Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

Making the best use of our time, doesn’t mean, filling every moment we have, doing something.

It means finding what is *best* in any given moment, and ruthlessly cutting out everything else.

There are endless good things we can do with our time. The needs around us are almost infinite. Our family, our home, our office, our church, our community, our environment, our world – they all have needs, and clamour for our attention.

But we are just one person. We only have a set amount of time and energy in any given day. We also need to sleep, eat, and rest, if we want to keep going.

Because we are so limited by time and physical needs, we must be aware that every time we say ‘yes’ to one thing, we are simultaneously saying ‘no’ to a long list of other things we could be doing with that time.

God has made us very deliberately. He has given us individual abilities, and placed us in very specific places. We have been designed for a purpose.

If we want to know peace, we need to sit with Jesus, listen to his words, and follow his plan for our lives – to the exclusion of everything else.

It is easy to get caught up in trying to meet other people’s expectations, or impressing other people. We can end up setting so high a bar for ourselves, and working so hard to achieve it, that we forfeit our peace, and lose sight of our priorities.

I know – because this happens to me far more often than I’d like to admit.

But, if we keep focussing on Jesus, and his expectations, we will find that his burden is light, and his yoke is easy. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story of two sisters: Martha and Mary. They invited Jesus and his disciples for dinner. That was, at least, 13 grown men – a lot of mouths to feed!

Martha didn’t choose to prepare a simple meal. She had the Lord of Lords, the Son of God, dining at her table, so I can understand her desire to pull out all the stocks.

Jesus arrives.

Mary just wants to sit at his feet and listen to him, while Martha is running around, getting hot and flustered in the kitchen. With each bead of sweat, she gets angrier and angrier with her sister, who, in her mind, is not pulling her weight.

Eventually, Martha snaps at Jesus, telling him to make Mary help her with the food preparation.

Jesus gently replies:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha could have opted for a simple meal, with minimal preparation, so she too could spend time sitting with Jesus.

What Jesus wants from us is often very simple. We tend to overcomplicate.

Like a house that gets cluttered with things that are no longer useful, and needs a regular clear out, so do our schedules.

We need to regularly look at our use of time and question whether it is aligned with our priorities.

I have found that this often means cutting things out and simplifying, so I can focus on doing those things I’ve been called to do, and doing them well, and with joy. Instead of putting lots of pressure on the family and snapping at people, like Martha.

Sometimes, choosing the *good portion* will disappoint other people. They may even get cross with us, like Martha got cross with Mary. But, rather than trying to please people, we must fix our hearts on pleasing Jesus alone.

Only then can we step down from the rat race and know the rest and peace that Jesus promises us (John 14:27). 

 

Simple Pasta Dishes

To reduce my own food preparation time, I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes, which require minimal effort. Most the ones I find, involve pasta – like the spaghetti meatball recipe, or creamy pasta bake, I posted a while back.  Here are another two simple pasta dishes that are surprisingly easy to make and which nearly everyone in our family likes.

Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

Ingredients

  • 500 g penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pack of 10 good quality sausages
  • 4 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli cut into bite size pieces
  • Grated parmesan and chilli flakes to serve

Instructions

  1. Bring a pan of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
  2. Add the broccoli to the pan 2 minutes before cooking has finished.
  3. While the pasta cooks, remove the skins from the sausages and break the meat into pieces.
  4. Lightly brown the garlic in the olive oil, being careful not to let it burn.
  5. Add the sausage pieces and brown them over a mdium/high heat.
  6. Drain the pasta, reserving 4 tbsp of cooking liquid.
  7. Once the sausage is cooked through, tip the pasta and reserved water into the pan with the sausage and garlic, and toss.
  8. Serve hot with parmesan and chilli flakes if desired.

Chorizo Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 500 g penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 g chorizo diced
  • 2 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 250 g drained and sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
  2. Fry the diced chorizo for a few minutes until it starts to release its oils.
  3. Add the chopped tomato and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the basil, salt, and pepper to taste, and a pinch of sugar.

  5. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir the cooked pasta through the sauce.
  7. Tip the pasta and sauce into a casserole dish and scatter the mozzarella on top.
  8. Grill under a medium grill for 5 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown, and serve hot with chilli flakes and salad, if you like.

Recipe Notes

If preparing ahead of time do not grill, simply leave the prepared pasta bake to cool, then chill. When ready to eat, place in a preheated oven at 170C for 20 mins, or until the pasta is heated all the way through and the cheese is golden brown.

 

Alternatively, to make this recipe even quicker, instead of turning it into a pasta bake, serve it straight from the pan with grated parmesan!

Do you have any simple ‘go to’ recipes for when you’re short on time?

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