Thursday, November 24, 2011

AMH TV - Video Blog Debut: Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Sooooooooo after seeing how well received Lori's new video blog entries have been I have been considering doing the same. Not all the time...because I enjoy writing out my thoughts, but I think every once in a while it's nice to offer a more personal touch by having a face to face "chat" so to speak. So there will be a new feature called AMH TV that you will see every once in a while.
I was planing to have my first entry sitting in the living room in front of the Christmas tree with my hair and makeup done. However, that wasn't how it worked out. Instead you get to see my first entry standing in our front yard, no makeup and the hair....well,the hair isn't tooooo bad....lol.
Anyway....the video will say it all. I love you all and am thankful for you all.....now and always.

 PS: Before you hit play, scroll down and pause the music player at the bottom of the page so that you can hear the video.

 

video

Ephesians 5:20 (AMP)

At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

AMH Cooks: Authentic Southern Greens


Well now this time I wasn't feeling particularly homesick when I decided to post this recipe. Some friends and I were going to get together to finish up a small group we had been in together and as the conversation progressed we decided to have a traditional Southern meal. When I said that I would bring the greens and cornbread one of my friends jumped up and got so excited because she wanted the recipe. I've been asked for the recipe before and have given it out, but never thought to post it here. UNTIL nowwwwwwww that is. LOL.  Now, I may be a white girl, but I make pretty bangin soul food, so I REALLY hope you enjoy it. Keep in mind....to get it right you need time...so allow yourself 3 to 4 hours to prep and cook the greens for your meal or they just won't taste as good....and if you prep them the day before...it's even better.

 
Authentic Southern Greens
(Kale, Turnip, Mustard or Collard)

Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds smoked ham hocks or smoked meat (smoked pork and turkey are the best and with bone in adds better flavor)
1 large onion, diced
3 ½ cups chicken stock
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large bunches of greens* –washed (can use more since they really cook down)
½ tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 large can small white potatoes

*Please note that each green has a VERY distinct flavor difference ranging from strong to mild (collard and kale being the mildest) so if you try it with one green and don't like it, try it with another the next time. 
Directions:
  1. Cut off and discard the tough stems and discolored leaves from the greens. Can either hand tear apart leaves into small pieces or cut the leaves into 2-inch ribbons.
  2. Place the olive oil, onions, garlic, and the ham hocks in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Sauté until onions are translucent and ham hocks are golden brown with mild brown “crust” forming in bottom of pot.
  3. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. (*note: if ham hocks aren’t fully covered in liquid then add enough water to cover them.) Lower the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the greens and the hot pepper flakes to the pot. Simmer covered for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the potatoes, cracked pepper and vinegar and simmer covered for additional 30 minutes.
  6. Pull all meat off of ham hocks and return to pot, discarding bones.
  7. Serve with pot likker (liquid in pot)
Serve hot or cold and with or without hot sauce. Pair with dense corn bread to sop up pot likker.
Now us Southerners eat greens with all kinds of things, so don't think you can only eat it with certain meals. We pair it with all kinds of meats, poultry and fish and occasionally even lasagna. Now, my personal favorite meal to have with greens is Southern style catfish, homestyle mac and cheese, and my Southern cornbread. Now add in a sweet tea and I'm golden. LOL

Hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sifting Out The Impurities

Luke 22:31-32 (AMP)

31Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain,
    32But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.

