Prepared in Advance!

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Here’s a delicious, new recipe I prepared night-before-last, so I could just put it in the crock pot and turn it on before leaving for work yesterday morning! Sometimes it takes a little advance preparation to be able to fully satisfy the hungry ones you’ll be feeding the next day, doesn’t it?

Red Beans, Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 15 – ounce can no-salt-added red beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
8 ounces boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
8 ounces boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 14 1/2 – ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups chopped green sweet peppers (2 large)
1 14 1/2 – ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 10 – ounce can tomatoes and chopped green chiles, undrained
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Sour cream to taste if desired

Directions:

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker combine beans, sweet potatoes, chicken, broth, sweet peppers, diced tomatoes, tomatoes and green chiles, Cajun seasoning, and garlic. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours. Remove 1 cup hot liquid from cooker. Whisk in peanut butter. Stir into mixture in cooker. Add sour cream to individual serving if desired.

Food for Thought
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Sometimes it takes a little advance preparation to be able to fully satisfy the hungry ones you’ll be encountering the next day … and as followers of Jesus Christ, that same concept applies on a spiritual level. Will you be prepared to “feed” someone who God might put in your path tomorrow? “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

Prepare in advance: Pray, study the Word, and spend time in the presence of the Lord. You might need to feed someone tomorrow!

— Cheri Henderson

Chicken Hunters!

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Another Henderson recipe favorite is Chicken Cacciatore! Did you know that Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian? In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, and sometimes wine. So what do you say? Let’s go hunt us some chicken and make up a batch!

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 4-8

Ingredients:
2-3 onions
2-4 pounds chicken (breasts or thighs, skinned and boneless)
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
2 tablespoons capers
20 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
1 bunch fresh parsley or basil, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
Cooked angel hair pasta

Directions:
Place sliced onion in the crockpot and cover with chicken. In a bowl, stir tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, and white wine together. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until chicken is tender. Stir in capers, olives and herbs just before serving. Serve over cooked pasta.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Just like a “chicken hunter” goes after the main ingredient to create a wonderfully nutritious and appealing meal, so too, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be “soul hunters”, going after the lost ones so they can give their hearts to Jesus, experience new life, and become part of a spiritually nurturing, beautiful Body of Christ! And Jesus said unto them, “Go everywhere and announce the good news of Jesus Christ to every living person you meet. He who believes [in Me] and is baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who does not believe that I died in their place as the penalty for their sins and rose from the dead so that they, too, could do the same, will be condemned to an eternity of isolation, darkness, burning wind, and flames of unquenchable fire“. (Mark 16:15-16)

“I love them too much to see this happen! So get busy! Go hunting … and bring them to Me!”

— Cheri Henderson

A Different Presentation, But Just As Yummy!

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There isn’t a meal more gratifying than this one … particularly if you are a Reuben Sandwich lover! Mix it all together, let it slow cook, and voila! It’s equally as good, if not better than the sandwich model! Granted, it may be a different presentation, but when all the ingredients are there, the taste is just as exquisite!

Crockpot Reuben Casserole
Serves 4


Ingredients
:
1 can (16 ounces) undrained sauerkraut
1-1/2 pound corned beef (raw), with the fat removed and set aside, and the beef cut into thin strips
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup soft rye or pumpernickel bread crumbs

Directions:
Place sauerkraut in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with a layer of beef and sprinkle with half of the seasoning packet that came with the corned beef. Top with the shredded cheese. Combine the mayonnaise and thousand island together in a small bowl and then spread over the cheese. Top with tomato slices. Cut the fat into slices and lay in various spots on top of the tomatoes. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove and discard the fat strips. Sauté bread crumbs in butter and sprinkle on casserole before serving. Great served with mashed taters or macaroni and cheese!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Just like the Reuben Casserole is a different presentation, the taste is just as exquisite because all the ingredients are there … from a spiritual perspective, so too are our testimonies! When we share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the ingredients of the gospel. And your unique story, your testimony is the presentation! Each of us has a different story of how Jesus saved us, but the gospel “ingredients” are always the same. “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Amplified

Your story is all yours, and when it’s combined with the ingredients of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the outcome will be exquisite! So share it! Often!

— Cheri Henderson

A Birthday Blessing for my Husband

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A couple of weeks ago, my sweet husband celebrated a banner birthday, and so for each evening of his “Birthday Week”, I decided to prepare one of his favorite meals. This recipe was the first one I made for him because it is one of his very favorites! He was very pleased!

