A Not-So-Offensive Broccoli

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Broccoli, baby! It’s good for you … granted, probably more so when it’s served all by itself, but where’s the enjoyment in that?!

By adding some fried bacon and a sugary mayo dressing, you can change a plain, but healthy vegetable into an appealing, but somewhat fattening salad.

So, what do you say?! Let’s dress it up and gratify our appetites, shall we?

                                                                                                                      Broccoli Salad
Serves 9

Ingredients:
2 heads fresh broccoli
1 red onion
½ lb. bacon
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup sliced almonds
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Directions
:

Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Cool and crumble.

Trim off the large leaves from the broccoli stem. Remove the tough stalk at the end and wash the broccoli heads thoroughly. Cut the heads into flowerets and the stems into bite-sized pieces.

Thinly slice the red onion and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine with broccoli, onions, raisins, and sliced almonds and mix well.

Mix the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar together until smooth. Stir into the salad, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Many would agree that adding other ingredients like bacon, mayo and sugar to a bunch of plain broccoli is a great way to make the broccoli more appealing. It becomes tastier and not as offensive to the senses of those who generally dislike broccoli, and really helps the food go down a lot easier!

Dressing up a plain, healthy vegetable to make it more palatable and pleasing to our appetites is one thing … but it is never something we want to do when it comes to the Word of God. God’s Word is enough. It is eternal – ever new, ever sure. If we add, change, or remove portions of God’s Word to make it “more palatable” and “less offensive” to the ones we are “serving”, we’ll likely be held accountable for feeding them an unhealthy and potentially deadly entree. I, for one, do not want to be responsible for contributing to the eternal death of anyone because I served them a tainted Gospel! “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)

Saints, it’s eternally imperative to us and to others that we always share the Gospel without compromise! Our interference, whatever the motive, can have deadly consequences … but serve up life-giving, undefiled Truth, and watch dry bones come alive!

— Cheri Henderson

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Pretty Pinwheels!

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Colorful and delicious, this is one of my favorite appetizers! And the name, “pinwheels”, brings back warm memories of childhood fun! Pinwheels! Did you have one as a child?  I remember this young girl skipping through the front yard with my arm raised and my pinwheel spinning in the wind.  If you’re too young to remember them, it was a toy made of curved, brightly colored plastic blades, attached to the top of a wooden stick. The curved blades cupped the wind and caused the blades to spin rapidly almost as soon as the wind hit them. The gentlest of breezes would set the pinwheels spinning to display a beautiful array of color!

While these pinwheels don’t catch the wind or spin, they’re still great fun to make … so let’s get busy!

Pretty Pinwheels

Makes 35-40 Pinwheels

Ingredients:

(2) 8 oz. packages of cream cheese at room temperature
(1) 1 oz. package dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. black pepper
5 large (burrito-size) flour tortillas
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lb. thinly sliced deli mesquite turkey

Directions:

Chop the peppers and onions and set aside in 3 separate mounds.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon until totally combined.

Lay out the 5 flour tortillas on your counter and divide the cream cheese mixture equally among the tortillas. Spread the mixture in an even layer all over the surface of each tortilla, making sure to get it all the way to the edge.

Sprinkle the red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and green onions on each tortilla as equally as possible.

Lay the sliced turkey evenly on each tortilla.

Roll the tortillas up nice and tight. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

Before serving, cut them in to 1-inch slices and serve on a platter.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Like the wind that animates a pinwheel, the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of those who love Jesus, nudging us along, constantly encouraging, comforting and empowering us. Scripture, in fact, refers to the Holy Spirit as a strong, driving wind!  “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, the disciples were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, Acts 2:1-2)

Before Jesus was crucified and resurrected into heaven, he told his disciples (and if you have given your life to Jesus, that would be you):

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said.”  (Acts 14:15-17, 26)

So raise your arms, let the Wind blow, and be a beautiful, powerful representation of Jesus to your world!

