Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 6

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Six chapters in – are you feeling the Holy Spirit stirring within? Are you noticing His voice interjecting among the chaos of your life? Are you finding yourself taking more intentional pauses and quieting yourself so you can hear from him?

I am.

And, just when I think this book can’t possibly have another valuable nugget, I turn the pages through the next chapter and there they are!

How blessed are we that God has forgiven us of our sins and remembers them no more once they have been confessed and repented of?

How incredible that His guidance comes wrapped in love (rather than riddled with guilt, shame and anxiety) AND he will connect with each of us in a personal way? One that we can hear, that matches our individual circumstances and aligns with His unique plan for our lives.

And, when we follow his voice we can move forward with confidence regarding the decisions we make?!?!

Oh, and quiet possibly my personal favorite: we aren’t going to get it right ALL the time, and regardless, He will use whatever way we might mess up for ultimate good. He will blaze a trail back over to the right path!!

Having faith means pushing forward without seeing what’s ahead, trusting that each step of the way will be met with a foothold, keeping us safe! Believing without seeing.

Any thoughts on your journey of spiritual growth? I’d love to hear from you – chime-in in the comments section below.

Just getting in on the blog posts related to Discerning The Voice of God? Get caught up with the links below:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Love and blessings to you all on this beautiful Wednesday morning!
H

 

 


Crab Salad

I stumbled across this incredibly fresh looking crab salad recipe on the Skinnytaste.com website.

I couldn’t wait to try it – and then try it again with my own modifications (recipe below) – and then share with you all!

After a couple rounds I’ve decided I love it AND the flavors are so wonderfully intense that a little goes a long way (when I used as a lettuce salad topping I could only eat about half). I’d recommend serving this on little buttery crackers as an appetizer or finger food for parties. It’s easy to make and comes together quickly but is also totally fancy and people will be in awe of your over-the-top party food!

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Ingredients:
8 oz lump crab meat (REAL crab, not Krab with a “K”)
1 avocado, chopped into smallish pieces
3 T finely chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 finely chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
2 T mayo (more or less depending on the volume of all your other ingredients, you want everything just very lightly coated – you may also sub olive oil for mayo as the original recipe suggests)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*Note: If you are serving on crackers as an appetizer, you want everything chopped very small so as to allow you to get a bit of all that goodness in each cracker serving. If you want to swing for the fences and eat this over lettuce as a meal, feel free to chop the ingredients larger.

Instructions:
-add all ingredients to a bowl, minus mayo, and toss to combine
-add enough mayo to lightly cover everything and gently toss
-taste and adjust any flavors according to your preference
-top crackers with crab salad mixture and serve cold

 


Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Asparagus is a perfect springtime veggie, and being ‘in season’ it can often be found in grocery stores for ridiculously low prices.

With Easter dinner right around the corner, here’s a simple side dish that’s a wonderful compliment to any main dish offering.

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Ingredients:
-1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
-Olive oil
-Garlic powder
-Salt
-Black pepper
-Finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
-Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (you want all spears to have a light coat of oil)
-Season with garlic, salt and pepper (to your taste preferences) and toss to distribute seasonings
-Place in 400 degree oven for 10-15 min
-Remove from oven, stir and sprinkle with cheese
-Return to oven for 5-10 minutes
-Serve hot

I hope this holiday weekend finds you renewed with the promises that come from our RISEN Savior!

H


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 offered so many thought provoking take-away points:

  1. When God has a message for us, He is persistent.
  2. Circumstances in life have everything to do with God’s Will – nothing happens by chance.
  3. Sometimes crises present the best moments to bring us closer to Him.
  4. The importance of connecting with a church family cannot be overly emphasized.

God’s persistence in getting our attention isn’t always sunshine and gentle breezes – He will do whatever is needed to get our attention. While we would like to think that His work is done only through the most incredible, comforting, and happy miracles; it’s important to understand that isn’t always the case. Sometimes His persistence comes about in ways that we don’t prefer. Events that are uncomfortable, and in some cases, are downright miserable.

It’s human nature to want to avoid anything uncomfortable. The more crises we can avoid, the better, right? But just as muscle must be broken down in order to grow stronger, so too must our spirits. To think you can obtain as much growth through all the best seasons of life, as opposed to the worst, is ignorant. Building muscle while sitting on the couch drinking Dr Pepper and eating Doritos?  Yes, please! Not so much the case though…bummer!

