Menu Planning Monday – 12/11/17

This week is going to be a little busy. It might be the busiest of the holiday season actually – the last half of it anyway. It’s all fun and temporary craziness but I only have two dinners planned for the week. My lunches will consist of salads & leftovers. My favorite salad right now is spinach/kale, tomato, cucumber and Tyson buffalo style chicken strips with ranch. Another favorite is spinach/kale, fruit of some sort (raspberries, mandarin oranges, cherries, strawberries), feta, candied walnuts & a lemon vinaigrette (optional: grilled chicken).

Monday: Chicken alfredo – I’m going to try the Birdseye vegetable pasta for my plate (my family will get normal pasta). Should be…interesting.

Tuesday: Potato vegetable cheesy chowder

Wednesday: leftovers/fend for yourself – I need to swim that night but I also need to bake cookies for later in the week. (sigh) I’ll let you know what wins out.

Thursday: Small group so whatever is served

Friday: Work Christmas party. It’s appetizers and desserts so I’m hoping to talk The Hubby into going out to our favorite place for dinner before the party.

Saturday: In the morning is a cookie exchange at the church (hence why I have to find time to bake…). That evening we’re going to see the new Star Wars movie. At some point I really need to do my holiday baking but we’ll see how that turns out.

Sunday: Probably my baking day so Papa Murphy will probably feed us.

I hope the holiday season is feeding you well!

Worship Wednesday – Prayer

to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” and “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion

We could easily worship someone and never have a conversation with them. It happens all the time with celebrities. But. If you worship someone – wouldn’t you WANT to have a conversation with them? My God is a God of relationships. He WANTS to have conversations with us. He doesn’t want us to be distant or intimidated by Him. And prayer is our vehicle for that conversation. Yet I often find my prayers are of the “vending machine” variety.

“Dear Lord, please help this conversation go well.”

“Dear Lord, please give me energy.”

“Dear Lord, please heal, please give, please help….”

I think God wants to hear our requests and desires but I think those requests should be tempered with a desire to want what He wants, a desire to know Him more. Too often my prayers revolve around what I want, whether that’s “interceding” for someone else or just looking to minimize – or eliminate – discomfort in my own life. But if my prayer life focused on WORSHIP, if I spent my prayer time revering and praising and thanking God, how would my perspective change?

Menu Planning Monday – 12/04/2017

Here’s a tidbit about me. I’m a list maker and planner. But I don’t like those lists and plans to be set in stone. So if I have a meal planned and we decide to eat out, or that we (or I) want something else, no problem. A couple of weekends ago I came home from grocery shopping. Per the schedule/plan I had in my head, I was going to the gym next. But The Hubby had not left to visit his Grandma yet and asked if I wanted to go. I had not seen in her a few weeks and was not meeting anyone at the gym so I changed my plan. I didn’t make it to the gym that day and was perfectly okay with that. I don’t have to stick to my lists and plans.  I just need to HAVE a plan. It would actually stress me out if I felt like I had to stick to it – except for commitments obviously. If someone had been expecting me at the gym, I would have gone. Anyway. My point is sometimes (often times) I might “repeat” a meal from the prior week. That just means something changed and we never had it. Except for pizza. That I would eat every week.

Oh. And the smothered burritos I had planned for last Monday? I made them (although of course I switched up the recipe a smidge.) They were DELICIOUS. Everything I had hoped and more.

Monday:  Chicken pot pie – This was planned for last Tuesday but I didn’t prep it ahead of time so dinner would have been late. And I was feeling lazy. So we had frozen Tyson buffalo style chicken strips and tater tots instead. (Yum. I love those chicken strips. And with leftovers I made a salad for lunch the next day. Delish.) The pot pie is prepped and ready to go this time.

Tuesday: Taco soup – I’m working a bit late on Tuesday so my family will have a warm meal to come home to without waiting on me or eating out.

Wednesday: left overs/fend for yourself

Thursday: Pulled bbq pork, chips and a variety of snack cakes & cookies (I’m providing snacks for our small group at church.)

