Well, we’re almost three weeks into 2018. I never thought to see the year 2018. It used to sound so futuristic. But here we are wondering what the year will be like—planning, thinking ahead, but knowing that “the best plans of mice and men oft go astray.”
Then there’s the Biblical proverb: “The mind of a (woman) plans (her) way, but the Lord directs (her) steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Show us your way, Lord, this year.
One thing I know I’ll be doing is cooking, unless I leave this world, of course. I’ll probably be looking for new vegetable recipes and occasionally a dessert my husband and I can enjoy.
Speaking of vegetables, I have an interesting recipe for you today—found on the back of a carton of Brussel sprouts. You never know where a good recipe might manifest itself. So stay on the alert!
The recipe is super simple, but amazingly delicious. I predict you’ll like it even if you don’t like vegetables.
Brussel Sprouts with Broth
12 medium sized Brussel sprouts
Salt and Pepper
- For four people cut 12 medium sized Brussel sprouts in half.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- In a skillet saute sprouts for a minute in butter.
- Then add 1½ to 2 cups of beef broth. (I used 2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water.)
- Simmer until sprouts are tender.
What I love about this recipe is that it takes all the bitterness out of the Brussel sprouts. It’s a good accompaniment for salmon.
Food for Thought:
Today’s recipe is simple, but it has a twist that makes it unusually tasty. A dish or meal doesn’t have to be complex to be good. Consider the traditional Christmas Dinner. We may stack our plates high with turkey and dressing, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, our aunt’s favorite frozen fruit salad, two kinds of rolls, green bean casserole, carrot casserole, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.
Or if you don’t have company, you and your spouse might have ham, mashed potatoes, green beans almond and yeast rolls. The first meal is so complex you barely taste anything. But because the second is simple, the flavors are easier to savor.
I have a friend whose byword is simplicity. About a year and a half ago, her doctor put her on a strict “fodmap” diet. Since then she’s learned to concentrate on preparing the foods that are good for her with simple seasonings she purchases from spice stores. Now she’s applying the rule of simplicity to more and more of what has been a complicated life. And she’s reveling in the freedom of the change.
There are many definitions for the word “simple.” It can mean unpretentious, not complicated, humble, single-minded, with nothing added, pure or composed of a single substance, ingredient or element. Often it’s the unpretentious, the humble, the pure, the simple that are the best things in life.
You look out your window and spy a stellar jay seeking purchase on your bird feeder. The bird is striking with its bright blue feathers and totem-like black crest. You haven’t seen one since you were in the mountains on vacation. You feel a stab of joy. You sit at the table eating cookies with your eight-year-old grandson and the laughing bursts out a mile a minute. You return from a sizzling summer walk and someone offers you an ice-cold glass of water. You and your husband hold hands while you watch a Loretta Young movie.
Jesus used simple aspects of nature to teach spiritual truths. The wildflowers teach us about God’s care and provision. The fact that the tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree illustrates how the kingdom of God grows. Interesting to ponder.
As I think about simplicity, one of my favorite scripture verses comes to mind. “But I am afraid . . . your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3 NASV). In this Corinthian letter Paul is warning one of his churches not to follow strange teachings or men who are seeking glory only for themselves.
In John 12:1-8 the Apostle John writes of how Mary of Bethany modeled the simplicity of devotion to Christ. Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, He stopped for respite at the house of His friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. As He reclined at their table with His disciples, Mary left her serving to tend to her Master’s road-weary feet. But instead of using a basin of water and a towel as was the custom, she poured out her most precious possession, an alabaster bottle of pure nard she’d been saving for her own burial. She anointed and rubbed his feet with the perfume and dried them with her hair.
Mary was one of Jesus’ disciples, and she understood that soon her blessed Savior would die. She did what she could for him, not caring what people thought, but pouring out her love and grief in such a way that the fragrance of her devotion filled every room in the house. Jesus promised her that wherever the gospel spread, her story would be included.
Mary of Bethany inspires us and prods us to a magnificent single-mindedness, to a simple life of living for Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
She inspires me to think of ways I can practice this single-mindedness today: starting each day with the Word and prayer, practicing God’s presence throughout the day, praying without ceasing, praising Him for everything. Saying out loud, “I trust you Jesus,” every time you feel anxious.
To live a life that focuses on simple things—like nature, simple but savory meals and single-mindedly living for Jesus—is to live abundantly. It is to choose the best.