Sunday, March 4, 2012

Intellectual Athletes

There are people who compete in physical games. They are called athletes. There are also people who compete in games that require very little physical activity. You may call us nerds, but I like to use the term "Intellectual Athletes." Just like physical athletes, we compete at many different levels.
 If you play Words With Friends, (like Scrabble on a phone, without all the messy pieces) you know what I'm talking about. It's the latest rage in the world of smart phone games. You can also play it on facebook. The beauty of the game is that you can have several games going at a time, or just one or two. You can play a word between classes, while cooking dinner, nursing a baby, during a bathroom break (be careful here!) or sit down and play several games at a time. You get to know who the addicts are. We recognize each other. The glazed look. The things we day dream about. "I sure hope there's a triple letter spot by an A for my Z! Or an I for my Q!" (If you've never played, you probably have that glazed look right about now.)
You can tell by the things we worry about; 'What the heck am I going to do with only consonants, or only vowels?' and our ultimate fantasies; Could you imagine being able to play JAZZ on a triple letter, triple word spot?!!! What a thrill that would be. If you play Words, you know the exact spot on the board that could happen.

Hey, why don't you start a game with me? My user name is Betsy Ball Clark.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Moth Wing Dust

I've liked makeup since I was a young girl in the back woods of Mississippi. I used to catch the moths that flew to the light in the windows. I loved the magical, metallic powder that would rub off their wings on my fingertips. Not gold or silver or bronze, but a perfect, unidentifiable mixture of all of them. Sometimes I would
use it for eyeshadow and it was the perfect color. I always thought if I ever collaborated with a makeup company, I would make a multi-faceted eyeshadow like that, and call it "Moth Wing Dust" - sort of understated and mysterious. Not like the bright wings of a butterfly, but just as beautiful in its own way.
Tonight, I painted with my daughters. My 10 year old loves to paint. She made a rose in grass, with a sun and clouds. My 4 year old made a bold page full of bright colors. I copied this moth from the pages of an old National Geographic.
Moth wing dust. God sure does make beautiful things!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Easy Gourmet Chicken

If you like the ingredients, you'll love the combination. I went to Costco one day and they were sampling a frozen meal with these ingredients. It tasted delicious, but I couldn't bring myself to buy it made. So I got the ingredients I didn't have and made this at home. Everyone in my family, from my husband to my four year old loved it! I think your family may like it too.
(Parmesan, garlic salt and Italian seasoning sprinkled underneath and on top)
2 lbs fresh chicken tenders
1 bell pepper red or yellow (cut into strips)
Marinated artichoke heart quarters (as many or few as you like)
Sliced or diced olives (I used black, I think green would be good too)
Bake at 350 'til chicken is done

I served it with sliced potatoes, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and  baked 'til partly golden on a stainless steel jelly roll pan/cookie sheet. Stir potatoes occasionally to cook evenly.

...and lightly steamed broccoli, sprinkled with garlic salt and enough shredded cheddar for flavor.

It doesn't take much time to prepare. Tonight, I cranked up the oven to 400 and put it on convection because I got a late start. It turned out great, again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


You remember the WWJD? bracelets a few years ago. The t-shirts and other paraphernalia that asked the question; "What would Jesus do?" Well, it's a good question. We live in a different age than when He came to earth. There was no internet, cell phones, landlines, or computers, or many of the things we use on a daily basis now. How would Jesus be interacting and living in today's modern world if He were here in person.

I guess that's the point. He is here in person. In us. In those who have believed in His name and received the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead. By proxy to be sure, but we represent Him. We are Him to the world. Scary in a way, isn't it? Huge responsibility.

Lately I've been hearing a new buzz question; "What did Jesus Do?" - well, that's a good question too. Instead of pondering "WWJD?" with a puzzled face as we contemplate each situation we face, we can actually go back and read the Bible and find out some of what Jesus actually did from eyewitness accounts.One passage says that if everything He did was recorded, the books would fill up the whole world.

But, I think we should ask ourselves a different question; "What Would Jesus Have Me Do?" After all, when faced with a sick person, Jesus would have healed them, When faced with a sin problem, He actually went to the cross and suffered a horrendous death and died for the sin of the whole world in order to offer salvation to each person. I simply can't do that. I am not sinless. I am one who is in need of His redemption.

Because I have received His offer of eternal life, I have the Spirit of God with the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead living in me. When He asks me to do something,  He will empower me to do it. He has specifically asked me to do many things in his Word. I am a woman, a believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a neighbor, a friend and much more. All of those relationships have specific principles and mandates that He has laid out in scripture for me. Some of them are very straightforward, but sometimes, I have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me to the right thing in a specific situation.

What Jesus would do is one thing, and what He did do is another. But my prayer is; "Jesus, what would you have me do?" Amen.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My 5 Favorite K-cups and Other Thoughts on Coffee

