His Living Water

Stuck in the mudYesterday, I got stuck in the mud. I mean this quite literally, but perhaps you know just what I mean figuratively. Do you remember that old song with the line about “Sunshine makes me happy.” Well, melting snow does that for me! It does make me happy, but it also means that there will be mud and unfortunately, it is also quite likely that I am going to get stuck in it. I have now cleaned my wheelchair up to the best of my ability, but what I need most is a puddle of water. Just like a duck, I need to roll through the water. Actually, it would be an even greater thing if I could roll through the living water of Jesus. That’s what I need – His living water.

My husband dropped me off at the local gym on his way to work yesterday. It’s a short distance from our house and I intended to take myself home.

I thought the snow in our area had melted and I left the gym. And then , I quickly encountered my first obstacle.

There is this paved path that I intended to get on, but they had piled the snow up there. The remaining snow was right in the middle of the curb cut, and I was unable to access the path.

I sat there for a minute or two and considered getting on the nearby road, but it was still morning drive time and it is heavily traveled. Just then, a gentleman in his car stopped and asked if he could help me.

I have learned over time, when someone offers assistance, I grab it! I told him that I couldn’t access the curb cut because of the snow and asked him if he could kick the snow out of my way.

Thankfully, he said yes! He stopped his car and got out with a small ice scraper in his hand.

At exactly that moment, a lady stopped and said, “I actually have a snow shovel in my car” and she handed him the shovel. He went right to work and began shoveling the snow out of the curb cut.

The gentleman helping me said he had been a boy scout. I would guess that he had to be in his late fifties and I jokingly asked him how long it had been since he had got to serve as a boy scout? He looked up at me and just smiled!

After he had shoveled the last bit of snow away, I got onto the path, thanked both of them, and took off.

I had no problem traveling on the small path that goes along the city street, but as I came into the parking lot of a local hospital, the path ends.

I have to traverse a small patch of ground. Because of the melting snow, that ground was now mud. And that was when I encountered my second obstacle for the morning.

I got stuck in the mud.

I was sitting right by the side of the road thinking to myself, “OK, what am I going to do now” when a hospital security officer stopped and asked me if I was stuck! Seems funny now, but not so much then.☺

But he radioed for another officer and when he arrived, they pushed my chair onto dry pavement. With that, I was able to get on the parking lot and I went on home.

I am a believer in Christ and my faith makes me trust that Jesus brought each person that helped me to my aid. I am so glad that I have come to know the Lord. I am also grateful that Jesus Christ is the living water in my life.

If you are still searching for something more, I suggest you go to a nearby church and begin to learn about Jesus. Or, you can read God’s love letter to each of us – the Bible.  The book of John is a great place to begin.

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Hope and Blessings

blessedsignWhen I first got sick and was in the rehab hospital, I remember asking the medical staff to let me speak to someone who had also had a brain injury like mine. I wanted them to tell me a little about my then new disability. At the hospital, they told me that they did not know anyone else who had experienced a bleeding stroke like I had. And so, my only choice was to begin living my new life. Fast forward nearly thirty years and I happened to come across a site on the internet that was talking about a young lady named Katherine who had lived through a cerebral hemorrhage just like me! I contacted them and they sent me a copy of her story, which is now in book format. I have recently started reading her story, called “Hope Heals” and our experiences are quite similar.We have both experienced His hope and blessings.

The one big difference in Katherine’s life was that both her and her husband was a believer in the Lord at the time of her bleeding stroke. Through it all, God carried each of them during this harrowing experience.

Although I did not go to church regularly, I did consider myself a Christian. But after my own brain hemorrhage, I became so angry with God that I then considered myself an atheist.

Unbeknownst to me though, God was already in charge of my life. I meet a social worker in the rehab hospital and she directed me towards an agency that paid for me to go to college.

For the five years while I was an undergraduate, I thought, without any doubt, there was no God. Then I graduated and my super busy life became so boringly slow.

I did not know it at the time, but God quietly reentered my life and led a friend of mine to invite me to her church. That Sunday, it was a simple message and they were mostly talking about Jesus, but I loved what I was hearing! I didn’t know Jesus then, but I sure knew I wanted to learn about Him.

It has now been twenty years that I have been a believer. Along the way, I met my husband at a former church. He and I are now attending a nearby Catholic church and I hope to join soon.

