Christian Walk

Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect…”

“His way is perfect.” I cannot begin to comprehend this statement made by the Psalmist. While I’m doing all the things that take up my time and attention the Creator of the universe is in control of the big picture. I wish I could continually have the big picture at the front of my mind instead of getting so focused on the little things that often feel like huge things in my life.

I recently finished The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It was my second time to read this profound book. In the midst of my own struggles the last few weeks, I was reading a book about a woman who put her own life in danger to save those in need. She went through horrors I cannot fully imagine and overcame obstacles I will never have to face. In one moment I found myself grumbling about something, now insignificant, and in the next I was reading about Corrie and her sister praising God for fleas in their living quarters and the one piece of bread they were each issued daily.

What impresses me continually about Corrie and her sister Betsie is their faith and trust in God. His word was a lifeline to them. Jesus’ life was their blueprint for their own lives. Their hardest circumstances were a catalyst for them to fall in love with their Savior in a new way.

In the moments of frustration, discomfort, pain, waiting, and worrying trusting God is not easy.

I was encouraged my Corrie Ten Boom’s words… (quotes from The Hiding Place” coupled with my thoughts)

“In darkness God’s truth shines most clear.” From the woman who experienced true darkness and evil.

“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Oh that I would remember what God has done for me and see His hand in my life!

“Dear Jesus…how foolish of me to have called for human help when You are here.” How can I think to go to a single human being before calling on the name of Jesus? Like the children of Israel in Exodus, I forget how God has taken care of me in the past so I am quick to vent to family or friends, complain, or run to someone I trust for help.

“If God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them. That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know – to tell us that this too is in His hands.” How I pray that I would have this perspective. To have peace just knowing that my Father knows about the circumstances I go through before I do.

I recently listened to Psalm 18 through my Bible app and it spoke to me now, in the circumstances I am going through, but my thoughts turned to Corrie.

My imagination paints a picture of Corrie, Betsie, and a group of women crowded together in a flea ridden building, hungry for God’s word. In the concentration camp their only hope is contained in the tiny Bible Corrie reads from. I imagine tears running down emaciated cheeks as they connect to the words like they never have before. Prayers are being whispered throughout the room. Hearts aching for God to hear them.

Psalm 18: 1-6

“I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.

The cords of death entangled me;

the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;

the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice;

my cry came before him; into his ears.”

Psalm 18:27-30

“You save the humble

but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;

my God turns my darkness into light.

With your help I can advance

against a troop.

with my God I can scale a wall.

As for God, his way is perfect;

The Lord’s word is flawless;

he shields all who take refuge in him.”

“As for God, his way is perfect.” In the midst of the pain and suffering Corrie and Betsie went through He was there using them to share the gospel to the women around them. Who knows how many souls were saved because of these two faithful women.

“As for God, his way is perfect.” In the midst of the uncertainty, discomfort, frustration, waiting, and worrying He is here with me….and with you. He is working all these things for my good…and for your good. May we put our trust in Him alone and allow Him to use us to spread His truth in the darkness.

Please take time to read or listen to the rest of Psalm 18. Remember Corrie and her faith in the God whose “way is perfect.”

Christian Walk

Help Me Trust (An Update)

I never know how to start a blog post after I haven’t written in forever. Words are hard. When I try to come up with an interesting title and introduction my brain draws a blank. Can anyone else relate? Maybe blog posts should come with a warning.

Warning: this blog post won’t be eloquent or profound…it might be a little random and spacey. Grammatical errors guaranteed.

When I look around I see a lot of moms working a side business. They may create something with their hands, take care of additional children, deliver food, promote a product, or maybe even get up before sunrise to teach children English online (the list goes on).

I always thought I was a good multi-tasker until I found myself in the middle of a multi-level marketing company trying to adopt the new lifestyle it promoted while sharing my story, while sharing the products I was hoping would change my life….all while raising a toddler. I wanted to be like the fellow mother I’ve been observing who can take care of their family while bringing in am extra income. Extra income would change a lot for us….the products could change a lot for me personally…the business would give me an opportunity to use my talents and encourage others. Then one day I realized the stress was heavy and the distraction was a real. In less than a month I went from stepping out in faith and dreaming of a different future to closing up shop and learning to be content with where I am…again.

