Blog

Sauerkraut, soufflé, and the smells of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week.

Shocker, I know. (I mean, we haven’t even finished our candy corn yet.)

But speaking of side dishes…

Robbie and I have been married for 33 years. It’s only been in the past decade, though, that he has fully enjoyed Thanksgiving with me. The first 20 years? They were sort of trial-and-error (more error) on the Turkey-Day front. But then, about 10 years ago, I produced my first perfect sauerkraut.

I know, I know. Who eats sauerkraut at Thanksgiving? Nobody normal, if you ask me. But we learned, back when Robbie and I did our pre-marriage counseling, that we’d have to “adjust our expectations” if we wanted our marriage to thrive. And so, even though I expected a house to smell like turkey on Thanksgiving Day (hello?), I adjusted. I started fixing things the way that Robbie’s mom did. Or trying to, anyway.

Which meant…sauerkraut.

And, like I said, it took 20 years. And more than a few apologies to my side of the family, who would come over on Thanksgiving, walk into our house, and do this:

And honestly? My mother-in-law is an amazing woman (and a fabulous cook), but nobody has ever asked me for her sauerkraut recipe.

Folks have, however, asked how I make carrot soufflé. And if you’re looking for an alternative to sweet potatoes, consider putting this one on the menu. In addition to being something the children will eat (it’s basically sugar, with a few carrots thrown in), the dish comes with two other big holiday plusses: 1. You can make it the day before, and 2. It doesn’t have any overpowering smell.

Here you go:

Want that recipe in a printable form? Click here.

And if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wait. What? Jodie’s not a food blogger…” you’re right. I only divulge about one recipe per year (and, some would say, even that is too much).

I do, however, love to share BIBLE VERSES. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add the “bread of life” to your Thanksgiving table, I hear you. I want that, too. And so every year, I light a few candles, break out the real napkins, and add a serving of Scripture to every place:

If you like this idea and you want to download some ready-made Thanksgiving verses, click here. I must warn you, though. I always include a verse or two that’s designed to extend grace to the cook, and if you’re soufflé falls flat or you accidentally roast the turkey upside down (been there, done that), just point your guests toward Ephesians 5:4.

Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving is filled with laughter and joy, and a big helping of gratitude. As I count my blessings in 2018, Philippians 1:3 comes to mind. I really do pray for you–my real life and my digital friends–and as the Apostle Paul said: I thank my God every time I remember you.

Truly. ❤️

Leave a Reply


Mom, will you pray for me?

True confession. I am not much of a women’s retreat gal. All that hugging, all that talking, all those smiles.

Makes my face hurt, just thinking about it.

But when the folks at Moms in Prayer invited me to join them at the Unshaken retreat last weekend, I jumped at the chance. Heck, if they’d invited me to donate a kidney, I’d have jumped on that too. I’d do just about anything, in fact, for the women behind the ministry that has done more to shape my prayer life (and, by extension, my kids’ lives) than anything or anyone except Jesus.

And you know what? I loved it. I loved every single minute of our time in Asheville, North Carolina. The worship was amazing, the teaching incredibly rich, and even the endless smiling didn’t bug me as much as I’d feared. And since I know most of you were not there (although some of you were; it was great to meet you!), I am going to take a little detour from the usual blog post routine and recap a few highlights. These nuggets were golden for me; maybe they’ll encourage you, too.

Our first speaker was Jennifer Kennedy Dean. You may recognize her as the author of Live a Praying Life (hands-down, my favorite prayer study), but if not, here’s she is (pictured with Moms in Prayer founder Fern Nichols and me):

Noting that prayer is “proof of how much God loves us” (because he chose to work with us and through us, instead of around us), Jennifer talked about how God always answers the cry of our hearts. She pointed to Psalm 37:4 (“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”) and explained that the word delight comes from a Hebrew word that means “soft” and “moldable.” When God has our heart–when he molds it and shapes it–he gives us desires that we might not even be fully aware of…and then he says “yes.” Does that sometimes run counter to what our lips might be praying? Sure. But, as Jennifer said, “God isn’t interested in pacifying us. He is interested in satisfying us.”