I have only read about half way into Katherine’s story. Her story is quite interesting and bookinscriptionvery similar to my own. Once I finish “Hope Heals,” I promise that I will write a review and post that. For now, I need to return to reading …

Romans 5:3-4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

3 Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4 and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,

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A Potato Ricer: The possibilities are endless

Using the Potto Ricer Update: My husband and I just finished a post-Thanksgiving dinner with his son.  Even though I am no longer operating it, the ricer is still working wonderfully.  Besides, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes!

Truth be told, I’m a bit of a gadget guru.  If there’s a kitchen gadget out there, chances are good that I will try it.  I am always looking for that one device that is going to make things work easier for me.  I had heard of a potato ricer before, but I did not have one.  But now I have this very variety by RSVP with the green racing stripe emblazoned on it and I wouldn’t want to be without it!  Riced potatoes make the best consistency for mashing.  No lumps whatsoever!  We do prefer mashed sweet potatoes, though.  Making your own is super simple and far better than prepackaged varieties.  I bake the potato first by wrapping it up in a piece of oven-proof foil and adding a drop or two of olive oil.  When the potato bakes in the foil, it steams itself with the addition of oil.  After the potato has been baked, the skin can be easily pulled off.

This summer, I discovered another fabulous use for my ricer.  I have hated making potato salad just because peeling and dicing potatoes was a nightmare for me.  I went to a picnic this past autumn and was served a mashed potato salad.  Knowing how easy it was to make mashed potatoes with my ricer, I did some searching on the Internet.  I found a perfect recipe and added my own adaptations.

  •          about 8 medium potatoes (I used Yukon Gold and chunked them before boiling)
  •          1-1/2 cup mayonnaise
  •          4 tablespoons prepared mustard
  •          5 whole green onions, diced (I use a pair of food scissors and just snip green onions in ½” pieces)
  •          2 tablespoons pickle relish
  •          1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste, if preferred)
  •          1/2 teaspoon paprika
  •          1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  •          4 whole hard boiled eggs, chopped
  •          2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Boil potatoes, with skins on.  When riced, skins remain in ricer and mashed potato gets extruded.  You will be able to mash the potatoes to your own desired consistency. Mix rest of ingredients into potatoes.  Chill before serving.

Have you ever tried a ricer?  If you have a comment, just scroll down to let us know.

 

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Collard Green and Cranberry Lasagna

2017-11-12_Collard-Cranberry-Lasagna_Before-Cooking_004 My husband and I live in Ohio, but he grew up in Mississippi.  He and I both love to garden and when he told me about how much he loved collard greens, I was willing to try growing them.  It turns out that collards grow in Ohio just as well as they grow in Mississippi.  It was almost November and the only thing we still had growing in our vegetable garden were collard greens, so we needed to use them up.  Then we went to the grocery and discovered that the first fresh cranberries had arrived.  I just love cranberries, so my husband got several bags for me.  Problem was – what was I going to do with them?  Then I discovered that these two ingredients work well together.  Using things that I had in the pantry, I put together a Collard Green and Cranberry Lasagna and it was delicious!

Collard Green and Cranberry Lasagna

6 Whole wheat lasagna noodles (boiled first)
Alfredo sauce (I used store brand Roasted Garlic Alfredo sauce)
Homemade ricotta cheese with roasted garlic
5-7 briefly boiled Collard greens (rolled up into a cigar and sliced into ½”slices)
½ Red onion, sliced thinly
Balsamic roasted cranberries
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese (I used store brand called Pizza Blend)

Drizzle a little Alfredo sauce in bottom of pan (instead of greasing casserole pan).  Fill bottom of pan with 3 lasagna noodles (I prefer using boiled noodles, but I’ve heard it said that you can use dry noodles, if you want.)  Add about half of the ricotta cheese/ roasted garlic mixture.  Add half of boiled collard greens (just boil them until they reduce in size) and top with sliced red onion.  Add about half of jar of Alfredo sauce and top with half of roasted cranberries.  Repeat all steps to use up rest of ingredients, then top with 1 C shredded cheese.  Bake about 1 hour at 350°.

I put this casserole together on Saturday night, stuck it in the refrigerator, and then baked it on Sunday after we came home from church. 2017-11-12_Collard-Cranberry-Lasagna_After-Cooking_003

 

To make your own ricotta cheese, combine milk and vinegar in microwave-safe glass bowl (very important; it must be glass). Microwave on high heat, 2 to 4 minutes (milk should register about 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from microwave, and stir gently for 5 seconds. Milk will separate into solid white curds and translucent liquid whey. If not, microwave for 30 seconds longer. Repeat until fully separated into curds and whey.  Drain in a fine mesh sieve or through a piece of cheesecloth.  I let it drain for about ½ hour then added roasted garlic and salt & pepper (just cut the top of a whole head of garlic and wrap in foil after drizzling a little olive oil over the garlic head – roast in oven about an hour @ 350°.  After the garlic is roasted, it gets really soft and will just squirt out of its skin like toothpaste.)

