Twisted Chicken Noodle Soup

Maybe the long winter season is getting into my psyche, but I really am tired of being cold.  And here in Missouri, our cold is without the emotional benefits of snow.  We are just in a cold, drab world.

Cooking has a way of making a negative mood positive and tackling the cold winter, soup continues to be a comfort food.  I decided to try something a bit different yesterday.  Using left over stove-top grilled chicken tenders, I created a Twisted Chicken Noodle Soup.  Actually it was a twisted cream of chicken noodle soup, and the twist was in the noodle.

A visit to an Asian market resulted in the purchase of sweet potato noodles.  They have sat in my pantry waiting for me to use them.  As the cold permeated my psyche, I kept thinking there must be a way to use them.  Finding the left over chicken, I put together the idea that sweet potatoes go great with chicken, so why not a chicken noodle soup with sweet potato noodles.

The process began with creating a base of chicken bouillon, chopping the tenders up, I started the pot with my favorite non-MSG chicken bouillon.  Then came my chopped veggie additions–celery, onion and carrot.  For additional flavor, I added  KC veggie seasoning, mixed herbs including a touch of rosemary and rubbed sage, and finally, pumpkin pie spices.  The pot smelled good as it heated up:IMG_2081

As the pot was boiling, I got the noodles out.  I had no idea what I was getting into as I am so accustomed to using traditional pasta; but what problem could there be.  Open up the dried noodles, break into a manageable size and drop in the boiling broth.

Much to my surprise, the noodles are tough.  It was impossible to simply break as I do with regular pastas.  It was even remarkably difficult to cut with a knife.  Therefore, I simply had to drop them in.  The full length of one noodle is about 18 inches long, so stirring them while they begin to soften makes them fit into the pan.

The noodles cooked down quite nicely, but they are translucent.  I began to wonder how my husband would respond to the visuals in the clear broth.  I was letting it cook and began trying to decide whether this soup was going to be any good or not.  Then I started thinking:  if butternut soup is a cream base, and cream of chicken soup includes noodles in some cases, then why couldn’t I modify this into a cream of noodle soup.

I returned to the kitchen, took about a half cup of half and half, poured it in.  Maybe I should have removed some of the broth, but I didn’t.  Then I decided it needed thickening and if you make sweet potato or even potato soup, you use the meat of the potato.  I pulled out instant potatoes and added about half a package to the pot to thicken it.

Oh, I learned another trick concerning the noodles.  Even if you cannot break them up, once they cook and soften, they are very easy to cut.  I used a pastry cutter to cut them in the pan.  A bit of a challenge, but it makes it easier to eat.  I would suggest cooking the noodles in the soup base and then cut them as you serve them.  Maybe there is an easier way to do so, but my pastry cutter worked.

The final result:  YUMMY!  IMG_2082

My husband really liked it and I can’t wait for others to try it, too.  The translucent noodles looked much more traditional once creamed and thickened.  I think the sweet potato noodles and the pumpkin pie spices paired well with a much more traditional chicken noodle soup.  Whew!  another twist for the tastebuds.

If you are interested, here is a rough list of ingredients.  I apologize that I tend to just add and not measure when I cook independent of a regular recipe:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chopped onion, celery and carrot
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs (Italian mix would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (I prefer veggie pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
  • 1/3 package of sweet potato noodles
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup of instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

I know many might wonder about calorie counts and fats, but I cannot address them.  I use My Fitness Pal, and they do include sweet potato soup and cream of chicken noodle.  I had to guesstimate what the calories were.  I did some research though and know that sweet potato noodles are gluten free and may be a more nutritional option than most wheat-based pastas.

I hope you let me know if you try recreating this Twisted Chicken Soup.  I will be fascinated to know your opinion.  Happy eating!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Kitchen notes

The Message of the Trees: The Cross: A man-made tree

This is the second of three sermons spinning off the Church of the Resurrection’s stained glass window as seen below.  The website is https://sacredspaces.cor.org/leawood/

images

Scripture connections:

 Old Testament: Isaiah 53:7-12 (NLT)

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.[a]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.[b]
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

 

Gospel: Luke 23:44-49 (NLT) [also found in Matthew 27:45-56, Mark 15:44-49 & John 19:18-27]

44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”[a] And with those words he breathed his last.

