Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year in Review

The year of 2016 has almost gone and 2017 is coming. Therefore, it's time to review my 16 goals for 2016:

1) GO! on a cruise. Done! And I want to go on another one.

2) Stop checking e-mail on my phone while at work. I think I decided that I like doing this, but it is helpful to monitor how often and how much I use my phone.

3) Use more glass storage containers and less plastic. Improving. I recently bought more Pyrex-like containers, and my brother and sister-in-law gave me three more for Christmas.

4) Find my rambunctious side again. I don't think I accomplished this one. Maybe I'm just a serious old person.

5) Memorize some new scripture, or at least review the old. I realized that Scripture memory doesn't happen unless I make it happen. Now I try to memorize at least one verse, or part of a verse before eating my snack at night.

6) Clean out the pantry (fridge, freezer, et. al) and go on a grocery spend fast until it is done. This was a good experience and made me realize how wealthy I really am. I seek to continually be vigilant about using what I have, but also enjoying the blessings of sometimes having excess.

7) Purge excess. Soak up blessing. Moving helped some, but I'll need to purge again when I move out on my own. I have so much stuff!

8) Run a 5K. I ran three: the Race for the Cure 5K with housemates, the LPGA 5K with co-workers, and the Patriot Run with my family as spectators.

9) Embrace the quiet. I reinstated silent retreats once a month after realizing that I'd forgotten to do them since I moved to Arizona. I think I will need to learn more about silence for as long as I live.

10) Pursue counseling licensure. Done! Praise the Lord for granting me favor with the State Board. Now I just pray to find a place and a way to use my license.

11) Rest. I'm resting more, but again, I need to learn more.

12) Trim down the processed. Bulk up the produce. (In my diet) Ditto. I can always learn to eat better, but also to have grace with myself when I don't.

13) Bullet journal plan—streamline my to-do list. I find it very helpful to bullet journal my tasks lists in my personal and work planners. I plan to continue this in 2017.

14) Finish the books I have and read more. I think I read 48 this year. That would be four per month.

15) Spend time with and love the people around me. I enjoyed Thai dinner with little brother twice, a weekend away with Mom, and watching a movie with my sister-in-law who visited us for Christmas. I could probably do a better job about being present (not on my phone, cross-wording, crocheting, etc.) while with people, however.

16) Blog. Instagram. Something. (Experiment.) This marks a year of blogging, and almost six months of Instagram. Are these efforts really worth it? Beneficial to me? Beneficial to others? I don't need to write or post for others, but it does make it more fun. It also takes time. If I quit social media (sometimes I have the urge), I'd have more time. But what would I do with it? Crochet (hand-allowing)? Read? Volunteer? I need some down time, but is social media the best use of it? That might be a question for 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Things I've Learned in 2016

As I reflect on 2016 (A Review of 16 in 2016 coming tomorrow), these are things that I've learned:
  • To trust my gut more. Sometimes something is the right thing to do just because it feels right. The still, small voice inside me is the Holy Spirit, and instead of debating with myself so much, I just need to listen and act. This will relieve my stress and anxiety and when I'm wrong, I'll probably sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit more.
  • I love my people! I've been so blessed by coworkers and housemates and college friends and family, both near and far. Thank you to all who have poured into my life!
  • God provides. I needed a job. I needed a place to live. I wanted my counseling license. I wanted friends. God provided at just the right time every time. God's provisions don't always as I like or as I expect, but God truly does take care of my needs.
  • Unanswered prayer is hard! We're still waiting for answers to months of prayers for someone I love very much.
  • I use my phone a lot. (Hence its diminished memory availability) I use and enjoy Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest-a lot. But are these healthy for me? How do I find balance? I haven't quite figured that out, and maybe I never will.
  • Cooking is therapeutic. I am so thankful to live at home and not eat leftovers every day, but I miss the processes of making and crafting food. Perhaps more in the future.
  • Good versus best. This is a recent realization. I want to do a good job at everything, but not everything deserves my best efforts.
  • Rest is a choice. There is never "enough" time for it, so I have to choose to embrace it. That means letting cleaning projects and to-dos and want-to-dos go. But rest is worthwhile, and rejuvenating.
  • The Word is crucial! In these changing, trying times, I must continue to read and memorize the Bible. God reveals Himself through it and I need its truths.
It's been a hard year, but a good year. I guess it's time to say, "Bring on 2017!" It's coming, whether I like it or not.

