Wednesday, April 29, 2009
After work I needed to pick up some dessert for the girls to take with them to the Youth Group dinner at church. I decided that Costco has great cookies in their bakery and it's on my way home from work, so I stopped in there. Of course the place was busy around the 5:00 p.m. hour and I ended up standing in a very long line. I got through the line only to drop the cookies all over the floor near the entrance. They were very gracious and allowed me to exchange the ruined cookies for some new ones at no cost to me. So now I had my cookies, but it took me twice as long as I thought it would.
I took the girls to Youth Group and headed out to run errands. I needed to pick up supplies and groceries for a bake sale we're having to support a hospital in Mali. The bake sale is this Saturday and I needed to do most of my grocery shopping tonight. On my long list of items to buy was 18 large eggs. I was in the check line of the grocery store when the eggs took a tumble from my cart to the floor, making sure to break every last 18 of them. What a Mess!!
At this point I've watched the "cookie crumble" and "walked carefully on eggshells" what else could possibly go wrong? How about an exploding can of pepsi. When I got back to the house with all my groceries I placed a 12 pack of pepsi a little too hard on the floor and one can exploded in the package. So, I went about cleaning up pepsi from my floor.
Just to rub salt in my wound I realized after I got home that I incorrectly informed the grocery checkout lady about the number of soda packages I had purchased. My mind was so focused on the fact that I had packages of 12 that I told her I have 12 packages in my cart (I wasn't about to lift them all on the conveyor belt), when I only had 9 packages with 12 in a package. I ended up paying for 3 packages I never even had, but I do remember telling her 12, so I'm calling it my "idiot tax". It just grips the Cheap Mennonite in me that I paid $9 more than I had too.
** I should have never asked myself what else could go wrong. I wrote this post last evening, and this morning I awoke to find out that the auxillary fridge in our basement (the one storing all my bake sale perishables) had gone out during the night. Just another little set back in a day full of mishaps. **
Despite all the set backs to my day I did enjoy the baking that ended my evening. With the bake sale this Saturday (Lord, please don't let it rain that morning/early afternoon) I had a lot of baking to do. I started with the chocolate chip cookies this evening, and as I rolled the cookie dough I started thinking about Jake Tillett. It's not surprising that Jake was forefront in my thoughts, the bake sale is to support his service to the Koutiala Hospital in Mali, Africa. Jake will be serving there for the next year and other rural clinics.
So, the bake sale was reminding me of Jake, also the simple act of rolling out cookie dough brought him to mind. One of my favorite memories of Jake was the evening he came over to help me roll out hundreds and hundreds of cookies for an Art Benefit we were having to raise funds for the African Refugees in Salt Lake City. As my contribution to the benefit (hey I'm no artist) I was providing the catering to the event. Jake volunteered to help as my baker's assistant for the evening before the event.
It was a long long evening of baking cookies and prepping other items. Jake, the poor dear, spent most of the evening rolling and rolling cookie dough. If you haven't noticed I've mentioned several times that he rolled cookie dough. I'm not able to stress enough how long he was at that task or how tedious it was for him. I don't think Jake will ever be volunteering to help me bake again :)
The cookies that night were a huge hit. Jake and I had made them bite sized, so that they carried more with the upscale atmosphere of the night. In the end we had fed hundreds, but there was still more cookies leftover (almost as if God had multiplied them like the loaves and fish). When the event came to a close, I asked the organizer if I could take the leftovers to a local shelter, she loved that idea.
For me the highlight of that evening wasn't the success of the Art Benefit (though that went specularly well), it was the look on the man's face when I drove up the shelter later that evening and asked if he would like some homemade cookies. Every cookie that Jake had meticulously rolled brought happiness to someone that night, some more than others.
I'm rolling cookie dough for Jake now, and it's a labor that I look forward to seeing the Lord stretch. That the happiness a small cookie can bring will reach far beyond just the person who eats it. I think of how the funds from the bake sale will be supporting Jake, that the work that he's about will bless a people, and how those healthy individuals will spread the blessing. That's what's possible when we give our labors to the Lord. He's able to use them far beyond a simple act of rolling out a ball of dough.
Monday, April 27, 2009
You all should look to the right of this page and find "Stuff Christians Like". I love the humor here, I hope you enjoy it also.
Friday, April 24, 2009
That breakfast was so routine and delicious the counselors even came up with a little song (that had motions) to express our joy on that particular morning. To this day whenever I have biscuits and gravy I'm transported back to Wednesday morning at camp.
This morning I arose from my short sleep (after a very long day yesterday and an even longer night) and began preparations for biscuits and gravy. At Sandal House we were having guests over for breakfast and we needed to impress.
