Friday, August 21, 2015

The Door


Jesus doesn't open up doors of opportunity for us, He IS The Door. We can go in and out freely and we WILL find pasture.

John 10:9Amplified Bible (AMP)

"I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Some Pig!


When I hear the word humble, I can't help but think about Wilbur the pig in the book Charlotte's Web.  Charlotte the spider is trying to save Wilbur's life and begins spinning words in her web to show the world what a great pig Wilbur really is.  One of the words she uses to describe him is "humble".  She says, "Humble has two meanings.  It means 'not proud' and it means 'low to the ground'.  That's Wilbur all over."

As Christians, I think that is often how we view humility, being low to the ground, inferior, a pig wallowing in the mud.  After all we ARE told to be humble more than once in the Bible.  So we become proud of being humble, of seeing ourselves as lowly and self-incriminating.

At a retreat I was recently able to attend, the leader pointed out that we are made in God's image. There are over 7 billion people living in the world today, and each of us is a unique representation of part of God's greatness.  It has taken well over 7 billion people to even begin to  express the greatness and image of God.  I am (and YOU are) a unique reflection  that is unlike anyone else.  We have the enviable job of finding the greatness of God in others and in ourselves.  We practiced doing that at the retreat.  We sat facing each other in groups of four, sitting knee to knee declaring to each other, "the greatness of God I see in you is...."  And I have to tell you, it was life changing for me.   But how does being humble, "low to the ground", fit in with seeing greatness in each other and in ourselves?   The answer is really quite simple.  Instead of a pig wallowing in the mud, being low to the ground looks a lot more like this:


It's saying the greatness that we have in us isn't about us at all.  It is boasting on God's greatness in us and being thankful for it!  My sister said it well,  "That's  worth telling people about.  And if I dismiss His greatness in me...I'm just displaying false humility.  I'm taking away His glory."  

What better way to use the voice God has given me than to declare the greatness of God I see in others?  So, I've decided I want to be like Charlotte the spider.  Because in the long run, that's really what she was doing - seeing the greatness of God in His creation (Wilbur) and declaring it - "terrific, radiant, humble, some pig!"  What better place than to start with my own family, my children?  So, on a personal note to my kids:  when you start getting texts, phone calls and messages from me for the next few weeks, know that I am sincerely telling you that YOU are made in God's image, a special reflection of God's greatness and that I see the work God is doing in you, and it is GOOD! 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Know Him

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a Beth Moore conference with some sweet family members.  One of the topics Beth spoke on was on "Know who you are in Christ."   My sister, Becky and I discussed it some and then she loaned me the book  "The Person Called You" by Bill Hendricks.  (I haven't finished the book yet, but I do recommend it!)  
Shortly after I began contemplating all of this information, the Junior High girls in my Sunday School class came home from Student Life Camp.  At the beginning of class, I asked them to share something from camp.  Many shared fun things that had happened at camp  but then one of them excitedly wanted to share what she had learned.  She began telling what Ed Newton had taught one evening at the conference (and I hope I get it right!).  
He told them the story in Matthew 16 of  Christ asking his disciples "Who do you say that I am?".   When Jesus asked the question, Simon quickly declared, "Your are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!"  It was then that Jesus changed his name to Peter - and in that name change told Peter who he was.  Mr. Newton's point was what had my adorable Jr. High Sunday School member so excited:  before God will reveal who you are in Him, He wants you to declare who HE is.  I love simplicity, and I love those girls!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Silence of Saturday



Matthew 27:57-66
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

As I've contemplated the Easter season this year, for some reason I keep coming back to think of that Saturday - that in between time when the pain and sorrow of the crucifixion is past but the triumph and exultation of the resurrection is still unknown.

Most of us have seen performances that portray the crucifixion and have heard the noises.  The sounds of those screaming "Crucify Him!" as well as those grieving as they witness Christ's death, the harshness of a hammer pounding the nails into his hands and feet, and Christ proclaiming "It is finished.".   We've heard the sounds of Sunday depicted- the exclamation of the angel telling Mary Magdalene and the other Mary "He is not here, for he has risen!", we can imagine the joy in their voices as they rush to tell the disciples the good news and the footsteps as John and Peter rush to see the empty tomb.