God is the Ancient of Days.

In reading Revelation, I ponder the horrors of things to come and wonder when the end of the world will eventually arrive. But then I read about the "ancient paths" in Jeremiah 6:16 and remember that I need to follow God here and now, regardless of what is to come. It's good to remember that God is before all things, in all things, and in all things to come. He is both Ancient of Days and everlasting.

Psalm 24:7
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Psalm 68:33
To him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice.

Psalm 119:52
I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.

Isaiah 43:13
Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?

Isaiah 46:10
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, "My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."

Isaiah 64:4
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Peppermint Chocolate Oats

This isn't my favorite recipe ever, but before the Christmas season ends, I need to post it. A candy-cane striped mug (pictured below) inspired this oatmeal, as did recipes from The Breakfast Drama Queen and The Athletic Avocado. Without further adieu, here are peppermint chocolate oats.



Ingredients:


1/2 c quick oats

1 c water
1 T dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t peppermint extract


Directions:


1. Bring oats and water to a boil.

2. When oats reach desired consistency, stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Serve in a nice Christmas-y mug.

Friday, December 23, 2016

God Works.

Our sermon at church this past week was on waiting, on believing in God's timing, that He is preparing the way before me. Poignant quotes included, "With God there is not a wasted day," and "God can do a lot in a day." With this sermon in mind, I am reminding myself in prayer this week that God isn't inert or inactive. He works.

Exodus 15:11
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?


Deuteronomy 3:24

Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do?


Deuteronomy 32:4

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.


Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.


Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


Philippians 2:13

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the evil in this world: the killings, the natural disasters, the insult-slinging, the racism, the homophobia, etc. etc. This is all the work of the prince of this world (John 12:31), the "roaring lion" (1 Pet 5:8) who only comes to "steal and to kill and to destroy" (John 10:10).

But then I remember that I, too, have a prince: Jesus, the Prince of Peace. As God's own son, he comes to bring "a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isa 61:3). I choose to focus on and worship Him.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Matthew 14:33
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Mark 1:1
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

John 1:49
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

John 11:27
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

John 20:31
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Acts 5:31
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.

Romans 1:4
And who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hebrews 4:14
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Hebrews 7:3
Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

1 John 5:20
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

God Deserves Praise Forevermore.

With Thanksgiving recently over and Christmas nearly here, it's easy to let gratefulness become seasonal, to forget about our blessings and get caught up and the hustle and bustle of the holidays and of life. Scripture, however, tells us that God deserves praise forevermore: now, in the past, and in the future. Can we commit to giving God a little more of what he deserves this time of years, and for as long as "forever" lasts for us on this earth? Then it will be truly only to giving God praise forevermore in heaven.

Psalm 113:2
Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.

Psalm 115:18
It is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 117:2
For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 131:3
Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

Psalm 146:10
The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

Romans 9:5
Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Jude 1:25
To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2016

November News

I don't know how many people read these monthly updates, but I said I'd do this as my New Year's resolution, so here goes. These are the things I'm still working on, haven't done yet, or decided not to do.

2) Stop checking e-mail on my phone while at work.
I think I've decided that I like checking e-mail on my phone at work. It leaves less to do at home and gives me a brief distraction. BUT...I need to limit the amount of checking. Once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before I leave is a good amount for me.

3) Use more glass storage containers and less plastic.
I asked for more glass containers for Christmas. I still enjoy using mason jars as much as I can. I use plastic in moderation and try not to microwave in it whenever possible.

4) Find my rambunctious side again.
I think I've given up. I'm an "old person" now and I realized today that my former housemates were a big part of me being more lighthearted. (Miss you girls!) I enjoy life here, but I'm more serious.

5) Memorize some new scripture, or at least review the old.

I've come to the conclusion that I have to give up nightly Psalm of the day reading if I want to make time for memorization. I no longer force myself to memorize an entire verse, but rather try to work on a phrase or two. It's slow-going, but helps me examine Scripture in order to see it in new ways.

7) Purge excess. Soak up blessing.
I purged my Arkansas house. Now I'm purging here. But living at home, I have a basement full of home goods in another place. I need to find my own space or sell/give away a lot.

9) Embrace the quiet.

Nighttime snack is about all I get. I try to wait until others leave the kitchen to start, but sometimes I just have to try to make my own quiet amidst the chaos.

11) Rest.