For the buttermilk biscuits I put all my dry ingredients in a bowl and sifted together as I watched the sunrise out my kitchen window. The sky was a mix of beautiful colors as I cut in my butter and added the wet ingredients. There was good light streaming through the kitchen window by the time I was cutting out my biscuits.
As the biscuits went into the oven I began to brown the most delicious pork sausage. I heard the birds begin to chirp as the sausage began to sing in the pan. I saw a couple birds flying back and forth before the window as I browned flour into the cooked sausage. Then came the sound I love so much, the first hiss as the cold milk hits the hot pan and picks up all that wonderful brown flour. I stirred until the gravy became thick and added my seasonings.
Everything came together right on time. Our guest arrived and we sat down to warm biscuits with hot gravy poured on top. That's how a body should start out their day!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
After checking into our room, when then went out in search for dinner. Not far from the Floyd Country Store we came across El Charro's. WELL...we have two El Charro's in Harrisonburg, and they're a favorite of Emily and I, so dinner was an easy decision. We discovered this wasn't a chain restaurant, but the menus were surprisingly similiar. The food though was quite different. I really like the El Charro's in Harrisonburg, I think they're food is great, but the El Charro's in Floyd had INCREDIBLE food. The guacamole was best part of the meal, with real chunks of avacado in it. If you're ever in Floyd you better check out El Charro's for an excellent meal.After dinner we walked straightaway to the Floyd Country Store, since the music and dancing had already begun. Once inside I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the excellent flatfoot dancers who were out on the floor. There were plenty of chairs to sit on, so Emily and I found a seat and just watched them dance. We sat there for quite a few numbers and I was getting bored, but still didn't have the nerve to actually get out on the floor and make a fool of myself with nonexsistent dancing skills.
Here's Emily by the wood carved door at the Hardware Store. How great is that door?
Emily also noticed this cross before I did. It was in the window of some store. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it.
As we were driving back home we took Route 221 back. Drive back wasn't as hurried as the drive to Floyd. Along the way we stop and took photos of some of our favorite scenes. We passed a Farmers Market with some neat advertising. Emily got this photo of the vehicle and sign.
I loved the fencing on this farm, so we pulled over and tried to capture the beauty of it all. Though I love this picture and think it turned out all right, I'd say it still doesn't do justice to all that we saw through our own eyes.
One of our last scenic stops was just outside Roanoke where we took this photo that speaks to me of the "First days of Spring." You're just starting to see some color come out on the trees.
Friday, April 17, 2009
You might also note from this picture that it was taken at a United Methodist Church, though it wasn't the church I visited.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I've also matured over the years in communicating as a responsibility. If I tell someone I'll call, I call. If I'm suppose to send an email I write that email. This doesn't always mean that it works out for me (I'm remembering how over a month ago I struggled with my computer/email and my emails wouldn't send and I couldn't receive others - talk about frustrating).
These days my struggle in communication is learning how to effectively do it with a teenage population. I've got two words for you...SANDAL HOUSE!
In the beginning of my term at Sandal House I would bend over backwards to be flexible regarding the teens and their ability to communicate their needs and wants. That approach accomplished very little.
Now I take the approach that if they aren't able to effectively communicate to me in a timely manner what it is they need or want, then they often have to make do without. I'm happy to report this approach has begun to foster a more responsible attitude in our home.
For example, in the past the girls would often come to me when they were on their last diaper for their child and tell me they need more diapers. It never seemed to matter how often I asked them to give me some forewarning, so we could arrange diapers in a timely manner, they still continued to come to me at the last minute. After awhile I got tired of sounding like a broken record and I left them with the consequences.
I remember the evening, one of my teens came to me as I was leaving the house for a meeting (a meeting I had on our calendar for three weeks) and informed me she had just used her last diaper and need me to get her some more that evening. I looked at her and said, "I hear what you're asking me, but it doesn't sound like it's my problem. You're going to need either give me atleast 24 hours warning before you need diapers, or you need to figure out how you're going to get them yourself."
Presto...she found a diaper or two to borrow, gave me my forewarning, and we haven't had the problem since.
I've learned when you have THREE teens and only ONE little ol' me, it's important to get your communication worked out.
Actually, last evening a friend of mine asked me if I was learning a lot from my Sandal House experience. Now this was a friend I see quite often, and talk to even more, so they shouldn't be surprised when I just gave them a blank "you've got to be kidding me" look. I was with a group of friends when the question was posed, and they laughed a little at my surprise of the question. I finally just smiled and said, "Yes, I'm learning a lot."
