Thursday, April 29, 2010

Flip-Flops, Mud, & Tornados - A Bad Combination

This has been one heck of a week, thanks to my new need for crutches & what I call my "space boot". It's actually a funny story, if "funny" means "filled with pain, crying meltdowns, & frustrating dependence". Oh, yeah, & "family making fun of you hobbling along in your space boot". You may have heard about the storms that swept through our area last Saturday. We got lots of rain here, but the tornado warnings just danced around us without ever really twirling too close. Until late that evening. Michael had been at work for a couple of hours at this point, & according to the local stations, we were pretty much in the clear. Even so, I kept our weather radio next to me & the radar pulled up on the computer, just in case. Then, it happened. The radio blared that scary "emergency broadcasting system" noise that has never failed to unnerve me & started talking about a tornado warning for our area. I pulled up the radar &, sure enough, there it was - the first red block heading right for us. Heading right for us & supposed to be here in 15-20 minutes. Now, at this point, you wouldn't think that a girl who was raised in Tornado Alley would freak. But you'd be wrong. I freaked. I have yet to see a tornado, & I do not have any intention of disturbing this happy pattern. So, I ran around the house - frantically, I might add - gathering my things & ushering the dogs outside so I could stuff them in the car. 'Cause I ain't leavin' my babies. I would have taken the cat, too, but she had stubbornly hidden herself under the bed, & I didn't have time for a 20-minute furniture moving party. So, the dogs are waiting on the back patio, Ginger almost overcome with excitement because she somehow instinctively knows that she's about to go for a car-ride, one of her all-time favorite pastimes. Jake's not so sure about this whole thing, because he's the opposite of his sister. He's the only dog I've ever met who actually gets carsick. Literally. But we have to go. Michael & I have an agreement that I go to the hospital parking deck to wait out tornado warnings because he feels like concrete & steel are safer in that situation than wood on a crawlspace. Crazy man. Okay, so my sweeties are waiting on the patio while I run out to open the car doors so I can drag them over (I also couldn't find their leashes in my panic to flee from the wrath of the approaching tornado). Remember, it's been raining. Rain means mud. Mud that creeps over the edges of the carport & makes concrete slippery. Especially for flip-flops. Perfectly suited for those times when you're in panic rush-mode. The mud & my flip-flops became fast - though fleeting - friends. My left leg flew out to the side, & my right leg collapsed underneath me, sending me crashing to the slippery concrete, banging my knee really hard & twisting my ankle with a fabulous "pop" in the process. I'll spare you any further details about hobbling each of my darlings out to the car & driving to the hospital's deck while sobbing & shaking from the pain. I won't bore you with reminisces of my attempts to walk around my house later - attempts which ended with my collapse on the bed in complete emotional meltdowns because of the pain. Oh, & the tornado from which I so frantically fled? Yeah, it fizzled out before it ever reached us, before I even left the parking deck to drive home.

All sarcasm aside, as I was indulging myself in a moment of self-pity, I began to think of all the things I had to be thankful for in this situation. I'm a pretty optimistic person, & I do believe that there is always something good that comes from even the worst situations, always some lesson to learn. So that I wouldn't forget, I wrote them down & would like to share them with you. I want to give glory to God here for blessing me, even in this situation - which pales in comparison with those who were hit by tornados that night.

I'm thankful to God for:

-rain to water the grass & plants
-His protection from tornados
-a home that protects us from the weather
-radars & warning systems to alert us of bad weather
-Michael being able to sleep for work (due to lack of seriously severe weather)
-a safe place to go to during bad weather
-protection against possible danger in a public place
-the loving care of my husband
-medicine & bandages to kill & protect from germs & infection
-ice packs & Ace bandages
-a momentary reprieve from pain when I cried out to Him for help
-pillows to prop my foot up on
-my dogs' concern when I have a meltdown
-talking with a godly friend (right after one of my meltdowns) who shows sincere concern & points me to God
-God's Word

I wrote all of these that night. Since then, I've found even more things to be thankful to God for:

