Monday, December 19, 2011

A Verse to Chew On for Christmas

Hi there!  I hope this post finds you doing well and enjoying this Special Season!

We are in the final countdown phase now aren't we!?!  Are your...

Lights Strung... 

...and Stockings Hung?

Cookies Baked...

... and Gifts Bought?

If you are among those with a checked-off check list then brew a cup of something warm and yummy and spend a few minutes relaxing...

If you are in my camp with a host of stuff yet to be done then skip the yummy and opt to sip on something with immune boosters included cuz we have work to do! :)

But what ever situation best describes you I hope you can take a moment or two to Chew on this Verse...

"...and they bowed down and worshiped HIM.  Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts."
Matthew 2:11 NIV

For those of you intimately acquainted with the Real Christmas Story you know that the 'they' referred to here are the Magi...commonly referred to as the Three Kings...

Truth be told...we don't know how many Kings or Wise Men showed up.

What we do know about this band of travelers is that...

* they journeyed a long distance to see  the "king of the Jews"
* they found Jesus by following a star
* they sought Him to worship Him
* they gave Jesus 3 gifts

There are so many rich bites in this part of the Christmas Story and so many interesting facts regarding this band of they knew to follow the star...when they actually found Jesus...but we just don't have the time for all of that right now.

What I do want to focus on is that they presented Jesus with Gifts as part of their worship...and we should is His Birthday after all! :)

For years now my family and I have made giving Jesus a gift at Christmas a priority. 

We begin to pray over Thanksgiving weekend asking the Lord to tell us what He would like for His Christmas present...when we feel confident that we know what His wish list is we write it down on a piece of paper...then we place it in our own special box under the tree...

On Christmas morning these are the 1st gifts opened...we share our gifts with each other...placing our focus on the true meaning of Christmas...and responding in like in a small way to the Ultimate Christmas Gift from our Father - JESUS!

Our gifts are usually a year long commitment of some sort ranging from...praying for unsaved friends to taking better care of the body He has given us to being in charge of bringing food to the church food pantry each week to doing better at obeying mommy and daddy the first time they ask.

The gifts vary year by year and family member by family member but the heart of the process remains the acknowledge that this Holiday really is about Jesus and to draw closer to Him through this Season and walk with Him more closely through out the coming year.

I know we only have 6 days left until we celebrate His birthday and we may have countless things left on our to-do lists but we have plenty of time to seek Him for what He wants this year and wrap that up and place in under the tree and at the top of our heart!

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

It seems like just a minute ago it was Thanksgiving...and now we have just 17 days until Christmas!  My how time flies when you are trying to keep up with life!

I knew that it had been a while since my last blog entry (at first my absence was purposeful...necessary to complete preparation for a speaking engagement that I had) but I had no idea that it had been well over two weeks!  Good grief...this is what happens when I get out of what little routine I have left these days! :)

If you think my absence from the blog world was bad, you should have seen my house before my whirlwind cleaning this morning (please don't look upstairs quite yet)!!  What a mess it was!...and when my environment is a mess then I feel cluttered.

Now that the lower portion of my home is tidy and the halls are somewhat decked for the season I have a sense of much needed calm and mental clarity...but unfortunately not much time for a decent post (my cupboards are about as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's).

I did want to take a quick minute to jot just a thought or two though and give you A Verse to Chew On.

So that in everything they may be an the teaching...about God our Savior.
Titus 2:10 Amplified

A good word for this Holiday Season...don't ya think!?! :)

Girls when we are busy with the hustle and bustle of preparing our homes for this Christmas let us remember that our calling goes beyond the baking of the gingerbread men, the getting of gifts and the tinseling of the tree.  We are called to be an ornament.  Just like the ornaments we hang draw the attention to the trees we place in our homes so our lives, character and conduct should draw the attention of those around us to the true meaning of Christmas...which is Christ! 

Remember that the Christmas Tree in our homes would really mean nothing if we don't look ahead in historical time to the Tree at Calvary! Is that confusing...sound almost like an oxy-moron?  I mean look ahead from the Baby in a manger at Christmas to the Savior on the Cross at Easter...not trying to rush holidays like the Retailers...just trying to illustrate a point! :)

So as we clean our homes in preparation for the Holiday let us ask the Lord to give us a clean heart and pure mind...and as we decorate for the Season let us ask the Lord to use us as His ornament to draw people to Jesus and bless them as we celebrate His birthday!

Serving Him and you,

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

As my mother used to say when I was little, "I have a hundred and one things to do and not forever and a day to do them in!"...wasn't sure what in the world that meant when I was 8 years 48 I am totally feelin' it! :-)

In spite of my extremely busy day and my hangover* [a hangover not due to imbibing lest you question my integrity - but a hangover from trying to keep up with my teenage daughters this weekend ;-)] I just couldn't let today go by without posting a  verse for us to chew on this week.

I found the address of this portion of scripture on a post-it note (my life is on post-it notes at this point) on my cluttered desk this morning as I was trying to sort through and make some sense of my day.  It was in my handwriting but I had no recollection of when or why I jotted it down.  So I plugged it into my laptop on Bible Resources and had it pop-up in several translations.

The one that really jumped out at me and even created a visual image in my mind's eye [see below] was out of The Message and actually encompassed 3 verses instead of the usual 1 that I like to camp on.  When you read it I think you will see why...

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives.  Don't lazily step back into those old groves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.  You didn't know any better then; you do now.  As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.  God said, "I am holy; you be holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

Did this image pop into your head as well?  When I thought of this image of a determined looking woman with her sleeves rolled up I didn't realize that it contained this perfect 'speech-bubble' caption as well.  This portion of scripture is a mouth full to chew's a warning, challenge and encouragement that may seem too much for us...and if we are trying to flesh in out in our mere human abilities we will fall short.  But we can do it if we seek the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

The more busy we are the more likely we are to become lazy or rather complacent in our spiritual lives...and this can lead us on a path to a destination we really don't want to reach.  Perhaps that is why I came across the post-it note this morning.  As I zip through my busy life, trying to get done those 101 things I mentioned before, I need to make sure that I am not just rolling up my sleeves to get those jobs done, but that I need to roll up my spiritual sleeves first and foremost so that my life really counts and is 'shaped by God'.

