Mandatory Church Attendance Sentence

Today I read an article about a judge in Oklahoma sentenced a teenager convicted of a DUI manslaughter to 10 years of church attendance.  You can read the article for more details.  
Disclaimer: I didn’t do any research beyond to see how valid this is, the whole story, extenuating circumstances, etc. so be aware that I am writing with limited knowledge and making some assumptions.
It’s likely that this judge is well aware that Jesus is the answer to this teen’s problems.  Jesus meets us where we’re at and it appears that this young man could use a dose of the Good News – full of love, forgiveness at hope.  I don’t disagree that this teen needs Jesus and for many people church is where they find Jesus!
However I’m quite bothered by the fact that church is being used a “punishment”.  When you do something wrong, you are punished.  At least that’s how it worked in my house growing up (I got lots of spankings for talking during church…my parents will deny it, but it’s true!!)  Is church now associated with punishment for this young man?  Is forcing him into a pew going the most effective way to reach his heart, the place of his deepest need?  I think of the testimonies of so many people who met Jesus in a jail cell.  People meet Jesus in the pews. In the shower. In hospitals. At youth rallies. In coffee shops. In nature.  The list goes on and on. 
One of my favorite quotes from The Alpha Course by Nicky Gumbel is: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”  Is a 10 year church attendance sentence going to help? Or will it harm?  
There are thousands of people out there who attended church for a very long time yet 
I’m unsure if I agree or disagree and I suppose that doesn’t really matter.  It seems unlikely that “required attendance at church” is the answer, but I am confident that Jesus is the answer for this teen and Jesus can reach him whether he’s in a jail cell or the back row (or perhaps he’s a front row attender – I won’t assume) pew at church.   
I am grateful for the reminder that Jesus meets broken people where they’re at – both spiritually and physically and that He has given his children a role to play in the work He is doing to redeem this broken world.

A Holiday Favorite - Taco Chex Mix

Looking for the perfect salty and sweet combo for the holiday season? Look no further.

Taco Chex Mix

4 Cups Corn and Rice Cereal Squares
3 Cups Pretzels
3 Cups Bite sized corn tortilla chips
3 cups cheesy fish crackers
1 cup salted peanuts
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup karo light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 package (about 1.25 ounces) taco seasoning

Mix cereal, pretzels, tortilla chips, crackers and peanuts in a large, greased roasting pan. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add corn syrup, brown sugar and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil over medium-heat, stirring constantly. Pour over cereal mixture, tossing to coat well. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool, stirring frequently. Store in an airtight container.

I’m on a mission to use things up in our fridge, freezer and pantry before heading out of town for the holidays, so I improvised a bit using bits of tortilla chips from the bottom of the bag, a variety of crackers and some rice cakes. My personal favorite part of Chex mix is the Chex cereal. I was tempted to make a whole batch with just cereal! What’s your favorite part?

I think that this “glaze” would be amazing on popcorn! I think that I might try that next! Kind of like making carmel corn, but with a bit more of a kick!

Life Lessons from Pinterest and a few “wins”

Today I planned to bring you my latest Pinterest wins and fails when I realized… I don’t actually have any fails to share with you since last time!  It’s a miracle!  So today I offer you a few Pinterest “wins” you that may want to try out!

Win 1:  Jalapeno Popper Wonton Bites

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – I used fresh jalapeno’s instead of canned and my kitchen isn’t sophisticated enough to contain “smoked paprika” just regular ol’ paprika (and actually, I think I forgot the paprika all together now that I think about it) but these were delicious!  I literally just made 1 wonton bite to see how it would turn out – definitely on my list of things to make again!

Win 2: Parmesan Knots

My friend Jill made these for a Pinterest Party (where everyone made recipes from Pinterest for the party – how fun!) and so I was inspired to give them a try!  Also delicious.  Great with a hot bowl of soup on a chilly night!  And SO easy!

Win 3: Sinful Cinnamon and Sugar Donuts

Well what’s a girl to do with the leftover biscuit dough?  We certainly didn’t want to be eating parmesan knots for a week – therefore, we had leftover dough.  In our house, it means my donut-loving husband got a yummy treat!  They probably don’t compare with Tim Hortons but they were made with love ❤  And so so easy!  Just make a hole in the middle of the biscuit, fry it up and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Would Have Been a Win if I followed the instructions: Salted Carmel Rice Krispy Treats

How does a person mess up rice krispy treats?  Well somehow I managed to do so!  I shouldn’t have tried making them from what I remembered.  I should have re-opened up the blog.  End of story.  Great flavor. Bad bad texture.  Will be better next time.

Realizing that I’ve provided only links to junk food today, let me leave you with a couple of “healthier” recommendations from my Pinterest endeavors.

Grilled Pineapple Turkey Burgers – We broiled ours instead and left off the cheese.  Actually, not that I look at the recipe we didn’t really follow it at all aside from the ground turkey and the pineapple. Oh, and the onion.  Guess this just served as inspiration for us.  We (ok, more accurately “I”…) put in some teriyaki sauce, broiled the burgers (ground turkey mixed with a few bread crumbs and some chopped red onion) and the pineapple (also with a little teriyaki sauce), served on wheat buns – yum!

Roasted Broccoli – I’m really into cooking our veggies in the oven.  Yum yum.  Tonight’s menu includes roasted green beans!

Life Lessons about our Pinterest lovin’ society…

1.  It works best when you follow the instructions.

2.  If it looks to easy/good to be true, it probably is.

3.  Don’t try Pinterest recipes out on dinner guests.

4.  Don’t let Pinterest squelch your creativity – even if you feel like every good idea you could possibly dream up is already pinned 3409823 times.


