Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Mealplanner- First Week of School

Meal Planning 101: Week One~ First Week of School:

This Week’ Shopping List:
Meats: 2 pkgs. chicken breasts; 2 lb ground beef; 2 pkgs. London broil; Italian Sausage
Frozen veggies- one bag ea: corn, chopped spinach, peas & carrots, whole greenbeans
Hard/thick tortilla chips
2 cans each of cream of chicken & 2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or 2 large cans)
Chicken base ( I prefer “Better Than Bouillon” brand by Superior Touch)
Garlic & Ginger (either fresh, or to save time- buy in tube, in produce section @ grocery)
Cheeses: Mozzarella- shredded; Cheddar- block; Parmesan-grated; Mexican Blend-grated
Dairy: Eggs; sour cream; Milk; Butter
Sausage (patties and links)
Dry pink, red and black beans
Canned tomatoes- diced, crushed and whole (one can each)
Squash (zucchini)
Italian Bread
English Muffins
Pancake mix
Lawry’s marinade (Caribbean Jerk, Baja Chipotle)
Lettuce, etc (salad fixings: celery, carrots, onion, tomatoes- whatever you like)
Pasta sauce
Cornbread muffins
Stuffing mix

Chicken breasts (marinated in Lawry’s Caribbean jerk the night before & bake or grill)
Ratatouille; Salad: Garlic bread

Crock-pot chili; Roasted corn and peppers; carrot and celery sticks; cornbread muffintops

Wild Card Wednesday~ Stir fry chicken and vegies or order in

Spaghetti with meat sauce (made from meat mixture); Garlic bread; Garden salad

Freestyle Friday~ Super crazy nacho dinner or order in

Chicken breast/Stuffing Casserole; peas and carrots; salad

Pot roast, carrots, potatoes, and greenbeans; garlic bread; salad

Recipes to Follow...

Week One Monday Dinner Recipe~Marinated Chicken Breasts and Ratatouille

Week One Monday Dinner Recipe~ marinated chicken breast and ratatouille
Chicken breasts
marinated 2-3 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in Lawry’s Caribbean jerk the night before & bake or grill the next day after work) No worries, no work!
Ratatouille: cut up tomatoes in wedges, zucchini in thick (1/2 in) slices, steam in microwave for 5-10 minutes until semi soft, but not overly wilted, add salt, pepper to taste- (Mary Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt is my favorite), ¼ c. chopped Vidalia onions or dehydrated minced onion to taste, add shredded cheese (whatever blend you like- I buy the leftover heals from the deli and use whatever they have- it’s never come out bad, yet!); spray casserole dish with butter flavored cooking spray, add all ingredients; cover top of casserole with a breadcrumb/melted butter/parmesan cheese/shredded cheese topping. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Salad- add to lettuce carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Take the “extra time” (it really takes no extra time-believe it or not) to cut up the vegetables for the week-celery and carrot sticks, chopped carrots and celery.
Garlic bread- slice several pieces off your Italian loaf, butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parsley, broil on low 3-5 min until golden brown.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recipes for Missional Living: Part One

Seen the inspiring movie, Julie and Julia, yet? If not, what are you waiting for? This part of my blog is in deference to the ladies and the blog that inspired the movie…

That said, I will be taking time out, each weekend, to share “recipes” on how to do ministry better…I’ll be reviewing books, interviewing church planters or other leaders in the missional movement, and the like.

I thought I’d start off ‘simply’ by reviewing an excellent book by Anna Robbins, a lecturer in Theology and Contemporary Culture at London School of Theology. The book, entitled: Sharing the Feast: Recipes for Evangelism and Discipleship for Today’s Church and was published by Spring Harvest in 2005. I highly recommend its purchase, it is one of those “need-to-have-it-in-your-library” books.

