Let me be ME!

Welcome  Do you have a person or group of people you spend time with that truly allows you to be yourself?  Are you a person that let’s your true colors show in most any environment or do you have a different personality for each scenario you find yourself in?  We are all complex people, and I am no different in that description, but there’s only one that I feel comfortable with to just be ME.  

Food For Thought  I like to consider myself an honest person, telling the truth in any circumstance.  I have recently realized, however, that I may not always let my true personality show in every situation.  I haven’t intentionally tried to mislead people, but in so many situations, I try to conform or fit the expectations.  Many times, it seemed like a minor thing, but was actually a form of dishonesty.  Maybe I tried to pretend we had more money than we do or live in a nicer home than we actually have.  Maybe I tried to act like having nice cars and fancy purses were important to me, when I’m really more comfortable driving a muddy pick-up and wearing blue jeans.  Maybe I tried to act like I didn’t care that I was left out of a group or my feelings weren’t hurt when “friends” didn’t come through with support.  Then there are the other times when not being honest about who I am looks a lot like denying Christ.  That’s an ugly reality to face.

I can identify with Peter’s story in the gospels.  I have been walking with Jesus pretty much my whole life.  I love Jesus and know he loves me.  The Bible tells me so!  But sadly, I bet there were times when Jesus could predict that I would not be the loyal Christian I should be.  I’ve never denied knowing Jesus with literal words.  But I haven’t needed to when my behavior and attitude did the talking for me.  There have been times in my life, similar to Peter, that I was more concerned with being accepted by others or saving my own dignity than expressing my loyalty to Jesus.  But that’s not who I really am, and I know it.  I’ve decided to be more committed to the honest and true me–a woman of middle age and middle income, who no longer wants to be a middle-of-the-road Christian, who switches lanes depending on how bumpy the road is getting.  I need to accept who I am and what’s important to me, but not just through word, but in deed.

When we begin to be honest with ourselves and others about our true identity, we are making ourselves vulnerable.  We make ourselves vulnerable to ridicule and skepticism.  We make ourselves vulnerable to criticisms and debate.  We are vulnerable to the opinions and persuasiveness of others, at the expense of our own beliefs.  This may lead us to quiet our voices a little more, speak a little less in the group, and shy away from places where there may be controversy.  At least that’s what I usually do.  It’s just so difficult and exhausting to convince others that I’m fine, just the way I am.  And painful, too.  I’ve already lost friends and distanced some family members by choosing to make my new life’s work faith-focused.  But over and over again, I have found the ONE whom I can always be my true self.

Interestingly enough, HE is also the ONE who knows the true me, with or without my pretending.  And it’s a good thing, too.  God knows who I really am.  He knows my real hopes and fears.  He knows my goals and dreams.  He knows when I doubt and my faith wavers.  He knows when I sin, even if it’s only in my heart or mind, and those seem to be where my biggest sins are committed!  He knows when I’m truly sorry.  He knows when I’m not guilty, even when accused.  He knows when I get less than I deserve and more than I ask for.  He knows my motivations, whether they’re in the right place or not.  He knows what really brings me joy in life.  He knows what brings me comfort and peace.  He knows what I’m trying to say, even when the words aren’t coming out quite right.  I’m so glad that I have this loving Father who accepts me when I’m really me.

My husband probably knows me better than anyone else on earth, yet I still hold my tongue or hide my actual feelings.  I keep some of my thoughts and comments to myself, and that’s a good thing, for the sake of our marriage.  I also don’t tell him all of my frustrations and anxieties, especially since he already thinks I have too many.  But man, sometimes I really just want to let some of this out, to someone who’ll listen without criticizing, to someone who really cares.  And then I am blessed with the opportunity to turn to my God in prayer.  Here, in this moment, I get to truly be me.  I can praise Him with excitement and enthusiasm or plead through tears of despair.  I can be honest about those fears.  I can express my remorse for the wrongs I’ve done, knowing there will not be revenge or retaliation.  I can cry out for direction when I am personally lost and afraid.  In those moments of open and honest communication, God let’s me be ME, and loves ME just as I am.  Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your unconditional love and acceptance!

Today’s Scriptures  I have actually been working on self-acceptance a lot in the past year.  While working on this for the sake of my mental health, I didn’t want to come at the task with only selfish motives.  I looked in scripture to find verses that would help bring me around to my true identity while still keeping the focus on God.  One of the passages I found was in Ephesians, chapter 3.  It serves as a reminder for who I truly am and the love I receive from God, just for being me.

Ephesians 3:14-19  “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Today’s Recipe  Tacos have always been one of my favorite meals, but traditional hard-shell tacos are pretty messy and can be hard to work with for little ones or those with motor skill issues.  At our house, we solve our taco woes by opting for taco salad 90% of the time.  But I also came up with this “Baked Tacos” recipe that basically turns your regular hard-shell taco into a casserole that’s plate and fork-ready.  It’s just another spin on the southwestern flair we enjoy so much for our dinners.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Baked Tacos
Everything you love about traditional hard shell tacos in an easy-to-serve and easy-to-eat casserole.

Baked Tacos (about 6 servings)

  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 10-12 hard taco shells
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 8-oz or 1 16-oz pkg shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can sliced black olives, drained
  • taco accompaniments, such as salsa, sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, etc.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.  Place taco shells on bottom of dish.

 

Brown ground beef in skillet.  When cooked mostly through, drain off any excess fat, add taco seasoning (no water), pinto beans and half (8 oz.) of the cheese.  Stir to combine.

Using large spoon, place taco meat and bean mixture into taco shells, as well as around the shells.  Top with green onions, black olives, and remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.  Serve with favorite taco toppings.

Be sure to check back on Monday for a contest and giveaway announcement!

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