Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Make the Most Out of Life...Contentment

Contentment

#1 It's a long lesson learned.

#2 It's actually a long lesson being learned!

Try this:  Lie in bed and think about contentment.
That's what I was doing.  I was lying in bed, thinking about contentment...thinking about the path we've come down...about how being content has been gently pounded into me...remembering all the times of discontent...and how God has always brought me out.  He's always given me little glimpses of hope to keep me going.  He's a good God. 

You can try this, but I don't recommend it:  Go broke.
I remember some low times from the past two years...When our bank account was in the negatives, and I worried, but then we received an unexpected check, and I praised God. I felt relieved. I felt happy, and this was good.  I felt content then, but why had I worried??
When I spent our last $50 on medicine for our kid, but I was  able to have a true peace that even I didn't understand.  I felt content.  I was just happy to be God's child...just satisfied that He supplied our need right then...not worried about how we were going to afford gas to get home, or where our next paycheck was going to come from, or even fighting against the worry...just content.  It was supernatural, and it's possible for all God's children.

You should try this:  Put it in perspective.
As I continued lying there, thinking, I thought of the limited space in our home, which is a common trap for discontent with me.  On days when it feels like I'm slowly being buried in kids and stuff, and I just want to bust out a wall (or two!), I've given in to discontent.  In reality I should be "on-my-face" grateful.  We didn't even have a home a little less than two years ago.  Why do I complain?  Perspective.  My mind wondered to a lady with her children in an alley somewhere.  They find the box from your commercial size refrigerator thrown on the curb, and they rejoice.  A shelter for their heads.  I should be content.  I pray for it. 

Try to be prepared:  "...The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
It's at this point in my line of thinking when there's an interruption...I all of a sudden realize that I left my double stroller in our hotel room in Florida!  "How did I do that?  Oh no!  I need that stroller!  What am I going to do?  We can't afford another stroller right now!" 
Yes...I did.  That's how quickly I forget.  We'd been home from Florida for almost a week, but for some reason I hadn't thought of that stroller until the very moment when I'm deep in thought about being content.  When I realized the cliff my mind had just fallen off I laughed at myself.  I prayed that God would forgive my silly worry over a dumb stroller and help me to trust Him with every little thing. 

Definitely try this:  Pray for it.
I pray that I'll be content no matter what.  I have been content at times, but I wonder how far I could go.  Would I be content if I were the lady in the alley?  What if I were the lady in the alley and I didn't find the box, if I had no shelter, no food, no hope for any physical comfort.  Could I be content when there seems to be no hope?  Because there's always Hope. 

Try to remember this:  You NEED God.
IV came home from work the other day and shared this lesson with us, which God had been showing to him.  He'd been reading about Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:21-34).  Esau stumbled in after a long hunt, starving, without hope.  What did he do?  Read it yourself.  He sold out...he gave in.  He lost.  God hated him (Mal. 1:2-3).  Why?  How could God hate someone?   God saw his heart. Esau did not trust, did not hope, he was "godless" (Heb. 12:15-17).  He didn't need God.  I don't want to be Esau.  I need God.  God's in control.  God always provides.  AND...He brings all things together for His purpose.

It's like Dr. Charles Stanley said in his devotional last week:
Either you believe Romans 8:28 or you don't. And if you do, you can entrust yourself to the Lord, knowing that He has your best interest at heart, will take care of you, and won't ever leave your side. When you embrace these truths, you'll have no reason to be anxious.
Now I'll tell myself...TRY TO REMEMBER THAT!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Make the Most of Leftovers...Pizza!

#1 Pizza is serious business.
#2 Yet not so serious at all.

If your family loves pizza (like eat it every other day and be completely happy LOVES) then you may enjoy these ideas for stretching your leftovers from an acceptable meal one day into a family pleasing pizza the next. (We sure did!)

Day 1: Have grilled chicken and rice.  Be sure and grill enough chicken so that you'll have some leftover.

I started with 2 eggs and 2 cups of cooked rice.  I scrambled the eggs then added the rice to the pan.  Then I poured a little soy sauce over it.  I also steamed up a bag of corn and added about a 1/2 cup to the mix.  I sprinkled on some Mrs. Dash Table Blend just for kicks.  I turned it to low and let it simmer, stirring every now and then.  While that was working I grilled up some chicken in my Pampered Chef Grill Pan...probably one of the most used items in my kitchen.  I seasoned it with McCormick's Perfect Pinch Original Chicken, but you can get more creative if you'd like.
Everyone ate it, which is a big deal in our house of little picky eaters.  Husband loved it.  The rice was completely gone, but we had a little extra chicken, soooo...

Day 2:  Make a pizza.  Click here for a simple recipe for a good pizza crust. (I substitute one cup of whole wheat for a cup of the all purpose just to make me feel healthier. :)  If you do this you may need to add an extra tablespoon or so of water.)

I made my crust, opened a jar of my go-to pasta sauce (Classico Traditional Sweet Basil), and spread some on top.  I topped half the pizza with the leftover chicken (shredded, of course) and some fresh basil from my yard (YUM!) and covered the whole thing with mozzarella.  Now I would have preferred to make the whole pizza that way, but I gave in to the pleads for plain cheese.  HOWEVER, this was so good even the kids ended up wanting the chicken side.  Leftovers...gone!

Day 3:  Taco night.  Make your tacos however you like just make sure you've got enough meat to stretch to Day 4 and maybe some toppings too.

I just make up my own taco seasoning.  I throw the ground beef/turkey in the pan, sprinkle on a wee bit of Mexican chili powder, add about equal amounts of cumin, cilantro, garlic, pepper, onion powder, and a bit of cinnamon, then pour on some Worcestershire for a little moisture.  Sorry I don't have measurements - I just eyeball it, but if I had to guess I'd say I use an 1/8 tsp of the chili powder and cinnamon, and about a 1/4 teaspoon of everything else, except the Worcestershire which I'd estimate at 3 tablespoons.  (This is a modest estimation...I may use more of everything.  Here's a similar recipe if you need one.)  I served this up with some diced tomatoes, cheese, the rest of the corn from Day 1, some baked beans (NOT my bean of choice for tacos, but it's all I had), and some Monterrey Jack cheese dip.  We had Mission Artisan Style Tortilla Shells for the first time...they were yummo!

Day 4:  Make another pizza.

I made the crust, used the same sauce (though a taco sauce would probably be good too), and topped half the pie with the leftover taco meat and some of the diced tomatoes, and drizzled it with the Monterrey Jack cheese dip.  Then I topped the whole thing with mozzarella again, but I bet a Mexican cheese blend would've been better.  Either way, it was another home run.

Moral of the story...you can have pizza twice a week and get rid of leftovers at the same time!

Pizza twice in a week is a happy time for my family.  Maybe it would be for yours too!

(Of course after a week of eating pizza you'll want to make sure you're "getting the most from your at-home workout" and probably revert to your "sandwich diet" next week. :) )