Nowadays with all the modern processing and regulations for food it really isn't necesary to sift flour or grain like it was in the past. It used to be sifted to take out clumps and impurities...like bugs. EWWWW.......
On October 5th I began an unexpected spiritual journey....a sifting period that I certainly didn't want....but that I decided the best way to walk through it would be to walk with hope and expectancy that God would show Himself faithful like I believed He would. Sooooo, I made a list of rules that I would not compromise on; No whining, no complaining, no fault-finding, no bitterness and no unforgiveness....just daily seeking the heart of Christ......no matter what. The second night God gave me a Bible verse that really spoke to my heart...I discussed it briefly in my entry titled Water In The Wilderness. Don't get me wrong....I've cried....and I've worried a bit...and I've had a few moments of feeling sorry for myself, but every time God has either used the Bible, my husband Ben, song lyrics or Christian friends to encourage me and speak the truth to me.
During it all there was a thread I kept seeing regarding God's faithfulness as it related to people's obedience and times before great victory.....the number 40.
  • It rained for 40 days and nights with Noah (Gen 7:12)
  • Moses spent 40 days on the mountain with God...then he spent ANOTHER 40 days on the mountain with God after he disciplined the people. (Deu 10:10)
  • The spies searched out the promised land for 40 days. (Num 13:25)
  • The Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of their complaining and disobedience. (Num 14:33-34)
  • Goliath tormented the Israelites for 40 days before David killed him. (1 Sam 17:16)
  • Elijah spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
  • Ninevah was given 40 days and in that time they repented and were saved (Jonah 3:4)
  • Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matt 4:1,2)
  • Jesus appeared on earth for 40 days after the crucifixion and resurrection (Acts 1:3)
 So whyyyyyyyy am I mentioning the references to the number 40?  Well, last Friday morning as I was brushing my teeth I looked up at the bathroom mirror to where I have stuck a post it note with the Bible verse Isaiah 54:10 (MSG) written on it. As I read it I suddenly felt what us old dog Christians call "a prompting in my spirit" that said, "Your 40 days are almost over". My body shot up straight as an arrow and I ran into the kitchen to look at the calendar. With toothpaste dripping from the side of my mouth I counted the days since October 5th. Sure enough.......Monday, November 14th marks 40 days. Since it's after midnight now as I'm writing this.....that means TODAY is my day 40.
Does that mean that everything is suddenly going to be hearts and flowers.........I don't know......maybe, and maybe not.........I have no idea what the next 22 hours hold...or beyond that.  I do know however that God has a plan and it is better than anything I could ever ask for or think.  I also know that I've made it through the past 40 days with God's grace and total favor and I have seen Him work in ways that have deepened my passion for Him and for His never ending faithfulness. I also know that even if I continue to go through a season of being sifted like wheat....I will CONTINUE to JOYFULLY praise God even in the face of adversity because I know that the byproduct of sifting is that impurities are removed. If I only praise Him and thank Him in the good times then what kind of faith do I really have....and if I think I have no more impurities that need to be removed then who do I really think I am? Only God is pure....and I'm certainly not God.

I don't know what you are going through right now, I don't know how hard your battle is or how long you've been carrying it....but I do know that God is faithful...even when we don't see or feel it. So don't give up or lose hope....your victory is on it's way.

Psalm 34:1 (KJ21)

 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From Darkness To The Light



So it’s now been 5 days of no power, no heat, no internet. The silence has been unbelievable. I must admit though….after the first two nights, it was kind of nice. It brought me, and Ben and friends back into a world that has been mostly forgotten in our technologically obese society. The world of relationships with each other has long been ignored because nowadays we are so busy texting, face-booking, and other such stuff. How many times have a friend and I laughed because we are sitting next to each other talking to each other not in person, but via text or the internet.  This week instead of disappearing into the internet or other devices, I talked…in person, played games…..without the aid of a mouse touchpad, read books…..with paper pages, went to public  places just to sit for a few hours and struck up conversations with complete strangers….just because I felt like it…..and more importantly, I re-discovered gratefulness in things long taken for granted.
 As I was writing this the power came back on....ironic....but interesting. The lights are on again, although not as many as usual...the darkness doesn't really bother us this time. The house is now getting really warm again and the faucet is now sending out hot water again. All signs we're back to civilization....but I think I'm going to take a few things out of this. 1) I think I'm going to turn off the laptop a lot more often now. 2) I'm going to convince Ben to step away from the computer and play a game with me a lot more often. 3) I'm going to try and get together with friends just to play games a lot more often now 4) I'm going to go sit in public cafe's and other locations a lot more often now and socialize with complete strangers....just because. 5) I'm going to do my best to appreciate all the things I forget to be thankful for on a daily basis...like a warm house, a warm shower, fresh food and light....both physical light.....

Psalm 18:28 New Century Version (NCV)

 28 Lord, you give light to my lamp.
       My God brightens the darkness around me.

...and spiritual light....

Job 33:28 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light.'

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ring a Ding Ding


Well….it’s been 4 days now with no power, heat, or internet. We did finally get our phone back though after my brother suggested I go foraging in the basement. We get a lot of donations from people for our street ministry and so we never know what will be in a box or a bag. It can be anything from basic clothing, bedding or house wares all the way to kids toys, books and knick-knacks. So I decided to go to the basement and look through and see if I could find an old school , plug in wall phone that we could use until we get power back. Sure enough, there was one down there. It wasn’t exactly the kind I was expecting to find though.  I thought maybe I would find a simple off-white or black plug in, or maybe even a cool retro rotary phone. Ohhhhhhh no…..no, not this one.  This is the Babij household after-all….and we thrive on the unique. So what does our temporary home phone look like? Well, let me describe it to you. It is a basic plug in hand held black phone…(so far so good right?)…that has been covered with fuzzy fake zebra fur….and then to add a level of class and sophistication…..trimmed out with a band of pale powder blue marabou feathers.  **What the….??????** Yep….that’s what I said…..fake zebra fur and feathers. The first thing out of Ben’s mouth when he saw it was, “Where ON EARTH did THAT come from???”
“I have no idea….I found it in the basement..”
“…in OUR basement???”   (Who’s basement did he think I had rummaged through?)
“Yep, somebody donated it…”
“It’s HIDEOUS!!!”
“Yes it is….”
“Who would DONATE that??”
“I have no idea…hopefully somebody with little kids…”
“I don’t want that thing….”
“We aren’t keeping it dear….we’re only going to use it until we get power back…”
“Good, cuz that thing’s ugly!”
The really sad part is that the price tag is still stuck n the bottom of the phone. Would you like to know how much the original owner actually PAID for this piece of hideous electronica? A shocking $39.99! That’s right; somebody felt that 40 bucks was not too high a price to pay for this tack-a-licious fashion statement!! I thought I had experienced buyers remorse before….but I can just picture the donor now…. “WHAT was I thinking…WHY did I pay so much for THIS …THIS……THING ?!?!??!?! I know, I’ll donate it to charity…that way nobody will ever have to know it came from me!!!” Sooooo…………..In the 21st century, an era filled with amazing technology that allows people from one continent to communicate to people on another continent in real time and actually see them talking, our verbal communication to the outside world has temporarily been reduced to the abilities of….not a HOME phone, but…..a “Ho Phone”. 
Life is good!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dogs Can't Spell


