Jon Acuff- The writer’s cabin is a myth
“Someday, with the cabin, you will create a book, but your life is simply too ordinary to create an extraordinary work. That is a lie.”
Carnitas are our official Christmas dinner now. Neither Justin nor I are crazy about turkey and we get plenty of that with Thanksgiving. So we decided to devote Christmas dinner to one of our favorites. An added plus of this meal is that it’s simple to get a low-protein version for Micah. Turkey…not so much.
Mexican is the way we go. We have refried beans and Mexican rice with these carnitas. I also make Pioneer Woman’s pico de gallo to go with it because how can you go wrong? And I roast some corn. (Put frozen corn on a pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then roast under the broiler until the corn around the edges gets brown. Most delicious corn in the world!)
Sometimes this meal seems complicated in my head because you need several hours to cook it. But you need less than ten minutes at the start if you have someone else cut up your meat (20 if you don’t) and then 30-40 of supervision at the end. That’s not more time than I would usually spend cooking dinner and you get this deliciousness.
Side note: the pot you use is important. I use a nonstick pot and it works beautifully. I used one of my regular aluminum pots with a copper bottom the first time and my meat stuck horribly. Don’t waste the deliciousness.
Cover meat with water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for two hours. Do not touch it. Don’t stir it. Don’t cover it. The water is supposed to cook off. You will soon smell it though.
After two hours turn up the heat to medium high and let the rest of the water cook off. Pull the meat off that bone and remove the bone. The meat is very tender and will flake right off. The fat will be left in the bottom and your meat will start to brown in it. Turn down to medium and flip the meat occasionally. The meat will start to brown on the bottom and get crispy. Sample it here, of course, and add more garlic salt and cumin if you want.
When you turn the temperature up to let the last of the water cook off, start prepping everything else. Cook your rice. Warm your tortillas. Heat your refried beans. Chop your veggies.
Repeat the last two steps until all the meat is gone and there’s just some grease stains in the pot and on the plates. Then put carnitas on your menu for next month, even though it’s not Christmas. They don’t really taste any better at Christmas; they’re good anytime.
Some weeks the internet is just full of extra good things. (At least if you are looking in the right places!) So in the interest of sharing some goodies I’ve enjoyed this week, here’s another edition of ‘weekend reading.’
–I recently started reading Design for Mankind. Which means I put the feed into Pulse and skimmed most posts. Until this one. Bring the Crowbar makes me question why I bother to write and then I remember that’s what she’s encouraging: writing. It’s beautiful.
–Phylicia Delta is at it again! She’s speaking so many thoughts that make me want to shout, “Say it again, sister!” The whole women’s lib movement is beyond me. We’re being liberated for what? To be intelligent, insightful creatures who add value to our worlds? No. To parade around in our underwear. Go figure how that’s an advance. Take a few minutes and go read why she doesn’t watch the VS Fashion Show.
–Now moving on to the listening. I’ve mentioned before that Ruth Simons from GraceLaced is one of my favorite online people. This week she was featured on one of my favorite podcasts! Check out Inspired to Action to listen to her wisdom. I’m sure I’ll listen to it a few more times this week.
My favorite part was when she said that you don’t expect boys to sit and crochet for an hour. A few of hers paint with her but they would rather pretend a big stick in the backyard is a machine gun. Until someone hits someone else over the head and then everybody cries. Beautiful… because similar scenarios have occurred here.
–And on another podcast (you did know that I’m obsessed with podcasts, right?) Crystal Stine shared all kinds of wisdom about writing and being online. I did listen to this several times already. You will enjoy it too! That’s my solid vote of confidence there.
Enjoy your weekend!
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Thomas Edison
With few exceptions (none that I can think of but I’m just covering my bases), anybody that accomplishes anything does so because they work. The brilliant men of the past like da Vinci and Einstein probably worked more in a few years than most modern people will in a lifetime!
God loves work. And he loves work done right. Just read Proverbs 6:6-11 for starters. God wants us to do our work on our own motivation, no boss. Sometimes we act like we are supposed to do as little as possible but that was never what God intended. He wants us to do something with our lives; work is discussed over and over in the Bible. The Bible even states that Jesus did so much (work!) that the world couldn’t contain the record of all of it if it were written. (John 21:25)
We can do far more than we realize if we are willing to work hard. It’s easy to be jealous of what others have without realizing they have worked for it. I don’t just have a clean house. I have a clean house because I do the work to have a clean house. Now I have removed most of the mental work from cleaning by having a schedule but I still have to do the physical work. I have to get up, get my supplies, and scrub.
I’m not just learning the Bible. I’m learning the Bible because I’m working at learning the Bible. Do you want to know what the Bible says and how it applies to you? Good! But God’s not just going to zap the information into you because it’s a good request. You have to read and study and listen. For years. Just keep doing those things and you’ll be learning the Bible.
