Sunday, October 27, 2013

Living the Transparent Christian Life

Merriam Webster defines transparent as having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering bodies lying beyond are seen clearly. Living a transparent life is not easy. It requires a large amount of vulnerability and honesty with not only others but also with yourself. I think this can be especially difficult for people who wish to portray a particular image to others and some of the people who struggle the most of this are Christians. It can be so easy to try to put on a fa├žade or a mask and try to pretend to be what you consider a good Christian to be. The devil uses our pain, shame, and guilt to keep us in a prison of isolation and lies.
When I was in high school I began my battle with depression. I had become so good at acting like the happy-go-lucky Christian girl without any care in the world that even my closest friends and family had no idea how deep my pain was. It wasn’t until I could no longer bare the weight of the depression and began inflicting self-harm and acting out my suicidal fantasies that people came to full knowledge of what I was battling. At that time I thought my role was to always be pleasant and seem like I had the perfect life. The weight of the lies was almost as heavy as that of the depression. Part of me wanted to find a way to allow the pain out. In a twisted way I found that cutting myself would relieve some of my pain. At the moment I thought it was a way to release and control the amount of pain I was in. For me it was the same as drinking and smoking because all those things seem to help for that very moment but only caused more physical harm, more shame, and scars that last. Depression has a way of entrapping you into a world of secrecy. I stayed trapped in my own thoughts for years but when I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own I was able to give it to God and allow others to help me. Hiding my pain from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
As I sit in my fifth grade classroom, I stare down at the book. I pray to myself that she does not call my name. It’s one of those few times I am quiet in the class because I know if I’m caught speaking to my friends I’m more likely to be called on. My heart begins to race and I can’t seem to find the place where everyone is at. A quick moment of relief rushes over me when I hear her call someone else’s name. I’m still frantically seeking to find where they are. I glance up to check the slow moving clock that mocks me with every tick… tick… tick.  When I go to look down at my book again the most terrifying thing happens, I make eye contact with her. I hear her call my name and fear fills me.  My eyes skim across the millions of words on the page but I don’t seem to recognize any of them. I know my face must be flush because I can feel the heat coming from it. A friend leans over and points to the spot on the page. My relief over finding my place is quickly destroyed when I realize that now I must read these words out loud. I slowly sputter out words tripping and falling over every letter. I can’t even recollect the words as they’re coming out my mouth. It feels like slow excruciating torture. I am so ashamed that everyone now knows how stupid I am. Thankfully, the teacher just thinks that I don’t pay attention. It’s always better to be considered a slacker then it is to be considered stupid. It wasn’t until six years later that I realized that there was a reason that I could not read. I spent so many years afraid and ashamed to tell my teachers and my parents that I was struggling. When I finally put off my shame my parents were able to get me the help I needed. It took me many years to realize that I was not stupid, but the devil uses the words to pierce at me from time to time. Hiding my shame from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
Sometimes the guilt we feel for a sin that we have committed or are in the process of committing keeps us from being open and honest with others. There is just something about putting the words out there that makes it seem so much more real and also more convicting. It can also be difficult to be open because we fear judgment even in the church today. We need to remember whom the judge we should fear is, and not be concerned about the thoughts of others if we are doing what is right. I have openly admitted to other Christians that I had committed the sin of adultery and I have found that very few picked up stones to throw at me. In fact many have appreciated my honesty and have opened up about their shortcomings. If it is guilt over something we have already done and repented from, then this secrecy and darkness can keep it from fully healing. If it is something we are doing currently, often we don’t tell others because in our hearts we know what’s wrong but we want to still do it anyways We also don’t want anyone to hold us accountable. If we stay isolated from other Christians because we want to be living in sin we will fall farther and farther away and we will sink deeper into that sin until it almost consumes us like quicksand. Remember though that is never too late to turn back to God. Hiding my guilt from others only kept me from getting the help I needed and kept me from connecting with others.
I have found that living a transparent Christian life has freed me from so many things. It allows me to have a deeper connection with other Christians. I have also found that through the healing that God has given me, He has also given others healing in their own lives through my story of His healing. My prayer is that my friends will not see me as perfect but will see me as someone who has been transformed by God and who loves God. Sin grows and thrives in darkness just like mold and bacteria do, but in allowing all of that to be exposed to God’s light… that is where you find healing.God has turned the very things that I once had hidden into ministry and uses the things that I once saw as pain, shame, and guilt to bring Him glory.

