Finding the Will of God

country road 1a

High school students taking geometry class have no concerns as to whether or not they’ll come up with the right answers for these math problems.  Oh, they’re no good at formulas, theorems, and postulates, because they either skipped class or perusing Facebook during class, but it’s no big deal!  Why?  They have every confidence that to get the answers all they have to do is ask Google!!

That sad scenario was passed on to me from a long-time geometry teacher recently.  He said that his students don’t study or put time into learning the in’s and out’s of geometry when they feel sure that Google can give them the answers for homework or tests.  He reminded them that they are sadly mistaken.  In order to do well in his class, they need to spend some time alone with their book, their notes, assignment their homework.

Before we get too hard on those failing freshmen, perhaps we need to check and see how we go about getting our answers.  Oh, we might not need formulas for geometric shapes, but how do we go about getting directives from God?  When we need to know His will, aren’t we often eager to just find the quickest way to hear it?

I think of Elijah when he was on the mountain.  Do you remember the story?  He had been running from Jezebel – the wicked queen who was hunting his life.  God told him to go stand out on the mountain.

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Elijah thought he would see God in Big ways – a wind, an earthquake, a fire, but no.  God didn’t speak to him in BIG ways – he spoke in a still, small voice.

What truth does this show us?  We might want to know God’s will so much, and we think (or even say!),

If God would just show me what to do, I’d do it!  Can’t He just tell me what I’m supposed to do?

But God doesn’t write it in the sky.  He doesn’t thunder His voice to us while we’re sleeping.  So, how does God reveal His will to us? 

It comes when we do what Elijah did.

  • Get alone with God.  We must take the time regularly to set ourselves apart with the Lord so that we might be still.
  • Don’t do all the talking.  We need to open His Word and read.  What to read?  Start with the psalms and pray them back to God.  Praise Him.  Love Him.  Sing to Him.  Ask Him what/where you should read next.  Be still and listen for the Spirit of God to direct your thoughts.  Read after asking God to illumine the Word to your heart.
  • Pray about what you don’t understand. One day when I was studying the life of Elijah, I got to the part of the story that we’re talking about today.  I didn’t understand it.  So, I prayed and asked   “Lord, what does this mean?  Why did you tell Elijah to go out on the mountain?  What about the wind, earthquake and fire?”  Then I sat still and listened.  I continued to read the passage silently.  It was then that God showed me…
    In order to hear my voice, you must seek me in the Quiet Place – not in grand miracles or loud demonstrations of my power.  Listen for my voice, still and soft. 

Maybe that passage has always been easy for you, but when God showed me that Truth, I wept and rejoiced over its understanding.  How simple.  How profound.  There are no 1,2,3 steps to get an answer from God.  God loves us enough that in order to show us His will, He wants to have a relationship.  We draw near.  We read His Word and come to know Him.  We listen.  Then we learn.  We get up from our Quiet place after who knows how many hours, or days, not just knowing His will, but also being so close to Him that we’re not afraid to go do it!

Elijah got his marching orders from God that day.  So will you and I, when we do what that geometry student needs to do – take time to draw near and listen to the Teacher.

If you’re seeking God’s will, don’t go ask people.  Don’t look for a quick way to find the answer.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Denise Signature 150 px

When Gluten-Free Meets Delicious

GF White chili a

No one in my family is Gluten-Free, but I have friends who are, so I’ve been pinning GF recipes on Pinterest.  Some recipes are just plain strange, but when I found this White Chicken Chili, I knew it would be good!  It was so delicious and had NO SPECIAL INGREDIENTS in it.  You simply substitute coconut milk for the regular milk and corn starch for flour.  This is so good with the thighs, too, but of course, you could use white meat.  I will make this again, not just for my GF friends, but for anyone who wants a delicious bowl of hearty, tasty soup!

GF white chli 5

Here’s the simple recipe:

Slow Cooker Gluten-Free White Chicken Chili

  • 2.5 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 3 cans Great Northern beans
  • 2 8 oz Cans Diced Green Chilies
  • 1 Very large Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 Tbl Garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 1 Tbl Coarse Real Salt
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 Cup Arrowroot Starch or cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
  1. Place the chicken thighs, beans, chilies, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, pepper, salt, chicken broth, and coconut milk in a crock pot. Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or until chicken is very tender.
  2. Remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Lightly shred with a fork.
  3. Place the arrowroot starch in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the 1/2 C. water to make a smooth, lump-free mixture. Stir the mixture into the chili in the crock pot.
  4. Add the chicken back into the chili and stir to distribute. Let cook for another 30 minutes. Soup should thicken up.
  5. Add the cilantro to the soup just before serving and check the seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if desired. If you want the soup to be a little thinner, add more chicken broth or coconut milk until desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Top with a squeeze of lime juice.

