Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Double the Meat Stuffed Jalapenos


A few thanksgivings back, I had PW had some Jalapeño Poppers in her current cookbook that I wanted to try. I was assembling them in my parents kitchen with my chef brother right next to me, which always puts me at a little disadvantage at showing how great of a cook I pretend to be. He graciously showed me how to use the spoon to scrape out the seeds so I didn’t have to use my poor little fingers to do it. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I eat a lot of spicy things, but the seeds have never really bothered my skin. Now, my eyes? That’s a different story all together for another day.

The nice little poppers were a big hit that day and I’ve pretty much been making them the same way ever since - cream cheese, bacon, jalapenos.

Somewhere along the way, I started brushing the tops with a little BBQ sauce, trying to get a sweet-spicy thing going on. The BBQ sauce also makes the bacon extra crispy - because who wants soggy bacon? NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND, y'all.


But now I have this friend, and she loves to cook just like I do - and she is dang good at it. She tries new recipes and we both love a good appetizer (dips are our specialty). It so happens that she makes jalapeño poppers too. I’ve eaten hers for years as well; they were always a big hit at parties (especially with this jalapeno lover), but I had never thought to ask what was actually in them.

During Christmas time this year, Jeff requested that Julie bring her ‘famous jalapeño poppers’ on Christmas Eve (obviously they were more memorable than mine - you'll see why in a sec), but since they were coming in from out of town, she had to send us the list of her ingredients so he could go grab them for her. As I started to assemble the ingredients for her, I was surprised to learn that hers didn't include bacon - I had never thought about it before. That night they were super delicious, of course, but my mind stirred a bit.

I had already planned on making my original jalapeno poppers for Christams night dinner with at my parent's house, but what if I ended up mashing up Julie’s jalapeños with mine?
 
How does that saying go? Two heads are better than one?? That’s how this recipe got made. Not to brag, y'all, but my brother (remember, he's a real-deal chef), called them legit and went back for thirds. 

I’m sort of reluctant to share our party food with y’all though, because chances are either Julie and I  are taking something to a party, it is going to be these. We call dibs. 


DOUBLE THE MEAT STUFFED JALAPENOS

Ingredients
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage (regular, not spicy)
Cream Cheese (just swallow your pride and buy the regular kind, not the low fat)
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 package Center Cut Bacon (the shorter pieces)
10 large jalapeños, cut in half and seeded
1/4 c BBQ Sauce
Cilantro for garnish, optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil for quick clean up.

Brown and crumble breakfast sausage in large skillet. Drain off excess grease, return to pan and turn off heat.

Cube cream cheese and throw it in the pan with the hot sausage. Add cheddar cheese and stir until it’s all creamy and melted goodness. TIP :: After you throw the cheese in there, put the lid on and let it get toasty in there for a bit before mixing it. If you need to turn the heat on low to get it all melted, go for it!

Meanwhile, seed your jalapenos. To seed them, you want to slice the ends off and then cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon and scrape out the insides into a bowl or the trash can. If you like a little heat, you don't have to be super intentional with this. But if you are skeerrred of some heat, get it all out! 

Lay out all of your jalapeno halves and your bacon strips. I like to make an assembly line next to the stove. Cream cheese mixture, jalapenos, bacon, baking sheet. 

Now it's time to assemble! Using the same spoon, scoop some of the cream cheese mixture into the jalapenos. When they are all filled, wrap the back all the way around the jalapeno, leaving the ends on the bottom or tucking them under the pieces of bacon. Place assembled jalapenos on the baking tray. 

Brush each jalapeno with some warmed BBQ sauce.  (This is the secret ingredient, y'all!)

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. Turn the broiler on high and broil for 5-8 minutes, until  bacon is nice and crispy! Top with chopped cilantro and an extra drizzle of BBQ sauce to make them look all dressed up for a party!

Monday, February 20, 2017

STOP Believing Those Lies!


Have you ever found yourself repeating words in your head that started out as a lie but now you are wondering if they’re true? When people call you names do you think, “wow, maybe that is right - maybe I really am like that?”

A few years ago, I got wind that a friend had suggested I was a less-than-friendly type of person. The reason it stung so badly was because I felt like I was actually going out of my way in that particular friendship. It was exactly the opposite of how I felt about myself, and what truly was in my heart.