To make Balsamic roasted cranberries, in a covered casserole, add 3 tbls maple syrup, 2 tbls balsamic vinegar, 1 tbls orange juice, 1 ½ tbls olive oil.  Then add a whole bag of fresh cranberries.  Bake in oven with casserole covered for 20 minutes @ 400°.

Looking for an easy and unique recipe?  Well, this was that!  Try this recipe yourself the next time you want to satisfy your family and friends.  To leave a comment, just scroll down.

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Homemade Yogurt: Almost Fat Free & Sugar Free

Working Yogurt MakerMaking your own yogurt is very simple.  You do need a yogurt maker/cooker.  It has become a permanent fixture on our countertop since I make yogurt all the time.  You can also control what goes into your own yogurt this way.  I make my own homemade yogurt almost fat free and sugar free.  I use roughly 2 quarts of organic cow’s milk (must be organic, I’ve tried milk off the shelf and it did not thicken as well), sugar-free pudding mix and sugar-free gelatin mix, non-fat dry milk powder (which serves as a thickener), and 3 tablespoons vanilla yogurt.

This is my own technique that I have reached after much trial and error.  Pour approximately half of a half gallon of organic cow’s milk into a microwavable container. I use my Tupperware bowl with a handle and  I microwave it for 6 minutes at full power.  This comes from answers.yahoo.com: “Milk doesn’t need to be “very very hot” to make yogurt, but it does need to be a little hot (around 110-120 F°) just so that the bacteria fermenting the yogurt will eat up the milk sugars *quickly enough* not to take forever to incubate to the yogurt stage… it would still happen, it would just take a lot longer (and during that time, other bacteria could be introduced from the air and change the flavor/etc too).”

After microwaving, you need to let it sit about ½ hour to cool down.  I have forgotten about my cooling milk and it has sat for up to 2 ½ hours, but don’t do as I do, but do as I say!  Let the microwaved milk sit for ½ hour.

Then add ½ packet sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, along with ½ packet of gelatin powder.  Adding orange gelatin to the vanilla pudding mix makes for my favorite flavor, but I have added lime, lemon, even butterscotch pudding mix.  I just try to use the sugar-free varieties.  Add about ½ C powdered milk and three tbls vanilla yogurt.  Whisk, then pour into yogurt cups.  Set your yogurt maker for 10 hours  and refrigerate when done.  That’s all there is to it.  And it is so thick and creamy.  Much better than store bought, in my opinion.

  • UPDATE –  Well, I’m still making my own yogurt as regularly as ever.  But, typical to my almost daily habit, I have made a few adaptations.  I am now adding powdered sugar-free coffee creamer to each batch.  Sometimes I add both vanilla and hazelnut flavored powdered creamer and sometimes I add some creamer along with frozen fruit.  Recently, I have been trying to avoid all types of citric acids, so I had to give up everything orange.  This broke my heart, but it just had to be. :-(  I have also given up sugar for about the past six months in an attempt to lose weight.  So far, that effort seems to be failing, but I do plan on sticking with it!  Aside from those changes, all else remains the same in my yogurt production.

Have you tried making your own yogurt?  Leave me a note and share your experience.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment. I would appreciate your comment.

 

 

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Did you do that for me?

When I was first disabled, I was so angry at God.  Angry at Him for letting that happen to me.  When I was able-bodied, I did not even really know Him.  Although I am a believer today, I was not then.  After my brain hemorrhage, I thought it was the medical staff, particularly my doctors, which had saved my life.  I ceased to believe in any divine power.   While I had turned my back on God, He never left me.  And today, I can see His love for me in my friends that are a part of my life.  They are demonstrating His love through their actions.

Just this past weekend, I was asked to go to my church to help out with the gardening.  That is something I like and I am more than willing to help.

They had received a big shipment of bags of mulch and the goal was to spread the mulch out on the flower beds.  Not exactly something I would be great at for so many different reasons.

But one of the leaders of the project had asked me to attend and she said she had a job just for me.  So, I did go over on a beautiful early fall morning.

There were about twenty people there with bags of mulch strewn about all over the church grounds.  They were tearing open the bags and dumping the contents on the ground around the flower beds.

After the bags were emptied, they tossed them aside.  I was asked to go around, pick up, and dispose of the empty bags.

I knew I could do that and cheerfully started on my task.  However, I am no longer so mobile and bending over to pick up the discarded bags was difficult for me.

