My Fab Fam

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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Get Up!

Remember this post, I Will Not Sleep, I Will Not Sleep, I Will Not Sleep?

Well, let me keep it real here; I got it...for a while.  Then I FORgot it for a while.  And, here I am about six months later, trying to get it again.  You may remember that I mentioned this struggle more recently in this post, Catharsis, Part Two--Finally!  In it, I said this:

How many times have I been here?  I get it, then I forget it.  But giving our firstfruits is insanely important.  I say insanely, because we go insane a little if we don't.  We create our own troubles when we fail to be obedient in this area.  The firstfruits of time is just a hard lesson for me because I am not, and never have been, a morning person.  But, I have gotten up and in the Word before the girls have awoken more days than not since last Sunday.  This morning I lay there praying, "Lord, please help me get up."  And, quick as that, I felt in my spirit, "Just get up!"  Not mean or hateful, but strong.  And I realized that I was doing it again.  Looking around for help when it was already within me--that incomparably great power for us who believe.  What did I want Him to do?  Roll me out of bed?  I mean, there are just some things that He expects us to do.  Some things are OUR responsibility in our relationship with Him.  If He was doing everything all the time to sustain our relationship, then it wouldn't be much of a relationship at all.  He wants to know if we want Him.

In that same post, I mentioned the Sunday night Bible study I am in, Taking Responsibility for Your Life, by Andy Stanley.  In last Sunday's video, Andy said that there are times for prayer, and there are times for action, and sometimes God asks us (as He asked Joshua in Joshua 7:10), "What are you doing down on your face?  Stand up!"  In other words, this is not time for prayer, it is time for action!

I felt so much conviction, and was awe-struck at how clearly the video echoed the words God had spoken to me just days before.  It was obviously the exact same lesson God was teaching me when I was lying there in bed asking Him, in prayer, to help me get up and I very clearly felt Him say, "Just get UP!" or, "Stand up! This is not time for prayer; it is time for action.  Take responsibility."

The homework for this study has us reading in Matthew 25 this week, particularly the parable of the master giving his talents to three servants.  What do they do with them?  Are they responsible with what they have been given?

Which has led me to the very painful questions of...

What talents have I been given?  (time, resources, money, knowledge, abilities...)
Am I being responsible with them?

To the last question, I can already say, no.  Not completely responsible.

I am thankful for this study bringing to light some areas that need my attention.  Though chastisement is always painful, I know God corrects those He loves because He loves us too much to let us carry on in our sins.  He is about redemption.  And, as our teacher said in class last week, redemption comes through brokenness.  Pain is part of the process.  Therefore I will rejoice in my sufferings, because I know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5).

Let me now throw the ball in your court and ask you, as Andy Stanley asks us each week in his video...

"Are you taking responsibility for your life...really?"


If you would like to read some (painfully convicting and change-inspiring) commentary on Matthew 25, check out David Guzik's commentary at, specifically

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

all things beans

quick update...

i made a big pot of black beans yesterday.  we ate them over rice with a side of sweet potato "fries" (baked) last night.  that isn't really that important, except it set me up for today...

i made jami nato's black bean brownies.  epic failure.  just fyi:  don't forget the sugar.  ugh.  i will try again, with sugar next time.  the texture was great, but it was like eating black beans with choc chips sprinkled on top.  not so great.

i also made jami's home-made whole wheat tortillas.  AWE-some.  and relatively easy.  time-consuming but easy.  we used 'em to roll up some of the left-over beans, rice and sweet potatoes, with sour cream and hot sauce.  i never would have tho't of putting sweet pots in my wrap, but it was yummy.  thanks again to jami nato for that one.

i ALSO made a new granola recipe.   AWE-some.  thanks alton brown.  i love you a little more with each one of your recipes.  seriously, if you all try this, you will never want boxed cereal again.  never.
(i omitted the coconut and almost doubled the oats so it wouldn't be quite as sweet, but if you love lots of sugary sweetness, i'm sure his ratios would be great!)

if one opinion isn't enough, my man says,

"i'll give you a pass on the tortillas, a triple A+ on the granola, and an F on the brownies."  i didn't even argue.  the brownies were g-ross!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It is for FREEDOM Christ set us free!

There is nothing like reading Leviticus for Lent.  I know Lent is over, but I was reminded of something critical during that time that I am finally going to share.  It was not intentional, but neither was it coincidental that I found myself reading the law (that I so faithfully break) right at the season I was pausing to remember how desperately I need a Savior.

I am reading through the Bible chronologically for 2013.  But let me keep it very real:  I am not staying on track.  Some days I only read half of what I should read that day.  Some days, none.  I fall behind, then I read two or three or more days to catch up.  But it's okay.  God's Word is alive and active, each and every time I open it.  Even if I don't stay on track by reading the suggested three or four chapters each day, He is ever faithful to speak to this prodigal, whether it be through 3 chapters or 3 verses.

So, Leviticus, chapter 5, verse 4...

“Or suppose you make a foolish vow of any kind, whether its purpose is for good or for bad. When you realize its foolishness, you must admit your guilt.

I've done this.  Oh boy, how I've done this.  Two very specific incidents stick out in my mind...nope, make that four.  But if I sat here for infinity, I'm sure that is exactly how many incidents of breaking my own vows I could recall.

Here is what David Guzik says about this verse.

3. (4) Swearing a false oath.

Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.

a. If a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly: A careless promise was still a promise before the LORD and had to be observed. If the promise was not kept it had to be atoned for by a sin offering.

b. When he realizes it, then he shall be guilty: When we are aware of our broken vows we must repent of them. It is common to make vows and promises in the Christian that are not kept, and when we see this we must repent and trust in the atoning, covering blood of Jesus to bring forgiveness.

i. Think of these common examples of broken vows:

·        More time in prayer
·        More intercession for others
·        More devotional reading
·        More intense Bible study
·        More personal witness
·        More faithful tithing
·        Better example to others
·        More patience with the children
·        A vow to personal purity in sexual matters

ii. It may not be wrong to make such vows. They may be the legitimate expression of a move of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. Yet if the vow is not kept, it must be confessed as sin and repented of.

(This particular excerpt can be found in his commentary on Leviticus.  For more of his commentaries visit

I reread this portion of Scripture one day and just sat, pondering.  The two incidents of vow breaking that I recalled immediately were not "thoughtless."  They were thought out before I made them.  And I made them to God.  But eventually I realized that they were not Spirit-led.  They were me, becoming Pharisaical, adding to God's law something He never intended to be a law.  Like I could become holier by observing my own rules.  Then I had this internal war over whether I should keep them.  Then I broke them somewhere along the way.  Then I felt horrible, horrible guilt.  Then I wondered if I should try to keep them again!

I know this all sounds absurd and a bit crazy.  But, as I was pondering all this, the thought occurred to me that perhaps we as Christians do this all the time.  We make these rules for ourselves and if we keep them (and some of us are really good at following rules) then we feel a bit holier.  And, if we see others breaking them, then they definitely are not as holy!  Because we can pull this Scripture and that one and stack them all up to provide ample support for our rules and perfect reasoning to call into question anyone who doesn't agree with us.

Think about denominations.  Sprinkle.  Dunk.  Speak in tongues.  That's absurd!  Don't drink alcohol.  Sure, why not?  Wear dresses.  Pants are okay.  Remarry.  Don't.  Let women be deacons, or preachers.  Are you crazy?  Worship on Sunday.  Worship on Saturday.  Have music in worship.  Don't.  Do.  Don't.  Do!  Don't!

(And we get into intense theological debates about such issues and worry more about proving we are right than trying to understand the foundation for others' beliefs.)

Then we add to our denominational list of "do's" and "do not's" our own personal list, and before you know it, we are modern-day Pharisees, who have perfected rule following.  Our personal convictions might be religious in nature, or not.  See if any of these resonate with you...

don't watch TV
don't watch R-rated movies
only listen to Christian music
read through the Bible every year
don't eat meat
don't eat refined sugar
don't drink caffeine
take a bath everyday
don't wear make-up
use home-made or all-natural detergents/cleaners
don't eat out on Sunday
go to church every time the doors are open
raise your hands in worship
don't raise your hands in worship
send your kids to public school

Let's be honest; we all have our own convictions and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking others are "less-than" if they don't share them.  Perhaps yours aren't on this list, but I'm sure if you were willing to give it some thought, you could come up with at least one or two.  I just tried to think of a few that I've been guilty of imposing on myself and/or others, or ones that I feel pretty safe in assuming others hold as universal standards because of things they have said/done.

Here's the thing, we have to be careful about the vows we make to ourselves/God and the rules/standards we say we are going to follow.  Even if the vows are Spirit-led, we have to remember Romans 14, or else we find ourselves looking down our noses at others who do not share our convictions, or worse, we may feel that we have very little need for a Savior.  I mean, we may feel and even look like the epitome of holiness.  But I wonder if Christ would say...

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."  (Matthew 23:27)

Ouch.  Every time I read that verse, I wonder in what areas it might be applied to me.  We have to remember that keeping the law, be it God's law or our own, might make us look good but it won't save us.  A real relationship with Christ will.

Good at keeping the law, or not, one thing we all are is this:  in very great need of a Savior.  And I would rather be in need than thinking I'm doing okay.  Because sometimes I actually do think I'm doing okay, then I try to do "okay" without God, but okay is not good enough.  And before long I find myself wanting more than just okay.  And sometimes I come running to God, but other times a fall flat on my face and coming face-to-face with my ugly pride is required before I remember I can't save myself.

And I beg the Lord to destroy every last ounce of pride in me.  Every. last. ounce.  I still see it in sickening quantities in my heart and I want it gone.  I see this blackness that plagues my heart and, like David, I cry out, "Create in me a pure, clean heart, O Lord!"  (Psalm 51:10).

And then I just try to ignore all those pride promptings to make and follow unnecessary rules.  We can't keep them anyway.  And, even on the off chance that we do, our obedience to anything other than Christ won't do us one bit of good.

Lord, help me release my self-imposed rules.  And forgive me for all the vows I've broken, all the rules I've made but couldn't keep.  I acknowledge that there are matters in life that Your Word does not speak to in detail, "disputable matters" as Romans 14:1 calls them.  Help me to be fully convinced in my own mind (v.5) and keep what I believe about these things between you and me (v. 22).  Forgive me for judging others when they don't share my convictions (v. 13).  And may I just love you more, Jesus.  May I love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as I love myself.  Amen.


p.s.  if you don't remember what's in romans 14, i encourage you to read it again.  it is one of my favorite passages about "disputable matters."  at the same time convicting and releasing.  convicting, in that it reminds us not to judge others.  releasing, in that it reminds us that there truly is freedom in Christ.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Diet Change

So, some of you heard me lamenting my allergie/sinus issues in my last post.  The very abbreviated version is this:  I spent three days outside weekend before last then I could barely breathe the following Monday.  I made an appointment with the doctor, to the bemusement of my husband.  His prediction of the outcome:  "Maybe he'll give you a prescription you won't take."