Instead of reaching out to her, I shrunk back and became bitter. Those words continued to ring in my ears for the better part of two years. It filtered into all of my friendships - old and new. I stopped reaching out to old friends because I had convinced myself that it would never be good enough. I shrunk back from new friendships telling myself “what is the point.” 

I let her words fill my soul.

Have you ever been there?  Has there been a time in your life when you allowed someone else’s words to define who you are? Do you feel stuck there like I did? Let me encourage you today, you do not have to stay there!

Listen, words are powerful. A friend’s words are mighty when they lift us up, affirm us and encourage us. There is nothing like hearing from someone you love that you can, in fact, keep going. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, a friend’s words - or even someone you barely know, for that matter - can remain in your ears for a long time when the words were meant to tear you down.

I let this woman’s words echo in my heart for entirely too long. When that happens, the words begin to snowball and become way bigger (and worse) than they originally were. No matter how long I tried on my own to fight it, they began to define who I was. 


God is so good, and I knew deep down that this yucky person I had built myself up in my mind to be, wasn’t truly who I was. When I finally decided to get a grip, put my big girl panties on and be done with it, I had to realize that this was not her fault. It was mine. And I needed to take ownership of that. The ugly that was filling my soul was MY junk, not just her words. Just to be clear, this was - and still is - a tremendous battle for me. It was not as if a switch flipped and I just felt better, it remains a struggle to this day. 

Satan would love it if he could kill us with our own thoughts, y'all. He would love nothing more than to take one simple sentence that someone said way back when to torture us into thinking we are not worthy to see the light of day, let alone approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Truth be told, when this friend's words rocked me to my core, I was still grieving from my miscarriage. Don't think that was a coincidence, y'all. Satan knew exactly what he was doing, just like he still knows exactly what he's doing. He is crafty and he wants you and he wants me and he wants any woman who's heart is after the Lord. He wants to discourage us and beat us down and make it all seem so real and hard-core and bigger and badder than these simple words were ever intended to be. 

The only way I have found to consistently combat Satan in my thought life is to replace those words with His Truth.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

This verse has become a qualifier when thoughts begin to rage in my head. I ask myself: Is it true? Is it lovely? Does it bring honor to myself or that person? If the answer is no, I begin to repeat that verse over and over until my thoughts move on to something else. In my head, y'all - no one likes a crazy person! It sounds so simple, but make no mistake that this is still a hard discipline to put into practice!

Sweet women of the Lord, can we not only work to be gentler with our words but stronger in our sense of self? Can we look for ways to shake Satan loose and inform him of who we are in Jesus?

No matter what words were said or what lies were spread, the Truth is that we are daughters of the King who is not shaken by this world, those words or our lies.

We are loved, we are worthy, we are unashamed and we are His. This is the Truth y’all. No one and no one’s words can take this away from us. May we live in these truths this week!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Letting Go at 35


I have been forewarned by several people in my life that 35 is a rough birthday. I guess that's the good thing about being the youngest in your group of friends - these wise souls have gone before me and can tell me what to expect when I get there. I say that with a smile on my face because I love being the youngest. I love looking forward with them and being challenged with how they are living out their lives. I love being the youngest.


But this youngest friend is turning one year older in a few months (exactly two) and I've been doing a slight bit of reflecting on life. The things that I love, the things that I want to change. Mostly, I have no regrets - I don't really look back and think "I wish I had done ___" but I do do a whole lot of dreaming about the future. I might not have regrets, but I do want to make some changes - and if there's any time to make adjustments - it's a milestone birthday.

So here we go.

5 Thinks that I want to let go of at 35.

1. My 25 year old, pre-kids body image.

It’s not even about weight, y’all. It’s NOT. (wink face, hand on my hips). It’s about this image I have in my mind of what I looked like when I was 25. How unreasonable is it for me to think I should still look like that! Of course I look different now! Who wouldn’t look different with 10,000 more miles and 3 kids and 10 more years of marriage under their belt? (The secret answer here is someone who has had major plastic surgery and botox, but that's neither here nor there for the time being).

I want to let go of that image. I want to stop trying to “get back there” and instead journey forward to wellness, whatever that might look like on my 35 year old body.

2. Fear of Offending Others.

I’ve only recently realized that my fear of offending others has held me back from many friendships over the years. In an effort to not put myself out there, I generally say nothing at all which then makes me seem like someone I’m not. I want to thoughtfully mean what I say and say what I mean. I want to love others well - this includes the people who are hard to love.

