Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vegetable Jambalaya

Vegetable Jambalaya - The Cozy Nook

Recently I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my weekly plan, hoping this will help my grocery budget.

We tried this spicy jambalaya last week, and it was a hit!

If your family likes spicy food, they should enjoy this. If you want to try making it without as much zing, I would try using maybe 1/4 of a jalapeno and just a dash of cayenne pepper.

Vegetable Jambalaya
Recipe found at “The Kitchn”

Serves 6

Note: I actually used about 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and added 1 to 2 cups more broth to be certain to have enough portions for our family.

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 small green chili pepper, like a jalapeno, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
3/4 cup long-grain rice (I used brown)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, until they become translucent but not brown.

Add the garlic, chili pepper, tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for a minute, until the tomatoes release some of their juice.

Add the rice and slowly pour in the broth. Lower the heat to medium and  cook until the rice absorbs all the liquid, between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on whether you use brown rice.

Taste and adjust the salt, and pepper, and any other spices.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Novel From Christian Author Jason McIntire - "Flight School: One Summer, Many Choices"

Flight School Cover

 

If you've read The Sparrow Found A House by Jason McIntire (Elisha Press, 2013), you'll already know his style: Real-life situations addressed with equal parts humor and biblical wisdom. It's a combination reviewers find powerful. They've used the words intriguing, believable, captivating, and unique - among many others - to describe his writing. The Sparrow Found A House (which is available as a free Kindle download from Elisha Press) was also endorsed by Exodus Mandate, the prominent homeschooling action group. It tells the story of the Rivera-Sparrows, a newly-blended and newly-homeschooling family facing opposition from without and within.

Today Elisha Press is announcing the release of a sequel to The Sparrow Found A House - and to celebrate, they're giving away signed copies to four randomly-selected winners. You can enter the giveaway here, or go ahead and order the book on Amazon. It's $2.99 for the Kindle version, or $9.99 for the 256-page print edition.

Flight School follows the Rivera kids as they meet new friends, explore careers, and encounter the challenges and choices that come with adult life. As a homeschool graduate himself, Jason knows the things that matter most to homeschoolers, and how to write about those things in a way that will edify, resonate, and entertain.

"If you like Flight School," Jason says, "thank God. If you don't like it, blame me."

Enter the giveaway, or buy a copy now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gaining Peace: Submitting to Life, Just As It Is

Gaining Peace Submitting to Life, Just As It Is

No matter who you are, it is easy to struggle with the frustration gap – the gap between your expectations/hopes of life and the reality of life.

I have a good life. Really, I have a great life, and chances are, you probably do too. However, sometimes we have great expectations, and we start to realize that the truth of our lives doesn’t quite meet those expectations.

I would like to see my husband more and spend more time with him. Currently his job is consuming him, and it seems hard to schedule time together. On top of that, we’ve got a busy schedule with our kids’ activities, especially through the next couple months, so we will be hit-and-miss much more often than I would like. I have to accept this, with peace, and still have a good attitude. It is easy for me to let my emotions run and feel distant from my husband.

Last year I felt I started a new season of motherhood. My oldest started high school, and my kids are older and involved with more things: more activities, more interests, more social engagements, more opportunities for education and work… Everything just seems to be higher volume with older kids: more money, more time, more food… Wowsa! Last school year was the first year when I was out of the house nearly every day of the week, and it made me feel unsettled. My desires and tendencies make me want to be at home more, but life requires me to be out more. I have to adjust. I have to learn new habits and create new systems. I have to submit to this new way of life and go with the flow.

I also have had a good amount of health issues over the past year. I know I haven’t written about this too much here on my blog, but I have basically been dealing with adrenal fatigue. I feel like it is a long journey, but I have had to accept some limitations and also work on building myself up. Sometimes this seems impossible with all that life requires of me, but I do my best. Again, I have to submit. I have to accept these challenges and do my best to tackle them with grace.

Nearly every area of my life has felt difficult or transitional over the past year, and I have had to make changes, accept some things, and let some things go.

However, in all of these things, I am learning this big lesson:

How to submit to life and accept it just as it is.

When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be content.
When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be thankful.
When we can accept the way our lives are, we can be joyful.

Good emotions and positive thoughts about our lives come when we see the good in our lives. If we are always focusing on the bad and what is lacking, we will never feel our lives are good enough.

Through all of life’s imperfections, frustrations, and challenges, may we learn to submit to life, just as it is.

Then we will find peace.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Moms, You are NOT a Failure

Moms, You Are Not a Failure - The Cozy Nook

Over the past week I have spoken with three moms in three different stages of life.

One mom is parenting all adult children. We talked about life, and she told me that she is failing, failing at parenting her adult daughter. She struggles to find balance, wisdom, and grace.

Another mom is parenting a handful of children, and her oldest is just entering adulthood. She, too, feels like she is failing. She feels a bit uncertain as she enters this new phase and sees how much she needs the Lord’s grace.

A third mom is the mom of two, young children. Her children challenge her continually and provide ample opportunity for training. It exhausts and consumes her at times. She plods on with determination, even though it can be very discouraging.

All three of these women are women I respect and admire, women who have given and are giving their lives for their families’ sakes and have the vision of raising up godly children.

Truth be told, none of these women are failing.

Their emotions and circumstances with their children may try to tell them that they are failing, but I know they are not.