— Cheri Henderson

Slowly Savoring Every Bite …

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There’s nothing better than a Chinese meal when it’s prepared in your own kitchen! As the recipe comes together, the fragrance of ginger, garlic, and soy, warmly sauteing in a bath of sesame and peanut oils, is an enticing preliminary to the joy of sitting down to a delicious meal!

Naturally, this meal would be well-served with chopsticks; however, this woman has never mastered that skill! I’ve been told that using chopsticks is actually a healthier way to eat because it forces you to slow down, eat deliberately, and take smaller mouthfuls of food, resting in between bites and giving your stomach time to tell your brain that it is getting full.

This method of eating would only serve to frustrate me, however. As my husband will avow, I am a very fast eater and can shovel down a meal in three-quarters of the time it takes a normal person to eat it. I believe this is something I learned from my childhood; as the oldest child of six, I discovered eating quickly usually guaranteed seconds! Unfortunately the trait is deeply ingrained, so hand me a fork, knife and spoon, please, and let’s have at it!
 
Beef Broccoli Lo Mein
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
8 oz. lo mein noodles or spaghetti
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 Tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped broccoli
1-1/2 cups sliced onion
1 lb. flank steak, trimmed and cut against the grain into long, thin strips
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. chile paste with garlic
 
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Combine pasta and sesame oil, tossing well to coat.
 
While the pasta cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add broccoli and onion; saute 3 minutes. Add steak and saute 5 minutes or until cooked to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Add pasta mixture, soy sauce and remaining ingredients; cook 1 minute or until noodles are thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers.
 
Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT
 
It’s true I don’t always slow down and eat deliberately like I probably should … and so I understand I’m not receiving the health benefits that go hand-in-hand with doing so. Sadly, there have also been times I’ve done the same thing when it comes to “eating the word of God”. And I’ve learned that to hurriedly read a few scriptures so I can say I’ve spent time with the Lord will absolutely lead to spiritual malnutrition. There is nothing spiritually nurturing about quickly fitting God into my day and treating Him as an afterthought or something less important than all of my other more pressing, “important” (not) daily activities. Just as our bodies need food to stay healthy and operate at peak performance, we need the word of God to feed our souls and strengthen us to resist temptation and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!
 
I encourage you, therefore, to daily imitate Jesus, and the manner in which He spent time with the Father. Go to a place where you can be alone with God, somewhere quiet and free of distraction. Talk to Him. Worship Him. Praise Him for all He is. Thank Him for all He has done. And then read His love letter to you, the Bible. Don’t hurry through it … savor it, think about it, enjoy it. The word of God is one of our greatest sources of spiritual food. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about how important it is to our lives. Here are a few: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
 
And here is one of my favorites: “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16)
 
Praying His word becomes … and remains … the gladness and joy of your heart!
 
— Cheri Henderson

The Covering Makes All the Difference!

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Baked chicken, spinach, and mushrooms … edible enough on their own .. but taken to a whole other level in this recipe with a covering of herbed cream cheese and melted mozzarella! The covering makes all the difference!

                                                                                        Mozzarella Chicken, Mushrooms & Spinach
Serves 6

Ingredients
:
6 thin sliced chicken breasts
1 container of green onion cream cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Large package of sliced mushrooms
1 small bag fresh baby spinach
Sprinkle of herb & garlic seasoning (Mrs. Dash or Weber or similar)
Sprinkle of pepper
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions
:
In a 9×13 baking dish, lay the chicken out in a single layer, top with spinach and mushrooms. Sprinkle the seasonings over the top. Soften cream cheese and whisk in olive oil and chicken broth. Pour over mixture. Lay a piece of foil over the top, but do not seal. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes, then sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until starting to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with a side salad and perhaps some buttered garlic bread!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT
Just as a simple chicken dish can be changed and greatly enhanced by the application of a wonderfully rich covering, so too can a sinful human being. Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)  “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!” (Psalm 32:1-2)

The covering makes all the difference. Praying you are abundantly blessed!

— Cheri Henderson

What Makes a Chicken Salad Mexican?

