Caught up in the past…

Once or twice a week, my daughter who lives about two hours away from home would call me on her lunch break from work. We would chat for 3-5 minutes, try to catch up and share brief updates on our jobs and life in general.

Each time we hang up, for a moment, I would look back on how we shared our lives in the past together. It was always me and her against all odds. We did not have much but we were always happy.

Recently, after each call, I would feel sad and sensitive because I must remind myself that she can only spare 5 minutes of her time in our calls.

A wise person gave his profound response when I shared these sentiments, “let us flip your statement for a moment and put a different spin on it. Think of how she uses her last 5 minutes of her break. She gives you a call.” I knew he was right. Here I am, too caught up in my own emotions that I forgot the precious time she spends with me. She could have easily looked at her social media for 5 minutes or chatted with a friend but she chose to pick up the phone to call me, to hear my voice, and to listen.

In our busiest moments, how many times in a day or in a week do we chose to spend 5 minutes of our time to praise God? To talk to Him. To appreciate His blessings. Do we spare a moment to think of Him throughout the day?

God appreciates every moment that we spend time with Him. He does not dwell on how long or short our prayers are. He is happy just to hear from us.

For that reason, in Philippians 4:6  Apostle Paul tells us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

“Father, help us not to indulge ourselves in re-living moments in our past but to appreciate what you have for us in the present. Bless the people around us who extend their time and effort to hear our voice. May you also, help us to hear Your voice in our hearts so that we may pause for a moment and allow You to come to our lives. It is in Jesus’ name, we pray.”

©fm1 10.19.2021

He is the God of Hope!

Wherever you are now in your life, trust, and hope in Christ. Though you may find it hard to see the good in challenging times, focus and remain in the presence of God, and allow your mind to wander through the beauty and the blessings of life.

As Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Good Food Is Good Medicine

Grilled chicken with roasted veggie potato corn cake, fondue and green beans

This recipe is for a full meal. You can cook the full meal (see the following steps for each individual side) or you can prepare each dish to serve as part of other meals. Serves 4. https://www.farmtofork.com/chefs/jet-aguirre/

Chef Jet Aguirre will be giving a cooking demo of this dish at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 9/18/21 at the Farm-to-Fork Festival in downtown Sacramento.

Grillin’ Spice

Ingredients

  • 1/8 oz. onion powder
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of coarse ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of mild chili pepper
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of coriander
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of ground mustard

Preparation

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

Grilled chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pound chicken breast and leg quarter
  • 1/8 cup of Grillin’ Spice (see recipe above)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. canola/olive oil 80/20 blend

Recipe

  1. Mix Grillin’ Spice and salt together.
  2. Rub chicken with spices and oil.
  3. Marinate overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Mark chicken on grill on skin side.
  6. Finish cooking in the oven until internal temperature is 165° F.

Parmesan cheese fondue

Ingredients

  • 1/8 tsp. yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2/3 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 3/4 tsp. sour cream
  • 1 7/8 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 1/4 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 tsp. tabasco sauce
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • Pinch of Old Bay seasoning
  • 7 1/3 Tbsp. heavy cream

Recipe

  1. Finely mince yellow onion.
  2. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  3. Heat slowly over Bain-marie, or other substitue such as a casserole dish filled with water, until fully melted. The consistency should be smooth. Do not burn or scorch.

Veggie potato corn cake

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 oz. fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/8 yellow onion, diced
  • 5/8 oz. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. low-fat milk
  • 2 1/2 oz. fresh cut corn
  • Pinch of fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. dry parsley flakes

Recipe

  1. Place potatoes in a pot of cold water, and bring to a simmering boil.
  2. Cook potatoes until a knife can be easily inserted into potato (about 25-30 mins).
  3. While potatoes are cooking, heat butter, corn, garlic, onions and milk in a sauce pot until butter is melted and mixture is hot.
  4. Drain potatoes.
  5. Place potatoes in a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, slowly add the butter and cream mixture.
  6. Once mixed well, add all herbs and seasonings and mix to incorporate. Do not overmix as the potatoes may become gummy.
  7. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  8. Wait until potatoes are cool to touch.
  9. Portion into 4 oz. patties, about 1/2-inch thick.
  10. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray.
  11. Place the potato cakes on a sheet pan, and spray them with cooking spray.
  12. Place in oven and heat until internal temperature reaches 165° F and surface of potato cakes turn slightly brown.