I would love to hear what you get out of our verses as you chew on them today! :-)

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving...It's Not Just for November! :-)

I'm not sure why but November seems to be the month that I think about giving thanks more than any other month...maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is a holiday that is kind of focused on it...hmm, makes sense. ;)

This holiday shares it's focus in most American families with the food that is served and the football that is played or watched...but it really is about giving's how the whole thing got started to begin thanks to the Giver for provision and protection.

I have implemented various tools in my family over the last couple of decades to keep our focus on the true meaning of the holiday...I have written specific things that I am thankful for about each of my dinner guest next to their names on their place cards...I have tucked Bible verses about giving thanks into napkin rings on the dinner table and I have asked guest to share what they are most thankful for between the turkey and pumpkin pie.

The one thanksgiving tool that I am most pleased with, however, is one that is not just reserved for a specific Thursday in's one that my family has used on a much more consistent basis.

It's our Thankful Journal....and it has a short story behind it.

Years ago when the Joyster and Lopey were just little blue-eyed, freckle faced girls their daddy got sick...very when the doctor comes and tells you to 'get your affairs in order' sick.  The doctor's prognosis was grim...but God had other plans for the Man.  He worked his way out of ICU to PCU to a bed on 'regular' floor of the his bed at home - hooked up to an IV that I had to run and monitor (eek)...which in an of itself is quite the story...for another time.

It was a scary time for the girls...not only did they have to watch their big strong daddy decline and struggle to hold on...but they were told things like they would never be able to wrestle with daddy again or run and jump into his arms without warning even when he got better (one little misplaced elbow or knee would have easily caused internal damage that could have been fatal).

These little girls started asking 'why?'...why did their daddy have to be sick when their friends daddy's weren't...why couldn't they play with daddy...why was this so hard and why couldn't things go back like they were before.

Their mommy started asking 'why?' too...I had made the covenant that would stand the test of sickness with the Lord's help...but these innocent little girls hadn't signed up for any of this and they needed their daddy...what was I to do?

The night that I spent crying out my 'whys' before the Lord became a spiritual marker in my life as God invaded that time and space with His presence and began yet another season of deep growth in me...and it was out of that night that our family Thankful Journal was born.

I felt the Lord prompting me to start focusing the girls (and myself) on all the blessings that each day held...instead of focusing on the scary and hard reality of my man's health crisis.  And so it began...

Each morning at the breakfast table I would remind the girls that their day would be full of blessings from their heavenly Father...ways that He would show them that He loved them and was taking care of them in the midst of this storm.  It was their job to look for the blessings and report them to me at the end of the day.  Each family member had to bring at least one blessing to share at devotion time each night.

After dinner and before bed we began the tradition of sitting together with a journal sharing and recording "What we thank God for today" as part of our evening devotions.  We had all kinds of things pop up during those times...from the big (thankful for medicine to help daddy feel better) the seemingly insignificant (hot dogs, warm socks, jump ropes).

Our Thankful Journal taught us all to focus on the blessing and not the helped us to focus in on the goodness of God that is around us all the time...reflected in the faces of friends, sunrises, and a roof over our heads.  It taught us to pause, not just once a year, to be thankful for His provision and protection but every day.

Our Thankful Journals have become our family history book of sorts.  As I look back over the years some of the entries bring me to tears...others totally crack me up...they all speak of the Faithfulness of our Father in whatever season of life we find ourselves in.

With the oldest away at college this is not something that we do formally as a family unit every night...we limit our recordings to Sunday's when she joins us for dinner after church...but we all still start the day as detectives - looking past the stress and struggles that come with even everyday life - for the clues (some blatant, others sneaky) that God is actively involved in our lives and worthy of our thankfulness and praise.

So, don't wait until the 4th Thursday of this month to tell the Lord how blessed you are by His presence, provision and protection - grab a journal...any kind will do and create a family legacy of His goodness in your life.

Thanking Him with you,

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Today it's back to the basics with our devotional verse for the's kind of like spiritual meat and potatoes...unless you are a vegan :)

This verse, when you really chew on it, proves to be the cure all for whatever ails woes, relationship struggles, the propensity towards sin, medical crisis...any fear - any frustration.  This verse puts our attention on the One who is forever faithful to us...Who has it all in the palm of His hand...Who never sleeps on the job or is taken by surprise.

Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind"
Matthew 22:37 NLT

So what does it mean to love the Lord your God with...
     *all your heart?
     *all your soul?
     *all your mind?

Is there one of these areas that is weaker than the others in your love walk with the Lord?  How do we grow in our love for Him?...maybe by getting to know Him better.

As we chew on this verse together, why don't we make it our determined purpose - with the help of the Holy Spirit - to grow in these areas...I think it's  probably pretty important because Jesus told us we 'must'. :)

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chalkboards...Not Just for the Classroom Anymore

It is said that every artist has their favored medium...mine is a chalkboard...I know - a little unconventional, a little old-school.

First off I just want to say that I use the term 'artist' very loosely in referring to myself.  I attend a church chock full of the real-deal type and we benefit from their works (music, media, and hand crafted displays) constantly.

I often look at their fruits and wish that I had that gifting or skill set...but I don't.  What I do have is a love for words...spoken and written.  When I was a kid I read the sides of cereal boxes before it was cool to asses nutritional labels.  Reading beyond product packaging taught me that words are the vehicles to carry stories and emotions and ideas to inspiring art form in and of themselves.

