4 things I want to leave in 2019

As I stare at 2020 I realize there are things I want to leave in 2019. Leave for good. This decade has been a hard one. It has been marked by financial strife, personal health issues, relationship problems and more moves than I would like to count.

As I reflect on what the decade has taught me there are some things that I want to leave in behind and not visit again.

By God’s grace this next decade will be the beginning of my life.

Strange statement seeing as I’m 44.

Obviously not new at this going around the sun thing. However, I have let life drag me along on this journey rather than taking charge and charting my life according to God’s will for me.

I’m done settling for less than God’s best for me.

Here are 4 things I am leaving in 2019

  • Self-doubt. I am a Child if the King, an heir with Christ. As such there is no reason for doubt to enter in. I will trust.
  • Quitting. If you want change and growth you cannot keep quitting those things that are stretching you. Fear is not a reason to stop. Growing weary is not a reason. What others think about it is not a reason. Keep going.
  • Intolerance of others. I expect more from some than they can give. I judge too harshly…not out loud, but in my mind and it affects my ability to love well.
  • Fear. I have lived most of my life in fear. Worry over what I cannot control. I am relinquishing this area to God and trusting in Him that I will overcome.

I’m not going to pretend that there will not be hard things to come in 2020 or even in this new decade as a whole. However, I know that with a change in perspective and a change in attitude that this next year and decade will be better than the last.

Through prayer and planning I aim for this decade to be God focused, kingdom minded, and light filled. How can it be anything else when my eyes are turned towards Him?

I am ready to begin my life now. Welcome 2020!

The World or the Word?

Having the right mindset is a matter of choosing the world or the Word.

The last few years have been a struggle in various ways for my husband and I. Financial hardship has especially taken a toll. Therefore mindset has been negatively impacted.

As a result there have been many things we have wanted to do that have had to be set aside. Home purchase, vacations, replacing old furniture.

None of these things are critical. Yet I have sometimes allowed self pity over my situation to keep me focused worldly instead of diving into the Word. Human nature does that.

Keys to Happiness

In the secular world, material things and business success are supposed to bring you happiness. This is reflected in every aspect of our western culture from movies to music as people are portrayed as happiest when they are acquiring things or career success.

Those barely getting by are not applauded…in fact, they are often portrayed as inferior.

As Christians, we know things are not what makes us happy. The joy of a new home or a job promotion will fade.

We get it twisted

And while we know this to be true our human nature rebels against it.

We want the things. We want success. We want recognition.

When placed in appropriate context these are not necessarily bad. Unfortunately, our perspective is often skewed and we desire more world than we do Word.

The World or the Word?

Kingdom Mindset

Shifting from a world view to a Word view is essential in influencing the culture towards a relationship with Jesus. Looking at the world through the lens of the Bible shapes our lives, our homes, our communities and thus this world.

Satan prefers we remain focused on the world so he attacks with worry, hardships, fear, and the pursuit of power (success) to distract us. If Satan can keep you focused on chasing success and things, then he keeps you from Kingdom work.

Jeremiah 29:13. Psalm 19:14. Isaiah 26:3. Psalm 112:7.

All four of these verses point to peace and joy and a lack of fear when our gaze is turned on God.

Becoming Wordly Minded

Obviously reading your Bible helps get the Word in you. But it isn’t enough just to read it.

Life application and change only happens when you pursue a deeper relationship with God. That requires studying the Word.

Set aside time for prayer and meditation on what God would have you glean from your scripture reading each day.

Be intentional about your studies as you would were you in school. Take notes. Read multiple versions of the Bible. Use a good Bible commentary to enhance your understanding.

Progress not perfection

Give yourself grace in adapting to study of the Word. If this is not something you have ever earnestly pursued, it will take time…like any new habit.

Family Favorites for the Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving and Christmas always have a few staple items that have been on our family table for longer than I have been alive. I am sure the same could be said in your house.

For me, these are traditional, southern dishes that are ubiquitous to a lot of southern family dinner tables.

Deviled eggs, green beans with ham or bacon, pecan pie, million dollar pie, potato salad and or mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry relish. And dressing.