Fresh green beans with veggie garnish

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. trimmed green beans
  • 2 oz. fine shredded carrots
  • 1 1/4 oz. watermelon radish
  • 1/2 oz. chives
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. canola/olive oil 80/20 blend

Preparation

  1. Peel radish and finely shred.
  2. Cut chives into 1″ poles or sticks.
  3. Toss carrots, watermelon radish, and chives with lemon juice and oil.
  4. Heat up water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Once water is boiling, add in green beans and blanch for about 30 seconds.
  6. Remove green beans from boiling water.
  7. Garnish green beans with carrot, radish and chive garnish, and serve.
  8. and serve.
  9. Carrot, radish and chive garnish.

O Holy Spirit Fill Our Hearts…

Two weeks ago, it was my turn to lead our life group. I have always wanted to speak about the Holy Spirit. I got excited because this is something that I have always felt strongly about. A lot of things came into my mind – how I have always felt “its” presence in my choices, helped me to be mindful, and provided me wisdom in my everyday life.

Then for a moment my mind went from enthusiasm to inquietude. The challenge is where to start. I was not sure how I would simplify and illustrate my message and yet provide a beautiful justified and divine depiction of what I would say. After all, the Holy Spirit is GOD.

That same week, on a Sunday, I was listening to Pastor Zach from the Church of Emmanuel, and he spoke about Jesus’s parables and in one of the parables, he made a connection that illuminated the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Then, just like a light bulb – the idea flowed in my mind and as always when I find myself trying to figure out how I can put my thoughts into words, once again, the Holy Spirit guided me and provided me the wisdom to prepare slides for our group for our Friday evening fellowship.

Humbly, allow me to share with you what I shared with our group.

©fm1 9.7.21

Always Be Prepared

Growing up I hear this mantra all the time from my mom. I am glad that now that I am an adult that I paid heed to what it seems to be nagging when we were kids became a lifesaver for us. We became resourceful, developed common sense, and spiritually strong in our faith in Christ.

2020 came to everyone’s lives as either significant or devastating – depending on what and how you have experienced life.

As the New Year rolls in 2020 and as we were still winding down from the holiday festivities, just as we were still staging our resolutions for the year, we were struck with the most unprecedented news – Corona Virus (COVID-19).

No one exactly knows what it was. A lot of us thought this is just another type of flu that comes seasonally during the winter months. We were caught unaware of how desolating and overwhelming this would be for the entire world in the entire year.

No one was prepared for the devastating plague that was about to come. It wiped out millions of lives all over the world.  We were astounded by what we witnessed on television and social media.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:1-31

It is amazing how Jesus, as a Good Shepherd has given us the opportunity to be prepared. He wants to make sure that those who are lost have the time to find their way back to Him to bring back to his Father. Matthew 24:36-50

He spoke about the Parables of the Ten Virgins. Matthew 25:1-11

He explained the Lesson of the Fig Tree to help us visualize the signs of what is to come. Matthew 24-32:35

If our habits are formed in the teaching of Jesus, our faith and character are molded in genuine Christian faith. We can start building our habits in 5 simple acts each day:

  1. Spend a moment in prayer – before you start your day with the busyness of your chores at home or at our job in the office, thank God for another day of life. Ask Him for strength and wisdom to help you with your choices. Offer Him your sacrifices.
  2. Give blessings to everyone and show act of kindness to – your family, your co-workers, the barista at your local coffee shop, the bus driver, and anyone you interact with throughout the day (especially with those you have disagreement with).
  3. Talk to God throughout the day – you do not need to be in a special place to talk to Him. Let Him know how your day is going, check in with Him constantly. Praying need not to be lengthy. Praying is speaking to God from our heart.
  4. Remain encouraged, patient, and humble in everything that you do – ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you to form these habits and build your character.
  5. Forgiving – for most of us, this is the most difficult thing to do but it is the most rewarding, selfless act of love.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  ~ Ephesians 4:32

“Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt you, either emotionally or physically, doesn’t mean that you have to excuse the other person’s behavior, but letting go of your anger frees you to focus your energy on a more worthwhile cause.” ~ Amy Morin, Author

©fm1 8.27.21

 

A Boy in the Train…

Every month Martín’s parents took a trip to see Grandma and came home on the same train the next day. One day the child said to his parents: “I’m already grown up. Can I go to my grandma’s alone?”

After a brief discussion, his parents accepted. They stood with him as he waited for the train to exit. They said goodbye to their son and gave him some tips through the window. Martin repeated to them: “I know. I’ve been told this more than a thousand times.”

