Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Going to the Next Level With New Year's Resolutions



Have you given up on making new year's resolutions because you never follow through on them? 


Recently I blogged about how I accomplished all but one of my new year's resolutions for 2013.  And they weren't all easy peasy ones. I promise. If you missed the post and want to learn about how I did it and how you can do it too, go here. 

I made a decision to do something else this year that I've never done before.

I'm not striving to come up with totally new goals this year.

For some reason I've always felt pressed to do that. I always felt like a new year called for brand new goals. No one else made me feel pressure to do that -- it was simply my own internal squeeze that I felt to go that direction.

This year, my goal is to go to the next level with my resolutions from  last year.  I met my goals. But meeting them, and exceeding them are two different things.

Does this mean I'm going soft on goals, and taking it easy this year? No.
I'm ready to take last year's "investments" to a whole 'nother level.

My investments are:

Investments in Me
Investments in My Marriage
Investments in my Family 
Investments in the Church
Investments in the Next Generation
Investments in the World


Some people read a post like this and say, "Forget it. That's not for me. I'm unorganized and I can't ever manage to finish anything I set out to do."

Help is on the way.  You CAN do this.

I've written the book on getting stuff done. Some people wonder how I co-pastor a church full time, co-manage my household, fulfill the responsibilities of a wife and mother, serve as a certified career coach, blog daily, travel and speak and a potpourri of other stuff...without ending up in the loony bin. I've had some close calls.

So many people have asked me, "How do you do it?" that I decided to write a book to help others. 

If you haven't already made some resolutions, it's not too late.
It's a new year and anything is possible.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Because of the Birthday Boy, ANYTHING is Possible!

My table is all set for the birthday party!

Christmas is one of our busiest times as pastors. I haven't even shaved both legs in one day this month. 

The question, "Are you going away for the holidays?" is always one that is humorous to me if one knows my line of work. If the holiday in question has any religious significance at all, I am  working overtime.  In 26 years of marriage we've never "gone away for the holidays" mainly because of our work and also because we have three children and our traditions are rooted in the family we have created together as a married couple.

There is no complaint here, just an observation. I absolutely love what I do!  Just sayin' that for a pastor...this is our busy season!Last night we were at the church late, getting things set up for tonight's Christmas Eve Communion. Larry has a special surprise for tonight that he can't wait to unveil! He has talked about it non-stop for a month. I can't wait til' it finally happens!

Today I've been making all the dishes for our traditional family Christmas dinner (read about it here).

Amongst the sweet potatoes and the pumpkin pies and the 7-layer salad, I had to remind myself to just breathe.

Take it all in.

Think of the reason for it all, again.

It's the birthday of the King!

God sent Jesus to earth to make all things possible.
Because of Him, what people say is impossible, is indeed possible!

In fact the word impossible is also I'm-possible when you break the word in two!

Anything is possible for me, for you, for us.
ANYTHING!

I'm experiencing an extra dose of that in my life right now.
Reminding myself that He kicks impossible's butt.

He eats impossible for breakfast.

Why wouldn't anyone want to follow this amazing birthday boy?

I choose to say yes to Him everyday -- and watch Him move the mountains.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are You Crying Over Spilled Milk?


Things go wrong sometimes even though I think I have prepared well.

There are issues I haven't thought about or things outside of my control, that occur at times.

The last time something like this happened to me, the phrase, "Don't cry over spilled milk," popped into my head."

I have a choice.

I can spend time kicking myself over what went wrong, or I can clean up the mess and then make a note to do something else than whatever it was that I just did.

I can't always guarantee a winning outcome but I can predict a different one.

I may not hit a home run every time, but I will learn valuable things I couldn't have learned any other way.

Making mistakes is not optional - we all make them. It's what we do with them that's important. Learning from a mistake means a course correction so it is  not repeated.  

Spilled milk doesn't have to slay me or sour me. It can actually serve me, if I let it.

The choice is up to me.


 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Make a Caesar Salad At Home That Your Family or Guests Will RAVE About!


Never would I have considered this transformational, but to hear the guests who come to dinner at my home talk, it is. So, I'm sharing it with you today. You can name your firstborn after me thank me later.

People who "don't cook" are especially going to thank me.

Yes, I know you're out there. You're the one who signs up for the church covered dish dinners, telling the lady in charge: "Just to let you know, I don't cook..." hoping to sign up for rolls in a bag or a bakery item. Or soda. ("Pop", for those of you in places like southwest Pennsylvania or Ohio.)

