When Is My Future

Have you ever been on a hike and become parched and thirsty. The heat is unbearable and all you want to do is to get to the end of the trail to a nice ice cold bottle of water and rest. As you come up the next rise you can see the end of the trail in the distance. It doesn’t seem that far off and you are so ready to reach it, then you come over the next rise and it doesn’t seem to be any closer.   It seems that it is just out of reach. To me the future seems to be some unattainable place in the distance. Once we get to a place thinking we have arrived, we look up and the future is still out there looming before us.

I tend to think of the future- a lot. I can find myself living there as opposed to living in the here and now. I think of and pray about where the Lord wants me in one year, five years or even ten years. I can tend to focus on “one day” and not on today. I look back over my life and look at all of the time I spent thinking about what will be. What did I miss while being in the future?

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All of the best time management advice tells you to plan for the future- set goals- have a strategy. I’m not knocking goal setting and planning, I love to make a plan and love to work my plan. But, we can work our plan to the point that we miss out on His plan. Do we miss out on the butterfly that is bringing wonder to the life of our child because we have dinner to cook or dishes to wash. Do we put off times of intimacy with our husbands because of everything that is on our to-do list?

It seems that the future is somewhere out there in the distance, but I believe to the Lord the future has a much different look. It has to do with the next moment. What choice will I make; where will my focus be? Will I help my neighbor? Will I stop folding the laundry to cuddle with my husband? Will I read that book to my child for the 1,000th time?

In scripture we are told to pray without ceasing. To me this is like having a chat room open with God all of the time. As bumps come into my day, I need to pause and say a quick prayer asking the Lord what His will is for me in this moment and how does this fit into His future plan for me. Sometimes the answers are obvious; sometimes they are harder. We can have so many good opportunities in our lives that it can be difficult to see His best opportunities. I can remember a year when my girls were little that I didn’t teach in VBS. I had many things happening in my life at that time and after much prayer Gene and I felt I should sit that year out. Most people didn’t understand that decision. I was told so many times that it was a good thing. Yes, it was, but for me, at that time it wasn’t God’s best thing for me.

Trust in the Lord to guide you to His best future for you. Keep communication open and rely on the Holy Spirit for direction. Pray over your long term goals and well as what happens moment by moment. By all means set goals and make a plan, but don’t let your plan keep you from doing the Lord’s work whenever it comes your way. I have found it helpful to ask the Lord for direction & wisdom for the day before I even place a foot on the floor. Often I will need that direction and wisdom within moments. The Lord is merciful and patient with us. He wants to help us and direct us, trust Him to show you the way and to be there to guide you in all you do.

Time For New Beginnings

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For a while I have been wanting to get back to writing but the Lord has been putting things in my path to prevent that. I am now at a place where I feel the freedom to write and with Gene’s blessing am starting on this adventure once again. In the last year the Lord has shown me many things, though it has taken great hardship and many trials to learn the lessons He has had for me. He has reminded me of the ministry He has given to me of serving my family, and how that should be my primary focus.

Though my primary focus is my family the Lord has also called us to be a light into the world and to encourage one another. That is the purpose of this blog. I chose the name, “My Titus 2 Journey”, because my life has been exactly that. He has taken me on a journey that has taken me through many dark valleys, but also some glorious and amazing mountain tops. I want to share the things He has taught me and is continuing to teach me as I go on this journey. The picture in my header is one that I took on our 25th anniversary trip to San Antonio. It is one of the walkways in front of the Alamo. When I look at it, it looks like a walkway you would travel through to start a grand adventure. While our lives may not be fraught with the adventures of Bilbo Baggins or the other Hobbits, our life is still a grand adventure full of unexpected twists and turns. Our ultimate goal should be serving Christ as we go through our days looking at every experience to see what He is trying to reveal of Himself to us.

 I hope to encourage women to be who they are in Christ and to follow the model of Titus 2 in this endeavor

Please leave a comment and let me know how you are doing. If there is a specific topic you would like to discuss, let me know and I’ll consider a post about it.

May the Lord’s face shine upon you today!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

On Wednesday nights we have a potluck at church and we are always looking for something new to bring. Yesterday we were in a time crunch so Rachel decided to make  shortbread cookies because they come together pretty quickly. She made The Picky Cook’s Pecan Shortbread. I must say that they were AWESOME! I’d love to share a picture of them, but that would be difficult since none of them made it home. We have some more dough in the fridge and if any make it to a plate we will get some pics.

