Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Fajita Seasoning Mix

When I first started to cook, my parents gave me a day of the week to make dinner. That day was all on me, I could make whatever I wanted! Every single Tuesday I would get all excited and go through all of our cookbooks looking for a tasty new recipe to make. 

However 
I never made any of those. Why? Cause I was on Fajita kick. I made fajitas every single Tuesday for a couple of months. I loved them so much! I would roll out my tortillas, slice up the onions and bell peppers, and mix up a recipe of Fajita Seasoning Mix. A friend of ours from Montana had given us the recipe when we were on deputation, and I thought it tasted so much better than  the seasoning packets from the store. Plus, I'm a snob and I don't like using seasoning packets. 😬



Use this Fajita Seasoning to your own taste. Some like to add a lot, some like to add a little. It depends on what you're wanting. Normally one recipe makes 2-3 meals for my family of seven. 

I am so thankful my family didn't complain about eating the same meal every week! I still love Fajitas, but have learned that variety is a good thing. Right around the time I learned that my mom gave me more nights to make dinner.....hmmmm, maybe they were afraid I was gonna make fajitas several times a week!



Fajitas are a great low carb meal - you don't have to serve them on tortillas. Sometimes we just make the bell peppers, onions, and beef mix and then make a fajita salad out of it. We'll put salsa, or guacamole, or sour cream, or cheese, or all that! It makes a delicious salad! 

Fajitas can also be a great keto meal. Lower the amounts of bell peppers, onions, and salsa, and just up the amounts of guacamole, sour cream and cheese! 

We make this more when we first get back from town and have fresh veggies to make the salsa, and guacamole. 

You can also make your own sour cream by just adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (white or brown work too, but we get better results with acv) to a cup of full cream. We can't always get fresh cream here. Sometimes all that is available is shelf stable box cream. If you only have the shelf stable cream make sure you chill it before making it into sour cream. If the cream doesn't thicken, try adding a teaspoon more of vinegar. Chill and stir before serving.

I love making my own seasoning mixes because I know exactly what is in them. We do have some allergies in my family, so I don't have to worry about "small traces of" or the ingredients I can't pronounce or have no idea what they mean! 


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Meeting Gladys Staines

   


     Recently, my youngest daughter and I were able to meet a gracious, humble missionary who has inspired people around the world. Gladys Staines made world news as the wife and mother whose husband and two sons were brutally murdered in January 1999 by extremists who were angry about the number of conversions to Christianity in their area. The Least of These is a movie made about the story of their ministry and the murder of her family members.  In February, it was released in US theatres and has since been released in theatres around the world.
     We saw her at an event where she spoke of her life and ministry. As Gladys spoke of how she was raised in her native Australia, she talked about how her mother read missionary stories to her. She loved the missionary stories; and after she became a Christian, God started working in her life and made it clear to her that He wanted her to become a missionary. She completed a degree in nursing; and after a few years of working as a nurse in different places around Australia, she went to India as a missionary. It was there that she met her husband, Graham, who was also Australian and serving as a missionary. They married, and together they served in a leper community in India.
     As the years passed, God blessed them with three children, Esther, Philip, and Timothy. Years later, as Graham and their two sons were returning from running a camp for tribal children, they camped out in their vehicle for the night. That night would be their last here on earth as they were burnt alive in their vehicle by an anti-Christian extremist group. Gladys then made headlines around the world, as she grieved and was questioned by the media; to the amazement of many, she said that she and her daughter had forgiven the perpetrators. The two then went on to serve five more years among the leprous people there in India, before returning to Australia.
     Her testimony touched us in many ways. One thing that she spoke about was sacrifice. She left her comfortable life in Australia to go to an impoverished, disease-ridden place. She also said, that a few weeks before her husband and sons died, she was reading about Abraham being willing to sacrifice Isaac. She said that it crossed her mind at that time, "What would I be willing to sacrifice?" That spoke to me, because though we may be willing to give up some comforts in this life, how would we respond to giving such an unfathomable sacrifice as Gladys gave or that Abraham was prepared to give. (Many of us have a hard time "sacrificing" any material thing that makes our life comfortable.) Gladys then spoke about forgiveness. While she was clear that the perpetrators should pay for their crimes as required by law, she gave many verses and said that, as Christians, we are called to forgive. Wow! Although we all know that, think about that coming from someone who must have had unimaginable grief at the thought of the suffering of her husband and two sons being burned alive. In her greatest sacrifice and grief, she responded with forgiveness. (Often, we find ourselves having a hard time forgiving pettiness that is part of our every day lives.)
     Finally, a quote that was from someone who was a missionary in India and someone whom Gladys had read about as a child. This quote stirred our hearts and puts perfectly into words something that I have been thinking much about and that should be taught to our children and youth groups. It applies to all Christians and is never too late to put into practice in our lives.                                                                        
A life totally committed to God has Nothing to fear, Nothing to lose, Nothing to regret.
~Pandita Ramabai