Friday/Saturday: No idea! It will just be The Hubby and I so we’ll wing it.

Sunday: pizza

Worship Wednesday – Distractions

I truly believe one of Satan’s most effective tools against the Jesus follower is distraction. I can attest that’s true for me.

Whenever I think of worship, Brother Lawrence comes to mind. I had really only heard of him in passing and always associated him with making the act of washing dishes an act of worship. That was about all I knew. So I downloaded “his” book “The Practice of the Presence of God” (not an affiliate link, just for reference) It’s not difficult to read. The concept is actually quite simple…and yet incredibly difficult. I have, admittedly, not read the whole  book yet. I got about halfway through and got…distracted. But what I have taken away so far is that his entire life, physically, emotionally and mentally, was centered on Christ. Every thought was submitted to Him, every action. And when he realized it wasn’t, he IMMEDIATELY returned to that practice. Nothing in the book indicates that this easy. The title even indicates it’s a practice. But I was overwhelmingly impressed with his dedication to it.

I feel like this practice of abiding (now THERE’S a word Christians have taken over) fully in God’s presence all the time is the key to true worship. We can’t “regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” if we are not focused on the object of our worship. Regard. Consider or think on, gaze at steadily in a specified fashion, pay attention or heed. How often during your daily tasks do you regard God? I know I don’t very often. I’m pretty good about it first thing in the morning, while the rest of the house snoozes and I sip my coffee with a cat in my lap. I’ve made a habit of stopping during the day to pray about specific requests that comes to my attention. Yesterday I had a moment of overwhelming gratitude for my job and I paused to thank God for it. (That’s not a daily occurrence by the way. I love my job but I’m rarely overwhelmed by that.) But while I’m planning or cooking dinner or helping my kid with his horrendous math homework or in the gym…I am not filtering those activities through conversation with God. Because those very activities can be a distraction or they can be a vehicle to worship the God that grants me the ability to perform those activities.  And right now, they are a distraction.

Right now (always), I’m easily distracted. I committed to focus more on God and immediately all these shiny thoughts hit my brain to draw me away. Even while praying this morning, my mind kept drifting to my grocery list…the grocery list that I hadn’t even considered before I started trying to pray!

I don’t have the answer or solution. But I think Brother Lawrence did. Practice. And as soon as I realize I’m not practicing, start again.

Menu Planning Monday – 11-27-17

Confession time!

  1. I did not cook nearly as much as I planned last week. Tuesday night was just The Hubby and I and by the time I climbed in his truck after work, I just leaned back in the heated seat and said “I don’t want to cook.” So the Colonel fed us that night (aka as KFC). And we spent part of Friday afternoon playing with a puppy some friends just adopted. Two nieces and one nephew were coming over to spend the night so The Hubby texted his sister and told her to feed them first then stopped at Sonic for us. Did I object? No…no I did not. On the flip side, I baked TWICE….a loaf of lemon blueberry bread for breakfast when the nieces/nephew woke up and a loaf of banana bread for the family Sunday morning. Anyway – that means some meals from last week got bumped to this week.
  2. I will not be cooking much this week at all. My book study is done so I won’t cook Wednesday night. Although I think one of our nieces is spending the weekend with us so I’ll plan some meals with her around.

 

Monday: Smothered burritos – This was supposed to be last Friday but I really want to try it. I could eat tex-mex pretty much seven days a week.

Tuesday: chicken pot pie

Wednesday: left overs/fend for yourself

Thursday: church small group

Friday: eat out or spaghetti & meat sauce

Saturday: possibly chicken & macaroni and cheese

Sunday: possibly pizza

That’s a lot of “Possibly”es so we’ll see!

Worship Wednesday – More than Music

If you are firmly entrenched in the western Christian culture (the only one I can honestly speak on), when you hear the word “worship”, chances are you think of Hillsong United or Elevation Worship. Or maybe you think of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Or…I don’t know…Gaither? It depends on your generation but generally, when we say “worship” we mean “music”.  Our churches hire Worship Leaders specifically to stand on a stage and lead the congregation in a sing-along. Sadly church, or church like events, or concerts, are pretty much the only place where a room full of people will burst into song. Except maybe an Irish pub. I would love to start a movie theater or restaurant sing along…without getting kicked out or arrested. Alas….

