Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Fight Within

This little light of mine...
Photo by Tami Collins
Some may have noticed an absence of information about my mom’s recent cancer surgery. A short and less painful version is that she came through the operation with flying colors. They took a 1” x 2” piece of her tongue (approximately) along with all of her lymph nodes in her neck on both sides. Three nodes had turned into cancer containing tumors. They took a skin graft from her left thigh to cover the exposed tongue tissue and gave her a feeding tube that she will be using for up to six months.  She had the staples from her neck incisions and gauze packing that was sewn into her mouth removed yesterday. According to her, the doctor is pleased with her recovery so far. Even though she went home and immediately picked up a pack of cigarettes and proceeded to make up for lost time.

Mom - the night
before surgery.
If you are sensing a bit of frustration and distance, you are absolutely right. My sisters and I spent a week up there in hotels and such beating our heads against a wall trying to get her and the “caregivers” of her choice to understand the seriousness of it all. Taking her to hang out at the smoke-filled bar was not in her best interest. But, you can’t fix stupid I guess. So, we left them to themselves, trying to touch bases when someone will answer the phone at her house, knowing that we will get an ear full of something less than the truth.

The whole experience has left me ragged and jaded. I have had a terrible time decompressing from the whole thing. Although I have learned to separate myself from things that my mom says and does, it is frustrating none the less to witness such a determined will running head-on into danger. The only thing that I CAN do is to leave it at the Lord’s feet and beg for His peace and presence to cover me and calm my anxieties. Then, maybe I can beat back the voices and thoughts that come to tear me down and wreak havoc in my life.

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood…”Ephesians 6:12

Because HE Loves Me…

"The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness"
James 3:17-18

Every day I get a series of “emails from God.” If they didn’t speak so directly to me, I would just read them as great little tidbits of insight and knowledge. But, the Lord loves me fiercely and knows he has my attention. Today was no different. As I started to type up this blog post this morning, I was also reading my emails and had to stop, shake my head, and wipe the tear away as He once again did not disappoint.

He reminded me in today’s post on ElijahList from Victoria Boyson that, “It is essential that we all seek to guard our hearts with the love of God because “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The Lord has warned us in Matthew 24:12 that the love of many will grow cold because of the increase of lawlessness, “but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (v. 13). The only way of guarding our hearts is for our hearts to be bound to the Lord. Any places in our hearts that are not yielded to the Lord are areas of vulnerability to the enemy.

We must not pray for others out of a sense of frustration or anger. The greatest and safest prayer we can pray for ourselves and others is “THY will be done!” Not their will or our will, but pray earnestly for God's will to be accomplished in their life.”

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” —Luke 6:37
“...For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”— Luke 6:38

So, I wrap up my day having been counseled in the Lord. The Lord, whose banner over me is LOVE. And, He is the lifter of my head. To HIM be all glory and honor forever and ever!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Gotta Share…

Every year around the holidays I try to infuse a new recipe or two into the mix of traditional dishes served. I usually put on a big breakfast for both Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings. Then, I move on to getting the main event dinner into the oven. This recipe is one that I found and made last year during the holidays. It was a hit! I also made a delicious quiche and some Cotswold cheese toasties…all were new recipes to me that have now become requested favorites. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and make them again this year! Enjoy!!

French Toast Casserole

1      (1-lb) loaf French Bread, cubed (1½ inches)
1      (8-oz) pkg cream cheese, cubed
2 ½  cups whole milk
¾     cup sugar
6      tbsp butter, melted
¼     cup pure maple syrup

Spray 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place half the bread in dish; sprinkle with cream cheese. Top with remaining bread. Whisk all remaining ingredients in large bowl; pour over bread, pressing on bread with spatula to soak up egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350°. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve with drizzle of maple syrup if desired.

My notes:
  • I make half batches in an 8-inch square baking dish that turn out fine.
  • I used the Texas Toast that you can buy in the bread aisle. Haven’t tried it with the French bread yet.
  • The first time I made it, I added a handful of craisins. Yum! The second time I made it with a few rounded spoonfuls of apricot preserves… delicious as well. The tart helps to cut some of the sweet richness. I’m thinking of trying a flavored syrup as well.

Be joyful at your Feast — you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless, and the widows who live in your towns. — Deut. 16:14

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn’s Dance

Photo by Tami Collins
Sitting at my desk, beside the only window in our office suite, I get to watch the goings on of the outside world. It’s a welcomed distraction from the 24″ computer screen that I stare at all day. I watch the stiff, fall breeze blow the changing leaves from the branches. The wind bends the branches of evergreens while it sends a flurry of golden autumn color swirling to the ground. The new-fallen litter crunches under foot as passersby scurry to their waiting vehicles.

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." –Genesis 8:22

It can only mean a couple of things.

Photos of friends and family
Thanksgiving 2007

One – my favorite holiday is fast approaching. That wonderful day filled with warm fires, the sights and smells of goodness coming from the kitchen, family and friends gathering around the table to enjoy the feast and give thanks for our many blessings. Pumpkin pie, hot chocolate topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, a long game of Mexican Train dominoes, and a lot of laughs.

Two – winter is on its way. With all that it holds and has in store for us. The beauty of first fallen flakes for the season never ceases to be a wonder in my eyes. I remember the nights as a child when my mom would come into our bedrooms and whisper, “it’s snowing” in our ears so that we would jump up to watch it out the nearest window.

Photo by Tami Collins
The mix of fall’s color strikes a beautiful contrast to the white backdrop of the new quiet blanket covering the once dusty and dry land. It’s a time to settle in with the provisions in place after careful preparation and hours of labor. Wood sheds full of dry, warmth-giving wood, cupboards stocked up with staples for those times when modern conveniences are interrupted by winter’s wrath, candles and lanterns are all accessible and stand ready to be used. Blankets, jackets, and boots have been washed and placed at hand. The garden has been put to bed and the chicken coop has its new light for heat. Scrambling to finish up last minute projects before winter settles in for real, we stand ready as we can be. And, we watch as the Lord renews the world around us in preparation for the Spring Dance.

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.
-Acts 14:17

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday – November 3

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 
–Psalm 100:4

Finding the good, even in the small things, not only acknowledges that they exist, but that they are a gift. We live in a time when everything is taken for granted or is expected. And, when we don’t get what we think we should, we suffer depression, anxiety, or act out like a spoiled child not getting his/her way. Giving thanks in all things, for all things, is not just a good idea; it’s good for us – mind, body, and soul. So, give thanks with a grateful heart and reap the rewards that await you.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 
–Proverbs 17:22

Photo by Tami Collins

Today I am thankful for:
  • The rain after a long, dry summer
  • Woodsheds full of dry wood for the winter ahead
  • A roof over my head, food on my table, and gas in my well-running car
  • Sweet, thoughtful friends
  • Being woke up with doggy kisses and kitty snuggles
  • Praise and worship music
  • My sister

What are you thankful for?