Monday, February 29, 2016

Mamaw's Chicken & Dumplins

If you were to ask me my top favorite foods in the whole world... I'd probably tell you pancakes, chimichangas, and Mamaw's Chicken & Dumplins. 
Oh my gracious. I have had many chicken and dumplins from many different cooks and places... but NOTHIN beats Mamaw's. They are just right. Mmm I'd eat them for breakfast now, if I had a bowl. 

One day a good while back, I called her up to ask if I could come over and make a batch with her. Of course she said, "Why sure!" and I went over and watched those tiny, skillful hands work magic while making that bowl of deliciousness. Sadly... I only had a slight remembrance of just how to do it, because I didn't write it down. So I called her up on Saturday and asked her if she would remind me of what I had forgotten. After talking to her, I realized I hadn't really forgotten anything, but I was happy to have her voice refreshed in my mind and was ready for those dumplins in my belly.

Like a lot of women, there is more of a method to making the dumplins than an exact recipe. So when I made up a batch this weekend, I tried to remember her method to share here today. Because I am forgetful and I need reminders, and sharing it on my blog is a way I can always have it close. 

-Prepare Chicken-
Mamaw likes to prepare her chicken in a pressure cooker. I don't have one yet, but one day I hope to join the Instapot revolution! 
I just put my chicken in the crockpot with a little butter, salt and pepper and roasted it in there.
Once your chicken is ready, pour the broth off into your pot for dumplins, pull the chicken from the bones... white and dark is good for flavor!

I didn't have a ton of broth from my roasted chicken, so I added some from my pantry.
I also added a couple pats of butter to the broth.

If you are ready to begin your dumplins, go ahead and get your broth on the stove in a deep pot and begin to heat it. You want it boiling when you drop your dumplins in.

-The Dumplins-
I used approximately 2 cups of all purpose flour
and about 2 heaping tbsp of shortening
Work the shortening into the flour until it is all crumbly and like cornmeal. You don't want to see any clumps of shortening.
In the meantime, have 1 cup of water in ice waiting

Like I said friends.... there is not an exactness to this. So for that I am sorry, but truly, just jump in there and try it. If you have any knowledge of food preparation, it shouldn't be hard at all. This is straight up comfort food of the best kind. Comfort food is simple and delicious. If it doesn't turn out spectacular the first time give it another try in a week or so. Before long we will both be expert dumplin makers! Mine were good, but not Mamaw good...yet. One day they will be though!

Sorry! Back to it.

Mix in some of your water to the flour/shorting mixture and work together. Add a bit more and a bit more, until you see the mix coming together and holding. When you see this step, stop adding water and begin working the dough. Dumplin dough is worked a good bit longer than you would work a biscuit. You want it smooth and manageable and able to be rolled quite thin.
I took a picture above... But after taking that picture I mashed it all back together and rolled it out even thinner. 
Once you roll out your dough, cut it in strips and then into your dumplin shapes. I did mine maybe an inch or so long. 
Drop your dough into your boiling broth a few at a time to give them a chance to begin cooking. 
Just keep on rolling out your dough, cutting your dumplins and adding them to the boiling broth til you run out of dough. Give them maybe a good 15 minutes or so to cook and then you can add your chicken to the mix, salt and pepper and take your temperature down from boiling to just a simmer. 
Once the chicken was mixed in, you should see that the broth is now forming that thick, almost gravy-ish consistency. That's good! mmmm
But you don't want it too thick, so pour in a bit of milk to help to make it like a very thick soup. 
I told you I love chimichangas and pancakes... but Mamaw's dumplins may have just taken over the #1 spot in my heart. Yum.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Going to Church...

I want to share with you a little something that has been on my heart for a while... I've been seeing many, MANY posts on social media about 
----------Not going to church, but BEING the church!------------
And while I agree with the sentiment to an extent, I am concerned that it is coming across that as long as you are BEING the church... GOING to church is not important. 

First off... as believers of Christ, we ARE the church.

The early Christians didn't have buildings to meet in for almost 300 years after the 'church' began, but the collective groups of Christians did meet together frequently. 
These early Christians were committed to Christ and to one another. They were to gather together to learn together, to pray together, to seek the Lord together... 
I love this excerpt from the book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Joshua Harris

"In joining the church, we put ourselves in a position where we ask our brothers and sisters to hold us accountable to live according to what we speak with our mouths. We ask the brothers and sisters around us to encourage us, sometimes by reminding us of ways that we have seen God work in our lives and other times by challenging us when we may be moving away from obeying Him.
Membership in a local church is not an antiquated, outdated, unnecessary add-on to true membership in the universal body of Christ; membership in a local church is intended as a testimony to our membership in the universal church. Church membership does not save, but it is a reflection of salvation. And if there is no reflection of our salvation, how can we be sure that we are truly saved? As John explains, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20)
In becoming a member of the church, we are grasping hands with each other to know and be known by each other. We are agreeing to help and encourage each other when we need to be reminded of God's work in our lives or when we need to be challenged about major discrepancies between our talk and our walk.
We need to give up trying to live the Christian life on our own. We need individually to covenant together with others to follow Christ. Christians must stop being selfish in their understanding of the Christian life. The Christian life is not just about you and those you are personally trying to reach with the Gospel. God also intends you to be a committed part of helping make disciples out of the flock of sheep He has already saved."

