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Thursday, May 29, 2014

If you'd like to try some great bread......

I love bread.  I.Love.Bread.  And, apparently bread loves me even more because it chooses to stick around on my hips after I've been eating a bunch.

I know a lot of diet-ers think bread is evil.  I don't.  I mean, really, would Jesus have described Himself as "The Bread of Life" if we were supposed to do without it???

That said, I do have to be carb-conscious.  Not carb-eliminating, like I tried for awhile.  ugh.  Not a good thing. I'll spare you the details.  Just know it didn't work for me.  At all.  But carb-conscious, or low-glycemic is proving to be a good approach for me.  Disclaimer - I am not a nutritionist or a physician or anything close.  But I am trying to age gracefully and relatively healthfully and ward off Type II diabetes.  So I'm careful on the carbs.

That said, I do not want to do without bread!!!  And I don't think I should - not just because I don't want to :) but because I think bread can add to health and happiness.  SO, I want to share a bread recipe - it's easy-peasy I promise -- that I love.   It feels so cool to bake bread and then eat the whole thing, I mean, serve it to your family!

Check out this link and let me know if you love it as much as I do!  Again, I promise, this thing is EASY.  (there are references in there to an approach of eating called "Trim Healthy Mama" - it's very interesting, too, but the main thing I am sharing is this bread!!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hi, Y'all!

For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Psalm 84:10

I got to be a "greeter" at my church on Easter.  I think that's the absolute greatest job ever.  I mean, think about it - I am told it is my duty to smile and wave, to hug folks, to meet new ones and help them find their place, to chat it up with friends. For real!!  I was only "assigned" to one session but I had so much fun I just kept doing it through the next two services.  It was fabulous.  Even got a new Tshirt for the job.  Maybe somebody thinks this is a "little" thing, but, not me.  I think it's the 2nd  most important job at church. Just after nursery workers.  Loving on folks, making them feel welcome, being glad that they came. It's the best.

As I was grinning my way through the day, I thought about this verse and wondered if maybe, just maybe, I'll get this assignment in glory.  I would really really really love to stand at that gate made of one gigantic pearl and hug everybody as they come in.  Don't you think that would be fun? 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Twelve tips for the graduates

A bunch of kids have been or will be walking across stages, shaking a hand, and grasping a sheepskin these days. From wide-eyed kindergarteners to bleary-eyed PhD's, there'll be some tears, some sighs, and some amazement - at what's passed...and what's ahead. Lots of picture and hugs.  Lots of parties and wishes.  These are happy times.  Times to celebrate and reflect and launch from. And some scary times, too -- there's a lot of unknown out there.
 I wish I could gather them all together for a chat.  I'd like to applaud them and brag on them - from the Magna Cum Laude's to the "Aw Lawdy's" - congrats.  These are indeed momentous accomplishments and the world should absolutely stop for a moment and offer a pat on the back.  No matter the rank at the end, just crossing that finish line is noteworthy.  Way to go, way to go.

If I really could have all their attention for a few minutes, I'd sure 'nuf brag on them and tell them I'm proud and clap and cheer awfully loud.  But I think I'd like to add some thoughts, if I could.  Things I think they need to embrace as they head to the next rung on their ladder.  Some things I'm very thankful somebody made sure I knew....and some things I wish I'd known.

Here goes:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

To all the Mommies

If you are a Mom - of three weeks or three decades - you have to see the new movie "Mom's Night Out".  I am not a big movie goer but this one is an absolute must.

Grab a couple of girlfriends - or just go by yourself!!  You will split your sides laughing and bawl your eyes out crying.  It will deliver comedy, encouragement, confidence, and a renewed sense of purpose. 

GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When you fall....

In a recent conversation with a close friend, we were grieving over several families dear to us that have been in or are still in painful situations.  Most of these involved things with their children but others were marital or individual issues.  As we teared up over their various heartaches, we marveled at how every one of these friends is hanging in there.  Despite mistakes and failures, they haven't given up.

