Tag Archives: Gluten-free recipes

Physical Suffering and other “Disappointments” from the Hand of a Loving God

Some friends of mine have suffered constant physical pain for decades, so I think of them whenever I am curled up in a ball of pain from one of my headaches. I realize that what I suffer physically (and also what I have watched Brody suffer through) is insignificant compared to the excruciating pain others face every day either due to persecution for their faith in Christ, or for other reasons. Some of my friends were born with a condition that causes suffering on a daily basis. Other people, such as Joni Eareckson Tada suddenly experienced a change in their lives due to an accident. Still others experienced sudden suffering due to the rapid onset of a disease or due to a natural disaster.

 Sadly, some will try to console a suffering person by saying that God had nothing to do with the natural disaster or accident that caused his suffering. Thinking that God is not able to protect His children provides absolutely no comfort to afflicted ones. Furthermore, God actually says in His Word that He is at work in all things, including physical suffering. I’ve included links here to www.blueletterbible.org so you can see the verses in their contexts:

Exodus 4:11

Lamentations 3:37-39

Isaiah 45:5-9

 He has been working out His plan from eternity past and He is still at work today (even in your life,) and He will carry out His plan to completion into eternity future.

Psalm 115:3

Psalm 135:6

Isaiah 46:10

 Sometimes this is hard to consider: God is love and yet I am suffering in some way. How can both be true? In my experience, I have the most difficulty reconciling my experience with what God’s Word says when I start with MY presupposition that I am entitled to a happy, carefree, successful life, designed by me to give me what I think will make me happy. I’m in trouble from the starting point when I start with what I think. I often forget that I am still tainted by sin and so my selfish thoughts are not going to lead me to a proper understanding of the truth. The starting point needs to be God, not man.

James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries often reminds his audience that we must start with God, as the King of all, in order to understand what the Bible teaches about God’s freedom in His Creation. Those of us who have grown up in the U.S. or spent much of our lives thinking as an American thinks, will have a really hard time grasping the meaning of a king’s sovereignty. We are so accustomed to a balance of power since one of the priorities of our country’s founders was to create a government that would look nothing like a monarchy. Our country’s government was purposefully designed to avoid the rule of a king. We do not often think about how a king has absolute power over his realm and his subjects. We Americans are used to having a say in our government. However, if we had a king ruling over us, our only interaction with him would be to beg for mercy, not to vote him out of office if we did not like how he was reigning. So, it takes some effort on our part to separate our culture of democracy from our view of God as the Sovereign Ruler over His Creation (which includes each of our lives.)

When I start with God being King, then I am more at peace with my life, including the “lesser” disappointments of life as well as the “greater” losses. This has been an area of struggle for me from time to time… I find it more natural to trust God regarding the “big” things such as how long my mom would live (something I never thought I could control). However, I find it harder to submit to what God has planned for my life when I think I should have control over something. Sometimes, I think I should have control over whether or not I lose a day of productivity due to a bad headache. Or, when I thought I had set myself up well to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of 10 children, I had a hard time coming to a point of peacefully and joyfully accepting that God had planned something else for me.

As I began to realize that my life wasn’t turning out the way I had designed it, I had to repeatedly remind myself from Scripture that God is the Designer of my life. He is free to act according to His purpose. When I remember that He is King and He answers to no one, then I am less prone to my prideful thinking that I would have designed my life differently had I been in charge. And when I remember His kindness in saving me when I was His enemy, rebelling against Him, then I am less prone to thinking He is dealing with me in an unkind fashion by withholding from me something I thought was “good” (what I had thought would be my best life and the best way I could serve Him). 

Psalm 18:30

Psalm 84:11

When I find myself really struggling with an “I deserve better” or “It’s not fair!” attitude, I read Job 38:1-42:6 over and over and over. I’ll write more about that later!

I am gradually posting photos of each of the recipes found in A Recipe for Survival. Here’s a shot of Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers (page 133). Usually, I use green peppers, but since I wanted to create a photo shoot reflecting the beauty of God’s Creation, I chose to spend a little more and purchase the other colors as well. Brody really enjoys this recipe, and so do I!

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Permeating Flavors

DSCF0037Milton Vincent’s A Gospel Primer (available on amazon.com) continues to influence my daily thoughts. In the Foreword of A Gospel Primer, Mike Bullmore compares the writing and reading of Vincent’s book to preparing and enjoying a tasty meal from a slow cooker. He makes a good point; a wise reader will not speed-read this book. Instead, just as time is needed for flavors to mix well in a crock pot meal, time will be necessary for the Gospel truths Vincent shares to permeate your thinking.

Here is an example of how Vincent’s book has helped me in my spiritual growth with respect to my view of trials in life. In the past, I struggled more often than I do now with the temptation to find someone to blame for every challenge that I face. Having spent some time reviewing A Gospel Primer, I more often find myself wondering how the Gospel relates to the details of a particular challenge instead of figuring out who is culpable. Sometimes my challenge is simply a difficult circumstance involving no other human being. Other situations involve another person. In these and various other situations, I have been helped tremendously by the principles which Vincent helps his reader consider.

For example, some mornings, I awake with a stiffness or pain in my neck or back that makes the beginning of the day rather slow for me. Other times, I am clearly reminded of my physical limitations when I cannot maintain a pattern of mixing rest times in with periods of working or socializing. It seems that I can’t participate in as many activities as “normal” people can without reaching the point of complete exhaustion or a debilitating headache after a couple of days. These kinds of challenges are simply due to my living in a decaying body in a world that is cursed from sin; no particular person is to blame.

