Learning Contentedness.

“…in all these things, I have learned to be content.”

Such a great phrase, isn’t it? At this precise moment in my life, I can say that I am content. I’m home alone for a couple hours while my husband picks up a weekend guest. My house is clean. My dishes are done. The weather is nice. Had a good Bible study this morning. Good changes in store for this year – family and ministry-wise. Yes, I am content.

But, I’m not always content. 

Most of the time my discontentedness comes from the thoughts of, “Why??” or, “If only…!!” or, “What if…??” I think of the past and think, “If only this hadn’t happened”, or, “If only this had happened differently!” Which in turn makes me look to the future and I wonder, “If that happened in the past, who’s to say it won’t happen like this again in the future?” 

I’ll give you a good example: I’m really good at looking at myself and being discontent – mostly where my looks are concerned. My “If only” is: “If only my thyroid hadn’t spun out of control when I was 20.” Which leads to, “If only I’d had good doctors who paid attention to me when I told them something was wrong and gotten me on medicine right away.” Then, “If only I’d been told years before that building muscle really does help you lose weight, whether or not you have a metabolism.” And my “if only”s build into a discontented present. My weight stems from my thyroid. My self-esteem stems from my weight. My outgoing-ness stems from my self-esteem. And it just cycles.

Can you relate or am I completely alone in this? 

Then I was handed the book “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow. I’m pretty sure this book has changed my life. It covers being content with your relationships, your appearance, your past, your present, your future, your “why’s?” – everything. Each chapter is introduced with a true story about someone she met while a missionary in Eastern Europe. The book is down-to-earth, an easy read, and so incredibly applicable.

I wanted to share with you just a few of my favorite quotes [I filled five pages in my journal of quotes!]. I hope these are an encouragement to you today and maybe you’ll do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy of this book!

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.” -George MacDonald

“…When does a woman become an adult?…We grow up when we see our life and our role from God’s perspective; when we thank God for the role He has assigned us and begin to see our cup as a gift instead of a cross; when each morning we ask, ‘God, how can I glorify You today in my given role?'” -p.61

“As God weaves His pattern into the fabric of our lives, sometimes we sit in a ‘darkened room.’ The darkness seems suffocating. We can’t understand what He’s doing and can’t discover any possible good in the darkness. Yet, if we fix our focus on our faithful Weaver, we will someday know that the most exquisite work of all our life was done in those days of darkness…” -p.152

Though [fill in the blank – what’s going on in your life?] is happening/has happened/looks like it will happen–

Yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength.

-Habakkuk 3:17-19

Valentine’s Day Food.

Valentine’s Day was nice and quiet here – just the perfect way to celebrate in my book. Brian is not into getting gifts for Valentine’s Day; he tells me every year that it’s for me, not for him. That’s fine with me! Any holiday that gets me presents is good in my book! So, I knew he had come up with something amazing for me (he always does). What I normally do is make him the meal of his choice with a special cheesecake. We have a friend back in PA who puts together the best dinner parties ever and she always says, “I hate going out to eat because I always come away going, ‘I could’ve made that better.'” Over the last three years, I’ve come to see what she means. Since take-out (besides chicken or Chinese) is not an option and restaurants are expensive and far away, I’ve had to really experiment and come up with our favorite meals from scratch – no boxes, cans, or frozen stuff here. Especially for Valentine’s Day, I’d rather be at home with Brian – he helps me cook, we can control the baby in her environment, it’s cheaper than eating out, and we don’t have to worry about someone else messing up our order.

So, without further ado, here’s my gift to my husband on Valentine’s Day:

Sausage Stuffing
  • About 8 rolls from the bakery (I used ones called “pan de leche” – milk bread – that had a little bit of sweetness to it); cut in half and dice into cubes. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Brown up 1 (or 2, depending on how much you want) sausages in a skillet. Once browned, add to the bread cubes but reserve some of the fat in the skillet.
  • Add a few tablespoons of butter and half a red onion to the skillet you sauteed the sausage in and cook the onion til tender. I add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano (no sage here) to the onions. Pour the butter/onion mixture over the bread and toss.
  • Add to the bread about 1 cup of chicken broth – enough to basically soak the bread through without being soppy.
  • Whisk one egg in a separate bowl and add to the bread mixture.
  • Spread evenly in an 8×8 and cover tightly with foil. Bake at about 220C for 30minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15.
Baked Pork Chops
  • In a hot (HOT!) skillet with a touch of oil, brown up 3 boneless pork chops.
  • Once they start cooking, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Do not cook all the way through. Once they are slightly browned on the outside and you can see they aren’t bright pink on the inside, pull them out.
  • To bake with the stuffing above — pull the stuffing at the half hour point. It won’t be completely done. Put a touch of oil in the bottom of a 9×13 (enough so the chops won’t stick to the bottom) and set the pork chops in the bottom. Take the stuffing out of its pan and put on top of the pork chops (in and around, on top, whatever). Cover the whole thing with foil and bake for a good 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and put under the broiler until the stuffing toasts up on top.

Serve with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and gravy. 

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (adapted from allrecipes.com)
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • additional 4oz of softened cream cheese
  • about 1 cup of powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Remove one cup of the batter and spread evenly on the bottom of a well-greased springform pan. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until blended. Carefully spread over the batter already in the pan. Bake in a preheated 165C oven for 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Let cool at least 3 hours or overnight. Once cool, mix together remaining cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and spread gently over the top of the cheesecake as “frosting.” Chill.

-I found it was hard to get the cheesecake to cook! I don’t know if it was my oven or all the pumpkin, but I had to keep upping the temperature and it baked for a good 20min past time. But other than that, it turned out wonderful. The original recipe calls for a crust and cloves, but I hardly ever make a cheesecake crust anymore (cheaper for us) and I don’t have cloves. They also covered the cheesecake in whipped cream (something else I don’t have).- 

I felt like I’d done so good at making Brian a delicious meal and he couldn’t possibly top it with my gift. Oh I was so wrong.

My gift to Brian: a fancy meal at home.

Brian’s gift to me: A Kindle Fire coming in March with a visitor. Complete with a cover he picked out personally for me and an 8mg pin drive (also picked out specially for me so it’s nice and girly) to store my books. 

I love Valentine’s Day. =)

Super Bowl Food.

Today was the Super Bowl and even though the Packers weren’t in it (boo), we still wanted to watch. Two weeks ago at our sending church they had a rally with a retired Giants player (David Tyree) who is a believer. So, we were rooting for the Giants tonight. Anybody other than the Patriots really. 😉

Around 5:45, my husband said, “Honey, can you make me Super Bowl snacks?” I really had no clue what to make my dear husband, so I improvised! I’m so proud of myself, I just had to share.

French Fried Onions:

~Large red onion(s) sliced fairly thick. Divide the slices into individual rings.
~Soak in milk, just enough to cover them, for at least 5 minutes. 
~Transfer to a flour, salt, and pepper mixture and dredge well. 
~Heat up oil in a frying pan until bubbles appear around the base of a wooden utensil.
~Drop in the onions and fry until golden brown, turning occasionally.
~Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and let cool before eating.

Lisa’s Version of “Taquitos”

~Homemade Tortillas
1. Mix together with a fork 4 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tsp baking powder. 
2. Add in 2 Tbsp of lard (I use either butter or shortening, they both work)
3. Add in up to 1 1/2 cups of water – just enough so it comes together into a nice dough. 
4. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes
5. Divide into about 12 balls (depends on how big you want them) and roll out each individually until quite thin
6. Fry up on a heated griddle (I don’t use any oil, just a little bit of cooking spray on my griddle)
~Tonight, I made up half a batch of tortillas, then used a leftover porkchop and about a cup and a half of leftover rice to make the filling. I browned up some onions and then added in the chopped up porkchop and the rice, added extra ground ginger, garlic powder, and pepper, and heated it all through. 
~I then took each tortilla and put some cheese on them, mostly around the edges. Then, I took a little bit of the rice/pork mixture and spread it out from one side of the tortilla to almost the other, leaving a small space on the other side. I rolled them up, starting with the side that has the filling on it. 
~And then…I fried them! In just enough oil to cover the bottom half, flipping them once. The cheese sealed them closed. 

And then our new favorite: no bake cookies. 🙂

All in all, a nice evening [gave me something to do since I can’t for the life of me sit still during an entire Super Bowl] that cost us nothing more than our usual groceries. And it was good. So was the game.

February 2012
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