God’s Sense of Humor

When I first became a Christian, someone told me to be careful what I pray for because for everything I wanted God to show  me, the enemy would be there to make it more challenging.

For example, if I pray to God for patience, the only way I will grow in that area is if I’m subjected to things that would normally cause me to be impatient. If I pray to be a lover of all people, I will be surrounded by unlovely people. We can’t be strengthened in an area where there are no challenges, right?

Well, this leads me to a rather embarrassing story about something I’ve prayed for. As I lay my life open here on the internet, I pray that you will see beyond the humor of what I am about to share and notice how God speaks.

If you’ve followed my earlier posts, you will notice a common thread. I’ve called all Christians to stop being judgmental or critical, and to start sharing random acts of kindness to a hurting world. I’ve prayed that I too, be less judgmental, because (let’s face it…) we all judge to some extent.

The more I pray to be loving and accepting of others, the more I am being challenged in this area.

A few weeks ago, at a Sunday church service I was sitting in front of a guy who was singing louder than me. His tone was WAY off and (despite the fact that my tone is ALSO way off), I thought, “geeez, does this guy HAVE to sing so loud?”

Stupid, right??

After about two songs, he coughed in my direction and the wind from his cough blew through my hair. I thought, “this is IT”. I grabbed my bag and moved to a different seat so that I could “enjoy” the service.

During the service, the Pastor made a request for the following weeks service. The church was having a Gospel Music celebration and he wanted to put together a choir to perform some gospel songs. I got excited and figured this would be a perfect opportunity for me to sing loudly and blend in with all the other singers. At the end of service, I met with the music director and volunteered.

Later in the week, he sent me a song list and some links to videos, “practice these songs ……… oh and this will be a mini-choir since we didn’t get many volunteers”.

I went to my husband and told him I couldn’t do it. He said, “so you’re gonna be a quitter?” He was challenging my integrity!!! Of course I won’t be a quitter. I will do this! I prayed all week, studied the songs, and felt confident. I was even proud of myself because I thought, “the enemy tried to make me quit but I am stronger than that!!” In a sense, I was laughing at the enemy because I figured I beat him at his own game.

Unknown to me, that was not God’s intentions for the lack of other singers. There was a completely different lesson to be learned.

When I got to church early for our practice, the music director came to me and gave me a microphone.

“What do I need this for, there are other people singing right?”

“Well, not really, you’re the only one who volunteered. So we have you and the 3 women who usually sing.”

So now I’m thinking I REALLY cant do this, but my husband’s words echoed in my head and I didn’t want to be a quitter. I asked the music director if he could just shut the sound off on my mic. He laughed and said NO!

There we were “the mini choir” with our own microphones, practicing the song list. I’m terrified that someone will actually hear my off-tune voice and think “how embarrassing”. At that moment, a gentleman walked up to our group and said, “wow, you ladies sound so lovely. Great job”.

THAT is when it hit me…..the lesson God intended I learn from this experience.

The man who walked up and told us how fabulous we sounded was the man who was sitting behind me in church the previous week!! He didn’t hear my out-of-tune voice, he heard songs of praise and worship. He heard past my actual voice and heard a joyful sound.

If you haven’t noticed from my past stories, God doesn’t whisper in my ear because I’m a bit stubborn and don’t hear it. He puts me in situations where I am practically hit over the head with what He wants me to hear.

God says, “you want to judge your fellow Christians, well lets put you up on a stage with a microphone so the WHOLE church can hear you sing”.

As I stood on the platform, I prayed. I repented. “Oh God, I am so sorry for judging that man, one of your children. Who am I that I would judge someone else for something I can’t even do myself.”

After the service, I had a laugh with God because He made such a strong point. He wanted me to stop judging others but the only way I was going to hear Him was to be put into a situation where I thought people would be judging me.

Isn’t God amazing and beautiful. He has a sense of humor and He loves us SO much.

The point of this story is this: Don’t judge others. Humble ourselves to hear correction from God. We each have our God given strengths and our weaknesses and none of us is perfect. But we are all Children of God.

I hope sharing this story will help convince you to accept others (faults and all) …………. and if it hasn’t, I pray that you too, end up on a stage with a microphone in your hand (all your faults on display for the world to see)… Hahaha, really just kidding (and trying to make a point)

How does God get His point across to you when He needs you to hear?

