Week 34 Memory Verse: Bring the light

I would never take a stroll with an artist through his studio and start judging his work.

Can you imagine? Walking along and commenting to the one who created each canvas, saying, “Oh, that one is lovely… but that one really sucks… I love the colors you used in this one… but man that one is stupid.”

We wouldn’t do that, right?

And yet we do. In big ways and in small ways, every day.

We walk through this world that God masterfully crafted and we judge his greatest creation, his people.

That person is so annoying! I can’t stand her. He is absolutely insane. What a jerk.

It might be someone in the car in front of you, or someone you see on TV that you’ve never even met.

I’ve been guilty. How about you?

Today’s memory verse is from James 3:9 (NLT), “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Not only do we belittle the Artist’s work, but we are criticizing his self-portrait. Yikes.

It’s got to stop.

I know, I’m like a backwards activist– telling people to just be quiet. I believe in what Thumper’s mom used to say in the movie Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Yes, we have to have freedom of speech and be allowed to openly call out bad action when we see it in our communities and in our national government. But imagine what that would look like if we always cushioned it in understanding and compassion.

When my kids come home from school and complain about a teacher, the first thing I always say is, “We have no idea what she is going through right now. If she’s being so grumpy, there must be something going on in her personal life that we no nothing about.”

When they complain about a kid who is being mean or disrupting the classroom I say, “Gosh, I bet there is something going on behind the scenes there. Maybe learning is very hard for him, or the people in his house don’t value him the way they should so he doesn’t know how to value others.”

We can carry on the conversation to figure out tools to deal with difficult people, but first, we have to acknowledge that they are people— and that in itself makes them special and important creations of God.

Even if they don’t know Him, He knows them, because He created them. In His image.

Boy… I feel like I just went on a little rant there. Sorry about that. My point is this, if we want to live in a world that’s lighter and brighter, we have to bring the light. We have to measure every word that comes out of our mouths — or that’s typed out with our fingers — because once they’re gone, we can’t get them back, and we can’t begin to imagine the damage they may cause.

Attack of the Killer Zucchini

Apparently there is this thing in Southeastern Ohio where you leave an extremely large zucchini on someone’s porch or in their car.

I’m not sure if the vegetable is left because the mystery giver is a friend or foe. That’s still sort of unclear. It’s kind of like back in high school, when I was never quite certain if it was a compliment or an insult to have my front yard covered in toilet paper in the middle of the night.

Anyway, I was recently gifted with several of the largest zucchini I have ever seen. I say “gifted” because in this particular case, the giver asked if she could leave them on my porch. She knows I’m trying to eat healthier and apparently wanted me to have a steady supply of zucchini for the next 45-50 years.

After posting a picture of the monster zuke, I asked for suggestions on what to do with it.

From Michelle: Cut it up- sauté in olive oil, dice in some yellow and red peppers, add in basil, and some angel hair pasta- finish with sliced cherry tomatoes with 1/2 cup of feta crumbles!

From Liz: slice in half, remove seeds and stuff with garlic, herbs, mushrooms and any other veggies. Wrap in foil and bake.

From Ben: Zucchini pizza casserole! Shred it with your cheese grater. Press as much water out of it as you can. Mix with parmesan and mozzarella cheese, some bread crumbs and an egg. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Top with tomato sauce, more shredded cheese and pepperoni. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until zucchini crust is set.

From Angela: Grate it and salt it down in a colander. Sauté with butter, garlic . Mix with cooked spaghetti top with basil.

From the President of a Major University who should be much too busy to cook: Cut into thick slices, dip in eggs whites, then roll in panko or grated Parmesan…pan fry in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste… Eat!

About 14 other people told me to make chocolate cake with it.

You know the recipe for the chocolate cake won, right? Chocolate cake always wins.

Because I’m leaning toward healthier options these days, I decided to make cupcakes because it provides better portion control.

Highly skeptical of any dessert that contains zucchini as a main element, I boldly plowed forward and laid out the ingredients. 

I substituted almond flour for regular flour because I have pesky gluten allergy.

The first step nearly unglued me. “Beat eggs until frothy.” I dug a wire whisk from the bottom of the drawer and started beating. Eight hours later I was still going… I gave up when they looked like this and continued with the rest of the directions. What does “frothy” even mean?