By letting go of this fear, I can diversify my friendships, my Christian walk and my parenting style. This is by no means an effort to say whatever is on my mind without thinking about others' feelings. This is all to say that I don't want to supress the Holy Spirit anymore. I want Him to fill my mouth, my heart and my actions and remove all fear.

3. Striving for Perfection in our Marriage

For too long, I have tried for "the perfect marriage" instead of the best marriage I can have. I am letting go of the idea of perfect because our marriage, with the mess and the love, the fullness, the disagreements, the makeups, the imperfect child-rearing and the falling asleep in the first 15 minutes of a movie that drives me nuts…. that kind of marriage stretches me, y'all. It makes me better. It spurs me on not only in my walk with the Lord but also in my walk toward my husband. It endears him to me and me to him.

It is not my goal in life to be comfortable. I don't want an easy life (on most days). I want a life that points me to the Father and I am so grateful I get to walk with Jeff on that path. Gosh, I am humbled thinkng of how God ordained our marriage. How dare I think that it's not enough?

I will strive to be consistently content with the state of marriage. The easy and hard times. The pretty and the ugly. I will serve Jeff more and let go of selfishness.



4. “My” Time

At some point after having kids, I started to refer to certain hours of the day as “my time”. I know that any momma out there knows exactly what I'm talking about.  We all need it - especially those of us who are introverts, but over the years I have begun to get irritated when My Time is interrupted. I’ve so fiercely guarded this that when the kids come down stairs too early the first thing they hear is me hollering “it’s not time!” I hate that, y'all!!

I will let go of it being “my” time and realize it’s all HIS time. That does NOT mean that I will give up getting up early and setting aside time for myself to write, pray, think and paint. It just means that if (and when) it gets interrupted or needs to take a back seat for my kids, for a sick neighbor or a household chore to get done, I don’t want it to make or break my whole day.

5. Keeping Houseplants Alive

It’s gut-check time, y’all, and this is an area that has frustrated me for 15 years! I have grown a relatively green thumb when it comes to plants outside, but when it comes to the plants I have inside, y’all, I just kill them. There is the rare exception (the plant that has miraculously stayed alive for over a year) but for the most part, they just die a sad and slow death.

The thing is that IKEA has really cheap house plants. And so do Home Depot and Lowe’s. So instead of forsaking all things green and alive in my house, and instead of getting worked up and frustrated when things look sickly and die, I’m just going to set aside some time and money to be able to replace them when they die. It may seem like a terrible waste of money, but it is proven to make the air in your house cleaner. Or something like that. And it helps in the winter time with a mood boost.

As I grow older (and wiser), I want to be able to make adjustments in my life for the better. I want to easily let go of things that aren’t working and welcome new ideas that add to our quality of life. God is so gracious to grant me another year on this precious earth to live for His glory, so why would I want to live anything short of all out?!

Do you have anything you want to let go of this year? Anything new that you are adding into your routine? I would love to hear about it! It might be just the thing I need!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Texas Chili (AKA the BEST kind of Chili)


One of our very favorite things to make when Jeff is traveling is our Texas Chili. It’s great when it’s cold and gray outside, but the kids and I have been known to make it even in warmer weather because we love it that much.

I know, I’m surprised that they like it too, especially since they are SUCH picky eaters… but we started out by telling them that it was “chili salsa” and it was for you to dip your fritos in. (I really feel like I need to insert all of the laughing-till-you-cry emojis right here.)

So, what is Texas Chili? How is it different than regular chili? Oh, sweet friend. The saying is true - everything is bigger and better in Texas, y’all. Including the chili.

Why muddle up all of that beautiful beef and sausage with BEANS???? Traditional “Texas Chili” does not include those mushy beans!! And once you try it, you'll never want beans in your chili again!

It’s best served with crushed regular fritos on top, a little sharp cheddar and some cilantro…. and then the big fritos scoops on the side. Just sayin’. But you can eat it without all the carbs if you want… but why would you do that to yourself??



Little Branches Texas Chili

4 strips of bacon, diced
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb spicy Jimmy Dean sausage
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves minced garlic 
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can Rotel
1 6 oz can tomato paste
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs oregano
2 tbs cumin
2 tbs ancho chili pepper
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs paprika
1 tsp cayenne 
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (secret ingredient)
1 12 ounce can beer

Heat large dutch oven (or stock pot) over medium heat. I like to lightly spray mine with cooking spray before I get started, but that's up to you - and your pot. Throw in the bacon and crisp it up a bit until it's nicely brown. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Brown ground beef and sausage. The last few minutes - when it's just barely still pink - throw in the garlic and onion so they can brown up, get super yummy smelling and marry all the flavors together right quick.

