Friday, July 29, 2011

Delayed Dreams

Have you ever had a heart desire that had to be shelved? It is a difficult thing to do. Especially since we live here in America, where it is an "all about what makes me happy right now" culture.

When I was much younger, my Aunt and her husband were taking a mission trip to Haiti. They greatly encouraged me to go. I was living a pretty selfish life at the time and really didn't want to sacrifice anything in order to travel to a third world country to help people. You know, there are people right here in Indiana who need help. Turns out, I wasn't helping these people either. Self-centered at its finest.


Ever since then, I have often wondered what it would have been like to actually go to Haiti. Give help to people who desperately need it. What plans could God have in store for me if I were to go there and serve? What would it be like to be a missionary?


Now we attend a church that has a partnership with a mission in Haiti. It is a medical clinic, orphanage and Christian school. And you guessed it, my heart's desire is to go on a mission trip to the Three Angels Children's Relief

 I had planned on going this December. I keep praying for wisdom as to the timing of this trip and God has opened my eyes to something very important. We have a very clingy, needy 2 year old daughter. She does not deal well with change. She does not deal well when either Mommy or Daddy are gone. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Now is not the time. This is the answer God has given me.


Sigh.


Haiti must wait. For now, we will continue to pray for the people in Haiti and our family can sponsor a child to go to the Christian Academy (and so can you - click here for more information).

I will also pour out my energy and love doing the job that only I can do. Be the mother to my daughters. Who could be upset with that? What a blessing! Just look at these two.




Have you had a dream to do something that God has put on the shelf for a while? I'd love to hear about it. It is a hard lesson to be content right in the place where we are.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:11-13

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christian Friendships


When I was young, I found that relationship with people could cause pain. Hurt feelings. Tears. Deep wounds.

This was true of family members. Yes, my sisters and I had a relationship a lot like Cain and Able - and of COURSE, I was more like Able (that's a total joke).

I Am A RockThis was true of girl friends. I went to school before the movie "Mean Girls", but it was still hard. It seemed that I was always in a group of 3 friends. Someone's always getting left out.

This was true of guy friends. I always thought these were the best, but it turns out, guys really do only have one thing on their minds.

When I was little, my favorite song was, "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. Ok, I still like it, but it makes me sad that it was my sort of theme song when I was younger. I thought that if I was alone and only trusted in myself, I wouldn't be let down and wouldn't experience pain. I had stone walls around my heart and did not ever want to be vulnerable and hurt. A rock feels no pain. And an island never cries. But I realize now that I wouldn't experience love or joy or happiness either.



Now that I am grown up (some days that feels like a joke all in itself), I long for close Christian friends.

In the Proverbs it says that "Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." (Proverbs 29:10) And since my brother and my sisters live far away, I needed neighbors. I needed friendships - or at least one good friend.

When we started going to our current church, I met a woman. She seemed very nice and it was so easy to talk with her. Her son was my daughter's age. She had been a Christian for a few years longer than myself. She seemed to have a heart for God. We did Bible studies together. We went to the pool and our families hung out together on the weekends. It was great!

To make a long, painful story short - this friendship did not last. I was left in a world of near isolation. My new baby was not doing well and I desperately needed a friend.

I was crushed.

But God is so good. He put is right in the middle of a small group at church, with a group of wonderful women, studying a fantastic book, "Peacemaking Women". One of the chapters in this book dealt with conflict and resolution. It talked about depression over broken relationships. That was ME! I had put up the walls around my heart to prevent someone from hurting me again. I was a Rock, I was an Island. This book taught me to pray for a friend. A friend that God would have for me.

I felt like an Israelite in the time they were looking for a King. They chose their first king, Saul. And we know how that turned out. Not so good. If you don't know this story, read 1 Samuel - it's a fantastic story!

God chose their second king - King David, a man after God's own heart.

God chose this second friendship for me. I have many friends, a few good friends and one GREAT friend! She is a gift from the Lord. She is not perfect - and she's the first to admit that - but she is a child of the King and on the same road of sanctification. We stumble together, but together we help each other back up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,

For he has no one to help him up.

I thank God each and every day for this friend. If you are lonely like I was, I encourage you to pray to God and ask Him to bring you a friend. He always has the best choice and He is faithul to His promises.