But Saturday.  Oh, Saturday!  The time of confusion, fear, and doubt.  The time when Christ seemingly was absent.  When Christ was SILENT.  The followers of Christ had heard so much from Jesus as they followed Him, times when they were so very aware of Christ's presence.  But now, nothing.

John 19:38-39 tells us that both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus' body, wrapped it in linen and laid Him in the tomb.  The stone was rolled into place, and then they "went away" (Matt. 27:60).  Did you notice where Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were?  I had never noticed this before:  They were waiting at the tomb.    Maybe that is what faith looks like.   It was a time for those two to "Be still and KNOW".  I think for them it was a time of waiting and trusting.  Saturday is a hard day.  We desperately want to escape the doubt and the grief and jump straight to the joy and excitement of victory.  However, Jesus used this time of silence to do His best work.  He used His death to conquer death and to bring us life.  He faced the pain and grief to bring us joy and to set us free.

I don't think it is any coincidence that these two women had the honor of being the first to hear the good news of  Christ's resurrection.  May we, in times of silence and waiting, be still  and with hope, prayer and trust remember that the LORD who loves us so deeply is quietly at work behind the scenes bringing about miracles beyond our imagination!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!


I don't know who Jewel Diamond Taylor is, but she was quoted as saying "Excuses are your fears in disguise".  I think there is a lot of truth in that!  The one thing that we put off doing, using excuse after excuse, may be the one thing that God wants us to do in order to release us.  Is it possible the the one thing we justify not doing is what we need to do to step into the next phase of God's plan for our lives?   If you're reading this, will you pray with me that God will  help me to no longer live in fear but to step out in faith and trust in HIM?  No more excuses!


Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fire Roasted Poblano Chili


Since we've discovered milk, corn and tomato allergies in the family I've been forced to become a bit more creative in my meal planning. One of my favorite meals to have in cold weather is chili. Alas and alack, tomatoes are the base of my recipe. So, I began searching for a tomato free chili, and Pinterest came to the rescue. I discovered Maid in Alaska's recipe for Tomato Free Chili with Fire Roasted Poblanos. Honestly, I thought that I would have to try several recipes before we found one to please everyone in the family. Happily that wasn't the case. This recipe (with only small changes to the original) has become our go to recipe for allergy free chili!

Tomato Free Chili with Fire Roasted Poblanos Recipe:

2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped (directions below)

2 lbs. organic ground beef

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (if you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use regular oregano)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Ranch style pinto beans

32 oz. beef broth (she only used 2 cups, but we like ours to simmer a long time and not too thick)

salt & pepper to taste

To fire roast the poblanos:

Maid in Alaska's directions: Roast the poblano peppers directly on your grill or on top of your gas stove top burner (directly over the flame) until they are black and charred all the way around. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam (this will sweat the skin and make peeling the peppers easier). Set aside for at least 10 minutes. I didn't have a grill or gas stove top available so just put my peppers in the oven at 545° for a few minutes until charred and then followed above directions to steam and peel.

Hold the top of the pepper and use a large kitchen knife to scrape off the blackened skin. Cut the peppers open and remove the stem and seeds. Then spread the peppers out on cutting board and chop.

To make the chili:

In a large Dutch oven, brown the beef with the onion and garlic and drain grease. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped poblanos, black beans, pinto beans, and beef broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 – 50 minutes, depending on how thick you like your chili . Water may be added to thin it down a bit if desired. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will become. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now I'm dreaming of finding a tomato and cheese free pizza and lasagna. A girl can always dream.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Promises to Keep

Ann Tatlock's book "Promises to Keep" uses the voice of an eleven year old girl to tell the story of a family's life in the 1960s. Her writing style is reminiscent of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" and is very engaging.

Roz Anthony is a young girl with who deeply craves the love and attention of her father. Her best friend, Mara, is a young black girl who struggles with similar problems. The two friends make a "cross your heart and hope to die" promise to keep each other's secrets. These secrets could very easily put Roz in danger and could be life changing for both girls.