In other cases, I may need to speak with someone to work out a misunderstanding or to address a hurt between us. That is uncomfortable for me, but maintaining any relationship will, at some time, require this difficult work of reconciliation. When someone has hurt me, I tend to be quick to anger; I also have struggled for years to obey the command not to keep an account of the wrongs others have inflicted on me. Sometimes I wonder, “Why do I even have to face this? I wish I didn’t have to address this difficulty with this person!” Vincent’s Gospel Primer has helped me to switch my thinking more quickly to, “What might God be teaching me about the Gospel in this situation? Or, is this an opportunity for me to grow spiritually by exercising faith in His promises as I obey His commands?”

Whether my trials involve other people or not, I am reminded from the Gospel that God is at work in the difficulty, molding me into the image of His Son. When I am firmly convinced that God is for me, then I truly can exult in my tribulations and count my trials all joy since I know that God is deliberately designing my circumstances for the purpose of changing me spiritually to be more and more like His Son.

One day recently, I wanted to try a new way to cook chicken for Brody, and he suggested a garlic/herb combination. Starting with ideas from about.com in the Frugal Living and Southern Food categories, I came up with this recipe. We put some of the chicken on a plate with our usual black beans, rice and broccoli just for the “photo op” one evening, so it does look like a lot of chicken for one serving! 🙂 We liked the taste of the crock pot chicken, even if it doesn’t look as pretty as our chicken taco meal does! At times, our work schedules and my need for rest make the crock pot a very attractive option for meal preparation. We’re beginning to experiment more often using the crock pot with the recipes we already developed in A Recipe for Survival.

 Herb/Garlic Crock Pot Chicken

 ¼ cup water

2 lbs chicken breasts

2 tsp dried parsley

3 large sage leaves

a sprinkling of dried thyme

4” fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp ground cloves

a sprinkling of ground nutmeg

salt

black pepper

10” fresh oregano

2 garlic cloves

Add everything to a crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Enjoy!Crockpot Chicken 1

Making Level Paths or Watching Our Ways

Our experience with food often reminds us of a spiritual truth. In my case, I know that I show very little restraint once I start eating chocolate candies. This reminds me of what I used to tell my Sunday School students before we settled in for the lesson portion of the morning. I suggested that they choose not to sit next to someone they would be tempted to talk with. I gave the class a little time to choose seats that would be most helpful for them to listen well. Some of my students chose to sit in the far corner of the room with my helper since that was the least distracting place for them. I encouraged my students to make it easy for themselves to follow the rules of the classroom. 

With chocolate, I choose to make it easy for myself to avoid overindulging simply by not buying much chocolate in the first place. I stop my overindulgence at the point of purchase in the store. If I had more self-control in this realm, I could stop my overindulgence at the point of serving myself chocolate in our home. I know that eating too much chocolate will make it difficult to accomplish what I need to each day, so I prefer to avoid too much of it. For Brody, he knows that he feels and functions best if he completely avoids the ingredients that really affect him negatively and also does not overindulge in the food we make. Even food that is designed to avoid his problems will cause him difficulties if he overindulges. These weaknesses of ours may not be your weaknesses, but you can substitute your example from your life.

The very real physical ramifications of our food choices serve as reminders for us in other areas of our life. There are times I struggle more with complaining that God has not blessed me the way I want to be blessed in my life. If I continue down the path of self-pity, I know I won’t be able to function well since a lack of joy quickly corresponds to a lack of physical energy for me. Either too much chocolate or focusing on self-pitying thoughts will hinder my ability to serve God throughout the day. So, when the first thoughts of self-pity begin, I can choose to change my focus through meditating on the Bible verse I’m memorizing or by praying for others facing challenging times.

These kinds of choices remind me of Proverbs 4:25-26 – if you haven’t read these verses lately, they may also help you as they have helped me. Consider your ways – make level paths for your feet! Make it easy for yourself to turn away from temptation! Of course whether or not I’ve “done well” today to avoid my besetting sins has zero impact on whether God loves and accepts me today. His love and acceptance of me are based completely on His choice to give me the perfect record of Jesus of Nazareth and to credit me with Jesus’ payment for my sin. I simply want to serve Him well out of love for what He’s done for me; I’m not earning His favor or smile today.

When we went to Montana in July, we were thankful that Brody’s dad had set up appointments for us to visit with 3 stores who were willing to display our book! For those of you who are near Lewistown, MT, you can still find a few copies available at The Pantry and Keystone Christian Supply, both on Main Street and also at Albertsons. We heard from The Pantry yesterday that they would like more copies! So we are thankful to partner with them and looking forward to fulfilling that request. To celebrate the good news that they need more copies, Brody and I made one of our favorites from A Recipe for Survival: Chicken Tacos (page 123) with Sister’s Salsa (page 155) and fresh Tortillas (page 115). Since this is one of our favorites, I asked Brody if he wanted me to put away the leftovers before we finished our first serving. (We had learned on previous occasions that we regret a second helping even though we really enjoy the taste and texture of the food.) Brody said yes, so we made it easier for ourselves to eat what we needed and instead of eating simply for pleasure – I put away the leftovers before we ate our tacos… and the result was satisfaction without the pain of overeating! 🙂  And of course that also meant… leftovers for tonight so there is less work for today’s meals!