Slimy sponges

While doing the stack of dishes this morning, I got to the very bottom of the sink and saw several sponges that were slimy and dirty. In the past, I would just throw them away but today I thought I would do something different.

I turned the hot water on and waited for it to get really hot then I sprayed each one down. I watched as the dirt and grim slowly disappeared. Afterwards it was like I had new sponges.

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Today is Good Friday. When I was in fifth grade, attending a parochial school, I had no idea why “Good Friday” was “good.” How could the day they killed Jesus be good? It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized why this day is “good.”

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and 17, it says, “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life… This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT).

Jesus died so that I can be a new person—I was sentenced to die but He took my place and died for me. I have a new identity now because the old one died with Him. I was like those old and slimy sponges that needed to be thrown away, but God cleaned me:

“…you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11, NLT).

I am celebrating the life that God has given me through Jesus’ death on the cross. On Sunday, I will celebrate the day when Jesus conquered death.

Happy Good Friday!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Winter in April

With the weird snow we got this morning, I thought I would do something different and just post the pictures I took.

Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be full of joy and be glad in it” (NLV).

ImageImageImageImageImageIt’s hard to believe it was nice and sunny a couple of days ago:

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Personal mission

My husband and I was at a 5-day conference a couple of weeks ago. On one of the days we looked at the importance of a personal mission statement. I knew that it was important for a company to have a mission statement, but I didn’t realize that we should have our own mission statement too.

My mission statement (although I never referred to it as that before) was to, “help people grow in their relationship with Christ.” In fact, I discovered it was the first sentence in the “About Me” section of my blog site.

Recently, I was offered an online adjunct position with a secular college after an acquaintance referred me. I have taught part-time at several Christian colleges but this would be my first non-Christian school. I went through the three week training and was assigned my first class (it starts in mid-May).

The whole time that I was filling out my paperwork, going through training, and waiting on my class to start, I kept wondering what my purpose was in teaching there. I tried to convince myself that God opened this door and that I could “witness” to non-believers there, but something didn’t seem right to me.

Today I thought about my personal mission statement—“to help people grow in their relationship with Christ” and I realized that this school didn’t fit my mission statement.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes… Mark out a straight path for your feet… Don’t get sidetracked…” (NLT). Yes, it would be good to teach at another school, but if my main reason for teaching is to help people grow in their relationship with Christ, then this was not the right place to do that.

I wonder how many things we do that distract us from our personal mission—things we convince ourselves to do that turns into a distraction? We need less distraction in our lives.

What’s your personal mission?

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Trail bar

I really like granola bars and power bars. Sometimes I can find it at a good price, but most of the time it can be rather expensive so I thought I would look for a good recipe online. I found this one, but I wanted to change a few things: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/peanut-almond-snack-bars-50400000130039/.

The recipe called for butter, chunky peanut butter, chocolate toasted oat cereal (Cheerios), hard pretzel twists, roasted, salted almonds, and kosher salt, but I used these ingredients instead:

Margarine, soy butter (found it in the peanut butter section), honey nut oat cereal (instead of chocolate), “Fiber One” bran cereal (2 cups to replace the pretzels– I used a generic brand), raw cashews (1 cup to add crunch to the soy butter) and raw almonds, and no salt.

I basically doubled the recipe, using a 13×9 Pyrex pan to set the mixture.

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It didn’t take long for it to set—about 20-30 minutes.

Image There were things I should have done, like add salt to counter the sweetness of the soy butter and marshmallows. I also should have pressed the ingredients together more (I was able to cut it into cubes, but they were slightly loose).

Overall, a good recipe!

Romans 12:1, “…dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him” (NLT).

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Happy

Sometimes I think people take things too seriously. This seems to be especially true for things associated with the church. I think when some people hear the word, “Church,” they get a picture of boring activities and boring people. I don’t think Jesus was boring and I don’t think He did boring things. I think He tried to have fun as much as He could.

I think some churches feel that having fun might somehow be disrespectful to God or that it would diminish the gospel, but if we are made in the image of God then God created in us the ability to have fun and enjoy what we are doing.