This verse came to mind -
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
    but the wicked stumble in times of calamity

Proverbs 24:16

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When God's plans are different than ours - Guest post

Today's guest post is from a treasured friend of mine, a woman whom I saw walk through years of infertility.  Years filled with hope and disappointment, years of pain and promise, years where she could have turned bitter but she didn't.  This woman graciously agreed to share her story for God's glory.  I wish you could sit across the table from her and share a cup of coffee.  She is so dear to me, and to many others.  She's my hero.  Here's her story......

Several weeks ago, my sweet friend asked me to write a blog about my struggle with infertility.  Honestly, this has been challenging for me and it’s probably not for reasons you may think.  I am happy to share my story with others when Jesus leads me to share.  My struggle is that I simply can’t remember all the details.  God has truly erased so much of the details from my memory.  Perhaps it’s the exact thing that happens with women who forget the pains associated with childbirth.  Here’s what I do feel led to share and my prayer is that my story will reach the hearts of those who are currently struggling with infertility. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Please join me

Please join me in praying for those kidnapped young girls in Nigeria.  Please pray.  Fervently.  We serve a mighty God and I know with all my heart that He does not want them to remain enslaved.  Please pray until they are returned.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Waging the war....successfully

I promised a follow up to the "war is a good sign" post.  Here goes.

Indeed, the presence of a struggle between flesh and spirit means that the Spirit is alive in you but the point is not to abide in the struggle....the point is to win.

You may be saying "yes!  I want to win!  But I've tried and tried and tried and ______ is still a problem in my life.  I still lose my temper, I still battle obesity/pornography/alcohol, I still am jealous of others, I still......... whatever....I keep losing."
The struggle - between my flesh ("self") and the Spirit.
   When my flesh is in control, it convinces me that I am owed certain things (like comfort, security, significance, pleasure) and when those things are not delivered as I expect, products like worry and anger and jealousy and impurity and strife are produced.  John Piper calls these "works of the flesh" - " emotional attempts to settle accounts because we didn't get what we thought we deserved".  My flesh is awfully convinced that I merit far more than is actually true, and often, more than I am getting.

The Spirit, on the other hand, produces life.  Galatians 5:22,23 describes the results of a life dominated by the Spirit instead of the flesh: " love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control"

Duh, I choose "Spirit".  How bout you?

I want to, I really do.  And I'll bet you do, too.

How can we?

Friday, May 16, 2014

The problem with parenting....and all other challenges

One of my most fav readers commented to me after the last post(advice from a couple of pros - see below)  that the actual tasks of caring for small children might not be hard in themselves, but dying to yourself is.  

That woman is spot on, I think.  Very wise.

Her insight led me to today's post -

What makes parenting (at any stage) difficult? Why does it feel like a war with the ones we love the most?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Advice from a couple of pros

I was enjoying my conversation with this "seasoned" Mom/grandmother. She's raised a bunch of kids to adulthood and is now enjoying a crew of grandkids. Now that I fit in both categories, I figured we'd share some insights.  Launching into the "Moms of young kids have it tough-those early stages are so hard-my heart goes out to them" spiel, I waited for her to share the sympathy I was extending as tribute to all the Moms of little ones that I get to do life with. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Guest post - meet Kaitlin

If any of you are discouraged by the college kids and 20 somethings that surround you, I have good news for you.  There are some exemplary young adults out there and I happen to know a bunch of 'em.  I get to hang out with several from time to time and I am in awe of their maturity, their intellect, their zest for life, their depth, and their walks with the Lord.  I asked one of these "kids" to write a post for me.  Be prepared to be blown away....Meet Kaitlin....

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How do you do it all?

I heard it again yesterday and at least 3 times before within a week.  Curious women asking, with perhaps a trace of angst in their voices and defeat on their faces, "How in the world do you manage to do it all?"

So, in case you are wondering, I am going to answer that question for my blog friends.  Same as I answered them.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What is a Mother?

A Mother is the heart in which God conceives a child, regardless of the womb that carries it.  The dream, the love, the child.  The child to be protected and fed and comforted and guided, no matter the age, by a Mother's love.

Often, the title "Mom" is bestowed on the one who birthed or raised you but sometimes, it's for the one who nurtured you spiritually.  Might be one and the same, might not.  Both apply.

When God made man and woman, He said He made them both in His own image. That means that God has "mommy traits", not only "Father" ones.  The tender, gentle, comforting love of a Mom is a mirror of God.  So is the fierce, self-sacrificing, determined protection.  And the ability to see the potential for good, the possibility of greatness, the promise of God in us.