So when I am busy fluffing the feathers of my little nest, making it a cozy place for my family, or sprucing it up to reflect the season or holiday, and I am feeling artsy...I pull out one of my chalkboards and decorate with words.

Sometimes my chalkboard is propped against the back splash in my kitchen with the Sunday dinner menu other times words like Give Thanks or Celebrate are the decoration.  My chalkboards have also held Bible verses reminding my little chicks (and their mom) to 'not grow weary in doing good' or that the Lord knows the plans He has for them.

Chalkboards are an easy medium to work with...they are relatively inexpensive, they can be easily moved from room to room for display and if you make a mistake in the creative process you can just wipe the slate clean (pun intended) and begin again...really nice for those perfectionist types ;).  They are also perfect for those of us who actually like change and get easily bored with the same old stuff to look at...the possibilities are can change your 'font' and chalk color to suit your mood or the season.

Oh and I just thought of this idea (wish it would have occurred to me when my girls were small) for those of you with little ones.  Go to a craft store and buy each of your kids their own little wood framed chalkboard and an inexpensive easel to display it on.  Give then a piece of chalk and let them create.  Instead of a bunch of paper stuck on your fridge proudly display their creations this way...allowing them to change it daily or weekly or whenever the mood may strike your budding artist.  When they are old enough to read and write have them write a favorite word or quote from a story book or a Bible verse they are memorizing increasing their vocabulary and inspiring their little minds.

If you're looking to try something new give chalkboards a shot...I have had compliments on this art form from college girls and middle-aged moms alike.  Feel free to start by using what is currently on one of my chalkboards...I borrowed it from 1st Corinthians 13...

Our Family is patient and kind,
We don't envy or boast,
We aren't proud,
We aren't rude, self-seeking or easily angered.
We keep no record of wrongs.
We don't delight in evil but rejoice with truth.
We always protect, trust, hope and persevere.

Serving Him and you,

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Because I have writing to do today for an upcoming event that I will be speaking at, our verse will be short and sweet.

Every Monday morning, for a little over a year now, I give each of my girls a Verse to Chew On for that week.  I write it on a 3x5 card with a couple of thought provoking questions or interesting comments (at least I think they're interesting) on the reverse side.  This year the Joyster receives hers a day late in her college mail box (some college kids get baked goods to snack on, mine gets a card with a verse), Lopey usually has hers waiting on the kitchen counter (appropriate place to do your Bible chewing I say) is what I shared with them today.

Base your happiness on your hope in Christ.  When trials come endure them patiently: steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.  Romans 12:12 Phillips

Here are the questions from the back of their cards...

1)  Who are we to base our happiness in?
2)  How are we to react to trails?
3)  What habit are we to maintain?...What does it mean to be 'steadfast'?

If we practice what this verse 'preaches' how do you think it will affect this day...this week?

As you take time to chew on this verse, in addition to my girls questions, why don't you insert the Webster's definitions of the following words for a fuller flavor.

Happiness = contentment or pleasure
The "Habit of Prayer" - hehe
Hope = desire with expectation of fulfillment
Trials = source of great annoyance; test use or experimental effort (hmm maybe that annoyance can result in something useful?)
Endure = last, tolerate
Patiently = without complaint
Steadfastly =  faithful or determined
Habit = usual behavior...addiction (in this case it would be good to be addicted - don't you think?)
Prayer = earnest request, addressing God

You might even want to write your own Amplified Version of this verse by rewriting it adding in all of these definitions.

I hope this Verse To Chew On is an encouragement to you this week! :)

Serving Him and you,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food 4 Thot

Today let's talk about Burnt Offerings...I know, you are thinking that is sooo Old Testament...and it is, so let's begin there :).

Leviticus 3:14-16 speaks of Burnt Offerings made by the priest, "From what he offers he is to make this offering to the LORD by fire: all the fat that covers the inner parts...the priest shall burn them on the alter...All the fat is the Lord's" (Italics mine)

This 'inner part' fat referred to here is what is known in medical circles as Visceral Fat...fat that is central in obesity in humans.  Interesting, don't you think?

I won't go into a teaching on the purpose and significance of Burnt Offerings in Biblical times but I will give you this partial definition from my NIV Study Bible: It was a 'voluntary act of worship, expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to the Lord'.

The example from Leviticus certainly isn't speaking directly about the fat in our bodies...but I do think that we can draw a relative comparison from this without being heretical in any way.  We do know that the Bible says that gluttony is sin (Prov. 23:2) and that we are supposed to be good stewards of these bodies that the Lord has given us as our spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1).

I think that it is safe for us to say that our desire to see less fat on our bodies...if we are motivated by wanting to please God by taking care of His temple and not by pride or the praise of man...can indeed be considered a Burnt Offering...voluntary act of worship, expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to the Lord...a Fat Offering so to speak.

And I think that if this is our motivation then we will be much more likely to succeed when temptation sneaks up on us.  If we reprogram our thinking into living life...including how much and when we eat...within God's parameters for us then it will be much easier for us to keep with it because the benefit will go beyond a smaller pair of jeans and have spiritual significance for us.

So how do we know what God parameters are in regards to eating?  Well I believe that godly guidelines are to only eat when we are hungry and stop when we are satisfied.  Sound too simple to work?  God has equipped us with the ability to know when we are tired and need sleep, thirsty and need drink, hungry and need food.  Watch a small child...with the exception of a strong-willed toddler who may pitch a fit at nap time...they follow the God give cues, placed inside of each of us, for healthy living.  We all know that weight loss is not a mystical thing to try and be is the simple chemistry of calories in and calories out.  So if we are putting less calories in then our burn ratio is high...our fat stores are then burned on the alter of obedience.