Let's be honest. I spent (and enjoyed) a lot of time on Pinterest, Thanksgiving, and Facebook over Thanksgiving break. I also read a lot.

12) Trim down the processed. Bulk up the produce. (In my diet)

Sometimes I don't know what to eat. So I just eat.

1
4) Finish the books I have and read more.

15) Spend time with and love the people around me. 

Dad and I went to the Christmas light parade and Panera Bread this weekend. Good times.

16) Blog. Instagram. Something. 

Blogging is cathartic, but I don't always know if people read what I write. (Does it matter?) I like Instagram, but often think my posts promote egotism. Sigh. Most good things in life have great potential to become vices.

God Surpasses Human Understanding.


God surpasses human understanding.
Goes beyond in achievement, amount, excellence, extent, or degree; exceeds (Dictionary.com, n. d.).

Psalm 150:2

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

2 Corinthians 3:10
For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 9:14
And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

Philippians 3:8
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

Reference:
Surpass. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved November 20, 2016 from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/surpass.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Turmeric Apricot Oats

I'd never experimented with turmeric until I read about golden milk overnight oats. On a whim, I made some for a work breakfast. The flavors pleasantly surprised me. Earthy, but sweet, I knew I'd make these oats again.

Fast forward to winter, and I'm not feeling cold oats so much. But after reading in the newspaper this week about the benefits of turmeric, I decided I needed to try a warm version of turmeric oats.


I stirred in some apricots leftover from a Morrocan stew recipe and wow, was this bowl good. The yellow color of the oats may surprise you, but rest assured, the sweet, earthy, and spicy flavors won't disappoint!

Ingredients:


1/2 c quick oats
1 c water
4 dried apricots, cut into pieces, plus more for topping
1 t turmeric
1/2 t cinnamon


Directions:


1. Combine oats, water, and apricots in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. When oats reach desired consistency, stir in turmeric and cinnamon.
3. Transfer oats to a bowl and top with more dried apricots, if desired.

Note: I added a blackberry to my bowl to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but I found that the berry flavor paired well with the oats. Feel free to add blackberries as an additional topping, if desired!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Chocolate Spice Oats

You can probably tell from this blog that I like chocolate. Here's my most recent rendition:


Dark cocoa powder + some of my favorite spices + peanut butter on top = Mmm!


Ingredients:



1/2 c quick oats
1 c water
1 T dark cocoa powder
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
2 T natural peanut butter


Directions:



1. Combine oats and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Once oats reach desired consistency, stir in cocoa powder and spices.
3. Transfer oats to a bowl and top with peanut butter.

Friday, November 25, 2016

God Raises.

"If God can raise a dead man, He can do anything," I like to say. This is my focus for prayer this week.

God Raises.
Lifts up; redeems; saves.

Psalm 113:7
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

Acts 2:24
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Acts 2:32
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Acts 3:15
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Acts 4:10
Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

Acts 5:30
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.

Acts 13:37
But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chili Lime Peach Salsa Oats

Are you a fan of fruit salsa? Peaches and mango? Or strawberry and kiwi? Fruit salsa comes in all sorts of flavors and I've been trying to incorporate it into oatmeal for quite some time. On this particular occasion, I succeeded.
In all of my experimentation with fruit and salsa oatmeal, I think this bowl was successful because of the additions of  lime juice and chili powder. The lime juice enhanced the sweetness of the peach, while the chili powder amped up the spice. Sweet and salty and spicy for the win!


Ingredients:



1/2 c rolled oats
1 c water
2 T salsa
1 T peach jam
1 T lime juice
Dash of chili powder


Directions:



1. Combine oats and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Once oats reach desired consistency, reduce heat to low and add the salsa, jam, and lime juice. Stir to incorporate.
3. Add chili powder to taste, transfer to a bowl, and enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2016

God Hears Our Cries

In this continued time of waiting for God to answer prayer, it is good to remember that God hears our cries. He isn't leaving us alone in our distress and our grief. He is listening, working out His perfect will in His perfect timing.

Genesis 21:17

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there."


Numbers 20:16

But when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.


1 Kings 8:28

Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.


Psalm 5:2

Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.


Psalm 6:9

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.


Psalm 10:17

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.


Psalm 18:6

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.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ginger Lemon Oats with Stewed Apples

I went a little crazy with my flavor combinations this time. This wasn't my favorite bowl of oats ever, but I did enjoy it. Plus, ginger is good for the tummy, and an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Add cinnamon that helps control blood sugar and the protein of natural peanut butter, and you've got yourself a healthy bowl of oats!

