Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moving to a New Blog

I won't make any new posts to this blog after the first of the year.

├Źnstead, every day in 2015 I'll study one of the "fear" verses in Scripture in an effort to conquer the fear and anxiety that make up one of my biggest struggles.

Because this also happens to be a major struggle for many other people, I'll write and post a new devotional every day (so help me God). Here's the new address, w/
the January 1st devotional already posted:

Neither Be Thou Dismayed

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sweet: HEALTHY Apple Pie for Breakfast =)

1 cup water
3/4 cup quick oats
2 dashes cinnamon
1 apple, sliced

Slightly mix water, oats, & cinnamon.
Add apple slices.

Microwave for 2 minutes.
Add oats till satisfied with consistency.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweeter: Is the Trinity Biblical?

"It's not," said some respected friends of mine (friends that I still very much respect) when I mentioned it recently. "What about the verses that talk about the Godhead?" I asked. "Well, 'the Godhead' is just another term for 'the Trinity,'" came the answer. I said, "But there are verses in the Bible that refer to the Godhead." "Are there?" they asked doubtfully. I said, "Yeah, like in Romans 1. . . ." But I didn't know any specific verses, so we moved on and started talking about something else.

But then today I looked it up, and here they are:
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
"For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9).

What would the Holy Spirit be if He wasn't part of the Trinity?
"Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
The Father is God (Matthew 6:8, 7:21, Galatians 1:1).
Jesus is God (John 1:1-18).
The Holy Spirit is God (John 15:26, Mark 3:29, 1 Corinthians 6:19).

What would the Holy Spirit be if He wasn't God?
The Scriptures refer to the Holy Spirit as a 'He,' not an 'it' - this makes it clear that He is a person.
There is never any suggestion that He is an angel. (If you're thinking 'spirit' always means 'angel,' then you have to assume that God Himself is a mere angel - "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
Or maybe you're saying the Holy Spirit is just another way of talking about the Father/Spn duo? I'm sorry, but I would just have trouble understanding that one; but I do know I can be a bit slow at some stuff these days, so who knows?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sweeter: Thoughts on the Thanksgiving Takeover

Long ago, when this girl was young, Thanksgiving might well have been the ultimate holiday! I remember decorating windows with autumn-leaf window clings, listening to pilgrim-stories, dressing up as a pilgrim, sharing a literal feast with my family, and giving thanks to God and to my family for blessings from the past year.

Later I heard wind of some kind of shopping-thing the day after Thanksgiving. Momentum seemed to build over the years until this shopping started to majorly overshadow the holiday. People went out earlier and earlier, until this year many people actually hit the stores Thursday evening!

Don't worry; I'm not going to say that it's always a terrible thing to do Black Friday, or even to have a family tradition of doing it together. I'm not even saying it would always be bad to go buy something on Thursday.

But let's step back for a minute and look at the big picture, the 2 kingdoms at war in our world. Where might they stand on this whole thing?

Well, I don't really feel like God ever got in a fight with anybody over any deal. "For God so loved the world that He gave" (John 3:16). And - thanksgiving is something He wants us to have a LOT of. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

On the other hand, black is dark. The powers of darkness are selfish, ungrateful, and consumer-oriented. Somehow I don't think evil forces were ever too happy with a whole day being set aside to thank God. Since 2 Timothy 3 tells us that "men shall wax worse and worse . . . in the last days," I'm expecting Black Friday to keep gaining ground until it eventually overtakes Thanksgiving entirely - with most people, anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sweet: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Moist and flavorful spiced-pumpkin bars 
loaded with chocolate chips 
and topped with a thick smear 
of creamy, dreamy cream cheese frosting.

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins

Dry Ingredients
·        1 cup all-purpose flour
·        2 teaspoons cinnamon
·        ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
·        1 teaspoon baking powder
·        ½ teaspoon baking soda
·        ½ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients
·        2 whole eggs
·        cup brown sugar
·        1 cup canned pumpkin
·        ¼ cup milk
·        ¼ cup oil
·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·        ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting:
·        4 oz cream cheese, softened
·        2 Tablespoons butter, softened
·        1 cup powdered sugar
·        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13-inch pan with non-stick spray.