Much love and blessings to all of you! Thank you so much for stopping by, Rene’

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The photo shared on this post came from this page. Thank you Filtered Flowers

Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Recently, I shared with my readers that I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. It’s been about three weeks and I’ve had so much fun in the kitchen. I’ve had Tofu Piccata (while my hubby had Chicken Piccata), Cauli-fredo sauce with GF noodles, Sprouted Veggie Bean Burgers and so much more.

A few days ago, my husband made some sautéed scallops with leeks. He had a cup of leeks left over (which he was going to toss in the trash). Well, you know me ….. I can’t stand to throw food away so I grabbed it before it was tossed. I put on my creative cap and scanned the refrigerator for some ideas.  There was one lonesome potato, a large piece of onion and I found some veggie broth in my freezer.

I’ve also been experimenting with how to make creamy sauces without cream, milks or cheese. Did you know that a handful of soaked nuts mixed with a little avocado makes a SUPER creamy sauce?

I have to tell you, the first time I blended all these ingredients, I was so disappointed with myself for not taking photos to share. Who knew it would have turned out this DELICIOUS!

It was so good, I had to make it again so I could share with all of you!!

Vegan soup

Vegan Potato Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Nutritional info: Calories: 204, Fat: 16.2g (saturated 2.2g), Carbohydrates: 11.2g, Dietary Fiber 3.3g, Sugars: 2.2g, Protein: 6g

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow potato (one cup chopped)
  • 1/2 cup soaked/skinned almonds (or cashews)
  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Fresh Thyme for a garnish (I used Lemon-Thyme)

Directions

  1. In Vitamix (or high powered blender) blend vegetable broth, soaked nuts and avocado until smooth (high setting for about 2 minutes). Set aside.
  2. Peel and chop potato into small cubes. Add to a pot of boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Soak the leeks in water for about 5 minutes. Rinse and drain well.
  4. In a sauté pan, add olive oil, leeks, onion and garlic. Sautee for 8 minutes on a medium heat.
  5. Add potatoes, sea salt, thyme and onion powder to the leek mixture. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  6. Add half the potato mixture to the broth mixture. Blend on high until smooth (about 1 minute).
  7. Add the rest of the potato mixture to the Vitamix and blend on 3 (low if you’re using a different blender) for 15 seconds.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh lemon-thyme for a garnish.

Serve hot or cold!!

Step-By-Step

The first time I made this recipe, I used soaked cashews. When I decided to make it again, I didn’t have any cashews so I improvised with almonds. Both the cashews and the almonds made a terrific soup. The cashews were a little less work, but if all you have is almonds, here’s what to do:

  • Put a half a cup of almonds in a cup of warm water for two hours.
  • Rinse and drain.
  • Pull skins off the almonds. This is super easy. Just put the almond between your thumb and index finger and give a little squeeze. The almond will pop right out of the skin.
  • If you’re using cashews, all you need to do is soak them for 2 hours, then rinse and drain.

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Add soaked nuts, avocado and vegetable broth to Vitamix, blend on high for 2 minutes (until smooth).

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Just LOOK how creamy that is!!!

Peel and chop potato into small cubes. Add to a pot of  boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Be sure and soak/rinse the sliced leeks. If you don’t, they will be gritty.

In a sauté pan, add olive oil, leeks, onions and garlic. Sautee for 8 minutes on a medium heat.

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Add boiled potatoes and spices to the sauté pan. Sautee for 3 minutes.

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Add half the potato mixture to the broth in the Vitamix. Blend for one minute, until smooth.

Add the other half of the potato mixture to the Vitamix. Blend on low (I used 3) for 15 seconds (just enough to break everything into smaller pieces but leave enough for texture.

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I scraped the left over leeks out of the skillet and added them as a garnish to my bowl (along with the lemon-thyme).

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Serve Hot or Cold!!

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Happy Eating!! Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

Christians Are Like Vegetarians

Recently, my husband and I went into Cabela’s (a hunting/fishing/gaming store). When we walked in, I was shocked at all the taxidermy animals. Deer, beavers, bears, large birds and many other critters. All posed in life-like stances with a setting of trees and rocks. As we made it to the back of the store, I became fixated on a huge buffalo above my head. Frozen in my steps, I just looked into his eyes (well, the plastic ones) and imagined him out in nature living his life, minding his own business.

As I tend to do, my thoughts started to get away from me and I began to imagine him with his family. I wondered if he had little ones that were left behind when a hunter came along and took his life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this post is not an anti-hunting PETA kind of post. I am just giving a little background on where this story is going. Please read on …..