-cooler weather that followed the storms
-thorough, caring doctors
-the continued loving care & help from my sweet husband
-the workout my arms & back have gotten from the crutches
-a sprained, instead of broken, ankle
-my "space boot", which takes the pressure off so I can (oh so slowly) walk
-Advil (yes, I know I've already mentioned it. I'm very thankful for it!)
-take-out food (it's impossible to cook when you can't put weight on your foot)
-my foot is healing fairly quickly
-the care & concern of family & friends who have called to check up on me

*My most gracious heavenly Father, thank You for all of these things & so much more. Most of all, thank You for being my God & Savior. I love You. In Christ's holy name I pray, Amen.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

From a Ransomed Sinner, With Love

We are all sinners. Every single person on this planet is a sinner. All of us, including you & me, have sinned against God. We have chased after money & possessions, we have harbored anger & unforgiving attitudes, we have had sex outside of marriage, we have not been thankful to Him for His innumerable provisions, we have ignored Him, we've been prideful, & the list goes on. None of us should be self-righteous, because we're all equally guilty of these things - you, me, & everyone else in this world. The difference between true believers & the rest of the world is that we rely on Jesus Christ's righteousness as our own. I know you know the story, but please read it with fresh eyes, as though you didn't, & try to picture it in your head. God has existed from eternity past. He is holy, righteous, & just. He is our Creator. He created the earth in perfection, without sin. But, when Adam & Eve rejected His authority over them, they sinned against Him, & all of creation - including us - have been in bondage to sin ever since. And we can't get out. We are slaves to sin, dead in our sin, completely unable to free ourselves. In order for us to be free, we must have a Redeemer, someone to buy us back from the slave master that is sin. The whole Bible is the story of redemption, of God's plan to save mankind. Not because we are worthy (Scripture shows mankind's repeated rebellion against God, which we carry on today), but because He is merciful. He saves us because our salvation brings Him glory. Glory that is rightfully His, as our holy & just Creator. At just the right time, Jesus Christ became part of His creation in His incarnation. He became human, but He wasn't just any human. He was both fully God & fully man. Fully man to represent us & fully God to be a sinless sacrifice for us. Only God is sinless, & only a man can stand in the place of another man. Therefore, Jesus had to be - & was - both. He lived a perfectly sinless life. No unrighteous anger, no malice, no sexual impurity or immorality - perfectly sinless. He lived in perfect communion with God, day-in & day-out. His every word, thought, & deed was perfectly righteous & one with the Father. That's what makes His death for us so heart-wrenching & so beautiful at the same time. When He cried out in the garden for God to remove the cup from Him if it was His will, He wasn't focused on the beatings & crucifixion He was about to endure. He cried out in agony & sweat drops of blood because, for the first time in all of eternity, His oneness with the Father was about to be severed. God can have no part of sin, He can't even bear to look on it, because of His perfect holiness. Jesus was about to become sin for us. He was about to bear our sin & God's wrath toward that sin on the cross. For the first time in all of eternity, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was going to be utterly alone. Why did this have to be? Why did Jesus have to die? God shows all through the Scriptures that sin requires a sacrifice. Not because He's some sadistic deity, but because He is holy. He is righteous. The opposite of righteousness is evil, & evil must be punished. We all want that, too, don't we? We all want murderers punished. We all want child molesters, rapists, & thieves punished, for things to be set right. The only time we seem to have a problem with it is when we're the guilty ones. Then, we want mercy. But just as any judge who just let a rapist or murderer go with an apology is considered corrupt & unjust, so would be God if He simply let us go when we've sinned against him. Even more so, because while sin against another human is evil, sin against the only One who is perfectly holy & righteous is infinitely more evil. Sin has to be paid for, & the only One who could pay for our sin had to be both God & man. Only Jesus could ransom us from sin & exhaust God's wrath. How do we know that He accomplished this? Because after laying in the grave for 3 days, the Father raised Him from the dead. Some people don't think this is all that significant when you realize that other people were raised from the dead - Lazarus, for instance. The difference is that each of these other people died again. Only Jesus alone was resurrected & still lives. This is how we know that His sacrifice paid for our sins, exhausting God's wrath & justifying us.