I am thankful for the pain of the broken relationships because it makes the joy of the godly friendships all that much sweeter.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

 
 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Healthy Tuesdays - Increase Metabolism

What is metabolism? The dictionary describes it as the sum total of the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, resulting in growth, production of energy, elimination of waste material. So it is the chemical process that helps us grow (well, if you are still growing - otherwise, it is to maintain your current stature), burn energy and eliminate waste. Who wouldn’t want to increase this? I mean, do you have days that you feel like you are dragging? Or you can't seem to muster up the energy to do anything? Does your body feel like jello? Are you shrinking in height but growing your waistline? Here are easy ways to kickstart your metabolism:



Increasing Metabolism

1. Think ahead. Eat for what you are doing 3-4 hours from now. Your body will retain less fat for stored energy because you are consistently giving it the fuel required for the activity at hand. Think about it – when do you burn the most calories? During the day (work, exercise, play). However, when do you consume the most calories (the fuel you need for that activity)? During the evening? Right before you sit down on your fanny in front of the TV? That does not make any sense. Think about making lunch the bigger meal and / or increasing the amount of activity you do after dinner. Turn off the TV and go for a walk.

2. Move it. Always look for ways to move. Park farther away from the door at the store. Take the stairs. Shovel snow. Carry the baby/toddler rather than using the stroller.

3. Eat breakfast. Your body has been starved for 8-10 hours and now it needs fuel to get the fire going. And don’t reach for the sugary cereal or worse – the pop tart. Think protein and complex carbs. Think fruit and whole grains. A fire won’t burn long if you only put paper in there to burn. You need to add some logs. It takes your body longer to burn the fiber and protein (log) than it does the pop tart (paper). So you will feel full longer and keep that metabolism cranked up.

4. Get your B Vitamins. B vitamins are key players in DNA synthesis, the central nervous system, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein and energy production. Inadequate amounts of B6, B12, folate, thiamin and niacin can leave you feeling depressed and fatigued, slow the body’s metabolism and increase your risk for chronic diseases. Get the bulk of your B’s from food, where they pair up with other vitamins and minerals for a complete synergy of action. Foods high in the B’s include: spinach, asparagus, beans (navy, soy, black beans), melon, broccoli, fish, poultry and eggs.



5. Increase the amount of muscle you have. Lean muscle requires nutrients; therefore, your body will keep your metabolism up in order to feed the muscle. No muscle, no burn. This can be as easy as doing crunches, push-ups (even the girlie ones), lunges and wall sits. Ladies, don't worry about looking like Arnold (think Terminator, not Govenor) - you don't have enough testosterone for that to happen. But the benefits are tremendous. You will be stronger, feel stronger. increased energy, and a lean body.

6. Drink ice water. We all know we are supposed to stay hydrated. But there is an added benefit if you ice that water down first. Your body will be using energy to warm that water to your body temperature.

7. Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral needed by every cell in your body and is used in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including proper muscle, nerve and heart function, protein synthesis and energy metabolism. The National Institutes of Health reports that most Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diets for optimal health. Boost your intake of high magnesium foods to give your metabolism a boost. Go green with your vegetables. Green vegetables such as spinach provide magnesium because the center of the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium. Other excellent sources of magnesium include: halibut, nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts, soybeans (edamame), whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, and legumes such as black-eyed peas and lentils.

8. Spice it up! It turns out capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Eating about one tablespoon of chopped red or green chilies boosts your body's production of heat and the activity of your sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight-or-flight response), according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. The result: a temporary metabolism spike of about 23 percent. Stock up on chilies to add to salsas, and keep a jar of red pepper flakes on hand for topping pizzas, pastas, and stir-fries.






Some sources used for this blog are:
POSCharge blogspot
MSNBC Today
Women's Health Magazine






Monday, July 25, 2011

Round Robin

Have you heard of a round robin quilt? I have a dear friend who is involved in one of these currently and first of all – WHAT TALENTED SEAMSTRESSES!!! The quilt she is currently working on is adorable! The idea is that each person in the group adds another row around the quilt. She can have the row be anything she likes, it just needs to follow the theme of the blanket. The theme of her quilt is tropical. The different ladies have added rows of hula girls and palm trees and it is just stunning!


This got me thinking.


My life is like a round robin quilt. The theme of the quilt is me. Many layers have been added (many, many layers) by differently people and this has greatly influenced the look and feel of my quilt – my life.


