Archive for the ‘What Matters Most’ Category

Women’s Rights Day…let me choose my words! If we need to have a day to prove our worth or show how we can cripple a society by walking out on our responsiblities, then I wonder how we personally feel about our worth and rights.  The only person’s opinion that should truly matter is God’s opinion.  He created me as a female, designed a specific role for me to place in history and His story.  If I am following His plan for me and fully living in the role He created me to feel, then I will be fulfilled. 

Looking at what I don’t have or demanding to be appreciated reflects my own selfishness.  What happened today is that a lot of other people’s rights were infringed upon so that some people could stand up and say they are important. 

What we do on a daily basis, how we live, the people we impact, are proof enough of our worth and importance and contributions in the world.
Now, I am not ignorant to the fact that women all over the world do not have the rights we have here in America.  But here, in THIS country, we can vote, we can work in roles reserved only for men elsewhere, we have access to education and we also get to bear children, be mothers, cultivate and nurture a home and do many things that males cannot do.  We are so incredibly blessed and it gives me pause when we just want more and more and more at the detriment of other people.
Joining an organized effort on a single day to show how important we are, that, as a result crippled schools and businesses today and put children and parents in a difficult situation scrambling to find childcare and companies left short handed, is just unkind.  And what about the women who didn’t get a choice to participate?  The caregivers, the nurses, the business owners like myself…many women didn’t get a choice today.  And just because you do have a choice, doesn’t mean it was the wisest choice to take that choice.  

It’s not about equality….it’s about being content to fulfill the role we were created to fill.  In a society where everyone is willing to know their role and fill it and not always be reaching to step into another person’s role, there is contentment.  Everyone can’t be the CEO, or the Father, or the Pastor, or the Business Owner.  So, we accept our role in certain areas but rebel against our role in other areas?Doesn’t seem logical to me. 

Contentment comes from knowing who we are in Christ and believing in His ability to know what is best for us.I absolutely love being a female: I was able to bear children and feel what no man will ever feel.  I was able to bury children and know the depth of a mother’s love and loss.  I understand being a sister, daughter, aunt and friend in ways men never will know.  Those are rights God gave me that He didn’t give to men.  He made them physically stronger than He made women…why?  Their role is different.  He gave women intuition and emotions and empathy that is natural.  He gave me discernment that is naturally different that women.  God did not create us to all be the same gender anymore than we are supposed to be the same age or personality.  Let’s embrace who we are, strive to be a better version of who we are and not always be looking to have what someone else has or doesn’t have.

I realize this has the potential to be a controversial post…I also realize that some choose not to speak up when they fear disagreement.  Therefore we often only get one version on the topic.  Sometimes the minority on every subject have the loudest voice and most organized efforts.  Debates are healthy and seeing the world from different perspectives is a beautiful part of any society. 

My intention is not to criticize any female who chose to take the day off of work today, but yet, to remind all of us that we are created by an all knowing, all powerful God and that we are enough…just as He made us to be and we don’t need to stand up and shout that to the world.  We simply need to find our place in Him and know just how important we are to the story of eternity.

Renee Parris

waterfireChristians can know we have a protection in this world and it is a truth that many do not comprehend.  It is always available to the saved.  We have heard and read these stories most our lives yet we fail to claim the promises.

Daniel tells of the 3 Hebrew children that were put into the heated furnace. To survive the fire was totally impossible, and yet they felt no heat or flame while inside. This is an astounding miracle for our feeble mind to embrace!

Isaiah 43:2 kjv When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Some promises we can claim!

̶ Jesus keeps a constant vigil over us.
̶ His attention on us is very deliberate and we can find a strength we did not know was even available.
̶ He covers us and puts an enclosure around us.
̶ We have His protection against the deceitful attacks that are brought against us.
̶ His Grace surrounds our very soul and gives us protection.

In this world we encounter much difficulty but His Spirit controls the effects of the tribulation we face. We travel through intense times when our faith seems to make no sense.

When our faith is weakened ̶ His Grace surrounding us becomes strengthened.

It is as though God is saying to us, “Here are waters, and you must pass through them, the waters are on the road you must pass. The rivers have no bridge over them so you must go through the river. But, I will not let you pass through the waters alone because you would drown. I will go with you and will keep them from overflowing around you. While passing through them I will protect you.” Wow, what a security for the believer!

We can rest on the faithfulness of an unchanging God. It is upon that strong foundation I find rest.

