Ask, and you shall receive

I asked God to teach me patience.  He did.  He is.  I have been continually waiting since I prayed that prayer.  Patience doesn’t come immediately after the “amen”, it comes after trial, and test, and time…sometimes lots of time.

I asked God to give me strength and endurance.  He did.  He is.  I’ve never been through so rigorous a workout, never been so bone tired.  Strength and endurance do not come immediately after the “amen”, they come from stretching and breaking tissue that will heal and rebuild itself, making itself stronger.  They come from consistently running longer and more rigorous trails; through hills and valleys, along stretches that seem to have no end, then “just a little farther”, pushing past the breaking point and beyond.

I asked to be able to love as He does.  I asked for peace.  I asked for joy.  He answered my requests by surrounding me with prickly people who need love.  He put me in the middle of chaos.  He filled my little world with pain, and loss, and grief.  The fruit of the Spirit doesn’t come after the “amen”.  That fruit comes from cultivating a heart response of “Yes, Lord”, to His commands; it comes from practice.

Advertisements

Shut up to faith–A prisoner of the LORD

I’ve been reading Mrs. Charles Cowman’s devotionals on and off for several years now.  I think I started about the time my parents were diagnosed with terminal cancer. Wow, that’s been seven years ago, now.  Seems like another lifetime ago.  When I started blogging again from Canada, my blog title and life verse triggered “Streams in the Desert”, and I remembered her online devotional, and found it again.  I am amazed at the relevance of her writings to the road I’m on right now.

The past few days have been especially convicting.  I feel like God whispered in her ear, and she started writing to me, messages that I would receive on my own lonely journey nearly a hundred years later.  Messages of encouragement, enlightenment, and hope.  Noting blessed comradeship with the Saints, and with the Lord Jesus.

Today’s reading is about being a prisoner of the Lord, as Paul wrote.  He was removed from his familiar and loved work, and shut up in prison.  Instead of despairing, he puts himself to work, writing letters of comfort, and optimistic incentive.  When imprisoned with Silas, they did not give up hope and succumb to depression, but sang hymns of praise to God in their confinement.  Today’s reading dovetails with one a couple days ago, about being “shut up to faith”, being put in a hard place so that we learn God’s perfect way of faith.

It’s easy for me to be busy with God’s work.  I thrive in situations where I can help others.  I feel useful, needed, and appreciated, I like to be “busy”.   For whatever reason, the Lord has found it necessary to shut me in, to separate me from the people and the work that I love, and to confine me to a place where my sense of self-worth is not dependent on anything I do, but on who HE is, and His plan for my life.  I strive to learn these lessons with grace, following the example of Paul and Silas, singing praise to God in their darkest hour, relying on His promise, that He causes all things to work together for the good of those (for me!) who love Him and are called to His purpose.

“Taken aside by Jesus,
To feel the touch of His hand;
To rest for a while in the shadow
Of the Rock in a weary land.

“Taken aside by Jesus,
In the loneliness dark and drear,
Where no other comfort may reach me,
Than His voice to my heart so dear.
“Taken aside by Jesus,
To be quite alone with Him,
To hear His wonderful tones of love
‘Mid the silence and shadows dim.

“Taken aside by Jesus,
Shall I shrink from the desert place;
When I hear as I never heard before,
And see Him ‘face to face’?”

Mashed Beans

How I make what my family refers to as “the best refried beans ever”  I actually learned how to do this from a sweet Mexican acquaintance in southern Idaho.  Eating canned beans just can’t compare to real beans.

Rinse one small bag of the beans of your choice.  Our favorite is pinto, but black beans are also good done this way.  Place rinsed beans in large crock pot and cover with water.  Since I am one that eyes and tastes her food instead of following a hard recipe, I can’t give you exact measurements, but the way I do it is to cover the beans with water, so that the water above the beans is about the same depth as the beans at the bottom.  It will look like about 1/2 to an inch of water above the beans.

Add two or three cloves of garlic.  It can be minced or whole, doesn’t matter really, it will be completely mush by the time you’re done.  I’ve heard this helps with the gas effect of the beans, not sure of the validity of that promise, but it sure does make them taste good.

DON’T SALT your beans until they are cooked.  Salt added to the water hampers the skins from softening, and your beans will not mash the same as if you wait.  Trust me.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.  Personally, I like the longer, slower cook time better, but either works.  If you didn’t add enough water and it looks like the beans are drying out, just add some more…but make sure it’s hot water, as cold water can cause your crock pot to break from rapid temp change.

When they are soft and mushy, add salt to taste, and mash them up.  If it looks like you have too much liquid, you can drain some off, but I find it unnecessary to do so, you’ll probably just end up adding it back in to make them a good consistency…if they ARE too runny, no problem,  just leave the lid off and continue to let them cook down.

It’s not often possible at our house, but we have found the beans are actually better after being refrigerated overnight and reheated.  It really demands a lot of willpower, though, usually we dig right in.

Pair these yummilicious beans with homemade corn tortillas, and top with cheese and salsa or fresh tomatoes for a frugal, filling, healthy meal.

Acceptance

In Acceptance Lieth Peace

He said, ” I will forget the dying faces;

The empty places,

They shall be filled again.

O voices moaning deep with me, cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain:

Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crowd action upon action,

The strife of faction

Shall stir me and sustain;

O tears that drown the fire of manhood cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain:

Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,

Why meddle in life’s riot?