Thanksgiving Festivities

Thanksgiving week kicked off for us by serving a Thanksgiving meal to the community with the Missions and Evangelism department at church (the department that Than works in).  It’s a joy to be able to serve a special meal to hungry guests and also to provide them with scarves now that the weather is chillier.  I had the opportunity to help pass out the scarves (yes, it’s cold enough here to wear a scarf at night), donated by a very kind volunteer.  I can still see a little girl’s eyes absolutely light up when she saw one pepto-bismal pink scarf in my arms!  I enjoyed the task I was given of going around to each table smiling at our guests, offering them a scarf and helping them select just the right color.  What pleasure these individuals found in having a choice.  Though a simple choice, it was a still a choice and there is a sense of freedom that comes in having choices. Or perhaps a better word is options.  I suppose we all have choices.  It’s options that are often quite limited for our guests.

The week progressed as usual – a few out of the ordinary happenings including x-ray’s on my potentially injured knee (no real reason for worry yet – just pops out of place on occasion which is painful, but sounds more dramatic than it really is), a California burrito (which had french fries in it – weird, huh?), house sitting and several trips to the grocery store in preparation for Thanksgiving!  It’s a good thing we don’t live out in the country without a grocery store for miles because it seems like I am ALWAYS forgetting something when I’m at the store!  Thankfully Than doesn’t mind the occasional trip to the grocery store for me!

We spent Thanksgiving day with the Kim’s who were in town from Phoenix!  It was great to see them and introduce them to our current favorite board game “Bubble Talk”.  It’s like Apples to Apples but with pictures and much, much more laughter!  I highly recommend adding it to your Christmas list!  It was my first time making a Thanksgiving meal and for the most part everything turned out well!  And we will be eating corn casserole and sweet potato casserole for a very long time.  I hope that years of experience help me gauge quantities a bit better!  We have a LOT of sweet potatoes.  At least they freeze well!  Speaking of putting food in the freezer, I really need to get the rest of that pumpkin cheesecake in the freezer before we finish it off…

Spending our first holiday together as a married couple I felt the need to establish some traditions.  Always full of ideas, I think I was putting too much pressure on me/us to start some traditions.  While I’m in favor of living in an intentional way, perhaps the best traditions are the ones you set out to make, but simply the ones that evolve over time.  I hope that our holidays are always full of love, laughter, serving, games….and sweet potatoes. Oh yes, take a look in our freezer…there will always be sweet potatoes 🙂

Pinterest Wins and Fails – Take 1.

Our jack-o-lantern has molded away and it’s hard to believe it’s just one week until Thanksgiving!  Our pace of life has suddenly picked up, leaving me no time for blogging, but still plenty of time to try out new things from Pinterest of course!  

Last weekend I went to Chicago for a wedding and while I was there I got to catch up (very briefly!) with friends and family.  In talking to my friends I was so pleased to hear (in a slightly twisted way) that it’s not just me who has a lots of Pinterest FLOPS.  With every Pinterest disaster I feel like it’s a strike against me in the domestic/good wife category.  But let’s be realistic – all you really need is a pretty picture and some powerful adjectives for lots of re-pins.  You never really know if these things are legit until you try them. And that, my friend, is where the inspiration started.  Weekly Pinterest Wins and Fails.  Learn from my disasters and enjoy the ideas that actually turn out!

Pinterest Wins

1.  White Trash Bars – I substituted Skor bits (whatever those are – isn’t Skor tobacco?!) with Heath bar pieces.  These are so easy to make and are so rich that a couple of bites will satisfy your sweet tooth!  I would definitely make these again – though they are a little bit dangerous to have around the house!  

2.  Oven Roasted Sausage, Potatoes and Peppers –  Than and I both really liked this – it’s so easy, though ours had to bake quite a big longer than the instructions stated.  My latest and greatest discovery at the grocery store are the bags of frozen peppers and onions that cost $1.  Unlike buying fresh, where each pepper is over $1 each you can buy these and you don’t even have to slice them yourself!  They’re surprisingly good!  I use them in all sorts of things – fajitas, stir fry, omelettes….  Cheap and so easy!

Pinterest Fails

1.  Orange Chicken – We are not food wasters in our house.  But there are times when throwing something out is really and truly the only option.  That’s what happened with our orange chicken.  You’ll see from the comments on the recipe that there was a wide range of opinions.  I opted to add in some of the extra ingredients as suggested and also cut the amount of orange is half.  It was really awful.  My mouth kind of hurts as I typed this, just thinking about it.  In our house, when all else fails, make eggs on toast (or this time on English muffins)!

2.  Crispy Edamame – I’ll confess, my expectation may have been far too high for this snack.  One of the reviewers compared it to popcorn, my absolute favorite snack!  Let’s just say the crispy edamame does not even begin to compare to popcorn.  I baked and baked mine, but it never got very crunchy.  Not a throw it out disaster but it was definitely like sitting there eating a bowl of vegetables during a movie rather than a snack.  Not so much a fan.

Creation of the Week that Seems Like It Could Be Posted on Pinterest

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

One of the best items we registered for when we got married was the Magic Bullet.  We use it for all sorts of things – from smoothies to salad dressing and all sorts of things in between!

We were having friends over for dinner and serving taco soup.  I decided we needed something with veggies and nothing really seemed to go with taco soup, so salad is always a good default.  I got a little creative with the dressing and here’s what I used:

  • Ranch Dressing (I used a bottled dressing but you could always make your own with greek yogurt, ranch packets and milk)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • 2 Jalapenos
  • A squeeze of lime juice

Blend it all up in the Magic Bullet.  Add some milk if it’s too thick and toss with salad.  Yum!  Thank goodness it turned out since we were having guests over!

Be on the lookout for more Pinterest wins and fails in the coming weeks!