Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lean On Me

2 Corinthians 8:13-15 (New King James Version)

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

This passage is speaking to us about giving; however, it occurs to me that this can also apply to lifting up another when he or she is feeling down or going through a rough time. We have a responsibility to keep our spiritual buckets full so that we can make sure and have something to give when God calls us to it.

It surely is important to remain financially stable so one can give monetarily when the need arises. We need to make sure we stay "spiritually stable" and available as well for the same reason.

Photo by Emily Cabrera

Microfiction Monday #28

“I’m the king of the world!”


(What Would Leeeonaaaardo Do?)

View more Microfiction Monday here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Granola (or Muesli) Bread Recipe...YUM!

I recently made this yummy Granola Bread using Muesli that I got at the co-op. It was super good and really dense so it went a long way (ie: actually fed everyone with one loaf!)

1/2 c. butter 1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs 2 mashed bananas
1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (OR 2 c. white)
1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. granola 1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/4 c. raisins

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and bananas. Stir in granola. Add flour, soda, salt, nuts and raisins. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 40 min. Cool on rack.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vintage Thingie Thursday: Grandma's Dishes

I'm very excited to be participating in my first Vintage Thingie Thursday! Hosted by Coloradolady, this is an opportunity to show off neat vintage items that you have around your home. Being a thrift store junkie and a proud pack rat, I've got all kinds of great stuff to feature!

Today I'm showing off my Grammy Annabelle's dishes. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what year or on what occasion she acquired these...I just remember my Mom telling me that they'd someday be mine. Lo and behold...and ta da!!! They're now resting safely in a hutch in my living room. (Well, actually, they're the subject of my husband's latest photo shoot right now...then they go back in the hutch).

I've yet to find out much about them but I know that they were made by Blue Ridge Pottery, Southern Potteries, Inc. sometime between the late 1930's and mid-1957. The design is called "Pinkie" and I'm having a really difficult time finding many more in the set! Currently I have about 5 dinner plates and 5 bread plates.

For more Vintage Thingie Thursday posts, visit Coloradolady's blog today!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My husband caught this most awesome shot as he was coming in from work last night. The baby snail was less than a half inch long!

I'm not sure what blessed me most: the fact that we got to see such a sweet little shot or the fact that my husband is the kind of guy that takes the time to admire Creation and all it's miracles!

Click here to see other Wordless Wednesday participants.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gratituesday: What Are You Thankful For Today?

It's Gratituesday...What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful everyday for my family---that's a given. But, as I've been in some serious physical pain these past few days, I've really been thinking on how very, very thankful I am that God has blessed us with the family dynamic that we have!

As most of my readers know, I'm due to have our seventh child any day now. During pregnancy, I usually suffer from some back pain, as well as pain in my sciatic nerve. However, this pregnancy has definitely been a rougher than normal one. After baby #5, I injured my tailbone for the second time and, while I felt the effects during my pregnancy with #6, this time around it is noticeably worse.

But my physical pain is not what this post is about!

What I want to say about all of the above is that, in spite of the physical pain my pregnancies cause me, I could never truly complain because I know how very blessed we are to have been given the many children that we have.

Just the other night, as I was laying on the couch sobbing while my husband tried to massage the kinks out of my back, a little voice in my head said, "you know, this is probably a good sign that you shouldn't have any more kids." That same voice has been saying that same thing for several years now and in several situations: you're having financial issues--you should stop; you had a miscarriage--isn't that God telling you to stop?; you've filled up the biggest rig that normal people can buy--time to stop now!

I'm very familiar with this voice. Not only is it the voice of the concerned parent who worries about my health and sanity and the well-meaning friend who can't imagine herself in my place, but it's also the voice of the Enemy who would sow doubt into my mind and heart about the things that God really has called us to.

I don't for one minute believe that God has called every family to the lifestyle I live. He has a different plan and direction for each one of us and how we walk that out will differ from situation to situation. My point is not to debate God's will for the family. My point is to remind myself that this is what God has called me to. It's not always going to be easy.

The other day, I wrote about Paul's trials in prison here. One verse that struck me was this from 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."

While I've never actually "despaired of life itself", I've definitely had days where I wished for a different circumstance. When I'm not living in that despairing moment, I look back and it breaks my heart that I would desire anything else than the wonderful blessings God has given. However, I've had enough of those "days of despair" that I know those are the days in which I am called to "rely not on (my)self but on God". In the wise words of Ginny Owens, he "never said it would be easy, (he) only said I'd never go alone."

Today, as I go limping back down the hallway to serve my family and care for my home, I'm overwhelmed with a thankful heart that God, for some reason, has trusted me with this huge responsibility. Thank you, Jesus, for this family. Please remind me every day that it's purpose is to bring glory to you alone.

What are you thankful for? Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Black Beans and Rice...Mmmm!!!!