On my birthday, my Mom told me that she was recently asked by my nephew (who is 12) if she was jealous and wished she was also 12 again? She laughed and said, “no way!” In our conversation we talked about the wisdom and experience that comes with age and this adds (or should I say, “can add”) such depth and understanding to a person’s life.

Again, the layers of experience are just more patches of colors on this round robin quilt.

I am so thankful for all of it.

When I was 10, I felt so free. We had moved to a new town, a very small town. I could ride my bike all over town and I felt like the queen. Life was carefree and I loved it. This would be the only time of my life that I would ever want to relive. This row would be a vibrant and lively pattern filled with brilliant blues, yellows and greens.

Then as a teenager, there are so many new responsibilities, pressures and life choices to make that it is overwhelming. I would never want to be a teenager again. I am thankful that I made it through this hard stage, but there are many choices that I made that I deeply regret. This world tries to beat down, oppress, humiliate, batter, influence and pressure the teenagers (I can’t even imagine how hard it is these days). I was not equipped for the battle and I am afraid that this row would be dark and gloomy.

When I was in my twenties, I would have told you that I had it made. I was married, had worked my way through school, lots of friends, lots of laughter and good times. Life was a party. I felt like something was missing and knew that eventually I would have to “grow up”, but that could wait. Right now, I was having fun. It was all about me. This row would have my face plastered all over it – and I am sure that is not a very pretty row on a quilt. When I see how I have hurt other people so deeply because of the selfish decisions I have made, all in the name of a good time, it makes my heart sad.


Now my thirties. I am sure that I will look back on this time and still see myself as a foolish babe, but I feel like I have finally gotten it together. Actually, I wasn’t able to pull any of this together on my own. It was all God. He finally put His big thumb of discipline on me in the form of a troubled marriage, physical ailments, and stresses that were beyond my control. I was finally on my knees in prayer crying out for forgiveness and mercy. I had proven what I could do in my own strength – and that was to make a mess of my life. I needed God to come in and put it back together – His way. This row starts off red, but fades to white - white as snow. For “though [my] your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)


When the quilt is complete, and I hope there are many more rows, it will be beautiful. I know God uses all of this, the good, the bad and the ugly, for His glory. Starting with the blood of the Lamb, I pray that the rows of my round robin quilt grow more and more beautiful as they conform to the glory of the Lord. I pray that my own selfish will may be tested through put through the refiner’s fire so that I am changed into His likeness.


I love this song and pray that you take a few minutes to listen to it and reflect on the round robin quilt of YOUR life. Be thankful for it all. God can use it. And dedicate your life to God. Strive to be holy and set apart. That is how God is glorified through us and how we let His light shine to the world.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Respect

The Excellent Wife: A Biblical PerspectiveI think I have mentioned before that I am in a Bible study this summer at church and our focus is the Excellent Wife book by Martha Peace. This week, we discussed RESPECT. That’s right, what ole Aretha Franklin was singing about and what Rodney Dangerfield could never get. So ladies, do you respect your man? 

Here is a quick self-assessment from the book: 
  1. Do you speak to your husband in a condescending, “put down” manner? (“What’s the matter with you?”, “can’t you do anything right?”, “I should have known better than to depend on you.”, “Can’t you ever do anything right?”)
  2. Do you treat your husband in private as respectfully as you do your pastor, neighbor or your friends in public?
  3. Does your countenance show your disrespect by angry looks, looks of disgust, crossed arms, etc?
  4. Do you talk for your husband or interrupt him?
  5. Do you try to intimidate or bully your husband by making threats, verbally attacking him, crying, or in some other way manipulating him to have your way?
  6. Do you bring up his shortcomings to others?
  7. Do you inappropriately contradict him in front of others?
  8. Do you compare him unfavorably with other men?
  9. Do you listen carefully to your husband’s opinion, trying to understand him?
  10. Do you respect his position in the home so much that he can depend on you to do as he asks even when he is not home?
  11. Do you respect his requests by trying to do as he asks, even if it doesn’t seem important to you?
  12. Would your husband say that you have a meek and quiet spirit? If you do, it will be apparent in how you treat him.
  13. Are you obeying God by being respectful to your husband?

Let the wife see to it that she respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

 
Note that this scripture doesn’t have an “if” in it. It doesn’t say, “if he deserves it, then you show him respect.” Or “if he would love me more and care about my feelings, then I would respect him.”