Good stuff. I’m still processing how to get my head and my lips to line up with my heart, but I like it.

The next day, we heard Renee Swope:

I wasn’t familiar with Renee’s work (she has a book called  A Confident Heart), but I’m now a big fan. I loved her message on trusting God in the face of life’s triggers (things like doubt, fear, comparison, criticism, and our need for control), and I found myself utterly captivated as she talked about her teenaged son telling her he was an atheist. “I wanted to panic,” Renee said, “but I knew that would only make things worse.”

She asked God what she should do.

Don’t say anything,” she sensed the Lord say. “Just be who you say I am.”

Be who you say I am.

How awesome is that? I mean, we talk about wanting to model Christ’s love, and to treat people (especially our kids) the way that God does, but how often do we stop and think about what that looks like in real life? How, practically speaking, do we live out that love? How often do we default to criticism, nagging, worry, or fear when a better approach would be to be patient? Or gentle? Or kind?

Or even to just be with our child?

Renee’s son eventually gave his life to the Lord. I can’t share the whole story here (I’d mess it up if I tried), but I’m crazy about the punch line:

“I just got tired,” the young man said, “of living without hope.”

Wowza.

And finally, on Sunday morning, Fern Nichols got up. (You know how our daughters feel about getting to see Taylor Swift? Yeah. That’s basically how these praying moms–and grandmoms–felt about Fern.)

Fern started Moms in Prayer in 1989, back when her kids were in middle school, and for the past 40 years, she has encouraged mothers all over the world with the call of Lamentations 2:19: “Arise, cry out… Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children.”

You’d think, what with this being a Moms in Prayer thing, that the 400+ attendees wouldn’t need a refresher on the Four Steps of Prayer (the strategy that shapes every MIP meeting), but no. We did. And at the risk of dumbing things down (and please click on that link to get a bigger picture), here are the Cliff Notes:

Step One is praise. Praising God takes our eyes off our circumstances and focuses it on the One who is able. Whatever the need, he is equipped to meet it.

Step Two is silent confession because, as Fern put it, “a pure heart is behind every effective prayer.” If we’re sitting there hating our husband (or cherishing any other ick stuff), we can’t expect our prayers to get through.

Step Three is thanksgiving. Every sin, Fern said, stems from pride. When we take time to thank God–to acknowledge his grace and provision–it’s a reminder that all that we have, and all that we are, comes from him.

And Step Four is intercession, naming our children’s needs–as well as the needs of their teachers and schools–and asking God to meet them. This is where praying the scriptures really comes in, as we rely on God’s promises to shape our perspective and give life to our prayers.

If you’re already part of a Moms in Prayer group, you know all of this. But if you’re not, and you’d like to know more, click here.

But here’s the thing. Don’t try to go it alone. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two; he knew that they’d need one another. And so do we. Grab at least one other mom and invite her to pray.

So there you have it. I’ve left out 98% of my notes, but I hope you’ve connected with something I’ve shared–and that the next time your child says, “Mom, will you pray for me?”, you’ll feel a bit more equipped to jump in.

And I know. Right now, some of you are thinking, “Yeah, right. My kid asking for prayer? That’ll be the day.”

I hear you. But…can I just say three things?

First, I get it. I’ve been there.

Second, we worship a God of surprises. Don’t count him out.

And third, let’s go back to Jennifer’s teaching. Because maybe your child’s lips aren’t asking for prayer, but that is the cry of their heart.

And when that happens, we can slip our hand into God’s and say “Yes.”

(That’s my cute friend Lynn. She is the kind of prayer partner you want. Not only does she pray with boldness and faith, but she’s a complete fashionista and half the time, when she sees you, she gives you a new scarf. 😊)

Leave a Reply


The best parenting tip? Hint: It’s not the chore chart…

In case you missed it…

I was honored (and more than a little intimidated!) to write a guest post this week for Club31Women, where they are all about equipping folks to enjoy strong marriages, healthy families, and joy-filled homes. And all I could think, as I recalled the early days of our parenting, was how I longed to get it all right. Thank goodness God has a good sense of humor–and that he is faithful in the midst of our mess!

