Saturday, January 23, 2016

Soup Night Gathering

Soup Night - what a lovely idea!!!  A friend of mine's daughter had a soup night that I went to back in the fall and the idea sparked my interest in gathering some friends at my house.  With the Winter weather creating the doldrums in some people's mind,  I decided to gather a few friends and enjoy a new recipe for Tuscan Bean, Cabbage and Sausage Soup!  (Recipe below.)
It was wonderful - the gathering of some of my favorite people around a table sharing our stories and our laughter was so uplifting and pure fun!!!

Think about the word "gathering" for a minute.  To bring or come together.  To draw about or closer to something (or someone!)  To amass.  To convene, flock, or huddle together.  The birds and geese do it, so why don't we more often???  I know we gather for the holidays, but why not after the holidays?  Why not make it a regular occurrence to gather???  If you haven't had a few friends over in a while, try it!  Soup is simple and easy to fix - you can use your imagination and make whatever you like!  Gather a few friends, add to it a chopped salad and some Ginger ale and/or wine, if you like and enjoy!!!
It is amazing!!!  (Thank you Christine and Rachel for the great idea!!!)

Tuscan Bean, Cabbage & Sausage Soup

2 TBSP. Olive Oil
2 onions, diced
1 (12 ounce) package of Sweet Apple and Gouda Chicken  Sausage (available at Costco)
3 ribs of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
6 gloves of garlic smashed and/or thinly sliced (I used pre-made minced garlic)
8 cups of Chicken broth
1 cup of dried navy beans, rinsed  (or 1 can of navy beans)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped (any greens will work!)
1 TBSP. chopped fresh rosemary

Saute the onions in olive oil and cook/stir about 10 minutes.  Add the sausage and cook/stir 5 minutes.  Add celery and carrots and cook/stir 5 more minutes.  Add the garlic and cook/stir 1 minute.

Add the broth, beans, bay leaves, dried rosemary, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and stir to mix.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer (partially covered) or in a crock pot for 1 and 1/2 hours until the beans are tender.

Remove and discard the bay leaves from the soup, Taste for seasoning and add more salt/pepper to take.  Stir in the cabbage and cook until tender about 15 minutes.  Add the Swiss chard and fresh rosemary and simmer until the chard begins to wilt, about 5 more minutes.  Serve warm with big slices of grilled or toasted bread buttered with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Lessons of Pain and Contentment

As we start a new year, full of possibilities, full of promise, and full of opportunities to grow, change and become all that we are meant to become on this earth, I stand at this new doorway and ponder what will be???

How about you?  How was your 2015?  Did you have a marvelous year or was it spattered with challenges as mine was?  I have never categorized an entire  year as "bad" but if I had, 2015 would be in the running.  One challenge after another seem to appear on the horizon and yet with each new query, I found a lesson of love along with the lesson of pain.  

We all have challenges in this life and in this world.  Some are monumental, others may just be annoying....LOL  

So, in the midst of those challenges, where do you find your strength?  How does one possibly come to a point of contentment despite these delays, disappointments, setbacks, etc.?  I believe it comes from a place deep within us.  And, I believe that it comes from God.  Trust. Thankfulness.  And, from a very human standpoint, learning to accept and simply acknowledgment that life is difficult.  (But, once a person realizes that, it doesn't seem so bad!!!)  Everyone comes across things that way heavy on their soul, their mind, their pocketbook.   Everyone.  Not one of us is spared despite outward appearances.
Some people hide the challenges better than others and some wear them on their sleeves, so to speak.
Some people don't have a clue how to overcome the obstacles that clog up their path.
Some people rely on God for everything.  No matter what.  They trust that things are going to work out for the best.  They believe their needs will be taken care of...not all of their wants, but their true needs.

One scripture that points us in the right direction comes from Paul writing from a dark, cold prison in Philippi.  

Philippians 4:11-13 says:
"For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

If you were in prison centuries ago, would you be able to say this?  Feel this?  Acknowledge this?  
I am not sure I would be able to do so.  I must admit, we are pretty spoiled here in the USA.  Most of us have all that we need.  Food, shelter, family, friends, a bank account, etc.  Yet, we mistake our wants from our needs and get to complaining that we don't have enough.  Or, it's not the right stuff.

Contentment or pain.  Which brings a person more lessons?  Or, can both???  It is definitely something to contemplate as we embark on a new year!!!  May your days be filled with joy and contentment in 2016.  The kind that truly lasts!!!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

God's Amazing YES!!!

As we start the New Year of 2016, I want to share with you this amazing devotion.  It is meant for each and every one of us!!!  ( used by permission by The Upper Room )

God’s Amazing Yes
(By Gregg Bunn, The Upper Room)

            Every day I stand in need of God’s amazing yes.  God does not look at me and say, “Well, you certainly messed up.  You aren’t the kind of Christian,” or the kind of employee, the kind of student, the kind of parent “that I expected.”  God is not indecisive about whether I am worthy of love.  On the contrary, even in spite of my sinfulness, God say yes to my worth.
            To fallen and sinful people, God continually says yes.  God says yes to people that I have not met.  We might shy away from a homeless person or a starving man in Haiti or a woman dying of AIDS in Uganda or a child who rummages through a landfill searching for clothes.  But to all of these and all of us, God says yes.  All of us are created in God’s image; each one of us is valued and cherished.
            By receiving God’s yes in Jesus Christ, I am able to say yes to others and to myself.  In the dark moments of life when I feel like damaged goods; when I feel I am no longer meeting my or God’s standards and expectations; when I feel lost, lonely, or rejected I know without a doubt that God’s unwavering word to me is yes.  And it is the only answer.

Thought for the day:  Where do you hear God’s amazing yes in your life?

Prayer:  Good and gracious God, thank you for your amazing yes!  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those who feel not good enough.

(Taken from the Upper Room by permission)
February 5, 2013