My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
Photo by Thousand Hills Photography. Click on photo to visit their site.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Pancakes for Supper?


Follow this recipe for the most delish pancakes you've ever eaten!  [my variations in brackets]

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Recipe courtesy of Joseph's

Total Time:
1 hr 10 min
55 min
15 min
4 to 6 servings


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon [or if you're like me and accidentally triple the amount--don't ask how--it's even better]
  • Pinch nutmeg [oops, my nutmeg was expired, so it had to be omitted]
  • 2 cups milk [plus a little more, plus a little more...until they were thin enough to cook through w/out burning]
  • 4 teaspoons melted butter, plus more for greasing skillet
  • 2 whole eggs
  • sweet potato, cooked until tender, peeled and pureed
  • Pecan butter, recipe follows [this is a MUST; do not skip this part!]
  • Maple syrup, for serving [also a MUST!]


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together and whisk until smooth. Cook batches in buttered skillet on medium high [or med lo] temperature until bubbles form on the surface, then turn over and cook until dark golden brown. Serve with pecan butter and maple syrup.  [i had two iron skillets going at once, keeping the cooked ones warm in a 170 degree oven.  oh, who am i kidding?  we were eating them too fast to worry about keeping warm]

Pecan Butter:

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans toasted and cooled
  • 1/2 pound butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon [once again, i tripled the amount.  honest mistake that i'm glad i made]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Mix all ingredients together (use rubber gloves). Roll in parchment paper and freeze. Cut into slices and top sweet potato pancakes. [skipped the freezer part.  no time for that.  just spooned the soft butter mixture right on top of the pancakes]
Yield: 10 servings

Please use real maple syrup.  I mean, don't even talk to me if you pour the artificial processed corn syrup kind over these home-made babies.

Kidding.  You can talk to me.  But don't tell me.  (smiling)  Admittedly, I have some Mrs. Buttersworth in my cabinet, probably for the last time I bought processed waffles, which has been a while.  Real maple syrup just doesn't go with Eggos.  Kinda' like drinking wine with Ramen noodles, I think.

Recipe found at Food Network.

Embrace Sin

Stange idea?  Perhaps, but I love what Liz Curtis Higgs has to say about this...

He looked into my eyes, this person I loved, and said with conviction, “I don’t need God. I’m a good person.”

My heart sank. How could I help him understand? Yes, he’d behaved admirably the whole of his life. He was kind to strangers, generous in his giving, and always tried to do the Right Thing.

But was he good? Not according to Jesus, who said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Luke 18:19).

Oh dear. How do you tell someone you care about, “Your good isn’t good enough.” Sounds like the opposite of grace, doesn’t it?

Besides, aren’t we supposed to be good? Matthew 12:35 tells us, “Good people bring out good things from their good treasure” (CEB). So goodness must be possible, right?

It is entirely possible—but not without God. David the psalmist put it like this: “Apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).

So, if we’re not good, are we bad? Yes, we are. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). Doesn’t leave room for mostly good or fairly good. With God, it’s all good or nothing.

The time comes when we have to accept that we’re sinners, comparing ourselves not to each other—“Hey, she’s worse than me!”—but to the goodness of God.

Like the chapter title says, we have to “Embrace Sin.” We aren’t meant to celebrate it or wallow in it, just own up to it, so we can embrace the forgiveness we desperately need.

That’s where my loved one got stuck: he couldn’t see his own badness, so he saw no need for God’s goodness. Years later, my heart still grieves for him.

For all of us who’ve been there, are there, or know someone who is there, here’s a story meant to give us hope.

To read the story that gives hope, visit Liz's blog.  It is WELL worth your time, I promise.

At the end of this post, Liz challenges her readers to be open about sin.  She encourages us with her own personal testimony...

From the beginning of my Christian walk I’ve aired my sins in print and on the platform—sharing my Former Bad Girl testimony, and being open about my weaknesses and stumbling blocks. I know well the power of confession, and pray that it not only sets me free, but far more to the point, sets my sisters free.

As I say in Embrace Grace, “When we confess our sins, they no longer exert any power over us.” In being honest with God and with each other, we defeat the enemy of our souls and douse his fiery darts. As David prayed, so can we: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).

The forgiven life is one of freedom. How I long for you to embrace that truth with your whole heart this week!

Your sister, Liz

Friends, let's be real.  Life is hard.  It's so much harder when we're all pretending "We've got this!"  Not only does this place unnecessary shackles of pride on us (ugh, do I ever know about that!), but it also distances us from our sisters.  How?  By projecting this attitude of self-sufficiency and perfection, we might cause those who can actually recognize and admit their short-comings to feel a bit uncomfortable around our self-righteous selves.  It also causes us to distance ourselves from others because, believing ourselves superior, no one in this world can meet our standards.  So, no one is worthy of our time or friendship.  All that pride and self-righteousness is a sure path to loneliness.  Been there, done that.

And although, laying down pride is a daily, life-long struggle, Jesus is helping me.  He reminds me constantly that I have a choice:  pride or joy.  Me or Him.  Sometimes I choose me, but then I remember the bliss of Him and I come back, chin dropped, begging for forgiveness.  Every time, every single time, He lifts my head  (Psalm 3:3) and offers incomprehensible forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Just this morning I had to apologize to my girls for my impatience and short-temper.  And then we prayed, because I knew I needed to apologize to God too, and I needed Him to come into that area of my life, RIGHT THEN.  I can't be patient without Him; I can't be self-controlled without Him.  Apart from Him, I can do nothing.  Nothing good, that is.  (John 15:5)

"You are my Lord; apart from You, I have no good thing.  (Psalm 16:2)

But He is good.  He is ever so good.  And, He is even willing, no, desirous to be good through us.  Desirous to set us free.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!"  (Galatians 5:1)

On this cloudy day, let's pull out our dancing shoes of confession then cut a rug right here in our ray of freedom!  And we will trample our enemy under our dancing feet!!!

"Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Then you will see it and will be covered with shame.  I will see your downfall!  You will be trampled underfoot!"  (my paraphrase of Micah 7)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Must-read

Just a couple of days I ago I spoke about brokenness.  And the awesome filling up that comes after being completely broken down.  Then today, Ann Voskamp had a guest, Sarah Mae, write for her and she said this:

When You Give Up, and You Break, You've Made It

"...But here comes the upside, the so unbelievably bright side: when you are just done, and broken, and tired, you’ve made it.
"You are now about to experience the most profound, amazing, life-altering, freedom and grace that will set you so free you are going to fly.
"I mean it.
"I mean it.
"When you are broken enough and tired enough and angry enough that you just can’t mold yourself, fix yourself, do better, be better, when you are just done, grace is lavished on you like nothing you’ve ever experienced."

You really must read the rest.  She says so succinctly what took me about 30 paragraphs to say.  (No big surprise there.)  But it sure was nice to hear it echoed.  I knew I wasn't crazy.  At least not completely.

Indeed, "brokenness is what I long for; brokenness is what I need."  ("Holiness" by Sonicflood)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Processing the Process of Crucifixion

I wrote this sometime back and never posted it.  I'm not sure why, but after reading it today, I think maybe it was left in my draft folder so that I could read it and receive it again.  May it encourage your heart, dear sisters.  We are in a battle, but the victory is ours!  He is ever so good to us.

I'll prepare you ahead of time; this post may not be coherent.  I am trying to process this week's lesson in my Stuck study by Jennie Allen.  And, let me add this disclaimer...which applies to every word of this blog...I am no scholar.  I write to process my thoughts.  This is my journal of sorts.  My intentions for writing have changed significantly since beginning this blog.  I now write so that my girls will have a record of our lives and our spiritual journey.  If anything I say helps someone that is just bonus.

First, let me back up and tell you that a new friend of mine started a small group in her home.  She and I were the only two that were hard-and-fast committed at first; so, we picked out the first study together and we picked Stuck because, not only did we feel it applied to us, but we also felt it could be helpful to any other women who may decide to join us.  We have met three times (and have had a couple of other ladies join us--yah!) and we are just now on lesson two.  (Smile.)  We are digesting slowly.  And I'm not sure that we shouldn't be going slower.  This study is perfect for me right now since, as most of you know or have inferred, there has been a battle raging in my life that I have recently decided needed my full attention.  This means war!  (Isn't that a Petra album?  Am I old to know that?)

In a recent post, I tried to relay the depth of my depravity apart from Jesus.  It stunned some of you.  But I have been reassured over and over that my struggle to depend on Him every second of every day is not unique.  And part of me wants to be sad that so many women I know are struggling, but then part of me rejoices because God is allowing us to realize the depth of our need for Him.  To the point we realize we are broken, we long for and (I pray) eventually accept His healing power and strength.  If we are clinging to Jesus in our struggles, asking for discernment between conviction and guilt, asking for His power to be made perfect in our weakness, then we will not just survive our times of sifting, we while THRIVE!

I'm reminded of a song...

Brokenness, brokenness, is what I long for,
Brokenness, brokenness, is what I need,
Brokenness, brokenness is what You want from me.
So take my heart and form it,
Take my mind transform it,
Take my will conform it,
To Yours, To Yours, Oh, Lord.

I've heard Beth Moore speak about this song.  She said that while she is singing, "Brokenness is what I long for," in her head she is saying something like this, "If you deem it necessary, Lord."  Because none of us really LONG for brokenness.  It is painful.  But if God sees fit to allow it, there is a purpose.  I believe what Beth said to her husband applies to us all, "You are much better healed that if you had never been broken."  And, as a dear friend and mentor has said at least a dozen times to me, "Whole, unbroken people are of little or no use to God."

Here's a word picture of how I imagine the process.  We see our pride.  We break a little.  We see our tendency to judge too easily.  We break.  We see our self-sufficiency.  Break.  We see our anger.  Break.  We catch ourselves gossiping.  Break.  We become keenly aware of our fears.  Break.  And before we know it we are a heap of broken pieces.


Or wrecked, or messed up, as Jennie says in this week's lesson:

As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved at once.  And while it is that simple, it is not easy.  The way to freedom is costly.  It wrecks us in the best possible way.

I pray that God would mess you up as much as He messed me up that day over coffee and His Word.

Or disturbed, as my pastor said in his message yesterday.  He talked about how Jesus came to disturb us, to make us aware of our sins.  His exact phrase, "He [Jesus] is the disturbing Savior."  We can not encounter Him without recognizing our sinful nature.  But, as he said, Jesus is the "greatest gift," because his purpose in disturbing us is to lead us to repentance, salvation, and redemption.

So, here's the process:
Brokenness:  we see our sins and are disturbed, wrecked, or broken.
Repentance:  we are sorry, penitent.
Salvation:  we are forgiven and accepted.  (Or, just "forgiveness" if we have already accepted salvation).
Redemption:  we are healed, restored, and renewed into one that can bring God glory!