The next time we approach food let's decide if we are trying to feed a true stomach/body hunger or if we are attempting to feed a head/heart related to boredom, emotions that we don't want to feel or an 'I want to eat just because I want to eat' attitude.  And once we are feeding a true body/stomach hunger lets thank God first for the food set before us and ask Him to help us to slow down and be sensitive to when our body has had enough and not eat past satisfied.  This may be a struggle if we are not used to following these cues, but waiting for a true tummy growl before eating will be worth it.  The pounds will drop off like a Fat offering to the Lord. 

Since I am a visual person here are a couple of pictures to help be see the benefits...
Every pound of fat we offer to the Lord by only eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full is equal to a package of butter.  The next time you think "dog-gone-it, I only lost a pound" grab that pound of butter out of your fridge...see how heavy it feels in your hand and thank God that fat isn't on your body right now!
When you get up to 3 pounds grab a large can of Crisco off the shelf of your grocery store, [I certainly hope this isn't a pantry staple for you :)], feel how heavy it is, visualize this much fat being gone from your body and give it to the Lord as an offering.

Here is another little visual aid...groddy, I know.
See how much larger in mass the fat is than the muscle!?!  With every pound of fat we loose our body shrinks more than we think.  Now that is certainly encouraging!

What do we do then when we really want to eat when we are not needing to feed a physiological hunger?  This is when the Offering part truly comes into play.  When we offer our selfish desires to the Lord and seek Him instead of the temporary fix of food God will satisfy us with His presence...we won't have the guilt or health conditions, or bad self image left by eating outside of His parameters.  If we are eating out of boredom instead we should look for a way to serve God and others...if we are eating out of a desire to stuff emotions we can talk or cry out to Him and He will meet us there and give us true comfort.  If we want to eat just because we want it or think we deserve it and choose instead to bow the knee of our will to the Lordship of Jesus in this area then we will start seeing less of us [no pun intended] and more of HIM in our lives.

Choosing to eat within godly guidelines will not only result in a smaller and healthier body, it will also yield a closer and more personal relationship with our Father as we run to Him and His Word and seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Let's feast together on His's zero calories and high in nutrients! :)  Let us make running to God instead of food a Fat Offering, an expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God!

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Love...

I love the smell of Autumn in the morning...even when it's 28 degrees and it makes my nose hurt!

I love going for coffee with my girls followed by a walk where fallen leaves crunch beneath our feet!

I love wooden clothes pins...not sure why but I do...besides hanging clothes they are great for keeping packages closed and cute in your pantry

I love this tea...especially on days like this...don't have to worry about the caffeine or extra calories that come from the half and half I take in my coffee. :)

I love going for coffee with my girls followed by a walk...yep, I know I already said that...but I really love that...and them...and there's two of I think there should be two mentions of this.

And I love baking I did...Old-Fashioned Iced Pumpkin Spice...and here's the recipe if you love baking too! :)

Old-Fashioned Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees       Baked 15-20 minutes


2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
(Icing recipe below)

In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients and stir with a whisk...set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer...add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons - smooth tops if needed.
Bake - Cool- Cover with Icing - Enjoy!

In a small bowl combine 2 cups sifted powered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk or (1/2 and 1/2), 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, sprinkle of nutmeg, sprinkle and a half of cinnamon. Blend until smooth.

I love all of these things...But I love the Lord the most...and thank Him for everything on my list!

Serving Him and you,

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Sister~Friends I must apologize in advance for this blog post.  Today is not only the standard 'laundry day' in my house but I also need to add on 'various errands' and 'mowing the yards' to the To-Do List today...along with all the other everyday chores.

Anyhow, this post may seem a little off the top of my head in form today but please know that in content it is from the bottom of my heart.

So lets get to it...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.        
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

That verse is a lot to chew on...partially because it's two verses instead of just one...partially because it's so meaty...we could really spend a few days chewing on various aspects of it...but I can hear my grass growing and my dryer buzzing so I'm just going to bite off one little chunk of it today.  Of course, it goes without saying...but I'll state the can spend as much time with this portion of Scripture as you want and savour all that it has to offer. :)

The part I want to chew on is the one that challenges us to comfort others.  I am so thankful for the fact that God, as our Father, comforts us in our afflictions...but I also love the fact that He doesn't just heal us up for our own good but so we can be His healing representative as well...sharing His comfort to others that hurt!

Before we start talking about comforting others I think we should think about how God comforts us...since it's that same comfort we are to offer others.  Well, let's see, God comforts me...*through the counsel and encouragement of His Word,*by the presence of His Spirit,*through others who offer a listening ear, practical help and companionship...can you think of other ways?

Some hurt because of the gospel [this is the experience Paul was referring to]...we don't see this happen much in our American least not to the degree that it does in some countries or in Biblical times...but it still happens.  There are missionaries and native believers in various parts of the world that could receive godly comfort from you in their pursuits through your prayers or financial support.  If this pricks your heart find a way to help through either your church's missions board or through a para-church missionary organization.

Some are hurting, to a different degree, because of the gospel here locally.  Some may not come from a Christian family and endure criticism for their faith...other's may be judged in the workplace...or ostracized on the college campus for being a follower of Jesus.  Do you know someone like that?  How could you bring comfort to them?

There are other 'afflictions' that we see commonly in our culture...older people who are lonely or in need of help with chores who might be comforted by a visit [with or without a plate of cookies :)] or help with raking their leaves...young singles and college students can suffer from loneliness and being homesick as well and would be greatly comforted by being invited for a Sunday dinner with your about single moms who would find comfort in you volunteering to watch their kids for an afternoon or evening so they could have two minutes to themselves to relax or get something done that needs doing?...what about the person with a scary medical diagnosis that would find comfort in your prayers or presence at at doctor's appointment or a meal delivered to his/her home?  What about sending an email or an old-fashioned card to someone 'just because' - there is great comfort that comes from knowing that someone took the time to let you know they care about you.  Or send a verse by text or snail-mail or carrier pigeon to someone the Lord lays on your heart.

