Tuesday, August 21, 2012

practice makes perfect.

so i've been practicing the art of depending on Jesus to meet all of my needs, and boy is today ever a day for practicing getting better at this.

yesterday joyce meyer said, "if you want God to mature you, He will do that. if you want more patience, He's going to throw you into the most impatient situations. if you want more grace, He's going to put you in graceless situations. if you want more peace, He's going to put you in situations where peace is nowhere to be found!"

never a word has been truer.

as i said, i've been practicing depending on Jesus to meet my needs. as a Christian, this can be very difficult to do. the surprising thing is...many people expect Christians to automatically be able to do things such as have peace, be patient, and depend on Jesus Christ for everything.

but we must practice these things daily for them to be a habit. they dont always come so easily.

so, i've been praying for more opportunities to depend totally on Christ to meet my needs and not on my own ability.

well, today is my lucky day.

i woke up, everything was fine. house in order, girls asleep, husband safely at work. so i had my prayer in bed, like i do nearly every morning now (i do it between sleep and wakefulness, and surprisingly, it's one of the best times for me to feel Christ's comfort!). so i sit up, use the bathroom and hear a knock at the door. it's my friend. she visits me and we chat up a bit, and everything is good. she says, "do you smell gas burning?" i look in the kitchen, and yup, the stove is turned on, but the pilot hasn't caught, releasing gas fumes into the home. i lift the window, air out everything and everything is fine. i turn on the stove to cook the girls oatmeal for's nice and uneventful.

about an hour later my friend leaves, and i go to make myself some eggs. the stove doesn't turn on. then i go to check the other burners, nothing works. i turn on the oven...eek. it's black; the pilot light has gone out. panic sets in.

just then my husband calls. "husband!" i announce, with a little more panic than i intended, "i think our gas is turned off!"

he groans audibly. "check the dryer!" he says, a glimmer of hope in his voice.

i go upstairs, turn on the dryer and wait for it to start up while talking to him. after about 3 minutes, i don't hear the distinctive "click" and then whooshing, blowing noise indicating that the gas burner has caught to add heat to the machine.

"yup! they caught us!"

we both groan loudly, and my heart skips a beat. we always dread public service electric and gas "catching" us, or disconnecting one of our services. but because the bill is so high, pushing about 250-300.00 a month for both (nearly the price we pay in rent)'s always a stark thought in the back of our minds threatening to become reality at any nanosecond.

today it is reality.

this wouldn't make me "anxious" (i use the word lightly, i'll explain myself below) normally, because we'd just dig in our bill money, send off the 300.00 for the bill...and wait the few hours for the services to be restored.

but today, we have no bill money. so we have no money for service restoration.

enter anxiety stage left.

or better yet, enter what is *supposed* to be anxiety, stage left (but what has turned into some real peaceful living).

anyway, back to the story. it wouldn't be so bad, but our home is an electric and gas home. everything that we use that's not a small appliance uses both electricity and gas simultaneously to operate correctly. this includes our heating system, stove and dryer. so none of these things are in operable order now. if even my dryer was, i would just ride it out. that in and of itself is telling me that...

i must be learning to depend on Christ to meet my needs and get me out the messes we're in. this is because instead of being totally devastated that my gas is off, as i would've been in the past, i feel like a pioneer woman. we still have electricity, so our air conditioning unit is functioning perfectly. we have enough hot water for the next 2 days or so, and we do have an electric griddle to cook foods on, while our rice cooker and microwave are electric powered. things aren't too bad on my end.  in my mind, we'll just have to work this out until we're able to get the gas back on. it can't stay this way forever. i have this odd excitement in the pit of my belly about being able to do things the "old fashioned way", and i've become VERY creative with meals, making some of the best dishes we've had in a long time. it's like this is adventure time for me.

plus, we can depend on Christ to help us meet all of our needs. so there's no need to worry. this is my first time ever, feeling FULLY at peace with a situation like this. taking it day by day...i now understand the verse:

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

for the first time in this situation, i am NOT moved! not worried, not anxious, actually i'm ENJOYING the situation!

unfortunately, my husband was more stressed out than i wanted him to be (althogh he has since calmed down and too put his trust in Jesus to get us through this!), but i remember being where he was. worried and anxious and stressing what i can't control. he was considering borrowing the money, but we already owe 500.00 to family members (that we're paying off) plus two credit cards. so "borrowing" more is out of the picture as far as i'm concerned. if we had no debt, it wouldn't be a problem. but borrowing another 300.00 would push us up to 800.00 to pay back--way too much.

im not happy with that idea, so we scrapped it.