I told my man last night that I feel like I am going through the same process I went through in college.  In college I had to come to the end of myself to recognize some sins in my life and my need for Christ.  Now, I feel like God is allowing me to be sifted again to show me my need for Him in other areas of my life.  I don't just need salvation from the obvious sins.  I most need salvation from the dark sins of the heart.  He comes to create in us a new heart.  But when you have something old that needs to be made new, it is a process and it can be long and painful.

I was directly involved in the renovation of our church's children's wing.  Walls torn down, support beams and hard concrete exposed.  Pipes and wires removed.  Slowly the basic structure appears as beams are erected.  Pipes and wiring re-installed.  Windows, doors, cabinets.  Then lights, knobs, furniture.  More than three years later what was old and worn becomes new and beautiful...and filled with children's voices and laughter.

I've witnessed the same things in our physical bodies.  Knee replacements require surgeries, days in a hospital bed, slowly learning to get out of bed.  Learning to walk again.  Therapy and months of exercise to strengthen those cut muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  The old painful joint is replaced with a new one.  But there is a lot of pain before the new one becomes painless, a fluid part of the existing body.

Buildings.  Bodies.  Spirits.  In a way, they're all the same.  Replacing the old takes time, energy, and sometimes pain.  And before there's a rebuilding, there must be a tearing down or, spiritually termed, sifting.

As Beth says, sifting, though painful, is allowed by God when there is something in our lives that needs to sifted OUT.  This process is as old as the Sacred Scriptures themselves.  The evidence is found in Luke, chapter 22, when Jesus is talking to Simon Peter...

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.  (v.31-32)

Peter thought he was already strong enough to do whatever task Jesus had for him, and says...

Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.  (v. 33)

Jesus, knowing everything, knowing fully what Peter was capable of and what his weaknesses were, knowing the future, replies thus...

I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.

Later in the same chapter we see Jesus' prediction become reality.  Three times Peter denies even knowing Christ.  Immediately, upon his third denial, he hears the rooster crow and he recalls Jesus' words "and he went outside and wept bitterly."  (v. 62)

The sifting has begun.  And Peter is broken.  Aware of his failure, aware of his shortcomings, aware of his lack of devotion, aware of his weakness.  And completely broken.

But John!  John's gospel gives us a glimpse of the sifted Peter (notice that is past-tense, the sifting is over).  In chapter 21, Jesus reinstates Peter to ministry and predicts that, indeed, Peter will go with Jesus to death, just as Peter stated back in the book of Luke that he was ready to do.  In fact, early historical writings indicate that he was not only crucified as Jesus was, but he was also hung up-side-down because he claimed he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.

The pre-sifted Peter believed himself ready for the high calling of Christ, even if it meant death; the post-sifted Peter WAS ready for the high calling of Christ, even to the point of death.  Amazing--the power of sifting.  Us being emptied only to be filled with the power of God's Holy Spirit.  Empowered to fulfill the high calling of Christ.

If you feel you are being sifted--becoming keenly aware of your weaknesses--here's the only advice I have for you:  cling to Jesus still!  Cry out to Him day and night.  There's a Scriptural promise for you in Luke 22--that your faith will not fail, and that when you come back you will strengthen your brothers.  Jesus, while walking the dirt paths of this world, prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail; do you not believe that He Who now sits at the right hand of God is making constant intercession for you?  HE IS!  Believe it!

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, NOW to appear for us in God's presence.  (Hebrews 9:24, emphasis mine)

The word "now" in this verse "denotes the continuance and perpetuity of His appearance for His people; He is ever interceding for them" (from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible).  He is ever interceding for me.  He is ever interceding for you, that your faith will not fail, and that when you return, you will strengthen your brothers [and sisters].  (Smile)

He is whispering to the Father, "She is mine.  She is covered in my blood.  She is forgiven.  I've paid for her.  And my life is in her.  And one day, when she learns to fully rely on me, when she has been emptied and then filled, when my life is all she has to live, she is going to set her world ablaze."

And we will be able to echo Paul, who--sister, you better believe it!--experienced deep brokenness.  It may have been short-lived (3 days), but the pain he felt over his sin and depravity was so intense that he refused to eat or drink (Acts 9:9).  But after the time of mourning over his sins had been fulfilled, he was filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 17) and he set his world ablaze, writing thirteen, if not fourteen, of the New Testament books.  After all was said and done, he was able to proclaim:  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me!  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me."  (Galations 2:20)  This man who once persecuted the church, was allowed to experience deep brokenness so that he might be built into a strong pillar of the early church and be God's spokesman to His church throughout all generations.

That is the wonderful effect of sifting and brokenness.  If God allows it, it is not for naught.  It is so we may be crucified with Christ.  Then the life we live is no longer our lives, but His life in us and through us.

He is making all. things. new.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little LIGHT Saturday Reading...

...because Jesus is the LIGHT.

I don't know about you all, but this week's lessons from God have just left my mind reeling!  I have not been able to stop recalling that my very breath speaks the Name, YHWH.  Nor have I been able to fully wrap my brain around the parallels of the Old Testament consecration of priest and the New Testament consecration of Christ's church by His very own blood.

I sat down to prepare tomorrow morning's lesson for the 5th and 6th graders and I could not concentrate on it for thinking about the blood being sprinkles on the priests (found in Exodus 29).  I just had to read some more about it.  So, I pulled up and read David Guzik's thoughts on this passage.  Fascinating!  I came to realize yet another parallel while reading...

