new recipes, 2013–part 2

Triple Chip Blondies – Oh, wow. So good and pretty easy. But, very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Baked Chipotle Beef Taquitos – These are a great way to use up leftover roast, though in my case, I actually cooked a roast in order to make them (which required a bit more planning). They’re tasty and have a slight kick (just remember that’s coming from someone who is a totally wimp when it comes to spicy). The trickiest part for me was getting the tortillas to roll without breaking. I eventually figured out that if I completely roll them, instead of using the roll-and-fold-over method like I do with tacos or enchiladas, it works better. (I also love the chicken version).

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken – I was out of town for a week for business, staying in a hotel with a small kitchen, and this is one of the meals I chose to make because it fairly easy to buy/bring what I needed. It was okay – not incredibly flavorful, but it came together quickly, was inexpensive, and was healthy, too. You could also do something similar using salsa instead of the canned tomatoes with green chilies and spices.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry – This meal was super easy to put together and so very good – and bonus, it was really healthy, too. I’ll definitely be making it again. Probably next week.

Pork and Peanut Stir Fry – I’m a big fan of stir fry – they’re quick, easy to adapt to taste, healthy and versatile. This version was good, but I left out the scallions (I’m just not a big fan). I’ll definitely make it again, but I think next time I’ll add in some veggies – maybe broccoli or green beans.

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 3.

Here are a few more things I’ve learned about ministry over the last eight months.

You can’t do it alone. There is absolutely no way I would have made it through the last few months with a support network. My family and friends have helped out with practical stuff, like transporting A & K and providing meals when I was laid up after knee surgery. But more importantly, they’ve been a sounding board, given me a reality check, let me cry on their shoulder, and prayed with me. I really think I would have lost my mind and probably thrown in the towel without their help.

It can’t be about the person you’re trying to help – it has to be about Jesus. This is really the bottom line for me, and I think it applies no matter what you’re doing. Because people will misunderstand your heart and your motives. They’ll fail to say thank-you and they will take you for granted. They’ll take a step back with every step forward. They’ll push your boundaries and break your heart and wear you out.

But Jesus. He sees your heart and honors your faithfulness, even when things don’t work out like you want them to. He gives rest and carries your burdens. He promises that His Word does not return empty but accomplishes the work He gave it to do (Isaiah 55:11). And the work He has started in you, the work He is even now doing in you as you serve others, He will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”

Matthew 25:34-40

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 2.

Here are a few more things I’ve learned about ministry over the last eight months.

It’s exhausting. Back before anyone ever moved in with me, a friend told me that people who weren’t used to living with boundaries continually try to push yours. I believed her, but I don’t know that I really understood what that would mean. I definitely didn’t realize how tiring it would be. This isn’t true for everyone, and I’m not even sure that it’s always intentional, but there are many days I feel like I’m constantly on guard, knowing that I give an inch, they’ll take a mile. And this is true for both the boundaries I set for their benefit (like curfews or due dates for rent) and for mine (like personal time or other friends or family who need me). I’ve learned that I need to be very clear about my boundaries and expectations, at least in my own head, and ready to set new ones when situations arise that I haven’t considered. I’ve gotten better at saying no and not feeling guilty about it.

It won’t always work. Or at least, it won’t always seem to. The hardest part of all of this has been when it feels like all of the time and effort and money and tears don’t actually change anything. Some people are stuck in old patterns and just aren’t ready to break out of them. So, here’s is what I’m try to remember. One, the story isn’t over yet. Lucky for me, I’ve got friends that have been doing this for a while who remind me of this, because they’ve seen things change long after we think it’s over. And two, that I’m not responsible for the results. My role is just to obey, to do what God tells me to, and to leave the results up to Him. It’s not easy, but if I didn’t trust that He is really in control, this whole thing would feel pretty pointless.

things I’ve learned about ministry, part 1.

It’s been eight months since I first invited people to move in to my house, and nearly four months since I became an unofficial temporary foster parent. In that time, ministry has been more hands-on and all-encompassing than I could have even predicted. I’ve learned quite a lot – here are a few things.

And please know that I realize that a lot of these are true just by virtue of sharing your home with someone else, particularly people that are your responsibility, like children. But as someone who doesn’t have children and who, with the exception of half of 2011, has spent most of her adult life living on her own, these are the things that I understand now that I didn’t before. (Also, I could make the argument that our most important ministry is to those in our home, no matter how they came to be there. So there’s that).

It’s messy. I didn’t realize it until recently, but a lot of the ministry I’ve done in the past has had some pretty clear boundaries. There was a time that I was doing it, and a time that I was not, and I had a lot of control over when and where they intersected. Even phone calls or emails, I could ignore until it was time to deal with them. But having people live with you means that ministry doesn’t fit any longer into nice little boxes. It spills over into every part of your life, and as much as my organizing, list-making self wants it to be clean and straightforward, it’s just not. People are messy, and so are their problems, and sin is really, really messy.

It’s heartbreaking. I have cried more in the last few months than I think ever have before in my life. One Sunday a few weeks ago, I was so overcome at church that I actually sobbed my way through the worship portion of the service, much to the confusion of the poor kid who was sitting beside me. Sometimes these tears are on behalf of others – how someone continues to make poor choices, despite every opportunity to go another way, or how their decisions affect someone else. But sometimes (oftentimes), I’m hurt or tired or just overwhelmed. Or I feel unseen and underappreciated. I know this is a lie, that God sees, but it’s still been painful work.

worth reading.

This book just went on my list to read: A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.

The first thing we know about God is that he made art. The first the we know about people is we were made in the image of an art-making God.

Now when I read quotes like this:If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough! I am still inspired, but I also now know the size of our dreaming isn’t the point.

The size of our God is.

Christ’s pursuit of me is more important than my pursuit of anything else.

I don’t care if you’re the President or the janitor – your ability to bring glory to God by simply being the person you fully are and embracing the job you’ve been given to do is a uniquely human privilege.

Christ is in you and he wants to come out through you in a way he won’t come out through anyone else. You have been given your two hands, your sick parents, your rotting back door. You have been given your extra deadlines, your diagnosis, the children at your table.

But you have also been given your sense of humor, your skill for writing, your passion to bring light to dark places. You have been given a heart for orphans, for animals, for food or for the poor.

You have been given your life, what you hold in your hands, the ground beneath your feet. You have been asked to show up. How do I know? Because you were born. Show up as you are, not as you think you ought to be.

Don’t run from your calling, no matter what it is.

If you don’t know what it is? Maybe this book will help you uncover it.

There isn’t one great thing you were made to do. There is one great God you were made to glorify.

Throughout your life, you’ll do that in a million little ways.