Almost 2 years ago, the sweetest sisters in the world (mine) got together and got me a Keurig Special Edition Brewing System. I have enjoyed the convenience of the brewer, and quality cups of coffee. If you are considering buying a brewer, talk to me first and I will try to point you in the most cost-effective direction.
There are many different companies that make the individual K-cups you use with a Keurig, and though I haven't tried every kind, I have tried quite a few, and below are my five favorites. 
First, you should know what my taste in coffee is. Everyone's is different. My kids say I'm a coffee addict, but I say I'm a coffee connoisseur. The difference being; an addict will take coffee if it's available, no matter what the quality. A connoisseur will only drink it if it's GOOD coffee (connoisseur is really just a synonym for snob). Let me clarify what I mean by good; First of all. It should be fresh. As coffee ages, it changes flavor, and not in a good way (read; "goes stale"). Once you have gotten used to drinking fresh coffee, you just might not go back. (Recently, one of my dear sisters bought me some green coffee beans and taught me how to roast it myself. You can't get any fresher than that, but that's a whole 'nother post!). Coffee in K-cup does have an expiration date, but if it's roasted and sealed fresh, the protection from oxidization helps it stay fresh longer.
Secondly, and this is a matter of my taste. I like it dark roasted, bold flavored, and smooth. I prefer caramel, brown sugar, or nutty notes. So, if that sounds good to you, I have a feeling you will like these K-cups as well.
I don't like flavored coffee for two reasons; a. It doesn't taste good to me. b. I have a theory they gather all the old nasty, poorest quality beans, and add flavor to them, and maybe that's why it doesn't taste good to me.
Another thing; I like to use sucanat in my coffee to sweeten it. Not only does it add a bit of a caramel tone, it adds a few nutrients, and I can use a few nutrients! I like half and half for cream. I'm not trying to advertise for anyone here. I get paid nothing for my opinion.
Here are some of the websites I have found to get good prices on K-cups; (look at Shofco bulk sales)and - watch for sales, and do internet searches for the best prices. Amazon sometimes has good prices too. The very best deal you can get is, when you register your brewer's guarantee at Keurig, you can buy two 24 packs, get two 24 packs free, but you want to know what you like before you order that much coffee.
Speaking of advertising, there is one brand of K-cup I will never buy. My sister says it tastes like they gathered up all the leftover beans from the garbage, mixed in a little sawdust, and packed it in a K-cup!
OK, here are the ones I LIKE, in no particular order (I don't like to play favorites!)
Tully's Italian Roast
Coffee People's Black Tiger
Wolfgang Puck's French Roast
Coffee People's Jet Fuel
Emeril's Big Easy Bold (Big Easy Intense)
Yep, they are good cups of coffee. I hope you can find your favorites. Comment and tell me what they are and why. I love to read your thoughts!
In the picture you can see my journal and my study guide for the next Women's LifeGroup study at Seacoast Church, Greensboro. I love that group!
I think I'm a little A.D.D., or maybe it's just the caffeine.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Growing Your FaithThrough Fiction

When I was a child, my mother made the first order of every day to read a portion of God's Word. It was a habit that my parents thought would benefit me for the rest of my life. They believed that God of the Bible is the source of all truth and the that Bible is His specific revelation of Himself and His purposes for human kind. Over the years I have studied and searched for myself, and have come to believe this as well.
However, part of my journey, (a very influential part), was the writing of great thinkers like C. S. Lewis and George MacDonald.
As a side note, the writings of George MacDonald were a great influence in Lewis's personal journey of faith along with the writings of G. K. Chesterton. (His book, "The Everlasting Man" led Lewis to take the final step in becoming a Christian).
Yet, it's not the deep, intellectually challenging writings of these men that have influenced me, but rather their fictional writings. Though my faith was born on the revelation in the Bible, and the testimony of my parents, it grew much on the fictional fantasy writings of these two men (Lewis and Macdonald). "The Chronicles of Narnia" (Lewis) "Lilith", "The Princess and the Goblin" "At the Back of the North Wind" (Macdonald) and others.
As an adult, it seems I have lost the childhood wonder of these imaginary worlds, which I believe in some ways reflect more vividly the realities of the spiritual world than our day to day thought processes in neatly packaged boxes usually allow for.
Perhaps my caution to assure the truth and theological accuracy have stolen some of the wonder. I don't want to compromise truth. Yet I know that I have nearly strangled out my ability to write creatively. Maybe I have given in too easily to the constraints of daily life. I have sought discipline to the death of creativity, and ended up with neither.
Their writing didn't shape my theological or philosophical understanding of life, but I grew in faith and passion because of them.
I love what Chesterton says about his success;

I think I owe my success [as a journalist] to having listened respectfully and rather bashfully to the very best advice, given by all the best journalists who had achieved the best sort of success in journalism; and then going away and doing the exact opposite…I have a notion that the real advice I could give to a young journalist is simply this: to write an article for the Sporting Times and one for the Church Times and put them in the wrong envelopes. . . What is really the matter with almost every paper, is that it is much too full of things suitable to the paper.
G.K. Chesterton
Maybe I'm just a rebel after all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

I keep hearing on the radio; "Christmas is not a joyful time for many people, for many it is a time of sorrow or difficulty."
I can relate to that. Christmas every year is a challenge in some way. The holidays bring to mind memories of someone that we once loved who is no longer in our lives, or possibilities that never came to fruition and broke our hearts. I have friends who are facing the death of a loved one, the terrifying illness of a child, life without a job and no hope of one in sight, broken relationships that tear at the heart and steal our joy; and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
All of these painful things can lead us to our knees to cry out to the One who said that He came that we might have life, and might have it more abundantly. He came to offer us true hope in a broken world.
He came to a young, unmarried girl, who faced hardship at every turn, and ultimately the death of her young (33 yr. old) son. Her first response was one of total submission to the will of her heavenly Father, no matter what difficulty it brought to her life. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."
How could she respond with such abandon? Sure, she was to be the mother to the promised, long awaited, and anticipated Messiah, but it was to come with unspeakable difficulty!
Being an instrument for God's use requires that I give up my own plan and agenda, and allow God to replace it with His. God never forces Himself or His will on us. He invites us to be part of His big, beautiful story. A story often full of pain on this earth, but with an eternal reward that will make every moment of suffering worth it all! Will I choose obedience that leads to joy? Will I have eternity in view? Mary did.
Merry Christmas every one!