To make bars:
Combine dry ingredients a large bowl, set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chooclate chips until evenly distributed. The batter will be very thick. Transfer into prepared baking dish and bake for 14-15 minutes. If you have trouble spreading the bars to cover the pan, spray a spatula and the top of the batter with non-stick spray.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 12 bars.

To make cream cheese dipping sauce:
In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Stir in powdered sugar and mix until creamy. Add vanilla and stir until evenly distributed. Spread on pumpkin bars and serve immediately.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sweeter: Free E-copy of Passport Through Darkness!

Get it here:

Sweeter: Good & Bad People-Pleasing

It's taken me a while.
But I think I've finally figured it out - maybe.

Here's the *big* question:
What's wrong with trying to please people?

1. When I try to "make people happy" - i.e., to get them to be pleased WITH ME and to want to be my friends - in other words, when the actions I take are really self-serving (aka selfish) . . . that's bad. 

The bad people-pleasing usually takes a lot of effort, is usually somewhat exhausting, and ALWAYS requires doing something "nice" that is also either fake or contrived.

Example: I wear skirts. Partly because I like them and partly because it's what I think God wants me to do. But what if I wore them because I know people who believe that way, and because I wanted those people to think well of me? What if the only reason I wore skirts was to earn other people's good opinions of myself?

An example of something bad I actually do to "please people": When I feel like someone's mad at me, I tend to rack my brain for some reason why they might be mad and then to apologize for whatever I did/said that I think they're mad about. Which tends to backfire and to only result in their being scared to death of spending time with such an awkward person!

Something else I tend to do: If someone seems scared to talk to me, I tend to try to think of a pleasant conversation to have with them in order to change their minds into thinking they can afford to be my friend again. Which, tends to backfire, too! :)

But please don't be afraid to talk to me! I'm really tryin' to do better about this! Yes, those sentences was probably yet another example of the negative kind of people-pleasing. In fact, a big part of why I included any (both) these examples of stuff I actually do was because I thought it necessary in order to please people, because I felt like I had to include these examples in order to keep people from being mad at me for writing this post, to keep them from thinking that this post is about me passing some kind of judgment on them - which it's not. 

I'm trying to say that this is a struggle for me - which should be absolutely obvious after that paragraph of people-pleasing (which may well have been the bad kind - I don't know; and for the sake of this post, I'm not even gonna worry about it).

2. However, when my efforts to please other people are truly God-motivated and others-focused - in other words, when I'm forgetting myself in real Christian love - i.e., when it's actually about pleasing THEM instead of getting them happy with ME . . . isn't that 1 Corinthians 13? Which is good, right? 

Example: What if I notice some older homeless man looking lonely and depressed. What if I think I sense God leading me to talk to him, to try to get him laughing about something? What if I notice - but ignore - all the weird looks my friends give me? (All the looks that say, "Why are you talking to him?") What if all I'm thinking about is, honestly, what I can do to be a blessing to this guy? And what if I succeed in getting the guy to laugh? 

Yes, that actually happened a few weeks ago. . . .

Sweeter: God's Beautiful Way

"And we know that all things work together 
for good to those who love God, 
to those who are the called 
according to His purpose" 

(Romans 8:28).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sweet: Date Bars (Homemade Fig Newtons :D)

2 1/2 cups chopped dates
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups rolled oats

In a saucepan combine chopped dates, brown sugar, and water.
Bring to a boil and cook until dates are soft enough to be mashed with a fork (about 5 minutes).
Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl combine oats and your brown sugar.

In another bowl cut in butter with flour, baking soda and salt (previously sifted together). It is best to work with cold pieces of butter as they are easier to cut into the flour.

Once butter and flour are mixed together thoroughly, combine with oats and brown sugar.

Press half of the oat mixture over bottom of a greased 8 x 8 square pan.
Pack the layer down firmly with a fork.

Next place entire date mixture for the second layer.
Cover and spread evenly.

Cover with remaining oat mixture and pat until smoooth.

Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes or until a light golden brown.
Cool before cutting into squares and serving.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweeter: Operation Stars and Stripes

Bless our military this Christmas! From November 5-21, donate signed Christmas cards and new DVDs to the collection at the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center, 101 Battlefield Memorial Highway, Richmond, Kentucky 40475. 

Don't live in Richmond? Not to worry! You can send your gifts directly to Rosalyn-Sue Smith, President, Operation Stars & Stripes, Inc., 483 Old Canton Road, Suite 100, Marietta, GA 30068.

For more information, visit 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sweet: How to Make Moringa Powder Taste Good

I started taking moringa capsules daily this past spring. Moringa is a superfood known to have helped with many health issues, from headaches to cancer.

Since I started taking moringa, my skin is a little clearer, I sleep better, and my bathroom-related health is better. I'm sure it's done other things that I haven't known about.

But recently, I took the last of the capsules my parents got from Amazon; so I started on a bag Mom got of moringa powder. The capsules are, of course, tasteless like all my other medicines; but the powder has a taste - boy, does it have a taste! I tried it with water for a while, and let's just say that's pretty nasty. I tried adding several things (one at a time). Brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, molasses, nutmeg, . . . It was still awful.

There is a prepared mix you can get, Zija, that tastes better with just water. After taking moringa for a month and noticing some nice changes, I took Zija for a month.and was very disappointed to find that the changes had disappeared. When the month ended and I returned to straight moringa, I was greatly relieved to find them come right back!:)

(Not to totally bash Zija - I have friends who take it and who say it helps them a lot; so please don't think I'm saying it's bad for everyone! It just didn't do for me what the straight moringa did.)

Well, so I was trying different things with the moringa-water and nothing was working; and then a couple weeks ago I remembered that the bag says you can put moringa powder with any food, so I tried that - with success!

My first try was yogurt with a whole teaspoon of the powder. With the whole 1/2 teaspoon, I've had yogurt and oats, or oatmeal. But by far my favorite recipe has been microwaving a bowl containing 1/2 tsp moringa powder, 1 cup water, 3/4 cup quick oats, & 1 whole apple (sliced). I'm not saying this recipe tastes particularly awesome or that you should make it to share with your friends "because it tastes so good." But it tastes kind of good. . . .

And now I really have to try the 5 breakfast recipes this website lists:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sweeter: Dealing With Anxiety

"Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without Me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me. When you turn your thoughts toward Me, you can think much more positively. Remember to listen, as well as to speak, making your thoughts a dialogue with Me.

If you must consider upcoming events, follow these rules: 1) Do not linger in the future, because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when you wander there. 2) Remember the promise of My continual Presence; include Me in any imagery that comes to mind. This mental discipline does not come easily, because you are accustomed to being god of your fantasies. However, the reality of My Presence with you, now and forevermore, outshines any fantasy you could ever imagine.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22–26)

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 3:20–21)"

~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling devotional for October 17

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sweeter: Just to Be With You

Our Jesus loved us this much!
And He still loves us this much!
And He always will love us this much!

"I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
I've never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of calvary

Just to be with you, I'd do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give anything
I would give my life away.

I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
How may times has he broken that promise
It can never be done
I've never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea

Just to be with you, I'd do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give anything
I would give my life away.

I know that you don't understand 
the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I gave you
But I promise, I would do it all again.
Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweet: Julie & Julia

A friend who knows my love of cooking sent this movie from across the Pacific, all the way from Cambodia. 

Like, a year ago or something! Then I put it away and immediately forgot where I put it. And I've been looking for it for, like, a year. 

Then, while going through a desk drawer a week or two ago, what do you think I found? Sure enough; there it was!

So I watched it, and wow! I didn't even realize until later that I was watching a true story about something that had actually happened! The movie chronicles Julie Powell's journey of spending a year cooking through her hero Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It also follows Julia Child during her time in France that inspired her to write the cookbook. 

But the movie's not just about cooking; it's also about writing and international travel, and it gives a poignant glimpse into the two women's marriages. I'd call it an emotional masterpiece!

Disclaimer: In addition to a little bit of cussing, the movie contains a couple of dirty scenes; so I don't recommend it for kids. Although I liked the movie in general, there were 2 or 3 things - they weren't TOO bad - that I feel should have been left out.

