Critical Minds

Welcome  I think one of the most dangerous things we can possess as a Christian is a critical mind.  It fills our hearts and minds with negativity, whether we are criticizing ourselves or others.  I recently read a devotional that addressed the behavior of being critical and my eyes were opened.  It was one of “those” days and as I read the words, I jotted in the margin, “Oh, I need this so much today.”  Thank you for letting me share my thoughts from that devotional with you today.  It’s also Two For Tuesday, so I have two great recipes for you today, both inspired by my daughter’s recent 4H activities.

Food For Thought  I find it interesting how many negative, or even sinful behaviors we have in our lives, without really knowing what they are or just how bad we’ve let them grow.  Some of our acts we know about and work diligently to try to improve.  Others we are sadly unaware of until they are brought to our attention.  If we’re lucky, a good friend or close family member will help us see the error of our ways.  Sometimes we face the consequences of our choices in a less-than-kind environment.  Other times, our eyes are opened in a study of God’s Word.

I recently read a morning devotional on the topic of perfectionism.  I have been a “recovering perfectionist” for about 18 months now, when I finally realized this was not a positive character attribute to possess.  Only through this devotional, did it sink in that being a perfectionist also means being highly critical of others and myself, expecting success every time, with little room for error.  In my reading, it stated that those who consider themselves perfectionists or often have highly critical personalities are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  Yep, I can vouch for that!  This makes sense, because perfectionists are constantly in a state of stress, fearing something wasn’t done right or is not going to be done right in the near future.  There is a constant fear of making mistakes.  And there’s the ongoing perception that others must be just as critical, waiting to judge my every move.  It really is an unpleasant way to live and not exactly the fun crowd to hang out with, either.

The new perspective I found in this reading was that being a perfectionist, or big on criticism, puts the focus on self, always believing I can do it better.  We try to become the judge.  Our focus has left true perfection (in Christ) and turned a constant critical eye on those who can never measure up to perfect.  We feel the need to have a death grip on control, when we are not meant to be in control of all things.  Our “perfect” plan will never be THE perfect plan.

I’ve been working on surrender of control, expectation, and perfectionism for a while now.  Sadly, I forgot that being critical of others…how they do their jobs, how they take care of their house or kids, how they spend their leisure time or money, how the chores get done…those are all branches of the same perfectionist tree.  I also know that being critical of myself requires a healthy balance.  I need to be aware of areas to improve on while also giving myself grace when I make mistakes, because they’re going to happen!

Critical Questions
I personally need reminders to not think so critically, of others and myself. These questions can become a great filter for potentially critical comments.

 

The next time you are tempted to criticize someone else’s choices, it may be a good idea to ponder these questions. Is their way wrong, or is it just different than I’m used to?  Is their choice putting themselves or anyone in danger?  Am I about to criticize in order to help them be successful, or because I want to do it my way?  Is my focus on being Christ-like, or is my focus on making myself look better?  I wish I could give these questions to my younger self, so I could avoid broken relationships or disagreements caused by my own critical mind.  But then, it’s never too late to make a start for good.

 

Today’s Scripture

Today’s Recipes  Like I said, it is Two For Tuesday, so I have two recipes for you today.  They have both played a role in some of my daughter’s recent 4H adventures.  Which, by the way, our family LOVES 4H!  The first is a Classic Seven Layer Dip.  I made this for our local 4H family picnic earlier this month.  I had so many compliments on it and I was persuaded to share it on the blog.  It’s so simple, but it’s always a big hit when I take it to any gathering.  Let the kids eat the little bags of Cheet-ohs, the grown-ups will chow down on this delicious dip and tortilla chips!

The second recipe is another highly requested treat from my kitchen.  They are called Loaded Pretzel Cookies, and friends and family alike ask for these sweet and salty bites.  One of my daughter’s 4H projects is cooking.  One of the things they have worked on in their group is making cookies that are uniform in size and texture for entry into county and state fairs.  This week she asked if she could make these cookies to practice her skills.  So, with the exception of pulling pans in and out of the oven, my daughter made this batch all on her own.  I’ve made these cookies plenty of times myself.  I like these cookies because they use up odds and ends left in the pantry.

Classic Seven Layer Dip
Seven layers of your favorite tex-mex flavors served alongside crunchy tortilla chips.

 

Classic Seven Layer Dip

  • 2 cans refried beans
  • 1 pkg. prepared guacamole (I am a big fan of Wholly Guacamole)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 16-oz carton sour cream
  • 1 pkg low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 2-3 cups Taco-blend cheese shreds
  • 1 can sliced olives, drained
  • 4-5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 bags tortilla chips (look for a chip that holds up well to a thick or chunky dip)

Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole or baking dish.  Spread guacamole  on top of the bean layer.  Sprinkle lime juice over the guacamole to delay browning. (If you have a spray mist bottle, it will work well for spritzing the lime juice here.) In a small bowl, mix the sour cream with the taco seasoning until well combined.  Spread the sour cream mixture on top of the guacamole layer.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the sour cream layer.  Sprinkle the olives and green onions over the cheese.  Top with grape tomato halves.  Refrigerate for one or two hours.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Loaded Pretzel Cookies
Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy…these cookies have it all!

 

Loaded Pretzel Cookies (makes 5 dozen small cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks, coarsely crushed
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup M&M chocolate candies
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars together on medium speed.  Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix one more minute.  In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually beat flour mixture into the creamed mixture.  Stir in remaining ingredients with large wooden spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Using a small cookie scoop, shape cookies into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 13-15 minutes per batch.  Remove to wire cooling racks.

 

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