Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday is for Food: Pork Chops and Potatoes

I know. It sounds really basic. But it actually is pretty flavorful. It's simple (although it takes a little bit of time to cook) and it includes pretty basic ingredients. A friend of mine made a cookbook for me before I got married. It includes recipes that don't take a lot of time or elaborate ingredients. Both great things when you are working full time and your husband is finishing seminary. So here is the Friday recipe for your taste buds enjoyment!

Pork Chops and Scalloped Potatoes

  • 3 tablespoons of butter, divided (It took me forever to figure out what this meant)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of chicken broth (I just make my own using bouillon cubes. It's cheaper and easier.)
  • 6 pork chops
  • 6 thinly sliced potatoes
  • 1 dash paprika (This is serious. I put way more than a dash and it burned our mouths!)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a saucepan melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and flour. Pour in the chicken broth, cook, and stir until mixture boils. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In skillet brown pork chops in 1 tablespoon of butter. Grease cooking dish with remaining tablespoons of butter and layer potatoes. Pour mixture over potatoes and place browned chops on top. Sprinkle paprika on top.
  • Cover and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

I cut this recipe in half because we wouldn't be able to eat that much with just the two of us. Daniel thought it would be really plain, but he actually liked it too.

Happy Friday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

All My Longings Are Before You

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.”—Psalm 38:9-10

What is your longing today? Maybe you are looking for a job and nothing is materializing. Maybe you have been trying to have children for months, or even years, and every month is a sad reminder that those dreams are not being realized. Or maybe you are hoping to be married someday and God has not brought that desired person along.

All of these longings, and any longing you are facing today, is not a surprise to God. He knows them all. God is not aloof and unaware of what we are experiencing. Rather he is in every detail of our lives. He is with every tear, every cry, and every desperate plea for him to move. He is there in every longing sustaining us every step of the way.

But sometimes this truth makes me ask “why”? If my longings are always before him and my sighing not hidden from him, then why does he not meet that longing? Why does it continue like a constant burden that I cannot lift on my own? But then again, why does he not fulfill the longings of hundreds of other people just like me? What I’ve learned in these last months is that maybe my greatest need is not having my greatest longing fulfilled, although I so desperately desire it to be met. But maybe my greatest need is more of Jesus, and it is through these longings I am getting the fulfillment of my greatest need.

Through this journey I’ve had a full range of emotions. It has not been easy at all. On this side of it I can honestly say that God has been good to me. He has not left me. He has made me love him more in my loss. He has never left me even in my days of deepest longing. I'm not saying it has been easy. But I know God's hand has guided me through even the darkest of times.

So wherever you are in your Christian walk today know this, dear Christian. Your longing is always before this sovereign, tender, and gracious Father. And even your most anguished sighing is not hidden from his loving gaze. He hears your cries and he cares.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Are You Rested?

I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling. I got up, read for a while, journaled, and then read again. What’s wrong with this picture? Absolutely nothing. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something else—something more productive.

And then it hit me. I’m not able to rest. Or at least I had a hard time today. I mean, how do you turn off your brain and do something leisurely when it is going ninety miles an hour every other day of the week? And that is my problem.

We live in a culture that idolizes getting things done. Now I believe firmly in productivity. But I also believe that God did not create us to work 90 hours a week for the duration of our lives. God gave us rest for a reason. Psalm 127:2 says that he “gives to his beloved sleep.” Even the Ten Commandments give us parameters for rest (Exodus 20:8-11). He wants us to rest. He created us for rest. We are not God. Unlike God we get tired and we get burned out.

God is so kind to build a need for rest into our very physical makeup because it shows us our need for him. The fact that I can’t keep my eyes opened past 10:00 pm is humbling. But I need that. I need the reality check that my exhaustion is a tender pull from the Creator that I need to lean into him for rest and strength. Denying that the need exists only makes me unfaithful in the long run.

Rest also prepares us for greater fruitfulness later. When we recharge we are preparing ourselves to work at full capacity. Because we have an unchangeable need for rest we have to learn that a lack of rest will only make us unfaithful in the tasks that God has called us to. When we obey our need for rest we come back ready and able to hit the ground running to fulfill God’s plan for our life.

And finally, our need for rest helps us understand our makeup. God created all human beings in his image. But he did not create all human beings the same. Some have greater stamina than others. My husband can function well on far less sleep than me. I need to understand that about myself. If I don’t, I will continually live under the sinful shadow of comparison—and that will never serve me in the long run.