Books don't have scenes, though; so now I've really gotta read the book! :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sweeter: Give Me Jesus

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus

And when I am alone
Oh and when I am alone
And when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus

And when I come to die
Oh and when I come to die
And when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
But give me Jesus

~ Negro spiritual

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sweet: Amish Friendship Bread

Starter Ingredients: 
3 cups sugar, divided
3 cups milk, divided
3 cups flour, divided

Starter Directions:
 Place ONE cup each sugar, milk, and flour in large glass or plastic bowl.
 Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set on your counter at room temperature. Stir with a wooden spoon every day for 17 days
 On day 18 do nothing.
 On days 19, 20, and 21, stir.
 On day 22, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup flour, and stir again.
 On days 23, 24, 25, and 26 stir.
 On day 27, add 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar and stir.
 It's now ready to use to make the bread.
 Give away two cups of the starter to two friends, use one to make the bread, and keep one to keep the starter going. When you give away a cup of the starter, give these directions for keeping it going:
Do not refrigerate; Do not use metal spoon or metal bowl; Do not cover tightly, cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Bread Ingredients:
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 (5 1/8 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup chopped nuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon, combined with
1/2 cup sugar

  Mix oil, eggs, and vanilla with the starter mix.
 In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, vanilla pudding mix, and nuts.
 Add to liquid mixture and stir thoroughly.
 Pour into two large well-greased 9x5 inch loaf pans, or one Bundt pan, that have been sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and flour.
 Sprinkle more cinnamon and sugar on the tops of the unbaked loaves (or cake). Bake at 325
F for one hour or until done.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweeter: You Are More Than Enough

God has been teaching me the tough lesson of this song lately. And yes, He IS more than enough - even when I don't act like it. . . .

"All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

"You are my supply, my breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You are my reward, worth living for
And still more awesome than I know

"And all of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

"You're my sacrifice of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
You're my coming King, You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

"And all of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

"More than all I want, more than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know, more than all I can see
You are more than enough

"More than all I want, more than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know, more than all I can see
You are more than enough

"All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You
And all I have in You
And all I have in You is more than enough

"All of You is more than enough for all of me"

By Chris Tomlin
Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sweet: Almond Joy Cookies

There's the candy bar,
but then there's the cookie!

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Combine dry ingredients, set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stir in the vanilla.
Stir in dry ingredients until well mixed.
Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweeter: Jesus Is a Lion

We know the phrase: Lion of the Tribe of Judah. But have you ever stopped to think about the fact that our Heavenly Friend is a Lion?

He's a Lamb, too, of course; but we know that part pretty well. It fits the man represented in most of our modern portraits of Him: a gentle guy with white-white skin and girls' hair, who blesses little kids, teaches good morals, and passes out free lunches. A meek and mild lamb, somebody who is entirely safe. But is that Who Jesus is?
“Aslan is a lion - the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"
"Safe?" said Mr Beaver Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
Jesus was okay with danger to Himself. Why? Because looks are deceiving, and He knew His Father had everything under control! I'm sure the Cross looked awful, but He could endure it by looking at the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

It's time we learned to be okay with danger and unpleasantness, too. Psalm 84:6 says that when God's people pass through the valley of Baca, we make it a well. So the not-so-nice parts of life, the parts that make us say, "Why?" - God intends for those very parts to become wells from which we find refreshment. When we embrace the valleys, passing through them instead of searching frantically for some way around them, then we can actually learn the lessons God has for us. And one day, either here or in Heaven, we will thank Him for those very valleys!

What valley does He have you in right now?

Sweet: Mint Chocolate Cheesecake

For the Crust -

  • 16 oz crushed vanilla wafers, processed to a fine powder
  • 2 tbsp butter melted

For the Filling -

  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 boxes)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 extract 
  • 6-12 drops green food coloring

For the Ganache -

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

1. For the Crust - Process wafers in a food processor or blender. Melt butter. Pour into a large bowl and add butter. Stir to mix and combine well with a fork. Pour into a greased springform pan and press on bottom and up sides to create the crust.

