Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I hear it all the time. “Yuck, I hate brussels sprouts”. Maybe you find yourself in that same category, hating on this super food.

I can’t resist asking….have you had them cooked in a way that isn’t disgusting? I totally get that mushy, over-cooked brussels sprouts leave a lot to be desired. I’m not a fan either. Learning different ways to prepare these little gold medalists of the healthy food world, and adding just the right ingredients can make all the difference. And maybe, just maybe, turn your loathing into loving.

Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think. It’s simple and requires fewer than a handful of ingredients.

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Ingredients:
2 cups brussels sprouts, sliced
2 slices nitrate free bacon, chopped
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:
Begin by browning your bacon in a skillet on med-high heat
Once nearly browned, add sliced brussels sprouts
Saute until the brussels sprouts just start to soften (3-5 min)
Pop a lid on the pan and turn off the heat
Allow to sit and continue cooking for 7-10 minutes – you want them to have just a touch of crunch when they are done.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm

Happy, healthy eating!
H

 

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Save The Storks

Several months ago my husband and I were introduced to this amazing organization while at church on a beautiful Sunday morning: Save the Storks.

The more I learn about this organization, the more I continue to be awe-struck by the incredible work they are doing across the nation and I couldn’t resist sharing with you this morning.

Rooted in Christian principles, which are Pro-Life, their goal isn’t to force religion and shame women who find themselves in such a desperate situation that they are considering abortion. Rather, the mission is to bring resources and awareness of options (and for those who get twisted up in semantics: choice).

Save the Storks funds mobile units for pregnancy centers which are equip with pregnancy testing, and ultrasound capabilities as well as teams trained to meet women where they are (which is typically on their way into the clinic to terminate a pregnancy) providing them information and counseling on options. All free to women who dare to open their minds to alternatives and gather information so they are better able to make an informed decision.

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Photo Credit: Save the Storks

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Photo Credit: Save the Storks

Four of Five women who step foot on one of these mobile units will ultimately choose life for their baby. Whether that means they will raise the child themselves and call upon available resources in their community to support them along the way or consider adoption; placing their bundle of joy into the arms of another couple – possibly a couple that has been unable to have children of their own but desperate feel a calling to parenthood – these babies get the opportunity at life.

And, Save the Storks outreaches in other ways including Assure Me machines in public restrooms which include a pregnancy test at a  reduced rate than sold in stores as well as information on resources, StorkWorks Consulting which provides resources and support for pregnancy centers that have a mobile unit in operation, and Stork Coffee.

In this life, we are all called to give back to good and charitable causes:
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

As you consider where your next charitable contribution may be going, take a look at Save the Storks (click for link to webpage).  If their mission isn’t draw enough, all donations are tax deductible!

-H


Spring 2017

Flowers

Spring is quite possibly my favorite time of the year. While I don’t appreciate the finicky weather that Colorado brings our way in the Spring (seriously, the forecast for today is sunny and eighty degrees and by Friday we are in the path of snow!), I do so love watching everything come back to life.

It renews my energy. It beckons me outdoors. The labors of love that leave me with sore muscles, perhaps the first sunburn of the season, and eventually evidence of the fruits of this labor when our kitchen is filled with delicious veggies from the garden and vases of freshly cut flowers begin to pop up all over the house.

Friends, it has been quite some time since a new post has hit my blog. Seems I write this same sort of post periodically – after I’ve gone MIA in the blog world. Here’s the ugly truth about why: allocation of too much time to things that don’t really matter. It’s a tough pill to swallow when one sits back and realizes that the best of them, both time and energy, has been given to an obligation; leaving little to nothing left over for the things that truly fuel their soul. When you fall into a rut with life…work, eat, sleep, repeat.

If you find yourself in this same situation, I encourage you to allow the newness of Spring to help you turn that around. Set better boundaries. Save some of what’s your best for whatever energizes your life and fuels your soul. I know I’m going to….

Hope to see you back here at the blog in the days that come as I share what’s going on in the garden and the kitchen, tidbits about my favorite things and stuff that blows my hair back with inspiration.

-H


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 11

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Knowing through experience is far different than having knowledge of an experience.

You must experience God for yourself – this is not something you can pick up vicariously through others.

Part of differentiating the voice of God from anything <anyone> else is understanding that the message from Him will glorify and highlight His character. Anything to the contrary isn’t a message from Him.

This isn’t to say that the message is always leading us down the easiest path. In many instances, it’s quite the opposite. He will lead us into places where we are able to experience and grow with Him in powerful ways. This often means a challenge…a challenge that he will most assuredly  enter in to with you and see you through.