47 When the Roman officer[b] overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.[c]” 48 And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.[d] 49 But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

New Testament (from Paul’s letters)

I Corinthians 1:18-21 (NLT)

18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”[a]

20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

Galatians 3:1-3 (NLT)

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Reflection:

As I started working on the images of the three trees in the COR’s stained glass window, I struggled to understand how the cross could be identified as a tree. Trees are living, breathing organisms, and a nature-loving mother raised me to respect them. The cross was not a living organism so the only correlation I could make was that it was made from a tree.

Last week we talked about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The image in the window is surrounded by the visual representations of the Old Testament stories. The Tree of the Cross is surrounded by the images that tell the story of Jesus Christ, from his birth in a manger through his crucifixion on the wooden cross.

The cross is a man-made shape used to hang a man. Man destroyed a living tree to destroy Jesus Christ. This tree represents all the evil that God tries to teach us to avoid—and it was man-made rather than God created.

Why, then is the Tree of the Cross the central figure of the three trees? Turning to scripture, references to the cross are buried even in the prophecy of Isaiah:

But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

 

Even though the verses do not use the word ‘cross,’ the typical method of sentencing a criminal, especially if considered a rebel, was crucifixion—a horrible, cruel death meant to serve as a deterrent to others who might encourage rebellion against authorities.

And all four gospels describe Jesus’ death in almost the very same words. The description of the actual crucifixion is minimal, but the method is not as important as the purpose Paul outlines in I Corinthians 1:18-21:

 

18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

 

The message, as we prepare to come to the table today, is that those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior will be saved—granted eternal life.

Paul continues to explain the meaning of the cross to the Galatians:

For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.

 

The cross is our symbol of God’s effort to keep humanity from self-destructing. The cross is a constant reminder that God loves all so much that he joined us—all humanity—by stepping into human form as Jesus to teach us how to love one another.

The cross triggers us to remember the stories of Jesus’ teachings and his efforts to model how to love one another. The cross, man-made from a tree, carried the weight of Jesus as the body of God died.

Do not leave worship today without keeping image of the Cross with you. Look around in our community and in our homes to see where the Cross is visible. Reflect upon the cruelty that God endured as he completed his work in the body of Christ.

Yes, the Cross was man-made from a tree. In fact a tree had to be destroyed in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. The Old Testament tells the stories of how the ancient Israelites failed to remain faithful to God or failed to follow the Law of Moses beginning with the story of Adam and Eve failing to follow God’s rule. The stained glass artist demonstrated the destruction of the Garden of Eden as God created by the choice of yellowing, withering leaves from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Tree of the Cross symbolizes humanity’s failure to remain faithful. Even legends have developed about the choice of wood used for the cross. The choice the ancient Romans used cannot be proven because the ancient crosses deteriorated and there is no archeological evidence of the wood used. Possibly it was olive wood, cypress, or cedar, but as a native Missourian, I am familiar with the Legend of the Dogwood Tree.

Googling the legend, I found the story:

In Jesus’ time, the dogwood grew 
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony.”

 

[Accessed on February 2, 2018 at https://www.gotquestions.org/legend-dogwood.html]

 

This legend helps me remember the message of the Cross, especially when the dogwoods bloom in the Spring. But, I was curious:  Did dogwood trees grow in Jerusalem? No. I learned that the dogwood is native only in the United States.

The Legend of the Dogwood was created to help remember the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Other cultures have different legends, and one of them includes a connection to Seth, a son of Adam and Eve. The story is complex, but it challenges our sense of chronology that our human minds comprehend.

In a doctoral thesis by Nicole Fallon from University of Toronto, Canada, legends share that the wood on the cross came from the trees in the Garden of Eden:

The notion that wood was taken from paradise goes back to Jewish tradition . . . [when] Eve and Seth bring herbs back from Eden; another tale recounts how Adam and Eve took wood with them at the time of the expulsion, which was later used as a rod by Moses and was eventually incorporated into the Tabernacle. A third account tells how Moses went to paradise personally and cut his staff there from the tree of life.

[Accessed on February 2, 2018 at https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/19188/1/Fallon_Nicole_A_200911_PhD_thesis.pdf%5D

The Cross represents the story of God as the man Jesus Christ. As we continue to study the Bible and work at hearing God talk to us, it is important to remember that the Bible, like the stained glass window, is filled with stories to guide us in living the very principles God taught us and continues to teach us. In the window, the New Testament images revolve around the Cross, a man-made tree.