Parmesan Turkey & Rice Bake
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4 cups chopped cooked turkey (or chicken)
4 cups chopped celery
2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, combine turkey, celery, mayonnaise, rice, cheese, onion, lemon juice and salt. Spoon mixture into greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Top with almonds. Bake 30-40 minutes or until heated through. Great served with sliced tomatoes or a garden salad!

Food for ThoughtInstead of sharing a “Food for Thought” devotional this time, I just want to take a moment to honor my husband, and to say how VERY glad I am that he was born!!! He is such a blessing in my life and his birthday truly is MY gift! And so, this a blessing I want to speak over him for the rest of his days:

“The Lord continue to bless you and keep you; the Lord continue to make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord continue to turn his face toward you and give you peace!”

My partner, my love … he is so much a part of me that it’s impossible to imagine what my life would have been without him. Thank you, Lord, for the precious gift of my husband! Happy Birthday, my sweet Timothy! The adventure continues and I’m looking forward to all that is ahead! I love you so much!

–Cheri Henderson

It’s “Thyme” to Eat a Great Meal!

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The “thyme” has arrived to share one of the most incredibly delicious recipes I have ever tasted!

 

Cider-Braised Chicken, Sprouts and Apples
Serves 6

Ingredients:
5 slices of bacon, chopped
4 bone-in, skin-on on thighs
4 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts
2 red apples, cut into wedges
1 12-ounce bottle of hard cider
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stripped from the stem
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups trimmed and halved brussel sprouts

Directions:

Strip 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme from the stem and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the whole grain mustard, kosher salt and hard cider and set aside.

In a very large skillet, cook 5 chopped slices of bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan. Add the thighs and chicken breasts, skin side down, and cook 8 minutes on each side or until browned; remove from pan. Add the apple wedges and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until browned on both sides and remove from pan. Discard the drippings. Add the mustard, salt, and cider mixture to the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and return the chicken to the skillet. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the halved brussel sprouts and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes. Add the apple wedges and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or more or until the chicken is done and tender. Sprinkle with bacon bits and serve.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Several herb guides suggest thyme has an earthiness that pairs well with pork, lamb, or chicken. This “earthy” description reminds me of a similar description for another kind of “time” … a lifetime. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust (earth) you are and to dust (earth) you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)

How long do we have before such a thing will happen? “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

I saw a Facebook meme yesterday, written by Samuel Decker Thompson, that said “We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are forever” … even ending this life as we know it, obliterating it in an instant as our spirit man enters into eternity. Life is fragile, time is short, and eternity is forever. We need to be ready for this eventuality because no one will escape it.

For God so greatly loves and dearly prizes you, that He gave His One and only begotten Son, that if you would just believe and trust in Him as your Savior, you will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “And there is salvation in no one else (but Jesus Christ); for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].” (Acts 4:12 Amp)

If you haven’t yet bowed your knee to the One who died on your behalf so you could spend eternity in heaven with Him, you need to … and soon! “Behold, now is the favorable Time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

And if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the time in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:13) “Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil. Therefore do not be foolish and thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Time. It’s short. Use it wisely.

–Cheri Henderson

Glop Some Gołąbki on Your Plate!

Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage rolls are the epitome of Polish nourishment, and being of Polish heritage, this dish is truly one my family’s very favorites.  Poles call them gołąbki, which literally means “little pigeons”, but they are actually pork and beef, mixed with rice, nestled in a cabbage leaf and typically cooked in a tomato-based sauce until tender.  Even my husband, who is not Polish, considers cabbage rolls to be one of his favorite meals … so glop some gołąbki on a plate and enjoy!

Cabbage Rolls (Gołąbki)
Serves 12

Ingredients

2 large cabbages
32 oz. sauerkraut, drained

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
32 oz. tomato sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 cups cooked rice
2 white bread slices, crumbled
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon basil
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 can of tomato juice
1/2 lb. of raw bacon

Directions:

In a skillet over medium heat, in hot butter or margarine, cook onion 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the tomato juice and bacon) and roll (24-30) 1/4 cup portions into oblong segments, placing each of them on a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

With a knife, carefully pierce the cabbage around the stem (2″ deep or so) and remove the center of the cabbage. Place in a bowl, stem side down, with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 10 – 12 minutes. Rinse in cold water and then remove the cabbage leaves (12 to 15 of them) by rolling each leaf from the top to the stem.