Merriam Webster defines transparent as having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering bodies lying beyond are seen clearly. Living the transparent Christian life is to let God’s light truly shine through you so others may see Him and all he has done. 

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

2 Samuel 22:29 You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Power of Prayer

Hello everyone, 

I thought I would start off my introducing myself. My name is Faith and I am a wife, a mother of two beautiful girls, a friend, a daughter, a sister, blogger, and a child of God. My blog is Daily Struggles and Uplifting Scriptures I often blog about what things I struggle with and how God is teaching me. 

This is Abigaile my 7 year old 
This is Elizabeth my 1yeaa

Told you they were cute.

At the beginning of the school year I began our first year of homeschooling. It is tough at times but I love being in control of what my daughter is learning, being able to help her at her own pace, and her curriculum. One of the books that we were reading last week is a Christian book about different Christian heroes of the past and present. This particular book was based on the life of George Muller. Now I had never heard of him before and just in case you hadn't I figured I would put a quick background to who he was from what I have learned. 

George Muller was a Christian evangelist who opened several orphanage homes and began a ministry called the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. He cared for over 10,000 orphans in his time. He also began many schools for children and adults where they could learn more about God. All of this without asking anyone for a single penny. Now George Muller was not rich... he actually lived a life of very little means, but he believed in the power of prayer and of God's love for His people. 

While this book was for my daughters education, I found that God was trying to reach me through it. As I was reading the book I found myself feeling very convicted and in awe of God's power and love. It seemed like every page I read aloud I would find a lump growing in my throat, my vision blurring from tears, and myself holding my breath. Over and over again there would be a need, George would pray, and God would faithfully provide. Now I pray, but there was something so different about the way George Muller prayed from how I do. He prayed with so much faith, conviction, and boldness. 

There was this one example in the book. One day friend of the Muller's were visiting with their daughter, Abigail. As the little girl was playing in the garden, the head lady of the orphanage came into Muller's office and told him that they had no food to feed the 300 children for breakfast. George went and got Abigail and took her to where the children were waiting to pray and eat. He told her to watch what God was about to do. As all the children stood before their empty bowls, George prayed. He didn't ask God to send food. Instead, he thanked God for the food that He was sending. When the prayer was over there was a knock at the door. It was a baker who woke up at 2am to bake all the children bread because he felt lead to. Then their was a milk cart that broke right outside the orphanage doors and the only way for the man to fix his cart was to unload a bunch of the milk, so he gave it to them for free. 

Even now that story amazes me. So often I pray using phrases such as, "if it's your will", and "if you don't it's ok but Lord please..." Now, I am not saying that it is bad to pray for God's will, but I think when I know God's will, I should pray with boldness. So often those phrases are due to a lack of faith and an insecurity. I have been praying that God would teach me to pray with faith, boldness, power, and conviction. 

Recently I tried this... praying with boldness. I truly believed that my husband and I were supposed to go on an upcoming marriage retreat, but they had no spots open and we couldn't afford it. Someone had given us a gift certificate to go which covered the cost but we still did not have a spot, so I prayed. I prayed that God would open the doors to make it possible and I thanked Him in advanced. It felt so uncomfortable. Two days later, we received a call that we had a spot on the marriage retreat. God answered our prayers. 

I wonder how many more things God wants for me if I would be willing to show a little more faith in my prayer life. 

Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

1 John 5:14-15 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you Claudia for letting me share with your readers.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Closing the Gap

When I was little and walking around the grocery store with my mom I ran into one of my school teachers. I remember feeling completely shocked and confused. I wondered what she was doing outside of school. That was the moment I realized that my teacher was a real person and had a real life. 

As I have grown older my views of people have slowly shifted and changed. I went from having one dimensional view of people to having a more detailed understanding of them as individuals. I noticed this happening after having Abigaile. I went from being the babysitter of many families to becoming the friend of the parents. My view of my mom changed completely. When I was young she was just my mom but now I see her as my mom, a wife, a daughter, a woman, and a friend. This change in our relationship has bettered me as a person because I am able to learn so much more from her and from others. 