Mexican Chicken Salad
                                                                                                      What makes a Chicken Salad Mexican? Ingredients like taco seasoning, chopped jalapenos, and shredded Mexican blend cheeses, that’s what, mis amigos! Not your typical chicken salad, this recipe is a quick and flavorful cold chicken salad with a Mexican flavor!  
                                                                                                                                                Mexican Chicken Salad
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
 
2 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped into 1/2″ squares 
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup Mexican shredded blend cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion tops
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp. taco seasoning mix
 
Directions:
 
In a small bowl, stir together chicken, celery, mayonnaise, shredded cheese, tomato, green onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and taco seasoning. Serve wrapped in a lettuce leaf or on a crisp bed of lettuce, a warm tortilla, or on a piece of flat bread! Muy deliciosa!  
 

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

Just as certain unique ingredients are the things that make a Chicken Salad Mexican, what unique ingredients make a human being Christian?
 
Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. What’s interesting is that Jesus himself never actually gave that name to His followers, and the early Church only a few times referred to themselves as Christians. In fact, the word “Christian” only appears three times in the entire Bible. The title which was most often used was “saints.” The Greek word for saints is hagios which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious”, and it is almost always used in the plural—“saints.” This reflects not just the individual, but the connection to a group of people set apart for the Lord and His Kingdom.
 
Unfortunately over time, even the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance. Many people, in fact, consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a “Christian” nation. However, going to church or living in America are not the “ingredients” that make people Christians any more than parking in a garage will make them automobiles. Outward action without inward change is simply a “slather of salsa on an empty taco shell”. 
 
The word “Christian” literally means, “belonging to the party of Christ” or “ambassador or follower of Christ.” So what are the specific “ingredients” that cause a human being to become a Christian?
 
Realize You Are a Sinner
Romans 3:23 tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No human being in his or her own strength can remain sinless. Why? Because God’s “mark” is absolute, total, complete, flawless perfection! Jesus said, “Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 
 
Repent of Your Sins
To repent means to “change” or to “turn.” It’s like driving down the highway, doing a complete 180 degree U-turn and heading the other direction. It’s more than simply being sorry; it is a word of action. Many people feel remorse for their sin, but never truly repent. Remorse is being sorry; repentance is being sorry enough to stop. 
 
Believe in and Receive Jesus Christ Into Your Life
The Bible says, “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). You believe in and receive Jesus Christ in your life because you realize that He is the very Son of God. He is the One who loves you so much that He died on a cross for you over 2,000 years ago to pay the penalty for your sin, and then rose from the dead three days later. 
 

That’s it in a taco shell, kiddos! Not only are these the ingredients that will help you recognize other Christians and be able to truly call yourself a Christian … it’s the complete recipe for eternal life!

 
— Cheri Henderson
 

Not Your Easiest Egg Sandwich

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A fried egg is good all by itself, but when it’s presented as an “egg in a basket”, seasoned with salt and pepper, layered with white cheddar slices, crisp bacon, sliced avocado, and surrounded with fresh sourdough bread, it’s fantastic!

  
Egg in a Basket Sandwich
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 slices of bacon
4 sourdough bread slices
3 tablespoons of butter
2 eggs
mayonnaise
2 slices of white cheddar cheese
1 avocado, sliced into 1/4-1/2″ slices
salt & pepper

Directions
Fry the bacon until crisp. Set aside on a paper towel. Using a small round cookie cutter, cut a hole out of the center of 2 of the slices. (Toss the centers out into your yard for your bird friends or, if you want, eat them later as a mini sandwich of some sort.) Spread all 4 bread slices with mayonnaise.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan. Place the bread slices with the cutouts into the pan and crack an egg into each opening. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add more butter to the pan if necessary. After the eggs have set up, lay a slice of white cheddar on each, followed by 2 slices of bacon, the avocado slices, and top with the other bread slice. Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwiches and brown the other side.

