Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Touches of Spring

It's been slow coming, but spring is arriving in our city. I'm a country girl, through and through, but God has placed me in the city for now. My bones ache to be out in the countryside, running barefoot in the grass and picking wildflowers. Lately, though, I've been thinking about finding joy in the little things, and being thankful for everything. So I've decided to capture spring on camera wherever I can find it in little splashes and be thankful for them. It's amazing how a leafing bush suddenly becomes beautiful even when it's stuck next to a brick wall in an asphalt parking lot. Or how that tiny maple seed sprout poking up bravely from a crack in the wall amazes you. God's creation is beautiful and when we choose to be thankful for what he gives us, it's like our eyes are opened to see just how beautiful.

Then, seeing spring through the little eyes of my son and of those children I care for at our home brings new delight, as well. Everything is a wonder. Just walking outside brings smiles and giggles. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Burnt Apples

This morning, as I sit with my Bible and journal, I smell burnt apples that were supposed to become delicious applesauce, see the bitter cold April morning through the window, with snow flurries coming down, having just put my cranky son to bed, and I think, "There's so much of life that's not 'as it should be.'"

We hope and plan every day for a good day that we can smile on in our memory as we live our good lives. We like things to be under control. We are comfortable with our steaming mugs of coffee and our laptops open. The routine of our daily lives brings a sense of peace and stability.

And then a tragedy like the one in Boston happens. Bombs explode, shattering the peaceful routine of so many lives. 3 people killed, and so many who have lost limbs. So many whose lives will never be the same.

What I heard this morning may have broken my heart more than the stories of the bombing victims, however. And that is the story of a 19-year-old boy on the run, being hunted down in Boston. His older brother died in the night after a gunfight with law enforcement officers. These brothers seemed like decent, normal guys to everyone who knew them, even their families. And yet what was going on in their hearts that moved them to want to hurt so many people? That darkness breaks my heart.

I was reading in Psalms this morning. Speaking of the God of history, and all he has done - when he has intervened and what he has allowed - the poet wrote,
"It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever."

It's just a simple thought in my head, but this God is so good. People will ask, "How can a good God allow such evil to happen?" But I ask, "How can a holy God intervene with such goodness in a world full of darkness?" Why does he even mess with us? He is so far above evil intentions of bombers or cold-hearted media reporting or grumbling about the weather or crabby babies and irritated mommas. We are all so weak. We try so hard to be good, to do the right thing, and to look nice. But he is goodness. He is holiness. He is purity and perfection and righteousness.

In his love, he reaches down to us in our "low estate." We are not what we think we are. But oh, how he loves us! He loves Dzhokhar Tsarnaev just as he loves my little Charles. He could stay so far above this world that he never needed to feel anything. But his heart breaks at our lostness. And his steadfast, enduring, faithful love endures forever. And so he not only felt something, but he himself came to rescue us. He got his hands dirty in the most intimate sense. When Jesus died on the cross, he was taking the blame for the Tsarnaev brothers' bombing, and for my grumbling heart and my baby's demanding and all of the other darkness in the world. As if he were to blame! As if he, whose heart radiates faithful goodness to even those who hate him, could ever be to blame for the sadness and weariness of loss and heartache. He did that because he loves us.

I'm praying this morning as I do my housework and play with my baby. My heart breaks. May my life be a beacon of hope, as one who has been redeemed, sharing the light and the hope of my God, my redeemer, with the world.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Monster Cookies

So I promised one of the boys I care for in our home that we could have monster cookies soon. Today I fulfilled that promise. I looked up the recipe online and found this one on a blog:
Sally's Baking Addiction

I quickly made changes and started realizing that my recipe was actually entirely different. Just wanted to give the tiniest piece of credit to this blogger that she was due.

These more nutritious cookies are scrumptious. We are quickly devouring them. I had thought that there would be enough to take to our neighbors, but I was wrong. I guess batch #2 will be upcoming. :)

My Monster Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup flaxseed flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and honey together. Blend in egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in add-ins. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

The amazing thing about making healthier choices is that you can learn how to use better ingredients and then still enjoy your old standard recipes but know that you are doing less harm to your body. The way your body processes white sugar and flour hurts you. Whereas honey and dark brown sugar are not the ultimate best, they’re still better choices, and these ARE cookies we’re talking about here. :) I have found that Wal-mart carries a whole wheat flour from Prairie Gold that is GMO-free, so I only buy that now. In the original monster cookies you would find whole oats, but my husband isn’t a fan of the oatmeal texture, so I grind old-fashioned oats in my food processor and use oat flour as a substitute for part of the wheat in almost everything I bake (*note* Oat flour makes baked goods slightly more crumbly). Adding the flaxseed flour gives extra nutrients. We don’t take Omega supplements so I like to make sure we have some Omega-rich foods in our diet. I add flaxseed flour to most of my baking as well.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If you fear Him...Trust Him

In my mind, if you are a follower of God, you just ought to trust him. I mean, what's so complicated about that, right? It should be natural, if you believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good, to believe that he will always do what is right and you can always trust him.

