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
Devotions

Wisdom or Folly? The Suspense is Real!

Good and evil, hero and villain; we’re told the best stories contain these elements. Why? Because it creates drama, angst, and choice.

Wisdom or Folly? The Suspense is Real!

In one of my favorite books, two leading ladies compete for attention. One is wholesome, the other is scandalous. They each make their play. The one to whom they offer themselves must choose. The suspense is real!

Would you have guessed I was describing the Biblical book of Proverbs? It is full of dilemmas, comparisons, and right vs. wrong. In it, Wisdom and Folly are depicted as influential women. They each call out to passersby.

“Does not wisdom call out?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
    where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
    at the entrance, she cries aloud
‘To you, O people, I call out;
    I raise my voice to all humanity’.”

Proverbs 8:1-4

“Folly is an unruly woman;
    she is simple and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house,
    on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling out to those who pass by,
    who go straight on their way”

Proverbs 9:13-15

Wisdom and folly have very different messages.

Wisdom uses words like listen, watch, and wait. She promises a great reward for those who attune to her for the long haul. She offers life and favor from God to those who do not give up and disregard her.

“Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.”

Proverbs 8:33-35

Folly prefers her audience does not take time to think. Her appeal is to those who want to remain simple. With her, there is no requirement to work or to wait. She offers easy satisfaction from instant gratification. But her reward is deceptive and ultimately fatal.

“‘Let all who are simple come to my house!’
To those who have no sense she says,
‘Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!’
But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.”

Proverbs 9:16-18

Both voices call from the “highest points”. They are equally discernable. The stage is set. What will the hearer do?

The suspense and repercussions are real!

This is no mere entertainment.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this is a participatory story. You and I, dear friends, are the characters who must choose. Wisdom and Folly call to us.

The repercussions of our decision will affect our lives for now and all eternity. Wisdom or Folly? The suspense is real! Which do you choose?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For through wisdom your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”

Proverbs 9:10-12
Categories
Reflections

How are You with Accents?

How are you with accents? I’m awful! I can hear them in my head, but I cannot recreate them out loud.

Unless…

Unless I’ve just watched a movie where the accent has been prolific. Or I’ve spent time with someone who speaks differently than me. Then, I can walk away for a short commercial break, or an equivalent amount of time, and mimic the accent almost exactly. But it fades fast.

Can you relate? Even if you’re talented with accents, you’re probably better after having been exposed to one, right? Do you know what I’m talking about?

It makes me wonder…

It makes me wonder about my attempted imitation of Jesus. I can’t be very good at it when I’m not spending time with Him. If I hope to mimic Jesus, I need to hear Him.

When I tune Him out, my ability to copy His accent fades. I start making my own noise. And there’s a good chance I’m going to embarrass us both.

How about you? Are you good with accents? Is it easier if you spend time with someone who has one? How much time away from Jesus do you think it takes before it becomes difficult to speak and act like Him?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

Ephesians 5:1
Categories
Reflections

What is Kindness and How Does the World Need to See It?

Hi! How are you all? How have you spent your first week of 2023?

I’ve been digging into my Handle Verse. If you missed my last post, it is Romans 2:4. The big idea is KINDNESS. I’m asking God what His kindness is, and how the world needs to see it.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4

The world needs Jesus. My aim is to demonstrate God’s kindness in a way that draws people to Him.

I’ve been asking God to show me what this kindness looks like practically, and how to disperse it. He’s impressed on me that it will overflow from a heart yielded to Him. And He’s given me some specifics.

What kindness is not

It is not joining in gossip. It is not covering for someone dishonestly. God’s kindness never constitutes participation in sin, no matter how supportive or helpful it might make me feel.

Guideline for kindness

God has impressed on me to be personally steadfast. He gave me Psalm 15 as a guideline. It contains many real-world examples of Christian kindness.

“Lord, who can dwell in Your tent?
Who can live on Your holy mountain?
The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend
or discredit his neighbor,
who despises the one rejected by the Lord
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his money at interest
or take a bribe against the innocent—
the one who does these things will never be moved.”

Psalm 15

What kindness is

From this passage, I understand kindness to be a deep respect for everyone based on submission to the Truth. Well, everyone except for the one rejected by the Lord. Who is that?

I only know of one being who has been unequivocally rejected by the Lord. That is Satan himself. I am to despise him.

de·spise

/dəˈspīz/

verb

  1. feel contempt or a deep repugnance for.
Dictionary.com

Kindness is trendy

Kindness is trendy right now. It is a slogan found on t-shirts and mugs, even in secular stores. Random acts of kindness are hashtag worthy. Everyone recognizes the need for more kindness in the world.

But all kindness is not created equal. God isn’t asking me to be kind for the sake of being kind. It’s not so I will be a better person or make someone else’s day better.

Kindness is a characteristic of God

I am supposed to act out God’s kindness. The kind of kindness that draws people to God. The type that leads to repentance and salvation.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

Titus 3:3, 4 (emphasis mine)

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit

The only way to exude God’s kindness is to be filled with His Spirit. If He is the Source, I must be plugged in. Anything I muster on my own is missing the mark.

Turns out this call to kindness in 2023 is a call for me to walk more closely with Jesus. To submit to Him more deeply than ever before. To stay connected and tuned in so I am naturally covered in, and giving off, His kindness.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Colossians 3:12 (emphasis mine)

What would you say kindness is? How do you think the world needs to see it? Do you agree it’s time to lay aside the platitudes and trendy knockoffs of Christian character? Are we willing to authentically pray, “Less of me and more of Thee in 2023”?

