Feast on Fridays: Angel Hair Pasta with Uncooked Tomato Sauce (When You’re Cooked Enough)

This week California is pretending to be Iowa. Hot, still, wet air. Who can cook?

You can’t. I’m here to help: Angel Hair Pasta with Uncooked Tomato Sauce (because you’re cooked enough.)

What? You don’t cook the fresh tomatoes? It’s hardly a sauce, more of a decoration–a full-of-flavor decoration. Simple, delicious, and slightly decadent with freshly grated parmesan. It’s okay to be decadent in small portions. (I’m afraid I took TWO small portions. Darn it.) Marcia sent me this recipe after I enjoyed her fabulous cooking at the Canyon Creek Women’s Retreat. Added bonus: I felt just a little bit Italian making it and eating it.

Uncooked Pasta Sauce

 

Tis the season for bushels of tomatoes. If you don’t have your own, try your local farmer’s markets. And fresh basil is ample and inexpensive at Trader Joe’s.

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Feast on Fridays: Angel Hair Pasta with Uncooked Tomato Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian/California/Iowa
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 - 8 servings
 
Mary Grace thought I'd served this with shrimp before. I think not, but it's a good idea. She may be confused with Fetticine Alfredo. Alfredo loves his shrimp, and so do I. I guess I could add shrimp to this recipe, but then I would have to turn on another burner. One for the pasta water was ample in this heat.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh pasta or use angel hair
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Sauce:
  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop and seed tomatoes into large bow.
  2. Add onion, garlic, basil, oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving. I cheated - mine sat about 30 minutes and was fine.
  4. Cook pasta until al dente
  5. In large bowl toss pasta with sauce and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.

After mixing the sauce, you’re supposed to wait an hour before adding the pasta. We were hungry, however. I shaved off some time by keeping the tomatoes on the counter all day so they were already at room temperature (room temperature being the reason for this recipe, may I remind you.)

Uncooked Tomato Sauce Pasta

So pretty. So easy. So summer.

OH! And we always love to pass around the fresh parmesan and handy-dandy cheese thingy better known as the Pampered Chef Microplane Fine Grater. Check it out. Washes up easily on top rack of the dishwasher.

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A small portion of all sales from these links will be used to support this blog.

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O, Taste & See: Off to Camp (He Will Never Leave You)

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O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

God will never leave you

Bonnie’s 4th grade class was off to Yosemite for a whole week. The night before they left, the parents met for last-minute instructions. Many had questions. Hands were raised. Many were nervous. Their bright darlings had never been away from home for a weekend, much less a week.

I sat in their midst with nary a worry or question. I know. Not like me. For once, my hands stayed in my lap, a smile on my face. A little smug, I will admit.

I didn’t need to worry, Bonnie didn’t need to worry–her dad was going along. Mark had volunteered as the camp doctor/chaperone/band-aid dispenser. Bonnie’s dad would be there–nearby, at the ready for any and all her needs (and 45 others.)

Are you off to camp? A new job? A new apartment? A new mate? A new procedure?

You’re not alone. Your Dad’s alongside, His little black bag close at hand, His hand in yours for the taking. He will never leave you.

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How do we know? He said He would be.

Like He told Joshua about ready to lead the camp of his life–onward and upward into the Promised Land:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. – Joshua 1:5,6

Joshua couldn’t hear. He was still raising his hand, “Lord…what about? I’m petrified, if You really want to know…”

So He said it again:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Being a mom is like going off to Yosemite – maybe climbing Half Dome – every day. Every day is a new camp experience. You may think you know what’s ahead, but you don’t. I don’t.

I wake up, I get ready, I have my list–but only my Father knows what’s really going to happen. Only my Father can really help me or my kids.  I might/do raise my hand a few times. (“Uh, Lord, one more question, please… Did you think about this…Are You sure this will work…”)

Found out today that our Middle who is vacationing in Turkey will fly straight to Spain next week (instead of coming home and getting a job in town like any sensible college grad would do) and begin an au pair job. Why not? She’s fine with it. Mark’s fine with it. I think I’m fine with it. Besides, she may finally learn Spanish.IMG_0546

Best to keep my hand down and hold God’s instead. He’s not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere without Him. Neither is Bethany.