Plus, the bowl looks pretty. Don't you think?


Ingredients:


1 apple, diced

1 t vanilla
3 T water

1/2 c rolled oats

1 c water
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t ground ginger

2 T natural peanut butter

1/2 t cinnamon
Enough water to make a paste


Directions:


1. In a small sauce pan, combine the apple, vanilla, and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Allow the apples to cook until the water evaporates and a thick syrup forms around the apples.

2. Transfer the apples to a bowl, and add the oats and water to the same pan.
3. Bring the oats to a boil and allow them to cook until thick and rich.
4. Add the lemon juice, ginger, and a little more water. Cook until the oats reach the desired consistency.
5. In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, cinnamon, and enough water to form a paste.
6. Transfer the oats to a bowl and top with the stewed apples and cinnamon peanut butter.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Oats

It's fall, and it's Pumpkin Palooza at Trader Joe's, so naturally it's time for a pumpkin oatmeal recipe. This is based on a recipe I found when I started experimenting with oats, but for the life of me, I can't find the original blog. So here's my rendition:Creamy pumpkin oats with just a bit of spice, topped with decadent vanilla spice peanut butter, all made in my own kitchen. Mmm!

Ingredients:


1/2 c rolled oats

1 c water
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 t pumpkin pie spice, divided
2 T natural peanut butter
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t real vanilla


Directions:


1. Combine oats and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to medium and cook oats until thick and rich.
3. Thoroughly stir in pumpkin puree and 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice. Let simmer until oats are cooked and desired consistency is reached. (Add a bit more water, if necessary.)
4. In a separate bowl, combine peanut butter, 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed.
5. Dish up the oats and top with the peanut butter mixture.
Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2016

My Thoughts On The Election


First of all, let's me answer the inevitable question, “Who did you vote for?” I don't need to tell you because it's my business, but I probably need to state that it wasn't for any candidate towing a party line; I voted write-in for the first time in my life. Yes, maybe I, “threw away my vote.” Obviously, my candidate didn't win. But I believed it was more important to vote for a candidate that stood for my values than it was to contribute to the “win” of the person that would become the next president of the United States.



With that being said, I feel compelled to write about my sorrow over this election cycle and its results. The words of the candidates and their supporters have been so filled with hate. The media is constantly producing some story to either inflate or deflate a candidate. Minorities, people of color, veterans, country people, town people, almost all people feel threatened in some way, shape, or form. There are protests and riots and flag-burnings. I think a great many people are reacting irrationally, out of fear, rather than out of clear, logical thinking. That's the normal “fight, flight, or freeze” biological reaction to stress. Regardless, our country is falling apart.



So what should we be doing? Specifically, what should people of faith, people who call themselves followers of Christ, be doing? As I read Psalm 109 this morning, I was struck by David's response to the attacks of his enemies (unnamed though they might be). “With words of hatred they surround me;” he writes. “They attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer” (vv. 3-4). Wait. What? “But I am a man of prayer.” Ouch. That convicts me. Have I really prayed about this election? Have I prayed for each candidate by name, asking that God save their souls above all else? No. I have to confess that I haven't, at least not faithfully. Instead, I've complained. I've ranted. I've avoided the news, tried to remain neutral, fussed about wanting the election to end. I've uttered a lot of unprofitable words, I must admit.
And have I prayed about the issues of the election? Have I talked to God about abortion, about LGBT rights, about white privilege, about immigration, about the refugee crisis? No, not really. Do I want my heart to be enlightened about these issues, and to care for the people whom they affect? (See Paul's prayer for enlightenment in Ephesians 1:18). No, not really. It hurts to think about the gaping needs in this world. It stings when the Spirit convicts me to take action, or to make decisions that other people don't understand. I didn't even tell my family that I voted write-in until after the election. I, too, often act or react out of fear.


As I read on in Psalm 109, I see David write about God, “They may curse, but You will bless.” As the world around me speaks words of vitriolic poison, am I speaking words of kindness? Am I reaching out to my many friends who feel threatened by the president-elect? “For He stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him,” David writes (v. 31). These people who feel marginalized aren't just any people. Many of them are “our people,” people of the church, to steal a summation from Mark Yarhouse's book. And even if these people aren't believers, they're certainly in need, and Scripture says that God cares! If God cares, I'm obligated to do the same.