You feel like you're the only one.
You're not.

You've been teased.
You've been mocked.
You've been misunderstood.
Nobody grasps your plight where it concerns the culinary disadvantages that are your reality.


I'm here to help you overcome all that.
It's a new day, my friend.
Your days of taking pop to potlucks are OVER.
[Shout now!]

You have been domestically challenged your whole life, where the kitchen is concerned.
But never will you be disgraced again.

You are about to make a salad that is so scrumptious, it would make a tadpole slap a whale.
So delicious it would make a little tiny bulldog break a great big chain.

Your humiliation has an end date.

Because you're going to take this to your next church potluck.
Or to your friend's house for dinner.

And lo and behold some of you are even going to go so far as to invite people over. [Gasp!]
Seriously.
And for once and they are going to be bowing down to you declaring you the next Master Chef.
This is culinary Viagra. 

This will take you all of five minutes to make. No, I'm not lying or even remotely exaggerating.
And, I promise you will have none left in the bowl when you serve it. My dinner guests have eaten every speck of this even when I have three more courses coming their way.

There's nothing homemade about it. Nothing.
It's four ingredients that you purchase.
That's right, you're about to shamelessly BUY people's adoration.
 (Relax. There is nothing illegal involved.) 

It's about purchasing the right ingredients, particularly the dressing, makes all the difference. You can't use a bottled dressing in the regular aisle.

Yes, I know the ones that aren't refrigerated are cheaper.
But on this, please splurge.
Get cheaper paper towels. Or butter. Or salt.
But don't skimp on this.

You absolutely have to use Marzetti Supreme Caesar Dressing in the refrigerated section usually found next to the bags of pre-washed salad mix, carrots, etc.

I am getting no kick back for telling you this.
Marzetti has no idea who I am.
I am a nobody to these people, I assure you.
It is simply out of the kindness of my heart that I share this secret with you.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT get another dressing and think you will get the same results.
You won't.
And then you will blame me.
You will complain that your salad was less than stellar.
You will deflect this criticism onto me and actually it will be your own projected issues we will be dealing with. The disappointing outcome will be because you tried to substitute something else for the Marzetti dressing. Don't make this devastating mistake. Maybe devastating is a bit dramatic. This dreadful mistake. Okay, this...honest yet extremely naive mistake.

Alright, so are you ready to get started on this simple yet revolutionary act that is going to change your entertaining world as you know it?

These are your four ingredients for a salad people are going to scream about are:

(This amount serves about four people)

1 entire bag of pre-washed and cut romaine lettuce mix

About 1/2 bag or box of Caesar croutons (My favorite are Fresh Gourmet Deli Style Parmesan Caesar or Brownberry Caesar.)

About 1/2 bag of shredded parmesan (6 oz bag)

Do not skimp on the cheese, please! Do not use 1/3 do not use a 1/4. Please, do us proud. Do the right thing when it comes to the cheese.

About 1/2 jar of Marzetti Supreme Caesar Salad Dressing

If you want to make this for 8 people, double it. Yep, sheeeer genuis!

See, you do not have to cook a thing, my friend. You can even grab all these ingredients on the way to a party and borrow a bowl from your hostess. And I guarantee, there will be raving. Raving, I tell you.

I mix it all up immediately before serving.

Don't mix it up beforehand and take it somewhere even though you don't want people to see your four store-bought ingredients.  No, no, no. Do not make that colossal mistake. Okay, I know, I know... that's a tad bit dramatic. Do not make this cataclysmic needless mistake. Please, for the love of God and everything holy, mix the salad just moments before you serve it. The angels sing when directions like this are properly followed. I swear, they do. I know I'm not supposed to swear but things of this magnitude demand it. They just do.

If I'm serving this at home, I don't ever serve it along with the rest of the meal. It's worthy of it's own course.  I always put this on the table first alongside some fresh warm bread.  Making amazing bread is a whole 'nother level, but I am here to help you conquer the giant. I show you how in this step-by-step tutorial I created with the help of my adoring and well fed husband.


My guests always remark that they just want to keep eating this salad but need to be careful to save room.  Nevertheless I always wash an empty salad bowl. They just keep taking another bite here and there til' it's all gone.


Enjoy!

 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Until Further Notice...Celebrate Everything!

Savanna and I always go shopping very early on black Friday.