You were almost right, honey, but instead of one Rx, I was given four I wouldn't take.  

You have to understand, I am not a medicine gal.  I hate the thoughts of putting any more chemicals in my body than I already do with all the processed foods we eat.  And medicines are just concentrated chemicals.  Ugh.  I asked both the nurse, who came back in the room to explain about the prescriptions, and the pharmacist if it was safe to take all four drugs together.  The pharmacist literally laughed at me.  I know they deal with drugs all the time; I do not.  I can not tell you the last time I even took Tylenol or any OTC med.

And then I got home and read the bottles, which said things like, "May cause headaches," (I already had a whopper), "May cause dizziness," and, my favorite, "If you start having suicidal thoughts, call your doctor immediately."  Hmmmm.  Decision made--those things are not going in my body.  Unsure if that was wisdom or fear talking, so...

I prayed from Tuesday through Friday for the wisdom/courage to try at least one of the meds, and Friday night I finally started the antibiotic for the sinus infection.  Crazy, crazy.

Wow.  That is really not where I meant to go with this post.  What I was going to say was this:  my insane allergies triggered the thought that perhaps I am not eating what I need to be eating.  Here's why...

(1)  When I was in college I had a garden and worked in it probably every day because I loved it!  I also rode my bike or walked to school every day.  So, I was outside  I also ate fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, and NO processed foods except when I would occasionally go out to eat or go "home" to momma's.  And I do not remember having allergies.

(2)  I got married.  I moved to the country.  My diet changed.  I started having insane allergy issues that have seemingly gotten worse each year.  You may think, like me, that the move triggered the allergies.  But let me throw a wrench in that theory...

(3)  Two summers ago (still in the country), I took Zija, a nutrition supplement.  It was a phenomenal because I had no allergies.  None.

Do you see the diet factor?  No processed foods, great nutrition, no allergies.  Processed foods, allergies.  Processed foods plus a great nutrition supplement, no allergies.  See where I'm going?

While all this was swimming in my head, I read an article about a guy who was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer.  Even after surgery to remove a huge mass, docs gave him 6 months to live.  He decided to forego the chemicals, in which the doctors had little hope for prolonging his life.  He instead chose to change his diet, eating only organic raw fruits and veggies and whole grains. He has been alive for nine years.

All the while, I was reading Jami Nato's blog posts about her reduction in sugar and how she felt so much better.  And I thought, "I need to do this!"

I made a plan, which included some healthy recipes, made my grocery list and...Monday I went to the grocery and stocked up on all organic fruits and veggies, and other random "healthier" ingredients I needed to make my recipes, like grapeseed oil, rice vinegar, and local honey.

So far we have had granola or home-made bread (toasted) for breakfast...
fruit, raw veggies, and cheese for lunch...
     (disclaimer:  we did eat some whole grain crackers and use some Ranch.  so sue me.)
and some type of whole grain/cooked veggie combo for dinner...
     (like the quinoa recipe i shared recently).

On the menu for this weekend:

Veggie Omelets (the chopped veggies are bagged and frozen, ready to be dumped in an egg)...
Fruit smoothies (with some veggies hidden inside)...
Black beans and rice...
And with the left-over beans...
Black bean brownies and...
Black bean sweet potato quesadillas (roasted sweet potatos are already frozen and ready to go) with homemade tortillas (thanks to Jami Nato for these last three recipes)

And, let me be brutally honest.  I am nearly always starving.  I heard my neighbor mention Funyuns yesterday and I had to fight the urge to go buy a bag!  But we did have a fully processed meal last night with my man's work crew (steak, baked potatoes with fake butter, salad with a mayo-based dressing, rolls, and cheesecake).  You would think that would satisfy my "processed" cravings, but nooooo.  I was banging the cupboards today looking for a morsel of processed SOMETHING.  And, to be sure, there is still plenty of processed foods in our house that we will slowly eat and deplete, but not replenish.  It's just that none of it sounds good to me.  I want Funyuns!  And I will have Funyuns again someday, but right now I need to purge my body or I'll never get over these cravings.

And here is my motivation to keep going...I've lost weight!    Even if my allergies don't improve, that's enough to keep hanging with it.  So here's to hunger pains (that I know are just my body's screams for things it wants but doesn't need, and they will go away), health, and hopes for a slimmer, allergy-free me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Catharsis, Part Two--Finally!

It's late and I'm working myself into a new schedule; so, this post is gonna hafta be short!

First of all, let me say I am sorry for turning "tomorrow" into more than a week.  Little did I know that Satan would be so very conspicuously at work this past week, wreaking obvious havoc and inflicting intense pain on Christians and non-Christians alike.  First with the death of Rick Warren's son, then a bombing at the Boston Marathon, and now an on-going trial for Dr. Gosnell, who has committed the most horrifying type of murder I can imagine, and not just once, but more times than any of us will probably ever know.

In my own very minor struggles with allergies and respiratory issues, the few times that I have felt physically well enough to blog, I really did not have the emotional strength to do so.  It has been a very heavy week.  Our struggles against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world have been very obvious.  If ever there was a time to put on the full armor of God, sister, it is now.

More about that later, but first I will try to supply a relatively short summary of what could have been a very long conclusion to my "Catharsis" post...