Monday, May 27, 2019

When Planning Steals Your Joy

 
Any planners out there?  I'm one.  I love to plan.  I have daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, yearly goals, ....  well, you get my drift.  When I worked outside my home, I'd go into the office before my classes began and make my "to do" list for the day.  And, I'd check it off as the day went on.  I'd also add to it as needed, because let's face it, there's always something else that needs to be done.

As a stay-at-home, home-school mom and wife in ministry, my life may be vastly different than before, but my to-do list still exists.  And, sometimes, I get up in the morning and am already tired just thinking about what I need to get done around the house, with Ethan and Emily's schooling, and in preparing for ministry.  And, sometimes, I'd go to bed at night frustrated because not much got checked off that to-do list that day.  Please tell me you can relate, right???

As I was having one of those days where the to-do list seemed to be getting longer but every interruption kept making me put it off and I just got overwhelmed, frustrated, and started having myself a little pity party.  So, you know what I did?  I sat down on the couch, grabbed my cell phone, and started scrolling through Facebook (spiritual, right?? productive, yes??).  Sometimes, that app makes things worse...but, on this day, I saw a blog and read it and it was just what I needed from God on that day:  a gentle reminder to "do the next thing."

Elisabeth Elliott returned to the field where her husband was killed with her small child and continued the ministry God had given them there.  When asked how in the world she did it--she answered, "I did the next thing." (You can read the entire post here: Interview with Elisabeth Elliott: Do The Next Thing).  It also reminded me that we can plan our ways, but the Lord directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9). 

My days are filled with home schooling responsibilities, household chores, preparing for ministry (usually children's lessons), and managing our home.  Our ministry is very busy with church services five out of seven nights, late nights, and unexpected needs.  There are times when I'm so focused on my to-do list that I forget about why and for whom I'm doing it.  When this happens, the most important thing to do--build relationships with my Savior, my family, and others--falls to the wayside and suffers.

This reminder has been a game-changer for me in my life.  I still make my lists sometimes, but I've stopped obsessing over it.  And, when I do get up in the morning and look around my house and hear my kids make their never-ending petitions and start getting overwhelmed, I remember, "Do the next thing..."

So, single mom trying to hold it all together: do the next thing.  Young wife, going to school, working, and trying to meet the needs of those around you: do the next thing.  Mom of four, five and under, trying to manage your home and meet the demands of those needy, little munchkins: do the next thing.  Pastor's wife, youth pastor's wife, layperson in ministry, when the planning and the weight of ministry overwhelm you: do the next thing. That next thing may mean playing a game with your child, washing dishes, planning a lesson, sitting with someone and drinking coffee, or taking a few moments out of your busy day to simply rest.  Don't be like I was (and still am many days...because I'm just clay being molded in the Potter's Hands...): don't let the tasks of the day steal the joy that day awaits to bring you.  Every day is a gift.  Every cookie baked, conversation had, dish washed, and meal put on the table is a gift given to us by our loving, Heavenly Father.  Resting in Him and allowing Him to guide our steps to complete the next thing He has for us, will bring a daily peace and joy in the mundane and ordinary.  So, make your to-do list if you must, but allow your mind and day to be directed step by step by simply doing the next thing, finding joy in each task and a peace resting in your Savior's strength to get everything accomplished.  And, remember, sometimes that "next thing" that you need to do isn't on that to-do list you've made, and that's okay. It could be divine appointments set up to make the ordinary day extraordinary.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

God Goes Before


I’ve mentioned here before a Bible study I do that was introduced by Mardi Collier.  This study (What Do I Know About My God?) has had such an impact on my life.  This week as we had our first mission conference of furlough, I was drawn back to this study and witnessed first-hand as God took care of me and met my needs. 

My God cares for me.  “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  ~ I Peter 5:7 

As we were headed out to our first conference, I must confess that I had lots of questions running through my head.  I had to confess the sin of anxiety for sure.  What would be expected of me?  Where would we be staying?  Sometimes it is difficult for me to sleep in a strange bed.  I have food allergies, so I wondered, would I be able to eat the food?

BUT…

My God goes before me.   “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8

I didn’t need to be anxious.  God reminded me once again that He goes before.  He knows my needs.  He cares personally for me.  