My husband came to me and asked, “why the tears?” snapping me out of my thoughts.

We left the store and I couldn’t get the image of that buffalo out of my mind. I was flooded with memories of cute animals. A video where this guy was playing a trombone and all the cows came to listen……. Cows drawn to music!! Then another video of a cow playing with a ball. I felt very convicted, like I just couldn’t eat meat anymore.

So I stopped……. Just like that, I became a vegetarian.

After two weeks, I noticed that I began to feel healthier and I had even lost a couple pounds. And what do we do (those of us on Social Media) when we have exciting news? I posted it on Facebook!!

My first response was from my uncle who said, “SO, what will you do with all those left-over Beef Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini HAHAHA”

I also received a few private messages. One asked me how I would continue with the recipe part of my blog – would it become only vegetarian? Another person asked me how I (as a vegetarian) and my husband (a “carnivore”) could comfortably co-exist?

Without even thinking, these words came out, “it’s simple, being a vegetarian is kind of like being a Christian.”

“Hahahaha, ok???”

“Well, I have my faith and my religious beliefs but I don’t force them upon anyone, right? My eating habits are the same thing. I’ve made changes for myself and (just like my faith), I will share with others that want to listen, but I wont judge anyone that doesn’t agree.”

As Christians, we walk through our days in the presence of non-believers. Just as vegetarians walk in the presence of meat eaters. We co-exist with people different than us. We walk through life setting examples, hoping someone will want what we have.

Maybe someone will see me and think, “wow, her skin looks great” or “she’s lost weight, how did she do it”.. Then I can share my new lifestyle change and maybe someone will want to change their lifestyle because of the example I set.

Isn’t our Christian faith the same?

By our example we can bring others to Christianity. I’ve had people say to me, “you seem so peaceful and happy, what’s your secret?” I’ve been able to share my faith and talk about God. Telling people how He changed my life and how He brings peace to every situation because I know HE is in control.

What kind of examples are you setting in your life? Do people want what you have?

I saw an episode of “Wife Swap” (where two polar opposite wife’s are swapped for two weeks – in the hopes that each wife can teach another family a different way of doing things). Now I don’t watch television very often, but this one I had to watch. A Christian wife was swapped with an Atheist wife. Each wife tried to teach the other family a new way of doing things. By the end, a few minor things changed for each family, but neither had adopted a new way of living.

During the final interview when each spouse was confronted by the other family, the Atheist father had tears in his eyes and said, “you wanna know the hardest part of my lifestyle? It’s being faced with judgmental Christians who look down on me for not being like them. It hurts because I am a good hearted, hard working man”.

That moment was burned into my memory. I thought, “how can we bring people to Christianity if we are judging them for the lives they currently live?” Why would an Atheist want to be a Judgmental Christian? It made me sad.

Imagine if all the Atheist of the world were confronted with Christians that just loved them, cared for them, prayed for them (without rubbing their noses in it). What kind of an impact could we have if we just spread joy, kindness, an unconditional love (like Jesus shares with us).

We can’t force people to adopt our way of life. All we can do is live by example, by our actions, by our unconditional love – God will do the rest 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon, Rene’

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*by the way, if you are following for the great recipes, stay tuned for some amazing vegetarian surprises (I will still be posting meaty deliciousness as well – hubby still has to eat 🙂

Christian Hypocrites

At the age of 27, I walked into a church looking for help. I wasn’t there to find a close relationship with Jesus Christ, nor was I there to make friends or seek Christian guidance. I walked in 4 days clean and sober from drugs and alcohol, looking for a narcotics anonymous meeting.

This incredibly sweet woman greeted me with a smile and no judgment. Instead of seeing a person who had made bad choices, she saw a young woman in pain, desperate, and in need of some good ole’ Christian love. Alice (that was her name – my angel sent from above) told me when I could come back for a meeting, and then invited my children and I to the Wednesday Worship service. She said they served dinner and I would be on the guest list.

My boys and I went to the dinner and felt so welcomed and loved that we kept going back. Today, 18 years later, my world revolves with Jesus as the center.

This brings me to the dilemma I am faced with today (and I’m sorry to say, but a little bit of a rant).

Someone very dear to me (a long distance friend) called me the other day and wept about how lonely she was. She said she had tried to make friends at her new home but no one had time for friendship. They were just too busy to do anything extra. I suggested that she attend a church group meeting and reach out to her fellow Christians (as she had lived a Christian life in the past). Her response broke my heart.