A week ago Sunday, the morning message focused on Psalm 51: 1-17, the last part of which says this:

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

After expounding on the entire passage, our Minister of Education (who is a gifted teacher/speaker and was filling in for our pastor) played a song by Michael Card, "Come Life Up Your Sorrows."  I could not believe how perfectly the message and song reiterated the message God had been giving me in the weeks prior to last Sunday.  The song says,

If you are weary
If you're alone...
If you have fallen
If you are weak
Come find the word of God
That only the suffering seek

Come lift up your sorrows
And offer your pain
Come make a sacrifice
Of all your shame
There in your wilderness
He's waiting for you
To worship Him with your wounds
For He's wounded too

When He said, "Come unto me"
You're not disqualified
When you're heavy laden
You may want to depart
But those who know sorrow
They're closest to His heart


Our teacher/preacher/pastor (I never know what to call them, because they are teachers, but most people say preachers or pastors, but I think that's too formal and not personal, which is what I think a pastor should be, but enough about that) ...he explained that we are to make a sacrifice of our shame.  That we are to offer it up, or lay it down, then let it go.  Remember the passage that spoke to me back in Deuteronomy, chapter 2?

Then the Lord said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."  

It's time to move on.

I have recently heard and whole-heartily agree that the church does not realize the power that is available to us in Christ.  We are sitting on a gold mine and we keep looking around in the deserts and the wildernesses for riches.  I think about Ephesians...

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His imcomparably great power for us who believe."  (Emphasis mine.)

Paul was praying that the saints in Ephesus would have their eyes opened to the wealth that was already opened to them.  They just had to seize it.  They had to quit sitting on their hands and move forward in faith and, thus, power!

And that is exactly what God has been saying to me.  And maybe to you too?

We have made our way around this desert long enough.  We have been sitting on our hands too long.  We were brought into the desert, yes, but perhaps we have hung around too long.

Why?  Everybody's reason is different.  We don't believe the promises are for us.  Or we aren't aware of the power that goes before and and stands behind.  Or the enemy has made us believe that we could not possibly ever have what we once had; we, after all, let go of a mighty good thing.  The only good thing.


And we start believing the lies.  We are unforgivable.  We are stuck in this place.  We are not worthy of healing.  We are...less than God says we are.

Stop moping around this mountain of lies!  Move on!  God has a promised land over there and it has your name written on it!  "Come make a sacrifice of all your shame."  Yes, you are wounded, but lovely, He was wounded too.  He knows our pain.

And, you know what?  The enemy is partially right (that is his expertise after all--half-truths); we don't deserve forgiveness.  But that's the beauty of mercy and grace.  In God's mercy, He doesn't give us what we deserve.  In His grace, He gives us what we do not deserve.  And that is how and why we can worship Him.   We are a mess, sinful from birth, but He forgives us.  There is no condemnation or shame in Christ.  He lifts up our heads, points us toward the promises, then gives us the power to move forward.

This message was not only given to me in Deuteronomy and reiterated in last Sunday morning's message, but also carried through Sunday night as well!

I am in a four-week study by Andy Stanley, Taking Responsibility for Your Life.  Let me tell you, it is painful.  But, no time for that now.  A couple that I greatly respect is leading this study and the man, Dave, spoke words to me, without a clue (I think) of what I have been going through, that could only have been facilitated by God.  I can't quote exactly what He said, but basically He was using Scripture to define who I am.  I felt like God was saying, once again, "Quit hanging around the mountain of lies, it's time to move on in truth!"  I thanked Dave this past Sunday for His words of encouragement and he looked blankly, like he had no clue what I was talking about.  I think he really didn't.  God just used Him in a moment of spirit-led conversation to speak a word over me.  I love, love, love when that happens.

So, sisters, I got moving.  In the Sunday night study, we were asked to think about areas where we were not taking responsibility for our lives.  The first area that came to mind was my relationship with Christ.  Over and over, I ask Him to do things for me that He expects me to be responsible enough to do myself.  Like get out of bed.

How many times have I been here?  I get it, then I forget it.  But giving our firstfruits is insanely important.  I say insanely, because we go insane a little if we don't.  We create our own troubles when we fail to be obedient in this area.  The firstfruits of time is just a hard lesson for me because I am not, and never have been, a morning person.  But, I have gotten up and in the Word before the girls have awoken more days than not since last Sunday.  This morning I lay there praying, "Lord, please help me get up."  And, quick as that, I felt in my spirit, "Just get up!"  Not mean or hateful, but strong.  And I realized that I was doing it again.  Looking around for help when it was already within me--that incomparably great power for us who believe.  What did I want Him to do?  Roll me out of bed?  I mean, there are just some things that He expects us to do.  Some things are OUR responsibility in our relationship with Him.  If He was doing everything all the time to sustain our relationship, then it wouldn't be much of a relationship at all.  He wants to know if we want Him.

I got up.  And, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I will get up again.  And again.  And again.  Because, I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  He is worth the effort.

G'night sisters.  Morning comes early.  =)

Catharsis Postponed for This

A week ago I said the second part of my "Catharsis" was coming tomorrow.  We are now a week from "tomorrow" and part two has yet to be written.  And still, it won't come today.  Because I just feel the need to share this.  How do we respond to this?

Dr. Gosnell's Trial

Ann tells us here.

And all I can think of is this, "And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him..."

