Faith, Food

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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I love soup. It’s hearty, and can be loaded with all sorts of goodness. This one has shredded chicken, black beans, corn, cilantro, and a few other ingredients that make a filling meal. Some soups can be bland and mushy. Chicken tortilla soup is flavorful and scrumptious. No soggy soup here.

This lovely soup comes together pretty quick. You can easily make this on a busy weeknight. As long as your chicken is already cooked, you’re good to go. If you’ve got some leftover chicken on hand that would work too. 

One pot meals are some of my favorites. No cooking multiple things all at once. Juggling the oven, and the stove top can be a challenge. I cook like that quite often, and I don’t mind it. But, using the same pot for the entire meal is such a nice break from the norm. 

This particular version of chicken tortilla soup calls for hominy, which is dried corn kernels that are soaked in an alkaline solution. Basically, hominy is big puffy corn. I do not use hominy for this soup since it’s not at my local Aldi. Instead, I use white beans as a replacement. If you like hominy, or you’re just curious, give it a try. 

Something that I add to make this recipe even more delicious, is homemade tortilla strips. It’s worth the extra time to fry up your own tortillas. The flavor and richness that the fresh tortilla’s add is mouthwatering. If you are not up for that, just add store bought tortilla chips to the soup. Still very good and easy. 

Enjoy this fantastic soup.

Happy Eating!

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. 

Matthew 4:4

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 diced onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 (28oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 (32 oz.) container chicken broth 

1 cup water

3 to 4 boneless, skinless, cooked chicken breast (shredded)

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained

1 cup whole kernel corn

1 cup hominy or 1 (15 oz.) can white beans

1 (4 oz.) can green chiles 

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

homemade tortilla strips 

sliced avocado

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until soft.
  2. Add oregano, chili powder, tomatoes, chicken broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the shredded chicken, black beans, corn, hominy or white beans, green chiles, and cilantro to the pot. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While the soup is cooking make your tortilla strips.
  5. Serve up the soup into bowls and top with tortilla strips, sliced avocado, Jack cheese, and cilantro.

Notes:

  • Always taste while you are cooking. Check if salt is needed, especially if low-sodium broth is used.
  • Add onions, black olives, or sour cream for toppings.

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Homemade Tortilla Strips

4 to 6 6-inch corn tortillas

¼ cup (approximately) vegetable oil

salt

  1. Slice tortillas into ½ inch strips.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.
  3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil has a shimmer and coats the bottom of the pan it’s ready.
  4. Cook tortilla strips in small batches for a couple of minutes per side. Turn them once they stiffen up and are golden brown. 
  5. The tortilla strips cook quickly.
  6. Place cooked strips on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.

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Check out my monthly column at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/post/meghan-s-corner-chicken-tortilla-soup

Holy Spirit, Jesus, Uncategorized

From Glory to Glory

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This caterpillar has been hanging out on my parsley for several days. They are sometimes called parsley caterpillars. Soon, it will form it’s cocoon, and emerge as an eastern black swallowtail butterfly. It’s going to be fun to watch the transformation. I’m eagerly awaiting the beautiful butterfly that will appear.

Yes, this caterpillar is eating my parsley right now. It’s not going to make a dent though. My parsley is the size of a shrub, so there’s plenty to spare. It will be worth it to have a butterfly that is both gorgeous, and useful to help with pollinating. I wonder if this little creature knows what’s coming.

If he knew he was about to get some amazing wings, maybe he would hurry into his cocoon.

I feel like this caterpillar at times. Completely content with where I’m at. Just hanging out and thinking everything is just fine. I don’t want God to shake things up by putting me in a cocoon. That sounds terrible. Can’t I just hang out and eat parsley all day with sunshine on my back?

God won’t allow me to stay where I’m at. He sees things I cannot. God knows everything, and knows what going into the cocoon will do for me. God wants me to get those beautiful wings and fly.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, that’s just the beginning. God wants us to be like Jesus. Live like Him. Love like Him. Forgive like Him. Follow the Father like Him.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV) 

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6, NIV)

Yes I want to be more like Jesus, but that’s a tall order. On my own, that’s impossible.

This transformation happens through the power of the Holy Spirit in each believer. I have zero ability to become like Jesus in my own strength. It would be phony. A fully surrendered life to Jesus brings that transforming power.