Well.....it has been an interesting past few days and nights to say the least. Connecticut got slammed by storm Alfred this past Saturday and from the last report I heard over 750,000 state residents have no power. When we woke up Sunday morning and looked into our normally beautiful backyard with pine trees, fruit trees and a dogwood tree...it looked like a tornado had come through. Thank God though nothing hit our house and no power lines were ripped off of our house. The truly sad thing is that by comparison this was not a bad storm at all. We've had horrible storms before that dumped several feet of snow...and not had damage like this. The reason this has caused so much destruction is that most of our trees were still at peak color meaning they still had leaves...and lots of them. So instead of falling through bare branches to the cold ground below...the snow loaded up the leaves and just decimated the trees. We went for a drive yesterday afternoon to see the damage in our city and it is just unbelievable...power lines down everywhere, trees down everywhere, roads closed, businesses closed, 30 car, or more, lines at open gas stations...until they ran out of gas like a few have. Then people are just parking their cars in the gas stations and waiting for the next delivery truck to arrive so they don't lose their place in line. Without being facetious, I have a small inkling now of what a refugee must feel like. Wow...what an eye opener this has been....it reminded me of tornado damage growing up in Alabama.
Soooo.....the Pollyana moment perspective? Come on.....you long time readers know it's coming...here it is. We have been blessed by helping our neighbors to restore heat, and other necessities. Friends who needed help with generators, animal care etc....even car care....we've been able to help Then at night, when the darkness and silence are overwhelming....it's amazing how much better we can hear from God when we tune out the world....or when it's tuned out for us. For the moment we are at a friend's house and I am amazed at how thankful I am for God's provision. I'm sitting at a friend's computer overlooking a gorgeous lake with snow,sun and wind and blue sky...sure I'll be back in power loss in less than an hour or so, but you know what....praise God even in the midst of adversity!

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be joyful in God my savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Anyway, so we back to no power, no phones and no internet. Just me, Ben and the two dogs playing scrabble by candlelight. LOL....the dogs have really crummy grammar by the way! Everything is spelled T-R-E-A-T .


Joy all All Ways,
Fran

Friday, October 21, 2011

AMH Cooks: Alabama Fire Crackers
















       Sooooooo being raised down South I tend to get homesick every once in a while...especially at this time of year because it's SEC time. Which, for those of you that don't know....that means college
football. That is a really big deal in Alabama and the other parts of the south too, but of course I'm biased to my home state and my home football team of Auburn. When I feel homesick I tend to think about anything that reminds me of back home. Of course some would say, "Well you aren't Southern anymore anyway...you've lived in Connecticut longer than you lived in Alabama." Well...it's true I have lived in Connecticut for 22 years now and only in Alabama for the first 14 years of my life...but what non-Southerners don't know and can't ever really understand is that being Southern isn't just an address....it's part of our DNA. It never leaves us....we are a part of that land as much as the red clay that forms it. Of course I love my New England home too (minus the politics) and all of my friends and family here, but my antebellum roots are always there and I want to share as much of them with you as I can.
Now I have all kinds of Southern recipes from my family and from my time down there,.....but  this is not one of them....LOL. This recipe I actually found a little over a year ago and was initially drawn to it because it's named after Alabama. HOWEVER, once you try these simple little crackers you may never want to go without them again. They are AMAZING!  So, enjoy and let me know what you think. They are a great game time snack that is super easy and super inexpensive to make. I also included some alternative uses for them at the bottom.
                     
