God has blessed us with a great big world, and I try to go see it whenever I can!Admittedly, I have an unusual life where I get to teach what I love 8-9 months out of the year and then go travel and serve the Kingdom in my other home the rest of the time:Edmond, Oklahoma and Vienna, Austria. A lot of what I write revolves around what God teaches me through those experiences and I invite you to "travel" with me in those times! Basically, I want to be Rick Steves (the travel writer) and Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries) when I grow up! :)
I have a bunch of college "kids" I call my own, 2 dogs named Abby and McGee (yes, I love NCIS) andI get to be "the cool aunt" to 2 beautiful nieces and 3 handsome nephews.They make great play dates!
Given the opportunity, I want to encourage people when I can and remind them of the power of God in their life...or help them find Him in different ways.Fair warning:I'll ask you the tough questions!I treasure deep relationships - especially ones that will allow for "iron sharpening iron."
I love being outside, and I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone whenever possible to soak up God's creation! Actually, I'm a huge fan of turning off the phone in general...as the phrase goes: "Wherever you are, be all there", and if you are where I am, then I'm going to be all there!
I'm flawed, but saved by grace and learning daily to be loved by God.I'm thankful for the times he lets me wrestle with him because he knows my heart of hearts, and I'm ok with my hip being messed up (Genesis 32: 24-26) because growth comes from it.I encourage you to join me in the journey!
Chip and Dale–the famous Saturday morning cartoon duo we all know and love. What a pair, right? Chances are you have childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons. Perhaps you watched ChipandDale, the furry little chipmunks made famous by Walt Disney. If you were like me, you ate a bowl of Lucky Charms while still in your PJ’s.
Chip and Dale were quite the pair. They were always stirring up trouble or trying too hard to get a simple job accomplished. Trying to outrun or outsmart Donald Duck or cramming their tree full of acorns was the norm for those little guys. Chip was always the thinker, and Dale was always getting them both into trouble. But no matter their troubles, they always managed to show up together the next Saturday morning. And that encouraged me.
They were two different characters but they worked well together. They needed each other. Chip and Dale were also famous for putting the other one first when they came to a hole or small space they needed to squeeze through. They would stand there for minutes at a time just trying to allow the other one to pass first. Cheerfully, they would stand next to the opening, with a hand opened towards the hole.
“You go,” Chip would say.
“No, you go,” said Dale.
“I insist, you must go first.”
“No, after you!”
They would almost get to the point of getting caught by Donald Duck before they would make up their minds to see who would disappear down the hole first.
Imagine the Chip and Dale of Christianity–the way it should be! We are all different because God created us that way, but we all need each other: to serve each other. We may be like Chip with the brilliant ideas, or we might be a little more like Dale, who seems to get into trouble a little more often than we’d like. Or, perhaps you have a wavering faith–not because you don’t believe in God, but because life tends to win front row seats. Either way, we all need to help build each other up and put each other’s needs first by bearing each other’s burdens in love.
Humbly serving others with our talents and gifts causes great things to happen in the Kingdom of God! If we all had the attitudes of Chip and Dale, everyone would just want to serve each other, even if our “enemy” is right on our furry little tails! When serving others wholeheartedly, we allow God to work through us to minister and reach out to others by putting them first. In today’s world, that seems to be a rare concept. If only life were more like Saturday morning cartoons with Chip and Dale!
In a way it can be, if we’ll begin to look at others as better than ourselves, serve without reservation, love unconditionally, and seek God in new ways so that we can become more like the verse in Isaiah that says “Here I am, send me!” (6:8). Then, watch that “life abundantly” thing that John 10:10 talks about become even more evident in your life.
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
I grew up in a home where my parents entertained pretty frequently. We always had people in our house for my dad’s job, or church fellowship, or just because my mom, who is a natural hostess, invited someone over that night. My mom has always impressed me with how she can entertain in a pinch and everything was always wonderful. Someday I will grow up to be like my mom. She was a Pinterest mom before that was a “thing” and she came by it naturally from my grandmother. It also might be an Army wife thing. One of my mom’s many gifts is hospitality and generosity.
