Sacred Fire (inspired by A.J. Sherrill)

Last night, Alan and I celebrated our 46th anniversary! Such a joy!! This morning, as I was reflecting back over our marriage, it occurred to me that when I prepared my last blog (on how Christ can heal us), I hadn’t really made any particular connection to the every day struggles we all face, but I listened to two messages Sunday night that were so good, and so appropriate, that I want to share the gist of them with you. Throughout the course of my life, the two hardest conscious struggles (probably more significant unconscious challenges) relate to self control in what I eat and what I think about. I’ve always felt very “normal” (if such a thing exists), so my guess is that these almost come as standard weaknesses on most human models coming off the assembly line. Can you identify?

A.J. Sherrill (a local pastor) taught a two-part series called “The Soul of Sexuality.” I’ll put links at the end and highly recommend them as healthy soul food to help you manage your appetites (maybe not as much for food, however).  In turn, A. J. gives much of the credit for his teaching to Richard Rohr, a little monk from Albuquerque, with whom he spent a week some years ago, trying to understand life. You may think a monk wouldn’t be the best resource for understanding how to cope with our innate sex drive, but think again. Any monk who has actually been able to keep his vow of celibacy has spent his entire adult life trying to figure out how to handle his own drives.

Even as a married woman, dealing with our sexual impulses is challenging! I remember when I was mid-forties, asking my spiritual mentor (who was about 80), when men stopped making passes at women. She nodded thoughtfully and replied, “Oh, maybe sometime between 75 and 80.” I was shocked and felt doomed! Would I never be free from unwanted male advances? Men I love, just like I love women. But, men challenging my commitment to my marriage, I do not appreciate. It’s not funny, and it’s not fun. Worst case scenario, it can actually be tempting, which was terrifying when I was 40 and my husband was way too busy to pay attention to me.

So, I used to complain to the Lord, “Why did you make us sexual beings, anyway? Why couldn’t you have made us without sexual passion???” One of the most helpful resources I found was Living with Your Passions, by Erwin W. Lutzer. (It came out in 1983 but is still available on Amazon.) After reading Lutzer’s book, I came to a somewhat grumbly surrender to the thought that God must have known what he was doing and determined to learn how to live a moral life despite my immoral heart, but I wasn’t thrilled about the challenge.

After studying the Song of Solomon for ten years, I decided that God intends our chief love to be spiritual, and that as we’re drawn into a love relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we find joy and strength that surpasses human love . . . an energy and beauty that causes those around to marvel: “What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies” (Song of Solomon 6:13: the dance between our soul and the Trinity [my interpretation]).

A.J. took it a step further, and I love what he had to say. The “why” of sexuality is about “beauty, mystery, and meaning . . . Your sexuality is an echo of a larger cosmic mystery unfolding, which is the story of Christ and the Church.” “God is not a stoic force; he’s a passionate lover.” (I’m putting everything in quotation marks but they may not be perfect; I was typing as fast as I could!) God is Israel’s husband (Isaiah 34; Jeremiah 31) and in the New Testament, we learn that we, the Church, are the “bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5). From John 7 and 15, we can infer that our marriage to Christ is designed to flow into the stream of life and bear spiritual children and spiritual fruit. In John 14 we are offered the Kiddushim—the covenant of love—and now we’re just waiting for the Huppah, when Jesus comes back to receive his bride (us!).

“Information in the head is not the same as intimacy in the heart. We were made for intimacy.” “Ya had” means to throw out your hands. Let go! Let God dwell in us so much that through us He will produce fruit! Hebrews 12—throw off all false lovers and fix our eyes on our true lover, Jesus. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating our love covenant with Christ. He wants us to understand how much we’re loved and feast with him. He has never forgotten us or forsaken us, even though we have failed him and had other lovers and idols. Come and feast with him. Let him heal you!

The first message dealt with vertical love; the second message with horizontal.  A.J. offered three scripts for how sex is handled in our culture: Erotic play, Intimate connection, and Covenental Promise. He offered some excellent quotes thinking through the value and power of sexual energy (a couple of which I’ll write out for  you below), and he ended with an invitation to reach a “higher altitude” for viewing. “Sexuality is the best instrument for learning self-control There are times when offering yourself is a gift and when withholding yourself is a gift.” If you’re in a relationship right now, he suggested that you “Talk with your partner about what you want without finger pointing, but by offering your longings, not your complaints. Complaints create emotional distance, but longings are redemptive. You’ve trusted God with your soul. Will you trust him with your body?”

