Zesty Orzo Salad with Grilled Chicken

Looking for a hearty summer salad for a warm day? This recipe was inspired by something my son ate at his sister’s house, but then he improvised and served it with grilled chicken, which took it to the next level. Here’s what he did:

Zesty Orzo Salad
(Serves 6-8 as a main course if topped with chicken)

Prepare 16 oz orzo according to the instructions on the box, making sure to salt the water well and cooking it until it’s al dente. Drain, rinse, and when it’s cooled down, add and mix together well:
One can drained chickpeas
8 oz. crumbled goat feta cheese
1 cubed cucumber
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Italian dressing
4 tablespoons crushed mint leaves (or 1 cup fresh)
4 tablespoons crushed basil leaves (or 1 cup fresh)
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 small, chopped red onion
2 lemons, zested and squeezed (which will make about 1/2 cup liquid)
2 cups raw spinach or assorted salad mix
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste, which might require more)
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6-8 grilled chicken thighs, either added on top or chopped and added to the mix

Joel served it with grilled chicken and fresh bread and butter, and it was really delicious, but this recipe makes a huge bowl, so I took a bowl over as a side dish to some friends’ home the next night. Actually, it seemed to get more savory in a day or two, so it lasts really well (although test and add more salt and pepper as needed).

“The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psalm 18:46).


Link love back to this site: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/herb-lovers-lemony-orzo-salad/

Lifting Up the King and the King’s Cross

If you’re ever looking for a concise commentary on the life of Christ, I’d like to recommend Jesus the King, which is a powerful exposition on the Gospel of Mark written by Timothy Keller. He divides the book into two sections. Chapters 1-8 authenticate the life of Jesus as the promised Messiah and the King of Israel, and chapters 9-16 explain the death of Christ—what happened and why.

If you’re from a tradition that doesn’t teach much about the life of Christ, or even if you’re like me and just love learning more about Jesus and the Bible, then this is an excellent way of discovering more of the reasons why nearly one-third of the world’s population (some 2.6 billion people) believe that Jesus really is the Son of God and the King of the entire universe!

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

A Peaceful Heart (by Jane Anderson)

I once bought a greeting card that asked, “Ever have a day when everything went right?” Then inside, the answer: “Yea, me either.” So you’ll recognize my story. I was thinking about how this all happened a few years ago when everything started off on a smooth path then the switch flipped and things derailed. Surely you’ve had those days when life jumps off the track and you have to will yourself into a positive attitude to reclaim your joy. Are you with me here?

One morning I jumped out of bed with my “Yay! It’s going to be a great day!” eagerness. That lasted all of one hour when I remembered that I had to drive the truck. ERGH! (grumble) I don’t like driving the truck … but then I realized, “Hey! Get over it! At least you have an alternate vehicle.” Besides, as a reward I’ll treat myself to Starbucks before my appointment. Anticipation.  I was off and running again. OK I can handle this.

I drove up to Starbucks and checked the breadth of this Semi (exaggeration) I was driving and opted to park it and walk in rather than navigate the drive-thru.  Inside I got my latte, life is good. Outside, the truck has turned cranky on me and has now forgotten its role for today – to get me safely, and without incident, to my destination.  It won’t start. In fact, it won’t even try. Turn the key … nothing! Turn the key again … nothing! We could play this game all day, but I have an appointment. ERGH! (grumble) I can feel the joy needle slipping into the depleted zone.  Then I heard this voice in my head say, “Count it all joy”. Come on, Lord. You want me to find joy in this? Are you kidding me? I have to WALK a mile now.  Then God said, “Let’s try. Make it a game.  It’ll be fun. I challenge you to find 3 good things in this bad situation”.  Well alright, but I don’t really see what difference it makes. The stupid truck is still broken and I still have to walk a mile – on the busiest road in the area, and, oh look! The sprinklers, right on my path, are running full blast.  But OK.  Game on!

  1. As I was approaching the blasting sprinklers – they shut off. Really? Wow!
  2. I looked down and realized I had decided to wear flat shoes instead of dress-up heels. Huh. That was pretty cool.
  3. Instead of the normal oversized, overstuffed, spilling-out-of-the-top bag, all I had to carry was my purse and a folder.

I got to my appointment, all intact, not wet from sprinklers, no bumps, bruises, or wear and tear on my emotions. I even pulled out all the information I needed without needing to trek back to that cranky old truck. Relief! Thankful!

I enjoyed the latte on the trip past the now silent sprinklers, in my flat shoes, carrying only my purse in one hand and Starbucks in the other.  Balance is good, right? By the time I was at my destination (on time), joy was back. Did the game fix my truck? Not really, but it fixed me. I had to get the inside right, so the outside would come out right too.

Oh – and here’s the kicker. When my husband, said owner of cranky truck, went to pick it up later? It started right away! Really, God? Seriously? And to that, He reminded me that He has me in the palm of His hand and he teaches me what is best for me, when I need to learn it. (James 1:2 – Consider it pure joy ….)