Dare to take the challenge – lean into him through the storm – and see the ways in which He will be glorified in and through you.

H


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 10

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Significance changes.

This is something I’ve come to know well in my time spent with the Lord, in study of the Scripture. I’ll come across a line or two previously underlined or noted and wonder why that was so significant to me at one time. It isn’t holding the same powerful punch in this moment – but at one time, it must have spoken loudly to my heart.

And, this phenomenon is how I’ve come to really understand that the Bible is LIVING.

I set a goal to finish reading the entire bible in 2016 – a goal I’ve set out with many times previously, even in my youth, but never quite accomplished. This time, though, I mustered up lots of determination and got crackin’ on the task at hand…only to realize I was sorta missing the point.

Okay, not sorta. REALLY!

So intent on moving forward with the reading, I wasn’t allowing time for the Scripture to penetrate my soul. To stop and examine why a particular verse stood out. For God to speak to me.

The Bible is the primary means through which God will communicate with us so if we don’t take the time to pause we may go speeding right past something really important. A personal message meant just for us.

Examining my goal through this lens made clear for me that I was missing the whole point and also the reason that I’ve probably struggled in the past with achieving the goal of “entire Bible = read”. The Bible doesn’t read like a usual fiction or non-fiction story book. It requires thought and openness to hearing what’s being communicated – and because the significance can change depending the time and situation – it really requires the intentional pause to listen and process.

For this reason, I have accepted that 2016 may not be the year I cross “read entire Bible” off my bucket list. I want my time with the Lord, spent in the Word, to be more significant than simply words on a page. I’m taking the time for the intentional pause; noting verses in my Bible, meditating on them and then pouring my thoughts into my journal. I love to go back and be reminded of God’s promise to bear the burden for communicating to me.

Lots of people have different methods for working through that intentional pause. I’d love to hear about the method for your madness as it relates to your quiet time with the Lord. Comments welcome below!

Love,
H


DIY: Plant Stakes

It’s no secret that the weather in Colorado can be a bit hit or miss…or a lot hit or miss. It’s not uncommon to see several seasons whip through the state in the span 24 <or fewer> hours .

Once Spring rolls around, I pay particular attention to the forecast. It’s important to be up to date on the highs and lows (for planting, of course)…and also helps to plan projects that may occupy an otherwise dull weekend when you’d hoped to be out in the sunshine, hands in the dirt, but instead are sidelined inside the house due to wet and cold weather.

A couple weekends ago were no exception, and the wet/cold blew in. Luckily, I had a fun project lined up to pass the time.

Plant Stakes!

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Always admiring the options on Etsy, and studying the tutorials on Pinterest; a weekend forecast promising time indoors seemed the perfect opportunity to exercise my crafty side!

What you will need:
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-Polymer clay (I used Sculpey – it was on sale at Hobby Lobby and I’m familiar with it as my aunt -the artist – works in this medium)
-Block of small alphabet rubber stamps
-Glass juice glass (or something to roll out the clay)
-Exact-o knife
-Stamp pad (optional)
-Oven

What you will do:
1. cut the clay apart at the grooves in each block
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2. roll clay flat (you can decide the thickness, but remember that you don’t want them too flimsy or they may easily break)
3. cut one end into a point so stake will easily push through soil.
4. stamp word with rubber stamps
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5. <optional> if you want color – add ink to the rubber stamps and go back over your original stamped word

6. bake in oven per suggested guidelines on the clay package

I made mine in a variety of shapes and sizes — and made a special ‘love u’ stake for a project I put together as a gift for my mama for Mother’s Day (which I will share with you in another post).

These are the perfect little addition to any garden – or sweet potted plant gift!


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 9

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Are you still struggling to hear from God? You’re hearing something but not sure if it’s God, Satan, your own flesh? Any chance you are focused on the wrong thing?

I am a details person. Being detail oriented is a strong element of my personality, so it’s no wonder that the things I’m often wanting to know most from God are…you guessed it…the details.

What is His Will for me? Am I on the right path? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

So many requests – except for the one that matters most: making that relationship with Him stronger.

Not just knowing OF Him but really knowing Him…His Word, and what He’s all about. Not just knowing the stories of the bible but allowing that Truth to penetrate into the deepest reaches of your soul. To speak in a way that is rich, and peaceful and full of meaning.

I crave hearing from God. I pray often for my eyes, ears, heart and mind to be open to receiving whatever message He has for me. And just when I began to struggle to decipher his voice, there was the answer….focus on your RELATIONSHIP with Him, rather than expending so much energy straining to HEAR Him.

