Saturday, October 27, 2012

Only Circumstances

Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. (2 Corinthians 4:17, God's Word Translation)
 
After getting a good night's sleep it was a blessing to wake up to a crisp and sunny fall morning.  The freshness of the air after yesterday's rain was a reminder to me that we are made clean by the blood of Christ, who two thousand years ago died on a cross to save us from our sins, but loves us in the here and now.

In the middle of my quiet time this morning, thoughts of my husband's "underemployment" and our desperate prayers that God will soon open a door to full time employment replaced the peace I had felt while sitting in God's presence.  Not wanting to go down the path of self-pity again, as I had so many times before, I closed my eyes and prayed for a word that would restore my peace and refresh my faith.  Always gracious to give me more than I ask for, God gave me two words:  "only circumstances." 

As I meditated on those words I realized just how temporary all my problems are and how insignificant when compared to the matchless glory that will be revealed to me, in me, and through me.  We may be struggling to pay our bills in this season of financial lack, but we have stored up for ourselves "treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:20, NIV).

No matter how difficult your circumstances might be -- and believe me, I in no way mean to minimize anyone's suffering -- just know that they are "only circumstances" that are part of your life on this earth, circumstances that God will use to encourage others and glorify Himself.  If you are a believer, you already have the assurance that you will spend eternity in heaven where there is no sorrow, pain, tears, or death (Revelation 21:4).  As for my husband and me, we will not lack anything because we will stand in the presence of our All-in-All for all eternity.




Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My "EXPRESS THANKS"-giving Dinner

A lot of things have happened the past few months, most of which I am thankful for.  Just about two weeks after my husband lost his job our oven quit working.  Thankfully, only the oven quit working -- the burners still work fine!  For the past four months we have managed to feed our family with just the stove top, crock pot, microwave, and a counter top convection toaster oven given to us by a family that had culled it from their yard sale items. 

Since we have hosted our family Thanksgiving dinner the past few years, understandably I have been a little concerned about whether or not we would be able to feed our parents-in-law, an elderly widower and his son, and other family members this year.  So I decided to have a "rehearsal dinner" of sorts and see what I could put together without a full-size oven.  Amazingly, I pulled off a traditional scaled-down but tasty Thanksgiving dinner and did it in just over an hour!

Drum roll, please......feast your eyes on my EXPRESS THANKS-giving dinner!  (Did you catch that play on words?  Not just "express" as in fast, but a dinner to express thanks for all God's blessings!)  Not only was this a quick and easy meal to prepare, but it didn't cost more than about $20, including the turkey!



Here's how I did it:
 
Step One:  I purchased the products I would need for a traditional meal of turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, green beans, and rolls.  (Not pictured are the 7.75 lb. Honeysuckle White Turkey breast with gravy packet that fit perfectly in my crock pot, the Hawaiian rolls that I served in place of my traditional homemade yeast rolls, or the marshmallows that topped the sweet potato casserole.)   I used some store-brand products as well as brand-name ones and the result was a delicious meal that I was able to prepare in just over an hour.



 


Step Two:  Before going to work, I took ten minutes (max) to rinse the turkey breast, brush it with vegetable oil, and put it on to cook in the crock pot.  I set the dial on the Auto Shift setting and let the crock do the cooking!  The only thing I did before I came home from work was baste the turkey on my lunch hour.  The turkey cooked all day -- from about 6:45 a.m. until 5:15 p.m.

