December 2009


I have never – at least, I thought I have never – had a problem trusting God to provide. I have never been in need of food, clothing, or a place to stay and it was easy to assume that God would just keep up the good work.  Fathers are supposed to be a picture to their kids of who God is and this is one area where my dad absolutely knocked it out of the park. So, I thought I had a lot of faith in this realm…but in the recent face of declining income and rising expenses I found myself in a mild panic. HOW on earth am I supposed to go about acquiring things that are legitimately needed if WE HAVE NO MONEY? But even though I turned out to be in the “ye of little faith” camp, the gifts keep coming.

  • baby. Before I found out I was pregnant, I was in a sort of downward spiral that was, at best, a horrible attitude and at worst, a very dark pit of depression. The day I saw “Enceinte” was the day I started climbing out. I may still have a way to go but the mere existence of this tiny child brings me great joy and in that way he/she is already a gift.
  • pregnancy. This has been an EXTREMELY easy pregnancy so far. As mentioned above I was not really in a condition to deal with a lot of complications – hyperemesis would have broken me, signs of impending miscarriage would have killed me, and even overwhelming cravings for American food would have completely crushed me with discouragement. Except for some mild nausea that didn’t even last very long I have been nothing but healthy. Living in a foreign country with a very, VERY elementary level of language is stressful enough without having to face medical problems; I am so thankful this pregnancy has been so very easy.
  • barter. I was able to work out a barter with a lady for some things I will need after the baby is born in exchange for some design work by my husband.
  • finances. Some very generous gifts by family members and even strangers have eased my mind about how we will be able to pay for some things our insurance won’t cover, or how we will keep buying groceries if our income declines before then. And I have some money set aside, my “allowance” from 2 or 3 years saved up, which is helping to purchase some baby supplies. Obviously I had no intention of spending my allowance money on diapers, but sometimes – as with Joseph in Egypt – God’s provision comes well ahead of a future need.
  • clothes. I have never been at a place where I actually NEED clothes. But pregnancy means that eventually none of your clothes fit, so you need new shirts, pants, bras, underwear, pajamas – EVERYTHING. Some women can wear their hubby’s sweats or basketball shorts but, um, that’s unfortunately not a viable option here. We have no money – literally NO money – budgeted for clothes. Enter Christmas. My wishlist may have been boring but gifts from sweet family members mean that if I can’t leave the house it will be due to the 4 flights of stairs and not a complete and utter lack of attire.
  • friends. My friend Tiffany has walked me through the French medical system; I would have packed up and gone home if she wasn’t here. And when we were in Germany, my friends Jen & Dawn told me all sorts of things about having a baby and motherhood, things I need to know but nobody ever tells you. They are like the big sisters I never had. So, God has given me new/extra family, too.

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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Your Christmas list changes from fun, interesting things that you want to necessities, like “maternity clothes.”

You have been the worst year of my life. In fact, you have lasted about 14 months and have FAR overstayed your welcome.

Don’t let the door hit you.

In no particular order.

  1. Martina McBride
  2. Carrie Underwood
  3. Bethany Dillon
  4. Nichole Nordeman
  5. Colbie Caillat
  6. Sandra McCracken
  7. Sara Groves
  8. Zooey Deschanel

About a year ago I wrote some of my thoughts on the story of the prodigal son. It is a rambling post which can be summed up by saying I get the older brother. Favoritism by a parent is WRONG, no excuses, and it is hard as the oldest child not to see your younger sibling as the favorite when they are getting free cars or whatever and you’ve been working ever since it was legal.

So, as I’ve mentioned, our group is going through Luke. I thought, months and months ago, that it would be ironic if our turn to lead fell on the week of the prodigal son. Last week I realized that would indeed be the case. No matter, I thought, I’ll just make Jake lead.

Then Jake got sick. Never say God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

So I found myself studying up on the story, albeit reluctantly (not gonna lie). I don’t exactly like this story yet, but I’m making progress as I learn. First of all, I realized I may be able to identify with the younger son a little more than I realized. He asks for his inheritance before his dad dies, which is basically saying “I wish you were dead” or “I don’t want to be your son.” I may not be so blatant but I do things to reject my standing in God’s family; for example, when I choose to wallow in bitterness, I am returning to something God has called me out of because He has a better life for His children. So maybe not quite as squeaky-clean as I thought.

The next thing I noticed is that BOTH brothers have a wrong view of their relationship to their father.

Treat me as one of your hired servants

These many years I have served you

The father makes it very clear he does not think of his sons as servants, but they both seem to think that “service” will get them something: the younger a place near the family, the elder a better place in the family. And really, this is stupid. God doesn’t NEED any of us to do anything for Him. There’s no “Help Wanted” sign out. Besides that, I can’t earn myself a “better” place in God’s affection any more than I can earn my initial salvation.

Also, I think this story has been done a grave disservice by many of its fans and also many of the pastors who talk about it. So often a friendly eye is cast on the younger brother, while the main “sermon” is sternly advising against adopting the elder brother’s wicked heart. The problem with that is if you can extend grace to the younger brother/tax collector/sinner but not the older brother/scribe/Pharisee, you are guilty of the same heart of which you accuse the older brother. Same attitude, different target.