KNOWING Him is how HEARING Him happens!

Focus on the wrong thing creates a distraction from hearing him, as do spiritual strongholds. Also known as spiritual warfare – the handiwork of Satan. The insecurities and negativity that are so profound, they drown out the sound of anything else…unless we tear them down.

Chapter 9 references Ephesians 6: 10-20 for the fight against spiritual warfare and I wanted to share with you some sermon notes I took quite some time ago on this very thing…because being armed with God is the only way for this battle to be won – He will fight the battle, in fact, He is the ONLY one that can!

Do yourself a favor and pull out your bible – refresh your memory of dressing for success with the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10-20) and while doing so, note the following:
v. 14 “the belt of truth buckled around your waist” : have TRUTH at the core of your life
v. 14 “the breastplate of righteousness” : Live with integrity and you will never have to defend yourself. The righteousness of Christ will answer for you.
v. 15 “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel” : wherever you go, take the word of the gospel. You don’t have to know everything about the Word, but share your story. God will use it for glory
v. 16 “shield of faith” : apart from faith, all the information in the Bible is nullified. It does no good to know it and not live it – don’t be a ‘culture Christian’ (i.e. scripted prayer, going through simple motions and ‘checking the boxes’ until you no longer really care). READ the word, be in CONVERSATION with Him. Counter what the enemy says with what God says.
v. 17 “helmet of salvation” : the devil will attack an unprotected mind. He can distort thinking about everything. Put on the helmet which is the covenant of salvation, protecting us spiritually.
v. 17 “sword of the spirit” : The word of God. Get up close and personal and engage in the world with confidence in His word. You don’t have to convince anyone, just drop the word and let it work!
v. 18 “pray” : this is a vital part of armor as it impacts the attitude. Prayer is an act of worship – getting our hearts and minds right.

When you are facing overwhelming odds, check your stance. Don’t rest in your feelings. Put on the WHOLE armor of God!

Attributes of standing on God can be found in 2 Chronicles:
20:14-15: Promises (the battle is the Lord’s)
20:17a: Power (rely upon His power)
20:17b-18: Presence (He is with us, do not fear)
20:21-22: Praise (worship Him)

Faith means always moving forward. There is no pleasure in falling back – and while falling is inevitable –  if you fall, fall forward.

Any favorite versus you’ve committed to memory that you might suggest we all memorize, sharpening the “sword of the spirit”? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below!

With Love…
H

 


Mid May Already??? And Seedling Update!

Hi Friends!

It’s been more than a minute since I’ve even logged on to my blog. A couple weeks ago I thought I was getting my feet back under me, only to totally disappear all of last week again. Ugh! I’m soooo sorry!

Life happens tho. Am I right? Anyone else totally surprised to fully  partially comprehend that we are officially half way through the month of May? If I’m honest, I think part of my brain is still stuck in late March.

So much is happening around here. It is Spring, after all! And with Spring comes much to be done. Battling Colorado weather (you never know what you’re going to get), I’ve been trying to take advantage of every opportunity to get outside and get things rolling in my veggie and flower gardens. I’ll have much to update you on in the coming weeks…

I think I promised many, many weeks ago, an update on the seedling project. With Spring planting upon us the seedling project has mostly wrapped up so this is more a final post on the project than it is an update, but as I indicated above, time is flying by.

I’m quiet pleased with how the seedling project ended up. There were lessons learned, for sure, but it was mostly a success. A success very much felt <by my bank account> as I checked out at the nursery last week. I had to buy very few plants — and if I hadn’t had a total lapse in judgment, I’d have bought even fewer than what I ended up needing. As I said, lessons learned.

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As my seedling project wrapped up, I took care to acclimate my plants to the outdoors before sticking them in the ground (a step I’ve mostly neglected in the past – and likely the reason my previous attempts have been such a disaster).  I think a solid week of acclimation is the way to go. Find a place that gets some sun (but isn’t blazing hot) and is somewhat protected from the wind and just let the plants sit. Remember that being outdoors will also likely mean you need to water a little more frequently – but only do so when the soil has mostly dried out.

Where I went wrong was with my veggie plants. My tomatoes were struggling anyway (for reasons unknown) but my pepper and cucumber plants were going crazy….and then I put them outside too early. Well, not too early, but had my head been on straight, when the weather cooled off again (and didn’t warm up for 2 straight days) I should have brought them back in…which I didn’t….which is the reason I had to buy new pepper and tomato plants (GRR!) and will be a month and a half behind with my cucumbers (double GRR!). Oh well.

