Turkey Veggie Meatloaf Cups

by Ruth Rautio

Original recipe makes 20 mini meatloaf cups

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, or as needed

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray 20 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Place zucchini, onions, and red bell pepper into a food processor, and pulse several times until finely chopped but not liquefied. Place the vegetables into a bowl, and mix in ground turkey, couscous, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard until thoroughly combined. Fill each prepared muffin cup about 3/4 full. Top each cup with about 1 teaspoon of barbecue sauce.

Bake in the preheated oven until juices run clear, about 25 minutes. Internal temperature of a muffin measured by an instant-read meat thermometer should be at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Back to the Basics

by Jonni Sliver

Over the last three months (yikes! Time goes so quickly!) I have loved visiting AFLC families all over the mid-west. The ideas behind these visits is that I could testify to what God is doing, one young life at a time, in the Miriam Children’s Home and at the same time thank so many loving brothers and sisters who have gone out of their way to bless the children through prayers and gifts.  But God always has a better idea than we do and I have received much more than I have given!

During a Sunday morning service in May, in Badger, MN the offering was taken and I joined in as we sang:

“We give Thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be: All that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Thee.”

It had been so long since I had sung the offertory that I made a mistake. The last line became:

“All that we have is thine alone, a gift, O Lord, from Thee.”

Oops! The difference between a “trust” and “gift” struck me so strongly. When I receive a gift it is mine and I can do what I want with it. I can choose to give it away, to use it wisely or to lock it away for safe keeping, because it is mine. A trust is different – it doesn’t belong to me, I am holding it for the owner, using as I have been instructed. I don’t have the right to do what I want with it because it isn’t mine.

It starts really early, one of the first words out of our mouths as babies is “MINE!” and we go on thinking that all of life is about what is ours, about what our rights are, all about us. Right now, while I am visiting churches I have been driving a lovely Dodge Grand Caravan, lent to me by World Missions. Can you guess how long it took for me to refer to it as “my car”? It even has a name (Gert – which may be changed by the next driver).  As I sang the offertory incorrectly I had a wonderful chance to think about every single thing that really isn’t mine, everything God has allowed me to hold for Him. Life, resources, ministry, they’re His, all His!

I have noticed that the habit of singing the offertory is more common in our smaller, rural churches than it is in the bigger urban areas. I wonder if that might, in part, be because there is something in the rural culture that reminds us every day that everything we have comes by God’s grace.  This is an easy year to see it. My heart goes out to the farmers who waited all of last year for the rains to come and waited all this spring for the crops to dry! But every farmer I’ve talked to has said that this is the life of the farmer – they have no control over the rain or the sun or pests that can affect the fields. I think that makes it easier for them to understand their dependence on the Living God who trusts them with His fields!

It is good to be reminded of the basics!

Clean and Soft

by Jonni Sliver

A friend of mine in India has a rotating prayer list and every few months he drops me an e-mail telling me he is praying for me, and asks for requests. I just recently got this e-mail and I thought what I should write him back. The one word that came to mind was “exfoliation”.

Though I don’t do it often I love getting a pedicure. It’s not just pretty toe-nails, it is going in with the rough heels that accompany the normally barefoot and coming out with soft feet that have been soaked and then scrubbed and rubbed until all of that old, dry skin is gone and only fresh pink remains. That is just what came to mind – that I needed God to exfoliate my heart.

I love what I do in Brazil (and what I get to do here on furlough!).  But there are times when I get so involved in the doing of it all that I get more focused on the what than the who. Several months ago God ministered to me a lot through His words to the seven churches in Revelations. One in particular was the church in Ephesus, who served faithfully, diligently but the Lord had one thing against them – they had lost their first love. They knew what to do, they did it, but they lost sight of who they were doing it for. That isn’t hard to do; to get wrapped up in work, to focus on the needs and to set your eyes there. The problem is, the more you focus on the need the less you have to give! The only source of hope and healing for my kids (your family, your congregation, your city) comes from the Living God who called us to minister His grace!

The good news is God loves to exfoliate hearts! One of the most tender passages in the Old Testament. In Hosea chapter 2 the Lord tells how He desires to deal with a wandering Bride; He says

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

Another word for “allure” is to “woo”; the Righteous God draws us away, to woo us!

This time in the States is necessary (unless I want to begin an illegal immigrant ministry!)  It has also been a pleasure as I get to visit so many precious AFLC families. And it has been a blessing, because God has been taking the time to speak tenderly to my heart. His desire is that I return to Brazil with more than a new visa, but with a soft, tender heart!