“There are too many hypocrites in church and I’m just not interested in going back.”

I found myself defending Christians, and encouraging her to go back to church because I knew (or prayed) that someone would reach out to her and her loneliness would subside. The truth is though, I knew the awful truth. Even Christians are too busy to add extras to their schedule. Many Christians speak words of faith, but then their actions contradict what their words are saying.

What my friend was saying was true. (now please don’t get me wrong. I am not passing judgment on Christians or saying that we are ALL guilty of this. I’m just saying, as a general rule, Christians don’t have a good reputation in the secular world).

Let me give two examples from my own life.

1. Tattoos

While I was out making bad choices as a young adult, I got a few tattoos. Thankfully they were nothing hideous, but they are there for the rest of my life. I made those choices before I became a born again Christian.

Some time into my walk with Jesus Christ, I was approached by a fellow Christian that was told me I was a sinner and what I did was wrong. He began quoting scripture from Leviticus 19:28 which says, “you must not put tattoo markings upon yourself”. This guy was passing judgment on past mistakes I had already been forgiven for. Thankfully, I was strong in my Christian faith and I was not offended by what this person was telling me. I KNEW the word of God and I knew that I was saved from all that I had done in my past.

But here is my dilemma.

What if THAT was the person who greeted me when I first walked into the church? What if, in my brokenness, I was greeted with condemnation and judgment instead of compassion and the love of Jesus? What if I was made to feel like I was tarnished forever because of a mistake I could never erase?

I would have walked out and thought just what my friend had said, “Christian hypocrites!

2. Music

As a teenager, my favorite bands were Judas Priest, Metallica and Megadeath!! Yes it’s true, I was a total rocker!!…

When I began attending church regularly, a new friend (who was strong in her faith) began to plant seeds that maybe my music was not pleasing to God. She introduced me to a few musicians in the church who shared their vast collection of Christian CD’s with me. I was amazed!!

Christian music that wasn’t hymn music??? It was straight up – Rock & Roll!! (DC Talk – Jesus Freak, Jars of Clay, Kutless, Thousand Foot Krutch). I traded in all my Secular Rock CD’s and began to worship with Christian Rock. I found a way to connect with God through music and it was so exciting.

Years later, a woman said to me, “that music does NOT glorify God and you should be ashamed of yourself!!”

Thankfully (again) I was strong in my faith and was able to discard what she said as judgment (that was not hers to make). I explained to her it was through music that “myself” and thousands of young teenage kids were coming to the church’s because they were able to connect with the sound. The message in the music glorified God – really, it did!!

She was solid in her convictions and continued to pass judgment on me.

Here is my point…

This last week has been heartbreaking for me as I watch loved ones avoiding church because of “Christian Hypocrites”. What does that say about the job the church is doing (as a whole)?

The scripture says that we are to wash the feet of others as Jesus washed our feet (John 13:14), we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34), we are to stop passing judgment on one another (Romans 14:13), we are to be completely humble and gentle and patient (Ephesians 4:2), we are to forgive grievances (Colossians 3:13), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), not slander anyone (James 4:11) and live in complete harmony (I Peter 3:8).

As a church, I am pleading that each of us walk through our days as a shining example of Christianity. A billboard for Jesus Christ.

I don’t mean with bumper stickers or jewelry or those little Jesus fish that people have on their cars. I mean with our actions, with our words, with our unconditional love for others. We can give correction without condemnation. We can plant seeds of love like my friend did with my music. We can greet someone with a smile like my sweet Alice did. We can share God’s word without making people who don’t know Christianity feel “less than”.

We need to take a stand and help the world see that Christianity is not full of hypocrites. I am not perfect and I fall short all the time (this message is for me too!!). My prayer is for all of us to reach out to that new person in church, make time to share with others, be kind to strangers for no other reason than your love for Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a stand Christians!!!  The world should look at us and be SO amazed that they want what we have 🙂

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Thanks for stopping by! Many blessings, Rene’

The Bank of Time: Time Is An Investment

Welcome back for Part Two of my series on Time. If you missed Part One (Time is a Treasure) click HERE. Read about how to treasure time as a valuable commodity, cherishing every moment.

Today we move on to discuss how time can be spent and invested, but it cannot be saved.

The I in TIME is for Investment.

