trail in woods with morning sun

Journey

trail in woods with morning sun

Today’s post is written for the Five Minute Friday link-up on the prompt, “journey”.

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Life is made of so many journeys.

Some are happy and joy-filled and some are difficult and laced with pain.

  • The journey of a small embryo as he/she grows into a full-size baby.
  • That painful journey from the safety and darkness of our mother’s womb into the bright but scary real world.
  • Our early childhood and formative years.
  • The tumultuous journey from childhood to adulthood, called adolescence.
  • Our journey of learning through education.
  • The journey of career training and job choices.
  • Many journeys of relationships, especially if one chooses to marry.
  • The ever-challenging, yet abundantly rewarding  journey of having and raising children, if we dare.

There are journeys within these journeys of life as well; emotional and mental journeys made up of experiences and our reactions to them, among other factors.

But one journey stands out to me most: my spiritual journey.

That is the path that leads me through life, either towards or far away from God.

This is the journey that I chose to prioritize, even though it is unseen.

It is the journey that will affect me the most, and bring hope and healing or hurt and pain to those around me.

Thankfully, I have a Guide and a guidebook to help me along the path.

 

Psalm 23 (NLT)

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

*****

 

drinks, vegetables, fruit, and snacks

Eat

drinks, vegetables, fruit, and snacksThis post is written for the Five Minute Friday link-up, where different bloggers will briefly write their thoughts about the prompt, “eat”.

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“Mom! What is there to eat?”

Sound familiar?

Well, what is there?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I eat lately, especially since I’m in the midst of a seven-day fitness/meal plan challenge, intended to jump-start a balanced, healthy regimen by exercising (longer than normal!), and eating a balanced, nutritious diet.

It’s easy for our kids…..OK, for us adults, too….. to just grab the easiest or most appealing snack and shove it in our mouths. In the busyness of life, it’s hard and takes discipline and planning to eat in a healthy way.

It’s more work to cook healthy meals and snacks from real, wholesome food, than to grab an expensive, pre-packaged snack or wolf down a handful of greasy, nutrition-void chips.

It’s all about choices.

We must choose our priorities, and plan to make them a reality.

So it is with our spirits.

We can browse aimlessly online, on social media, or in front of the television. We can wander nonchalantly through our favorite store, being tempted by things we don’t need or are not good for us or for our budgets.

As a slight disclaimer, I am in no way bashing the tools of technology such as social media, TV, etc., and am not suggesting that relaxing by shopping are always bad activities. They just require discipline.

What I am suggesting, even challenging us with, is to chose how we spend our time. Chose what we look at, devour, or even “nibble on” in our lives. We must mindfully consider what we are allowing to enter our minds, hearts, and our spirits.

We often tell our children the illustration about the two dogs inside of us: the vicious, self-serving, mean and unruly one; or the kind, gentle, loving, disciplined and faithful one…..and encourage them to feed the right dog. That is the animal that will get bigger, stronger, and take over our life.

Today, let’s be intentional, and choose what we eat wisely.

*****

 

closed door close-up

Learning Not to Push Open Closed Doors

closed door close-upLately I keep encountering the same message.

Don’t push open doors that God has closed.

Let go of the past.

Move forward into something new.

I’ve encountered this message recently in my various devotional readings. Interesting, as I’ve been encouraged particularly through two entirely different authors from unrelated ministries. One is from a Bible reading plan on YouVersion (the Bible app.), and the other from the Loop devotional emails I receive each week.

I shouldn’t be surprised, though, as I recall that my word of the year is “new”,  (or perhaps “change”). I honestly had forgotten about that in the busyness of these past few months.

As I shared in that earlier post, I have been in a transitional time in my life as far as work (outside the home) is concerned. Interestingly, this trend has continued for the past year, as I enjoyed another part-time job since I wrote the original post which also ended within a few months with re-structuring in the business. I am even now facing the end of my current seasonal position at a local farm, although this time it was to be expected.

As I’ve begun again to think about looking for work and what that might look like, I have thought about the possibility of “pushing on” some old employment doors. Usually, as long as I haven’t received concrete advice or an obvious “warning” feeling not to, I would proceed to “turn over every stone”, or go ahead and knock on any door, trusting God to lead me to and/or away from each job as appropriate.

But more and more, I am sensing that God has new direction for me.