Janis, the mother of 3 children. moves to the idyllic town of Mills River seeking safety and security for her children. When she begins work to support her family, she is in need of someone to help watch her children. Janis, much like her daughter Roz, is seeking security and is willing to sacrifice love to feel safe.

Tillie is found on the Anthony family's front porch claiming that the house is hers. She claims that ownership is a matter of the sweat, years and love a person pours into a house. She and her husband had built and lived in the house long before the Anthonys had moved to town and resents her sons for selling her home. Before long, Tillie has worked her way into the family's lives and could very well be an answer to prayer as she steps in to help Janis with the children.

The oldest son, Wally is filled with anger over the treatment he received from his step-father. At the age of 17 he looks forward to being old enough to enlist and join the fight in Vietnam. Wally's father was a war hero, and he desires to follow in his father's footsteps.

All of these characters, and more, build an awe-inspiring story of trust, love and courage. I've already read the book twice and highly recommend it. I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, part 255.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hidden Affections by Delia Parr

Hidden Affections is an enjoyable Historical Fiction book by Delia Parr. It begins, "Annabelle Tyler may have hoped she would marry again someday, but she never dreamed she would be wearing handcuffs during the ceremony when she did." Annabelle found herself married to a cad, Eric Bradley who simply married Annabelle for the small inheritance she received when her parents died. He used that money to woo a wealthier woman and returned to tell Annabelle that he was divorcing her.

Being a divorced woman in the 1830's was quite shocking and brought much ridicule to her already lonely life. Annabelle fled her home to try to begin anew. While on the way to a new job, the stage is robbed and the robbers handcuff Annabelle to a well known womanizer, Harrison Graymoor. Left alone to fend for themselves, they try to remove the handcuffs and end up wounding Harrison in the attempt. It begins snowing and the handcuffed couple end up huddled together trying to stay warm.
The next morning the sheriff of a nearby town find the two sleeping side by side and knowing Harrison's reputation, assumes the worse. The sheriff forces the two to wed, hoping to save Annabelle's reputation (unaware that she is divorced). Harrison assures Annabelle that his lawyer will quickly have the marriage annulled and no one will be the wiser.
Yet when they finally arrive at his expansive home, they find their marriage has been publicized in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They decide that they must put on a charade of being a happily married, newlywed couple until the annulment can be obtained. The two move to Harrison's country home outside of town and must convince the godly, perceptive, head housekeeper that they are happily married.
In the progression of the story you see both Harrison and Annabelle begin to mature as they deal with all the difficulties thrown their way. The story is quite predictable, yet is still a good read for a rainy day. (If only we could get that rain!!)
I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse

This is the second book by Julie Klassen that I've had the opportunity to review. The first, The Silent Governess, is my favorite of the two, but this book is equally well written and full of great characters.

The book is set in the English countryside in the 1800's. Mariah lived during a time when a woman working as an author was unacceptable, yet writing is what she loved to do. Having been found in a improper situation, she was abandoned by her family and forced to live in the gatehouse belonging to her ailing aunt. There she supports herself and her faithful servant by secretly writing. One day before her death, Mariah's aunt hides a chest in the gatehouse attic and gives Mariah the key, instructing her to be sure to keep it a secret from her dead husband's son who is desperately trying to sell off anything of value for his own profit. Inside the chest Mariah discovers her aunts journals telling of the family's past.

Captain Matthew Bryant appears at the gatehouse after falling from his horse on a stormy night. Mariah is able to catch the horse and aid the Captain. Matthew decides that the aunt's estate is the perfect place to lease as he courts a young woman nearby. The friendship of Mariah and Captain Bryant develops as they both face uncertain circumstances.

Her aunt's stepson, Hugh Prin-Hallsey, forces Mariah to pay rent after her aunt dies, so Mariah is desperate for a way to raise money. She contacts her brother to help her sell her novels. Her brother goes against their father's wishes and helps Mariah. They both desperately want to please their father and reunite the family but also know that Mariah must raise the funds needed.

This book is well written and will keep you reading to the end! I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Well done, Julie Klassen!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishing Group for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.