Photography by Kathleen

Photography by Kathleen

I mentioned to the leader that I wished I had my long-handled reacher at home and she exclaimed, “I have one in my car!”

And with that, she handed me the reacher and I was off.  I raced around the church grounds grabbing empty bags of mulch and then throwing them into the dumpster.

This was a job made for my powerchair and me.  I am so used to being excluded in our world, but at church, I am included and that means so much to me.

When I ask myself that rhetorical question, “Did you do that for me?”  The answer is Yes, I know He did!

Are you blessed by your friends?  We would appreciate it if you could share.  Tell us about it by posting a comment below! 

 

 

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I Want to Tell the Story

eucharist-1591663_640My husband and I have recently been attending a Catholic church near our home. He has belonged to the Catholic Church for almost twenty years, but everything about their church has been a new experience for me. I have been learning a little more about their church, and a little more about Jesus at each mass that I attend. Today was certainly a real learning experience for me. Not only do I want to tell the story, but I feel that I must tell the story!

It was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday commemorates the day when the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ disciples and it is considered to be the birth of the Christian church. The choir, which includes my husband, needed to be there a full hour before the service began so that they could rehearse with the orchestra.

Because of this, the early morning mass was leaving the sanctuary when we arrived. A professor that I knew from the department that I used to work in stepped out with his son. His wife is also a professor in the same department. If they had mentioned to me that they were Catholic, I don’t remember it. As a Protestant, I thought anyone who was Catholic was not a Christian and, therefore, was easily dismissed.

I am not quite sure where I came up with that Protestant prejudice, but so it was. Perhaps Martin Luther himself started that ugly rumor! :-)

The Sunday Morning choir, along with the live orchestra, filled the front of the sanctuary and because of that, I had to sit in the back of the church. Two elderly ladies also came in; one used a walker and one used a cane. They sat down one row in front of me. Our church is designed so that those with mobility impairments, such as myself, can sit up front, but today we all had to sit in the back because of the orchestra set up for this special service.

When the congregation began to say the “Our Father” prayer (The Lord’s Prayer), a friend that I have recently met in the RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation) stepped over to me and clasped my hand. She and I began to recite this prayer together. The fellowship that we were sharing so touched my heart that tears came to my eyes. They were most definitely “happy tears!”

Many Christian churches, including Catholics, believe in the Real Presence. The idea of the Real Presence is the belief that in the act of consecrating the bread and wine, they truly become the body, blood, soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, even though the appearance and taste of bread and wine remain. In other words, Jesus is really present! This is a belief held, in some form, by most Christians in the world today.

Our mass had progressed to sharing in the Holy Communion. Typically, this is the reason that those with mobility impairments sit up front. It allows the priest to come to them and offer them communion. Everyone got up from the pews and began walking to the altar, all except for me and those two elderly ladies sitting one row in front of me.

Several of my RCIA instructors have mentioned the complete joy they often see in the eyes of worshipers when they receive Holy Communion. These ladies knew they were missing out on the highest point of Christian worship – to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ! It just broke my heart to witness their complete disappointment and total despair.

An usher came up to me and asked me if I wanted to receive communion. As a non-Catholic, I am not able to participate in the communion, but I told him that those two ladies sitting beside me wanted to. And with that, he was gone. I did not know what was happening, but in just a matter of moments, Father Tim, our priest, showed up and gave the host to both ladies.

Catholic teaching says that a priest is an alter Christus. That means that they consider him to be acting in the person of Christ at every sacrament, including mass. These two elderly ladies wanted to receive Jesus and Father Tim brought Him to them!

Once again, I was able to witness God at work through His earthly servants. It was simply astounding to get to witness this! I guess it was just another part of God’s special plan for me.

Have you ever considered going to a mass in your neighborhood?  It is a most interesting experience and you will even get to meet Jesus there.  Really!  If you have a comment to share, please scroll down and leave your comment.

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Life goes on…turn the page.

I was just searching for my testimony earlier this morning and I thought to myself, “boy, that was a long time ago.”  It has been a long time – I have believed in Jesus Christ for almost twenty years now.  Twenty years of both good and bad, but through it all, I knew I was living my life on His firm foundation.  To paraphrase my favorite fictional southern belle, Scarlet O’Hara, tomorrow will always be another day … but my tomorrows certainly have not been what I expected.  My plan was very different from God’s Plan.  His plan has been so much better.  I will be forever so grateful for that and each day has been a day for me to appreciate!