Remove and serve! Delicious for breakfast with a side of sliced fresh fruit or for lunch or dinner with a cup of your favorite soup!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Granted, this wasn’t the easiest sandwich to prepare, but it was done with patience and love, knowing the one to whom I presented it would be blessed by it. As followers of Jesus Christ, it’s similar to how we can present the gospel to someone who doesn’t know it, believe it, or accept it. We can quickly throw out the “plan of salvation” scriptures to someone and hope he or she “gets it”, or we can patiently and lovingly nurture the relationship and take the time to deliver the Truth of Jesus, seasoned with salt, in a way that will bless and change his or her life for eternity. Feed the ones well that God places in your path. They are hungry and they need to be lovingly, patiently and fully fed … by you. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)

-Cheri Henderson

Warning! Garlic Ahead!

27331832_10214656203417048_5096134799804782722_nI LOVE any recipe that calls for garlic (and I’m sure many who have crossed my path at one time or another have come to a quick realization of that fact!) Not only is garlic a delicious addition to many recipes, it is good for you! Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants. Recent evidence-based research also suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers. 

 
As we all know, however, along with the benefits of garlic, comes a lingering odor some people find offensive.  That’s because when minced or crushed garlic is ingested, it releases volatile sulfur compounds that can offend those with a sensitive sense of smell. The potent compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream and then become vaporized while going through the lungs. Furthermore, the garlic aroma is not limited to your breath; it is also excreted through your pores and is a lingering “fragrance” that can last for twenty-four hours or more after consumption. And if you eat it on a regular basis, you’ll like earn a reputation and notice some people purposefully dodging you because of the offensive fragrance that consistently emanates from you.  Still, it’s SO worth it!  And this recipe, in particular!
Chicken & Bacon Pasta in Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 4
Ingredients
6 bacon strips, cooked, drained, and crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
 2 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes (drained)
7 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles
3 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/3 cups Half & Half
1-1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp. salt
10 oz. penne rigate
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
Directions:
In a small skillet, fry the bacon, drain, and crumble. Set aside on a paper towel,
In a separate, large skillet, heat olive oil on high heat until hot. Keeping the burner at high heat, add chicken breasts, sprinkle with paprika and italian seasoning, and cook on one side for 1 minute. Flip the chicken over and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Remove chicken and slice into thin strips. Reduce the heat to medium and place back into the pan for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove 2/3 of the chicken from the pan and keep warm.
Add tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and half of the bacon and mix together. Add half & half and bring to a boil. After the half & half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan and immediately reduce to simmer and stir for 1-2 minutes (no more than 2 minutes) until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy. Then immediately remove from heat. 
Add the salt, stir in the pasta, the remaining bacon and strips of chicken. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with a fresh, green salad! Wonderfully delicious!
 
Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
In a similar way, the reactions received by others to a consistent consumption of garlic is a good analogy for what we, as followers of Jesus Christ, will experience when we continually spend time in His presence, read His Word, worship, honor and live for Him. As we daily “taste and see that the Lord is good”, we will be filled with His presence and have the unmistakable “scent” of Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. The Message Bible quotes that verse this way: “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma rich with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” 
 
I LOVE Jesus! He is the Giver of Life and He is so very Good! I pray I am consistently emanating the exquisite fragrance of Jesus to everyone I encounter … and that the aroma is pleasing to you. If it isn’t, it can be! Taste and see, my friends!
 
-Cheri Henderson

Savoring the Gift

carrot cakeToday would have been my father’s 90th birthday. Four years ago on December 23, 2013, my father’s spirit left this planet to be joined face-to-face with the One he loved and for whom he lived, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Are birthdays celebrated in heaven? I don’t know; but I do know this! Of all the gifts Dad ever received on his birthday, there are none that compare to what he is experiencing today. Talk about a celebration!  “Praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”  (Psalm 150:1-6)

Dad may not be physically here, but his spirit lives on . . . and there’s nothing preventing me from joining with him in the celebration!  I can almost hear the music! “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him!” (Exodus 15:2)

In honor of my father, I want to share the recipe of one of his favorite birthday desserts!  Without fail on his special day, Dad could always count on receiving a slice or two of this delicacy from one of his children and he relished every bite. So, here’s to you, Dad!  I’ll eat a piece for you!