“A healthy sexuality is the single most powerful vehicle there is to lead us to  selflessness and joy, just as unhealthy sexuality helps constellate selfishness and unhappiness as does nothing else . . . Sex is responsible for most of the ecstasies that occur on the planet, but is also responsible for lots of murders and suicides. It is the most powerful of all fires, the best of all fires, the most dangerous of all fires, and the fire which, ultimately, lies at the base of everything, including the spiritual life.” —Ronald Rolheiser

“The fire of sex is so powerful, so precious, so close to the heart and soul of a person, and so godly, that it either gives life or it takes it away. Despite our culture’s protests, it is not casual and can never be casual.” —Rolheiser

So, in light of Jesus healing the lame man—and offering to heal us too!— if you’re restless or unhappy with your sex life (or lack thereof), this is a great time to let Jesus heal your wounded heart! Consider watching the two messages (which together are shorter than a movie!):

https://marshill.org/teaching/?sermons=the-soul-of-sexuality-week-1

https://marshill.org/teaching/?sermons=the-soul-of-sexuality-week-2

I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (18): Rise and Walk/aka Get Up and Get Going!

If there was ever a command I’m guessing someone would love to hear, it would be “Rise . . . and walk.” Or not. Those of us who can rise up and walk whenever we feel like it may not appreciate anybody else telling us to get up and get going. But, what if we hadn’t been able to walk for thirty-eight years? In John 5, we learn about a man who lived in Jerusalem and had been so ill for the past thirty-eight years that he wasn’t able to walk. There was no hospital in Jerusalem, and no physician had been able to heal him, so he spent his days lying by the pool of Bethesda. “Bethesda” means “house of mercy,” and surrounding this pool were five porches where multitudes of desperately ill people spent their miserable days. I suppose if misery loves company, then they probably found some small comfort in being miserable together, but can you imagine what it must have been like trying to subsist in a hot, crowded area (next to the noisy, dirty sheep market no less) where some couldn’t see where they were going and others couldn’t go where they were seeing? How did they eat? How did they handle sanitation issues?But, every day they came because they felt their own helplessness and had heard there was something miraculous about this particular pool. It was purported (and some knew it to be true from witnessing the miracles) that every once in a while an angel came down and stirred up the waters. Whoever first entered the pool after the waters were stirred was healed of whatever illness they had.Now, it just so happened (by divine appointment) that Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate a feast, and while he was in town, he noticed the lame man. Knowing the man had been in this sorry state for thirty-eight years (which was even longer than Jesus had been alive), he asked, “Would you like to be healed?” Simple question, and one you’d assume had a simple answer, but the man didn’t say, “You bet! Yes, please!”

Because he didn’t recognize who Jesus was and didn’t understand that Jesus had the power to heal him, the lame man just explained the painfully obvious: “I’ll never get healed, because I’m too slow. I can’t walk, so every time the angel comes, somebody always gets to the water first.”

That’s when Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” (In those days, as in modern days in many countries, people slept on mats on the ground they could roll up and store during the day while they didn’t need them.) But, Jesus wasn’t asking this man to do the impossible. Jesus also healed the man so he actually had the ability to rise up and walk if he wanted to.

What do you think? Did he rise up and walk? You bet! Yes!! Jesus healed him, and he joyfully obeyed Jesus’s command to get up and get going! The Pool of Bethesda is in ruins today, but the power of Jesus to heal hasn’t lessened one iota in the past 2,000 years ago. I wonder, is there any area in my life or yours where we’ve felt “lame”—unable to fulfill what we believe to be our God-given purpose? Our impotence may be the result of a physical infirmity, and Jesus can heal “whatsoever disease” we may have (although in the story, notice that only one man out of the multitudes was physically healed). If we want physical healing, Jesus does invite us to ask, and He may heal us, but more often he is likely to give us the same answer he gave the Apostle Paul, who testified: “He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So: Physical healing? Yes, but rarely. (I personally know of several accounts where people were raised from the dead or healed of terminal diseases, and I’ve read several others in the past few years.) However, Jesus does bear all our griefs and carry our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sins, and he himself absorbed our infirmaties (Matthew 8:17). Therefore, He has already completed all that is necessary for our spiritual healing. There is not a soul alive who can not “rise and walk” in the newness of life that Jesus has provided for and offers us!

