Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday (Re) Focus - My Story - Part 1

The first time I realized that God knew who I was, I was little... maybe 7 or 8. My mom was the choir director in our church. I was doing my spelling words on a pew while I waited for the choir to complete their weekly practice. The song they were practicing was "the Majesty and Glory of Your Name," based on Psalm 8.   The song talks of the stars and moon and how the same one who created them is mindful of man.

In my child brain, I loosely connected the Bible stories I'd learned in Sunday School with the idea that the God I'd been taught about knew me.

I left the sanctuary in search of Brother Shauf, our pastor. I remember crying and not being sure why. I told him what I was feeling and thinking and he told me that not only is God aware of me, he wants a relationship with me. He went on to tell me that I cannot have a relationship with God because of sin and he explained what sin is. Then he told me that Jesus came and died on the cross to pay for my sin so that when I stand before God, my sin is forgiven. He also told me that on Easter, Jesus rose from the dead so that I can live forever in heaven once my life here is over. I asked Jesus to save my soul that night.

I was 21 the next time I came face to face with my need for Jesus. I'd lived my life with no thought of Jesus or sin or heaven. I was a hairdresser then. One of my clients invited me to her church. I went and in a short time joined a small group lead by the pastor. He and I became friends. One day, sitting in his office, discussing my history and the guilt associated with my bad choices, he asked me if I believed that God could forgive me for my sin. I told him yes and he asked why I thought I couldn't forgive myself. He went on to tell me that when God forgives, he separates our sin as far from us as far as the east is from the west... and that's a straight line.

In that moment I remembered what Brother Shauf told me all those years ago about God wanting a relationship with me and how that was possible. I put this with this new understanding of forgiveness and knew that I wanted this. I wanted a relationship with God. I wanted to follow Christ. I wanted to be a Christian.

"Getting saved" and "Giving my life to Christ" are accurate but not complete descriptions of what happened to and in me. Yes, I was saved from eternity in hell by the sacrifice and mercy of Jesus Christ. Yes, I did stop living for myself, looking for ways to satisfy myself and began living in a way that I believed God wanted me to. There is so much more to it than that tho. I started changing. Immediately, my language cleaned up and I stopped drinking and going out. I started praying more, reading my Bible and also reading Christian books. I changed the music I listened to.

In time, my relationship with Christ changed everything about who I am. The things that move me changed. The things I desire changed. My wants changed.

It wasn't long after this that I met Calvin.  About a year later, we married.

That's enough for today. I'll pick up there next week.

Much love and big hugs...

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thursday's Thoughts on... How I feel about Santa and stuff

For years, I've struggled to balance "Jesus is the reason for the season" with "I'll be home for Christmas," and "Santa Clause is comin' to town." I've found it difficult to find a balance. It seems that Family and Tradition overshadow celebrating Jesus's birth even when gift giving and Santa do not. I want to make peace with all of it. Can we love Jesus most and still celebrate all the other things that happen at Christmas Time?

Santa visited my older child, but not my younger. My older child is not a Jesus hater because Santa visited him and my younger is not in therapy because Santa didn't visit her. Given the opportunity to do her childhood over again, I would likely invite Santa back into our home, simply because now I see that Santa isn't really the issue. It doesn't seem to be "Santa" that takes children's eyes off Christ so much as it is the focus on gift giving... or gift receiving.

Here's what's in my heart...

Jesus IS the reason for the Season. He is. Goodness He has given us SO much to celebrate! He has given us people to love. He has given us beautiful lights and music and all sorts of wonderful things to delight our senses. I love Christmas. I love everything about it and I don't feel one bit guilty about being crazy in love with all of it. I don't think it is necessary for me to prove I love Jesus on December 25 because I love Him the other 364 days of the year too. I am thankful... DEEPLY thankful for all the things He has given me and I want to enjoy all of it. The little people in my life will hear me thank Jesus for the gifts He has given me. The people in my life know that I love and follow Jesus daily.  That is so much more important to me than them knowing that I do or don't invite Santa into my home or whether I say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

I think that focusing on Jesus and my relationship with him every day eliminates the need to make a statement at Christmas. I don't think anyone who knows me has any doubt about my relationship with Christ, so I'm going to celebrate Christmas. I'm going to soak it all in. I'm going to sing the songs, enjoy the lights, savor the foods and love the people God has given me....not because any of these are more important to me than Jesus, but because I am so incredibly thankful that He has blessed me with all of them!

Just my Thoughts,

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wednesday's Weekly Recipes- Cornbread Dressin' - It's not just for Thanksgiving

Dressin' is a funny thing. First of all, most everyone I know has a strong opinion about what "good" dressin' is.  Some like a lot of sage. Some don't. (I vote NO to sage-y dressin'.) Some like it dry and crumbly, others like it more of a quiche consistency. I have come to the conclusion that it absolutely depends on how your mama made it. Most recipes are passed down through generations and are more of a "pinch of this and pinch of that til it looks and tastes right" than actual recipes.

In looking for an actual recipe to share, I was SHOCKED at how many recipes there are for "Southern Cornbread Stuffing." Sweet Jesus! "Southern STUFFING??"  

Does such a thing exist????

In my house, in my mama's house, at my sister's, my Nan's and at my Grandma's, and at alllll my friends' houses, we eat Cornbread Dressin'.  Here's a basic recipe:

1 full recipe Cornbread (I use a 9" pan and usually make two... because when I make it, I don't go by a specific recipe, I just add til it "looks right". I also use day old corn bread)
3 pieces sliced sandwich bread or 3 buttermilk biscuits (I don't add this to mine)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage (optional)
3 large eggs
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup butter, sliced
4 cups cream of chicken soup
6 cups chicken stock

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and celery in oil (or butter) until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Crumble all of the cornbread and biscuits (or white bread slices) into a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, eggs, onion, celery, butter, cream of chicken soup, and chicken stock. Stir until well-combined.
4. Pour dressing into two 9x13 baking dishes and bake until lightly browned, about 30 - 45 minutes. To test doneness, shake casserole dish lightly. If the center of the dressing moves, then the dressing is not cooked through in the center. Continue to bake until the dressing is set throughout.

You can pour dressing into two smaller casserole dishes to reduce cooking time to about 35 minutes. I like to do this for one pan with onions and the other without for those who do not like onions.

You can also add bits of turkey (or chicken) and chopped boiled egg to your recipe.

My mama stirs her's half way through cooking. This makes it looser and a bit dryer.