Categories
Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Meatballs

Hi there! Are you hungry? I am! Maybe that’s why this little hack of the hour is popping to mind. But I’m glad it is because it is a great one to keep on hand!

Meatballs

Meatballs are so versatile! They can be made from many kinds of meat or vegetarian ingredients. They can be store bought or homemade. They cook in large quantities and freeze well.

I always have a bag of meatballs in my freezer. They have saved my sanity on several occasions. Here are some examples from my experience. Have you found yourself in any of these situations?

  • Guests coming over before payday or your next grocery store run
  • Last minute potluck invitation
  • The kids have friends over and they’re scrounging for food
  • Out of town friends call and say, “Hey, we’re nearby! Can we come see you?”
  • A friend or neighbor has a mishap and needs help with tonight’s meal
  • You need food for a crowd that won’t break the budget
  • etc. You get the idea!

All the above dilemmas (and more, I’m sure) can be solved with meatballs. I prefer to heat them in my crockpot, but if time is short, the stovetop is faster. Here are 3 “Recipes”. (I put that in quotes because when there are only 2 ingredients, is it really a recipe?)

Meatballs three ways

  1. Meatballs and your favorite marinara sauce.
  2. Meatballs and your favorite BBQ sauce.
  3. Meatballs and your favorite teriyaki sauce.
A photo of Ragu marinara sauce, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, Soy Vay hoisin garlic teriyaki sauce.
These are our favorite meatball sauces. What are yours?

Instructions: Simply place frozen meatballs in a pan or crockpot with the sauce of your choice and cook until the meatballs are heated through.

Serving options for meatballs

You can serve the meatballs alone as an appetizer/snack or you can add one more plentiful ingredient to stretch them and feed more people.

  1. Meatballs marinara and rolls make an Italian-style meatball sub. Of course, pasta is also a delicious pairing with meatballs marinara.
  2. Meatballs and BBQ sauce are fantastic over baked potatoes. Bread is a good choice too because BBQ meatball sandwiches are delicious.
  3. Teriyaki meatballs over rice is simple perfection. Fresh or canned pineapple is also a wonderful accompaniment to teriyaki meatballs.

You can add other ingredients if you want. But you don’t have to! Meatballs are filling and I’m usually surprised how quickly appetites are satisfied.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

Meatballs are a helpful hack because they can be inexpensive, quick, and easy. Do you have any in your freezer? Will you think about stocking them from now on?

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

Categories
Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Fels-Naptha

Got stains? Fels-Naptha!

Fels-Naptha, by Purex, is is my first helpful little hack of the hour because it is the best laundry assistant I have ever found.

And it’s cheap! You might find it in your grocery or drug store aisle for under $2 a bar, but it has been getting harder to find in stores. Amazon prices it right around $2.50.

I have been using Fels-Naptha on every fabric stain for almost 30 years. It has completely removed:

  • Grass stains (even deeply embedded on football uniforms)
  • Mud
  • Blood
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Black from car engines and tires
  • Red sauce
  • Juice
  • Baby diaper blow outs
  • New stains, old stains, dried in stains
  • and more!

Quick story: I brought each of my 5 babies home from the hospital in the same outfit. It was a cute, mint green, Winnie the Pooh, sleep sack. When preparing to pack my hospital bag for baby #4, I inadvertently washed and dried that outfit with a tube of cherry Chapstick. It melted all over the fabric and I almost panicked. Instead, I grabbed my Fels-Naptha and went to work. I washed it again and it was as good as new! Thank you, Jesus, and Fels-Naptha!

A bar of Fels-Naptha stain removing soap.
Fels-Naptha is my helpful little hack of the hour because it works!

Directions:

  • Wet the stained fabric and the end of the Fels-Naptha bar.
  • Rub the Fels-Naptha onto the stain until it forms a visible layer of soap.
  • Fold the fabric so the stain folds on itself like a taco.
  • Rub the two sides of the stain together – one side against the other – until suds form.
  • If the stain is bad, you can let it sit for an hour. Launder as instructed on the garment tag.

I have given bars of this soap as gifts. It smells nice, is inexpensive, and incredibly useful! Whenever anyone in my family spills something, we all say “Fels-Naptha”. And by that we mean “Don’t worry, it’ll come out!”

