If you ask anyone who knows me, you would find out quickly that I am not a middle-of-the-road kind of person. God made me to be an all-or-nothing kind of person. When I’m involved with something, my whole heart is into it; whether it is rooting for the RED SOX, studying the Bible concerning a specific book or topic, learning about food and wine pairings, or grilling a steak to perfection. Whatever the activity, I give it my full attention. I tell people, I work hard…when I work, that is. If all this is true, why on earth am I being pushed by my youngest sister down the middle of the road, in a small beach community, on the Oregon Coast? The answer is simple. I am left-handed.
Being a southpaw, I have trouble following rules that do not make any sense whatsoever to me. That is why I started this blog. I do not have to worry about the length of my posts or what I am writing about or who is reading. I am free to write however short or long it takes to get a point across. It‘s very freeing to be able to be myself in the posts I write. Anyway, my two sisters and I were sightseeing in this small village of summer cottages on the beach. It was a cold and very windy day in the month of May and no one else was around except for a few other sightseers and not a bit of traffic. In order to see what we could see, my youngest sister would have to push me through the sandy beach with much difficulty or use the paved road that was easily accessible and would provide an easy and smooth ride for both rider and “driver.” When my sister with the camera suggested riding in the middle of the road, my youngest sister and I looked at each other and looked at the sandy beach and smoothly paved empty road and said, “Why not?” We were on our merry way, providing a few smiles for a few passerby’s, to see the beautiful Oregon Coast and interestingly styled cottages that reminded me so much of Cape Cod, except for one. Jane and I had a delightful time visiting our youngest Sophie who lives so far away.
I also don’t do so well with following every “jot” and “tittles” of a recipe. To me cookbooks and boxes filled with favorite recipes are really starter books and suggestion boxes. My sister Jane is the same way. She often makes “never-to-be- eaten-again-so-you-better-enjoy-it-now chilli or stew or barbecue sauce or you name it. I have a recipe or “suggestion card” for making a chicken dish that keeps growing and growing. I got this recipe from a friend of a friend. This is the original recipe (I gave it its name) :
“Choked-Up Chicken Under Popeye’s Ranch”
1. Place uncooked chicken breasts or thighs or legs in a large casserole dish.
2. Place marinated artichoke hearts in between the chicken pieces (marinade is optional).
3. Cover chicken and artichoke hearts with flesh uncooked spinach.
4. Pour Ranch dressing on top to cover all the spinach.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes for boneless chicken and one hour for bone-in chicken (Time varies depending on the oven used).
This chicken casserole has been a favorite of mine for years and it also has grown through the years, with the addition of ingredients such as, mushrooms, diced ham chunks or bacon bits, sliced red or green peppers, different kinds of Ranch dressings and grated parmesan oregano cheese. It can be eaten with pasta or rice or artisan bread, with a nice buttery Californian Chardonnay or tart Australian Sauvignon Blanc. If you only like red wine, maybe a light and fruity Oregon Pinot Noir might go well. You’re just going to have to try it and see for yourself.
Doing things differently, such as wheeling down the median of a traffic-free road or stodging up (in a good sense) and making food more interesting is how I roll. This is how God made me. God has also made me a lover of His Word. The Bible is my road map to how I want to live my life and who I want to live my life for. This is also an example of how I do things differently from the world at large, but this is also who God made me to be. I am not a theologian, nor do I pretend to be one (as some do) on TV. I can only tell you about what I see in reading and studying God’s Word. God teaches me who He is and what He has done for me and what He continues to do. He has taught me about the time His Son Jesus rode on a donkey in the middle of the road to Jerusalem, but it wasn’t a sightseeing trip. Luke 9:51 tells me, “As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.“ In Luke 19:37 it says, “When He [Jesus] came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” The people expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government, but God had a different plan. Instead of changing the government, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to change my heart by dying on the cross for my sins and for the sins of all who believe that He is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). A old hymn says it best: “And in my heart I find a need for Him to be my Savior. That He would leave His place on high and come for sinful man to die – You count it strange, so once did I, before I met my Savior” (from “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust).
The people back then and even now do not realize how insidious sin is and how it has created a great chasm between God and mankind. Jesus taught about this in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus talks about the separation between Lazarus who is in heaven and the rich man who is in hell. In Jesus’ teaching, Abraham answers the rich man’s request “to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue” this way: Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed…” (Luke 16:24-26). No doubt Jesus was thinking of Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His Face from you, so that He will not hear.”
It is not popular to talk about sin, but I know how it is a reality in my life. I know how selfish I can be. I know how self-centered I can be. I know how unkind and insensitive I can be. I know how ugly words can spill out of my mouth, even when I tell myself not to say them. BUT GOD sent Jesus to save me from myself. The apostle Paul says it best in Roman 7:15,24-25: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!“ This is what I believe with all of my heart. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday” to die for me and for you on Good Friday, and He rose again three days later, on Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, so the we can live for Him now and forevermore.
I still sin, but Jesus teaches me how important it is to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as He has forgiven me. My desire is to be more like Him all that I do. Sometimes I do and sometimes I fail miserably. I John 1:8-9 says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
The word “Christian” means different things to different people. For me, when I say I am a Christian, I am saying that I am a person who loves Jesus and I am grateful beyond words to Him, for dying on the cross for my sins and “bridging” my way back to God. (The “Bridge Illustration” is in a booklet used by the Navigators, a Para-church group. When I first became a Christian I would read the prayer at the end of the “Bridge Illustration“ and also the prayer at the end of the “Four Spiritual Laws,” a booklet put out by Campus Crusade for Christ, another Para-church group. I would pray them every night, just to cover the bases and make sure I was right with God. I did not know, at the time, about the “no-trade clause“ that Jesus gives His “sheep“ (followers): “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are One“- John 10:27-30.) As a Christian, I know in the depths of my heart that Jesus is “the Bread of Life”(John 6:35) and He has satisfied my soul’s famishing hunger. Jesus is where I go to drink the “Living Water” and He has quenched my spirit’s unquenchable thirst. Knowing Christ has called me “out of darkness into His Wonderful Light” (I Peter 2:9). If some people think this is an unusual way of thinking, especially in the 21st Century, so be it. I am getting used to being “comfortable in my own skin.” Besides, I am left-handed after all and being different is how I roll. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).