We all face our fears in different ways (at different times in our lives). Sometimes acting courageously may look like starting something new (that freaks you out), but you feel called to do. Other times being brave is surrendering a dream and pressing into the unknown.

When an opportunity comes up and you take time to sift through the pros and cons, pray and seek wise counsel, and you finally make the leap. It’s hard to understand the purpose of the experience when it ends up falling apart. I like to think I trust God a little more now than I did before.

Shortly after this small roller coaster another opportunity came up. Something that would allow me to teach a class without pulling me from being a stay at home mom. I asked all the questions and did some research. I got excited, but then we remembered COVID-19 and I decided it was wise to sit this year out to watch how the virus affects education from the sidelines.

What is the purpose of being shown an opportunity only to feel God telling you to turn it down? Once again I hope that I trust God more now than I did before the opportunity was put in front of me.

This morning I contemplated trusting God as I lay on a gurney having an ultrasound done of my thyroid. Two or three weeks ago a Nurse Practitioner I visited, for the first time, suggested blood work and the ultrasound after I listed off my symptoms and she felt on my neck.

It is strange to have someone hold a wand over your throat snapping images of your thyroid and not being able to tell you if they see something that could be wrong. The technician told me “don’t lose sleep” as I wait for the result. Three weeks after a blood test I still don’t have answers, hours after an ultrasound I still don’t know what is going on in my body. So I wait and ask God to help me trust Him and help me to take every thought captive so they don’t start spinning out of control.

Whole real foods. No gluten or grains, no sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, no caffeine, no soy or corn. This is what my new diet looks like. Since I have not found answers about why I am experiencing daily headaches, fatigue, hair loss, etc, I am changing my diet. It scares me. It takes me out of my comfort zone. Withdrawals from sugar may make me feel worse before it makes me feel better. But I want to feel better. I want a day without a headache. I want an afternoon with energy. I want to be healthy. So here I am eating scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast instead of muffins or oatmeal. I am eating bowls with tons of veggies and quinoa for lunch. I am not reaching for the leftover birthday cake that is on the counter mocking me. I really hope this discipline shows some results! I am asking God to help me consistent, patient, show perseverance, and trust Him through this process.

My daughter is 3. She turned 3 on Friday. She now sleeps in a toddler bed instead of a crib. She is playing more on her own instead of needing me to constantly entertain her. She is sitting at the dinner table in a booster seat instead of her highchair. Her face looks more girl than baby. I am happy and sad. I am asking God to help me trust Him while my daughter continues to grow “bigger and bigger and bigger”.

Help me trust you, God.

Christian Walk · Recipes

Things aren’t always what they seem…

July 4, 2020: Friday I posted a picture of a gluten free angel food cake I made. I received some likes and praises on my post. Some of my friends told me that it looked great or commented “yum!”

What they didn’t know is that when I went to cut the cake I found out I had under baked it. Paul Hollywood would have been quite disappointed.

As the day progressed I felt a lesson emerging.

How many times do we judge something or someone from outward appearance only to have the inside revealed to us and realize it is less than ideal?

I connected this thought with the times I have seen someone who looks like they have everything together, but then you find out they are really struggling. Their struggles could be anxiety, secret insecurities, infertility, gut issues, depression, marriage strife, job stress, or financial difficulties. Or in a lot of cases more than one!

Whatever the struggles, when you hear about them you are taken aback because you prejudged the person.

This cake was a great reminder for me not to judge someone on the outside, but to take time to observe and be there for that person. Because we all have hardships we go through at some point. We just need to be ready to help and encourage those around us.

Or in my case, be ready to help separate 11 more eggs for yet another angel food cake!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

July 5, 2020: Update on the cake! My second attempt at this gluten free angel cake was a success (see the end of this post for the recipe).

Baked the cake for the max time. Looked for a more golden color.

Another lesson I learned…make a plan before you start creating a trifle. The trifle turned out quite tasty and pretty, but I completely forgot to add a layer of strawberries I chopped before the process began!

Gluten Free Angel Food Cake https://www.veggiebalance.com/gluten-free-angel-food-cake/

NOTE: When the recipe says use a toothpick to check to see if the cake is done DON’T BELIEVE IT! Toothpicks with lie to you when it comes to angel food cakes. Make sure the cake is golden brown on top and bounces back when you touch it.

