Sunday, February 6, 2011

This is the Stuff

I made it 12 years of driving without getting a ticket. 

Until last month. 

Matt and I were driving (well, I was the one putting the pedal to the metal) to Eastern Washington to visit my family for Christmas (yes, Christmas in January).  We had just reached the point in the drive, about 2 hours in, where it gets really boring; really flat, and straight, and brown, and boring.  I was driving, talking and completely not paying attention...until I saw the Sheriff's lovely vehicle lingering just beyond an overpass.  I was going 73 in a 60, and he gave me a ticket.  My very first ticket.  He was nice and stated on the ticket I was only going 70 in a 60 to save me a really huge fine.  The speeding ticket really was a long time coming though.  I've made that drive more times than I can count, and it's very difficult for me to go the speed limit; especially on that drive. 

"Well, I've learned my lesson" I said to Matt.  He worries about my need for speed (along with my parents, I once made the 3 hour drive to their house in 2 hours) and I know I should slow down.  The law is there for a reason; to protect me.  Just like my parents set rules when I was young.  They didn't want to take the fun out of my childhood or slow me down, but they wanted to keep me safe. 

Unfortunately, I didn't quite learn my lesson that January day. 

Last Wednesday, as I was driving to my weekly volunteer session at Vision House, a new song by Francesca Battistelli started playing on the radio.  I had only heard the end of the song, so I was excited to hear it all, and cranked it up.  I had decided last minute to take some leftover Lemon Ricotta Cookies and was already running a few minutes behind.  Was I speeding?  Perhaps.  I was just going with the flow of traffic on Maple Valley Highway while Francesca serenaded me with these lyrics:
45 in a 35
Sirens and fines while I'm running behind

It was actually 61 in a 50.  As I was pulling over to the shoulder I said a quick prayer. 

"Seriously God?!  I know I said I learned my lesson, and I'm sorry I didn't honor that.  I can't get another ticket.  God, I need your favor right now."  And then I thought, "Matt's going to be so mad if I get another ticket."   The officer kindly told me to slow down, and didn't even ask to see my registration.  He declined my offer of a cookie and we parted ways.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I really do think God has a sense of humor, I believe God has perfect timing, and I do not believe in coincidences.  I think God uses the small stuff in life, in everyday situations, to teach us large lessons.  Lessons such as following the rules that have been set forth in effort to keep me safe.  I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open for the big, as well as the small, lessons in life.

"And we know that in all things God works for the
good of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28 -

My next car will have cruise control.  That will also help.

I challenge you to be open and aware to the "stuff" in your life that God can use for good.  Be confident that whatever is making you feel frustrated or impatient can serve a purpose to create a better you , and your positive reactions to "stuff" in life can be a great encouragement for those around you.  Here are the lyrics and the song.

This is the Stuff
By:  Francesca Battistelli

I lost my keys in the great unknown
And call me please 'Cuz I can't find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

45 in a 35
Sirens and fines while I'm running behind
Whoa

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I've got a new appreciation
It's not the end of the world
Oh Oh Oh

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff
Someone save me
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
And I've gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

Oh Oh Oh Oh
This is the stuff You use










Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lucado and Lemon-Ricotta Cookies

On a semester basis our church offers small groups for women, men, married couples, young adults, activity groups, etc...there's something for everyone!  These Growth Groups offer small environments (about 5-16-ish people depending on the group) for people to study the Bible, learn, grow, fellowship, pray for one another, and build relationships.  I decided to join the same "group" of ladies as last semester, although we are doing a different study and have welcomed a couple new gals.  This semester, we're reading Max Lucado's Out Live Your Life.  Our first get-together of this study was this Tuesday, and we got together to just hang out, get to know the new girls (and more of each other), and EAT!  We had an Italian-themed dinner, and I was assigned "dessert".  Mmmmm...where do I turn when I need an Italian dessert recipe?...Giada De Laurentiis of course!  Quick Bio:  She's an Italian-American chef who studied to become a pastry chef in Paris, one of my favorite Food Network chefs, and she's gorgeous!

I didn't want to make something heavy or rich, and these cookies are neither.  They are sweet and refreshing, and satisfy that need for something sweet with just one cookie.  The word "cookie" is a little deceiving because these are unlike any cookie I've eaten before.  They are soft, spongy, and moist...like cake.  Matt was bummed I took some leftovers to the girls at Vision House today, because I "never make cookies".  Needless to say, he really liked them...and apparently I need to bake more cookies!

- Lemon-Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze -
What You Need:
Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

What You Do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.