Rachel did adapt the recipe ever so slightly, she added 2-3 Tablespoons of cool water to the dough. It just seemed to need it to stick together.

 

Happy Birthday Sarah!

I wrote this post 7 years ago, just one month into my blogging journey. Many people here in Texas only knew us once Sarah was older and don’t realize the journey we went on to get to the place that we are. I have been considering writing more about the lessons the Lord has taught me through her and hope to start doing so in the next couple of weeks. I hope that the testimony of the Lord’s goodness and mercy will in some way bless you.

September 10th was our daughter Sarah’s 18th birthday. That’s a special day in anyone’s life, but for Sarah it was doubly special. When Sarah was born, she seemed like every other girl baby, though she was especially happy and easy going. She began reaching all of the normal milestones a mother looks for, such as rolling over, smiling at her parents and sister. At 6 months old we began to notice that she wasn’t trying to sit like she should. When it was time for her 6 month check up I shared some of my concerns with my pediatrician. Everything was going great until he measured her head. I will remember the next thing he said for the rest of my life. He looked at me with a great deal of concern in his eyes and said, “Mrs. Keeth, for some reason Sarah’s head isn’t growing like it should. She has microcephaly.” Microcephaly just means, small head. He was unsure of the reason behind the problem and wanted her to see a neurologist. He told us to watch for seizures, but that it would take up to 3 months to see a neurologist.

This news sent me into the deepest pit of dispair that I have ever been in. It seemed as if it was all a dream. As the days went by, I found out that some children who have microcephaly slowly die as their brains grow but not their heads. To me this was an unthinkable situation to be in, to slowly watch my baby die was more than I could bear. I began to pray that she would die in her sleep from SIDS. In my thinking this would be easier on everyone. She wouldn’t suffer and neither would we. I thought I had figured out the best solution for everyone, if I could only make God see it my way.

The weeks went by, we finally were able to see the neurologist. During those weeks, Gene had switched jobs and we didn’t have any insurance. We ended up seeing a neurologist at LSU Med Center in Shreveport. We waited 5 hours in a waiting room and when we finally saw her it was a horrible experience. This was a teaching hospital and they treated Sarah like a specimen, not a person. They acted as if nothing they were saying should affect us emtionally. The doctor told us in no uncertain terms that, “She will never walk, talk or do anything. You need to institutionalize her and get on with your life.” The results of her exam were that she had Cerbral Palsy,Developemental Delay and Epilepsy.

I don’t know what I would have done without Gene at that time. He was so strong always reminding me that God was in control and had a plan.

A few weeks later, I noticed that Sarah didn’t react when I vaccuumed under her baby bed. She just laid there laughing and smiling at me. I took her in for some testing and we suspected she was deaf. It wouldn’t be until she was nearly two that we had the confirmation that she was.

Time went on, and Sarah was a light into my life, and into everyone’s she met. She was always happy and joyful. I can remember going to see a neurologist at Texas Scottish Rites Hospital in Dallas. He was the first one to give me hope. Sarah was 18 months old and couldn’t sit or even support her upper body weight. He examined her and when he was finished he said, “I can’t tell you why medically, but I believe Sarah will be able to do whatever you allow her to do. I can look into her eyes and see that there is more to her than what you have been told.” That was all this mother needed to hear! A week or so later I went to see her pediatrician again and told him what the neurologist had said. His answer was, “I don’t believe that. There is nothing to show me that.” His words didn’t deter me though, I had been given hope. God knew that’s what I needed.

Within a few months Sarah began to sit. And then she learned to pull herself up onto things with her one good arm. She had this funny frog hop that she did instead of crawling, but it didn’t slow her down at all. She didn’t learn to walk and wasn’t potty trained until she was 4, but at 18 that doesn’t really matter.

Sarah is still a light in our lives and in the lives of many others. You will usually find her smiling or laughing, especially if you do something embarassing, like tripping, in front of her. We have so many stories about her that it would take hundreds of pages to tell them. Most of them would have you in tears from laughter.

There are still difficulties with Sarah. There are many things she is unable to do. She can’t ride a bike, scooter, skate or drive though she thinks she should be able to. She can’t walk long distances without a wheelchair because she tires out. She also can’t imagine saying hurtful words to someone on purpose. She can’t understand not trusting in God or denying His existance. She can’t understand that there are people who judge her because she’s different. Or that people wouldn’t love her as she loves them.