What an understatment though. It seems that everyday I learn something new. Something about teenagers, babies, toddlers, parenting, our cultural, our values, and faith. I could go on and on about what God has shown me through this experience. Praise Him!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Thankfully, more "healthy" acquitances are the norm, but still every once in awhile I have a strange come out of the woodwork. It's never very funny at the moment, but time has a way of coloring the events into what is often an amusing story (laughing sometimes is the only antidote).
This past Sunday I added another event to my list of memories. I was walking through the Walmart parking lot when some man grabbed my arm and spun me around. Though I'll admit to being startled, my first thought was, "who is this guy?" My mind couldn't process why a stranger would grab me like that, so for a split second I thought it had to be someone I knew.
By the time I realized he wasn't anyone I had ever met, he had already grabbed my right arm too and was pulling me towards him. The next 5-10 seconds was a very limited struggle of me trying to pull first my arms and then head away from him. He on the other hand, was trying to pull me by the arms and then grabbing at me by the neck (trying to get my head closer).
Surprise and shock played a role into why I didn't fight back (other than just making movement to pull away). It wasn't like he was trying to drag me anywhere, and he didn't have a gun or knife that I could see. When trying to explain the incident later to people all I could fathom was that he was trying to kiss me or something. He kept trying to get our faces closer, so I assumed that it was a kiss he wanted.
It was because he was trying to get our faces closer that I smelled the alcohol on his breath...UGH!
Our Lord sent a protector for me that evening. I never got the man's name, and he didn't get mine, but this man saw what was happening and spoke up and came to help me out. Because of his actions the whole incident was very brief (it seemed to me that it was over before I even registered what was happening). The man who was attacking me ran off when my rescuer started coming towards us.
I'm happy to report that the drunk attacker was later arrested for a DWI and has admitted to grabbing me in the parking lot. When asked why he said, "I was just having a little fun." Unlucky for him, his fun involved leaving bruises and scratches on my person, so he'll be charged with assault and battery.
Now you see what I mean about attracting the "strange ones". I have any number of stories where I've been in uncomfortable or even dangerous circumstances, which for a girl who grew up in a rural farming community that's just a little too much.
I have learned some valuable lessons from each of these experiences. For starters, I need to be more alert, especially when walking alone. I'll admit I have a tendency to be always lost in thought when I'm walking from here to there, that's a bad habit I should break. Next lesson I learned, when walking in a parking lot have your keys already in hand and don't be rummaging through your pursue with your head down. I was guilty of that one on Sunday evening.
If anything I've learned through all my years is that trust is a big factor for me. My entire childhood taught me that trust could just be easily given. I could trust my family, friends, neighbors, almost anyone who came into my life (with a few exceptions). It's not been until my adult years that I've learned that trust is something that should be earned. Sure that can come sooner for some than others, but it's not something I should just assume.
And with that I've learned a valuable lesson in life.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
This week God's presence and leading has been very direct in my life. For this blessing I am thankful. I am thankful we have a heavenly Father who loves us in such a manner that He will directly lead us. I am thankful for a heavenly Father who cares about my every needs, even my emotional ones. And I am thankful that in this week God hasn't asked patience from me :) He knows that's my struggle.
I started this week with a prayer and each day the Lord has lead me in an answer. I felt lead to share some of the answers with you. Who knows you might find an answer to one of your prayers in this too. Isn't it amazing how God is able to do that for us?
"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Do you pray for direction, and hear nothing?
Do you wonder if God even heard your prayers?
Friend, you are not alone. Often I come before God, pouring out my heart in prayer, seeking His will for different areas in my life. Then I hear nothing. He is silent. Not wanting to wait, I forge ahead on my own. In my busyness, I fail to sit and wait. No time, I say, because someone is waiting for an answer. No time, I say, because I need to act now.
Yet, when I examine Scripture, God consistently teaches: sit, pray, and wait. Jesus began His ministry by fasting forty days alone in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He spent an entire night alone in prayer before choosin g His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12).
Esther fasted and prayed for three days before she took the bold and courageous step of going before the king on behalf of her people, knowing it could mean her death (Esther 4:8-16).
Elijah went into the wilderness for forty days to hear the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-18).
What do these great people of faith teach us? To know God's leading, to hear His voice, we must listen and wait. Maybe we think God is silent because we never take the time to sit in God's Word and wait. When we do, He promises it will penetrate us to the marrow of our bones, to the deepest places in our heart. Hebrews 4:12 says His Word is living and active and "sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow" (NIV).
When we choose to get alone with God, He promises to meet us there. Jeremiah 29:13-14a says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be f ound by you" (NIV). Take the challenge to meet Him in His Word.
Do you want direction? Follow these steps.
1) Read God's Word: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (NIV) God was actively involved in the writing of Scripture. It is the infallible and authoritative Word of God written to speak Truth into your life today.