The blood of the ram was applied to the priests' right ear, right hand, and right big toe.  Blood on the head, the hands, the feet.  Foreshadowing the perfect fulfillment of this law by Christ on the cross.  I can't believe I didn't notice this the other day!  Besides laying a perfect parallel to our New Testament High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), David Guzik explains there are other reasons the blood is applied here.

"To express the idea of consecration, blood from the ram is placed on the ear, thumb, and toe of the priest. It was blood from the ram - not the wool, not the fat. God wanted the 'life' of the sacrificial victim to mark His consecrated priests.

"Leviticus 17:11 is one of many passages that expresses this principle: For the life of the flesh is in the blood. God wanted the life of the sacrificial victim to be evident in the body of the priest.

"Tip of the right ear . . . thumb of their right hand . . . big toe of their right foot: These consecrated priests were stained with the blood of sacrifice. They should hear differently because the blood was on their ear. They should work differently because the blood was on their thumb. They should walk differently because the blood was on their toe.

"Specifically, it was applied to the right ear, hand, and foot. This isn't because God felt they could do whatever they wanted to with their left ear, hand, and foot. It is because the right side was considered superior, with more strength and skill (because most people are right-handed). God wanted their best to be dedicated to Him."

How amazing and thorough are God's plans!

Moreover, Guzik explains why the priests had to lay their hands on the animals before the sacrifice:

"As Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the bull, they symbolically transferred their sin to the bull...

"'The Hebrew word means more than lightly placing the hand, it gives the idea of pressing hard upon the bullock's head. They came each one and leaned upon the victim, loading him with their burden, signifying their acceptance of its substitution, their joy that the Lord would accept that victim in their stead. When they put their hands on the bullock, they made a confession of sin.' (Spurgeon)"

This passage in Exodus is LOADED with good stuff!  If you love this stuff as much as I do, here is the link to read more of Guzik's commentary.


(All quotes taken directly from David Guzik's commentary on Exodus 29, found at


Attitude of Gratitude

191. that I am symbolically covered in blood
192. fresh revelation
193. a sunny day so the girls can get outside
194. commentaries!
195. days when my man is home
196. sunbeams coming through the blinds
197. a table full of books
198. a clean island, even if it will fill up with papers again before the week's end
199. window clings made by my sweet princesses
200. scones, even if they do taste a little smokey

p.s.  i made three batches of scones this morn.  i was feeling like a regular holly homemaker until the butter from the second batch dripped onto the bottom of my oven and i nearly burned the house down.  ok...i'm exaggerating, but seriously, the ceiling in my kitchen needs to be painted now.  it's 40 degrees outside and i had all my doors and windows open.  at one point i thought we were all going to have to leave the house.  we just stayed low.

smoked meat--good; smoked bread--bad.

For more on "Attitude of Gratitude see this post.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Covered in Blood

I realize the title might have initially grossed some of you out.  Good!  I wanted you to have the same reaction I had while doing my Bible reading yesterday.

Anyone read Exodus 29 recently?  Or recall this chapter that gives instructions for the dedication of the priests?  If so, do you recall THIS part:

19 “Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

How is it that I have read this before and don't remember it?  Why do we not ever hear about God's instructions to sprinkle blood all over His priests?  At first I was grossed out.  I mean, it's not like the blood was just sprinkled on them then they could go take a bath and wash that sticky stuff off.  And have you ever tried to get blood out of clothing?  Nearly impossible.  But they didn't try; the blood is what consecrated them and their garments for service to God!  They walked around in blood covered garments.  ALWAYS.  It is what gave them the right to enter God's holy dwelling place, the tabernacle.

But, after I got over the initial shock of this mental picture, I was in awe...we, too, are covered in blood!  And we who are in Christ are priests.

...Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.  (Revelation 1:5-6, emphasis mine)

Not just priests, but we--the church--make up a royal priesthood.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

We walk around, covered in blood that sets us apart and makes us holy to God!  We can enter His presence because of the blood!  But it is not our ears, toes, fingers, and garments that are sprinkled; it is our hearts...

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  (Hebrews 10, emphasis mine)

We've know this, right?  But maybe you, like me, never knew how perfectly the New Testament mirrors the Old Testament in this regard.  Every single time I see how God used Old Testament rituals to foreshadow the New Testament covenant of Christ, I am in awe!  From beginning to end, He is the same and His ways are perfect.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Perfect Dwelling

"He made His dwelling among us."  (John 1:14)

I read only a few weeks ago that this verse literally means "He pitched His tent among us."

The same God who gave 40 days of instructions to Moses, including detailed instructions on how to build His dwelling place...right down to the flower buds that adorn the candle sticks...that same God now comes and pitches a tent?  Really?  Are you laughing at the amazing-almost-absurdity of it all?  Because I am.  That is our God, always surprising, never quite fitting into the box we want to place Him in.

I have been forcing myself through Exodus. Oh, the first few chapters went swimmingly.  Then I hit, hmmm, let's see, about chapter 25, and it was like trying to swim in mud.  I don't remember this feeling hitting so early the last time I read through the Old Testament.  I remember feeling a big bogged down in Deuteronomy, but not Exodus.

But today, I finished chapter 26, pushed my chair away from the table, and went to pull the laundry out of the dryer.  I needed a mental break.  And I started speaking the plain truth to my God Who already knew the thoughts in my head anyway...

Your Word is sometimes...what do I say...tedious...Your instructions were tedious...I mean, You deserve fastidiousness but...Oh, I'm so thankful I'm not an ancient Hebrew that has to follow such precise directions...oh...well? I guess I do have precise directions to follow...You are still the same God...I mean, You now make your dwelling in ME and you have very specific directions for, be kind, be patient, be gentle, be self-controlled....