In the last two years I have gotten to know two amazing women. I have known them all my life but not in the way I know them now. I would love to introduce them to you all.

The first woman is Joan. She is the mother of six adult children (four girls and two boys). She is the loving grandma and a great-grandma. She is a very strong, smart, and kind hearted woman. I love the chances I get to talk to her on the phone. She gives great advice and is a great listener. She is the kind of person who would drop everything to help you in anyway she could. 

The second woman is Roberta. She is the mother to two boys. She is also a loving grandmother and great-grandmother. She is a strong, candid, and opinionated woman. I had no idea just how much we had in common. While I have heard often that people don't change, I have seen great change in her. She has stepped outside of herself and how she was brought up and I see her as very brave. 

These two women are who we decided to name Elizabeth after... not only are they amazing women they are her amazing great-grandmothers. 

I am so thankful that God has transformed my relationship with my grandmas into friendships. A couple years ago I decided that I needed to call my grandmas more often and it was a great decision. I love the conversations that we have been having. I get to hear their stories of motherhood. I hear them talk about their husbands. It is so cool to see them just as women who have faced some of the same struggles that I face today. I wish that everyone had the opportunity to close the generational gap and get to know and find new respect for those strong women who went before them. 

Titus 2:3-5 "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

Friday, September 6, 2013

A White Mother of Three Beautiful Black Daughters

Let me start by saying that I don't consider my daughter to be black... I see them as biracial because that is what they are. They are half Irish and half African American. But what I have learned is that, in general, society considers them to be black. For example, President Obama is considered the first black president.. not the first biracial president. Shortly after having Abigaile my husband told me that his family considered her to be black... "one drop of black in you makes you black." I didn't understand that logic because it is based off of old racist slavery thinking. I will raise my daughters to find pride in both sides of their background and I will raise them to be educated on the history of their complete background. 

I am a white mother of three beautiful black daughters. This is an account of some of the things I never considered before becoming a parent and some of the concerns I never knew I had. Having never faced many of the issues I was completely naive to the issues that still exist today. 

The Name Game: 

When I was pregnant with my first my husband told me that we had to give her an "old white woman name." I didn't understand what he meant and then he explained it. She will be judged her whole life based on the color of her skin and he didn't want to add to the judgement based on her name. While it is unfair and wrong many people are going to judge her already and by giving her an unorthodox name she will be seen as less educated. My husband said, "How many Dr. La'Quayshas do you know?" In my mind it shouldn't matter what your name is but I understood his point and I knew that he had insight that I would never have so I respected his wishes. That is why our three daughters are named Abigaile, Elizabeth, and Charlotte. 

The N Word:

When we first got married my husband and I decided that the N word was not appropriate in our household, no matter you color. We don't think it is a word that should be used at all along with any other words that are used to tear someone down. I had always considered "the talk" to be the time a parent speaks to a child about sex... but there is another meaning to "the talk"... it will be the time we sit down and discuss with our child about the N word. While I wish it was a subject we could just ignore and it would go away it is something that has to happen. It is better for us to address it before she hears it away from us and a controlled situation. I am so thankful that my husband is actively involved with our daughters because he would be giving the majority of this talk. He has a better insight and explaining why some black people say it would make more sense coming from him than from me. I want to be there to support and help in anyway. 

A Hairy Situation:

Through the years I have learned a few terms from my mother in law (MIL). When Abbie was about three years old I was talking to the MIL about Abbie's knotty hair and she responded by saying, "Faith, that is not knotty... her hair is nappy (tight coarse curls) . You have a black baby, you can say nappy. Say it with me.. Nappy nappy."  That was the first time in my life that I ever said the word nappy... before that I wouldn't have even thought to say someones hair was nappy and as a white woman I felt no right to even use the term. Another similar term I learned to use was ashy (dry skin that looks lighter due to dryness). 

