Archives For October 2012

“Fear is a poor chisel with which to carve out tomorrow.”

~ Otto Frank (Anne’s papa)

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Fearless!

Little Cheddar Meatloaves

October 30, 2012 — 2 Comments

Comfort food with a twist.

Ingredients:

1 egg                                           1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup milk                                 1 lb. Lean ground meat

1/2 cup quick cooking oats            1/3 cup ketchup

1 cup shredded cheddar                1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup onion, diced                      1/2 tsp. mustard

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.

2.  Whisk together egg and milk.

3.  Stir in cheese, oats, onion, and salt.

4.  Add meat.  Mix well.

5.  Shape into 8 loaves and put in 9×13 pan.

6.  Combine ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard.  Spoon over loaves.

7.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

NOTE:  Great with Twice Baked Potatoes (recipe next week).

Freezer directions:

1.  Place loaves (without sauce) in casserole dish.  Cover tightly with foil and freeze.

2.  When ready to bake, defrost overnight.

3.  Mix together sauce and spoon over loaves.

4.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Burned!

October 29, 2012 — 11 Comments

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I tried camping.  My husband loves camping.  I love hotels.

In the middle of nowhere, enjoying the fire, I suddenly smelled pizza.  I asked my husband if he thought someone nearby ordered delivery.  As he laughed and explained the ridiculousness of that question, I felt a searing pain on my leg.  I looked down and a spark from the fire had burned through my pants and had reached my flesh.  We found the source of the aroma.  Who knew I smelled like pizza when set on fire?!

Although I was burned, I treated it with balm and gave it time to heal.  Mistakes sometimes feel like a burn.  But many times I don’t treat the burn properly:

• I pick at the burn – Reliving and beating myself up over my mistakes.  Making it fester by not forgiving myself.

Living with the burn – Not dealing with the mistake.  Ignoring and learning to live with the pain, inadvertently magnifying the scar.

• I put butter on the burn – Attempting to fix my mistakes in the wrong way.  Making excuses and placing blame on others, prolonging the burn.

Recently, I visited Colorado, staying in a house with a beautiful view of Pikes Peak.  On the last day as I admired the view, I began to realize the burn zone from the 2012 Colorado fires was just in front of Pikes Peak.  An amazing sight I had not noticed until now!

The view of the burn zone against the majestic Pikes Peak provided a lesson in dealing with my burns (mistakes) correctly:

• Deal with burns swiftly – Taking responsibility and not making excuses brings a swift end to what otherwise can turn into an out-of-control fire.  Asking forgiveness from God and others is vital to stopping the burn.  Forgiving self is integral to healing!

• The majestic softens the look of the burn – Mistakes are ugly but against the majesty of God, they become part of the beautiful landscape of His grace.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despairThey will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:3a

• Burns stimulate growth – Mistakes provide learning opportunities.  If we learn, we grow.  We can also help others by allowing them to see our burns and share how we healed.  This spreads growth.

“ We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.  This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts…”  Romans 5:3-5

Being human, nobody gets through life without getting burned by their mistakes.  But there is hope and healing for those burns.  The ash clouds will clear and the sun will shine again.

“…He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
a place in the sun!”
1 Samuel 2:8 (MSG)

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

1.  Stay in the moment and don’t play the “What if” game.  Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles….it empties today of its strength.”  Refusing to worry will keep you joyful.

2.  Stop and observe the extraordinary around you.  People everywhere are doing, saying, and experiencing some amazing things.  Observing these amazing people and moments brings joy.  Read about some of the extraordinary observations while simply grocery shopping.

3.  Feed your inner introvert or extrovert.  Do you re-energize and refuel by being alone or being with other people?  If you feel depleted after spending a lot of time alone but feel exhilarated after being with others, you’re an extrovert and the opposite means you’re an introvert.  Feeding that inner introvert or extrovert will keep you joyful.

4.  Accept, don’t judge.  Loving and building others up provides joy.  Criticizing steals it.

5.  Laugh.  Find the humor in the everyday.  Humor is found in many of life’s moments.  Find humor and you find joy.  Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

6. Forgive others AND yourself!  Max Lucado said, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”  Unleash forgiveness and release joy.

7.  Spend time with God.  Nothing helps me keep perspective and provides more joy than spending time with God every day.  Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence…”

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

It was just an ordinary day when I needed to go grocery shopping.

On my way, I saw a mom running with a baby in a carrier on her chest, pushing a toddler in a stroller, and holding a leash as her dog ran alongside.  This mom was dedicated and included her kids in her determination.  What an inspiration!

After parking my car at the grocery store, I got out and just happened to witness two women excitedly greet each other.  I overheard them as they eagerly told each other about their lives because they had apparently not seen each other in years.  What fun!

Pushing my cart down an aisle, I noticed a woman having trouble reaching an item on the top shelf.  I decided to offer my high-heeled help.  Before I could, a man walked by and in one swoop, grabbed the item, threw it in her cart, smiled, and kept walking.  What thoughtfulness!

As I was finishing up in the produce section, I observed an older woman talking with a young man.  She was apprising him of all her ailments,  many of which would have embarrassed her own mother.  But the man was completely absorbed in what she was saying, providing her much-needed attention.  What compassion!

Waiting in line to pay for my groceries, the woman checking out was paying with cash.  She was ready to hand over the money when she learned she needed some change.  Immediately, the man behind her handed the cashier the necessary money with a smile.  He saved her from having to dig for her wallet as a long line formed behind her.  What kindness!