Fels-Naptha is my first, and possibly favorite, helpful little hack of the hour because it works! I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t already have a preferred, tried-and-true, stain erasing, wonder working, laundry bar.

And while you’re washing those stains away, remember that the blood of Jesus will remove every sinful stain from your life and makes you “white as snow” in the eyes of the Father.

White as snow
White as snow
Though my sins were as scarlet
Lord I know
Lord I know
That I’m clean and forgiven
Through the power of your blood,
Through the wonder of your love,
Through faith in you I know
That I can be
White as snow

“White As Snow” by Maranatha! Music

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

Categories
Introductions

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Introduction and Intent

My precious friends, gather in close for a second. How are you? No really… how are you?

We read each other’s blogs and we interact in the comments. We are able to make incredibly meaningful connections despite our distance and differences of all kinds. And yet I still wonder… is there a way I can be more helpful to you?

Introduction and Intent

I began this blog as a mom whose kids were becoming adults. Not just my own five children, but also the dozens, with no biological relation, who called me “Mama Lava”.

My original tagline was “A Dose of Maternal Love”. I intended to create a “comfy spot”, which I likened to hanging out on my Back Porch. I planned to share recipes and tips, and to encourage the next generation toward Godly living and maturity.

Somewhere along the way, as God knew from the beginning would be the case, my audience expanded. I think the median age of my audience is now closer to mine than my kids. I tried to adapt my approach to align with what God was doing.

I updated my tagline to read “A Place for Rest and Encouragement”. My “Back Porch” became a place of greater reflection. My focus has been to share the joy of the Lord and remind you, my friends, that even in these crazy times, God is always good.

I am so thankful to have this little platform from which I get to bless others with my words. And yet, it is not lost on me that words are just words. I wish there was more I could do.

I’ve been mulling this over for a whole year. I know because I wrote Words or Actions? 3 Reasons Why “Well Done” is Better Than “Well Said” last August. The question I’m wrestling with now is, “What can be done over a blog?”.

I wish I could help you with your chores. It would be fun to cook for you sometimes. I would love to show you some tricks I’ve learned that have made my life easier, and watch you demonstrate yours.

Sun rays bursting upwards and downwards from behind the clouds
The simplest prompt can lead to great inspiration!

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour

Today I had a sort of “ah-ha” moment, courtesy of Jillian Michaels and her fitness app. I logged on to fetch my workout and saw her “tip of the day”. I always like those. They are poignant and practical. Some of them I already know, some I disagree with, some amuse me, and others I find completely life changing.

I’ve decided to start something similar. It won’t be the same as being physically alongside you. But I hope it will be a way for me to pop in and share something I find valuable. Just a helpful little hack of the hour.

Don’t worry, I won’t actually send them every hour. But I do hope to send several in the remaining days of August.

I sincerely believe Jesus is the single, most valuable thing I can share with you. Any time I can testify of His goodness and love I want to do it. If I can encourage you toward Him in any way, that is my greatest intent.

In addition, I’d like to make daily living in this world, easier for you wherever I can. Helpful little hacks are a way to do just that… I hope!

It’s hard to know if an idea is a good one until you’ve tried it. Will you indulge me in this experiment? I’d love to hear your initial thoughts.

Do you like the idea of frequent, shorter posts, each containing a helpful little hack of the hour? Are there certain facets of life for which you could use a few helpful hints and tricks? How can I be more beneficial to you?

Thank you, my precious Back Porch friends. I hope I can add to you even a fraction of the value you bring to my life. You all are – you each are – a tremendous blessing to me!

Categories
Devotions Emotions

Angry and Convinced Someone Should Die? Make It Quick!

When my blood starts to boil, and I feel myself getting really angry…

(I know you’ve been there too!)

It’s like fire raging from deep within, bursting out of control…

Aaarrrrrrgggg!

(Know the feeling?)

Someone needs to die!

(Yes, definitely!)

And that someone is me.

