Best Guacamole Recipe! (And a good analogy too)

•May 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

The first time I tasted guacamole I absolutely hated it. Green. Slimy. Yuck! All I could think of was green, watered-down Play Dough. I forced myself to taste it, and it was even worse than the pureed peas I used to feed my munchkins when they were little. Let me tell you, honestly, after tasting that guacamole, I’d rather have a jar of those peas! Then one day I found myself facing a bowl of guacamole, again. We had flown to Dallas to visit some friends and they took us to a great Mexican restaurant where they ordered, what else, tableside guacamole. Even though they raved about the guacamole, I decided to forgo the green goop. When the waiter placed the guacamole on the table I noticed that even though it was still green and pasty, it did look a little different. At the urging of my friends I decided I’d try just a smidgen on my chip—just to humor them. SHOCKER! The stuff was so darn good I couldn’t get enough chips. I didn’t even leave enough room for my dinner.

“How could this be the same stuff?” I wondered. My first experience with packaged, processed guacamole caused me to judge all guacamole. That just wasn’t the “real” stuff, and to think what I’d been missing all that time! I think many people have had a similar experience with church. Maybe you tried “church” and hated it. Just like over-processed guacamole left a bad taste in my mouth, did church leave a bad taste in yours? Did you find church to be out of touch and irrelevant? Maybe you even felt mistreated, ignored or misunderstood. Maybe the pastor turned you off. Yuck! I don’t blame you for not wanting to try it ever again. When I finally tasted the “real” guacamole, I couldn’t get enough of it. When you have the real deal, you know it. Just today I made homemade guacamole because it is now one of my favorite foods. I’ve shared my guacamole with friends and many of them have become guacamole lovers too! If you tried church and didn’t like it, I encourage you to try it again. It’s worth the search to find the “real” deal. You will be glad you did. You might even say, “Pass the chips.”

If you’ve never had really good guacamole, try out my recipe and let me know what you think:

2 ripe avocados (they will be soft, if not put in a brown paper bag for a few days to ripen)

2 TBSP red onion, chopped

1 TBSP chopped cilantro

1 large wedge of lime

5 cherry tomatoes chopped and seeded

Chopped jalapeño (you decide how much you like. Remember the heat is in the seeds and the veins)

Sea Salt

Warmed tortilla chips (warm them at 200 degrees in the oven while you make the dip)

Smash the avocados in a bowl with a fork. I like it smooth, but you might like it chunky. Then, add in your ingredients and mix. The lime wedge can be squeezed in at the end and you can rub the lime around the bowl to get little bits of lime in your guacamole bites.


Easter 2012

•April 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m really excited about Easter at Freedom House! There are so many amazing things happening for the whole family! First, your kids will enjoy lots of inflatables, eggs, candy and a petting zoo that even has giant bunnies in it! I can just see their faces now, can’t you?

Next, your older children and your teenagers will notice a truck pulling up with something special on it, just for them. I am not allowed to tell what it is yet, though. Why do they do this to me? It’s just too exciting. I wanna tell!

Then, a big announcement will be made that will have all the kids squealing, even some adults too. I know I am squealing inside. But can you believe the staff won’t let me tell that either? What’s wrong with them? Don’t you wanna know?

Every single person who comes is walking away with something we ALL love. I thought our creative team was the best ever when I heard what they are giving away to everyone. Man, but they won’t let me tell any of that either. I guess they are in to surprises. All I know is I am glad I am going to be there!

Lastly, (I saved the best for last) my husband let me in on the best part of the day! The message is going to be incredibly powerful and you don’t want your family or friends to miss any of it. What a great opportunity we have. We get to invite people to have an incredibly-amazing, fun time because God is fun, and we get to see life change right in front of our eyes. Get ready for a great Easter at Freedom House.


Service times: 8am, 9:30am, 11am, 12:30pm The 8 am time is our sunrise service with communion.

Easy Sausage and Cheddar Biscuits

•March 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

1 lb of Neese’s hot sausage, cooked and drained (you can tell a big difference if you use inferior sausage)

10 oz of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3 cups of Bisquick

dash of cayenne pepper

2 TBSP of milk

Mix above ingredients and form in large balls. The larger the ball, the larger your biscuits are. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. It really depends on how large you make them. You may also use muffin tins and well. They make a really nice shape. They also freeze really well for a mid-week fast breakfast!


I Just Can’t See Myself

•March 4, 2012 • 2 Comments

I always proofread my children’s projects before they turn them in. Inevitably, there are always spelling and punctuation mistakes to find. I usually circle them and then get them to correct the mistakes. My husband will often give me items he has written so I can look over them as well. Like the kids, I usually fix the mistakes and give it back to him.

Often times when I am reading articles on the Internet, I do the same thing. I find mistakes. Whether they are on a street sign, in a church bulletin or the newspaper, I just see misspellings and things that need to be corrected.

The other day I wrote a blog and looked over it for any spelling mistakes or punctuation errors. I mean I am not the best editor in the world but some things are just plain obvious, ya know? Well, I didn’t see any so I posted my blog and once it went up I read it again.  It’s kind of a proud moment when you hit that button and share your thoughts with the world.

As I read through my blog post again, I noticed a spelling mistake. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t catch it. I quickly fixed it and then returned to the page again to make sure that it was corrected. As I read through it again, I noticed another error. I had left a word out accidentally.  Astonished that I had not caught that one either, I quickly corrected it and then went back to the blog to make sure it was fixed.

Then it really hit home to me as I read through my blog one more time, my blog post was filled with lots of mistakes. I had punctuation errors, spelling errors, I had left words out, used other words incorrectly, and the like. You name it and I had done it. My 5th grade English teacher would not have been very happy. I just didn’t know how I made all of these mistakes without catching it. Until………

What was the problem? I found it so easy to point out what was wrong with everyone else’s issues, but couldn’t see my own. No matter how many times I initially looked over my blog myself, I never saw the mistakes that were so easily seen when I looked at other people’s things. I was somehow blinded to my own issues; I had skipped over them.

Why was this the case? Well, I remember something Joyce Meyer once said. She said, “We judge others based upon their actions but we judge ourselves based on our intentions.” In other words, the same scrutiny that I was looking at everyone else with, I wasn’t willing to look at myself with.  I knew what I “meant to” say. I knew what I “wanted to” say. So, in my mind, that is what I DID say, even though it was wrong.

It is amazing how I can fine-tooth comb someone else’s life but not my own. I give myself a break because I know what I “meant to” say or “thought” I said but then when it comes to others, I don’t give them that same leniency. Funny how that is, isn’t it?

So what will help this? Well for starters, what if in my life I gave others the same leniency I gave myself? What if I was just willing to skip over their errors and ignore them? I don’t just mean in spelling mistakes and papers, I mean in life itself.  This really has little to do with spelling mistakes and more to do with tendencies I think we all have, to find fault with and critique others.

Next, what if I allow someone else to proofread the pages of my life privately before I hit the “post” button publically. There is so much I just can’t see unless someone else is invited in to help. Had I have had someone proofread my blog, they would have caught the errors that I didn’t. They would have seen what I couldn’t.  They could have given me some direction when I was lost in the belief that my misspellings and punctuation errors didn’t exist. Sometimes, I just can’t see myself.

Now what will you do? Will you look for errors in this post or will you read your own life’s pages?

Did the words I write resonate with you at all? Have you ever been like me?

Potato Casserole

•February 25, 2012 • 1 Comment

I just made this and you are going to love it!

Potato Casserole


1 16 oz bag of frozen hashbrowns

1 8oz container of sour cream

2 C shredded cheddar cheese

2 sticks of butter

1/2 C onion, chopped fine

1 can of cream of chicken soup

crushed corn flakes (they actually come crushed already in a white box)

Place pots in a casserole dish and pour one stick of melted butter over them. Combine sc, cheese, onion, and soup and pour over pots. Then take about 2/3 C of crushed corn flakes and mix with the other stick of butter (melted). Pour on top of pot mixture. Bake at 325 for 1 hr. covered, then about 15 minutes uncovered. Corn flakes should be golden brown.