 
We are commanded to respect our husbands because they are gifts from God and as His children, we need to appreciate and respect the gift we are given.
 
Men need to be respected. They crave this as much, if not more, than we crave to be loved.

 
I think about how deeply I long for my husband to treat me special on our anniversary, birthday or Valentine’s Day. And how I feel if he completely forgets it, or is gone the entire day without a text, email, phone call or anything from him. Now I need to take that feeling, that horrible broken hearted feeling, times it by 1000 and that is how much my husband needs to be respected.
 
My husband needs respect like he needs air. And as his lovely wife, I am stepping on that air hose. I am preventing him from being the man that God intends for him to be.

oUcH!!

 
I don’t know if you are feeling as guilty as I am, but I needed to know what to do to fix this.

 
The first thing we need to do is pray. Ask God to forgive our disrespectful attitudes. Pray for open eyes and hearts. Pray for a changed attitude and the strength to do this.

 
Find someone trustworthy who will hold me/you accountable for this change. It is going to be difficult. But the more we pray for God to open our eyes to this sin, the more He will. We will see it the way that God (and our husbands) see it.
 
Sin is ugly and it makes us ugly as well. We spend way too much time in front of the mirror each morning primping, covering up, teasing, straightening, curling, and coloring to let our sinful attitudes ruin it all.

 
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

 
Heavenly Father, help us to not only love our husbands, but to also respect them. Help us be the cheerleader and helper for our husbands. Forgive us when we fail, because we will fail. Help us to be quick to ask for forgiveness and restoration, not only from you, but from our mate. Thank You for the gift that our husband is to us and our family. We ask it all in Jesus precious name. Amen.

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There's no "i" in team

Have you ever heard the saying, "there's no "i" in team?" So it isn't about the individual, but the group as a whole. That is one way the culture teaches us to not worry about the recognition for the hard work we do as individuals, but to work hard as a team.

God calls us to work on His team. He calls it the church. Hmmm, I wonder which church He means?

First Baptist

United Methodist

St. Luke's Presbyterian

Centennial Bible Church (they get my vote...hee hee)

The answer is none of these, but rather, ALL of them!! God has a bigger picture. He calls us to be united as the entire CHURCH. His body of believers.

So while our individual sanctification is important, we need to focus on others and the body of Christ. 

Think about the Lord's Prayer. It is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray - and the model for how we are to pray now.

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13
 
There is nothing about "me" in there. There aren't any singular pronouns. It is all about we and us. So even as we pray in solitude, we are a team. We are in this together. We are the body of Christ. We are here to support and encourage one another.

That is how we glorify God. The selfish world has to scratch it's head when it is faced with selfless sacrifice and unexplainable forgiveness in the name of Christ.
 
I am encouraging you (and myself) to get out there and be a team player. Support your church family members. Visit someone who might be lonely. Pray for those who are hurting. Take a meal to someone who might not have the blessing of a home-cooked meal. Send a card to your pastor and tell him thank you for all he does (he does a LOT ya know).
 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35



And the most important thing (in my humble opinion) you can do is to forgive. It is easy to harbor hurts, wallow in misery, indulge in self-pity. It is hard and nearly impossible to forgive, that is without the Lord's strength. But God commands us to forgive and to not let bitterness take root in our lives. Bitterness is the opposite of love. So as we love and forgive others, we will be building up the church - the body of Christ.

Think of it as exercise. If you are active (as you should be) and work to keep your physical body strong, you sweat, grunt, moan, and sometimes hurt from the work.

It is hard!

But it is good for your body. It will make you stronger.

In the same way, loving, forgiving, and bearing one another is work.

It is hard!

It will make you hurt and may even make you cry. But it is good for the body of Christ. It strengthens the church.

It glorifies Christ, the head of the church. 


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.    Colossians 3:12-17
 

Healthy Tuesday - Super Supplements

I borrowed this from Dr. Andrew Weil's website. Do you know which vitamin supplement he is describing here:

It is known mostly for its role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. It plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating blood clotting, and preventing cancers of the digestive tract. It is also associated with relieving mood swings, food cravings, and decreasing the pain, tenderness and bloating associated with premenstrual syndrome.


Sounds like a miracle vitamin, eh?

And how about the supplement that usually accompanies it?

