Categories
Conversations Recommendations

A Wonderful Winter Recipe Share!

Hello! Thanks for stopping by the Back Porch today. I’m grateful for your company! I would like to propose a recipe share to accompany this wonderful winter season we’re enjoying.

Our Wonderful Winter

This is our first winter in Northern Arizona, but our neighbors tell us we’ve had an unusual amount of snow. We’ve gotten something like 60 inches in the last two weeks. It is beautiful! I have only 2 complaints.

  1. It makes my daily trail walks all but impossible.
  2. It started 2 days after my husband’s hip replacement surgery, leaving shoveling duty to my son and me.

I must say, though, snowy weather is great for cooking and baking. And I’ve been doing a lot of that! So, I also have to say I’m grateful for shoveling duty, because it is a fabulous calorie burner while the trail walks are on hold.

A Recipe Share

This is where a wonderful winter recipe share comes in. What are you eating these days? Do you have any nutritious recipes to share? Could you use a few?

My hubby likes to base his diet on protein. I prefer to center mine on plants. Because we’re incredibly creative (read the sarcasm), we’ve dubbed our eating habits “Protein and Plants”. It works. At least it reminds me where to focus when I’m at the grocery store. We both also eat carbs, dairy, and fats; we just try not to make them the stars of our plates.

What do you think? Do you have any recipes I can try? Would you be willing to share?

Here is one of our favorites that you might enjoy. It’s quick, simple, and healthy to boot!

Chicken, Mushroom, and Asparagus Stir Fry

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken, sliced
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, wedged
  • 16 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup stir-fry sauce
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce

Instructions

  1. In a skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add chicken strips; stir fry 5-6 minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from the pan.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add asparagus, and onion; stir fry for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir fry 3 minutes longer. Add water; cover and steam for 2-3 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix stir-fry sauce and oyster sauce. Return the chicken to the wok and add the sauce mixture. Stir fry for about 1 minute longer or until hot.
  4. Serve with hot rice, or on a bed of greens.

Note: You can substitute any other veggies that you like and have on hand. Feel free to be creative with the protein too!


If you have a recipe for me to try, please share! I would love to use it for two purposes – to pray for you as I prepare it, and to nourish my family this wonderful winter. Please, paste one in the comments, or provide a link if you’ve already shared it. If you aren’t excited about posting it publicly, but are willing to email it privately, use my contact button at the top of the page.

Thank you! I appreciate you. Seriously – whether you have a recipe to share or not, I appreciate you for being here, for reading, and for being a present blessing to the Back Porch! Have a great day!

Categories
Emotions Reflections

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic, and a Targeted Miracle

Do you have irrational fears? I do. Fire is a major one.

A Sure-Fire Way to Make Me Panic

Yes, fire is a rational danger but the panic I feel, in relation to it, is not. It stems from a movie I saw when I was too immature to process. Someone was burned at the stake, and to this day I vividly recall the way the actor’s body writhed and his face contorted in pain.

Just the thought of burning is a sure-fire way to make me panic. I have a stash of unused candles because I love the fragrance but fear the fire. I cautiously enjoy our gas fireplace, which is predictable and controllable.

It isn’t just fire, I’ve discovered. Its burns in general. So when my son’s text buzzed in, it brought me to my knees.

The Text which Made Me Panic

It was Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. I was preparing for bed. My son is 19, the last of our kids living at home. He was at work. I picked up the phone and read.

“I burned my foot really bad”.

My heart sank and my stomach knotted. I felt dizzy. And then another buzz.

“Just letting you know. I’m going to be struggling for the next days or weeks.”

I started to panic. I wanted to throw up. My reaction was irrational, but at least it drove me to my knees. “Oh God, please take away his pain!”

A Sure-Fire Way to Get Burned

As I prayed, I texted back. I told him I was praying and asked what happened. My son works in the kitchen of a restaurant.

He said he was cleaning the fryer. The apparatus has a hose which shoots the hot oil, and he dropped it. The oil sprayed into his shoe. That is a sure-fire way to get burned!

He secured the machine and made sure no one else was injured before attending to himself. By the time he removed his oil-soaked sock, it had held the heat on his skin longer than I cared to surmise. His manager assisted him with burn gel and a bandage. Unbelievably, he had not been sent home from work.

My son uses humor to lighten serious situations. I was certain he was downplaying this one and his managers didn’t know how bad it was. He’s also grown man who didn’t need his mommy to panic.

God’s Miraculous Power is a Sure-Fire Antidote for Panic

I couldn’t sleep. I kept my phone on. He finished most of his shift and drove himself home.

My breathing was shallow, and I was nauseated, but I wanted to see it for myself. I almost passed out. His burn was bubbly and discolored. It was ugly, yes, but my reaction was irrational, and I knew it.

My panic subsided because my son truly did NOT seem to be in terrible pain. I know that was God’s miraculous power at work! We decided to go to the hospital to get it dressed properly.