Lord, your children are begging you, use this for good in the lives of women who love you.  Women who feel like they are left with no choices.  May they trust you with what seems impossible.  May they see that the precious lives knit together inside of us are a gift.  To us, as the mommas.  And to us, as the ones knit together.  If one woman can read of this trial and have a heart change.  If one life that was once unwanted is now seen and accepted as a gift.  Even one.  Then what the enemy intended for evil, You will have once again used for good.  Act, Father!  We beg your mercy on us and beg You to reveal truth to us once again.  The enemy has tossed us a lie and we have accepted it.  Show us the horror of the lie we hold.  May we drop it quickly and run to You!  How desperately the world needs Jesus.  Please give those of us who are Your possession the great sense of urgency to share Your love with a hurting, dying world.  May we envelope our sisters with grace.  May we come alongside our sisters who choose life even when that life brings painful reminders or extreme difficulties.  Bless those sweet mommas for their trust in You and their faithfulness to do the hard thing.  May we be Your hands to carry them through the tough days.  May we speak words of encouragement; there is enough criticism.  May we offer words of life.  Thank You that Your Word is Life.  That Your Way is Life.  That You give us Life.  Life abundant.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Pause to Mourn

The church collectively mourns this week.  As a great leader in the body of Christ suffers the unfathomable loss of a child, we pause to mourn and pray and encourage.  As Beth and Ann both said, we all have suffered or are suffering.  My suffering may be different from yours but that doesn't mean yours is tidier, or messier.  We can not assume we understand the cause of another's pain.  May we be quick to love each other through all situations and may criticism of our fellow brothers and sisters have no place among us.  God is for us.

This from Beth Moore.

And this from Ann Voskamp.

Part II of "Catharsis" tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


As I told a friend recently, this blogging is a complex thing for me.  Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by an event or something that God is teaching me that I couldn't possibly write about it.  Other times, in order to process my emotions and/or wrap my head around something God is teaching me, I feel like I have to write about it!  Tonight is one of those times.  Today has been quite cathartic for me, from start to finish.

We are privileged to have at our church a man who is incredibly gifted by the Spirit for teaching.  He delivered our message this morning and, if God used him for no one else, He used him to speak to me.  And, just to be sure I was listening, God reiterated His message again tonight through a man I greatly respect.  I had already heard the same message this week, loud and clear.  And I had started to journal it then but I just didn't have time.  So, let me back up...

I believe it was Friday.  I had a bit of quiet time in Deuteronomy.

Aside:  Some of you may remember I am reading through the Bible, and the goal is to read through it this year.  I am obviously behind.  Don't give up on me!  Some of you that have been reading this blog for a while also know that God has been allowing some sifting to take place in me.  Although it's always a bit painful, okay, a lot painful, I know that what comes out on the other side of the fire is something that has been refined.  I do not like sifting.  I do not like seeing all my junk.  I do not like brokenness.  But I do like the promise of what lies ahead.  I'll keep clinging to Him through the sifting and through the fires, even if just by a finger, because I know in my heart that my God is faithful.  Back to Deuteronomy...

So, the first couple of chapters of Deuteronomy are basically a recap of what Israel has been through since their exodus from Egypt.  (And, I'm just going to be honest:  I am so painfully like Israel.)  They came to Mt. Sinai, or Horeb, shortly after leaving Egypt.  And this is God's word to them in Deuteronomy 1:

The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

God tells them to pack up and go.  "I have given the land to you; just go in and take possession of it."  Given.  Past tense.  It was done.  The gift had already been given, unwrapped, and laid before them; they just had to grab it with both hands.

And then the Israelites went in to scope out the land.  They saw the fruit and it was GOOD.  To give you an idea of how the land flourished, it took two men to carry a single cluster of grapes (Numbers 13).  But they also saw their enemies--literally giants--and they were overcome with fear.  And they returned to the camp and spread their fear-filled reports like wildfire:

"All the people we saw there are of great size...We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”  Numbers 13

And before the night was over, all of Israel began to cry out:

"Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  Numbers 14

God had just told them He had GIVEN that land to them!  It was theirs!  And now they are accusing Him of bringing them into the desert to die!  And they are refusing to move forward in faith.  They were focused on their enemies, not their God; so, their enemies seemed larger than their God.  How quickly we forget His promises.

Their lack of faith angered God and He swore an oath that not one adult would live to see the land He had given them, but that their children, whom the Israelites feared would be taken as plunder, would take possession of the land after every one of the adults had fallen dead in the desert.

Then we turned back and set out toward the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea,[a] as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.

For a long time?  Yes!  40 long years!  So, the time God intended for them to be in the desert, 11 days (See Deuteronomy 1:2), was painfully stretched into 40 years, thanks to lack of faith and disobedience.

Ouch.  This stepped all over my toes.  God obviously intends to take us into the desert sometimes.  The way to our promises is often through the desert.  But the amount of time we spend there may depend on us.  How quickly are we willing to learn our lessons and let our faith increase to the point that we are willing and able to slay our enemies and claim our promises?

Those enemies that look like giants?  They are already defeated!  God has already "blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1).  Blessed.  Past tense.  Given, unwrapped, and laid before us.  When will we quit looking at the enemy who wants to keep us from our promised blessings?  And when will we focus on God and His gifts, and grab on with both hands?

I, for one, am tired of wandering in the desert.  I know God brought me here, but I think I have wandered a bit too long.  Here's why.  Reading on in Deuteronomy, I came to this passage and the repetition struck my soul.  Note the similarity to Deuteronomy 1!

Then the Lord said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.

Can you hear the intensity?  He is commanding them once again to move out of the desert, out of their fears, and into the promises!  You know what I love about this?  He had already said this to them once:  You have been here long enough.  And that was 40 years ago!  Now, He is saying it again, almost exactly the same way:  You have been here long enough.  (Uh, yeah.  40 years TOO long.)  And I wondered how much longer I have stretched my stay in the desert than He intended it to be.

And I just wonder if some of you, like me, have spent a little time in the desert recently.  Perhaps you've already heard God say, "You have been here long enough."  But perhaps fear of your enemy has kept you from moving forward in faith.  He is the God of second chances.  If we stumble, He will always give us the chance to respond in obedience to the same situation.

Hear Him today.  He longs to be gracious to us.  (Isaiah 30:18).  Can we just imagine Him saying, "You have been here long enough, child.  Now turn!  Take up your weapons and fight.  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  The LORD your God is with you.  You are about to lay claim to some promises!"

And, furthermore, those enemies who have caused so much fear (our enemy who has caused so much fear), this is what God says of them (him):

They [He] will be afraid of you. (v.4)

My dear friends, and my dear daughters (if one day you read this), for the sake of the cross and what Christ did for us there, it is high time we moved outta the desert!  Oh the enemy is real and he will do his best to stand in the way of our promised blessings.  But his best is literally nothing compared to the "incomparably great power for us who believe" Christ.  "That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above every rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under His feet..."  (Ephesians 1)  All things.  Our enemy is defeated.  He knows that; he just doesn't want us to know it.  And he is very afraid when he hears us singing praises to the One Who has already secured our victory, "I know Who goes before me; I know Who stands behind; the God of angel armies is always by my side!"  ("Whom Shall I Fear" by Chris Tomlin)

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear?

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though trouble linger still
Whom shall I fear?

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I'm holding on to Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

p.s.  i realize that i never got to my cathartic day.  stay tuned for part two of this story.  right now i'm just gonna go get my praise on.

p.s.s.  i know that's not a real thing, p.s.s, but roll with it...
do you see how much God is using Ephesians 1 for me right now?!  i love it.  i love Him.  thank you, Lord, for Scripture in my memory.  You alone give me the ability to do that.

p.s.s.s.  i have verse one of chapter 2..."as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."

that is not you and me, sister.  not you and me.  and that is exactly why we praise and fight.  He is so worth it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tulips, Cabbage, and Quinoa

So, the tulips bloomed and proved me wrong.  And they were beautiful!

And now I can save the bulbs and plant them and enjoy them again next year!  If you're interested in having some of these beauties, here's their web address:

And caring for them is really nothing at all.  You have to make sure water covers the bulbs half-way throughout the life of the tulips.  And keep them out of direct sun light.  That is all!

And here are the after-care instructions:

After flowering, clip the dead flower off the stem, and let the foliage die off while maintaining water level. When the foliage has completed drying out, you may see new little bulbs beginning to form, leave these. Cut the foliage, and store the bulbs dry, and as cool as possible until early November. Then plant them in your garden, using a good mix of soil and compost. Thoroughly water them at planting.

So simple and pretty!

In other news...

I am one of those shoppers that goes into the store and buys whatever is in season in the produce department.  Right now it is cabbage!  Since I am not a huge fan of cabbage, I had to get creative this week. I made an Asian dressing for a variation on coleslaw.

I actually googled "Asian sesame dressing," and my socks were blown off!  Panera shares their Asian sesame salad dressing on their website.  I love them even more now!  Here it is:

  • Panera Bread Asian Sesame Dressing
  • Makes 1 ¼ cups
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup canola or vegetable oil

I, of course, did not have everything on hand, so, OF COURSE, I had to improvise.  I will be buying sesame oil and rice vinegar, but for now, here's what I did and it produced something surprisingly yummy.

1 part soy sauce
2 parts sugar
2 parts white wine vinegar
3 parts veg oil

So, for those of you who are not math majors (like I am not), if you use 1/4 c. soy sauce, you'd use 1/2 c. sugar and vinegar, and 3/4 c. oil.  I'm not giving exact numbers because I don't know how much cabbage you'll be using.  Just toss it together and get your grub on.  I have eaten it for lunch and supper just about every day this week.  Yum!  Just don't add the dressing until you are ready to eat because the cabbage will get soggy.  (I made the dressing in a handy mixing bottle so I could just pour out a little on the portion I was going to eat.  If you want one of these handy bottles (pic below), you can order it from Pampered Chef.

And one last thing...

At our most recent MOPS meeting, one of our mentor mommas brought a yummy quinoa dish that I want to share...

2 cups chicken stock
1 c. quinoa
olive oil
1 diced onion
a couple of garlic cloves
2 chopped tomatoes
2 diced squash (or spinach or veggie of choice)
fresh basil
lime juice
Feta cheese

Bring stock to boil, add quinoa.  Turn to low and cook, covered, for 15 mins.  Stir.  Let sit with lid on for 15 more mins.

Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil.  Add tomatoes, squash (or spinach or veggie of choice), fresh basil, and lime juice.  Cook just until warmed through and veggies are tender.  Toss with quinoa and top with Feta cheese.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Favorite Chapter

I've been reading in Zephaniah 3 this morning.  I know for many of us that book of the Bible is rarely, if ever, opened.  But over the last few years, chapter three of this obscure book has become my favorite passage of Scripture.  I'm sure you are wondering why.  My first instinct is to say, "Go read it!"  But I know that what is deeply meaningful to me right now may or may not be apparent to you just by reading the passage.  So, let's just start from the beginning and I'll break it down.

"Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled!  She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God." (v. 1-2)

This verse has two meanings for me.  But before I go there, please know this:  I have read NO commentaries on this passage.  I am certainly NO scholar.  True scholars, if they ever heard my thoughts, would probably disagree with me whole-heartedly!  This is just what this means for me, right now.  Not necessarily what the LORD meant when He spoke these words through Zephaniah.  Okay, that out of the way, the two meanings for me are:

1)  The city of oppressors reminds me  I am rebellious and defiled.  I often refuse to obey God and turn a deaf ear to His correction.  I greatly lack in trust and often let other things get in the way of my relationship with my God.