A few days ago I began filming members of my church having fun. The idea was to show that our church can love God and still have fun. I wanted to illustrate that we are happy to be at our church and that being in our church made us happy.

The result was a series of video clips that were pieced together using Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy”: http://youtu.be/dYtB4LN1xy4. My hope is to show that our church is different from the “stuffy” church that some people may envision.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 says, “So I recommend having fun because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them” (NLT).

I think there should be joy in serving God. May the happy music in your heart draw people closer to Him!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Banana Pudding (from scratch)

I thought I would share my latest cooking experience.

One of my favorite desserts is Banana Pudding. I wanted to make some so I looked online and found a recipe. I wanted to see if I can make it with less fat so I changed some of the ingredients. For example, I used “egg substitute” rather than whole eggs, skim milk instead of “regular” milk, and reduced fat vanilla wafers. Other changes– using granulated light brown sugar to replace white sugar, and soy flour instead of cornstarch.

The instructions said that the sugar and eggs should be “beaten” so I used a mixer, initially on the “low” setting and later on “high,” to combine the sugar and egg substitute. I followed the other instructions, stirring the ingredients over medium heat with a whisk until the mixture thickened.

I lined my bowl with the wafers and banana slices then poured some of the pudding over it. I layered the wafers, bananas, and pudding three times and then I refrigerated it.

ImageMy husband said that it didn’t taste like a typical banana pudding, but he liked it. He described the dessert as a “custard, cake-like, banana thing.” I liked it too, but I thought it was a little sweet. I think next time I will reduce the sugar to ¾ cup and I will make a double batch so that I can have thicker layers.

Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/old-fashioned-banana-pudding-32625

“…we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8, NLT).

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Sanctuary

“The Walking Dead” is a show on AMC that has become very popular over the past few seasons. I’m not sure what the appeal of it is for everyone, but I think for some, it makes them think about how they would survive if “life as we know it” suddenly changed and people had to constantly look for shelter and food to stay alive.

The show has its share of excitement and plot twists. Throughout the series viewers are left with a feeling of uneasiness. The main characters often meet “bad people” who want to rob or kill them, or they have to fight off “walkers” that try to attack them. In this season the home they had was destroyed, and in their haste to leave, the group was scattered and separated.

In the latest episode (season 4, episode 14) the splinter group of two adults, two children, and a baby find a house in the “middle of nowhere.” There’s food, water, and gas for cooking. The group was contemplating living there, but then something tragic happens (the ending took viewers by surprise). The splinter group decides to leave in order to find a sanctuary known as “Terminus.”

It would be terrible to live in a world where there is no justice and people have no real peace. The truth is, our circumstances are very similar in “real life.” We live in a world where tragic things happen all the time. Sometimes people do cruel and terrible things to others and there seems to be no justice. Some people live in fear and have no peace. People want to find “sanctuary.”

In the midst of all these horrible things, God is the refuge for all. In Him people can find peace, justice, strength, and life. God is like that house in the middle of “nowhere” but His shelter is permanent—a fortified fortress, an everlasting sanctuary.

If you want to “survive” and truly live, then turn to God. “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10, NLT).

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Affirmation

Sometimes God speaks through an email…

I have been teaching online classes for a few years now. Over the last few months I kept wondering if anything I did really mattered—maybe I should do something different, maybe I’m not as encouraging as I thought I was, maybe I’m just wasting my time, etc.

Today I received an email from one of my students from this past semester. She is graduating in May and she had to write a paper discussing the five classes that impacted her. My class was one of them— “I wanted you to have a copy you were such a big part of. I really enjoyed your online class.” I was so touched by the email and the paper because not only did I teach that class, but I also wrote it—picked out the books and created the assignments.

