Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fast Fixins - Erica's Greek Chicken

Have you ever had someone make you a meal and you could just feel their love through it?  Isn't that the best feeling?

 ∞ ❤ :) ❝ ❞ ×○ ➹ ♬ ✦ ❄ εїз ♖ ✧ ✩ ❀ ♕ ♡ Her heart is a secret garden and the walls are very high. ♡ ♕...:

Cooking is one of the ways I show love to people.  I would feed everyone if I could afford it.  I guess it was how I was raised.  My dad was always in the kitchen whipping up something.  His specialties were cheese grits, biscuits & gravy, lemon pound cake, and brownies. The man always had a slew of food available for anyone that might walk through the door and he made sure you never left hungry.  I think that's what my childhood friends remember most about coming to my house.

I have a sweet friend, named Erica, who brought us a meal after Emmy was born (and has since cooked for us a few more times), and every time I bite into one of her dishes, I know that cooking for others is a way she shows love.  It's there in the fresh ingredients, the time she spends chopping, cutting, and dicing vegetables and herbs.  This is one of her recipes that's not only delicious, but quick and easy too.

Erica's Greek Chicken (makes 4 servings)

-4 washed and trimmed boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (or breasts - I prefer cutlets because the cooking time is less)
-1 cup all purpose flour
-2 tablespoons Greek seasoning
-Olive oil
-Feta cheese
-Kalamata olives
-Cherry tomatoes, sliced
-Green onion

1. Preheat oven to 325. Mix flour and Greek seasoning and coat chicken in mixture.
2. Sear in 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat in hot skillet until light brown (about 1-2 mins per side).
3. Place seared chicken in a foil lined pan and sprinkle with as much feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, and green onions as you'd like.
4. Bake at 325 for 15-20 mins (depending on thickness of chicken)

While the chicken bakes, I make my vegetables to go with it.  On this day, I paired it with fresh green beans and sweet potatoes.  You can cook a sweet potato in the microwave in 7 minutes if you don't want to wait for it to bake in the oven.  These green beans take about 8 minutes.  I flash steam them in a little bit of water for 2 minutes in a skillet, drain, then return to the hot stove and cook over medium/high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, minced garlic, and a little salt and pepper for about 3 minutes. Quick, easy, healthy.  And CHEAP during their peak season.  You can get a whole bag for about $1.50 at Publix that's easily 4-6 servings per bag.

You can also pair this with rice or cauliflower rice with another green vegetable.  It's such a flavorful, colorful, healthy dinner that's ready in less than 30 minutes.  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Vase

Our daughter's first birthday was a few weeks ago and we had a small family party for her.  While I was getting the house cleaned up for guests, I had to find something to do with this vase full of wormwood (another post for another time) my Meemaw gave me several years ago that I've been using as a space filler for a drab corner of our kitchen.  It was where I needed Emmy's highchair to go so that I could configure good seating for her little party.

So, I took the vase and put it in a corner in our master bedroom because that was the most *logical* place for it to go (along with all of the other junk that I couldn't figure out what to do with) and closed the door.  Guests don't need to go in there anyways, right?  Tell me I'm not the only one who does this.  People will comment that my house is so clean and I'm like, " don't even want to see my closet or bathroom." We can't have it all together all of the time.

About a week after her birthday party, this vase was still in our bedroom.  (I guess I have selective OCD.  I am so organized and on point when it comes to some things.  Apparently this vase is not one of those items.)  Jared and I were sound asleep one night when all of a sudden we heard a loud CRASH.  It scared the daylights out of us both.  Our hearts were beating out of our chests as we jumped up to face whatever fate may await us.  Our hearts slowly returned to a normal cardiac rhythm when we realized one of our dogs had gotten up to go sleep in this corner I had now "decorated" with the vase and had knocked it over, waking up the whole house.  I knew I should have moved it out of our room a week prior.  I had even thought to myself that it was a matter of time before it fell over because it was unsturdy on the carpet in our bedroom.  But instead I let it sit there.

As I took deep breaths to try to calm myself back down, a parable Jesus spoke to the masses came to my mind.  It was one that I think about often because I feel like I've lived difference aspects of it.

It comes out of Matthew 13:18-23:

Hear then the parable of the sower.  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.  This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.  The one on whom seed was sown on rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporal, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.  And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.

There is so much packed into these six convicting verses that I could never cover in one post, so I want to focus on the bolded verse.  And I want to focus on the bolded verse because this used to be me.

In the church, you hear a lot about a "God-sized hole" that we all have.  Well, I believed and I knew I had a God-sized hole that I was constantly trying to fill with various things - friends, clothes, boys, cars, money, education, job, alcohol, etc - things of the world that could never sustain me.  I was always so interested in learning about God when a friend would take me to church with them, but as soon as I got home or away from it, I was right back to my old way of life.

You see, I had no solid foundation in Christ.  I had no serious convictions about the way I was living my life so when any form of temptation came my way, I was sucked right back in.  If others would question me or taunt me because of Jesus, I would give right back in to my old way of living.  I couldn't stand on solid ground because I wouldn't lay down my life in surrender so that Christ could lay down the foundation for it.  This vicious cycle repeated itself for many years until finally one day I surrendered. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life did I became like the seed that was sown on good soil.

If you find yourself in any of these other states, there is hope and as long as you have breath in your lungs, it's never too late.  You do not have to live your life in turmoil, without that peace that passes understanding.  Allow Jesus to be your hope and foundation and know that I'll be praying for you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Quiet Time

The past seven years or so I have rocked establishing a quiet time.  It was simple because my schedule was the same everyday and I could always plan for and carve out time to spend with my Lord.  And He always showed up.  No matter how little or how long I prayed, studied, etc, He always revealed truth to me and taught me His word.

Now that I've been delivered from my infertility and have my sweet little precious goo to care for each day, establishing a quiet time again has been difficult.  Once we get a "schedule", it quickly changes.  Can I get an amen, moms of young kids?!  And don't for one second get me wrong.  She is the answer to years of prayers and I would never trade her.  I've just had to make adjustments and finding quiet time has been one of those.

But this week I had a little revelation.  Quiet time doesn't have to be quiet.  Especially for this season of my life.  Hear me out on this.

I had in my mind that quiet time had to be completely silent in my house with no distractions - No TV, no cell phones, computer off.  A hot cup of coffee with my bible, prayer journal, and any study materials were supposed to be spread out neatly on my kitchen table as I took a sip of steaming hot coffee with the perfect proportion of creamer and dove in to God's word.  Is this ideal?  Sure!  Is it realistic for my life right now?  Absolutely not.

It is a lie.  And it was a lie I completely believed and fell for for many months.

This is what my quiet time looks like these days.

Quiet time doesn't have to be quiet in the sense that all noise has to be removed.  Quiet time is a time to quiet my soul and spirit before the Lord.  It's a time where I open His word and pray for His Holy Spirit to teach me.  It's a time where I give thanks for the wonderful gifts all around me.  It's a time where I be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  He doesn't care how I come to Him, just that I come.  He will take care of the rest.

In James 4:8a, His word says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you."  That's what you have to do.  Take that step and walk toward Him.  You don't have to have it all together.  God doesn't care about that.  In fact, He tells us to come to Him, all of us who are weak and heavy burdened and He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  This is encouraging to me because all God asks me to do is seek Him.  I don't have to have myself put together, hot cup of coffee brewed, house neat and quiet.  That's just not my reality right now.  And frankly those are distractions, those flaming arrows, that are shot at me to take my eyes off of what I should be focusing on.

He simply wants us.                                                       …                                                                                                                                                                                 More:

Be encouraged today.  You are enough.  Believe it and rest in His peace and presence.  Simply come, quiet your soul, and open His word.  He will take care of the rest.