The list can go on and on...I'm sure that you can think of ways to comfort that I don't have time to mention or wouldn't even think of.  I have experienced God direct comfort and godly inspired comfort time and time again through out various 'afflictions'.  Sometimes it's been really hard to be on the receiving end...but it has always been a blessing and just what I needed at that time.  When people have made the effort to be the hands and feet of Jesus to me it hasn't always changed my circumstance or situation but it has infused me with God's presence and brought me comfort beyond words!

As you and I chew on this verse I'm going to challenge us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow through with someone He lays on our heart or opens our eyes to before the weekend.  I would love to hear how God uses to to 'comfort those who are in any affliction'!

Serving Him and you,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Food 4 Thot

Help...I've been Super-Sized!...and so has a huge percentage [no pun intended] of the American population!

So, if you've been reading my Food 4 Thot posts, you know that I am struggling with some added poundage that I collected like souvenirs while traveling the 'health crisis' road with my husband.  I could blame it on the erratic lifestyle that I led for well over year [home---Seattle---home---Seattle], or sleep deprivation or the stress hormone.  I'm sure that these all played a factor...but way down deep I think the nasty little word lazy had something to do with it.

My suspicions were confirmed when reading through the book of Titus recently.  My home church is doing a series on this book and I was doing my homework for it when the possible reality of this hit home!  It was 2 pesky little words in the 12th verse of the 1st chapter that hit me like a punch in my flabby gut...lazy gluttons.  Really, really!?!  Could I possibly have something in common with Cretans...apparently least it wasn't the reference to liars or evil brutes that bore witness with my spirit though...sheesh!

People that know me may think I'm being overly dramatic...not because I'm known for drama...but rather because I'm known for being too hard on myself.  I easily extend grace to others but have a bit of an issue with being as kind to myself...probably because I know me so well...but I am getting better at should have known me in my 20's...well some of you did so can I get an Amen to the fact that I am way better about being self-critical than I was back in the olden days? ;)

In this case I'm not being dramatic or overly self-critical...just exploring with honesty how this lazy glutton moniker could fit me...and maybe other Americans too.  I'm not calling names here...just trying to look into some of the pitfalls of our culture that may have something to do with our my super-sized situation. 

Since I'm a self professed Word Nerd let's start with a definition of the two words that make up this tag:

          Lazy = disliking activity or exertion (Websters)
          Glutton = one who eats to excess (Websters)

Well, I have to admit I do see a slight!

As busy as I have been over the past 2+ years in caring for my husband, trying to maintain my home and yard and attempting to keep up with 2 teenage girls I have been a bit lazy about caring for myself [I do dislike sweating] and I have obviously eaten more than this body can burn in a day.

My aversion to getting up at 5 am  and heading to my now cold garage to bust my behind until I sweat like a pig [do pigs sweat?] and gag like a cat trying to hack up a fir-ball...and my tendency toward unconscious eating [you know the kind where you know you ate but not sure what or how much because your brain was consumed with other 'you' and 'your' I mean 'me' and 'my' :)]..are not the only ways that lazy glutton may apply to me.

Before I discuss my hunches here, I have a  couple of disclaimers...1 - none of the facts I'm going to share are  facts based on research by case study groups...they are just hunches - some Food 4 Thot - based on my observations and some information I've come across.  2 - I am not blaming culture or industry for my current condition...I am solely responsible for what I do, or don't do with my own body...I am simply  looking to draw attention [my attention...and yours if applicable] to some pitfalls that we may not be conscious of.

First...I have a hunch that the accessibility of Fast Food in our nation has something to do with the super-sized me and American culture.  As much as I know about the importance of good nutrition, not only in general but specifically in relation to my husband's health issues, I have been known to hit a drive-thru or call for pizza on occasion when my body or brain are too tired or overloaded to figure out and pull off dinner.  This may not qualify as lazy in the true sense of the word...and some might even say that choices like that are understandable from time to time given all that's been on our plate lately...but that easy choice [the one that requires less activity and exertion] does indeed lead to gluttony as even the 'healthier' fast food options lead us to eat to excess in the areas of calorie, fat and sodium intake.  In the little research that I did do, I found that obesity in America increased dramatically between 1977 and 1995 as [get this] did the consumption of fast food!  During this same time span fast food intake quadrupled....hmm, interesting don't ya think.

My second sedentary life style would land in the lazy column.  Again, the fact that I've spent countless hours [days, weeks] in hospital and doc office chairs may be deemed "understandably out of my control" and not lazy by dictionary definition...never-the-less I should have made more of an effort [other than taking the stairs at UWMC] to off-set the change in my activity level.  I knew that I was sitting more and doing less but you really don't know how quickly this can change your pant size!  By in large our American society has found itself stuck in a similar situation...desk jobs, TV watching, and vehicles instead or our own two feet to transport us through our busy lives.  None of these things are lazy in and of themselves...but unless we make a conscious effort to amend our less active lifestyles we will need a larger wardrobe.

Thirdly...and I'll end with this one before this post ends up way too long [too late for that I know ;)]...the term lazy glutton can be applied to ones emotional neglect.  It's not always cool or timely to deal with our emotional response to something.  American culture is getting a bit better with this in some regards but many of us were raised in the 'buck up and deal with it' era.  And Lord knows there are times when a situation requires just that...but there are times when we need to be honest about how something makes us feel and process that instead of just trying to jam it down with a Twinkie or Frito battering ram.  Depending on our emotional circumstance a heart to heart with a trusted friend or counselor may be just what we are craving.  But there are times when only and heart to heart with the Lord will fill that need...there are times when He is the only One who can understand, counsel and support us.  While walking through this medical crisis with Mercedes Man I drew strength from my trust in the Lord...and I experienced incredible peace in the midst of outrageous storms...but I didn't always connect with how I felt in the midst of it and in hindsight, probably did stuff some of my emotions, subconsciously thinking that it wasn't the time or the place to deal with how I felt.  Looking back there were times, probably out of sheer exhaustion, when my emotional state was laid bare before the Lord...and you know what - He met me there and made it all better.  The circumstance didn't change but my ability to deal with it did.  At times I was so afraid of letting know, like if I start crying I may never stop...but the thing I was afraid of [letting down] became the very thing God used to reveal Himself to me in a deeper and more intimate became a catalyst for boosting me back up.  I've found that being lazy about dealing with my emotions can lead to gluttony in trying to feed a soul hunger in a physical way.  But I've also found this Psalm to fill me up and satisfy like nothing else can...