Old Traditions

Yes, dressing. NOT stuffing. 

Good, old-fashioned, Southern-style buttermilk cornbread dressing.

It isn’t fancy. It is very unassuming, but oh so delicious!

And it simply wouldn’t be a holiday feast without it. PERIOD.

When my dad was still living, my mom would make two giant aluminum pans full of this fabled dish for his holiday get-together at work.

And not one crumb would be left.

New Traditions

When my husband and I got married and his family tasted our family recipe, it became a standing request that my mom make the dressing from there on out.

It is that good.

Now, all that being said, now that I make the dressing, I have gussied it up a bit.

Nothing radically different mind you, but a few tweaks here and there that just up the flavor profile.

So, here it is in all of its glory.

Mama’s Southern Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients for the cornbread

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

2 cups Self-Rising Buttermilk Cornmeal 

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

½ tsp fresh sage, minced

HEAT oven to 450ºF. Use non-stick spray or some butter to coat bottom and side of baking pan (8-inch round or square). Place in oven to heat for about 5 minutes.

WHISK egg in medium bowl. Stir in buttermilk, melted butter and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk. 

ADD black pepper & minced herbs, stir to combine.

REMOVE pan from oven and pour in batter.

BAKE 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

When cornbread is done, turn out onto a cooling rack to cool.

Remaining Ingredients

1 TBSP unsalted butter

1 onion, diced

4-5 stalks of celery, diced

1 TBSP poultry seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

½ tsp fresh sage, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 pkg Pepperidge Farm Herbed Classic Stuffing

1 1/2 cartons low-sodium turkey stock (chicken stock will work if you cannot find turkey)

HEAT a skillet to medium heat. Add butter. Once melted, add diced celery and onions and cook until soft and translucent. (takes about 10 minutes).

REMOVE vegetables from pan to cool.

BREAK up the cornbread and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled veggies, minced herbs, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add 3/4 of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing.

MIX dry ingredients to combine. Add ½ carton of the stock and mix again. Add remaining half of carton and mix well.

Now, this is where it can get tricky…you kind of have to know what the final mixture should look like.  It needs to be fairly wet, but not soupy.

If it appears too wet, add more of the stuffing mix. Too dry? Add stock.

I mix my dressing the day before and let it sit covered in the fridge so all of the flavors have a chance to marry.

The next day I take it out and assess if the mixture needs more stock. If it appears to have dried out a bit, I add stock ½ cup at a time and remix until I like the way the mixture looks.

I know, I know.  This isn’t exact science, but I’m telling you it is the only way to do it!

Family feast pin

Baking the Dressing

HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 11 glass baking dish with some non-stick spray or butter. Pour the dressing into the pan and smooth out any lumps.

BAKE in oven for 60 minutes or until the middle is set and the top is golden brown.

Time to Eat!

This dressing has all of the Thanksgiving flavors you are looking for in it! And it is warm and comforting to boot!

Pair it with your favorite gravy or some homemade cranberry relish for a real delight. I’d love to hear what your family favorite recipes are!  Drop a note in the comments.

 

My life in 10 (or more) songs

Getting my life in 10 songs (or more) gives you a glimpse of how diverse my music

tastes are. Music is an absolute passion of mine. And I enjoy a variety of genres.

Hip Hop. Rock. Broadway. Pop. Rap. Native American. Celtic. Country. 

Old style hymns and modern worship. Even some metal.

To narrow down a list that I would call the soundtrack of my life is not easy.

Concerts, musicals, oh my!

I think about all of the concerts I’ve taken in over the years.

Alabama. Clint Black. Garth Brooks. Sawyer Brown. Charlie Daniels.

New Kids on The Block. Vanilla Ice. 

TobyMac. Newsboys (with and without Peter Furler). Manifest. Skillet.

The musicals…Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserable, Hairspray.

By no means an exhaustive list. I could easily list two dozen more acts.

So you see my problem, right? How do I pick just a handful of songs to represent my soundtrack?

I thought about the artists as well as favorite songs that really feel like they define parts of me.