It helps maintain muscles, nerves, and bones, and studies have shown that a diet rich in this supplement may help protect against metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism.

Have you guessed it yet? Calcium and Magnesium

You knew calcium was good for your bones and teeth, but what about that other stuff?  Blood pressure? Reducing PMS symptoms? Preventing cancers? And combined with the benefits of magnesium - they are like the Dynamic Duo!

Problems with energy - Magnesium
Problems with mood swings - Calcium
Problems in the bathroom (no details needed) - Calcium AND Magnesium
Problems with blood pressure or blood clots - Calcium
Problems with bloating - Calcium

The way out bodies store and use calcium is amazing! When we are young (think growing years), our bodies work like an ant in the summer, and saves a ton of calcium. In fact, it is working to store the back-up supply of calcium that we will need for the rest of our lives. So when we stop growing, you stop storing calcium. From that point on, you are a user and not a saver.

This is important to note if you have young kids in your house, like I do. We are "dairy free" so we need to work extra hard to get calcium (and magnesium and Vitamin D) into the diets of our kiddos.  They are storing their lifetime supply as I type this blog.

So, now that we aren't young (well, at least as far as storing and using calcium is concerned) we need to make sure we get enough calcium from our diets. Otherwise, our bodies will start to use it from the storehouses - our bones and teeth. I don't know about you - but I like having teeth and strong bones!

Naturally, we can get calcium from foods we eat such as:
  • Dairy foods
    • milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese
  • Non-dairy foods
    • Salmon , Tofu, Rhubarb, Sardines, Collard greens, Spinach, Turnip greens, Okra, White beans, Baked beans, Broccoli, Peas, Brussel sprouts, Sesame seeds, Bok choy, Almonds
  • Vitamin Fortified Foods
    • Non-Dairy Milks (Soy, Rice, Almond), Fruit Juice, Cereals, Breads


You can also take a calcium supplement. There are a couple of things to note when taking a calcium supplement:
  • The recommended daily allowance is 1000 mg. However, you cannot absorb calcium more than 500 mg at a time. So you should take 2 doses of 500 mg per day.
  • You cannot absorb calcium (and actually will start having arthritic symptoms) if you are deficient in magnesium. So you should take a 2:1 ratio of Calcium to Magnesium (500 mg Calcium and 250 mg Magnesium).
  • You also need to have Vitamin D in order to absorb the Calcium. You should take 400 IU daily, so you can split this into 2 doses daily and take it at the same time as the Calcium. NOTE: Your body also makes its own Vitamin D from natural sunlight. So if you have spent the day at the pool, you do not need to take a supplement that day. Save it for the rainy days.


For more information about this and other supplements, visit Dr. Andrew Weil's website. There is a ton of helpful information about supplements and healthy living.





Monday, July 18, 2011

Like a Sunflower

AT-A-GLANCE Daily Refill, 6-5/8 x 9-1/8 Inches, White and Cream, 2011 (K1-50)
I have a daily flip calendar that has a wonderful quote and encouraging scripture. Do you?  Sometimes the quotes and scripture are just exactly what I need.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips
Psalm 141:3

Yikes. I could use a guard on my mouth sometimes (ok, a lot of the time). Especially when I read this:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Thankfully, I can repent, ask for forgiveness and know that my God is faithful and just to forgive my sins and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

I long to live out the command to

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your mind and
with all your strength.
Mark 12:30

This quote was in my daily calendar and I love it. I love the visual picture and when I see this wonderful flower, it makes my heart swell with love for my Lord and Savior.

Many flowers open to the sun, but only one follows him constantly. Heart, be the sunflower, not only open to receive God's blessing, but constant in looking to Him. John Paul Richter

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Greater Sins

I love God's Word! I love reading it first thing in the morning. I love learning even more about it from commentaries. I love the life application and even deeper meanings I learn from beloved pastors and teachers. I even love that prick of conviction from the Holy Spirit as the Word is read.

That happened this morning.

My eyes were opened to the truth of scripture as I had never considered before.

I am sure you have read this story before, as I have, but read it once more before I tell you what I learned.

