I’m Baaaaaaaack.

WHAT?  How can two years have passed since I last blogged?  Oh. my.  goodness.  Time to get rolling again in the blogosphere.  Hallelujah for the desire to write has returned!  WOOT!

For those of  you who’ve so kindly asked about my blog:  as you can see, my posts at this blog address are few.  My previous blog address is this:  http://debrareno.blogspot.com/  There is a plethora of posts from long ago…seems like a galaxy far, far away.  Thanks for reading!

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Live Like a Shotputter…

Today I Facebook messaged with an amazing friend who is struggling with many things.  Our interchange got me to thinking about how I handle heartaches and burdens in my life.   It pressed me to do some study and I was so greatly encouraged.  I wrote this to my friend, but I could have been writing it to myself because I needed to be reminded of these things too.

Oh, dear Friend..  You are bearing quite a load. My heart is heavy for all that you are carrying.  And even though the road that you are on right now is not an easy one, the Lord is gently leading you through it.

Would you take some time to cogitate on Who you know the Lord to be…on how He has come through over and over and over for you in the past…Who you’ve seen Him to be with your very own eyes and heart? I know when I am overwhelmed by life, my sight can be distracted and arrested by my burdens… I need His help to choose to be looking at Him and Who He is.  What is His Character?  Ask yourself:

  • Does the Lord love me?
  • How much does He love me?
  • Does He see me?
  • Does He see where I have been, where I am, where I am going?

I want to encourage you to cast (violently hurl away from you) your cares purposefully, one by one on the Lord.  You are not made to carry all of this.  You are made to live like a
shot-putter….hold the weight only long enough to fling it as far from you as you can!  Watch this video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5jpErXKvwg …especially the slow-mo of the guy at 4:07.  He uses everything he has to fling that thing away.

It’s not like your cares are not legitimate:  health issues, income  issues, parenting issues.  These ARE HUGE and must seem overwhelming!  This  devotional has some good words in it and encouraged me this morning:


Peter was not writing his letters to people who just had trouble with hangnails or bad hair days….their cares were life & death issues!

I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, but the solutions that the Lord has for you are going to be amazing.  Jesus has every need of yours carefully and attentively provided for.  He actually lined up this provision even before you knew you would have the need.

Are you afraid of missing the will of God?  When it comes to the will of the Lord, which one of you wants to find it the most?  It’s not your husband and it’s not you…it’s
Jesus, Himself.  He is not going to let you miss it, if you continuously give yourself completely to Him.  But He never said:  “In this world, you’ll have it easy.”  In fact, He assured us that in this world we WILL have tribulation (John 16:33).  He also said that His yoke was easy and His burden light…IF IF IF we come to Him when we are weary and overburdened and take the rest He offers (Matthew 11:28-30).

Imagine your little child coming to you and saying:  ‘Mommy, I’m  worried that we might not have enough to eat next week.’  You might tell her to let you take care of that.  You might remind her that there has never been a reason in her past to worry about that.  You would tell her that you love her and that she needs to remember how much you love her. You’d probably say that her Mama is going to make sure she has everything  that she needs…you would reminder her that you are characterized by your care for her every need….  And doesn’t your care for your children pale in comparison to the Lord’s care for you?

Have you read this story about Corrie ten Boom?  When she was a very little girl and she  used to travel with her dad by train to nearby cities to pick up parts for her dad’s watch and clock repair business:

…And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”   He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case and set it on the floor.  Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.  It’s too heavy,” I said.  Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you
must trust me to carry it for you.”

I think it’s the same with the worries of our lives:  even though the Lord has allowed all of these things into your life right now, He’s not asking you to CARRY them.  “… you must
trust Me to carry it for you.”

This is Jesus’ message to you today:  look to Me.  Find your rest in Me.  I have every detail handled. Don’t focus on the future.  You have only this hour…you don’t even have  tonight…let alone next month or next year.  Just do the next thing that comes to your
hand.   AND, be open to possibilities and dreams that you have not allowed yourself to hope for because of financial & other constraints.

Here’s my prayer for you today from Ephesians 3:

14…I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

And here is God’s command to you:  “So do not fear, for I am with
you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and
help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

Enjoy today.  This is the day He has made for you and for His glory.  And look for the Lord’s many reminders/surprises of His love for you. It’s okay…no, it’s more than okay, it’s your DESTINY to be in this process, this struggle.  God’s not annoyed with you for trying to work it all out.  His love for you is more that you can imagine in your wildest dreams.