This has been confirmed by those closest to me, as well.

This doesn’t mean that perhaps he will not open an “old” door, but I’m less inclined to push hard on them.

It continues to be both frightening and exciting.

Some time ago, I also wrote another post about what it means when God closes a door in our lives. I hadn’t thought about that one lately, either, but found it interesting to go back and review what God was showing me several months ago. Every once in awhile I need to listen to my own advice!

The thing about it is this: it’s easier and more comfortable to pursue the same old ways we have known. My personality especially likes my familiar routines and ways, and finds changes and new ventures stressful and usually overwhelming.

It takes courage, discipline and a little faith to step out into something new.

I cannot do it on my own, but I pray that with God’s help I will find the path he has for me for this next season.

I want my life to count, and more than that, to give glory back to him.

On this bright and sunny mid-October day, the cold weather that seemed to have too quickly sneaked up on us seems to be taking a little break, and I’m told that temperatures will be in the upper seventies (almost eighty degrees….or about 25 degrees Celsius for the rest of the world!), in the next two days.

With this recent reprieve in the cooler fall weather, as I throw open my windows, I have been inspired to apply this to my emotional and spiritual health, as well.

Instead of just “surviving” or plugging through this next unknown season (especially for job-hunting and finding my true purpose for now), I am encouraged to throw open the windows of my heart and life! Of course there is the important balance of guarding my emotions or my heart, but I wish to confront this time with intentional focus and joy, rather than dread, hopelessness or just haphazard steps.

A few days ago I read a wonderful blog post that so spoke to my heart about change that I kept the tab open all weekend because I knew I’d need to read it again. I received the link in an email from the (in)courage blog to this article called, “Why God Allows Change“, written by guest author, Melanie Davis Porter. It is just what I needed to hear again! Maybe it will encourage you, as well.

Reading this post encouraged and challenged my heart to embrace and follow God’s changes in my life, even when it doesn’t feel like it makes sense.

Thankfully, there are no surprises to God!

I simply need to trust in his proven faithfulness and plan for my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

– Jeremiah 29:11, NLT

Lord, help me to accept the good changes you have in store for me, and not allow the past to dictate or cloud my future. I put my trust in you. Amen.

*****

Do you find change difficult or exciting? In what area of your life do you need to put your trust in God? Is there a “closed door” that you need to walk away from today?

 

 

mums and pumpkins

10 Things I Learned in September 2016

mums and pumpkins

Another month and another ten lessons. I continue to be amazed at how near the end of each month I consistently feel that I will not have enough items to write about, yet by the time I’m done, I usually end up with a sufficient list. If I’m on top of things, I keep a running list of what I’m learning (the best way to remember all those little things we learn without thinking). But even if I create my list in somewhat of a last-minute fashion, it never ceases to amaze me how much new knowledge I’ve acquired each month!. It really is true that we should never stop learning!

 

10 Things I Learned in September 2016:

 

1. We are actually more productive when we take breaks.afternoon nap on couch

I’ve probably known this to some extent for a long time, but I never realized that it has been backed up scientifically. I will say that the longer I live, the more I know this to be true in my own life. While reading online this month , I came across a link to this informative article, which explains scientific reasons to prioritize breaks as well as other helpful tips on recharging to be more productive.

2. Chlorine is really bad for jewelry (the second worse element?).

I recently heard this while dropping off some jewelry for repairs at our local jewelers. You can read more details in this article (by a different jeweler online). Chlorine or bleach cause a chemical reaction that breaks down the alloys in jewelry. So before you stick your precious hands in a bleach cleaner or jump into that pool, please remove your rings!

3. I really, really dislike throwing out food and deciding if food is still safe to eat is one of my most “un-favorite”decisions.

Recently I had some ground turkey thawing in the refrigerator; two pounds to be exact. As life sometimes goes, I got busy and didn’t cook it quite as soon as I had planned. One evening I warmed up my big frying pan, got out the turkey, and threw a pound in to cook. It was already late and I was tired, but I figured at least if I cooked the meat, it would be safe to wait another day until I could make the recipe I was planning.

But when I opened the second pound to add to my hot pan, it didn’t smell right to me. Knowing that it had been out maybe a day or so longer than recommended, I immediately became worried that it may have been starting to go bad. I was so upset and confused! I hate wasting food; perhaps because we try to stick to a tight food budget, and also because of the way I was raised by my family. My grandparents lived through the days of the depression, and their generation especially learned not to waste anything.

I often work hard to scrimp and save and try to make do with what I have, so throwing a whole two pounds of meat did not make me a happy camper. Even if my money allowed, I would still have a problem with wasting food, as I aim to be a good steward of all God has blessed me with.

So this was really emotionally difficult for me, magnified, I’m sure, by the lateness of the hour and my tiredness. I finally just made the decision to throw out the whole two pounds, just in case it was unsafe to eat. I wrapped it all up in plastic shopping bags and immediately stomped it out to my trash. I was really upset.

I had to realize that the risk of food poisoning or sick stomachs is not worth a couple of pounds of ground turkey meat, yet I was surprised at how upsetting it was to me. It took me a surprisingly long time to get over the incident. This is just another example of something that needs to be in balance, and for which I need to allow myself some grace.

The time I burnt my chicken dogs to a crisp, however, it was obvious even to me that they were trash!

2016-05-22 Chicken dogs burnt to a crisp (literally).

My chicken dogs, literally burnt to a crisp!

4. When I go downstairs to get something, I almost always forget what it was.

Does this happen to you? (If you’re anywhere near middle age or older, I can bet that it has.) Since we’ve been middle aged, it seems that my husband and I, more often than not, completely forget the item(s) we’ve gone for as soon as we make it down the stairs to our basement.

Did you know that this is “a thing”? It really made me feel better when a few months ago an older friend at church told me that there was a logical explanation for forgetting things when we cross a threshold (or go downstairs, I guess). It’s referred to as the “doorway effect” or the “boundary effect“, and these articles provide a thorough explanation that will probably make you feel a little less crazy, as it did for me.

Now what was I saying?

5. I can do a two and a half minute plank (and probably many more things I thought were impossible).

At the beginning of September, someone in my online Pilates subscription group posted a challenge to do a plank every night in September before bed. On week one we were to start with one minute, and add thirty seconds each week, ending the month with a week of two-and-a-half minute planks! Well, I agreed and started doing one-minute planks. It was great, and by week two, I felt good, but also quickly realized that the two-and-a-half minute goal was going to be TOUGH! I kept going, though, and must have gotten physically stronger and more determined as I went along. By the last week, it wascat on exercise mat difficult, but I was able to manage a two-and-a-half minute plank for five total days!

So what’s my point? That I’m a super-athlete? Not even close!

My point is that often we can do much more than we think is possible! This is true both physically and emotionally/mentally/spiritually. Sometimes it will be hard; it may even feel (or appear) impossible, but more often than not it can be done. If we are determined, accept the help we need (from others & God), and do the hard work, we can do much more than we give ourselves credit for!

So go out and take a baby step and watch how much you grow.

6. Most commercially canned pumpkin is not made from the traditional carving-type pumpkins we are used to seeing, but is still real pumpkin.

According to this Snopes article, which gives a lot of interesting information about squash and pumpkins, most canned pumpkin is made from “a specific cultivar of pumpkin called Dickinson.” It is not as “pretty” as the pumpkins we associate with all things fall, but is still a variety of pumpkin and was specially cultivated for the purpose of canning pumpkin.

Furthermore, squash and pumpkins are not only in the same family, but can be used in most recipes interchangeably. In my summer/fall of working on a local farm this year, I’ve learned that certain people actually request Hubbard squash to make their “pumpkin” recipes.

What I really find interesting (and slightly disturbing) is how upsetting this has been to some folk. One person (quoted in the same Snopes article), who believed that canned pumpkin is really a mixture of squashes stated that it made him question everything in his life. Really?

I understand and agree with the fact that we, as intelligent, free consumers should know what we are actually purchasing, but if we’re losing sleep over which variety of squash or pumpkin resides in our store-bought can, I suggest we take up gardening, grow our own pumpkins and squash, and never have a worry again.

CSA farm share vegetables and fruit

7. Stored potatoes actually need a certain amount of humidity (and I thought they needed a dry climate)!

I just learned today that if your potatoes tend to begin to shrivel as mine often do when we keep them for awhile, it’s not because it’s too humid, but too dry! I guess I should have come to this conclusion myself, since shriveling is generally due to losing water, but somehow I missed that.