While the intake nurse was assessing the injury, the receptionist walked back with a file. She took one look and incredulously asked, “How are you not screaming?” He answered that it looked worse than it felt. Praise God!

Only by God’s miraculous power!

When we finally saw the doctor, she said superficial burns often don’t involve enough nerves to be excruciating. But she also said his was not entirely superficial.

How was it superficial at all, given what happened? Only by God’s miraculous power! It should have been worse and even as it was, it should have felt worse.

It was good we went to the ER. The doctor cleaned it up and the nurse bandaged it well. They instructed us in first aid for at-home care.

They offered a note to keep my son home for at least a week. But he went back to work on Saturday. What a miracle!

God’s Sure-Fire Reiteration

Last night, I was using my glue gun on some Christmas decorations. I applied hot glue to one and then dropped it onto my thumb. It stuck. My burn is 1/50th the size of my son’s. It hurts.

A blister.
My small burn.

It is a sure-fire reiteration that God’s miraculous intervention kept my son from unbearable pain. If mine hurts like it does, his surely should have felt much worse!

A Targeted Miracle

God targeted my son with a miracle and reminded me of his power. Maybe some of you, my precious readers, need to be reminded also. It is likely I’m not the only one who will face an irrational fear this holiday season.

Some of you might be brought to your knees in desperation over something. Maybe you have already been. It feels like a position of weakness, but kneeling is the perfect stance from which to approach God and ask for a targeted miracle.

Power over Panic

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to present God as a genie in a bottle who does tricks upon request. Many times, I’ve prayed and God has chosen not to intervene in overtly miraculous ways.

But sometimes He does. I know because I’ve seen Him do it. I saw it just this week.

There is a sure-fire way to make me panic. My son’s accident was a case in point. But panic drove me to prayer, and God has power over panic and all fear.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

We’re all on the verge of a crisis, going through one, or coming out of one. Where are you? God’s power is greater than panic. And we can pray for one another.

What kind of fire are you in right now? What are your irrational fears? How has God targeted you with His miraculous power in recent days? What are your thoughts?

Categories
Vacations

Jet Lag is a New and Surprisingly Brutal Thing

Hello, my gracious friends! You all are amazing. You know that, right? Just in case you need to be reminded today, hear me! You are a walking, talking (and writing) miracle and I am blessed by you.

Jet lag is a new thing for me, and it is surprisingly brutal. I sit here, wide awake at 0’dark thirty in the morning, feeling overwhelmed. I have so much I want to tell you, ask you, share with you… and for some reason I feel crunched for time.

I’m not sure if there is a real reason for that or if it is jet lag making mountains out of molehills. (Have you heard that expression? I’ve always liked it!)

Updates, Photos, and Life Events held momentarily captive by jet lag

I am grateful for your grace this fall. I know I owe you some updates. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers for me regarding the skin treatment I underwent last month and my trip to Ireland, from which I’ve just returned.

Autumn is amazing and it seems to have fallen upon my little mountain town while I was away. It shows me God’s wonder afresh, as the places I’ve previously lived did not showcase seasons the way I get to experience them now. Naturally, I have photos to share with you!

Looking forward, I spy a few major life events staring back at me. I want to tell you about them in hopes you’ll walk with me through them. Your insights, stories, and prayers are precious to me. These things make us more than fellow bloggers. They make us friends.

Is jet lag brutal for you?

I have some writing to do! And I promise to get to it… just as soon as my mind catches up with my body. I feel as though my mental faculties took a parachute mid-journey while my physical form stayed on the plane and arrived home. And I don’t even know where my sleep schedule derailed. Maybe it got stuck in the same overseas time zone as my luggage.

This was my first international trip. The jet lag is surprisingly more brutal than I expected. I want to hear your stories. Please commiserate with me!

How does jet lag feel for you? Or are you one of those people who can hop around the world and not feel it at all? Bonus points if you can identify the airport in the cover photo. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Categories
Collaborations Reflections

The Breath in our Lungs, the Great I AM, YHWH

Hello, my precious friends! I have something special for you today. I can’t wait for you to read it!

There is a popular song which refers to the Lord as the owner of the breath in our lungs, but I hadn’t made a correlation between YHWH, the Great I AM, and the sound of my breath… until now. The following article has made an impression on me and blessed my heart. And it has a funny story attached.

The version I read had no author noted. So I did some digging and found it attributed to a lady named Sandra. I contacted her to see if I could repost her article, and she responded that she is not the author, and she couldn’t tell me who is because her searches all lead back to her, the way mine had.

What a crazy thing, huh? So for now, this is just an anonymous blessing.

It is what I call, Scripture adjacent. By that I mean it is a reflection beyond what the Bible states, so it should be understood in that context. But I hope it will spark your contemplation and imagination about how involved God is with humankind, the crown of His creation, and how much we, in turn, depend on Him!

And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am[a]the Lord. 
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord[b] I was not known to them.
a. Exodus 6:2 Hebrew YHWH
b. Exodus 6:3 Hebrew YHWH, traditionally Jehovah

Exodus 6:2, 3

There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what his name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.

Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels.

But scholars and Rabi’s have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing.

YH (inhale): WH (exhale).

So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God.

A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words.

Even an atheist would speak His name, unaware that their very breath is giving constant acknowledgment to God.

Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.

So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?

Being alive means I speak His name constantly.

So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?

In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs.

In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst.

In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down.

When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.

When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!

This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive.

All of us, always, everywhere.

Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips.

– Unknown Author


Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
by Amy Grant

I have one more interesting note related to this topic. In Hawaiian, the word for breath is “Hā”. It sounds like an exhale.

It is a traditional Hawaiian practice for loved ones to greet by pressing their noses together and breathing the same air. Sharing breath signifies the sharing of life. We would not be alive without the Hā, which God breathed into the first man.

 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Genesis 6:7

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
And great are You, Lord

… It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

Great Are You Lord
by All Sons and Daughters
Categories
Questions

Why is Nobody Eating the Apples?

It is practically raining apples where I live! There are countless apple trees, laden with ripe fruit. But nobody is picking and eating them. Why not?

Yellow apples in a tree
Ripe yellow apples!

I see ads posted by people looking for help to clean up the apples that have fallen in their yards. I do not see people gathering them or even picking them to snack on as they walk by. Why is nobody eating the apples?

Green apples in a tree
Green apples so ripe they fall into your hand when touched!

Are there varieties of apples that are not edible? Within seconds of my doorstep, there are glorious green, yellow, and red apples. Why is nobody eating them?

Yellow and red apples in apple trees.
Trees full of mouth-wateringly ripe yellow and red apples!

What do you think? It seems a shame to see all this fruit go to waste. I feel foolish purchasing apples at the store when there are trees full of them on public land all around me. Why is nobody eating these apples? I’m bewildered and curious to hear your thoughts!

Categories
Emotions Recommendations

How Anxiety in Your Life Indicates Sure Fire Reasons for Alarm

Do you know what anxiety is? How would you define it? I’ll admit I hadn’t really stopped to examine it until recently.

In this post, I hope to explain how anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. At the same time, I expect you’ll find it reassuring. I understand that sounds a bit contradictory, but please, read on!

Quick disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I have no clinical expertise. When I refer to anxiety, I am talking about symptoms common to most of us when we feel anxious.

Anxiety – what is it?

I read a book called Redefining Anxiety, by Dr. John Delony. It was eye-opening for me, and I’d recommend it for anyone. In that book, Dr. Delony described anxiety as an alarm system in the body.

He had a great analogy, I thought. He wondered if I/we/you would hear a fire alarm and spend our time and effort to shut it off? Or would we immediately run to find and fight the fire?

Anxiety is a symptom, not a cause.

How I, and likely you, typically respond to anxiety is to relieve it however we can. We do breathing exercises, turn to coping mechanisms (praying, eating, napping, exercising, etc.), and self-medication. We consider ourselves successful when we’ve quieted the anxiety.

But anxiety is a symptom, not a cause. If it indicates we have stressors burning somewhere inside us, silencing its alert only allows the real issues to rage unchecked. The alarms will soon sound again with increasing urgency.

High-Functioning Anxiety

In a recent feature piece, Dr. Delony introduced another relevant phrase, “High-Functioning Anxiety”. You can access that article here. I think many of us have become accustomed to the deafening ring of this alarm.

High-functioning anxiety, as Dr. Delony presents it, describes the phenomenon where someone is successfully living their life while experiencing consistent symptoms. They can be loving spouses, great parents, responsible employees, and community servants. Their anxiety is not debilitating, yet they struggle to set boundaries, don’t sleep well, worry constantly, and (this one caught my attention) often feel their hearts race.

Although it feels burdensome, anxiety is a gift. It tells us we’re in a precarious place and must take action quick. The last thing we should do is suppress our alarms and go back to business as usual.

Anxiety – what to do about it?

If we fail to address the stress causing our anxiety, the alarms escalate in fervency. To continue the analogy, our lives fill with smoke. We might find ourselves struggling to breathe, impatient, making rash decisions, desperate, or worse.

Identify the cause(s) of your anxiety

Are you anxious today? It may be time for introspection. Can you identify some core problems? How can you put those issues to rest?

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

God knows you inside and out. Enlist His help. Ask Him to show you where the fires are and then surrender them to Him. He has the expertise and the tools to put them out.

Anxiety as an opportunity

My friend, let me encourage you to fight your fires. You may find forgiveness, a conversation, apology, or some other thing you can accomplish will put those flames down.

Or you may need to seek trained help to get there. Just don’t put it off any longer. As Dr. Delony says, “You deserve to be well.”

Anxiety in your life indicates sure fire reasons for alarm. If those sirens are sounding, you have a fantastic opportunity! Instead of focusing on our anxiety, let’s address the issues that cause it and stop those alarms for good!

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 94:18, 19 Thank you, ManetteKay for sending this verse my way.