I try to think about how my life would be currently, if I could rewind and have a do-over with all the struggle sprinkled throughout the past 2 years. If I could erase all the struggle, and insert all the details of how I wanted things to go, what I wanted to have happen, how I thought things ought to have worked out. Truth is, I can’t really even imagine what that might look like…a life filled with surface level pseudo-perfection, maybe?. Would I even be happy or would I always be longing for more? Would I feel a true sense of security, or bubbling just beneath the surface would I constantly be ill at ease? If I trace back some of the best things in my life, the road to obtaining those things was quite rocky. And, in some instances, if it weren’t for travel down those rocky roads, some of what I cherish so much now wouldn’t even be part of my life story.

I can acknowledge, accept, and even be totally okay with my trials because it took every bit of that – even complete loss of my footing – to bring me to my knees; for Him to get my attention and for me to get out of His way so that He could do a good work in me. Doesn’t mean I liked the struggle at the time(s), heck, I’ve gone down fighting on more than one occasion. But He’s patient and persistent and is using all that yuck for good, and will continue to do so, because that’s what He promises. And he is not a God that he should lie (Numbers 23:19).

If the weather in your life is cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, remember that He is persistent, nothing happens by chance & crises present some of the best opportunities for growth. Tuck in close to Him – quietly and patiently wait for him to speak. Immerse yourself in the Scripture and connect with your church family for guidance and support. Eventually all the signals – stirrings within, Scripture and outward signs – will point in the same direction and THAT will be your answer!

New to reading this blog series on Discerning The Voice of God? Catch up here:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


Chicken -n- Stuff Salad

Remember that chicken I suggested you make, shred and freeze in individual portions, in this post? Well, thaw out a bag because I’ve got a quick, simple and healthy salad that’s just perfect for mixing up your lunch time routine!

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Ingredients:
-Chicken (previously cooked and shredded)
-Romaine Lettuce
-Red Onion
-Feta Cheese Crumbles
-Toasted Almond Slices
-Craisins
-Avocado
-Balsamic Vinaigrette (I sometimes make my own, but have found some I like just as well without preservatives in the cooler section in the produce department, next to the prepped salads. That’s what I used in this one!)

Instructions:
Chop and assemble all ingredients (amounts according to your liking) on a plate and drizzle with dressing.

Seriously, super easy.

I like to prep 2 salads at a time, leaving a second in the fridge to grab-and-go on a busy work day.

As the weather gets nicer, I am reminded that it’s about time to start transitioning away from hearty, heavy meals to lighter, fresher varieties. This one certainly fits that bill!

Enjoy!
H

 

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 4

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The way in which God speaks to us has evolved over time. During the Old Testament times, God was heard through prophecies and outward, visible signs. During the New Testament, His communication came through Jesus and miracles. Today, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and Scripture.

In my ignorance, I expected the way in which God would speak to me as similar to Old Testament times – some sort of prophecy or outward sign. A flashing neon sign, perhaps, with an arrow directing the way. A vivid dream that would provide all the detailed information I’d ever need, making everything crystal clear.

On more than one occasion, I’ve complained that it would be so much easier if He would at least give me a snippet of what His plans are for me. Promising that if he did, I would get fully on board and REALLY get to work on that plan – BUT – I needed specifics first.

I now imagine God in Heaven, smile on his face, shaking his head and thinking “oh sweet child…”

As much as I have wished for blatant signs, and even felt somewhat resentful when they didn’t come and thought surly he wasn’t answering me because I couldn’t hear him (because I wouldn’t shut up long enough to listen – see Chapter 1), I realize that I’ve really got the best of all worlds. While not His primary method of communication, God still works miracles and provides us with outward signs. It’s secondary to being guided by the Holy Spirit and Scripture, further confirming what’s already been spoken to us. If we haven’t received the message via primary communication, secondary means are going to pass us by without notice. We won’t recognize the relevance. These miracles and signs will fade into the background noise of life.

I’m guessing that if they all had a choice, everyone from Biblical times would much prefer how good we have it now.

On page 71, Priscilla writes, “I do believe that the Spirit gives to some people, on certain occasions, the divine ability to receive insight into another person’s life”.