And, God in His omniscience knows that I am really seeking some answers here.  No questions are posed, but He knows the questions in my heart...  Why?  Why so particular, Lord?  What does that mean for believers today?  Do you expect so much from us?  Do we have to build Your tabernacle (in our hearts)?  And the underlying tone is one of sheer exasperation:  I can't do it!

And, somewhere in this rambling brambling collision of thoughts, He stopped me.  I can't remember how He said it exactly, but the general idea, He doesn't have such specific directions for me as He gave to the Hebrews.  Because I couldn't follow through with them anyway.  The reason He gave them to the Hebrews was to show them that they would always fall short of His perfection.  To show them that they needed a Savior.  And those specifications still exist--ancient script copied and preserved for thousands of years, Holy Script passed down through the generations--to remind US that we need a Savior.  I need a Savior.

And Christ came.  The God-man pitched his tent.

Thank you, Lord!  Because the thought of building a temple for God overwhelms me.  Just reading the directions overwhelms me.  But it reminds me of the effort God deserves.  I don't have to build Him a tabernacle because He dwells right within me.  And, oh!  That took me off in a whole other direction...

ME, Lord?!  You gave all those directions for Your tabernacle, then you come to live inside of filthy, sin-filled me?

What can I do to clean up this tent for you?  You deserve the effort!

Abide.  Seek me as treasure.  Seek me first and these things--love, joy, peace, patience--these things that dress up my dwelling with splendor, they will be added to you.  You can't dress yourself up, but I can.  Seek me.  Trust me.  I make all things new and beautiful.

He is faithful.  He covered me with the blood of His Son so I am now holy and blameless in His sight.  And still He is working on me.  Though outwardly this tent is sagging and dry-rotting and wearing thin, inwardly it is being renewed day by day.  And He is not finished.  And He promises to not stop until He is.  He Who began a good work in me will carry it on until the day of completion.

As I fight the good fight to keep Him my main priority, as I fight to make time for Him, as I seek Him for the treasure that He is, He transforms and renews and makes His dwelling beautiful.  I don't have to have gold and fine linen.  I don't have to be a skilled craftsman who can hammer out gold menorahs to decorate His house.  I just have to love Him with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind...and have faith.  His promises are true.  He is making this tent into His perfect dwelling.  And that, my friends, is no small miracle.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Name of the Great I Am

Many of you may already know that the fathers of our faith would have never spoken the Name of God.  We transliterate the unspeakable Hebrew letters into YHWH.  You may also see it written "Yahweh," which is also the way we have come to pronounce the Name that was once deemed too holy to be spoken.  But here is a bit more that you may not know...

“The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing.

The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.”

~Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

He gives us every breath.  With every breath we breathe in the Great I AM.  

"In Him we live and move and have our being."  Acts 17:28

With every breath we speak His holy Name.  The unspeakable Name.  With every breath.  So breathe.

"Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord!"  Psalm 150:6




(Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's quote taken from Ann Voskamp's post, How to Breathe Through the Hard Times.)


And, after you've soaked in that for a bit...a reminder that the same God who gives us breath placed another king on a throne this week.  Indeed, "He sets up kings and deposes them."  (Daniel 2:21)

Inauguration Day:  Watching God at Work


And just for pure inspiration...

Katie's Story

You know what I love about her story?  That I can read it!  In this technical world that is criticized for fostering relationship that run a mile-wide and an inch-deep, I rejoice that I can read stories about my brothers and sisters in Christ who are living the radical sold-out life He calls us to live.  It's really not radical at all when we realize what He's done for us.  And we are encouraged to live fully surrendered when we are able to hear and read about so many others who are doing the same.  Thank you, Katie, for reminding us that His call is serious and warrants our whole-hearted response.  Let's throw our whole selves into this life; we really don't have that much time.

Read more from her here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Empty Stomach, Full Heart

So, this Scripture was in my small group video last night and it struck me to the core:

"For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame."  (Philippians 3:18-19)

Their god is their stomach.  The fleshly appetite.  Letting things of this world become our god.  Desiring things of this world more than God.  Ouch.

The passage struck me because even on the drive to my friend's house (where we have small group) I heard the DJ on K-Love talking about what we put in our minds greatly influencing our thoughts, attitudes, emotions.  It's not a new idea, by any means, but it just struck me.  The DJ said he used to listen to talk radio and noticed he was walking around depressed all the time, and he was easily angered.  He stopped listening to talk radio and started listening only to Christian music and he noticed a change in his attitude.

I thought back to the time right after I had my now-big girl.  I was out in the country, alone all day while my man was at work, nursing my baby around the clock, and watching old Frasier episodes.  And I was slipping into a dark place.

Why?  Because I was desperately longing for relationships.  Interaction.  Anything but constant aloneness.  (A new word for you, thankyouverymuch.)  And I sought some fulfillment in the comedy of Frasier and Niles.

God set up the perfect environment for me to have endless days in His Word and in prayer.  And instead of recognizing the quiet and solitude as a gracious gift, an opportunity to hear His voice loud and clear, I grew weary of the quiet and I filled it with earthly, temporary things.  I had a whole year to feast on God, the One that could satisfy my need for companionship and give me nourishment that would last a whole lifetime.  And I chose Frasier, because I could see him and my flesh wanted immediate satisfaction.  I could have been investing in JOY, and I chose to squander my riches (of time) on laughter.