There were no overwhelming expectations of me at this conference and we had wonderful fellowship with the people of the church and the other missionaries.  We had a lovely place to stay and I had a great night’s sleep every.single.night.  The pastor’s wife and our hostess were very accommodating with my food allergies and I had more than enough food to eat!  

God is so good, but too often I forget.  I’m so thankful for the wonderful conference the Lord allowed us to participate in at the beginning of this furlough.  It was a special reminder from Him to me that He will take care of me.  



If you haven’t yet started your own knowing God notebook.  I would like to encourage you to do so.  It will help you to change the way you think during the everyday events of life.  

*photo is taken at the Kyoto Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan

Friday, May 17, 2019

Dog - A Family's Best Friend

Lassie

"A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:" Proverbs 12:10a.

Our sassy Lassie has been a fifteen-year blessing. A friend surprised us with this Icelandic sheepdog / border collie blend when she was just a puppy. We think of her as part of our family.
Camping in Grundarfjörður

Is she worth it?

In a word, yes. 

Lessons


The children have learned so many lessons from caring for Lassie. When they were younger, care focused on daily chores until those chores became habits. Daily responsibilities included feeding, brushing, and caring for her outside needs. The kids have less-than-fond memories of cleaning up the backyard toting plastic bags after the snow melted in the spring. The amount of dog hair to sweep up every day is too much to explain. The care has shifted now that Lassie is older. She is either mostly deaf or just ignoring us - we are not sure which. At this age, it doesn´t matter. Her eyesight is cloudy, and her limbs are tender from arthritis. Their care for her now is focused more on comfort.

Fun

Saturdays at our house are rest or family days. Almost every Saturday morning we sit around the table sharing stories from the week, talking about politics, or arguing (family-friendly style) about some Bible doctrine. Lassie is always a part of this. She always cons one of us into sitting on the floor to pet her or into giving her breakfast left-overs. Most Saturday mornings end with our laughing at some silly thing that she has done. This dog has provided more entertainment for our family than any expensive entertainment system.

Comfort

Summer in the North Atlantic
Somehow she can read our spirits. My spirit was so sad after our Sarah Ann was still-born almost twelve years ago. There were days that performing basic mom functions like clothing and feeding the kids was all I had the energy to do. I remember sitting on our outdoor stairs with Lassie at my side. She knew I just needed someone to sit with me. Her quiet presence was such a comfort.

Protection

One evening when the kids were young and my husband was not home yet, a drunk man tried to break into the house. He was yelling, kicking, and trying to open the door.  I was holding it shut and trying to get it locked. Meanwhile, one of my sons ran downstairs to lock the other door. That was just in time since the man had also run downstairs and was trying to get in down there as well. He came back up and tried to get in again. The kids and I were scared. Lassie was barking.

As the man went back downstairs to try that door again, I put Lassie on her leash. She and I went outside while the kids locked the door behind me like I told them to do. They called their dad. Our sweet, gentle Lassie turned into a fierce warrior-dog. She chased that man away while pulling me on the leash. She and I chased him down the street. Wow, could that drunk guy run! Lassie and I went back to the house and stood guard outside until Patrick came home.

You might wonder why I didn't just call the police. I did. The guy on the phone laughed at me and asked what country I was from. They helpfully sent a patrol car to drive by the house six hours later. 

This was not the only time that Lassie warned us of intruders.

Lassie


Why talk about your dog?

Well, people often wonder what life is like living in a different country. Sometimes it is a real adventure. Sometimes, it's just normal. We have a dog. Her name is Lassie, and she is part of our family. This hairy beast has a part of our hearts and our memories. I don't know how much longer we will get to have our sweet, sassy Lassie, but she has been such a part of our lives, that she is worth mentioning.


Patrick and Vicki Weimer, in Iceland since 1999




Monday, May 13, 2019

Too far?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end
Jeremiah 29:11

Picking up my son from pre-school garden, I informed him that we needed to walk to the drugstore.

"I don't want to go. How far is it? Can I walk home by myself instead? It's too far!"
The whining and excuses seemed to just roll off his tongue as if practiced. As we walked, I was surprised with myself to find myself reasoning with him. He had to obey, but sometimes it helps if he knows the reason why we have to go and so forth.
"Son, we have to go. We need some things for the baby."
He replied, "Let's go to [the grocery store]... that's better." 
To which I cut in, "-But, we need some things from the drugstore. We also need milk, so we could go to [the grocery store] too."

The irony? The grocery store is a longer walk than the local drugstore.

This little conversation with my son got me thinking. Sometimes I have a similar conversation with my Heavenly Father: "Lord, I don't want to do that. I'm scared. It's too much to ask. What if I make a mistake/something goes wrong? -How far do you want me to walk????" Of course, I too have to obey, yet I am still somewhat timid- even knowing His promises.