My life in 10 songs

My top 10 (or more) in no particular order…other than how I remembered them.

A portion of my life’s soundtrack.

I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt – country was my upbringing and this song always made me smile and dance.

Some Girls Do” by Sawyer Brown – My absolute favorite country band ever! So hard to choose only 1 of their songs, but this particular one was an anthem to my teenage years. I followed them from when they were on Star Search… have been to dozens of their concerts, and I was super excited when I found out that lead singer Mark Miller is the producer for one of my favorite Christian bands, Casting Crowns.

That’s My Job” by Conway Twitty – My father was a huge Conway Twitty fan and I cannot listen to the song without crying. I lost my father when I was just 25. And this song epitomizes the kind of man my Daddy was.

I Cross My Heart” by George Strait – My wedding song. In honor and memory of my brother-in-law who died by suicide the year I got married. The day before my birthday that year in fact. Sometimes I listen to this with fondness. Sometimes I just can’t.

Jesus Freak” by dcTalk – My introduction to Christian rap. And every 90s Christian kids’ battle cry. It felt a bit rebellious, and yet pointed straight to the Savior.

Gone”, “Made to Love”, “Burn for You”, “Till the Day I Die”, “Move (Keep Walkin’) – OK, I know this is more than one song for the century but I am a huge, HUGE TobyMac fan!! I love the rhythm of his music, the diversity both and has a band physically as well as in the instruments utilized, and most importantly the words. I’ve been to dozens of his shows, Jesus freak cruise, and have every CD he’s ever made. His heart for God makes his music come alive.

Phantom of the Opera” by Sarah Brightman & Michael Crawford – My favorite Broadway musical. My senior prom song. We were drama and chorus geeks, what can I say?

He’s Alive” by Dolly Parton – In my opinion one of the best worship songs ever written or sung. It absolutely gives me chills every single time. And every time I hear it I am reminded of the great sacrifice made and the love the Father has for me.

Monster” by Skillet – Skillet my favorite Christian rock band. This song resonates as I often struggle with keeping the ugliness of my humanity at bay when I feel hurt or wronged. It lets me know I’m not the only one and that helps me feel more normal.

Cry for You”, “Welcome to America”, “ Good, Bad, Ugly”, “Tell the World” – Okay, again I couldn’t narrow it to just one for this artist. Lecrae is a phenomenal rapper with a heart for the Lord and for marginalized people. And he isn’t afraid to talk (or sing) about it. He’s bold yet humble…like I hope to be.

So there you have it. Songs that resonate with who I am and seasons of my life that defined me.

What does your life sound like?

Letter to my 16 year old self

About Others

16 year old me. I sure wish I could tell you some things that would have made your high school years easier. You were so insecure, longing to belong, and had no idea just how beautiful and smart you really were.

I’d tell you that those sideways glances and whispered conversations going on around you…are not always about you. And that even if they are, you shouldn’t let it bother you.

Those people’s actions say way more about their character than it does about you.

I would tell you not to tell people that you thought were your friends about that date. In fact, I would tell you not to go on that date at all.

Don’t apologize for being beautiful, bold & brave..png

About Yourself

That you will wish you could take back some words that you say and things that you do. So don’t say them and don’t do them.

I would tell you it is better to be ridiculed for not doing the popular thing. And that being yourself, uniquely creative and bold, is the best way to be.

That those who cannot handle your uniqueness are not your people. Find a different circle where you are valued. Not used.

I would tell you not to be afraid of your gifts. To use your voice. To take that chance.

I would tell you to spend more time with your family. That in less than 10 years your precious Daddy would be gone and you would wish you had more time.

About God

I would tell you that you are so very loved. That no matter what you do or say there is a God that you speak of, yet don’t intimately know yet, that knows you very well. 

He loves you so much He died for you.

And if you will let Him in now, He will take all the burdens you carry away. You don’t need to be strong enough to bear it all. That’s His job.

And you can just be. Be a kid. Stop trying to grow up so fast. Relax. Love yourself.

You are going to be with you for a long time.