Around My Kitchen Table

In our kitchen is a round oak table that we purchased twenty-some years ago while living in Indiana. As I wiped the table off after supper tonight I thought about the all the people we’ve been privileged to have sit around that little circle. My husband and I love having people in our home and have a guest book full of names of folks that have been seated there. I’ll never forget in my early years of entertaining how frightened I was to have people over – especially pastors or evangelists. I have a couple of memories that put that fear in me!

One such time was when I was in high school. My parents had invited our pastor to our home for a meal. My mom made an English Trifle with Jell-O, fruit and cake and was topped with whipped cream. When it came time for dessert she asked me to serve our guests. I brought the trifle to the table with the serving dishes and put the spoon into the bottom of the dish to serve the first piece. The Jell-O caused a suction-like problem and when I went to lift the spoon out, the trifle came flying out of the dish and landed on the lapel of my burgundy colored jacket! I looked like I was wearing a whipped cream corsage…very embarrassing for a 17 year-old!

My next horrific memory was when, as a single school teacher, my roommate and I decided to invite our pastor, his wife, and our guest evangelist for a meal during our week of revival meetings. I was in charge of dessert. I had heard that the evangelist loved coconut cream pie, so I set out to make one. I got the pie crust into the oven and got busy on the cream filling, working diligently to make sure it came out smooth and delicious. Pretty soon my roommate and I smelled something burning – the pie crust!!!! It was a lost cause and needed to be thrown away. Not wanting our guests to walk in and be greeted by the smell of burned food, I decided the best thing to do would be to set the crust out on the back porch and light some candles in the house to disguise the odor. Then I reinvented my pie by pouring the filling into parfait glasses and calling it coconut pudding parfaits! Our guests arrived, walked into the living room and the first words out of the evangelists’ mouth were, “Smells like you burned something!” I think all those candles did was point a finger to the burned crust! I believe our guests were leery about the meal from that moment on…wondering what they would be served that had been charred. When I served dessert our evangelist held up his hand and said, “If it’s all the same to you, I don’t believe I care for any.” So much for disguise! I think he had it all figured out – nothing in the main meal was burned, so it had to be the dessert!

I lived through those minor experiences, and there have been plenty others I can tell you, but the thing I’ve learned is, as long as you can laugh about it and not make a big deal over it, it won’t matter to your guests either. The blessings that have come from those gathered around our table have far outweighed the awkward experiences. Our kitchen table is far more than a piece of furniture; it holds memories of dear people that have gathered around that circle and shared more than just a piece of pie…or a pudding parfait; we’ve shared laughs, ministry blessings, tears, prayer requests, answers to prayers and salvation testimonies at our table. We’ve also seen sinners repent there and Christians bow in contrition to get right with the Lord once again. My kitchen table is a journal of blessings and I thank the Lord for each one.

Do you have a special memory from your kitchen table? Please share it with me; I’d love to hear about it!

The Happiest Place on Earth

I just heard a comment from a high school senior on her senior trip to Disney World say, “This has to be the happiest place on the earth!” Having been there I can understand her sentiment. With beautiful flowers everywhere, light-hearted music, Mickey and Minnie, fun food, fun rides and fun times. of course it’s a happy place!

There is another place that should be one of the happiest places on this earth – home. Home should be the most loving, secure and fun place for a child. What will you do today to make it that way for your little ones? Are you homeschooling? Incorporate spring ideas into math or phonics reviews – put the facts on little paper kites made from construction paper and with each fact they get correct. let them hang the kite on the wall and let it fly! Perhaps you could give them a goal for the week – learning a certain number of new facts and then when it’s accomplished you and your child go fly a real kite.

Change things around today or even tomorrow on April Fools Day. Let your children eat their dessert first! Have lunch under the table instead of on it. Go to the library and get new books – perhaps books about spring, baby lambs or even a child’s cookbook. Read together in a new place – build a comfy spot on the floor with pillows and cushions or make a tent using all the kitchen chairs as props.