Christ asks us to follow Him. It's far. It's hard. It's lonely. Many times, it seems too much to ask, and we are not told all the answers. Like my four year old, we demand the plan laid out before us like a map to follow. And then, so many times, we give up. We decide the price is too high. Whether it's finances, family, or pride, we deduct that something else is worth more than God's way. "It's too far. It costs too much. How about I do [this] instead." The irony? Our way is infinitely more difficult, further, and costly.

This is God we're talking about! -Not the whims of mere man. When God says, "Follow- there's an expected end" He means it!

Thankfully, each time I fail to make the right choice, God is standing by with forgiveness and grace. He doesn't leave me to pick up the pieces. He guides, teaches and directs me to follow Him yet again.

Some day when we reach heaven's gates, we, his disciples, will see just why it was worth it to follow Christ. And, on occasion we are given a glimpse of the rewards of our devotion.

I was delighted to find that my son understood tangibly that obedience is sweeter- the cashier gave him some candy. He even helped me carry the things home, having found the joy in obedience. May he always remember that there IS cost on earth to doing right, but there IS also sweet eternal reward.

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. 
Proverbs 23:17-19

Monday, May 6, 2019

Hold on for Dear Life

   
    The following was written by my soon-to-be 16 year old daughter.

     Have you ever been on a ride and felt like you had to hold on for dear life, because you were afraid that you were going to fall off it? Maybe it was a literal roller coaster ride or maybe it was more metaphorical like a spiritual or emotional roller coaster. I personally have been on both and would like to share both of those stories with you.

     I first want to share the story of a literal fair ride that I rode when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I went to a fair with some family members and decided to go on a ride that took you upside down. The best way that I can describe the ride is that it was like a giant hamster wheel, and the long string of cars that all the people sat in was the like the hamster; and, of course, the ride took the "hamster" around and upside down in the "hamster wheel". I sat down in the seat, and a thin metal bar came down across my lap to secure me for the ride; and, yes, that thin metal bar was the ONLY thing securing me in that ride! I remember being a bit freaked out right before that ride started, knowing that was the only thing holding me in, but that small fear I felt, was nothing compared to the sheer terror I felt when I was hanging upside down at the top of the ride, realizing that my legs, which were braced against the small car I was in, were really what was holding me in that ride. I just remember screaming and praying the rest of that entire ride, that my legs wouldn't give out and that I would safely make it off that detestable ride. Once I was safely off the ride, I ran, completely shaken up, to my mom; and after I had relayed the whole story back to her, she then showed me a sign that was posted near the ride. It said that if you had trouble with your legs, you shouldn't go on that certain ride, because you had to use your legs in order to brace yourself! Honestly, to this day, I am still mind-boggled to think that people were actually allowed on that ride!

     Moving on to the next story I want to share with you. This metaphorical ride happened a few days ago. Just the other day, I was hit with a debilitating fear about my future. (Maybe you've been hit with a fear about your future too. Maybe it was a fear of going away to college or God calling you to a foreign mission field or never getting married or changing jobs or just a general fear of the future or something else.) This fear about my future, that hit me out of nowhere, was like nothing I had ever felt before. For two days, I flipped between having little snippets of peace and a type of fear and anxiety I'd never experienced. Interestingly enough, when all of this happened, my relationship with God was the strongest it had ever been; and when this fear came about, it caused me to be irritated with God. I felt like I couldn't even talk to Him or pick up my Bible, because when I did, I would have a sense of terror about it. After feeling so scared and helpless, I went to someone I knew I could trust and that I knew could give me some sound wisdom on the subject (at this point, my fear was pretty irrational and barely made sense). Once I explained everything I was wrestling with, and how anxious and scared I was, this person assured me that these feelings, restlessness and fear, that I was feeling, did not come from God.

     This person encouraged me to pick one of the names of God and think of him in that light. I decided on two, because they both pertain so well to my life right now. The first one is "Author of Life" which I thought was so fitting; because I was worried about my future, when I really don't have to be, since God already has it written out for me from beginning to end. The second one is "Prince of Peace," because he gives us "peace which passeth understanding" which is something that I definitely need to be reminded about.

     Finally, what I have learned is—life really is a roller coaster, and you really have to learn to hold on tight to God. I also saw these verses just today while reading my Bible, and I thought they went so well with everything I've written. They are a powerful tool to fight the kind of fear I have been feeling.

Proverbs 3:25&26 
Be not afraid of sudden fear (terror), neither of the desolation (trouble from) of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken (caught). 
Parenthesis added to provide extra definition