Lately Sarah’s emotions have been a roller coaster, and we’re all along for the ride. At times I get discouraged, wanting to fix things (I’m famous for wanting to be able to fix things and getting frustrated when it isn’t fixed instantly). I can remember being in a Bible study right after I got saved, I was 19. We were studying Job and discussing the trust that God had in him to know that Job would never deny God. I remember praying, you guessed it, that God would trust me like that. I joke about it and say be careful what you pray for because you might get it. But ya know, I wouldn’t change a thing. If it hadn’t been for Sarah I would probably be one of the most shallow Christians around, depending on myself and not on God. I learned that as long as I think I’m in control, I don’t depend on Him, I depend on myself. Today I know that God only gives me the grace to handle what comes at me, not for today, but for this minute. It’s not a day by day walk with Him, but a minute by minute walk.

In whom are you trusting? What if something happened to one of your children or your parents? Would you trust that God would sustain you? That He will carry you through? I pray that you will examine yourself and see exactly in whom you are trusting.

Turkey Day

Every year after Thanksgiving and Christmas I hit the stores looking for the holiday meats that have been marked down. Last Friday I went to Kroger looking for marked down fresh turkey. Normally I would buy a turkey that is .25 a pound or less, but this year we are having to do things differently. Due to dietary restrictions we aren’t able to buy the frozen turkey because it is injected with all types of things before they freeze them. So, from now on it’s fresh for us.

When I went to the store to buy my turkeys they only had 22 pounders left. They were some huge birds! I bought two of them planning on roasting, carving and putting them in small portions in the freezer. We’ll use the meat for soups, salads, and casseroles. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to them for a couple of days and put them on ice in a large ice chest. I use my ice chests a lot during the holiday season since my refrigerator is usually packed. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of doing that, it has sure been a lifesaver since I started doing it.

I bought my two disposable roasting pans Monday and was ready to roast on Tuesday. I usually use my table top roaster for my turkeys (can’t say how much I love that appliance!) but these birds wouldn’t fit in it. Tuesday was going to be turkey day! I was ready, and I had a plan. I was going to roast the turkeys one at a time in the oven because I didn’t think there was any way to fit them both in at the same time. I wasn’t injecting them because I was going to be using the meat in different ways. It was going to be simple; rinse the birds, throw them in the pan and roast them.

I should know by now that simple doesn’t exist in my house. I am the type of person who always hopes for the best, and thinks things are going to run smoothly, I don’t know why I am always surprised when they don’t. You would think I would have learned by now. Well, on turkey day who do you think awoke with a stomach bug? If you guessed me, you’d be right. On top of me being sick, Caroline also had a stomach bug an Hannah is suffering with a major migraine which left Rachel to run the house and cook two turkeys. Did I mention that I am the only one in the house to have ever roasted a turkey? As I was getting back into the bed about to pass out the thought came to me that it was turkey day and I had two humongous turkeys that were going to take about 8 hours of cooking. The idea of sticking my hand inside a naked, dead, & cold (which is a greater reminder of its lack of life) bird was enough to turn my stomach, not that it wasn’t already doing somersaults.

When I told Rachel my dilemma she cheerfully told me that she would take care of it. I was in that state of half-awake, half-passing out when I gave her directions as to how to cook the turkeys. I am sure I was quite clear in those directions, they made perfect sense to me. After I awoke from my coma to smells of turkey wafting in the air, I walked stumbled into the kitchen to check on the turkey. Much to my surprise I found two turkeys in roasting pans crammed into the oven. I asked Rachel how she had prepared them because they looked different than anything I had done before. She told me that she had adapted a dry brining method we had heard about from a friend. She separated the skin from the birds and rubbed a mixture of olive oil and sea salt generously all over the bird. On top of the skin she rubbed a little more of that mixture and more oil on them to make them crispy. She cooked them breast down, which allows all of the juices to run into the breast, and slow roasted them at 325 (F). The only problem with cooking them breast down is that the skin isn’t crispy on the breast. You can alleviate that by flipping the bird and cooking it breast side up for the last 45 minutes or so. For me, I would rather the juicy meat and I don’t worry about the skin. Besides, who wants to try to flip two hot 22 pound turkeys?!