We must be disciplined to read The Word as John Wesley instructed the earliest Methodists. Sometimes the scriptures do not make sense based on our personal experiences, but if we study the scripture together in small groups we can help each other find God’s message.

The Tree of the Cross reminds us of God’s promises. This week as we think about the message in the visual images of crosses that surround us in our churches, in our homes, and even around us in our community, we remember God’s promise that those who accept Jesus Christ as their savior will be granted eternal life symbolized by the Tree of Life, the third tree of COR’s stained glass window.

Closing prayer:

Dear Father,

We look at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

And know we must be disciplined to read scripture

So we can choose good over evil in our lives.

Yet today we know there is much we do not understand.

 

Today, we consider the Tree of the Cross

And remember Jesus Christ is your son

Who died to pay for our sins.

Yet today, we know there is much we do not understand.

 

As we come to the table for the bread and the cup.

We recommit ourselves to be disciples

Who strive to live the life you give us

So that others, too, may understand your love. –Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

READ! For crying out loud, READ!

Yes, I am on a rampage.  I grew up reading.  My school was rural and small.  I only had about 13 in my class, but I read.  I read almost every book that sat on the shelves in my classrooms of Bellflower Elementary.  I read what was available.

This morning I started looking up information online and I realized that I miss reading.  And I read.  I miss reading novels.  I miss reading magazines.  I miss reading for fun.

After becoming an adult, reading became more focused on need than fun.  Reading filled a purpose more than it did down time.  But reading provided me the skill that was so necessary to manage the complexities of adulthood.

Now, the skill of reading is becoming lost.  Or maybe not.  As I was on line this morning, I realized I was reading.  I was using my learning skills that started me reading and searching for information.  I used a different format–the world wide web, but I am reading.

The epiphany then caused my mind to leapfrog (a term I use to explain how ADHD causes my brain to jump from one thing to the next) to my concern about how kids today do not know how to read.

Of course our schools are showing students how to identify the characters in the alphabet and how they make words and how to read them out. But I see major ommissions that we are not doing in our schools–and remember, I am a retired teacher.

As students in the 1960s one of the skills taught was how to use a textbook.  How to use a dictionary.  How to ask questions that taught us how to move from one word to the next to the encyclopedia–yes, that set of about 26 books that all families thought they had to own.

I have taught school.  I know that our curriculums are so focused on making sure the students are “learning” according to the scores on all kinds of standardized testing.  But, and this is huge, but are our students able to use the knowledge successfully on their own–can they study independently.

During my teaching at Wentworth Military Academy, a private company was allowed to come in and provide individualized training on how to read, how to speed read, how to improve study skills.  Unfortunately my long term memory has lost the name of this company from Massachusetts, but I remember the lessons.

Then during the 1990’s I was fortunate to join forces with the Orton Dyslexia Society, now known as the International Dyslexia Association today.  I attended the national conferences and was trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods for learning language.

I can assure you that very few teachers today are pressured to teach the study skills that takes the basics of reading and pushes students to the level of becoming effective, successful self learners.

What happened this week?  I worked with a very small group of rural American elementary students.  Every time I step into a small group of kids, I am saddened how poor the skills for learning are evident.  We must teach the kids to read, and with that comes teaching them how to study–how to learn.

Yes, there are methods to use that work.  But instead of focusing on successful scores on standardized tests, focus on the skills.  The end result will be successful adults who can adapt in the ever-changing world.

READ!  Read anything, everything whether in the form of a handheld book or whether it is on line.  Read.  Think.  Study.  Ask questions.  Think and then read some more.

In today’s world the immediate availability of all forms of texts is at our fingertips.  Access it.  Read it.  Ask questions.  Think and then read some more.  Teachers, stop and teach how to read.  Teach how to study.

And new teachers, if you have insecurity about how to do it–read.  Ask the experienced teachers that students seem to love what they do.  Remember your own learning expeirences in your favorite classroom and analyze it.  I lay odds that the teacher there was demonstrating how to learn.

READ!  And then read some more.  It is critical to the well-being of our global community in virtually every facet of our lives.  READ!