That story is insignificant to the trauma in many lives, and I don’t pretend to minimize what you may be going through. Life is tough. I decided to tell that story because we all have to decide. Will what is happening now make me bitter or make me better? No matter what knocks you off track. No matter what your circumstances today. Seek joy. In this life, we have to look for the slivers of hope and glean as many positive fragments as we can so all those thoughts plant seeds of joy. Finding something good in our mess is the best survival mechanism. It isn’t easy. It’s worth it.

On days when nothing fits and life is broken, I read Philippians 4. Be joyful! Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, with a thankful heart pray and ask God to take your burdens and your worries. The peace of God, which we humanly can’t understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Ask God to infuse your mind with thoughts of whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—thinking about such things will quiet your anxiety….. And the God of peace will be with you.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

This charming post was written by my friend Jane Anderson, who brings much joy and blessing into my life!  Jane is a Christ-follower who reads, writes, and lives encouragement as her ministry. If you’d like to read more of her writing, you can access her blog here:http://refininggrace.com

Have You Experienced Being Indivisible? How About Iraq?

If you are in the military, have a loved one in the military, or would like to get a little better appreciation for the sacrifices and challenges facing those who are giving their lives to protect our safety, then I want to encourage you to watch Indivisible. (By the way, I’m guessing the pressures and problems would be very similar for any military personnel from a democratic nation.)

Indivisible (2018) is based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner, who was deployed to Iraq back in 2007, fresh out of seminary and basic training.

This left his wife, Heather, alone at Fort Stewart to care for their three young children among the community of other women whose husbands were also deployed.

Every deployment is dangerous and gut-wrenchingly difficult, but Darren ended up supporting the Special Forces, which was sort of the hardest of the hard!

I have a son in the military who was deployed to Iraq, and I can vouch for the constant strain and fear that I battled as a mother, who spent many hours on her knees while he was gone.

Indivisible does a masterful job of relating the terrors and traumas of war. Will our loved one survive? Will he be injured? Will he recover?

Even if he survives, will he be able to overcome all the horrors of death and destruction that he’s experienced?

What about the wives who’ve been left behind, who are constantly plagued by an emotional roller coaster of worry while trying to be emotionally stable for their children?

For many families, life is never quite the same after living through a deployment, and trying to rebuild a strong marriage bond is more of a challenge than some marriages can handle.

The lessons that Darren and Heather learned (and have been willing to share) are critical for young couples who are serving in the military. I wish every person in the service or who has a loved one in military service would see this movie!

It’s raw. It’s real. It’s sad, but there’s also a message of hope for a light at the end of the tunnel of PTSD and broken hearts.

God made a way for Darren, Heather, and a bunch of brave young soldiers and their wives, and He can do the same for you.

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NABRE).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (30): Stretch Out Your Hand


What an invitation! A man with a withered hand was in the synagogue when Jesus came in to teach. As I am preparing this meditation, I am still sporting two external pins in the little finger of my right hand, and it makes me painfully aware of how debilitating it would be to live life without a functional right hand! Even basic self care and simple household chores like preparing and cleaning up meals, washing and folding clothes, ironing, cleaning, shopping, trying to write—everything is harder, and some things simply can’t be done with one hand. How much harder must it have been for a man in the agrarian culture of ancient Israel, where his livelihood probably required the strength of two hands and arms. Clearly, he needed help!!

Reading the passages (listed below), it is despicably obvious that the religious leaders had no compassion. (Lord, is it I?) They weren’t hoping that the man with the withered hand might be healed; they were just looking for an excuse to accuse Jesus of breaking some law so they could stone him and get rid of him. Why did they want to get rid of him? Because he was incredibly popular, and they feared losing their power over the people. That’s it? Yep! Pretty much! Well, they also didn’t understand him, and they didn’t like his unconventional approach to life.

Jesus knew their thoughts. He knew they were plotting to kill him . . . on the sabbath day. He was angry and grieved because they were so hard hearted, so he said to them: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”

The Pharisees were totally unconcerned for the man with the withered hand, so they didn’t answer. To them, it was like playing a chess game, or worse yet, they were like hungry tigers prowling around, just hoping for Jesus to make a false move so they could trap and destroy him.

In a stunning display of power and wisdom, Jesus simply told the man to stretch out his hand, which the man did, and when he did, he was instantly healed! Good overcame evil! The Pharisees left to plot Jesus’s murder while I imagine there was great rejoicing within the synagogue. No one who saw this miracle would ever forget! In fact, it says that after this event, Jesus “withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all” (Matthew 12:9-15). He healed them all—not a few, not some, but all of them!