2. For the Filling - In a stand mixer, cream sugar and cheese. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add vanilla and then eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each egg addition. Add Creme de Menthe and stir to combine and until color is consistent. Pour filling into springform pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until center is set. Let sit to cool completely. Place in refrigerator for 12-24 hours. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan and release the cheesecake. Top with ganache and serve.

3. For the Ganache - In a heavy bottomed saucepan over low to medium heat, bring heavy cream just under boiling. DO NOT LET BOIL OVER. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips in a bowl and stir to melt chips. Let sit for 5 minutes and spread over cheesecake. Slice and serve. The cheesecake can be refrigerated with ganache if you prepare ahead of time.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The "Take Care of Yourself" Delusion

We've all heard these words. Most of us have probably even said them. I picture a group visiting Grandma in a weatherbeaten farmhouse; and when they leave, she kisses each one on the cheek and says, "You'uns take good care of yourselves, y'hear?" She means well, and I have no fault to find with her. What I will say is this: This is one piece of advice you should never, ever follow. It's self-defeating. Why?

The song goes like this:
 "Love is like a lucky penny.
Hold it tight, you won't have any;
Give it away, and you'll have plenty -
You'll end up having MOOORE.

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away; 
You'll end up having more."

God is the best Father and takes perfect care of His children, so we don't have to worry about that part. Now, I didn't say that we will understand or like everything He does. We often won't understand, and will even frequently dislike it. But that's just cause we're the finite humans that don't know much. "We'll understand it better by and by."

Jesus said the two most important rules are to love God, and to love each other.
So leave yourself in Father's capable hands. Then get out there and forget yourself in loving people!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Kitchen Fiasco :)

This afternoon I was stirring up a batch of peanut butter cookies and thinking that it looked awfully small. I thought I might as well make two batches, and so I went to the pantry to find another peanut butter cookie mix. Sure enough, there was one right there! I was just about to use it when something - I'm pretty sure it was God - said, "Save that one for later." 

I hesitated. "Why?" I thought. It didn't make much sense to me, and I almost went ahead and used the second mix anyway. But I didn't. Instead, I finished mixing that one little batch and put the cookies in the oven. The package said 8-10 minutes, so I set the timer for 8 minutes. When it went off, I opened the oven door and found - the most burnt food I've ever seen! What on earth? 

After some thought, I realized that because it takes me longer than normal to do most everything, I probably shouldn't preheat stuff anymore. And yeah, that mix God had me save for later? It made some beautiful cookies tonight, one of which is in my tummy! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Another Fantabulous Week at LLBC!

God has given me an awesome summer at Laurel Lake Baptist Camp. During Girls Week, God taught me that He really cared about my prayers. This past week - Open Week - He did say yes to some of my requests; but He also taught me that His care for me goes so much deeper than that!

Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
Psalm 139:4

A few of the blessings this week:

1. Monday morning even before the first camper arrived, the camp director came and prayed with me personally, for the Father to give me a great week. Not something I had even thought to ask for, but God is so good that He pours out blessings even without our asking for them!

2. Tuesday morning I thought about how during Girls Week God had moved me to pray for the souls of two of my campers and by Thursday afternoon He had saved them both. I asked Him to do it again. Tuesday afternoon one of my girls was very squirmy when we talked about the Gospel in one of the "classes"; so I was concerned and prayed for her. But I'm ashamed to admit that I got distracted  as soon as that class ended. Still, Tuesday night she trusted Christ; and Wednesday night another one of my girls also got saved!

3. Wednesday morning at 11:30, we all left the pool in our wet clothes. Everyone scattered, including all those who tend to be there offering me a hand; and so I was left to walk alone. I looked at the distance, thought about the time it would take me to walk to the dorm, change, and walk to lunch. By the time I got there, I figured two or three bites MIGHT be a possibility! :) 

This girl loves food; and frankly, the very thought of not really eating between breakfast and supper rendered me pretty distraught! My emotions have been all out of whack ever since the accident. And although I WAS able to keep the tears back; I wasn't able to keep the sobs away. But just then, a mission-team van drove up. "Do you need a ride?" “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

4. Wednesday afternoon, I started feeling really tired. I thought, "Well, I'm halfway through the week. I could really use some kind of pick-me-up to give me some fresh energy." Within five minutes, a girl came to where I was sitting and playing card mafia with mine and other campers. She put a frappuccino in my hands and whispered, "Mom made these for the staff." 