Center each of the oblong meat mixtures onto the wide edge of a cabbage leaf, roll the meat mixture up in the leaf, and then fold in the two ends. Replace them, seam side down, on the sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Repeat the process with the second cabbage.

Chop any remaining cabbage into bite sized pieces and spread along the bottom of a large roasting pan. Mix the drained sauerkraut into the cabbage.

Place each roll, seam side down, on top of the sauerkraut/chopped cabbage mixture in the base of the pan.

Pour the tomato juice over the top of the cabbage rolls. Lay strips of bacon over the rolls.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Cover and continue to bake for another hour. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees and continue to bake for 4 more hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

I found it fascinating that gołąbki literally means “little pigeons”. I suppose the reason for this is the cabbage roll must look somewhat like a little pigeon, though I’ve never seen a little pigeon … and the idea of eating one is incredibly unappealing to me! If this meal truly consisted of pigeon meat, it most definitely would not be one of my favorites!

However, since we’re now on this topic … did you know pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet? The pigeon is able to recognize its reflection in a mirror and is one of only 6 species, and the only non-mammal, that has this ability. The pigeon can also recognize all 26 letters of the English language and is able to conceptualize, differentiating between photographs and even between different human beings in a photograph.

And, as you probably know, pigeons have often been used throughout history as messengers for delivering communications of great importance. The earliest, large-scale, communication network, using pigeons as messengers, was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. Much later, in the 12th century AD, the city of Baghdad and all the main towns and cities in Syria and Egypt were linked by messages carried by pigeons, their sole source of communication. Further, their successful use as messengers in wartime resulted in many pigeons being awarded honors by both the British and French Governments.

But did you know a team of Navy researchers recently discovered pigeons can be trained to save human lives at sea with high success rates? Project Sea Hunt has trained a number of pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets when floating in the water. The pigeons are not only more reliable than humans, but also many times quicker when it comes to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see color in the same way that humans do, but they can also see ultra-violet, a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see, and this is one of the reasons they are so well adapted to lifesaving.

Finally, and most importantly, did you know pigeons are mentioned in the bible as one of the offerings required by God to be presented by Abram before the Lord (Genesis 15:9), that pigeons continued to be included among the sin-offerings in Leviticus 1:14; 12:6, and that the Old Testament law permitted those who could not afford to offer a lamb, to instead offer two young pigeons (Levitius 5:7; Luke 2:24)?

Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for their sin“.  So indulgent, kind, and merciful was God to every man, if unable to afford and purchase the better offering, the best he could get would be acceptable; so the poor man had as many offerings for his atonement and cleansing as the rich, and his reparation and forgiveness were as complete as theirs.

What an interesting correlation! In the Old Testament, God required the pigeon as a sin offering for impoverished man: a highly intelligent bird able to differentiate between human beings, the sole source of communication used to deliver a message of great importance, and one able to see and save drowning human beings from their sinking ships.

Doesn’t this sound very much like an Old Testament shadow of the One who was to come? The Only Wise One carrying a message of absolute Truth, the Savior, the Deliverer, and the final Sin Offering for an impoverished man … who even today sees us and is able to save us from drowning in our sins!

Who is this One? His name is JESUS! Hallelujah!

–Cheri Henderson

Say “Cheese” & Smile!

12733604_10208068439047056_7696966460834834525_nOkay; I admit it. I am quite the cheese lover!

Whether alone, breaded and fried, included within or melted over an entrée … it is a great pleasure to my palate! Macaroni and cheese, ham and cheese, grilled cheese, pepperoni and cheese, cheesy mets, etc., etc.  Yummo!!!

In that regard, the following recipe is one of my very favorites!

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
(Serves: 8)

Ingredients:
2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cups dry spaghetti, broken onto two-inch pieces
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimentos, drained
2 cups reserved chicken broth from the pot that cooked the chicken
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup additional grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
Cook two to three boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Cut the cooked breasts into ½ inch pieces to make two cups. Cook the spaghetti in the same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine it with the 2 cups of chicken breasts and the remaining ingredients, except the one cup of additional sharp cheddar.

