love your neighbor at Aldi’s

I went to Aldi’s today for a little pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping.  The only word I can think of to describe the trip is mad house.  My Aldi was packed with crazed holiday shoppers buying every manner of food items you might need for the big feast.   It was almost a grocery cart traffic jam.

No less than three times I ran into (almost literally) the same woman who seemed to be shopping for the same items as me, except she may have been shopping for a family three times the size of mine.  Each time I tried to say something friendly and smile.    Initially she was unable to respond in kind.   But, by the last time we met we discussed the pros and cons of the Aldi’s freezer selections.  As I was pushing my cart thru the parking lot to get my bags to the car, I ran into her one more time.  She waved and smiled and I wished her a happy thanksgiving.

First, I want to say I’m not a stalker.  Second, being outgoing is not typically difficult for me.  Though I grew up a bit north of here in the midwest, my family has taught me this: be kind to people in your path.  Look folks in the eye.  Speak kindly.  That kind of thing.   Having made sure you understand those specifics, I wanted to share what I realized today.  North, south, east, west – I’ve noticed people are tense.  Even here in the south, where it is typical, even expected that you would make conversation in the grocery line, people are not at ease in public the way we used to be.   Fear is no respecter of geography or cultural norms.

Did I mention the lady I spoke to looked like it was possible she might be from the middle east?  I can’t say for sure whether she was or wasn’t…

Honestly, I’ve walked on our city’s streets and wondered if there’ll be an attack here, like there was in Paris.  And I know it is not an impossibility.   I’m not paralyzed by my fears and anxiety. Not exactly.  I’m just not as friendly as I was.  Instead I tiptoe around afraid.  And worse, I’m suspicious.    This is the opposite of loving my neighbor.

Recently I’ve been bombarded on Facebook and social media and news outlets about refugees coming to our country, and what our Christian response to them should be.  It seems ridiculous for me to be thinking about housing refugees when I become extremely nervous just seeing a person of middle eastern decent in public.  And don’t tell me I’m alone in this: I’m not the only one who is afraid of all the scenarios of “what might happen.”

Today, I began to understand that loving my neighbor has to start in the checkout line at the grocery store.  It is moving beyond my anxious heart and believing that I must love those God allows me to meet.  Will I ever use my home or my resources to show God’s love to Syrian refugees?  I truly don’t know.  I will leave that to Him and try to move obediently into opportunities He gives.   But, I will love my neighbor as He commanded starting now – even at Aldi’s.


Matthew 22:36-40   “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”   Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

leave the light on


Several weeks ago my husband decided to run conduit in our backyard, ending at the bottom of the steps that lead up to his workshop.   He has been working on this project, building an elaborate lamp post for the better part of two months.

At one point I said to him, “There are so many things you could be working on now.  We are so close to you making a guitar.  Why are you wasting time on this light fixture?”  I was a tad bit frustrated, in case you can’t tell. If it were up to me, I’d have him floundering in the dark.  But, calmly he said, ” I need the light.  It is dark out there at night.  And that’s when I’ll be working in the shop mostly – at night.”  so that settled that, and now – the project is complete.

Now we have a golden glowing lamp giving light to everyone who comes to the shop.

It will come as no surprise to you then, knowing my careless frame of mind, that last week I found myself navigating in the dark.  By my own choice, no less.  Life had become terribly busy, many places to be,  stuff to do and decisions to make.   In the middle of that, social media was lit on fire with disagreements about refugees, politics, devastation and terrorists, christianity, elections and many other dilemmas.  I tell you it caught me off guard;  I was completely blindsided and could not see straight.

The problem is, it wasn’t until several days into the struggle of trying to separate my emotions, thoughts and beliefs that I realized : I was in the dark.  Normally as my days pass, my schedule includes opening God’s Word – I keep the lamp lit on my path.   However – in the midst of getting busy, I had let the light go out.  I hadn’t made the time to read and think on His Words and His thoughts.

Sometimes I forget just how important it is to keep His Light pointed at my steps – and I let myself stumble in the dark.   But I do remember learning this Scripture and it’s importance when I was a child:

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. ”  Psalm 119:105

As promised, His Word glows in my heart and my mind – illuminating my way.  I can’t tell you I’ve figured everything out and have all the answers.  But, I do know decisions become clear and right thoughts are brought to light in the presence of His Words.   God’s Word is what keeps me from fumbling around in the night;  it guides every single step. I’ve just gotta remember to leave the light on.


run your pace…


A few days ago I came across the sweetest little yellow rosebud that I ever saw.  She was hanging on for dear life,  on the rose bush in front of my house.  Here, in mid-November, she is a bit of an anomaly, waiting patiently to bloom.

She has a hard road a head of her over the next couple of nights when the temperatures are supposed to drop and the wind is supposed to pick up; normal weather for November, but, not for delicate yellow roses.

