Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm Back!

It's been, perhaps, the most life-changing year of my life since I last posted on this blog.

My mother left earth for heaven.

I met a wonderful, Godly man and.... I married him!
It seemed that this past year was meant for living, not just for putting into blog posts or Facebook updates. 

Thus, I've been doing just that.

I hope to get back to blogging again soon, though. 

Stay tuned for more updates! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Life

My life is my dreams
My joys and my mind -
Mine as a coin to trade, I find,
For pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.

My life is my hoard
My hope and my wealth -
Mine to give my youth and my health
For pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.

My life is smothered
By such a clutch -
Too starved and too crushed to yield me much
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.

My life is God's
To break and pour
On thirsty ground, and yield back more
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.

My life is His
And here I find,
The keenest pain, the deepest kind
Of pleasure - fulfillment - meaning.

Claire Meyer

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Give This Craft to Thee

I need Thee Lord
To steer my craft
Among life's stormy sea
To safely reach
That higher destiny
Where sorrows cease
And loved ones wait ashore

Dark nights ahead
The lighthouse dim to me
Uncertain - scared
I give this craft to Thee

Thou long ago
Life's sorrows braved
And safely crossed
Each "towering wave"
In Thy scarred Hand
The craft is saved!

- Jennifer Rene Daniel

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Because I'm Unworthy and Bad. That's Why.

At our church before we partake in the Lord's Supper we have a bit of time for quiet reflection of our lives.
I love this time - time to just be quiet and think.
Time to think about my week, my life, my heart.

Time to ask myself,
Do I love God as I should?
Have I lived a life that pleased God this week?
Am I at peace with my fellow man?
Is my heart where it should be?

On some days {like today} I think regretfully over the week.

Sin stains it ugly.

Guilt plagues my heart.

I think of failures to be kind when I should have.
Words - self-centered ones - that I spoke hastily.

Pride wrapping it's tentacles around my heart for months, and I never saw it...
'Til this week when a lady asked me, "But why? Why do you want to do that?"
Welll... And then I caught a glimpse that made me recoil in horror. Why did I want to do that?
Was there any reason other than to impress people?

And other failures.
Ugly sighs rising up in my heart, even though my Sovereign God was, as usual, on His Throne, ruling all things well in the world.

I stared at my fingers and thought of how unworthy I was.

I felt like a guilty child, wanting to slink away... away from the holiness of this moment ~
a remembrance of a spotless Lamb, of the Christ who always did His Father's will.

And then I remembered. This communion, this remembrance is because I'm bad.

This Holy Sacrifice was made because I AM a sinner, and not even just was a sinner. I am. Still.

Jesus, pleading before His Father on my behalf, not because I've been pleasing this week, but because I've fallen short of glorifying God with my life. That's why I need Him.

As a sinner, I reach forth my hands to take the dry bread, to sip the grape juice....

I do this because I'm not good and I need Jesus. Desperately. Every day.

I do this because GOD is good, and holy and just and perfect.

I do this because He invites me to leave my sin and guilt and start again in the Spirit.

To love, to rejoice, to give thanks, to live to His Glory.

I bow my head, and I partake ~ humbled.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eeyore Perspective

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"And freezing."

"However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Carrot Muffins That You Can't Tell Are Gluten-Free!

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin tins for 24 muffins.

½ cup oil (I used coconut)

1 ¼ cups fructose, sugar or other sweetner

5 large eggs

1 1/3 cups plain yogurt

4 teaspoons vanilla

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups flour (I used ¾ cup lentil flour, ½ cup millet/rice combination, and ¾ cup fine cornmeal)

2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons xantham gum

1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 large carrots, grated (a generous cup)

¾ cup chopped walnuts

Mix the oil with the fructose/sugar. Add the eggs and beat well ‘til thick and smooth. Add the yogurt, vanilla, and vinegar – beat til smooth. Stir the dry ingredients together separately and add to the wet til well combined, but no additional stirring. Fold in the carrots and walnuts. Let sit for a minute or two (the batter will become puffy and rise in the bowl), then immediately fill greased muffin pans 2/3 – ¾ full. Bake at 350 for 20 min or until the top springs back lightly when touched. We made these muffins today, and truly, no one would ever know that they are gluten free! J

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gluten-Free, Mostly Sugar-Free Crispy Rice Treats

Gluten-free recipes that can also be made with alternative sweeteners are at a premium around our house. This yummy cookie is a cross between granola bars and crispy rice treats. It is easy to make, and packed with three kinds of fruit, nut butter, and a few kinds of seeds, and very forgiving if you don't have all of that on hand. If you have peanut allergies, you can substitute almond butter for the peanut butter. It's true, rice crispy cereal is lightly sweetened, but it seems like the amount of sugar is low enough that it doesn't cause any great harm to my brother who normally does not tolerate sugar well. (He seems to do fine with honey, fructose in moderation, and fruit.)