We get saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and then He begins to work on us. Clean us up. Heal us. Set us free. It’s not easy work though. It can be quite painful. There are times when we have to go into the cocoon and wait, and be transformed.

We get impatient. Restless. It’s too hard. We try to break out of the cocoon too early.

When we trust God and His transforming work in us, we get the most lovely wings. We end up a little more like Jesus each time. There will be lots of cocoons in our lifetimes before we end up in the ultimate glorious place, heaven.

He’s changing us. So hold on to Him. Be patient and trust the tramsformative work He is doing.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB)

Love you all,
Meghan

 

Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

Keep Calm and Carry On

This iconic message, recognized globally, was originally designed by the British Ministry of Information in 1939. Before England had entered the war they were prepping for the worst. The British government was expecting a massive aerial attack from the German’s at the onset of war. The blitz didn’t start until about a year later. Keep Calm and Carry On was stored away to be used when things got really bad for England. The poster never came out of storage and was forgotten. About 60 years after the end of WWII an original poster was discovered in the bottom of a box from a book auction. 

The book shop owner displayed the poster and started reproducing and selling copies. Keep Calm and Carry On just took off after that first copy was found. The copyright is expired so that’s why we see so many variations of Keep Calm and Carry On.

The intent of the message was to reassure people during WWII. To create a mindset. To persevere. To be resolute. Determined. The first German air raid on London lasted for 57 consecutive nights. Bombings, night after night. 

Though this poster was never used during the war, I can only imagine what people in London experienced. Keep Calm and Carry On sends a message to the enemy and to yourself. We refuse to give in to fear. We’re going to make it, no matter how bad things get.

This poster immediately came to my mind as panic sets in around the world with the threat of coronavirus. Here in America store shelves are being emptied of water and of all things, toilet paper. The only other time I’ve seen it worse at the stores is when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Everything was empited at the stores, everything. 


All things may appear to be completely out of control. Please be assured God is still in control.

God is always on the throne.

God is not surprised by the virus.

God is not fearful or overwhelmed.

God is faithful.

God is completely trustworthy.

God loves you.

Most of us know the story of Job in the Bible. Job was a Godly man.

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1, ESV)

Job had seven sons and three daughters. He had servants, and tons of animals. Job was blessed and respected. 

 “so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” (Job 1:3b, ESV)

God allowed Satan to test Job. He ends up losing his children, his animals, his servants and everything in between. Yet Job never cursed God. (Spoiler alert: Job gets back twice as much as he had before.)

The Lord speaks to Job.

 

Where were you when I established the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
What supports its foundations?
Or who laid its cornerstone
while the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Who enclosed the sea behind doors
when it burst from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its blanket,
10 when I determined its boundaries
and put its bars and doors in place,
11 when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”?

12 Have you ever in your life commanded the morning
or assigned the dawn its place, 

(Job 38:4-12, HCSB)

I have never made a planet, or a star, or the moon. I don’t even have the capabilities to create anything even close to that. I am not God. There is one God and He made everything and He holds it all together. Nothing surprises Him. 

We are all going to make it through the coronavirus. Let me give it the scientific name, COVID-19. Now I feel really smart. 

As Christians we can shine our light by keeping calm and carrying on. Let’s not panic. Keep trusting the One who holds it all together. And if you’re feeling afraid, cry out to Him. God loves you so much, and wants to comfort you, and give you His perfect peace.

Keep calm and carry on!

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

 

Love you all,

Meghan 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

You are the perfect Father. Your love and care for us is overwhelming. Please give peace to your children right now. For those who have the virus, please heal them. Stop it’s spread. Please end this quickly Lord. For those who don’t know you as Savior, draw them to you. Save them. Help us all to do our part to be wise and discerning. To follow your leading, and to keep trusting you. Provide basic needs, proper healthcare, and finances wherever it’s needed. You promise to provide all of our needs and you always do. Give wisdom to local, national, and international leaders. Thank you Lord. We trust you.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

Please email me if you need prayer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

It’s Not Easy

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Wouldn’t it be so nice if life were easy peasy? Smooth sailing. No valleys, only mountain tops. No trouble, only good times. No sadness, no heartache, no trials, no pain of any kind. Wait a minute, I just described heaven. Life is not easy. It’s not meant to be. There are days when I want it to be easy. Then God gently reminds me that this is not my home. And yes, it’s hard on this side of eternity.