Drain it all off.

Return beef, sausage, onions, garlic and bacon to the pot over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Give a good, healthy stir. Bring the mixture to a light boil then turn to low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Or all day. Whatever. Just let those flavors get all good and comfortable together.

You will need to adjust seasonings according to your likening throughout cooking. I almost always go back and add more cayenne, pepper and salt. But you once it gets too spicy or too salty then you're up a creek without a paddle, so I tend to start with a less is more attitude until I get further down in cooking.

Serve it up with fritos, sour cream, bacon crumbles, cheddar cheese, guac, avocado.... I mean, the toppings are endless! More is more, baby.

Enjoy!













Monday, February 13, 2017

Easy Tips for a Better Winter


January and February are usually rough spots for me during the year. When the darkness of the cold weather + the very short days combine, they make a truly lethal combination for my spirit. It’s a real thing, y’all. Depression comes over me year after year during these months and I feel like I'm walking in a perpetual spirit of gloominess.

It actually IS a thing… SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Since I went to school for interior design (did y’all know that?), I studied it in school. And I know other people that experience the same thing - maybe you do too - but I’ve recently recognized that I go through this every single year.

So every year, I gear myself up in the cheerful month of December for the next January, knowing I’m headed into a little dark period. But this year it hasn’t hit me NEARLY as hard as it usually does, even with the hard of a traveling husband and the hard of three kids (and a toddler that is going to make me lose my ever-loving mind eventually). I've implemented a few strategies this go around that have helped me tremendously, and I hope will do the same thing if you struggle with this same sense of winter gloom.



SUNSHINE

This momma loves herself some sunshine. I mean, hello, I live in Texas where the sun is hot and the kids are always barefoot. We do have a few GORGEOUS days in January and February, followed by ice storms that leave us stuck inside for 3 days, but the gorgeous days DO come. So this year I’ve decided to stop W H A T E V E R my plans are for those days and spend a significant time outside soaking up the sunshine.

We’ll walk to the park, ride bikes in the cul-de-sac, meet up with friends to play in their driveway or simply pull out sidewalk chalk and play in the backyard. This Vitamin D has played a significant role in carrying my mood from a gorgeous day into a gloomy one.

Side note for those of you who don't get Texas winter weather :: these gorgeous days aren’t all good, because it makes me forget about homework, throw caution to the wind and declare that it’s almost summertime, so forget about nightly reading… oops. I may be a rule follower, but I do get a little adventurous like that sometimes



EXERCISE

Alright, so this one might be a no-brainer for y’all, but for me it is a freakin' beat-down. Of course, I know it's good for me physically but I just haven't ever been able to wrap my mind around consistently sacrificing time to do it. But a wise woman one stated that “exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make people happy... and happy people don’t just kill people.” Thank you, Elle Woods.
Unfortunately for me, though, she’s right. Let's boil it down to this : People who exercise don't kill people. And there are a lot of people in my life who might be a lot happier if I exercised. Happy people don’t just kill people. PTL.

Over the past month and a half I’m gone from exercising occasionally - think, once or twice a MONTH - to exercising 4-6 times a week. You might be sitting there with a baby in your lap reading this and thinking - OUT. But if I can do it - you can do it too. I am a total exerciseophobic (totally not a word, y'all). I hate it all. Everything about it. I have found, though, that it is totally doable for a stay at home mom and it doesn’t require you getting up at the crack of dawn either. As much as I want to have those excuses, I just can't anymore.

This is a HUGE mood-booster. I hate to admit it, but now as much as I hate the time it takes for me to workout, I look forward to the feeling afterward. And when I get to run outside, it’s the BEST, because I'm killing two birds with one stone.

INFUSING GREEN

So this might be the biggest secret for me, a home-maker, this year. I've spent about $25 and bought myself several small-ish houseplants. They'll probably end up in the trash can, sad and lonely in a month or two, but for now, they bring our house so much joy and LIFE in the dead of winter. 

I look outside our big windows and even on a beautiful sunny day, it's brown and dead outside. I see twigs and brown grass. But inside? That's another story. My eyes can hit on plant after plant... green grass. New leaves. Beautiful life happening right inside this little coffee cup. It is the best $25 I've ever spent. Now every room has at least one plant... maybe two. This will be a game changer for those of you who need a little life-giving jolt this winter!


