Monday, July 27, 2015

What Do You Really Want?



It’s a struggle each day, really. Finding the socks that match. Sweeping up scattered bird seed and oh, how that dog hair flies. Keeping up with the dishes in the sink and keeping the front of the fridge shiny and free of fingerprints and what’s for dinner? There’s that big yellow dog drinking from the toilet again and every time I look at that wall I’m reminded of the mess I made of it when I tried to fill in nail holes and paint over my mistakes…only to make them more pronounced and annoying. And if I trip over one. more. shoe. left in the middle of the room…! And what’s that funky smell in the garage? Oh, there’s that computer with the cursor blinking, screaming at me to just DO SOMEthing, already! And the calendar with so many dates circled in red.

And there’s that headache and the stomach knotting. The constant treading of water as it threatens higher and higher still. And me looking through this kaleidoscope of life reaching, grasping, jumping from crumbling ledges…
    and Jesus catching me every. single. time.

And I have to ask myself, “what is it that I really want?”

What do you really want?

What’s waking you up at night, stealing your sleep and stealing your thoughts?

Do you want more time?

Peace?

Joy?

Success in business?

Resolution in relationships?

Freedom from financial worry?

Healing and salvation for loved ones?

All the above?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

When I think of those who have left the biggest, deepest impressions on my life and the memories of them that make me whole and complete, there was nothing but the joy. It didn’t take “things” to create those moments.

It simply involved a freshly-raked pile of autumn leaves and hunting for eggs in the garden in the middle of July and searching for shiny marbles in the dirt and rolling down a green, grassy hill not caring who was watching and the heavenly aromas filling a warm kitchen on a cold day and the laughter above it all and sitting, talking and the witnessing of giving and sharing from the heart.

When I think of what I really want…I want that. To be the one making those memories with others. To leave the impact. To bring the smile. To live simply - simply sharing Jesus.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25)




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unsettling Conviction




I pulled another warm towel from the dryer and stood folding it when a wave of conviction settled over me.
Don’t you just hate when that happens? One of those run-and-hide moments but you can’t escape it.
My mind went back to last Sunday morning when my husband was asked to fill in for the worship leader who’d been called away at the last minute.
My first response? “Really? Matt can’t lead worship. He doesn’t sing. He’s a trumpet player.”
Ouch!
So much for confidence in my husband and so much for confidence in our incredible God who equips us to fulfill His every task so that we may be a blessing to others. I usually bristle when I hear someone categorize or stereotype another, yet there I was doing the same thing in thinking his abilities were limited within the confines of walls I’d essentially built around him!
What was I thinking? Instead of seeing it as an opportunity for my husband to be used of God in a tight situation, I focused on what I thought his abilities were.
Double ouch!
Was it fear? Was I afraid he would be embarrassed? Was I afraid I would be embarrassed? The convicting part? Forgetting that God wouldn’t lead either of us to embarrassment.

Forgive me, Lord Jesus! Help me to remember that we can do ALL things through You who strengthens us. You equip us for every task. You do not leave us stranded. Help me to see you clearly as you work in me and in the lives of those around me, and help me to never limit what you choose to do in your people. Amen.

Every. Single. Day. I see the signs of Jesus working in my life. He gives those little learning moments that teach, convict and also give me a safe resting place to remind me that it’s all going to be ok. That He is near. He is within. He is ahead and behind and cheering me on from the sidelines. And last Sunday, He was cheering Matt on, as well.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, 
and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Plan, a Jam Session and Green Beans

So, it happened again….
   I spent the entire day thinking about cooking! I had so many different recipes going through my head before I decided on one in particular.
   I couldn’t wait to run a couple errands after work, come home, clean up a few things, throw in some laundry and get an early start on dinner.
Instead…


   I came home to a rather loud and unexpected “concert,” of sorts.
I love when my son’s incredibly talented and gifted friends show up because they almost always end up around the piano (though it's hard to see the friend at the piano in this shot, trust me, he's there).
   We are a complete and total band geek and drum corps family. Music is ALWAYS happening in our lives and in our home – it’s very much a part of us and it’s been that way since before the kids were even born.
   I’m particularly blessed knowing that both my kids have had some amazing and wonderful friendships that actually began in their pre-school days and have continued on to this day. I’ve always been thankful that God allowed us to stay in the same town since the kids were born making it possible to maintain friendships for many years.
   So today, once the music finally stopped and everyone cleared out of the house, I was able to get in the kitchen and start banging pots and pans around.
   This is a simple and tasty recipe that I've made before for my husband and I’m happy to share it with you.


Debbie’s Green Beans
12 oz. green beans, washed and trimmed
1 Linguica Sausage thinly sliced
½ small red onion thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, mashed
1 Tbsp. butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 handful of slivered almonds (browned in a little butter)
1 Tbsp. olive oil


Directions:
Heat olive oil in pan. Add linguica and cook until brown. Remove meat from pan and add butter to remaining drippings. Once butter is melted add onion, salt and pepper and garlic powder. Cook and stir for a few minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking. Add the green beans and cook for a few minutes stirring as they cook.
In the meantime, melt a small pat of butter in a pan and brown slivered almonds. Remove from heat.
Return sausage to green bean mixture and add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle slivered almonds across top before serving.



Monday, July 20, 2015

My New Salsa Recipe

I made this over the weekend and couldn't wait to share it with you!


3 Roma tomatoes (seeded)
½ red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 green onion
1 small can diced green chilies
1 small 8oz. can tomato sauce
½ small can El Pato sauce
3 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Oregano
1/3 cup cilantro
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
pinch of sugar (optional)

Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender until well blended and you’ve reached the consistency you prefer.



