Sunday, May 22, 2016

God is Love

Sunday morning as I taught the beautiful story of redemption pictured in Ruth's life, the essential doctrine in our Sunday School lesson was "GOD IS LOVE".  The curriculum,which is geared toward high school students, had a short paragraph on that doctrine concerning God being the essence of love.   So I asked God "how can I say this in a way my 6th grade girls can understand?"  and this was the answer:  "God is NOT a picture of love; love is a picture of God!"  God can't be limited He is the immeasurable "I AM" and therefore isn't defined by the interpretation of any concept - He is not a picture of love - He is love!   

I John 4:7-10
My loved ones, let us devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
 Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him.  This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

So You're a Pastor's Wife

My sister asked me to be a guest on her blog "So You're a Pastor's Wife".  The purpose of this GREAT blog is to encourage and support pastor's wives.  You can read my post here.   I highly encourage you to check out the site especially if you are a wife to or are someone on staff at a church!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

One Year

What a difference a year makes! Only 8,760 hours.  This last year has felt more like a lifetime to me. A lifetime of learning and growing.

Exactly one year ago today, one of the hardest days of my life, I was headed to the hospital to have treatment for thyroid cancer.  I would need to be in isolation for 3 days.  I could only have 15 - 30 total minutes of contact a day.  So, the nurses bringing in my food and checking me with a Geiger counter (not kidding...) a few minutes each day would be all of the contact I had.  As we began to prepare for the isolation, Mark, (my husband) and I got the phone call that my big brother, Bob, - one of my heroes - had died, and I couldn't leave, but Mark had to go.  It was miserable but I was NEVER alone! I needed a hug but I knew that God was with me.  It was a hard time, a very hard time, but I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, I want to tell  the "why" of it all.

When I got out of the hospital I began counting how many people had been praying for me - I've forgotten the numbers but it was hundreds - some even out of the country - many I didn't know.  One gentleman I didn't know who worked at the hospital was even stopping to pray at my door each day as he passed by while working.  So humbling.  Unbeknownst to me, God was beginning a work in me that day.   I missed my big brother and family, I was sick and lonely, BUT GOD. . .

God began to teach me through my pain and grief.  He began to show me a strength that I never knew I had:  a strength and ability to lean in on Him for comfort, for encouragement, for my every need.   I began to see how small my trust in Him had actually been.  He began to gently lead me to deeper levels of trust and healing. Even though I knew some of these truths and had been taught them all of my life, I didn't really KNOW them.  God showed me He was big enough to hear me cry out to Him, "You hurt me!" without being disappointed in me or turning from me.  He showed me that He understood and wasn't leaving or changing.

God began to show me that He wanted me to begin asking bigger questions.  Rather than always asking "why?" He wanted me to begin asking "what do you want me to learn through this?", "how do you want me to respond in this situation?", "where were you, who are You to me during this season?" and "Where do I go from here?".  He has used this year - my time of having absolutely no energy - to give me opportunity to draw near to Him, to begin to know Him, to be still, to listen, to grow and to rest.  God didn't shy away from my questions, in fact I believe he delighted in them and rejoiced to be able to answer some of them for me.

I was taught that I had a choice.  I could either look at my problems and feel sorry for myself and seek sympathy or I could look at the size of my problem as being the measure of how big of an opportunity it is for God to work miracles and bring changes.  I learned that I have a voice and that I'm not invisible.  That my voice and my story need to be heard.  I know that other people have been through so much more, and even still my story of how God worked in my life can be an encouragement to others.  I can now do as others did for me.  I can say THIS is what God did for me THIS is what God taught me during this time of pain.  I can tell you that God is still in the miracle business and that if He can do this for me He can do the same and even greater things for you and through you.

So many have helped me this year.  People have prayed, called me, sent cards, driven me to Dr. visits, loved on my children, opened their homes for me, cooked for me, given to me, sponsored me to go to Bible conferences, taught me, coached me, listened to me complain, cried with me, encouraged me, - in short have loved me and given me room to grow.  So, thank you.  Thank you for your prayers and all of your encouragement.  It made a difference.

I still miss my brother, and I still have moments of regret, but I have been brought to the point of being able to say I am so thankful for this year.  For every moment of the hard times, for the pain as well as the joy.  I know I have a long ways to go and many more things to learn, but now I know that I have a purpose and a voice. More importantly, I have God walking right beside me teaching all along the way. He can do the same for you.

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.