The scriptures don’t tell us how the man’s hand became withered. It could have been caused by a careless accident on his part, or disease, or as the result of his very heroically trying to save someone. The cause of the problem was not an issue, but the man’s faith was. He had to attempt to reach out. He might have said, “Why are you asking me to do something I can’t do?” or “Heal me first, and then I’ll stretch out my hand.” But, he didn’t! Instead, the man with the withered hand obeyed Jesus, stretched out his hand and was made whole!

Lots of thoughts flood my mind while considering this passage:

*Is there any part of me (like my heart) that is withered?
*Am I jealous of anybody who is doing God’s work in a novel way?
*Am I so focused on keeping the laws that I fail to focus on compassionate care?
*Am I willing to stretch out my hand?
*Am I afraid that God can’t or won’t heal me because my problems are “my fault”?

Jesus is still working miracles of healing today. Sometimes he cures physical problems, but most significantly, He heals our spiritual diseases, forgives our sins, and transforms our lives. Are you feeling a need for healing, hope, renewal, strength? I feel a need every day! As D.L. Moody used to say, we are “leaky vessels” and need constant refilling with the Holy Spirit! If so, will you join me in this prayer? “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit” (Psalm 143:5-7).

Texts for today’s meditation: “And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all” (Matthew 12:9-15).

“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:1-6).

“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:9-11).

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie
(serves 8-10)

My daughter’s favorite pie is lemon meringue, and so I wanted to be sure to have one ready for her when she arrived with her family last weekend! Meringue pies are wonderfully fluffy and light, so they’re especially perfect for warm weather, but (of course), they’re also yummy at any time of the year! As my father used to say, “I only like two types of pie: Hot and cold!”

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Here’s the recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place in the bottom of an 11″ pie plate:
7 crushed graham crackers
½ stick melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3. Stir until completely mixed and pat it down into a uniform depth in the pie shell.

4. Bake at 350°F. for 12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Lemon Pie filling:
1. In a saucepan add together:
1.5 cups granulated white sugar
1/3  cup corn starch
¼  teaspoon salt. Stir all ingredients until smooth and without lumps.
2. Add:
1.25 cups water. Mix thoroughly and then heat on the stove, stirring (almost) constantly to keep it from sticking on the bottom. It is done when it thickens and starts to bubble.
3. Then add:
½ cup lemon juice and zest from 2 large, fresh lemons
4 beaten egg yolks (add one at a time and stir quickly and thoroughly)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter until melted and the filling is uniformly smooth and thick.
4. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Pour the filling into the baked shell and allow the entire pie to cool to room temperature. (If it’s still warm, it can melt your meringue.)

Meringue Topping:

  1. Now might be a good time to turn the oven back on to 350°F., because it’s best to have the oven hot when you slide the pie back in with the meringue on top
  2. To make the meringue topping, place in a mixing bowl:

4 egg whites
¼ cup sugar, beaten until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread evenly on top of the pie.


Bake in preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Serve as a dessert for dinner, at tea time, or late at night when your daughter and her family arrive for a visit! 🙂

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). I’ve been studying “gifts” in the Bible and have been impressed by the fact that even the capacity for enjoying our blessings is a gift from God!

Legacy

A Masterpiece of Beauty

Brilliant, heart-shaped quilt,
Potpourri of symmetries.
You delight my eyes! 

At the Atlanta History Center, this gorgeous quilt caught my attention. It is an exquisite work of art, full of dazzling colors and images—mostly of brightly colored flowers, but also fruits, wispy insects, and other bits of beauty. I stood mesmerized, wishing I had time to ponder each tiny patch in this vast work of quilted art. Hundreds of individual pieces and thousands of tiny stitches. A lifetime treasure. A worthy legacy.

I wonder if the artist had any idea that their quilt would delight the hearts of countless strangers over the years. Wouldn’t you love to have a life as rich, varied, complex, and attractive as this quilt? I would!!

We are building our lives each day, and what we leave as a legacy is up to us. What patches are we choosing to add? Do we have a design in mind? Are we picking each square to depict something that will uplift others and bring them joy? Are we cutting our lines straight? Sewing with meticulous care? When we are gone, will others remember us with gratitude and meditate on what we’ve said and done?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Find Us Faithful
—Steve Green

I used to sing this song when I was part of a ladies’ ensemble, and it still brings tears to my eyes to hear it, because it speaks of the longing in my own spirit!

We’re pilgrims on the journey
of the narrow road,
and those who’ve gone before us
line the way.
cheering on the faithful,
encouraging the weary,
their lives a stirring testament
to god’s sustaining grace.
o may all who come behind us
find us faithful,
may the fire of our devotion
light their way.
may the footprints that we leave,
lead them to believe,
and the lives we live
inspire them to obey.
o may all who come behind us
find us faithful.Surrounded by so great
a cloud of witnesses,
let us run the race
not only for the prize,
but as those who’ve gone before us.
let us leave to those behind us,
the heritage…