My question at this point isn't, "Do you believe this?"; after all, an awful lot of people claim to believe this & they continue in their sin. My question is, "Do you see your sin as repugnant & worthy of damnation? Do you feel sorrow & grief over your sin?" If so, repent! Repentance is not just an apology for sin, it's a deliberate turning away from sin towards righteousness. Repentance also isn't a one-time thing - "I repented of my sin when God saved me, but never since." No, our problem isn't that we sin, it's that we've never done anything but sin. So, repentance is something we do over & over throughout our lives, as God convicts us of our sin. And repentance is His gift to us. Without His Spirit's work in us, we can't feel sorrow over our sin & be led to repentance. Without that understanding, it's easy at this point to begin a works-salvation practice, where I have to white-knuckle it to be good enough. But we can never be good enough. This isn't cause for despair, though, it's cause for celebration, because for the believer, Christ has already won the victory. We can't be good enough, we can't be holy enough, but Christ already is for us! When Christ lived His perfectly sinless life in complete oneness with the Father, it's as though the believer who truly trusts in His sacrifice, lived that life. God the Father sees His Son when He looks on us. His righteousness is credited to us! That's the other side of the coin: we repent & we rely on His righteousness in our stead & His strength to enable us to turn from our sin. I'm coming to realize that this is a life-long process, & I'll never be completely rid of my sin in this life. But a believer's life is characterized by a fighting against sin. We hate the sin in our lives, & we fight against it. Not in our own strength & power, but with the Word of God & with prayer. He helps us to overcome it, & little by little, we reflect Him more & more.

If you feel this sorrow over your sin, don't despair. Yes, our sin is reviling & we can sometimes feel hopeless that we will ever be rid of it. I certainly can feel this way at times. But, if you feel sorrow, you can take heart, because it's an indication that God is working in you, that He loves you & wants to redeem you. And God always accomplishes His will! Sin won't have the victory over a believer. Christ already won that victory, & now we can live from that victory!

I'm writing this letter to you for one reason: if you are not a true believer in Christ as your Lord & Savior, I pray God uses this letter to bring about conviction & sorrow over your sin, as well as hope & freedom in His saving grace. I pray that you come to know Him, love Him, cherish Him, & rejoice in Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, & strength. What joy, freedom, & love is to be found in Him! If you are a true believer, then I pray that you will take this time to evaluate yourself & your life. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to "examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?---unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" We are all called to hold up our lives next to Scripture & examine to see if our lives reflect God & His Word. In any area that we do, we should praise God for His sanctification in our hearts that reflects itself in our lives. In any area that we don't reflect Him, we must conform our lives to His Word through His power. We conform to Him, we don't expect Him to conform to us. He is the standard. Matthew 7:17 reminds us that "every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down & thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." And Galatians 5:22-23 says that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." These are the characteristics that we are to aspire to, out of love for God. Remember, no one is ever able to do these things perfectly. You will never look at your life & see perfection. Not this side of heaven. The important thing is to rely on Christ's righteousness & His power to overcome your sinful desires as they rear their ugly heads. And to repent when you fail to overcome them, relying on His forgiveness.

*Our most gracious heavenly Father, thank You for Your salvation.  Without Your sacrifice for us in the death of Your Son, Jesus Christ, we would be under Your wrath for our sin for all eternity.  Thank You for Your mercy, grace, & adoption of us as Your sons.  We love You!  We praise You!  We worship You!  Lord, for anyone reading this who is not Your child, please reveal Yourself to them & save them.  And please remind all those who are truly Yours to always examine ourselves by Your Word, so that we continue in the faith.  In Christ's holy name we pray, Amen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

Michael & I LOVE this recipe! He loves it so much, he wants me to always have it on hand, which, the way we eat it, means making it every other day or so. It's such an easy recipe, though, that this is a request I am only too happy to grant. The original recipe comes from Slashfood, & I've made a few little changes to suit our tastes. Play with it yourself, or follow the recipe to the letter. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!