2) Study God's Word: 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (NIV). When you study His Word, He plants it deep within your heart. His Spirit then takes the Word and bends your heart in His direction, enabling you to hear His Voice.
3) Pray God's Word: Isaiah 55:11 says, "...so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purposes for which I sent it" (NIV). Prayer is God's living Word spoken out of your mouth. When you pray in faith, you hold God' Word up to Him in prayer. You put Him in remembrance of His Word, and His promise is that Word will not return void. Furthermore it shall accomplish that which He purposes and pleases.
Join me today in applying God's Word to the circumstances in your life. Know that when you do, God promises to do abundantly more than you could ever ask or imagine!
Heavenly Father, I need direction in my life today. You seem distant and silent. Yet I know that You are not because You promise to never leave me or forsake me. Today, I commit to search Your Word. Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your Law. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear Your direction in my circumstances. Thank You, Lord, that in my seeking You will meet me. Thank You that as I trust in You completely, You will le ad me down Your paths! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The preceeding devotional I read on Tuesday morning. It came at just the right time to offer encouragement and insight into the prayer I had lifted up to the Lord. The beginning of the devotional shared a verse from Psalms that has often been on of my favorites through the years, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" Psalm 119:105. During my teen years I remember hearing a sermon that highlighted this verse. The preacher "culturized" the verse, bringing in aspects of the culture at the time it was written. It was a powerful illustration to me at that time in my life. This preacher started talking about the lamp and how lamps back in the Old Testament time were not these powerful light sources we are use to today (ie...flashlights). A lamp back then allowed you to see maybe several feet around you, after that it was just darkness. To go out walking at night with a lamp that only allowed you to see that couple of feet from where you were standing required a lot of faith.
I am so use to readily available light. I can walk into a room and easily flip a switch, and there is light. If I'm driving and there are not enough street lights, then I have high beams on my car I can use. Even if I'm out camping and need light, there are some pretty powerful flashlights out there that could illuminate a good bit for me. For me, there is very little reason I would ever need to walk in almost darkness.
Yet, in my spiritual life there have been times when God has only illuminated the way just enough for me to see my next step and not much beyond. And when I took that next step another step came into the light. It takes faith to walk that way, but fear not God loves us and is there walking with us, we only have to believe.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:8 (NIV)
Have you ever noticed how some TV commercials mix just enough truth with their product to make it believable? While that's called false advertisement, the product still comes off convincing. It's not until we purchase the product, and it fails, that the trickery becomes exposed.
In the same way, Satan specializes in false advertisement. He's good at making our fears look real when they are not. Does that mean all fears are wrong? No. The fear of standing near a high cliff protects us from getting to close to the edge and toppling over. One the other hand, Satan's spooks are full of trickery. They are usually disabling and keep us from progress. This kind of false advertisement can choke our faith and fuel our fears.
Have you ever wondered where our struggle between faith and fear began? I have. According to author and teacher Malcolm Smith, fear was introduced to the human race by a satanic lie.
The Garden is the first place where the serpent deceived Eve by twisting God's word. The Lord told Adam not to eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). If he or Eve ate from that tree, they would surely die spiritually. Not only did Eve eat the forbidden fruit, but she offered it to Adam and he ate too.
As soon as Adam disobeyed God, their relationship changed. Adam was not only afraid, but he doubted God's authority, friendship, and provision. Satan's lie told Adam that he didn't need God. In fact, Adam was persuaded that he could be his own god, self-sufficient in every way.
The same can be true for you and me. At times, you an d I live independent of God's presence. We act as if everything depends on us. We wouldn't dare admit that we are in over our heads. We want to appear in control. But God never meant for you and me to be strong in and of ourselves. We were meant to show His strength in our weakness as He provides for our needs. We were created to live like little children, dependent on the care our heavenly Father.
The times we insist on living life our way, in our own strength, we experience the same result as Adam and Eve. We will live in fear. This is right where Satan wants us.
If we're afraid to try, we never will. If the enemy can keep us contained by fear, we won't be able to fulfill our potential or make a difference in the life of another. Satan knows what we are capable of with Christ. To prevent us from that realization, he poisons us with fear.
The truth is what we fear rarely comes to pass. This kind of fear that is fueled by Satan's lies can be described by this acrostic:
It's not that we shouldn't be concerned about certain issues of life such as safety and health. But when worrying takes over by keeping us up at night and shutting us down during the day, we've moved into a place we were never meant to live. We must return to living in God's presence and relying on His promises and provision. Only then will we be able to distinguish between truth and lies. Only then will our lives be marked by faith, not fear.
Dear Lord, help me to discern between false fears and real concerns. As I commit Your Word to memory, make Your truth alive in my heart so that I can battle fear and live by faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.