The premise of the book is a simple one (and catchy, too, if you enjoy thinking about these issues in terms of table-fellowship): “The way we relate the gospel to the world today is much like hosting a dinner party, or serving up a feast.” We are serving up a “feast” for others; some will be familiar with our offerings and hence, will come to the table readily, while others, culturally unfamiliar with our ‘food’ will be hesitant or no-shows to our fĂȘtes if we continue to serve nothing but the standard, boring fare we have been for centuries. Robbins acknowledges that the thought of trying to present the gospel to “unfamiliar taste buds” can be a daunting one, but that it is a necessary part of evangelism and discipleship.

Unfortunately, there are many who find comfort and peace in having their “pearl onions” every Christmas- tradition is important- and Robbins stresses that there is much there is much that is good that should not be discarded simply because it has been sitting around for a long time in the cupboard. She emphasizes the need to be able to distinguish between the “staples” of ministry and doctrine from the “seasonal produce” that may or may not need to be added to make the “dish” palatable to a certain audience.

And so, Robbins sets forth a set of principles with regard to “cooking up” opportunities for evangelism and discipleship within and outside of the church utilizing a healthy and fresh combination of “staples from the cupboard’ and “seasonal items”.

More later...In the meantime, buy the book and we can read it together.

Rice and Peas~


Friday, August 28, 2009

Confessions of a (Reforming) Harried Woman…

Cooking Up Fun: Back to School Week Meal Planning

If you're anything like me, you are both relieved and distressed that school's back in session. You’re relieved because everything has it's time, and well- goshdarnit- it is just plain time for summer to be over. No more "Mom, I'm bored." No more coming home from work to a trashed house.

But, there is always a trade off. The free-floating anxiety that you’ve been experiencing because of the free-reigning chaos of your summer schedule is about to be replaced by that rigid torture device known as the “school year schedule.” Oh sure, it feels good to slip into it now- you’ve been needin’ a little structure- but just you wait…by October you’ll be feeling like it's hour nineteen and you’re in an 18-hour bra.

Trust me on this.

So, because I love you and feel for you and want you to enjoy life…we’re going to do a little project together. We’re going to do meal planning-yes that’s what I said- and you will love me for it.

Meal planning (and other forms of household hyper-organization) will save your life, and your sanity. It was my saving grace, and a tool I use to keep me moving forward, despite always having a lot on my plate.

Trust me on this.

Lookit, I was a single mom who worked two jobs (sometimes three) for eight years while my kids were small and I somehow managed to be an officer in the PTA and maintained a social life on top of that. And I didn’t lose my mind…(well not completely or for any substantial amount of time and without requiring hospitalization.) So when I tell you to trust me on this…trust me.

Meal planning 101:

Meal planning Rules to live by:

1) Know your schedule for the week.
2) Plan your menu for the week.
3) Cook some things ahead of time.
4) Re-appropriate leftovers.

Four Goals of Feeding Your Tribe:

1) What you serve should be nutritious.
2) What you serve should be delicious.
3) What you provide shouldn’t exceed your financial budget.
4) What you provide shouldn’t exceed your energy or time budgets.

Four Ideas for Economical (saving, time, money, and energy) Eating:

1) Shop Less Often. By planning carefully and stocking up you’ll find that you’ll save a lot of time, money, energy and gasoline.
2) Be Your Own Restaurant- try to eat at home (or send home-cooked meals with your tribe-members) as much as possible.
3) “Group” Your Cooking Sessions- for example, use an entire box of pancake mix and individually freeze what you don’t eat for a quick breakfast trick on busy school mornings.
4) Work From the Day Before- plan your meals in such a way that yesterday’s leftovers become today’s main fare.

More included.

FreeStyle Friday~ Anything I Wanna Do.... Today: What's the Central Message of Jesus?

This may come as a big shock to you, but the central theme of Jesus, as made very clear in the Gospels, is not what you may have been taught... If you were taught that the main reason Jesus came was to save you individually from hell-fire and damnation- you have been unwittingly taken on a journey of missing the point.

No really...

That is only a piece of the puzzle, only the tip of a much larger to speak.

Jesus did come to save you as an individual, and it is my sincere hope that you have taken Him up on this awesome offer. (If you want to know more about this, feel free to contact me at

If you have done this, you may have had the experience of someone asking you "Why you did it? or What did you get saved from?" and these are often great opportunities to bear witness on an individual level as to what kind of brokenness a life given over to Jesus can be delivered from.