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, WMA

The Message in the Trees Series: 1. The Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil

The Messages Found in the Trees:

  1. The Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil (January 28, 2018)
  2. The Cross: A man-made tree (February 4, 2018)
  3. The Tree of Life: Eternal Life (February 11, 2018)

 

Let’s begin with a foundational statement:

The Bible is literature. God has gifted all with unique talents; and the Holy Spirit is God’s presence alive within human beings. In no way does this message challenge anybody’s belief in the holiness or sanctity of the Bible. The faithful have preserved The Word in these books, broken down into Old Testament and New Testament. The Bible is the foundation for all faithful followers of God, regardless of the denomination, the translation or published language. The Bible is literature, it is a historical record, it is a textbook, it is a hymnal and it is God speaking to each individual who decides to pick it up and read The Word.

This is the image of the stained glass window now installed at the Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS.

 

The Messages Found in the Trees:

  1. The Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil (January 28, 2018)

 

Today’s reflection spins off from the artistic expression of The Word presented in stained glass. Leawood, Kansas’s Church of the Resurrection commissioned the window for its latest worship center and includes three different tree images: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, The Cross, and The Tree of Life. Today, we review the message behind the Bible’s story of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:

 

Scripture: Genesis 2:9-17, NLT

     The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

     10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

     15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

 

Scripture: Proverbs 1:7, NLT

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.

 

Scripture: Psalm 111:9-10, NLT

He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

 

Looking at the stained glass image of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil does not match my personal image created in reading the creation story in Genesis. In the window, the tree has yellow leaves and dots of red, supposedly representing the fruit. The yellow leaves troubled me, but in the Church of Resurrection’s explanation, the yellowing leaves indicate the withering or dying of the tree.

The verses from Genesis 2 introduce the image of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:

In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 

The Tree of Knowledge establishes a basic life rule for us, but understanding the significance of the tree is difficult. The rule simply is follow God’s law, avoid evil’s temptation and he will take care of us. The problem is that such a simple rule becomes complicated when evil forces battle for control in our life. Good versus evil takes a disciplined lifestyle that begins with The Word.

Reading the Bible is essential to hear God speaking to you personally. God speaks to each one of us in his own way and in his own time. What we hear depends on the filters of our own lives. These filters include our upbringing, our nationality, our experiences, and even the people who interact with us. Reading the Bible is a discipline necessary to manage the ever-changing face of evil and to hear God’s timeless wisdom even today.

For instance, the artist’s representation of a wilting, dying Tree of Knowledge (TREE OF KNOWLEDGE) does not match my image, which is of an apple tree like that of my childhood orchard or those in the commercial orchards along Hwy 24 in Lafayette County, MO. The childhood story of Eve eating the apple from the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE created the visual image of a healthy, vibrant, fruit-filled apple tree.

What happened after Eve ate that first apple/fruit was the story of Adam caving in to temptation as he bites into the fruit, too. The symbolic meaning of this bite teaches us that giving in to evil’s temptation is destructive. Nothing written in the scripture states that this human decision destroyed the tree itself, but as an adult I can see the artist’s interpretation of how giving into evil temptation destroys.

Today’s world now includes the visual language of emojis. Today, we use emojis to openly express our feelings. Therefore, I wanted to introduce the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE to the kids through the happy face and the sad face emojis—just the two emojis, not the myriad of emotion images available through our social media. Why? The TREE OF KNOWLEDGE is defined as simply the knowledge of good and evil—the happy face and the sad face.

How simple life can be if it can be boiled down to just a simple decision of whether something is good or evil. There would be no grey zone of emotions, of right or wrong, of good or evil. Unfortunately our world is far more complex, and as we look at the full color version of our stained glass windows here and in the COR’s window, we know life cannot be just good or evil.

The Word begins with the story of the Garden of Eden where Eve picks the fruit and convinces Adam to take a bite. The result symbolically unleashed the forces of good versus evil in all human lives. The TREE OF KNOWLEDGE in the window towers over the images of the Old Testament stories so familiar to readers. These stores serve as lessons about all the different ways humans must battle the forces of evil. (And even the images in the window are only a few of the Old Testament stories.)

Reading the Bible is a critical element in being a faithful Christian.

In the words of Proverbs 1:7:

 

 Fear (and remember this means ‘respect or revere’ by 21st century understanding) of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

 

We are reminded how important it is to read The Word so we develop wisdom and discipline. The stories develop our skill to determine good and evil. We will make mistakes; but God is forgiving, and each story we read shows us how God forgives over and over. We have the ability to make our own decisions; but if we live randomly, putting our personal selves in the center, we fail:

  • We fail to keep God at the center of our lives.
  • We fail to love one another, as we want to be loved.
  • We fail to choose good over evil.