Do you struggle with feeling SAD in the dead of winter?? (See what I did there?) I think it's completely normal, scientifically proven and probably easier to deal with if we acknowledge it! I hope you find these simple and easy tips to be helpful mood boosters!! Let me know if you try them and how they work out for you!!! 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Meal Time Struggles


Y’all. 

Meal time at our house right now looks like a scene taken directly out of Looney Toons. Food is flying everywhere, it’s loud and little people are complaining. In fact, I cringe every afternoon when the bigs ask “what’s for dinner?” 

My answer is almost always I haven’t decided yet. Not because I actually haven’t decided but because I don’t want to tell them only to then listen to complaining until dinner time. 

There are three kids and a traveling husband, so often it’s just us four for dinner. Only one adult generally equals kid food being made, am I right? I could make peanut butter and jelly for dinner every night (last night we did have sandwiches), maybe alternate it with a little cereal here and there. Iff you follow me on Insta though, you know that I love to cook, and that is where I have a problem. 

My oldest will eat all fruits and most veggies. He likes his chicken and beef plain but does not like bread, pastas or cheese (not my child).

My middle child (sweet girl), eats just about anything - at least I should say she tries everything. She is my people pleaser but at least I know that when she says she doesn’t like something, she means it. I have to push to get her to eat her nutritious stuff because she will lean toward bread, pasta and cheese but will eat the good stuff eventually (my child).

My third child - God, love him - is by far the pickiest eater in the entire world. There are three things he will eat. Macaroni and Cheese (blue box only), Crunchy Carbs (cereal, veggie straws, etc.) and Squeezie Applesauce. That. is. it. Kill me now, y’all. 

If you haven’t noticed, there is not much that I can make that fits in all three of their categories - let alone is still something that I would enjoy eating. So we have laid down some extremely hard-core, off the wall rules when it comes to meal time. 

Eat your food. 

Boom. It’s life changing, isn’t it? That’s our rule. Eat it. Or don’t. But you better not be asking for anything else (until daddy comes hime with ice cream sundaes - his love language).

Y’all, it’s so bad with our littlest one that we cheered and high - fived him when he put a meatball in his mouth!!! (He spit it right back out, but trying it is progress!!!!)

Do you struggle at all with meal-time? (If you don’t, please don’t respond, because it is official - I do not want to be your friend.) If you have kids of any kind, I know you have to be here some days. There have been several instances where I’ve tried to put my best foot forward, tried to make a meal that should definitely make everyone happy. Only to end the meal in tears and frustration (on my part) and a mess left in the kitchen to clean up. 


In an effort to encourage myself, and perhaps you, I wanted to write down a few things that  seem to be helping as we push through this food fighting season in our family. 

1. Meal Planning. I mean, this is key. I created a pinterest board of Kid-Friendly recipes that look to be somewhat healthy, but also delicious and might please more than one of my children. This is not an easy game, but someone’s got to play.

2. Grocery Shopping according to the meal plan. My new favorite trick is Walmart online grocery shopping! (Kroger offers it in limited locations too!) I can avoid picking up anything I don’t actually need, I can check my pantry as I make my list and I know exactly how much I’m spending. The BEST thing is that I avoid having to fight my youngest in the cart for an hour! Busy Women - this will be life changing. 

3. Always offering all the food. I generally make three choices to be on the plate. Mostly, I portion everything out pretty small because I want them to eat everything before they get more of what I know they like. I also like to make at least one thing that I know they will eat, with the exception of my youngest. He just gets what he gets. He’s not always going to have a crunchy carb or mac and cheese on his plate. It’s just not going to happen. There are many nights that he goes to bed without actually eating anything. My doctor’s okay with that, and so am I. 

My big kids are required to take three bites of everything - and mostly they don’t fight that anymore. Consistency is key. And I do bribe. I'm not above that. 

I am concerned about everyone’s nutrition though, including my own. Recently, I have been introduced to the Honest Company’s DHA Supplement for babies and their Prenatal Daily Vitamins. I absolutely love the Honest Company - and everything they make! I wish they had the DHA Supplement when my kids were babies. Their one-a-day prenatal is one that doesn't make my tummy hurt, so they get a GOLD STAR in my book! These are such good ways to get nutrition in our diet even when our mealtimes are completely off!