(Wait, what?)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

1 Peter 2:23, 24

To be clear, I am not advocating for suicide. This is not about physical death. But there are many natural instincts, with which I was born, that need to die. My need to be right, my desire for revenge, and the longing to have things “my way” are just a few.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. When I gave my life to Jesus, He gave me a Helper. The Holy Spirit convicts me of what needs to die in me and provides strength and motivation to put it down.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:24-26

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:13

Someone once pointed out to me that a dead (wo)man has no preferences. (S)he may have wanted certain things while (s)he was alive; enough to stand, strive and fight for them, even. But not anymore. Once (s)he dies, (s)he no longer has rights or desires, and therefore can not be imposed upon or offended.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:2, 3

If I have truly died to myself, and Jesus is living in me, there should be no struggle for control. I shouldn’t be consumed with pursuits of things I used to want. I am no longer relevant. My life is His.

A tiny plant in a handful of soil
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com
Just as a seed will die to live as something much greater, so must I.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Colossians 3:5-10

I committed my life to Christ many years ago. The Holy Spirit has been hard at work. But friends, I’m not there yet. My sinful flesh does not quiet quickly.

In the words of Paul, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12) And it sure is on my mind! By God’s grace, I hope to resemble Him more, and me less, every day.

When I feel provoked, angry, and convinced someone should die, I need to make it quick. I’m the one who needs to die. My sin, my fleshly desires, my arrogance, my rights – I need to lay them all down for the joy of the Lord.

“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 

Romans 6:2a, 6-8, 11, 13, 14
Categories
Reflections

One Unexpected Way the Beautiful Trees Exalt Our God

The forest in which I live is spectacular! It treats my senses every day. The elevated trails I wander put me where I can see the treetops and they go as far as my eyes can see in every direction.

The Beautiful Trees

It would not be unexpected for me to say that the trees exalt God. There are many aspects of them which signal His greatness. They are beautiful, strong, and useful, implying a powerful and creative, Intelligent Designer.

Standing among them, feeling small and in awe, the trees put me in my place. And the shapes of them, especially the pines near which I live, point directly up to their magnificent Creator. What a perspective they provide!

A forest of pine trees
I feel so small among the trees!

Yesterday, the beautiful trees exalted God for me in an unexpected way. My husband and I were in a different part of the forest than we usually walk. Many trees were marked with an orange stripe. My hubby had seen that when he was young, in another forest in another state. There, it meant the tree was marked for removal.

I looked around and could not even attempt to count the number of trees with orange stripes. It hurt my heart! I hoped the marks meant something else and wondered if it would make God sad if so many of His beautiful trees were, indeed, slated for removal.

The Unexpected Exaltation

I suddenly felt an overwhelming awe of God flush over me. He is aware of every tree. Not just the trees in the massive forest where I live, but every single one across the county, state, country, continent, and the world!

A dense forest of pines
God sees every tree on every hill, mountain, and valley, everywhere!

He knows how many trees are out there. And not just that! He is acquainted with every creature which makes its home in every leaf, needle, fruit, branch, trunk, and root of every single one. He is aware when one tree falls, and when another sprouts – across the entire planet!

“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 41:19, 20

“He gives food to every creature.
His love endures for ever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures for ever.

Psalm 136:25, 26

I was struggling to grasp the enormous number of trunks with orange marks. But God not only knows every one of those trees, He knows of every one He has ever made anywhere! That made my head spin.

My head – yes, that’s right! God knows the number of hairs on my head. And he is acquainted with every star in the sky. Of course He sees each and every tree.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Luke 12:7a

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Psalm 147:4,5

Next time you’re in a forest, I encourage you to stand at the trunk of a tree and look up. Then look around at how many trees there are. Maybe you can go there now in your imagination. What do you feel about God in that moment? What perspective does it put on your relationship with Him?

Perspective from the ground, looking up the trunks of a some very tall pines
Photo by Marco Trinidad on Pexels.com
How many branches, how many needles, how many animals, how many birds, how many insects…? How Great is our God!

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:12

Good on those trees! In that moment, they were exalting God. They were revealing His splendor to me.

“Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Psalm 96:12

For me, it was an unexpected reminder of how marvelous, majestic, and mighty our God is. Those trees exalt Him every day just in their existence. Do I? Do you? We also were created to exalt Him. What do others see about Him when they look at us?

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Psalm 148:13

I want to be a vessel of praise alongside the beautiful trees. They have certainly reminded me of His greatness. May we all exalt God in unexpected ways!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 148:1a, 7-13a, emphasis mine
Categories
Recommendations

Choose Foods That Will Make You Feel Better

Hello, my precious friends! I hope you’re feeling sunny and bright on this wonderful day. But even if not, I’m so glad you’re here!