Carrot Cake
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped or ground

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) with a whisk. Add oil and eggs and stir together with a spatula. Stir in carrots and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Release the cake from the pan, invert and peel off parchment paper. Let cool right-side-up on rack. Frost with light cream cheese icing, if desired.

Light cream cheese icing:

6 oz. 33% less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Using hand mixer or wooden spoon, whip until creamy.

Store iced cake in the refrigerator.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

As I reminisce about my father’s earthly birthday celebrations, I have to smile. Dad was famous for taking forever to open a gift! When he was handed a brightly wrapped package, he’d set the gift on his lap and study it, grinning. Then he might hold the gift up to the light, softly shake it, or run his hands over it, feeling for any unusual bumps or edges. Surrounded by an audience of expectant family members, he would then begin the process of slowly, excruciatingly removing each piece of scotch tape . . . being ever so careful not to rip or mar the wrapping paper in any way. When the last piece of tape was finally removed, he would slowly lift up one corner of the wrapping paper, peak inside . . . and look up at his audience with another grin. Finally, he’d reveal the gift much to our delight . . . and relief!  945411_10202501249550798_1671146050_n

Dad took great pleasure in the joy of opening a gift. There was no rush to “get on with it”, but rather, he did all he could to savor, prolong, and enjoy the moment. In a similar way, we are surrounded by gifts to be savored and enjoyed that have been created by our heavenly Father for our pleasure. Think about it. Many of the things we see and hear are gifts to us, products of God’s wonderful creative hand. As small as a tiny flower or as grand as a mountain, as lovely as the song of a bird or the sound of a soft summer rain, His gifts are there, waiting to be seen and appreciated and to speak to us in individual, God-designed ways. But, too often we move through life with blinders on, flying along at warp speed, trying to complete all of our many tasks, rushing through our days so quickly we don’t think about creation or our Creator, let alone sit back, relish and enjoy his gifts . . . and Him.

Psalm 71:8 says: “Just as each day brims with your beauty, my mouth brims with praise.”

So take a lesson from my Dad. Slow down. Savor the moment. And truly enjoy “opening the gifts” God has given you. He’ll watch with pleasure.

— Cheri Henderson

A Recipe for Joy

Cookware

Do you remember when you were a child, the joy of waking up the day after Christmas, knowing you were “free” for several days, and the anticipation of playing with all of your new Christmas toys and how exciting that was? That would be me … today! Santa Baby gave me the Pioneer Woman cookware, cookbook and crockpot and I’m beyond happy … and ready to do some cooking! After the newness wears off, I hope my excitement and joy over this wonderful gift remains the same! Kind of like the gift of eternal salvation I received from Jesus. Is it still exciting? Is my joy as great as it was when I first received His gift? Am I still as motivated to share His gospel with others as I once was?

A temporary loss of joy or zeal can happen in every Christian’s life at one time or another. Sometimes it’s our own fault because maybe we’ve stepped away from our daily conversations with the Lord or reading His Word … or perhaps we’ve succumbed to temptation and fallen into sin. Sometimes it is because we’re facing unpleasant, burdensome circumstances that are weighing us down and stealing our joy. Whatever the cause, the most important thing to realize is we don’t have to remain that way. And it’s important that we don’t!

His Word so clearly, firmly, but lovingly teaches us His thoughts about this and how we should respond.

But I have this [charge] against you, that you have left your first love [you have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me]. So remember the heights from which you have fallen, and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will] and do the works you did at first [when you first knew Me]. (Revelation 2:4-5 Amp)

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,and sinners shall be converted and return to You. (Psalm 51:12-13)

Always be full of joy in the Lord! Again, I say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

“For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:10-11) 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 Amp) And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

I wish each and every one of you a very Merry, Joy-Filled Christmas that lasts all year long!

-Cheri Henderson

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