the reason we even owe this bill sucks too. last month we ran into car trouble, so borrowed from peter (pseg for 2 months) to pay paul (the car). this month, it caught up to us. usually, we can skip a month or so of pseg payments and then just double up the following month, and they'll leave us alone. this time, no go! and with my husband's income, we don't have any wiggle room to get money from anywhere else. i could've used the girls schoolwear clothing allocation (250.00), but it must not have been meant to be because we went school shopping YESTERDAY and the gas was disconnected TODAY. we also could've just reneged on fixing the car and continued to walk, but we also just happened to pay the last installment to our mechanic yesterday for the car trouble, and the gas got disconnected today. what great timing, huh? we don't even have a savings plan, because we can't save anything, and actually are running into other bill trouble quickly on the horizon (our car insurance is due--and without that, our vehicle is out of commission).

anyway, i digress. none of it even matters. what matters is we still have what we need to be ok, the only difference is i have to take the girls uptown for their showers to grandmas house. hubby showers on his way home from work at his moms house already, so it works out perfectly.

we'll come up with something to get our bills under control. we always do. in the meantime in between time...God the Father is still on the throne! and for the first time  ever, i am totally basking and relaxing and feeling peace and total understanding in this lesson in not worrying, leaning on God through His Son Jesus Christ to meet my family's needs. it is AMAZING to say the least, and i am appreciating the experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

delicious string beans!

is it "string beans" or "stringed beans"? i'm not too sure. either way, this recipe is an absolutely delicious and easy one that i stumbled upon one day while frustrated with canned beans, and finding a lone pack of frozen beans in the back of the freezer just waiting to be experimented with. after this, i will NEVER go back to eating ANY string/ed beans out of a can again! these are so tasty that i'll make up a batch every now and again just to munch on when i'm hungry.  they are that good (and healthy for you too!) you will need:

1 bag of frozen string/ed beans

2 tbsp butter

salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

in a sautee pan, OR a regular frying pan (which i use cus i'm not fancy) simply thaw out the beans over high heat and once the water is mostly evaporated, add butter. stir well to coat the beans with butter, and then add the seasonings to taste. cook until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes over high heat. serve immediately.

you can always cook the beans longer to make them crispier, or shorter to make them softer. i like a really crisp bite to mine so i actually cook mine until a few of them are overcooked (about 7 minutes in all on high heat), then i just blend them all well and serve. delicious!

Friday, August 3, 2012

sweet basil and my green thumb...

so, my green thumb has been accidentally triggered, and lately i'm itching to be a gardener. now, anyone who knows me knows that as much as i love plants, i kill them all within 6 months so it hasn't been my uhm...hobby to grow them. but, this past few weeks has me rethinking my assumptions about myself and willing to give gardening/growing indoor plants another try. where did this spontaneous interest come from? well i'm happy you asked!

first, i went to visit my cousin and saw that she has these absolutely beautiful bamboo plants, which i asked her to teach me how to care for them. she gave me some great pointers and some plant food to start off with. although i haven't found any bamboo plants to start with (usually the .99 cent stores around town carry them for .99 per stalk, but of course now that i'm interested in growing them from scratch no one has any!), i have been plotting on starting my very own bamboo garden as soon as i get my hands on some of the stalks.

in the meantime, i went out into the backyard, intending on dumping over one of the flower pots back there, to give away the pots, only to see that my basil plants from last year dropped seeds and resprouted for me this year! ive been super excited about having a fresh basil plant this year unexpectedly, but my "gardener" senses have been tingling since, and for the last 24 hours i've been trying to figure out how i can ensure that my basil plants grow again next year, this time on purpose. after consulting my green thumb mother and cousin, i've decided that simple is best. since i can't collect the seeds (because they're so small and i can barely see them), i'm just going to pull the plants when the season is over, dry them upside down (IN the flower pot), and when the stalks dry out totally and begin to break down (this winter), i'm going to sift the top layer of soil and then cover it all with a protective layer over the winter. better safe than sorry, and now that i'm on the hunt for my bamboo, i really want to ensure that my basil grows next year.

in addition to my basil, i purchased from the grocery store a full jade plant, which is beautiful. i do not have luck with jade plants but i'm going to give this one a real try. i also received from freecyle another jade plant and aloe plant, but after nearly killing them both, they're growing pretty slowly. after nearly doing them in though, my green thumb has learned a lesson or two and they're *slowly* coming back to life.

i also decided to snatch up some of my mothers iris seeds before my sister comes up to nj to bring her belongings back to her home in the south. i figure my mom has had these plants for a long time, and to be able to grow my own from hers is some sappy mother daughter love thing that will keep a bit of her with me every day. in the iris plant is a wild growing morning glory, which i love, so i took some of it by the root and planted it with the iris seeds, and i hope it too will catch for next spring and grow up the side of my home. she also gave me a pot of this really shallow *but beautiful) grass like plant that i've repotted in the bottom of a flower pot saucer in hopes that next year it will bloom fully and cover the saucer in a carpet like growth.

my little garden is just that *little* but i am so excited about it LOL. i feel like a new mom. i'm praying that i've planted everything right and it all takes root and next spring will give me a little garden in the city. and to think, all of this greatness started with just a bamboo idea and some accidentally sprouted sweet basil!

i'm probably going to be the martha stewart of plants at this rate! i can't wait...