Step Three:  After work, I prepared the other dishes as follows:
Green beans -- cooked two cans of cut green beans on med-high heat with onions, salt, pepper, butter, and a little bit of sugar, none of which I measured.  Although I prefer to simmer them gently for a little longer, canned beans cook up nicely with the lid on over med-high heat.  Just don't let the beans boil dry and burn! 
Sweet potato casserole -- cooked a large can of Bruce's Yams by spooning the yams and pouring about two-thirds of the juice into a saucepan, then adding a stick of butter, 3/4 c. brown sugar, and some cinnamon (to taste).  I cooked the yams on med-high heat for several minutes, stirring often until the potatoes were essentially mashed.  Next I transferred them to a Pyrex casserole (sprayed with cooking spray) that would fit in the convection oven (pan was a little smaller than 9x13) and baked them at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Then I layered mini marshmallows on top and baked another 7-10 minutes until the marshmallows were soft and golden. 
Dressing -- I cheated and used Stove Top cornbread stuffing mix but made it with chicken broth instead of water.  Lots of good flavor without any fuss! 
Gravy -- I used the packet that came with the turkey breast, adding 1/4 c. of turkey drippings from the crock pot.  (My original plan was to use turkey gravy in a jar, again mixed with turkey drippings. )
Cranberry sauce -- no one in my family but me likes it, but a turkey dinner isn't complete without it.  I used Great Value brand from Walmart.

Rolls -- I chose Hawaiian rolls you can purchase from the supermarket.  They are soft, sweet, and can easily be microwaved or warmed in the toaster oven.  They'll never replace my homemade rolls, but in a pinch they are priceless!
 
Missing from the table were mashed potatoes and sweet tea with lemon, as well as my usual apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  Those are easy enough to prepare and will be added to the lineup when the official day arrives!

The beauty of this meal was that I literally had it ready to go on the table one hour after I arrived home from work.  This Thanksgiving I will be able to enjoy all the blessings without all the stressing!


 Be blessed, y'all!

 


Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's Your Cross?

There comes a time for each of us when we must endure difficult circumstances, tolerate people who challenge us, or make peace with trouble and change.  In those moments we find ourselves with a cross to bear that we would not wish on anyone, and we are faced with a choice to either embrace that cross joyfully or endure it regretfully. 

As I prayed recently about the season of change I have experienced the past few months, I found myself asking God why He would strip away the things I enjoy so much and give me a cross to bear.  I asked Him to show me the lessons He wants me to learn as a result of everything that has happened and to help me walk through my challenges with more grace and joy. 

Looking to the Bible for His words of encouragement and the grace to make the best of everything He has allowed to transpire, I immediately came across the following verses about "taking up" our cross daily:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it (Luke 9:23-24).
My heart's desire is to be a homemaker, administrative consultant, and freelance writer. Yet God has seen fit to call me out of those roles that have afforded me the flexibility to meet my family's needs, manage our busy household, and spend time with those I love.  He has placed me in a full-time job that is demanding and leaves very little time to do the things I love most.  All my efforts to save the life I love have failed, but by the grace of God I am learning to embrace this new season and make the most of it.  In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus says:
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I want to be worthy of Jesus, don't you?

The NIV Study Bible footnotes for Luke 9:23 further emphasize the significance Christ placed on taking up our cross and following him.
"Take up his cross daily" -- To follow Jesus requires self-denial, complete dedication, and willing obedience.  Luke emphasizes continued action, and "daily" is not mentioned explicitly in the parallel accounts (Mt. 16:24-26; Mk. 8:34).  Disciples from Galilee knew what the cross meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region.  9:24 "whoever loses his life for me."  A saying of Jesus found in all four Gospels more than once (14:26-27; 17:33; Mt. 10:38-39; 16:24-25; Mk. 8:34-35; Jn. 12:25).  No other saying of Jesus is given such emphasis.
 
As I thought about these verses and the corresponding footnotes, I was reminded that Jesus had to willfully choose to obey His Father and embrace the cross that God had chosen for His only Son to bear.  Without that cross there would have been no atoning sacrifice for our sins or salvation leading to eternal life for those who believe in His Name.

What is your cross?  What is that fiery trial that is stealing your joy today?  Could it be that God has required a sacrifice of you in order that a lost and needy soul may find the Christ of Calvary and receive His free gift of salvation?  Where would any of us be had not Christ been obedient in following His Father by taking up His cross?   Will you take up your cross knowing that because of your obedience, someone might spend eternity in heaven?

Lord, give us the grace we need to bear the cross you have lovingly laid on our shoulders.  Open our eyes to see the harvest, our hearts to know your purpose, and our lips to praise you no matter how difficult our cross may be to bear.  Keep us mindful that you are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us, bearing the weight of our cross.  If we are faithful, one day we will stand in Your Presence and hear your voice proclaim, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord."





Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Vested Interest

As I sat and watched the presidential debate tonight I realized just how badly our family needs for things to turn around soon in our nation.  My husband has been out of work for four months and has not had much success finding a job that pays the kind of money he was making earlier this year.  My college-age son is taking a year off to work and save enough money to pay his own tuition or get an apartment because he doesn't want to incur student loan debt or be a financial burden in our time of need.  We feel extremely blessed that he even has a job and that I was able to go back to work full-time to help make ends meet.  Our family, like so many others, has had to apply for state assistance just to get through this crunch.

Praise God, we live in America.  As flawed as she has become, she is still the greatest nation in the world.  Even so, this is a critical election year and we are on the brink of further decline if we don't pay attention to what is going on and do our part to turn the tide.

Many turned off their television sets tonight having decided that voting is a waste of time.  But now is the time for us all to stand up and exercise our liberty to choose the candidate we feel will steer our nation in the right direction.  So much is riding on this election.  If you have any reservations about voting this year, think of those you know who are struggling and do it for them!  We need you.  America needs you!




Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Giving Up Gracefully

I am not very graceful when it comes to giving up, especially when giving up involves time.  It isn't easy to give up the time I would spend writing or keeping house or meeting the needs of my family in order to earn a paycheck.  But by the grace of God I have a job and am able to help make ends meet while my husband searches for a full time job with benefits.

By the grace of God I have a daughter who has transportation provided by the school system and the taxpayers who fund it.  Because of that I don't have to worry about how she will get back and forth to school while my husband and I work to put food on the table.

By the grace of God I have family and friends who have been more than generous instruments of God's provision during a time of financial reversal.

By the grace of God I still get to dabble in the literary world, if only to edit the books of others on a part-time basis and write an occasional magazine article.  There will come a season when I am able once more to focus on ministry and marketing.  In the meantime God is writing a chapter or two in my life and allowing me to see how the other (working) half lives.

By the grace of God my children are old enough now to fend for themselves and to understand why it is necessary for me to work full time when I have always been a full time mom to them.

By the grace of God I can lay my head on my pillow tonight, exhausted from a long and tiring day in the office but refreshed from spending time outdoors watching my daughter practice lacrosse and conversing with a fellow lacrosse mom on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

By the grace of God I still have time in the morning to start my day with Him and to become more intimately acquainted with Him through His Word and our sweet fellowship in prayer.

By the grace of God I give up my rights to that which I want to do in order that God can do what He wants to do in and through me.

By the grace of God, I am giving up gracefully and trusting that as I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart and continue working all things together for my good.


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Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pass the Dramamine, Please!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. --  Romans 15:13

Fall is the season for state fairs, corn dogs, and thrill rides.  Sadly, I didn't make it to either of the fairs held near us recently but somehow that doesn't seem to matter.  Just the pace of a busy life has brought on frequent bouts of motion sickness, figuratively speaking.  Someone pass the Dramamine, please.

I have never been one to get sick from carnival rides.  That all changed, though, after the birth of my first child.  Something about the change in hormones that resulted from pregnancy made it virtually impossible for me to ride a spinning ride without getting nauseated.  I can take the ups and downs okay; it's just the relentless spinning that does me in.

Fortunately I have learned that when life starts spinning out of control, all I have to do is willfully choose to step off the merry-go-round and sit at the feet of Jesus.  Some days that is easier said than done.  But I find that if I start my day off in His presence, I can survive even the wildest ride life can dish out. 

If your life is spinning out of control set aside some time to get off the merry-go-round and enjoy the peace you can only find in God's presence.  Better yet, don't wait until you have passed the point of no return.  Make it a point instead to spend time with Him daily and let Him guide your steps into the way of peace.



Copyright © 2012 by Dee Dee Wike. All rights reserved. www.deedeewike.com

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Thank you for visiting my blog! You are encouraged to post a comment and share this blog with a friend. By sharing, you are helping to encourage others with the truth of God's Word!