A Sinful Woman Forgiven [Luke 7:36-50]



One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table.  And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,  and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

When I was listening to R. Albert Mohler Jr (aka Al Mohler), he pointed (and this is my own paraphrasing) out that we are ALL infintely indebted to God for the sins we have committed. No one person is a greater sinner. God is SO holy that even on our "best" day we still fall infintely short of God's glory (Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). The idea here is that this woman RECOGNIZES her sin as great, ugly and horrible sin and therefore RECOGNIZES even more what the sacrifice on the cross actually means.

We are all have a large, infinite debt that we owe to God for our sin. Our minds and hearts are in rebellion against our Creator. It is only by the grace and mercy given by God that we even want to please Him and seek forgiveness. And because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can be fully forgiven.

Notice what immediately follows Romans 3:23:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24)

A free gift. Awesome!! So we know...

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 
So join me in praying for God to open our eyes to see how ugly and huge our sin actually is; this will lead to an even greater appreciation of the saving work of Jesus. I love Jesus, but I always will long to love Him more. My heart swells when I think of the sacrifices He made for me. I am so unworthy, which makes the gift even greater. No wonder she was washing His feet with expensive perfume and wiping it with her tears and her hair. She adored Him.

Do you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? They are practically a childhood staple in my mind. When our first born was about 6 months old (so not eating solid foods yet), she ended up with a horrible case of hives. That landed us in the ER. To make a long story pretty short, we ended up learning that she had an egg allergy (although that is not what caused the hives).

Egg allergy?!?!  That meant no cakes. No french toast. No scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. No poached eggs on toast. No tuna salad sandwiches. No Easter egg battles. No deviled eggs.

and NO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES?!?!?!

What on Earth? I am a baker. I love to bake. I love baking for my family. So I had to figure something out.

Now, she is 6 and for a while I have been experimenting with different recipes and replacing the egg and dairy (yes, we are also now dairy free) and have had some great turnouts. One of our favorites are these Banana Chocolate Chip cookies.

Even if you are not egg and dairy free - these are fantastic!!

Banana Chocolate Chip cookies

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine (we uses soy and dairy free Earth's Balance)
2/3 tsp vanilla
1/2 smashed ripe banana (about a 3 inch piece)
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (we use Ghiradelli's Semi Sweet or I bust up some semi sweet bakers chocolate squares into chunks)

Mix sugars and margarine until creamy. Add vanilla and banana to the sugar mix. Mix. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix again.

Sometimes I think the dough is a bit too thick so I add in about a tablespoon of applesauce.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon tablespoon size balls onto baking sheet. bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Training our Children

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
 
I love the baby stage when you can put them down in a spot, leave the room for a minute and when you return, they are still in that same place. When our baby girl was this age (around 3 months old), I had set her on the bed and remembered I needed to get something. So I asked our 4 year old daughter to "watch her" for me. Well, it turns out our baby was a bit more squirmy than I thought and she proceeded to wiggle right off the bed. I ran back into the room when I heard the screaming. There was the baby on the floor and my 4 yr old standing there with a horrified look on her face as she "watched her."
 
At this point, I am so thankful for that little voice of the Holy Spirit that reminded me she was only 4 and that she had done exactly what I asked. She had watched her baby sister.
 
This was a teachable moment for me and our daughter.
 
Part of our job as Moms (parents) is to train our children in the way they should go. The Bible refers to our children as arrows (Psalm 127:4-5) and we are the sportsman who is shooting the arrow. We need to make sure the feathers are on correctly. We need to make sure the arrow is straight. We need to make sure we know our target. We need to take careful aim. After we release, it is all up to God. So we pray.
 
One thing to remember is that no matter what, we are releasing arrows. It is only by taking the time, lifting up the prayers, searching the scriptures for wisdom, and teaching our children His ways that we are aiming at the target that glorifies God. If we hurry through these childhood years running from this lesson to that sporting event, to that social event, and leaving them with others to care for - then we are denying our children the gift of training. We are neglecting to take careful aim of that arrow and it will end up in the mud.

This is a delicate process. It takes time. Are you spending time with your wee ones?
 
Are you teaching them to love others? We are all born sinful and selfish and this just gets uglier with age. Mark 12:31 The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”


Are you teaching them to respect their elders (this includes you)? Or do they interrupt your conversations and correct other adults? Leviticus 19:32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.


Are you teaching them to use their time wisely? Do they spend any time serving others? Do they have a list of chores to complete? What happens when you arrive home from the grocery store? Do your children come running to help put groceries away? Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.


