Monday, May 31, 2010

Food for Your Tummy!

Ok ladies, feels like I have been doing some serious posts! So today instead of feeding your soul, I want to feed your belly! I think this is a great spring soup. It is so colorful and light. I served it with some garlic bread and Italian salad to my husband and father-in-law and they gobbled it up. It is delicious! Oh, and please don’t be afraid of the crushed red pepper. It gives a little kick and makes people wonder what that special ingredient is. Give it a shot!

Chicken, Spinich and Whole Wheat Tortellini Soup
Serves: 4 servings Prep time: 10 minutes Total time: 25 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup sliced celery
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used chicken from a store-bought rotisserie)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
9 ounces fresh or frozen 100% whole wheat cheese tortellini (look in the dairy area of the grocery store)
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their liquid
8 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 egg
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté three minutes. Add the shredded chicken, crushed red pepper flakes, if using, broth and water; bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook halfway, about five minutes for frozen, less for fresh.

Add the tomatoes along with their liquid and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook just until the pasta is tender, about four minutes.

Stir in the spinach and heat through, about one minute. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg and Parmesan cheese and drizzle into the soup and cook, stirring, about three minutes more. Season with pepper and salt, if desired. Remove from heat and serve.

Nutritional info: 407 calories, 15g fat, 5g saturated fat, 38g carbs, 32 g protein, 561 mg sodium, 122 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber.
Source: I think this came from a Cooking Light magazine.

Enjoy, Ladies!

Michelle Heriford

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let’s Talk Some Trash

We all have trash in our lives, whether garbage thoughts or that absolutely adorable (but crippling!) pair of shoes in the back of our closet. Over the past week, I’ve gathered several trash bags of old odds and ends that, at one point, I was going to use to create something brilliant. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge from someone to encourage you to release years worth of garbage — things that are weighing you down and cluttering up your life.

You know, garbage thoughts and the negative words we’ve allowed others to dump into our precious minds will always clutter and crowd our minds and souls and limit our ability to dream and see the beauty God created in and around us.

But no more! It’s time to get out those trash bags, dumpsters, boxes, and dump trucks if you need ’em and throw out all of those negative thoughts — the harsh words you’ve heard that have settled in your mind, the thoughts of hopelessness that say “my dreams are unrealistic,” “nothing ever works for me,” “God can’t fix the mess I’ve made,” or “I don’t look how I want to.” Those thoughts need to go.

That trash talk is going where it belongs — the smelly dump! It’s time to redecorate our new spacious minds, cleared of all trash talk, and fill it with words of hope and excitement for what lies ahead. I leave you with this happy thought, precious woman: God plans to replenish your hope, restore your dreams, and give you an exciting future!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Andrea Perry

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Full to Overflowing

When my grandson Jack visits we usually head to the kitchen sink for some dishwashing time. You know, the kind of dishwashing a two year old would do – fill the sink with water, throw in a few plastic containers, and let the water run ever so slowly. Well, when Jack washes the dishes it is an experience in engineering.

He places each container in a line on the counter, takes a measuring cup and fills the one closest to him. He looks carefully to see if he should start on the container next in line but promptly changes his mind and continues to fill the first until it is overflowing! I try to save the kitchen from flooding by emptying that first container into the next only to be met with an outcry from Jack because I've ruined his plan of letting the first container be continually filled and overflowing.

Now, there are several applications one can make from this picture of Jack and the dishes but I’m going to go with the overflowing one today. Imagine what God could do through us if we allowed Him to continually pour His love, compassion, understanding and patience, just to name a few attributes, into us so that we were full to overflowing with Jesus Christ. We could have marriages that really work. We could have friendships that are authentic. We could lead people to the heart of God. Don’t let this day go by without filling yourself with Jesus Christ. Spend time with Him through prayer and Bible reading. Take a walk and just say, “Fill me up to overflowing with you, Lord.”