Incidentally, the verse God gave my husband for this year is John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” At first glance, our focuses were different. But, as God does, He put us in perfect sync. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Categories
Reflections

My New Year’s Handle Verse is One to Be in 2023

Last Year, God gave me my first Handle Verse. It was one to hold onto. It meant the world to me!

Luke 1:45 written in white against the backdrop of blue sky, sand and water
Last year’s Handle Verse was one to hold onto for 2022.

I’m believing God for some promises He’s made which have yet to come to fruition. And this verse declares me blessed right there. But wow! I’ve also been blown away by how God has made good on His word this past year.

One of the promises God fulfilled in 2022 was our move out of California. If you follow the Back Porch, you know all about it. You remember how we found our house, and how God made the impossible possible to get my daughters and their kids set up in their own places.

Do you need assurance that God still works wondrously? Start reading here.

New Year, New Handle Verse

Several weeks ago, I began asking God to give me a Handle Verse for 2023. Faithfully and consistently, He brought me to the idea of His kindness. He put a song on repeat in my head:

“It’s your kindness that leads us
To repentance Oh Lord
Knowing that You love us
No matter what we do
Makes us want to love You too”

Song by Leslie Phillips

The scripture behind these lyrics emerged as my new Handle Verse.

One to be in 2023

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Romans 2:4

What a humbling verse! God doesn’t berate us to repentance. He doesn’t shun us until we do what we ought. He draws us with kindness.

A botanical photo with a Romans 2:4
My New Year’s Handle Verse is one to be in 2023.
I aim to be more kind.

And you know what? We have direct access to God’s kindness, not just to us, but through us. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit, promised to us as we walk with Him.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22, 23 (emphasis mine)

My aim, this year, is to extend God’s kindness so He can draw others to repentance and salvation.

Mama Lava

It is God’s job to bring people to repentance. That isn’t on you or me. We get to demonstrate His kindness.

In context, Romans 2:4 warns us not to misunderstand God’s kindness. It does not mean He overlooks our sin. He sees our actions and knows our judgmental thoughts.

I realize I am judgmental. I also tend toward words. By now, everyone around me knows what I believe and why. It is high time to cease ‘preachiness’ and increase kindness without judgement.

I need only to see someone precious, whom Jesus died to save.

Mama Lava

I need to open my eyes wide to see and address my sin. But with others, I need only to see someone precious, whom Jesus died to save. Their faults are not my business. When it comes to them, I just want to be kind.

God’s unwavering kindness brings me to repentance. It can do the same for those around me, and around you too. If you don’t yet have a handle verse for this year and would like to adopt mine, please do. Its call to kindness makes it one to be in 2023.

Categories
Reflections

Something Startling about Deer Prints in the Snow

Today’s story begins last spring. As my husband and I discovered the trails around our new town, we saw tons of wildlife. My favorite were the deer.

I wrote about a few of them. There was one I named Buck. I photographed this doe right outside my window.

A doe near a deck.
One of many beauties I’ve seen feeding on the property we rent.

Something Startling about Deer Prints in the Snow

The deer were welcome friends all summer and into the fall. But then they disappeared. Not knowing much about them, I wondered if they hibernated.

I wondered for weeks. Finally, the other day, I googled it. I learned deer do not hibernate and they are mostly nocturnal.

I found that interesting, since I’d often seen them in daylight. I assumed the longer dark hours of winter simply gave them enough preferred time to forage. I missed having them around.

Finally, we got a good snow. Everything outside got a thick covering of white. With plants, rocks, ground nooks, and crannies smoothed over, the terrain was a beautiful, untouched and smooth canvas.

A neighborhood with freshly fallen snow.
Fresh powder everywhere, like my kitchen when I dropped the sugar container the other day!

I marveled over it. I photographed it. My husband and I marred it by walking in it and shoveling it where necessary in front of the house.

And then we went to sleep. The next morning we were startled to find a most amazing wonder! Along the driveway, around the side of our house, and down the slope in the back, there was an array of deer prints in the snow.

So many deer prints in the snow

On my walk later that day, I rejoiced to see tracks of (probably) hundreds of deer in the open meadows of freshly fallen snow. I was missing the deer, and suddenly, miraculously, I could see evidence of them all around.

They’d been right outside my house. They’d been feeding along the paths I walk. They’d been everywhere. And I was completely unaware, until it snowed.

Something startling to smile about

Then it hit me. There are seasons where I cannot escape the workings of the Holy Spirit. I turn a corner, and there He is; I look out the window, there he is. People being comforted, maintaining joy in difficult circumstances, and embracing salvation.

“The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here
The atmosphere is changing now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here”

Here as in Heaven ~Song by Elevation Worship

Other times, though, it seems like awhile since I’ve seen Him. I wonder if He’s moved on, or if He has taken a break from me. But He does not hibernate. It is not in His nature to leave me alone.

“He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.”

Psalm 121:3

“for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

Hebrews 13:5b

Sometimes I just need to quiet down. I need clear my canvas. I need to avail myself.

And when the time is right, He reveals His activity in my life. And when I see it, I realize it has been pervasive. He has been all around.

I haven’t seen Him, but He has been there. He has left footprints everywhere I’ve been. He has been close all along.

Don’t you just love how nature reveals the glory of God? His consistency is highlighted in all of creation. It all testifies to His timeless Truth.

The deer prints in the snow are an earthly wonder that helps me understand a Heavenly one. Thank you, Jesus, for startling me with deer prints in the snow. And thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to help and guide me. How comforting it is to remember that I am never alone!