Our basement tends to be a little humid, especially in the summer months, so we generally run a dehumidifier. My friend who happens to be my boss this summer on the farm (also where we get our CSA farm share), told me that the dehumidifier is actually the problem when it comes to making my potatoes last! Hopefully this information will help us to store our potatoes better and not waste as much.

Here’s an article which includes some great potato-storing information, especially for winter-time. (Make sure you follow the link included for other innovative potato storing tips, even if you, like me, don’t have a root cellar or ideal storage area.)

8. The area which makes up the top part of our chest (right beneath our neck), is called the decolletage.

Well, that’s roughly how my friend described it. This came up in a conversation amongst a group of my woman friends the other night.

Accordingto Wikipedia, the decolletage is,

“the upper part of a woman’s torso, comprising her neck, shoulders, back and chest, that is exposed by the neckline of her clothing. However, the term is most commonly applied to a neckline that reveals or emphasizes cleavage.”

decollatage

Interesting. And this:

“Décolletage is a French word which is derived from décolleter, meaning to reveal the neck.”

Since it’s getting colder these past few first fall days, I think I’ll be keeping my decolletage under cover. I’m so relieved that I now know the correct name of the body part hidden beneath my infinity scarves.

9. We really do not care for turban squash after all.

As much as we generally like squash, and try to be open to trying and appreciating different types of foods, we as a family decided that we really don’t care for turban squash.  I’ve probably tried one each fall, as I like the variety and trying new foods, but I honestly don’t recall our previous experiences. All I can tell you is that I’m just not sure it’s worth the time and effort to try to find a way to prepare turban squash in a way that we enjoy.

It’s such a pretty, colorful squash, and there are many recipes that call for somewhat elaborately stuffing this interesting gourd. But since I’m still not convinced we will like it, I may just pass on that and call it a day. I learned growing up (and have continued to feel strongly about), not wasting food and learning to eat and appreciate as many healthy foods as possible, but I think in this case, I have to give myself permission to dislike or refrain from eating turban squash.

If you happen to have a favorite recipe for turban squash that you’re just dying to share, please let me know so I can give it one last-ditch effort…..or better yet, invite me over to your house and prepare it for me!

turban squash pile

10. “Among” and “amongst” mean the same thing and are both acceptable, but they may be viewed differently by others.

In writing this post, I had to add one more item (causing my “type A” personality to feel so much more comfortable with this nice, even number).

I’ve noticed that when I type the word, “amongst” on my computer, it underlines it as an incorrect word. So today I decided to look it up.

It seems that both words are valid and mean essentially the same, but according to this OxfordWords Blogs post, one may be more common depending on where you are speaking, and it’s even possible (at least in the US), that the word you chose may affect how you come across to your listeners. The post states that:

“in US English, amongst is now seen as old-fashioned, and even ‘pretentious’. If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.”

Well, that clears things up, and while I do not wish to appear haughty in any way, I just added the word, “amongst” to my computer dictionary. Now I will not have to be amongst those who are questioning whether it’s a word anymore.

*****

What have you learned this month? Do you have anything to share about vegetables, necklines, forgetting and/or taking breaks? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

 

Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

What Am I Choosing to Collect?

Today’s post is written for Five Minute Friday, a fun and inspirational link-up with many other bloggers who write for five minutes, unedited, on a given prompt.

(Confession time: I’m working on sticking to the five minute, unedited “rule”, imperfectly, but have grown towards these goals as a “recovering perfectionist”. That’s one of the reasons I chose to participate in this weekly challenge.)

Today’s prompt is, “collect”. I hope you are encouraged or inspired, too.

*****

Coffee, candle, pumpkin on table

 

What am I choosing to collect?

A life is full of collections, some of physical things, such as stones, shells, books, stamps, jewelry, coffees or mason jars.

But every day we are collecting things we cannot see.

What am I choosing to collect … emotionally, mentally, even spiritually?

I often make poor choices (or automatic, it seems), to collect regrets, discontent, complaints, stress, grief, hurt or negativity.

But I wish to collect something better, a collection of unseen gifts that I can share through my life with those around me, and pass on to my family and future generations.

With God’s help, I would rather be intentional about collecting good things.

I choose to collect thankfulness, cheerfulness, peace, happy memories, good thoughts, positive words, grace … simple treasures that I wish to keep.