What I have to share might help with some physical, mental, and emotional angst we’re carrying. Much of it is likely linked to what we’re eating. Why not choose foods that will make us feel better?

I want to choose better foods to address three specific areas of interest

1. Brain Cognition

If you read my last post, you know I have been dealing with brain fog. It has been interesting. You all have been so supportive and kind. I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers! I have been doing some research and reading up on things that can help with clarity of thought. I’ve been specifically focusing on which foods I should choose for better brain cognition.

2. Lower Cholesterol

I conducted a similar study awhile back when I received lab results indicating unexpectedly high cholesterol. I wanted to do better. I discovered that I could choose foods which would lower the numbers.

It was a chaotic time in my life and instead of making the necessary changes, I put my research in a file for a later date. My most recent lab tests revealed that my cholesterol is still a problem. No surprise there since I never really addressed it.

3. Gut Health

Another interest (just pure fascination), which has caused me to study food choice, is gut health. I’m learning about foods in both probiotic and prebiotic categories. By maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, we can counter much of the inflammation from which we suffer. I’m not an expert, by any means. I’ve just done some digging and saved the information I’ve gathered into my growing file of findings.

microbiome: noun / the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body).

Dictionary.com

An overlap in the research results?

Was there a significant overlap in the suggested diets for these three areas of interest, or was it my imagination? This week, I finally sat down and opened my fat file to pull my research together. I charted it into a concise cheat sheet with the goal of centering my diet on these healing foods. I also wanted to share it with you because life is beautiful, and we enjoy it most when we are feeling our best!

A chart illustrating the overlap of suggested foods to eat for enhancing cholesterol levels, brain cognition, and gut health
Choose foods that will help you feel better! Here is a cheat sheet.

I put the foods which I read could help lower dangerous LDL cholesterol into the blue circle. (Some of them can also boost the helpful HDL cholesterol while they’re at it!) The teal ring encapsulates foods which have been found to assist with brain cognition. The foods in the purple circle are said to improve gut health.

There really is a large overlap! The foods that are known to be good for all three areas of interest are nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, green tea, fruits, and soy products. These are in the center where the circles converge. Choosing these over other things can help you feel relief from several ailments at once!

The graph also logs foods which have been shown to help with one area of concern or overlap on two of them. Around the edges of the illustration, I have listed the specific items I found mentioned under some broader category headings. For instance, “whole grains” are widely touted, but specifically, I saw oats, bran, quinoa, and brown rice repeated in my research.

A few disclosures

I cannot certify that these findings are proven or complete. This is just a compilation of what I read, from sources I consider to be reputable. I plan to use it as a tool for my own meal planning and thought you might be interested as well.

Full disclosure – One of my granddaughters is visiting for a couple weeks and my grandson will arrive just after she leaves. Summers and grandkids pretty much require ice cream dates and other treats which are not on this list. They yield a different kind of wonderful feeling and I’m all here for it while I can be! I will embrace these ingredients completely in my daily menus next month.

But I’m looking forward to mid-July to see if I begin to feel better. I will eat with intention and keep you posted. There, now I’ve said it “out loud” and I welcome the accountability!

Use the cheat sheet in any way that is helpful

How about you? Have you noticed a correlation between your quality of life, sense of wellness, and your diet? Do you choose foods based on what will make you feel better? Are you interested in any of the categories I’ve studied? If so, please feel free to save, print, share, or do whatever you like with this chart I’ve made. Here’s to better health for us all!

One more thing…

P.S. one last thought. I called these foods “healing” because of the benefits they offer to our physical bodies. But they are only so because they were designed and given to us by an All-Powerful God who is Jehovah Rapha, our Great Physician. He is our Creator, Healer, Life Giver, and Sustainer.

Never do I want to elevate the created thing above the Creator. My faith is in God. He is the Good Father who gives good gifts. Healthy food is one of those gifts, given for our enjoyment and benefit. So is the gift of taste. I’m incredibly thankful for the creativity in His provision, aren’t you? All glory to God by Whom we are enabled to live well, eat well, and be well!