Be strong and courageous for your Father will be with you wherever you go. He will never leave you.

“O, taste and see how confident you can be because you’re not alone; blessed is the one who remembers and walks by faith in the One Who leads and guards and guides–He will not let go.” Today’s Psalm 34:8

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Bonnie and the Man-in-Plaid many years after 4th grade – Prom Night did not interrupt the remodel.

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Chocolate on Mondays: Driveway Hospitality–A Little Story

Location (location, location…) Does it matter where we do hospitality? Not so much. Intentional hospitality is serving another–maybe in their driveway.

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Intentional hospitality doesn’t always happen in your front room or even in your front yard – although I love reading about front-yard hospitality over at The Tourqouise Table.

It’s not the where, it’s the do – as in Do Hospitality–there’s goodness in it.

Here’s a little story of God’s goodness going from one driveway to another’s. God loves us to open our hearts along with our homes–both show His intentional hospitality to us–and Steve and Karen did that last week in their mobile home park in Sonora.

 

I asked if I could blog his “Driveway Hospitality.” Here’s what he wrote:

We’re working on reaching out to an unsaved neighbor, Pam. She’s a single, divorced, older woman. Her car is on the fritz. I looked at it. Of course, I’m no mechanic — but I know a good mechanic, the one who got the truck’s AC up to snuff. And I have a AAA card. So I have resources! I’m having AAA come out tomorrow morning to tow her car to the mechanic and I told her we’d cover the cost. It needs new battery cables, for starters (hopeful not a starter, too), which for that car could be very expensive. Who knows what else. But she said she’d pay me back in July. We’ll not invoice her, but rather let God cover the details. I’m just glad I’m working and have money to share. Our mutual neighbor, who comes to Karen’s Wed Bible study at our house, told me privately she’ll be praying for me to get a witness in to Pam as I help her.

I love Steve’s enthusiasm! “I’m no mechanic but I know a good mechanic.”

Helping a neighbor can be the first step in making those introductions. Here’s the rest of the story (so far):

I called AAA at 7:30 a.m. today. Tow truck showed up an hour later, before I got over there — half a block away. But they didn’t call me right away. By the time I got there the guy had already gotten her car started so it didn’t need a tow. It’s a big Ford SUV. Seems the gear shift lever doesn’t sit well into park and when it doesn’t, the ignition won’t work. So that’s something to be fixed eventually. But in the meantime she’s no longer stranded at home, and knows what to do if it happens again. My AAA membership covers anyone I want to use it for, for up to 3 times a year, I believe. This was my first.

Pam thanked me profusely over and over, but I said, “I didn’t do anything. In fact, I’m just sorry I didn’t get in the driver’s seat and check it out.” But she said, “No, Steve, you were the one to make it happen, to get me going again. You are the man.” (something like that). And she did thank God for the quick solution found by our clever and very friendly tow truck man, Donny, as well as for me getting him here. Diana’s the neighbor in the car with the cute little dog, Kaneesha (Daphne’s best playmate) who had her car already running and ready to follow us to the auto repair shop. I was going to take Pam in my truck so I could be there to talk mechanical stuff with them, so they wouldn’t take advantage of a single woman, and then I was going to have to hurry to my first lesson at 9:45, so Diana would bring Pam home. But none of that was necessary.

Just a little story, but I was glad I asked questions and got involved in this lady’s life, ending up being a small cog in the wheels of progress in getting her rolling again — and, as it turns out, getting her praising the God she hardly knows yet, but who may be getting more comfortable with as she hangs around us “friends of God” in her neighborhood.

Love,

“Oh brother!” Steve

“Just a little story.” I love that! All of our salvation stories are made up of “little stories” of God’s grace and love. I’m praying I’ll be a small cog in someone’s wheel of progress toward Himself today. I’m no mechanic, but God’s got that–and everything else–covered.

Here’s a pic of Steve and Karen flanked by me and the Man-in-Plaid at our recent Sibs Reunion, Part I.

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Prayer for Monday:

“Father God,

Please give me a heart to serve my neighbor, my family, my friends so that they see Your heart of grace for them. I want to be “on the look out” for that one who needs a helping hand or my AAA card or even chocolate. All for the sake of the Gospel. Thank You for Steve and Karen’s hearts of gold–bless them and bless Pam to know You as her own. Amen.”

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Feast on Friday: Hash Brown Hamburger Casserole

Yum Yum Yum! I loved this casserole. I can’t tell you how much. And great leftover, as well. It’s simple and feeds a crowd.

Hamburger Hash Brown Casserole from Thriftyjinky - a hit!

Why not make two and keep one in the freezer for that new family God is bringing your way next week? No, He didn’t tell me that–He just likes us to cook by faith.

Bake and they will come.

And when you bake this, they will come again. Oh, yes.

Comfort Food Hash Brown Hamburger Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner (does hash browns make it breakfast and dinner??)
Cuisine: American as hamburgers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6
 
I used frozen O'Brien Hash Browns. I don't know who O'Brien is although that may make the cuisine more Irish than American. He always includes sweet red and green peppers which is pretty but a little too grown up for some kids. Keep that in mind.
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 20 oz. package of refrigerated hash brown potatoes (appx 3½ cups)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a frying pan, cook onion in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent.
  4. Add in ground beef and cook until browned. If there is a lot of fat from the ground beef, pour it off at this time.
  5. Add in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring.
  6. Add in ketchup, broth, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and veggies.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Spread mixture in bottom of 9×13 baking pan.
  9. In a medium bowl, mix potatoes, cheese and butter.
  10. Spread potato mixture over beef/veggie mixure.
  11. Bake 45 minutes or until hash browns are golden brown.

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To assuage any worry that I’m might be getting a little TOO healthy in my cooking, I’m happy to include in this week’s Feast on Fridays: potatoes, cheese, AND butter (and a little flour.) Hurray!

Time-saving tip: I browned the hamburger the night before while making dinner since I was already at the stove, apron on. The next morning, I finished prepping the casserole and placed it in the oven. This deliciousness began baking merrily on Time-Bake and was crisped and hot by the time I got home from work. Voila’ and I’m not even French. Mom loved Time-Bake and I do, too. So handy-dandy, Time-Bake deserves its own capital letters, don’t you think?

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If time, when I make it again, I’ll steam up some of summer’s best veggies and use them instead of the frozen mixed. It should work just fine, and will add a little crunch. If you serve this leftover, heat in microwave, and then crisp the potato topping a bit in your broiler.

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Check out Thriftyjinky.com. I found this recipe on Pinterest, a lovely black hole of love and creativity. Sigh.

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Intentional Hospitality and Inspirational Living

At a recent speaking engagement in Southern California, I met a kind-hearted woman who cares about intentional hospitality and inspirational living. She has combined the two by becoming part of the Mary&Martha team. Allow me to introduce Norma to you. Cute, no?

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You’ll love her too!

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In Norma’s words:

The Lord desires for us to share Him and extend hospitality, and we can do it in our homes like Mary and Martha did. Mary was the heart and Martha was the hands. Doesn’t that sound like the modern woman, using her heart to love God and using her hands to love others? We are living in the “&”, not one or the other. I love being able to share my passion for the Lord and also provide financial blessings into my home. I also love providing the gift of easy, intentional hospitality to others, not just in homes, but wherever we go. It is my hope and prayer that you find inspiration from what you discover in Mary & Martha.

You can browse the Mary&Martha catalog (a division of DaySpring cards, which is owned by Hallmark.) You may fall in love–the products are both inspiring and beautiful and they help you “set your mind on things above.”

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More from Norma:

Mary & Martha provides shared experiences and products that welcome, serve & connect people. When the power of God’s Word is spoken silently or out loud–it changes things, it changes us. I love going into homes and seeing women gathered around the room connecting with each other, laughing, sharing, and reading His message right from the products.

One of my favorite stories comes from a customer who  was walking in an outdoor mall with a M&M tote bag hung over her shoulder. She was approached by a stranger who told her, “Thank you! I have been praying to God for an answer to a prayer and have been waiting to hear from Him and there is the answer on your bag!” He walked away and she never saw him again. She realized she had just carried a message. That’s why I love these products, they are message carriers!

On one occasion I had a contractor in my home. As he was measuring rooms and seeing my décor, he commented that I was obviously Christian and shared that he used to go to church but… which was followed by a conversation that only the Holy Spirit could have orchestrated. If my home hadn’t reflected my heart, I would have never had that opportunity to share God with this man.

Mary&MarthacollageNorma is a beautiful woman with a great heart – feel free to browse her site AND she wanted me to tell you about a Big Sale (since I’m a Big Sale kind of person) Check it out:

Mary&Martha has a Flash Sale that runs until Saturday (or until items run out!) and I didn’t want you to miss it, since we’re friends and all. It’s a great time to grab something new for your kitchen or stock up on deeply discounted gifts for birthdays or even Christmas if you’re already thinking ahead! (She told me you are already thinking ahead. I’m just thinking about the 4th of July picnic, but I bet M&M has something for that, too.)

This is what I have on the front of my house. I love it!

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So true! I want anyone who enters (including Bonnie and sixteen of her closest friends all at once) to know the Lord’s comfort, peace and joy. This beautiful piece reminds me to pray that God will make it so.

Please make sure to use this link or any others within this post to shop M&M and support Norma at the same time.

A small portion of all sales from these links will be used to support this blog.
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Taste & See: God’s Recipe

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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Hyatt told me that you learn more from failure than success. He’s right. We both know it. We don’t like it.

If you had to write a college essay (praise God you don’t have to) you wouldn’t have much trouble coming up with personal support–“What I learned from failure in 20 words or less.” You might have trouble–how much failure by age 20? Certainly more, since.

What’s success? Do we really want it if we learn more from failure. (Yes, I do.)

So did the Golden State Warriors who blessed off our socks and their socks last Tuesday night by winning the NBA Finals. (Can winning an NBA Finals be considered a blessing? Not if you live in Ohio. Perhaps LeBron James learned more than Steph Curry–but Curry had more fun.

Steph Curry knows about Success and how to get there:

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“We found a recipe for success, and that’s the most important thing for us.” Yes, they did.

FullSizeRenderCongrats, Steph Curry – you look so young for all that success. What are you, 12?

Mary came home from college last Friday and on Tuesday, began beating the pavement for a summer job. She fixed her resume, she did her make-up, she ironed her dressy top (correction: I ironed her dressy top) and out she went to face rejection, failure and potential success.

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I prayed; she girded up her loins and prepped great lines like: “Being a hostess is similar to being a barista – getting a customer’s expresso to the perfect temperature and not letting it stand longer than one minute so it doesn’t become bitter is like helping someone get the perfect spot by the fireplace and not being left standing any longer than necessary.” Mary, never at a loss for words, can talk herself into the good graces of any potential employer. They cave out of sheer listening exhaustion. She got two jobs. Success. I can hand over the ironing.

How does God view success? Hebrews 11 comes to mind. Faith in Him, no matter what’s going on.

He’s delighted when I hang on. I think He’s more delighted when I hang on with joy and confidence and hope.

I tried it today. Things hadn’t changed. I still needed faith. I chose Proverbs 3:5 and 6 and kept walking. As my pithy brother, Steve says: “We must just trust.” A recipe for success.

I’m not always good at believing–more a failure than a success when it comes to faith. I cry first. Grouse awhile. Eat too many chips. Maybe wail and gnash my teeth some (I don’t know what that is exactly but I’m thinking I’ve done it.)

You, too? Failing at trust? I’m learning still.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. —Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

I don’t see how things are going to turn out right now. I want to please God. I must just trust.

O, taste and see how God is good even when I suck at trusting Him; blessed am I when I lay my failures on Him and let Him shine in spite of all my in-spite-ofs. Trusting His recipe. Today’s Psalm 34:8

This morning I read about another angle of success vs. failure and how God uses us in-spite-of — maybe because-of  — on Jennifer Dukes Lee blog. Makes you not mind failing so much, seeing God at work.

Our imperfections — these failures we are so afraid of — might actually be our biggest strengths, because it is in these weaknesses that God’s power is made perfect. – Jenni DeWitt


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A Time to Mourn

 

A time to mourn

I’m mourning. There’s a time for it.

“A time to mourn,” the wise man wrote.* He’d seen enough to know.