Are you training your children to memorize scripture? Psalm 119:11 says I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing scripture, hiding it in our hearts, helps to prevent us from sinning against God. What could be more valuable?

The world will pull at you and try to keep you busy, but resist this temptation and spend the time with your children. They need you. All that other stuff can wait. 1 John 2:15




Start when they are young. Be diligent. And pray for strength. You'll need it. It is difficult and frustrating to make this investment, but it is SO worth it!

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Healthy Tuesdays - Snacking

So you thinking - great, she's going to say that snacking isn't good and grazing like a cow all day is what's giving me that muffin top.

Wrong. Snacks are a good choice - actually, a great choice!

Snacks curb your appetite and keep you from over eating at meal times. Snack can help keep your blood sugar regulated so that you don't end up with a carb crash and feeling like you are starving!

Now, there are good snacks and bad snacks.

  • A dozen Oreo cookies - bad snack.
  • 2 Oreos (serving size) - better snack.
  • Carrot sticks and dip - great choice.
  • A large DQ blizzard with chunks of your favorite candy bar - bad snack.
  • A serving size of ice cream - better snack.
  • Frozen fruit bar - great snack.
  • Little Debbie snack cakes - bad snack.
  • Low fat graham crackers dipped in applesauce - good snack.
  • Bowl of high fiber, low sugar cereal - great snack.
  • Apple slices dipped in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter - great snack.
  • 15 raw almonds and 1/3 cup of raisins - great snack.

A good snack should be something natural (preferably a veggie or fruit), low in sugar, not contain chemicals like high fructose corn syrup and have fiber or protein to help you feel full longer.

Having a good snack, along with a big glass of water, will help prevent you from the starvation then over-eating cycle.

So don't forget have a snack today!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Science from a Biblical worldview

101 Great Science ExperimentsMy darling daughter is fascinated by science. Is yours? I think there are a lot of kiddos that love to learn and discover the "hows" and "whys" about our world. It is very important to our family to glorify our God - the One Who created this world and thought of everything like DNA, fingerprints, seasons, gravity, volcanoes, and all the different creatures (and much, MUCH more) - when discussing anything, especially science. This is more difficult than it seems (unfortunately).

Why is it that most of the scientific community thinks they are too smart for God? They have such crazy ideas like the evolution THEORY and a big bang THEORY -  and they teach this to our young people as if it were FACT. They are unable to prove these theories, but they would rather believe in a lie than admit that we were all created by a super intelligent Designer. I mean, when you admit that you were created, then you are forced to think that maybe your Creator might have some guidelines and requirements for your life. Can you tell this is a hot button for me?

We are so fortunate to live near (and by near I mean 2 hours away) the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, OH. If you have never been, you should make plans to visit. It is fantastic! They teach about the Creation of the world. They answer questions that you might not even know you had (like what happened to the dinosaurs). There is a petting zoo, botanical garden walk, movie theaters (showing their movie clips), and fantastic planetarium! It is put together by the people at Answers in Genesis.

My daughter (she is 5) recently received a hand-me-down book about 101 Science Experiments and it was like Christmas! Her eyes glassed over and she got this super excited look on her face. She keeps reading all the different experiments and can't decide which one to do first (I have informed her that if it involves electricity, she needs Daddy's help - Mama's scared of getting zapped!). Today, we are experimenting with shadows (seems easy enough, eh?) - and learning how light travels in a straight line. She had fun playing with cut outs of pacman and the ghosts. Daddy's love of old arcade games comes shining through.

We are also fortunate enough to get the Smile of a Child TV station. We do not pay for cable or satellite, so we get the over-the-air channels that are free (imagine! free TV?). One of the stations we get is this Smile of a Child. It is wonderful programming for little kids that focuses on God. Our favorite program is Super Simple Science with Dr. Quack and Dizzy Izzy. This is a science program that teaches children from God's perspective. Here are some examples of things they teach:
  • How wonderful God made us with our 5 senses. 
  • How God makes our world spin the perfect speed because if it were faster we'd go spinning out of orbit and if it were slower, the stuff would fall off.
  • How God created our body to help defend itself against germs.
It really is amazing to watch a science program on TV that even mentions God in a good light.

So while we are taking a break from our homeschooling schedule, we are still learning and giving glory to God in the process. What a joy and a blessing it is to be parents and to teach our children about God and His great world!

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