 

Dec. 16, 1995 Gary Benton of St. Louis Missouri, committed a violent act of murder against my dad, William Bonner, known as Uncle Bill.  A carjacking, fight between 2 gangs, drugs, all of these things Gary was involved in, took his life.

I have been forever changed.  In some ways, I see life as a puzzle – every experience I have had forms a piece of my unique puzzle. When combined, they form the entire picture of my life. My Dad took a piece of my puzzle with him to Heaven, a piece that will never return. He replaced that piece with his beautiful memories.

I lost my dad but gained something in return. He loved and adopted me at the age of 6 shortly after my mother was violently murdered.  For 30 yrs my dad taught & groomed me to learn of the Grace of God.  Would I give up everything I’ve learned if I could have my dad back? I don’t have that option. The only option I have is to make the changes I’ve gone through as valuable as possible.

I refuse to waste my life devoted to the horrific violent crime Gary Benton now living in Atlanta, GA, committed. I will spend my life as he taught me…to try and see beauty and His grace in all things…And fight like the devil against drugs, abuse, injustices, and offer God’s Simple Plan of Salvation.

pretzel These are an easy treat especially for the holidays –
They are so versatile. You can use a mixture of milk chocolate and/or white chocolate. You can use pretzel sticks, squares or twist and whole pecans or pecan pieces. I had a batch done from beginning to end in about 45-1 hour.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bites

Ingredients
24 pecan halves
24 mini pretzel twists
24 individually wrapped soft caramel squares, unwrapped
8 ounces milk chocolate, melted
Sea Salt

 

Lay out wax or parchment paper, using a spoon, drizzle a little chocolate on the paper and smooth it out a little with the back of the spoon like you are painting a circle. Drop three pretzels, slightly overlapping onto the chocolate and spoon a little melted caramel over all three. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and then drizzle a little more chocolate. Let set and store in Tupperware.

1. Put the pecan halves on a baking sheet, single layer and bake, shaking the sheet once halfway through, until lightly toasted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool.
2. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking matpretzel2
3. Arrange the pretzels on the baking sheet
4. Top each pretzel with an unwrapped caramel
5. Bake until the caramels soften (but NOT melting), 4 to 5 minutes
6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and press a pecan half onto each caramel, using just enough pressure for the caramel to fill the pretzel
7. Set aside to cool completely.

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Remove the cooled pretzel/caramels from the baking sheet
1. Drizzle or spoon small dollops of the melted chocolate all over the pretzel & caramel. Sparsely shake sea salt over the top of drizzled chocolate.
2. Allow them to cool completely before serving (you can cool in the fridge).

 

love

Christ calls us to become His image- to reach out to a hurting world and bring His Spirit to that world.  We’ve had too many years of talking – it’s time to get  busy. Let’s pray for His leadership and direction so we can go out and live His love. The world needs you. The world needs HIM!

Mark 12:29-31 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
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We as Christians are to reflect the heart of Christ, to love the way He loves.  If we do not love with the love of Christ then all we do is a hypocritical devotion, flowery language and our church attendance and such are just empty gestures. God did not want us to attend church on Sunday and turn our back to the pain in this world the rest of the time. He wants us to seek justice for the mentally ill, to protect the defenseless, to set captives free, to live a life of compassion and unselfishness.

Too often we stress on saying and believing the right things, that we turn a blind eye to our piousness and conceit. We have a lack of compassion for the hurting. We have become legalistic and satisfied with our devotion and our good works that we develop an attitude of superiority towards those we deem to be less righteous than ourselves.

Matt. 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Is it any wonder too many of the world run from us?

We take pride in doing and saying all the right things, but we are absolutely lacking any joy, peace, gentleness, or any love. In the first century, people would exclaim, We tend to forget our real spiritual goal should be to live closer to God and have him form in us the character of the heart Christ. We, as Christians should die daily to our self and learn to love the way Christ loved. If we are truly filled with His Spirit it should be evident in our lives.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Jesus told his disciples a very clear plan that others would recognize them. He didn’t say it was all this legalistic stuff, it is not your church attendance, how you tote your Bible BUT it is how you love!

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

We are so full of dramatization even in our church services and our lives. We want God to be awe stricken with our fancy worship and slick tongued sermons. Why do we spend so much time talking about what we allegedly believe yet so little time living it. Why are we satisfied with following rituals yet neglecting our heart.

Why are we so content with our empty gestures?

google imageThis past week has been an incredibly difficult one. The desperation and brokenness some are suffering with is becoming heavy to bear.  So many who battle physical ailments, addictions or mental issues.  The cancer rate is staggering.  A little 11-year-old girl’s body has been invaded  by this vile diagnosis.