So I’m going to get some much needed rest today and tomorrow. If you are exhausted, overwhelmed, and twitching like me this Saturday take these realities as a loving pull from your Father that you are created for rest. In this life and in the one to come.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Missions Wednesday: Egypt

We have been hearing a lot about Egypt on the news lately. While I haven’t been following it as closely as I would like, I do know that in a lot of ways history is being made in Egypt as the unrest continues. It’s hard to wade through the media waters and glean truth about the situation, but even as we watch these things unfold thousands of miles away we can know one thing—God is surely at work. Conflict and turmoil have a way of drawing people to the Savior, and we can pray that God would use this situation to draw Egyptian people to himself.

Egypt has been around for a while. We read about Egypt in our Bibles and learn about the pyramids in school. For nearly 1,000 years Egypt was a Christian nation. They are now predominantly Muslim, but around 15% identify as Christians. Religious persecution has characterized the Christian experience in Egypt now, and at times they have undergone intense suffering.

Ways to pray:
  • Pray that the roots of Christianity would blossom amidst this current turmoil.
  • Pray for Christians in Egypt that they would be strong in Christ and endure faithfully during persecution.
  • Pray that the Church in Egypt would be faithful in their response to the conflict.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Only God Gets His To-Do List Done

I don’t know about you but Mondays are hard days. I’m tired. I’m sad to leave my husband after a weekend of being together. I didn’t finish all I had hoped to over the weekend. And I have a to-do list waiting for me when I get in to the office.

It can feel daunting starting a new week, or any new thing for that matter. Expectations are high even when energy is slow to catch up. If you are like me you feel the pressure of a new week before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. There is so much to be done. And unfinished tasks scream failure—or at least to me they do.

I need a little perspective on Monday. Only God gets his to-do list done.

And I am not him. I am Courtney. Finite, feeble, weak, and in need of a good dose of caffeine to move me along on a slow Monday morning. God always accomplishes what he says he will. He is never tired and never overwhelmed. He is God and I am not.

While I need to learn to make realistic goals for myself, I also need to understand that I will never complete all of my tasks perfectly. Only God can do that. When I fail to cross every detail off my list, I can simply, as C.J. Mahaney puts it, “try again tomorrow.”

A tangible reminder that I’m not God and cannot always complete my to-do list is that I get tired. God never tires. He never sleeps. But me, I sleep. This sleep is a gift from God (Psalm 127:2). I can either stay up feverishly attempting to complete every task on my list, or I can joyfully submit to the reality that God has made me finite and in need of rest. He gives me rest so I can see that I need him every hour of the day.

Even though I did not get to everything on my list today I can sleep tonight. I’ll admit it’s not easy. But it’s good for me. Every unmet expectation is a reminder that God is in the details of my life molding me into his image, showing me more of my need for him, and teaching me that only he gets his to-do list done. And I can, by his grace, try again tomorrow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday is for Fotos

This picture captures my husband so perfectly. The morning of his grandma's funeral we all hung around the hotel. A lot of his cousins have kids now and this sweet girl is one of them. Daniel loves kids and he loves serving. He could not wait to hold her and play with her. And in typical Daniel fashion he asked if he could feed her. He knew it would serve her parents (and he knew he would get time with her!). So this picture warms my heart today. I hope it warms your heart too!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Believing the Promises

I have been reading through the Old Testament in my personal Bible reading, and I have enjoyed reading the stories of God’s faithfulness with his people. But I often struggle with their constant faithlessness. God shows himself time and time again and they grumble and complain. But what always strikes me most is that I know the end of the stories. I know that God fulfills all of his promises because I live on this side of their fulfillment—Christ’s coming to earth. I live on this side of the completion of the canon.

But the Israelites of the Pentateuch and the entire Old Testament only had a promise. They waited a long time for their longed for Messiah to come. Many died before he came, clinging only to a promise. Many didn’t believe even when he did. They lived in unbelief. The point is that those who stopped believing gave up. They didn’t believe God’s promises, even when they had seen him work in the past. They didn’t believe that he could be trusted, or that he was good and wise and cared. So when there was no prophetic voice from God for 400 years (the time from the prophets until Christ’s birth) they abandoned the very God who gave them life.

It’s really easy to look at these stories and judge them for their faithlessness. But our discontent and unbelief reveal the same bitter, hard heart of the Israelites many thousands of years ago. We just so often don’t see it.

I don’t want to prove faithless in the end. I may not get all of my earthly longing met. But my deepest longing—and greatest promise—has already been fulfilled by the coming of this promised Messiah and his death and resurrection on my behalf. We don’t have to only cling to a promise like the Israelites did. We have the Promised One.

Where are you on your “400 year journey”? Does it seem like God has stopped working for you? I assure you that he hasn’t. His seeming silence is part of a loving plan to bring you the greatest treasure of all—Jesus Christ. Let’s not be like the Israelites before us, believing God to be unfaithful and abandoning his word. Instead let us cling to our Christ, who reconciles us to God—the One who always does what he says.