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you , my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  Psalm 63:1-5 [Italics mine]

Just some Food 4 Thot from me to you. :)

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet

Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet...sounds like a domestic challenge that would go on the top of your to-do list and keep you in the 'command central' of your home all day doesn't it?

If you are anything like me you might even be giddy with the anticipation of getting your cupboards and pantry organized and you probably have hopes of me providing you with lists of must have pantry staples and go-to gadgets to make kitchen chores and meal prep easy and fun.

Well I hate to disappoint and apologize for misleading you...but the kitchen cabinet I am referring to has very little to do with the hub of you home and has much more to do with the center of your life.

Before I go any farther with my Kitchen Cabinet message please allow me to interject a small but interesting history lesson...

I'm sure you are somewhat familiar with Andrew Jackson - the 7th President of the United States of America.  He was not a fan of big government and thought that the control of the country should not be in the hands of the wealthy but rather the common man...making him known as the first 'citizen's president'.  Many of his practices and beliefs were considered unorthodox by those in government...resulting in a less than cordial relationship with his political cabinet members.  So President Jackson assembled his own unofficial cabinet team. This group of personal advisers were mostly old and trusted friends from Tennessee that reportedly met with him in the kitchen of the White House....they were called the Kitchen Cabinet.

You may have an idea of where I am going with this mini history lesson - and I have a confession to make...I stole Old Hickory's idea.  [I was a big fan of Andrew Jackson and his beloved wife Rachel all through my Jr. High and High School years.  They were always great to do a report on since they were not among the most frequently reported on historical figures and carried with them all the drama, courage and excitement that a teenage girl needed smack dab in the middle of U.S. History classes :)]

When ApronStrings Ministries started in the kitchen of my home way back when my daughters were just little things, I felt the nudging of the Lord to make sure that I had a Kitchen Cabinet of my own...and I still do.  My cabinet members are close friends and advisers to this ministry...some are stay-at-home moms, some are working women, there are pastor's wives and women's ministry directors and a fellow speaker/writer.  Some are in my cabinet for a season and some have weathered all seasons.  Some have been 'officially' asked to fulfill a specific purpose and some just naturally, through the course of relationship, influence and support me as I seek to serve the Lord and His ladies.

So ApronStrings Ministries has a Kitchen Cabinet but so do I...and so should you...and you probably do!  My personal and ministry cabinet members have quite an overlap of the same people - but for right now I want to focus on the personal aspects of the benefit of having a Kitchen Cabinet chock full of valuable friends.

My Kitchen Cabinet is as eclectically stocked as this one here to the right.  I have long distance friends and local friends [my Idaho cabinet was empty when I moved here but the Lord has graciously filled it with gals that have embraced me and blessed me]...I have long-distance friends who are now local friends having moved to the Boise area 6 years after me!!  I have family who are friends and friends who are like family.  I have friends that I used to work with and friends that  I work out with [love those neighborhood walks].  I have friends who are married and friends who are single...friends who are newlyweds and friends who are empty-nesters...and friends who are, or soon will be, grandparents!  Their lives may look as different from one another, or mine, as the items lining these shelves, but their value in my life is beyond measure.  These friends have comforted and encouraged me, rebuked me and rejoiced with me,  made me laugh and think and shed a few tears.  They have shown me Jesus in their eyes, voice and touch...and I am a better me for having them in my life.

So who is in your Kitchen Cabinet of friends and advisers...who sits around your kitchen table literally or figuratively?  In this time of social media and easy access technology it's easy to feel like we have friends based on a 'like' button or text message...but who do you really allow in...who does the Lord use on a regular basis to shape and mold you?  If your Kitchen Cabinet seems as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's then ask the Lord to fill it.  And if you have a cabinet filled with treasured friends then take some time to let them know that they are valuable to you...invite them for coffee...send them a note via snail mail...thank God for the gals He has blessed you with.

Check later this week for Food 4 Thot.

Serving Him and you,

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

The fog is lifting...the roof is dripping [outside - frost don't ya know]...looks to be another beautiful autumn day in the North-west!

The perfect day to brew a cup of coffee...or tea...or hot chocolate...or spiced cider :) and sit down for a minute between loads of laundry [doesn't everyone do theirs on Monday?] and chew on a portion of Scripture!

I think Laundry Day might be the perfect day for A Verse to Chew On.  The 'chewing' metaphor works great on a plethora of levels but spending time in the Word has some laundry connotations as well.  For me, not only does Scripture feed my spirit, but it irons out the wrinkles of life as well.

So, before the dryer buzzes and another load needs to be flipped, let's get to it...