I can’t help but wonder how she feels about it.  Does she feel like she’s blooming at the wrong time?  maybe misplaced? or dismissed?  There are times when I can identify with her – in many parts of my life, but specifically in my running.

You know, I wasn’t in good shape as a younger person when it would have been normal or convenient.  When others were playing ball,  beginning new sports or even running, I was sitting on the piano bench practicing for hours at a time and days on end.

So now, here I am at forty, just now taking up with being healthy and I feel like such a late bloomer.  I know that this path I’m on has been carefully laid out for me by the Heavenly Father himself.  However, that doesn’t help me sometimes.  When running with a friend, or with my husband, when I’m working out trying to improve, or running in a race –  I’m slow.  painfully slow.  And I find myself trying to run at someone else’s speed – desperate to keep up with others.

Do you know what I’m discovering? I can only be myself.  A little late to be learning at 40, right? But, I’ve arrived at this moment in my life, by His hand. I can only be who He’s created me to be. Regardless of what others are capable of – I can only run my pace.   No matter how wrong it may feel at times, He’s created me and He’s thinking of me at every step.

I love this reminder from Psalm 139:14-17

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!

Sometimes it is cold and windy, waiting to bloom in November, but I am not a mistake. and I am not alone.

the latest stop on my journey to the perfect brownie…


It is true that I’ve made a lot of brownies in my life time.  It is also true that I’ve posted several brownie recipes here on the Daily Portion blog.  But most of all, it is true that I’ve never made brownies this good before.

I’m not one to say crazy things like, “This is the only brownie recipe I’ll ever use from now on…”  nothing like that for goodness sake.  But, it will be hard to beat these.  very hard.

If you enjoy a gooey, dense, fudgey brownie – this recipe is definitely for you!   If you enjoy a fluffy, cake-like brownie, well then, you should just go make chocolate cake.

Anyway… here it is, just in case you need a little chocolate this rainy weekend.  The recipe includes inordinate amounts of chocolate, sugar and butter culminating in the glossiest, smoothest batter I’ve ever witnessed.  Like I said, it is the closest I’ve come to perfection.

Doubly Decadent Fudgey Brownie.

  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I used kerry gold butter.)
  2. 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder (I used 3/4 cup nestle cocoa and 1/2 cup hershey’s dark cocoa)
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 1 tsp. baking powder
  6. 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 1 1/2 cups flour
  9. 2 cups of chopped semi-sweet chocolate.  (I used a large bar of Ghirardelli and a cup of Nestle’s mini chips.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with shortening; set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat.
  4. Once butter is completely melted add in sugar and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture into a large bowl.
  5. Whisk in cocoa, salt, baking powder, vanilla, eggs.
  6. Mix until combined.
  7. Stir in the flour and chopped chocolate until well combined.
  8. Spread brownie batter into prepared pan (batter will be very thick).
  9. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

(Just to be sure I give credit where it is due, I found this recipe on


Never fancied myself a farmer

Growing up in the midwest, I was surrounded by farming communities, in Illinois, and Ohio, and even southern Ontario.  Wide-open spaces with rolling hills, and fields upon fields of crops, there were beans and corn, and corn and beans… as far as the eye could see.

And even though I’ve known many, both friends and family, who enjoyed the lifestyle of rural farm life, not once did I say to myself, “I’d like to be a farmer’s wife one day.”  It just wasn’t something I aspired to be.

Recently, I realized, that maybe I’ve become a farmer of sorts.  It wasn’t intentional by any means… but over time, maybe the last nine or ten years, I’ve eased in to the occupation.

It all began when I received an email from a gracious mother who’s children are in my choir.  Her sweet little ones move around the house, singing songs and repeating Scripture I’ve taught them.   She thanked me for working with the young people of our church, teaching them things that will last a lifetime.   As I read that kind mama’s words I thought about what a pleasure and a joy  it is to till the soil, and sow God’s word into these fertile hearts and minds.

The position I find myself is a bit abnormal.  In this role, I won’t see the gospel come to fruition later in their lives. I’m a farmer who sows without immediately reaping.   And I wonder about their futures, because of my planting…

Will they be drawn to a saving knowledge of Christ?   Maybe they will gain great courage from a Scripture we learned together.  They might sense the nearness of His presence when they remember a song we rehearsed, right at the moment they need it most.  Is it possible they would be encouraged in the darkest of nights, when they recall a hymn full of truth and grace from God’s Word?  I guess I don’t know for sure.  But, I can recount the times that these kinds of experiences have been reality for me -when a certain Scripture or song I learned in my childhood was come to mind.

What I know for sure: If I will continue the work of planting the seeds,  I can have confidence that the Holy Spirit will finish the work that has begun as He sees fit.