As the train was about to leave, his father murmured in his ear: “Son if you feel bad or insecure, this is for you!” And he put something in his pocket.

Now Martin was alone, sitting on the train as he had wanted, without his parents for the first time.  He was admiring the landscape out the window. Around him some unknowns pushed themselves in. They made a lot of noise. They got in and out of the train car. The conductor made some comments about him being alone. One person looked at him with eyes of sadness.

Martin was feeling more uneasy with every minute that passed. And now he was scared. He felt cornered and alone. He put his head down, and with tears in his eyes, he remembered his dad had put something in his pocket.

Trembling, he searched for what his father had given him.  Upon finding the piece of paper he read it: “Son, I’m in the last train car!”

That’s how life is, we must let our kids go. We must let them try new things. But we always like to be in the last car, watching, in case they are afraid or in case they find obstacles and don’t know what to do. We want to be close to them as long as we are still alive.

*(Adapted from Unknown author)*

“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 (NIV)

Gifts

Growing up in a church where gifts were celebrated and going to a high school where sports and the arts were promoted, I was always surrounded by an environment where gifts and talents were encouraged and valued.

Now I did consider myself fortunate to have a few gifts, but the only problem was that I never felt like I had a gift worth celebrating. 

Other than doing 300 sit-ups in a row, spinning a basketball on my finger, and bending my thumb all the way back I never believed I had any special gift or skill to offer.

There were interests that I found intriguing but when I compared myself and I saw how other people were gifted in ways I never could be I felt dumb, and in many ways, I felt as if my gifts were as useless as the letter B in the word dumb. 

My mistake was that I had a false definition of what a gift was supposed to be. I thought a gift, skill, or talent was something that you did to be seen and celebrated. I thought it was something that you were automatically good at with no effort. 

Looking into scripture I learned that God has a different definition of how a gift is to be appreciated and valued. 

1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

When I read that scripture, it finally clicked! My gift should be used to serve those God has placed in my life. Soon I was looking for opportunities to serve rather than to be celebrated. 

Thankfully with the encouragement of my parents and mentors, the various interests I had were now being cultivated into gifts that I could use to serve my family, church, and community.

Part of cultivating our gifts is the task of stewardship, God can give us a talent or gift, but we are also responsible to nourish and grow that gift to where it can serve the Kingdom of God and those around us. 

To illustrate this let me share a short story with you. 

When the great renaissance artist Michelangelo was asked how he was able to sculpt a beautiful statue of an angle of impeccable life like artistry he replied, “The angle was always in the stone, I just chipped away the pieces covering it up”. In many ways, we too are like Michelangelo. We each have been given the blessing of life like he was given a stone, and inside of each stone, there is a beautiful angle waiting to be seen only if you can chisel it free.  

The chiseling process can sometimes be difficult and in many ways hurt a little but as your stewardship and service continue something amazing can be revealed. 

Each of us has a calling and gift that is as unique as our fingerprints so I personally cannot tell you what you are gifted in. What I can do is give you a few ways I learned to take responsibility and carve out my gifts from the stone. 

Here are 3 ways you can be a good steward with your gift:  

1. Gift’s need development – Every general started as a recruit, every manager had to first start out as an employee, and every popular You Tuber started out with 0 subscribers. What sets these people apart is that they continued to develop their gift when others at one point decided to give up. 

If you want your gifts to grow and excel you must first start by developing what you already have by focusing on how to better serve and solve problems. As you develop be careful not to live a life of comparison as it can extinguish the passion for your gifts. Development looks like practice, patience, hard work, and…

2. Gift’s need direction – You can be the fastest sprinter but unless you run in the right direction of the race/marathon you will lose. In developing our skills, we need to understand that for our gifts to flourish they need to move in the right direction.  If your skills are only there to serve yourself, or to serves others only when it’s convenient the gift will not be appreciated and valued. The best place we can implement our gifts and talents is in the Kingdom of God and in the lives of others. Connect with your church leaders, parents, and loved ones to find out how you can serve them.

3. Gift’s need deployment – An arrow can never hit the target unless it is released. Likewise, a bird will never learn to fly until it leaves the nest. God can place an amazing gift in your life but unless it is released…

Remember that there is no coupon for success

Thankfully with time, hard work, and dedication, I saw that the gifts God had placed in my life were able to flourish and it didn’t matter if my gifts were seen or celebrated as the joy of being a blessing and blessed through what God had given was all that mattered. 

Serve God and his creation with all your heart and strength and your well of gifts, skills, and talents will never run dry. 

© Jonathan Dawson 7.21.21