Going to church and being a part of this group of believers is a part of being a Christian. It is part of saying, "Yes! I belong to Him and I want to be with His people!"

Face it, we all have things we make time for... 
Sports, Friends, Socials, Dates, School, Work, Committees, Play-days, etc.

To me, the gathering of the saints together should TRUMP every single one of these, but yet, we are often much more committed to these things or activities than we are to weekly fellowshipping with a body of believers and growing together in God's word and truth. 

Jesus and His apostles went to church:
  • Mark 1:21 - Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
  • Mark 6:2 - And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.
  • Luke 4:16 - So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
  • Luke 6:6 - Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. 
  • Luke 13:10 - Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
  • Acts 13:14 - But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.
  • Acts 17:1-2 - Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures....
  • Acts 18:4 - And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

It was important to JESUS!

Thru the church there are so many outreach opportunities! Opportunities to serve others! Jesus was a servant, so let's serve! By being a part of the church you can be *the church* with much greater impact. Be His hands and His feet by serving others through this outlet as well as serving with your family! Our children, ours as well as others, they need to see that this is important to us. If it is important to us, then it will many times be important to them as well. Let them serve alongside you.
We have a monthly visitation program. There is an AWANA program where we encourage kids to learn God's word and 'hide it in their hearts'. We have classes, and in home Bible Studies. There is a local food bank that some of us work at each month. We have mission classes once a month. There are so many ways to grow and serve! 

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

Y'all, you know me... I am no mega-Christian or a holier-than-thou person... I've made plenty of mistakes and I may not be telling you anything the you didn't already know, but I do know this. Being a part of church is something that I don't ever want to give up. Not because it is something I have to do... but it is something I want to do. I want to grow in my walk with the Lord. I want to go and bless and serve others. I want to spur one another on, and for others to do the same for me! I want to go and sit under teaching and preaching and learn more about my precious Savior! YES!!! All these things are BLESSINGS!

We go expecting a blessing, but we need to go with a preparation to BE a blessing to someone. 
Pray daily for the pastor and for your fellow brothers and sisters. 
See how you can help. Ask to decorate a table or sweep the floor. Let someone know that you are praying for them specifically this week and ask if there is anything they would like you to pray about. Be trustworthy and share that request only with our Father. 

I hear often that people won't attend church because of hurts. Listen... You are going to possibly get hurt wherever you go. It's just the truth. Someone at work may hurt you or you may have someone be mean to you at Walmart. It doesn't mean you will not ever go back to that place. Honestly ask yourself if you are willing to forgive that person. 
If not, then you need to have a talk with the Lord. 
(That's what the Bible says... not what Chas says)
That root of bitterness is dangerous. Most likely that person you are hurt at is as eager for a reconciliation as you are. Make a mends. It doesn't mean everything will be as it was, but you can lay that burden down. 

Friends, my concern is that if you are not attending a local body of believers you are missing out on what The Lord has for you. Your place may not be at my church... I don't know. But I want to encourage you to get connected with a Bible Believing, God Honoring, Spirit Filled Church...
It's worth it. 

And as always, if you are reading this and don't know Jesus as your own personal Savior and Redeemer, please contact me. I would love to talk to you. HE loves you so much. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Banquet '16 and Serving The Lord with Gladness

Every year our association of churches puts on a Valentine's Banquet. The schedule rotates so each church has a chance to host the dinner. This year the dinner was not at our church but at a sister church. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Not only were the decorations so pretty, the food was beautiful, the company was wonderful, the church really went all out and served one another... filling up tea glasses, giving whipped cream to your cheesecake or taking away any dirty dishes. It was a beautiful picture of service. As I glanced around the room taking it all in, I was overwhelmed with the love that was poured out. All this was done in the name of Jesus. The servers, the cooks, the decorators, the attendees, even their pastor and his wife bustled around helping out.... everyone was there to celebrate Jesus and the love that He pours out on us. 

 This all got me thinking of the beauty of serving the Lord with gladness and there are no big or small acts. Only service. 
Someone had to go to Costco (or somewhere) to buy the food for all those people (and there were a lot!).
Someone had to cook.
Someone had to plan the layout of the room.
Someone had to plan the entertainment, which was lovely. It was a piano man and he did a fabulous job. 
Someone had to wash dishes. Those were real plates and glasses!
Someone had to gather the linens and wash them.
Someone had to plan how many servers they would need, how much tea to make, how much coffee to brew, how many green beans to cook. 
Someone had to keep track of expenses.

No task was menial, no task was unimportant, all were there for a reason and when all were working in order, what a blessing it was for so many.