With all of this in mind, I’m finding I suppose I don’t mind the idea of farming after all.

from Deuteronomy 6:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

answered prayer, wrong day…

Yesterday  when I woke up it was Saturday.  In case you aren’t aware, Saturdays normally belong to me.  It just works better that way.  I make plans and I get stuff done. Please, I’m begging, don’t mess with my Saturdays.  Ever.

So, yesterday…  It started out fine, but by lunch time, things were coming unglued.  And by unglued, I actually mean, Michael had an accident and we had to go to Doctor’s Express to get a bad cut dealt with.  He sliced open the top of his left index finger.

Here’s the thing : on a normal day, my prayer life might consist of asking the Heavenly Father to administer growth in my heart.  “Help me to be more like You,” I pray often.  “Let my life show Your fruit!”    But it is impossible to pray that prayer and know what your asking for…  I’m never prepared for how He will answer.

As we sat in the waiting room for a physician to look at Michael’s finger, I could feel it happening.  Patience was slipping away.  And all sympathy or concern was passing, and being replaced with selfishness.

I might as well have told God in my completely self-absorbed way, “Listen, I know what I asked for, but I didn’t mean on my Saturday!”

The truth is, I’ve never resembled Jesus when it comes to showing lovingkindness – My attitude is more like this:  “Oh! You’re hurt?  I’m so sorry!  Now, lets get on with things.”  And every time I’m given the opportunity to allow fruit to develop, I destroy it!  Especially yesterday, on my Saturday, when all I could do was think:  “Look, honey- It is Saturday!  I don’t have time for this!  I’m sorry you almost cut your finger off – but I have stuff to do…”

Oh, I realize it sounds ugly – but I’m not good at compassion some times.  I can be, if it is convenient for me.  And even as I type these words, I’m aware (again) of how sinful I am.

Last night, when it was late and dark and rainy and cold, and we realized we were out of bandages that we needed to wrap Michael’s finger, I made a run to Walgreen’s.  For some reason on that drive, I was reminded of the Scripture from Isaiah 53:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

His death on the cross, bearing every sin, allows Him to understand each one of us deeply in a human way – whether death or suffering or sin or sickness –  It was all laid on Him to experience.  I will never be able to understand or care for my loved ones to this degree.  It is impossible.

But, here is how that Scripture can change me: The more I focus on His complete sacrifice, the less my selfish motives make sense.  And, the more I allow His great love to sink deeply into my heart, the more love I will be able to offer others.    Maybe when this truly happens, someday,  I will be less interested in my prayers being answered on the right day, and I’ll welcome Him to work in my heart on His terms.

Over the Top…

It’s Thursday, the day after I became a 37 yr old.  Now, I know, I know.  Some of you are a little upset because you thought I was closer to 40 than that.  In an effort to make it up to you, who have this grievance, I am giving you a favorite recipe.

Thirty Seven, after being thirty five and thirty six for so long felt, well, over the top.  So,  I thought it was appropriate to share a recipe for these cookies that I made for an event recently.  They are called “Over the Top Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.”  Proportionally they are about as over the top as it felt to turn 37, which was a lot.


Yesterday someone mentioned to me that, “It’s all down hill from here…”  Oh yes, thank you ever so much for that encouragement.  I guess it was more over the top than I knew…Once you’re up and over there’s not anywhere else to go than down.  oh dear.


These cookies seem to feel right for the Fall season, too.  Although, truthfully when does chocolate and peanut butter not feel right?   I wouldn’t know – I have an unconditional love for Reese’s cups or anything of the sort.  YUM!

So, here is the recipe for you.  If you felt deceived about my age, please accept this as a token of my sincere apology. And, I hope this makes things okay between us now.

Over the Top Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
32 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 4 pieces

1. Mix the ingredients down to the vanilla.  Add soda, salt & flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

2. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop dough (these are big cookies!). place 6 scoops of dough on ungreased cookie sheets.  use your hand & slightly flatten each scoop of dough.  Cook for 12 minutes at 350.

3.  Remove cookies from oven & lightly press 8 cut up pieces of the Reese’s peanut butter cups over the top of each cookie. Return to the oven for 2 more minutes.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before placing on cooling rack.

Makes 18 cookies

Notes: I’ve used semi sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks.  In place of the Reese’s pb cups, you could also use mini or regular M & M’s or Reese’s pieces.  The photos here show my cookies with a combo of the mini cups and Reese’s pieces.

Also, I do make smaller cookies – using a scant 1/4 cup scoop.  and by scant I mean I only fill the scoop about 2/3 full. – just be sure to watch the baking time if you make the smaller cookie – takes about 12 minutes, add the toppers, then bake another 3 or so…


Enjoy!  This recipe was given to me by my lovely and talented sister, Marilyn.  :)

Originally posted October 4, 2012.