I do have a choice as to what I collect.

 

” And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” 

– Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

 

 

We can make a positive impact on our own lives, and of those around us.

 

 

” The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

– 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)

 

 

What are you choosing to collect?

*****

 

 

five-minute clock photo

What Can I Do in Five Minutes?

five-minute clock photo

Today’s post is for the link-up of five-minute, (mostly) unedited writings at Five Minute Friday. Enjoy!

*****

Five minutes.

It isn’t very long. (Just ask me and other bloggers who are attempting to keep these posts to that short time limit!)

Perhaps because I’m being challenged in the area of time management, I feel inspired to write about five minutes (for the prompt of the word “five” today).

What can I do in five minutes?

I have a LOT of five-minute increments in each and every day, but how can I use them?

I can “waste” time browsing on social media (not that I consider all social media time a waste), I can mope around or wander aimlessly without a plan, I can get distracted or focus on the difficult or challenging things in my life.

I could wolf down a few handfuls of chips or unhealthy snacks.

I can chose to feel badly about myself or my situation, or just plain loose track of time.

That precious five minutes.

But I can be intentional.

I can make a choice.

I can spend five minutes reflecting on things for which I’m thankful.

I can pray and think and plan. I can write a to-do list.

I could spend five minutes doing “nothing”, but using the time to rest and rejuvenate my body, emotions, mind or spirit.

I could write that email, mail that card, make that phone-call.

Maybe I can put away five minutes of clutter or take a baby-step for that big project I’ve been procrastinating.

I could make something healthy to eat for myself or to share with my family.

Other options may include five minutes of exercise, writing a quick post on my blog, starting (or switching) the laundry, wiping down a bathroom, or watering my plants.

I can share a smile, give a compliment, or say something to encourage someone around me.

The choice is up to me.

I pray that I learn not to waste my five minutes.

When you put a whole lot of five-minutes increments together…..it becomes a life.

*****

What Can You Do in Five Minutes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun's rays shining through tree branches with blue sky and clouds

Listen.

Sun's rays shining through tree branches with blue sky and clouds

 

Today’s post is linked up with others at Five Minute Friday, where you may enjoy the five-minute, mostly unedited writings of other bloggers on the prompt, “listen.”

*****

As I think about the word, “listen”, many thoughts come to mind. That, in itself, should tell me something.

Do I really listen?

Are there too many thoughts, ideas, concerns, “to-do’s”, emotions, reactions, and distractions for me to even hear at all?

Sometimes I can’t hear myself think.

Often I don’t really listen to what others are saying to me.

At times, I feel it’s so difficult to hear God’s still, small voice.

And so, I need to stop.

I need to clear away the cobwebs from my mind and heart.

I need to “pull the log out of my own eye”, so that my ears will also be open to hear others.

I need to stop striving and trust the One who holds it all together, yet created me and knows the innermost thoughts and feelings and longings of my heart.

Let’s practice stopping…..and really listening.

May we be surprised at what we hear.

*****

 

part of watermelon house flag with sun rays

What I Learned in August 2016

I was hoping to publish this before I go to bed tonight. See, I didn’t realize what the date was until I got to church today, and where I was reminded that it’s 9/11. The thing is, at first I thought, “How can I publish a blog post today that’s not specifically honoring that first, fateful 9/11 day?” I will probably write a more specific, serious post on that theme in the future (when I’m not caught totally off guard), but today is not the day.

As I thought about it, I decided that this “looking back” post about what I learned last month is actually somewhat appropriate, even for a serious day such as this. I’m beginning to really like these posts, as it’s a lesson in stopping and considering what new things I learned in the previous month. I usually start out thinking there won’t be enough interesting things to fill a blog post, but then surprise myself by ending up with plenty. I enjoy this habit, as it causes me to reflect on my days.

So even though some of my points are less than serious, I’m thankful today for all the moments of my life, especially in light of all the sacrifice and loss that so many experienced on that unforgettable September 11th. In gratefulness to all those who came together in unity, kindness and strength on that day, I wish to stop and reflect on my own life; the troublesome and the mundane, the pleasant and the remarkable.

part of watermelon house flag with sun rays

What I Learned In August 2016:

 

1.”Unthaw” is actually a word, and means the same as “thaw”.

