Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Cookin' up a Scheme

I'm really not sure if I've shared this before, but I like to cook...in fact, I really LOVE to cook. I once played a chef in the musical Hello Dolly...I looked JUST like the Swedish chef from the muppets: White pants, white cooks coat, white chef's hat and a big cookie-duster mustache! I came running out on the stage and said to the maitre d, 'Rudolph, it's true no?' OK...that really has nothing to do with what I'm talking about, but it popped into my brain while I was typing, so there ya go. I find a lot of enjoyment in cooking and take pride when something I've prepared is well liked.

I've had some success (my grilled prime rib roast is top notch if I say so myself)...as well as some failures (tried to make an Italian pudding once and well...got chocolate soup instead...), but either way it's fun and I've decided to periodically share some of my 'homeruns' so to speak. If any of you actually tries a recipe, I'd like to hear how you liked it and if you made any modification in which you felt made it better. So, without further ado here's the first one...

Vince’s Chili

• 4 Lbs Ground Beef
• 1 Box Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Chili Mix (I use everything in the box except the cayenne)
• 4 fresh Red Peppers
• 1 Can sliced mushrooms
• 1 Lg red onion
• 3 cans tomato sauce
• 1 Lg can whole tomatoes
• 1 Lg can crushed tomatoes
• 3 Can’s HUNTS fire roasted diced tomatoes (yes, Hunts…they’re the only ones that make a fire roasted kind, and it’s important to get fire roasted)
• 2 Can’s Bush’s white beans
• 2 Can’s Bush’s red beans
• 1 Can Bush’s black beans
• 3 Cloves garlic
• Smoked sea salt
• Chili Powder

1) Pre-heat oven to 400.

2) Chop the onion and mince the garlic.

3) In a large soup pot, add the ground beef, chopped onion and minced garlic and turn the heat on to 7 or 8. (check periodically to chop and mix hamburger).

4) While the meat is cooking, cut two of the red peppers in half and lay them open side down in a shallow, jelly roll pan. Place into pre-heated oven and cook 15 to twenty minutes or until the skin on the peppers are mostly black.

5) Clean and chop the other two red peppers.

6) While waiting for the meat and peppers to finish cooking, open all of the above cans. Drain only the mushrooms and whole tomatoes. Taking a pair of kitchen shears, cut up the mushrooms and whole tomatoes (leave them in the can).

7) When the red peppers are done cooking, place them in a large Ziploc bag for at least 5 min. (this will help loosen the skin, which will be removed).

8) When the hamburger is fully cooked and chopped, drain and add the contents of the chili spice mix according to the directions and mix thoroughly.

9) Next, add the tomatoes (crushed, whole, diced & sauce), beans and chopped non-roasted red peppers…mix, reduce heat to 5 or 6 and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.

10) Take the roasted peppers and using a fork, remove the skin(s). Dice the skinless peppers and add to the chili. Add smoked sea salt and chili powder to taste. If you don’t have smoked sea salt (I make my own), regular sea salt and just a drop of liquid smoke will do.

Bon Appétit

~ V

I'm Goin' On A Bear Hunt...

While in the nut-house recovering from her traumatic experience with the three bears, Goldilocks took up a few new hobbies...taxidermy and fashion design...

Honestly, just look at those eyes...can you say issues?...yikes!
~ V

Lost and found

For the past week and a half, I've felt beaten down...like the entire weight of the world was on my and only my shoulders. Honestly, nothing really happened to make me feel that way...I just did. I was pretty somber and Lisa on several occasions asked me what was wrong...I just said that I was tired or something. I know I should have opened up to her...but I just didn't know how to put what I was feeling into words without really freaking her out. I knew I felt this overwhelming weight and I was sad...tired...hope seemed very far away. I felt that I had failed my children...failed as a father to ensure they were brought up in the Lord...felt that I had failed my wife because after a year and a half of trying to 'blend' our families, it seems that someone is always unhappy...but it's VERY hard to 'blend' kids who much of the time are like oil and water...and I know that causes both of us a lot of stress. I also felt I failed her because I promised to be her rock...promised to be her safe place...her unsinkable ship. But much like the Titanic, there are times when the water is dark and I can't see the icebergs. As these thoughts took root in my head, the more withdrawn and somber I became. I was utterly defeated...and I honestly didn't know what to do...

I love my wife! God has given me exactly what I need in her. She comforts me when needed, but also holds me accountable. She is supportive and loving, but can also counsel me when the need arises. Kind and caring, beautiful and sensitive...I love her with all of my heart! After moping around for 10 days, it was Lisa who actually helped me realize that I hadn't been in the Word lately...I know...you'd think after everything I've talked about here...after all I've experienced, that I'd know better. I fell into the trap that many people do...I let the cares and worries of my circumstances distract me...and instead of running to the One who is more capable of handling them than I, I handled them myself and, well...we know how that turned out. Lisa, in her loving, patient way, helped pull me out from under the raincloud I was under...did I mention that I LOVE her??

By the way, I thank God that the 'hull' of our marriage isn't held together by the sheer force of our wills and desires...which, by itself is about equal to the strength of Dollar Store aluminum foil...but instead is reinforced and strengthened by our bond in Christ and slices through those icebergs like a hot knife!

~ V

There's Power in Praise

Acts 16:23-26 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.

This Bible story begins with the unwarranted arrest of Paul and Silas. They had cast a spirit of divination out of a slave girl and realizing he had just lost his 'golden goose', the girls owner had them arrested, afterwhich the local Philippian authorities beat them and then threw them into a jail cell. Besides the trauma of the severe beating, they were also locked in stocks which held their arms and legs in an immobile position...can you say cramps and loss of circulation? The atmosphere there was depressing, most likely quite smelly and who knows what crawling all over them. Prisons of that day, were more like a dungeon; a dark, damp, stench-ridden place, with no facility for waste or comforts of any kind.

And then at midnight, in the midst of hearing their fellow prisoners groan and curse their fate, Paul and Silas started praying and singing praises to God. And not just quietly and under their breath, but loud enough that even the jailer heard them. Then suddenly, an earthquake shook the prison...the doors to all the cells flung open, and amazingly, the bonds that held Paul, Silas, and every other prisoner fell off! Paul and Silas knew how to lift their hearts above their troubles and enter into God’s presence and power. Through praise and worship their hearts were raised into the joyous presence and peace of God. Their praise and worship allowed them to not be a victim of their circumstances, but instead to trust in God. Psalms 22:3 says that God inhabits in the praises of His people. In other words, God 'dwells' in the atmosphere of His praise. This means that praise is not just a reaction from coming into His presence - Praise is a vehicle of faith which brings us into the presence and power of God! Praise and worship is the gate which allows us to enter the sacredness of His glory. Psalms 100:4 says, 'Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name'

In my humble opinion, if you're praising God...then there will be no time to listen to the temptations of the evil one. If you're praising God...then you can't wallow in the stench of your own pity. If you're praising God...you will come to see how blessed you really are. If you're praising God...you will find joy in most anything. If you're praising God...you will find a peace that can not be explained.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
For our sins He suffered, and bled, and died.
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong..

~ V