GF white chili 2

Now how about a tasty little sweet ending for this meal or a nice snack that’s also Gluten-Free?  This tastes like real food !  We loved these, and they whip up in minutes!

Cashew bites 2c.jpg

Cashew-Coconut Bites

Ingredients

1 Cup Cashew – salted
1 Cup dates
1 Cup unsweetened Coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl Almond Butter

Instructions

  1. Process dates in a food processor fit with “S” blade until crumbly.
  2. Add coconut, cashews, vanilla and salt and process until well blended and fine.
  3. Add almond butter and process until mixture starts balling up or sticking together.
  4. Roll into balls, 1-2 TBS at a time.
  5. Enjoy! Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Do you make any Gluten-Free recipes you love?  

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Friday Favorites

This has been another busy week, full of helping with a move, entertaining our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons for two nights (who were the ones moving), church, cooking, cleaning, and lots of baby snuggles.  Those are some of my favorite things from this week, but there’s more, and they’re on my camera, so let’s let the pictures roll…

Liza jane
Sweet Liza Jane…she’s just irresistible! And yes, she’s spoiled!!

 

chalkboard art
This new chalkboard drawing sums up our mornings!
Katie brown chikcen collage
This week on a busy day, I popped a roasting hen in the oven to have for dinner.  This Katie Brown Chicken recipe is so savory and delicious!  It makes the BEST gravy, too!  

Whenever my husband has to be away, he tucks notes around the house for me to find.  It absolutely melts my heart to think he goes to so much trouble to show his love!  I found these and other notes this week while he had to be gone.

Dale collage

I am honestly the most blessed woman to be married to someone so thoughtful and loving.  He is my favorite of all favorites!!! I don’t take him for granted – he’s a gift from God that I am more grateful for him with each passing day!!

I trust you had a some highlights in your week, even if you’re going through some hard things, and I know so many people are right now!  Sometimes we have to choose to look for the little blessings God allows and focus on those in the midst of the difficulties.

What is a highlight from your week?  Have you tried the Katie Brown Chicken?  

Refresh yourself this weekend,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Welcome (Into My) Home!

I’m sharing another video today of some things that I’ve done at home this past week. It will only take you under three minutes to view it!

Here’s what you’ll see:

  1. My fall coffee table
  2. How to arrange roses easily
  3. My Pinterest inspired outfit

Refresh your home and wardrobe!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

What to Do When You Don’t Reach Your Goals

LG collage.jpg

My LG phone has set up a Health app for me.  I didn’t really want it, but I went ahead and set a goal of 10,000 steps a day.  The frustrating thing about it is that I don’t have my phone with me every second of the day!  There may be hours that it’s sitting on the counter charging while I’m running all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, inside, outside, working like a horse, while my phone is sitting there sneering at me, not logging one single step.  At the end of the month I got the message you see pictured above,

You didn’t reach your goal last month.

It may be helpful to change your goal to 9,000.

But you know, even though I know that this app isn’t correct, this message made me think.  Sadly, I’m afraid that is my heart’s inclination when something is hard. Change my goal. You see, then I can feel better about myself.  We each have two choices ~

Lower the goal and feel good about me

or

Raise the bar and feel good!

That doesn’t apply only to physical health goals, it applies in all areas of life.  But let’s think about one area in particular – our Christian life.  Do we…

  • set a goal to read through the Bible?
  • sign up to attend a 12-week Bible study?
  • commit to witness to the lost?
  • agree to help with a ministry at church?
  • volunteer teach a Sunday school class?
  • realize we need to pray more?
  • pledge to give to Faith Promise missions or to tithe faithfully

Then things happen.  Life gets busy.  We feel overwhelmed.  We get caught up with other responsibilities and we carelessly lay aside the commitments we made.  We get the mental message:

You might want to lower your goals.

After all, it would be easier.  It would make life less complicated.  We might feel better about our self.

But not really.

When we have set a spiritual goal for ourselves and then the Holy Spirit brings it to our mind, unlike my Health app, He will always be accurate.  He knows.  He sees.  Oh, not to make us miserable, but to help us, like the 10,000 steps would benefit me.  He desires to bring us to a place of obedience.

So when you realize you’ve missed the goal, all you have to do is start again.  When this new month rolls around in a few days, I’ll have another clean slate with my LG Health app!  Our gracious God forgives and wipes the slate clean when we tell Him we’ve messed up again and we need His help! 

As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

What spiritual goal have  you set aside? What responsibility have you shirked?  Perhaps this post is the Lord’s gentle way of nudging you to get you back on track.  Confess it, ask for His help to do it, and then take the next step in following through. We don’t live our Christian life based on feelings, but when you obey He gives joy, so you will indeed be feeling better when you get back on track!