So why is it so hard? I fail, time and time again, to believe that he has my best interest in his heart and that what he does is good for me.

What does it mean to fear God? There is so much that goes into this word. There is the trembling recognition that he is all-powerful and I'm like a branch in a tornado before him and he could snap me at any moment. Then then overwhelming sense of gratitude that although he is all and has all, he made himself nothing for me to die in my place on the cross when I was still his enemy. Also, there is the tingling delight with the realization that he rose from the dead and proved that nothing is beyond his ability to conquer and I am alive with that same power within me.

God is....GOD. I love his name. "I am who I am." No need for excuses or explanation. "I'm ME," in essence.

It's almost laughable when we think of how our names are just a tag, truthfully, in comparison with God's name. "I'm Elizabeth," I say when you meet me, but there is so much more you need to know about me before you would trust me or respect me or love me. You'd never trust me just because my name is Elizabeth. But God's name describes his very entity. "I AM." We can trust him based even just on his name. He is, he created, he controls. HE IS GOD.

We have lost so much reverence today. Our own opinions are king, to the point that were we actually on thrones, we would probably behead certain people because they have different ideas from us - even about simple things, like eating habits or social laws. So, sadly, we have such little respect for God. So little fear. It strikes me that I should be on my knees, asking God to show me more of who he is, to stir up my heart to fear him more.

And yet, if I didn't fear him at all, I would not be a follower of Christ. Even if lacking, there is fear in my heart. I do bow before him as my Lord. He is my creator and I do stand in awe of him.

Psalm 115:11 says:
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!

It's not a given that because we fear him and follow him, we trust him. This applies universally to all humanity. We are weak and in our pride, it just looks so much more comforting to trust in ourselves. But I DO fear the Lord! And I should TRUST in him! 

His faithful love endures forever. And that doesn't just mean it starts when I die and keeps going. In reality, his faithful love exists here with me, today. In the quiet moments before I slip out of bed, in the chaotic morning hours when I run from one thing to the next, in the dinner preparations and the washing of the dishes, in the noise and the silence, his faithful love follows me. 

My trust belongs in him. Because he is God. Because he is "I am." I fear him...I can trust him.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


This morning as we dropped off a box of books, I took my son out to play on the playground at my alma mater. It was his first real playground experience and did he ever love it! He giggled with glee as he climbed up the plastic stairs and positively shrieked when he discovered the swinging bridge. He would flop down on his tummy and slide down to the middle of the bridge. It made me laugh.

We went down the slide together and sat at the bottom for a moment, sunshine on our faces. 3 years ago I didn't even know I was going to marry his daddy, but we used to walk on the sidewalk around the school and down the road, talking as friends. 2 years ago I was graduating and getting ready for our wedding. Last year Nate was graduating and Charlie was a few weeks old. Now he's sliding down the slide by himself.

God used Emmaus in my life in so many good ways. I changed so much. Grew by leaps and bounds. I was broken and poured out there, and then reshaped and remade alive. And God brought my husband to me there. I was remembering all the long years of singleness and how hard it was to wait for a man to love. And now I have a wonderful little home with my man, and we have a little man, too.

This week I have been thinking about thankfulness. It is so easy to be consumed by daily life and to allow the world's views and attitudes wrap around our souls. Lately I discovered I was becoming an entitlest. Yes, I made that word up. I was starting to feel like I was entitled to certain rights, particularly desires and expectations I have that I expect to be met. But freedom is not in getting what I want all the time. Freedom is in a thankful spirit.

I'm not entitled to anything! God gives to me out of the abundance of his grace and mercy! So every time I choose to be thankful instead of being disgruntled, or anxious, or angry about what I "lack," I experience release and joy. 

So in that moment we sat at the bottom of the slide together, I thanked God. For the sunshine. For Charlie. For Nate. For all the good God has given me. His gifts are so precious. He is so good.

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.