Cathy Bytwerk
Coordinator of Women's Ministry, Trinity Church

Monday, May 24, 2010

Unpredictable but Constant

I remember my 11th birthday well. It was March 14, 1939, and I received my first balloon tire bike. It was blue and daddy had a protector over the chain, so I wouldn’t get caught in it. I also received a kite from a friend, and as soon as supper was over I rode my new bike over to the playground and flew my new kite for the first time! Another thing that makes this birthday stand out is that I didn't have to wear a coat or a sweater — the temperature was in the 70s.

Fast forward 11 years to March 17, l950 — my wedding day. I was now 22 years of age and doing my student teaching. There was a blizzard and most of my first graders didn’t really expect there would be a wedding. However, there was although some folks were unable to come because of the weather. It got down to 20 degrees below zero that night!

If we live in Michigan, we can expect the weather to be unpredictable. Walking with God is like that as well. We never know what He has in store for us but we survive because He is there with us. He is in control and won’t give us more than He knows we can handle.

Both March 1939 and March 1950 showed us unusual weather. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, God knew. He is never surprised, which is a comforting thought in the midst of everchanging circumstances. How have you seen Him with you lately in a way you didn’t expect?

Annie-Laurie Robinson

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wrapped in Rain — Book Review

I must read each night as I lay in bed; it helps me unwind. One of my favorite things is to snuggle into my bed with the electric blanket on and read until I just fall asleep. The book gently slips out of my hands and I snooze.

An author I recently stumbled on in Trinity’s library has really caught my attention. I loved the first book I checked out so much that I ordered all his other books from the public library and I’m working my way through them.

The author is Charles Martin. He develops his characters and draws you into them. In three of his books that I’ve read, there is always one character that has wisdom and a fear of God that makes a profound, if not immediate, impact on the main character’s life —done in a humorous, straightforward kind of way. This particular book, Wrapped in Rain, is told through the voice of one man, Tucker. The other characters in the book are his father, his half brother, a neighbor girl and her little boy, and the woman who raised Tucker and his brother — a God fearing woman named Miss Ella. It’s a story about relationships as well as a man struggling with his faith in a God who has been represented as love but also has seemed to turn his back to Tucker’s suffering. In this story there is tragedy, abuse, sadness, humor, love, forgiveness, redemption and healing. What I love about his books are the characters. In Wrapped in Rain I really felt like I got to know the characters in this story. When the book was over, I didn’t want my relationship with the characters to end! Wrapped in Rain is the kind of book you stay up late to finish.

Sally Hall

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Experiencing God

One of the most life-changing Bible studies I have ever done Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. I thought of this study recently because of a huge praise report involving my nephew. Nathan is eight years old and has had illnesses starting as an infant with eczema, food allergies and eventually asthma. This has continued throughout the years but lately has gotten much worse.

Recently, I was out to lunch with a friend. She was telling me about the symptoms her friend’s child was having and out of my mouth came “Celiac disease.” My friend looked at me a little perplexed and said “Yes, how did you know that?” I replied, “I have no idea.”

That is when all the light bulbs started coming on. About 2.3 minutes later I called my sister. When I mentioned it she flipped out! She had been praying and fasting for the previous two weeks pleading with God to lead her to an answer. The day before she had talked with a chiropractor who questioned if Nathan had ever been tested for Celiac disease (a gluten allergy). Less than 24 hours later I call mentioning the same thing.

This week he was formally diagnosed with Celiac disease. I am not thankful for the diagnosis but that we finally know what is going on and can fix it! He can finally get well!

The Experiencing God study has 10 concepts, two of which are highlighted in this story. First: God is always at work around you. Second: God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

God loves my nephew, more than I do and even more than my sister does! God was at work for my nephew and He invited me to be involved in it. What an amazing God we serve!

Michelle Heriford

Monday, May 17, 2010

That’s A Good Question

I had lunch with a dear friend recently. She is the kind of person whom everyone likes; she’s sweet and kind and sees the good in people. She’s been exploring the role that Christ should play in her life and attended a church she’d never been to before a few weeks ago. She’s was telling me her impressions of the service and then she said she was confused about something. One of the people she was with — who is a regular attender at this church — was not being very positive about some of the other attendees. My friend’s question was, shouldn’t someone who calls themselves a Christian behave better than that?