In the early 1970’s Jim Croce wrote a song with these lyrics, “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do …… is to save every day ’til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you”

Wouldn’t it be SO cool if we could bottle up time for all the fun things like vacations or important things like family? Unfortunately, no matter how technologically advanced we become, this will never be possible. Each day only has 24 hours. We can’t purchase more hours, but we can spend them. We can’t save them, but we can waste them.

As I was writing Time is a Treasure, I thought about how people say, “I just don’t have enough time.”

Think about it …… There are 168 golden hours in each week. The average person will spend about 56 of those hours sleeping, about 24 of those hours on eating and personal hygiene, about 50 hours working (and commuting), and about 8 hours for chores (grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) That’s a total of 138 hours per week, leaving 30 hours of free time!!

That’s an average of 5 hours a day!!

How much of that time is invested into mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and quality time with family?

Quality Time Invested in Family

When my children were younger I was a single mother working two jobs. I was tormented with guilt because I didn’t get to spend enough quality time with my boys. One day I made a decision to prioritize my time a little better. I couldn’t get any extra time in the day, but I could choose how to spend that time.

Instead of spending time “bugging” my boys to clean their rooms, I chose to use the only hour I had with them to enjoy being in their presence. We enjoyed dinners as a family and we cleaned the dishes as a family. We would start a game of Monopoly and play for 30 minutes a day. One game could last 3 weeks!!!

My point is this. If there is only an hour in a day to spend with your loved ones, make sure you invest that time doing what they will remember. My boys don’t remember whether their rooms were clean or dirty, but they remember the Monopoly game which lasted a month (the one Mom lost!!).

*if you’re a mom who thinks having a clean room is a top priority, I’m not saying that is wrong. I’m only saying there needs to be a balance between all the chores and quality time. For me, I didn’t have time for both, so made a choice to let the rooms go until the weekends 🙂

Quality Time Invested in Spiritual and Physical Health

I’m not here to preach and tell you to do bible studies every day or go to church every Sunday. What I do want to tell you is there should be regular time invested for spiritual support.

Let me explain. My bible studies are usually pretty regular, but I am guilty of slacking at times because I get busy. It never fails that when I slack for too long, my husband will notice. I become a little shorter with my temper, I get agitated a little easier and I lose some of the peace that my studies fill my heart with. My husband will say, “I think you need to go to church” or “”maybe you need to do a bible study”. And he isn’t saying it spitefully, he is genuinely telling me that he see’s my heart is out of balance. Inevitably, when I listen to him and invest time with my bible, I begin to feel peace right away.

Balance is the key. If your schedule only allows for 5 minutes a day, or one study a week, that’s ok!!

The same goes for physical health. I have a bad back from a car accident 18 years ago. Sometimes I just want to sit around and do nothing. You know those Saturdays when you stay in your jammies and watch movies all day. The problem is, if I do that too long, my back seizes up and it takes me weeks to recover. So whether I feel like it or not, I need to invest a little time every day walking because it keeps my back loose.

Quality Time Invested in Mental Health

When I think about mental health, I think about taking time for myself to rejuvenate and relax. There was a time in my life when I didn’t know how to do this. My evenings were filled with swirling thoughts that gave me insomnia. When I finally did fall asleep, I dreamt about work. When I was a waitress so I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, “I forgot to take that guy his cup of coffee!!!” When I was a Care Aide serving seniors, I dreamt about how Betty needed help with her pantyhose and Charles needed his glasses fixed. On my days off, I wanted to go visit them to see if they needed anything!! I spent  way to much time thinking about others and not enough thinking about myself.

At some point, I realized that I couldn’t be the best mother (or Care Aide) if I didn’t take care of myself first. I started giving myself permission to do nice things for myself. A 20 minute bubble bath. Walk in the park. Reading a book. Sitting on the deck in the sun, doing nothing at all.

Can I tell you something? As soon as I started doing this, a little voice in my head would tell me that I was being a bad mother, and I began to feel guilty!!!

“well, the kids need …..”

“the bathroom needs to be cleaned…”

“Joe at work needs me to ……”

Do you know that no matter how much you do, there will ALWAYS be something that needs to be done!??

Through time, I’ve learned that no matter what life throws at me or how busy I get, slowing down and investing time in me is at the top of my priority list. When I allot time for self-care, I am more relaxed, thoughtful and kind.

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In closing, I would like to challenge you to think of how are you investing your time? Does the time you invest bear good fruit? Will your loved ones remember you through the legacy of wonderful memories you shared with them?

John 15:8 (AMP) When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of mine.