil people. We love God and want to obey him. But, for many reasons in our lives, we are hungry. There’s something we need that we can’t find, and Jesus wants to fill that need in us. He loves us. He offers to help us from the inside out. Jesus saves us, but our walk with him is a process. He offers to walk with us on a daily basis, giving us what we seek hungrily, changing us from the inside out.

 

Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

This does not happen the moment we become Christians. It is a process. Jesus loves us and wants to help us. As we are healed, we can more easily help others to be healed. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Grace and Truth: John 18:15-27: My Heart Breaks for Peter; Jesus speaks up for Himself

Peter was confident he would not deny Jesus, but Jesus knew he would.

 

Verse 17: “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

Verses 25-27: Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

 

Matthew tells us of Peter’s terrible regret.

 

Matthew 26: 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

 

Peter was confident, opinionated, and forceful in the way he spoke to Jesus. But he also recognized his errors and repented with heartfelt humility and sorrow.

 

Jesus spoke up for himself when questioned by the high priest.

 

John 18:19-23: Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

 

Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, and called us to be meek. Later, Jesus would not defend himself before Pilate, and he allowed himself to be beaten and put to death. But here, he took an opportunity to speak up for himself and point out the wrong they did to him.

 

More than once, the apostle Paul stood up for himself when he was treated wrongly.

 

Father, give me the wisdom to know when it’s right for me to oppose someone who wrongs me, and when it’s best to keep silent. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Lady I Look Forward to Meeting

I shared this post on author Emily Conrad’s blog back in April 2019. Learn more about Emily at https://www.emilyconradauthor.com/about/

 

The woman at the well from John chapter 4. I don’t just want to meet this lady. I want to sit down and have a conversation with her.

According to verse 39, she convinced many in the town to come out and meet Jesus. How did she do that? What made her want to?

I’ve heard lessons on this passage many times. Did she come to the well when no one else was around? Was her reputation that bad?

She seemed to come up with a question or an argument for everything Jesus said. Was that to avoid talking about her own sin?

She was a talkative lady. Jesus asked if she’d give him a drink of water.

Verses 9-11: So the Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you – a Jew – ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water to drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said to him, “you have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do you get this living water? (NET)

When Jesus offered her living water, she wanted to know how he’d get it, since he had nothing to draw water out with. She challenged him, asking if he thought he was greater than their father Jacob.

But she was willing to play his game. If he could give her enough water so she’d never have to come back to the well, she was willing.

Then Jesus started to dig deep into the woman’s own life.

Verses 16-18: He said to her, “Go call your husband and come back here.” The woman replied, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “Right you are when you said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband. This you said truthfully!”(NET)

No, she didn’t want to talk about that. She turned it into a theological discussion.

Verses 19-20: The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” (NET)

Verses 25-26: The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ); “whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.” (NET)

One thing I’ve heard taught about this woman sticks sharpest in my mind. She left her water jar and went back to town. The reason she’d come out in the first place. Something changed her.

We know Jesus was tired. But something he did, something in the way he related to this woman gave her a new purpose.

Was it a kindness like she’d never seen before? Did she recognize that here was someone who cared for her more than she ever dreamed possible?

When Jesus told her he was the Messiah, she believed him, and she wanted to bring everyone she knew to meet him.

Father, open my eyes wider. Help me understand your love so much more clearly, and grasp it so close, that I forget about whatever else I want to do and run to share it with everyone I can. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Joy of Easter--God did not Want to be Separated From Us

What is the joy of Easter? God did not want to be separated from us.

 

Matthew 27:50-51a: And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

 

Max Lucado, in his Book Unshakeable Hope, says that the curtain which separated people from the Most Holy Place in the temple was a handbreadth in thickness. When Jesus died, this wall was torn from top to bottom. God tore it away, so there need no longer be a separation between him and us.

 

Jesus offers us that assurance if we follow him. And he promises that still now, he is tearing down any separation between us and God.

 

Hebrews 7:25: Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

 

1 John 2:1-2: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

Romans 8: 34,38-39:  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 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.

 

Oh, what joy! Thank you, Lord. 

Friday, March 22, 2024

Speaking of Books

I enjoy reading a variety of books. I hope you find something interesting here.

 

Dangerous depths by Colleen Coble. Mystery and suspense, romance, struggle with the will of God, and a rich description of the scenery, culture and history of Hawaii.

 

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck. A beautiful story, knitting a family together over more than sixty years, through mistakes and wounds and sorrows, through healing, forgiveness, and answered prayer.

 

To the Ends of the Earth by T. Davis Bunn. A story in the 300s AD within the Roman Empire and the early church. Intrigue and danger, courage and love.

 

The only plane in the sky: an oral history of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff. Minute by minute description of the day through conversations from the planes, communication throughout FAA, interviews with military, medical responders, police, fire fighters, survivors, family members, observers, government staff, calls from people on the planes and in the upper floors of the buildings, descriptions of escapes. This is a long book, and it was often emotionally difficult for me. But I’m glad I read it. It’s important to me to be knowledgeable about this part of our history.

 

Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar. Again from the time of the early church. A beautiful story of grace, family, and realizing the value God puts on each of us.

 

And speaking of books…

My book, Millie's Christmas, has now been made into an audible book by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. Anyone who is a member of this service can now order or download Millie’s Christmas. The number to order is DBC29172. I am so excited. It is a children’s book, but I believe adults of any age can enjoy it. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Kathy McKinsey: Birthday Chili and Easter Cookies From Kathy's Kit...