These women are trying hard, loving hard, praying hard, and serving hard. They are giving motherhood all they’ve got, yet they find themselves failing.

I, myself, can relate. Each day is full of struggles. Motherhood makes me feel so out of control at times. It is difficult, full of challenges and change, and unpredictable.

Motherhood isn’t like any other project. We can’t just put the item on our “To Do” lists and check it off when it is completed.

There is constant change, constant need, and constant imperfection.

These variables make us feel weak and discouraged.
They resonate to us that we are failures, but we are not failures!

Moms, if you are trying hard to raise and love your children, you are not a failure!

Don’t judge your life by the imperfections and weaknesses you run into on a daily basis.

Judge your life by:

  • what you ARE trying to accomplish, not what fails
  • what your vision is for your family, what you are striving towards
  • what you HAVE DONE and ARE doing successfully
  • the positive fruit you see in your children’s lives and in your own heart

When the voices of the lack of life shout at you, shout back at them and say, “I am not a failure!”

Do your best. Let God do the rest.
Focus on the good fruit. Let go of the failure.
Accept imperfection. Strive towards nobility.

Moms, you are not a failure!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Life’s Imperfection: An Opportunity for Grace

Life's Imperfection An Opportunity for Grace - The Cozy Nook 

Sometimes life comes packaged in the form of order. 

  • A clean sink.
  • Well-behaved children.
  • A well-maintained house and yard.
  • Finished projects

These are beautiful things, and I love when life feels orderly.

But what happens when we start to see the cracks and crevices? 

  • Dishes in the sink.
  • Misbehaving children.
  • Laundry baskets and weeds.
  • Unfinished projects

Life can suddenly feel like it is out of order, that is chaotic and lacking.

That's where grace comes in.

When we are able to look at the imperfections of our lives and be at peace, there we find grace.

Grace allows us to be at peace when everything isn't perfect.

Grace enables us to know that we are still doing good and great things if we are not matching up to perfection.

Grace helps us to be content with our shortcomings and life's lack and be thankful with joy.

Grace strengthens us and fills in the empty cracks and crevices of life.

Are you noticing the undone in your life?

Allow grace to fill the gap. 

Allow yourself to be at peace with working hard each day and living the best you can, even though it may fall way short of perfect.

That's grace, my friends, beautiful grace.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Are You Ready to Look to the Hills with Me?

I Will Lift My Eyes to the Hills - The Cozy Nook

Lately I have felt pretty disoriented and discouraged. There is a lot going on in my life that brings me down, if I let it. The fight is real. I have to work hard to keep my mind thinking on good things and focused on what I should be doing.

Today I deleted the Facebook App from my phone… again. I have turned to it too many times to fill in the gaps of the day – those times when I am switching from one activity to the next… those times when my emotions are feeling a bit raw and somehow think that a visit to FB will remedy it (and I am soon to be disappointed)… those times when I just want to escape reality for a moment and keep in touch with the people in my life.

So, the Facebook App is gone from my phone again, for a season, until I can get my habits under control, because frankly, it does very little good for my days and well-being.

As I’ve ridden through another emotional day today, faced with various dramas, I also started thinking, “I need a mentor”. Don’t we, all, love mentors?! I’ve written about it. I believe in it. It’s one reason I have this blog – with the hopes that I can mentor and encourage women.

However, this thought of mine to pursue a mentor got me off on another rabbit trail… “I’ll just do a quick search for a life coach. That’s what I need.” $600 for six sessions. Hmm…I can’t really do that right now. There are too many other things vying for our monies.

In the middle of this big distraction, I felt a tug.

I will lift my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

Forgive me, Lord.

It’s You that I need.
It’s You whom I need to direct my steps.
It’s You whom I need to guide me and help me order my life right now.

I’m not saying that we don’t need mentors or other natural helps in our lives, but how many times do we turn to natural solutions and look for earthly things to fill us when God is calling to our hearts, “Come to me.”

Are you ready to look to the hills with me?

This week when you are down and out, discouraged, and feeling like you need a good fill of wisdom and grace, look to the Lord!

Let’s do it together!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don’t Compare. Just Live the Life God Has for You.

Don't Compare - The Cozy Nook

It sure is easy to compare ourselves to other people these days; isn’t it?

With a barrage of amazing stories and images on social media, picture-perfect homes and people in books and magazines, and a gallery of decisions put before us every day, we are faced with a myriad of options to which we can compare ourselves.

My advice to you:

Don’t do it!

Will temptation come?
Yep!

Will people appear to have a better life than you?
Yep!

And when these temptations come, we need to set them aside and throw them out, like a moldy piece of fruit, and fill our minds with the purposes that God has for us!

Don’t compare your personality.
Don’t compare your husband.
Don’t compare your children.
Don’t compare your ministry.
Don’t compare how you school your children.
Don’t compare your looks.
Don’t compare your abilities and gifts.
Don’t compare your friends.
Don’t compare how you use your time.
Don’t compare how you spend your money.
Don’t compare your vacation…

Just stop!

Do you know what comparison does?

It robs.

Let me say that again:

Comparison robs!

Comparison steals our joy and prevents us from focusing on the good lives God has given us,
what He has called us to do,
and what His purpose is for us right now.

Have you been busy comparing yourself to other people?

It’s a big waste of time.

Instead, with God’s grace, let’s focus on what God has for us in our lives and run the race that is set before us!

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us”
Hebrews 12:1