Shut be my door to pain,

Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.”

But vain the word; vain, vain:

Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated.

God hath depleted

My life of its rich gain.

O futile murmurings, why will ye not cease?”

But vain the word; vain, vain:

Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow

Which God to-morrow

Will to His son explain.”

Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.

Not vain the word, not vain;

For in Acceptance lieth peace.

-Amy Carmichael  (Toward Jerusalem)

Lord, grant me the strength to accept Your will for my life, and stop wrestling with You in vain.  Comfort and guide through the quiet storm where I don’t hear your voice.  Let Your peace pervade this discontented heart.  Amen.

Homemade Laundry Soap

As procrastinated, promised, and provided:

I have two homemade laundry detergent recipes. The first one I learned from Sylvia Britton at christianhomekeeper.org.

Grate 1/3 of a bar of your favorite laundry soap.  I’ve only ever used Fels Naptha, as per Sylvia’s instruction,  but I’ve heard that Zote, Ivory, or Sunlight also work well.  It’s usually always located in the laundry or cleaning section of the supermarket…as are the other ingredients.

Dissolve grated soap in a pot with 6 cups water over medium heat.

Once dissolved, turn off the heat and add 1.5 cups Borax and 1.5 cups Arm and Hammer WASHING soda…(not BAKING soda), stir until dissolved, then pour into a five gallon bucket with 2 gallons of cold water.  Whisk it all together, put the lid on it and let it gel overnight.

You can either store it in this five gallon bucket, it will be a gloppy gel—stir before you use it— or you can do like I did, and store it in recycled laundry soap containers or empty gatorade bottles…just shake before you add 1/2 cup to your load of laundry.  Note, this does not suds up, and I’m told it’s safe for front-loader washing machines.

When I had four children in the home, this saved a TON of money on my laundry budget. Because of the space requirements of storing that much liquid soap, and the lack of storage and personal space in my little kitchen and laundry area, I went on an online search for a homemade powdered version of the soap.  I looked through several, and tweaked to fit my needs, and came up with this recipe, which I use exclusively now, because of the ease of storage and portability:

2 cups Borax, 2 cups A&H Washing soda, 1 cup oxyclean powder, and 1 bar of laundry soap.  Here in Canada, I could not find Fels Naptha, and did not have the means of ordering online, so I picked up what was available in the laundry isle, which is Sunlight.  I used my Bosch to grate the entire bar of soap, (it smells AMAZING!) then ran it through the blender (a food processor with a wider blade would work better, but I don’t have that attachment, so I made do with what I had, the blender) with 1/2 cup borax, and 1/2 cup of Washing soda, to break up the shredded soap so it would blend more easily.  I do up a double batch of this mix at a time, and fill an empty mayonnaise jar to keep on top of the washer.  The remainder is stored in a rubbermaid container that holds a double batch.  When the rubbermaid container is empty, I do another double batch.  I use 2TBS of powder for a regular load, and add another TBS if badly soiled.

For stain treatments, I’ve found that dissolving a bar of sunlight soap works wonderfully as a pre-treat.  I store it in an empty 2 liter soda bottle, and keep a recycled dish detergent bottle with a squeeze spout filled on top of the washer.  I may experiment with just using a bar of laundry soap, wetting it and rubbing directly on the stain, but haven’t done so yet.

There you have it, my laundry tricks.  Just in case you wanted to know 😉

Chowder of the Seven C’s

We’re staying in a furnished motel room for a couple weeks until we move.  There are four of us, two queen sized beds, a couch, tv, table with two chairs, and a small kitchenette area with a tiny little fridge, three burners, a microwave and a coffee maker.  THANK God for the coffeemaker, lol.  My husband had the foresight to pack along our small crock pot, and I’m so glad we did.  I’m having to improvise with meals, but I think I’m doing an okay job so far (at least they are telling me it tastes good, and there’s nothing left over, so I’m inclined to agree with them).  Today’s improvisation is shared below.

(I named it Chowder of the Seven C’s, then had to come up with seven, had a little help from the family.  )

Chicken

Chicken stock

Canned Chick peas

Carrotts

Corn

Cabbage

Celery

I used a can of chicken, but it could easily be made with chicken breasts, or even leftover cooked chicken.

I used Lipton chicken noodle soup mix, but if I were in my own kitchen, I’d have used chicken stock with my own spices and without the MSG.

I didn’t have celery today, and it still tastes OK, but I think it will be better with the celery.  In my own kitchen, I’d have sauteed the onion, celery, cabbage, and garlic before adding it to the soup.

I also added: rice, mixed veggies, summer savory, pepper, garlic, and onion.

Basically, I threw everything in the crock pot except the cabbage and covered with water.  I didn’t measure anything, just poured it in until I was satisfied with the amount, if I had to guess, I’d say it was maybe 1/2 cup of rice, a couple cups, maybe 3 of frozen mixed vegies, a tablespoon, maybe two of summer savory, and garlic, the soup mix, and 1/4 of a large onion.…all in my small crockpot.  About an hour from mealtime, I’ll add in the cabbage.  If I were doing it in my own kitchen, I’d do the sauteing at this point, then add to the soup.

The place smells AMAZING.  This little crock pot of chowder will feed four adults, I’ll serve it with bread and butter or my amazing corncakes left over from last night’s meal.