the story isn’t over yet.

For the last several weeks, our church has been going through the Story [link] – basically traveling through the Bible in a year, learning about God’s story and our place in it. Each week, the Sunday morning sermon, the various children’s ministries, and the small groups study the same passage.

A few weeks ago, we studied the Israelites’ escape from Egypt to the Red Sea. If you don’t know the story, here’s a synopsis: the Israelites are slaves and Pharaoh finally agrees to let them go after a series of plagues strike Egypt. Soon after, he changes his mind and sends his army after them. Israel has traveled as far as the Red Sea and is now trapped between it and Pharaoh’s approaching army. They panic, crying out again Moses their leader and wondering why they didn’t just stay in Egypt rather than face this certain death.

Of course, if you know the rest of the story, it doesn’t end there. God miraculously parts the Red Sea so that the Israelites can walk through on dry ground. Then, after they’ve made it through, God brings the waters back together and Pharaoh’s army drowns. And this isn’t the last time that same scenario plays itself out – the Israelites come across an obstacle in their journey, they complain and say it would have been better to have been slaves, and God miraculously provides for them.

It’s easy to look at the Israelites and judge them for their initial response when faced with these obstacles, but here is the thought that I can’t get out of my head –the story wasn’t over yet. All they saw was an ending, an insurmountable obstacle, but God was just getting started! If they just held out a little while longer, they would see His provision – miraculously.

There are a ton of applications to this, but for me, in this season, it is such a comforting thought when ministry doesn’t go the way I want it to (and it rarely does) – God is not done writing the story.

new recipes, 2013–part 1

Crock Pot Philly Cheesesteaks – This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to make cheesesteaks in the crock pot. I used Steak-umms, because then I don’t have to worry about slicing the meat. They were okay, but the meat just really didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor. I like using the crock pot not only because it’s easy, but because some people in my life don’t like onions and bell peppers, and cooking them all day in the crock pot makes them a little less potent. Next time I’m just frying everything in a skillet.

Oven Steak Fries – These were a last minute addition to the night’s meal, because I needed a side for cheesesteaks and fries sounded good. They were easy (especially since I didn’t need to peal the potatoes) and tasted delicious.

Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pastry Pockets – Puff pastry is such a fun thing to work with – it’s pretty easy, even if it’s a little messy, and the results are usually impressive. These were no exception. I did make a few changes – I didn’t include the sun dried tomatoes (because I just didn’t feel like buying them), and I used turkey bacon instead (because Missy and her girls don’t eat pork). I’d definitely make these again, and they would work really well as a party food.

Spanish Rice – I liked this, though I had to adapt it to what I had on hand (no bacon and diced instead of stewed tomatoes). I’m going to try it again this weekend with the right ingredients.

Skinny Monkey Cookies – These are kind of like a healthier version of a no-bake, except that you bake them. They got mixed reviews here – about half of us liked them and half didn’t. There is definitely a banana flavor, but if you like bananas (I do!) you might really enjoy these. They are also pretty simple, which I appreciate.

And a tip – did you know that you can shred chicken breasts using a stand mixer? It’s a little messy because you need to cover the top of bowl with your hands to avoid pieces flying out, and the chicken needs to be warm (even hot) for it to work, but it’s a lot easier than doing it by hand!

2013 goals.

It’s February 2, and I’m just now getting around to finalizing and posting my goals for this year. Hopefully this isn’t indicative of how likely I am to get them done.

Honestly, I had a harder time than usual with this year’s list. It was both hard to narrow down what I wanted to focus on, and yet to ensure that my list represented many of the things that were most important to me. So here we go – 15 things that run the gamut from house goals to the spiritual to financial, from serious to simple, from quick and easy to more involved.

  1. Go camping
  2. Read 5 non-fiction books
  3. Read through 5 YouVersion Bible reading plans
  4. Sew something
  5. Grill something
  6. Use coupons with groceries for one month
  7. Tile something
  8. Build a new piece of furniture
  9. Finish the dining room gallery wall
  10. Do something that scares me
  11. Try 25 new recipes
  12. Identify 10 life-giving friends/family members and write them a letter
  13. Take a yoga class
  14. Start an herb garden
  15. Try 6 new restaurants in downtown Frederick