Place the mixture in a casserole pan and top with the remaining sharp cheddar. You can cover and freeze it for up to six months, cover and refrigerate for up to two days, or bake it immediately at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on the top starts to brown, cover it with foil).

Then say “cheese”, smile, and enjoy this scrumptious dish!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

As you probably know, photographers for years have instructed their subjects to say “cheese” right before the picture is taken. Why? Because speaking the word “cheese” causes the corners of the mouth to turn up, cheeks to lift and teeth to show, giving the appearance of a smile whether genuine or not.

There’s also another word that, when said, can bring a real smile to our lips and genuine joy to our hearts. It is THE Word … the first Word, the only Word, the final Word … the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, the Word that has existed from the beginning, was with God, and was God. The Word is Jesus!  There is something about that Name!  And as we speak His Name, recognizing the power that’s in it and all that it provides, how can we not smile?

Eternal Salvation!

  • Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  – Acts 4:12 (KJV)
  • Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:9-11 (KJV)

Strength, Healing, Deliverance, Restoration & Protection!

  • By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts 3:16 (NIV)
  • And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. – Mark 16:17-18 (KJV)
  • And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very moment. – Acts 16:18 (AMP)
  • The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10 (KJV)

Answered Prayer & Complete Joy!

  • Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.– John 16:23-24 (NIV)

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have a lot to smile about, don’t we!

So say His Name … smile, and have a joy-filled day!

–Cheri Henderson

Ham It Up!

Ham, Taters & Cheese Casserole

It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a chilly, rainy day with no scheduled events or plans (other than to kick back on the couch and watch my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes take on Xichigan!) It was a couple hours before kick-off and, still dressed in my nightgown and robe, I opened the fridge to consider what might be a good lunch option. The entire second shelf was still filled to capacity with ham … ham, ham, ham! Ham on the shank that still needed to be removed and another container, two-thirds full of thick ham slices, left over from our family Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. Friday’s lunch, of course, had consisted of a delicious ham sandwich, but the thought of ham sandwiches again on Saturday just wasn’t an appealing thought. And then I remembered a wonderful recipe that would fit the bill and be a perfect meal for a chilly, rainy day!

Ham, Taters & Cheese Casserole
(Serves: 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed peeled potatoes
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
  • 7 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the potatoes, carrot, celery and water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the ham, green pepper and onion in 3 tablespoons butter until tender. Add to the potato mixture. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Pour over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

My husband and I were able to fill our plates and enjoy this hearty, delicious meal as we watched Ohio State beat Xichigan! What a perfectly wonderful afternoon to “ham it up”!

Food for Thought
FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The phrase “ham it up” evokes thoughts of funny silliness and laughter, doesn’t it? And this particular “ham it up” moment definitely brought a smile to our faces and joy to our tummies because it was centered around some great food! But there is a source of joy … a fullness of joy … that is available to us all day long, year after year and into eternity! The One Who created us wants us to laugh, to be joyful, and to have a merry heart! His Word says so!

“God has made laughter for me.” Genesis 21:6

“A joyful heart is good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face.” Proverbs 15:13

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7

And why?

“Our mouths are filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy … because the Lord has done great things for us.” Psalm 126:2

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

I pray today and the rest of your life are filled with the laughter and joy that can only come from Him!

–Cheri Henderson

 

Saturday Mornings with Momma

breadknead  Blessed food

I am so blessed by the precious friendship that has developed between my Mom and me. Saturday mornings have become a wonderful time together as we share Starbucks, reminisce about Dad and the past, and look forward to our future adventures together. My Saturday mornings with her have become such a treasure as she shares so many precious memories and insights with me! Recently she handed me a beautiful devotional that a friend of our family, Chris Schonsheck, had given her and it so encouraged me and blessed my heart! I want to share it with you and hope that it does the same! Thank you, Momma. Thank you, Chris!

No Small Efforts
(Read John 6:8-13)

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” – Psalm 138:8 (NRSV)

Often I fall into the trap of comparing myself to other people. When I look at the impact they seem to have on the world, I feel as if I don’t measure up. One day, when I was feeling inferior, God gave me a new perspective on the familiar loaves-and-fishes story. Instead of focusing on the miracle itself or on the boy who offered up his lunch, I thought about the woman who might have made the lunch. I imagined her kneading the dough with work-worn hands, carefully wrapping the fresh loaves and fish in a cloth and handing the bundle to the boy with a kiss on his cheek. To her, these must have seemed such small, ordinary tasks. How could she have anticipated that the meal she had packed for her son that day would have such eternal significance?