Thankfully, this has all resulted in tons of impressive but quick dinners, appetizers, and sides that never fail. Go Mom!
I love to cook and I love to entertain, although I am not as good as my mom at hosting and my “skills” in hospitality have progressively worsened after I had kids… oh well. I’m working on it.
Hospitality is a spiritual gift for some and for others, it seems like a nightmare. Even if you enjoy it, sometimes hospitality is inconvenient. A dear friend and mentor of mine once challenged me to allow myself to be inconvenienced. She urged me to intentionally change my attitude about serving others when it seemed to push me outside my comfort bubble. She challenged me to open my heart to opportunities that seemed to cause more work or interruption in my day and see how the Lord worked through it to minister not only to me, but to allow myself to be used in those situations to serve others and be hospitable.
Here are a few verses to meditate on:
1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) – “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Romans 12:13 (ESV) – “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Hebrews 13:2 (ESV) – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Some of these are talking about the serving the body of Christ as a whole, but the idea here is serving others and having a right heart about showing love even in the midst of inconvenience in your day, or all the stress or the hours of clean up.
I want to encourage you to look for ways to serve not only other fellow members of the church, but your community as well. This might even look like being helpful or “hospitable” to a fellow mom at a park you usually go to (anyone ever forget the diaper bag?!), maybe it looks like offering to run an errand for someone, or taking a meal. Truly, I think our challenge here is looking for opportunities to serve with a willing heart outside of our comfort bubble or our plan for the day, however that may look in your life.
You never know when serving someone, even in a seemingly small way, is “entertaining angels” or helping to further God’s Kingdom.
All that being said, every once in awhile we just need to make a meal that tastes good but doesn’t require an all-day production. Sometimes family pops over for dinner unexpectedly, or maybe you decided to invite that new person at church over, or bring something to the family down the street going through a rough time. Usually, (or if I really plan ahead) I go to the crock pot for some of my favorite feed-a-crowd deliciousness but sometimes I don’t have time for a crock pot meal to cook.
Here is a great meal that strikes a nice chord between homemade and super convenient.
Behold: Homemade meatballs, tomato sauce and pasta.
This can be easily doubled or tripled for either a big group or to freeze. My kids love these so I usually have a bag in the freezer that I can use for a quick lunch (or to feed an impromptu dinner guest).
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian Sausage – any kind you like, I use sweet or mild for the kids
¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs (In a pinch I’ve also used panko, but increase seasonings by at least a tsp each if you use unseasoned crumbs.)
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp each of the following:
1 Tbsp of your favorite Italian seasoning
Optional: fresh snipped basil
1 box of penne or spaghetti pasta
What’s more cheater and delicious than a good jarred sauce? Buy two, or get one jar of your favorite sauce and one can of diced Italian tomatoes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. .
Dump all the ingredients (except the sauce and pasta) into a bowl and mix with your hands just until well-combined. Don’t over-mix or your meatballs will get tough. Tip: mix using your fingers, don’t “knead” the meat.
If the meat mixture seems too dry (if it’s really crumbly and not coming together into balls), add about 1 tsp of olive oil at a time to gain the right consistency.
Grease a large cookie sheet or two depending on the size of your meatballs. Roll them into anywhere from about 1-inch to 2-inch balls. Make smaller ones for it to stretch further; big ones are fun for meatball sandwiches.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes on the middle rack.
Use it all now or freeze it for later
If you are using them right away, dump the whole tray (drippings and all) into a pot of your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce. I recommend two standard jars for this, or one jar and one 14 oz can of Italian diced tomatoes. If you are feeling fancy, you can even make your own sauce, you know, with all your free time ;).
Let it simmer together for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour on low. Season to taste and serve with cooked pasta!
I like to use a box of penne with this. Toss it in the sauce and meatballs and throw a handful of shredded mozzarella or some fresh chopped Italian parsley on top for a quick delicious meal that feeds a large group.
Serve with some crusty bread and a salad (even a bag-o-salad). It’s a wonderful hearty meal everyone will love.
Again, these meatballs freeze great and they are pretty forgiving on measurements. If you make them ahead, then just add them cold to the sauce and heat together on medium until it’s all heated through.
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