I thought about it for a minute and then I said to her, “I’ll let you in on a secret. The church is made up of people.” I said it tongue in cheek but it is true. People in the world sometimes forget that Christians are human too and we are still going to fail, even after we make a profession of faith.

However, I told her that she was correct — we should be different. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your Father who is in heaven.”
It’s a great responsibility that God has given us. And it’s amazing when you think about it. He’s entrusted His human creation to spread the word about His saving grace! I don’t know about you but I feel quite inadequate for that job. But my friend sure got me thinking and motivated to strive to be a better example of Christ’s love to those around me.

Patty Dextrom

Friday, May 14, 2010

Decision Making

This past month God has challenged me with many decisions regarding my career. Like most women, I like to talk about these decisions with friends and family to gather their input and perspectives. As with all people’s perspectives, one must consider the source. I have found that when I chose to share information with those who were not Christ followers, the waters became murky and quite confusing, resulting in restless nights and feelings of confusion (not a good time!). Their words of doubt and disbelief would rattle through my head and I had to go back to God’s word for reassurance and direction.

God’s word clearly instructs us not to walk in the counsel of the wicked or to sit at the seat of scoffers (Psalm 1:1), yet I fell to this temptation in a big way … perhaps because I didn’t want to feel so alone in the decisions I had to make. What I found was that their words left me feeling more alone and confused than ever! My Christian friends were able to direct me clearly back to God’s word and show me attitudes and actions I could take that would align clearly with God’s promises of blessing. I can now stand firmly “like a tree standing by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither!” (Psalm 1: 3)

When I asked God to show me why He would allow those with misdirected words to come into my life, He seemed to show me that it was my own lack of boundaries. If I do not want to hear their opinion, then it might make sense for me not to ask them for it! (Duh, Sheryl!) Thank you, Lord, for the power of your word to clearly show us Your way.

Sheryl Patry

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mercy with My Name on It

Have you ever been desperate? Ever felt like there was too much for you to do, too much to handle, and no way you were ever going to make it through? Have you ever tried to face the day, but found yourself wanting to run back to your room and hide under the covers until it was time to go back to bed?

I've had some mornings like that recently. I sat down to breakfast after already experiencing conflict with my son over his need to unload the dishwasher. My daughter asked me to sign papers and fill out forms for school and reminded me of the ingredients she needed for foods class — which I forgot to buy. The boys were arguing over who had to let the dog out and then one of them spilled the milk.

And as I bowed my head to thank God for my food and ask His blessing on my day, these are the words that flowed from my heart, “God, I’m desperate today. I know I can’t make it without You!” When the next day started similarly, I just prayed, “God, I’m desperate again.” The third day echoed the same prayer and I began to wonder if I should start writing my own episodes of Desperate Housewives.

A friend reminded me of Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” My friend smiled and told me, “His mercies are new every morning, Karen. And He’s got one with your name on it!”

Mercy with my name on it. Oh, how I love that concept! And He’s got one with your name on it, too. Do you know what that means? Think about it. He — whose steadfast love never ceases — sees you every day and He knows your tomorrows. God knows how your circumstances are going to unfold. The Creator of the world is orchestrating the events in your life for your good and His glory.

Karen Hossink

Monday, May 10, 2010

God has a plan

My husband, Jim, and I have been married for 40 years; therefore, his family is like my family. Actually, it was one of his sisters, Kathleen, that got us together on a blind date. She was my good friend and Jim was her little brother, away at college. A story for another time.

When Jim’s family hurts, I hurt. My sister-in-law, Judy, has hurt a lot in the past few years. She has lost her husband, her Mom and Dad -- one year apart -- her mother-in-law, and had a severe stroke that took months of recovery. Last summer, they said she needed a series of three serious surgeries to fix multiple aneurisms. The first surgery took place last August; the second was three days after Christmas; and the third on Feb. 28.

Judy recovered from the first and second surgery, but the third was another story. She never regained consciousness and remained in ICU for 39 days. The diagnosis is that even if or when she does become conscience, she will be paralyzed from the neck down. Last week she was transferred to another critical care facility closer to her extended family. Her only child lives nine hours away in Illinois.