Everything else is doing wonderfully – I’ve even planted quite a few of my seedling babies and they are going strong. Aside from a couple plant varieties that didn’t come up at all (?) I’d mark my first run at this project a HUGE success and will probably look to expand on my efforts next year!

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Did anyone else take on a seedling project? Any final notes or updates from your end?

Happy Planting!
H

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 8

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Hey there – it’s been a bit since I’ve been on the blog. You know how it goes when life sweeps your feet out from under you…anyway…I’m hoping to get back on a more regular track here very soon. In the meantime, thoughts on Chapter 8:

God’s communication with us is personalized, repetitive, peaceful and….challenging?? Ugh!!!

That’s right folks, just as the journey isn’t always easy, so too is His communication for us challenging.

Don’t confuse peace for comfort – or following God’s will with agreeing with it – or assume the peaceful way is the easy way. How many times have you felt God leading you down a path you’d much rather avoid? You looked left to stormy weather ahead, and right to the sun shining brightly and balked at God’s idea that you should head for the thunderstorm..and then you turned, disregarding his direction, and set off for sunshine and blue skies…all because it would be easier?

Yea, me too.

Many times in life God means to lead us down the bumpy road. Without that journey, we will never reach our full potential (reference the story of the butterfly in Chapter 8 – also found on another devotional I read regularly). Almost ALL of us NEED that journey. Sometimes we face the journey via decisions we must make (left into storms, right into sunshine) and other times there is no decision involved and we must embrace the cards we were dealt.

Challenge is part of the plan, and I love, LOVE the following taken directly from chapter 8: “God will place extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them”.

Not just tasks, situations.

I remember facing several different, though similar, situations in my recent past — all of the “embrace the cards you were dealt” variety. Each time confessing out loud, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t go through that ever again, I’ll never make it”, and “He must have me confused with someone else, there is absolutely no way I can endure, again”.

And you know what? Not only DID I get through each rocky circumstance, I came out the other side stronger. AND, while definitely not my first choice, I’m now positive that if faced with another similar trial, I could do it again…and again…and again. Because I have Jesus!
Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

And how about times when we are faced with a choice to make – left storms, right sunshine?

Adding a spirituality component to my blog is one such example. The idea flashed through my mind, totally out of left field, and I wrote it off because it didn’t immediately add up in my brain. I have a LONG ways to go in growing spiritually and I am in NO WAY qualified to take on something like this, right? Does this topic even fit with the flavor of my blog? Would my readers embrace this turn of events? Would some of my followers fall out? (thanks, Satan, by the way).
But, He was persistent and before I knew it I was getting lost in blogging about this incredible book – regardless of whether or not I am qualified, what people might think and if some of followers dropped off. And, I am NOT qualified…but HE IS…and “God will provide where He guides”.

This chapter ends with a profound statement, “It is better for you to choose the challenging road – if God is in it – than to select the route that is easier and more convenient but lacks the presence of power of God”.

Facing a difficult circumstance – decisions or cards dealt? Look to Him, follow His direction and you will never go wrong. He will ensure shelter through those storms and they never last forever.

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 7

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I remember when I began this book, and the excitement I felt as I finished Chapter 2 (and then another chapter down the road; which one specifically, I can’t recall). While it’s true that every chapter has brought excitement; I’m talking about EXCITEMENT!!

It was all because of the peace I felt within. The comfort in knowing that what I was hearing was, in fact, His voice/guidance/direction. The relief in having it re-confirmed that He has it all under control, and is even letting me in on some of the details. That ‘ah-ha!’ moment when what I think I know is confirmed.

PEACE.

Not only a characteristic of our Savior, but an indication that he has spoken.

For the longest while I’ve struggled to let go of my burden – or I would set it down for just a short while, only to run quickly back over and pick it back up. How much of my hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze every detail has done nothing but get in His way? I suspect all of it…

And then something amazing happened! I reached a point where I <finally> acknowledged I am just too drained…physically, mentally and emotionally…to continue running interference. To continue getting in His way. And because I have <finally> been <metaphorically> beaten into submission, I’m just not anymore. Not that I no longer care about things – because I surly do – but I find I’m better able to take only the steps He directs me to take and leave all the rest to him. He is the one in control, after-all.

I have laid my burden at His feet, just as he instructs us all to do.
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.

It doesn’t feel “amazing” to come to this point via the road I chose to take, but it is quite incredible how it’s worked for good. I am finally feeling an inner sense of PEACE like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Yes. Me.

The hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze everything….Me.