Friday, July 17, 2015

Quiet Miracles


The words came quiet but strong. Even in the noise of my hair dryer. Even in the nuisance of a neighbor’s early-morning leaf blower. Whispering behind all the chaos in my own head planning out the day.

“Quiet….miracle…”

Wait…what?

What does that mean? I puzzled.

I envisioned the quiet miracle of life taking place in a mother’s womb. Quietly growing. Quietly being.

The quiet miracle of healing…of the heart, of the mind and of the whole body. The healing of relationships broken.

I thought of the quiet miracle of each new morning and the sun quietly appearing, casting light and promise.

I’m praising God today for the quiet miracles that come in a single phone call. An unexpected email. The few perfect words spoken from a friend’s loving heart. God gives us quiet miracles every single day, not with grand fanfare but in a simple flutter of angel’s wings.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Only the voice of God can be heard as a whisper amid noise, chaos and confusion. It’s that same voice that speaks miracles into being, answers to every cry of the heart. He’s present and hears the prayers of believers gathered in His name professing the hope they have in the One who saves and blesses and creates the new and beautiful from our own mess knowing He is the one true constant from which all miracles emerge. There is no other.

As God puts the final stitches in your quiet miracle, I pray you find rest and comfort…contentment…in the process knowing there will be no miracle left undone. 
Believe and trust in Him.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Sneak Preview

I just want to take a minute and share a little something with you...






I absolutely LOVE working on every issue of CW Voice Magazine, but I have to say that I particularly enjoy putting these pages together on quiet, calm Sunday afternoons. After a great sermon and morning worship, I feel energized. My spirit is renewed and my desire to reach and bless women with the love of Jesus is refreshed and strengthened.

Every new issue of this magazine is my favorite, and our upcoming July/August issue is no exception - SO many wonderful articles that will speak to your heart with the hope we have in Jesus.

Here's a sneak preview of the cover for our new issue, though this one may be a little late coming out. I apologize. We're working hard to shine it all up and have it ready as soon as possible. Until then, our May/June issue is still available Here!


Hope you're enjoying your summer!





Friday, June 26, 2015

When God Says "Rest!"




Sometimes, it takes a God-sized fear to speak our hearts into surrender.

Sometimes, it takes a God-sized presence to pull us away from our I-can-do-all-things...until-I-drop attitude.

Sometimes, when we tie on our Super Woman cape determined to power through and continue on toward OUR goals instead of the goals God has for us, He gives us two fun-filled, eye-opening days in the hospital to put things in perspective.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

My husband was away on a business trip and I did as I always do. It’s a sickness, really, to think that I have to accomplish something big and awesome while he’s gone in hopes of surprising him when he returns.

Years ago when the kids were toddlers, I took on the challenge of sanding and painting all my kitchen cabinets (including changing out every hinge and handle and the previous owners had painted over EVERY screw head). From there, I moved on to wainscoting two kitchen walls, painting the upper portion and putting up a wallpaper border during his 2-week business trip to Tennessee. It was ridiculous and I vowed to never take on such a huge project again.

This time…while my husband was away on a week-long business trip, I decided it was time to pretty-up the foyer. I was tired of looking at the dated ivy stencil work I’d done years ago. So, I started small. I changed out the broken handles on the antique cabinet in the entryway. From there, I moved on to painting the wall beneath the staircase that faces the front door. Not a big deal and very do-able.



I should have stopped there, but no. I am Debbie – hear me roar!

I decided it was time to give my entire staircase, railing, spindles, etc. a facelift. It looked tired and old and I really thought that I could complete the job of staining every square inch of wood in a beautiful dark hickory stain by doing a little each day after working at my real job!

Long story short: the chest pains started about 20 minutes into the project and continued clear until I’d finished for the day. I’d run out of daylight and energy and it was time to go to bed.

I tried to sleep that night ignoring the pain and heaviness in my chest, but by 2:30am, the pain had traveled from my right shoulder to the left and my left arm was in agony. Both hands were tingling, but I tried to shake it out and find a comfortable position to sleep because I had work early the next morning.

After hours of trying to talk myself out of going to the ER, I finally gave in after remembering a billboard I’d seen along the highway on a recent trip with my husband. It said, “Your health isn’t just about you.” I thought of my husband, my children and loved ones…and drove myself to the ER.

I spent 2 days of constant needles, blood draws, machines, tests involving “nuclear medicine” and lots of waiting in between (and not a drop of coffee to be seen). It was kinda scary, painful, uncomfortable, but I knew I’d made the right decision to go given my family health history.

I’m just so glad that God gives us hymns like “His Eye is on the Sparrow” to play in the background of our fear and uncertainty. I’m so blessed by the friends He provides to see us through our tears and fears of the unknown; the friends who call and text and bring flowers and reading material and look away when we’re at the mercy of an easy-breezy hospital gown.

God is ALWAYS good. He meets our every need. He gives us the necessary eye-opening events to remind us how very fragile this life really is. He loves, protects and guides His children and brings them through the scary times. He slows us down and reminds us that this life isn’t about the rush and the hurry, and the stress of getting things done. It’s about giving each day to Him and accomplishing His to-do list – not ours.


And He sometimes lets the biggest projects go half-done to serve as a reminder to only follow His plan. It’s not my job to go out and conquer the world or even a home-improvement project that’s well above my head. I wasn't created to do it ALL. I will only be victorious over that which God sets before me….and I will look at my half-done staircase…and smile.



Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)













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