Recipes · Uncategorized

Favorites

I’m not sure if this post would be helpful to anyone out there, but these are a few recipes, activities, and books we have been enjoying at our house.

Crack Chicken Burgers. These are AMAZING!!! The first time we made them we used two chicken breasts and made 5 patties. We ate them without buns and had a side salad and roasted sweet potatoes. I love that they are really good cold the next day…this makes for a really easy lunch. https://www.plainchicken.com/crack-chicken-burgers/

Magnolia Table (Volume 2) Waffles. DELICIOUS! I don’t know if I am allowed to share the recipe since it comes in Joanna Gaines cookbook, but I definitely recommend the cookbook as a whole. If you purchase it make sure you make these waffles!!

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game. Last month I asked my Facebook friends for game recommendations for our soon to be 3 year old. This game was mentioned by several people. Our daughter loves it and we actually have fun playing with her too. We bought it from Amazon.

Zingo. Another fun and easy game that even the adults will enjoy playing. Thank you to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for letting us borrow this one. You can find it on Amazon as well.

The Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo. Our daughter has actually loved these for more than a year. This series is about a pig named Mercy and her human adoptive parents, Mr. & Mrs. Watson. There are 6 of these short chapter books in the series and each one includes fun, colorful pictures and hilarious characters.

A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer & P.D. Eastman. This book has been read over and over and over at our house. It is a funny, cautionary tale about a little boy who feeds his fish too much.

Onyx Professional Glass Pumice Stone. This is the best pumice stone I’ve ever used. I asked my husband to grab me one at Walmart because I was desperate and he brought this one home. It is so good! So if you are in the market it is right under $5.

Good Bones is a HGTV show about a mother/daughter duo who buy houses in Indianapolis, demo them, and make them into something beautiful. My husband and I had been watching the show on Hulu, but when we ran out of episodes we found we could watch the newer seasons on HGTV’s website (I think they may have an app too). As fans of Fixer Upper, we have really enjoyed this show. We don’t have to think much why we watch it, the hosts have good personalities, and we always enjoy a good demo day.

Sweet Home Sextuplets is a TLC show about a family from Alabama who have 9 kids! 6 of them being sextuplets. I’ve been watching this show on the TLC Go app. The couple seems down to earth and REAL. They share their struggles, their faith, and their Southern values. If you feel like your life is chaotic just watch this show!

*I was not paid to promote any of these items .

Christian Walk

Covid-19, Fear, & Thankfulness

Don’t you wish you could sit down and read something that did not mention COVID-19? I mean, the virus has already consumed almost three months (is that right?) of our year. It affects our daily decisions, it shifts our future goals, and it bends our dreams out of shape. I wish I could write something COVID-19 free, but often a blog post is used to tackle the issue at hand. Not for the reader’s sake necessarily, but for the author’s. By writing down my feelings and thoughts I can deal with them, hopefully.

I hope that good comes from this pandemic. I hope that it has allowed us to pause our busy lives and take a look at what really matters. I hope that things don’t go back to normal.

For the most part my world hasn’t changed during this chapter. I stay at home with my two year old daughter. We haven’t been able to run errands or go to my husband’s office for lunch. We haven’t been to any friends’ houses for play dates. Compared to how some individuals’ lives have changed my version of change seems small. I’m also an introvert. However, nothing like this quarantine has changed my view of staying home. I miss going places and seeing friends. I miss going out for date night. I even miss shopping at Walmart (my husband has been doing all the shopping–can I get a Whoop Whoop?!).

On the outside my world hasn’t changed much, but on the inside it has. I have dealt with a lot of fear and worse case scenarios playing in my head since everything started. (Any fellow Enneagram 6’s out there?) Fear for my sister’s safety (she is a nurse), fear that my husband or I would get sick, fear that my daughter would get sick, etc. This time my fear is not the result of me not trusting God (as sometimes it is). This time I have struggled with trusting other people. The results of this pandemic has largely been left up to the decisions of others. I don’t want to get into all of it, but how other’s have perceived this pandemic has stressed me out. When a friend or family member on social media writes that it’s all a conspiracy or rants about how they won’t wear a mask because it is uncomfortable and they have the right to choose not to….my distrust rises. It has been hard watching the world not use common sense….not care about others. I know there are many levels to it, but when you have a close family member in healthcare who is living it out and then contracts the virus (and recovers) you see things in a more serious light.