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Comfort Food…for Summer?

It might seem an unlikely time of year to be writing about making a stew and brownies when we Nebraskans are (FINALLY!) making the transition from turtlenecks to tank tops. Most of us are planting our tomatoes and discussing grilling, salad recipes, new ways to serve corn on the cob and the art of homemade ice cream.

Here’s why I’m posting these recipes now: I’ve recently reconnected with a high school classmate of mine, Jaletta Albright Desmond, retired broadcast journalist and presently a self-syndicated columnist from beautiful North Carolina. I’m thrilled to be back in touch! After noticing that quite a high percentage of my Facebook statuses concern food, Jaletta questioned me about my love for cooking and feeding people. It was great food for thought (hah!). It was good to cogitate and ‘chat’ about how food is so much more than fuel for our bodies…that it is a large part of relational connection in our culture and can even have spiritual connections. (Is that too weird to say?)

Anywhosit, when I think on all things culinary, I’m reminded of the many kind souls who have taught me and have shared their recipes with me. The two I think of first are my mothers (Mom, Judi Curtis and Mom-in-law, Karen Reno). I’m thankful for their encouragement and their patient teaching. Following are two of our family’s very favorite recipes. I’ve probably made each fifty times over the last two decades but they were tried
and true long before they came to my hands.

Before we get to the recipes, though, let me say for the benefit of any kitchen-newbies that might be reading: when you are learning to cook the details of recipes are often crucially important. The order that you combine the ingredients is often critical. If the recipe gives a
recommendation about the temperature of your ingredients, it is often key to a good result. The consistency of your end product could and probably will be compromised if you choose not to do it the way it is written. Like your mama always told you: ‘Follow directions’!  Just sayin’. Okay, here are the recipes:


(Thusly named because they pack well and hit the spot on some of our camping adventures. Also highly recommended for care packages for college students and  military personnel!)

2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder*

1 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter (no substitutes)

2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt in microwave: cocoa and butter. Let cool for 2-3 minutes. Stir in sugar and salt. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one BUT DO NOT BEAT. This would make the brownies dry and tough. Add flour, stirring only until mixed. Add vanilla and nuts. Bake 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

*You may substitute 4 ounces of unsweeted chocolate for the cocoa powder and decrease the butter to 1 cup, if you’d like. Melt the butter & chocolate together. Proceed with the recipe as above.



2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds beef chuck cut in 1″ cubes*

1 medium onion, sliced

4 cups water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

pinch allspice

1 teaspoon sugar

6 carrots, sliced

4 potatoes, quartered

3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add in beef cubes and onions. Stir and cook until meat is browned. (Doesn’t have to be cooked all the way, just give it a bit of color.) Add water, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper,allspice, and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer for two hours. Remove the bay leaves.

Turn heat up to medium high until mixture boils again. Add vegetables, reduce heat to low,  cook an additional twenty minutes. Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water and stir into boiling stew to thicken liquid.

We often make the dumpling recipe on the back of the Bisquick package to go with this stew.  Place the dumpling dough on top of the boiling stew after popping in the veggies.

8 servings. Doubles/triples easily for feeding large groups.

* I’ve made this many times with venison roast or steak. YUM.

**This makes a great meal to take to someone who’s ill or just had a baby or lost a loved one. I often cook two pots of this stew at once. One I serve our family for dinner. The other pot I remove from the heat after the simmering-for-two-hours stage. Cool completely. Remove bay leaves. Pour into a freezer zip top bag. Freeze until you need it. When you
decide to use it, thaw overnight in the fridge (put in a bowl in case your bag leaks as it thaws.) Pour contents of freezer bag into a pot, bring to a boil, continue with the recipe. Can be frozen for up to 6 months. (I have not frozen it with the dumplings or the veggies in it…I think the freezing and thawing process would make the consistency of the dumplings and the potatoes to be much less palatable.)

My thanks to my friend, Jaletta, for her thought-provoking queries.  Here’s a little info on what she is up to nowadays:

Jaletta Albright Desmond

Faith, Family and Cultural Issues Columnist


Jaletta@earexperts.com (private business)

jdesmond@bdtonline.com (published)



304.320.7867 (cell)

18544 River Ford Drive,

Davidson, North Carolina 28036


Bluefield Daily Telegraph (WV)

Commonwealth Journal (KY)

DavidsonNews.net (NC)

Delaware Gazette (OH)

Paducah Sun (KY)

Register-Herald (WV)

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