2)  The city of oppressors reminds me of Satan.  I can not think about oppression and rebellion without thinking of the one who spends all his energy trying to oppress and encouraging rebellion.  He is everything defiled and he is about the business of defiling.  He wants us to refuse correction and causes us to doubt the Lord.  He will do anything to keep us from drawing near to our God.

Don't misunderstand me and freak out.  Satan is the epitome of all things evil.  He is everything opposite of God.  I am not drawing parallels between myself and Satan!  But on two very different scales, I can see how verse one and two can loosely be a description of both me and my enemy.  Though I know it was originally written to describe rebellious Jerusalem, it just has this meaning for me at this time in my life.

Theses analogies can loosely be applied through the next several verses. For example, verse three speaks of roaring lions, which exact phraseology is used to describe our enemy in 1 Peter 5:8.  Also, verse four speaks of arrogance, which we can most readily use to describe Satan, and, unfortunately, it can also be descriptive of me.

But I LOVE verse 5!  "The LORD within her is righteous; He does no wrong.  Morning by morning He dispenses His justice, and every new day He does not fail..."

No matter the depth of our depravity, God is always righteous and just and steadfast.  Whether we are in a right relationship with Him, no relationship with Him, or an inconsistent relationship with Him, He is ever the same in our ebb and flow.

Please remember as I go through these verses, I am VERY loosely applying meaning here.  Some Scriptures just speak to us in a season of life.  I do not necessarily think that anyone else will interpret this passage the same way, or even that anyone else should!  This passage was written about Jerusalem and prophesied her coming Savior.  I'm loosely applying theses Scriptures to my rebellious self, all the while looking to Jesus as my once-and-for-all Savior.

God goes on to describe (v. 6-8) how His wrath will be poured out on His people.  Thankfully, as those who live on the other side of the cross, we do not have to fear God's wrath.  However, what these passages mean to me is that God will use whatever means are necessary to get us in a right relationship with Him.  Sometimes that even means allowing us to fall into captivity.  For Jerusalem it was literal captivity to the Babylonians and Assyrians, but for us today it is most often spiritual captivity--the chains of sin.  If we wander, He loves us too much to leave us wandering in the desert forever.  He will continue to woo us until we come home.  If we become slaves to sin, He stands ready to remove the chains.  He will continue to offer the key to freedom until we stop running and accept His help.  And, for some of us, there is a lot of tripping and falling along the way, because, for some of us, the only way we'll look up is if we first fall flat down.

In verses 9 and 10 we see the returning of God's people to Him.  After wandering, after captivity, after God finally secures our attention, we see the first glimmer of purification:  "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder.  From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings."  We receive freedom and purification and we praise Him!  But you know what may be my favorite part of this verse?  We "serve Him shoulder to shoulder."  His church becomes united.  Differences no longer dominate.  Denominations diminish.  Divisions disappear.  We stand shoulder to shoulder and we serve Him as one united body.  I literally tingle with anticipation!

And the passage only gets better from here!

"On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride.  Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill.  But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust int he name of the LORD."  (v. 11-12)

Amen!  Let it be, let it be.

In verses 1-4 we saw an arrogant, rebellious Jerusalem that did not trust in the LORD.  But after a good deal of sifting, there was not one ounce of pride or arrogance.  God's city was filled with the meek and the humble who fully trusted in Him.  And that is the promise I am clinging to today--that after a good deal of sifting there will not be one ounce of pride or arrogance in me, that "never again will [I] be haughty on [His] holy hill."

He goes on to describe his post-sifting, purified people:  "The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.  They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid."

Not only is He sifting out pride, but fear as well.  I think about the verse that says, "There is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18).  As we are consumed with His love, as our eyes focus on Him Who Is Love, there is no room for fear.  He is sifting out the fear.  No one, not even our enemy who prowls about like a roaring lion, will make us afraid.

In appreciation for all that God had done for them, Zephaniah says Israel will sing, shout, be glad and rejoice.  Today, in anticipation of all God is going to do for us, He says,

"Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!"  (v. 14)

I have written in a cross-reference here to 2 Samuel 6:14.  It says, "David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might."  And I thought about all the parallels between this verse and Zephaniah 3:14.  In Samuel, David was bringing the ark back to its rightful place in Jerusalem; He was welcoming the presence of God back into the heart of the city, back into the hearts of the people.  In Zephaniah, God was once again taking His rightful place as King of His people.  And today, He is promising the same thing to us who are His; He will be King in our lives.  We who desire Him to be our all-in-all will one day see that as a reality.  We will welcome Him into the center of our lives and we will be rid of our pride and our fear as we come to the full realization of what the LORD has done for us...

"The LORD has taken away your punishment [on the cross], He has turned back your enemy.  The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm."

I'm going to back up and take a detour here.  Zephaniah says "rejoice with all your heart."  Samuel says David "danced with all his might."  Who remembers what happened when David publicly and profusely worshiped His Lord?  His wife, Michal, despised him in her heart (2 Samuel 6:16).  Perhaps we should be prepared for the same.  As we rejoice with all our heart, there may be some people who haven't experienced abundant freedom in Christ, perhaps even some of the very ones who profess Christ, who will despise the public spectacle we make of ourselves in our total abandonment to worship.  Worship on, warriors, and remember that our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms...With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people (Ephesians 6).  One day we will all worship in total abandonment.  I pray it is this side of heaven, but if not, be assured all our brothers and sisters will experience "all-your-heart" worship someday and it will be a beautiful thing!