 

It was one of those days. None of my “good parenting” strategies seemed to be working.

I looked at the chore chart on the fridge. Half the stuff was not done.

The character chart? The one where the kids could earn stars? Let’s just say we had a lot of white space.

And the Bible memory verse I had posted? Please. Why don’t they tell you to aim lower, maybe with something like John 11:35?

Jesus wept. Roger that.

As I said, it was one of those days. We’d had four kids in six years, and as I looked around at the mayhem (and found the missing cat in the refrigerator—“It’s the orphanage, Mom!”), something snapped.

“Can anybody,” I challenged, “tell me a Bible verse? Just one. I will take anything.”

Four little bodies stopped moving. Four sets of eyes (not counting the cat’s) stared into mine. Nobody spoke, until finally Robbie—aged 5—offered this:

“Don’t slip?”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Robbie back-pedaled. “Wait,” he said. “Maybe that one is a pool rule…”

Wanna see where this post goes? Click here to keep reading–and while you’re at it, check out all the fabulous marriage and parenting helps over at Club31Women.com.

And maybe pray for Virginia. Last weekend, she told us that she’s got her eyes on another kitten she wants to adopt…

 

Leave a Reply


Never give up (on the people you love)

Two things this week have me camping out on the fatherhood of God and his dogged–relentless, even–pursuit of our hearts.

The first thing was the inauguration of U.Va.’s 9th president, Jim Ryan.

(And I know, I know. Some of you are like, “U.Va. again? Why does she always write about that?” To which I would say:  Hello? Did I write even ONE WORD about our victory over nationally ranked Miami, or last week’s road win at Duke? Feels to me like a U.Va. shout out is a bit overdue.)

(But this is not a U.Va. shout out.)

Anyhow.

In his inaugural address (which was fabulous; if you missed it, click here), Ryan likened teaching to parenting. He noted that both endeavors were based on the faith that the job–despite being a sometimes messy process with unfinished and imperfect results–was worth doing, and that as both a parent and as a university president, he would “never give up on the people I love.”

Which brings me to the second thing.

The second thing that happened this week was that I started reading Genesis.

You know the story. God makes Adam and Eve. And then they eat the fruit that they shouldn’t. And when they realize what they’ve done, they get scared and try to hide from God in the garden.

God knows, of course, that his kids are over there in the trees. And when he says, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9), he isn’t really after their physical location. He is asking where they are, spiritually–as in, where Adam and Eve are in relation to him.

I read that line and, as a parent, I thought back to the times when I felt like my own children were hidden. The times when they felt far away. Emotionally distant. Out of reach (even if they were just across the table, at dinner). The times when I watched them pursue relationships or activities or ideas that, I knew, would not produce good things in their lives.

The times when family life felt a little bit messy.

And then I thought about God, and how he must sometimes feel the same way towards us. Over and over again in the Bible (just as over and over again now), God’s children go wandering off, turning their backs on his love. And we see what God does in response.

Sometimes, we see his desire:  How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37)

Other times, we see his promise: My people are determined to turn from me…my compassion is aroused…I will roar; they will come…I will settle them in their homes. (Hosea 11:7-11)

Always, though, we see his pursuit. From the “Where are you?” Genesis question all the way to the “I stand at the door and knock” of Revelation 3:20, we see God calling to us. Wooing us. Inviting us into a life marked by purpose, passion, and joy.

And demonstrating, always and forever, that he will never give up on the people he loves.

So…that’s why President Ryan’s speech, taken together with the Genesis story, made me think about God. With one major difference.

Ryan’s presidency, like our parenting, can’t help but yield (as he freely noted) imperfect and unfinished results. But it’s different with God. With God at the helm, we can be confident that, having begun a good work in our lives, he can be counted on to complete it.