Then...this morning I opened my Bible app to find this verse:

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  (Matthew 5:6)

And I was reminded that even now I am hungry.  I may not be starving for companionship like I was that first year of being a momma.  But I have other hunger pains.  And with what or whom am I filling them?

I shared this verse from Matthew with my girls this morning on our drive to preschool.  I told them that we are made to want Jesus...that we are to want Him more than we want food, or milk, or water...or coffee, I threw in as a reminder to myself.  I told them that if we want Him more than anything else, we will be satisfied.

Do they understand?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I am still going to tell them.  And one day--I hope a day or two thousand earlier than me--they will get it.

When our stomach growls, our mind wants, or our heart longs, may we be reminded of God and the deep-rooted desire He has planted in us for Him.  May we seek Him until we are fully satisfied, even if our stomach is still empty.


My "Attitude of Gratitude" comes from Ann Voskamp's joy dare for today:  a gift wrinkled, smoothed, unfolded...

wrinkled--my babies' hands and feet after a good long soak in the bath (#188)
smoothed--clean sheets on the bed (189)
unfolded--a Hershey's kiss (190)

Your turn!  Go!

For more on "Attitude of Gratitude" see this post.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

French Onion Soup

Here's a thought from Mary Jo Sharp to encourage you to get into the Word today:

"Jesus was the greatest teacher who ever lived.  Should we not be committed to a lifelong education to learn from Him and grow deeper in knowledge as His disciples (students)?  We should.  It is contradictory to tell the world Jesus, as the greatest teacher, has the most important knowledge a person can ever learn, while exemplifying a lifestyle lacking a desire to learn.  This contradiction is fairly easy to spot by persons from inside or outside the church."  --from Why Do You Believe That?

If you haven't spent some time earnestly seeking Him today, please stop reading this and go grab your Bible!  Our relationship with Christ and our witness for Him depend on it!  Semper fi!  (I now love this phrase.  If you don't know what it means, you really should google it.)


I love French onion soup!  And I have yet to make a batch I didn't like.  I mean...onions, butter, sugar, wine or vinegar, beef can you go wrong?

Every single time I make it I search the internet for recipes and new ideas.  And, nearly every single time I come back to my own creation--a bit of this recipe and that one.  So, instead of searching again, and glancing back and forth between two or three pages, I'm just gonna type this up so I have a one-stop recipe spot.

My Very Own French Onion Soup

Place pot over medium heat.
Drizzle pot with olive oil.
Melt 3 Tbsp. butter.
Add 4-5 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced.
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Toss in a pinch or two of sugar.
Add any additional seasonings, such as pressed garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and/or pepper.
Cook 30-45 mins or 'til caramelized, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat and stir in about 3 Tbsp AP flour (so flour doesn't burn).
Cook 2-3 mins to cook away the raw flour taste.
Deglaze with a splash of balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce or wine.
Add beef broth, about 2 quarts.
Raise heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about ten more mins.
Toast baguette slices.
Pour soup in oven-safe bowls.
Top soup with toasted baguette slices.
Cover toast with Gruyere or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan.
Place bowls under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

If you have cognac and wine on hand and want to give Julia Child's recipe a try, visit this site:  Smitten Kitchen.  Love their opening paragraph:

I’m firmly of the belief that no matter what ails you in the realm of the kitchen, onion soup can cure it. Never cooked before? Don’t think you’ll be able to pull off the kind of cooking you believe you need to go to a restaurant to experience? Start with onion soup. Have only $5 to spend on dinner? Refrigerator is almost bare? Onion soup is your friend. Want your home to have a transcendent aroma bouncing off every wall, the kind that’s so distracting that you don’t even know or care what’s on the stove, only that you must have it now? Onion soup is waiting for you.

Really, just about any combo of the the above ingredients will give you a yummy onion soup.  Experiment!  It is so much fun...and so yum!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lessons From the Momma of a Sickie


Do not force your child to take cough medicine.

Big girl has had a hacky cough for six days.  She's also complained of a headache.  Logic told me the constant coughing might be causing the headache.  So, upon the doctor's recommendation, we tried Zarbee's all natural cough syrup, made with honey, citrus, and zince.  Yum!  Right?  Big girl saw the brown color and determined it could not be good.  One itsy bitsy teeny tiny touch to her tongue confirmed it.  Then it was on.

"You have to take it!  I might make your cough better and then your head might stop hurting."

"I don't li---ke it," said with as much whine as you can imagine.

"Just take it fast, then get a drink, and it will be over."

"But I don't li------ke it," said with more whine than you can imagine.

Sigh...long pause of frustration...some exasperated rubbing of the face, interrupted by...

"I'm ti-red."

"Okay.  Take the medicine really fast then you can go sit down and watch your show."

And on and on we went, me telling her she was making it worse by stalling, and her building it up in her head as one of the worst possible things she could put in her mouth until her mind convinced her mouth that it was positively repulsive.  I insisted she take it in one big swallow and get it over  She drank it...wait...she got it in her mouth, but mouth was repulsed, and she promptly gagged and vomited half it right back out on the floor.

Who wants a free bottle of Zarbee's?


Do not let your well child watch non-stop television shows with the sickie.  It will make them crazy.