The student writes: “This was my one and only online class, and I was intimidated going into this type of learning environment. I found that I enjoyed the setting and learned more by doing more on my own. My instructor was Dr. Maria Trascritti (Dr. T.) I was challenged by her correction of my work.  It was constructive and helped me immensely…The seven step decision making process is important to my work now and the work I plan on doing in the future within the health care industry

I will be prompted to ask myself if the decisions I am making will impact others positively or negatively, who will benefit, and if what I decide will glorify God… One of the most memorable ethical situations that was brought to light while I was taking this course related to a scripture from Malachi 3:8 NLT, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings.”

In the work place just as in church or charity if we are withholding, we are taking or stealing what rightfully belongs to the workplace.  When an employee is actively not doing what they know they should be doing it is the same as stealing if they are taking payment for the day’s work.”

I have always felt that if I could impact just one student, then all of this work is “worth it.” I am thankful to God that I was able to influence this student in such a positive way. God is good!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Flourless Cake

I thought I would post something different today.

I enjoy cooking but I don’t always seem to have the time to cook. Today, I decided to bake a cake from scratch. Since we are watching our carb intake, I searched online for a “flourless” cake recipe and found one on a flour company website. My first thought was, “What? Why does this flour company have a recipe for a flourless cake?” Seemed odd, but it had good reviews so I gave it a try.

I glanced through the directions and decided to change a few things. For example, the recipe called for “bittersweet chocolate,” “3 large eggs,” “unsalted butter,” and optional “vanilla extract” and “espresso powder.”  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, egg whites from a carton, salted butter, imitation almond extract, and an instant Mocha mix.

The instructions also said that I had to “briefly” blend the batter and “mix just to combine.” I noticed that the mixture was lumpy from the unsweetened cocoa powder that I used so I grabbed my hand mixer and beat the batter on the “high” setting for several minutes. The batter became fluffy.

I poured the mixture into the prepared pan and baked it for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. When the cake was finished baking, it was moist and it had the consistency of “regular cake.” My family loved it. I am so happy that I found this recipe.

ImageImage“…Eat your food with joy…” (Ecc 9:7, NLT), “…whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31, NIV).

Recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe#ReviewSection

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Calories and Fat Calories explained

My husband and I are facilitating a study at the church on Wednesday nights—The Daniel Plan. Last week we discussed exercise and food.

I have always been a “calorie counter.” When I was in Jr. High School (now known as “Middle School”), I had a really good health teacher. He told us the importance of counting calories. Not only was it important to look at the calorie number on foods, but it was also important to look at the “Calories from Fat” or “Fat Calories” (products will use one or the other).

He explained to us that calories are good—we need calories to function. Calories were like gas for a car. We use calories even when we’re not doing anything—like sitting or just breathing. If we don’t have enough calories then we start to forget things or feel really weak.

When I look at foods, I look at both the “Calories” and the “Calories from Fat.” Everyone should consume a certain amount of calories per day: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/estimated-calorie-requirement

The calories in food tells me how many calories will count towards my daily intake. For example, if I am supposed to have 2,000 calories a day, then this candy bar will account for 210 of it.

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The problem though, is that 110 of those calories are fatty.

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The way I explain this is that “Calories” in general are like wood you burn in a fireplace. The higher number of “Fat Calories” or “Calories from Fat” indicates how wet the wood is that you are trying to burn. Wood is supposed to be dry so it can burn better, but if the wood is saturated with water then it will not burn very well—this is “Calories from Fat.” The lower the “Calories from Fat” the better your body will “burn” and use it– the higher the number, the wetter the wood.

Here is a picture of the calories for a particular cereal.

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The amount of calories per serving with milk is about the same as the candy bar, but the “Calories from Fat” or “Fat Calories” is much lower. This means that I can run a couple of miles to burn the 200 calories from the cereal, but since the candy bar has 110 “Fat Calories,” then that means I will have to run about four miles to burn off the candy bar.

My body will burn around 100 calories for one mile of running, but it will burn only about 25 “Calories from Fat” for each mile. In a way, my body will need to heat up to a point where it dries the wood (“Fat Calories”) so that it can be burned– that’s why I will need to run double the distance if I eat the candy bar. So it’s important to choose foods that are low in “Calories from Fat”/ “Fat Calories.”

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti