Monday, January 12, 2015

Secrets of the Kingdom of God

Have you ever heard someone say, "Repent, the Kingdom of God is near!"? 

What feelings or thoughts come to mind when you hear that? 

Honestly,  I have always had mixed emotions about that verse...until recently. God gave me a new perspective on this. 

John 1: 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

One of the ways I've seen this verse was futuristic...Jesus is coming back soon, better get my life in order...oh my goodness! And, Luke 20:30 does lend itself to that thought pattern.   

But, in John 1:14-15 we see a different concept. What Jesus meant when he said this was literally...the kingdom has come is standing right in front of you!

How much closer can it get? 

Jesus was standing there, offering people heaven on earth. 

In the Old Testament, there was a system for getting near to God. People made long treks to the temple. They cleansed themselves before coming close to God. And even then, they needed a priest or a profit to tell them the things of God.  

Fast forward to the New Testament. God, through his Holy Spirit, would now live on the inside of his people. Awesome news! 

The Kingdom of God is near! 

I'm so glad He lives on the inside of me, being my comforter, being my peace, my joy!  While I love to go to church, I'm glad He doesn't only reside in church...but in my heart...where I can access him anytime....whether I'm clean or dirty, full of sin or repented. He is there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Don't Worry Be Happy in 2015

Did you know that one of the main contributors to heart disease is lack of ability to sleep well? And, did you know that worry keeps us up at night? It also produces cancer, ulcers, high blood pressure.

Understandably, I can see where this would be true, but I had not  given it much thought. Then, I happened to catch a sermon on TV by John Hagee over worry. He preached out of Matthew 6:30. 

Jesus is the prince of peace. He tells us not to worry. 

He has already solved the problems before us. Angels go before us. Worry is sin.

Worry is not believing God can take care of you.

Fear not the past, present or the future. Be bold and be strong. The God of Isreal is with you.
Hebrews 13:6

You are a child of God. Do not fear your enemies. “I will make your enemies to be at peace with you.” 

There was a time when my faith seemed much stronger. These scriptures were my lifeline. I quoted them to myself daily and in all different kinds of situations. 

Now, when I hear them, a light bulb goes off. 

I feel something rising up inside of me…a boldness in the Lord. 

I remember. 

I remember these are the things God has spoken in his word.

I remember a time when God came through for me and my family or my situation. Oh yes, now it is coming back!!  I am remembering the things God has done.

Let not your heart be troubled. 

There is so much power in those six little words. There are many real situations that trouble our heart. Death of a loved one. Severe health issues.  Finances. These are hard situations, but the Lord still says to you and me, “Let not your heart be troubled.” 

Sometimes our heart is broken. But, knowing we have hope in the Lord...knowing we will see a loved one again...knowing our aches will be healed...knowing we will not taste death because God has a different plan for his people. That is what helps us to apply this statement, “Let not your heart be troubled.”

God has a plan for my life. 

I know this, but unless I hear it or read it often, I forget. (I like to think I have total control over that!) 

And, when I forget God is in control, I begin to worry. 

When I forget God can handle my crazy life,  I worry. 

When I forget my kids are really his kids given to me on loan, I worry. 

I hold the weight of the world on my shoulders sometimes.  I want to make everything right. I don’t want people to hurt. I don’t want people to be wronged. I can’t stand injustice. I see short term actions that have long-term affects. And, I carry these concerns as if they were mine to own. 

But only God gets to move the chess pieces. He has a bigger plan.  

My job is to do the things he has given me wisdom to do and simply to pray. The rest is up to him.  I have to give him that control. He is the prince of peace. He is the one who gives us rest. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tex-Mex Black Eyed Pea Casserole

I am not superstitious at all; however, I heart black eyed peas in a big way.  And, I love the fact they have their own holiday...New Years! Whoop whoop!

I made this last year and loved it. Soooo, I am making it again! My once-a-year recipe. Yum yum.  

The original recipe can be found here from the Recipe Girl. I changed it up a little to suit my taste buds. The main thing I did different was switch out the spinach for cilantro. So, if you are a spinach lover, check out the original recipe. 

First, get the bacon going. The recipe only calls for 5 slices but I used most of the package. You can use as much as your kids don't eat while you are cooking it. Save the bacon grease for sauteing the onions and garlic.

While the bacon is sizzling, chop your onion and garlic and get it ready to saute. If you choose to cook your bacon in the oven, you can certainly saute your onions in oil or butter. (We will talk about my butter addiction at another time.)

While the bacon is cooling and the onions are cooking, gather up your rice, broth and spices. This recipe calls for cumin, salt and pepper. If you like stuff hot (I do not), you could easily add some cayenne pepper or chili powder. Even though this recipe includes Rotel, it is not spicy. 

After the onions and garlic are done (clear in color and soft), use a handy strainer like this and drain the last of the bacon grease. 

Put your broth, spices, rice and onion mixture into a pot and bring to a boil. Then, turn your burner down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Leave a little liquid to include while baking. 

Now, let me detour for just a minute. Look what I bought myself for Christmas.

Aren't they cute? They have chickens on the top. I thought they were addddddorable. I loved them so much I even gave some away for Christmas presents. You can find them here at Amazon. They come in all different themes. I originally saw them over at Fresh Eggs Daily.

Now, back to the recipe at hand!

While the rice is cooking, get out your favorite bowl. (Cooking with your favorite items makes cooking more fun. My mom gave me this bowl for Christmas.)  Start piling in the remainder of the ingredients: black eyed peas, rotel, cilantro, and one cup of the cheese.  Chop up the bacon into bite size pieces and include those as well.

Isn't it pretty? Mix it around with your favorite spoon. I like wooden spoons. They make me happy. 

Next, dig through your fridge and find your  9x13 dish still half full of left-overs. Dump the left overs into the dog bowl. They will love you forever, I promise. Now, wash that pan and hurry up, we got cooking to do!   

Dump everything into the clean 9x13 pan. Put it in the over for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. (Set the timer! Don't trust your multitasking brain to remember!) Once the timer goes off, add the last cup of cheese and bake for 10 more minutes. 

Look how lovely. All those wonderful mexican flavors nestled in close with the black eyed peas. They look cozy yeah? 

If you also love avocados like I do, you will want to top this off with one and some sour cream. These two items are not required, but I want to recommend you not eat it without them. ;) I'm just sayin...  I also ate mine with chips. It was a whole meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe I found over at the Recipe Girl. She has lots of yummy stuff on her page.  Happy eating.


2 cans of black eyed peas (or you can make your own as in the original recipe)
1 can (10oz) of rotel (tomatoes and green chilies)
5 slices of bacon (or more if you like)
1 cup chopped onion 
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup of rice (any kind) 
2 cups cheese - divided 
1/2 a bundle of cilantro (the original called for spinach)
Sour Cream and Avocado for topping


1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Cool and chop. 
3. Chop onions and mince garlic. Saute in bacon grease until clear. 
4. Combine broth, rice, onion/garlic mixture and cumin, salt, pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done. 
5. In a separate bowl, combine peas, rotel, bacon, chopped cilantro and one cup of cheese. Stir it together. 
6. Combined cooked rice mixture with pea mixture and stir. 
7. Pour mixture into 9x13 dish and back for 20 minutes uncovered. Then, put the remaining one cup of cheese on top and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 
8. Remove from oven. Serve hot with avocado and sour cream. 

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