Play uplifting music – Patch the Pirate, The Donut Man, Veggie Tales, etc. Let the atmosphere of your home be encouraging for them. It’s easy to play what we like instead of what they would enjoy.

How about some fun food? Cut their sandwich into shapes using cookie cutters. Peanut butter and jelly can take on a whole new taste when it’s cut differently! April Fools day brings all kinds of adventures with food. Check http://familyfun.go.com/aprilfools/ for some creative ideas. Family Fun has tons of great food ideas for children.

Make your home the “happiest place on the earth” by taking time to be with your children and using creativity to make each day one they won’t forget!

A Continual Resort

I get emails weekly from a resort in our area that offers specials for manicures, pedicures and massages. I have been treated by my family on Mother’s Day to this luxurious place, and the spa tries to lure me back with their discounts. When I think of that resort I remember the refreshment it brought. The massage I received worked the kinks out of my neck. I was relaxed and felt great when I left! I have confidence that the kink I’m feeling in my neck today they could get rid of because I remember what they did for me last year when I was there.

This morning as I was reading Psalm 71 I read of another place I can resort. David writes in verse 3 – Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort… What a blessed privilege it is for us to run to the Lord throughout the day, continually! When we turn to Him we find that He is just what we need – always enough.

As we continue through the chapter we find that David knew he could trust the Lord throughout his entire life. Verse 6 says, By thee have I been holden up from the womb. Verse 5 reads – For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth. We read in verse 9 and 18 a reference to the future – Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake me not. No, David would not be forsaken by God in his old age. He remembered what God had done for Him in the past and had every confidence that He could resort to Him and find help for today. He is the Rock to which we may also continually resort.

The kinks that the Lord worked out in my past He is still able to work out today. I remember Who my God is and I know I can resort to Him continually through my day and all through my life. What a wonderful God He is!

Chicken Taco Salad

Every woman needs new ideas for supper. I thought I’d share a healthy Chicken Taco Salad recipe with you. I found it in my 1994 Southern Living Cookbook. My family loves this.

4 (4 oz) skinned and boned chicken breast halves

1 tbl. Tex-Mex Spice Mix (recipe follows)

Vegetable cooking spray

1 cup chopped mango

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1 Tbl. cilantro

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

6 cups shredded Bibb lettuce

  • Coat chicken with Tex-Mex Spice Mix. cover and chill 8 hours (you could do it for less time if in a hurry)
  • Cook chicken in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side, or ’til done. Chill.
  • Chop chicken and place in a medium bowl. Add mango and next 4 ingredients.
  • Place each tortilla in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 11/2 minutes or until crisp.
  • Place lettuce into tortilla shells; top with chicken mixture. Yield: 4 servings

Serve with Spicy Southwestern Dressing.

Spicy Southwestern Dressing – Make a batch of this spice mix to use in the Chicken Taco Salad. Save leftover mix for the next time you make this recipe, or to use in any recipe that needs a little extra zip.

1 Tbl. Tex-Mex Spice Mix

2 Tbl. lime juice

1 Tbl. vegetable oil

2 tbl. water

1 tsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Tex-Mex Spice Mix

3 Tbl. chili powder

2 tbl. ground cumin

1 tbl. ground black pepper

1 tbl. salt

1 tbl. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper

Per serving: Calories 352 (25% from fat) Fat 9.9g – Compare this to Taco Bell’s Taco salad with 790 calories and 42 g fat! This will make you stay at home and eat!

Enjoy!

The Cost of Doing Right

Have you ever noticed that the healthy foods are more expensive than the not-so-healthy choices? You can buy a bag of cheese curls, full of sodium and fat for .88, but a bag of baked Cheetos are $3.00! A few pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables will cost you all the donuts in the store! Try to buy sugar alternatives for baking and you’ll almost need a loan from the bank. Why is it that if a company takes something bad for you out of their product the price goes up? The truth is, they’re marketing to those that want to eat healthy and are wise enough to make a profit while doing so. The fact is – it will cost you something to do right!