The Bible is our “how to” manual for life. It guides us in how to take care of our world, our families, our communities, and yes, ourselves. But we must be disciplined in reading The Word.

As we step away from the heightened awareness of Christ’s birth, the excitement of Christmas diminishes as we face the reality of daily life—the bills, the broken water pipes, the extreme cold, the work world, the loneliness, and the uncertainties swirling around us: we need God. It is so easy to lose our self-discipline.

The TREE OF KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil is the opening message of the Bible. It is the first story humans need to know and to understand in order to be equipped with the skill to journey through life. Evil lurks around us all the time. Evil begins when the eyes open. There is the temptation to ignore everything and stay in bed because it makes us feel safe–warm and cozy.

But evil lurks even in the safest places in our lives. We need God all the time to guide us in good versus evil. Learning good and evil begins with one’s first breath; therefore, parents need the knowledge of good and evil to provide the best environment possible for their children. Sadly, even then evil lurks around our homes as we all too often learn from the news.

The Word must be part of our lives so we can develop the knowledge of good and evil and be able to defend ourselves from evil. The symbolic representation of the dying TREE OF KNOWLEDGE reminds us that without The Word we, too, can wither and die. Our responsibility to God is to read and to teach The Word. The Bible is our tool. The stories create the inner knowledge of good and evil. The stories equip us with the knowledge necessary to defend us from evil in virtually every setting imaginable, in every relationship we develop, and in every transaction we make.

The Psalms are examples of hymns written to help the faithful maintain their worship discipline. In Psalm 111, The Word looks ahead and tells us that God, even when we make the mistake and get tangled up with evil, forgives us as long as we continue to ‘fear’ or as we would now say, respect or revere The Word:

He has paid a full ransom for his people.
He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!
10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

 

As Christians, we accept God’s role in our lives, but we also accept the responsibility to share the story with others. True, that begins in our own families as we teach our children the knowledge of good and evil, but it also continues in our lives’ journeys. We are to teach in our churches, in our communities, in our work places, in our recreation, and in our choices as citizens—not only as national citizens, but as global citizens.

Knowing how to identify evil is so very important, but it must be taught by our words and our actions so evil can be rebuked, confined, and hopefully ended. Our work is never done, and we are reminded that by the visual image of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE in the stained glass window. We are reminded that in the books of the Bible. We are reminded that when we are in Christian fellowship with each other.

Today, we can see the damage that evil causes in the image of the withering, dying TREE OF KNOWLEDGE of the stained glass window. We can see the emoji-dressed tree our kids have created. We can read the story of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE from the Bible, and we can hear the story told over and over in so many different ways. But do you understand the importance of the story? Do you accept the responsibility to continue telling the story? Do you need to re-read and study the stories of The Word to reinforce how you live a good versus evil life in God’s world?

Each week, join your church family to do just that. Keep the mental picture of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE present in your mind. Talk about it with others. Evaluate your decisions whether good or evil. Read The Word and find God talking to you. Your life will be a window to others so that they may see God in their own lives, too.

Closing prayer:

Dear God,

Protect us in our daily lives from the evil

that swirls around us.

Teach us through your words and works

to understand how good wins over evil.

Thank you for sharing The Word through gifts

you granted faithful artists and writers.

Thank you for giving us the ability

to understand The Word in all forms.

Guide us to use the gifts you gave us

to share The Word in our own ways.

May we be the model of disciplined, faithful Christians

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion

Sunshine & Home Cooking

Today was filled with sunshine.  Despite all the negatives that fills the TV news and social media, nothing can soothe one as much as sunshine.

Actually sunshine does not soothe as much as it energizes.  I would suggest that if all of us remembered the rule of thumb of 30 minutes out doors, we would be much healthier–physically and mentally.

Of course there is no doubt that home cooking versus fast food or even restaurant cuisine has additional value.  Tonight’s craving for fresh salmon lead to one of those comfort food meals:  baked salmon, wilted spinach, and homemade mac & cheese.

Fixing wilted spinach is almost magical.  Creating a dressing with chopped bacon, basaltic vinegar, olive oil, and a little sugar is not difficult, but figuring out how much spinach to use is a challenge.  I dumped all but about a cup of baby spinach into the skillet and started tossing. . .

IMG_2041

I could hardly keep it in the skillet so steamed it a tiny bit before finishing.  The final meal looked like this:

IMG_2042

So tonight we feasted; first on sunshine and then on the home cooked supper.  The meal took only 30 minutes from start to finish to prepare, but it certainly is full of the comfort foods we all need to battle the winter blahs.