-2 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned)
-1 c. almonds
-1 c. pecans
-1/2 c. sunflower seeds
-1/4 c. flax seeds
-1/4 c. wheat germ
-1/4 c. cooking oil
-1/2 c. honey
-1/2 c. each raisins & any other dried fruits you desire. I use craisins & apricots in addition to the raisins.


-Mix oats, nuts, seeds, & wheat germ in a large bowl.
-Measure the oil into a measuring cup & swirl it around (this will aid the honey in exiting the cup), then add it to the granola.
-Measure the honey in the same unwashed cup & add it to the granola as well, stirring until the granola is evenly coated.
-Pour the granola into a 13"x9" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
-Bake @ 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
-Remove from oven & add the raisins & other dried fruits, stirring gently several times to prevent clumping.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

The conversation went something like this:

Me - "So, they're just going to keep lying?"
Friend - "Oh, they're not lying."
Me - "Withholding information is lying."
Friend - "No-ho-ho! No it's not. I don't tell you everything."
Me - (jokingly) "What kind of unethical people are y'all?!"

After that point, I didn't give the conversation much thought until much later. Since then, though, I've been mulling the issue over. It's been ingrained in me my whole life that omission, not just fabrication, is lying. But my friend has a good point. Do you have to tell someone everything to keep from lying? If she doesn't tell me what she had for breakfast, who she talked to on the phone, & where she went after supper, does that mean she's lying? Not if I'm not entitled to that information. So then, what exactly constitutes a lie?

My first stop in resolving this issue for myself was Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. It was a wedding gift from my brother- & sister-in-law. Upon giving it to us, they said that it's very important to have an accurate definition of words, for they do shape our lives & families. I heartily agree. So, what did Mr. Webster have to say about lies? Lies are an "intentional violation of truth"; their goal is "to exhibit a false representation; to say or do that which deceives another, when he has a right to know the truth, or when morality requires a just representation"; they are "a false statement or representation. . .intended to deceive, mislead, or injure". I think this speaks for itself, & makes it quite clear that omissions that fit these definitions are, in fact, lies.

To really drive the point home, though, I've come up with a few scenarios that, I hope, highlight how simple omissions can "deceive, mislead, or injure":

1) I pull up in Amanda's driveway & park my car next to hers, apparently a little too closely. When I open my door, it accidentally hits her passenger door & leaves a scratch. I don't tell her, though, because I don't want to upset her & possibly ruin our time together. A week later, she tells me that someone at the grocery store must have opened their door into her car, because she's just found a scratch on her passenger side door. Once again, I say nothing about the fault being mine.  Now she has to pay to have it fixed.

2) Beverly knows she's not allowed to touch her mother's china. It was passed down to her from her grandmother & is very special to her. She only uses it on holidays or particularly meaningful occasions. But, she's only going to take one quick look while the plates are sitting out for tomorrow's dinner. Mom's out getting the mail; it'll only take a second & she'll never know. As she picks up a dinner plate, she accidentally drops it. It doesn't completely break, thankfully, but it does have a small chip on the back of the rim. She quickly picks it up, puts it on the bottom of the pile, & scampers off just as her mom comes in. She never says a word, even when she hears her mother lamenting over how she must have chipped it when she was washing it as she's cleaning up after dinner the next day.

3) Sarah is a 15-year-old girl from a loving, stable home. David is a 19-year-old boy who is nothing but trouble. Sarah's parents have met David & taken an instant dislike to his arrogance, rudeness, & over-all rebellious attitude. Not to mention he's almost a man, while she's barely a teenager. They can't fathom what has attracted Sarah to him. They tell her their concerns & forbid her to continue the relationship. She pretends to comply, & they believe her.  They don't want to upset her - they know she really liked him - so they don't bring the subject up again.  She lets them remain blissful in their ignorance, never telling them that she's continuing to talk to him on the phone after they're asleep at night & that he comes to see her at school before classes begin each day. After all, what they don't know won't hurt them.

