Sometimes it seems that the road of life is a struggle.  There are smooth places along the way, yet they often come after we have faced a particularly difficult stretch of road.  One thing that has never failed to help me is the power of prayer.  Even when it feels like my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, I have the assurance that God is listening and working in ways I cannot understand.  This truth was reinforced by a recent circumstance that left me in tears – tears of joy.

I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes one evening when I felt a strong urge to pray for some friends of mine.  They have been dealing with an issue that has hurt them deeply.  I poured out my heart to the Lord, asking Him to heal their hearts and to soften the hearts of the other folks involved.

The next morning, I received a text message from one of these friends, asking me to pray about the very situation I had lifted up to the Lord the evening before.  I answered the text, stating that the Lord had burdened my heart to do just that; I had already been praying and would continue to do so.

As I replied to my friend’s text, I couldn’t help but feel reassurance from the Lord.  He was reminding me that just like He prompted me to pray for my friends, He does the same for me when I need it.  I may never realize just how many times during my life that the power of prayers from others carried me through my difficulties.  And that is what brought on my tears.

Going from food for the soul to food for the tummy:  A couple of months ago, I requested a recipe for a salad I had tried at a 4th of July party.  I kept meaning to make it myself; I finally did so last week.  I took the salad to a pitch-in dinner, where I received many compliments.  Several people asked if the recipe had been in my column before; although it hadn’t, I promised that it would be soon.  Also included is a pick from the past.


Southwest Tortellini Pasta Salad

1 (20 ounce) package spinach-and-cheese refrigerated tortellini

1 cup corn, cooked (fresh, canned or frozen)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from 2 fresh limes

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin (or more, to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Drain; rinse with cold water.

Place tortellini in a large bowl. Add corn, black beans, bell pepper, avocado, cherry tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

Combine dressing ingredients in a resealable jar. Shake until combined. Pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat.

To make ahead: Make the dressing and refrigerate. Make the pasta salad separately and store in an airtight container. Add dressing to pasta salad when ready to eat.


Garden Spaghetti Salad

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

2 cups cooked fresh or frozen corn

2 cups cooked fresh or frozen lima beans (may use green peas)

2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled, divided (may use 6 tablespoons real bacon bits)


1/3 cup olive or canola oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (may use cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook spaghetti according to package directions; rinse in cold water and drain.  Place in a large bowl; toss with oil.  Add the next five ingredients; stir in three-fourths of the bacon.  In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients.  Pour over spaghetti mixture; toss gently.  Garnish with remaining bacon.  Serve immediately or chill.