We just forget until hit with loss and grief and disappointment. If you’ve read any news this week, you’re mourning, too.

Nine dead in Charleston.

Six dead in Berkeley.

Bombing in Yemen.

Vernon isn’t getting better that we can see.

My friend’s kids aren’t speaking to her.

We need rain.

And private griefs that remain private. Your private loss and remembrance may feel the worse on memorial days like Father’s Day. You wish your father had been a father. Or that he was still here. Or that you’d been nicer to him. Or that your children still had one. Private griefs. Thankfully not private to God, our Father.

Maybe that’s why when the disciples asked Jesus, How should we pray? He answered, start like this:

“Our Father…”

He knew we’d need a Father in a time of mourning.

Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
 Give us today the food we need,
 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13 NLT

“…but rescue us from the evil one.” We all need rescue. And that’s what we have. We just don’t feel it some days. It’s a hope. A hope we don’t give up on because of our Father.

Our Father in heaven, may Your Kingdom come soon.

For more encouragement, read this short devotion from Max Lucado’s book, Next Door Savior (FaithGateway Today.)


*Ecclesiastes 3:4

Next Door Savior: Near Enough to Touch, Strong Enough to Trust

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Feast on Friday: Carlie’s Meatballs!

I met Carlie when we both commented on a blog long ago. So glad we’re friends–in the online sort-of-in-my-life-wished-we-lived-closer-kind of way.  She’s a darling Nova Scotian (is that what you’re called, Carlie?) – smart, beautiful, a great writer, and Canadian to boot! (Isn’t Anne of Green Gables from somewhere near there? A long ways from here, I know.) And she has red hair!  (Kindred spirits!) And she’s just had a second baby! So, I’m not sure how she is cooking or commenting or writing at all — BUT I managed to get this wonderful little recipe from her and we’re trying it tonight. Thanks, Carlie. I hope you all can visit California soon- maybe in the winter you might especially enjoy visiting, eh?

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Feast on Friday: Carlie's Meatballs!
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Canadian Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30
 
Anything with surreptitious veggies has to be good, right? I put zucchini in the pasta sauce and now carrots in the meatballs - a veritable vegetarian, eh? I think I'll serve steamed broccoli on the side and call it a day. I love the way she spells "flavour" My spell-check is making it difficult for me, however.
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef‬‬
  • ‪1 egg, beaten‬‬
  • ‪1/3 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs‬‬
  • ‪1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese‬‬
  • ‪½ cup minced carrot‬‬
  • ‪3 garlic cloves, minced‬‬
  • ‪1.5 tsp red wine vinegar‬‬
  • ‪1.5 tsp low sodium soy sauce‬‬
  • ‪¼ tsp each oregano, parsley, basil‬‬
  • ‪A pinch each rosemary, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes‬‬
  • ‪1/2 tsp salt‬‬
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and generously grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside‬‬
  2. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine all ingredients. Roll into golf ball-sized balls and place in rows on the baking sheet (makes 30). ‬‬
  3. ‪ Bake for 10ish minutes, or until meatballs are brown all the way through.‬‬
  4. ‪Pro tip: Mince carrots in a food processor. Or, if you don’t have one, grate them, and run a chef’s knife over them a few times (this is what I do). The pieces need to be uniformly tiny so they will cook evenly.‬‬
  5. ‪Pro tip: You can replace all the seasonings (except salt) with 1 tsp of Italian seasoning. Or you could even buy those pre-seasoned bread crumbs and call it a day. ‬‬
  6. ‪*The orginal recipe called for 1lb of beef, but I found the flavour of the meatballs overpowering in the spaghetti. Increasing the beef seemed to make just the right flavour profile for me. But if you like a stronger flavour, just scale back the beef a little.‬‬

carlieskidsAnnika and Eli – thriving on Meatballs and Love!

This made 30 good sized (golf ball??) meatballs – so I froze half for a dinner for Debbie who broke her wrist. Poor thing. This is definite comfort food, broken bones or hearts.