Black Beans and Rice
adapted from the MOMYS cookbook, courtesy of J. Wilson

I made this the other night and my family was so impressed! It's often a difficult thing to please eight people with the same meal, but even the baby enjoyed this one! The way I've written it out will serve 10-14 people so you may want to divide it or freeze half if you're not feeding that many!

*4 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*4 c. chicken broth (I used water and bouillon cubes...cheaper that way!)
*2-3 c. diced smoked beef sausage
*1 tsp. dried oregano, 1-2 tsp. cumin powder
*2 TBS. red wine vinegar
*8 c. cooked rice
**This recipe also calls for 1 diced onion and 1 diced green pepper but I did not add these to ours.

In a large stock pot, saute onion and bell pepper (if using) in oil until tender. Add garlic and ham and saute a few minutes longer. If you are not using the onion and pepper, just mix all ingredients (make sure meat is pre-cooked) except rice in a large stock pot and cook 1-1.5 hours. Stir occasionally. This will thicken the longer you cook it--especially if you leave the lid off. I left the lid on for the first half hour and then took it off for the rest. Serve over rice or mix cooked rice in at the end. This is good with cornbread or other country bread.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I've Got a New Look!!

Has everyone seen my new look? Thanks to Rachel at Bubbly Nature Creations, my blog is now the most adorable on the block! Check out her site for lots of cute ideas and please consider her the next time you need a refreshing new look for your blog. She's also got some great free craft tutorials and recipes posted there, as well as some tips on taking your own professional-looking photos on a budget!

Thanks, Rachel, for taking the time to make my blog so cute...I love it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Am I Complete?

Colossians 2: 8-10: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power."

How many times do we go looking for someone or something to "complete" us? If we are single, we say we need a spouse to complete us. If we are married, we say we need children to complete us. After that, we start saying things like, "If only I...was not so overweight, would gain a little weight, didn't have this debt, had a cleaner home, owned my own place", etc.

We have this sense that we, in and of ourselves, are not enough. We know that we are lacking, so we go on a quest to lose the weight or adopt the newest organizational system or find the perfect spouse. So why, when we do finally accomplish these things, do we still feel the empty spot? Why do we immediately recognize the next big thing that needs to happen for us to feel complete?

The problem is that while we know that we are lacking--that we, in and of ourselves, are not enough--we are going in the wrong direction to find that fulfillment. Verse 9 says "in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead"--the Three In One--the Trinity...and we are complete in Him. We have been cheated and lied to--and we have bought right in.

The Bible gives us a caution--that we wouldn't be cheated or deceived by the traditions of men or principalities of the world. Have we made the world's deceptions our truths? Has media and magazine covers become our gospel?

The funny thing about God is that He knows our hearts. He knows and understands that empty place where we feel the need for completion. What's more, He knows exactly what we need to fill it. We can find all we need in Him.

Even in Christ, completion won't come by forgiving our brother or cleaning up our act. Yes, those things are important and that time will come, but it can't come until Christ has our hearts. Completion and fullness in God must first take place in our hearts as we surrender everything to Him and ask Him to teach us and to work on us in His timing. Once this surrender to Christ is complete and we are being filled by Him, we will begin to emulate Him. People will begin to see Christ in us as we forgive our brother and get our act together one step at a time through Christ.

My challenge for myself and my readers today is to not accept the lies and traditions of the world. Instead, invite Christ to fill you with his truth and power and find completion in Him.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Shroud of Turin: How Can We Be Sure?

I've always been a sucker for a great conspiracy theory. I think one of the most interesting legends of our time is The Shroud of Turin. According to www.shroud.com, "Modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the shroud. It is, in fact, the most studied artifact in human history."

Many people over many hundreds of years have put faith in this burial cloth, believing it not only to be an authentic and miraculous transference of the image of a crucified man, but believing that man to be Jesus Christ.

Those who have studied it are divided as to the age of the cloth, the medium used to create the image (was it painted? miraculously transposed?), and the identity of the person pictured.

The Catholic church has taken a big leap of faith in allowing the Holy Face Medal to be depicted after the image of the man on the shroud. While they apparently don't take a solid position on the authenticity of the shroud, they've gone ahead a
nd "approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus". I think they're making a pretty big assumption here. Not only have they made a graven image of a man that they're not so sure is really God (see Exodus 20:4: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth."), but they're ignoring what the New Testament has to say about the details surrounding Jesus' burial cloths.

Each of the gospels describes Jesus as having been buried in a linen cloth however, John gets very specific as he describes the Jewish custom of wrapping the body. John describes two cloths: a linen wrapping for the body and a separate cloth for the face:

"So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself" John 20:4-7.

This attention to detail shows us that the answers to the "mystery" of the Shroud of Turin have been in the Word all along. The Shroud is one piece of cloth showing a crucified man from head to toe. The Bible clearly shows us that this can not be the image of Christ as he was wrapped in more than one wrapping and his head was wrapped separately from the rest of the body.