Gluten-Free Crispy Rice Treats with Fruit and Nuts
Makes about 20 2-inch squares

6 1/2 cups gluten-free crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup dried blueberries (I didn't have blueberries, so I increased the raisins and dried cherries)
1/2 cup dried raisins or dried zante currants
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (I used a generous 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and some chopped walnuts)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 cup molasses (I used 1/4 c honey, 1/4 c. agave nectar instead of molasses and honey)
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Spray or lightly oil a 9-inch x 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, mix rice cereal, dried fruit, and nuts together. Set aside.

Place peanut butter, molasses, honey, and butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir until butter has melted. Pour over cereal mixture, and stir to coat. Press mixture into prepared pan. Freeze for 30 minutes. Cut into 20 small squares. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

These bars were quite a hit around our house, and I just used what I had around. I expected the bars to be fine sitting out on the counter, but was surprised that they get soft enough to kind of crumble apart at room temperature. They really should be kept in the refrigerator. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pass It On

Today the Lord reminded me through the kind hands of someone else that I need not fear giving til I have nothing else. Because He gives and gives and gives.

As so often happens at our house, today there were unexpected needs - people to serve.
The door was answered in the pouring rain before the sun came up to a man whose family was breaking apart. Problems were discussed {abuse, anger, fights, children, finances, unfaithfulness... the list is always long}, breakfast was served to him... the day went on.

The fact that there was an extra man with red eyes eating breakfast didn't mess up my day. But I felt a bit annoyed that my mother who is fighting for her life had additional stressful counseling added to her day and less time to take care of herself as she needs to. Because a good part of yesterday was spent loving and talking other people through all sorts of problems.

Mom came up to the girls' room bright and early and said, "We've got to have a prayer meeting. There's too many problems for us to deal with. I need to stop worrying about what to do with and for all of these people." And she was right. This week, we've been involved with several divorces, several child custody fights, a couple of families with alienated children, other relationship problems... really, the people who call and come and need something never end. So, we rose from our knees 20 minutes later, feeling a little better. We left all of the sad and bad and sometimes hopeless-seeming situations in the hands of our capable all-wise God, and then we went about our day.

I had barely left the house when I got a text for a sweet Christian lady we know. She has a bunch of little boys. I can't imagine that she ever has spare time on her hands, but I've never heard her complain about anything.

Her text said she was going to be stopping by with a gluten-free dinner.


That was the whole family's response. Really?

We could almost hear God say, "See? You keep giving to the people I put in your life, and I'll give to you when I know you need it."

May I be swift to obey the next time the Lord prompts me to make someone a casserole... just because He said so.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A New Way to Live

A few months ago, I found the words of this hymn echoing through my heart day after day:

Fill thou my life, O Lord, my God
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways;
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e'en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.

Praise in the common words I speak,
Life's common looks and tones,
In fellowship at hearth or board
With my beloved ones, -
Enduring wrong, reproach or loss
With sweet and steadfast will,
Loving and blessing those who hate,
Returning good for ill.

So shall each fear, each fret, each care,
Be turned into song,
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free,
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.

~ Horatius Bonar

While I washed dishes, while I drove to prenatals, while I waited for my flat tire to get fixed, while I was grocery shopping, while I was juicing fresh veggies for Mom, when the house was 100 degrees inside, while I was running, while I was cooking breakfast, while scrubbing out dirty produce buckets, as I drove away from births, those lines

I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.

clanged loudly, jarring me from the irritating, the tiring, the annoying, the mundane, even the wonderful that I reveled in. Praise in this.

Praise for all of the things that happened today that weren't supposed to. Praise in the midst of missing important deadlines because my brother was having problems and I had to occupy him. Praise while Mom feeling sick. {Wouldn't she rather hear me happily singing at the sink, anyway?}

Praise instead of sighing to myself when the floor was sticky and the oven wasn't working and my car was needing another repair.


That could be my life. My life doesn't have to include silent sighs and groans to myself.
Praise. That can be my whole life. EVERY part.

It starts with calling someone to tell them that I will have to reschedule this afternoon's prenatal. {How unprofessional! a murmur rises up in me. I was late to their last appointment after having to borrow a car at the last minute. And now this! Undecided whether I should explain what's happening at my house and with my family, or leave them wondering if I'm unreliable, I hesitate. Then, one little word comes to mind: Praise. Praise in the common words I speak. That's your new way to live.}

A smile crosses my face. Yes, in this, too.

What good is praise if it's only during the times when anyone's heart would sing for joy?

Not just praise on my lips, or even just praise in my heart.
A LIFE made up of praise in every part.

I've met a few people whose whole life appears to be a praise song to their Maker.
They just live different than the rest of us fretting, whining people.

My Jesus deserves that from my life.

My rest-of-2011-resolution? To sing this song pretty much every day, and to live it every day.

That's why I leave the book open to hymn #42 in the kitchen window nearly every day.

Will you join me? :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The God of Hope

It was a warm summer day as I was driving across the Midwest. It was just going to be a short trip for some continuing education at a conference. Instead it had become a painful reminder of what wasn't. I drove past places that all haunted me with what could have been.

And I remembered what I almost had, only to have it gone.

Sometimes it takes seeing what you could have to make you realize what you don't have and just how much you want it. Such had been the case in what I had lost.

As I drove along I-70, self-pity threatened to engulf my little car.

Earlier that week, I had cancelled most of my long-awaited summer plans at the last minute because of a family crisis. Cancelling them wasn't that bad, but it just confirmed to me that hoping and planning for anything I wanted was a bad idea.

Then, there had been something else that I hoped would work out. And clearly, even today, I could see that it wasn't going to. It seemed that I had everything that I really didn't care about and none of the things that I wanted the most. I might as well bury that fading dream, too, and move on with my life... and not be so hopeful. Yes, hope. That was my problem. I hoped too much for things that I wasn't in charge of. I should know better by now - so often life didn't turn out as I would have hoped.

A few tears threatened to spill out and I stared hard into the cornfields. Sometimes it was easier to pretend I didn't care about these disappointments. But I really did care. A whole lot.

Maybe, I reasoned to myself, I should just plan for nothing. I'll be pleasantly surprised if anything happens the way I wish it would.

And then that still, small Voice spoke: "But I'm the God of Hope. Remember?" (Romans 15:13)
"Why do you discount and throw away hope when that is My very essence and character? I AM Hope!"

I gripped the steering wheel, glad I was all alone for hours more so I could have this conversation with God by myself. "B-But, I've tried hope. Hope makes me miserable. I don't want to hope anymore... I want to just live in reality - that life is hard and unfair, that the people and things that I love the most get crushed and torn apart, wrenched from my hands and heart. If I just plan for that, I won't get so disappointed. It's much less painful to live that way."

Case in point - this most recent disappointment. I had hoped that perhaps it was God doing something that I'd been waiting on and praying about for such a very long time. And then this... just nothingness. He wasn't doing something with that after all. Why did I think He was?

My gentle Lord continued probing. "Mary, you choose to believe a lie when you act like I'm not going to be good to you in this. You choose to believe a lie when you act as though you will reap sorrow when you sow good things. Do you not believe me when I say that those who sow to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap LIFE everlasting? (Galatians 6:8) The Life that I give is an abundant one, not a dreary existence. Was it not obedience to ME that led you to say 'no' to what you wanted most?"



"It's not that I don't believe that You're good, God. You're just not necessarily going to give me all these things that I want so much in life. You are more than good if all you give me is Yourself and heaven. I'm going to lower my expectations and be happy with that."


I knew that Voice ~ God knocking on the door of my weary heart.


"Mary, I'm the God of HOPE! Not the God of frequent disappointment, as you're making Me out to be! To think anything less of Me is wrong. Why are you making a resolution to live as though I will disappoint you?"

I felt so rebuked... slapped almost. Why had I been believing such things about God?



The God of all hope... what does that mean in real naked truth?

First of all, Hope is not synonymous with demanding my own way or thinking that the sea will part before me just because I desperately want it to.

Hope is inconvenient, very much so. It makes the hard things in life that much more painful, because often I had expected different. It can search my heart and motives to the very bottom.

I don't usually ask for hope, and often I don't actually want it.
What I really want is for the desire to go away, or be granted.

As much as we find ourselves praying for what we want, sometimes God doesn't restore broken dreams, regardless of how right they may be. Sometimes He leaves them lying smashed all over the ground.

Sometimes the wayward children never come home and mothers receive phone calls that they died in a fight outside a bar last night. Sometimes lonely ex-spouses pass away having never reconciled with the one who left. And sometimes cancer and disease creep over the body and people grow weaker and weaker til they're gone. Sometimes strong young boys lose their limbs and eyes and sanity in accidents and war and come home as broken men. Sometimes little girls get molested for years behind closed doors and no one ever hears their pleading, silent cries for help. Sometimes babies die, even after years and years of waiting for them. Sometimes the fiance who broke up never changes their mind and "comes around."
Hoping doesn't mean that I believe that God will never take something from me that I love dearly. Or that a God who loves me will never let my heart and my little world be broken. Or that He won't let everything I've spent my life working on swirl down the drain before my eyes.

So, then, in a disappointing and broken world... what is hope?

Hope is a steadfast confidence in the nature of God to do me good -- from creation, to Calvary and all the way into eternity to come. Hope is believing what I cannot see, simply because I know God. Hoping is walking on in the dark, because Jesus is there. Hope is about not quitting when all seems lost, because I know that God is greater than all of these things.

The Psalmist said it well when he made that little, but powerful statement: "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him..."

Hope in what? GOD.

And so I choose to continue to hope, to put my heart on the line, to be vulnerable and to trust that regardless of what I want, what I get will be good, because I'm staking my heart on GOD. God Himself will never disappoint me. A glimpse of God is enough to fill my soul and heal my heart.

Hope allows me to smile as I drive down I-70 and stare into the cornfields, even though all is not right in my little world.

Hope in my heart shouts to the pondering world that my God deserves to be trusted!

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why are thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God....
For I shall yet praise Him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 42:5,11