Homemade Meatballs with veggies!FullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderTo enhance the illusion that I’m cooking healthier these days, I used whole wheat pasta and whole wheat sourdough bread and just a LITTLE cheese on the steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Mom always said, “I serve two vegetables with every meal — who needs vitamins?!” (You’d be proud, Mom – carrots in the meatballs makes three.)

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Taste on Tuesday: A Taste of Plaid

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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At the register today, Christine leaned over and said with a smile, “I have a list. On it, is: honesty, kindness and integrity.”

I liked her list. I knew why she had it. She’d recently found out her husband had been carrying on with an old sweetheart for several years. She kicked him out. She got a dog. She seems pretty chipper these days. The List was for the New Man. She was quick to say she wasn’t looking, but if he came, he’d need to fit the List.

Yesterday the girls and I celebrated the Man-in-Plaid’s birthday. Sixty seems a high number for such a young man. A young man who was born honest, kind, with buckets of integrity. I instagrammed in his honor–and made his favorite–Trishie’s Apple Crisp:

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Plaid on plaid. Fitting.

I remember making a List. Don’t most girls? I’m glad I won’t need to make a second one.

I had to wait a bit– for him to be born– for him to get saved– for him to move to California– for him to ask me a second time– but it was worth the wait. I asked God for a man who loved God and loved me, with buckets of integrity (like my dad.)

Sometimes it takes awhile to taste His goodness–like waiting for a Thanksgiving feast. But, like a Thanksgiving feast, it’s always worth the wait. And always worth celebrating. And getting seconds.

Happy Birthday, dear Mark! I may have to go get another helping of Trishie’s Apple Crisp.

You’re a gem. And so easy to shop for.

O, taste and see that the Lord’s timing is good and perfect with just the right amount of learning along the way; blessed is the woman who waits on God to fill up any list, for He will never disappoint. Today’s Psalm 34:8

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Tailgate-ing at Penn State. Now that wasn’t on the List. Fun, though.

Trishie’s Apple Crisp can be found here. (My mouth is watering.)

 

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Chocolate on Mondays: Who to Invite?

Is that the problem? Who to invite?

It could be. It could be the number one issue. “Lord, I want to be hospitable. I want Your welcoming heart. But who do You want me to welcome?”

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My mom hosted missionaries and preachers, whole singing groups from my college, whole families who needed beds for a year while they remodeled. A family’s trailer parked out back for a year (or two) — yard hospitality at its best. A single policewoman. And strangers stopping by inquiring about any future sale of their home. (“Oh, hello. You want to buy our house someday? That could work. Why don’t you come inside for some tea and we’ll talk about it.” That couple became fast friends and started coming to my folks’ church. Last March when Daddy went to Glory, they bought the house. But that’s another story. A good one. One of the greats. But for another time. “Entertaining angels unaware” comes to mind.)

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We’ve hosted our kids and their soccer teams and their teachers and their friends (and their friends’ friends…)

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. . . and patients and customers and neighbors and newcomers and single women. Lots of single women. They need a family. I know. I was a single woman for longer than most.

Are you waiting for the perfect guest? I’ve got one for you–the next person you meet.

I’m serious. Hospitality means: “entertaining strangers.” The next person you meet might be a stranger. A stranger who may be a little strange. It happens. Often for a reason.

If in doubt, check out who Jesus hung out with:

 Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?”

Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:29-32 The Message

I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders–an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.

I love Tim Chester’s words in A Meal with Jesus:

“The Pharisees are asking Jesus to behave like a doctor who avoids sick people. Such a doctor clearly couldn’t do his work. Jesus the Savior can’t do His work unless He’s with sinful people. . . we can’t do our work of pointing sinners to the Saviour unless we spend time with them.”

Amen.

Mark told me once that I didn’t need to invite the whole world. (His words.) He was right. But I do need to invite.

How’s your guest list coming? Clearly we can’t do the work unless we make the list and start inviting.

Mary’s home now, and with her, her friends–all just back from their first year of college life. Last night we enjoyed Sequoia from Cuesta and Rheannon from Sonoma State and Carolyn from Boston University, all home for the summer and at home here. They rarely knock.  Blessings all around.

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“Chocolate on Mondays” is coming soon. Send me your hospitality stories. We need the encouragement and the courage to offer our tables for Jesus’ sake. Check out the intro story here.

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