But, again, answering these questions only answers part of the question.
Another question that deserves a thoughful answer is-
"Now what? What did He save you for?

Ask yourself that question- if the only answer you come up with is, something like this: "So I could go to heaven when I die."
...then we need to talk...

Seriously...We need to have a chat.

You gave your life to Jesus, didn't you? You've gotta expect he'll want to use it, rather than put it up on a shelf somewhere for 'safe-keeping'.

No, Jesus wants you to get into the game. To be a player. He wants you to enjoy the joy of experience, community, and participation and the unparalleled glory of co-creating with the God of the universe, himself.

You, my friend, were saved to be a blessing to the world!

This is clearcut, it's your end of the Abrahamic Covenant (the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12) See here:

“I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

(Now, this time, read that "Will Be" as an imperative- as in "You will, you must be...a Blessing!, rather than as a declarative: "Yup, you'll be a blessing..." It makes a huge difference...)

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you.”

Did you ever look at it that way? No? Well ya gotta admit- it's pretty cool, huh??

Watch this vid- it'll make it a little more clear...

Let me know what you think...

Why Theology?- Part II: Theology Must Be Missional

Theology Must Be Everybody’s Responsibility. Theology Must Be Missional.

All believers are called to be “ministers,” whether we do so in a full-time capacity, or not. We know we have been set apart, and we are clear that the directive that we have been given is a directive to be different. This gets to the idea of holiness as defined by Dr. Jim Bruckner, Professor of Old Testament Studies at Northpark Theological Seminary. Holiness is not for holiness’ sake; holiness is missional. We have been called to be the agents of change in the world, a holy (set-apart) people who have been blessed by God solely to be a blessing to the world. Neither is theology done for the sake of theology. Holiness and theological understanding are both constructs which are designed to be utilized to make clearer a much larger picture which involves a mission to bless the world. If we are made holy/set apart by God to bless, then it only stands to reason that, when it comes to theology, we approach it in the same manner: we set ourselves, our ideas, our minds, apart- we take captive every thought, so that it may be in obedience to God and to his mission in and for the world, the missio Dei, which is to be a holy blessing to the world.
We must expect that we will be asked tough questions by those with whom we have the privilege of coming into contact. We know that we will be challenged by these questions. We also know that in answering these questions, we have the opportunity to be a blessing. We cannot bless the world in a vacuum. We cannot impart an understanding of God to others if we do not know others; and we cannot impart an understanding of God to others if we do not know God. Our role in the world is distinct- we are always on task, always in the ‘hot seat’, always on mission. Dan Kimball has said that, “theology comes alive when we are on mission and challenged with different ways of thinking.”

To Be Continued... (More on What Theology Must Be to be Effective for the missio Dei...)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Theology Thursday: "Why Theology?" Part I

Theology: who needs it? Theology: what good is it?

Why should someone preparing for ministry
have to take theology courses?

Who should study theology?

Are average believers called to be “theologians”?

These are legitimate questions asked by many who claim belief in Jesus Christ and who seek to follow His examples set in life, love, service, prayer, and worship. In His book Mosaic of Christian Belief, Roger Olson writes that, “…many persons who are committed personally to Jesus Christ and to Christianity as a way of life have little use for anything approaching formal doctrine or theology. Belief for many of them is slightly more acceptable than doctrine, but theology often sends shivers down the spines of Christians who are convinced-rightly or wrongly- that much of what is wrong with Christianity, and especially Western Christianity, has arisen through formal theological reflection.” He goes on to further quip (on the behalf of these tentative believers) that:

“Jesus unites: doctrine divides!” (Olson, p.17)

The abovementioned witticism, although framed partially in jest, holds a great deal of truth in just four short words. It causes us to ponder other questions, such as:

Is theology necessary- is it a useful tool that we need in order to propound the
Missio Dei, or is it merely a seemingly antiquated endeavor used solely by an elite few
in order to draw lines around who is “in” and who is “out”- or even worse, is it merely a tool used by some to “domesticate” God in order that He be made serviceable to selfish human desires? Can “theology”- used wrongly- impede the Missio Dei?