That reminded me of the many ways that God takes our small efforts and uses them to feed people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So when I feel that I should be doing bigger things with my life, I remind myself of the loaves and fishes. My job is to do the tasks in front of me.. God’s job – God’s delight – is to use them to feed the world.

Dear Lord, help us to trust you to use us for your purposes. Amen.

–Cheri Henderson

Porkin’ It Up: A New Year’s Tradition!

Porkin' it upWhat a wonderful way to spend New Year’s Day … sitting in front of the television watching football and eating a hearty plate of pork, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes! And this recipe is one of the best because it includes bacon! It’s a Henderson tradition on New Year’s Day and one we really enjoy.  I hope you enjoy this delicious meal as much as we do!

Roasted Pork Loin and Sauerkraut with Bacon Onion Bundles

Ingredients:
5-6 Lb. pork loin
2 garlic cloves cut in half long-ways
2 teaspoons of seasoning salt
pepper
8 slices of bacon
2 medium onions
4 32-oz jars or bags of sauerkraut
16-32 ounces of chicken broth

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub the pork loin on all sides with the flat sides of the split garlic cloves, and then rub with seasoning salt and sprinkle with pepper. Place in a roasting pan. Cut the two onions into quarters and wrap each quarter with a piece of bacon. Place the bacon-onion bundles on the pork in various spots and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully move the bacon-onion bundles to the side of the pan, flip the pork loin, replace the bacon-bundles on top of the pork loin and bake another 30 minutes.

In the meantime, drain and rinse half of the sauerkraut (2 of the 32-oz jars). After the additional 30 minutes of baking, spread the drained and rinsed sauerkraut as well as the other 64 ounces of undrained sauerkraut beneath, around and on top of the pork loin. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and cover with an aluminum tent. Bake for 1-1/2 hours and then add enough chicken broth as necessary to moisten. Bake for another 1-1/2 hours. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

I don’t know if you’re like me, but often when a plate of my favorite food is placed before me like this one, it is usually followed by seconds, and sometimes even thirds!  It’s like “help me! I’ve started eating and I just can’t stop!” Sadly, this frequently happens during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays when surrounded by foods and desserts that I believe may be exquisitely satisfying! The end result? Indigestion and a bloated stomach, weight gain and water retention, clothes that no longer fit properly, poor body image and feelings of failure. Complete misery.

The sad thing is I know beforehand this will probably be the end result, but the temporary gratification of a satisfied palate seems to far outweigh any future ramifications. That is, until that future ramification arrives and all I can do is berate myself for being such a porker!

Similarly, in a spiritual sense, Christians do the same thing on occasion. We knowingly do things that are outside of God’s plan and purpose for us. We choose to be satisfied rather than crucified in Christ because we believe the gratification from the momentary fleshly pleasure will be worth the trade-off. It never is.The end result is we’re left with disappointment, regret, and sadness, knowing we were created for much more, that we could have and should have chosen that which would have glorified Jesus, but instead we chose to satisfy our flesh. And we’re filled with feelings of failure. Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and that our hearts are not too hardened to feel His touch. Thank God for the mercy, grace, and forgiveness provided to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank God for second chances!

We will soon be entering a New Year! What a perfect time to step away from filling our lives with things that aren’t spiritually good for us and, instead, rededicate our days to the One Who Is! We can stuff ourselves with things of the world and become so accustomed to a diet of fleshly pleasure that it’s difficult to stop. Or we can revive our spiritual health and choose to continually “taste and see that He is good!”  A new day.  A new year.  A second chance to live spiritually healthy and in His perfect plan and purpose for our lives!

Another celebration
of another New Year,
a perfect time to ask again
just what am I doing here?
Is my life as completely surrendered
as Jesus intended it to be,
or am I gliding on grace, taking the easy road,
and manipulating His mercy?
For such a time as this, Lord,
I was created to bring you glory;
am I truly following your purpose and plan
or have I made this life about me?
My comforts, my desires,
feeding my flesh like a swine,
following an annual tradition
of me, myself and I.
Let me break the man-centered tradition,
and selfish longings be crucified!
I resolve now my days will be different;
in all I do, Lord, be glorified!

–Cheri Henderson