A few Psalms before 109, David challenges his readers to, “Look to the Lord and His strength; [to] seek His face always” (Ps 105:4). In these confusing, painful, polarized times, that's what we as followers of Christ need to be doing. We need to be praying, to “pour out [our hearts] like water” (Lam 2:19) on behalf of ourselves, our neighbors, our countries, and our president elect. Then we need to take action, for “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Yes, we might screw up. Yes, we might offend people. But we've got to do something.



As Spirit-filled people, we believe that we have access to a higher power. We state that we believe in redemption, that we believe in miracles. Our country needs both if we're ever going to be what our country's name entails: The United States of America. If we as Christ-followers really understand our identity, if we really believe what we say we do, the change our country needs had better start with our prayers and our actions.

Thanksgiving as an Intentional Act.


It's time, high time, for another round of thanksgiving prayer. God has done so much! This time, I want to focus on thanksgiving as an intentional act, one made with foresight and with purpose.

Leviticus 22:29
When you sacrifice a thank offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.

1 Chronicles 23:30
They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Psalm 35:18
I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.

Romans 14:6
Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:1
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.

Friday, November 4, 2016

God Delights In His People.

Similar to last week's post, do you know that God delights in His people, in you and in me?

Delights:

Takes pleasure or joy in (Dictionary.com, n. d.)

Deuteronomy 30:9

Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors.

1 Kings 10:9

"Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness."

Psalm 147:11

The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 149:4

For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

Proverbs 11:20

The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse, but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

Proverbs 12:22

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

Isaiah 62:4

No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.

Jeremiah 31:20

"Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him," declares the Lord.

Micah 7:18

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

Zephaniah 3:17

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

Reference:

Delight. (n. d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/delight.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October's Over!

October's over. Can you believe it? I can't! The days of this life seem to pass so quickly. I wish I could say that I've been focusing on my goals, but the truth is, I'm just living day by day. Some days, I survive. Some days, I do a bit better, but I can honestly say that I'm not to the thriving part yet. But oh well. Here's to having goals, even if I don't remember to embrace them.

2) Stop checking e-mail on my phone while at work.Some days at work are so busy that I don't remember to check my phone. Or I have students in my office and need to hide my phone. My phone e-mail hasn't been loading at work, either, so overall, I'd say that this issue is taking care of itself.

3) Use more glass storage containers and less plastic.Still enjoying peanut butter jars for overnight oats and the Anchor bowls for lunches.

4) Find my rambunctious side again.I dressed up as Uranium from the periodic table for work today. Does that count?

5) Memorize some new scripture, or at least review the old.
Scripture memory takes intentional planning. I had to decide to substitute scripture memory for listening to a Psalm every night. There just isn't time for everything.


6) Clean out the pantry (fridge, freezer, et. al) and go on a grocery spend fast until it is done.I live at home, so I don't buy groceries per se, but I still like to use what I have on hand. For example, this weekend, I plan to make this recipe with leftover white beans, kale, and tomatoes from Mom's garden.

7.
) Purge excess. Soak up blessing.
I'm acquiring more stuff, when most of my stuff is already in storage. I need to unpack what I have in storage or sell it. Decisions...

9) Embrace the quiet.
Hard. I've found that thoughts can be noisy, too. I just want my brain and my environment to be silent so I can hear God speak.

11) Rest.Struggling. See above. And I keep waking up at 4 am. That needs to stop!

12) Trim down the processed. Bulk up the produce.
I need to work on this one. I've been eating convenience foods and I really feel better when I cook and eat more whole foods.

13) Bullet journal plan—streamline my to-do list.
It works!

14) Finish the books I have and read more.
Fall break gave me a little extra time, so I read four books this month. I made it through two non-fiction books, which were good breaks from the fantasy of fiction.

15) Spend time with and love the people around me.
Mom and I took a little trip to Phoenix for dinner and hang-out time. A former housemate and I met up for Starbuck's and a trip to IKEA. I've found a group of girls to lunch with at Panera each week after church. I am grateful.

16) Blog. Instagram. Something.
Still at Instagram. I think more people see that than this. But I like to write....



Friday, October 28, 2016

God Rejoices in His Creation.

This world is so messed up and broken: filled with crime, devastation, murders, natural disasters, etc. It's easy to get discouraged, to think there is nothing beautiful left. But then I read that God rejoices in His creation. He finds joy and gladness in it, which means we can, too.