I’m tired this week. Processing my mom’s death and trying to get back to “normal” (whatever that is) has been challenging. I hit a breaking point the other day. I woke up overwhelmed. Exhausted emotionally, and spiritually. I had to step away from everything. Take a breather, and ask God to start me over again.

The great thing about coming to the end of ourselves is God meeting us in our weakness. We don’t like it. I know I don’t. I want to always feel strong, always feel full of faith. When everything slips out of my grasp, the Lord is there waiting to catch me. He gives me the rest I need. He listens to me as I pour out my heart to Him. He never loses patience with me, or shakes His head in disappointment.

My weakness draws me to my Savior. I am reminded again how much I need Him. I really can do nothing apart from Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (john 15:5, NIV)

He is the vine, I am just the branch. And if I’m in the pruning phase, then I need rest. This little branch is tired, but still here.

It’s not easy, but God is always good. He never changes.

“For I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6a, ESV)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8, ESV)

My goal as a Christian, is to daily surrender all to Him. To take up my cross. (Luke 9:23) Most days I’m pretty bad at surrendering. I’ll get there, one day. Probably my last day on earth. Hahaha! I’m so glad God is running things, and not me.

If you’re having a not easy time lately, like me, be encouraged. As difficult as life can be, we are right where we are supposed to be. So much good can come come out of the hard times, if we allow God to work in our lives.

God is on our side, and working ALL things out for our good.

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, HCSB)

The world tells us to be strong. Be independent. Just do it, yourself. The Bible paints a different picture. Weakness in ourselves, means strength in Christ.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10, NIV)

There’s no place I’d rather be, then strong in Christ. It takes my weakness to get there. So, I accept my limits. I accept my weakness. I accept that it’s not easy. And I gladly surrender myself to Christ. With Jesus, I’m strong.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

P.S.

If you need prayer please go to my contact page. I would love to pray for you!

Family, grief, Uncategorized

Mom’s Legacy

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My mom asked me to write her eulogy. I couldn’t say no. I really didn’t want to, but felt I needed to honor my mom and her request. That conversation took place about 6 months ago. Chemo had stopped, and it was just a matter of time when she would go home. With everything out of control in Mom’s life, she worked on the one thing she could have some say in, her memorial. I’m not sure how many people plan their own memorial’s, but Mom did. It’s very much her personality though. A planner to the end.

I put the eulogy out of my mind. It was too overwhelming, too painful. How could I write a proper eulogy? The word “eulogy” felt heavy. Was I up for the challenge? I kept it out of my mind until December 31st, 2019. Mom’s last day on this planet. My youngest sister Heather and I went right in to planning mode.

Mom left a manila folder with specific music, people to call, and pictures. As each detail was put into place the eulogy was still hanging over my head. I prayed for several days, asking the Lord to give me the words to share. I sat down at the computer the morning I flew out to Oregon. The words came. I wasn’t thrilled with what I wrote, but I had to trust that is exactly what God wanted me to share.

It was a whirlwind once I landed in Oregon. The next day I had to go through some of her stuff at her place. I was tired, and overwhelmed. I pressed on with the help of Jesus and my dear friend Carol. The eulogy was still hanging over my head. I hate speaking in front of people, and how was I going to deliver this message that I wasn’t that thrilled with. At the same time I knew I had to do this. No one else could convey my feelings but me.

I practiced reading the eulogy several times that morning. I thought I could do it. I clung to this passage.

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

I thought I was ready. As soon as I got up to the microphone I could barely speak. I paused to catch my breath so I wasn’t just blubbering. I’m sure the pause felt like forever to those in the congregation. In the corner of my eye I caught movement in the front row on the left. I thought Oh great, they are going to usher me off the stage. Poor girl. She’s a mess. 

There was an arm around me. I looked down to find my niece Alyssa next to me. She was hugging me, and suddenly I had courage. That sweet 16 year old girl clung to me, and I didn’t let go of her. The words came out of me, miraculously. Mission accomplished. The eulogy was delivered.

You can read my thoughts below, or not. It’s not formal writing. This is just what came out. I trust God that I honored Mom.