I trust that in the midst of all the insanity of our world, that we remember that sunshine and home cooked meals may serve as some of the best medicine we all need.  Take a few minutes outside whenever you can, and take a few minutes in the kitchen.  Your life can fend off some of the worst illnesses.

Leave a comment

Filed under Kitchen notes

Back home

IMG_2003Over the weekend, we traveled through six states.  We followed what had been a rare southern winter storm, seeing as much as 10 inches of snow outside of Padukah, Kentucky and finding that Florida really can be cold, too.  What a treat it can be to step away from a daily routine, but coming back home is also a treat.

The hours and hours in the car can be exhausting, but also productive.  Getting home, the routine quickly kicks in and yet there is new energy to do those daily chores that seem so tedious.

The traffic can be overwhelming and leaves one a sense of claustrophobia, yet the traffic teaches us the power of patience and forgiveness, too.  And then, coming home the traffic seems to be no problem at all.

The speed of the trip did not allow for sightseeing, but seeing the many miles of road shows many interesting things.  For instance, we were very impressed by the fences that line the highways of Florida.  Very little roadkill was visible and the idea seems so logical, especially when crossing back into Missouri we can hardly travel a mile without roadkill.

The miles that we traveled were also tree-lined.  So much of the highway system along these states were literally lined with trees, especially pine trees.  I also was surprised how many miles of the interstate also had a barrier of trees between the two separate lanes–whether east and west or north and south.  The tree-lined highway makes the insanity of traffic less stressful–at least for me as a passenger this time.  Back home, the interstate system really is not tree-lined.  Of course that is environmentally natural, but I certainly appreciate the miles that are cedar-lined or Ozark oak-lined.

The hospitality of the South is also evident.  The clerks and the servers that greeted us as we made refueling and food stops is refreshing.  Only once did we run into a questionable situation and that was in our home state as we departed.  The host seated us, but we never were served.  We literally had to get up and leave.  Fortunately, we did not ever have to do that again.  In fact, the service we had at the stops after that were delightful.

The food.  Maybe there really is nothing more to say, other than one goal we make on our trips is to avoid the typical chain restaurants that exist around our home, and to really get a taste of the region.  We had two meal stops, on the way home, that were outstanding.  One in Tallahassee at Wahoo Seafood and a second in Marion, Illinois at 17th Street Barbecue.  There is no way to explain the exceptional taste of those stops except I would plan a trip back just to enjoy those flavors again.  Back home, for instance, I tied to make homemade mac and cheese to match the one in Tallahassee.  Close, but not quite.

The point of the trip was a graduation ceremony.  In today’s world of on-line education, all too often the students do not opt to join in a graduation ceremony.  But we made the decision to invest in the ceremony and I am glad we did–despite the long hours in the car.

Celebrating life events has a value that cannot be explained logically, but psychologically it is wise.  I was so impressed by the Walden University’s skill at putting on a ceremony that pulled together hundreds (I have no idea of the final count) of graduates–bachelors, masters, specialists and doctorates–to celebrate with family and friends.

The graduation speaker was Soledad O’Brien.  What a treat for me.  Soledad has been a journalist I enjoyed and had lost track of her.  Seeing her name as the speaker, I looked forward to listening to her.  She was real, honest, personable, and professional.  No boredom at all and great words to mull over in the days, weeks, months ahead.

Thank you, Walden.  You made the experience personal and impressive from the check-in to the following reception.  You have let us return home with memories.

But today, I am back home and have finished catching up the laundry.  Today the goal is to return to the ‘work’ routine that I need to re-establish.  The trip provided new experiences and a winter-time break, but now back to daily life–mac & cheese, puppy love, laundry and all.  What a treat the weekend road trip was, but back home looks pretty good, too.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Family Notes

The Word Reflected in Stained Glass

Sermon given on Sunday, January 14, 2018:  This sermon serves as an introduction to sermons based on the images included in the stained glass window.images

Special note: The Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS, has a stained glass window that captures God’s story and during a conference the images mesmerized me. The next few weeks, God’s story will be shared based on the artistic images of the window. Thank you to COR for investing in such an artistic interpretation so The Story can live in all who view it or who learn The Story shared by others.  See attached link.