This statement struck me in a very powerful way, soothing a nagging ache in my soul. Here’s why: I believe I am well acquainted with such a person. She is a great friend of mine, near and dear to my soul in ways no one else is, a mentor on top of all that, and a lover of Jesus. Just recently, in a long message, she made a statement that has since been etched into my heart. “I’ve been praying for you often. I’m having very good feelings about you recently”.

If Priscilla is right, and I have no reason to think otherwise, and outward signs are often used by God to confirm the messages we’ve received through Scripture and the Spirit’s counsel, then my life is going to take on the most breathtaking changes. And while I don’t know the timing or specific details about how it will all come together, I am so overwhelmed (in the most comforting way) that I’m on the verge of tears every time this passes through my mind.

For the first time in two years, I feel like I’ve finally exhaled…


Dresser Makeover

Right after the first of the year, J asked me what I thought should be our next ‘big’ project on the house. There’s a long list of many things to choose from, and I spent some time thinking on this when it occurred to me: we need to FINISH all the projects that are already started. You know, all those little finishing details that sometimes go by the wayside – and then you realize it’s been years. Things that will add up in both time and money, and that linger on the ‘to do list’.

We’ve worked our way through this house scraping popcorn ceilings and painting walls. And while these aren’t big ticket home update items, they are very messy and time consuming (especially scraping popcorn ceilings). By the time the paint is dry and the mess is completely cleaned up, I’m usually somewhat worn out on the project. Add to that the excruciating amount of time it takes me to make a decision about decor details anyway (window treatments, wall decor, etc.) and it seems that I never quite get a project FULLY done.

So, committing to FINISHING some projects around this house, I started in the master bedroom this weekend (which was ceiling scraped and painted back in Oct 2014 – lame – I know)  and wanted to share with you one element of final details (other details on the finishing touches/projects later)…this dresser makeover.

This dresser has been in my family since my dad was a kid. When we cleaned out my grandmother’s house, I salvaged it from the garage sale. It’s not a fancy piece, and it’s had a dozen coats of different paint over the years (I added another in 2009, along with new drawer pulls, pictured below), but I love the clean lines and ability to take this old, yet still functional, piece of furniture and turn it into something modern and eye catching.

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To tackle a project like this you will need the following:
-Sanding materials (electric hand sander, sandpaper, block sander, liquid sander — your choice, I used an electric hand sander)
-Wood filler (if there are any holes or dings in the furniture that need filled)
-Damp rag
-Primer
-Paint
-Polyurethane finish
-Paint brushes
-Optional: New drawer pulls

Getting started you will want to lightly  sand the piece of furniture; anywhere you intend to paint. This helps your new paint stick. Fill any holes or dings in the furniture with wood filler. If you are changing out the drawer pulls, determine if the existing holes will suffice for the new hardware. If you will need to drill new holes – the old ones need to be filled at this point.

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Once sanded and holes have been filled, wipe down with a damp rag to remove all dust.

Then, prime the furniture. I used 2 coats since I was going from a dark to light color, but also because I wanted to be sure the new paint color would remain ‘true’ without influence from the previous dark paint.

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Next, add your paint. I did 2 coats of this as well. Use your judgment as to how many coats you will need following examination of the paint after it’s dried.

Finally, after the paint has completely dried, add a coat of polyurethane to seal the piece. If you want to do more than 1 coat of poly, follow instructions on the can.

I added 6 new drawer pulls, found on sale at Hobby Lobby, just to change up the look a touch more.

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In total, this transformation cost me $51. I had to buy the paint (1 quart = $13), new paint brushes ($15), and the drawer pulls ($23). On hand I had the dresser, sanding materials, primer, wood filler, polyurethane, and the lower drawer pulls were re-used from the last makeover.

Not to shabby when the alternative could have been buying a new dresser for hundreds of dollars!image
And, I LOVE the finished product! It’s just what our master bedroom needed — a statement piece in a bright color!

Happy Monday!
H

 

 

 

 


Frugal Friday: Shredded Chicken

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a frugal Friday tip. A recent sale on chicken sparked my memory and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share with you all.

Bone-in, skin-on chicken periodically goes on sale for an unbelievable price. At my local grocery store, 88 cents per pound simply can’t be passed up.

Thing is, I don’t cook bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts all that often. So, I got creative with how to make the most of this sale…AND it’s super simple.