We were rather dubious at first, thinking that the meat was going to be too salty. Once we carved the bird and tasted it, all fears were gone. Those were the best turkeys we have ever tasted! It was all moist and juicy and had just the right amount of saltiness to it. I don’t have pictures to share, I wasn’t up to taking any last night, and I sure wish I could give you a taste through your monitor, but since I can’t, you are just going to have to trust me.

Ground Turkey Soup

Today is a cold and blustery day in Houston with snow threatening to start falling any minute. One of my favorite things on a cold day is a big bowl of steamy hot soup. We recently began doing Weight Watchers Points Plus and it has caused me to be very conscious of everything I eat. The wonderful thing about this soup is that is friendly to my waist as well as being friendly to my wallet. If you are doing WW the points value for this soup is 2 per cup. Now, the cornbread I love to eat with soup is another thing completely. We put our recipe into the calculator that WW has online, and it was a whopping 7 points per piece. I will have to decide if I am willing to part with that many points for a piece of cornbread.

Ground Turkey Soup

1 pound of ground turkey breast
4 cups 99% fat free beef stock
16 cups of water
1 6oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of marjoram
2 tsp of Tiger Dust (or Cajun seasoning of your preference)
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 Tbsp dried minced onion, or 1 onion chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced

Brown the ground turkey (there should be no fat to drain if you use the ground breast, but if you use another meat be sure to drain off any fat). Add all other ingredients to the pot, except potatoes and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 3 hours (you can do it for less, but the longer it simmers the better the flavor). 45 minutes before you want to serve the soup increase the temperature and when it begins to boil add the potatoes and carrots. Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, serve and enjoy.

White Bean Soup With Smoked Turkey

Our family loves beans. To some that seems to be odd. One day when I was in Sam’s buying a 10 lb bag of pinto beans for making homemade re-fried beans, I ran into a friend. She made a comment about feeling sorry for us because we “have” to eat beans. I thought it was funny, because we don’t have to eat beans, we like them and enjoy eating them.

I think my love of beans developed when I was a child. My grandparents had a 52 acre farm about 30 minutes away from where we lived and on weekends we would go to visit. Many a day was spent sitting under a shade tree shelling peas, or snapping beans. There is nothing quite like a lunch made of fresh purple hull peas with homemade chow chow, sweet corn and cornbread. After we were married and moved to south Louisiana, our love for beans grew with the addition of Red Beans and rice and White beans.

This soup recipe is one that I created several years ago. It is super simple and very satisfying. I must warn you that I cook beans a little differently. I wasn’t taught to cook them (the right way) and so when I began cooking, I would just throw everything in the pot and cook them until they were done. What may have started out as a mistake turned out well. I believe that cooking them this way infuses the beans with a great amount of flavor. I will occasionally do a quick soak by putting only the beans in water, bringing them to a boil, turning off the heat, covering them and then letting them sit for an hour. After they have soaked for an hour I will then dump everything else in and start cooking them.

I would love to do a soup recipe swap with everyone, so please leave your favorite soup recipe in the comment section.

White Bean Soup with Smoked Turkey

2 lbs. Great Northern Beans, rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning (this is an herb based seasoning blend, not salt based)
1 tsp. of Tony’s
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 smoked turkey wing (I found mine near the ham at Wal-mart)
water

Put all ingredients into a stock pot and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Cook until beans are tender(this took about 3 1/2 hours), making sure to keep about an inch of water over the beans. Before serving remove meat from bones; discarding bones and skin. Serve with cornbread. This soup will also freeze well. For a family of 7 we had leftovers, for a smaller family, this would give you a couple of frozen meals.

Why I Am A Slave

Last weekend we went to a conference where I was able to hear Paul Washer speak in person for the first time. I have been listening to him preach for about 5 years, but I must say that watching him in person was very different for me. In one of the sessions he spoke about being a slave to Christ. The word pictures he created really stuck in my mind and I have spent most of the week contemplating them.

The term bond-servant is defined as, “a slave”, “one who gives himself up to another’s will”, “those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men” and “devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.” In Ex 21:5-6 the example is given of a servant who willing stays indentured to his master, having his ear pierced with an awl demonstrating his permanent servitude.

