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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1cup butter, softened (or margarine, I guess, but yuck)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 2/3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats (I used some of both)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa (sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (this is optional – you could use white chocolate chips, or dried cranberries or cherries – yum!)

Directions:

Hear the oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar, butter, milk, and egg in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon. (I used my KitchenAid mixer for this part, but later, when adding dry ingredients, the dough will be too think and you’ll need to finish mixing with a spoon).

Stir in remaining ingredients, except nuts. Add nuts last.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool 1-2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Chocolate oatmeal cookie & my favorite tea

I made 33 cookies with this recipe but of course, it all depends on how large you make them. I shared with my kids because this quarantine thing is making me miss them like crazy. Handing them a package of cookies and not getting a hug was hard but seeing them smile was good enough. For now.

Stay home. Stay safe. Be kind to grocery store employees.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (bulk or with casings removed)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 oz. fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and hot pepper flakes; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and sauté until paste turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes with juice, stock, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Add pasta, increase heat to medium-high and boil until tender to the bite, about 8 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in basil and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and black pepper.

4. Divide ricotta cheese mixture evenly among heated bowls. Sprinkle with mozzarella and top with soup. Serves 6.


My comments: this recipe comes from a former co-worker who made it every year for our company Soup Day. Absolutely delicious. But, for me, this recipe serves only as a guide. For instance, when I made this soup today, I only had one pound of medium spice pork sausage, rotini pasta, and no fresh basil or ricotta cheese. Still delicious. Don’t let the specifics of a recipe keep you from some experimentation. Within reason, of course. Substituting different non- Italian spices will change the whole complexion of the intended lasagna flavor. But have fun – cooking shouldn’t be a drudgery.

Crazy Times

Unless you’ve lived on a deserted island for the last six months, your life has been impacted by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus currently sweeping over our world. This is no place to put statistics—mostly because they change every moment—but by now, you probably know of someone who has tested positive for the virus. Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, politicians, missionaries, doctors —no one is immune. It gives no distinction for race or gender, age or ethnicity, economic status or occupation. We are at war with a silent, but deadly enemy, and right now, it’s winning.

Our schools are closed, our favorite restaurants unable to host diners, our churches attempting online services. We are learning new terminology every day. Pandemic. Self-isolation. Self-quarantine. Social distancing. Community spread. Shelter in place. PPE. The more fragile members of our society are most susceptible so we’ve given them special times to shop when they would be less exposed. Online shopping is flourishing as we choose to stay at home to minimize the risk. The world is nothing like we’ve ever seen it before.

So, what do I do?

I pray. I follow the guidelines set in place by my local, state, and national officials. I keep the TV off most of the time. I post encouragement on social media sites. I check in with my kids, my extended family, and my friends at work and church.

And sometimes I’m afraid. But not for long.

Fear is a liar. Fear spreads faster than any virus, and infects anyone who entertains it. If fed, fear will lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. And I will not invite those three ugly emotions into my house.

In the darkness of the night, after my usual bathroom trip, I sometimes lie awake while sleep alludes me. It’s then that I am most vulnerable to fear. It’s then that I must rely on the power of the Word of God I’ve spent my whole life studying. One night last week I was gripped by worry – about my kids (who work in the grocery industry), about my co-worker (who was in Scotland on vacation), about our church friends who are older and sometimes don’t listen when told to stay home. So I started praying, asking God to overcome the fear with His Word. I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Or Psalm 27:1- The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

I posted about it that night

What will tonight look like? I don’t know. What will tomorrow look like? Unknown.

I may not know the future, but I know Who holds my future. I’ll trust in the One who doesn’t need to worry about social distancing. My heavenly Father holds me close – and He’ll hold you too. Trust in Him. Follow all the guidelines. Be a kind person. Wash your hands. But ultimately, our destiny lies with God. And I’m good with that.

 

 

Read Beth Moore’s Instagram post on Jesus, our true Light. I can’t possibly improve on her words. Not even going to try. Read this. Please.

John 14 verse 6 gives us three more names for Jesus.

Read this verse emphasizing the word THE. It is singular – there is no other way, no other truth, no other life, apart from Jesus. For those of us who believe all the red words in the Bible, you can spin it no other direction. How can we access God? Jesus. What is truth? Jesus. What does this life mean? Jesus.

Our Mediator

Another name used to describe Jesus – our Mediator. It’s a legal term mentioned in Hebrews 12:24 – Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant.

A mediator is a go-between, the person who interposes between parties in order to bring reconciliation. One way to reconcile is to restore a friendship. What a wonderful perspective of Jesus and what He did for us. He is the One who bridges the gap between heaven and earth, between a Holy God and those of us who are unclean with sin. Instead of temporary animal sacrifices, Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice – Himself – once and for all. He has reconciled the broken relationship and restored us back to God.

