Monthly Archives: April 2016

Am I Enough?

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

A few weeks ago, my husband Joel brought to my attention that Jesus’s disciples often serve as excellent reminders that it’s okay to be human, even as believers in Christ.

We read in Matthew 26:36-46 that when Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before he was to be delivered to the death of the cross, He asked three of His disciples (Peter, James, and John) to stay and pray with Him in His distress. Three times He asked them to pray, and three times they fell asleep instead. These men who knew Him, touched Him, walked and talked with Him, and heard Him preach and teach firsthand, could not stay awake – right there, a few feet from the physical presence of the Son of God – to watch and pray with Him for one hour that night.

Even in His presence, the disciples struggled sometimes with the disciplines and practices of their faith in Christ and in the Heavenly Father. They were notoriously imperfect, and they often just didn’t “get it.” Yet, Jesus loved them, He stuck it out with them, He restored them, and He used them to start His church. The same Peter who in Matthew 16:21-23 tried to tell Jesus not to die for our sins and earned the original “Get behind me Satan” treatment from the Lord and Savior Himself – when filled with the Holy Spirit, preached a sermon that led 3,000 people to salvation through faith in Christ (Acts 2:14-41) followed by many other great deeds of faith that have been recorded, for all time, in God’s Word.

When I feel like I’ve failed God, failed to understand His will, and struggle to imagine how He could possibly use me to work the perfect plan He has laid out for His children, I like to think of the disciples – and especially Peter, who once put on his clothes before throwing himself into the sea to get to Jesus (John 21:7) – as reminders that flawed humans are exactly who Christ chooses to work with and to walk with. He sees us for what we are meant to be in Him. He will stick it out with us, restore us, and gladly use us to build His kingdom. We may feel imperfect and ill-equipped for this life, but we are enough for Him, and He is more than enough for us.

 

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NIV)

 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

A prayer for my friends:

Lord,

Thank You for seeing us for all that we are, rather than for our shortcomings. When we feel discouraged in our mess-ups and failures, help us to remember that You are here to meet us where we are, and to walk us through to the great plans You have laid out before us in the grand perspective of Your Heavenly Kingdom.  Thank You for reminding us that when we feel as though we are not enough, we are better able to see that You are more than enough.

It’s in Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

In All Your Getting, Get Hamstrings?

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.

 Proverbs 4:7 (NKJV)

As I was doing my hamstring hip-bridges one morning in strict obedience to my April goal list, I started thinking about God’s Word on goals. Among the many goals I’ve set out for myself for this year is one that reads “get hamstrings.” (I’m not kidding, and don’t look closely enough to figure out why.) The thing is, the Bible doesn’t actually say “In all your getting, get hamstrings.” It says, “In all your getting, get understanding.”

The experiments and experiences of the last few years have taught me a good bit about goal setting and accomplishments. While I certainly don’t have it all figured out, I have learned that it is necessary to set monthly, weekly, and even daily goals to make steps toward any larger goal. It is frustratingly easy to forgo all the little daily actions that feel insignificant because we don’t see them making any noticeable difference from day to day. But as a result of learning to put ample focus and determination into meeting these daily goals – regardless of how inconsequential they seem – I’ve finally experienced the reward of noteworthy and encouraging progress toward the larger goals that I’ve desired for many years.

The danger of this noble commitment to personal improvement – while not a bad thing in and of itself- is that it can easily distract from the growth that’s most necessary to our balance and purpose in life. Recently I was reminded that it is most important to apply this daily goal-setting and determination to seeking the things of God – setting goals to spend time thanking Him first thing in the morning, seeking Him through His Word and the insights of other believers, and inviting Him into our lives each and every day – to get the wisdom and understanding that His Word says we need.

While strong legs and an able body are a blessing, and useful tools for the works of God and of life on this earth, there is no guidance and no true purpose for those legs or body to move on without the wisdom that can be found only through filling ourselves regularly with the truth of God’s word, and through a living relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The rewards of such effort and focus are immeasurably more worthwhile than those of any goal or aspiration I can concoct for myself.