What keeps us from accepting the resurrection power of Jesus? From studying the scriptures, I believe it must be a lack of faith. By, why? All too often, we’re more like the dumb sheep ambling into the market next to the pool of Bethesda: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6). Let’s acknowledge our need, like the lame man, but let’s not just sit around, waiting for somebody to rescue us from the morass of our weaknesses. Let’s obey Jesus and have the good sense to get up and get going!

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked” (John 5:1-9).

Mini Hotdogs with Sauerkraut and Slaw

Here’s an easy recipe for a big crowd, either for home and family, or to take to a potluck. Great flavor and can be served up as a hot appetizer or main course!

  Mini Hotdogs with Sauerkraut and Slaw

In a crock pot (or a regular stove-top, deep saucepan with a lid), combine: Two 14-oz. packages of “Li’l Smokies” (mini hotdogs; you could also slice up 2 pounds of regular hotdogs, although the mini hotdogs look cuter)
1 quart sauerkraut
1 small, diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (fresh or dried; I used dried)
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional; leave out if you don’t like them) Simmer for at least one hour in a crock pot or cook on your stove top for at least a half an hour on medium heat until everything is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are tender. If you cook on the stove top, you may need to add another 1/2 cup water (just enough to keep it from burning).

About a half an hour before you’re ready to serve it, add:
1 and 1/2 cups cold slaw mix (without dressing; just the shredded green and red cabbage with carrots). If you time it just right, the cold slaw absorbs the juices and cooks without losing it’s color. It can be cooked indefinitely, or reheated for another meal, and it doesn’t really effect the flavor, but it will lose it’s color, and it’s definitely most appealing when it has the green, purple, and orange-colored veggies mixed throughout!Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:13).

Some Timely Tips for Doing Life with Your Adult Children

Do you (like me) find yourself wondering what you did wrong when you hear what one or another of  your adult children is thinking or doing? As would be obvious to all who are living through the honor of interacting with adult children (but perhaps not a no-brainer to young people): It’s actually a lot harder than it looks to be good parents to grown offspring, even really, really admirable grown offspring, like mine. Alan’s being the medical director of maybe the world’s largest Christian psychiatric hospital hasn’t really made us professionals either.

However, as we’ve been floundering our way through this stage of life, we came across a great resource that has significantly encouraged us, so I want to recommend it to you! We read it to each other while on our Southern Caribbean cruise these past two weeks, celebrating our 46th anniversary. Ever since, we’ve been ending our daily prayers for our kids with this mantra: “God, we release our children to your loving care and tender mercies” (from page 115).

Doing Life with Your Adult Children walks readers through the various cultural mindsets of the different generations (all five of them) sharing Planet Earth at this time, reminding us that “our job as parents is not to agree with all the values of our children’s culture but to have a greater understanding of how culture influences the way they think and act.” This has been a game changer for us. Up until now, we’ve wondered why our kids didn’t just naturally take on our values. Surprise! Faith in the Bible, love of country and family . . . even gender identity based on DNA is no longer the norm. Of kids brought up in church, some 60% will drift away in college, making lifestyle choices that would curl the hair of our parents and make our grandparents roll over in their graves.

Not to fear! Hold on. Keep being faithful to what you believe is right and good. More than half of our wandering children will come back to their roots and faith. Meanwhile, author Jim Burns offers all sorts of helpful insights into what’s going on, what the culture is teaching, and how to love your kids and grand kids in ways they can actually feel no matter what they believe. One of many principles (similar to Dr. Gary Smalley’s advice on how to treasure your spouse) is to treat your children and grandchildren with AWE: affection, warmth, and encouragement. Amen? No matter what your young adult is thinking or doing, every “child” (grown ones too) needs big doses of real, genuine, open-hearted love, the way our heavenly Father lavishes his love on us.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t set boundaries or allow our kids to struggle with the consequences of their choices. The book also gives some helpful suggestions for how to engage your “failure to launch” young adults and help them mature into responsible, independent adults. There are also tips on how to become better in-laws (such as “wear beige” . . . “keep your mouth shut and the welcome mat out”) and how to interact with your grandchildren in ways that will leave a legacy of love for them.