To our bountiful Father above, 
I will offer a tribute of praise! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Does God Really Want to Answer MY Prayers?

I've always known He has the ABILITY to answer my prayers - He can do whatever He wants, cuz He's big like that! But that doesn't mean He's gonna do things just because I want them. At Gethsemane, Jesus didn't want the Cross; but that Cross was the Father's will for Jesus, so He didn't take it away. My heart is obviously way less in tune with the Father's than Jesus' heart was - I mean, I'm a sinner! - so what's the chance my requests are gonna line up with His will very often?

It shames me to admit this, but I've always kinda had this thought in the back of my mind, always kinda doubted whether the Father really cared about my desires.

But then there was last week, counseling five girls at Laurel Lake. There was one prayer I prayed, a prayer I knew was selfish the moment I prayed it - not bad, just selfish - and I told God so. "God, I don't really want you to do that. Just change my attitude, please." To EVERY other request I made that week, God said yes!

1. Monday night my girls had trouble getting to sleep; I tried a few things, but nothing was working. I prayed for an idea, and one immediately popped into my head. "If you girls turn your words and electronics off, I'll buy you all a free canteen (snack)." Whaddaya know? It worked!

2. Tuesday morning, I had a hankering for a good rainstorm and asked God for it. I didn't really think He would do it - change the weather, "just for me"? Especially when a lot of people really, really dislike rain? But sure enough, Tuesday night it RAINED! And rained some more! :)

3. Tuesday night my girls had trouble getting to sleep again. I knew I didn't have enough on me to keep offering extra canteen, so I asked God for a new idea. Immediately, I had one! "I know y'all say you don't need to sleep, but I do need my sleep; and I can't really sleep until y'all do, so please do it for me!" I knew I had some very sweet girls, and they were nice enough to fall silent and still as soon as I asked in this way.

4. By the time I finished my Gospel-color-nail-polish devotional Tuesday night, I was confident that two of my girls needed Jesus. I started praying intensely for their souls, and for a clear Gospel presentation in the worship service. In Wednesday's worship, guess what the pastor talked about? My cabin also heard clear Gospel presentations in Wednesday's Bible study and Thursday morning's craft session. The Gospel was repeatedly presented in terms of things God did for us, as well as our response - to believe.

5. The pastor hadn't been doing a song after his message, but after Wednesday night's Gospel message I felt I was supposed to pray for him to do a song and let his message have time to really sink in before the kids ran outside to snack at canteen and play whatever their late-night activity was. I prayed that way; and after the message, he did a song!

6. The week's theme was "Today I Will," and there was a banner we were supposed to have our girls write on. Thursday afternoon, my girls and I stopped by the banner to write. Both of the girls for whom I had been beseeching the Father wrote "Today I will believe" (separately). And I know I saw a distinct change in one.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Love Onion

God's love is like an onion. 

At the outermost level, His love is so big and broad that the Scriptures tell us He loves the WORLD! "He's got the whole world in His hands!" 

Yet the bigness of His love hardly makes it at all impersonal! He loves ME, and always will. "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).

May our love be like an onion, too - big enough to include the world; but then loving everyone in the ever-narrowing circles in which we run until it gets personal enough to make that one person we're talking to feel truly special!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Be a Donkey

No, really -
I'm serious!

"Carry" Jesus for the world to see,
like the donkey that carried Him
on Palm Sunday.
And like that donkey,
you may hear people shout, "Hosanna!"
But always remember -

every Hosanna is for 
the Jesus you carry.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Is Your God Silent?

2 Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
3 But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
12 The Lord has been mindful of us;
He will bless us.

In the past, when words came into my head and I knew the words were not my thoughts or the devil's voice, I would say, "It was like God said this or that." However, the Holy Spirit is a real, live Person - not an idol! So He has a mouth, and He speaks. Imagine if the Scriptures used my old phraseology: 

Jeremiah 1:7 - But [it was like] the Lord said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' 
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak."