We don't participate in any door busters. Quite frankly that seems stressful to me. It would be more fun to have dinner with Ann Coulter.

It's our tradition to go to a few stores and then out to breakfast together, usually at Waffle House. (I like 'em scattered, smothered and covered.) After we've eaten a gloriously greasy breakfast we head to one or two more stores and go home.

One of our favorite places to shop are thrift stores. We enjoy this all the time, black Friday being no exception especially since Salvation Army sells everything including furniture for 50% on that day. This year I was able to get new trees for our Celebration Church cafe for $5 each. I was over-the-moon to find the trees. 


So, I also found this serving tray. You can't tell by the photo but it's not a dinner plate, it's a large serving tray. It caught my eye immediately, this little half-off-bargain. It's ceramic and will hold a large amount of cookies or really anything you want to serve on it. I used it for the first time at our open house this past Sunday night. 

What I love about this plate it is the declaration to celebrate everything. Larry and I believe so strongly in this it's one of the reasons we felt led to name our church Celebration Church!  

So even though this day is just plain ol' Tuesday to some people, to me it's a day to celebrate. 

I will take time to celebrate life. I'm blessed to still be here in reasonably good health and in my right mind. (Well, some think so, including my therapist.)

It's a day to celebrate my accomplishments and that of my family members, even in simple ways.

 Sometimes it might be filling the bath and lighting some candles after work, sinking in the water and saying, "Good job, Deanna! You sure did get a lot done today..." 

On other days it's about celebrating the win one of my  other family members had on the job or at school, or the goodness of God in our lives.

Maybe it's celebrating that we made it through today, when it's been an especially hard day.

Until further notice, celebrate everything!

 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Moan-Worthy Hot Crab Dip...(A Recipe!)
And Other Things Happening This Weekend.

The word of the day is: scurry.

Scurry 
 Verb; to go or move quickly or in haste.

 
This weekend is our Christmas open house for church leadership.

It takes me about two and a half days to get ready for this, and it's always a great time. Today I'm cooking up a storm and scurrying to get the house ready as well.

Some posts from previous Christmas open houses are here at this link, if you'd like to get some ideas and other recipes if you're having a holiday party.

 One of the favorite recipes I always serve at this event is hot crab dip. So simple and so good. 




Hot Crab Dip

Ingredients:
1 cup crab meat (I prefer white - jumbo lump, not claw)
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp onion salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Old Bay Seasoning to taste



Directions:
 I use a variety of crab meat depending on what is available. If fresh is available I always choose it, if not I will use 2 cans of white crabmeat, drained well.   Mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, onion salt, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.  Add crab meat and mix.  Place in casserole dish that has been lightly greased or sprayed with oil, and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cover with lid or foil.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Serve with Ritz Crackers or corn chips.  My favorite to serve it with is Fritos Scoops.

Enjoy!


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Use It, Or Don't Have It! (And Other Practical Nuggets of Wisdom...)

A few weeks ago I hosted a few groups of women at our home for dinner and meetings. Upon  sitting down to the table, one of the ladies remarked, "I'm afraid to touch anything. What if something breaks?"

I explained that this was no problem, if indeed it happened. She was referring to material things, most of which could be replaced. If it couldn't be replaced it's still not of greater importance than people.

Some things I choose to live by:

  • People are more important than things.
  • If you have it, use it.
  • If you don't use it, get rid of it.
  • Start with whatever you have. Don't wait for things to be "perfect" to reach out. 
  • Use whatever you have for the greatest good that you can.
  • Share. Be hospitable. Open your heart and home to others.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Accomplished My New Year's Resolutions! (You Can Too!)

For the first time, ever -- I accomplished all of my new year's resolutions this year except for two, and one doesn't even count!

**Happy dance**

Here's the deal: one is still in progress. It's well on it's way, but not done all the way.  I'm a poet or a prophet depending on the day! So...in all fairness, I'm not calling it accomplished just yet. 

The second unaccomplished resolution didn't happen because early in the year, God told me it wasn't something I was supposed to do anymore -- to take it off my list.

So I did.

Photo Credit: Walt Stonburner, Flickr


What was different about 2013?

In previous years, I made a dream list that pretty much included everything but the kitchen sink. Ironically I got a new kitchen sink this year.

And at the end of each year in the past, usually only a few items on my long dream list was accomplished. A few is better than nothing but still, it felt defeating.

I was feeling an urge to do things differently for this year. I began praying about it last August and by November, I made a list of what I called "Investments."