"Faithful is He who calls you and He will also bring it to pass"
1 Thessalonians 5:24 NASB

This is just a little smidgen of the Word but it covers so much if you think about it.  Paul, in his closing statement in his first letter to the Thessalonians, gives them [and us] such a powerful reminder of a couple of different things.
     1.  God is Faithful!  If we've been a Jesus follower for any amount of time we probably know this one...but today, on this Monday, knee deep in laundry, or Cheerios, or smack dab in the middle of an office cubicle or classroom...with Lord only knows [and He surely does] what this week holds for us [good, bad, beautiful or ugly] do we know down deep in our heart that Faithful is He?  Chew on those three words for a minute..
     2.  He who calls you...think about it...the Creator of the universe calls you!  God calls to humankind universally and corporately but He calls you individually, personally,!  You may be feeling lonely, invisible, overwhelmed, used, frustrated, under appreciated, disposable but the Almighty God sees you...knows you...calls you!  That is a great Monday morning kick-off in my humble opinion!  God calls you to relationship with Him...calls you to living a life that lets Jesus shine through you [see vs. 22,23]...calls you to His plans and purposes.  What is He calling you to today?...
     3.  He will also bring it to pass...that 'thing' God is calling you to - He will get it done!  Seem too good to be true?  Well, it isn't.  If God calls then He equips and He makes sure it happens.  All it requires on our part is cooperation and dependence.  If we carry the stress of the 'thing' and try to flesh it out on our own then we are up the creek so to speak.  We may get the 'thing' done on our own, but we will miss the purpose of the 'thing' all together.  Most 'things' that the Lord calls us to are a catalyst to draw us into deeper relationship with Him.

Well there goes the familiar buzz of the dryer.  As I get ready to move laundry day on into the ironing phase won't you join me in allowing this verse to help iron out the wrinkles of your life?  What 'thing' is God calling you to?...walk out a tough spot in your marriage...keep consistent in parenting through the trying twos or your best work in the office or classroom...wait for His mate for you...step into a ministry opportunity that takes you out of your comfort zone?  Get that 'thing' in the forefront of your over lay it with the facts that God is faithful to you in whatever it is and if you choose to depend on Him He will ultimately get it done through you!  

Does that make you more willing to walk it out?  It does me!  Shoot it even gives me the gumption [old fashioned word to go with the old fashioned picture above :)] to leave the beautiful autumn view out of my office window and head downstairs to the laundry room...and that's sayin' something! 

Coming later this week...Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet.

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If It's Not One's Life

Hey there...boy has it been awhile since I've fired off a blog post!  Sheesh, seems like I've just been busy, busy, busy!  I am sure all you gals can relate to that.  Seems like we are pretty dang busy most of the time anyway...but then there are certain seasons that just seem to make us feel like we are chasing our tails...and when those seasons overlap with the fall season and some rain - well then that stinkin' RA of mine kicks up and I am more tired than usual and my fingers seem to freeze up and the stuff I attempt to type just isn't suitable for reading!

That was long winded and sounds a bit like whining...don't mean it to...just trying to quickly explain my 2+ week hiatus from the blogging world in case you missed me. :)

Some of that extra busyness was just regular life that bunched up all at once...but part of that busyness was celebrating my younger daughter's Sweet 16 birthday!!  Not sure how my baby Lopey got to be 16 so quickly but I sure am glad that we got to celebrate her!

And boy did we have fun!  She is such a sweet girl...unless she is in a Debate Match - then they call her the Hidden Beast...but that's a whole other story!  Back to the sweet girl's sweet 16.  When my husband and I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she said that she wanted to have a birthday dinner with her 'away at college' big sister.  So, lucky for us, the Joyster was out of class at 6:20 the evening of Lopey's actual birthday.  We drove out to her college town, picked her up as she walked out of class and headed to her little sister's favorite restaurant for dinner.

Aren't the sisters cute?  Lopey is the one on the right with, what her sister refers to as, geek-sheek glasses! :)  We had a great time visiting and feasting on her favorite Italian food...which comes from a restaurant with olive in it's name but a graphic of grapes next to it on the left-overs bag...weird and random I know (and I had never noticed it before this) but don't you think an olive branch would be more appropriate? Just sayin'

OK, back to the birthday girl.  A couple of Saturday's later we had a little party for her.  The girls don't get a real 'themed' party for their birthdays every year - just the special 10 (cuz that's double digits) and 13 (officially a teenager) and Sweet 16 of course! :)  Anyway, we had to wait a couple of weeks to throw the shin-dig because she wanted her big sister to be there of course...and with her sister's schedule it took a couple of weekends to find a Saturday night open.  Lopey thought it was worth the wait to have her there!

The theme that she chose was A Masquerade!  Over the years I have pulled off  Barbie and Winnie-the-Pooh parties, tea parties, ballerina parties, jungle adventure themes and even a retro 60's beach party bash (in January in Idaho), but I wasn't quite sure what to do with a masquerade theme.  Thankfully the Lord gave me some creative inspiration and the birthday girl had some ideas of her own!

We kept her party small this year...just a few friends from church plus the Joyster of course.  We decided to get out the fine china, silver and crystal (I think the girls forgot I had this stuff it had been so long since I had the time and energy to use it) and have a dinner guessed it - Italian themed.

The guests were asked to come in their dressy duds and after dinner, they created their own masks, played a couple of homemade mystery games and ended the evening by watching Phantom of the of the birthday girls favorite musicals and fitting for the theme...while eating killer chocolate cake naturally!  (On a side note, I was never a big fan of chocolate until I was pregnant with this one...and it's her only dessert of choice).

The evening was full of good friends, good food and good times!  It seemed to go by as quickly as the past 16 years have!

To my Sweet 16 year old...I love are and a deep thinker...beautiful inside and out...a sense of humor and funny moves that leave my sides aching...and a love for Jesus and others that blesses me so....I am so happy to be your mommy! :)

To my reader...that's for putting up with huge gaps in my blogging as I live life with my family...and thanks for indulging me as I talk about them! :)

Serving Him and you,

Monday, September 19, 2011

In My Element

Happy Monday to you all!  It's just a gorgeous morning here in the North-west...and I have a lovely view of it here from my 2nd story office, (I use that term loosely).  The morning is just chilly enough to be refreshing, the sun is up over the neighbor's roof and casting interesting shadows across the cul-de-sac and showing off the birds perched in the same neighbor's tree that I am eyeball to eyeball with out of my little window.  Good stuff...obviously it doesn't take much to entertain me! :)

I hope you had a great weekend.  I totally did!  Saturday was comprised of some much overdue cleaning, (only got the downstairs done - but I'm OK with that), and some baking by the smell of brownies baking, don't you!?!