I have fun and (for the most part) obedient children. But it’s not because I’m lucky. I work at that. A lot! If you want the results you must do the work. There are no exceptions to this.
Sometimes work is called something else, like practice or training.
Want to learn to play the piano? Practice and practice some more.
Want to be a better cook? Get in there and cook.
Want to learn a foreign language? Practice. Read. Study. Exercise your skills.
Want to run a 5K? Run. Train.
Arm yourself with God’s view of work. I want to bring all of my views in line with the Bible because that’s the way to success in life (Joshua 1:8). And it’s going to involve some work.
What did you think about today when you got up? Did you see a to-do list miles longer than what you could accomplish? Did you see a dreary day that was covered with burdens and problems? Did you see a chance to serve God right where you are?
One thing I’ve noticed among the many missionaries I’ve been blessed to meet and know is that they aren’t super people. They aren’t the top crust Christians that were just so amazing that God said, “You are exactly what the mission field needs!” And I’m not attempting to slight them at all; I know some amazing missionaries! What I have noticed is that they are normal Christians who were willing and available. They are normal Christians with struggles and problems and slip-ups. They are normal Christians who want to serve God but just aren’t sure they are doing a good job. They are just like you and me.
Now I’m not saying that God is going to call you or me to the mission field. (But would you go?) What I am saying is our willingness to serve is proved in our daily lives. We can’t claim that we would serve God in big ways if we aren’t serving in the little ways. We can’t claim we would speak to presidents and rulers about him if we won’t speak to our neighbor about him. We can’t claim that we would live with conviction in a foreign city if we won’t proclaim Christ with our lives where we are now.
Do you want to serve God? Serve Him today. Serve Him in the diapers, dishes, laundry, preschool, homework, filing, bookkeeping, customer service work you do. Serve Him by serving your husband, your children, your boss, your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends. Serve Him by biting your tongue instead of letting those words fly out. Serve Him by putting on clothes that honor God. Serve Him by spending time with Him and then getting up to tackle your work. Serve Him right now, today.
Yes, the daily can seem like nothing. It can seem like it doesn’t matter; like it doesn’t make a difference. It can seem like nothing but when God is looking for a faithful servant it will mean everything. Don’t discount what God has given you today.
If God were to suddenly put you on whatever platform you imagine- the mission field, a speaking position- you would be the same person. You wouldn’t suddenly be more godly, more patient, more loving, more anything than what you are now. What are you now? Can God use you as you are right now?
We are so willing to say that God loves us in our mess, that His grace conquers all- and it does. But it doesn’t give us an excuse to not grow. Instead it should motivate us to do more than what we are. Christ’s love for us is our great motivation for life, for our daily service.
But an important principle I have been studying helped me even more. I am supposed to center my day around Jesus. Not around what I wish my reality were or what I want my day to look like. Not around naptime or my husband coming home or drinking Dr. Pepper or anything else I might look forward to. Not around checking everything off my list or my perfect vision of home.
…and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Hebrews 12:1b-2a
I read somewhere that I shouldn’t complain about the service God has called me to until I have done as much as Jesus did on the cross. That really stuck with me. I’m not to compare myself to what my husband or my neighbor or anybody else is doing, just what Jesus did. That means I should never complain. I will never give as much of myself or give up as many of my own desires as Jesus did when He died for me.
So how can I center my day around Jesus? Here are a few things that help me.
1. Start your day with Jesus. Read your Bible and pray. Ask God for His help. And yes, this is frequently interrupted by small children. Relax your expectations. Do as much as you can and carry a verse with you. God knows your heart.
2. Know what’s most important. We’ve recently narrowed our parenting goals down to two concepts. Can you pinpoint exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now? Knowing that relieves some of the pressure because you can shrug off the things that can easily wait until tomorrow.
3. Release control. This is a mental effort. Actually all of these are. So many of the battles in our lives are mental. That’s why we are to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) This is Jesus’ day. His plans matter, not yours. Give it to Him.
4. Give yourself grace. A lot of times the things that stress me out are expectations I’ve imposed on myself. I must read x number of books with the boys to be a good mom. I must complete x amount of work around the house to be a good homemaker. I can’t give you a verse for those things and while they are good occasionally I need to throw them all out the window. God’s plans for my day may not involve any of my checklist!
5. Repeat. I have to constantly remind myself to stay focused on Jesus. Everyday is about Jesus.
Jesus can help me to walk through each part of my day with His grace. Through the expected, the unexpected, the unpleasant, and the exciting. I don’t have to wait for some thing to happen for me to have a good day and then be disturbed or upset if it doesn’t happen. Jesus is enough. (But a Dr. Pepper never hurts either!)
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11 (emphasis mine)