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.

Don’t Wanna Not Gonna

A teacher recently described our youngest as “politely defiant”.  I laughed because while he and I have had some pretty epic fights, they only happen when I force him to do an assignment he *really* doesn’t want to do. If someone simply asks him or gently suggests/encourages, he just….won’t. Very quietly. And yes, even politely. If he don’t wanna, he’s not gonna.

But lately, he’s been doing assignments, whether he wants to or not. Hubby explained to him that if he wants to attend the charter high school that he likes, he has to prove NOW that he can work hard. (Assuming, of course, that he even gets drawn in the lottery. But that’s irrelevant to the lesson here.) We’ve had the discussion that even with activities/jobs/projects/classes he LOVES, there will be some element that he doesn’t like. But ultimately, to do what you like, you also have to do those things you don’t. And although it’s only been a couple of weeks, he’s proving he can spur HIMSELF to do the less than fun tasks.

I’ve written two whole paragraphs about lessons we’re trying to teach our youngest. And this post is not ACTUALLY about him.

I’ve been to the gym like…once…in the past two weeks. The temperatures are dropping. It’s dark when we leave home for work. It’s dark when we leave work for home. It’s been rainy. I don’t want to get up early. I don’t want to get in a pool when it’s dark and 30 degrees outside. I don’t want to move after work. I want to lay on the couch, sleep and eat bread & cheese and drink hot chocolate when I do wake up. I am a summer girl through and through. Every year I try not to complain about winter. But I hate it. I am incredibly envious of animals that hibernate through these dark bitter months. Seriously.

Earlier this week I turned off my alarm and slept WAY late. I made it to work on time but it was a rushed morning. I was lamenting that I “just need to find my motivation again.” And yes, that would be nice. But if I rely on finicky motivation, then when I don’t wanna, I’m not gonna. And I’m *really* good about rationalizing why that’s okay.

Turns out that training through the winter is the element of triathlon that I don’t like but I just need to do anyway. If I really want to do well next spring/summer, I have to emerge from my carb filled blanket cocoon even if I don’t have a friend waiting (That turns the training session into a non-negotiable event & I’ll go no matter how little motivation I feel). I think they call it drive. Or grit. Thankfully it’s something that can be developed.

Some lessons are easier to preach than practice.

Worship Wednesday – What is this?

What is Worship Wednesday?

That’s a very good question. And honestly? I’m not 100% certain what this means. For a few weeks now I’ve been feeling this…compulsion…to write. Write more. Write meaningfully. Write with purpose. But really? When do I have the opportunity to sit down and write? And what content do I have to offer right now? Psh.

Last Monday I started to feel a low level current of anxiety thrum through me. I felt as if I was waiting for a shoe to drop, for something to fall apart, like I was forgetting something that was going to have severe consequences. Last Wednesday it finally occurred to me to sit down and pray. Since it had taken me two days to get to the point of focused, deliberate prayer it is probably no surprise to hear God immediately saying “When is the last time you spent time with Me?” Ah. Ah-ha. I thanked Him for the insight and hurried on with everything that needed to get done. The feeling of doom was mostly gone but I still scurried about that evening with a slight nagging sensation that something was missing. (I know. I KNOW.)

Last Thursday we had a (three hour) division meeting at work. And it was focused on….the daily practice of prayer. And writing.

I am not even kidding. Also, I am a little dense and apparently needed to be trapped in a room for three hours to “get it”.

I returned to my desk and downloaded an app for “guided” prayer/praying through Scripture two-three times a day. And then I honestly asked God what this writing piece was supposed to look like. And the phrase that came to mind was “Worship Wednesday”.

So here we are. For now I will be writing about what worship is, and specifically, what it looks like in my life. I have no idea how that will play out. But I guess God does.

 

 

Menu Planning Monday 11-13-17

It’s supposed to be in the 50s this week, and only rainy one day. But I’m feeling fall lay heavy on us and my menu this week reflects it. In fact, yesterday I made burgers and tots as planned for lunch. But I really wanted broccoli & cheese soup so I made that (with garlic knots found in the bread section of the freezer section) for dinner. I almost never cook twice on Sundays…or any day. But there’s something about fall/winter that drives me into the kitchen.

Monday: Breakfast casserole – I think I found a recipe for this years ago. But these days, I kinda throw it together. Mix a couple of eggs into a generous splash of milk, season with salt, pepper and onion powder. Pour in some frozen hash browns and mix real good. Mix in browned ground sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s regular although I really like the “hot” flavor. My youngest doesn’t though.) Throw in a couple of handfuls of shredded cheese. Stir it all together. Dump it into a casserole dish. Depending on how many I’m feeding I either use 9×13 or 8×8. If I have bacon or bacon bits I’ll throw that in. The frozen pepper/onion mix is good in there too. Really you can use any veggies/meats that you want. Bake at 375 until it’s bubbly/hot/the cheese is melted.

Tuesday: Beef stew & homemade bread – Again, no recipe for this. I dump stew meat, tomato juice, beef broth, seasoning, & veggies in the slow cooker. I happen to have some in the freezer and I have a meeting this night so it’s a good match. I’ll use the bread machine for homemade bread.

Wednesday: Cheesy vegetable potato chowder and gluten free cornbread (using a mix) for my book study ladies.

Thursday: (Tentative depending on our small group plans) Chicken enchiladas, refried beans and spanish rice. I don’t have a recipe for the chicken enchiladas. I’ll cook & shred chicken & use canned green enchilada sauce, packaged spanish rice. But the refried beans…that recipe is linked and one of my faves.

Friday – Sunday: No plan. We’ll eat out or I’ll throw something easy together. I’m working Sunday evening so my family will figure things out on their own. They’re pretty good about that 🙂

Have a great week! Feel free to share your dinner ideas in the comments.