Recently I came across the use of the word, “unthaw” in a recipe, and proceeded to think that the author obviously did not have a clear understanding that the proper term should be, “thaw”. Logically, it makes sense, if “thaw” means for something to go from freezing to room temperature, then wouldn’t “unthaw” mean the opposite? And is it even a word? (My spell-checker doesn’t seem to think so.) I’ve seen others comment on this as well, so it’s not just me. But wishing to know the truth, I took a few minutes, and discovered to my surprise, that EITHER is acceptable, and they mean the same thing! Here is a dictionary explanation. So now we can stop judging others for their use of either term, and we can all be friends.

relaxing with feet up on kayak on lake shore

2. I really seem to “need” time in nature.

I’ve always known this, but I’ve really felt it recently, especially for the last half of this summer. Maybe it’s because we took an earlier vacation this year, or possibly because it was shorter and we jumped into “real life” again before I was fully rested. Either way, I have felt such a strong desire which can only be described as a “longing” to get away, or at least go out and spend some quality time in nature. Whenever I do so much as take a hike in the woods, or spend time near water, or even enjoy a simple campfire, I physically and emotionally give a sigh and feel relaxed. For the ultimate satisfaction for my desire or “need” to be outdoors, my preference is to spend a week or so in a cabin by a lake. (We have one favorite, in particular, but several that have been great.) I feel so refreshed when I have ample time for just “soaking it in”. The longer I wait between such lovely vacation visits, the more it seems I need my nature “tank” filled. I guess I just really enjoy and am thankful for God’s wonderful creation.

 

One bridge at Dufferin Islands

3. Raising young-adult children is more challenging than I thought.

Yes, I have two older sons, one 17 and one 19, and yes, it is physically much, much easier than when they were little. We really enjoy having older children, but have definitely noticed two things. One, our conflicts are much more complicated than when they are little, and two, it’s really hard to allow them to grow up and accept their own consequences in order to grow to maturity and not live “enabled” lives. It’s often hard to know when to require obedience because they live under our roof, and when to let them make their own decisions (as adult or almost-adult individuals), and let them fail or fall. Often, I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but I now know that it all requires my trust in God and a great deal of wisdom and prayer!

 

4. When cutting ANY hot peppers, use gloves!

Why oh why, did I NOT remember this lesson from approximately this same time last year???!!! I got some little jalapeno peppers from the farm stand, and although we’re not avid “hot pepper eaters”, we occasionally enjoy recipes with a little “kick”. Knowing that jalapenos were not considered that hot (I have enjoyed them in restaurant recipes often), I proceeded to cut them up to freeze for later use……with my bare hands. After a few minutes, I started to feel the burn, and wondered if I should have worn gloves. As the minutes ticked by, I realized too late that it was starting to really hurt, but at that point there seemed to be no point of turning back. So I suffered needlessly (and stupidly, I must say!), even though I had already learned this lesson in the past. I guess that is a lesson in itself: Remember (or record?) the lessons you have learned, and don’t repeat the same dumb process that got you there!

 

5. When microwave reheating in containers with a plastic lid, if you don’t allow steam to escape, the lid will be ruined.

This is another simple lesson I should have known from past experience. If you don’t allow for built-up heat and steam to escape, the lid “sucks” down into the container and usually is bent beyond repair. (Sigh.) I did it again.

melted/warped plastic lid

glass storage with bent, melted lid 2

6. We really are not “beach people”.

My family loves nature and the outdoors, and we even really like spending time by water. When we do go swimming, we really enjoy it a lot. But the reality is we don’t get to as much as we’d like, and when we have a choice, going to the beach is usually not our first “perfect summer day” of choice. Sometimes swimming doesn’t seem to make it to the top of our list. This summer we swam a grand total of one time (unless you count “creek-walking”, in which case we’ve gone twice).

creek-walk with family

7. You can freeze tomatoes whole without blanching them.

I haven’t a lot of experience with freezing tomatoes. I’ve made some sauce and some homemade soup to freeze, but I don’t believe I’ve ever frozen plain tomatoes. This summer at my farm-stand job, a customer was looking for plum tomatoes to freeze. She said they are best for this purpose because they have less juice. I asked her about her method, and she said she just halves them and throws them in a freezer bag. Huh.