The ultimate goal of a lie is to deceive someone, to lead them away from the truth. Fabrications do the job well, & so do omissions. When we have information that directly affects someone & we withhold it from them, that's a lie. If it was my car that got a scratch, I'd want to know that it was an accident caused by my friend. If it was my china that got a chip, I'd want to know that my daughter accidentally did it while admiring her future inheritance. And if my 15-year-old child was secretly dating a "bad boy", I'd want to know that, too, so I could nip it in the bud. I'm betting you would, too.

Stop, drop, & roll.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

I remember eating this meal sitting at my Granny's table in her eat-in kitchen in Ringgold, LA when I was a little girl. There's nothing I like better than recipes passed down from my Mama & Granny! Michael heartily agrees; his favorite recipes from our kitchen originated (at least for me) in Granny's & Mama's!

Biscuit Roll


-1 small onion, chopped
-1 small bell pepper, chopped (I use 1/2 of a large bell pepper, as I can never find a small one!)
-1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground meat
-salt & pepper to taste
-1 T beef bouillon granules (2-3 cubes)
-1 c. water
-1 T flour


-cream of mushroom soup (if you despise mushrooms, as I do, you can easily pick them out before digging into the biscuit roll.)
-milk (start with 1/4 c. & add to as needed for desired consistency.)
-any left-over meat mixture


-Brown ground meat in large skillet, then drain, rinse, & return to skillet.
-Add onion & bell pepper & sauté until onion is clear.
-Add beef bouillon & water & stir until bouillon is dissolved.
-Add flour to thicken mixture & simmer to spreading consistency.
-Cool completely.
-While meat is cooling, prepare biscuit dough (use your favorite recipe).
-Roll dough into a rectangle on a floured surface & spread cooled meat mixture over dough, minus about 1/2 to 1 inch of edges.
-Roll into jelly roll & slice into 1-inch thick slices with large bread knife.
-Place slices meat side up on foil-covered & greased cookie sheet.
-Bake @ 375 degrees until golden brown.
-Top with sauce & serve with a side of English peas, carrots, & a fruit salad.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Uncertainty Made Certain

Sometimes, life just makes sense. Everything falls into place easily, without so much as a hint of uncertainty. Meeting & marrying Michael was like this. We had a whirlwind courtship lasting just 4 months from meeting to marriage. And neither of us doubted for one second that our union was God-ordained & -blessed. However, uncertainty absolutely preceded our meeting - where was my future husband, when would he come along, would he come along, what was God's plan - all of this swirled through my head & heart for years before that glorious day that God brought Michael to me. But then, on that day, all my years of waiting suddenly made sense. All that time was not just idle waiting. Even when I was in the throes of despair that I would always be alone, God was working out His plan for my life. There were times, too, when I knew that. Times when I had faith that God was perfectly in control & knew what He was doing. I couldn't see that, but because I know Him, I knew it to be true. My single years were preparation for me. God used that time to prepare me for marriage, for being a good wife. How? Mainly by showing me how great of a sinner I am. He showed me my selfishness, pride, & independence - things that have no place in a godly marriage. But He didn't leave me there. He showed me my need for Him. He brought me to repentance & sanctified me, an ongoing process that He continues in me today. He also used that time to strengthen my faith in & love for Him, to the point that I knew that if I never married, He would be enough. So, those uncertain years weren't wasted, & in one fell swoop, God made all things clear.