 

Scripture connections:

Genesis 1:1-2, NLT

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

John 1:1-5, NLT

1In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Revelation 1:7-8, NLT

7Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Reflection through art: The Word Reflected in Stained Glass

Sitting in our sanctuary in rural Missouri, we are wrapped by stained glass windows that share God’s story in brilliant images and vivid colors. The symbolism of the stained glass windows reflects the literature of the Bible; and we are privileged to be surrounded by these windows.

Stained glass windows have spoken to me since a child sitting in my hometown sanctuary where the windows allowed smoky light to filter in during the Sunday morning service as the sun rose behind them. The pew in which I sat each Sunday, I watched the window of Jesus holding the lost lamb. I suspect many recognize that story because they too have seen that picture either in their Bible or in a frame hanging on a wall or in a stained glass window like I did.

My awareness of God’s story and fascination for the stained glass windows probably led to the overwhelming sense of awe as I stepped into the newest sanctuary (hardly an accurate word for the enormous room or auditorium) at Leawood’s (Kansas) Church of the Resurrection. The window is huge and measures 35 feet by 92 feet. [The completed jigsaw puzzle is preserved and on display so others may inspect it as we work through the stories and the meaning of the work.]

Briefly, the window has three primary panels that merge together, bordering along a river path that wraps around the central panel. The first section reflects the Old Testament, the middle section is Christ’s story as found in the New Testament, and the final section is The Church after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The window is packed with images—some very familiar, some less so. But every element of the window carries God’s story forward. There is no time better than today to begin a journey through God’s story as shared in the window.

Let’s begin with Genesis 1:1-2, NLT

 

1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

 

These words share the beginning of our understanding of Creation. The world God created is represented as coming out of the cosmos in the puzzle, a dark purple circle of heavenly-like bodies—an image I recognize from sitting out gazing at the night sky.

What better time than these first weeks after Christmas to review the opening of Genesis and consider the relationship of God to this world. How one perceives Creation, or explains how the world came to be, is not an issue for me. What matters is that there is an omniscient being I know as God, and no matter what, I am convinced that God’s story includes the stories of the Old Testament and led to the necessity of God joining us in the human form of Jesus Christ.

Reading the gospel of John, the Story is summarized in those first five verses:

1In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 

The words we use each and every day are the very tools to carry God’s story forward. The Bible’s words record the relationship of humans to God, provides examples of life challenges and how faith in God makes the human experience bearable. The words shared through the Bible warn, teach, and love us.

John identifies God as The Word. From the cosmos, the Word became the world we know. The Word carries the story forward so all humanity can understand. The Word gives us the ability to tell the story in so many ways—from the visual images as we see in our own stained glass, in the art hanging on our walls, in the sounds of the music we hear, in the words of the literature we read, and in the words we share with one another.

John is one of four different views of Jesus’ story. The middle panel of the COR stained glass window takes The Word and records it visually for us. The Word shared in the gospels tell the stories of Jesus’ life, but maybe more importantly the words provide us the lessons for living in this world with others from around this world.

Interestingly, John’s gospel ends with these last two verses:

24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

The reality of the Bible is that there is no way that The Word is complete. The Word continues as The Church fueled by the Holy Spirit and this is illustrated in the third phase of COR’s stained glass window.

The panel is filled with the images of disciples who have carried The Word forward around this globe in almost every different setting one might think up. As Jesus the man died on the cross, he commissioned his disciples to become The Church. He did not say build a structure to keep the faithful inside, he said to be The Church. The Word continues in the words, the actions, and the story of the disciples that continue following Jesus’ teachings.

The gospel John shares Jesus’ vision for The Church in the book of Revelation. Again the words confirm and continue the timeless story:

7Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

As we continue to review the story of God as shared in the words of our Bible and the stories of the people who illustrate living a life faithful to God and serving as The Church, we will see that the gift of Jesus Christ provides all the gifts that won’t break: hope, love, joy and peace.

By following The Word, the Teacher and the Holy Spirit as all those before us and those reflected in the COR’s stained glass, we will met Jesus Christ personally. We will see that God is “the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end . . . the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Closing prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for all your disciples

Who share the Word in the Bible,

In the visual arts of stained glass,

And in the auditory arts of music.

 

We ask for your presence in our lives

As we find you speaking to us

In so many different ways:

Through written words

Through visual arts

And through music.

 

Guide us, too, as we continue your work

Sharing The Word in new and surprising ways.

May we be the Church

Sharing the gifts of hope, love, joy and peace. –Amen

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Religion