We have had stories of the abuse some are enduring now and some who have had it in their past.  Suffering with abuse causes much anguish whether it is sexual, physical and emotional.  The unbelievable amount of those caught up in sex trafficking is staggering. This is the new form of slavery! If we fight against slavery we must fight against slavery in the sex industry!  Seeing more and more the perversion of the world can cause me to become totally expended. causing feelings of hopelessness.

As I recalled the incidents that were troubling me, I began to sing…

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

As I sang it over and over, I could feel God touching my spirit and drawing me close to him. What comfort I began to feel.

There is assurance in Christ that HE IS in the middle of all our darkness.  God IS unchanged in His Goodness and Love. His Sweet mercy and truth extends far beyond the contamination of this world and beyond any bounds of our wasted lives.

While we know there is more beyond what this world can offer, we still long to have someone jump in the middle with us to help bear the burdens we carry.  This is exactly what being a Christian is all about!  We put on the Hands and Feet of Jesus and walk in the shoes of another to help in their struggle.

This isn’t about going to church, teaching a Sunday school class or having a theology degree, this is about being and doing -Jesus- This is our only hope in reaching others.linen-paper

And though the evil around me may feel like I am drowning, I will still beg out to God for healing, rescue and deliverance for those who are struggling.

Having the heart knowledge that HE is in the middle of our battle and there is NO darkness!

ruggedcross

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Ever thought ‘If I could just get a break!” So many times we think it is the ‘Big Break’ that will ‘Open the Door’ to success in life. Or maybe because we came from ‘The wrong side of the Tracks’ is what we blame for holding us back. Maybe blame the family you were born in or ‘I’m the black Sheep’ philosophy. ‘If only’… things had been different in my life… (more…)


Christmas is almost here and this is a sure favorite!  This is always a crowd favorite.  Our Amish friends in Indiana served this to us and I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

Salted Toffee Pretzel Bark
• 1 bag mini pretzels (at least 4 or 5 cups)
• 1 cup butter (not margarine)
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
• Sea salt (if desired)
1. Line 11 x 17 cake pan with parchment paper.
2. Cover the bottom with a layer of pretzels.
3. Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a full boil. Stir continually.
4. Pour slowly over the pretzels.
5. Place in a 350° oven for 8 minutes, or until bubbly all over.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
7. Let sit for a minute to melt the chocolate.
8. Then smooth chocolate surface with a spatula.
9. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
10. Cool to room temperature.
11. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden chocolate topping. Or lift out of pan onto a cutting board and cut with a pizza cutter to make bars.
12. Remove from the pan and break into bite sized portions.

 

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….And who doesn’t love a Crunchy Cheesecake! One of our favorite restaurants that moved into Lexington, Ky around 1998 was –Up The Creek- This was the first time my husband and I eaten a dessert of Fried Cheesecake. We immediately fell in love with it! They also had a sandwich that was Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. Oh my, every night this was what I ate for weeks!

 

 

Fried Cheesecake

• 3 -8 oz. Cream Cheese
• 2/3 c. sugar
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 1/2 c. vegetable oil
• 1 stick butter, melted
• 15-20 small flour tortillas
• 1/2 c. sugar
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• SAUCE
• 1 lb. strawberries, diced
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 1/8 c. water
• 1/8 c. strawberry preserves

cheesecakechimichanguasDirections:
1. For the sauce: In a medium sauce pan, add the strawberries, sugar, water, and place on low to medium heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Using a potato smasher, smash the strawberries while in the sauce pan. Add the strawberry preserves and allow to simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes OR until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese; add the sugar, and vanilla. Take a flour tortilla and add about a spoonful and a half of the cream cheese mixture and spread in the middle of the tortilla. Begin to roll the tortilla away from you; half way through tuck in the sides; and roll to the end of the other side of the tortilla making a roll. Complete the process until all of the cream cheese mixture is gone.
3. In a large sauce pan on medium heat (make sure it isn’t too high) heat the vegetable oil. Add a couple of the tortillas to the pan seam side up. Allow to fry for 1 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon remove from oil once it is golden brown on both sides. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked.
4. Using a pastry brush swipe each tortilla with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture, and allow to cool before serving. Use the strawberry sauce for dipping.
Please note: Allow to cool before serving. The tortilla will remain crunchy even after cooled.  I prefer the cinnamon be left out of the recipe but that is a personal choice.  Enjoy!