From the very beginning—which describes a scenario I’ll bet every couple has experienced—to Chapter 1: “You’re Fired!” (PRINCIPLE 1: YOUR ROLE AS THE PARENT MUST CHANGE) to the very end, laced with ideas for how to party down with your grand kids, the book kept us engaged and learning!

Interested? I actually had an advance copy, but the book is coming out March 26, 2019 and can be pre-ordered from Zondervan or Amazon online. If you buy it, I hope you appreciate it as much as we have! Parenting parents is a tough job!  🙂

Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:18).

Adventures Getting To and From Paradise

Back in 2016 I wrote about flying to Hawaii in January during Storm Jonahs’s record-breaking Snowmeggedon. Despite the terrible weather, Alan and I commuted safely from Michigan to Hawaii. In fact, up until this past trip two weeks ago, Alan and I had never been late for embarkation (or even a tea party) on any cruise, and so we cavalierly assumed the best and made our reservations to minimize any loss of work time for Alan.I might have had an inkling of things to come when I finished packing and had a conversation that went something like this:

(Lord): Did you consult me about how to pack?
(Me, sheepishly): No. 😦  That was dumb. How should I have packed?
(Lord): You should have packed in carry-ons only.
(Me, rather reluctantly): Okay! I will. Thanks for letting me know. I pared stuff down to just the basics. We had trouble both getting down to sunny San Juan and getting home, but it wasn’t until our return flights that I understood the real reason why it was important to pack light. We left during the worst weather of this winter, and our United Airline flight from GR to Chicago got cancelled, then rescheduled through Newark, NJ, but at a time too late to make the ship. In a panic, we called our travel agent, who helped us find different flights via Delta that would go through Atlanta and hopefully get us to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in time to board the ship. Gratefully, we clambered aboard the Delta flight. However, the airport didn’t have enough machines to de-ice all the airplanes that needed protection from the severely below zero weather, so by the time our plane was ready to go, we knew we’d never get to Atlanta in time to catch our connecting flight. 😦Our travel agent had gone home by the time we arrived, but a supervisor went to bat for us and found another flight to San Juan, although it didn’t get in until about midnight (four hours after our ship had sailed away that starry night)!Believe it or not, because we’d bought our flights in a package with the cruise, the cruise line (Celebrity) not only paid for our flights but put us up at a hotel during the wee hours so we could get a little sleep before catching an early morning flight to connect with the ship at the next port of call.The flight from San Juan to St. Croix the next morning was beautiful! Alan said it was all worth the bother because it made our trip so memorable! I wasn’t so sure, but hey—doesn’t he have wonderful attitudes?!In retrospect, Alan and I both agreed that this Southern Caribbean cruise was one of the most relaxing vacations we can remember! It was “just what the doctor needed” and a fantastic way to celebrate our 46th anniversary! We slept in every morning, enjoyed delicious breakfasts in the open air on the back deck of the ship, had leisurely devotional times together reading our Bibles, praying, sharing, thinking . . . we even read through an excellent book called Doing Life with Your Adult Children, which gave us a lot of good food for thought.  On top of all that, there was a new jewel of an island to explore every morning (11 ports in 12 days!), and no tenders to contend with (where you have to wait to be ferried to the island), so we could hop off and on the ship whenever we felt like it. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: in the low 80°s every day with a light breeze and warm water. It really did seem like a little taste of paradise, and our only “guilt” was knowing that back home 140,000 friends and relatives in GR were out of power and enduring ice storms and blizzards!  😦               We wished we could transport everyone down to be with us!!  🙂 The return trip home was if anything even more harried, not due to weather, but do to the fact that when we didn’t take our first United flight to Newark, United cancelled ALL our flights, both coming and going. We didn’t know that we should have called to ask them to retain our return trip flights. United had sold our tickets to others and were already overbooked by 5 people! They could get us on standby or at 2:00 am the next morning. Another emergency cry for help went out to our travel agency, who found us 2 seats on a Jet Blue flight that was already in process of boarding. We literally ran from our terminal to theirs in order to make it before they closed the doors. It was too late to check any luggage, BUT, because we had only carry-on luggage, they let us buy tickets and board! Whew!!The rest of the trip was relatively calm, and I had time to reflect on God’s quiet question to me as I packed: “Did you consult me about how to pack?” It was just a still, small voice, the way the Lord usually speaks. Probably if I hadn’t packed so light, I would still have gotten home at some point, but not that day, and not without a lot more hassle! I am so thankful that the Lord invites us to ask Him for wisdom. We have no clue what tomorrow (or even today) will hold, but He does.  If you haven’t invited Him into your thoughts and plans, may I encourage you to pray and ask God to become your God?! There is no One like Him! He knows the end from the beginning, and He is good to those who put their trust in Him. He alone is worthy of being our Savior, our Lord, and our God!

Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me” (Isaiah 45:21).

 

The Commands of Christ (17): Lift Up Your Eyes

“Lift up your eyes.” What a compelling invitation! The disciples were worried about Jesus having something to eat and drink, but Jesus was much more concerned about the disciples (and, isn’t that us too?) looking away from themselves to view the world around them: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”       Personally, when I hear “Lift up your eyes,” I think first of verses like Psalm 121:1,“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”“Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1). I am prone to saying, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). I look up . . . and think about myself . . . and God: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isaiah 40:26). All these beautiful scriptures are true, but there is more to God’s story than just his greatness and the benefits I receive from being his child! “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Isaiah 51:6). In the passage we’re studying, John 4, Jesus was compelling his disciples to stop thinking about their own needs for food and water and look around them at the needs of our vast world: Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). What Jesus was teaching his disciples still holds true for us today: The world is full of people who need spiritual food and water. Jesus wants us to stop being consumed by our own physical needs and start elevating our gaze so we can see the tremendous spiritual needs around us . . . millions of souls, like wheat fields waving in the breeze, in need of attention and care, ready for spiritual harvest. I’ll never forget standing atop Victoria Peak in Hong Kong one starlit night, gazing down on what seemed like an endless sea of precious humanity. I was overwhelmed by the thought that if I spent the rest of my life, I couldn’t share the good news of God’s saving grace through faith in Christ with each of them.  Do you, like me, struggle with feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of the task and our inability to meet the needs?  Jesus addressed that problem too:  We’re in this together! What each of us can do is miniscule, but that’s okay! We are workers together. All God asks of us is to be faithful to the field in front of us, if we’ll just lift up our eyes and look at it! Some scatter seed. Some water. Some pull weeds. Some fertilize. Some harvest. All who share the Gospel—repentance from our sins and faith in Christ’s atoning death—are working to build God’s kingdom—a beautiful spiritual kingdom of love and light where Jesus reigns and peace and goodness abound. The end will be eternal life and rejoicing together with all who’ve come into God’s kingdom. What more could we want? Are we looking up? Are we reaching out?John 4:31-39. “In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
(—H. Ernest Nichol, 1896, Public Domain)

1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.

Refrain:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright;
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.

2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.
(Refrain)

3. We’ve a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
hath sent us his Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.
(Refrain)

4. We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow hath trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples
might come to the truth of God,
might come to the truth of God.
(Refrain)

 

Savory Green Bean Casserole with Mushrooms and Onions

Do you have a system for storing favored recipes? I have a loose-leaf notebook, but my mother had a recipe box with 3X5″ cards, which I inherited. The last time my oldest son was home, he was interested in enjoying a couple of her specialties remembered from childhood. One of our mutual favorites was a casserole made with french-style green beans, mushrooms and crispy onion rings on top. I altered it slightly, to include fresh mushrooms (rather than mushroom soup) and onion straws, but otherwise, this is an authentic throw back to days of yore.

Green Bean Casserole with Mushrooms and Onions
(Serves 12)

1. Start preheating the oven to 350°F.2. In a shaker or other means of mixing well, blend:
1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
(I also inherited my mom’s copper shaker, which has outlasted and worked better than the Tupperware shaker I bought as a newly wed!)3. In a skillet, sauté:
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

4. When the veggies are browned and tender, add:
The flour and milk mixture
1 tablespoon garlic  5. Heat until the flour mixture becomes a gravy, then add:
16 oz. frozen, french-style green beans
1/2 cup french-fried onion straws

6. Heat until everything is hot.
7. Pour into a 8X10″ baking dish.
8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350° F.
9. Remove cover and top with 1 cup french-fried onion straws.
10. Bake about 10 more minutes until the straws are a crispy golden. 11. Serve piping hot, hopefully having timed it to finish when you’re ready to serve dinner. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:1-2).