Cooking, Eating & Perspective

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I love to cook.  I love to eat.  And I love to do these things with my family and friends, so getting a diagnosis that, while treatable and somewhat temporary, has messed with the way I like to cook and to gather with those I love.  Especially through the holidays, it was hard.

Needless to say, all the fun recipes I was planning to cook and share around my table and here on the blog have not happened.  But what has happened in this beginning phase of my journey is that I’ve learned a few things.

  1. I am so blessed by the many foods that I can eat.  My list is short right now, but for so many they are struggling just to find something to eat and God has given me a greater awareness for those who are limited not by a list but by circumstances.
  2. Even a struggle like this one can draw me closer to God.  When discouragement hits, I can turn to Him for my strength and a perspective change.
  3. My friends and family want me to succeed at this and to heal.  They are in my corner and are so encouraging to me on this journey.
  4. It’s not really about what’s ON the table as much as it is about who’s around the table.  The fellowship is just as sweet with a gluten free bread as it is with the with full gluten version!

So this morning I baked the gluten free banana bread I pictured above to serve to my bible study girls this afternoon and ya know it’s not too bad!  So maybe I’ll have some recipes to share here after all… here’s to a new year with less worry about what is ON the table and focusing instead on whose AROUND our tables!

Happy New Year!

A Snowy New Year

It’s a new day, a new year and yesterday I woke up to most wonderful blanket of new snow.  What an amazing way to start the new year, so I bundled up and out the door I went for a prayer walk.  I used to do these more often and I need to get back to it.

There is something peaceful about taking a walk in fresh snow.  There is a different kind of silence, everything seems to be still and you can hear the scrunch (you know the sound, between a crunch and a squeak) of the snow beneath your boots.  It never fails, but that the song “White as Snow” starts playing in my mind as I walk.  It’s as if God Himself is saying “See?  I have come and covered your ugly parts and made you new.”

This I want to take with me each day of the new year.  Not what I can or should be doing, but the simple act of seeing and remembering what God has done.  I want to get back to the simplicity of living my life each moment and not striving for more.  More in business, more in ministry, more in entertainment… no “more”.

I believe God has been preparing me for this new year and, more than the last several years, I feel a sense of hope and of peace.  I’m excited to sit back, learn to add margin in my life so that I can see what God will do in me and around me, and who He will bring to my table of community.

As we begin this new year, what is it that you are excited for?

 

2017 Resolution

2017 is coming with all it’s hopes and possibilities.  It’s easy to get all caught up in the discussion on resolutions.  Should I make them or not, and if I do what should they be?  Each year I land in a different place on it, but because I am a planner by nature, I’m always drawn to the idea of planning for all the possibilities of what is to come.

As the day to turn the calendar inches closer by the minute, I am overwhelmed by articles that talk of making resolutions and plans, not just for 2017 but also for 2018 – REALLY?  It makes me stop and wonder if possibly I could be so focused on planning for my future that I’m of no use to God right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe planning and goal setting is a good thing.   I find as much enjoyment in the planning and anticipation of a thing as I do in the thing itself.   But do I focus so much on future planning that I don’t slow down enough to actually enjoy the moment.  The here and now of what God is doing, even in the midst of all the planning.

As a dear friend reminded me just this morning, “we take the baggage of 2016 with us into 2017 – it doesn’t magically disappear when the calendar changes”.  I must make the choice to leave the disappointments, hard things and even my planning at the foot of the cross and look ahead to what God is doing, not just what He may do down the road.  Because He is here with me now  and he’s already in the future with what will be, I can relax and trust Him to direct the steps of not just my planning, but my life.

So as I make my plans for 2017, I resolve to hold them loosely so that God has room to work in the moment as He wills, not as I plan.   To focus on Jesus, and in whatever I am doing, seek to honor Him.

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Joy To The World!

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy this week, which is I guess appropriate for this final week of advent.  It’s a happy word, isn’t it?  And while joy can describe my feelings of the moment, often I feel it and know it deep down inside, I don’t there are times that I don’t feel it in relation to my circumstances.  Most often, I must choose joy.

For some, joy seems to come and go with circumstances and feelings; Feelings of acceptance, love and the need for approval by others.  But if I look for the source of my joy in other people, they let me down, if I look for joy in a hobby or activity, that can often be temporary – only when I look to Jesus as the source of my joy will the disappointments that I have in relationships, financial setbacks, health issues allow me to choose joy.  Not because it’s a feeling, but because it’s a person – Jesus.

Jesus IS joy.  He’s the joy that the angel announced in Luke when he said…

“But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.”

This season we celebrate the joy of the first advent of Jesus – He came to us as a baby.  But the joy we enjoy the rest of the year is that He is with us now and is coming again.  We need not fear or let our joy go when circumstances are less than happy because Jesus – our joy – is with us even in the midst of our everyday lives.

May the Joy of Christmas be your comfort today and in the coming year.

Peace on Earth

“Peace on earth, good will towards men…”  A passage from the gospel of Luke, and if you are like me, you will always hear it in your head as Linus from Peanuts regardless of who’s really reading it.   Linus is my favorite.  This quiet young boy brings this amazing truth down to such a simple message straight from scripture in the middle of all the busyness this season brings.  It makes us quiet, thoughtful – peaceful.