4. Chill out. This one is the hardest thing for me to wrap my brain around, y’all. I am totally okay with my kids not eating - they have delicious food in front of them and if they choose not to eat enough then so be it. However, I do tend to get worked up (you could call it frustrated) when there is complaining at the table. What I hope to get into my thick skull one day is that it’s okay. Even in teaching moments like these, they are just kids and I can’t make them not be picky eaters. That is not in my control, y’all. I have a funny feeling that if I would just loosen up, maybe they would too. 

Do you have any mealtime tips with kiddos (or a picky hubby)? I would LOVE to hear them!! Next week I’ll share a few reader tips that we get!

The Honest Co. inspired me to write a post about eating healthy as a family! Thank you, Honest Co., for allowing me to partner with you!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Love



"Vindicate the weak and the fatherless. Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked." Psalm 83:3-4

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last several months, you have noted that the amount of finger pointing from one corner to another has escalated to an all time high. Elected officials, along with appointed ones, are having their character questioned, having to defend their life choices and are being berated for not agreeing with the supposed "majority" of Americans at every turn. 

Forgive me for saying this, but I think most people - even the ones who do not agree with your "side" - are just trying to do the best they can. I know that I am biased, and there are definitely some people who deserve their character to be questioned, believe me, I know that, but it also tears my heart in two when I read hateful words toward men and women who are sacrificing a tremendous amount to serve us and fight on our behalf. 

Besides, I really hate to break it to you, but Government programs, border control, open borders, Medicaid, homeless shelters will never be the solution to the worlds problems. Can they assist? For sure. But they are not, and never will be, the answer. We are. 

God isn't telling the government to rescue the weak and the needy. He is telling us to. 

So, let me ask a hard question of all us. What are we doing ... what are we actually doing ... to rescue the weak and the needy? Call me crazy, but I don't think posting articles and throwing bombs on twitter and Facebook is doing much more than stirring the pot.

Can I challenge us to get a little more uncomfortable than sitting behind a computer lashing out at the world? To be a little more radical in our efforts than just sending a letter to our congressman about the refugee crisis or securing our borders? What can we do to actually create change in this heated political climate?

It might be quite simple. 

Be a good neighbor. No, be a great neighbor.

As Christians, we are certainly called to care for global missions and fight for injustices overseas and even at our borders. But not at the expense of fighting for the people right next door. 

We are willing to fight on behalf of refugees who are living in war torn countries, but are we even halfway interested in fighting for the neighbor down the street going through a terrible divorce and perhaps depression? We are willing to fight for our borders to be open to everyone, but are we willing to open our homes to a Muslim family in our neighborhood for dinner? Are we really just hypocrites who want to appear like we love everyone but really, when it comes down to it, aren't willing to sacrifice any of our own money or time or resources to love the people 100 feet away? 

Who have we become? What have we become?

Whether you are for open or closed borders, whether you fight for life or for choice, whether you live in the inner city or a posh suburban neighborhood, we can all choose to love our neighbors.

What if we, the church, began to build communities of great neighbors? How can all of this hateful mud-slinging NOT be silenced? Just think about it. We can start to see people for who they are, not just what they do or don't stand for. We can begin see past skin color or religious background when we invite them into our homes and we go into theirs. 

And it can all start with the church.

Love is patient when the neighbor doesn't even make eye contact with you. Love is kind when someone has a baby and needs a meal and a hug. Love is not boastful or proud or rude when a family members lays into you about their opposing political viewpoint. Love does not act unbecomingly when a new friend inserts themselves in your business. Love is not provoked with family drama. Love rejoices in the Truth and it never fails. 

Love loves. Love seeks to understand. Love endures. Love bears all things, even the hard ones. 


Love isn't the absence of borders or the presence of them. Love is listening, cherishing and serving. Love is actually seeing someone... no matter what color, what religion, what political party. Love is pushing past all of that, intentionally and deliberately to just be a friend. 

Scripture never tells believers that we will agree on everything. In fact, it is full of conflict resolution, as well as unresolved conflict. It does, however, tell us to love our neighbor as ourself and to stop throwing these dang stones at one another. 

Think about the revolution that could happen if we started today. Think about one person that needs love today and go to them. Don't wait for a refugee to come to your door, it probably won't happen. But that neighbor needs hope today and it can come from you. 

It will be a love revolution. 

Let's start today. 


 

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