The answer is “Yes.”

If all of the above propositions are true-and all in some sense are- then it appears that there is some work to be done within the Ecclessia…But where to start? How can such fears, prejudices, and misconceptions be dispelled and corrected?
It would seem that an important task would be to deconstruct the pre-existing popular conception of theology of every-day church-goers. It would seem equally important that every-day believers understand what their fiduciary duty is with regard to theological reflection.

Theology: What is it? What is it good for?

Defining theology is a good place to start. Theology is best viewed as a developmental process which involves scriptural study, historical knowledge, (among other things), and most importantly-a Spirit initiated and mediated examination and reflection; which, when used together can lead eventually to a “knowing of God.” Thusly defined, the next question- “What good is it?” is easily answered. For if theology is defined as a God-given process by which we learn to know of and know God more deeply- then its merits become self-evident. Unfortunately, theology is frequently misconstrued as a science that is mastered by a higher intellect, and is used as a construct by which one can claim to possess a superior knowledge of God. Defined in this way, theology loses its meritorious benefits, and easily becomes just another tool for self-elevation. Hence, theologians are frequently thought of as pompous, bombastic, self-absorbed, head-in-the-clouds people who are “so heavenly minded- they're no earthly good.” This is what detracts, rather than attracts people to theology.

(to be continued...)

Works Cited: Olson, Roger E. The Mosaic of Christian Beliefs Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity. New York: InterVarsity, 2002.

Celebrating Man's Best Friend

A recent study found that "man's best friend" is capable of recognizing 165-250 words, has the intelligence of a 2-4 year old child and they even possess math skills...Amazing!

In honor of one of God's best gifts to humankind- Man's Best Friend- here is One Fantastic Video of "Spy",who is clearly one bright pup! (P.S. Doesn't he remind you of my Jack Russell/Manchester Terrier mix, Rex?)


Wellness Wednesday

The second wave of Swine Flu is due to hit sometime this autumn. It is suspected that this strain will have mutated sufficiently such that it will be more virulent (powerful and more dangerous) than the strain that went around earlier this year. The CDC is reccommending that if you even suspect that you have the flu, you should quarantine yourself (limit forays into public- especially work and stores) and see your healthcare provider immediately. Here is an excellent video directly from the CDC. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm happy to answer them as best I can and/or re-direct you to someone who can help you.

Be Well~


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abundant Harvest 2009

Even though we only have a small backyard garden (approx. 20 X 20), my husband and I manage to always have a decent enough "crop" to be able to give away tomatoes and peppers to anyone who will take them. This year, we cut back drastically on the banana peppers (I mean, really, how many things can you do with banana peppers?) and increased our plantings of cucumbers. (Last year, they were delicious and we couldn't get enough of them). Yesterday I picked 24 cukes and 29 'maters! (See pics). We harvested enough to take a big container of work (and I took a bunch of rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, mint, and scallions-too), keep a bunch for ourselves, and give some away to the neighbors. Tonight, I bought a couple of pizza shells and made two delicious, fresh ingedient pizzas.

Easy "Recipe":

2 Boboli-type pizza shells, or use Pillsbury pizza dough if you prefer
Your favorite pasta sauce- I used Classico Spicy Tomato Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Sprinkle a bit on top for a "white" [sauceless] pizza)
Fresh Basil and Oregano
Fresh Tomatoes
Mozarella Cheese
Salt, Pepper, & Garlic to taste

Combine ingeredients for a quick, fresh, delicious meal.

The boys loved will, too!)


“Healing means…the creation of an empty space where those who suffer can tell their story to someone who can listen with real attention…it is the…task of creating and offering a friendly empty space where strangers can reflect…without fear, and find the confidence that makes them look for new ways right in the center of their confusion. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.” ~Henri Nouwen And so...welcome to my empty space…