He will get the job done, and the results will one day be perfect.

(Which, even though this is NOT a U.Va. blog, is a promise that I would dearly love to see fulfilled on the field, as we take on the Tarheels tomorrow…)

❤️

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being the embodiment of love. You are patient and kind; you keep no record of wrongs. You protect, you hope, you persevere.

You never fail. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Let us never grow weary in doing good, especially to the people we love. And when we feel downcast or discouraged, remind us that you know just how we feel, and that there is a promised harvest, at the perfect time, for those who never give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Amen

Leave a Reply


Lost (and Found) in Translation

“If you don’t say theethou, or thine, God might not know that you’re talking to Him.”

At least that’s what my Gammy thought. In her world, it was the King James or nothing, and every Bible verse she made us memorize (that’s all she ever wanted from her grandkids for Christmas) was chock full of the good stuff:

I in them and thou in me…that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, even as thou hast loved me. 

(I might not have known what John 17:23 meant but boy, could I quote it.)

Me, I’m an NIV gal. I got my first copy of a New International Version Bible back in the late ’70s and never looked back. Call me Gammy 2.0; I like what I like.

Which is not to say that I don’t appreciate a walk on the wild side, every now and again. Like, this past summer when we were in a remote part of Canada and I was starting to think of potato chips as vegetables because it had been awhile since I’d seen anything green, I was super grateful for how the English Standard Version renders Nehemiah 8:10:

“Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Talk about a user-friendly Bible command. (Can I get a side of Rosé with those chips? Thank you very much, ESV.)

Anyhow.

This week I found myself grateful again, this time for The Message translation. I have a Bible that puts my old faithful NIV on one side of the page and The Message on the other…

…because sometimes words can be confusing, and it helps to look at things from a different perspective.  Especially if the thing you are looking at involves suffering.

Which (as you know, if you’ve been around this blog for awhile) tends to be a tricky topic for me. I know God always uses hard things for good, but I struggle to embrace the place of disappointment and pain in my life. Or in the lives of the people I love.

And honestly? In the case of 1 Peter 4:1-2, my beloved NIV didn’t help all that much:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

Those words were familiar, but they didn’t really add up. I didn’t think that I would ever be “done with sin,” and I hated the idea that I might be doomed to live my life in the pursuit of “evil human desires.” How was it, exactly, that suffering might help?

I stole a glance at The Message:

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

Ahhh. THAT made so much more sense.

Jesus suffered more than I ever have. (I get that.)

And I should learn to think like he did. (I agree.)

And suffering can help wean me from the habit of expecting to get my own way.

Now there’s a provocative thought. I actually DO expect to get my own way–or at least I THINK that I should. I mean, I am pretty sure that most of my ideas have some merit, and that God should at least give them a try. And when he doesn’t–like, when things don’t turn out at all like I think that they should–I can start to get a bit grumpy.

You might even say tyrannized.

(Can anybody relate?)

The idea that I could get out from under my wants, and run after the good things God has, is mighty appealing. And when I consider the example of Christ and the whole “not my will, but thine” thing (which, you have to admit, comes off pretty strong in the old KJV), everything sort of falls into place. If suffering is what opens the door to surrender–to realizing, once and for all, that God’s way is a zillion times better–well then, bring it on.

(Well, maybe not “Bring it on.” Maybe more like, “Help me please.” But you get the idea.)

And in the meantime…

Let’s eat some fat and raise a glass to the English Standard Version, and to all of the whip-smart Bible translators out there. Thank you for doing all the hard work so that the rest of us can just kick back, eat some chips, and read.

😊

Heavenly Father,

Help us learn to think more like Jesus. And when we come up against suffering–when things don’t go “our way”–equip us to let go, like Jesus did, and embrace your will for our lives. Free us from the tyranny of living for what we want. (1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG)

Amen

Want your own side-by-side Bible? Click here for one option, or just put “Parallel Bible” into your Amazon search bar to see a whole bunch of choices.

 

Leave a Reply