Right now is another uncertain time for Michael & me. We are barren, childless. For some people, this might be a wonderful thing, but for us, it's sorrowful. We love children, we dream of & plan for children, we pray & cry for children. We have names picked out & even outfits bought for children. But we don't have children. Our arms are empty & our home devoid of the laughter & playing of children. Just a few months shy of a year ago now, we began a journey of adoption. We began this journey full of joy & anticipation, sure that this was God's will & plan for us to become parents. Now, we're not so sure. We still want to adopt, that hasn't changed. But circumstances have. We've had the money required to complete our home study twice now, & both times, that money's had to be spent on necessities. That the money was there for those necessities was a gift from God, there's no doubt about that, & we are very thankful for His graciousness in providing for us. But, at the same time, we were so sad that it meant a set-back in our adoption process. To be honest, "sad" doesn't quite cover it.  Heart-breaking grief comes closer.  When I realized that our adoption was going to have to be put on hold, maybe stopped altogether, I went off alone & sobbed out all of my longings & my grief.  I cried out to God, begging Him to either bless us with the children I so desperately want or to take away this down-in-my-very-bones longing for them.  So far, He hasn't done either, but He has granted me peace, for which I'm thankful.  Not being allowed to move forward has led us to doubt our certainty that our adoption is God's will, too. Months have gone by since we were able to save up that money, & I wish I could say that we have it all figured out now, but we don't. We don't know what God's plan is. Although we hope & pray that our future includes children of our own - both biological & adopted - we don't know that it does. We're so uncertain of the future. But we are certain of God. He is working everything out according to His marvelous plan, which will be for our good & His glory. This uncertain time, even if it be years long, is not wasted time. He is preparing us for the future, for the fulfillment of His plan. And I know, with ever fiber of my being, that once His plan has come to fruition, we will know that it was worth the wait.

*Our most gracious heavenly Father, oh! how we love You! Thank You, thank You for being our God! For being sovereign over our lives & for not giving us the control. You work all things out in the best way. In all things, You receive glory, but - amazingly - You also love to work things out for our good! You are loving & merciful, & we praise Your holy name! Thank You for Your assurance that, even when we don't understand the events of our lives, You are in control. Michael & I both pray for children. We so long to love them, hold them, play with them, & tell them about You! But we know that Your plan is better than ours. If You give us children, we will praise You. And if You don't give us children, we will praise You. Please, Lord, please give us such a love for You, that even if our heart's desire for children is not fulfilled, that You will be enough. We love you, Lord, but - as always - give us more love for You. Fill us up to overflowing with love for You, & we will have all we will ever need. In Christ's holy name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Recipe of the "Week"

Before I met & married the love of my life, pretty much the only thing I knew how to cook was frozen dinners. Cooking for one is just not all that fun to me. Then, Michael came along, & all of a sudden, I had a passion for cooking! There are very few things that thrill me more than hearing my sweet husband "ooh" & "ahh" over something I've fixed while his eyes roll back in his head in delight. In a spirit of sharing the love, I've decided to include a "Recipe of the Week" segment here on our blog. Hopefully, our favorite recipes will become some of y'all's favorite recipes, complete with the adoring utterances & eye-rolling rapture. Now, if you've kept up with our blog, you know that we don't actually update this thing every week. So, this might actually turn into more of a "Recipe of the Month" venture. Okay, without further ado, I present to y'all our inaugural recipe. . .

Best Ever Banana Nut Bread

Dry Ingredients:

-1 3/4 c. flour
-1 1/2 c. sugar
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
-1/8 tsp. nutmeg
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:

-3 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/2 c. oil
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1 c. buttermilk (I make sour milk with lemon juice & milk)
-2 eggs
-1 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped (not "wet", I know, but it still goes here)


-Thoroughly sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl & make a well in the center.
-Combine bananas & wet ingredients (minus walnuts) in a medium bowl.
-Add banana mixture to the dry ingredients & mix together thoroughly.
-Fold in walnuts.
-Line a 9"x5" loaf pan with foil & spray with cooking spray.
-Pour batter into loaf pan & sprinkle with Streusel-Nut Topping (optional).
-Bake @ 325 degrees for 1 hour, then cover with foil to prevent burning & cook an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown & a fork comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Streusel-Nut Topping

-Combine 1/4 c. brown sugar & 3 T flour in a small bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in 2 T butter (not too soft) until coarse crumbs form. Stir in 1/3 c. chopped walnuts.

*Of course, it's wonderful warmed up, with a little butter & a tall glass of cold milk.  I hope y'all enjoy it as much as we do!