On this Mother's Day, I pay tribute to all Moms everywhere, to the calling of Motherhood itself.  The highest and most sacred of all works - being a Mom. And probably the hardest.  The pain of labor and delivery.  The physical exhaustion that newborns impart.  The depletion of patience and order and brain cells (Mom's!) that occurs in  the toddler stage. The heartache of a disappointed child that is exponentially experienced in the Mother. The fears of the "what if's" in the teenage years. The demands of multiple children and different phases might cause an observer to question if it's all worth it.  Especially when the realization dawns that being a Mother is forever.  This is a job that's never completed.

Yes, I would advocate that this is the hardest job in the universe.  It takes its toll on one's body and mind and especially one's heart.  Certainly there can be "no pain like parent pain". But I believe with all my soul that there is no joy like that of a Mom.

Unequalled.  Indescribable.  Worth everything.  And then some more.

Knowing that baby 9 months before anyone else but God.  Sharing space more intimately than any other human...sustaining life.  Experiencing a corner of God's unconditional love for us when that newborn is placed in our arms - deep affection and steadfast love for someone who has done absolutely nothing to merit it.  This tenacious bond changes Mom and child forever.

The years reinforce that bond with each new word spoken, every new skill taught.  The light in the child's eyes when Mommy walks in the room, the clinging arms around her neck pleading against even momentary separation.  The intimate understanding of what each sound means...even the silent ones. 

The bond strengthens.  With every hug and a thousand bedtime kisses and countless bandaids on boo-boos.  And not in spite of but because of the messes cleaned up, the fevers survived, and the tantrums endured.

The bond intensifies.  The dandelion bouquets. The handmade cards and refrigerator pictures.   The pride in feats accomplished. The traffic tickets.  That first crush.  The burden carried to ease the pain of the invitation that didn't come or the race lost or the betrayal by someone dear. Flowers from a florist - and without a reminder from Dad.

And the bond grows so substantial that you think severing it will destroy you.

But, you watch in amazement at the metamorphosis. Without this adaptation, surely you would die.

This connection that binds you inextricably to this child changes miraculously to allow detachment, parting, growing up.  The unyielding links that years of sustaining and training and loving have forged morph into a taut bow that sends its arrows into the world to make their mark....

But that bond never breaks.  Never ever ever.

Happy Mother's Day, my friends.  Forever.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Project

Many months ago, I found myself down in the dumps.  In sort of a spiritual desert.  I kept most of my feelings to myself but inside, I felt sad. And discontented.  Actually a bit numb.  And it seemed like I was just going through the motions instead of embracing life. I didn't even feel connected to my Heavenly Father.   I wanted to regain authentic joy and the zest for life I was accustomed to.  But my normal little "pick me ups" didn't deliver.

Waiting til I "felt" like serving and loving wasn't an option.  The demands of my life are the same for  most of you - we have to keep on keeping on in spite of what our emotions register.  So I kept on.  But I wanted it to be more.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

At the root of it all...

At the end of our driveway, grew some crepe myrtles.  Beautiful bushes.  Deep pink blooms through the summer and brilliant color all fall.  Gorgeous.  Really.

But they grew too large for that spot and, well, it was time for a change.  So we (I use the royal "we" was totally my husband!) cut them down, and dug up the roots.  On to the new landscape plan.  Except that those gorgeous crepe myrtles didn't want to leave us.  After we thought we had removed them, they grew back.  We dug up some more and, just to be on the safe side, got a professional tree cutter to dig them out for good.

Or so we thought. 

The following spring, those stubborn crepe myrtles reappeared. Ruining my planting plans at the end of the driveway.  Not gorgeous.  Tacky.

Try as we might, we couldn't seem to rid ourselves of those plants.  They had obviously established for themselves a vast root system.  We could chop off what we could see and even dig out til we thought we had it all, but those persistent roots kept producing fruit.  Fruit that we no longer wanted.


Driving past them today, I had a thought about another obstinate root that all too often grows in the lives of God's people.  Willful and ornery.  And, unlike those crepe myrtles, these roots produce no beauty.  Anywhere.