I struggled with Abbie's hair for a long time for many reasons. The first being my fibromyalgia. Sitting and doing hair for any extended period of time would cause so much pain in my hands and my back. The second being that I was not raised seeing the styles to do her hair in. I have tried to learn different cute styles over the years but I will not be doing cornrows anytime soon. The third being that her hair texture is neither like mine or like my husbands. She really does have mixed hair... some curls some straight. If you use hair products for white hair it will dry out her hair and products meant for black hair causes her hair to be oily.... and when I thought there was hope in products for mixed hair I was disappointed. The stuff for mixed hair would make her curls curlier and her straight pieces even more straight... which would leave her hair looking like an untrimmed bush. The final reason being that she is so tender headed (has a sensitive scalp). Doing her hair would lead to hours of her moving around, crying, and even sometimes throwing up. Chocolate Hair/ Vanilla Care is a great site that gives tips about doing hair and has been a great support to me.

Abbie and I decided to let her hair be natural which came with all new complications.. the judgements of others. She had women flat out say to her, "You can tell you have a white momma." I would have some people just come up to me and state their disliking. When we cut her hair I was told that I was not allowed to cut a black girls hair. Finally I just came to the point where I don't care what others say... she is my child and we can do her hair however we want. So much freedom came from not trying to impress anyone else and by allowing Abbie to be her own free spirited self. So when Abbie wanted to get a mohawk like Willow Smith, I agreed. I think she totally pulls it off and she loves it. To me I was raised with hair just being hair...  my mom would often say, "it will just grow back." After my husband explained it to me, I have come to respect and understand that for many in the black community including my in laws.. the way your hair is cared for is a sign of being cared for and loved. 

I have had no issues with Elizabeth's hair partially because she is not tender headed, I have had practice, and her hair is all one texture. What will come of Charlottes hair is still to be determined but no matter how it turns out it will always be clean and I will not let her hair be her value.

Not Only Skin Deep:

Both the husband and I have learned that our girls need their skin cared for like both sides. Having oily skin I didn't realize that my girls would need rubbed down with Vaseline and that it would soak in. For me it would make my skin so nasty and greasy. He didn't understand that even though they are black they still need sunblock to protect their skin. He had the misconception that being black meant that no sun protection was needed. While they may not get burned from five minutes in the sun in January, like their mom... they are still able to get skin cancer and we will not risk it. 

Like Mother...  Like Daughter:

I think all my daughters have certain features from their father and certain features from me. There are times when I can see more of one of us in them than the other. It does kind of bother and hurt me when someone will tell me that they think my child looks nothing like me. Well of course I am super pale and they are brown... of course I have straight bright red hair and theirs is curly brown but that isn't where I am looking. It is like those moments where Abbie feels the need to tell her friends that even though I am white I indeed AM her mother. Around mothers day last year there were a lot of websites of moms sharing their photo of them when they were young next to a picture of their daughters... a mommy/daughter look alike thing. I wanted to post a picture but I was afraid of the comments stating that we didn't look alike. Most of the time it doesn't bother me at all but occasionally it does.

Hooked on Ebonics: 

When Abbie comes home from spending time with her Nana she will speak in ebonics. It never really bothered me but it certainly bothered my husband. He quickly corrects her speech and explains to her why it is inappropriate to speak that way. At first I thought he was just being overly sensitive to it and too harsh, but I can see how he is trying to protect her just as he was doing with her name. He explained to her that people will already judge her based on her complexion but by speaking like that would lead them to think that she was uneducated and ignorant. The idea that my daughters will have to do so much to just not be judged and to give the best first impression is sad to me. Part of me wants to say forget those people... they don't know what they will be missing. It also makes me sad that I can't protect or prepare them for what they may have to deal with. 

My Baby Daddy:

So often little quick judgements are passed about their father. The girls will have to learn how to not accept these judgements and how to not pass them on anyone els. For example, way too often I am asked in front of my girls if they have the same "baby daddy"... I try to quickly deflate the snap judgement by saying "my husband" in response but sadly often the response is shock to the fact that he married me. This says that the person asking assumes that a black man would not only father many children by one woman but that he most likely wouldn't marry that woman. I don't want my daughters with this idea of black men. There are so many strong educated dedicated godly black fathers out there and by perpetuating that image we are not showing the young men today that they are able to be that very kind of man. In general our society view men as incompetent. Movies and television reflect fathers as either being absent (whether physically or emotionally) and as being stupid. I want my daughters to expect more from those of the opposite sex. I want them to encourage friends to step up and be the godly men that is intended of them and I want them to seek out spouses like their father. 