We’ve had so many believers praying for Judy and I wonder what God’s plan is for her life. But the other day I realized that had she not been diagnosed with these aneurisms, I would not have felt the urgency to present Christ to her. She gave her heart to the Lord three days before the first surgery. If she has to lay there paralyzed, it is so much better than going to hell in a healthy body!

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Patricia Harvey

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tight Places

My coworker, Nikki, has been laughing at me all day ... okay, she’s not laughing at me, she’s laughing with me! That makes a BIG difference. This morning when I arrived at work, I decided to pull my beloved blue Prius into a parking spot that looked a little tight ... but only a little. (You know, like those pants that are only a little tight? Just five more pounds and I’m sure I could get — this — zipper — up!)

Anyway, as I kept my eye on the car to my left (Nikki’s car, actually, so I hope she appreciates it!), I heard a crunching noise from the other side. Aarrgghh! The other car was scraped up, and it was all my fault, “no-fault” state or not. Worse yet, the other car was (gulp) a Lexus. Probably someone’s beloved green Lexus.

I left my sorry note on the windshield and asked the driver to call me. Then, all day, every time I ran into anyone, I’d ask, “What kind of car do you drive?” And Nikki would start laughing. Mercilessly.

People kept hoping I had hit their old clunkers and were disappointed when I described a green Lexus. Finally we figured out the car must belong to one of the men visiting for an all-day training. (“Welcome to Trinity!”) Sure enough, toward the end of the day, my phone rang. “Anne? This is Don Roscoe ...” Don! I know Don! Maybe he’ll forgive me ... and, of course, he did.

So is there any spiritual lesson in this? Probably not, but here’s what came to my addled mind. When you think you can squeeze into a tight place in life — just kind of barely slide between the lines the Lord has set — you might cause some damage. Better to steer clear and find another place to park! What lines have you tried to “squeeze between” lately? How did it turn out? Share your comments ... I won’t laugh, I promise!

Anne Cody
Director of Group Life, Trinity Church

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh, How He Loves!

Love. We need it, and God has it. God is love. Why do we need Love? It heals us. Life is traumatic — and nobody survives. God’s true love heals, satisfies and brings peace to our hearts. No human love can do what the love of our Heavenly Father does. Our Daddy loves us more than any human is able. He knows your thoughts and remembers every moment of your life.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-8

God knows the number of hairs on our heads and the freckles on our noses! What does this mean? Just this: God knows us better than we know ourselves. But wait! Isn’t that the core of our heart’s desire? To be truly known and loved. That’s why women pursue relationships with men so intensely — God created us to crave this love that only He provides. To know and understand this should put your heart at ease. To rest our hearts in our Daddy’s careful and ever-loving hands and then let human love enrich our lives after we find fulfillment in God. This will protect your heart, give you confidence in God’s everlasting love, and free you from the frenzied search to be known and loved — because you’ve found it. It’s in relationship with God, our Love. Go outside and let the sunshine warm you from head to toe. That’s a hug from your Daddy.

Andrea Perry

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pajama Day

Today was one of those days where all I wanted to wear was my pajamas. I wasn’t inspired to just lay around; I wanted to dig into some major projects and be really comfy while digging.

My plan was to take down my shear drapes, wash them in the bathtub, hang them up to dry, and place them back on freshly cleaned windows. As I stroked my windows with Windex cleaner, I realized how exposed I was to anyone who might make an unexpected visit to me. If that would have happened, they would have seen me for who I truly am — dressed in pajamas, bed hair, unbrushed teeth, and NO MAKE-UP!

Then the thought occurred to me that God is the one who sees me as I really am only He doesn’t make any judgements about me. He accepts what He sees. He gently opens my eyes to see where I can make improvements in myself, change some habits, and basically get cleaned up. What He desires to see in me is His reflection, just like I wanted my windows to reflect cleanliness. Maybe you need a pajama day too.

Try it and see what God shows you. :-)

Cathy Bytwerk
Coordinator of Women's Ministry , Trinity Church