All of this domestic busy-ness was in preparation for Sunday...the Sabbath....the Day of Rest.  My theory - work your tail off on Saturday, then you can enjoy Sunday more.  I don't rest well with clutter around or chores hanging over my head so this works for me! :)  Besides, the Joyster was bringing college friends over!

Yep, two of her new girlfriends were gong to visit our church with her...and since the food isn't served on the college campus until 10:30 (just brunch and dinner on the weekends) and our home is strategically located between her campus and our church (a mother's dream spot), we had breakfast for them here...followed by lunch after church because I just couldn't send them back to school hungry, now could I?

Saturday evening, as I was finishing the prep for Sunday, the Man said that he could see that I was totally in my element...and I was!  Nothing makes me happier than to ready my home for time with family and friends!  And this is something that we haven't had much of in the past 2 years as my husband has struggled through one health crisis after another.  In the early stages of Mercedes Man's battle, I would day dream about happy times and a home filled with those we the road grew longer and bumpier I would just dream about getting back to some kind of normal and relief for my husband.

And then, just like that, there was yesterday!  I'm not sure what I was the happiest about...the fact that it was Sunday alone thrills me (I love taking a day out of the week to slow down and celebrate the Lord with others)...but seeing my husband feeling up to having others over...having my second born baking up a storm in the kitchen...knowing that the first born was coming for a visit - and getting to meet one of her new friends (the other one woke up feeling under the weather and couldn't make it :( )...made it over the top for me!  That may sound just plain silly but it's heart was just plain filled up at the prospect of it all.

And then they came.  The Joyster and her friend...we met her (she's a lovely girl) and had breakfast...went to church and came home...all the girls donned aprons (you can't have a ministry called ApronStrings without having a plethora of them hanging in your pantry) and worked in the kitchen (thanks college girl-friend for jumping right in there with us).  After lunch the Man played Apples to Apples with the girls while I hemmed dress slacks for my girl (she starts observing in an elementary classroom this week and needs to be dressed for the occasion)...and we ate brownies of course! (those of you Food 4 Thot followers, don't be judgin'...Sunday's I give myself permission to sort of eat 'whatever' but in moderation of course he/he).

So, Sunday wasn't was just normal and fun...something that we haven't had much of for a long time!  Thank you Lord for blessing us so richly with 'normal' (well normal for us...the college friend may have thought of us as a bit abnormal ;) after a long season of anything but!  I was in my element!  How was your weekend?  What is your element!

Serving Him and you,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Food 4 Thot

The Think System...ever heard of it?  Maybe you have if you are familiar with The Music Man, (either the 1962 version with the mom from the Partridge Family...I'm dating myself here - I watched mama Partridge and her chicks faithfully, but I did come out after the 1962 version...or the more recent rendition featuring Matthew Broderick).

In this story the Think System was the brain child of Professor Harold Hill, a con-man proficient at swindling people out of money for uniforms and instruments necessary for his boys band, (think the marching kind - not N Sync).  When a librarian suspicious of Prof. Hill's sincerity and qualifications, who knows a thing or two about music, questioned him on the method he would employ to teach the young boys how to play their bright shiny new instruments he said he would be using the Think System.

His Think System went something like this; if you think about the musical piece and hum it long enough you'll be able to play it when you pick up the instrument.  Totally makes sense! Ya-right...if that were the case I would be doing more than just dusting the piano in our front room - sheesh!

Wouldn't it be nice if the Think System worked in the area of Body know, like if I think about exercise long enough my abs will look more like a six-pack than a keg and my hiney will go back up to where it used to be.  Or if I think long and hard enough, and hum at the same time, my weight will go back down to a much more pleasing number on the scale.  Sounds great - doesn't it!?!  What an info-mercial seller that would be.

As far fetched as it may sound, I am a firm believer in the Think System when it comes to Body Management.  You see I've found that you can purchase the latest and greatest exercise equipment or program and invest money in the soundest of healthy eating plans but if you don't have your head in the game you are going no where fast.

For me (and I don't think I am the exception) more than half the battle of better Body Management is fought in between my ears.  You see I have to just plain make my mind up about a few things first before I ever make an attempt to pull them off.

1 - I need to decide that I am good and ready to do something about my current others words, I need to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.

2 - I need to decide that I really can do this_____(exercise program, eating plan, self discipline thing...because "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13
*Interesting side note - Paul makes the above statement after saying, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry" funny for us! :)

3 - I need to decide that I have a no excuse policy and stick to's so easy to give one's self 'time-off' for a plethora of good lame excuses.  I'm not talking about living a strict legalistic type of life but taking good care of our bodies needs to be just as important a part of our routine as brushing our teeth....what if we left the house every day making excuses not to take the time for good oral hygiene...grody!

4 - Decide on a plan that you can keep up with for most days over the long haul.  This isn't a crash diet or obsessive exercise to get quick results deal.  This is a lifestyle change that, when practiced consistently, will put you into the proper weight category for you and will leave you feeling stronger and more energized...ready to fulfill your God given purpose.  It's kind of like make it work well you need to choose your mate carefully and remember that you have a 3 person covenant; you, him and the Lord.  That way on days that you're not really feelin' it with your spouse you have your commitment to the Lord to help you hold on until that season passes.  1Corintians 6:19-20 puts it this way "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy are not your own; you were bought with a price.  Therefore honor God with your body".  So on those days when I don't feel like getting up at 5:15 to get my exercise in or my taste buds are crying out for something low on nutrition and high on calories my motivator is not my own weak self but the desire to honor the Lord.

OK, that Food 4 Thot is quite a I'll just leave you to think about it. :)

Serving Him and you,