I am thankful…

I am thankful that numbers are decreasing.

I am thankful that the three of us are well.

I am thankful that this time of quarantine is teaching us a lot. My husband and I were talking the other day about how we are realizing the areas in our lives that we need to mature in and we are making goals to do just that. We have also taken the time to evaluate what are family goals are and we have started drafting a plan to make those goals happen.

I am thankful for my family, my husband and our daughter. I am thankful we enjoy each other’s company and we don’t find each other a nuisance.

I am thankful for our new Sabbath tradition (future blog post to come).

Most of all I am thankful that God cares to teach me at all. He doesn’t want to leave me where I am. He wants me to grow and mature and become more like Jesus.

Being thankful in the midst of fear & anxiety…maybe that is the key to finishing well?

Learning something and maturing in Christ no matter what circumstances I am walking through….maybe that is my calling?

Uncategorized

Change is Coming

Exhaling shakily, I placed my hands at my hips to help my lungs take a more controlled breath. I breathed through the burning sensation in my legs and continued to walk down the road slowly. My feet plodded along as I waited for my breath to come more naturally.

Thoughts of victory and defeat swirled in my mind simultaneously. I had accomplished more in my exercise routine today than I had in months, but the reality was I had only walked 1.5 miles with three or four minutes of jogging in between. Here I was with burning muscles and a pounding heart and I really hadn’t done much.

I swiped at the sweat on my brow and sighed. It was an accomplishment, but I wished it was grander.

I noticed the sun, which had previously been pounding on my neck, had gone behind the clouds. Clouds were beginning to grow darker, but not due to the time of day. The air seemed to have changed as well. It was muggy and heavy; more than just the humidity I had felt at the beginning of my walk.

I checked my phone and decided to head back towards home. There was change in the air and I didn’t want to get caught in the rain.

I liked rain storms. The gray-green of the sky, the water dripping from the branches and house, and the cooler temperatures that followed were enjoyable. However, this period before a storm could be ominous. It gave a taste of the change to follow as the sky turned gray. The heavy humidity in the air was not inviting like the coolness would be after the rain.

I paused to make sure the road was clear before crossing the street. I heard a rumble of thunder. Since my breathing had returned to normal I picked up my pace so I could get home before the rain came.

I wasn’t sure what this storm would entail. A couple of weeks ago we had been watching the weather app for signs of a tornado. Some friends had their power go out, others had waited in their bathroom for the storm to pass. Would this be a friendly rainstorm bringing a chill to the air and washing the pollen away or could it be a thunderstorm with wind that would knock down powerlines, litter our driveway, and send hail?

Whatever the weather was doing I could tell change was coming. As the sky grew darker and more thunder sounded, I was determined to get to my safe place before it began.

Christian Walk

Coping

This virus has taught me a lot about people. Especially how differently people cope with fear and a lack of control.

Some people are constantly researching and talking about it, some people are stocking their homes with supplies, some aren’t really phased about the situation, others don’t know much about what is going on and mock those who are worried (and buying up toilet paper)….

There is a lot of fear going on in the world today and I bet no matter what category you fall into you can feel it. This is a chance for us to show empathy and love to all people. We don’t have to understand or agree with how they are handling the situation. We know they are fearful and trying to find control where they can.

Let us respond out of love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

What a unique time where the Church can truly show what God’s love looks like. As Christians we can show the world that we may experience some anxiety and fear, but we know we are HIS and we surrender that fear and anxiety to HIM daily. Christians are often described as judgmental because we call out sin, but this is actually a time we can leave judgement, of how other’s deal with fear, at the door by loving them and pointing them to JESUS.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

Christian Walk

Life Long Lessons

Ironically, after I wrote my last blog post “Surrendering a Dream” I realized the fiction piece at the end sounded REALLY familiar. I took a moment to pull up my old blog and realized I had previously written something very similar. I will share it below. Obviously this image is one that still resonates with me even 7 years later.