Hosea 1:2 - When [it was like] the Lord began to speak by Hosea, 
[it was like] the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, 
For the land has committed great harlotry 
By departing from the Lord.”

Jonah 4:4 - Then [it was like] the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Acts 22:10 - So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And [it was like] the Lord said to me, 
‘Arise and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’

Crazy, right? Our God is in Heaven~ If He wants to tell us something, then He has the ability to actually tell us, believe it or not! He's big like that! :) A couple pf recent messages I've gotten from God - 

I was praying about something and said, "God, there's just no way!"
He said, "I AM the Way!"

I was very discouraged about something in November, 
and really crying about it (I'm not normally a crier). 
God said, "Are you forgetting something?
What'd you tell those kids at camp all summer? 
I think you need to give yourself your own testimony."
So I did; and when I got to the part
about all our problems being only temporary, then I knew! 
The things I was concerned about at the time were truly only temporary; 
they would not be problems for me in Heaven (they aren't even problems now!).

Friday, April 4, 2014

Food Stories

I love food. :)

Monday I was making Hamburger Helper (beef, noodles, and sauce) for my lunch when the steam set off the fire alarm. I turned on the fan over the kitchen stove, got a dining room chair, and walked through the library on my way to turn the fire alarm off; but thankfully it stopped before I got to it. And then, trust me - I kept the stove-fan on!

Wednesday I was making Resurrection Buns for the Easter Dinner that night at church

I needed to open the biscuit cans and knew there was some easy way to do this but couldn't quite remember what that way was. I tried banging the can on the side of the mixing bowl and on the side of the counter; I tried putting a lot of pressure on the can; I tried sticking a spoon, then a knife, in the side of the can. None of that worked, so finally I did a Google search on "how to open a can of biscuits" and watched a YouTube video. Peel off the wrapper. Oh, yeah! That was the way you do it!

Thursday I tried my first-ever lime and mango. I like mangos! :)

Thursday night God gave me a beautiful picture. Someone was talking about how God has a purpose for our pain and asked what we thought about that. I said the thought that came to my mind. God gave me a picture of a Heavenly blender; we give God our pain, He puts it in the blender, and He gives us the joy smoothie that comes out! :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ok, Sure - I'll Die With You. . . .

"Then Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead. . . . Let us go to him.' Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him'” (John 11:14-16).

The Jews in Lazarus' area of the country had just tried to stone Jesus, and now He wanted to go back? Doubting Thomas was very loyal. Perhaps it was he who led the other disciples in accompanying Jesus; perhaps they had all been hanging back fearfully.

But we know the end of the story. We know that they had nothing to fear. The temptation can be to shake our heads at these 1st-century Christians and think, "Just trust Him already! He knows what He's doing!"

But don't we serve the same God? Isn't it just as true today that He's doing what He knows is best, and that one day we'll agree with Him?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Manners With the Disabled

It’s a little weird, but we never covered this in my “Family Book of Manners” course in elementary school. You would think we would have. Pretty much all I learned about this subject was learned after becoming one of the disabled myself, and therefore it’s possible that some of my thoughts might apply more to me than to the disabled people you know best; but we’ll just call this my ideas. . . .
1. Treat disabled people according to their apparent biological age, not their apparent shoe size. I know the shoe-size thing is tempting, and we might seem like that would be more accurate: We might have funny voices, we might be unable to walk (or to walk well), we might laugh too much or at weird times, and we might have a million other weird features. But we often still know how old we really are; and if you treat us too much younger than that, we’re likely to feel just a little slighted. Always remember the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” How would you feel if someone always treated you like a young child?
2. Know that it might take us a wee bit more time to eat our food. So if everyone else is finished or just about finished and we still have half or more than half of our food/drink, and if we suddenly start wolfing it down; there’s one thing we won’t want as soon as we finish. That one thing would be a sweet, charitable smile with the words, “Can I get you some more of X?” Naturally, we’ll say “no” every time. J
3. Be a little sensitive about bathroom conversations. A long time ago, I was not only totally unable to control myself. I was also literally and completely unaware of what happened in this respect. So next time you feel like reacting in any way or making any comment, please take a moment to consider how you would feel about people doing those same things toward you.
4. If someone really can’t help doing/not doing something, is it really fair to get upset with them? You tell me. The next time you are unable to achieve something or to avoid speeding/saying something/eating more than you should have, just imagine someone reacting condemningly. How that makes you feel might be similar to how we feel when we, let’s say, involuntarily laugh at the wrong time and that makes you mad.
5. Please give us an extra dose of understanding in general. We might have poor memories, we might have low inhibitions causing us to do/say things you would never do/say, we might have low mental processing speed and take a minute (or more!) to “get” stuff, etc. We might take extra time to do everything – sometimes the amount of time it takes us might really make you wonder!