Eventually, I got those bad boys into the oven. I set the timer and headed into my room, where I began sorting clothes. Then I decided to take a bath, followed by reading a book. 75 minutes later, I remembered the cupcakes. Luckily, my husband had heard the timer go off much earlier and pulled them out of the oven.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think they were supposed to look like this, sort of dented in the middle… 

As you can see, I ate one out of the tray with a spoon. It was actually delicious. It was too soft and moist to come out of the tray in one piece, but it was still yummy.

I called in the boys and proudly offered them a bite of my creation.

They hated it.

Not like, “Sorry Mom, not my favorite.” More like, “Oh my gosh, what did you do to make them taste so terrible???”

Well, more for me, I guess. They are now in individual bags in the freezer waiting for me when I need a chocolate fix. Here is the recipe for “Healthier Chocolate Zucchini Cake” just in case you’re brave enough to try it.

There are LOTS of other things to do with super ginormous zucchinis. Here is the list I compiled from all of you. Thank you so much for helping a girl out! My favorite suggestion is the last one.

  • chips
  • bread
  • zoodle/noodles
  • lasagna
  • boats
  • stuff it
  • give it to Saul and let him figure it out
  • add it to sauces
  • add olive oil and seasoning and put it on the grill
  • grate it
  • shred it
  • cube it
  • use a julienner instead of a zoodler
  • slice into long wedges and grill with lemon zest & garlic
  • cut into circles and fry with potatoes & onions
  • ratatouille
  • double chocolate no flour muffins
  • bigger zukes are better for baking, smaller ones are better for cooking
  • orange zucchini bread cake
  • fritters
  • I would peel it, cut it open, scoop out the seeds. Then I would run it through the food processor and freeze it in one cup portions to use for cakes, muffins, breads etc.
  • brownies
  • grill & sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  • BBQ – brush with chili oil! Yum!
  • Add it to risotto
  • Put it on someone else’s porch (is this kind of like how teens TP each other’s houses?)
  • zucchini hash browns
  • pickled slices
  • whole wheat muffins
  • shred & hide in meatballs and meatloaf
  • steam & toss with mozzarella and fresh basil
  • stir fry noodles
  • give it away and eat ice cream instead

Week 33 Memory Verse

A car crashes into a crowd of people standing up against white nationalist protesters.

What’s your first reaction?

Do you lash out in a flurry of hateful words over social media, adding more negativity to the situation?

Do you hide under a blanket on your couch, binge-watching Netflix so you don’t have to risk seeing more bad news?

Do you go about your daily business, but gripe every chance you get over the state of this nation and pontificate about who may or may not be responsible?

Or do you look for someone to love? Someone who may not have anything to do with what happened in Virginia, but who may feel a little better when they turn on the TV tonight because they will remember you, and know there are good people out there, too?

We have a choice.

It seems to me, humans are hard wired with two powerful character traits:

  1. We want to be in control. Take my kids for example. When they were little, I’d asked them, “Do you want to leave the park in two minutes or four minutes?” I was telling them (because I like to be in control) that we would be leaving very soon, but by allowing them to choose the exact time, they maintained control too and therefore didn’t feel the need to throw a tantrum when the four minutes were up.
  1. We are motivated by things that will ultimately benefit us. Full disclosure: I find myself buying raffle tickets sometimes for a cause that I care nothing about, just because I’m hoping to win a new boat.

Do you get my point?

When it comes to bad things in our world, those two human traits can be valuable assets.

For me, I know that when I am kind, I am in control. Even if it’s just my little spot in the world, I’m still in control of it — or at least my actions in it. When I am angry, I am reacting and letting external things control me. Which is better, maintaining the upper hand with kindness or flying off the handle? I’ll take kindness, thank you.

So what’s the benefit to being kind when it seems others are getting ahead by spewing hatred? Well, that’s where we rely on what we know instead of what we feel. We know that “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” (Proverbs 11:17 NIV)

We know it because God tells us. That’s this week’s memory verse.

I’m hoping if we commit to remembering that kind people benefit themselves then maybe we’ll choose kindness over hateful words on social media or hiding on the couch with Netflix.

Despite what you see on TV, let me assure you, there is a kindness movement happening, and it’s growing. People are realizing the best thing they can do to combat this mess is to use kindness as an offensive weapon. Not random. I’m talking about intentional kindness. That’s what will change this world. And it begins with remembering we have a choice.