  Alabama Fire Crackers

Ingredients:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (1 ounce) envelopes ranch dressing mix
1 (1 ounce) envelopes Italian dressing mix
3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 (16.5 ounce) box Nabisco unsalted saltine crackers

 Directions:
Whisk all ingredients (EXCEPT THE CRACKERS) together until thoroughly mixed then pour into a 2-gallon plastic zipper bag. Place the crackers into the bag, seal, and gently turn the bag over to cover all the crackers with the spice mix. Let the bag sit for about 1 hour, then gently turn again. Repeat several more times until the crackers are well-coated with spice mix, then allow the bag to sit overnight. In the morning, remove crackers and serve. *Note: If you feel they are a bit too oily for your taste then you can spread them onto a cookie sheet and let them dry in a 200 degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

They are great for snacking on by themselves or along with soups, chili, salad, even tuna and chicken salad. If you can't or don't want to use them all as crackers to munch on you can also crush them and use them for breading on pork chops, chicken or fish.You can use them like you would regular crackers in meatloaf or meatballs. You can also use them to make a crust for a meat pie or for add ins to casseroles like broccoli casserole. The possibilities are endless really because you can also use different kinds of crackers. Try it with Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Goldfish, Oyster crackers....Club crackers or Ritz...get creative!








Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Living A Flavorful Life


I want to talk to you about budgeting....relax though, I'm not talking about money. Nope, I'm talking about our lives. Do you feel over stressed and exhausted? Have you ever said or thought, there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything I need to get done...DONE!" I have....many times. Have you resorted to naming your dust bunnies and calling them pets because you barely have time to clean or purchasing new underwear because you haven't done laundry yet and that's easier than feeling like a domestic failure? I have. Have you ever felt guilty because it feels like the only time you go to God is when you need something or you're in trouble? I have.
How would you like to never feel like that again? How would you like to have time to get everything done that needs to get done including housework and STILL have a relationship with God and those you love? I would....and I think you would too. So here is what I believe God has been showing me so that I can get to that point.

We need to create a Life Budget. Afterall, if we want to get out of financial debt we create a spending budget right? So if we want to get out of life debt then we need to create a life budget.
Every person around the globe is given the same amount of time in every day and every week,168 hours. It's how we allot those hours that make or break us. So here is a basic beginning budget.

-16.8 for God
(That's 2 hours and 24 minutes a day to: daily bible reading and prayer, church, home groups, charity work, reaching out to others with a purpose, i.e. relationship building, mentoring)

If you are Christian, then you're familiar with the 10% tithe we give back to the church financially. So this should make perfect sense to you. If we expect God to work in our lives, then we need to make giving back to Him a priority and give him a 10% "Life Tithe". This is your one principal that will not change because the rest of your week will be built around this foundation. Will every day have 2 hours and 24 minutes set aside for this? No....some may be more, some may be less. Sundays may use up 4 of those hours if you're involved in a helping ministry like, childcare, greeting or cleanup. If you do other charity work that may take a significant amount of time also...it doesn't really matter how you allot that time...as long as you do allot it every week. I do however suggest that you allot AT LEAST 1 hour a day to Bible reading and personal prayer time. It may sound like a lot....but it will set the pace for your entire day and prepare you for how to handle all those curve balls we are hit with in life.

-40 work 
(travel time can be used for something else, like prayer, or mentoring via phone, or quality family time talking with your kids or spouse.)
-56 sleep 
(based on an 8 hour night. Try it...your body and those around you will thank you.)
-7 hours 
(1 hour day house maintenance)

At this point you still have 48.2 hours to work with! That's still 6.8 hours a day!

-14 meal prep and consumption 
(2 hours a day, 7 days a week to fit in all home meals. It may not sound like much, but if you are the average working family these days....you will probably be surprised that you suddenly have time to sit down and have a meal as a family.)

If you are involved in any activity that takes multiple hours from one day....you haven't lost that time...it's just been re-allotted to another day now and you can make it work for you, your schedule and your life! For example; you had to work late, you got stuck in traffic, one kid has a soccer game and the other a flute lesson and all you have time for is a bag of something thrown through a drive thru window at you. Ok, life happens....embrace it. NOWWWW you can take that time and allot it to another day. It's ok....

This now leaves us with 34.2 hours......4.8 hours a day. How will you fill those last 4 hours and 48 minutes of your day?

-spouse or significant other
-children and/or pets
-you
-flex time

My readers from other countries may look at this and think, That's crazy! Why do they have to schedule these things? For us American's however, we know how much we have allowed other things to cause us to live within the red of our life budget. We're tired, cranky, stressed and empty. If we want to live the life that God has given us and live it to the best and really learn to radiate all the things we have in our heart. Then we need to start by giving the first portion of our week and our days to God so that He can fill us up and prepare us for what is ahead.

Matthew 5:13,14 (AMP)

13You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.

I don't know about you, but I don't want my "busyness" to cause me to lose my steength or quality as a Christian. I need this life budget.....how about you?
So, now that you've read this....don't just read and run....leave a comment, let me know what you think. Have ideas for or other readers to make this work even better? Leave a comment.