Hebrews 12:24

Son of God

One of Jesus’ more well known names was first revealed in Mark chapter 3 when “Son of God!” was shouted by unclean spirits as He cast them out of people. My takeaway? Even the demons recognize the power & authority of Jesus, why do we even question?

As we prepare our hearts in this Lenten season, contemplate the power available to you through the mighty name of Jesus.

Anointed One

Other years I’ve blogged through the days of Lent. This year it’s time for something different. Though I love writing, I also enjoy taking photographs, so this year, I’ll be posting pictures of my interpretation of the many names of Jesus

Christ, from Christos, meaning “Anointed One”

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. Some choose to abstain from food, some decide to stop a certain behavior or habit. One year I have fasted coffee. It was ugly.

But Lent isn’t about food, or fasting, or ashes. It’s all about preparing our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice – Jesus. The Christ. The Anointed One.

Matthew 16:16 – You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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Birthday cake to share with my Troy Mills JAM friends. And I wore the right color sweater!

Today’s the day. I made it. Born on this day in 1960, today I turn 60. Quite a milestone, actually, and one I do not take lightly. Thank you for reaching out to me through social media, texts, cards, in-person visits, and phone calls. I am blessed to have an amazing family and many wonderful friends, near and far. I’ve heard “Happy Birthday” from places like Istanbul, Brazil, and South Africa, as well as states coast to coast. I’ve received beautiful cards with heartfelt sentiments, flowers, coffee, cake, and time spent with family and friends. Those are my birthday presents.

But my goal today is to have birthday presence. To listen, to observe, to acknowledge those in my circle of influence; to be present wherever I am. Life is short. I don’t have time to mess around anymore. I’ve got to be about the important work God has given me to do…and I can’t do it if I’m not present. I can’t stayed mired in regrets, disappointment, and unforgiveness based in the past. My eyes are fixed forward.

I may not be in Istanbul with my sister, but I want to be present with her, listening to her stories, encouraging her in her adventures. I want to give her my presence (even when I can’t be physically present). I want to learn and grow through the expertise and stories of my co-workers, I want to be encouraged by the acts of kindness I witness on my daily walks, or in the grocery store line, or through a Facebook post. I want to share stories of triumph and victory, as well as mistakes and failures.

It sounds a bit arrogant but I want to give my presence to my youth group, the next generation of leaders, teachers, scientists, writers, pastors, artists, mothers, fathers. I don’t mean I’m the greatest person ever – but I know these students need someone outside of their family dedicated to loving them, listening to them….

I want to be a better aunt, sister, mom, wife…and I think if I commit to being present wherever I am, that’ll be a good start. May mean putting the phone and remote down, turning off the music, closing the book, turning my eyes and ears away from distractions and then, connecting.

Focus – my word for 2020 – is taking on deeper meaning, just two weeks into the year. Here’s to greater days yet to come and even more birthday presence.save-image

 

Own_Your_ChoicesI ate a cookie this morning.

I usually eat healthy foods during the week…fruit, nuts, salads, veggies. If I eat sweets, it’s because one of my colleagues has brought in something she’s baked and I’m not going to hurt her feelings by saying “no” to banana cake. But today, I caved. I ate a cookie. A plain old, comes in a box, cookie. I have no excuses. No one forced me. No one threatened me. I made the choice. I. Chose. The. Cookie.

We all have choices every day. We choose what to wear, what to eat, what route to work, what to spend money on, where to go to church (or not), what to do with our time. Our choices are just that. Ours.

If I want to achieve a certain goal, I’m going to need to make certain choices. Sometimes those choices involve sacrificing what I WANT RIGHT NOW, for what I want down the line. If I want to be a healthy 60-year-old, I’m going to have to choose to live a healthy lifestyle. (P.S. – It probably won’t happen tomorrow. I will be eating sweets on my big day). But if I don’t make those healthy choices, I won’t be blaming someone else. It’s on me. And I’m good with that. I’m tired of seeing social media postings blaming everyone else for the circumstances in our lives.

“I can’t believe that cop gave me a speeding ticket.”
“My teacher gave me a D – just for one missing assignment.”
“I have no time to exercise (read, pray, call my dad, visit with my grandma, shovel my neighbor’s walk…)”
“It’s my mom’s fault.” (A particularly touchy one – Thankfully for them, this has not been posted by my children)

Yes, there are a lot of people in our world who have very few options.  Circumstances, and other people’s sinful choices, have kept them in bondage. But for MOST of us, we must take ownership of our choices. If we want a different result, we need to make a different choice. We want a different life. We want a smoother road, We want a better job. Or financial freedom. Or healthy relationships. It begins with one step, one choice. And only you can make it.

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