Enjoy!!! And hey if you make this give me a shout back on the blog!

The Naked Pastor

•February 24, 2012 • 4 Comments

I recently had a conversation with a church leader, who in my estimation, is one of the best in the world. He said this to me, “Penny, the larger your church grows, the more friends you will have but there will be fewer of them you can trust.”

Wow, that was a pretty huge statement for me to chew on. My husband and I are people-lovers and as such, it took us a few minutes to fully digest what this leader was saying. What was the full scope of his words? How could I apply this to my experiences already? The questions flooded my mind.

Later that week my husband made a very poignant statement to me. He said, “Penny, you know the kinds of people I want to be around? They are people who I can just be real with. There are no games involved. They aren’t trying to size me up. They aren’t trying to find my weaknesses. There is no hidden motive waiting to be uncovered. They aren’t trying to get something from me. They are people you can just be yourself around and it’s safe to just be human.”

As we talked, I realized that is what we all want. We want to be understood. The difference is that when you are a pastor, there are expectations placed on you at times that are just unlivable. Yes, even by very well-meaning people. People think you never fuss at your spouse, that you never have a bad day, that your face has a perpetual smile plastered on it, or that every minute your speech is filled with words of faith. Its simply not real life. Nobody I know is like that, nope not even pastors.

My husband summed it up by using this scripture, Genesis 2:25, “….they were naked, but they felt no shame.” He said, “I want to be able to be naked, bare my heart, bare my soul, and not feel any shame or concern about doing that with my true friends. I want to be able to be real and have it handled appropriately.”

I get it and I do second that motion. As church leaders it often is difficult in friendships to navigate the hats we wear.  Navigating which hat is on can become very confusing for people who don’t have the experience and maturity necessary to successfully tread those waters. Are you my friend? My pastor? My boss? My leader?

So, what we are learning is this. In ministry we will have lots of people whom we love and who love us back, but that doesn’t mean they are the ones we show our nakedness to. That deep, deep trust is reserved for a few proven souls. If we aren’t careful, we will allow well-meaning people who simply aren’t able to handle our uncovered state into our lives. Without even meaning to, we will have opened ourselves up to hurt and misunderstanding unnecessarily.

Do you have a friend you can be totally naked with? No shame involved?

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

•February 21, 2012 • 3 Comments

Ok you guys keep asking for this so here you go! No more waiting! Please enjoy! Please also scroll down to the bar on the right and scroll all of my favorite recipes. You can search all of the pages for all of the best!

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Ancini de Peppi pasta (#78 by DeCecco) Harris Teeter carries this if you live in NC.
1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken
3 bay leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of thyme
Fresh parsley
4 boxes of organic chicken stock (Trader Joes is best out there & cheapest)
3 celery sticks
1 onion
10 small carrots or 1 large
Tony Chachere’s seasoning (a must)

Put chunky veges in a large soup pot. They will be removed, so keep them whole for ease. Pour in 3 containers of stock. Add in garlic-minced, thyme, bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of Tony’s seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium until veges are soft. Takes a while. Remove all veges from broth with a slotted spoon. Chop a few carrots to return to the pot. Discard the rest. Then add in half a box of the pasta balls. When pasta is fully cooked (box says how long) then you can add in 2 chopped cups of whatever part of the rotisserie chicken you prefer. Don’t overcook once chicken is in there. Don’t want it to dry out.
Add chopped fresh parsley and more Tony’s for extra flavor.

Note: Pasta gets larger the more it sits in the broth and the additional box is for subsequent days. Feels like it never runs out!

If you love this recipe, give a shout out to Betty Greco, my assistant. I stole it from her and then changed it around a bit! She’s a great cook!

This is what the seasoning looks like you need to buy.