It saddens me when Abbie (who is only 8) picks up social judgements and assumes them as correct. She once told her grandma that she has the option to choose to be polite because she is mixed and that she wants to be polite like the white side. Wow... I have no idea where she got the idea that black people are rude. How many other false ideas are floating around inside her head? I hope that she feels safe enough to openly talk to me about them so I can disprove and educate her on the truth... The truth being that in all races there are rude and polite people. In all races there are those who will love and there are those that will choose to hate. In all races there are good fathers and there are bad. In all races there are stereotypes. 

I love my life and I love my family. I could not be more proud of our differences and similarities. I make a point to educate my daughters on where we have come from as a society but we still have a little ways to go as a society. 

Quick Update

Again it has been a while since I have written and a lot has happened.

So what's new?

  • My hubby has a new job... thank the Lord. It is a day job that is closer to home. I really enjoy getting to spend some time with him after the girls go to bed and it is much easier to not have to keep the girls quiet during the daytime. 
  • Eb turned two years old... and she is acting it. We began the fits and pushing the boundaries. 
  • We now have a new addition to our family. Charlotte was born on August 9th and is our third daughter. She is a very good baby, not that any babies are bad babies.
  • Abbie started 3rd grade.
I miss writing but often when I am under a lot of stress and am feeling down I don't do well with writing. Between the two year old and waking up every two hours for the newborn I am exhausted and feel like a shell of myself. 

After having Charlotte I weigh less than before I was pregnant and I am trying to keep it off. I am making sure I eat plenty of good nutritious food since I am breastfeeding Charlie. I do high protein in the morning (eggs with cheese and turkey), well balanced snacks type of food for lunch (slices of veggies, Almond milk, glass of V8 juice, tuna fish, crackers, and caramel mini rice cakes), a normal dinner, and a late night snack. It would really be nice to get down to my pre-children weight... I know that my worth is not in my weight but it would be nice to be in a picture of my family and not hate the picture. 

One thing I have learned over the years is to not sign up for thing and offer to do things without thinking it over completely. I used to agree to help with things because I would feel obligated to... this would have led to me feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy. My obligation is to God and my family alone. I love to help out but I am going to carefully consider how it will affect my family and me. Recently I was asked to help watch little kids on Wednesday nights. I still haven't decided because at this time I feel a little overwhelmed most nights after a day of homeschooling, chasing a two year old, and caring for a newborn... I am not sure if it is a good idea to add to the schedule. I like the idea because it will make time go very quickly and I would be able to be with two of my daughters. I guess the point I am trying to get across would be that two years ago I would have signed up without even considering anything. I have learned over the years that if God is leading you to do something then you should, but if God isn't leading you to do something and you do it out of obligation (even if it is a good thing) it might be wrong. 

Well that is a general update on us... I am actually a little excited about my next post... it might be a little controversial but it will be an honest look at issues of racism today and on our biracial family. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are Good Works Enough?

I wanted to respond to the many "Christians" who say that they are going to heaven because they are "good" people. I heard the Pope mention that Athiests will go to heaven if they do good works. Instead of ranting about what I think, instead I am just going to put scriptures that go against it. The vatican did say that they did not back what the Pope had said, but I still think it is important to respond because so many people in general believe it to be true.  

(*I am not Catholic but I still found it shocking.) 

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Luke 18:18-29  A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Romans 3:9-20 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.” 
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Philippians 3:8-9 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith

Galatians 2:15-16 We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Political Correctness: The Downfall of American Christians Today

Warning: This is me getting on my soap box. As always I do not expect anyone who does not share my beliefs to follow my beliefs. I also do not apologize for honestly giving my thoughts and beliefs, but am more than happy to hear your views from you... so please share in the comments section. 

Today my girls and I went to visit my parents church which is lead by Pastor Sharp. What he brought up was the way we conform to the world instead of rejecting the views of it. I think that often we end up conforming to the world's views through slowly compromising, most often through a process we call "Political Correctness". 