We finally went to the doctor yesterday.  After six days of fever, coughing, headache, and television (ugh) I decided it was time to make sure there wasn't something serious brewing inside big girl's little body.  Our pediatrician is an hour's drive away and we left at nap time; so, they both slept on the way there.  On the way home, however, six day's worth of pent up energy came pouring out of baby girl.  Big girl and I watched with amazement and a touch of alarm as baby girl flailed arms and legs, hitting the seat and windows.  She shook her head rapidly and scream-sang at the top of her lungs.  I have no idea what she was singing; it was a garbled stream of screams mixed with laughter and interrupted only by an occasional break to shake her head so fast her hair stood straight out like she'd been hit by lightening.  Wide-eyed, big girl and I would glance from the flailing wild thing to each other and back to the wild animal-like creature sitting in my baby girl's car seat.

I am prone to exaggeration.  I am not exaggerating.  It was an experience I will not soon forget.


While we are all are, right?  Here's something to push you straight into hysterics...

I saw Tim Hawkins do this in a comedy act once and was in stitches.  (Google him and laugh.)  I particularly love the warning that goes along with the expert expressions of worship:  Baptists--DO NOT ATTEMPT.  I can laugh; I attend a Baptist church.  I think the most I've ever seen in our church is "Mufasa."

(This image came from Mark Driscoll's Facebook page.)


I couldn't believe it.  After I wrote this post yesterday, I checked my inbox, and an email from Focus on the Family contained this article.

I love the cohesiveness of God's messages to us!


And this...

I told my man that I bit the bullet yesterday--that I publicly committed to memorizing Ephesians.  I told him about Beth Moore's challenge to do one verse every two weeks and Ann Voskamp's challenge to memorize three chapters of Romans.

Passion is contagious my friends!  Beth and Ann inspired me...and Beth, Ann, and I inspired my man.  He is jumping on the memorization bandwagon!  His schedule is a little more demanding than mine, so Ephesians is out, but I'll let you know what he decides soon!

So, what are you memorizing?  Please share!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where Grace and Obedience Meet

I should let you know up front that I am all over the place in this post.  I know where I am going and in my mind, I got there. But the fact that I reached my mental destination may not be obvious to the rest of you.  I am always amazed that anyone is willing to be fuddled by my boggy thoughts.

Do you ever have a hard time meshing these two truths:

(1)  Grace

Salvation is not by works and we can not earn grace; it is freely given (Ephesians 2:8-9).  The Spirit enables us to do what we need to do (Ezekiel 36:27, Romans 8).

(2)  Obedience

Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).  We need to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).  Those who love Christ keep his commandments (John 14:15).  We press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).  

How do we marry these two thoughts?

I just had a short but sweet visit with a friend and the topic of dying to self came up.  Hmm.  Painful discussion of obedience.  Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).  Ouch.

What's your cross?  What's the hard thing Jesus has called you to?  Is it your job?  Your illness?  Your co-workers?  Your family?  Have you begged Jesus to lighten the load and it seems to only get heavier?  Have you sensed Him asking you to do something you really DO NOT want to do?  Something that takes more than you have to give?  How do you obey in the Spirit, not in the flesh?  How does grace apply here?

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?  Galations 3:3

I am foolish.  I try and I try to obey...and I fail.  I beg for grace to do the thing and still...I fall.  Then I become discouraged and wonder how in the world I am ever going to experience victory in this area.

When our hearts cry out, "No more, please, Jesus!" and we sense Him say, "You can do this; you must do this.  Die to self."  How do we do that thing?  And, for heaven's sake, how do we do it with joy?

Not five minutes after my friend left, I read this from Max Lucado:

If life is…  “because I have to”—where’s the joy in that?  Too often I hear folks rejecting Christ because they think the Christian life is all about rules and regulations—all about stifling and suffocating ritual.
This happens when we confuse Christ with legalism.  Legalism is joyless because it’s endless.  There’s always another class to attend.  Inmates incarcerated in self-salvation find work, but never joy!
Grace!  It makes all the difference.  I like this quote: Gone are the exertions of law-keeping, gone the disciplines of legalism, the anxiety that having done everything we might not have done enough.  We reach the goal, not by the stairs, but by the lift—God pledges his promised righteousness to those who will stop trying to save themselves!”1
Grace offers rest.  Legalism?  Never!
1 J. A. Moyer, The Message of Philippians:  Jesus Our Joy (Downers Grove, IL:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1984), 166.

So, how do we die to self and do the hard things God calls us to do without feeling like He is demanding a lot out of us?  How do we go to that job another day?  How do we face those who hate us and defame us?  How do we stick with the marriage commitment we made "until death do us part?"  How do we endure such physical pain as terminal illness?  How do we discipline with love and mercy instead of a heavy thumb?  How do we give to the work of the church when we barely make enough to cover our bills?  How do we trust Him when all things seem to say He doesn't care and He isn't here?  And HOW in this world do we do it all with JOY?


We hear it all the time, but what does it really mean?  Here is a great analogy I found on

Making a car move
Let’s say your car is on the side of the road and you want to move it.
So you take off the emergency brake, move to the back of the car, and start to push.
If the ground is level, and you’ve been doing your squats, it will move.
Slowly.  With a lot of effort.  But it will move.
There’s an easier way
The car has an engine.
So why not put the key in the ignition, give it some gas, and let the engine do the work?
It would be a lot easier.
Same with your obedience
You have an engine — the Holy Spirit.
Put the key in the ignition — by praying for more of His work in your heart.
Give it some gas — by pondering the truth of Gods’ Word.
He will change your heart and empower your obedience.
The fine print
I don’t want to make this sound easier than it is.  It’s called the fight of faith because — well — it’s a fight.
A sword-slashing, shield-crushing, spear-stabbing fight (1Tim 6:10;Eph 6:12) –

Here's the link if you want to read the rest.  (Disclaimer:  I am not acquainted with Steve Fuller's philosophies; so, I am not endorsing His blog.  I just liked this analogy.)