Stock up on several packages of the chicken breasts at the store. Then, cut the skins off and toss them in the crock pot. Once the chicken is cooked through, shred (if you have a stand mixer, a super quick and simple way to shred is to throw the cooked chicken in and let the mixer roll), portion into containers, and toss in the freezer!

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It’s an excellent way to take advantage of an awesome deal PLUS you will have cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer for the many meals calling for this ingredient….chicken salad, tacos, enchiladas, pasta, salad topper, sandwiches…the list goes on and on!

Do yourself a favor – take advantage of this tip. You will be thrilled that you did, especially when you’re in a pinch for a quick dinner!


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 3

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How often, during times of struggle, do we pull in closer to the Lord seeking comfort, guidance, and answers only to allow him to slowly fade into the background of our lives when the crisis has been diverted? As much as I hate to admit, I am guilty of this, time and time again.

The trouble I find is that the crisis isn’t necessarily diverted, as much as it is minimized, at which time I think I’ve got it all under control and can take it from there. How ignorant of me! It’s no wonder that the same crisis flares up again, or that another comes in its place. It’s sort of like sticking your hand back in the fire after recovering from third degree burns! And how many times must be we burned before we stop punishing ourselves?!? We ALWAYS need Him!!

An essential element of discerning the voice of God is regular meditation on, and knowledge of, the Scriptures. Regular = Daily. This can become quite a trick when life demands so much us. There’s a lot to get done. We are tired and believe we won’t be able to focus. Things are going okay, so time in the Word isn’t essential today, right? Wrong!

Time spent in the Word is time spent with God. If we want to hear from Him, we must MAKE time for Him. These moments with him are more serious than we think – even when things are going “okay”.

And, here’s the other thing that’s paramount to our prayers being answered: our desires need to align with His Will for us. How many of you want to dig in with the thought of that? The idea that what you desire may not align with His plans for you, and aside from taking things into your own hands (free will) and forcing the issue (for which there are other consequences), those desires may not become your reality?

Yea, it’s a tough pill to swallow but allow me to offer a bit of hope: permitting the Holy Spirit to work in you, and doing your part in that process (see above), means a transformation will begin taking place within. If you really get on board with this, you will find things you once desired no longer tug quite as much at your heartstrings, and the gap between what you want and what He wants for you will grow more and more narrow. Suddenly, but not all at once, your desires and His Will align and things start happening in a magical way in your life. That is what is meant in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. God really does know what is best for us, even if it’s not what we want to hear or accept at the moment, and THOSE desires of our heart are what will be given.

The reason we eventually <really> become okay with our reality not matching our dreams is because we’ve really worked on building that intimate relationship with Him. He’s working from within to change our hearts (and thus, our dreams), and we can hear Him with more clarity…perhaps leading us down a path we never would have chosen for we never knew we’d love.

In those moments that you want to be okay with things not working out as you had hoped, but you just aren’t feeling it with every inch of your being, talk to Him about it, ask Him to help you… “Lord, every day I’m trying my best, but if in any moment I lose my hope, please remind me that Your plans are better than my dreams. Amen.”.

He understands that we live in the flesh and that the natural tendency of the flesh is to crave the standards of the world rather than those of God, but he also expects us to seek, and stick close to him.


Avocado Toast with Egg

Several months ago I visited a friend in Arizona. We stopped for breakfast on our way to the airport at the end of my trip and she ordered this amazing avocado toast with egg.

I don’t remember all the details of how that dish came together at the restaurant but have been eating something similar regularly at home ever since.

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Before you begin, you have a decision to make — how would you like your eggs? Over medium? Sunny side up? Poached? Scrambled?

The possibilities are numerous, but I have to say, something about a runny yolk adds a little magic to this dish.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 slice toast
1/2 avocado, smashed
lime (or lemon) juice
kosher salt
pepper & salt to taste

Instructions:
Prepare egg as per your preference (I’m digging on soft boiled eggs these days so that’s what is pictured here)
Top toast with smashed avocado, sprinkle with kosher salt and lime (or lemon) juice
When egg is done cooking, top avocado covered toast and season with additional salt and pepper as you desire

That’s it! Healthy, easy, delicious!

Have the most fabulous weekend – meet you right back here on the blog next week!
H