This is a picture of the Grand Canyon. What amazes me is that they think the shape of the canyon is caused by wind and water (the river). It is said that a constant drip of water can shape and wear down a stone or rock. This reminds me of American Christians. We are built on such a strong foundation. We are built on the rock but through allowing just a tiny bit of outside influence we have slowly began to erode and change shape until we are left with just a glimpse of what we once were. This happens as a whole in the churches but also in our lives as individuals. It is a process that I have seen in my own life. I will let the world just have a little bit of me (maybe a favorite soap opera), then I put myself around friends that use coarse and ungodly language, I might begin to listen to more music that is not holy... slowly the world has curved this canyon out of my heart and leave a huge impact on it, one that everyone else can see and I often don't notice because it was such a slow change. 

Another example of this slow process that changes one so drastically would be my weight. 
When I was a little girl I was small. I wasn't even on the doctors charts for a while. It wasn't until I was in high school that I really noticed that I was gaining weight. I remember looking down at my stomach and thinking, "this is odd.. I don't remember that roll there." Within a few years I had packed on a lot of weight. I gained a little over 100 lbs in a little over a year. After having my two daughter my weight continued on the incline but slowly until I hit 250 lbs. There are plenty of excuses I can give for the weight gain, (pregnancy, depression, pain, athletic asthma, stress, limited budget, ect.) many of which I have actually used. The fact is that I allowed it by not seeing the change sooner and finding a way to stop it. I was lazy and complacent and now often I don't even recognize myself. The person I imagine in my head is this young thin kid and seeing the reflections of my poor decisions sometimes brings me to tears. This is a slow process that completely transforms you. It doesn't happen at once and it is due to laziness and complacency. 

I fear that as Christians and as a body we have become that way. We have allowed this process to happen but instead of being through physical weight it is through "Political Correctness". Our society pressures us to hold our tongues, to call evils good, to be "polite", to let everyone have his or her own truth. This is NOT a biblical idea. The Bible does not compare politeness with being submissive to the world's views. We are to be set apart and not of this world. We can not redefine what we believe just to make someone feel comfortable. In fact in being light it draws the things in darkness in to view. There is one truth and if you believe that, then there is no room in allowing for individual truths. We are still able to show love while being honest and true to God's word. Basically, I don't have to agree with you to love you. I find it a sad place in our society when it is not socially acceptable to mention God's name unless it is in a derogatory manner.  

Even though it may not be politically correct: I will teach my daughters abstinence. I will teach my daughters to respect God. I will teach my daughters the value of life and the destruction of abortion. I will teach my daughters to pray before eating and whenever they want to. I will teach my daughters to not only seek out godly spouses but to honor and submit to them with love. I will teach my daughters that without God they are nothing and dead, not only emotionally but eternally. I will teach my daughters to define themselves and things according to God's word, not worldly views. I will teach my daughters to be God correct, not politically correct. 

The good news? We do not have to be like the Grand Canyon... as people or as a body of believers. God can heal those parts and bring restoration to those parts that we have allowed to be slowly eroded. God can build us up again and again, but we have to turn to Him and allow Him. We have to seek out to God-correctness and not what this world wants. 

Isaiah 5:20-21 "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight."

John 14:6 "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

John 15:19 " If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Make and Freeze

There are a ton of sites that have recipes that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. Some of my favorite recipes can make enough for two meals (feeds 3-4 people), one to bake that day and one to freeze for later. 

I love to spend a Saturday and make a bunch of meals ahead of time so when things are crazy during the week I can just throw them in the oven and go... the other good part is the time you save. By cooking ingredients together at the same time that work with multiple recipes. It took me about 3 hours to prepare 7 meals from 4 recipes. It also saves money because I use similar ingredients for some of the recipes. 

Meal #1: Roasted Chicken
Meal #2: Lasagna (My Hubby's Favorite) *
Meal #3: Chicken Pot Pie (One of My Favorites)*
Meal #4: Creamy Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells*

*- Recipe can be split to make two separate meals or can feed 6-8 people
I do not claim to have created any of these recipes, they are ones that I have found and my have adjusted to my tastes. 

The majority of the ingredients that are needed for the recipes
Tip #1: Putting all the ingredients together ahead of time helps to make sure you are prepared, cuts down on the time, and helps to set a time line.