I was single in my thirties; I got married in my forties; and now I am in my fifties.  I must say my disability seemed to go better in my thirties and forties.  I am not finding my fifties and a disability to be as much fun!  But, each day is a day that I now get to share with Robert, my husband.

The little church at which we met has now dissolved.  Robert and I needed a new church and he said he wanted to try out a nearby Catholic church.  Everything Catholic is new to me, but Robert is so happy to be there.  That is more than enough of a reason for me to want to be there, also.

Our new church has the wheelchair seating up front and because of my poor vision, that worked out well for me. The seating area is also right next to the choir section.  Robert does have a beautiful singing voice and he happily sung along with the choir each Sunday that we attended.  On the third Sunday, the choir director came up to Robert, handed him a stack of choral books, and said, “You will join the choir!”  The choir had two other male singers, both tenors, and Robert, with his deep baritone voice just underscores the harmonious choral sound.

I guess that just has to be God’s perfect plan once again!

Speaking of that, it has been amazing how many Catholic converts I have met recently.  I have also been reading a number of books by different authors that were once Protestant, but have decided to convert to Catholicism.   So much so, that I have been thinking’ “OK God, here we go again!”

Another glorious sunriseSo far, I have no plans to convert, but life goes on …turn the page.

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Divine Coincidence

for-a-reasonThis thought is purely subjective on my part. The Lord tells us that His thoughts are different from our thoughts. But, I wonder about this. Was there a reason behind my brain injury? Could it be a divine coincidence?

I have had two different friends in my life that were central in taking me to church regularly, and ultimately in leading me to know Him as my personal savior. There was a long time in between, but both of these friends have now had brain surgeries. It’s not like everyone has a brain surgery.

I was not a believer when I first met these two friends. Did He bring me into their lives just so they could learn that our life goes on after a traumatic brain injury? I doubt if I will ever know for sure, but I do know that is how I want to see this.

In the book of Esther, Mordecai tells Esther that perhaps she came to her position “for such a time as this.” Was my brain injury for this reason?

Many times, I have found myself at a certain point in my life and thought, “God, is this the reason that I am here now?” Did my brain injury happen for this reason?

It seems reassuring to me if I could know God’s plan for my life. It would be more fulfilling. In a broader sense, I do know His plan for my life. He wants me to be His child, just as He rewards all of those who seek Him. But for the finer details…

Oh, so many times, I do things that I regret. I do things that I fear my heavenly father would not approve of. When the Apostle Paul said he did not understand the things that he did, I know exactly what he was talking about. Been there; done that many times over. “Many a conflict, many a doubt,” as the song says. I, too, have that same sinful nature as the Apostle Paul.

And yet, He gave His life for me and for you. Lord, I thank you for the path that you have guided me on throughout my life.

Lord, You have used my disability for so many beneficial purposes.  I want to thank you for your two dedicated children that brought me to church for years.  It is because of these two friends that I now consider myself a believer.  Thank you for allowing me to be in their lives.  Thank you for the divine coincidence.  Do you have a comment?  I would appreciate it if you would scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment. 

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It’s as simple as A, B, C

The-Specialist-Class-posterI once taught a Bible Study class at my church that was designed for adults with developmental disabilities.  We called the class the Specialists, which comes from an idea in a book that I once read.  The author mentioned speaking to a group of disability specialists, and I thought that is exactly what each student in this class is — a Specialist!  In every class, we talked about loving Jesus and I always told my students that knowing Him was as simple as A, B, C.  Just admit, believe, and confess that Jesus is your Lord.  Once there were three students in the class all with widely varying abilities.

There was one student in the class who was near to the end of his earthly life and he had very limited abilities, but could still remember his A, B, C’s.  If I were to say to Bill, “Knowing Jesus is as simple as what?”  He would always answer me with a grin and say, “A, B, C! “

And then there was Charlie, who had a better memory and could answer the question about knowing Jesus by telling me “You have to Admit, Believe, and Confess that Jesus is your Lord.”

Sheri had the greatest abilities in our class and she even knew how to read.  She could always read the plan of salvation from our study book.  A is to ADMIT you’re a sinner; B is to BELIEVE the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God; and C is to CONFESS that you will make Jesus your Lord.

Those were fun days.  Bill has now passed away and my church has since dissolved.  Life does change, mostly when you are not expecting it, but to personally know Jesus is still as simple as it ever was.  If you are anything like me, perhaps you have done some things in your past that you regret.  It is never too late to turn your life around and to give your heart to the Lord.  Why, it’s as simple as A, B, C!

Do you have a comment?  I would appreciate it if you would scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment. 

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