How could Paul (Rom 1:1 & Titus 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and James (James 1:1) all call themselves bond-servants? Haven’t we been told that we have liberty and freedom in Christ? Does Christ truly expect us to be His slaves? The answer to both of those questions is, yes. We have liberty and freedom in Christ . . . freedom from the bondage of sin. Christ does want us to give ourselves up for His will. In Luke 9:23 we are told to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and to follow Him. That doesn’t really sound like a suggestion of something we might want to consider. If we look at the first part of that verse it begins with, “Then he said to them all, “If anyone would come after me. . . ” Jesus was plainly stating that in order to be followers of His, we are to deny ourselves.

I have been asking myself some questions all week.

“Do I act as a bond-servant or a slave who wants to escape?”

“Do I serve Him willingly?”

“Where do I focus my attention?”

“Where is my joy?”

“What do people see in me?”

The answers to some of these questions change moment by moment. My hope is that I will continue to ask myself these questions in an effort to keep my focus where it needs to be.

I am a slave of Jesus Christ. My desire is to serve Him with all that I am and with all that I have. I don’t have a Master who is beating me about the head to force me to obey. My service is willing, and paltry in comparison to what He has done for me. I fail Him daily but He is a loving Master who is quick to forgive.

I am no longer a slave to sin but a slave to Christ alone! I freely and joyfully put on the chains of servitude, out of gratitude!

Baking For The Conference

Last weekend was a conference and for it we baked three different snacks. Actually, Hannah baked, and baked and baked. She ended up making 4 dozen Ginger cookies, 6 dozen Oatmeal Raisin cookies, and 20 dozen Pumpkin Bread mini-muffins. Hannah has does this volume of baking several times before when Gene hosted evangelism training classes. Thankfully, Hannah has baking in big batches down to a science.

I wish I had pictures of her in the kitchen and the baked goodies, but things were a tiny bit hectic getting ready for the conference, so alas, no pictures.

I hope you enjoy the recipes; I’d love to hear your feedback.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1¼ c. butter (unsalted)
½ c. white sugar
¾ c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1¼ c. flour
3 c. oats
1 c. raisins

Cream together sugars and margarine. Mix in eggs and spices, then add flour, oats, and raisins.
Bake at 375 for 9-12 min. If you substitute margarine, the cookies will not taste the same as when we make them. It does make a very big difference.

Pumpkin Bread

3 cups sugar
1 cup veg. oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 (1lb) can pumpkin
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp soda
2 tsp salt
3½ cups flour
2/3 cup water

Combine sugar, oil, and beaten eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add pumpkin mixture; add water and beat thoroughly. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done. Freezes well.

Ginger Cookies

2/3 cup butter (unsalted)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
extra sugar

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl and gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Roll into 1″ balls and flatten, then coat with sugar. Bake at 350 (Fahrenheit) for 8-10 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

Why Do I Write?

Many times I have asked myself this very question. Do I write out of vanity and pride, or is there a deeper purpose? Many think that writing online should be abandoned because at times conflicts arise due to a misunderstanding or just a plain difference of opinion. I must admit that there have been times after certain conflicts that I have considered throwing in the towel. Then I will ask myself the above question.

The first and foremost reason that I write is to proclaim the gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world. Through this medium I am truly able to witness around the world. I have had many visitors from countries where the freedom to spread the gospel is limited. I can’t remember all of the countries, but I do remember that there were several from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. Another wonderful thing about writing online is the ability to share the gospel, even when I’m sleeping. While proclaiming the gospel of Christ I also want to shine a light on the many false teachings that are prevalent today. Many people are being taught a gospel that is unidentifiable when compared to the scriptures, and this is a very real concern for me. I’m not a great theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to use the understanding and knowledge the Lord had given me to bring glory to Him.

Another reason I write is to encourage other women. The world today bombards women with false images of who and what they should be. I want to take my little corner of the world to shine a light on being the women that scripture illustrates. I want to encourage women in their roles as keepers of their homes and as wives and mothers. I want to remind them that they are to focus on Christ in all that they do, and our actions should be borne out of a love for Him.

I also write so that my thoughts will be recorded for future generations. None of us are promised tomorrow and it would be presumptuous to assume that I will be around to share my thoughts and experiences with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want them to hear about Christ from my words.

I don’t believe I am a great writer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, commas and I really don’t get along well. My goal with my writing isn’t to gain accolades for my ability, but to constantly shine a light on Christ.