Meal #1: Roasted Chicken- Italian seasoned

Ingredients needed: 
1 whole chicken
Roasting pan or deep pan so drippings don't overflow
1 stick of butter melted in microwave
salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
seasoning (parsley, oregano, and sage)

Tip #2: Let chicken sit out to reach room temperature. (This helps to makes shorter cooking time and helps to cook evenly.) 

Take pieces out of the chicken, rinse off inside and outside of chicken, pat dry, and check for any little feathers left on the chicken.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Butter chicken with a little of the melted butter. 

Liberally salt, pepper, and season inside and outside of the chicken. 

Tip #3: If you do not have cooking string to tie the legs together I suggest you make small whole in the flap of skin that hangs down from the back of the bird and put the leg through and repeat for the other leg. 

Bake in the oven for about 90 mins while buttering every thirty minutes. 

Check chicken doneness using a meat thermometer or by cutting between the leg and breast and checking for clear juices. 

Let sit for 20 mins. (I pour out any extra juice or butter in the pan to keep the bottom from becoming soggy.)

Meal #2: Lasagna

Ingredients needed: 
2 Cans of Pasta Sauce
2 Boxes of NO BAKE lasagna noodles (recipe calls for one but I like more noodles)
8 oz container Ricotta cheese
1 package of Mozzarella cheese
1 package of Parmesan cheese
1 pound Ground Beef
1 pound Italian Sausage (can be tube or fresh package)
1 onion chopped

Brown ground beef and sausage in a pan, add onion until cooked,  drain extra fat, and let cool.(I like to put fennel seeds into the mixture to cook.)

Mix 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, all the ricotta cheese, and 1 egg.

Layer as follows in a slightly greased pan:
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles (slightly overlapping)
1/3 the Ricotta mixture (1/6th if separating into two pans for two meals)
Sprinkle 1/2 meat mixture on top (1/4th if separating)
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles 
1/3 the Ricotta mixture (1/6th...)
1/2 remaining mozzarella cheese
1/2 remaining parmesan cheese 
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles
remaining meat mixture
1 cup sauce
lasagna noodles
remaining Ricotta mixture
some sauce
lasagna noodles
pour remaining sauce on top
put remaining cheeses on top

Tip #4 Switch direction of the noodles to make it cut without falling apart.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake for 45 mins-1hr for half serving... 1 1/2 hour- 2 hrs for full meal. Basically until all noodles are soft and cheese is bubbly and brown. 

Tip #5: Bake over a cookie sheet to prevent any bubbling over into the oven. 

Meal #3:Chicken Pot Pie- Makes 2 pies

Ingredients Needed:
1 1/2 large chicken breasts (2 chicken breasts will work well also)
2 boxes of store pie crusts (you can make your own)
1 bag frozen stew vegetables (thawed in refrigerator over night)
2 cans of cream of chicken soup (Cream of mushroom is also good)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg and a little water mixed together in a little dish

Boil chicken breasts until cooked all the way through, cool, chop into small square chunks.

Cut stew veggies into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl mix the cans of soup, the chopped chicken, milk, and the veggies.

Put bottom layer of pie crusts in the pans and fill evenly with the mixture.

Put top layer of pie crusts on the pans and seal the edges by pinching around outsides. 

Cut four slits in the top of the pie. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush egg water mixture on top of the pie crust to give it a beautiful golden brown crust.

Bake for 30 mins (45mins- 1hr if frozen) or until golden brown and crust is cooked. 

Ingredients Needed:
1 1/2 large chicken breasts (2 would work well)
2 tbsp of Pesto (homemade or store bought)
1 box of jumbo shells
1 8oz package of cream cheese- brought to room temperature
1 bag of parmesan cheese
1 tsp Garlic seasoning (I used garlic herb)

Boil chicken until cooked all the way through, let cool, and shred with forks).

Boil jumbo shells as directed on box. Drain and let shells cool.

In a bowl mix chicken, cream cheese, pesto, 1 cup parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Fill shells with the mixture and place in lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Bake for 30 mins (45 mins- 1hr if frozen).

Links to recipes I love either originals or ones that use similar ingredients are accessible by clicking on meal name.