That truth follows every area of our lives – even our Christian lives. When Moses was instructing the Israelites before they marched in to possess the Promise Land, he reminded them not to take the gods of the heathen as their gods. They were to determine in their hearts to obey God and follow His commands. In so doing they would be telling their children that it was the one true God that brought them out of Egypt. In Deuteronomy 6:10 Moses reminds them that they will dwell in cities that they did not build, will have houses full of all good things which they did not fill. They would have wells they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees they did not plant. When their children asked why they were obeying God’s commands they would tell them, “The Lord commanded us to do all these statues, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always…” (Deut. 6:24) It would not be the easy thing that cost little, it would be the hard thing that required them depending on their God.

Isn’t it just like our loving God to give commands that are for our good? He knows what is best for us, what will keep us safe, what we really need in order to grow spiritually. Then He goes one step further and equips us with the Holy Spirit to enable us to do the right thing. He has stepped up to the cash register and paid for our expensive healthy foods, if you will. He has made every provision so we can do the hard right instead of the easy wrong! God’s commands aren’t grievous or heavy, they are for our good, just as they were for the children of Israel.

We have a choice to eat healthy or not. We also have a choice to obey the Lord or not. Neither are particularly easy, but in the latter, we have enablement to do right. Remind yourself that it is for our good always.

Heaven

One of my favorite things to think about is heaven. I wonder at its beauty. With the wonders that surround us here in East Tennessee with the majesty of the mountains, even with the curse of sin on them, I think, “How gorgeous heaven must be!”

I also wonder what it will be like to be in the presence of God, and to meet our Savior and worship in His very presence. Will we ever get over that? No! But we won’t have to, for we will be there for eternity.

I think about sharing that span of time with fellow-believers. No one will be flicking the lights at us indicating that they’re ready to go home. We will fellowship and praise our God together endlessly.

I rejoice when I think that there will be so more separations. This morning we learned of the home going of a Christian woman who had suffered with cancer for quite some time. We saw her husband in town last week and he knew her days on this earth were short. His heart was anchored in Christ, but the hurt was there in his eyes; the kind of emptiness that comes with letting go of one you have shared your life and ministry with. Hang on, brother, there will be a grand reunion some day! I’m looking forward to that family reunion too…no wonder the Lord will wipe the tears from our eyes.

Because I get migraines I also am reminded each time I have one that there will be no suffering in heaven. No need for dim lights, hushed voices and medications. We’ll have new bodies that won’t be sick. Those new bodies will be a blessing won’t they? I heard a woman say she’s asking the Lord for a size six! I doubt we’ll be obsessed with all that like we are now, but I know that whatever size we are, it will be perfect! That new body won’t have a sinful nature either – that’s the most difficult “illness” we all deal with! There won’t be the struggle to do right, praise His name.

This life here and now is not all there is and we need to remind ourselves of that. Eternity needs to be kept in view. Heaven will be wonderful. Meet me there!

Seeking God in Decisions

With each new day comes decisions that need to be made. They might be significant, they may be small, but how do we choose? From how we should spend our time today or how to train the children to making a big purchase like a car or house, we need wisdom to make the right choice.

Let’s turn to our Savior to see how He made choices. In Luke 6:12 we read that Jesus went out into a mountain to pray, and continued there all night in prayer to God. The next verse says, “When it was day, he called unto him his disciples; and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” Do you suppose that He sought God’s will in the choosing of these men? Were their names mentioned as Jesus prayed all through the night? I firmly believe so. Jesus prayed all night, and I feel good about spending 30 minutes in prayer!

Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” As women it would behoove us to seek more earnestly the Lord’s face throughout the day for the decisions that lie before us. Just as Christ sought God’s will in the choosing of the twelve and Abraham Lincoln needed God’s wisdom to run this country – we surely need the Lord’s wisdom to run our home, do our job, or make a right decision. John Bunyon said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” Prayer is the best way to start the day. If you didn’t begin that way today, stop now and give Him your hours and the decisions that are before you. Watch then what He can do, rather than what you cannot do.