God Rejoices in His creation.

Is glad for; takes delight in (Dictionary.com, n. d.)

Psalm 104:31

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.

Proverbs 16:7

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Zephaniah 3:17

"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

Haggai 1:8

"Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the Lord.

Zechariah 4:10

"Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?"

Reference:

Rejoice. (n. d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/rejoice.

Friday, October 21, 2016

God is Equitable.

"Life isn't fair." I've heard this saying all my life. But guess what? God is fair. He judges justly. He discerns right and wrong objectively. He's also gracious and merciful. We don't always get what we deserve. These attributes of God are somewhat contradictory, to be sure, but also part of God's infinite character that is beyond our understanding.

God is Equitable.

"Characterized by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable" (Dictionary.com, n. d.)


Psalm 9:8
He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.

Psalm 67:4
May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.

Psalm 75:2
You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity."


Psalm 96:10
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.


Psalm 98:9

Let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.



Psalm 99:4
The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.


Reference:

Equitable. (n. d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved from
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/equitable.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crisp Apple Spice Oatmeal



Fall has arrived, and with it colder morning and evening temperatures, which means more oats! The apple harvest has also started, bringing with it a fresh crop of apples, specifically my favorite variety: Gala. I made this apple oatmeal a few nights ago to capitalize on Fall's bounty.


Normally, I like to stew my apples, but this time, I cooked them with the oats. This left them with an edge of crispness that accentuated the fall spices of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Plus, I topped this porridge with two nut butter, allowing me to hand-craft each spoonful of Fall goodness.


Ingredients:


1/2 c quick oats

1 c water
1 apple, chopped
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1 T almond butter
1 T peanut butter

Directions:


1. Combine the oats, apple, water, and spices in a small sauce pan.

2. Cook until the liquid absorbs and the oats are creamy.
3. Top with 1 T each of almond and peanut butter.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2016

No One Like God

These verses are similar to last week's prayer verses, but their truth bears repeating: There is No One Like God.
Exodus 8:10b

There is no one like the Lord our God.

Deuteronomy 33:26
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.

2 Samuel 7:22
How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

1 Chronicles 17:20
There is no one like you, Lord, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

2 Chronicles 14:11
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

Jeremiah 10:7
Who should not fear you, King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Salted Cardamom Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal


Yep, I'm on a cardamom kick! It's SOOO good. This time, I added it to some traditional banana oats.





Mmm! Top it with some pink Himalayan sea salt to bring out the natural sweetness of the banana. Finish off with a dollop of natural peanut butter and dig into the creamy goodness!

Ingredients:


1/2 c old-fashioned oatmeal
1 c water
1/4 t cardamom
1/2 t vanilla
1 banana (half mashed, and half sliced) 
Himalayan sea salt
2 T natural peanut butter

Directions:


1. Bring water and oats to a boil and reduce heat to medium.
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cardamom, vanilla, and mashed banana. Simmer oatmeal on low until the liquid absorbs and the porridge is rich and creamy
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl and top with the sea salt, sliced bananas, and peanut butter.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Refreshing Look at Church

Disclaimer: This is not a criticism of my current church. I enjoy it and thank God for it. Rather, this post is about perspective and a need for change in the way I view church.

Community park to the left, pool to the right, we parked in an empty asphalt slot at the recreation center that holds a local church plant. As we approached the single glass door, I viewed the church's pastor out in the open foyer, chatting with church parishioners At the door, a woman warmly greeted us, and handed us church bulletins, a single-fold affair holding a few announcements and a simple sermon outline. Behind the woman stood two white rectangle plastic tables, free of tablecloths, but spread with breakfast breads, paper plates, a bowl of strawberries, and a variety of church handouts. As we walked in and to the left, we found the church "sanctuary," an open room equipped with little more than an electric keyboard, a podium, a projector, and a projector screen. Christian praise songs hummed quietly in the background.

We sat down in the business style chairs, content to wait silently for church to start, as we normally do. Our solitude didn't last long. Person after person came up to introduce themselves and thank us for coming. Suddenly, we heard a few simple piano notes and the song leader asked parishioners to join in singing, "Amazing Grace." All stood. As the pianist played and sang, the congregation joined in. I could hear my mom singing harmony on my left and catch notes of my brother's low tenor to my right. The voices of the congregation rose above the instrument as we sang in praise to God. After this hymn and another song, someone prayed. The pastor came in and greeted the church. We sang, "The Old Rugged Cross."