I often struggle with the concept of peace, perfect peace in the midst of (insert stress of the moment here) and I wonder how to connect the dots of the truth in my head to the feelings that I keep bottled up inside that are bubbling up wanting to spill over.

The dictionary defines peace as having no war or fighting between nations, no arguing or strife in relationships, “a state of tranquility or serenity” within ourselves.  No wonder peace can seem so elusive if we are simply looking to find a state of serenity within ourselves!  As I look to the Word of God, I’m struck by how different the meanings become.

Throughout scripture, we see that true peace comes only from God the Father through His Son, Jesus.  Ephesians 2:13 – 14 tells us that Jesus brought us near to God through His blood – He not only brings us peace, but He IS our peace.

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

We are striving for peace in the world every single day –some of us want peace at any cost so that everything looks and feels perfect here on earth, but the peace that Jesus brings, allows us “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7), in the MIDST of all the turmoil and chaos around us.

In this time of waiting, of advent, for both this Christmas and the coming Day of the Lord, we can have peace that passes all understanding but we must look to God alone for this true peace.  I pray as I move forward into this season and the new year, my focus will be on the One who brings that perfect peace and on the practice of  looking to Him when the stress and hardships come, so that I can both experience, and extend to others this wonderful, mysterious, accessible peace with God.

How are you experiencing His peace today?

The Hope of Christmas

This is a re-post of something from last year, but still just as true.  I hope you enjoy!

I love a good sappy Hallmark movie where, at Christmas time, everyone falls in love, family rifts are repaired, and the “magic” of Christmas ALWAYS brings snow.  But let’s face it, for most of us life isn’t wrapped up in such a wonderful 2 hour bow.  We don’t find love, family tensions remain and our snow is usually in liquid form as we sit by the tree and sing “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”.  Things more often seem hopeless than hopeful in the midst of everyone else’s most wonderful time of the year.

As I reflect on the first week of advent, I’m reminded that there IS hope in this season – a hope that is holy, not magic.  A hope that is not to be found in a kiss or reuniting with a family member, and although those would be wonderful, this hope is only found in Jesus.  A holy anticipation of the coming of Jesus – nothing more.  A time for remembering the first advent, looking forward to the second, but living with Him in the now.

So as we begin the hustle and bustle of the season, I pray that we will slow down enough to connect with the One who brings true hope and, in return, extend that precious gift to those who need more than simply a “magical” Christmas season this year.  Who do we know that is going through a divorce they didn’t ask for – or want, who might be silently struggling in the loneliness of being far from family, or has said goodbye to a loved one?  Is there someone who has lost their job that is struggling just to make it through the season?  Show them Jesus.  As we go about looking for our “Christmas Magic”, let’s not look past those who are homeless and in the cold, not just for this season, but for the unforeseen future.  Show them Jesus.

“God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Colossians 1:2

A Little Fall Treat

Whenever I host something, I like to do it up “right” with the food.  Something special for my guests but this week I didn’t have much time or energy when my night to host prayer group came around.

These ladies rock!  We meet every other week, share our lives, the Word and as well as a treat. It’s not really about the food, but as I said, I like doing that part and this all time favorite ended up as the perfect solution.  A juicy Honey-crisp apple and some caramel dip.  I love the whole homemade thing, but this was a pre-made, just heat it up option and it’s so good!  Those who don’t do sugar could even partake!

 

Next time you are hosting and need a quick treat, try this I think you’ll really like it!

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Words

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Words hold so much power.  Once they are spoken, heard or read, they cannot be unspoken, unheard or unread.  They are there, lingering in the mind and heart of whoever hears them.

In Colossians 3:16 (NIV) we are reminded “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”  But how can I let His words dwell with me if I don’t make a priority to know his word?  How can I use my words wisely as I share with others, or love them fully as Jesus did/does if I don’t spend time alone with Him in prayer and in His word?

I have been both a hearer of harshness and untruth, and if I’m truly honest with myself – and you – I know I’ve been on the speaker end of that too.  I can be careless with my words, with my opinion and it can be hurtful, not just to other people, but to the work that Jesus has called us to here on earth.  It is my prayer today that I be more careful with my words, and that they flow from a heart that is centered with Christ and His words.

It all starts with knowing His words – the words that hold true power to heal, to comfort and to save.  Those are the words I want to give.  But I can only do this when I spend time with Him prayerfully in His word.  Will you join me in setting aside – even just a small portion of each day – to seeking to know His word better so that we may know truth, speak more carefully and build up those He brings into our life?

What about you?  How do you connect with God and His word?  Let’s encourage one another with the words that really matter!

 

New Bible Study

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Every so often I am privileged to be able to volunteer to help promote a new bible study by Lifeway.  One of my very favorite bible study teachers is Kelly Minter and I’m thrilled to be able to help build the excitement for this one.

This one will be available on November 1st, but if you can’t wait for that, I highly recommend any of her studies.   I’ve been in study groups that have done Nehemiah, What Love Is, Ruth and No Other Gods and each time I learn much and my faith grows.  Did I mention I love her studies?

For those that share my bible study table… get ready cuz this one is definitely going on the “let’s do this one” list!