God is faithful, no matter what hard thing you are facing today. You can trust Him.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Mom’s Eulogy

January 18th, 2020

 

My mom’s words are forever stuck in my head. And they are good words. I think most mom’s want to leave their kids with advice to get through life. At least the good ones do. My mom was one of the good ones. Here’s just a few of her “mom words” of advice. Words to live by:

 

If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Life isn’t fair.

Don’t burn bridges.

When you borrow something, return it in better condition than when you received it. 

 

These are all very wise, true words. And she was absolutely correct that life is not fair. I’m sure as kids we’d give her the standard “that’s not fair” comment for whatever unfair sibling issue we were dealing with.  

 

Mom’s have the answers to everything when you’re a kid. When we’d need something from her we’d go through the house yelling, “Mom! Mom! Where’s Mom?”

Sometimes she’d answer, “She’s inTahiti!”

Years later I learned that this “mystery” place called Tahiti was pretty spectacular. I can see why she chose such a beautiful place to mentally escape to. 

 

I can only imagine what she juggled with 5 kids. As the recipient of her love and care, it never crossed my mind that mom did a lot. It wasn’t until I became a mother myself, that I really understood just how much she did for us. 

 

Mom did her best to care for us with joy when she could. I can picture her at the kitchen counter mixing up something. Wooden spoon in hand, stirring away, and sort of dancing. She would get this rhythm while she was stirring, and sing. All while cooking. She could’ve grumbled, but she didn’t. 

 

Speaking of wooden spoons, that was her tool of discipline. I don’t recall ever being on the receiving end, but one of my brothers was a few times. I do remember when Heather and I were very young we got the brilliant idea to sneak out of bed after everyone else was asleep. We were pretty proud of ourselves going through the dark house. We stood at the sliding glass door, behind the curtain, just looking outside. We were met with a flannel nightgown and the wooden spoon. The rest is a blurr. We ran back to bed. 

 

Mom took bedtime very serious. Like when the neighbor kids would knock at the door and ask to play with us, and Mom would tell them we were in bed, even though the sun was still out. 

Mom would be laughing right now at herself. We loved to make her laugh, especially when we shared funny stories about her. 

Mom was a big kid. She’d play in the snow with us, or swim in the pool. Or, when we had a VW Bug, she’d make the car hop as she shifted and we thought it was so fun. 

It’s all the little things that I remember and hold on to. 

What will I take with me from my mom, and pass down? What’s Mom’s legacy?

Resilience and faith.

 

Mom bounced back time, and time again through much adversity in her life. She lived with disease and sickness pretty much her whole life, yet she fought. She carried on. She didn’t complain. She grew up poor, and was left alone much of her childhood, yet she never said a bad word about her parents. She loved her parents very much, even my grandpa who was a tough man. 

Resilience was Mom’s middle name. And because of that “don’t give up” attitude she experienced many triumphs in her life as well.

She fought until the end. Doing the best that she should do. Even making sure her grand kids had Christmas cards. She did her very best to love her kids, grand kids, and husband. 

That’s her resilient spirit. I hope I have a tiny bit of that.

Mom had peace about where she was going when she died. Why? Because Mom knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior. 

It all happened back in the early ‘80’s. Mom was invited to a Bible Study. 

She gladly accepted the invitation thinking it was just a social gathering. When Mom arrived at the study she noticed each woman had their own Bibles so she decided she better get a Bible too. The Bible study was on the book of Acts and Mom loved it. For the first time in her life the Bible was alive to her. She was learning and excited. Shortly afterwards she accepted Christ as her Savior. 

I will always be grateful to Mom for meeting Jesus because then she introduced Him to me and the rest of our family. She was forever changed and so were we. I watched her daily read her Bible and get involved in evangelism. She’d blare gospel and worship music in the car. Her new found faith was exciting and she wanted to share the hope she had with others.

There are countless stories and memories that each of us will treasure about Dot. 

 I will always miss my mom but I can’t wait to see her again soon. 

She ran her race. She finished her journey and was lovingly greeted into Jesus’ arms.

 

Mom is free from pain, disease, and suffering. So I rejoice with her. She’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, in heaven. We are made for eternity and Mom knew that. I hope you know that too. 

 

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12