What bothers me about all of this is not so much that there are still people out there debating the Shroud's "authenticity", but that this is the first time I've taken the time to open up my Bible and investigate the veracity of the myth for myself. The answers really are all there---if I'd take the time to find them!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Messianic Prophecy: Part Three

Tonight I studied a couple of Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament book of Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah wrote about Messiah approximately 500 years before the birth of Christ.

I was especially blessed tonight by two specific prophecies found in this book.

Zechariah 9:9: Messiah would enter Jerusalem on a donkey
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation. Humble, and mounted on a donkey. Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
This was fulfilled in Matthew 21:1-9. While reading the verse above, the critical voice in me spoke up to point out that Jesus, having been schooled with the rabbis from an early age, would have been familiar with this verse and could have found himself a donkey on which to ride into Jerusalem in order to fulfill the prophecy.
However, once I read the verses in Matthew, I became aware of two reasons why this prophecy can be taken for truth. For one thing, Matt. 21:2 tells us that Jesus sent two disciples on ahead to fetch the donkey and colt. The verse says, "Go into the village opposite you and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her." God had revealed to Jesus where he would find a donkey on which to ride before he even got to town. Secondly, verse 9 says that the crowds were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord; Hosanna in the Highest". There is no way that the prophet Zechariah, nor Jesus Himself, could have predicted how the crowd would react. Verse 8 says, "Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road." This tells us that at least the majority of the people were treating Him as royalty. This is especially significant as these are likely the same people who, only days later, were shouting, "Crucify him!" (Matt. 27:22-23)

Zechariah 11:12-13 Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
"I said to them, 'If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!' So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them'. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord."
This portion of Zechariah is...weird. It's language and context definitely warrant more study! These verses actually point out two instances of fulfilled prophecy. First of all, Matt. 26:15 tells us that Judas accepted 30 shekels of silver to betray Jesus to the chief priests. Secondly, Matt. 27:5-10 tells us that is was unlawful for the chief priests to put blood money into the temple treasury. Therefore, after the guilt-ridden Judas threw the money back at them, they decided to use it to buy the Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers. Furthermore, Acts 1:18-20 seems to allude to the possibility that it was in this field that Judas committed suicide.
It's also important to point out that this isn't the only place in the Old Testament that discusses Jesus' betrayal. Psalm 41:9 says, "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."

Thank you, God, for revealing so much to your people so long before the events really took place. It's instances like these in the Old Testament that can help us to cement our faith in the New Testament and in Jesus as our Messiah!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dreaming in Color

There’s a creative soul that’s been locked up inside of me. Today I intend to free her. I don’t know how long the emancipation process will last, but I have a feeling that she will emerge in the same manner that she was suppressed---slowly.

What is it that makes me feel like I can’t really write unless I’m in just the right atmosphere, wearing just the right clothes and using just the right instruments? Does this mean I’m not a “real writer”? Shouldn’t a “real writer” be able to pour out her heart through her pen at any given moment under any circumstances?

Why is it that I’m so excited to pick up my glasses this afternoon? It’s because I think they’ll make me look smarter---like I have something to contribute to this big world so full of knowledge already.

“There’s nothing new under the sun,” the good king once said. “There is no remembrance of earlier things; and also of the later things which will occur.” (Ecc. 1:9, 11) This verse reminds me of the comic strip my mom cut out for me recently. In it, a young mom calls her mother to tell her how she read online that if one were to take all the leftovers from one’s fridge, put them in a pot with water, and let it cook over the stove for a few hours, one could feed a family for several days. The mother responds, “Congratulations! You’ve discovered soup!”

I am not so foolish as to believe that everything that comes around has not already been around; however, I want to be one who discovers something new for my generation. I’m convinced that inside every wall, there’s a note left by it’s builder. Underneath every modern lawn, hides an old metal key or an etched glass button, or the other half of a long-since broken locket. I want to offer ideas that are fresh for my time. I want to be considered brilliant. I want to be taken seriously.

The other day, I refreshed my Facebook page to see the intelligent grin of my friend Amelia and her most recent wall post: “Just sitting here drinking tea and working on my novel.” I wanted to cry. (Later that morning, I did cry). Amelia is all I could be if I’d take opportunities instead of make excuses.

I whined to my mom about this a little later on that morning. She responded by listing all the people she could think of who’d recently come in to her store and told her what an awesome mom I am and how much they admire me.

So why can’t I be content and let these selfish passions be laid to rest? Why do I struggle between thinking they’re selfish passions on one hand and on the other hand, feeling like I’m allowing fear to hold me back from a calling?

In my heart, I believe it’s because God has made me in His image: the image of a creator. He has designed me to create---it’s in my soul.

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