 

Proverbs 4: 1-13

 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.

 

 

A prayer for my friends:

Lord,

Thank you for your wisdom and endless patience with us. We know you are willing and waiting to meet us wherever we will seek you. While we pray for productivity and success in the activities of day-to-day life, teach us to first step outside of ourselves to seek your wisdom and understanding for each day, so that we may walk in the right paths that you have set out before us.

It’s in Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

A New Adventure

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of seeking, a lot of praying, a lot of asking God to guide every decision, every action, every word. Now, I’m not really that good of a listener, so I’m probably going to mess this up at least a little bit. But I’ve been asking for guidance for my time, my gifts and talents, even for this blog. I’ve asked if He even wants me to write anything at all, and if He does, that He give me the words.

I feel like that is what He is doing. I hope I’m right. So, I’m trying something new here on justgetoutofthekitchen.com, but I’m scared. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If it does, please read this post.

I have found great joy and peace and (I like to think) growth in seeking the Lord more intentionally since He recently took me by the shoulders, looked right into my face, shook me really hard, and said “Elaina, wake up! I love you, and you have issues, and you really really need me!” (I’m paraphrasing). He also could have shaken me hard enough to break my neck, but He chose not to do that, praise Him!

In the extraordinary peace that He is gracious to show me in my pathetic bit of obedience and attention to Him, it has been pressing on my heart to start sharing that joy and encouragement as He sees fit to give me words to do. So, I’m going to begin adding some devotions to my blog, based on the things that the Lord chooses to put on my heart in my daily studies and time spent with Him, and on the everyday happenings that remind me that He is woven through, in, and around every great and small aspect of the universe. I plan to post them all together on one page so they can be easily found. The page will probably be called “Occasional Daily Devotions” or something, because that’s probably what they’ll be.

But first, let me share my laundry list of fears, as I consider posting even one of these devotions:

I’m scared because I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m not a scholar at all. What if I’m just plain wrong? What if I’m not listening closely enough to God? What if He’s not actually telling me to do this? I’m scared that I’ll look like I think I know something – which I don’t. I’m scared that I’ll look like I think I’m righteous, or doing something right – which I’m not. I’m scared (as usual) that my writing won’t actually be any good. I’m scared that I’ll sound judgmental, or uneducated, or unqualified. Or that I’ll find that I’m actually using my own words, doing this for my own reasons, seeking my own glory, and failing yet again to serve a purpose for the Lord. I’m scared of about 20,000 other things too, but I think I’ve made my point, and it’s nothing new.

I. Hope. I. Don’t. Fail!

Regardless, I’m going to try, and I’m going to pray. Please feel free to add your prayers as well.

 

*shameless solicitation*–>  I’m not on Facebook or Twitter these days, so please feel free to subscribe so you’ll know when I post something new. And if you find anything you like, feel free to share it on those platforms.

 

As always, I welcome your comments below.

Dinner is Served

Hey there, loyal readers. It’s been a while (a long while), but I’m still here. So the six of you can stop worrying that I’ve fallen into a funk, or a writer’s block, or a deep depression, or a black hole or something – or worse, that I’ve decided to quit writing altogether (is there self-deprecating sarcasm dripping off your screen?)

Anyway, I have an oh-no-Elaina’s-lost-her-diary-again blog post or twelve that I could share. Maybe but probably not. None of it is sitting quite right with me. But I accidentally created a brand-new recipe when I was cooking dinner last night, and it really seemed like it belonged here.

I had set out to cook an old favorite that I haven’t done in years. It’s simple, really. Frozen foods and processed meat. This time with an unexpected-but-really-who-didn’t-see-it-coming twist. I give you Grab-Bag Kielbasa with Mutilated Pierogies. I’m calling it Grab-Bag Kielbasa because some of it is charred and some is juuuuust this side of warm enough to eat without gagging. So, like a grab-bag, you have no idea what you’re going to get when you reach in for your serving.