Okay, back on track with verse 16..."On that day they will say to Jerusalem, 'Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.  The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Can there be any better promise in Scripture?  The LORD, the very One Who tells us to sing and rejoice for all He has done, is doing, and will do for us, the same One says He will rejoice over US with singing!  Can you picture that?  A dancing, singing God?  If Michal thought it was undignified of her king-husband to dance for his LORD, can you imagine what she would think if she could see that his King-LORD was dancing over her husband?!

If it is proper for the King of the universe to dance and sing and praise over us, then what in heaven's name is to keep us from giving Him the worship that He deserves?  Verse 16 says, "Do not let your hands hang limp!"  Lift holy hands to God in whole-hearted praise.  Our God is mighty to save!  Our God delivers us from our enemy!  Our God has taken away our punishment and turned back our enemy!  Our God purifies us!  And--imagine it--our God rejoices over us!  So, let's rejoice in Him with all our heart!

I'm saying this to me today.  Forget what others think.  Forget that others see the black spots of pride and fear in my heart.  It is for that very reason that I need to praise!  There is still junk in my heart that needs purification, but God has taken away my punishment!  While others may see all the yuck, He sees me as holy and blameless (Eph 1).  While I am dismayed at my junk, He is rejoicing over me.  He sees me for what I will be (meek,  humble, fearless), not what I am (prideful, arrogant, fear-driven).  He will leave within me the meek and the humble.  Never again will I fear any harm.  He has turned back my enemy!  Even as there is still blackness in me, and others see it and wonder at the authenticity of praise from such a sinner as me, I will praise Him with all my heart.

"Oh, bless the Lord, oh my soul!  Oh, my soul, worship His holy name.  Sing like never before!  Oh, my soul!  And worship His holy name!"  ("10,000 Reasons"--Matt Redman)

May no one make us afraid to rejoice.


Attitude of Gratitude

#224.  music that says exactly what my heart feels
#225.  that we can worship anywhere, anytime
#226.  instant access to worship music through the internet
#227.  the perfect placement of the sun, moon, planets, and stars to sustain life
#228.  fresh air through the screen door
#229.  forgiveness
#230.  the physical ability to raise my hands
#231.  freedom


Post script:  A couple hours after writing the above, I read Ann Voskamp's blog (of which I haven't been reading much lately).  Always amazed to see how God reiterates an idea for me.  If you have it in you, read this.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Weekend & Spring Break Week

Before this week ever rolled around I had declared it a No-, um, make that Low-work Fun Week!  Because, let's be honest, there's really no way to do no work.  But my time with my babies is ticking by and I wanted to spend this spring break making memories.

Yesterday was spent playing baby dolls, taking a loooooong bubble bath, reading books, and flying kites, with a few other things sprinkled in.  Today, I'm a bit sad to let them go but...they are going to their Nana's because their cousin is in town and those girls love each other.  But, there are many things on our to-do list this week...

Making Resurrection Cookies...
Making an Empty Tomb Cake...
Baking in their Easy-Bake oven...
Making more Cloud Dough...
Playing outside...
Reading, reading, reading...
A trip to the Children's Museum...
And whatever else we can get into!

A few items on the above list are repeats from this past weekend.  Here's why:

When we were at my mom's last weekend, she made Cloud Dough using flour and baby oil (at an 8:1 ratio).  The girls had fun making it and playing with it.  I can only imagine how much more fun they could have with a huge container of the dough and various tools for shaping it.  We are going to make a lot more to keep in an airtight container and take out to on the deck for a good we-can-be-outside-while-mom-cooks activity.  I've recently moved their wooden table up on the deck so they can do more activities outside even if I'm inside.  (Not to worry, friends, my kitchen door and windows open to the deck.  We can be chatting while they play ten feet away.)

Also, while we were there, my oldest sister brought a basket-full of ingredients over to make Resurrection Cookies.  Unfortunately, my momma's hand-held mixer got hot, and we had to cut the required mixing time in half; so, the cookies didn't turn out.  The girls want to give it another go.  (The recipe is at the bottom if you'd like it.)

And, lastly, we will be doing a repeat of the Empty Tomb cake because...well, just because we want more chocolate cake!  The chocolate fast is over and I, unlike Jaime Nato, was happy to reintroduce the sugary treat into my diet.  I think the girls were happy that I welcomed chocolate back into my world, too, since they have asked if we can make this cake again.  We each got one piece and that just wasn't quite enough to satisfy our prolonged cravings.

Bake a chocolate bundt cake.  (I used a box mix.)  Cut it in two pieces, one half slightly larger than the other half.  Place on their ends (cut sides down) and put the flat sides (what is usually the bottom of the bundt cake) back-to-back to create a hill.  Spread choc icing over all.  Cover the hole with a York peppermint patty.  The recipe calls for sprinkling green colored coconut around the bottom for grass, but I used crushed Oreos for dirt because I'm not a fan of dried coconut.

Here's my big girl "rolling away the stone," to discover the linens (paper towel shreds) in the empty tomb.

Thanks to my friend, Jennifer, for the Empty Tomb cake recipe!

Resurrection Cookie recipe:

You will need:
1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
a pinch salt
1 cup sugar
a zipper baggy
1 wooden spoon
scotch tape
These are to be made the evening before Easter. Preheat oven to 300F.
*** (this is very important --- don't wait until you are half done with the recipe).
Place pecans in zipper baggy and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested. He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.
Read: John 19:1-3

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross He was given vinegar to drink.
Read: John 19:28-30
Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life
to give us life.
Read: John 10:10-11
Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.
Read: Luke 23:27

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.
and John 3:16
Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.
and John 3:1-3
Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.
Read: Matthew 27:57-60

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed.
Read: Matthew 27:65-66


Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.
Read: John 16:20,22

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

Take from