And last but not least, I am beginning to see that the celebration isn’t really for the younger son. It is a father celebrating that ALL his children are with him again, that his family is complete. It’s not his party, it’s our party. The father goes to meet both his sons – one far-off and guilty, the other nearby but sulking. And maybe the important thing is that whether you’re walking a long road back or pouting in the yard, God still comes out to meet you – and to bring you into a party.

For several months now I have been pining for chicken pot pie – the last 3 years in the fall I have had a freezer full of the little individual ones, and I would go home for my hour lunch break, eat a pot pie, and watch a movie or something. Very cozy during the chilly autumn and winter months. The problem is that chicken pot pie is quite American so there are no frozen ones to be had in France, and the even bigger problem is that making chicken pot pie is extremely labor intensive, and I am extremely labor adverse. But Friday my need for soul-nourishing overcame my laziness and I embarked on a culinary adventure. My husband praised the result highly and insisted I post recipes here for all to share. So, here they are.

I used this recipe at allrecipes.com for the crust and doubled it to have enough for the bottom and the top. I will go ahead and type it here – already doubled – so if you are interested and have a lot of time on your hands you can just print out this post for a delicious dinner.

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball (you would actually want 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other). Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Roll larger dough ball out to fit a 9 inch pie plate – bottom and sides. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
  3. Roll smaller dough ball out to be just slightly larger than the pie plate. Set aside.

I didn’t chill it as long as the recipe says and it worked fine. I am actually not sure what chilling does for you so it might be ok without chilling but don’t blame me if it doesn’t work. Also, in case you have not made pie crust before, the ice water part 1) literally means ice water – put ice and water in a cup or bowl and use that and 2) is approximate – go by when everything sticks together rather than the actual amount.
This recipe is great if you live in an area without shortening because it is dependent on butter instead. Also, it is DELICIOUS when filled with a pot pie.

OK, now for the filling. This is my adaptation of another allrecipes.com recipe.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3 cups (or so) frozen mixed vegetables (I found a bag of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, poireaux (leeks), and green beans which was GREAT because there were no peas in it, and also potatoes are delicious)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup cream
salt to taste
pepper to taste
herbes de provence (a tasty blend of rosemary, savory, oregano, thyme, and basil) to taste
chicken bouillon cube

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (around 220 Celsius)
  2. Put chicken and vegetables in big pot and cover with water. Throw in a chicken bouillon cube for extra flavor. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain (SAVE 2 CUPS FOR THE NEXT STEP), and set aside. (Actually you can save all of it for a tasty and nutritious broth if you want but at least don’t dump all of it down the drain.)
  3. In separate pot, melt butter (the original recipe said to saute onions here but mine were mixed in with the frozen stuff so I skipped that part but if you are into that sort of thing this is where you would do it) and gradually stir in flour. Slowly stir in milk, cream, and chicken broth and add seasonings. Cook until thick and lovely, then remove from heat.
  4. Put your chicken/veggie blend in the crust and then pour the filling part over. Cover with the top crust and seal the edges. Make a few slits in the top crust for steam to escape.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is a perfect golden brown and irresistible-looking. Let it cool for a bit and then dish it up.

So, I forgot the second cup of broth so my filling wasn’t as copious as I normally like but it was pleasingly thick. Next time I would make every effort to put the full amount of broth in. Also I picked out a lot of the celery from the frozen mix because the chunks were ENORMOUS – like bigger than a normal bite – and I was not interested in celery pot pie. I would put in more pepper – I used 1/2 teaspoon, I think – and the only other thing I would do differently would be to use a bit more butter when starting the sauce part because that amount of flour seemed like too much if mixing with just the melted butter. And as we all know, you can never use too much butter for home cooking.

DISCLAIMER: I do not, in general, like Christian fiction. As a genre, with a few exceptions, I believe it is poorly written. For this reason I have not taken any previous opportunities to review fiction books, but LitFuse says they want honesty so Jake encouraged me to give it a try. In particular I do not like Christian romance fiction, so please keep in mind that this review is coming from a cynic.

When Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana is about a young woman named Julia who escorts a group of girls on an orphan train from New York to Montana. She arrives to discover that her ticket is, in fact, one-way and not round trip as she had been led to believe and also that she has been “sold” as a mail order bride to an uncouth gold prospector. (Oh! the drama.) She soon meets a charming young parson – her rescuer from the prospector – who has taken an unfortunate vow of chastity – unfortunate because THEY LOVE EACH OTHER! (of course). So the story is about the budding romance between two basically perfect people and how everyone in the community, who are also basically perfect, grow in their faith together. The only imperfect person is the bad guy, who is rotten to the core, but at the end the dedicated parson is still faithfully sharing the gospel with him.

If you like Christian fiction – in particular Christian romance fiction – you will probably like this book. It is pretty typical of the genre – people who love to serve others, people growing in faith, everybody loving each other, etc. Or if you are looking for a light, quick, entertaining read, this would be a safe pick. If you are looking for multifaceted characters or an intricate plot, I would recommend you move on.

This book was provided for review by the LitFuse Publicity Group.