I went home and looked for more information online, and sure enough, this is a valid, and much easier method than the rather more time-consuming and complicated, “old-fashioned” process of blanching and peeling. Here‘s a nice blog post about this. (I actually just washed and halved mine, threw them a freezer bag in a single layer, and called it a day. A few of them stuck together a bit, but one little “clunk” on a counter and they’re good to go.)

frozen plum tomatoes without blanching

Frozen plum tomatoes “the lazy way” (no blanching or flash-freezing).

8. There is a better way to express the excess liquid from grated zucchini.

I like zucchini to cook and eat, but what I really like is to bake with it. This is definitely the preference of my non-zucchini-loving sons. I imagine you’ve enjoyed some nice, home-baked zucchini bread, but what you really ought to try is zucchini bread or muffins with chocolate! Adding chocolate chips to zucchini bread definitely takes it up a notch, and by adding cocoa, chocolate zucchini bread or cake is the ultimate in deliciousness!

This summer, I think I’ve discovered the best and easiest way to express the liquid from zucchini! You can read a more detailed description in this post. Happy zucchini-baking!!!

hand-grated zucchini in glass dish

 

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I hope you found today’s reflections informative or at least mildly entertaining. What did you learn this August?

 

water with rocks and foliage

Heal My Heart, Use Me to Heal Others, Please Heal Our Land

water with rocks and foliage

Today is Five Minute Friday, and today’s prompt is “heal”. I’ve decided that I’d like to write this post as a prayer. Won’t you join me?

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“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

-Psalm 139:23,24 (NLT)

 

Lord, my heart needs to be healed.

I cannot mend it on my own. I need your help.

Let me trust in you to do the work.

Your faithfulness has been my rock.  Your loving-kindness has been a refuge.

Let me hide myself in you, until I am abundantly sure of your undying love for me.

I ask you to heal my heart.

 

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

– James 5:16 (NLT)

 

Lord, please use my healed heart to minister to others.

I don’t want to live a self-centered, meaningless life, but one that is rich in goodness and reaches out to those around me.

Here’s my healed heart, not perfect, but being perfected by the One who made me.

I offer it to you as a gift and a tool to heal those around me.

Let me be sensitive to the needs of others so that you may flow through me.

Use me to heal others.

 

 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

-2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

 

Lord God, our land needs your touch.

Help us to humbly get on our knees and seek your face.

We ask for your forgiveness and mercy on behalf of our stubborn, rebellious land.

Only you can truly set us free.

Please heal our land.

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path into woods

What Path Will I Take?

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What path will I take?

There are so many choices…..or do I have a choice at all?

When I think about trying to do right, trying to find God’s will for my life, or trying to chose the path of my life, it’s sometimes overwhelming.

It can feel I have no choice, or that the options are too many and lead to confusion and lack of peace.

Will I hear God’s voice? Will I discern his direction? Will I really make something of my life?

Although we could debate on whether or not there is just one right path for our life, or whether we have many choices, I think that some things are clear.

If we have chosen to follow Jesus; if we’ve given our lives to God; if we are full of doubts and are just asking him for help…..he will not fail us.

God promises to direct our path.

He said that he would be with us.

God’s Word lets me know that he will show me the right way to go.

I just need to trust him and follow the path.

Let the words of the Psalms give you peace and courage today:

“Put your hope in the Lord.
    Travel steadily along his path.”

-Psalm 37:34a

“Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.”

-Psalm 5:8

“You have made a wide path for my feet
    to keep them from slipping.”

-Psalm 18:36

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.”

-Psalm 23:3

“Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.”

-Psalm 25:4

“The Lord is good and does what is right;
    he shows the proper path to those who go astray.”

Psalm 25:8

“Who are those who fear the Lord?
    He will show them the path they should choose.”

-Psalm 25:12

“Teach me how to live, O Lord.
    Lead me along the right path

Psalm 27:11a

 

He has a purpose for my life.

My life does have meaning.

It doesn’t have to be so complicated.

As long as I’m following him, God will show me the meaningful and fulfilling path that he laid out for me before I was even born.

 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

-Psalm 139:13-14

Lord, help me to live with intention and follow your path.

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This post is written for part of the Five Minute Friday link-up. Join me there to discover what other bloggers are writing about the prompt, “path”.

All scriptures above are quoted from the New Living Translation of the Bible.