Oh, and look at the message I just got on my phone…

 

lg health 2.jpg

Another lesson for me is, wear something with pockets so my phone will track every single step I take!!

Do you have spiritual goals you need to give attention to?  Start back today!

Denise Signature 150 px

Sour Dough Bread

sour dough breadOver 30 years ago I received a mason jar containing the sticky substance called, Sour Dough Bread Starter.  I have kept that dough going all these years, making untold number loaves of bread, English Muffins, and  Cinnamon Rolls!  If you’ve ever had sour dough, you know what a delicious flavor the “sour” starter gives the bread.  I don’t know the science behind it, I only know it’s good and I want it the rest of my life!

Sour dough is also a very easy dough to put together.  Beginning a starter can be a little tricky, so if you know someone who has a starter already, ask for a cup of theirs to be sure it will be active and cause your bread to rise!

But if you want to try your hand a beginning a starter here’s what you need:

To start: Place in a mason type jar:
1 cup warm water
3/4 Cup sugar
3 tbl. instant potato flakes

Stir and let set on counter all day. It should be in a place that is a little warm.  Place lid on jar and cover lightly (don’t fasten all the way down). Let set 3-4 days.

The starter will have a fermented fragrance.  It will also have little bubbles on top and kind of “sizzle.”

To make bread with that starter:

Add the same ingredients again to starter. Let set all day on counter.
The Next day you can make bread:
Ingredients
6 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 tbl. salt
1/3 C sugar
Mix, then add:
1 C of the starter (place remaining cup back in the fridge)
1 1/2 C very warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 C oil

Mix, then turn out on floured board and knead lightly. Place dough back in oiled bowl. Cover and set in warm place ’til dough is doubled in size.

Sour dough 2a
Punch down dough. Divide in half. Place in two greased loaf pans. Let rise ’til about an inch higher than bread pan.

Sour Dough rising 1

Bake at 375 degrees about 25 min.  Allow to cool before slicing (if you can resist!).

wp-image-519203035

As I mentioned, you can make all kinds of other breads from this starter. My favorite way to eat this bread is toasted – either for breakfast or as a grilled sandwich.  It’s fantastic!!

I hope you’ll give this a try.  Maybe in 30 years you’ll still be making up hot loaves from the starter your received in 2017!

Who else has used sour dough starter?  Who loves sour dough?  

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Five Favorite Pics

Happy Friday!  This has been a busy week for us, but a great one.  In the midst of busy lives, full ministry schedules, bearing the hurts and trials of family and friends, I’ve reminded myself over and over of the need to get alone with God.  It has calmed my heart and given me renewed strength.

One thing that REALLY helps my day is my morning walk.  I typically walk 2.5 miles.  I walk down an untraveled farm road near us so there’s no disturbance or worry about cars zooming by.  I use that time to talk out loud to the Lord.  What a joy to cry out to Him and praise Him, thank Him, and leave my burdens with Him!

The other blessing of my morning walks is the view!!  It’s gorgeous.  I can’t help but snap pictures while I walk.  In a week’s time, I take a LOT of pictures, and today I’m choosing just five to share with you that highlight the week.  Those from my walks are definitely some of my favorites!

Sunrise at home2.png

I had my back to this unbelievable view, then it was as if the Lord nudged me to turn around.  I gasped at its beauty and thanked Him for showing me His hand in creation.  This picture is totally unedited, except for my watermark.

sunrise at home

It always astounds me how beautiful a rustic barn, a barbed wire or a weed can be!  The evidence of that truth is in the preceding picture. Ah, thank you, Lord for morning!  Mornings that start everything fresh and new!

When I got home from my walk, this was what I saw:

fall porch 2

I love decorating my front porch for the seasons.  I hope it draws folks in to sit and visit!

This vignette is on the side of the front door

fall porch

Let me end with a picture of our daughter, Whitney.  She and her husband got to come to Tennessee to visit for a day and a fourth this week!  We had a great time together, though it’s always too short.  It allowed us to be able to celebrate her birthday early.  Her birthday is actually TODAY!    She is a blessing to me in so many ways.  She always finds the positive side in people and really knows how to encourage.  She’s very disciplined and organized.  She loves home and pours her heart into making her home a true place of comfort.  Mostly, she loves God and finds her strength and wisdom from her daily walk with Him.  What a blessing that is to watch.  So, Happy birthday, Whitney!  

Whitney's 33rd

I hope you have a fabulous weekend where you see God’s hand all around you! How about going over to Whitney’s blog and wishing her a happy birthday? If you’ve never been to her site, you’ll love it!

Stay refreshed!

Denise Signature 150 px