He Knows Us and Loves Us

by Sarah Nelson

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
 You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.”  Psalm 139:1-4  (ESV)

Have you ever been misunderstood?   Your best intentions misinterpreted as something less than good?  Do you ever wonder if anyone really “gets” you?  Does it seem sometimes like your life is invisible?   If so, I encourage you to read not just the above verses from Psalm 139, but all of the psalm.

Who knows you best?  We may think that maybe it is our husband, parent, best friend, or a sibling.  While all of these people indeed know much about us, there is only One who knows us so well that He even knows what word we will speak before it comes out of our mouths. The Lord knows the activities of our hours, the thoughts that run through our heads that not even we understand why they are there.

Knowing that our Creator knows us so intimately and loves us so much that He sent His Son to redeem us from not just the sins that others see, but the ones that only His eyes capture, is amazing.  He desires for us to truly know that our lives are “hemmed in, behind and before” by HIM.  His hand of blessing is upon our heads as they bow in recognition of His majesty.

It’s true – He knows us and loves us!  Let that truth take root in your heart and encourage you as you live the days He has appointed for you to walk in His grace, for His glory.

Weeds

by Velma Amundson

I will be the first to admit that I am not a good gardener. In fact, I’m terrible. I like flowers, but my daughter has given me plants with the admonition, “Don’t kill it”. The other day I was weeding one of my flowerbeds. As I was weeding, the parable of the sower came to my mind.

“Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.”  Matthew 13:7  (ESV)

I will admit my flowerbed was pretty weedy. I was positive I had just checked it and it was “ok”, but now there were weeds everywhere.  You couldn’t even see the flowers. There are weeds in our lives too. Sometimes we’ll go along thinking everything is fine, only to discover that we’ve been overrun with “weeds”, and we need to clean them out. The “weeds” will choke out our spiritual life.  We let things slide, like spending time alone with God, or studying the Bible. Perhaps we become “too busy”. Too busy to go to WMF, or to help with a project.

One of the things I’ve noticed about weeds, they can be beautiful. We don’t call them weeds because they’re ugly, but because they take over. Well, some of our “weeds” can start as something beautiful too. It could be a hobby we enjoy, talking on Facebook with our children, almost anything. But, before we know it, it’s taken over. It could even be the opposite, we’re trying to do too much. We all know people who seemingly can’t say, “No”, and leave no time for themselves or their family, or even God.

Weeds are persistent, too. We can pull them and pull them again. So are some of the weeds in our lives. We deal with them over and over again. We frequently fall into the same traps again and again.

The last thing I noticed, as I was weeding, was the bugs. I don’t know about you but I have a huge fear of spiders. And ticks are just creepy and icky. Well, I saw a couple of ticks in that flower bed. I couldn’t see them because of the weeds. So, in my mind, weeds are dangerous. They hide things. The same with the weeds in our lives. They can hide unseen dangers. They can also hide the path we are to take.

I know that after I weeded that flowerbed it looked beautiful again. In my life, I need to have God help me to weed out the unwanted things in my life, so that I can be “beautiful” for Him. I encourage you let God help you weed out your own lives, so that you, too, can be “beautiful” for God. A beautiful flowerbed giving glory to our God.

After the Whirlwind

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by Sarah Langness

I might as well come right out and admit it: I am feeling sorry for myself. Because for the first time since 2001, I am not attending the FLY (Free Lutheran Youth) Convention. Six times I’ve gone; three as a student, three as a counselor. A majority of my family is in Estes Park, Colorado. Many of my close friends are there. People I haven’t seen in years, don’t keep in good contact with, but still consider dear to my heart – they are there too. But I stayed home. Back in February, when Jordan and I were praying about Zeke and I attending, we felt a peace about staying home. All I’d like to know now is: what happened to that peace?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that for the past three weeks, I’ve been surrounded by people. Family reunions and wedding activities for two weeks in Minneapolis; then nearly four days of family visiting us here in Beulah. And now, it’s just me and Zeke. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son. But after so much activity, after that whirlwind of three weeks, it’s pretty quiet around here.

So in the midst of my moping, I’m reminding both my heart and my head that the Lord knows what I don’t know. Maybe He wanted us home because of that suspiciously snotty, sometimes congested nose of Ezekiel’s that hasn’t gotten worse but hasn’t gone away. Maybe He wanted us home because He knew those two weeks away really would be enough for us, despite the fact that I currently feel like we could be gone another two. Maybe He wanted me to stay home to remind me that I don’t always have to be in the midst of the “action”, of the exciting things. To remind me that there is ministry to be done right here at home in Beulah. To show me the importance of and power of prayer for a gathering that is 670 miles away.