6. Realize that we do know we’re not completely normal and that there are differences; so if we look like we need help, it wouldn’t hurt our feelings to have you offer. It could be that we’re doing therapy or pushing ourselves just a little bit and that therefore we’ll say no; but it could also be that we would really appreciate the offer. One time I was riding public transportation and we were at a standstill, in a traffic jam; I tried to get my book out of my walker basket, which was just beyond my reach, and the able-bodied man sitting behind me said, “Do you need something?” I told him I wanted my book, and he stood up and handed it to me; and I greatly appreciated his help!

7. Realize that although I have just told you a few ways we might be somewhat different from you, a lot of us are not that different! And we – like you – do not really enjoy having those differences highlighted. I appreciate when people treat me as more normal than I am more than I appreciate it when they treat me as less normal than I am. That said, I do understand people not having been around disabled people much and not knowing quite how to act. I used to be one of those people. So you try to understand me and I try to understand you, maybe we’ll both be smarter and better for it. J

8. Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think we need to know. That would be highlighting a difference you think is there, and we want to be as normal as possible. We can take a little advice/reproof. In that vein of thought – if you have a problem with this list, tell me! I want to hear it, and I can take it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All (That Matters) About Love

1. Whose idea was love, anyway? Where did the idea even come from? 
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Volumes have been written about the characteristics of God, but when it is distilled to the most basic categories, He is love (1 John 4:8), life (Jeremiah 10:10; Revelation 22:1), and holiness (Psalms 99:9). And in reality, His life and holiness are based upon and are an expression of His love: love gives, so He gives life; love desires the best, so holiness proceeds from Him” (R. Keith Whitt, “The Unconditional Love of God,” Bible Study

2. Where can I go to find true love? 
“To live in God is to live in love” (Whitt).
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God IS love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16, emphasis mine).

3. How can I get His love?
"The LORD loveth the righteous" (Psalm 146:8). But how does a person become righteous? Is there a certain level of goodness I have to reach? The truth is, we are all essentially bad. "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). But trusting in Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross transfers His righteousness to our account! "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).

4. How can I lose His love?
 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39, emphasis mine).

5. How long will His love last? 
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8). “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 106:1). “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). God’s mercy to me is forever, which means that I can’t stop it with anything I do; it’s forever and there’s nothing I can do about it!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Test

How do you think you would do?
Here's how it goes: First, read 1 Corinthians 13 to discover God's definition of love.

Love suffers long and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Then read it again inserting Jesus' name wherever it says "love." The one Person Who always expresses love perfectly!

Jesus suffers long and is kind;
Jesus does not envy;
Jesus does not parade Himself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek His own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Jesus never fails.

The final step in this test is to read the passage a third time, this time inserting your name wherever it says "love."

_____ suffers long and is kind;
_____ does not envy;
_____ does not parade himself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek his own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
_____ never fails.

Be honest now. . . . How did you do?

Friday, January 31, 2014

What Is Hope?

"I hope I win a million dollars in the lottery!"
"I hope he asks me out!"
"I hope I get that beautiful new orange 10-speed for Chistmas!"
"I hope it snows the most it ever has in our city!"
"I hope we have bacon-and-ranch pizza for dinner!"
"I hope so!"

We treat the word hope like its definition is want, or wish, desire. But that's not the Bible's definition! "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

"For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1: 19-21).

It is my DESIRE (not my hope, just my desire) to edit my vocabulary from this day forward.