Merriam-Webster defines worship as “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power” and “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion” I find it interesting that both of these definitions are verbs and nothing is mentioned about a group being involved. In other words, worship should be something we DO whether we are with other people or following someone on a stage or not. So yes, singing at church (or in your car) can totally be worship…if it is to honor or show reverence to God and not as habit or entertainment. But worship can encompass so. much. more. What I don’t think it is? A feeling. Music is so intricately tied to our emotions that it’s easy for me to think that I have to be “moved” to worship. But can driving to the grocery store be worship? Grocery shopping? Any of the mundane every day tasks?

I think the answer to that is “yes”. I know it is. I’ve heard it preached a million times but what does that LOOK like? I suspect it looks like inviting God into those every day moments. I suspect it looks like putting His glory at the center of everything. I suspect it means that if I sing passionately on Sunday morning because the music, not God, moves me then I’m not worshipping. But if I buy milk with a reverent mindset and aim to be a beacon of light to every person that I cross paths with, then that is worship.

Somehow I don’t feel like I’ve really clarified anything. But it gives me food for thought…and something to be aware of. I’ll report back.

 

Menu Planning Monday – 11-20-17

I spent last Monday and Tuesday thinking it was Wednesday and all day last Wednesday being excited that I could wear jeans the next day on “casual Friday”. Then I woke up Thursday morning trying to figure out where the week went. That’s pretty much a summary of my whole fall so far. What day is it? What month? Where did time go? I guess it’s no surprise that I feel a bit blindsided by Thanksgiving week. But I’m not hosting, only cooking sides, so there’s less to do. I LOVE to host, don’t get me wrong. I love cooking the whole meal, including desserts. I love decorating and bustling around making sure everything is ready at the right time. I love having a table full of people. But I also have family who enjoy contributing as well. And? Grandma is 101. She’s still going strong but it does exhaust her to spend the day at someone else’s house. So my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I will take over Grandma’s kitchen and prepare a delicious dinner together. I’m looking forward to it!

However, APPARENTLY my family expects to eat the rest of the week too. So here’s my plan:

Monday: Chicken chili – This is is one of my favorite recipes EVER. But of course I modify. I throw everything in the Instant Pot, including frozen chicken tenderloins and cook it. Then I shred the chicken in the pot. Also, instead of canned diced tomatoes and green peppers, I use a can of Rotel. It could be done in a slow cooker too.

Tuesday: Spaghetti & meatballs – There’s no real recipe. I make my own meatballs but it’s just ground beef, bread crumbs, minced garlic, salt/pepper/Italian seasoning and some Italian dressing. Oh. And an egg or two. I just add stuff until it “looks right”. (My oldest son used to get SO irritated when trying to help me in the kitchen.) Then I shape them and bake them on a boiler pan in the oven at about 375 for half an hour or so. Maybe twenty minutes? I’ll usually put them in a slow cooker with sauce for the day. There’s no recipe for that either but I’ve been really lazy lately and using Newman’s marinara.

Wednesday (aka Thanksgiving Eve): Deconstructed stuffed peppers – I’ve never tried this exact recipe (although I’ve made something similar for my lunch before). I’ll report back.

Thursday: ALL THE THANKSGIVING FOODS! (Especially rolls and potatoes and pies)

Friday: Smothered burritos – Also a new recipe but really…how can this one go wrong?

Saturday: Chicken spaghetti – Again with the no recipe thing. Cook chicken, shred it. Make your favorite cheese sauce. Cook spaghetti. Mix the chicken, pasta, & sauce with some veggies. Dump into a baking dish and bake. Serve with your favorite salad and/or bread.

Sunday: Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans. Gravy. Of course with the gravy. I don’t have a particular recipe for this one either but if you google “chicken fried steak” there’s a plethora of them. Basically dredge cubed steaks in milk and flour and fry them.

I’m excited to have more opportunities to cook this week. I do so love food.