Abiding is exposing ourselves to more of God's truths than the world's subtleties, pondering or meditating on those truths, memorizing those truths, and praying for those truths to do a deep work in our heart.

Ann Voskamp says this:

What a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows,” urges Dennis Lennon. And what the heart knows by heart is all that can calm the heart. Direct the heart. Strengthen the heart.What do our hearts really know?

Do we know enough of God's truths to strengthen us for the hard things?  Are we familiar enough with grace for grace to empower us?  His truth is grace and grace enables us to be obedient.

But, as Steve said above, equipping ourselves with truth and grace requires great effort.  We are in a fight, dear sisters.  Not just a little scuffle, but a life-long WAR.  We must be willing to strain toward what is ahead (Philp 3:13-14), fight the good fight (1 Tim 6:12), and earnestly seek God (Heb 11:6)!

Are we willing to do the hard work to know God by heart?

Let's push each other on in this "sword-slashing, shield-crushing, spear-stabbing fight!"

Get in the Word!  And get the Word in you!  Read! Meditate!  Memorize!

And fellowship!  We are weak; we need accountability.  Get in a Bible study group, join an on-line group, do something!  I mentioned Living Proof Ministry's "Siesta Scripture Memory Team."  But, I did not know until last night that Ann Voskamp has this one too.

And, thanks to their challenges, I have decided to do memorize Ephesians.  Why Ephesians?  Because I have bits and pieces of it in my memory already.  And it's short, 6 chapters.  That's one chapter for every two months and I can have the whole thing under my belt by Christmas.  And, most importantly, because what you think is what you are.  And I am praying, begging God really, that this year's end will find me having more of the mind of Christ than I do now.  Because without Him I am a hopeless mess.


Because as Ann says...

If we fail to keep His Word in mind, we may simply fail.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Give thanks! ...for our sense of smell?

I started this post a loooong time ago and just saw that I never posted it.  Just reread and not sure why I didn't post.  Hmmm...maybe I hesitated because I thought the "s" word would scare some of you.  But we are all grown ups here.  And, while we're on the subject--because we ARE now--if you want to know my thoughts about s-e-x, see this post and this one.

I was in a funky mood the other day and decided I needed a shift in focus.  I was stuck in the car for a while so I pulled out a piece of paper and began to write things for which I am thankful, in alphabetical order.  It was a quick-as-I-could-think kind of list.  And the effect was...well, I would seriously recommend this.  When life is frustrating, it's always a good idea to start thinking about all the things for which we are thankful.  I just chose to list my items alphabetically because it stretched me to think about things that I might not call to mind naturally.  I mean blessings like family, our home, laughter, our car, my Bible, and church are a few things that I give thanks for regularly, but trying to think of things for each letter of the alphabet allowed me to give thanks for less obvious blessings like "boundaries."  Here's my list, copied from my hand-written scribbles...

A--art (#143)
B--bread, bicycles, boundaries, books (144-147)
C--coffee (148)
D--departures, designations, delays (because they, too, are grace) (149-151)
E--escalators, or alligators, as baby girl calls them (152)
F--fire (153)
G--girls, games (154,155)
H--health (156)
I--insurance (157)
J--Jesus, jets (158, 159)
K--kangaroos, kites, knowledge (160-162)
L--limits, luxuries, lights (163-165)
M--Mom, milk, memories, music (166-169)
N--notes (170)
O--octopus (171)
P--people, portions (Do you see a theme?  ...boundaries, limits, portions...yes, I am VERY thankful for these!) (172, 173)
Q--quality time (174)
R--romance (175)
S--singing, sex (Sorry if that is TMI,'s what came to mind!  Although, I'm not sure why, because I usually say "lovin."  Ahhhh-righty.  Moving on!) (176, 177)
T--telephone (178)
U--umbrellas, underwear (See, when my mind gets on a track...) (179, 180)
V--vision, victories, victory! (181-183)
W--wisdom (184)
X--x-rays (That's a hard one!) (185)
Y--youth (186)
Z--zest (Not the soap, but the colorful part of citrus peel that makes things yummy!) (187)

Keep in mind this is a quick-recall kind of exercise.  Ready, set...Go!


Some letters will trigger more than one word; ride the mental wave when it hits you.


Baby girl-isms...


"Alligator"-- can mean the animal, and, as you saw above, "escalator," and even "elevator."


"Sloth"--you would think this is an animal.  Right?  No.  Imagine the frustration we both experienced when she asked for her "sloth," and I got her stuffed two-toed sloth only to find out this is not what she was asking for.  Naturally, I assumed she must have been thinking of another animal and just calling it the wrong name, so we went through a lengthy back-and-forth until, somehow, we came to realize she was referring floss!   Please don't forget to sloth.


This is not a word, but a story...

I was sitting on the couch with her recently, snuggling.  She was watching Little Einsteins while I was reading a free online chapter from the book, The Insanity of God, which I now want to buy, by the way.  I got up to get more coffee and also popped a Hershey's kiss in my mouth.  Because, what goes better with coffee?  When I sat back down, baby girl asked, "What's that smell?"

"I don't know; maybe it's my coffee?"

"No...I think it's biscotti, or chocolate, or something."

Seriously, she could smell the chocolate inside my mouth?!  After a good laugh, I got up to get her a kiss too.  This kid seriously has the best smeller I've ever known.  Wonder how God is going to use that?  =)