A small preface: When I was 25 years old I was not where I expected to be. My dreams were to be married by that age, but I had never even dated anyone. At times I was worried that the desires I had for my life were not going to be fulfilled.

Taken from “The Musings of a girl on the eve of her 25th birthday…” November 2013

So once again, as I always do when I find myself low and dissatisfied, I look to the heavens and lift my life to the sky. It is heavy and I struggle under its weight. I hold my breath as He takes my offering and cradles it in the palm of His hand. I think I see Him smile or at least I hope I do.

Before He pulls His hand away I realize I am still holding my breath and everything in me screams “No, take it back! He might drop it!” But I stand still, mesmerized as He closes His fingers around this, my greatest gift.

Now I must wait. I let out a small sigh at the thought of that word. Wait. The word seems to float on the breeze. How many times must I hear it? Wait.

“But waiting is so hard,” I whisper, looking at the cold ground. I feel the rays of the sun warm my shoulders in what feels like an embrace. 

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done. Autumn leaves swirl around me, carried by the cool breeze. Be still and know that I am God. The wind picks up swirling around me, whispering in my ear.

“I wait for you, Father,” I say to the skies. “I know you will answer me.” The wind whips around my legs, my shirt, my hair. I lift my arms to let it surround me.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. These words seem to be spoken directly into my very soul.

I smile and let the sun’s rays warm my face. I breathe deeply of God’s presence and rest in the knowledge that what He has for me is good and greater than I could ever plan out myself.

“Thank you.” I whisper as I walk through the crackling leaves. In awe of God’s love and filled with hope for tomorrow.

Christian Walk

Surrendering A Dream

I told you that “surrender” is my word for the year, well I have a feeling you are going to see it frequently in my posts because God is definitely giving me opportunities to practice.

Recently, I talked about surrendering the things that weigh us down. In that context there was more of a negative connotation. Today I am reminded that we also have to surrender the good things.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4

In many seasons of my life I have clung to this verse. When I wanted to fall in love, but there was no young man in sight. When I wanted to have a baby, but it wasn’t happening in our time frame. Even when my sister was living far away for work and I just wanted her back home.

I can clearly remember the emotions that were tied to the waiting. I remember the countless prayers asking for those desires to be fulfilled. The waiting was hard. The days sometimes felt darker than usual. Sometimes I wondered if God was really going to give me those desires.

I also held on to the lyrics of “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller:

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I wasn’t always bold and confident. But I held on to the idea that I was supposed to continue to serve God while I was waiting on Him. I think that is what the Psalmist means when he says, “take delight in the Lord.” Even through the waiting pursue God, get closer to Him, follow where He leads. Keep serving, keeping worshiping, keep running the race. Being in a season of waiting doesn’t put your life on hold. If we did that we would never grow…we would have stagnant lives.

If I wouldn’t have allowed God to mold me and grow me while I was waiting then I wouldn’t have been ready for what He had in store.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

God’s plan for us isn’t the same as our plan for ourselves.

As we delight in the Lord, our desires should begin to change into something that pleases Him. (At least that is what I have learned through my seasons of waiting.) Looking back on the dreams He has fulfilled I am blown away by the “immeasurably more” that He has allowed.

So here I am again with a new desire, one that was planted in my head last night. I hope and pray it is one that God will fulfill.

If a dream or desire was a tangible thing I can imagine myself holding this one out in front of me to show my Heavenly Father….

“Please, please, please?” I beg. “Can I have this one?” Looking up at him, I hold my breath in anticipation.

Smiling, he kneels in front of me to take a good look, “This is a beautiful dream. I can see why you like it.”

My heart begins to beat faster as I wait for him to say I can have it.

He cups my chin in his strong yet gentle hand, “Remember I have a wonderful plan for you, my daughter. Something far more than you can imagine. Even more than this,” He reassures me, pointing to my dream.

Blinking back tears, I try to hide my disappointment.

I look down and sigh. I stroke my dream and toy with the idea of holding on to it as tight as I can, but then I remember I have experienced this before. With some hesitation, I loosen my grip and hold out my dream palms up. “Take it,” I whisper. “I trust you.”

As he lifts my dream from my hands a great peace settles over me as though the softest blanket has been placed around my shoulders. “I trust you,” I say again. This time with more confidence.

Written February 17, 2020