Kathy McKinsey: Birthday Chili and Easter Cookies From Kathy's Kit...: https://www.incourage.me/blog   I get daily devotions from this site, and sometimes, delicious recipes. For my birthday, I made this chi...

Birthday Chili and Easter Cookies From Kathy's Kitchen

https://www.incourage.me/blog

 

I get daily devotions from this site, and sometimes, delicious recipes. For my birthday, I made this chili. Yummy

 

Secret Ingredient Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 2 (15-oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

• 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

• 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce

• 3 Tbsp. chili powder

• 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin

• 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 2 cloves minced garlic

• Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. In a large saucepan, cook the ground beef and chopped onion over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink; drain the fat.

2. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, unsweetened cocoa powder, minced garlic, and salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4.  Top the chili with any or all of the following: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onion.

NOTE: For a spicier chili, use a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilies instead of regular diced tomatoes.

 

I plan to make these cookies for Easter lunch, so I can’t tell you yet how they are. But I expect to be delighted.

 

Easter Egg Blondies

A new season is on the way, flowers are starting to make an appearance, and celebrating Jesus’s resurrection puts us in the mood for anything that looks like joy. And nothing in the oven looks more like joy than pastel egg-shaped chocolate in a blondie!

Prep Time: 15 min

Bake Time: 30 min

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 cup butter, melted

• 3/4 cup packed light

• brown sugar

• 1 large egg

• 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1 (9-oz.) pkg. Cadbury Mini Eggs, divided (chop 1 cup of the mini eggs to stir in the batter and keep the rest, almost 1/2 cup, unchopped to use for scattering on top)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8 x 8” baking pan or line with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large or medium-sized bowl, add the melted butter and brown sugar, blending well. Then add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing everything well. Next, add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until all ingredients are combined.

3. Fold in the 1 cup of chopped mini eggs, mixing until evenly distributed in batter. Add batter, spreading evenly, into prepared baking pan.

4. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes, then remove from oven briefly to scatter and slightly press the remaining mini eggs on top; bake 10 more minutes, until edges are golden and center is set (a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean).

5. Cool completely in pan, then cut into squares.

Note: An easy way to “chop” the mini eggs is to put them in a zip-top bag and crush them into chunky pieces with a rolling pin. 

Friday, March 8, 2024

March Madness

I found this the other day while trying to organize some of the files on my computer, and I don’t think I ever posted it.

 

I became a Christian when I was seventeen. I know people who made that decision at even an earlier age. Our time of needing to ask God for even greater forgiveness still lay in the future.

 

1 John 2:1-2:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

1 Samuel 16:12-13:

So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

 

Psalm 51: 1-4,10-13: 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

 

The Holy Spirit came to David when he was very young. Still he sinned before God after that. He prayed for God’s forgiveness and cleansing. With boldness he asked God to restore the joy of salvation to him. He knew that that would cause him to share God’s love with others.

 

Psalm 139: 1-4,15-17:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

 

Before we were born, God knew every day of our lives. Even the sinful ones. He knows everything we say and everything we do. Yet, he loves us still. And Jesus sits beside God even now to ask his father to forgive us. 

Friday, March 1, 2024

Psalm 19, A Writer's Prayer

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

 

Father, thank you for the loveliness of this song. The worship and commitment to your word. Teach me to have David’s plea to be right before you.

 

And thank you, Father, that the last verse of this psalm is a perfect prayer for me as a writer:

Verse 14: May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Birthday Cake From Kathy's Kitchen

Today is my birthday; I’m 63. It’s also the third birthday for my book Gifts of Grace.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Grace-Kathy-McKinsey/dp/1649171196

 

I decided to bake my favorite cake today, that Mom baked for us when I was growing up. But I must confess, I’m going to double the recipe and bake it in a 9 by 13 inch pan. Yummy.

 

brown velvet cake

 

1- 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 egg

4 tbsp baking coco

2 tbsp melted butter or margarine

1 tsp vanilla

 

directions

 

mix baking soda, flour, and salt

 

in second bowl dissolve sugar in milk

 

add egg, coco, butter,  vanilla,

and flour mixture.  Add 1 ingredient at  a time, the flour mixture one third at a time.  Beat after each

addition.

 

grease an 8 inch square cake pan

 

pour in mixture

 

bake for 35 min at 350 degrees. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Guest Author, Jennifer Slattery

 

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your thoughts and your new book with us.

 

Have you ever felt invisible? Wondered if anyone would notice, should you stop doing whatever it is you're doing, day in and day out?

When our daughter was younger, I often wondered what would happen if I didn't make the bed–after all, it'd only get messed up again. Or what if I left the laundry and dishes untouched.

There were times, many, when the tedium of the day wore me down and left me feeling ... insignificant.

They say integrity is doing what you know is right when no one is watching.

Except, Someone is always watching, right? Psalm 139 tells us God is attentive to our every move. He knows every detail of our lives and every thought that flits through our brain. More than that, He takes great delight in us.

Psalm 37:23 says, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord upholds them by the hand" (NLT, emphasis mine*).

Pause to consider that verse for a moment. The Lord delights in every detail of our lives--when we're doing something grand and exciting and when we're folding towels for the umpteenth time. Perhaps because He knows our character, that part of us He's continually molding, is grown in the big and the small.

I don't know about you, but I want to be a person of integrity.

I want to be known for my character and obedience. I want God to look down on me, when I'm elbow deep in dishwater, and smile, and I want to do it all–everything--for Him and His glory.

For obedience sake.