Friday, September 17, 2010

God is good.

It's looking more and more like we're going to India. We asked God to provide if it's His will. And he's beginning to. We received $1000 in about a week. Some because of sacrifices we made, but more because God is just that good. My boss has given me permission to have off work for 2 more weeks. I've got overtime shifts scheduled to help pick up some extra costs. Now we're on to applying for our visas and seeing if the country will allow us access. :) Yay! My mom has been worried about "problems" in India that she's heard about. I've prayed about that as well. I definitely want to go somewhere safe, but at the same time, God may not send us to a safe place one day. We must be bold and faithful that He will provide and that he will watch over us. But the majority of the problems are in the small towns in Northern India and we will be the southern part and in a larger town. We're excited about what's to come!
This week has been ICP (international church planting) week at the seminary. All the chapel services have been about mission work. Monday night we went to the seminary for a meeting with some European missionaries and some reps from the IMB. The missionaries shared some stories about what God is doing in their country and the rep talked about application process and things that have changed recently with the appointing process. He told us that we need to apply about 18 months before we are ready to be appointed - so we're already behind. Haha. Daniel plans to finish his classes here in Dec '11 so we would be ready to leave as soon as he's finished. Yikes!
However, we're applying to be hospitality team at a local apartment complex that requires a 2 year contract, so if it all works out, we'll be here for at least 2 more years. It's an awesome program that works to help aparments with resident retention. We would be called the "CARES team" and we would plan and implement about 3-4 parties/events a month in the community and be in charge of visiting tenants. We've passed the phone interview and we're head first into the application now. Again, we're excited to see where the Lord leads us next.
Wednesday me and Daniel and two new friends of ours went out to "take the hill." The seminary has been working for the past year to make sure that every house within a one mile radius of the seminary has had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Let me just say that there are a LOT of houses within a one mile radius of the seminary. Every student was asked to take 5 houses and were also given a bag with a Spanish and English New Testament, tracks (in both languages) and some other information to leave if no one was home. A few people weren't home, a few didn't speak English, but we did get to talk with one young man. He is around our age and claimed that he knew nothing of what we were talking about. We shared our hearts with him for about 30 minutes, telling him of the love that our Father offers him. While he made no decision that day, he was very interested in what we were saying and took a New Testament and promised to call us if he had questions or wanted to talk more. We thanked God for that oportunity to plant seeds and we pray for someone else to come along and water them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cooking with the Brays

I haven't posted much of the food that we've been baking and cooking lately. I've been trying out new (and some old) recipes and I thought I would share some with my blogger world. It all started a few weeks ago with some recipes that I found online. We eat chicken A LOT, and there are only so many things we can do with chicken. When we went home to MS a few weekends ago, Mrs. Sharon gave us some of her vegetables that she had canned (including squash, green beans, butter beans, and also some jams/jellies!). While we were there, we had a birthday party for PaPaw and Aunt Kim complete with brisket, broccoli salad, squash casserole, homemade desserts, and a bunch of other food that I can't even remember right now. Anyway, I fell in love with the squash casserole and was so excited to find the recipe in our Bray Family Cookbook that Nana made us for a wedding present. So that night, I made fried chicken, Bray Family squash casserole (but I made it my own with a few different ingredients) and green beans. Did I mention the homemade gravy? It was so good! Definitely not the kind of meal we feed our CVICU patients as it was not heart healthy at all and I'm sure that meal clogged a few arteries. The picture makes most of it look like mush, but it was soooo good!

My next attempt at a new recipe was for the 4 Cheese-Veggie Lasagna Cups. Basically, biscuits, tomato sauce, cheese, and frozen vegetables. Again, I just used what I had at the house, so I didn't use the ricotta cheese or garlic or parsley, but they still turned out very yummy!

1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® Flaky Layers refrigerated original biscuits (8 biscuits)
1 bag (12 oz) Green Giant® Valley Fresh Steamers™ frozen broccoli, carrots, cauliflower & cheese sauce
3/4 cup diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion (from 14-oz can)
1/3 cup Italian-style tomato paste (from 6-oz can)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (5 oz)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Separate 2 biscuits into 3 layers each; add 1 layer to each of remaining 6 biscuits. In ungreased jumbo muffin pan, press each biscuit on bottom and up side of muffin cup.
2. Microwave frozen vegetables as directed on bag. Pour vegetables into medium bowl; stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and garlic.
3. In small bowl, mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of the parsley. Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon ricotta mixture into each biscuit. Top each with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese and rounded 1/4 cup vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and parsley.
4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and filling is hot. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Carefully run knife around side of cups to loosen; remove from pan. Cool 10 minutes longer before serving. Serve warm.

(I added tops to mine, but that's evidently not the way I was supposed to do it! Haha.

Friday when I woke up to go to work, I found this on the counter waiting for me. A delicious catfish fillet with peppers and onions and tater tots!

Last Sunday we had a fellowship meal after church. We always have some sort of theme or style of food and this Sunday was Breakfast. Daniel made a Cheesy Hasbrown Casserole with ham and bacon. (it's the mostly yellow casserole in the picture) The Joostens made a Sausage Caserole, and the Jencks made an omlet casserole. We also had pancakes and some wonderful desserts including coffee cake, pretzel salad, and a Cherry Delight cake that I made. Yum Yum!

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole
1 bag frozen hashbrowns
1 stick butter
4-6 cups of cheese (depends on how cheesy you like things)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz of sour cream
ham cut into small pieces (we used sandwich meat)
crumbled bacon
Cook the hashbrowns in a skillet with the butter and add your choices of seasoning. When they are tender, mix everything else together (save a cup or 2 of cheese for the topping) and place in a 9x12 baking dish and heat in the oven at 350 for 15-30 minutes until it is all warm and the cheese on top is melted.

Cherry Delight Breakfast Cake (or for any other meal!)
from Left to right: pretzel salad, coffee cake, and my cherry delight.

1 pkg. cherry chip cake mix
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1/2 c. slivered almonds (I did not have these, therefore I did not use them)

Mix together cake mix, butter, and eggs. Pour into ungreased 13 x 9 pan. Spread cherry pie filling over top and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. (I had to bake for about an hour)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
mix together and drizzle on top

This past weekend my mom informed me that my Nannie passed away. My Nannie was not a blood relative, but she was just like a grandma to me when I was young. She lived in Oklahoma and I spent many afternoons during my visits to OK with her baking. She has some amazing recipes that I now have in my collection. Her infamous chocolate chip cookies, pecan pies, pecan nut rolls, and brownies are just a few. My mom and I would always try to make her recipes at home after leaving, but we never could make the quite like she could. We always said that it was because she put so much love into her baking. Cheesy, but it's true. Nannie was a special lady and in memory of her I made chocolate chip cookies from her recipe. Of course, they we're even close to hers, but it took me down memory lane and I got to relive some of my precious experiences with my Nannie. That's what cooking is. It's memories and love and fully bellies. :) I'm so thankful for those experiences.