Devote yourselves to prayer; keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ . . . Conduct yourselves with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt . . . ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.'” – Colossians 4:2-3, 5-6, 17; NASB (emphasis mine)

Unfortunately, it’s always one thing to know truth and entirely different thing to believe truth. That’s what I’m working on right now. Who knows, maybe it’ll take all week for that to take place. But I’ve simply got to trust that God’s thoughts and plans are better than my own (Isaiah 55:8-9).

And I better be faithful with the time He has given me in the place He has led me.

In the Midst of the Whirlwind

by Sarah Langness

2200 miles. Fourteen days. Thirteen nights. One Annual Conference. Two family reunions. One of my best friend’s (aka brother’s) wedding. It was a crazy – but blessed – two weeks. We stayed in the same location no more than four days before traveling to a new one. We went from North Dakota to Minnesota to Wisconsin and to Minnesota to Wisconsin and back to North Dakota. We saw extended family on both sides. I played ultimate frisbee for the first time in probably four years and felt the effects for days. I cried as I saw the love in my brother’s eyes for his beautiful bride. My son touched his grandpa’s bald head for the first time and increased his fascination with mowers.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of two weeks for this Langness family.

And now we’re home. I’m on my third load of laundry since yesterday evening with hopefully only one more to go. I’ve got a front flower bed that needs weeding. Somewhere in my vegetable garden are watermelons; I just can’t tell because of the plethora of weeds in that corner. I’ve got groceries to get and a few errands to run. The in-laws are coming on Thursday. Zeke has a doctor’s appointment in Bismarck on Thursday morning. We’ve got a wedding reception on Saturday evening. Jordan leaves for the FLY convention on Sunday. And then there’s the every day stuff of simply enjoying life with my toddler and husband, making sure that toddler doesn’t dive headfirst into his new pool, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, and all the other joys of routine life.

Coming home has been a whirlwind too.

As I was making a to-do list last night, I felt overwhelmed with all that I needed to do, that I should get done in just a few short days. But this morning I was given a gift. The gift of sleeping in for all three of us — including my ever-active one-year-old. Because of that, I was given much needed rest and time. Time in the Word. Time with my Lord. Time to simply stop, sip my coffee, read the Word and be refreshed.

During that time, I was reminded of the importance of stopping. Of resting. Of putting the to-do list literally out of sight and praying that it will be out of mind as I spend time with my Savior. And I was also struck by how Jesus Himself took that time to be with His Abba – even in the midst of a larger to-do list than mine.

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; the found Him and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.‘ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’ And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

And a leper came to Jesus . . . ”  Mark 1:29-40a, NASB, (emphasis mine)

The work – the to-do list – never ended for Jesus. Always He was needed. Always He was wanted. And yet He never complained. He served and loved because that is what He came to do. He spent time with His Father — setting an example for us to follow in.

I only wish setting aside the long lists and being able to truly focus on the Word and on Christ was as easy everyday as it was today. But I guess that’s what this whole learning to “set your minds” (Colossians 3:2) is all about.

God Knows Us

by Velma Amundson

I thought I knew exactly where this blog was going this morning. And, I was exactly wrong…or only partially right.

It’s been an interesting week, or day. We’ve literally gone from birth to death…all in one day. Kind of changes things. But not really.

In March our son called to tell us he and his wife were expecting in November. Today he called to say they are having a little girl. I thought of this verse:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5

I thought, isn’t it nice to know that God already knows my granddaughter!  Even before she is born He already cares for her and loves her. Of course, we pray daily that He will watch over her and her mother, to keep them safe and for a safe and healthy delivery. After she is born, we will have the pleasure and duty to be sure that she knows God. That’s true for all of us. Even before we were born, God knew us. I like to think that while we were nestled beneath our mother’s heart, God spoke to us. I know it’s a bit of fancy, but it could be.

Then there is the promise that God walks with us daily and has plans for us. In Jeremiah 29:11 we are told:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God plans good things for us. Even the trials that we go through are to strengthen us and make us fit for Him. I know He walks with me, and I know that He will walk with my new granddaughter-to-be. I know that whatever we face, we face it with God at our side.

Which leaves the final journey. John had a call yesterday that one of our parishioners had fallen and broken his hip. He had surgery to repair it today. It’s a surgery that he did not survive. While his family grieved, they also commented that they knew where he was now. Now he was beginning his new life with Christ and they could not imagine anything better for him. John 14:1-3 says:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Cool. From before we are born until we are “born again” into our new life in Christ on this earth, and then finally meet Him in heaven, God walks with us, to guide us, comfort us, love us. I think of the song “In the Garden” where it says:

“And I walk with him and I talk with him, and he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

I wish you daily the joy of walking with Christ and leaning on his strength.