Driving home from the store, I looked into a cornfield and saw a farmer’s family having supper together in a field.  A table and chairs had been set up along with a buffet table laden with food.  Not even harvest was going to stop this family from being together.  What devotion!

As I arrived home, I realized there really is no ordinary errand.  There really is no ordinary day.  If we just open our eyes, we will witness extraordinary in the midst of ordinary.

 
@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

 

“Great God, let me walk three weeks in the footsteps of my enemy, carry the same burden, have the same trials and temptations as he, before I say one word to criticize him.” ~ An Indian Chief Prayer

Extraordinary Quote of the Week

A Fall dessert that smells and tastes wonderful.  This is one of our family’s favorites.

 

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs                                1 teaspoon baking soda

1 15 oz. can pumpkin           1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup oil                              2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups flour                         2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups sugar

 

– Preheat oven to 350°

– Mix eggs, pumpkin, and oil in large bowl (wet mixture).  Set aside.

– Sift all dry ingredients into a separate large bowl.  Combine.

– Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture.  Mix well.

– Pour into 2 greased and floured 9×13 cake pans.

– Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

– Cool completely.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese           1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons real butter          1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon milk

 

– Combine and mix cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla.

– Slowly add powdered sugar to other ingredients.

– Mix into a creamy frosting.

– After bars are cooled, frost.

– Refrigerate leftovers.

 

Recipe from my amazing mother-in-law, Darlene Johnson.

@2012 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Finishing Last

October 22, 2012 — 11 Comments

Don’t you love inspirational sports stories about people overcoming challenges and winning?  I especially love stories from the world of long distance racing.  Probably because I hate running and admire those that love it.  Unfortunately, I need a reason to run.  Such as from a murderer or to get chocolate.  So people who run in long distance races have my utmost respect.

We recently attended a High School Cross Country meet.  As the race wore on, my attention was drawn to the back where something special began to surface.  I saw the runners encouraging each other without regard for team division and rivalry.  The competition disappeared.  The fans who patiently waited for those in the back, cheered on each and every runner.  A camaraderie developed as the unified goal became to just finish the race.

After the first mile of the race, one runner in the back began to struggle more than the rest and fell back.  With each step, the lone runner fell further and further behind.

When the runners disappeared behind a cornfield waiting to be harvested, everyone waited with bated breath hoping their guy would emerge first.  The runners rounded the corner, ran by the cheering fans, and began their last mile.  As each runner went by, fans slowly moved to the finish line.  A few of us waited for the lone runner.

Minute after minute ticked by and still no lone runner.  We began hearing cheers as runners finished their third mile, crossing the finish line.  We waited on the lone runner to emerge from the cornfield but only saw the brown corn leaves blowing in the wind.

The few people waiting on the lone runner, thinking he gave up, made their way to the finish line.  My son and I didn’t move.  Was it just too discouraging for the lone runner?  Did he quit?  After all, most of the runners were finished and he was still on the second mile.  I looked down at my son and said, “I’m so sorry, but he must have quit.”  Just as we turned for the finish line, my son excitedly announced, “There he is!”

Emerging from the corn was the lone runner trudging slowly along.  As he neared us, he could hear the cheers at the finish line as the last of the boys finished mile three.  How hard it must be to keep running when everyone else has finished their race.

Yet, he raced on.  What character!  What an inspiration!  What a life lesson.  How many times have I been tempted to give up on life?  When the road seemed too long and I just wanted to stop.  When I felt I wasn’t getting the support I needed and became so discouraged I wanted to quit.  The times the pain was so intense, I just wanted to lay down and surrender to the agony.

The lone runner became a metaphor for life.  He disappeared behind the corn for the last half mile.  His coach yelled encouraging words through the corn.  His team lined the final stretch.  And again, we waited.

Finally, the lone runner emerged.  Panting, limping, crying out in pain.  My son and I cheered wildly as the lone runner passed.  Determined, nothing was going to stop him from finishing.

I was sad only a few of us saw the lone runner cross the finish line.  He was just an ordinary runner, very few cared to see run but who taught an important life lesson.

– Never give up.

– Fight through pain.

– Don’t lose sight of the finish line, even when it’s not visible.

– Look for fans on the sidelines.  They are there.

– Your race is encouraging others even when you don’t realize it.

– And never forget to look for inspiration among the ordinary.  You’ll always find it!

I’m so inspired, I just may join a real life long distance race.  In the Krispy Kreme Challenge, runners race to eat a dozen doughnuts.  That sounds right up my alley.  On second thought, maybe I’ll just run to my kitchen and eat a Snickers.

.….Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:13-14)

@2012 Connie Johnson

  1. Hug and kiss.  Our goal is to kiss long enough for the kids to say, “Ewwww!”
  2. Look at him while he talks.
  3. Do something special for him.  For example, do one of his chores.  Although, I draw the line at cleaning out the septic system. *smile*
  4. Laugh and enjoy each others company.
  5. Tell him something you love about him.
  6. Leave an encouraging note for him to find.
  7. Thank him for the hard work he does at his job and at home.
  8. Say, “I love you!”
  9. Let him sleep in (I admit my husband does this for me more than I do it for him but boy, do I feel LOVED!).
  10. Pray for and with him.

What are some ways you show love to your spouse daily?

@2012 Connie Johnson

Each time I visit Colorado, I feel as if I’ve entered God’s Spa.  He feeds my personal needs in many ways.

He rejuvenates

He awes!

He surprises!

He thrills!

He’s unconventional!

But the most extraordinary are the friends He gave me to share all of this with!

@2012 Connie Johnson