It’s easy, really, but here’s my step-by-step process anyway. All you need is a family-size bag of frozen pierogies from Walmart, two packages of kielbasa (preferably the skinless kind, because ew), and a couple of frying pans. Actual size of the pans is of little importance here. The pierogi bag says sautéing should take about sixteen minutes, but for this method plan for thirty to forty-five.

Step one – Pull out the largest frying pan you own, which isn’t really that big because you’re not a restaurant chef, and put it on the stove. Pour the whole bag of pierogies into the pan.

Step two – You’re actually a pretty smart person, so it should be obvious to you that this pan is not big enough to effectually sauté the heap of pierogies from the bag. Go get the next biggest frying pan you own, which probably isn’t very big at all. Move a reasonable amount of the pierogies into that pan, to allow more space for proper cooking. Nevermind that this is still way too many pierogies in each pan. It probably doesn’t matter that much anyway.

Step three – slice up each kielbasa into four equal pieces, and then slice each piece in half. Add half of the kielbasa to each pan, on top of the pierogies. It’s okay, they’ll make it to the bottom of the pan eventually.

Step four – Add a reasonable amount of butter to each pan to prevent sticking. Turn your burners on high heat and wait for the butter to melt. Don’t ever add your butter to the pan first because it might accidentally end up under the pierogies and kielbasa.

Step five – Grab the most awkward kitchen utensil you can find, and start shoving everything around in the pan while the pierogies are still frozen. This is good. You’re preventing sticking!

Step six – Your pans should be pretty hot and sizzling by now. The pierogies look like they want to stick, but don’t panic. Push them around some more and add more butter (think Paula Deen). They can’t stick if they’re floating, right? Don’t turn down the heat. If they’re still sticking, keep adding butter. The pierogies already stuck to the bottom of the pan may be starting to fall apart whenever you try to move them. (Did these not get the “no sticking” message, or was the butter too subtle?)

Step seven – The pierogies should be pretty well shredded and crispy on the edges by now, but they’re still not done. A few sausages will probably be turning black, but most of them aren’t even a little bit warm yet, so you’re okay there. Focus more on the pierogies – those boogers really like to stick to the pan. Add more butter. Try to get the parts that still look frozen to make contact with the pan. The pierogies are REALLY sticking a lot at this point though, so you’ll need to work pretty hard to keep up with shoving them around in two pans at the same time.

Step eight – It’s most likely getting seriously intense right now. You should probably panic a little. Sweating is optional, but don’t take off your sweatshirt; there’s no time for that. Turn both of your burners down to almost-off. It’ll take a while for the pans to cool down though, so don’t stop panicking. Don’t stop shoving your pierogi bits either.

Step nine – When your pan is finally cooled to a reasonable cooking temperature, and you think they have to be done sautéing, poke a pierogi or two with your finger to make sure they are heated through. Remember, you’ve been super-heating them for quite a while now, so be careful not to burn yourself. If you’re doing it right, the pierogies should still be COLD ON THE INSIDE! Your pan should be cooled to almost-off heat by now. Cook at this unreasonably low heat for another ten minutes until the food achieves an acceptable serving temperature.

Step ten – Serve and enjoy. Don’t bother with side dishes. Side dishes are overrated.

Seriously though, even in crispy shreds, kielbasa and pierogies is a win. We like them with ranch. Ten thumbs up in the Halvey house, which is uncommon. To be fair, six of the thumbs don’t even know what a pierogi is, or that it’s not supposed to look like a casserole. So I still mostly look like I know how to do the dinner-making. Win-win. In hindsight, I should’ve taken a picture, but that’s just embarrassing.

Happy incinerating.

 

As always, conversation is open in the comments!