An usher stood up and instructed us to greet one another. I shook the hands or two or three people and sat down. My family sat down, and suddenly, we noticed that we were the only ones seated. Around us, church members continued to exchange handshakes and hugs and good words. We realized that we'd sat too soon.

After asking not once or twice, but three times for people to sit down, the usher read the Bible passage for the day and the pastor stood up to preach. He spoke from The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and had but four simple points. He preached straight from the text and actually had us read the supporting texts, all of them. No rushing through, no embellishment; just God's Word.

At the conclusion of the service, the pastor offered prayer. Then he went back to the foyer to say goodbye to his church members, each and every one of them. Meanwhile, other men from the church started cleaning up the sanctuary: rolling up cords, packing up the piano, picking up church signs. No one asked them to do anything. There was no obvious supervision. The men just worked-excellently, as unto the Lord.

I can almost recite the liturgy of traditional church in my sleep: Enter quietly. Remain polite. Stand up when the pastor instructs. Sing. Sit down. Listen to announcements. Stand up. Greet. Don't be unfriendly, but don't be so friendly that you take up the pastor's sermon time. Sit down. Open your Bibles. Pay attention. Take notes.  Follow along, but we don't have time to read all of the supporting passages. These become the unwritten rules.

Church today was refreshingly different. It wasn't polished. It wasn't a show. It was the assembling of like-minded believers for the purposes of exhortation and fellowship (Heb 10:25). The quality of worship was not about the number of instruments or the voices of the singers, but about lifting high the name of Jesus. The church didn't tout the degrees or credentials of its pastor or children's church workers, but rather evidenced people who served God willingly and joyfully.

I want to be part of this kind of church, not this particular church plant per se, but this church that is the corporate body of believers, near and far, at home and abroad. I want to remember that church is not a list of do's and don'ts but an active process of engaging with and encouraging those around me. Attending church is not an obligation or a recitation or a routine, but a privilege and a blessing from God, a refreshing breath of fresh air from the tumult and toil that is this world.

Supporting passages (Format borrowed from my friend at Unto My Beloved):

Hebrews 10:25

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (NKJV).

Philippians 2:9
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (NIV).

Friday, October 7, 2016

None Like the Lord

In a world that idolizes so many things; in a world where we look to fame, food, love, money, pride, etc. to fill us, it is good to remember that there is None Like the Lord. Only He meets our needs. Only He hears and answers our prayers. Only He truly satisfies. He is worthy of our praise.

Psalm 40:5

Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 86:8
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.

Isaiah 45:6
From the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:21
Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.

Isaiah 46:9
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Salted Pear and Cardamom Oatmeal


I'm really into cardamom now. This time, I paired it with fresh pears and peanut butter and Himalayan sea salt. Strange? Yes, but oh so good.


Ingredients:


1/2 c old-fashioned oatmeal
1 c water
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 t cardamom
1 T (or more) natural almond butter
1/2 a Bartlett pear, diced
Himalayan sea salt
1 T (or more) natural peanut butter


Directions:


1. Bring water and oats to a boil and reduce heat to medium.
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the applesauce and cardamom. Simmer oatmeal on low until some of the liquid from the applesauce absorbs and the oats become thick and rich.
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, and top with the sea salt, peanut butter, and diced pear.

Monday, October 3, 2016

When God Doesn't Make Sense

My family and I are struggling with some unanswered prayer right now. I won't go into specifics to preserve the anonymity of the person involved, but it's hard. And we're in the middle of a sermon series at church on prayer, which makes it really hard. We're praying, and God isn't answering.

The sermon this week was on prayer and fasting. I'll admit that I haven't fasted over this particular issue, but I have prayed; like crazy I've prayed. And though I believe in the value of the spiritual discipline of fasting, I don't believe that God is a vending machine. Putting fasting in isn't going to yield the answer to our prayer.

Here's the thing: God is sovereign. God is omniscient. God is infinite. His plans are way above ours (Isa 55:9). He's going to answer when He's going to answer, like it or not. It's not that He doesn't care, but that He cares enough to give us His best, and it's apparently not time for that.

Lots of people lose faith or give up on faith because of unanswered prayer. I can't. God is my hope. God is the reason for my existence. I didn't start up a relationship with God to make my life easy. I started it because it was the only way to have life. So I'm clinging, hoping, praying. By God's grace, I will not give up.