Shannon and I don't go out often, but we enjoyed a sweet evening together with our eldest and her boyfriend, as well as many other dear souls that go to church with us. But also, we got to see some precious people that we know and love that attend other churches. So many there, in one accord.
 So friend, realize... there is no small task when it comes to serving the Lord. All are important, and all are needed. Serve the Lord with gladness and see what He can do. And, make a point to fellowship with other believers. We desperately need encouragement in the faith. A friend who is willing to spur you on... I am thankful for those in my church who are encouragers and edifiers. See... every task is important. So we need to make sure we are using our gifts and serving the Lord and one another. 

And most importantly... if the Lord isn't your main focus, change that today. Make Him Lord of your heart and Lord of your life. He loves you and desires that with you! 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice

Over the weekend at our Annual Women's Retreat, I was blessed to be able to give a devotion. One of the beautiful things about these devotions at the retreats are the responses given by your sisters in Christ, the insight that other women give and the challenges put forth. So as you read this, realize it is just what I've learned while delving into scripture. I think you would get more with a video of the time there... but I pray that this is a blessing to you.

What is a sacrifice?

Webster's defines sacrifice as:

Simple Definition of sacrifice 
         : the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

         : an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god

         : a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice

Full Definition of sacrifice
:  an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially :  the killing of a victim on an altar

:  something offered in sacrifice

a :  destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
b :  something given up or lost sacrifices made by parents>

Let me tell you a story...
One day a pig and a chicken were walking down the street. 
The local grocer had a sign hanging outside his shop that said...
The chicken then looked over at the pig and said, "I'll supply the eggs... If you'll supply the bacon!"
The pig looked at the chicken with shock and said, "NO WAY!!! For you, it's just a contribution, but for me, it's total commitment!"

In the old testament, when it was the time for sacrifices, the priests would gather whatever it was that was supposed to go on the altar. 
But here's the thing... 
The priests did not just put a leg on the altar. Nor did they only use a foot, or an arm... or a head. The whole of the sacrifice was laid upon the altar. 
Every. Single. Bit.
Oftentimes, I believe, once we are saved. We are just that. We are saved. 

But the Lord begins to prick our heart about things that are still not surrendered.

We only want to be 'saved' we don't want to put our ALL on the altar. 
Maybe you haven't thought about it this way before. You know you have repented of your sins, you have realized your need of a Savior and have asked Him to be Lord of your life and you are saved. But maybe you know there are things that you are holding on to. Things that YOU want to control or continue in, and you know they are not of the Lord. Once we are aware of this, I believe it is of utmost importance to lay it down.

Sometimes we try to rationalize things with the Lord. When we KNOW that HE is God, not us.

Now, Lord! I want todo what's right by you, and I know the Bible says this is wrong, but no one knows what I'm doing.  It's only hurting me if anyone!  Let me just keep this part of myself, or that part of myself, Lord... because I like this, even though it is not good for me. I enjoy that... even though if I were truthful, I know it causes my brother to stumble and I know it's not good for me either.

Sometimes we hold back on our full surrender. 
Have you got these things that you know are not fully surrendered to The Lord? Have you become aware of a lack of total commitment? Are you all in? 

Here's something I realized while working on this devotion.

When God asked Abraham to give up Isaac as a sacrifice, I am sure it was a hard blow for Abraham. Here he was, he FINALLY had a son by his wife Sarah. Abraham finally seemed to get all his ducks in a row and was fully trusting that the Lord was on the throne of his life... 
But, He had learned through the school of hard knocks that he put himself through, that God could totally be trusted. He knew that God had proved himself faithful, time and time again... even though Abraham had tried to jump in and made a LOT of mistakes.
So his faith had grown by leaps and bounds. At this point even though I am certain his heart was SO heavy and sad, that if God did expect him to sacrifice his precious son... that God was ABLE to raise Isaac from the dead. He trusted God that much! That's pretty big faith. But I think Abraham finally got to the place that he was FULLY surrendered to the Lord. That he had realized that he had been trying to handle too much and kept getting ahead of God. 
The Lord had promised Abraham that his decedents would outnumber the stars of the sky!
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 
Genesis 22:17

Are we willing to climb up on that altar? 
Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves, our plans, our thoughts, our expectations... in order for God to be the ultimate in our life? For His ways to be FULLY our ways and HIS thoughts to be FULLY our thoughts? Are we trusting Him enough to believe that if we lay our life down, HE will raise it up to be far greater than what we could have ever planned for ourselves? 
That's ALL in...

He wanted that out of Abraham. 
HE wants that out of us!

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Once we have fully given Him everything we have been holding on to, I believe things will be different. 
We should see it. Our family should see it. The world should see it.
We should serve more.
We should love more.
We should forgive more.
We should witness more.
We should pray more. 
We should be in The Word more.
And the list could go on, and on, and on, and on...

We are ALL in. FULLY surrendered. Dead to our old selves, but made TOTALLY alive in Christ.
What freedom! To know it is ALL in HIS hands. That we are completely surrendered to HIS ways.

The Bible says:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
     And do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
         And He will make your paths straight. 

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
         Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 

It will be healing to your body
         And refreshment to your bones. 

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Psalm 37:3-6

Fully surrender.... Seek Him! Find Him... Give Him your ALL!